Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Saturday, October 14, 2006

For Sunday: Starhyke Musical Trailer 2

Starhyke is an upcoming Brit sci fi comedy starring that chick from Babylon 5 and Boba Fett. How can it go wrong?

tagged: ,

Friday, October 13, 2006

Jack Thompson Gets Pwned

Judge Ronald Friedman has just declared that he will not honor Jack Thompson's request to restrict sales of Bully in advance of the game's shipment next Tuesday. The ruling comes after the judge viewed a demonstration of various parts of the game by a Take Two employee for two hours and determined "there's nothing in the game that you wouldn't see on TV every night." He added that he would not approve of the game for his children, but that fact alone "shouldn't mean that the game won't ship."

While the case could still be appealed, Destructoid notes that Thompson expressed no interest in doing so because any appellate ruling would come after the game was already in stores.
-- Florida court OKs Bully (Joystiq via Destructoid)

Every time BatJack fails so miserably in court an angel gets its wings.

tagged: ,

Lost: The Scooby Doo Theory

Let's take a different slant on Lost - let's believe the producers/writers when they say everything has an explanation.

In fact - take it one step farther ... everything is rational and explainable. No Star Trek style psuedo-science. No voodoo. Just cold hard facts.

Well ... maybe not hard facts. Remember Scooby Doo? Remember how in the end there would always be a "simple" explanation for everything? But one that Velma explained so quickly you didn't really question it? I'm guessing that in part - that's where Lost is taking us.

For instance - the creepy hallucinations everyone keeps having? And the weird voices? Drugs. Perhaps they were drugged on the plane or Ethan/Goodwin started slipping them the ganja when they infilitrated camp. The monster sounds like a train ... perhaps because the monster is a train. An underground tram system to get quickly from point A (say Otherville) to point B. The train and tunnels also explain how people disappear/appear so quickly.

The Others aren't telepathic ... just clever and well-connected. They didn't teleport onto the sailboat or anything ... they just snuck up in a raft like the military does (Ben does, after all, say to "organize a team" and we know of at least one ex-soldier having been recruited).

To date - I can think of only three things truly difficult to explain: miracle healing, telepathic smoke and whatever electromagnetic cloak keeps the island invisible and people from sailing away.

But I wouldn't be surprised to see someone pull Ben's face off like a rubber mask and explain that it's all done simply with a couple of mirrors, an old dust mop and this handy backup generator.

tagged: ,

VoodooPC Talks About HP

DT: You guys decided to back in touch with HP after Dell acquired Alienware. Did Dell's acquisition of Alienware play any role in the decision processes between HP and VoodooPC?

RS: No, as a matter of fact Michael Dell contacted me directly at some point in November of 2005. We didn't really align in our way of thinking - it seemed that Dell was more interested in "moving their needle" for topline sales. HP, on the other hand, didn't buy Voodoo because they needed sales. HP acquired Voodoo because we derived a strategy that made sense - and rather than working seperate from one another and competing we decided it made much more sense to work together to help build HP's newly formed gaming business unit.

DT: Do you view the marriage with HP as vital in order for VoodooPC to stay competitive?

RS: We believe the marriage with HP is vital to keep the PC industry innovative. HP has killer innovative abilities in HP Labs, and Voodoo can help commercialize many of these innovations in a matter of time. ..and let's face it, the Windows PC industry has been somewhat dull up until now. We plan to change that.
-- DailyTech - VoodooPC Shares All About HP Acquisition

It's weird seeing all this moving and shaking going on ... and yet I'm probably at the farthest away from getting even a medium range gaming PC than I've ever been. At this point, a Windows PC is mostly attractive to me as a vehicle for XNA studio, should I go down that path. I'm not sure if it's that I'm more interested in development these days or more interested in couch coop style games - or that $300-$600 consoles are really getting that much more attractive than $1500-$2500 rigs.

tagged: ,

Blog Well - Earn Games

Social networking and lifestyle portal XIHA Life has started a program to reward quality writing and photography. Each week until the end of the year the website selects the best blog entry, forum topic and photo album and rewards the authors by a free game of choice from its large game catalog.

Las Vegas, NV (PRWEB) October 13, 2006 -- XIHA Life is an open medium for everyone to publish their work, discuss and make friends from around the world. To encourage authors of quality content, XIHA Life members earn points for everything they do on the website, from posting on the forum to uploading photos. These points can be used to buy games and other merchandise on the XIHA Life website. As a special promotion until the end of the year, the most interesting blogs and postings will also receive weekly rewards.

“We want to reward active members, as they make our community a better and more interesting place for everyone to visit,” says Jani Penttinen, software industry veteran and founder of XIHA Life. “An active blogger who participates in forum discussions can pretty easily earn 2-3 free games per year, so this is a great added benefit for those who like writing or photography.”
-- XIHA Life Rewards Bloggers with Free Games

Sweet! Probably would be more profitable than these ads nobody clicks on...

tagged: ,

The MySpace Sewer Ghost

If you don't repost this saying

"She was pushed"
or "They Pushed her down a sewer"

Then Carmen will get you, either from a sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep you'll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Carmen will come and kill you.
-- Urban Legends Reference Pages: Myspace Ghost of Murdered Teen

Nice. I suppose it was only a matter of time before myths like "Bloody Mary" started to haunt a site with the social networking of MySpace.

Nintendo Pin Boards

Tomytec Japan has announced the Nintendo collectors edition pin set. It brings back old memories as you will re-arrange the pins to create 8-bit characters designs from Super Mario and Legend of Zelda.
-- Nintendo pin set - Collectors edition (newlaunches)

tagged: ,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is Lost Losing It?

According to The Mercury News, Lost isn't shining this season in terms of ratings. Not that the show isn't still a draw - it's just been knocked down by a few dozen pegs.

My theory still stands that the show has been struggling to keep its speed to match its success. The need to really wow the audience and keep them coming is conflicting directly with the need to prolong the show to maximize the profits.

tagged: ,

No Cloned Cats For You

Genetic Savings & Clone, a biotechnology company that sold cloned pets, sent letters to its customers last month informing them it will close at the end of the year because of little demand for cloned cats. The company had recently reduced the price from $50,000 to $32,000.

The letters said the Sausalito, California company was not accepting new orders for clones because it was "unable to develop the technology to the point that cloning pets is commercially viable."
-- Dead Cats to Remain a Memory

I heard this on NPR on the ride in and my only response is - thank god. Not because I think cloning is the domain of evil scientists who live within secret lairs. Or rather, I do ... it's just that isn't what bothers me. What gets me is that if you name your ethically questionable morality boundary pushing venture with a pun ... you just deserve to go down.

tagged: ,

Lost: EvilGoogle or Telepathy

"Glass Ballerina" - definately an uptick from last week's episode - if for no other reason than Jin and Sun's backstory seemed more relevant to the current story.

The big question I've still got is how The Others know all the names of the people who were on the plane, what they look like, who they were married to, etc. I mean, it's one thing to get a tape of the World Series - it's another to get a complete biography based on an airline manifest.

Course, Hano is presumably a big evil corporation. Maybe they just EvilGoogle "airplane crash" and get all the info they need in high def green on black screens.

I'm still holding out that The Others have some kind of paranormal going on. If we believe Benry's statement that he was born on this island ... maybe he's not an ex-Dharmite but the experiment the ex-Dharmite was working on. I mean, maybe Ben didn't mean "ten minutes" to be actually ten minutes - but that's a short period of time to learn everyone's name (EvilGoogle), run across an island (OK - maybe they have modern transport we don't know of), find wreckage (GPS?) and blend in (CIA training?). Just seems odd still. I suppose if we eliminated the speed problem with some kind of transport and assume there's also an underground communication system - they could recon the survivors in a few days and gather info before kidnapping "good" people.

Sawyer's escape attempt certainly didn't seem to be blocked by superpowers - just Juliet grabbing Kate. Were they holding back or are they simply human?

Again, we see The Others adhering to a Walden II style existence and clearly Jack, Kate and Sawyer are now officially part of some kind of behavior experiment. Makes one wonder what Jack will be expected to "cooperate" with ... but I'm hoping it's nothing cliche like "you must kill either Kate or Sawyer ... your choice".

EDIT: With that - some speculation online about whether the Others are building something or this is just behavioral busywork. I'm kinda thinking it's both. Walden II preached structured labor for the community. The Others are clearly active.

I still feel like a lot of the intensity and mystery of Season 1 has diminished. I'm glad to see Smokey is probably a core feature of next week - I'm guessing/hoping that it will actually be resolved. So many open questions about the little bizarre things (visions, voices, radio signals, polar bears) seem to be hanging.

Speaking of which - now that we're in OtherTown ... where's the missing kids?

Oh yeah - and also ... what of Ben "always living on this island". He's too old to have been born into DHARMA, so maybe he was brought here at a young age. So my other big question is - are these ex-Dharmites ... or the expirements themselves? Ben and Bearded Guy both seem to revere Hanso ... perhaps in a fatherlike way?

tagged: ,

TV Watch: Third Week Check-In

Is really starting to drag. I get the impression the writers are deeply afraid of their own premise and feel the need to overexplain everything about twice. Every scene in this episode had a least a margin of "get on with it" and sometimes a dash of "what the hell". I mean, who drives all the way out to Grandma's just to pick a fight, threaten her and leave? It seemed an implausible way to pull out background information. And "genes for flying" just sounds dumb. Instead of being difficult to understand, the show is bordering on droll and pedestrian.

Veronica Mars
I think Neptune fans will need to accept that the show will never reach the gooey goodness of Season One again. S1 felt almost like a movie in and of itself ... and sadly S2 and 3 are feeling like sequels. There's still lots of watchable material here - but Season 3 feels odd with Logan playing the dutiful boyfriend and Keith being so detached from Veronica's daily adventures. Not that college isn't about detachment a bit - but slide us into a little.

Still, the show maintains some of it's grit and complexity. Mars doesn't necessarily shine because of its polish - but because we find the lead character compelling, interesting and fallible. That core is still going strong.

Studio 60
I just love it to death. Television hasn't made me this happy since Sports Night hit DVD.

I'll break into a Lost and/or Battlestar song and dance alter.


Post-It Invaders

From karenchu121's photostream (so I'm guessing a 1UP's cube).

tagged: ,

Bully To Be Shown To Judge

Thompson is claiming that this represents a "huge victory against the violent video game industry, regardless of the ultimate ruling on the injunction." This would be the first time that a judge has ever asked to review a game before its public release. Currently, Bully is scheduled for release on Tuesday by Take Two and Wal-Mart, who are the targets of Thompson's legal action.

The judge will not actually play the game, although it would be funny if he did. Instead, a Take Two employee will play the game under direction from the judge for the 100 hours. Hopefully they have comfortable couches and plenty of snacks
for the duration. If the judge finds the game to be acceptable, it will ship on Tuesday as planned. If, however, the judge decides that the game is not acceptable, he will issue a temporary restraining order banning the sale of the game to minors.
-- Bully gets bullied (Ars Technica)

It's a little chilling that a single judge would even consider halting a game when Thompson is unable to prove any form of substantial harm to be attributed to the sell of any video game - anywhere. Still, it sounds like Thompson will be disappointed in the content of Bully - which is considerably more tame than the much easier to complain about Grand Theft Auto.

tagged: ,

AI For The Wiimote

"In early 2006, I challenged Dr. Wei Yen and his AI scientists to develop AIware for the Wii Remote. When Nintendo's development teams saw LiveMove, we instantly recognized how it would greatly increase our ability to explore and experiment with new concepts and make our lives easier," says Genyo Takeda, Senior Managing Director/General Manager of Integrated Research & Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd. "This revolutionary tool liberates the imaginations of game creators. We are more than happy to share this collaborative LiveMove tool with independent Wii software developers all over the world. From a cowboy's lasso to a samurai's sword or a chef's cooking utensils, we just can't wait to play the developers' new, 'unexpected' applications."
-- Nintendo and AiLive Announce New Tool for Creative and Easy Wii Development

Possibly just press release hocum pocum - but it's interesting to think that while the 360 and PS3 will undoubtably benefit most directly from technical advances in things like data compression (for higher poly models and higer res textures) ... the Wii might benefit more from advances in AI and/or control schemes.

tagged: ,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Can We Give Sony An Inch Here?

Don't mean to back to back harp on Joystiq - just that kind of afternoon.

I know, Sony Bashing is practically the official gamesphere sport right now, but this is simply silly:

Obscure researcher finds PS3 price acceptance from small online sample

The "obscure" research group (not a single researcher as the headline suggests) in question is Interpret, LLC - and they're not so much obscure as new. They're founded by ex-Nielsen veterans ... you know those guys who practically control the television industry by figuring out just how many people watches what of which show. So it's not like this is some crazy guy crunching numbers alone in his apartment. These guys are professionals.

And the "small online" demographic consisted of 2,000 people. While 10,000 is considered the golden number to get your margin of error to about 1%, most political polls consist of about 500-1,000 people. So their "small" survey is at least twice the number typically asked for all these stats you're going to hear over the coming election season .... and you'll hear plenty of them. And lots of people in campaigns across America will be adjusting their daily lives based on those numbers.

Why Blake felt the need to editoralize the nature of the survey is really quite beyond me. Other than nobody wants to write something satisfactory about the PlayStation 3 without placating a bit to the fanboys. Any statistic should be taken with a grain of salt - but it's certainly not required to insert that into every headline that concerns them.

If Kaz goes off and says something stupid - go ahead and call it stupid. But this need to translate all news Sony into something dire or questionable about the PlayStation 3 is getting annoying. Recently Engadget suggested that Sony rolling back it's monitor line was an indication that they knew the PS3 would flop. It wasn't just conjecture - it was the stuff of forum-baiting tinfoil conspiracy.

Maybe the PlayStation 3 will flop ... who knows ... but at this point blogs going out of their way to color their coverage of Sony isn't making Sony look bad as much as themselves.

tagged: ,

Unintended Ramifications With Steam?

Joystiq's Ross Miller asks what would happen if Steam broke down, Triton for Prey owners ... considering what "unintended ramifications" it might cause.

Unintended? How about completely expected? You'd be fscked, that's what would happen. There's no way Valve would spend the kind of money required to give everyone boxed versions of products like Triton is offering. Since the day Steam refused to log in my completely valid username and password (no error message or response ... Steam just quit), I've refused to utilize the service to pay for anything. I'm a big fan of digital distribution - I'm not a big fan of software which which locks everything I own away in a box.

I love how anti-DRM fanatics like Doctorow rage against iTunes when setups like Steam are around. If the iTunes server goes down - I still get to play all the music, TV and movies I've purchased. When Steam confused itself - I was completely locked out of Half-Life 2 for which I had paid. Night and day for my consumer experience.

tagged: ,


"It's remarkably easy to hack LEDs into Lego minifigures to make awesome, creepy, and tiny decorations for Halloween. In what seems like a miraculous coincidence, a standard LED fits exactly into the head of a Lego minifigure. It's that easy: grab an LED and a head, slip it in, and it fits perfectly."
-- HOW TO - Hack LEDs into LEGO minifigures for Halloween

tagged: ,

Boo At Lost Video Podcast

The generally excellent Lost podcast is now upgraded to a "video" podcast. While I'm sure this means they get to put in nifty things like screen grabs and special effects ... it also means a larger download and one meant to be watched instead of listened while doing other things (which is how I listen to all my podcasts). OK, so maybe it's a personal thing about my viewing habits. I'm not into video podcasts. I loved RocketBoom but never really watched it. I love Battlestar but didn't manage to catch all the webisodes. I'm a multitasker and it's hard to fit a few minutes of video here and there.

tagged: ,

Image Of Pac-Man Found In Glass

From taids' photostream. Proof of Pac-Man's divinity? Of course.

tagged: ,

Dropout Goes Pro Gamer

Okay, so we have this kid (even if he's 18, old fogies over 40 still call anyone under 25 "kid") named Tom Taylor, and he dropped out of high school. The reason? He wanted to play more video games. As expected, people were skeptical about his chances.

Well, to his credit he’s now known as Tsquared on the gaming circuit; he’s signed a 250,000-dollar contract; he’s got a publicist, a financial adviser, and media training; and, he has a video game tutoring business. Cool, huh? He’s one of about a hundred professional gamers associated with Major League Gaming. If they play well, pros might be able to bring home around a few grand each month.
-- Dropout earns big (

Well, bully for him. Rest of us have to work for a living :P Seriously though - it makes one remember that it wasn't so long that the concept of a professional gamer was still an idea mostly reserved for scorn and mockery. Now - mostly envy.

tagged: ,

Artful Gaming

Two works demonstrated how a game called Unreal can be transformed from its original bloody shoot-em-up massacre into something that transports you into an experience that leaves you feeling tranquil, cuddled and warmly loved by nature itself. In Summerbranch, by igloo you are put inside the heart of the UK’s New Forest, where the joystick becomes a navigator allowing you to explore a scene that lets you pretend to be Maid MaryAnne, out for a stroll or Robin Hood camouflaging himself as he lurks, watching for the next wealthy patron to pilfer. Enjoyable for a fantasy was having the eye-view of a fluffy bunny, poking about for nibbles or scouting for places to shelter and bed down. Headphones complete the impressive experience with piped in sound of the forest itself. All in 3D, it makes your head spin a bit, until you get used to moving about, and once adjusted, you might not want to leave this digital forest. There are no hidden menacing creatures to threaten your visit, just sun dappled leaves and moss covered trees all wrapping you in its calming peace.
-- Lisa's report of Artful Gaming (we make money not art)

Next-gen is going to get interesting as people try to determine how to move beyond the "big hair" games which do little but toss huge budgets into production values. Interactivity will be a whole new dimension (moving from photorealism to videorealism as some have put it). Another dimension will be simply the art of gaming itself, methinks. Shadow Of The Colossus, even more so than Ico before it, may be exemplary of this ... and reminds me that I need to get my hands on Okami.

tagged: ,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rectango Early Screenshot

This is not terribly representational of what I have in mind. It's even what some in the mod PR circle (can you believe there's such a thing as a mod PR circle?) would call detrimental to the process. It's not really intended to wow anyone. It's just here because I've spent the better part of a night weaving the spectrum data into the drawing routine and wanted something to show for it. Comparatively, I'm not even sure I've moved much in about a year or so ... but it is what what it is.

tagged: ,

Remembering CS-Spookhouse

Mapping used to be a side hobby of mine, before I got into modding and, possibly more importantly, mapping required even more 3D modelling skills. It's highly doubtful you've seen anything of mine out there - unless you were of the old school Infiltration mod crowd and played DM-FultonRL at all. Fulton was based on the old office I used to work with and we used it often as a after hours LAN party map.

Those were the days.

The last map I took seriously and actually finished was CS-Spookhouse. It was intended to be a Halloween moment for csvegas, the old Counter-Strike server I used to help admin. I bring up all this nostalgia for Corvus' latest Round Table, which asks about fear in gaming. I fully intended Spookhouse to be ... well ... spooky. And I gotta say - it's really really hard.

It's not that I didn't go through a few hoops to try and make it creepy. I tried to model it after things I actually find effective in movies. I prefer the "odd noise" or "glimpse of shadow" scary as opposed to the "large demon chasing down the hall" scary. So the premise was to make a simple haunted house. I had triggers to make noises go off in rooms people weren't in. I had textures on walls that would only appear if the lights were off. I had translucent models which would only appear during lightning or in one instance ... if one was in a bathroom. Lights would go out on their own, there was a faucet of blood and some windows which would scatter into skulls.

Now there's two reasons you may not have heard of this map. One was that I was heavily involved with csvegas as a server and didn't care much about advertising the map elsewhere.

The other is that it pretty much flopped. Here's my guesses why:

Too much dark
Routinely the number one complaint about the map and why it didn't get much replay. And I completely admit ... the map was dark. The reason for that (and FPS fans get ready for this) ... was that you were supposed to use your flashlight. Course, unlike a certain other shooter, you could fire and aim the light at the same time. Course, I had also assumed that ala Unreal darkmatch - flashlights would prove a vital part of the gameplay. Not only did you need it to get around - it would also more easily give away your position.

Thing is - a lot people who play games like CS habitually are ... well ... creatures of habit. Maps which force them to ignore those habits generally just annoy them.

Random acts of spooky
I didn't want the overt or predictable. Like a big bloody corpse in the middle of the floor or whatnot. Problem is - you run the risk of people not noticing or caring too much about these smaller details. In a good horror movie, these small details can lead to a big sum of scare. In an action game, they're just trifles. Few people even noticed the ghosts in the bedroom on lightning flashes.

Low production values
I'm not a skinner or a modeller - so I was totally dependant on the stock Half-Life assets. Sure, there's quality stuff there - but at this time custom work was already becoming pretty standard. Maps like Dust were going to set a new standard of what could be done (not to mention ... what was that ... Villa?). Old hat is not scary.

In short, I was creating the wrong scenario for the audience. CS-Gorehouse ... that would probably have gone over like gangbusters. Custom models and textures dripped out with blood and guts. A showcase of horror or museum of images ... not sneaking around with subtle environment effects.

And that's the big problem horror games have ... it's not that hard to make these effects. It's hard to sell them. Doom III was dripping with production value ... but it failed to be received as a truly scary game. I think it's because id also failed to address their crowd. They relied heavily on their old stunts and pulled out nostalgia ... not fear.

For one thing - most people have to want to be scared to find anything scary. Suspension of disbelief is difficult enough on it's own and horror is possibly the hardest of the hard to sell to a reader/viewer/player. Most action gamers don't want to be scared - they want to be thrilled. It's the fundamental problem with crossing the genre gap. You have to sell to people with their guard down but their desire to be scared up.

The Blair Witch Project is my favorite litmus test. Ask anyone how they felt about the movie ... and then how they felt about it going in to the movie. Most people I know who ended up hating the movie went in after hearing all the hype about how scary it was ... and went in thinking "I bet it won't scare me." And it didn't. On the flipside - going in before the hype and most people were taken by surprise with the movie.

No other genre requires audience participation as much as horror. It's not that the weight isn't ultimately on the work itself, but much depends on the reader.

tagged: ,

Lost Thoughts: Tale of Two Cities

Thing I like about Lost is that it still gives me something to chew on. I'm not saying the show doesn't have some flaws, but it's still fun to puzzle over. Couple things about last weeks that are sticking with me:

How does one run across the island to a specific location in ten minutes and gather "lists" of people one doesn't know?
I mean, Benry's commands to Ethan/Goodwin were specific and on the spot. Ten minutes is not much time to do anything on the fly. I can barely find my keys in that period of time. What kind of abilities do The Others have that makes this plausible?

Maybe those "voices" in the jungle are just The Others moving really quick?

Also, Juliet punched out Jack mighty easily.

Sometimes your intel is just too good...
This goes with the whole "list" thing. Just how do they know everyone's name? They also seem to be aware of their background. If they didn't expect the plane to go down (which I'm slowly accepting as true) ... they wouldn't have had the manifest list or anything.

Old Smokey seems to be the big clue here. Smoke cloud that can show people's memories. People who can read minds? I know the producers have said things are "explainable" but we're sliding into the metaphysical quickly it seems.

So we (maybe) have people who are super-strong, super-quick and can read minds. They all also seem quite intelligent (and manipulative). We have an underground project designed to better humanity to save the world. Maybe The Others are neuvo Cybermen - enhanced beyond normal humanity and coldly calculating?

Now that's a skinner box
I thought it was funny watching sites talk about S1 or S2 in terms of a skinner box ... when they're actually pretty specific devices. Sawyer is definately in one (apparently originally designed for polar bears ... fish bars and all) and Jack's cage is pretty similar in design to one too (Juliet is response control there). SBox's are used for one thing - behavior modification. So what are they being trained for?

tagged: ,

Video Game Decency Act Submitted

The newly proposed H.R.6120, titled the 'Video Game Decency Act of 2006', was drafted by Upton in order to “prohibit deceptive acts and practices” on the part of developers and publishers in an effort to benefit from a less restrictive ESRB rating. According to the wording of the bill, any failing to disclose such content will be treated as an “unfair or deceptive act or practice affecting commerce” as judged by the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Upton introduced the legislation with the assistance of Illinois Democrat, representative Bobby Rush, along with ten other co-sponsors. Commented senator Upton on his bill, “This legislation will restore parents’ trust in a system in which game makers had previously done an end-run around the process to deliver violent and pornographic material to our kids. Parents across the country can breathe a sigh of relief as this legislation goes hand in hand with the mission of the industry’s own ratings system.”
-- Gamasutra - Video Game Decency Act of 2006 Introduced To Senate

By the way, that's the same Bobby Rush who is against network neutrality ... so clearly this are lawmakers in touch with how technology really works (*ahem*).

Until lawmakers are actually willing to acknowledge the disconnect between parents, their kids and the media - this will just be dance, puppets, dance and much gnashing of teeth. I'm perfectly willing to accept that the ESRB could use some adjustments, but I don't think a larger font size will be stopping the number reason why kids play games like Grand Theft Auto ... because adults buy it for them.

tagged: ,

Bioterrorism MUD

On my left sat three other members of Harbortown's finest: the police IT manager, the chief of police, and the homeland security liaison. At a table to my right were four representatives of city government. At a third table sat officials from the local hospital. Our laptops displayed information about the city's computer networks and allowed us to email each other. The game was almost entirely text based: It was like a massively, or rather minimally, multiplayer Zork.

In round one, the cyberterrorists took the 911 server down, and Harbortownians got busy signals and hang-ups instead of emergency operators. Obvious virus emails with the subject line "Download this file" arrived in my inbox. Electronic highway signs suddenly read BIOTERROR EVACUATION WARNING. A posting appeared on the city's Web site warning of a bioterror incident at the local mall. We eventually realized it was a hoax – but not before evacuating the mall. Annoying, but not worth creating a new military-industrial complex over.
-- Sim City: Terrortown

Can games cure cancer? check. Make you smarter? check. And now make the worlder a safer place? Of course. I understand that if this simulation successfully saves a town, it sends Jack Thompson a "bite me" e-mail.

tagged: ,

Make Your Own Nintendo DS Comic

Comic Book DS will organize your photos into a comic book viewable on your Nintendo DS. Via MAKE.

tagged: ,

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lost Experience Revelations

For those of us too busy to actually play the Lost ARG - Lostpedia's got your back. They have compiled a full list of revelations from the game pertaining to the show. I think the producers did a good job here of finding juicy tidbits which don't necessarily ruin the story by either knowing or not knowing.

tagged: ,

"Next Gen" Star Wars Pics

Found these on Gemini Ace's photostream. I dunno if they're next-gen as in "post movies" era concept pics or next-gen as in "new consoles make kids happy for Christmas" next-gen.

Either way, they kinda remind me of what I wish the Star Wars mythos had done with itself. Instead of becoming simpler, straight-forward and scientfic (midchloriwhats? ... get dark, dense and deep. Course I also played a lot of Lego Star Wars II this weekend, so maybe I'm biased in some way.


Battlestar's Back

Out of all the shows I've seen start up this season, Battlestar is easily the one that hit the ground running. Following on the heels of last season's twisty ending - there are no punches being pulled. The show manages to take a bleak view of a battered human condition and make you want more and more.

Spoilers below, so if you haven't caught up yet - stop reading and just go watch.

Two seasons ago, I never would have expected this show to take on the idea of Cylons and humans so intertwined. I would have expected a pretty standard war formula of secret missions and risky assaults. Largely, that was season two. Now, it would seem, we're in the thick of things. So far it seems to be paying off well. The writers have a rich blend of interactions to pull from and with that we're getting political and psychological dramas that makes previous material seem old hat and cliche. Between Starbuck repeatedly killing the Cylon who professes to love her and Apollo "losing his edge" - it's like we get to see all new angles of the characters we've grown to know.

Since most of the shows seem to pitch a softball this week, Battlestar looks to have a start which could prove it's best season yet.

tagged: ,

It Came From Hollywood

I didn't get quite as much coding as I would have liked this weeked - although I did get a fine logging feature working which will help out quite a bit. It's hard to visualize music data as a bunch of invisible numbers.

I did, however, see some pretty bad movies.

Silent Hill
The saddest thing about Silent Hill is that it's actually very visually stunning. The director clearly knows how to frame a scene and the cinematographer drags all the color and darkness into the film. It was also the only movie this weekend with a half-way decent premise. The problem is that the execution of the premise is off so horribly. The main character, Rose, continues to defy logic in increasingly annoying ways. I mean, the movie starts with her running of with her child to a ghost town to cure sleepwalking. It's like she missed Mommy Camp and went to Horror Victim Vocational School instead. This and some confusing plot points about the daughter completely underminds what should be the strongest tug in the story - a mother's conviction to save her child. Toss in some nonsensical story turns and the weight really gives out early on this one.

I want to say it's worthy of a rental simply because the visuals here go past simply great CG work - but it's hard to say. If you really like horror movies in general, it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, go rent MirrorMask. Better visuals, better story.

I'm so glad The Girl wasn't around to witness this one. I would have been raked across the coals. Ultraviolet desperately wants to be Matrix 2.0 with host of speculative sci fi concepts (dimension folding! portable gravity wells!) ... but sadly it leaves open plot holes and concept questions so vast that it's only solution is to keep moving so quickly that perhaps the viewer won't notice. It doesn't work. The writing never comes close to rising to the level of say, Equilibrium - which had it's own problems suspending disbelief. There's nothing wrong with watching Milla performing action scenes in tight clothes and lots of special effects - but Ultraviolet comes close to becoming the exception to that rule.

Stay Alive
One time a fairly well known writer asked me to proof something to see if it was "geek savvy". It was odd stuff - kinda future jargon talk - so I wasn't entirely sure how well rooted it needed to be in fact. It was hard to "tech check" something that wasn't really based on ... well ... tech.

So I get that making really technical stuff in movies is harder than it probably sounds. Stay Alive, however, got a lot of free press by being a "video game horror flick" ... and from what I can see it barely even tries. The movies fails on two fronts - non-gamers will likely get turned off by all the well, gamer references. Gamers will get ticked off because the gamer references are so ridiculously off based. Allow me to try and summarize in a quick paragraph:

A group of gamers find a beta disc of a game developed apparently by a single person which runs on both PlayStation and PC and is sometimes first person and sometimes a third person but is apparently a persistant online world one can only enter by speaking aloud the password.

I mean, we've all been there - right? The movie gets so wrapped up into its game mechanic (there's a bit where you hear something vibrating when danger is near ... clever? Not really) that it doesn't understand that it's tripping over itself by the end. By the time one character spawns a crowbar in the real world - you'll wish the movie was already over.

tagged: ,

Lionhead and The Spiral Of Doom

Possibly the most forceful part of the presentation was the Lionhead duo's comment: "Don't be pulled into the spiral of doom". Specifically, this relates to signing a new game in order to use some of the new resources to help finish existing games - an extremely tempting thing to do, but a harbinger of doom for any firm that does it. (The Lionhead co-founders noted that they'd been tempted, but had never done this.)

Something that came up in the Q&A, but functioned as a major talking point for indies as well, was the subject of developer/publisher contracts for gaming. Molyneux suggested that the way these deals are negotiated is "completely flawed" for the independent developer, as he urged: "There needs to be a mindset change in this industry".
-- Gamasutra - LGS: Molyneux Talks Development 'Spiral Of Doom'

tagged: ,

Oblivion Modding

Just a quick shout-out to all the modders who are fixing Oblivion (apparently reported widely on Joystiq, Penny Arcade and Joystiq). I've moaned enough in the past how so much of mod culture is geared to "boxed" gaming and total conversions - so it's nice to see a community of people interested in jumping in and actually finding ways to improve the core gameplay itself.

tagged: ,

Wired Gets Hands On With Bully

Anti-game fanatics beware! If Bully teaches people anything, it might be to actually play a game before protesting it. Wired's Clive Thompson reports:

I laid into the kid with a flurry of punches, including a punishing uppercut I'd been taught by an alcoholic Vietnam vet. Wham, wham, wham: Pretty soon I'd pummeled my opponent into the ground. And for my brutal finishing move?

I leaned over and gave him a hand up. I lectured him about the importance of not bullying defenseless kids, and he apologized, promising that he wouldn't be such a meanie any more.

Then we became friends.

This was, I confess, not quite what I expected when I first heard about Bully, the hotly anticipated new title from Rockstar Games. Indeed, it's not what anyone expected.
-- Bully for You

tagged: ,

Spore And The Long Zoom

“O.K., now we’re finally cooling off,” he said, clicking furiously on his computer screen. “The temperature’s going down, so we can get more water in here. Oh, now we’ve got way too much atmosphere.” While adjusting the planet, he paused long enough to say: “It’s kind of like that labyrinth game where you’re rolling the ball around the maze, trying to drop it in the hole. Except we’ve got these inertial effects, where your planet starts heating up, and you’re trying to slow it down, but you get these runaway greenhouse effects.” He turned back to the screen. “O.K., our temperature’s pretty good; our atmosphere’s pretty good. Now let’s see if we can add water.”
-- The Long Zoom (via kottke)

The article goes into some length about how certain imagery becomes emblematic of a generation - comparing Spore with Google Maps in this instance. Some pretty extensive talk on Spore itself, however, and how it's emblematic of Wright's own career.

tagged: ,

Space Invaders Skateboards

Each deck is covered by a mosaic made of real tiles and is signed, titled, dated and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist
-- New Launches: Space Invaders Skateboards

tagged: ,