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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

List Of Demands For 2007

I'll be heading out for the holidays soon enough. Not many worries other than wrapping presents and drinking eggnog. Or at least, that's my hope. As this year closes, let me take a moment to do a little armchair analyst wishlist for the next (again):

X-Com DS
Oh, c'mon - it's such a no brainer. The DS can easily handle X-Com's original graphics and code. The touchscreen is easily one of the best user interfaces for such a game. People have been yearning for proper multiplayer on the game for ages now. It's a cult classic. It will sell like hotcakes.

Doom DS
I've been playing GBA Doom a little since stumbling on the soundtracks and honestly I'm still amazed as to how much fun this game can retain. Honestly, the simpler graphics suit the mobile console just fine. Now, imagine the exact same game only with coop over NiWiFi, deathmatch and CTF.

Phantasy Star Online DS
I know, we're getting Dragon Quest so I should probably not complain. But I still miss the old days of PSO. And Phantasy Star Universe doesn't look like it will make the cut for me. No splitscreen coop? Maybe that would be OK on my trusty DS ... but not on my PS2. Once again, this is a classic game ripe for the handheld online market.

Nintendo, Sony ... embrace the hobbyist
Microsoft gets major props from me for taking the charge with XNA Studio ... even if the actual implementation is debatable. At least they are trying. It's time for console developers to recognize the role that modders and indies have had on the PC market.

Even if it were on a smaller scale - like allowing user maps and gameplay mods to be downloaded from a specific channel. Anything that gets the users involved with creating content will end up creating more content and eventually more professional level content.

Hands down, XNA is the biggest reason for me to eventually get a 360.

Apple Branded Game Controller
I'll keep saying it over and over again - the easiest way for Apple to pave a new path for Mac gaming is to develop a compelling game controller that developers can really get behind. The biggest turnoff for me when it comes to 90% of the games I try on the Mac are the controls. Because of Apple's HID setup, keyboard controls are by far the easiest to code for and the most common. Unfortunately, they often suck. A common controller with a powerful SDK

Apple Game Portal
The other problem that faces Mac gaming is the lack of coherent online community to learn about new games, have developers upload games and players to try them out. iTunes is perfectly well equipped for this and is even somewhat taking the first steps by offering games for iPods. But hey, not every Mac user is an iPod user.

PlayStation 3 Online Services
I mean serious services. Weather, maps, email, concierge duties, and the kitchen sink. Right now, this is about the only space that Sony can directly impact. They can't force everyone to develop Blu-Ray movies and they can't convince developers to make killer games until they have a viable market (200K stateside doesn't qualify as such). They can, however, offer better online applications for users. If Sony cops out and relies solely on their web browser as a universal provider - they are going to find themselves being outpaced by Nintendo and Microsoft early in 2007.

PlayStation 3 Backwards Compatibility Fix
I've got a ginormous PS2 library. I'm not going to be terribly willing to part with the PS2 until I know I'm good and done with them or that the PS3 will play them ... and play them correctly. I refuse to have two PlayStations hooked up to the same TV (and even if I didn't, The Girl would).

Xbox 360 Revision 2
Smaller, quieter, cooler. Enough said.

PSP 2 / PSP Phone
OK Sony, the PSP has managed to get a foothold. That's a pretty decent feat in the GameBoy world, sure, but now it is time to follow Nintendo's strategy and release a redesigned PSP. Drop UMD. Drop it like a bad habit. Sell games via download and memory stick. Release a firmware to make the PSP1 compatible. For extra points, call Ericcson up and design a gaming phone that doesn't suck.

Don't Release Duke Nukem Forever
Because it's just so darn funny to keep delaying.

OK, that's it for 2006 people. Have yourself a happy Apokalyptica and go easy on the nog. I'll be back in the New Year with another resolution I don't plan to keep.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ray Traced Quake 4

Via Wired's Gear Factor comes this article about trying to use ray tracing in first person shooter:

One technique that was used creating the images for those movies is called “ray tracing”. This is an alternative rendering technology compared to what actual graphic cards on modern PCs and consoles do. For many years ray tracing has only been used for offline-rendering and the generation of pictures for movies often took many days to calculate.  Real-time ray tracing has been made possible with the OpenRT Ray tracing library. Through using many PCs over an Ethernet network interactive frame rates could be rendered in high resolution. Now, four years later CPUs have progressed a lot and ray tracing works in small resolutions on a single PC in real-time, but more on this later.
-- PC Perspective - Ray Tracing and Gaming - Quake 4: Ray Traced Project

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David Foster Wallace Mii

Brilliant. From Kottke's contest. I wonder if Dave is aware that he can be played within a Nintendo product right now. He's always been rather analog.

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$250K For Playing Halo 2

The gamer's dream: achieved. Walk in to the spartan Murrieta townhouse 18-year-old Ben Jackson shares with four friends and relatives and you find comfy, if slightly snug, living quarters -- as if he were a collegiate upperclassman, not a professional gamer. There are two Xboxes in the cramped bedroom he shares with his buddy, Derek Smith, and three busted units in storage, but no room in the house is exclusively devoted to the industry that has lined the Murrieta Valley High grad's pockets with $70,000 since March.That figure probably will rise astronomically in the next three years: Monday morning, Major League Gaming awarded Jackson a $250,000 contract for his dominance in "Halo 2," the sequel to "Halo," which was the original signature game of Xbox. "Halo 2" is a violent science fiction story, and the most popular non-sports video game designed for the Xbox console.

Jackson's contract will be paid in varying monthly installments over the next three years. And there's a windfall to be made in the many tournaments he takes part in each year.
-- Murrieta teen awarded $250,000 for his dominance in Halo 2 - The Californian / North County Times -

Dang - I coulda been a contender. Well, maybe. Back when I was heavy into online fragging - the concept of going pro wasn't being ridiculed ... it wasn't even being discussed.

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Alternate Reality On CNET

Jane McGonigal, the well-known alternate reality gaming designer and academic, will be interviewed tomorrow by Daniel Terdiman of CNET in the Second Life virtual world. McGonigal, creator of Cruel 2 B Kind and former lead designer at 42 Entertainment, will be talking in the theater of the CNET bureau in Second Life, marking the second occasion in less than a month where ARG designers have spoken in the Second Life realm -- the other, a Second Life Future Salon discussion, will be discussed in a future article here at ARGNet.
-- ARGNet: Jane McGonigal on CNET Tomorrow

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Now To Corvus With The Wii Weather

Corvus found that the forecast channel was downloaded to his Wii and promptly took some screenies for the world to enjoy (and for me to steal). This is actually some pretty neat functionality. I just wonder if Sony's response will be "well, you have a web browser - use it." And Microsoft, of course, will be saying, "who needs a forecast"?

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Sex Advice From A D&D Player

Racy and lewd in a couple places - but funny as hell:

I have a medieval costume fetish. How do I interest a partner in this?
Easy as regenerating a limb with troll’s blood! Are you a woman? Simply dress up in a bikini, link together a few pop can tabs into something resembling chain mail, and drape your “armor” over your crotch or breasts.
Are you a man? Oh, fucking forget about it. You can call it your “Wand of Wonder” all you like but she’s still going to laugh at your cape.

My last lover cheated on me. How can I learn to trust again?
Experience is a harsh mistress. Or wait, no, Xytherias of Calmodorn is a harsh mistress. XP is just a bitch.
-- Sex Advice from a Dungeons and Dragons Player at Dethroner (via Red Bull Diary via Gnome's random lair)

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PlayStation 3 Stock Rumors

A new shipment may have already hit stateside. I've heard that last night Circuit City had PS3's on the shelf.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Doom Music In MP3 Format has a library of nearly every Doom score ever made. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration considering Doom is one of those prime requirements for virtually every computing device on the planet. Still, it's an impressive collection. Found via the Fantasy Flight Forums for those people looking to make their Apokalyptica outing of Doom: The Board Game (complete with new rules!) extra ambient.

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Is "The Lost Room" Like A Game Plot?


Another thing worth mentioning—and I'm not sure if this is criticism or merely an
observation—is that the plot of The Lost Room very much reminded me of a puzzle-oriented video game, such as Myst; or perhaps it would be better to compare it, considering the level of action and violence, to Resident Evil. In fact, I'd be very surprised to find out that a game based on the miniseries was not already in the preliminary stages of development, ready to be green-lit if the series is deemed a hit.
-- The Lost Room - Camera Obscura by John Joseph Adams - Intergalactic Medicine Show

It's a completely justifiable observation (or critque). Much of the plot is pushed forward either by the discovery of a new object, clue or the completion of some puzzle. Were we back in the days of Infocom, this could be turned into a text adventure with little tinkering to the original story. Nowadays it would potentially be best handled in the style of Indigo Prophecy with puzzle solving instead of DDR style minigames or perhaps an online Flash game.

Or, as true for Lost, an Alternate Reality Game would be most interesting. I know setup an "object hunt" - but I think it was basically just sweepstakes related material. Indeed, I think I'd rather see a Jamie Kane style ARG than a proper sequel for the time being.

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Amazon Raffles PS3 & Wii - Goes Insane

Amazon went and changed their "Customers Vote" concept yet again. After bringing down their servers by offering a 360 Core for 66% off, they moved to a more reasonable "random handout" concept. Now they seem to have abandoned "voting" as an overall concept and now you just select something and hope you might get it. Course, they're also constantly changing the deadline. Apparently the current on ended this Sunday. Lucky customers who apparently do nothing but check this page every day to see what new contest Amazon is running this week can find out tomorrow to see if they've won their chance to buy a PS3 (both models) or Wii at their normal MSRP.

So in other words the "Customer Votes For A Bargain" concept is now a "Random Selection To Not Get Gouged At Ebay" model.

'Tis the season, I guess.

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TV Watch: Would You Want A Lost Room Sequel?

First, a quick spoiler free review. Sci Fi's The Lost Room gets major props for originality and casting. It takes a moderately absurdist premise and moves at a quick pace with almost surprising clarity and focus. By the time the six hour series ends, you actually get a feeling of depth when it comes to the room, the objects and the chaaracters. No small amount of this is due to Peter Krause who truly sells the role he is given - a hapless detective who is thrown headlong into a bizarre underworld of, well let's say, random physics.

If you haven't seen it, stop reading now - because it's a lot more fun with the plot and mystery laid out as intended. The plot doesn't hinge on being a thriller - but I recommend avoiding spoilers (such as those I'm going to toss out).

Especially since I'm going to the jumping right to the end.

there be spoilers here....

The show's ending is somewhat ambigous. We aren't given any indication as to which theory of the room may or may not be true - largely whether God plays a large role in the room's creation or not. We aren't even sure what happened to Pawn Shop Owner - even though it's probably safe to assume he met a Cordroy like ending and won't be making many appearances outside of screaming on someone's home video. Likewise, we don't know if "The Object Prophet" is the real deal or not. Most importantly, though, I'm guessing Joe Miller wasn't the first person in some forty years to have the idea of tossing the key back into the room. All of these loose threads are clearly ripe for one thing: a sequel.

But would it really work? Take the first portion - that we aren't given any clearly origin story to the room and its empowered objects. What story would really suffice? They're all likely to be just as bizarre as the next. As The Occupant was apparently an innocent bystander - we don't even have a starting point for such a story. All we know is that at some point "something bizarre happened" and then the rest we pretty much know already.

So - do you need to know "what bizarre thing happened" or is it better to just let your mind ponder about it? Sequels are so often a disappointment as a means of furthering the mythos of a premise. Highlander 2, for instance, simply destroyed what many people had thought was good about the original movie. By contrast Aliens 2 wisely went off on its own tack. The Aliens franchise went downhill when they tried to flush out their fictional universe with half-cooked concepts (largely designed to keep Ripley around).

Personally, I'm willing to let the door close. A sequel would only be great if they kept the original cast and managed to create enough new information that it felt worthy of the undertaking. Aside from that, the mystery would probably play out better in my head.

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