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Friday, February 09, 2007

Space Turkeys: The Scan

Oh, happy days - that's the ad my dad would always use an example as to the evil of video games. "Playing space turkeys" was nearly a battle cry for him. Yes, that is a monkey flying a plane and dive bombing some evil troll thing while being chased by a Pac-Man with wings. Brilliant! He got us a Commodore 64 only under the notion that we'd use it for homework and not games. That lasted about ten minutes. And now Dad has a GameCube sitting on top of his television.

Dang, I've been looking for that ad for years. Finally found it with m1a9366b's photoset of scans. I kinda wish it had the text that goes along with the ad - but I'll take what I can get.

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Review Of Galloway's Essays On Gaming

Pop Matters looks at Andrew Galloway's "Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture", a book on gamers, and gaming, in culture:

The most interesting of the essays, however, is the final one, an essay called “Countergaming” in which Galloway explores the effect of various game “hacks” on the part of the gamers themselves, ultimately finding the current incarnation of countergaming rather useless in the context of the medium it tries to revolutionize. This is because most of the hacks available separate the “play” from the “game”, turning the game into another medium altogether. These hacks are unplayable and, in many cases, uninterpretable, making them interesting only by the fact that they exist.

Galloway’s exploration of these topics makes for interesting, if not quite riveting reading. He never talks down to his audience, actually giving his work the air of academia in his choice of vocabulary, not to mention his historical and philosophical points of reference. Perhaps most importantly, he is very, very effective as a persuasive writer, exploring each of his points step-by-step, punctuating each of those points with at least one example (and often many more), arriving at his conclusions in a calculated, methodical manner. Even so, it is the parenthetical in that previous sentence that often dooms his writing, at least for the reader not interested in repeatedly poring over the text he has been given—Galloway has a propensity to overuse his examples, to the point where their inclusion becomes a distracting annoyance. This is a habit that extends beyond his videogame examples into other realms where comparisons are necessary; his movie examples are particularly pervasive in “Origins of the First-Person Shooter”, where he uses them as both platforms to jump off of and points of comparison.
-- Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture

Two smart posts in a row. Guess I made up for the Super Bowl ad with girls mud wrestling?

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Grand Theft Auto And Progressive Politics

I don't know if I have enough coffee to properly grok the following - but I like the notion that everyone's favorite kicking boy, GTA, can be a model for change. Stephen Duncombe here uses GTA as an example as to why sometimes rallies and political causes don't attract followers ... they just aren't engaging:

As unlikely as it seems, progressives can also learn a lot from a best selling shoot-‘em-up video game like Grand Theft Auto. Yes, all the hand-wringing, wet-blanket, moralistic critics of video games are right: Grand Theft Auto is apocalyptically violent. But there is something else about these games, especially morally suspect ones like Grand Theft Auto, that demands our attention. They are wildly popular. Why?

Video games like Grand Theft Auto may appeal to our worst libidinal instincts—a bit of eros and a whole lot of thanatos—but these games also demand the participation of the gamer; new worlds open up to the player as he or she develops new skills, and characters respond based upon the player’s past actions. In video games, unlike almost all other mass media, the spectator also becomes a producer.

This runs counter to much of how progressive politics is done these days. Consider the typical “mass” demonstration. We march. We chant. Speakers are paraded onto the dais to tell us (in screeching voices through bad sound systems) what we already know. Sometimes we sit down in a prescribed place and allow the police to arrest us. While these demonstrations are often held in the name of “people’s power,” they are profoundly disempowering. Structured with this model of protest is a philosophy of passive political spectatorship: they organize, we come; they talk, we listen. Progressives need to re-think our game. If people aren’t joining us maybe it’s because the game we’re playing just isn’t much fun to play.
-- Dreaming Up New Politics

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Dev Diary: Layers Of Distraction

First, head over to Jeff's project post - not just because it seems like a neat idea, but because he shares my shyness to talk about stuff that isn't entirely cooked (although I seem to overcome said shyness regularly).

That said, this is funny - that early screenshot is completely obsolete now. There's nothing that remains from it. As I've mentioned before - Dreadnought is no longer strictly tiles. Rooms are layers which can be placed on top of each other. Doors mostly work - but instead of dynamic shading rooms will probably be "lit" or "not lit" at least for the time being. Line Of Sight is something I still have to fix, actually, especially for ranged combat.

And instead of scrolling - I'm going to rely on stacked content to provide ... ahem ... depth to the maps. So a "task" might have like five maps which link to each other and each of those maps might have five distinct levels to them. Levels will be interconnect by stairs and lifts - but probably also by simply falling.

I got a basic version of the editor working last night - so LOS and leveled play are probably my next two tackles. The Brother comes into town this weekend, so I don't expect to get much until next week.

It is, however, fast. I think I've found some theoretical limits on the number of HTML divs the page can handle at once and so I might have to add culling routines once I have a properly loaded dungeon - but I'm pretty confident that this approach will allow me build complex maps that don't bring down a processor.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nothing Apple Works On Vista Right Now

In a follow up to the earlier report that Vista exploded Internet Explorer before viewing a Mac ad online, it appears that not of Apple's is working on the new OS:

Today's tech support document names a range of additional Windows applications from Apple that don't support that new operating system.

These include: QuickTime, the iPod shuffle reset utility, Bonjour for Windows, AirPort for Windows, the iDisk utility, AppleWorks for Windows, and Apple Software Update for Windows. The stand-alone iPod updater for iTunes 6 for Windows also isn't ready for Vista.
-- Apple's Windows Apps Not Vista Ready.

Ouch. I would think, given the number of iTunes seats are probably sitting on a Windows hard drive - that this is actually a pretty big deal. Least it pops the Microsoft conspiracy of the week.

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Ready For Dhoom 2?

No, not a typo. Dhoom 2 is a major Bollywood movie which will now be a video game:

The game will feature likeness of characters from Dhoom 2, including Mr. A (Aryan) Jai, Sunehri, Ali and Shonali and many more. Each character will be faithfully recreated in full 3D and will be brought to life by the FXLabs team of talented programmers, artists, and animators.

Commenting on this tie-up, Mr. Sanjeev Kohli, CEO, Yashraj Films, said “Gaming is fast gaining acceptance among our target audience and this is the first time an Indian movie is being extended into a game. Dhoom had become a favorite film with youngsters and Dhoom 2 has gone a step beyond. The Dhoom 2 videogame will feature characters from the movie as well as all the action and excitement our fans have come to expect.

FXLabs was the obvious choice for us when we decided to move into this exciting new medium. The talent and experience that they bring to the table is unmatched, and their passion for this project shows in the quality of their work.”

Mr. Tony Garcia, CEO of FXLabs Studios said “We at FXLabs are extremely delighted and privileged to be working on this exciting new project with Yashraj Films. Their commitment to excellence only serves to make our jobs easier as they continue to deliver some of the best and most highly anticipated films in the country. For the Dhoom 2 videogame, we aim to tap the rapidly growing consumer market in the sub-continent as well as the broader international market for Indian content.  India is catching up with North America and Europe and we see a huge market potential in the movie-based gaming space."
-- - Dhoom 2 to rock you as video game now

I'm not sure why this struck me so ... I"m just trying to get my head around all the dancing.

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TV Watch: Tale Of Two Islands

So Lost. Where were we? Ah yes, we were wondering how long after this hiatus the plot would dance around core issues with the mystery. I think best summed up, now that we're back, by Tom's quote: "Well ever since the sky turned purple - WAIT! What's behind you??? Look away before I say something moderately reveleaing!"

Or however he put it. The plus is that it was a pretty entertaining episode all by itself. The escape was pretty well laid out and the interplay between Juliet, Ben and Jack was wonderful and tense. Heck, I even managed to buy into the lame, "stay here, Alex, because Dad said so."

Or however she put it. Still, Juliet's backstory was a great chance to reveal some DHARMA secrets and all we really got is that they have yen for conception (known), they seem to be able tap into or control random events (known) and that at one point they hired Batmanuel (not known, funny, irrelevant).

I might be more optimistic if the show wasn't returning to psychic Desmond, Nikki and Paolo (or as I like to call them - Wishbone and Bearmeat ... as in I hope polar uses them for meat and picking teeth).

Good episode - I just don't think the show has any signs right now of righting it's current track of derailment.

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Grand Text Auto On Randolph Carter

The Case of Randolph Carter is a AJAX hypertext, well-written and frequently engaging, designed to play out in nine different endings and to incorporate some elements of interactive fiction. One clicks to select words and actions rather than typing commands. While I don’t find the interface as appealing as the standard textual exchange of IF, those who aren’t fans of typing to their fiction may have a different opinion.
-- Dead IF Lies Dreaming

I should hunt down the precise language of the Slamdance critique and publish it ... I think, however, the core problem with Carter versus traditional IF is the lack of clear casuality. It's exploration, sure, but it's not necessarily the same as allowing the reader to have a plan. It's not correlation. Thanks to Nick for the note and Curmudgeon for passing it along.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Superbowl Site Hacked For World Of Warcraft Passwords

Maybe I missed this in the fury that was the Bears repeatedly trying to run the ball up the middle of the field. C|Net reported a while back that Dolphin Stadium's web site was hacked prior to the Super Bowl to add malicious code (pictured, via TechRepublic) which was intended to lift passwords from vulnerable computers.

The same code was also passed to several other high profile sites. Which passwords came later:

Ullrich said the malicious Trojan originated from a domain in China, which has also been terminated. He said early evidence suggests that the likely culprit may be a Chinese gold farming syndicate linked to the online role-playing game World of Warcraft.

"It almost looks like this Chinese group had a script that looked for a particular vulnerability in an order of mass on all these sites," Ullrich said.
-- Dozens of Web sites spread malicious Trojan

So let's sit back and ponder this a moment. A crime syndicate hacked web sites to gain passwords in order to farm virtual gold to undoubtedly sell on the open market. Here I thought the seedy underbelly of the net was mostly spam kings, DoS blackmailers and Russian hackers. Clearly the age of the Geek Mafia is upon us.

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Vista Breaks Down When Seeing "Get A Mac"?

That's what New Launches found when they tried to browse to Apple's "Get A Mac" ad with Windows Vista's IE7. Gee, petty much?

In moderately related news, Walmart apparently couldn't find a web developer for their new video download store that can load CSS into FireFox. Yeesh. It's like 1996 all over again.

TV Watch: The Morning After Veronica

I think I've finally gotten to the point where I doubt the current season of Veronica will get any better. I think it's finally reached a plateau and simply is. The mystery of the week won't have the same zing has season one and the overall plot will simply be disjointed. It's a love it or leave it scenario.

Or like it. I suppose for now I can simply like Veronica. They make it hard, though, when they foist silly relationship plot points just to set up another melt down. It's like watching amatuer hour on a soap opera, honestly. I can't decide which I care less about - V jumping back into Logan's bed pretty much just because or Logan turning into whiny baby about her inevitable breakdown.

Here's the thing with Veronica and Logan. I agree with Dick. There you go - it's gotten that bad. The show's cliche shallow mysoginist actually has the moral high ground on these two.

Kinda like Heroes - Mars needs focus. We spend a lot of time popping in between characters and concepts without much to hold onto - and in the end we just miss old friends like Mac and Wallace all the more. The show is still entertaining - largely due to well written dialogue and Kristen Bell's ability to steal her own scenes. It's OK to good ... but that's painful knowing how great it still could be if it went back to its core.


Wii Sports Versus Gears Of War

Dang - would anyone have pitted the game that come free with a Wii against Epic's $10 million epic?

I don't think I would have. But suddenly playing Dark Cloud 2 makes me feel like I'm slipping behind the curve. At least I have Okami to keep me warm.

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Brain Chef

Brain Chef is a web-based humans vs zombies game with sweet NES style graphics. I don't dare try this out at work - but I admire it's gorish spunk regardless.

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360 Quieter Thanks To New BenQ Drive?

Microsoft quietly solved the issue and moreover, some consoles manufactured after Nov. 2006 are also supporting a new BenQ DVD Drive (VAD6038 drive) which is the reason behind quieting down the prior noisy drives. The new drive is also believed to work at a bit higher rate and smoother manner than the previous drives.

The developer of the drive is BenQ-LiteOn-Philips who will be providing quieter drives to Microsoft for its Xbox360s.

One more drawback associated with Xbox360 is its excessive heat evolution that also need to be cured. How new Drive will affect the heat evolution?
-- Xbox 360 gets quieter with BenQ VAD6038 Drive

How new hard drive indeed. Well played. Well, probably not much - I don't think the DVD was a likely source of an abundant amount of heat anyway. But quieter is always good.

Wired's Gadget Lab has more details.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

When Jack Attacks (Part Gazillion)

Apparently Kotaku airing BatJack's legal capers didn't go over that well with him and in his usual scream at the cloud strategy, Thompson carries out an email lashing. Crecente wonders if this doesn't fall under the definition of harrassment (with BJ repeatedly trying to get him fired).

My favorite parts (in no particular order):

- BatJack seems unfamiliar with legal documents bearing his name. Surprising? Not really.

- BatJack, who routinely tries to censor material he deems unsuitable by getting it pulled from shelves, has the email address "". (Readers should use that address as they see fit)

- Apparently when I wasn't reading Kotaku, BatJack confused Florian Eckhart with a girl, because Florian sounded girlish to him. It's OK, Jack, I thought Florian was a chick too - but that was just because of his writing style. ( ... I kid because ... I'm mean ... )

- On the "scariest day of his life" with his wife having surgery - BatJack doesn't have time to completely vet the Kotaku article. He still has time to write a really nasty email, of course, just not time to research it. The Girl and I have a standing agreement that if she's going to the hospital and I'm emailing Brian Crecente - she gets to pop a cap in my ass. Caliber of her choosing.

- BatJack has a lawyer named Ray Reiser. This should be obvious - BatJack needs a lawyer ... evident by the Kotaku article itself, actually. Still "Ray Reiser". I think there's sitcom potential there.

BatJack repeats a threat to sue Kotaku. This is apparently what happens when Bully isn't worth protesting or nobody happened to shoot anyone with an Xbox laying around.

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TV Watch: The Problem With Sylar

This week's Heroes marked another uptick. I still don't know why we should care about Hooker Mom's plight - except for her liason with Flying Guy and problems with Linderman - she's completely removed from the plot. Was there no Mind Cop this time around? Good idea. Heroes cast a wide net, and it has this tendency to drag the show along. More focus, tighter stories, less holes to jump through.

However, it occured to me that Sylar might be like the worst villain ever written. Not just because he's your run-of-the-mill psychotic. No, he's the R2D2 of psychotics. We have no idea how many powers he has stolen. The Girl asked how he managed to hibernate and cheat death. Who knows? I guess he stole a Yeti brain. How did he escape? Maybe he teleported. Who knows?

And of course now that Mimic Boy can use any power he remembers - he's got the same kind of potential. I'm guessing Mimic Boy won't be around long enough to be that kind of problem for th writers.

Jack's Lucky Day
Oh and on 24 ... how lucky can Jack get? He gets to torture his brother twice. You have to love the family values on this show. Is everyone in Jack's family an idiot or traitor? Is he like the black sheep at every gathering?

And just how did their botched concrete death "go to plan"? Remember, Graham told the guards to make sure it went according to plan. So that plan was - "act like a stormtrooper and wait for a good time to get shot." Damn I hope they have a good health plan at that company.


Killer Atari Tattoo

"In case you're wondering, the strange symbols at the top and bottom of the ring say "Gamer Girl". They are written in the Alphabet of the Magi."

I'll take her word for it. From evil angela's photostream.

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Bizarre Astronaut Love Affair

This isn't how we imagined astronauts as kids:

She allegedly told officers that she wore a nappy, as astronauts do during launch and re-entry, so she would not have to stop on the journey.

Mrs Nowak, a married mother of three, was friendly with Navy Commander William Oefelein, a pilot on space shuttle Discovery’s trip to the space station last December, and believed Ms Shipman was having a relationship with him, it is said.

In the early hours of Monday morning, wearing a trench coat and the wig, she waited for Ms Shipman to arrive and then followed her to her car, saying she wanted to talk.

But Ms Shipman, an engineer assigned to the 45th Launch Support Squadron at Patrick Air Force base near the Kennedy Space Centre, became scared and locked herself in the vehicle. After pretending that she was stranded, Mrs Nowak persuaded Ms Shipman to lower her window a couple of inches and then allegedly squirted pepper spray into her eyes.

Ms Shipman managed to drive away and the police were called.


“I asked Mrs Nowak about the steel mallet and the BB gun. Mrs Nowak stated that the BB gun was going to be used to entice Ms Shipman to talk with her.”
-- Nasa astronaut arrested for attempted love rival kidnap

We all know nothing says "I just want to talk" like a wig and a steel mallet.

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There's A Fawlty Towers Counter-Strike Map

And nobody told me? Brilliant. Browse this old thread for screenies or I think you can download it here

Update: I seem to have been able to confuse matters somewhat. There is both a map for the mod "The Ship" and a Counter-Strike Fawlty Towers map. I've managed inked to one forum (Ship) and a download page for the other. Since I was googling for "Counter-Strike" at the time, I didn't notice the difference. Kotaku did and posted some more of the screenies as well.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Dev Diary: Blue Skies

I'm going to talk theoretically here - so it's probably best ignored. This is actually the exact kind of thing I try to avoid - I feel it hexes me and often unfairly raises expectations on projects I'm more likely to half-finish than not.

So, seriously, you should probably ignore everything I'm about to write. I'm only here because it's a convenient place to jot my thoughts.

Currently, I'm travelling down option #2 for revamping the Dreadnought render code. This is one easy thing about working on a strict web concept - everything is so lightweight it's actually not too painful to toss it out and start over. And boy, this is turning into starting over. "Abandoning discrete tiles" turns out to be pretty fundamentally. As in going from a tile-based system to ... well, not. This means that while the test code I have working right now fundamentally behaves in a "tile" way - it's really just grids. If I have a room that is 100x100 with a player, monster and obstacle - that's four "objects" (very loosely defined). In a tile based system, it would be something for each square foot of real estate. Here if the room goes to 500x500 - it's still just four objects. You've just changed the info, not actually the size.

Perfomance wise - if that doesn't solve the problem ... nothing will. I'll know more when I have a properly sized map.

Fundamentally, this means that objects have to do things like check the info to avoid say ... walking through walls. One nice thing about a tile system is that you know where everything is at. Check that tile? Door? Ok... do that. And so on.

I think the complications are pretty minor. But it has me thinking. If a map is defined by sections and not grids - what does that mean? Well, for one thing it is a lot easier to think about graphic backgrounds ... including backgrounds which might have nothing to do with the grid itself (since the grid is just a handy way of dividing a room and not a real obstacle).

You could also, for instance, have real sections which exist above or below other sections. Pain to think how the editor would deal with it, but it would be interesting to be able to "jump" from a ledge and actually land on the floor below and then run under that ledge.

Does that mean I'd have to factor in falling damage?


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$2 Million Settlement For Lite Brite Ad

Turner Broadcasting and Interference Inc. also issued a statement accepting responsibility and acknowledging that authorities responded appropriately to the publicity campaign gone awry.

"We understand that in today's post-September 11 environment, it was reasonable and appropriate for citizens and law enforcement officials to take any perceived threat by our light boards very seriously and to respond as they did," the statement says.

Coakley and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the settlement and statement show that police did not overreact.

"So I just have to say the folks who second-guessed us because we did go out there and do our work, shame on them, because it's important that we did it," Menino said.
-- Turner Broadcasting agrees to pay $2 million - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

You know that picture of a big fish eating a little fish which is eating an even smaller fish? This is like that, but with stupidity instead of sea life. Does it cost that much to hire someone who knows the difference between a bomb and a lite brite?

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Vaporware With Free Delivery

How much should it cost for the non-existent? I don't which is better about this latest Duke Nukem Forever pre-order ... that it has screenshots from various (and incredibly dated) demos over the year or that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is listed as the "perfect partner".

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Overcoming The Stigma Of Gaming

The Age has an interesting interview with one Jeffrey Brand, a professor of new media:

Dr Brand says the change is occurring amid old fears, myths and stereotypes from some members of the community, but results from the study, including the rapidly increasing numbers of adult and female players, suggest that lingering negative stereotypes will not last.

"There is an emerging realisation that computer games contribute to literacy and numeracy, social skills, interest and drive for arts, sport and competition, logic, planning and self-control," says Dr Brand.
-- It's academic [The Age Blogs: Screen Play]

It's an interesting interview. Game advocates have said for some time that much of the anti-gaming hysteria (*cough* BatJack *cough*) isn't unlike what other forms of media - from television to comics - have faced in the past in a fight for legitimacy. Most Cathode readers will be familiar, actually, with his words - that media perception isn't entirely in line with the reality (as in numbers of adult gamers, behavior of younger gamers, etc). Still, it's a positive message that slowly things could be getting better.

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Game Play: Rayman Raving Rabbids

I enjoy football enough - but I generally don't sit back and watch a whole game. Last night's Super Bowl attempt by the Bears wasn't really any different. As it seemed that by half time, the Bears were going to have a hard time getting the ball down the field without the aid of kind of turnover ... it seemed like it might be painful to watch the whole thing.

No, I like football with a healthy side of PlayStation. Or Halo, or anything, really, to entertain the brain while someone's offensive coordinator tries to figure out a new strategy. Rayman Raving Rabbids is a perfect game for this scenario.

Rabbids takes the veteran platformer and tosses him into a mini-game rabbid fest. The game is, as the kids would say, pretty whacked. Challenges range from a simplified version of DDR to rolling balls around a brain maze (literally) to whacking a bunny on the head with a hammer as quickly as possible. The design is just brilliant because there are lots of laughs to be had just by watching the insanity of that the makers thought up. The rabbids are great fun as hyperactive balls of furry (and often self-inflicted) damage.

Since most of the challenges only take a few minutes to play, it's a perfect game to have on in the background without needing to worry about save points or boss fights. We were just alternating playing the story mode, not the score mode - which I'm guessing is the multiplayer version of the same challenges.

Rabbids has gotten a lot of attention on the Wii and I can completely see why. It would very well suited for the new controller. However, it works pretty well with the standard PS2 controller and that includes the rail shooter sections. Actually, the rail shooter scenes are extremely well designed for the lack of light gun or other pointing device. The enemies signal their attacks and give you a chance to react with the crosshair. Honestly, the quality of the dance and shooter challenges alone make this title worth a try.

The story mode is crazy short - we just started yesterday afternoon and I think we were 90% done by the time the Bears managed defeat. We'll play around with the score mode soon and see if it's worth having around just as a social/party title.

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Game Play: Destroy All Humans 2

I was a pretty big fan of the original Destroy All Humans ... it was one of those titles that really sold me on Pandemic. The other title was the incredibly excellent Mercenaries ... and if anything Destroy All Humans 2 succeeds in the same ways both of those title excel.

The gameplay is fairly sandbox - you play as the desctruction loving Crypto running random missions across multiple locations. Sometimes you get to hop in your saucer to do battle with various army units. Missions are pretty varied for the genere, moreso than Mercenaries even, with anything from simply demolition to throwing cars onto roofs. An excellent addition is the ability to coop at any time during the game. All the normal missions can be played with two players - just plug another controller and you have an additional Crypto clone. While the interface and scenery can be a little distracting for split screen at first (this game screams for high definition) - the overall fun of zapping people, taking over their bodies and forcing them to dance with your mental powers is even more fun with a friend.

The voice acting is great. The guy who did the voice for Zim plays Crypto's commander and it's just as much of a treat for Zim fans as it was in the first game. The Nicholson impersonation for Crypto is equally fun and you even get Anthony Stewart Head (Giles from Buffy) popping in during the game. The dialogue is funny, extremely so for a video game, and the cutscene conversations are often worth the full play-through to get the complete banter.

There are some bugs. Units will occasionall spawn (or get TK'd) into walls. This even happened to me once, causing a need for a restart. The interface occasionally freaks out, especially during coop mode, but nothing dramatic. The missions could have used another round of QA - it's possible to destroy your objective without realizing it. And when I mean not realizing it, I include the computer - leaving you confused why that dissident isn't showing up when he should.

Still, thumbs up for this title. It's not terribly long and even shorter when you have two players working together. I think I played it on and off for about a week before we beat it. It is, however, well worth the ride.

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Dev Diary: Performance, Take III

As an aside, it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey right now*. Schools are closing, they city isn't recommending being outside and a concentration of mist, fog and steam creeps over the lake. Thankfully, no zombies. This would be a really bad time for zombies.

So after thinking that my making Dreadnought render in such a way that it didn't have to redraw an entire table at once that I had more or less licked my major performance problems. Take II on rendering was to determine precisely where things had been and were going and adjust specific tiles. I even tried to make a multidimensional array to hold the DOM elements to speed up lookups. My Mac still wasn't happy, so I replaced the entire table based map with HTML divs instead.

As another aside, there's a movement within web developers that tables are obsolete and divs are the way for virtually everything. My problem with that is - tables were designed to hold information side by side and above and below ... divs were not. Clever CSS tricks work around this problem but often cause brand new ones.

Also, when I replaced a huge table with a series of absolutely positioned divs ... I got no benefit. None. Nada. Nothing. Probably because for modern computers, a table which isn't nested simply isn't much of a problem.

No, the problem is just size in general. It seems to be the number of elements, not the type, and sectioning portions of the elements off seems to have minimal effect. I'm not sure if it's DOM manipulation in general. A single move can cause several elements to flip class and content. With a very small map (say 300 tiles), this is really fast. With a large map (say 3,000 tiles) this goes down to a crawl.

Well, on my Mac at least. But what's the point of making a web based game if at least a lower common denominator can't work with it? I don't want to publish processor requirements for a turn based game.

So I have three options:

1) Maintain only a series of small maps. In other words, your "dungeon" would consist of 300 tile blocks. This feels suboptimal to me - burden to map creation, restrictive to gameplay.

2) Abandon discrete tiles. Instead of using elements for every tile, use elements to define overall room specifications and then rework the event structure to match. This is a pretty major overhaul considering the amount of code that currently exists that examines an activated tile. Course, to keep that code - #1 is about the only appropriate approach.

3) Ditch the DOM and use a canvas tag. This has a couple of attractive elements. Canvas tag offers many more rendering options (non-uniform lines, circles, etc). It's actually about the only thing (other than flash) which resembles what I'm trying to do (graphically represent data). However, it's also the most severe departure and would definately limit development to FireFox ... not just now but probably permanently without another rendering (and event) re-write.

Hm. Sigh. This is definately the biggest snap I've hit so far - a potential fourth quarter "backbreaker" turnover if you will. Actually, it's not that severe - I just wanted to make a Super Bowl reference. It's been my experience that when you see a browser slug in the way my BonEcho (an optimized version of FireFox for PowerPC) is slugging right now - it's trying to tell you that you're abusing the system. It's better to have this early warning now than down the road.

* "brass monkeys" refer to the brass holdings for cannonballs on a sailing ship.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

For Sunday: Great Taste, Less Filling

I'm going to have to write some really good content next week to make up for posting that. Go Bears!

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