Monday, December 29, 2008

Nintendo Wiiiiiiiiii!!!

Typing "Wii for Christmas" into YouTube generates a number of entertaining and charming results, though none as awesome as this, the spiritual successor to the N64 kid:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nice! II

Another blog post here worth reading. Don't miss the comments, either.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Prototypical Holidays

Happy holidays from Prototype! Man, this game looks cool. I saw people playing it at GDC and thought it was fantastic. And I loved that "Hulk" game. But Prototype has been delayed...so what's going on? Don't put a lump of coal in our consoles, guys!!

How About That?

My city wants to make an MMO. Who knew? Thanks, Taylor!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Club Nintendo Is Go

You've probably already heard the news that Club Nintendo has finally launched in the USA. It's basically a brand loyalty program that rewards fans with exclusive trinkets and merchandise. (It's also an awesome direct marketing application for Nintendo!) All you have to do is register your official N merchandise and games to redeem points, which can in turn be redeemed for gifts. Some of the stuff is pretty schweet, including the Game & Watch Collection for the DS. Speaking of, I bought a copy of that for my friend Greg when I was in Japan a few years ago. There was only one copy, so I didn't get one for myself. See how much I love Greg? Did he ever play the damn thing? I need to ask him! It will truly help us to determine if Club Nintendo is really worth the trouble. Well, the traditional Hanafuda cards are pretty hardcore.

The site still seems a little buggy. I can log in, but I can't see my games or coin balance. Will have to try later.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nice!

A recent blog post endorsing the merits of FusionFall can be found here. Hooray!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nintendo Pisses on the Comptetition

Looking for a great gag gift for the gamer in your life? Then look no further than Super Pii Pii Brothers for the Wii, available from the fine folks at Think Geek and probably from other fine import retailers. (Although I believe Think Geek now sells through Amazon, a nice plus for them.) From the description: "Super Pii Pii Brothers promotes good bathroom skills and allows women to experience for the first time the pleasure of urinating while standing." I know I certainly find peeing while standing immensely pleasurable. Am I right, guys? Am I right?

On a side note, Kotaku has posted the November console sales numbers, and the Wii continues to dominate...despite the fact that the Wii's holiday software offerings are pretty wiik! And lest we forget, Nintendo is the only player that actually makes a profit on every console sold. It turns out that the only think more pleasurable than urinating while standing is making gobs of moolah.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

OMG RE5

Bloo's voice: This game is gonna be awesome!



Dude, use your knife more!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dragon Quest Overload!

So I finished Dragon Quest IV (40 hours of awesome), and can't wait for Dragon Quest V to come out next year. Oh, and then there's that all-new entry, Dragon Quest IX for the DS, which hits Japan in March.

Now Kotaku reports that Dragon Quest X will be coming out some day for the Wii. Kazing! My slime cup runneth over!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SFW

Over at my personal blog, this post from nearly two years ago is suddenly getting lots of comments. I wonder why?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Buy, Buy, Buy

Amazon has launched their "Cyber Monday" deals, and if you are a fan of Atlus games, it appears that many of their recent PS2 releases are on sale. Most notable is the Persona 3 FES bundle, which comes with a CD soundtrack and art book, for $19.95. Wow, I bought the game by itself for $39.95, and I've put less than ten hours into it. Shame!

As always, Cheap Ass Gamer has a really good consolidated list of Amazon's deals, but it seems that a few might be missing. For example, you can pick up God of War 2 for ten bucks. Tempting! I never had a chance to play that one.

On a side note, Joystiq has posted a list of the best-reviewed games of the year, which might help spark your memory if there's an older title that you wanted to pick up and forgot about it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Thing I Just Renewed

Print is dead, right? Sounds like it might be the case for EGM, at least according to Joystiq. Can't say I'm that surprised, considering the mag has become thinner and thinner over the last few years. Unless a "web version" can plant some kind of stake in the ground big-time, this will further delegitimize the "real" journos and continue to inflate the importance of the blogosphere. Oh, joy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FusionFall Fans

Speaking of fans, now you too can become a FusionFall fan on Facebook. I wonder what FusionFall's religious views are?

Awww...

Here's a really sweet post from a FusionFall fan across the sea.

And here is the ongoing FF thread on Toonzone, which is always interesting to follow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dead Space Odyssey

I finished Dead Space last night. The game has some flaws, most notably the repetitive feeling I was getting in the last 1/3 of the story, but the awesome cinematic presentation and solid core gameplay kept me hooked to the end. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Cool fact: after you win, you get to play the game again with all your powerups! I love it! Why don't more games let players do this? Sure, it's a cakewalk, but it is really fun to steamroll the enemies that gave you such a hard time at the beginning. (It's like...revenge.) The game also coughs up a bunch of bonuses and an upgraded suit. I was very pleased. I don't know if I will play through the whole thing again, but I might just to check out the other weapons and so forth.

Great game!

The Book of Adventure Games I & II

Just for fun, here are the front and back covers from 1984's "The Book of Adventure Games" by Kim Schuette.

And here's 1985's "The Book of Adventure Games II"!

BONUS! Here's a page from the "Zork" map in the first book.

Amazingly, these books cost $20 back in the day. Which seems like a lot. And apparently there was a third entry in this series by Mr. Schuette (turns out he's a guy), but I can't seem to find much about it.

Goto internets.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

10,000 Words About Curbstomps

Wouldn't you know it? My New Yorker subsription accidentally lapses (not sarcasm), and they go and do an in-depth profile of CliffyB in the November 3 issue.

(Incidentally, have you heard about his new game, Gears of War 2? Maybe you have. It supposed to be balls-out fucking in-your-face awesome!!)

Mr. Bleszinski is a smart guy, an interesting fellow. He doesn't make the kind of games that I personally would like to make, but that doesn't mean he isn't really, really good at his job.

And on a side note, this article links to a 2001 article about UO that is totally worth reading. I remember reading it at the time, long before I even knew what an MMO really was. A timely read in light of the fact that Lord British turned in his crown this week.

I'll read both of these tonight!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fantastic

This is an awesome thread on the VG Cats forums about the FusionFall beta. Black Knight + turkey leg = win!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sugar Rush Closed Beta

I don't know what Nexon's Sugar Rush is, but it looks totally awesome. Is it a 2D fighter, or more of a traditional grindfest like Maple Story? I don't get excited about too many MMOs, but Nexon always has my attention. Sigh...I guess I am an emo teenage otaku at heart. (A scary prospect.)

The animated trailer looks nice. It kind of has a Kim Possible feel to it. I wonder who did the design and production? It has a decidedly western look. Surprising coming from Nexon.

I am purposefully avoiding more information about this game. The first I heard of it was in this morning's Nexon newsletter. I want to see how the average player learns about new games. But I'm sure there's more available on the web. Isn't everything on the web? (Answer: yes.)

Anyhoo, I put my name in the hat for the closed beta. Stand by for more info.

Monday, November 10, 2008

FusionFall Preview Weekend

This has not been highly publicized, but FusionFall is doing a special "all access" sneak-peek weekend starting this Friday, November 14. If you have any interest in the game, I suggest you go to the FusionFall website right now to sign up. Then be sure to post in the forums to let us know what you think!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Interview Conmigo

Check out this short (but oh so totally sweet) interview at TenTonHamster. Thanks, guys!!

Here We Go Again

Sigh...the perennial violent-games-make-violent-kids article rears its head on CNN. At least it is tempered with some sanity:
But Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and the Media at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, isn't convinced.

"It's not the violence per se that's the problem, it's the context and goals of the violence," said Olson, citing past research on TV violence and behavior.

There are definitely games kids shouldn't be playing, she said, for example those where hunting down and killing people is the goal. But she argues that the label "violent video games" is too vague. Researchers need to do a better job at defining what is considered a violent video game and what constitutes aggressive behavior, she added.
Maybe twelve-year-olds shouldn't play GTA?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

This is probably (okay, definitely) TMI, but I just read Nintendo's 2009 release calendar while taking a dump...in my Mario costume.

(Well, I didn't take a dump in the costume. I did it in the toilet bowl. But you get the idea.)

In any case, looks like I picked a good time to buy an XB360, considering the most exciting thing on Nintendo's Wii list is a port of Mario Power Tennis for the GameCube.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prince of Persia Storybook

I absolutely adore this kind of thing. Ubisoft has produced a storybook to promote the upcoming Pince of Persia game -- which looks totally awesome, by the way. And the book is gorgeous, too, even in online form. I guess the Penny Arcade guys wrote it and did the art? Very impressive! I wonder if there will be a physical book as well? Seriously, I'm not sure these kind of premiums ever have the impact that they deserve, but it's still really cool when companies do this kind of creative "brand extension" for their products.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Regarding Used Games

100th post!

Regarding used games, peep this Joystiq thread for an extremely entertaining debate about the issue. Granted, it devolves into "ur dumb LOL" in some places, but remarkably, a healthy back-and-forth can be teased from the comments.

Instead of posting there, I decided to put down a thought here: if you want to give your strongest support to the developers (and publishers) of a game, buy new. If you want to save money, wait and buy used.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In Other News

I bought an Xbox 360 last night. Woo! This was the gift I promised to myself when our game was ready for launch. Though maybe I jumped the gun a bit, I just couldn't wait to play Dead Space. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that the stores are not getting Dead Space until today!

Fortunately, the nice boys at Cheap Ass Gamer reported on the excellent "buy 2, get 1 free" Toys R Us sale that is currently going down. I bought GTA IV and Force Unleashed, selecting Bioshock as my free game. Even though Bioshock is currently priced at $40, I decided to get it because: a) it was free, and b) there's been a lot of talk in development circles lately about the hard facts regarding used game sales. So I decided to buy the game new and support the developer (and Toys R Us) instead of GameStop.

Anyhoo, my plan is to return Force Unleased for Dead Space. What I'm also debating is whether or not I return GTA IV for Fable II when it comes out next week. I don't know how I'm going to have time for all these games. But if Fable gets some good writeups, I think I might skip another 100 hours in Liberty City for a new tour of Albion.

FusionFall: More to Read

GameCyte delivers a very nice piece about the platforming aspects of our game, as well as some other things that (we hope) make FusionFall quite different from the standard MMO experience.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

FusionFall ISO Content Designer

Are you a game designer looking to relocate to the lovely Atlanta metro area? Or perhaps you already live here, and you're just looking for new gig? Maybe you also love cartoons and writing game scenarios and missions? And maybe you also like lemon helmets? Well, then, have I got a link for you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yes. Yes. Totally Agree.

Just when I was about to write off GameSetWatch as a navel-gazing linkfest, they go and post something like this. An opinion piece about the relationship between developers and game journalists, and how to further the causes of both. Written by a games journalist! With some actual humility and insight! What's that, you say? The writer does a very good job of describing a lot of things I sense about this industry/relationship, not to mention the things I may have witnessed firsthand. The column actually has made me think about how we (developers) choose to interact with the media, and with whom we choose to do it. Very nicely done.

Metaboli + GameTap = ?

By now you've probably heard the news that GameTap and the UK's Metaboli games-on-demand service are merging. This piece from Variety does a good job of shedding some light on this new partnership/acquisition.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two FusionFall Hits

A few members of the FusionFall team are here in Austin for the AGDC. We're also showing off the game, and you can see a few recent hits here and here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Poor Silicon Knights

I feel for Silicon Knights. I really, really, do. Dennis Dyack and his team are clearly passionate individuals, smart guys, who want to make kick-ass videogames. In fact, they already have. So what the hell happened with Too Human? Let me say this up front: I haven't played the final game. I don't even (gasp) own an Xbox 360. But I played the early demo at E3 two years ago, and I was psyched. Everyone else said, "Oh boy, this game is going to be garbage," -- but I was all like, "No, no, look past the rough spots and you can see they are really trying something fresh." And then everyone else was like, "No, really. This thing is going off the rails," and I was all like, "Give them a chance! It's Norse mythology meets Robocop!" And so on and so forth.

Well, the reviews of the final game are in, and as everyone knows by now, they are not exactly glowing. The situation harkens back to the Schwartz Theory of Low Expectation Media Consumption, but in this case, I really need to cite the Schwartz Theory of High Expectation Media Consumption, which essentially states that a project's percieved (or actual) failure is always compounded in direct proportion to the level of anticipation with which it is met by the audience. In other words, when Uwe Boll fails, nobody cares, because they expected him to fail. However, when Steven Spielberg does the same, it is that much worse because all of his movies are met with very high expectations.

In any event, the gamers don't seem to like Too Human very much. For a really hilarious review, check out this week's Zero Punctuation. But not everyone is a hater! Kevin Pereira says: screw them! You know what I want? I want some Silicon Knights fanboy to jump to the game's defense, just like this guy did for Alone in the Dark. So noble! So hilarious! (Thanks to Matt for the link, by the way.)

Well, fine. Too Human probably isn't as bad as everyone says. I reserve judgment until I have the chance to play it myself. It just goes to show you how influential an editorial trend can be, furthering my skepticism of "games journalism" (hah) as a whole. Spore also seems to be a victim of the Schwartz Theory, and that's a real shame. But the expectations for Spore were ridiculous, probably the most anticipated title of all time! How can anything live up to that? I've just started playing it myself, and so far I am really enjoying it. Looking past the hype, you can easily see its brilliance, but I think some players were expecting Spore to simulate life while alphabetizing their DVD collection and doing their taxes simultanteously. Now that would be an amazing game.

Well, this was a linktastic ramble. Point is, I feel for Silicon Knights. I guess I will determine how badly I feel for them once I've actually played their game.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Best Game of All Time

ActionButton.net has recently crowned one of my favorite games of all time (see this old post) their favorite game of all time. It's Out of This World, AKA Another World, AKA Super Awesome. This passage from the review is a nice one:
Out of This World was ahead of its time in 1991, and it is still ahead of not-its time in 2008. One might call it an art film of a videogame. This wouldn’t be a wrong description so much as a lazy one. It’s more of a silent film of a videogame. Or, better than that, it is a videogame of a videogame.
And:
It stays cool-headed, elegant, and noble until the end. It isn’t a “game” with an “engine”; it’s an experience, one big, elaborate “puzzle”. It’s a story. It just happens to contain the bones and sinews of an excellent game.
And something I never heard before:
Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami has gone on record as considering Another World the absolute best game of all-time, and the primary influence on Resident Evil.
Oh, and apropos of something-or-other:
A bullshit-free, flowing game possessing Zelda’s attention to detail could be amazing.
And since this Tim Rogers fellow is a good writer, but could use a good editor, here's his conclusion in case you can't get to it:
[Out of This World] is honest, humble, noble, and at the same time hugely artistic and expressive. It tells a story, it presents awesome, unforgettable gunfights, and it lingers in the back of the mind for an eternity. It is the closest videogames have yet come to a great film, and we probably shouldn’t ignore it anymore. Every element that causes critics to jump up and down with joy in modern games existed in a perfect, pure form in Another World. Everyone making games — or writing about them, or playing them — should either play it, play it again, or at least think about it. Because, seriously, though we can’t say with a straight face that we “need” more games like this, once we have a whole bunch more of them, we’ll definitely start wondering what we did without them.
Hear, hear!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Sim Exchange

I found this on Metacritic. Called the Sim Exchange, it's a game that uses virtual currency to buy and sell stock in video game titles. (Not unlike the Hollywood Stock Exchange.) Could be a fun use of free time, assuming you are one of those people who have some of that.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dead Space

I am really impressed with what I have seen about EA's upcoming Dead Space. At first it seemed like a boring retread of themes we've seen in other (better) games, including the scares of RE4 and the atmospherics of Bioshock (which admittedly I still haven't played beyond the demo, shame on me). However, everything EA is doing to support the game leading up to its launch has been very impressive. There is a mysterious website called No Known Survivors that definitely sets an eerie tone. Then there is the prequel comic book series from Image, along with an animated version that you can check out around the intertubes, including on Game Trailers and the game's official site. These animated comics, of course, are not to be confused with the animated feature from Film Roman, which also tells a story leading up to the events of the game. The DVD is already in my Netflix queue.

All of this high-quality execution almost enables me to look past some of the very tired narrative elements of the game. (James Cameron, anyone?) BUT...I shall remain optimistic because the game does look pretty impressive (the HUD-less interface is a sweet touch) and EA wouldn't be throwing all this at a stinker, now, would they? Hats off to them for some very nice marketing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ben 10 Bounty Hunters

New FREE multiplayer shooter Ben 10 Bounty Hunters is pretty darn awesome. This is a fast-paced shooter in which you, as a bounty hunter, fly around the map trying to capture members of the other bounty hunter team. The actual player matching system appears to still have some wrinkles, but the gameplay is solid and very fun. And it's free!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bionic Commando Rearmed

Bionic Commando Rearmed is a special kind of game. Definitely a by-gamers-for-gamers kind of game. I had a chance to play it a little bit over the weekend, and it really is freaking awesome. I have a fondness for the orginal, and was amazed to see how much of the NES "feel" translated into this modern reworking of the game. So much of the core experience remains intact. But now the bullets have real power, the enemies have heft, the swinging feels even cooler. In essence, it's like the Bionic Commando you wish it was back when you were playing it on the NES. And you have to give props to the developers for the insane attention to detail, like the Mega Man construction hats and the funny (yes, funny) enemy dialogue when you hack their network.

It therefore warms the soul when you read here (thanks, Kotaku) that sales of Bionic Commando Rearmed blew Capcom's expectations out of the water. Seven days and 130,000 units!! Much deserved. Read an interview with one of the developers on GameSetWatch to see how careful and creative thinking can actually pay off. A happy good time story for skeptics like me.

Thanks, Bionic Commando Rearmed! Bock, bock!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Warhammer FTW

Listen, I don't really have much interest in either Warhammer Online or Wrath of the Lich King. But I have to tell you, the Warhammer cinematic trailer beats the hell out of the Lich King opening cinematic, much like that little goblin dude beats the hell out of that red toothy mouth monster with his big stick.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

GameCyte on FF

Relatively new gaming site GameCyte has an extensive preview piece about FusionFall. Read it today!

New Prince of Persia Gameplay

Okay, I am officially psyched for this new installment of the Prince of Persia series. Looks awesome!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New "I Am 8-Bit" Opens Tomorrow

If you're a Tinseltown gamer, you owe it to yourself to check out the 4th installment of the awesome I Am 8-Bit art show at the World of Wonder Storefront Gallery. Hmmm...I think this is a new venue. I have visited two of the last three showcases, and I even bought a piece from the first one! Does that make me an artsy-fartsy collector or just a total geek? Or both? Can't wait to see/hear what's on display this year.

Friday, August 8, 2008

MMO Hospital

For those in need of a check-up, there's apparently a website (AKA a consulting firm?) called MMO Hospital that will cure your sickly game of its ails.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

WTS: AOL

Apparently, GameTap isn't the only TW property on the auction block. Reports indicate that a little thing called AOL may also be for sale.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bad Pirate!

Also on Gamasutra, a great opinion piece on software piracy, and why it is fucked up. The end.

WTS: GameTap

Gamasutra reports today that GameTap is for sale.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Apple II Cracked Screens

I recently stumbled upon this awesome collection of Apple II cracked game screens. Brings back memories!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fusionfall Site Updates

There's been a few changes at the Fusionfall official site. Check it out!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Last Stand 2

How exciting that Last Stand 2 has been released, a sequel to one of my favorite web games of all time!! This new one has lots of interesting gameplay updates, including maps to select your search locations, travel, and the ability to equip your companions. Said companions can also die during a shootout...poor companions! The dogs are still as annoying as ever. And the chainsaw has been seriously gimped, having the annoying tendency to putter out when you need it the most!!

Web Kids

And just as I post the below, here comes an article in News Day about virtual worlds for kids and RL toys, like Webkinz.

Kid Stuff

There's a recent feature on 1up about virtual worlds for kids. It's a good one to read (I never heard of Dizzywood), but it only scratches the surface. It's indicative of something I've noticed: while the media aren't looking, this kind of content is surging. Why isn't this being covered? Sure, you get the occasional "MMOs Aren't Just For Grownups Anymore" article, but in general, nobody is really paying attention -- except maybe the people making the games. My theory? The guys (yes, they are almost all guys) who make up the press (twentysomething fanboys) don't care. And really, why should they? Gears of War 2 is coming out!

I'm waiting for somebody to seize the opportunity to really cover this genre, if such an opportunity exists. I mean, other than the articles above and niche websites like Ten Ton Hamster, where can you go to see reviews and analysis of this stuff, for kid OR adult audiences?

In ten years (or less), when these games are making really serious money (instead of just plain ol' serious money), we'll probably start to see significant media attention.

Friday, July 11, 2008

OMG

Friggin' great article in this month's WIRED about the gathering of internet cewebrities at something called ROFLCon. Catch an earlier story here and an image gallery here. Oh, and check the official ROFLCon site here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

FusionFall Safety Measures

A press release about FusionFall's safety features can be found here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Game Tunes

I'm doing a ton of writing and revising of various game documents as we race towards our launch later this year. To stay in "the zone" (AKA not reading or posting to blogs, ahem!) I am listening to lots of game music while I write. It's excellent stuff because: a) it generally doesn't have vocals, and b) it's very atmospheric and works in the background. (Just like in a real game!) Not to mention the fact that it is wonderful to revisit favorite games when the tunes are just fun to listen to. And you'd be surprised at how excellent some of the compositions truly are. On the current playlist:

- God of War: an epic soundtrack, to say the least. Very "cinematic" though perhaps a little too much in-game dialogue.
- Resident Evil 4: light on melody and long on atmosphere...actually quite scary! Great for deadlines.
- Metroid Prime 3: recommended by a friend. I forgot how awesome this music is. I've had the original Prime/Fusion soundtrack in my collection for a long time...this one is almost as good and echoes many of the original's themes.
- Diddy Kong Racing: well, it's a bit silly. But this is one of the best game soundtracks of all time. (By Rare's David Wise.) I played the crap out of this game. I hear the music in my dreams.
- Magna Carta: The Phantom of Avalanche: I grabbed this one from our Korean developer when I was in Seoul. I don't think this game came out in the states. The music is good, though cheesey in that proto-Asian style. A dance remix of the love theme at the end is rather sexy.
- Capcom Music Generation Rockman 1-6: If you don't think the stage themes for the original Megaman are some of the best game melodies of all time, then you're a dummy. I looked for this collection forever. I didn't even know it existed until I found it online.
- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem: mentioned in a Chris Kohler blog post in the context of his Too Human preview. Reminded me how cool this game is. The music is excellent and brings back good memories of the game.
- Nintendo Power: Play It Loud!: this was a magazine bonus CD from the SNES era, and it contains music from some of the best games of that generation: Yoshi's Island, Super Metroid, Link to the Past. A fantastic collection and a great find.
- Super Mario 64: I ripped this soundtrack years ago from a cassette that I owned from back in the day. Now I found a much better and more complete version. Not to mention the fact that my original copy was not broken into tracks...just one long 32-minute song. Obviously, some classic tunes here. (Love "Dire, Dire Docks"! Cool name.)

Where can all this great music be found, you might ask? Now, I am not one to condone the proliferation of "illegal" intellectual property, so let me be the first to admit that I am rationalizing the following...visit Galbadia Hotel or Kingdom Hearts Insider to find these gems, amongst many (MANY!) others. But remember, it's always best to buy the original article when you can. (Hey, I bought my "Dragon Quest VII" OST when I was in Tokyo, dammit!) However, some of these things are so rare, hard to find, or just not available in this country that you would be a stalwart nerd indeed if you could resist the urge to dip your toe in these waters. Who knows how long these sites will be around, anyway?

Happy listening!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Groin to Life

I just started playing Drawn to Life last night, and this blog post is totally hilarious.

Korean Pirates

Since I am in Seoul at the moment, this Gamasutra article about the state of piracy in Korea was really quite timely. Although anyone who knows how prevalent the practice is won't find the article extremely informative, I think the personal anecdotes from the writer are enlightening. Even better are the comments below the article. I've never been a fan of DRM, but I'm extremely anti-piracy. The game design students who comment about how everything should be free provide the typically cavalier (and boneheaded) arguments that set my blood to boil.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spore "Tools"

As Sam likes to say: "Give them the tools, and they will make a penis." Or as I would paraphrase: "Give them the tools, and they will make tools."



I like it when the music kicks in!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spore-tastic!

I got the Spore Creature Creator and made my first little guy. Ain't he cute?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sam Lewis, Interviewed

The Multiplayer Online Games Directory (mpogd.com) has an interview with FusionFall's very own lead designer, Sam Lewis!

Silly Rabbit...

MMOGs are for kids! So sayeth The Escapist, and heck, I believe 'em! Speaking of which, check out Wizard101 if you haven't already.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Calling Cat-22!

A special announcement from my personal blog is duplicated here, because it is awesome:
Watch an episode of Calling Cat-22 on Cartoon Network Video now, then watch for more episodes this Sunday, June 15, during the "Not-So-Smart Toons" Marathon (12p-6p)!!
"Calling Cat-22" was written and created by me, produced by the crack team of Steve Patrick and Evan Adler, directed by Jai Husband, featuring the voice of Dave Markus (among other talents) as Guthrie and a theme song penned by David Nagler and Thom Soriano!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

GameTap News

Wired.com's Chris Kohler reports the news about recent events at GameTap. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Metaquality

GameSetWatch points to two excellent opinion pieces about the relationship between a game's sales figures and its underlying quality. Specifically, this writer talks about why you can't rely on Metacritc, and this author suggests that you can't rely on your boss. So who can you rely upon? Yourself, baby.

All I know is, I have definitely allowed Metacritic to influence past decisions about whether or not to purchase a game.

Boom Blox Rox

Just a quick note that Steven Spielberg's Boom Blox from EA is a lot more fun than the new Indiana Jones movie!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Virtual Worlds, Real Ads

This recent article from the Financial Times is an absolute must-read for anyone with any interest in virtual worlds for children.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New FusionFall Pics

There's new images added to the FusionFall website gallery. Check 'em out!

EAKS

Richard Bartle developed the categorization system of the (MMO) gamer, who, according to the system, falls into one of four types: Explorer, Achiever, Killer, Socializer. Well, actually, gamers are not just one or the other but a combination of the above, with one or two traits generally dominating. It's a useful system of categorization, but from a designer's perspective it is somewhat disheartening how the theory is treated like gospel...

Anyway, you can take the test for yourself and give it a try. I am EAKS; the explanation follows:
EAKS players often live by the phrase 'The journey is often more enjoyable than the destination.' They are motivated by meeting the challenges of the world, but they are usually in no rush--because seeing the creatures and places of the world is even more fun.
I have to say, this is pretty accurate. But when "achieving" stands in the way of "exploring" I generally find it to be "frustrating".

Monday, April 28, 2008

New Prince of Persia

Cool...Ubisoft has kept this pretty quiet, but a new-gen Prince of Persia is hitting consoles this holiday. According to the press release, "The game is poised to rejuvenate the action-adventure genre in addition to introducing a brand-new illustrative art style." You can keep your action-adventure genre, buddy. I'd like to see this new art style you're talking about. If the previous games from Ubi's Montreal studio are any indication, this could be pretty cool.

Plus, check out the mysterious website that offers no information whatsoever.

Hey, is there a new GTA coming out or something?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Virtual Console Reviews

In honor of one of the greatest games EVAR, River City Ransom, being added to the Wii's Virtual Console, I've decided to load up on Wii points. But what games to download? There sure have been a lot added since launch, and even with my -- dare I say it -- encyclopedic knowledge of games, I don't recognize all of the titles. What to get? Well, good thing there is VC Reviews, a website devoted to intelligent little reviews of the Wii's little games.

Anyway, in addition to River City Ransom, I think I'm also gonna go with Devil's Crush, Breath of Fire II and Kirby's Adventure.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Old School Ha-Ha

Old schoolers will appreciate this clever blog post depicting funny alterations of Atari 2600 game art. (I was actually a big fan of "Gay French Mario Bros" and "Oh! I Say!")

What really gets me is that today's gamers never even touched most of these games. Obligatory "I feel old" comment follows here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hwood Reporter on FusionFall

Yes, it's true. FusionFall has been moved back a few months. The Hollywood Reporter has some of the details. Stand by for more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

VMK, RIP

Everyone take off your mouse ears...the Virtual Magic Kingdom is shutting its doors. Sounds like it was planned all along, at least that is how they are spinning it. Thanks to Rob for the head's up.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Movie Writing vs. Game Writing...Fight!

GameSetWatch has a great column by writer Justin Marks about writing for films versus writing for games...and writing for films based on games. It's a very even-handed and thoughtful piece about the subject, and the author should know. He wrote the script for the upcoming Street Fighter movie. He says it's good. We'll see, Mr. Marks!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

More April Fool's Shenanigans

Joystiq very graciously aggregates yesterday's game-related April Fool's tomfoolery into one handy post. Thanks, Joystiq!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

WoW on the 2600

In an extremely clever April Fool's stunt, Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft is finally hitting consoles with the release of Molten Core for the Atari 2600. The trailer is awesome!

And speaking of trailers and April Fool's, if you haven't seen IGN's trailer for the upcoming Zelda movie, you really need to watch it right away!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Warlords Online, Oops

So since I have spent the last couple of weeks completing a ton of content for FusionFall, I thought I would take a break and check out the new Warlords Online this morning. In case you missed it (and you might have), Warlords Online is a free-to-play, browser-based puzzle game MMO from the people who made the awesome Puzzle Quest, Infinite Interactive. It just launched last month, and when I went to set up an account this morning, here's what I found. Looks like they still have a few "kinks" to work out!
Warlords Online is currently offline due to maintenence.

We apologise for this inconvenience and hope to have it back online once we fix existing problems with the game.

Regards,

Infinite Interactive
Oopsie, doopsie! Well, here's hoping they get their issues worked out. In the meantime, maybe someone can make a Warlords Online based on the old Atari game instead. That would be gnarly.

Asteroids Watch

What time is it? Why, it's half-past the giant space rock! I just bought this cool Asteroids watch from Fossil on eBay for about $60. You can't play with it, but you can watch the asteroids float around when you check the time. Schweet!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Me Interview

Horn-tooting alert. TenTonHamster also interviewed me about FusionFall during GDC. Even though it looks like I'm about to make a break for it while interviewer Garrett Fuller does his intro, I actually decided to stick around and answer his questions. If you're interested in the game, or a CN fan, you may find some fun tidbits here!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sam Lewis Interview

Lead Designer Sam Lewis discusses FusionFall with the friendly folks at TenTonHammer AKA TenTonHamster. Yes, Sam likes to talk with his hands.

On Writing for Movie Games

Gamasutra posts a very nice interview with Dalan Musson, writer on the Golden Compass movie game. Though the game did not fare well with reviewers, it's nice to see that intelligent, thoughtful people worked on it. (So why did it turn out the way it did? Who knows.) The key quote is here, which I could not agree with more:
Ultimately, however a team decides to work, I think the earlier a writer gets involved, the better, because designers, while amazing at designing games, aren't necessarily going to be writers, and in a lot of cases in the past, they've had to be.
I didn't play the game, nor do I plan to, but I am definitely impressed with Musson's comments.

Friday, March 7, 2008

IGN Vault on FusionFall

Here is the most recent piece on FusionFall, this time from the IGN Vault Network. The writer gets pretty much all the details right, and word-for-word this seems to be the most comprehensive review/preview we are going to get coming out of GDC. Take a peek!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thoughts on URU

Great column on GameSetWatch about the recent cancellation of Uru Live, from a game developer and Myst enthusiast.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Variety on FusionFall

Variety's game blog, Cut Scene, has a nice report about FusionFall at GDC. Jeez, does EVERYONE have a game blog these days?

And I'd like to point out that while Chris likes to compare FF to "Crisis" I am much more comfortable with the "Secret Wars" comparison. So there!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Forbes on FusionFall

Forbes video network reports on FusionFall, while also covering LEGO Universe and some new titles from LucasArts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Massively on FusionFall

They came, they saw, they blogged. Joystiq's Massively reports on their experience with FusionFall at GDC.

Monday, February 25, 2008

DBZ MMO

It's true. There's a DBZ MMO. It's called Dragonball Online. But it doesn't appear to be out yet. And it looks like it's in Japanese. But it might run in a browser window. Can you say Kame-Hame-Kaching?

Thanks to Tim, of Pac-Gentleman fame, for sending me the link.

Pac-Gentleman

My friend Tim showed this to me last week at GDC. (On his iPhone, natch.) It's the steampunk Pac-Man, dubbed PAC-GENTLEMAN! How much does that totally rock? It's like the mini-tabletop cabinet, sculpted out of plastic and bronze. Check out a full blogpost with more pics here.

And while on the topic of steampunk, check out Zeitguyz Game Developers. I saw these dudes walking around GDC in full steampunk regalia, complete with gearworks appendages and crazy weapons made of dusty metal. Full props for walking the walk!

FusionFall @ GDC

Well, we're back from the Game Developer's Conference, where FusionFall was showcased to a number of media outlets during the show. The reactions from the folks who got to see and play the game were quite encouraging. Thanks to all who came out!

Bits and blurbs are starting to appear on the World Wide Internets. Check 'em out below. I'm looking forward to reading more!

See the following links for FusionFall reportage from: The Escapist, IGN and MMO Gamer. Woot!

Meantime, I did manage to break away for a few GDC sessions, some quite worthwhile, others...not so much. Stand by for more thoughts from me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Marvel MMO Dead

Microsoft's Shane Kim confirms on MTV's gamer blog that the Marvel MMO is no more. He says:
“I’ll confirm. Marvel and we have agreed to end development on the MMO. It was an amicable decision…. It’s just something that we felt that, for us and for them, it would be better if we ended development. Which is disappointing, because that had a lot of promise. But sometimes you have to make these decisions.”
If anything, this would explain the recent rumor that Cryptic was picking up the Star Trek MMO development duties. That one was a puzzler to me, but in light of this disappointing news about the Marvel MMO, maybe not so much.

Where does this place the SOE project for DC Comics? Still on the landscape, but what is the status? I've heard nary a peep.

Friday, February 8, 2008

WGA Recognizes Game Writing

Today, NPR reports that the WGA is bestowing awards on game writers. Here are the nominees:
CRASH OF THE TITANS, Written by Christopher Mitchell, Sierra Entertainment

DEAD HEAD FRED, Written by Dave Ellis and Adam Cogan, D3 Publisher

THE SIMPSONS GAME, Lead Writer Matt Selman, Written by Tim Long and Matt Warburton, Dialogue by Jeff Poliquin, Electronic Arts

THE WITCHER, Lead Story Designer Artur Ganszyniec, Dialogue Sebastian Stepien, Additional Dialogue Marcin Blacha, Writers Sande Chen and Anne Toole, Atari

WORLD IN CONFLICT, Story Design Christofer Emgard, Story Consultant Larry Bond, Script Consultant Ed Zuckerman, Sierra Entertainment
This is hardly a charitable effort. I'm sure the guild can't wait to get companies like Activision and EA on their list of signatories. Nevertheless, it's nice to see the work of interactive writers get noticed. (Although all too often I imagine it's washed-up screenwriters "slumming" with the gaming types.) In light of the WGA strike, which is rumored to be coming to a close, I guess I applaud the WGA's ability to get recognition for writers across all media. Hooray!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Still Out of This World

IGN Retro posts a loving tribute to Out of This World, one of my favorite games of all time. (Peep my profile picture, if you don't believe me.) I played through it again at some point during my GameTap tenure, and it really is a title that can stand the test of time. I even watched a speedrun, just for kicks! Check out the designer's official site for the latest news about the game, including a chance to play it if you missed it the first time around.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ice Age MMO

The WarCry network recently reported that Fox is working on an Ice Age MMO with a Korean developer. Sound familiar? Gravity, the makers of Ragnarok, are developing the title. Thanks to Rich for the head's up on this one!

What will the game be? Rich and I were joking: mammoths are the tanks, sloths are your healers, skrats are the rogues and sabretooths are the damage-dealers. But will there be cool snow effects? And Ray Romano? Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Second Skin

Kotaku pings an interesting documentary today called Second Skin, and it actually looks pretty good. The film follows seven MMO players, from their real to virtual experiences and back again. I'll be keeping an eye on this! Link to the film's site above or watch the trailer here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Amazon Games

So I'm too tragically unhip to know who the Mars Volta is (although I've heard of them), but what's really interesting is that they have an impressive Flash adventure game on Amazon to promote their upcoming album. (It's probably hosted on other sites, but whatever.) I don't have time to play through it b/c I have so much ding-dong diddly work to do, but I can tell just from touching it that the production value is way above average for this kind of thing. Seriously, do people buy CDs anymore? Why make a game to promote one?

Oh, right. Maybe they just made a Mars Volta fan out of me...

The backstory is interesting. One of the band members bought some kind of Ouija board curio thing in Jerusalem and then all these terrible things started happening to him. Then he fed his dog after midnight, and he turned into a gremlin and destroyed the whole town!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MMO Funnies

I know I'm on the outside scoop here, but here's two really clever takes on the MMO/adventure genre. The first is Progress Quest, which is the game that plays itself. It's a massively-single player MMO that runs in the background while you work. You don't have to do anything at all! Your character kills monsters, levels up, collects items until its inventory is full, then goes back to town and sells those items for better items. Repeat ad nauseum! It's a loving send-up of the very grindy game mechanic that MMO players find so charmingly addictive -- bless their hearts.

Currently, my chracater Beebooba has just collected a Benevolent Spangle of Domination from a mind flayer. (I also collected a mind flayer tentacle.) The items and monster body parts are truly inspired. As of this writing, my Panda Man (race) Puma Burglar (Class) is at level 42. I have some great spells as well, such as the Cone of Annoyance and Rabbit Punch.

Meanwhile, there is an HTML adventure game called The Kingdom of Loathing (pictured above) that also contains loving parodies of everything tried-and-true in the fantasy game genre. For example, begin your game by speaking to the wise NPC on the mountaintop (Mt. Noob), and collect dumb items for him while killing bunnies. Don't forget to visit the Hall of the Legends of the Times of Old! This game is funny, and the browser-based presentation is primitive but very clever. My character is a level 1 polka criminal.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

X-Play Reboot

In case you weren't watching G4 this week (likely), you may not be aware that their flagship game review show "X-Play" got a complete reboot, with a new format, new set, new packaging, etc. In general, it seems that the show has improved a great deal. After watching the first three "new" episodes, I wanted to get some thoughts down about it.

But first, let me just say that the general opinion that "G4 SUX" is way too simple-minded. In theory, an entire network devoted to games, girls, gadgets and geeks (are those the four Gs?) sounds like a great idea to me. (Not to mention something pretty attractive to advertisers.) And yet, G4 fails on so many levels, with only two programs -- "X-Play" and "Attack of the Show!" -- having any merit whatsoever. It's terribly disappointing, especially when you consider X-Play's first home was on TechTV, a far superior channel with a lot less pandering going on. (RIP, TechTV.) Now, I started watching "X-Play" when the sun was setting on TechTV, and I've watched it ever since. I like the show. I like Adam. I like Morgan. I think their writers are smart, and I like their turns into sketch comedy and bizarro stories. Truly, when "X-Play" was firing on all cylinders, there was nothing else like it on TV. I had to endure ridicule from fellow gamers when I asserted that "X-Play" was actually pretty good; these arguments generally devolved into the "G4 SUX!" category fairly quickly. Yes, the majority of G4's programming sucks, but like I said, this is a simple-minded opinion. The network's real problem is that it doesn't have an identity. From strange stunt programming like "Star Trek 2.0" to "real" network throwaways like that terrible street racing show -- not to mention the abysmal "Code Monkeys" -- G4 has a long history of throwing shit at the wall, with very little in the way of stickage.

Though "X-Play" and "Attack of the Show!" are surrounded by idiots, that doesn't mean that they are geniuses. There were lots of things wrong with X-Play's old format. The lower third (and often the left and right third) were usually jam-packed with crap and useless chatter...can I please just watch the show? (Sometimes the lower third blocked the review score!) The comedy bits were sometimes self-indulgent ("X-Play Boards" anyone?) and missed just as often as they hit. The graphics packages were pretty bad, and the 22 minutes of actual show had very little in the way of pacing. Not to mention the annoying video viewer mail: "When is Halo 4 gonna come out?" But! Adam and Morgan are both quality hosts, and actually know about the games that they review. (Morgan ain't bad to look at, either.) Some of the comedy bits were incredibly inspired, with sharp writing and charming performances. It was clear thet everyone on the crew was having fun. Who wouldn't like Drunk Link, Screaming Intern, etc? Many of the recurring features were great as well: Games for Cheap Bastards, Spoiler Theater, Kratos, Crazy Adam's, etc. There was a lot to like. I still love the "Fear and Loathing" parody that sent Adam and Morgan out to the desert looking for the buried E.T. carts. Or when Adam went to interview the LARPers in the middle of the woods. And the French Guy. Not to mention the meat of the show -- the reviews -- which were pretty reliable and insightful. (Even though jokes sometimes took the place of an actual review.) On the whole, "X-Play" is a good show, and something I've watched regularly for a long time. So kudos to those guys.

Now the program has a whole new deal. It's not just about reviews. "X-Play" is trying to stay topical with daily news, a tough thing to do in this blog-happy universe. But they seem to be doing a good job, picking the important stuff. There also seems to be a bigger emphasis on previews and interviews with actual developers -- something I'm very happy to see. The graphics have improved a TON...even though the screen still gets jam-packed with junk from time to time. The set has been spruced up (again) and it looks like Adam and Morgan have new wardrobe people. Not everything is good, though. Some VP from Microsoft appeared in the first or second episode to spew a bunch of pointless PR garbage. And the reviews seem to have taken a back seat. But at least they got rid of that annoying Joel Gordine for the Gaming Update.

On the whole, "X-Play" now appears to be an actual SHOW, and not just a bunch of funny dorks having a good time. Which makes the comedy bits feel all the more out of place now. "Quentin Tarantino's Zelda" was hilarious, but it was sort of like the cast of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" showing up on Wolf Blitzer's set to play improv games. (That "Mass Effect" parody was clever, but took all the air out the show.) Seriously, those dudes are funny and can put together some great bits. Why don't they have their own show? Why do we have to suffer through "comedy" like Code Monkeys?

(Talk about a missed opportunity. Some day I will post the pilot for "My Three Dragons" and explain how 8-bit comedy is done.)

Anyway, I'm not sure why I decided to write this!! I think it's because I feel some kind of kinship with Adam and Morgan or something. I've watched them for a long time! I appreciate what they're trying to do with "X-Play" and it must be frustrating to be part of a broken and directionless network. (Who knows if they are even profitable?) Maybe...I would relish the opportunity to try and "fix" G4? God help me!

At least "X-Play" is still the best thing G4 has got going. Adam and Morgan can get some satisfaction from the fact that they are the King and Queen of the Nerds. If they happen to be reading this, good work and good luck!

Monday, January 14, 2008

IGN Retro

Say what you will about IGN, but the fact that they are officially ten years old is an achievement in today's modern internet world. To celebrate, IGN is doing a number of things on their site, including the launch of a new IGN Retro channel, which gets huge points from gamers like me!

If you're a retro gamer, and you're reading this (cricket), I would love to know what you think of their site.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ten Ton Hamster

The Ten Ton Hammer network has launched Ten Ton Hamster, a site devoted entirely to MMOs and virtual worlds for kids. Check for FusionFall updates here, or join the Webkinz forum...if that's your thing.

Monday, January 7, 2008

CES 2008

Check out the giant wraparound gaming monitor from Alienware. I like the reader comment: "Imagine porn on that beast!"

Seriously, what kind of crazy-ass WOPR computer would you need to run Crysis on that jammy? I guess Alienware makes that, too...

Best of 2008

Over in the UK, Computer and Video Games' PC Gamer lists FusionFall as one of the "Hottest Games of 2008". Sure, there's 110 games on the list, but still -- pretty cool. Blimey!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Excit

Today's featured game on Kongregate is called Excit, and it is awesome! Some very elegant design and clever levels! The early stages are easy, but later levels will really bust your brain, especially if you try to pick up all the bonus "logo" items. The greatest feeling you can get from a puzzle game like this one is the "a-ha!" moment when you realize you've solved the challenge. Excellent!