Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jack Emmert, Man of Many Quotes

So I am going through some old stuff on my desk and I found the notepad that I used at Austin GDC 2008. I already posted a recap of 2009, so this is more than a little late. But I've gotta post some great quotes from Jack Emmert, the chief creative officer at Cryptic Studios. Mr. Emmert has a reputation for being a colorful character, but this was the first time I ever heard him give a presentation. (I am not sure what the title of the presentation was, but it could've been this one.) In any case, the context of the conversation concerned the launch of City of Heroes. (Champions was still almost a year away from beta.) Agree or disagree with Emmert, he is clearly a smart guy with some pretty strong opinions about what makes a good and/or successful MMO. Here are the gems I jotted down while in the lecture hall, so judge for yourself.

"If you don't have it at launch, you can never add it."

"Players will do anything to get XP as quickly and as efficiently as possible."

"No nerf ever caused a statistical drop in user base."

"Worry about the players you've got."

"After the first month, you lose two-thirds of your players, but the ones who stay - you can't get rid of them."

"People will make it as unfun as they possibly can if they think there's something to gain from it."

"Your forums are a valuable source of information."

"Don't listen to marketing."

"You're seeing an absolutely catastrophic evolution in the MMO industry, and as a fan, you should be terrified."

"When we talk about IP, we ask, 'Does the name evoke the meaning of the game?'"

"Release a game that is good and entertaining, and it is what it is."
Now that Champions has released, I wonder what new things Emmert has learned, and how he might revise or elaborate upon some of the sentiments above.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanks for the Fan Art

Check out this awesome piece of fan art by Deviant Artist, chidoriashi. Purty sweet! Thanks, chidoriashi!

Speaking of "thanks" -- I forgot to post about the FusionFall Thanksgiving event (I hope you got your turkey helmet), so I just thought I'd mention that some other holiday stuff is in the works. Keep your eyes (and/or bananas) peeled!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

3D Dot Game Heroes

My kind of game. Looks amazing:



Atlus will be bringing it to North America. Too bad I don't own a PS3.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Turn On Your Torchlight

I'm so impressed with Torchlight. Learn more about the game at the official site, then grab the substantial demo on Steam. Torchlight was developed by a bunch of action RPG vets, and it shows. These guys worked on Diablo and Diablo II, Fate, and another one called Mythos. (I'm not familiar with the last one, but I did play Fate and I thought it was a lot of fun, if not a bit soft and repetitive.) Torchlight takes everything you love about the action RPG, distills it down to its bare essence, and adds a fine coat of polish. (Players of Fate will recognize the clever pet system.) Gorgeous art direction and great UI, fluid animation and pitch-perfect music, sharp writing and world building...the game is firing on all cylinders. Well, the only false note is the voice acting, which is pretty darn wince-inducing at times. But nobody's perfect, right? Bottom line is, the game looks and plays great. I just adore the art style!! And the "cinematic pause" feature is fucking brilliant. Everyone should have that.



For game development nerds, the YouTube "dev diary" clips are interesting. Remember: tools, tools, tools!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout...

If anything, the leaked Modern Warfare 2 footage just reaffirms my utter lack of interest in playing this game. I can see some creative justification in developing a scenario in which the player is a terrorist mowing down civilians with gunfire, but honestly, did Infinity Ward/Activision just throw their common sense out the window? Considering the audience for this game (let's face it: teenagers and meatheads among them), how could anyone at the top think this was a smart decision?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who Reads This Crap?

If you happen to live in the Atlanta area, and you are interested in game design, or happen to be a member of the GGDA (Georgia Game Developer's Association), or some combination thereof, then why not attend this event? Some doofus is going to talk about story and game design, and will try to answer the age-old question, "Who reads this crap?"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We Pirate Because We Can

The devs who made the iPhone game "Tap Fu" have a very even-handed blog post about piracy, specifically as it relates to iPhone apps and games. It's a sobering report: nearly all of the high scores logged on their servers were from pirated copies of the game, and exactly 0% of the offenders went on to purchase a legit copy (which, by the way, is one of the typical defenses you hear for pirate behavior).

Now, everyone has their own line that they won't cross when it comes to piracy (e.g., "I will download music but not movies or games," etc.) and I try to stray from being hypocritical before laying down judgment on someone else's behavior. I have plenty of hacked ROMs, for instance. Note the screenshot of the hacked Apple IIe version of Archon...a game, btw, that you can download right here and it will run natively in Windows XP! (This is not the Apple IIe version, obviously. For that, you will have to go here.) So you can enjoy classic Archon while you wait to pirate a copy of Archon Classic.

In defense of piracy: many of the ROMs that we received from publishers in my GameTap days were the HACKED VERSIONS that they downloaded from the Internet! In other words, without the pirates, even the publishers would not have access to their own moldy IP. So think about that.

But to be serious for a moment, I totally understand the desire to pirate stuff -- why pay for something that you can get for free? However, I can't come to terms with the fact that a business model built on a foundation of piracy is ultimately unsustainable. And as a content creator, I find it hard to justify.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trick or Treat on FusionFall Street

Oooh, scary!! Lots of fun stuff happening in FusionFall for Halloween! Find Dracula at the Cul-de-Sac to pick up your new Holo Suit, currently decorated with a spooky green skeleton design! And don't forget to purchase some pumpkin CRATEs for your chance to get a matching mask and wings. Just because I opted for a Cheese bubblehead (pictured), doesn't mean the mask ain't cool! And there are quite a few other little cosmetic tweaks to keep things interesting for the next few weeks. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ubisoft <3 Hollywood

Way back in February 2007, I posted something on my personal blog about Ubisoft's creation of CGI movie production unit in Montreal. Well, it would seem that we are finally seeing some of the fruits of this enterprise, along with some traditional cinematic pyrotechnics. My new favorite Hollywood blog, The Wrap, reports today on the convergence of video games and traditional filmmaking, focusing on Ubisoft's "Assasin's Creed: Lineage" project. In the past, movie and game creative marriages have had few success stories, but it would appear to me that Ubisoft is really going about this the right way. With the Prince of Persia tentpole movie coming next year, the Avatar 3-D game, even the cinematic approach to the new Splinter Cell game...it's all indicative of the blurring of lines between these two media. To be fair, Ubisoft is not the only one doing this, what with EA's forays into animated movies and the World of Warcraft film adaptation from Sam Raimi. But Ubi seems to be the one really experimenting with this stuff, trying to see what works and what doesn't. With today's hardware capabilities, I believe there is much more to be gained incorporating the language of film into games than vice-versa. And audiences clearly want more of it, which is a win-win for all involved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yeah, But When Is It Coming Out?!?

I just discovered that Cave Story has a really cute website to promote the upcoming WiiWare version of the game. I'm super excited about it. I never finished the original version, but I loved it. My calendar had "September 30" marked as Cave Story release day; clearly, this is no longer the case. When will the game be coming out?!?

Buy Two, Get One Free @ Amazon

I guess Toys R Us does an annual "buy two, get one free" sale on video games and accessories. But since I rarely step foot into an actual brick-and-mortar establishment anymore, it is nice to see that Amazon is doing their own version of this deal. I wish I hadn't just bought Wii Sports Resort a few weeks ago...but I still love you, Amazon. I still love you. Call me, ok?

Monday, October 12, 2009

FF Halloween Costume

Rock! A very enterprising parent out there built a Subatomic Meta Mace for his/her daughter's Halloween costume. That's so awesome. Big ups to you, enterprising parent! It even lights up!!

Speaking of Halloween, cool stuff is afoot in the Cartoon Network Universe. Later this month, expect some spooky (temporary) changes to the game, as well as a cameo appearance from a very scary guest star!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thinking Digitally

So I was listening to the latest Player One Podcast this morning, and...what? You don't listen to the Player One Podcast? You should. They are some entertaining dudes. Anyway...

There's been a lot of discussion about the PSPgo and the continuing proliferation of digital content, and the guys on the show were talking about it. Though there are lots of upsides to digital-only content (fluidity, futuristic, no physical media), they pointed out some significant downsides as well, especially for consumers (fewer price drops, no resales, no physical media).

This got me to thinking about something -- wouldn't it be possible to do virtual resales of games? Let's say I purchase a game from the Sony store day-and-date for $40 and download it to my PSP go. What I've really done is purchased a license to play that game on my hardware. What would prevent me from reselling that license to another customer later for a reduced cost? And what would prevent Sony (the licensor) from building a storefront to facilitate this transaction and taking a bounty from the sale? Oh shit, GameStop is suddenly even more scaredy than before! Seriously, has this occurred to anyone else? Is there a reason it wouldn't work? Think about it:

- A game comes out on X/X/XX date and is only available digitally at full price.
- Some amount of time after release (determined by demand) players can sell their license to someone else for a % of the original cost (determined by licensor), and pay a commission to the licensor via the storefront that manages the transaction. The game is no longer playable on the original license holder's hardware.
- The resold license cannot be sold again, or it can be sold again at an even lower percentage of return. (Thus keeping demand for "new" games higher while still offering a lower price point for players who want to wait to play a title.)

I have no idea if this makes sense or not. (I suspect that it does not make sense somewhere, or someone would already be doing it.) But there's definitely something attractive here to game publishers: They could set their own resale prices! And reclaim some of the money that the GameStops of the world are making on the secondary market! (Sony, btw, has a history of doing this: they have attempted to grab a piece of the RMT market by allowing EQ and EQII players to purchase items with Station Cash on their website. Basically a microtransaction model.)

But back to the digital downloads. We ask, couldn't the game manufacturer simply lower the price of the game over time and probably make the same money? (Essentially what they are doing now?) Sure, but it's already been noted that digital downloads are classically overpriced and almost never go on sale. (Seriously, why the hell would you buy something like Prey for $20 on demand when you can buy it used in a store for five bucks?) How much money are publishers leaving on the table? Something is obviously broken...the marketplace does not seem to have the same sway over digital downloads as it does over physical copies. Maybe this will change as more consumers migrate online? Who knows. All I know is, from a consumer standpoint, if I knew I could later resell a digital copy of a game, I'd be much more likely to buy it. And I'm somebody who almost never resells games.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Experience Mickey Mouse Like You Have Never Experienced Mickey Mouse Before

Well, it appears that we have gotten some clarification on the Warren Spector Disney project. Game Informer magazine (which receives both a print and online facelift this month) has built a preview site for Epic Mickey in honor of its November cover story. Check out the art from the wraparound cover and prepare to be impressed. However: if Mickey still sounds like he has his testes in a c-clamp when he opens his mouth, I am not certain how "epic" this is going to get...

Friday, October 2, 2009

200th Post!

I have nothing interesting to say. I played Dragonica for about an hour last night. Is it possible that I am hooked?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Austin GDC Recap

Damn, September has been a busy month. I took a trip up to the mountains on Labor Day and went out to Los Angeles for work...not to mention the Jewish holidays, a weekend with my in-laws, a weekend flying as solo dad, etc. Somewhere in there was the Austin GDC!

The Austin Game Developer's conference is my favorite professional event of the year. It is relatively small (about 3,000 attendees), hardly covered by the "enthusiast" press, has a game writing session track, and takes place in Austin (duh), a very cool town with plenty of B's: beer, bars, bats, babes, barbecue, bands, bike cabs, you name it.

Last year I put "write up Austin GDC notes" on my to-do list, and I never to-done it. (It might have something to do with the fact that we launched our game only a few months later.) There was a lot of cool stuff that I remember; in particular, a lecture by Cryptic's Jack Emmert and a keynote from the Club Penguin dude. But, alas, that was 2008. This year, I was determined to get some of the best bits from the conference down in some form…not just for my own benefit, but to share with my colleagues as well.

So here is a smorgasbord of random notes, statistics and miscellany from a few of the sessions that I attended. I believe that the conference's organizers will make all of the sessions available on their website eventually. If you ever check it out, make sure to listen to Reaching A New Demographic: Kids AND Their Parents. There were some real geniuses on that panel, particularly the guy that made (totally appropriate) child molester jokes about conducting audience research in his rusty white van.

Anyhoo...

From Dragons and Daggers to Kart Racing, Cooking and Concerts...It's a Whole New MMO World
Speaker: John Smedley (President, Sony Online Entertainment)


Smedley's presentation was (not surprisingly) devoted almost entirely to Free Realms. But he began with some general statistics: the MMO audience has an average age of 33, with a gender split that is 85% male, 15% female. Free Realms is 60-70% male, 30-40% female, depending on the demo. Their player base breakdown by age is 51% is under 13, 29% is 13-17 and 20% is 18+. (It is interesting to note that our breakdown is almost the same.) The top Free Realms jobs are: brawler, derby driver, race driver, chef and pet trainer. However, there are more level 20 card duelists than any other job. (I think level 20 is the current max?) TCG card packs are also the #1 cash item sold in their shop. Regarding the shop, Smedley mentioned Nexon's Combat Arms as an interesting game to study in terms of monetization. A telling stat: though 60% of the player base is boys, 60% of the cash item purchasers are girls. Smedley also noted that despite all the talk of viral marketing and social marketing, TV is still the big driver. He claims 75% of Free Realms traffic is driven by TV, and though their traffic peaks at around 5:30 PM (PST?), the game spikes whenever an ad runs.

10 Ways to Make Your Game Appeal to Teens
Speaker: Mike Goslin (VP Product Development, Hangout Industries), Joe Shochet (Creative Director, Hangout Industries)


These two guys used to work at Disney Interactive, but recently left to join (start?) a smaller venture called Hangout Industries. They are building a casual fashion game for teenage girls…and in Unity, no less! It looks good. And besides, who knows more about what teen girls want than white and nerdy guys in their mid- to late-30s? (Actually, I think this joke was made early in the presentation.) Some context was given for the role games play in a teenager's life; the most salient statistic is that 97% of teens today play games in some form. Without further ado, here is the list of ten ways you can make your game appeal to teens:

10. Be Authentic
9. Be Relevant
8. Accommodate the Parental Relationship
7. Accommodate Media Consumption Patterns
6. Be on the Right Platforms
5. Protect Their Privacy
4. Be Socially Conscious
3. Be Social (and Viral)
2. Be Fun
1. Be Free*

*not free

Obviously, the duo went into more detail on each point. Their thoughtful and straightforward presentation was very enlightening. Though many of their conclusions can be reached intuitively by a smart person, their combined experience and knowledge lent greater clarity to the information. One of the best sessions that I attended.

The Universe of World of Warcraft
Speaker: Frank Pearce (Co-Founder & Executive Vice President of Product Development, Blizzard Entertainment), J. Allen Brack (Production Director, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.)


First off, I cannot believe that these guys missed the opportunity to call their keynote "The World…of World of Warcraft" -- but it was otherwise an extremely interesting peek behind the curtain at Blizzard. The combined human and non-human resources that are required to run everyone's favorite MMO behemoth are staggering. Instead of tabulating all the statistics, you can find a nice overview of the presentation on Gamasutra. From my perspective, one of the most interesting things to note is that of the 4,600+ employees devoted to WoW, more than half (upwards of 2,500 people!) are in customer service. This reinforces the belief that I have been hearing time and time again: when you launch an MMO, you are not launching a game. You are launching a service. And launch day is just the beginning.

A New Social Era for Games: How Your Friends Are Changing the Way the World Plays Games
Speaker: Sebastien de Halleux (COO & Co-Founder, Playfish)


The conference's final keynote was out of left field for me, and a real eye-opener. Playfish is a company that DIDN'T EVEN EXIST two years ago, and now they have some of the most popular games available on social networks. This just tells you how fast content is moving and evolving in this space. To wit: Playfish has made ten titles to date, which have attracted about 50 MILLION players in 20 months. Even if these players are not technically "active" players, the numbers are still astounding. There are a handful of forces working in Playfish's favor, and de Halleux was more than happy to point some of them out. First of all, Playfish games are enjoyed by "non-gamers" -- men and women aged 16-34 who would not classify themselves as "gamers" and probably don't even own a game console. They don't think of games on say, Facebook, as games…they just consider them fun. Another important factor for Playfish is their international base: a nearly perfect one-third/one-third/one-third split between the Americas, Europe and Asia. Oh, and don't forget: Playfish has not done any marketing at all, relying completely on their player base to seed their content. In many ways, this is the most amazing thing of all, and the factor that really changes the landscape for how games are sold, distrubuted, marketed, and so forth. Moving on, de Halleux dipped into the "softer" side of making games, how they generate emotions, social connections, etc. Playfish games, he explained, become "objects of social interaction" instead of just gameplay experiences. He went on to explain some of inherent design philosophies at his company, along with some more technical information regarding the way the business is run. On the whole, they have 200 employees globally, with four offices (and one on the way in San Francisco). Oh, and they are profitable. And based on the smile on the dude's face, I would suspect that they are very profitable.

Well, there you have it. I met many great people (as always), saw some old friends and learned a lot more than what I documented above. Even though the Congress Avenue Bridge bats refused to make an appearance (again!), I had an awesome time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shadow Complex Controversy!

Gamasutra posted an interesting story last week about the controversy regarding Orson Scott Card's involvement with the XBLA game Shadow Complex. (Which I have bought, but not played.) Peter David, a comic book scribe who also worked on the game and CLEARLY HAS BALLS OF STEEL, wrote not one, not two, but A NUMBER OF COMMENTS in response to the article. (And in the true spirit of teh internets, sparked a frisky back-and-forth pissing contest.) Kudos to him and his courage to wade into those waters.

While I am not sure how I feel (if anything) about the "controversy", I certainly believe in everyone's individual right to express their opinions, with words, their wallets, or otherwise. However, I do find it interesting that all the talk of this issue seems to be ignoring a key piece of information: though Orson Scott Card may be an opponent of gay rights, he is also something else. A total hack.

ZING!

Free Forever

Their ads may be tempting you (ahem!), but don't play Evony, My Lord. This blog post explains why.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kame-Hame-Hey!

Looks like there is a Korean Dragonball Online teaser site up, and the game looks pretty good!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dragon vs. Dragon

Damn, yo. That Guild Wars 2 trailer looks pretty sick. But you know who else has dragons? The Dragonica Online open beta. I tried it for the first time yesterday, and I'm hooked. Granted, it's totally my kind of game, but it's basically a more compelling version of Maple Story. Gorgeous (somewhat lo-res) 3-D graphics, a 2.5-D environment, hack-n-slash combat with some depth, cute/mean monsters, etc. Check it out!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Handy IGN Chart

The folks at IGN have made a nice little chart comparing the features of Wizard 101, FusionFall and Free Realms. Note that their only error about FF is that we now have text chat available for ALL players, assuming younger players get parental permission.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Speed and Style

I haven't had a lot of time to post anything lately, but here goes: tomorrow, we launch the first FusionFall content update: SPEED AND STYLE! New features include vehicles, an item upgrade system (similar to enchanting) and a "gachapon" style machine called an E.G.G.E.R. (Egg Generating Gizmo Ejects Rewards!) Not to mention the addition of some brand-new missions for higher-level characters in the Darklands, and the first appearance of everyone's favorite imaginary friend, Cheese! It's quite a lot of stuff, and I hope the players will enjoy it.

Also tomorrow: I'm off to San Diego with my daughter for her first San Diego Comic-Con experience! Pictures to follow...I'm sure it will be fun.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Of Dragons and Quests

Back in 1989, I played an NES game called Dragon Warrior, which I really liked a great deal. At the time, "Japanese Role-Playing Game" didn't mean anything to me, but the concept of killing monsters with swords and spells was plenty familiar. Even though I completed the game, I seriously don't have any memory of it. I didn't play any of the subsequent sequels on the NES, either. Funny story: in high school, my friends and I had this habit of completing games, then using a shrink wrap machine to seal the games up again to return them for a new game. Moral ramifications aside, this was a very successful scheme with a healthy return rate. In the case of Dragon Warrior, I forgot to erase my game saves before returning the game. We had a laugh, thinking about the kid who bought my game, completed it in a hour, and the parents who get really annoyed as a result. I'm not proud of it, but there you go.

It wasn't until 2005 that I got my hands on a demo disc for Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. I knew very little about the game. I'm not even sure how I got the demo disc. It might have been included in a magazine bundle? Who knows. Being a Toriyama fan, I liked the cover art but otherwise had virtually no interest in the title. Nevertheless, I gave it a spin. I was immediately hooked by its charming story, incredible visuals, and addictive old school battle system. To be honest, I don't think I had touched a "traditional" Japanese role-playing game since the original Dragon Warrior! But playing the DQ VIII demo was like a revelation to me, sparking a renewed interest in role-playing games that continues to this day. Of course, I ended up buying the proper release and playing through it over the course of several months. Eventually, I logged close to 100 hours on the game, easily the most time I have ever put into a single title(Unreal Tournament matches notwithstanding). For the record, Dragon Quest VIII currently ranks as my second-favorite game of all-time.

It was therefore with some amount of excitement that I approached the recent Nintendo DS re-releases of Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen and Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride. I bought them both as soon as they came out, and I am pleased to report that -- approximately five months and 40 hours of game time later -- I finally finished DQ V last night. Both of these games are fantastic, and if you enjoy anything related to Dragon Quest or old school RPGs, you need to pick them up. Having snooped around on the Internet for general opinions on these games, it seems that DQ V has a slight edge over DQ IV amongst fans. The excellent hardcore website Action Button Dot Net has a fantastic essay about DQ V. (I call it an "essay" because like most of the articles on that site, it is much more than a review.) However, despite the love for DQ V (and it is good), I have to say that I enjoyed DQ IV more. And here's why:

Essentially, it comes down to the characters. Dragon Quest IV is called "Chapters of the Chosen" because the game unfolds in -- duh -- chapters. And in each chapter, you take control of a different lead character or characters. Eventually, as expected, the final chapter culminates in all of these characters uniting in one party under the direction of Your Dude, the Hero. I thoroughly enjoyed this method of storytelling. It was fun how each chapter focused on a different area of the world and a different perspective of the main story. The only trouble was that every chapter began with a requisite "leveling up" period, which was somewhat tiresome. But the characters of DQ V are just as charming as the characters in DQ VIII, which is an impressive feat considering they do not have the benefit of funny animations or voice acting. Comparably, DQ V introduces the "Monster Hunter" mechanic to the Dragon Quest games, now a staple of the series (it even has its own spinoff series, Dragon Quest Monsters). While I enjoyed the monster hunting, I simply could not identify as easily with monster party members, and the way the game is constructed, you almost always have a monster or two in your party throughout the game. (Apologies to Clayton, my trusty mudraker. A puddle of goo is just not as interesting as a fat merchant with a giant moustache.) In fact, I defeated the final boss with a Great Dragon in my party, because of his resistance to fire. It would have been cooler if I could have completed the game with my wife and kids.

And that is where Dragon Quest V really shines: its story of a family. You begin the game as a child, and end the game as a father. In between, your life unfolds in a way that is relatively unique in the world of RPG adventures. (Link growing up in some of the Zelda games is the closest comparison I can think of.) But DQ V stumbles as it relates to some of its mechanics: on more than one occasion, I had no idea what to do or where to go, requiring the help of an online FAQ to get me pointed in the right direction. This was not the case with DQ IV -- that game progressed much more smoothly and intuitively. This may be due to the fact that it is broken up into chapters, or discrete chunks. But I think it was just paced better, and a lot less frustrating. DQ V seemed to feature more moments where I felt terribly underpowered, many times forced to bring along high-level monsters (instead of members of my own family) to progress. DQ IV, on the other hand, has a more forgiving difficulty curve and was just more fun to play in general, at least for me. While both games are superb, I give the nod to Chapters of the Chosen. However, nothing beats Dragon Quest VIII.

That is, until DQ IX comes out for the DS. Will it be awesome? Probably. It releases in Japan later this year, and it looks stunning. I suppose DQ VI will come out in the states first, completing the "Zenithia Trilogy" before continuing the franchise in the ninth installment. (That would be best.) And let's not forget about Dragon Quest X, announced exclusively for the Wii. That's a lot of Dragon Quest to look forward to!

On a side note, when I visited Japan I bought a set of two Dragon Quest art books, which are just beautiful. The only image I could find on the web is here. The first volume is a collection of artwork of ALL the monsters from the first six Dragon Quest games (amazing), and the second volume is a bunch of stats in Japanese (not as amazing, but still cool). If you are a fan, pick these up if you ever see them! You will not be disappointed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Khaki Pants Pete

This game is awful. More later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SEGA Handheld

Huh. Kotaku reports on this new handheld device, which plays Genesis and Mega Drive cartridges -- ! Wow, didn't see that coming. You can buy it for yourself next month. Looks like a pretty sweet little device, assuming it is of decent quality. Can't really tell how nice the screen is from the catalog shot provided. Pretty neat that it plays US and foreign games! And only $50...a retro gamer could find worse ways to spend the cash. Too bad I'm not a bigger Genesis fan. I'll bet this could sell in the UK. Anyone interested?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Battlefield Heroes

Like a stealthy soldier ninja commando guy, Battlefield Heroes quietly launched today. I never did manage to get into the beta, so I was eager to check it out. I created my dude, a gunner named Capt. Falcon (ha), but I could not get a match to load. Will keep trying, I guess. Made it through the tutorial, however, which was short and sweet, despite the fact that I crashed the hell out of a plane at the end.

I love the polish the game has. Great sound, great look, nice UI. Yes, there are obvious visual design comparisons to TF2, but so what? This is a much different game aimed at a much different audience. However, even though Battlefield Heroes is supposed to be "casual" it still feels like a gamer's game. I hope EA knows what they're doing...



Look for some impressions later, when I get the game to work. For now, enjoy the awesome (and hilarious) opening cinema.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Speed and Style

Massively reports on the first FusionFall content update -- called Speed and Style -- which includes vehicles! Coming this summer to a computer near you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Playing as Fast as You Can

Great article in the Escapist this week about speedrunning and the people who do it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

FusionFall Cards

FusionFall pre-paid game cards are now available at Target and will be coming soon to Toys R Us, 7-11, GameStop and a little mom 'n' pop operation called Wal-Mart. Get one today!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Champions Online

So I have been in the preview (beta) of Champions Online for a few months now, but I actually played the game for the first time today. Let me 'splain you. The Champions preview sessions were running 5 pm to 9 pm Pacific Time, Wednesdays and Fridays. This ain't super convenient for someone on the East Coast, with young kids, who also has to get up early in the morning. (And Friday night is movie night in my house.) Anyway, I jumped in one Wednesday evening some time ago, and played around with the character creator (I'd tell you all about it, but I can't). Then the login server crashed, and I lost my character. Sigh! I considered going back in a number of times, but never did.

Until today, when I realized that they started running the scheduled preview sessions earlier! (One of the perks of game development: you can play games at work.) Looks like they started running longer preview sessions back in May, but I hadn't noticed. Oopsie. The game is, well...I look forward to posting some impressions when the game is open to the masses!

(HINT: superheroes are awesome.)

Sweet Klonoa Music

So I started playing Klonoa for the Wii the other night. What a charming, charming game. I missed this title the first time around, as I never owned a PlayStation. (I was also too busy making movies in the mid-90s to play games. Sigh.) What I especially love about it is that it is a 2D platformer firmly grounded in a 3D world. When the environments rotate, you can see into the distance, noticing places or objects that you would like to reach. In a traditional 2D platformer, the edges of the screen naturally limit your ability to do this. But in Klonoa, you have the illusion of exploring a huge 3D world, firmly grounded in a design that really only lets you move left and right. It's a brilliant mechanic that makes the game feel very modern, even if it is a decade or so old. Bonus: if you go to the official site, you can listen to a good 15 minutes or so of the soundtrack, which is really excellent.

(I am a nerd with a soft spot for game soundtracks. What are you gonna do?)

As reported by 1up and other online sources, the controls in Klonoa are really tight and the game overall feels like a standout representative of what is today a withering genre. Also, I am playing the game with the "gibberish" language and not with the new English voiceover. The presentation is very cute, very Japanese. Recommended!

In other game news, I finally finished Bioshock last night, only two years too late. Maybe some day I will post my thoughts on that game, as well as Half-Life 2, another critically-adored shooter. Both games are excellent in their own right, but I cannot help but notice some annoying things about each title that prevents me from completely gushing over them. Again, the Schwartz Theory of High Expectations Media Consumption rears its ugly head; I went into both titles with unrealistically high expectations. There was no way they were going to be met.

Oh, and I am also this close to finishing Dragon Quest V on the DS.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Scribblenauts

So the kids at Joystiq are crowing about Scibblenauts, a new DS game shown at E3 from the folks who made Drawn to Life. It looks like Scribblenauts is more of a puzzle game than a platformer, but the same level of creativity is there. You type in objects that you want your character to use, and they appear! I wonder how many options truly exist, and how esoteric and weird you can get. I preferred the ability to draw my own objects in Drawn to Life, although the platforming was not very challenging. If Scribblenauts can avoid descending into a series of "Will it draw this? How about THIS?" mini-games, it could be pretty fun.

How fast will you ask it to draw a dick?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OMG New Metroid!

Holy crap I think I just soiled myself.

Friday, May 22, 2009

FusionFall Face-Off

Go to the FusionFall website now to vote for the Ben 10 Alien that YOU want to see made into our next Nano! Yes, this is real, and no, it's not rigged. We don't know who it's gonna be! (Although I don't have very high hopes for Upchuck.) So make with the voting, people. This voiceover dialogue ain't gonna just write itself!

EDIT: Holy crap, Alien X is kicking Diamonhead's crystalline butt!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sweet New Review

GamersInfo.net has posted a thoughtful review of FusionFall from writer (and parent) Ophelea.

In case you can't get to the last paragraph:
It was designed with kids in mind by a company (Cartoon Network) that had the resources and experience to consider their audience. This shouldn't be underestimated. It is a luxury most companies will never have. And, quite frankly, it's fun. Where else can you zip from place to place or hang from the arms of your own personal monkey?
Very nice, indeed!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

FusionFall Cosplay

Well, we have officially MADE IT. Some enterprising young lass has done herself some FF Blossom cosplay, and damn if it ain't half-bad! (The photo dates back to January, so maybe there is even more out on the interwebs that I missed.) Big ups to cosplay Blossom!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Casual, My Ass

Sure, I play a little Bejeweled Twist. I get me some sweet combos and match gems like a real pro. What's that, you say? Some people can beat my high score in one move? Surely, you jest...



Okay, seriously. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Envelope, Please

Well, the Webby Awards site is currently choking at the moment, but I hear we lost to Club Penguin. Disneeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!

A Life Well Wasted

You owe it to yourself to check out the relatively new gamer podcast, A Life Well Wasted, from host/editor Robert Ashley. Upon first listen it becomes immediately apparent that this is not the standard "three nerds and a microphone" format. Ashley makes no bones about his love for the radio as a medium on the site, and it shines through with careful application of editing, music and scripted segues. (Not to mention the affected "NPR" I-just-got-out-of-bed college radio voice. Please stop!!) His choice of topics is also excellent, with the first episode focusing on the demise of EGM magazine and the second highlighting game fans and their crazy collections. I haven't listened to the third (and latest) episode yet.

Unfortunately, all this quality comes with a price, as it appears that Ashley is only able to produce one of these a month. But to be fair, he is also writing the thing and composing all the music (courtesy of his own band). So cut him some slack! Very nice, indeed.

Side note: there does not appear to be any way to provide feedback for the show. I would love to tell him about the annual video cabinet sale that occurs each summer at the Lakeside Ampitheater...

Red Steel 2

Forgive me, but the new Red Steel 2 teaser goes a long way towards convincing me that this game is going to be pretty damn cool. I am still of the (minority) opinion that the much-maligned Wii launch title original was not nearly as bad as everyone seemed to think. Yes, there were some wonky controls (particularly with regard to the sniper rifle), and yes the swordplay could be a bit frustrating, and NO I didn't finish it, but mostly because of that annoying sniper rifle. I still contend there were some great ideas at play, and some of the gun mechanics were totally awesome. I'm sure the developers were up against it, since this title was promised to ship with the console at launch. They probably had to do some nipping and tucking to hit their date. But with a more flexible schedule, and a new art style, and a new "motion plus" peripheral, I have a feeling that Red Steel 2 might be a happy surprise for a whole bunch of people.

And if you don't believe me about the original game, just go buy it. It's like $5 right now, and you'll get your money's worth.

Friday, May 1, 2009

How'd We Do?

What are the results of the Webby Awards? Honestly, I haven't a clue. But thanks to Massively for the props, and congrats to Chris for his amazing headshot! Happy weekend, everyone.

EDIT: Webby winners will be announced Tuesday, May 5!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rich Weil Interview

Check out this "examiner" interview with Rich Weil, FusionFall's esteemed community director!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sweet FusionFall Bubbleheads

So I got me my Flapjack Bubblehead (thanks to some help from Why Seven) and I think it looks pretty sweet with my Dynamo Armor! To tell the truth, it actually looks pretty hilarious. Flapjack's giant head atop a badass mech suit is NUTS! But isn't that what FusionFall is all about? I daresay it is. If you want to know where to get one for yourself, you will have to go a-hunting. Just don't stray too far from the water...hint, hint!

And yet, the Fourarms Bubblehead totally matches better:

What do you think?

Play Classic Sierra Adventure Games!

Thanks to the good folks at Sarien Studios, a handful of the classic Sierra adventure games from the 1980s (King's Quest, Space Quest, etc.) are now available to play in your browser. They've been ported to Flash! How cool is that?!? The controls have been streamlined as well. And, adding an additional level of (modern) weirdness, there is a multiplayer component that lets you interact with other players who are also playing your game. Wow, this must be a labor of love...I don't think there are too many people out there who will appreciate the effort that clearly went into presenting these games this way.

So I fired up Black Cauldron (pictured), which has the unfortunate distinction of being based on a Disney animated film that was released at a low point in the company's history. I don't remember much about the movie, and the only thing I really remember about the game is that you had to do something with a chicken. (Nothing sexual, but hey, you never know.) So I'm playing this thing and it drops you into a dungeon, kind of like the opening scene of Oblivion, minus Captain Picard. The dungeon is not very effective, of course. Eventually, a gold totem appears from a hidden sliding panel in the floor. (It was only later that I realized that this gold totem was actually the hair of my female companion. Such is the way with shitty graphics.) Seriously, I don't remember any of this!

And on it goes. Crap, I need to get back to it. According to the game, my throat is dry!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Street Fighter Art Tribute

Hoo boy, I'm glad I'm not a big Street Fighter fan, or I would be pretty sad to be missing the Jab Strong Fierce Street Fighter Art Tribute, co-sponsored by i am 8-bit. Anyone who's anyone knows that i am 8-bit always puts together the coolest collections of game-themed art from contemporary artists. (I even bought a piece from the second iteration of the show.) This event even promises to have cosplay and a Street Fighter tournament!

Unfortunately, the website does not have any of the pieces available to preview. But keep an eye on that space...I'll bet awesomeness appears, along with a challenger!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Fling!

FusionFall is doing a fun "Spring Fling" event! "Hop" into the game and look for the hidden Spring Chickens. They will give you access to a special dungeon filled with Coco Eggs, and some of those eggs contain special surprises. Free players can find one Spring Chicken in the future zone, and premium members will find many more in the past. I know of at least two cool items that will only be available for a limited time, so start hunting!

EDIT: Oops, this event starts tomorrow, gang!

Monday, April 20, 2009

FusionFall Is Safe

Read a little bit about our chat monitoring technology, courtesy of the New York Times.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Webby Awards

Cool! FusionFall has been nominated for a Webby Award in the "Entertainment/Games" category. Head over to the People's Voice ballot to cast your vote now. Try to resist the temptation to vote for Mafia Wars.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hard Games

GameDaily has a list of the 25 hardest games, and I'm pleased to see that most of mine made the list. What? No Bayou Billy?

(Thanks, Kotaku.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

One More Review

So, I totally missed this FusionFall review, but I found a link to it from the FF Wikipedia page, so better late than never. The writer seems to love the game, but gives it a "fair" rating, essentially because the game isn't free enough. If that's your biggest complaint, buddy, lemme see if I can get you a code or something. Sheesh!

Oh, and you can now get the FISKERTON BUBBLEHEAD HELMET, and I think there's another one somewhere out there, too!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Zak Saturday Bubblehead

Hey there, FusionFall fans! Head over to Cartoon Network's website to get your code to redeem a ZAK SATURDAY BUBBLEHEAD HELMET. It's so totally awesome, you will think about things that you used to think were totally awesome, and realize that your definition of "totally awesome" needs to be adjusted to keep up with the awesomeness of the ZAK SATURDAY BUBBLEHEAD HELMET.

If you need further convincing, here I am in my Underfist costume, chilling in the Cul-de-Sac with Wilt and my ZAK SATURDAY BUBBLEHEAD HELMET:

I assume that no more convincing is required.

EDIT: Also, we have 4 million registered users. It's true!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Portal T-Shirts

I'd make a "the cake is a lie" joke here, but instead, I will remind you not to get icing on your clothes...especially if you are wearing these portal t-shirts. At 100 bucks each, you'll want to keep them clean. But check it: each shirt has a camera and an LCD screen in it, and they transmit to each other. So it's like a real portal!! Except that you probably can't jump into your friend's abdomen and emerge from your own. Although that would be pretty cool.

Probably the most geektastic novelty item of all time. PS - they make LCD screens that you can wear now?? What happened to rocket shoes?

Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (coming to the Wii) has been on my radar for a while. Looks like it comes out in Japan soon. You can check out the Japanese site here. The game looks really similar to Odin Sphere, developer Vanillaware's previous PS2 sidescrolling action game. That is a very good thing, btw. Odin Sphere was gorgeous, and Muramasa appears to be no different. Maybe even gorgeouser!

I desperately wanted to like Odin Sphere. I played it on multiple occasions, but found the gameplay pretty impenetrable. The game looks like a simple beat-em-up on the surface, but in reality, requires some serious precision to pull off successful attacks. Mashing buttons would get you dead fast. You could call it a "tactical sidescroller" -- but I called it frustrating. A shame, because it is really one of the most beautiful games I've ever seen. Part of the problem was the complicated item management system used to power up your character, made more difficult by a clunky menu set-up and the fact that you have to pick up items from the ground while trying to beat back waves of enemies. Although I do seem to remember something about turning cute little sheep into meat.

Does anyone read this? If so, did you play Odin Sphere? Did you like it? Are you going to buy Muramasa? I am!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

8-Bit Hip-Hop Medley

Thanks to the fantastic intro music on the Cheap Ass Gamer Podcast (#153, btw), I discovered "Remix Medley #1" by Jesse Tugboat. This shit is off the hook, yo. Get the MP3 here.

The list of songs featured on the track are as follows:
Jay-Z — Dirt Off Your Shoulders
T.I. — What You Know
Chamillionaire — Ridin’
Ludacris — What’s Ya Fantasy
Bonecrusher — Neva Scared
Twista & Kanye — Overnight Celebrity
Ludacris — Move Bitch
Lil’ Jon — Get Low
Kanye — Gold Digger
I might as well take a moment to give a shout-out to CheapyD and Wombat of CAG fame. I've been meaning to blog about them for a while. Their gamer podcast is extremely entertaining week in and week out. (I discovered them way back at episode 8, when Cheapy did some coverage of GameTap.) If you haven't listened, you should. A couple of cranky Jews from Long Island talk about games, deals...and pooping on the floor. Thanks, fellas!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top Ten

Okay, so after thinking about it some more, here are my Top Ten Games:

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
2. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
3. Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
4. Elevator Action (arcade)
5. Metroid Prime (GameCube)
6. Guitar Hero (PS2)
7. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)
8. Super Metroid (SNES)
9. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
10. Adventure (Atari 2600)

At some point I'll justify why, even though I loved it, I don't put Ocarina of Time on the list. But I might add The Ocarina of Rhyme.

The Best "Best" Lists

So I couldn't sleep last night and I was surfing the interwebs. Found: someone has compiled a collection of "Best Of" video game lists, and used the lists to unscientifically determine which games are, in fact, the best games of all time. The writer sums it up by saying that he was "hoping to see if there appears to be any consensus as to what games truly are history's best."

The results are not too shocking...you can probably guess what they are. But it got me to thinking about what my "Top 5" games are. Numbers 1-3 were easy, but 4 and 5 were kinda tough. In my experience, the best games are the ones that you are thinking about when you are not playing them. This is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best indication (for me) if a game is good. So, here are mine:

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
2. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
3. Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
4. Elevator Action (arcade)
5. Metroid Prime (GameCube)

I don't have the time (or energy, zzz) to support these choices at the moment...maybe later. Anyway, the writer also posts his own personal Top 10 at the bottom of the page, indicating that he picked the games that he admires most for their ingenuity. He also says something curious: "I'm not really that knowledgeable about video games... there are a lot of classics I've never played. But I know what I like." Dude, if you bothered to create a website that compiles lists of top games, you may not be that knowledgeable about them, but you're definitely a nerd!

So hats off to whoever you are, and thanks for helping me get to sleep last night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Boy and His Hand-Drawn 2D Animation

Well, this was completely off my radar, but a glance at Kotaku this morning brought this to my attention: a stunning Wiimake of A Boy and His Blob, presented in gorgeous, hand-drawn 2D. (UPDATE: Kotaku posted new screens.) Sounds like it will be a bit of a departure from the original, as well.

Though only us hardcore retro types seem to remember this, A Boy and His Blob was created by David Crane, the man behind many of Activision's great Atari VCS games, including Pitfall! Funny enough, I remember playing A Boy and His Blob on the NES and finding it incredibly difficult. It was more of a puzzle game than an action game, as I recall. I wonder if David Crane is at all involved in this remake? And if he thinks it looks as cool as the rest of us?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

8 Bit Killer

The fantastic 8 Bit Killer is a wonderful piece of freeware brought to my attention by the latest issue of Game Developer. Though it has 3-D objects, the game essentially mimics the classic (original) 2.5-dimensional Doom and Wolfenstein shooters, but with a serious 8-Bit/SNES sheen. Reminds me a lot of the SNES port of Doom, actually, but a lot more fun. Complete with Bionic Commando-esque cut-scenes and a fair degree of challenge, not to mention an awesome soundtrack, this is a must-play if you like modern execution with a retro flair. Destined to be on your iPhone soon. Props to Locomalito!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FusionFall Wrap Report

IGN presents a pretty thorough "wrap report" of FusionFall, penned by executive producer, Chris Waldron, with a brief introduction from the writer. Apparently, IGN has a bunch of these developer reports on the site, and some look pretty interesting. Oh, to have the time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Art of FusionFall

My buddy Mario Piedra talks FusionFall art n' stuff over at the Warcry network. Way to go, Mario!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Top 20 Game Writers

Check out Gamasutra's list of top 20 game writers to get a glimpse of some of the most talented peeps working in gaming today. Congrats to my colleague Rich Dansky for making the list, and thanks to Wendy for sending me the link!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FF Theme Song

There are many FusionFall videos on YouTube, but this one has stolen my heart.



"You might decide that Runescape's better...BUT IT'S NOT!!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Variety

Here's an article about FusionFall from the Hollywood wonks at Variety. It begins as follows:
There’s been something of a gold rush for free browser-based, kid-friendly online games recently, particularly from cable networks like Nickelodeon and Disney. Cartoon Network enters that mix dramatically with “Fusion Fall,” a “World of Warcraft”-lite game that’s the first one to approach the quality, playability and potential for mass appeal of its older-skewing brethren. Though the tastes of pre-teen boys are as fickle online as on the air, “FusionFall” is sure to grab its target aud’s attention and, if it’s well supported and marketed, could even turn into a solid business of its own.
How about that? Actually, I think the writer, Leigh Alexander, moderated the kids MMO panel at Austin GDC last year, so she apparently knows what she is talking about!

Parents <3 FusionFall

Chris pointed me to a fantastic post from a fellow parent about the merits of FusionFall. It warms the heart, I tells ya.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another Review

This time, it's from Gamers Daily News.

Dark Void Looks Awesome

As I see it, Capcom is on a freakin' tear right about now. Street Fighter IV, Bionic Commando, Resident Evil 5...and Dark Void. (And those are just the ones that come to mind.)

Joystiq posted some videos and they look amazing. It's like a steampunk Iron Man! You gotta see 'em fer yerself.

Monday, February 2, 2009

FusionFall at New York Comic-Con

We're heading up to New York later this week for New York Comic-Con, and I'm psyched! I am very interested to see how this show compares to San Diego. There are lots of neat panels and events planned. Saturday (2/7) is Kid's Day and FusionFall is apparently a big part of it. We will have kiosks set up in the hall and a panel at 12:30. Please stop by one or both if you are at the show!!

Thanks go to Ten Ton Hammer, who put together all the MMO panels, including ours. I'm curious to see if Sony will be showing more DCU.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

IGN on FF

IGN (finally) weighs in on FusionFall. Read on, kiddos!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gamefly Still Totally Sucks

On a side note, it's been almost two years and my Gamefly mini-rant over on my "personal" blog is still getting posters complaining about the online game rental service. How do these guys stay in business? I really don't know anyone who has had a good customer experience with them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WTB Hardcore Gamer

Looks like Tim managed to find a buyer for Hardcore Gamer. Congrats to him, I suppose! What a weird time to be getting into the publishing biz.

New Joystiq!

The Joystiq blog has received a nice visual and navigational upgrade. Check it out.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FusionFall Finale

As of about 5 am this morning, we have our first player to officially finish FusionFall and reach the endgame. It took him a little less than a month, and a little more than 200 hours of playtime. Wow!

Friday, January 23, 2009

What They Play on FF

What They Play has a comprehensive factual overview of FusionFall for parents. It's a very nice guide, actually. But what I really loved was the following comment, presumably from a parent:
I was originally thinking I would try it to check it out and see if it's appropriate for the kids, but I have to say I got completely drawn in myself. It's shockingly good for a browser game, and the way that the 3D graphics look with the cell-shaded style graphics is just mind-blowing when you think about it. I was initially a little unsure about the major stylistic overhaul for a lot of the characters, but once you're in the game world and interacting with Dexter, and TKND and the Powerpuff girls it actually makes an awful lot of sense that they chose to make everything consistent. It's like being in the future where all of the characters have grown up a bit.
You gots it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

You can play a Flash demo of the upcoming Puzzle Quest: Galactrix right here. It's definitely a lot like Puzzle Quest. I'm not sure about the cascading pattern when you remove gems...it's a bit confusing. And I cannot figure out what the purple and silver gems do. But it sure looks like it's gonna be fun!!

(EDIT: Kotaku reports that a more robust PC demo is also available. I haven't tried it.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Cup Runneth Over (with Fusion Matter)

Ten Ton Hammer's sibling site, Ten Ton Hamster, gives FusionFall another rave review:

Our overall impression is this is a fantastic MMOG for kids of all ages. It is fun, graphically advanced for a browser-based game, and where else can kids play with all their favorite characters from all the Cartoon Network shows they love to watch! The guys and gals at Cartoon Network and Grigon did a great job tying in the old with the new and creating an awesome virtual world for everyone to enjoy.

Overall Grade: A
Somebody pinch me!

Smart Moms Love FusionFall

So I have been fighting a nasty cold all weekend and into this morning. Feeling much better now, thank you, but it sucks! I swear I cannot remember the last time I was sick; it is as if my immune system was on full blast until we launched the game, and then: BLARGH. The extra day off yesterday helped immensely. I probably could have slept all day.

In any event, stupid Metacritic is still "awaiting 4 reviews" and the suspense is killing me!! Hurry up, Metacritic! In the meantime, the Mom Salon loves FusionFall, and I love moms, so the circle is now complete. And Ten Ton Hammer has some thoughts about the pricing model; worth taking a look as well.

On a side note, I have been both amazed and humbled by the reactions to FusionFall. Across the board -- from cartoon fans, parents, MMOG vets and casuals -- people seem to be loving this game. (The exception is of course the dudes who say "you raped my childhood!" Sorry about the raping, fellas.) I have no idea if anyone reads this blog, but if you happen to stumble upon this post, and you're a fan of FusionFall, I say to thee: thanks.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Metacritic and More

In an exciting (and somewhat terrifying) development, FusionFall has appeared on Metacritic, with an initial score of 84. (Nice!) To be honest, I wasn't sure if FusionFall would "make the cut" for Metacritic, but then I guess the boxed version from Majesco is what gets us there.

Metacritic bases its initial score on this review from Cheat Code Central. There is also another review of note here from Opposable Thumbs.

We'll be watching for more developments with anxious excitement!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some Non-FusionFall News

The interwebs was a-flutter today with news about the Resident Evil 5 collector's editions for Europe and North America. You know, I've never bought a collector's edition game in my life, nor have I ever been tempted. However, something about Resident Evil 5 really makes me want to pick this up. I don't know why. It doesn't even contain the soundtrack. Maybe because it comes out within a few days of my birthday? And it looks so frickin' sweet? That might have something to do with it. Or the junky action figure? Or cheesey necklace?

On second thought, maybe I don't want it. Capcom, put the soundtrack in, or an art book, and we'll talk.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

FusionFall > WoW

Okay, let me be clear. I'm not saying FusionFall is better than World of Warcraft. But somebody on the interwebs most definitely is. In this case, it's a "tipsy" Eagle Scout, so we might have to chalk it up to tipsiness:
I started playing Fusion Fall more today. I’m level 4. I quit WoW last night too. Good stuff. Fusion Fall is 2/3’s cheaper and it has Cartoon Network characters in it. Therefore, it’s better.
Well, how about that? He continues: "The game has a great storyline, and it’s not repetitive and boring like WoW was." My goodness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One More Before Bed

IGN posts their impressions of FusionFall, with a full review coming soon.

Wired Impressions

Nice stuff here on Wired's Game|Life blog.

Another Hit

Massively has their first impressions of FusionFall, and their slideshow format offers a very comprehensive look at the game from top to bottom. Nice!!

FusionFall Victory Pack: The Unpacking

So I just picked up my pre-purchased copy of FusionFall from my local GameStop. For the record, I also bought the only other copy that they had. (That's 100% sell-thru in Northlake, baby.) Interesting bit: so one of the sales guys came back into the store (presumably from lunch) while I was browsing. He saw the FusionFall boxes on the counter and the following (paraphrased) exchange transpired:

Sales Guy #1: What's this?
Sales Guy #2: Cartoon Network something-or-other.
Sales Guy #1: (Impressed) Damn! Is that Dexter?
Sales Guy #2: Yeah, I think so.
Sales Guy #1: (Turning over box) DAMN! Is that the Powerpuff Girls?
Sales Guy #2: Looks like it.
Sales Guy #1: What is this? A new show or something?
Sales Guy #2: No, I think they made it specifically for the game.
Sales Guy #1: Wow, is it good?
Sales Guy #2: (Gesturing to me) Don't know, but this guy is buying all our copies!
I then said something about the game being in open beta for the last few weeks, and that it was pretty good...the conversation quickly turned to the other new releases that were already sold out (the new LOTR game on PC). And...the end. That was my experience buying FusionFall in a store!

I didn't buy anything else at GameStop, though. On my way back to the car I looked in the Sears games clearance bin. They had Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker for $15 (new) and the GBA version of Final Fantasy VI for $20 (also new). Bought 'em both. I would like to point out that GameStop is still selling used copies of DQM: Joker for $24.99.

But I digress. Opening up the Victory Pack box reveals the game disc, a code card, the game guide, and a vacuum-packed T-shirt (size: small). Dexter and Fusion Dexter on the front. I think I will wash it and then have the team sign it for me.

Overall, pretty nifty. It's a nice feeling to go buy something that you've worked so hard on. Tee-hee, he said, "hard on."

The First Review Is In...

And it's a corker! Check it out at MMOGamer.com!

Today Is the Day

It's here! Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall launches today! Set your browsers to FusionFall.com and your Zip Zappers on stun, because Fuse and his gooey monsters are about to take a bite out of the Cartoon Network Universe. That is, as soon as the website goes live. Which is really soon. Trust me. I'm Billy Oceanman, if you happen to see me in Sector V. Rock on, FusionFallers!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

FusionFall Victory Pack

Majesco's FusionFall Victory Pack is now available on Amazon. Pretty neat, although it does not really clarify that you get four months of subscription for the $20 that you spend. I'm sure lots of people are wondering why they would spend money on a game that they can get online for free, right? Well, in addition to the subscription, you get some pretty cool exclusive virtual outfits and items, as well as a decent game guide with a list of all the guide items and monsters in the game. So it is not a bad deal at all, if those things interest you.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cute

Super Mario and the Cartoon Network Universe collide in this amusing trifle. Thanks to Kotaku for posting this.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

FF Fanart

Happy 2009, internet! I've been AWOL for a little while from this blog, as we are zooming towards official launch and there's a ton of crap to do! For example, visit Deviant Art for FusionFall fanart, of which there is a ton. Holy crap, I mean a TON. I had no freaking clue.

Speaking of fanart, I was super pumped to discover some of the Calling Cat-22 variety. How awesome is that?!? It's like he's ready for FusionFall, baby!