Thursday, October 28, 2010

DCUOh My!



So I got into the DC Universe Online beta, and while I cannot technically comment on the game itself, I suppose I can reference stuff that is already publicly available. The cinematic opening, which debuted earlier this year at San Diego Comic-Con, was brand-new to me. Let's just say it was a lot more...intense...than I was expecting. I mean, it was GREAT. Better than I had been led to believe. But, man oh man, when Lex Luthor impales Superman with a kryponite-tipped spear, I could just hear all the parents ushering their preteens out of the room. This game is clearly trying to crib from the WoW crowd. Obviously, the opening cinematic does not reflect actual gameplay but rather attempts to set a tone, as all good opening cinemas should. SoE has achieved this goal, no question.

However, the game was a 15.5G download. Are they KIDDING?!?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blue Screen?

You know, I'm not a Microsoft hater...I've been a Windows user pretty much my whole life. (My first Apple IIe and my brief affair with a Mac Classic notwithstanding. Hey, it was college...I was experimenting.) Sure, I like Apple products just fine and there are many things about Microsoft applications that I dislike. But overall, I am an equal opportunity technophile with not much allegiance to one platform over the other. And I love my Xbox 360, red ring and all.

Which is why it didn't even really occur to me that Microsoft might be in real trouble. The Microsoft brand has pretty much been synonymous with computers for the last quarter century, but Google (not to mention Apple) is trying really hard to change that. (Did I mention that I like Google, too?) The CNN piece linked here put a new perspective on the whole thing for me, and shines a pretty harsh light on Microsoft's prospects. From where I am sitting, I think the next 5 years or so will bring a dramatic shift in the technology landscape...not to mention changes to traditional linear platforms like television and publishing, changes that are happening pretty much on a weekly basis now. Should be fun to watch!

EDIT: Do you think the folks at CNN were TRYING to find an unflattering picture of Steve Ballmer? Maybe he just looks like a mummy in honor of Halloween.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Multi-User Lecture

Richard Bartle, the guy who quite literally wrote the book on MMO game design, provided one of the most memorable lectures at the recent GDC Online conference in Austin. Unfortunately, Bartle was scheduled to speak at 9:30 am on a Friday, coincidentally the morning after a party that featured Playboy bunnies. Needless to say, he did not get the crowd he deserved, although the room was pretty full by the end. If you have any interest at all whatsoever in game design or MMO design, you NEED to watch Bartle's presentation, which is thankfully available to watch for free at the GDC Vault right now. Hopefully, they won't put it behind a subscription wall, because it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

My favorite anecdote was when Bartle, who teaches at Essex University, discussed talking to students who want to be game designers. "Why do you want to be a game designer?" he would ask them. The answer, quite naturally, was because they love games. "Well, you love beer, don't you?" he would reply. "Do you also want to be a brewer?" Bartle's point: design games because you like DESIGNING games...in addition to playing them!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gamma World?!?

Out of nowhere, TSR -- I mean, Wizards of the Coast -- does something ZANY and releases a new edition of Gamma World for a bunch of really happy D&D nerds who prefer rayguns to Vorpal blades. I have fond, fond memories of Gamma World, a game that had captivating game materials inside its weird box (pictured), entertaining me for hours as a pre-teen. I think I only played the game but once, and it involved a memorable scenario in which our party entered a very small room barely larger than a closet, only to find ourselves trapped. Once we managed to extract ourselves from the room, we exited to discover that we were in an entirely new location. "What manner of magic or technology is this?!?" we asked ourselves. "Could it be a teleporter? A small spacecraft? WHAT?!?"

It was an elevator. And that's why Gamma World was awesome.