Saturday, November 29, 2008

Joel McHale @ The Moore

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Misc: The wife and I just got back from seeing Joel McHale at the Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joel, he rose to prominence thanks to E’s The Soup, a reincarnation of the original Talk Soup hosted by Greg Kinnear, back before he left to go do a string of mediocre Hollywood B-movies. Anyway, The Soup collects a slew of ridiculous clips from reality TV every week and Joel skewers them with incredibly clever one-liners and jokes that are so venomous, a cobra couldn't compete.
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We were both a little curious as to what kind of show this would be since we've only seen him as a host, but it was a regular stand-up style comedy performance. Although it wasn't quite as gut-busting as it is for thirty minutes on Fridays with a Teleprompter, it was still pretty respectable and kind of a treat since I was not aware that Joel is actually a local… well, as much a local as someone can be when they're from Mercer Island. I always appreciate when performers can name-drop a few things that are in the area, and since he's actually from here, quite a bit of the show was very Seattle-specific. During the performance, McHale also mentioned that fan favorite Mankini is from around these parts, too. Who knew?
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It was an entertaining two hours and the seats in the first balcony were pretty damned respectable. He's playing one more night (tomorrow, 11/30) so if you're in the neighborhood and don't have anything to do, there you go.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Props to Mr. H, SSFIITHDR, & The Hulk

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Games: Mad props go to Hargrada for rising to the challenge and coming up with a game that is an undisputed (and quite rare) example of the correct usage of the Silent Protagonist – Valve’s Portal.
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Although I still feel like the Silent Protagonist approach is used inappropriately 99.9% of the time, Mr. H was indeed correct in his choice, and I tip my hat in his direction.
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Games: In what I see as one of the stupidest ways to promote your game, the new demo available on Live for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (or SSFIITHDR for short) features local co-op play as the only way to actually try the game. That's right, if you are a single player or you just happen to not have a buddy around at the time, you can't even try the demo.
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Excuse me? I thought the whole point of demos was to get people to sample your game to convince them it's worth buying… so, if I'm home alone and I'm thinking about getting some SSFIITHDR on, you’re telling me you're not even interested in letting me just try the game? Are we not clear on what the concept of a demo is? Genius move there, brainiacs. Looks like I'll be spending my 1200 MS points elsewhere.
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Games: Just a quick heads up to anyone who's in the Home Beta: if you go to the Bowling Alley and play the Echochrome arcade game, you will be awarded the Echochrome clothing. I don't know if people who collect this will be able to keep it once the final version launches, but it's kind of neat to be able to wear a suit that’s different from what everyone else is wearing, and makes you look like a robot, to boot.
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Film: The wife and I just watched The Hulk (the Edward Norton one) yesterday, and we were both pleasantly surprised.
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Despite all the word of mouth I heard that had pegged it as being solidly mediocre, we both thought it was a great popcorn flick and Norton himself did a great job in the lead role. He always delivers fine performances, IMO, but I have to admit I was a little curious as to how he would handle such a well-known and famously unsuccessful comic book hero. I think he really nailed it.
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A neat bonus was the Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. cameo at the very end, obviously a lead-in to the upcoming Avengers film. The Hulk wasn't a home-run blockbuster the way Iron Man was, but we enjoyed the time we spent with it and truth be told, we were both sort of scratching our heads as to why it received such a lukewarm reception.
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(...And the ending sure beat the hell out of the way the previous Ang Lee Hulk film closed… for that alone, it deserves some respect.)
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cabdriver Blues

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Misc: As the wife and I were going out this afternoon, I spotted a little piece of paper stuck under my windshield wiper. At first I thought it was a parking ticket (which would have been unusual, since I was legally parked) but it was a note which read:
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206-555-5555
it is my mistake, call me
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Cue the freakout.
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Checking out the front of my car, I didn't see anything. The driver’s side was clean too… I worked my way over to the passenger side, and there it was-- a huge impact dent crashing the rear bumper, cracking and popping the taillight out of place, and crimping the fender down almost to the point of cutting into the rubber on the tire.
As I was taking pictures of the damage, a guy came running up to me from across the street and asked if this was my car.
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(Like someone would generally go around taking pictures of other people's damage…)
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Anyway, he said that he had taken a taxi home from downtown, and that the taxi smashed into my car as he was turning around to head back for another fare. Since the note had almost no information, I asked this guy what the name of the cab company was, which he gladly provided. I thanked him for coming out to let me know, and I'm actually really glad that he did because without the name of the cab company, I would have been a little bit screwed. Why?
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Because when I called the guy who left me the note, he was trying to convince me that he had given a stranger a ride in his own private car, and that he did not work for a taxi company. I told him straight up that his fare witnessed the accident and had given me the name of the company, but he denied it over and over and kept telling me to “not call anyone” and “not tell anyone”.
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I don't mean to stereotype or anything, but the guy was obviously not from this country and I'm not sure whether he was afraid of losing his job or getting deported or something (or both), but he was swearing up and down that he was an honest guy and that he would take care of it.
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replace "friends" with "cabdriver" and there you go
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A few minutes later, I got a call from the manager of the cab company and he was asking whether or not the driver had made some arrangements with me. I told him that I would give the guy chance to make it right, but that if there was any kind of problem that I had no issue with turning the whole thing over to the cab company’s insurance and collecting a check for the damage.
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At this point, it's the day before Thanksgiving and there's no way I'm going to be able to get any kind of estimate until at least next week, but I'm really hoping that the driver of the cab will do the right thing and just take care of it once I get an idea of how much it's going to cost to fix. I don't mean the guy any ill will and I certainly don't want to get him fired or have been sent out of the country, but if the damage costs $1500, I'm not going to be able to take $20 a week and a handshake.
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Brooke (Face 313)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Most Addicted Game Ever

Have you ever been addicted into drugs? Cigarettes ? Weeds ? Well you might and you might not but have you have ever been addicted to a certain game ? I hope you're not because that is really bad for your health and your mind. Check out the trailer of the most addicted game ever.



World of Warcraft Wrath of the Linch King is the game that destroyed teen's future by being the drug of their life. Most teen waste more than 12 hours in just playing this game. A chinese player has died because of playing this game for a week, without eating or sleeping. I advice all the players not to play this game, it might look exciting but it's really addictive to your brains. Wish you all the best in your life.

The Illigal Game

Have you ever heard of a game that was banned from gulf countries? How do you think it would be? Too violent? Too matured? Too Bad? Check it out then you'll know the answer!

This is Thrill Kill, the game that is illegal in Gulf countries because of it's volienceness and matureness. This game teach small children how to kill and encourages them to kill and fight. It thrills teens to do some crazy murders and suicides.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dead Space & Persona 4

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Working on a new writing project right now, so I'm actually procrastinating by posting this… but since I'm here, what the hey?
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Games: Started Dead Space tonight and just played for a little bit, maybe a hair over an hour or so. Gotta say, I'm not at all impressed.
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Granted, I'm not very far so I'm not going to get out the gas can and torch just yet, but I have a very strong suspicion that the gameplay I went through in the first hour is going to be washed, rinsed and repeated until the end of the game. Go here, get X item, go back, and kill gross-looking aliens in every hallway on the trip.
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The graphics are beautiful and I really like the way the developers implemented a few things like the holograms taking the place of menu screens, and the way you can instantly get back on the correct path when lost by clicking the R stick, but there's a lot here that's janky.

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For example, why do the aliens always drop money or ammunition? Going further, why do I need to worry about either? If we're so advanced in Dead Space’s reality, can’t we come up with guns that don't run out of ammunition every five minutes? And who in the world thought implementing a money/store system was a good fit for this title? You're supposed to be playing the role of a space engineer in a giant ship taken over by aliens… wouldn’t it make a little more sense to simply find the items or craft them yourself? I mean, a store? Really?!?
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Other things are giving me a warning sign as well, like the fact that the main character is a silent protagonist. To any developer out there who still thinks this is a good idea: IT’S NOT. What it is, is silly, completely unbelievable, and ridiculous. The story doesn't seem to be any great shakes, either, and there are tons of cliché sci-fi elements are on display… and I'm still at the very beginning of the game.
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I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I have to say that the game isn’t getting off to the greatest start.
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Games: In a completely shameless bit of PR, can you guess what upcoming game I'm completely geeked over?
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Shipping 12/9, Persona 4 will come with a soundtrack CD, and people who pre-order will receive an art book by my second favorite artist in the series, Shigenori Soejima. (Sorry Shig… you do indeed rock, but Kaneko’s the man.) If you have even the faintest interest in quality RPGs, this is your wake-up call to not miss out.
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Brooke (Face 312)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Home Beta, Part Two

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Games: So, I just finished my first tour of Sony's new Home app, and... there's not really much to say.

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I got an e-mail out of the blue this afternoon inviting me to download the Home Beta and "join in a celebration" between 6pm-8pm, Pacific. After being less than impressed with the New Xbox Experience, I was ready to get an up-close look at what Sony has to counter with, so I did just that.

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After downloading, I was prompted to create an avatar. Evidently, avatars are the new hot thing and with Sony's addition, each of the big three consoles now sports their own version. Initially the creation options seemed like they were going to be deeper than the 360's, but after just a minute or two, I started feeling just as limited. The best I could do was to put together a nondescript-looking dude with a fauxhawk and some earphones that you'd expect to see walking down the sidewalk in Liberty City.

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Listen up, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony: When gamers create avatars, our first inclination is not to re-create an exact likeness of ourselves-- what we want to do is to go friggin' crazy. The more outlandish and bizarre options, the better. Going further, being something that isn't even human would be a huge plus. Big demon horns? Dog heads? Chicks in skimpy bathing suits?Hello??

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But I digress...

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Anyway, I took my Joe Blow into my seaside studio apartment and took in the view. There were many options for various things like furniture and wallpaper, but almost none of the features were active. The only thing I could install was a bubble blower, and it didn't keep me busy for long.

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With a few minutes to go before 6pm, I went for a spin around the central gathering area and checked out the "Mall", "Bowling Alley", and "Theater". Everywhere I went, there were small clusters of people typing out brief messages via their D-Pads and displayed in small balloons over their heads. I assume that headset functionality will be enabled for speech, but I don't have one and no one I encountered seemed to have one, either. Needless to say, conversation was not happenin'.

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The mall was another empty locale, the few storefronts having no goods for sale. Nothing to do there but stand around. The theater was little better, modeled to resemble a movie theater, and there was a short clip of the latest Socom looping on the screen. I could sit my avatar down and watch it, but I don't see why I'd really want to pretend I was in a theater when I'd much rather pick a video of my choice from a menu, save time, and skip the pretense.
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Finally, there was a little action happening in the bowling alley. Several people were tossing some balls, and there were some pool tables up against the back wall. After walking into the play area, I was asked whether or not I wanted to participate in a game, and I did. Very rudimentary and minigame-ish, and there was nothing special about it, save for the fact that there were other live people playing it with me. Going through the motions got old, fast, so I headed back out to the central gathering place to see what this "celebration" Sony mentioned was all about.
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More clusters of other users were gathering, and a few people pecked out some "where's the party?" type messages. With nothing else to do, some players started standing in groups and "dancing" (nothing in the world looks as hopelessly pathetic as this), while others just sat down and waited, virtually. I sat down, too.
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We waited.
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Then we waited.
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After that, we waited some more.
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By 6:40, I had had more than enough, and I decided to get back to Live and start actually playing something, instead of just standing around watching people type text fragments aimlessly as they tell each other they're bored. It's pretty bad form to invite people to an event and then not show up and have no event, Sony... that was, perhaps, not the best way to start things off.
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Long story short, being at Home was like being in any random third-person open-world game except that there was nothing whatsoever going on. I couldn't even jump off the nearest balcony when the tedium became too much.
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Virtual environments are nothing new and although I realize this was just a Beta and that not all of the features and functionality were there, I don't really imagine myself going back often to spend time in a pretend space without anything to occupy my time except looking at Sony advertising and milling around with people I don't know. Maybe Home will hook some people, but I've got better things to do with my time, I think.
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Just Got Home

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Games: Quick update... I just got my Home beta code and I'll be trying it out for the first time tonight. Impressions to come.
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Brooke (Face 310)

A Blogger's Lament... and Keflings

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Misc: When I started this blog, I knew that it would be pretty heavy on games content, but I figured I would also talk about books, fiction writing, current events, and random stuff like that. The funny thing is, as work has picked up, I find very little time for books, fiction writing, current events, and random stuff like that… on a long day like today, it's all about catching an hour with something fun before turning in for the night.
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Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm lucky to even have a job in this down economy, and I know it. I guess I'm just blathering because I sat down tonight to come up with a blog topic, and the only things that came to mind were work and what I just played… I'm not feeling like a very well-rounded character, I suppose.
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Definitely looking forward to the weekend… I'll have to fit all those other aspects of my life into the upcoming 48 hours.
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… and since I'm here, anyway…
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Games: I was just forcibly upgraded to the New Xbox Experience© last night, and I have to say that I'm not exactly impressed. It looks to me like nothing so much as a shameless ripoff of Apple and/or Vista, which was itself another ripoff of Apple. A few features have been moved around to new places (trying to find out where the option to change my Theme went drove me insane) and I can't say that I'm really in love with the new graphic-heavy setup. Personally, I thought the old Blades menu was great-- intuitive, simple, and completely efficient. This new system is a lot of flash, but I don't find it particularly improved in any way. It's just different, and difference for difference’s sake is dumb.
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(Oh, and did I mention the random console freezes and perceptibly slower performance? Neat-O... I wonder how those wizards at Microsoft managed to add this extra zing into my box without making me buy an add-on peripheral in the shape of a cement cinderblock.)
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The new over-hyped avatars are completely gimped, as well. The options are extremely limited, and no matter what you choose, you get an unappealing and slightly “special” looking character that appeals to… who, exactly? And what's up with not being able to change any of the colors on the clothing? I realize that some games are going to actually use these avatars, so from that perspective there probably isn't as much freedom to create, but still… putting my character together on the 360 was only slightly better than creating my Mii.
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(And of course, there will be endless options for Avatars available for purchase through the Live Marketplace in another few weeks, I’m sure.)
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…And speaking of these avatars, I just spent my hour of winding down with A Kingdom for Keflings, released this week on Live in conjunction with the NXE©. From NinjaBee (creators of Cloning Clyde and Band of Bugs, also on Live) this latest effort is a curious little thing. I suppose the biggest selling point is that you can use your own short-bus avatar as the main character in the game, but I nixed that in a hurry and went with one of the pre-fab models.
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Anyway, the gist of the game is that you play as a giant in a land of little people, and for some unexplained reason you decide to help them build a town and accompanying civilization out of the trees, rocks, and crystals that are laying around. It's almost like a RTS, except that there’s no combat or any other imposed setbacks to hinder progress. You simply pick up a person, direct them to whichever resource you need, pick them up again and tell them where to go with it, and then they take it from there. Before long, stockpiles of wooden planks and cut stone build up to be used for assembling any number of buildings and shops.
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It sounds a little dull, perhaps, but actually I found it to be quite soothing and relaxing… there’s no shortage of games with mindless zombies or freedom-hating terrorists itching to take me down, but non-puzzle games that remove the element of danger are pretty few and far between. Spending time with the title was pretty painless, and I found myself slipping into the “just one more…” mode before I knew it.
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I'm not sure how long the novelty will last if this is as deep as it gets (which remains to be seen) but so far, I'm into it.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adequate Adventures


I can't promise any more religious insight than this, but if you crave more of my stupid attempts at humour, visit Adequate Adventures. Upon arriving there you will also find yourself in the somewhat safer hands of a gentleman with his creative fingers in so many pies that it's probably impossible to feast on one that hasn't been tainted by his grubby northern mitts - Pincer Movement.




Anna (Face 309)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Wife!

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Misc: I had a few news bits to talk about, but nothing can trump the fact that today is my wonderful wife's birthday!
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Happy Birthday, Lady... I hope you enjoyed it.
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Karen (Face 308)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Elf Needs Sleep Badly

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I'm running on empty today, so I'm going to take the easy way out for tonight's entry and recommend that you go check out Bill Harris' Blog, Dubious Quality. Here's an excerpt from his latest post (11/17), about the used games market:
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Epic Games president Mike Capps had this to say about the used game market in the U.S.:The secondary market is a huge issue in the United States. Our primary retailer makes the majority of its money off of secondary sales, and so you’re starting to see games taking proactive steps toward that by… if you buy the retail version you get the unlock code.
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Bill's writeup is razor-sharp and spot-on, as always... And if you care about the used games market the way that I care about it, this particular post is well worth the time and energy it will take you to click over there.
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Tell him I said hi.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Game, New Project

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Games: I can't name any names, but I just got a pre-release copy of a game I'm very excited about for evaluation, and I'm pretty tickled at the moment. All my available game time will probably be tied up for the next two weeks (at least), but I couldn't be happier. When stuff like this happens, it makes me glad to be a critic.
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Writing: After wrapping up my last short story, a friend and I got talking about things and before I knew it, we had started a brand-new collaboration project that will end up being a full-length novel. Not a lot of details to share right now, but we got the logistics and details hammered out in the blink of an eye. Writing will begin shortly.
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Between this and the pre-release I just mentioned above, my hands are going to be quite full. Good times.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two Game-Related Quickies

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Games: Just a couple quick things that I thought people might like to see:
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1> Got this press release from PopCap. I don't usually run press releases, but I thought this one was worthwhile
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SEATTLE, Washington – November 12, 2008 — PopCap Games, the leading developer and publisher of casual games, announced today that it will ship the first 500 boxed, retail copies of Bejeweled Twist™ to the non-profit Games For Soldiers (GFS) organization tomorrow. GFS will deliver the boxed copies of the game to armed services personnel stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan in time for soldiers in the field to enjoy it during the holiday season. The third installment in its ultra-popular Bejeweled® franchise, Bejeweled Twist arrives on retail shelves next Tuesday, November 18 and is available now via Web download at www.popcap.com.
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I don't support the war, but I do support the people who are over there fighting it. Kudos to PopCap for the donation.
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2> And for those people who may be jumping on the 360 bandwagon by way of the $199 Arcade pack (sans HD), Microsoft is offering to send out a 20GB hard drive for only $20.
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Although 20GB isn't optimal, it's a heck of a lot better than the dinky memory card that comes packed in. Honestly, I have about 30 or so Arcade games on my 20GB, and I still have about a quarter of the memory free.
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With the new Xbox Live Experience launching in another week or so, people who want to take part in it will likely need the storage and 20GB for $20 might be more affordable this holiday season than ponying up $100 for the 60GB, or $150 for the 120GB. Interested parties should go HERE for more info.
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The Conqueror Worms - Book Review

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Books: Haven’t done a book review in a while, but that's probably because I haven't read any books. However, I was able to sneak in Brian Keene’s The Conqueror Worms between gigs. It took me about three times longer than it normally takes to read a book, but slow and steady wins the race… or something.
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Anyway, Conqueror Worms starts off with the premise that rain starts falling all across the globe and just doesn't stop. Water levels rise so that most landmasses are submerged, and at the same time, giant worms (among other creatures) rise from the depths of the earth to wreak havoc on what surface is left.
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Most of the book is told from the perspective of an old man living at the top of a mountain near a rural community. His best friend from the next house over eventually comes to stay with him, and they are joined by survivors who arrive by helicopter. Events on the mountain happen pretty much like you'd expect, but in the middle of the book Keene takes a little bit of a detour and recounts the story of what the helicopter survivors have left behind.
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Switching narrators and taking up what must be pretty close to the middle third of the book, spending so much time on what is essentially a side-story flashback feels like a bit of an odd choice to make. This middle section also feels like it could have been a short story unto itself, causing Conqueror Worms to seem more like a combination of separate shorts than one cohesive novel. I don't really object to the many-stories-in-one-world format, but a few more vignettes would have been nice to flesh things out. Failing that, streamlining that middle section and sticking with the main narrator would've helped make everything feel tighter overall.
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If there's one thing I admire about Keene’s writing, it's that he takes a very common-sense approach to surviving horrific events and really thinks through what the average person would likely do when faced with a very non-average situation. I love that stuff, and Keene does it better than just about anyone. That same horse sense is present on every page of the book, but as much as I admired it, I do have to say that Conqueror Worms as a whole never felt like it was firing on all cylinders.
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Though mediocre Keene is better than most other authors’ best, I can’t honestly say that this one kept me turning the pages.
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*BTW, that ridiculous cover art is one of the lamest, cheapest and most embarrassing pieces of amateur photoshop hackjobbery I've ever seen, but I don't blame Brian for that... His publishers really should have done better for him. Nightcrawlers? Really? For shame, Dorchester.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Trailers & Demos

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Games: I just finished Fallout 3 a few minutes ago, and I've got to say that it's miles ahead of the competition when it comes to picking what's going to be my game of the year. It's a pretty fantastic title, and if you haven't played it yet you should run out and get a copy immediately.
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With that out of the way, the wife and I ran through a few of the demos and clips I had downloaded onto the 360. Here’s a few words.
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BioShock 2 (trailer): Although I liked BioShock, I didn't think it was the end-all like most people did. It was fine and really well put-together, but I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to get a sequel. Really, I'm sort of wondering how there will even be a sequel. I've heard talk that it may be a prequel, but the trailer doesn't give anything away… it's basically a minute or two of a young girl standing on the beach looking out at the ocean holding what I assume is a makeshift Big Daddy doll. The sand rises up behind her to form a skyline like the original BioShock logo and then fades out. Meh.
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Bayonetta (trailer): Watching this trailer reminded me of all the talk lately about how Japan isn't the leader in game design any more. This game seems like a textbook example of why. Looking like nothing so much as Devil May Cry with a new female protagonist in place of Dante, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the game launch with *DMC5 under the title. Lots of guns, over-the-top cut scenes (complete with gratuitous font and back crotch shots) and a main character that strips as she pulls off combos… this might have been edgy and interesting a few years ago, but it just feels tired and played out now.
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Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (demo): Rare, what the heck is going on with you guys? I was a massive fan of the original B-K games on the N64, but this new vehicle-based direction looks like a massive misstep. Just like Grabbed by the Ghoulies or Kameo, B-K:N&B appears tobe aimed at kids, yet the gameplay is confused, clunky and will likely be too difficult for younger players. At the same time, I imagine it will turn off older players with its cutesy graphics and abandonment of the classic platform formula. Constructing a vehicle and driving it in different areas seems to be the main focus of the game based on this demo and what I've read in interviews, which only leads me to ask: why, exactly? Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie were both phenomenal platformers, even better than Nintendo’s own first-party efforts in some ways. Reviving the franchise for this half baked on-wheels formula looks like a fail to me.
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Tomb Raider: Underworld (demo): I’m not much of a graphics whore, but after seeing this game in action I was ready to put on some high heels and smear some lipstick on my face. Underworld looks absolutely phenomenal-- breathtaking, even. Lara’s movement looks quite real and believable, the way she gingerly grabs for purchase on vertical surfaces and swats at branches and greenery in her path. The swirling ocean could have been on a postcard, and the shadows and lighting are remarkable. In terms of gameplay, it seems to deliver the same sort of ruin-hopping, crypt-jumping experience that the last TR game did, but that's quite all right with me… Crystal Dynamics’ rework of the series was easily the best Tomb Raider game, ever. I'm definitely getting in on this one sooner rather than later, unless the wife beats me to it.
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Mirror’s Edge (demo): I've stated many times that I don't get what the buzz is about this game, and after playing the demo, I still don't get it. Running, jumping, and punching people are things that games have been doing since games were invented… putting this together with a first-person perspective is supposed to make it fresh and interesting? Not to mention, acrobatic navigation intrinsically belongs to the third-person format. As I was stumbling along trying to navigate the environment, I kept wondering why I wasn't seeing things from a third-person perspective. The art style felt very ascetic and cold, not at all interesting. I started becoming bored with the visuals before I even finished the demo. I'm quite aware that the developers are using color as a way to cue players into different ways of navigating through the areas, but it just looks dull. EA may want it to be, but I'm not feeling a blockbuster here.
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Saturday, November 8, 2008

An Apology...

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Games: ...for the throwaway post last night, but I was just way too tired to do anything more substantial. Sort of the same situation tonight, but I felt a little weak for copping out so I figured I could at least say a few more words on it.

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Anyway, the only thing on my plate right now is (again) Fallout 3.
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At this point, I think I'm somewhere in the 35-hour range and unfortunately, Bethesda put the cap for leveling up at 20. I hit that tonight, and I've still got more than half of the main storyline to go... evidently, players can't earn any more bonuses or perks from any experience gained past this point which makes me a very sad, sad player.

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I mean, I get that part of the reason for this is to prevent players from creating characters who are maxed out in every single stat and possess every skill, but I've got to be honest in saying that it's a little disheartening to know that I'm going to be putting in (what I assume) will be at least another 5 to 10 hours and all the experience earned by clearing the land of raiders and giant radscorpions isn't going to really serve any purpose, even though there are still a few more minor abilities that I'd like to have (and wouldn't mind working towards.)

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In discussing future download add-ons to Fallout 3, Bethesda has stated that there is definitely something in the pipe, and that it may appear as soon as December. That sounds good to me, but when it arrives it would be a pretty great thing if the game accounted for all of the experience that went to waste and gave players some credit in the new mission packs retroactively.

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Fingers crossed!
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[edit] I actually just noticed that the game displays a numeric representation of "level 21" after you hit 20, even though there are no additional EXP points warded or Perks gained... maybe I'll get my wish after all?
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Passion 4 Fashion


Are you tired of your old cloths ? Want to change your style and your look ? Then what are you waiting for check out the new fashions if you have the passion for fashion. This is a video about the new fashion season called Twilight Fashion.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Christian (Face 305)


A little late for Halloween




Interview With: 2D Boy

Games: So after being completely impressed with WiiWare's World of Goo, I hit up the developers for a brief word. Quite friendly and accommodating, this is what 2D Boy's Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel had to say.
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So you both were at EA prior to making the game, how did you meet and what was it like setting up a studio of your own? Did you both whisper words of creative freedom to each other across the aisle between cubicles and make a break for it at sunset?

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Kyle: Yeah, we met through friends while we were both working with EA. Somewhere along the way, it became clear that we were both having some sort of existential breakdown, and it seemed like the best solution was to go and risk everything, and become poor, and try to make our own games. It's kind of surreal now, almost two years later, that we just released or, and people are playing it, and liking it, and posting youtube videos of lovely things they do with it. I think reality hasn't quite set in yet that we're finally finished.
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Now that you're independent, what was the transition like? Also, has World of Goo been successful enough to sustain you both financially, or are you doing other things on the side?
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Ron: The transition into indieness was one of the most exciting and one of the most stressful things I've ever done. It took about a year and a half of living off savings before we saw a cent and it's kinda frightening to see your bank account balance going full steam ahead towards zero. We had some opportunities to do contract work but decided that we'd rather be working on our game. If we ran out of money we could always get contract work later. Now that we've seen some sales numbers, I can say that while we're far from rich, we'll have enough money to fund our next game.
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Ron on the left, Kyle on the right

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I've heard that the story of the game is a parable for the story of your studio, or yourselves. Is that correct, and if so, how?
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Kyle: Yep. The overarching story of World of Goo is a big metaphor for the development process - curious and naive little goo balls, encountering a large international corporation and it's global pipe distribution system. Meanwhile, we're a curious and naive new indie studio, eager to explore, encountering large international publishing corporations with their global distribution systems. Or, more generally - hope, ambition, curiosity, etc, collide with a cold bitter reality. World of Goo Corporation, in particular, is a giant metaphor for some of the absurd experiences we've had along the way with publishers so far. I just hope not too many Goo Balls get chopped up by rusty spikes, or fall into infinite death pits.
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By all accounts, the game has been incredibly well received and lavished with near-universal praise (all of it well-deserved, in my opinion.) I've got my own theories, but why do you think the game has done so well?
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Ron: Thanks Brad. The reason is simple: Kyle is a game design genius and a perfectionist. Constant playtesting helped too, as did our focus on gameplay experience over technology.
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Kyle: Thanks! Also bribes. I wouldn't say we've done super well yet, though. I think most of our sales come directly from reviews and word of mouth, so I just hope people keep telling other people about it.
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Looking back at its development, were there parts of the game that were difficult to pull off, or were there aspects of gameplay or design that you had to leave out for one reason or another?
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Kyle: On the creative side, I had a lot of trouble with the story at first. I think because the only other games I had made in the past were very short 5-10 minute games with no story at all, and suddenly moving to a much longer, almost 10 hour game, I felt like I had no idea what was happening, and it caused a lot of insecurity and uncertainty. Previous revisions of the story had big cutscenes, lots of dialogue, it was a mess! Then we found out that the more I removed the story, and implied things instead of explicitly stating them, the more satisfying it became. That's why the cutscenes are all very short, and almost all dialogue is optional and oblique.

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Why was World of Goo released only on WiiWare, and not Live or PSN? What's it been like working with Nintendo?
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Ron: The Wii remote was the only controller other than the mouse that made sense for this game. If we tried to make the game use a dual-shock style controller players would end up feeling like they're in a straight jacket. Nintendo's been amazing to work with. Dan Adelman in particular gave us a lot of help and support over the last year of development. They were completely hands-off when it came to the game and went out of their way to help us promote the game and get it through lot check quickly.
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The European version of Goo was reported to have an extra level that domestic players don't have. Are there any plans to make that content available via a downloadable add-on?
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Ron: We're trying to figure out a few things with regard to the European release, the extra chapter is part of that, and we hope to have some more news on that soon.
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Currently, World of Goo is holding strong at a score of 96 on MetaCritic, putting it alongside things like the Orange Box, BioShock, Super Mario Galaxy, and Resident Evil 4. That's some great company to be in. Now that the bar has been set so high, what are you working on now and what are your plans for the future? Do you feel any pressure to produce something as successful as Goo?
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Ron: Our next game is going to be called “The Sophomore Effect: An Intentionally Mediocre Game”. We have to lower expectations for our third game because there's no way we can top World of Goo.
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Kyle: We'll see about that! In the meantime, we're incredibly grateful about our review scores. Of course, I have a feeling our sales are orders of magnitude less than Mario Galaxy!

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What are your feelings on the concept of 'games as art'? Already there? Never happen?
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Kyle: This one is dangerous. I think the questions of "are games art" was carefully and intentionally constructed to illigitimize games as a medium. It's a conspiracy, but I'm not sure where it got started. As long as we continue to have four people on a panel at every games convention debating this, there will continue to be doubt. So, I think we should all - journalists, gamers, game developers - make a secret pact together to stop doubting our artistic power, and never speak of this again. And then we can all float away like thousands of simulated butterflies, and completely transcend the movie and music industries like we're supposed to!
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Finally, is there an absolute limit as to how tall the towers in the World of Goo Corporation can go?
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Ron: There can be no more than 300 Goo Balls in the Corporation. Even with the greatest of skill, a tower can only be so high. But the World of Goo, like every other computer system, has rules. Some of them can be bent, others... can be broken. Please don't mess up the leaderboards, Neo.
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Kyle: World of Goo Corporation Executives have stated that World of Goo Corporation is infinite in all directions, and are enthusiastic to maintain that there is no vertical limit to our own Imagination(tm), provided additional Imagination Points(tm) are purchased at authorized Imagination Vending Dispenser Units(tm).

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My most heartfelt thanks to Ron and Kyle at 2D Boy, and if you haven't already, I strongly recommend that you go and download their game immediately. Available on Wii, PC, and Mac, go HERE to help make them rich so they can keep on making games as great as Goo.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weddings

Glitter Text



When you are invited to a wedding you don't have to be formal all the time, you can wear something cool and fashionable too. You can either wear a simple dress, or a very blinking dress that gives attraction. You should never ever wear trousers or T-shirts in weddings because that will make you look silly. Always wear short or a long-tailed dress that suits your look.

Fallout 3: Absolute Hell On Productivity

Games: The last few days have been absolute hell on my productivity. Fallout 3 was just released, and pretty much everything else going on has been put on indefinite hold while I make my way through the irradiated wastelands.
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To be brutally honest, the game didn't make a strong first impression with me once I actually had the disc. I wasn't the biggest fan of Bethesda’s Oblivion, and the first day or so spent in post-apocalyptic D.C. is guaranteed to seem like nothing so much as Oblivion with guns.
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no, the subway isn't running right now

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Bethesda has some really talented people in their corner, but it's funny how they just don't seem able to shake certain quirks like the ugly character models situated on the wrong side of the Uncanny Valley, and the completely craptastic “canned walking animation floating over landscape” so common to PC titles. Stuff like this muted the praises I expected to be singing, but once I got a little further into it I have to admit that I became completely hooked.

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At this point I think I'm somewhere in the 18-20 hour range and I'm completely convinced that Fallout 3 is superior to Oblivion in just about every respect.

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The realization of the world is believable and convincing, and I find it far more satisfying to stray off the beaten path for the sake of exploration that I ever did in Cyrodiil. The feeling of “being there” is so prevalent in some parts that it's hard not to poke around in this ruined house, or that abandoned church.

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avoid these guys until you're packing serious heat

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The central storyline is interesting enough, and the side quests even more so at times. I'm usually the kind of player who burns through the critical path as quickly as possible, but this is an instance where I'm quite happy to spend a little (or a lot) of time doing things completely nonessential to completion. Digging into a game this deeply is quite rare for me, so kudos to Bethesda for what they've done here.

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no need to knock

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I'm sure I'll have more to say later, but at this point it's pretty clear that Fallout 3 is easily one of the year’s best games. It's not perfect and I wouldn't even say that it's as close to perfect as a game can realistically come, but titles like this are rare. If you haven't taken the plunge yet, it definitely gets my recommendation… just make sure you don't have anything that needs to get done before you start playing.

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