All posts for the month July, 2006

Round-up of some recent cool stuff worth wasting internet mileage on:

Sushi Samurai – You remember this game, I promise!

Portals – Jaw-dropping in the possibilities it offers!

Dead RisingShaun of the Dead meets Postal? I dunno, but it's shapin' up. Take cleavage shots of local madames to boost wrist strength and stamina. Awesome.

TMNT – Do you really need more than four letters?

And finally, a message from Nintendo may contain the date of the Wii's release encoded in itself. Speaking of, wouldn't Da Vinci have made an amazing game designer?

(more PBF over here)

Now that World Jump Day is over, stupidity will diffuse more evenly among the 23.934 hours in the sidereal day. If you hadn't heard of it, it was a call for millions of chumps across the planet to jump up and down at the same time in order to shift the orbital path of the planet, and thereby bringing world peace, global cooling, and a climate of general inanity. C'mon folks, the idea makes no sense at all in regards to physics. If anything, if should be World Blow-Upwards-At-The-Sky Day and instead of spreading across the globe canceling out their own foolishness, they should do it all from one place… like a poisonous rainforest or something.

But the strategy they've come up with is not new. Dantesoft sent me a BBC article nicely summing up the troubles a giant EA has faced. From the folks I've talked to, what burnt people out wasn't so much the workload, but the pointlessness of said work when constantly defined and redefined by suits and producers, the worst combo for human health since the Big Mac and large fries. Try changing 3-4 managers a month. Try marketing perps invoking art/code pipeline changes. One gent, who was friends with the guy who filed the class action suit against EA, told me of a game in which developers would try to score points based on how many times they could get producers to say "in reality…," and of course bonus points if you could get them to play the crying card. I kid you not, they cried.

So I guess we are to believe that significant jumping up and down has changed the orbit of EA's heart. I'll believe it when interns stop abandoning their internships there.

But jump hard enough and you'll plummet through the Earth into China, where they're still busy at work ruining stereotypes for Chinese people stateside. Read this incredible story about how Massive Black, related to the artistic monument that is, had their business sabotaged and stolen shamefully and shamelessly by their Shanghai faction.

This is the John Grisham tale of the game industry. Where asian women here in the Valley enjoy the benefits of being stereotypical dragon ladies and kawaii dolls in the sensational yellow fever of the interracial dating scene, asian guys are haplessly painted as spies and fu manchus. Y'know why? 'Cuz of selfish assholes like James Xi Zhang and the massive fraud, embezzlement, and conspiracy he perpetrated against Massive Black. If Hellgate is delayed for this, he's a dead man.

Amid more FEDspeak implying an imminent end to inflationary pressures (and thus rate hikes), contrary to the CPI numbers released today, the markets took a small jump. You've got to hand it to them; what precious linguistics they've done with their pet term "pause" has now made probably the most non-committal word in the English dictionary. Well, inflation may slow as the effect of past hikes solidifies, but if Germany and Japan start raising their rates up too, I predict more "inflation" as the FED tries to maintain the overvalued dollar. Volatility is going up, and the Empire ain't too happy 'bout that.

Nowadays, I daresay online game communities have healthier, albeit virtual, economies. With Ultima Online destroying trillions of their fiat currency, and Second Life having a full-time transparent economist running theirs, one can fantasize about a world where a hundred gold is always worth one platinum piece. At least runaway inflation in one game doesn't affect another game. Although I sure would love to transfer the small fortune Xstine and I've made in Dungeons & Dragons Online to the upcoming Warhammer Online, which looks fantastic.

Yesternight, I was doodling ideas for an MMORPG with ninjas (hell yah) and came up with an idea called Conflict Quests where you try to stop the opposing faction from finishing their quests. Well, today after I found this amazing Warhammer trailer, I looked up the game, and lo! and behold, they have something called… Conflict Quests! 'Cept their idea is much cooler since everyone knows viking orcs are cooler than ninjas. Vikings are basically pirates that can kill everything, which settles the eternal debate over ninjas versus pirates.

It’s just uncanny how much this recent Gears of War screenshot resembles the fluid imaginations I have of the near-present future when I read articles about how N. Korea farts in our general direction like this. Or when I read about the present future about how Israel and Lebanon are in a war over who can overreact more. Or when I think about the world in general.

I remember when Gears of War first came out, no one believed those shots were real. If they were real, they couldn’t be real-time. If they were real-time, they weren’t running on real systems. Despite all evidence to the contrary, critics managed to keep themselves afloat by treading in their own malarkey. Now the game is playable and real, and their tune is that the framerate isn’t that great. The animation sucks. The character design blows. It’s gettin’ as ad hominem as you can get with a video game now.

And to put it on the same level as epic global affairs, the similarities are impossible to ignore, ‘cept they run back starting a decade ago.

N. Korea. doesn’t have missles. Those aren’t tested missles. They aren’t running on a proven military program. Look, the Taep’o-dong 2 blew up way before its mark. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the U.N. manages to keep itself afloat by making resolutions to agree to be unhappy about the situation. Now the game is playable and real, and their tune is that diplomacy wasn’t that great. Unilateralism sucks. United States blows. It’s gettin’ as ineffectual as you can get with an international crisis by now.

I think Team America said it best:

Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN’s collective mind. I’m sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.

Kim Jong Il: Or else what?

Hans Blix: Or else we will be very angry with you… and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.

So Mark Rein dares to make yet another bombastic statement, basically scorning episodic gaming. As a devout believer of that church, a sequential content zealot if you will, I'm going to say…

Mark Rein, you are absolute incorrigibly RIGHT.

C'mon people, just admit we haven't seen the innovation inherent to the system given a single beam of sunlight in the retail gaming oobliete. Episodic games, theoretically, should be a way to deliver more consumable, less obligatory content in an addicting way, under a model where people stop paying when they stop having fun. That in itself necessitates developer dedication.

So why is Mark Rein right, like he was about resale of used games as an abuse? Because he's knows better than we do how tempting it is for time-pressed devs to sell their souls to the twin succubi of PFC. Rehashed Assets and General Half-Assery. In the case of Valve's attempt to pretend those episodes are really a magnum opus in the making bearing the wax seal of Half-Life 3, I think we saw what the gestalt of $20 for 20 minutes of gameplay after a 20 week extra wait was worth. Zilch.

From now 'til the peak popularity of the upcoming Neverwinter Nights 2, I declare a moratorium on episodic micro-transacted mini-experiences. I'm going to make my own, via game engines, mods, hacks, or some old school origami. Booyeah!

Today's tragedy in Mumbai, India was almost as displeasing to me as the rumor floating around that the source code for Hellgate: London was stolen from its ex-Blizzard team at the incredibly talented Flagship Studios. Yes, insensitive, but my sensitivity is increasingly dictated by an increasingly local Sphere of Giveadamn.

Why are we not at all-out war with these fuckers? To put it provincially, that is. But I only see providence in province when dealing with terrorists, and I'm actually partial to violence in my worldview. How is the rest of the world not sick of the fact that since 1960, the number of terrorism victims has increased ten-fold each decade? And they aren't just bombing the evil wicked white men of the West, they're bombing the shit out of themselves!

To draw ample analogy, to me it's like the code heist of my beloved upcoming game. You'd think empowered rebels of the MAN would be out exposing the government's dirty secrets, instead of attacking an industry that was practically SPAWNED by hacking! Hackers cracking games I could rationalize, but hackers stealing from the very people they wrap the keyboard wire of their demimeaningful lives around just reeks of utter AOLification of a scene once noble through the works of 2600 phreaks and anarchists. No, not *a* scene, *THE* scene.

Listen up you hackers. Instead of creating the sixteenth version of a program to advertise porn in my blog, why don't you twats do something useful. Hack some terrorists. Hack some spammers. Hell, restore the chivalry of the cyberknight and go hack the NSA where your balls could get snatched and your ass landed in jail. In the days I remember, the technopirates of olde existed to hack those who deserved it. Bring me back those days of homemade napalm and multi-colored boxes, and when terrorists were actually guerrillas and minutemen, not like these puppets of Al-Qaida dancing within the skirt of a shattered Pakistan.