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Archive For March, 2007

A Little Dwarf Fortress Love Never Hurt Anyone

March 27, 2007 4:26 PM | Simon Carless

- We actually covered love for PC title Dwarf Fortress before, but I thought it was cool that Toybane has been claiming that the title is the future of games, presenting "...a level of immersion unparalleled in gaming; an almost complete, dynamic world; and created an emotional connection with its characters with absolutely no graphics at all."

Why does Dwarf Fortress matter? The Toybane folks rave: "Whenever was there a game that named close to every landmark above ground and below, populated it with thousands of creatures that each lived persistent lives, created a multi-civilized world history complete with back story, had dynamic weather with fronts and humidity, used a multi-currency economic system, and presented a rich ecosystem of seasons and wildlife?"

In fact, they reference the recent Gamasutra interview with Warren Spector, in which he commented, in characteristically grumpy fashion, that developers should: “Stop building movie sets and make a world we can interact with instead.” Wait, so Dwarf Fortress is the ultimate manifestation of this, despite being ASCII-based? Please feel free to agree or not.

Kavinsky Gets Inspired By Gizmondo Crash

March 27, 2007 11:25 AM | Simon Carless

- Apparently, knowing how transfixed I am by the whole Gizmondo Ferrari crash thing I am, the Universe is conspiring to help me find media reference to it - this time in the form of Kavinsky's new '1986' EP, a music release on Air's Record Makers label that I grabbed from Emusic.

In fact, there's a page on ClickGroove where you can hear the 'Flashback' track, which has some very familiar audio in it - a creepy Knight Rider-style groove, over which you can hear voiceover discussing "...a car that's virtually sliced in half on the PCH". Specifically a Ferrari, of course - apparently Kavinsky has been sampling news dialog from the Gizmondo crash for his new release.

Anyhow, there's also an earlier video for 'Testarossa' from Kavinsky: "KAVINSKY-"Testarossa autodrive "from "Teddy boy" ep (Record makers-2006) Directed by Jonas&François for "75" production &Anthony Thouzet", which I would say also has some vague Gizmondo inspiration in it, what with crashed Ferraris and ambulances - although I don't remember Stefan Eriksson being as Miami Vice as this, so perhaps it's just an oblique reference. Still - awesome-o.

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Shooting the Core

March 27, 2007 6:21 AM | Ollie Barder

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the frequent Western misinterpretation of what mecha games set out to achieve.]

ac4_ss_rank_small.jpgNow with the release of Armored Core 4 abroad, reviews and forum discussion are a mixed bag. The main problem is down to a misinterpretation of what mecha games set out to achieve and consequently offer in terms of gameplay. Fallacious comparisons are often made to other types of gaming genre as a means of categorising the quality of whatever mecha game is currently under the spotlight. So, I think it's time for a little cultural clarification...

Il Corriere Della Sera On The PS3's Soccer Snafu

March 27, 2007 1:19 AM | Simon Carless

- This is kinda just a sideline to the current PlayStation 3 launch kerfuffle, but I'm fascinated by the provincial European reaction to the launch - and Matteo Bittanti has a good round-up of the Italian issues - which, it turns out, revolve almost entirely around video game soccer!

The titanically large, important Italian newspaper Il Corriere Della Sera has apparently weighed in as follows: "Italy's best selling national newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, published a story about a frustrated PS3 buyer (also, a journalist) who decided to immediately sell the console after realizing that it would not run Pro Evolution Soccer 6 and Fifa 2007 (both currently available on the PS2)."

He continues: "Titled "Ieri ho comprato la PS3. Oggi la rivendo" (= "Yesterday I bought a PS3. Today, I'm selling it") the story is interesting because this consumer's disappointment is apparently shared by thousands of other players: in a country where electronic gaming and soccer games are synonomous, a long term lack of compatibility with PES6 (aka Winning Eleven in the US and Japan) and FIFA07 would be considered simply unacceptable." Apparently it's being addressed (maybe!), but let's not forget what apps are killer apps outside the States, mm?

Bastards, San Andreas Transfix PC Gamer UK

March 26, 2007 8:20 PM | Simon Carless

- Had a wander back to C&VG's subsite for PC Gamer UK, which is so Flash-infested that it makes my PC overspin (hurrah!), but a couple more neat mag features have been reprinted - notably 'How To Be A Complete Bastard'.

This particular piece of 'fun' is John Walker's take on how to be really nasty in online games - apparently for fun and/or profit, and starts with the grinning intro: "Griefers are much maligned. Condemned as the playground bullies of the online world, they are in fact masters of innovation.... These are the anarchists of gaming, taking the ingredients they're given and making a cake no one was expecting. Jealous? You should be. So why not begin your career of adding imagination to multiplayer gaming today?" Or, you know, they're horrid and should be ignored, guys.

Also worth checking - a piece on GTA: San Andreas, which is odd and well written: " But this is not art imitating life, or even the foreign policy of a superpower somewhere near Canada, say, because GTA's overwhelming mechanisms of cause and effect mean these guys are shooting for a good reason. That alone is cause enough to spend your hours there, and damn the grim early days in the ghetto. All you need is a relaxed attitude, time dribbling near-endlessly from your hands and a love for the streets. Oh yeah, and maybe a jetpack."

Metal Slug's Wonder Festival Model Kit, Yum

March 26, 2007 3:18 PM | Simon Carless

- Over at Metal Slug fansite (yay!) Metal Slug DB, there's a new post pointing out a completely awesome (EDIT: un?)official Metal Slug model kit, as showcased recently in Japan.

It's explained: "Wonder Festival, which is an exihibition held in Japan that gathers around figure and model kit enthusiasts and dealers, recently held their Winter 2007 exposition... Among the tens of thousands of figures lying around on top of the tables was the Metal Slug resin kit (assembly and painting required) molded and packaged by Alchemist 9000."

Also, I love the petulant fanboy rest of the post: "Luckily (for me), I've managed to acquire two of these things. They didn't come cheap, however, although I do suspect that these will be pretty damned rare and nearly impossible to find in the future.... Unfortunately, those are all of the photos you will see of the resin kit. Nearly all of the media's attention in the exposition were gathered around semi-naked figures of anime girls, so the top five photos are, presumably, the only ones taken of the Metal Slug resin kit during the exposition. (As for my own two kits, I'm not even going to bother opening these, and will instead salt them away. So don't be expecting me to put up any pictures of them.)" Haw! [Via Neo-Geo.com.]

Bring On The 2007 Golden Tee World Champs

March 26, 2007 10:16 AM | Simon Carless

- The retro crazies at RetroBlast! have just put up a post pointing out that the 2007 Golden Tee World Championship began on Sunday in the Tilted Kilt pub at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas - there's an older press release on Coin-Op Today with the full details.

Actually, people consistently ignore the Golden Tee golf series, despite the fact that it's probably the most financially successful video game series in North American arcades over the last 10 years - so it's nice to see a little pointing out. Over at the Incredible Technologies forums for the game, there's some allegedly live coverage unfolding, though not much has started up yet.

Anyhow, as RetroBlast! handily explains: "To be held over the next two days, the championship will pit a 16-man international squad against a 16-man American team. The international team consists of teams from South Africa, the U.K., Australia and Canada. During the previous 4 tournaments the Americans have prevailed 3 times with the World Team winning their only World Championship Cup in 2004... The prize money totals over $57,000, so it looks to be a heated competition!" I played Golden Tee's networked arcade version on Saturday night at a bar in San Jose, actually - but didn't score too well, thanks to inadequate trackball technique. Oh well.

Halo 3 - A Legend In The Making

March 26, 2007 5:16 AM | Simon Carless

- Turns out that official Bungie homebase Bungie.net posts some neat features from time to time, and a newly posted one is a look at the packaging construction for the super-deluxe version of Halo 3 for Xbox 360, in an article called 'A Legend in the Making'.

As explained in the intro: "As you know by now, Halo 3 will come in three flavors later this year, ranging from the standard game, to the super deluxe "Legendary Edition." The Legendary Edition comes packaged with a collectible Spartan helmet, two bonus discs and an exclusive cinematic storyboard booklet. I’ve seen the final helmet first hand I can honestly say it's totally awesome. The end product is the result of all the blood, sweat and tears that so many people have poured into this project over the past two years (yes, you read that right, this project started over two years ago!)." Blimey - there's lots of pics of factory workers toiling on 'legendary construction' tasks, too.

Microsoft's Craig Carlson explains of his work on the v. swish helmet: "I first got involved in this in an all day, Saturday planning meeting here in Redmond in June of 2005. We looked at wax-resin, cast-resin and injection molding as design and manufacturing solutions before settling on injection molding. The next challenge was RFQ’ing this and finding suppliers with both the capacity required as well as the capability. It still amazes me that we ended up using our largest Keyboard supplier, but since I launched 8 keyboard and desktop products with them while working in MS PC Hardware, I was convinced that they gave us the best chance for success in the end." [Via halo.bungie.org.]

LSD For PS1 Boggles Minds, Innit?

March 26, 2007 12:14 AM | Simon Carless

- The IC messageboard insurgents at SelectButton (more specifically, Mechanori!) have made a fascinating post on obscure Japanese PlayStation 1 game 'LSD', "...a recreation of dreams written down in a staff member's dream journal."

It's explained: "There is no goal in LSD. You can walk in four directions, you can look behind you with the L1 or R1 buttons, you can strafe with the L2 and R2 buttons, and you can look up with the triangle button. There's no "jump" or "use" button; you're purely an observer in the world of LSD." Niftily abstract.

And how does it look? "The game is composed of large, linked rooms or stages. Some are fairly coherent (a green field, a boat dock, a city of old Japanese architecture). Some are pretty absurd (a park of miniature buildings, a wasteland of bizarre architecture and bright colors). Sometimes they're littered with animals and moving clouds. Other times, they're completely still."

[There's a good Wikipedia page devoted to the game, but little other info about it online - this is the kind of title that screams out for Long Tail-style resurrection via PlayStation 3 or PSP E-Distribution, even if only a few thousand people would grab it. I just don't think Sony has it in mind to get this comprehensive just yet, though, especially not with import titles.]

Takahashi, Digg Skew, And Kotaku

March 25, 2007 7:11 PM | Simon Carless

- I'm not really saying that uber-blog Kotaku is the only outlet that's ever done this, but I'm going to have to talk you all through this one, and I'm hoping for some further understanding of the sloppiness of Digg, 'citizen journalism', and over-sensationalizing on the Net.

We're starting with Dean Takahashi's new piece on the Xbox 360 Elite, which he debuted yesterday on his San Jose Mercury News blog. Though this isn't the crux of the problem, there's even an interesting twist on this part - I believe that Dean originally posted this with 'Exclusive' in the title (see the blog URL), but changed it after some commenter complaints, such as from 'David': "Sorry, but how is this “exclusive?'’ Game Informer and Engadget both reported this days ago with the same type of anonymous sourcing."

Takahashi's comments in response to David are fair: "You are correct that Game Informer and Engadget have reported this, and I should have mentioned them. Engadget in particular has a lot of detail. We’ve added our own independent sourcing and analysis, including the detail on the chip cost reduction schedule that no one has talked about." I guess - Dean is a smart guy, but this piece does feel a bit weak, considering I have a copy of Game Informer in my hands also announcing the Elite. But still - it includes a couple more details, and the Xbox 360 Elite is a bit more official now. So fair enough.

Anyhow, the next thing that happens is that Brian Crecente posts about Dean's comments on Kotaku - basically with a link and an extra paragraph of commentary: "I suspect that this new model will hit in April, with official word coming as early as next week. I also wouldn't be surprised that if consumer interest shifted to the newer model, that Microsoft drops the price on their current models by this holiday season." Don't have a big issue with this - people may click through to Dean, Kotaku is in part (like GSW!) a linklog after all, etc.

But here's the bit that gets my goat. A certain 'Bippy101' submitted Kotaku's version of the story to Digg, with a simply incorrect version of the story: 'Xbox 360 Elite with IPTV announcement coming next week... The new Xbox 360 Elite will be announced next week with a bigger harddrive, smaller chip, HDMI and IPTV.' This factually worded statement is not true - Brian has posited that the announcement might be next week - and indeed it might, but he's not even citing sources at this point. And the IPTV bit is kinda not Elite-specific.

What's doubly unfortunate is that the specific 'Digg It' button for this dodgily worded story has been embedded in the Kotaku story to help promote the hits further. C'mon, Kotaku-ites - what about reporting a story that someone else has reported (with one extra paragraph of commentary!) gives you the right to try to get a front page Digg for it? I consider that pretty iffy.

Now, I don't know who 'Bippy101' is - guess he could be someone completely random. But judging by the user's Digg history, I'm presuming that it's a single or composite Gawker Media staffer - and interestingly, most of its submitted stories make it to the front page, presumably exactly because they are embedded in Kotaku stories after they are submitted. (Not saying it's a secret, just extrapolating.)

Actually, most of the time, these Bippy101 frontpaged stories are original Kotaku reporting - such as the 'Reign Over Me' movie interview. But there are some other ones in there which I honestly would feel guilty about submitting to Digg - like the Gears Of War movie announcement, which is just a paragraph and a link to Variety. You can absolutely submit things from your own outlet to Digg - we also do it from time to time - but IMHO, it should be your own original reporting, otherwise the dilution of information just discourages first-hand reporting.

If these rules aren't held to, what happens? Let's take a look at the 'recently frontpaged' list on Digg game news to find out. I'm not saying that all of these are submitted by the site themselves - we've had a couple of frontpage Diggs that were re-reported stories, put forward by third parties, but up there right now are things like a QJ.net piece that's just summarizing Gizmodo, a fake official confirmation for Katamari Damacy Wii, or YouNewb summarizing a GameSpot piece. I could go on - and you may recall that I have before. But I firmly believe that major sites should be leading the way, and this is a bit of a mis-step, This is _THE_ new frontline for journalism and journalistic ethics, and I'm surprised more people aren't talking about it and thinking about it.

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