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Archive For November, 2006

Rooster Teeth Make Upset Footballer Feel Better!

November 30, 2006 8:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Damion Schubert over at Zen Of Design has linked up a hilarious chain of events involving a TV ad that the Rooster Teeth folks (of Red Vs. Blue machinima fame) did for Madden on the PS3, and then some extremely wack fallout that followed it. We'll have Schubert explain things:

"1. The Red vs. Blue team makes a commercial for Madden, which shows a digitized Dallas Clark, tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, getting decleated repeatedly, and in slow motion.

2. Dallas Clark reports to the local media that it’s humiliating, and that guys in the locker room are razzing him for it.

3. The Red vs. Blue team apologizes and offers a Director’s Cut, in which Dallas Clark is portrayed as a minor god."

As Schubert says: "I swear, I love living in the digital age." We completely agree. Also, those Rooster Teeth folks are pretty funny, even when it's humor about football. Surprising!

MMOG Nation: The Future of Ryzom

November 30, 2006 4:02 PM |

['MMOG Nation' is (trying to be) a weekly column by Michael Zenke about current events in the world of Massively Multiplayer Games. This week's column is about the recent announcement of Nevrax's receivership, and the possibility of an open source MMOG.]

RyzomYou may have heard of the game Ryzom before, but it was probably just in passing. Primarily popular in its home nation of France, the unique fantasy game never really caught on in the U.S. or other traditional MMOG markets because it's just ... so French.

People who pay attention to the Massive genre will most likely have heard of Ryzom because of the recent Ryzom Ring expansion. For the first time, developers invited players behind the desk, and gave them the tools to make their own adventures within the context of the game. It was a great idea, and drew a lot of attention.

Apparently, though, that attention was too little too late. The game's developer, Nevrax, is now in receivership, and the future of the game is in doubt. While the press release mentioned 'another company' that could take on the task of running the game, there's a much more intriguing possibility in the works. The Free Ryzom Campaign has undertaken an almost unimaginable task: They're going to try to buy the game and give it to the open source community. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about the project, explore the possibilities of what they're proposing, and ponder what this could mean for the future of Massive gaming.

GameProFamily Piles On The Fictional Kids

November 30, 2006 12:01 PM | Simon Carless

- We covered this briefly on Gama last week, but GamePro just put out a new press release, keying off the just-released Video Game Report Card to urge parents to read GameProFamily.com.

As explained by MediaPost: "The centerpiece of the site is a multi-author blog featuring a "simulated family unit," with "mother" and "father" characters to offer perspectives on whether particular games are appropriate for children. The site also features a child character to advocate on behalf of the game."

Now, at the root of this (a family-related info site about games) there's certainly some good ideas - after all, GamerDad has been doing a great job on this subject for a while now. But there's a number of weird/odd things about the site, but conceptually and in execution, that the IDG folks really need to have a think about.

For one, although the 'Dad' rating is provided by longtime IDG-er and father Wes Nihei, and the 'Mom' rating by newly recruited mother Ellen Mulholland, but there's actually a 'Kids Pitch', which is apparently fictional and consists of the kid trying to persuade you (the reader?) to let him play the game, no matter what its rating is.

So for example, for Scarface, the best-selling and decidely M-rated game, the parents are clear (and actually kinda judgmental about even allowing violence in M-rated games, I think): "If don't want your child learning vicariously how to build a drug empire and experiencing violence as power, don't buy this game."

But the 'Kids Pitch' is as follows: "This game is based on that cool movie I saw on TV where you are this Latin guy who takes over a city. There are a lot of different activities to do, and you can drive cars and pilot boats, too. The game takes place in the 80's, and it's really fun to see the style and hear the sound of the times from 20 years ago. Scarface is like the gangster movie it's based on, but I think it looks really fun to try to rise to the top like Tony Montana." Guys - this is creepy! And what is a kid of indeterminate age doing watching Scarface on TV?

On that very subject, how old is the kid in question? Gama co-editor Brandon Boyer says: "Not a day over 10, judging by the header image". But, you know - I would have very different advice based on whether a child was 7, 11, or 15, for example - and the guide just seems to be 'for children'.

As an example, the comments for Tony Hawk's Project 8 explain that, even though there are "a few over-the-top moments like human bowling and the crude joke here and there", it's green light rated as 'Safe For Kids' by GamePro, despite being T rated for: "Strong Language , Suggestive Themes , Mild Violence", with an ESRB rating suggesting it's "content suitable for persons ages 13 and older".

So, i call shenanigans. I know GameProFamily can't just duplicate ESRB advice, but I don't see what useful information it's providing in the slightest - in fact, it seems to be downright insulting about games that _aren't rated for kids_ at the top end, and overly forgiving of T-style games (or not, depending on whether the fictional kid is 7 or 15!) in the middle. More thought on this process, please.

Want Wii Or PS3? Forget It, Play Game Wave!

November 30, 2006 11:04 AM | Simon Carless

- Nobody else is running with this story - and we don't know why! Here goes with the official PR release we got: "Newscasts have covered it, newspapers have written about it and photo desks have gone ga-ga over the big PS3 and Wii line-ups at local retailers. But, what about the other readily available alternatives that provide equal game value and come with a lower price tag?"

Where? Who? Why? "Take ZAPiT Games’ GAME WAVE for example. A new DVD entertainment system that interacts with up to six color-coded remote controls and allows for a big group to play together and against each other – all within the same room and at the same time. The GAME WAVE is the next-generation DVD board game experience – it combines the DVD technology and the richness of multimedia components with the traditional board game principle. Each player gets a remote (zapper) and no more waiting for their turns."

"The new twist on this DVD entertainment system is that families and friends actually come together, share a few laughs and INTERACT with each other. It restores the social dimension of video games. Game titles are stimulating to the brain – everything from trivia titles to word games that provide up to 25 hours of non-repeat fun each. And the price tag? A mere $99 for the console and $25 for the titles…and the GAME WAVE is also a regular DVD player." Yep, the future of gaming is color-coded TV remote controls - and don't you forget it!

Weird Worlds Gets Weirder, Moddier

November 30, 2006 7:09 AM | Simon Carless

- Wow, we really haven't done a post about Weird Worlds in a little while - so it's good to see that innovative PC indie 'short game', which really does go about things in a very individualistic way, get a new upgrade.

It's explained: "Besides dozens of new things, tweaks and fixes --including many new features and commands for modders-- the Weird Worlds v1.2 upgrade adds another rare "main quest" (there are three main quests possible now) featuring a new disgusting alien race with challenging (and cool) new ship types. It also adds a powerful new Urluquai capital ship to the game."

But also (and I love niche mods, so this is great!): "Of special note to modders: For information about modding Weird Worlds, including the v1.2 changes and new commands, visit the The Modmaker's Guide to the Galaxy website. It's just been updated and all of the Weird Worlds modmaking goodness is there, including complete tutorials, example downloads and forum links."

Inside GameTap's UI Design

November 30, 2006 2:01 AM | Simon Carless

- Knowing my predilection for things GameTap, I got a nice note from the folks behind 'Angled Whiteboards', described as "a blog about designing GameTap and all the fun stuff we uncover along the way."

It also came with a brief explanation from 'xamount', the chap in question: "My fellow UX designer and I just started up a non-Turner-sponsored, unofficial blog about designing GameTap called Angled Whiteboards. The main content centers around our design process, but we throw in the random gaming and other related stuff along the way."

There's some cool stuff about usability in here, from discussions on how to design a 'Challenge' screen for the service, all the way to how GameTap's IM functionality was integrated - all with actual design pictures from actual whiteboards. This seems selfless rather than promotional, and so for sharing such knowledge, GSW salutes thee!

What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed

November 29, 2006 10:08 PM | Simon Carless

- I just had to include a small post about a new surreal freeware graphic adventure, as cannily spotted over at IndyGamer, because, well, it's called 'What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed'.

If that isn't the best game name this year, I'll eat my jaunty pirate hat. It uses two halves of the screen to display different points of view all the way through the game, and the official page for the game reveals: "Unique dual story gameplay... Multiple Endings... English and Japanese Language... Loads of graphical effects... Gods, aliens, samurai, and Charlton Heston." Oo, Heston!

Another extremely neat thing: 'Add your name to the online Hall of Completion': so after you managed to complete the game, you can enter your name onto the website. Only a grand total of 5 people, including one-time GSW columnist Dessgeega, have managed it so far, so you'd better get cracking, eh?

JVL's Retro Takes Arcade Gaming To The '50s

November 29, 2006 5:08 PM | Simon Carless

- Groovy, baby! RetroBlast! has a handy post up pointing to the announcement of the JVL Retro countertop, which brings the arcade game community back to the future!

The RetroBlast guys note: "The design of this unit is really something else and when I say it's retro, I mean that in a late 30's early 40's sort of way. This thing would have been retro when most of us were still watching the Dukes of Hazzard on Saturday night." Wow, that really takes us back (not very far!)

Apparently: "While the styling is superbly classic, the innards are all business. The unit sports a 17" LCD monitor and multicolor perimeter lighting with 145 games available. The unit can also be used with the Touch Tunes service for your jukebox needs." And most importantly, it plays PuzzLoop/Zuma clones!

Inside The Burgerman-Extended Game On! Exhibit

November 29, 2006 12:07 PM | Simon Carless

- We've previously run items on the Game On video game exhibition, which has been everywhere from San Joe to Chicago and Seattle in recent months, and has now wended its way back to the Science Museum in London.

We've shown lots of pictures of this before, but the new version has some great new wall friezes from Jon Burgerman, whom we've previously covered his European-exclusive add-on tracks for PSP game Wipeout Pure - and blogger GagaMan has a big gallery of pics from the exhibit.

He noted of the exhibit: "There was more that just button bashing and joystick wiggling to be had, though. There was also artwork all other the place, with the star of the show being all these wall paintings by an illustrator who goes by the name of Jon Bugerman, including a loooong video game history time line.Also featured were pieces of original artwork by the creators of Mario and Sonic, cels and production art from Don Bluth's Dragon's lair, and concept art from the likes of Monkey Island, Jak + Daxter and the Sims." It's on 'til Feb. 25th 2007 in the UK, so go peep it if you get a chance! [Via The Dreamcast Junkyard.]

Dungeon Master Gets Some Much-Warranted Love

November 29, 2006 7:06 AM | Simon Carless

- Matt Barton at Armchair Arcade seems to be somewhat on my wavelength, and in his latest post, he deconstructs FTL's awesome dungeon crawler, 'Dungeon Master', which was "released in 1987 for the Atari ST and a year later for the Amiga."

Firstly, Barton notes: "One thing I can definitely say about Dungeon Master is that it remains quite playable even in 2006. This is one of those rare titles that can really get its hooks into you. At first, the game is only just interesting enough to keep you playing for a few more minutes--the old, "just a bit more, then I'll go do something else" vibe. However, once you start leveling up and getting a feel for how the game works, you're in the for the long haul."

Barton concludes: "In the end, what's so impressive about Dungeon Master is what's relatively unimpressive about the many CRPGs that follow it--they've barely innovated on the paradigm set by FTL in 1987! Indeed, I've seen plenty of modern games fall short of the standard set by Dungeon Master (Ruins of Myth Drannor, anyone?). Although it's not without its flaws, a CRPG designer could do worse than to carefully study FTL's interface." The game was, and is awesome.

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