Sunday, April 30, 2006

Live! Will Be Down Tuesday

Major Says That Tuesday between 10am and 11pm GMT XBox Live! will be down. No word on why, but I suspect an upgrade because the only time previously Live! has ever been down was because of the upgrade from the old Live! system to the nice new 360 version.

Rumours in trend at the moment are:
  • Camera support

  • A DirectTV blade for streaming TV and cinema
Additional: here are a couple more rumours that have been going around:
  • Background downloading of marketplace content so you can do other stuff while a demo or movie is downloading.

  • Ability to stream video from your computer without a copy of Windows Media Centre Edition.

Metal Gear Solid 4 - Realtime Devkit Demo

YouTube has a Video of MGS4 running in realtime on the PS3 devkit. This thing looks very good, snake's hair looks especially good, but to achieve this I wonder if they did the same trick that EverQuest II pulled where each character was highly detailed, but the environments where low poly.

PS3 Real Time Footage- Brother in Arms

So I was checking my RSS feeds when I seen This on DIGG which is a link to IGN and a Brothers in Arms Video supposedly running on the PS3.

If you read the comments, some people are debating the framerate, but if you actually watch the video you will see as I did that this video is so blatantly not realtime. Yet this is a trailer for E3 2006 so that tells me Sony will be pulling the same trick that they did last year. *sigh*

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Joystiq actually constructs an argument

Joystiq has actually done a well constructed and intelligent Article on Wii and why it doesn't compare to any other made-up name.

And to fill in their table:
  • Wii
    Wii sounds like 'we,' which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.


64mm is a Skateboarding video production site with a Videocast of skater videos which is nice, but This latest video with the Grom Twins (Nic & Tristan) was something else. These kids are just eight, skate like pros and slam hard. Literally if it wasn't for their protective padding they would both have serious longterm injuries, yet they skate like pros. Maybe it is the combination of not caring about the broken ribs and blurred vision that has made these kids so good. Maybe we could all learn something from them and forgo personal safety when trying to achieve something. If your head hits the concrete then just standup (if you can) and keep trying until you get it right.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Japan doesn't like the name either

From Joystiq on what Japan is saying:
post 39: "Wee is an english baby word for pee or penis according to foreign forums. This might be bad. May be this is why foreigner's response is pretty bad."
posts 47-49: "I think Revolution was a better name."
posts 60, 62: "It is better naming than Revolution."
post 116: "It looks good if you write it, but awkward if you say it."
post 122: "'Can I have Wii.' It's little bit embarrassing to say it."

The Name

I can't do a serious post on the name without it sounding stupid so just read what Matt Says because I agree with him.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii! WE, oui!?
The name has been met with a unified WTF!
I like the mature stand the IGN staff have approached this news however:

Mark Ryan (IGN Guides)

Erik Brudvig (IGN Guides)

Craig Harris (Nintendo DS)

EDIT: Some more below.

Steve Butts (PC)

IGN Roundtable Discussion

Theme Song

A Wii list of games for the new console

Bankshot Billiards Achievement

So for the past week and a half I have been trying to get the Bankshot Billiards Addict achievement on Bankshot Billiards 2, which requires players to complete 200 games. I wasn't originally going to bother, but a game of three ball doesn't last very long and it's something to do while I am listening to a podcast. So it was only a matter of time before I got the achievement, today I got it, but What I wasn't expecting however is to now be ranked 36 in the world on 3 ball. Which is nice, but I have only been playing against the easy AI and thats only because the hard AI drags games out too long. It's not like I have any skills at this.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Crystal Ball Gazing (E3 2006)

For E3 there are so many rumours flying around here is a summery of what you can probably expect:

  • Will be showing off a few new titles (this is actually confirmed).
  • Putting a lot of E3 content up for download from Marketplace. Including videos and some playable E3 floor demos.
  • We will hear all about the new camera accessory. Which will be used by the up coming UNO card game on Arcade.
  • And I suspect they will also launch some new Live! Arcade titles during E3.
  • The name of the Revolution finally spoken.
  • Playable floor demos.
  • No pricing.
  • No launch date.
  • Something about an American DS launch.
  • A cover-up on how badly the PSP has been doing with movie sales AND games sales.
  • Redesigned controller unveiled.
  • More CGI movies from top Hollywood studios showcasing what Sony would like their games to look like.
  • Talk about the online hub and how wonderful it is going to be, but with a mention that "we are not directly competing with XBoxLive!" as if.
  • Playable games running, but only on dev kits behind closed doors.
  • Possible price announcement.
Additional: This year Microsoft will have 165 game stations!

A Soda at The Mall

So the wizards tower has been released for Oblivion and the word is that this add-on is ok because it's cheap (150 points) and you get a tower, herb garden and a battle spirit that you can summon when in combat. The thing I found most interesting about this however is how people on forums are talking about how cheap this is in dollars as they always choose a fast food simmily.
Common $1.85, that's like a soda at the mall.
Burgers have been used a lot too!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Untapped Markets

Been thinking about untapped markets that video games haven't entered yet and there are several. My final year project doesn't require players to be able to see. Amputees that only have one hand or people with other hand disabilities, or even people that want to multitask in a way I would rather not think of will actively seek games that they can play one-handed.
There is a population of people out there that suffer from a type of epilepsy that was probably discovered when they where playing a video game as a child and can't allow themselves to watch any flashing lights or repeated patterns. For epileptics the conditions for them to have a fit are very specific and there is software out there which will monitor what is being displayed on a screen and produce a graph of probability of a fit occurring based on what is displayed. The worst offending titles are older, so called 8bit titles, so many newer games would probably pass such a test without incident.

I really do think that a sticker on the back of a gamebox describing the control interface of the game or wither or not the game is safe of epileptics would benefit the disability community and grow the gaming population a little.

Sony's E3 Efforts

Sometimes I do a post to simply bookmark something for future reference. And this is certainly one of those occasions.
Sony has put together This Site for some self E3 coverage. Maybe they don't think that the journalists attending E3 will be covering Sony's announcements correctly or something because this site feels unnecessary, but the thing I really don't understand is why the streaming video show on the site has be targeted at twelve year olds!?

DDR Corrupting Our Youth

Video games might be degredating the very foundations of society, but they do give kids some 1337 skillz.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

UNO On XBox Live! Arcade

It's not there yet, but Here are some images and video of UNO being played on Arcade. No word on when it will be out, but looking at this content, not long.

A Theory Of Fun Revisited

Recently I have been thinking about What I Said in regard to A Theory Of Fun and now I think I can articulate better what Raph is trying to say in his book and why I disagree with him (hence the revisit).

From his point of view all games teach the gamer something. Wither it be dropping blocks in Tetris, galactic domination or shooting people in the head. Every game is a learning experience for the player. He thinks games become boring when the player understands the game's pattern (how the game's rule system works). For this he looks to Tic-Tack-Toe because this is a game that most people become tired of after they gain a certain level of expertise. He mistakingly sees this learning aspect of games and this rule complexity aspect as the catalyst for fun.

He is right in that when a player fully understands the play strategies to a rule-system in a game then there is an opportunity for that player to become board, but a rule-system present in any game that the player has not yet mastered or has not learned everything there is to learn about, is NOT the reason why the game is or is not 'fun'. This is where I feel the book's argument completely collapses because he never defines what fun is, it's associated effects (anticipation, gratification, disappointment etc) or why some games are considered fun and others aren't regardless of the learning experience or rule system represented in the game. Instead he spends a lot of the book talking about the cultural significance of games and their relationship to art which is completely subjective.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

Free Game: In The Pit

This is a game that requires a XBox360 controller to be connected to your PC, but In The Pit is an excellent audio only game that showcases these kinds of games biggest asset, their fiction and simple play rules. You are a monster living in a pit and have to eat whoever falls into the pit. You can Download it Here. It is a short game, but I had a lot of fun with it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Free Game: Rocket Commander

Rocket Commander is a free game programmed in C#. You are a rocket and need to get through an asteroid field to your target.

There is a Mods Page on the site that will allow you to download Flower Commander which turns the asteroids into none lethal Sunflowers. Plus there is a preview of a space ship mod called Coop Commander which is a mod that adds deeper missions and ships that you an pilot.

The thing about this game is that it is running on the .Net Framework, which C++ programmers would have you believe makes all applications run with appallingly awful performance issues. They consider the facts that it doesn't crash when it launches a miracle and that there is nothing better than an application written in C++. They are wrong of-course and this is the future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

BitTorrent Magazine

I thought This was kind of funny.

State of the Blog: Just Thinking

A while ago I Posted about blogs working against the bloggers that write them and the reason why I titled this block 'Self Deprecating' is an aknolagement that I would indeed make a tit of myself with some of my posts.

Now as a hardcore gammer these comments are going to come out of me wither they are on this blog or not. No I didn't like Halo, Halo 2, Half Life 2 and I think Lucasarts is making crap. And it occures to me that this might hinder me getting a job in the future. Specifically in the games industry because any employer becomes partly responsibe for their employees and wouldn't want to be assosiated with such deprecating comments. No-matter how true they might be.

So I am just wondering wither when it comes to getting a job if I should clean out anything witch directly targates a franchise or remove this blog all-together. I believe it would be premature to do anything right now, but just thinking anyway.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Oblivion Paid Expansions

The Orrey is now avalible for Oblivion, costs 150 points from Marketplace whitch works out at £1.28. And I have been reading the Backlash on the Bethusday Forums.

After thinking about this I have come to a few conclusions. The horse armor wouldn't even be worth a download if it was free. The Orray supposadly adds ten minuets of gameplay and some powers whitch nobody will proably use. The mighty powers include gamplay ogmenting additions like fortify inteligence by ten for a minuet and such. Whitch is frankly useless as there are scrolls all through the game that do the exsact same thing.

The reason why I think there has been a backlash from this content is because they don't change or add anything new to the gameplay. They won't make you replay the game from the start after adding them, but from the description of them on Markstplace they offer the promis of something more than they deliver. Hence the backlash.

I don't know why they are charging so many points for this content either. If they could charge one point and still turn a profit, then why not!
What people want is a mod that will deliver what is described. So say another race you can play as, some easter themed skins or themed quest, more weapons & armor or maybe even some more animals that players can ride. Add a ridable dragon that breaths fire, does lots of damage and players would love it.

Something that I think they could add that would also be well recieved would be a Warewolf quest series, like there was in Morrowind. Put a few long quests in there and it would well be worth the points. Plus players would be left with something to play with that would drematically change gameplay. The Vampire thing in Oblivion is irratating so shove something in so the player can controle transformation and it would be brilliant.

Additional: Thinking about it a giant wolf that players can ride that does a lot of damage in combat would be perfect because it would be able to use the same horse animations. Bethesda they would only have to add the model and some sounds. I say it should do a lot of damage in combat because otherwise it is just a model and some sounds without adding anything to the gameplay.

Halo 2 (Completed)

I didn't get on with the original Halo because the fiction was lame and the level design consisted of the level designer using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V a too much. Halo 2 does nothing much to change that and in some respects the level design is even worse than the previous game. At several points in the game you are put into a massive hall and (I at least) spend the next fifteen minuets trying to find the door out long after everything has been killed.

The level design brief for every stage in game goes something like this:
He walks into a big room. And stuff comes out. And shoots at him. And then more stuff comes out. And shoots at him. And then he goes through door to get to next room.
There is a suspended space station that is kind of interesting. I thought the big cable was an antenna at first, but it is a cable going up into the sky. No word on what the station is for or what the cable is attached to, but judging by the design of the level I think the station is a deathmatch arena with lots of stuff to kill.

The fiction in the game is like walking into an action film half way through. There is a slight mention this time about the construction of Halo and we finally findout how it acts as a weapon although still no mention on why it has all those islands or plants on it's inner edge. I assume the whole thing was constructed to destroy the flood, but that is just my own assumption as the game doesn't even attempt to offer an explanation.

The Covenant are very affluent so how the hell they ended up going to war with the Americans I don't know. And yes I am also am assuming they are at war with the Americans as the game also offers no explanation in this respect either. Maybe it was the Covenant's refusal to buy Hollywood films and end the domestic dominance of the market.

Some of the weapons in the game are a little bit awkward to use and having to keep picking stuff up from the ground only adds to their awkwardness, but it slows down gameplay so maybe this is by design. And to prevent the player from simply running through all the levels.

I could go into micro detail and talk about how the second level earth city doesn't feel alive because there are no civilians or evidence of life except a few abandoned trucks, but all the levels in the game suffer from not being anything else than deathmatch arenas for the Chief to fight in.

Multiplayer is good.

E3 2006 Floor Plans

Yep this year's E3 Floor Plans are up. Nintendo and Sony are both in the west hall while Microsoft is in the South Hall where all the big publishers are. And that makes since when you consider this year Microsoft will be announcing a storm of games.

From what I know, Sony will be showing off some games behind closed doors running on PS3 Dev Kits. And Nintendo will show off what they hope to release in Japan later this year.

The one to watch will be Microsoft has even now 75% of what income most developers make from multiplatform titles comes from the PS2 (it's probably because of the amount of PS2 owners). Microsoft has to change this otherwise getting support from publishers in the long-run will be very hard.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion (Completed)

It took 76 hours, 52 minuets and 58 seconds, played over 23 days for me to complete the main quest and all the achievement giving Guild side quests. That averages out at about three and a quarter hours a day. I manually saved 633 times and here are my other stats:
Days Passed: 262
Active Quests: 7
Quests Completed: 135
Skill Increases: 444
Training Sessions: 53
Novice Skills: 7
Apprentice Skills: 7
Journeyman Skills: 4
Expert Skills: 3
Master Skills: 0
Bounty: 0
Fame: 115
Infamy: 78
Days Jailed: 53
Items Stolen: 1762
Items Pickpocketed: 4
Trespasses: 0
Assaults: 62
Murders: 37
Horses Stolen: 3
Largest Bounty: 8505
Creatures Killed: 911
People Killed: 506
Places Found: 136
Locks Picked: 239
Lockpicks Broken: 106
Souls Trapped: 22
Ingredients Eaten: 12
Potions Made: 625
Oblivion Gates Shut: 6
Horses Owned: 1
Houses Owned: 0
Stores Invested In: 0 (no I don't know how to invest in a shop)
Books Read: 16
Artifacts Fund: 4
Hours Slept: 1878
Hours Waited: 1791
Days as a Vampire: 21
Necks Bitten 7
Jokes Told: 275
Diseases Contracted: 15
Niroots Found: 40
Oblivion is a good game, the most exciting moment in the game is the anticipation you feel just before you enter your first Oblivion Gate. However the worst and most tedious part of the game is having to close those very same Oblivion Gates. This isn't however the game's biggest failure. The biggest failure is by the designers not thinking the game through at design-time.

For starters although the graphics looks great the castle architectures would have benefited greatly if the level designers had of visited an actual castle. Some of the great architectural qualities of castles, chapels, green rooms, ball rooms, dungeons etc, and some of their most impressive defences, murder holes, "portcullis", arrow slits etc, are completely absent from the game. I don't know why because the architecture present is so generic that there is no question that the game would have benefited greatly from these additions.

O' yes and that big tower in the Imperial City. I CAN'T go to the top! Who said THAT wasn't an important feature!!! As a player you put something like that in front of me and of course I want to get to the top. Otherwise don't put it there.

Another big criticism is the language of the towns folk. All the voice actors have all recorded the same generic lines as each other. So you speak to a guard and get the 'Hero of Kvatch' speech, then talk to a woman and get the exact same 'Hero of Kvatch' speech, but with a different voice, yet she will repeat what the guard said word for word. Writing a little bit of variation for each voice actor's script shourly wouldn't have been so difficult.

Also with the language, all the towns folk have the same primp and proper way of speaking. The entire of Cyrodiil has the exact same vocabulary. It is as if the writer wrote all the spoken text with just one character in mind. There are a few exceptions, the Gray Fox for example starts every sentence with "Capital!", the Emperor has some great lines, Martin, Jauffre and there is a demon you can speak to later in the game who has a slightly different way of speaking, but the use of language is all so BLAND! Give me people with pirating accents, people that say one word too many times, people who use abbreviations, people who speak too fast, people who always shout, lisps, I don't care just not this same primp and proper way of speaking all the time.

Then there is the emotion of the characters in the game witch detracts from the believability of characters. First they are like "GET OUT OF MY HOME!" then they are "hello friend" and then "I AM CALLING THE GUARDS!" even when they asked you over or where expecting you. This could have been fixed with just a little bit more coding on the quests, but it wasn't done.

Almost every quest involves lots of killing and I have no idea how many times I have done a "somebody went to that cave, could you go and see what happened?" quest. Which almost always results in finding more dead bodies.

It might sound like I am being a bit harsh and I am because these issues should have been spotted at design-time. I am not even going to talk about the limited dialogue options which seem to have only been placed into the game to create the illusion of a conversation or the fact that the speech-game to get people to like you is a wasted feature. These faults are acceptable as one is a time & money thing and the other is a failed attempt which is ok because at least they tried. The lockpicking game could have been a negative, but is great and it wouldn't hurt to see other developers copy that or try something similar.

A good solid simplified RPG then, but the plot misses something and all the side quest stories miss something. Sometimes I think there might be a good story attached to the quest then it ends in a lot of killing, so maybe the quests are either too predictable or they need better closure. The main quest is not great, it is far too automotive to feel player driven or that player's action is even needed. Then there are the whole "how are oblivion gates opened" and "why would someone open one" questions. You can assume power, but the best villains in any game always have good motives for what they do and the evil guy in oblivion is only on screen for a couple of minuets at best so there is no chance of him commenting on the human condition.

Maybe Oblivion is a great game and I just have a problem with how the fiction is communicated to the player.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Best Selling Coincidence

The best selling game on XBox Live! Arcade is GeometryWars and the best retail selling game on the XBox360 is Oblivion, but the similarity comes when you look at their game logos.

Image Hosted by

Coincidence!? I think not.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Random Fact

Video games sold in Japan that are made by foreign developers are labelled as foreign games in stores.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Coming Attraction On Arcade: Mad Tracks

Mad Tracks is a Micro Machines styled, Revolt gameplay type racing game by a French developer that is coming to XBox Live Arcade about June time and there is an interview with the Business Dev over at K1lla’s XBox Domain.

Bankshot Billiards 2

I have been itching to get a new arcade title for a couple pf weeks now and Bankshot Billiards 2 just got updated with a 3D version. This is an update so anybody who bought (1200 points or £10.20) the old 2D version will get this when they are prompted to update the game.

It's a good virtual billiards game and probably the best I have ever played. Plus with it being an arcade title it is very convenient to start and has multiplayer, but I think I should have waited until I got a bigger TV because it is very difficult to see anything on my 14" screen. Not as bad as the multiplayer score table on BF2:MC. but it's not far off.

EDIT: It is Bankshot not Buckshot.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Killer App Being Killed by Halo

I have been noticing a slight change in language recently. Instead of people saying 'killer app' more and more poeple in the games industry are saying 'Halo'.

This is our killer app.
This is out halo.

They need a killer app.
They need a halo.

Not hared anybody from Nintendo or Sony saying it, but all the western journalists and Microsoft folks seems to have gotten used to the term. Not sure if it will stick.

Boot and Nuke

If you ever want to make sure you remove information from a hard drive Darik's Boot and Nuke is what you should be looking at.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More Oblivion Lockpicking

Roger Wong had made a video showing the different tumbler speeds and sounds. And this technique works very well, but there is an even better way. By doing the Nocturnal Quest which gives you an unbreakable Skeleton Key.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

2Ghz PowerPC Vs 2Ghz Intel

Gear Live has a Video Up with two Macs. One is a Mac desktop G5 PowerMac with two PowerPC CPUs running at 2Ghz each with 4.5GB of ram. And the other is a MacBook Pro with one Intel Dual Core CPU with 1GB of ram.

Now just a couple of years ago apple was singing how much faster the PowerPC was, but by this test where they compiled a load of Java files (a CPU and hard drive intensive task) the laptop was 36% quicker. Even though it had less ram, a slower hard drive, access time to the hard drive was limited because it is encrypted and laptop is just running one CPU. I think this calls into question what Apple has been preaching for the past few years.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved (Completed)

I finally managed to get the converted one million point score on Geometry Wars Retro Evolved (my actual high score is 1,264,325) so I guess that means that I have completed it.

This is going to be very short because this game is just very good in all areas. It's addictive nature comes from what I am now going to call Nondeterministic Death Phenomena or NDP for short. What this means is that at no point in the game do you know when you are going to die. This means that when you do die there is an immediate knee-jerk reaction that death could have been avoided. GWRE achieves this by having very simple and easy to kill enemies.
"I almost had it that time!"
- GWRE Player
Compared to the Retro game mode Evolved is alot easier with slower opponents and a bigger game surface. No single enemy would ever possibly kill the player in a straight fight. The player is completely overpowered considering the enemies, but because GWRE keeps filling the screen with more and more enemies with each passing second there is an ever increasing chance that the player might die by being placed in an awkward or unfamiliar situation. Difficulty of the game thus increases by the control and increasing number of these death circumstances as the game progresses by filling the screen with loads of easy opponents.

NDP is also present in Tetris where the shapes will fall ever faster, but GWRE does a much better job at implementing NDP as there is no indication at any stage of the game wither it is going to be a high scoring or low scoring game. With Tetris you can see a game going bad long before the player actually dies, but with GWRE this is not the case at all. Thus GWRE uses NDP to better effect than Tetris, so in theory GWRE should be a more addictive game.

Live support only makes the game ten times better with the leader boards (global ranking can be viewed by cycling through the filters). This is most certainly a modern day classic that everybody will be talking about for years to come.

Additional: Just been thinking and the game could be made much more addictive by having a better reward sound for killing the enemies.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Oblivion Horse Armor

Complete wast of £1.70. Will not protect horse from damage and only gives you two types, steel and elven.

Oblivion Gold Cheat

This is very easy to do.

Essentially what this cheat is based around is that if you have a weapon equipped and are riding a horse then you can't unequip the weapon. If you try selling the equipped weapon then you won't give the weapon to the sales person because you are on a horse, but you will still get the gold for the weapon from the NPC you are bartering with.

1) Equip your most expensive weapon.
2) Get on a horse.
3) Ride to Kvatch (the little camp of refugees south of the Oblivion gate)
4) Talk to 'Batul gra-Sharob' the female Orc and start Bartering.
5) Now you can sell that weapon as many times as you like, it won't be removed from your inventory, but you will get the gold for it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Copy Protection On Demos

So I downloaded the new Tomb Raider Legend Demo and all I can say is that "the security module could not be activated" because that is as much play experience as I got from it.

I don't know why anybody would put copy protection on a downloadable demo, but in this case and in a few others it has stopped me demoing the game. If that happens I go from "might not buy game, but see what the demo is like first" to "fuck you publishers, see if I ever buy anything from you again".