Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Red Ring Of Death II

It happened again so right now my 360 is in the hands of UPS going to wherever 360s go when they die. That is two years of 360 gaming and two incidents of RROD.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I was going through the Independant Games Festival Contenders for this year's Audience Choice Award (only now do they have download links up) and one of the games I tried was Audiosurf, a game that I had heard previously about, but thought the developer was doing the whole 'we are awesome speel' that seems to come out of the mouth of every sane developer in the industry (it is getting harder and harder to tell when they are talking BS or not). But in this case Audiosurf is awesome, and everything it was said to be.

You start by selecting an audio file on your computer, Audiosurf identifies the various musical aspects of the file, generates a level and then you play in that level while the music you selected is playing. You play the game either with a mouse or 360 controller by trying to connect coloured blocks on a grid while avoiding gray blocks.

It is awesome and supposedly out at the very end of next month, possibly through STEAM. But until then I highly recommend the Demo, even if it does yank the game from under you after a few songs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Macbook Air's Reserved Reactions (Rant)

It has been a few days since the Macbook Air was announced and I have been very surprised at the reserved reactions from the announcement, because normally anything Apple announces is eaten up by Mac fans, but with the Macbook Air everybody has been very sober. Even the mighty Kevin Rose was like, meh:

Normally the reaction that I give to most things Apple is "I don't need it" or "I can get the same thing cheaper and better elsewhere", but with the Macbook Air I would have bought one already if I had £1,199 to spend.

When I saw the Macbook Air for the first time I envisioned being able to carry it around in my backpack, without feeling like I was carrying around a brick. And then being able to surf the web and do work wherever I wanted because it's so portable. So for me the fact that it doesn't have anykind of built in diskdrive or ethernet port doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Personally I find laptop keyboards to be horrible to type with, track pads and nipples are cumbersome compared to a mouse, the machines themselves are slower than a comparable desktop of the same specification, they are difficult to fix, break more often and will need to be replaced sooner than the same specification machine as a desktop. So the reactions that the Macbook Air has been receiving has reinforced my long held view that computer users in-general don't want a laptop because it is portable, but because it is somekind of status symbol and most people would be happier sitting infront of a Black Widescreen Brick than something you could actually take outside, carry in a bag or use comfortably like desktop computer. And yet with all the 'meh' reactions this for me this is the first product that has made me seriously considering a Mac (other than Windows 98).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

XBox360 Ultimate

I have been editing the Xbox 360 page on Wikipedia recently and a user named Prothean (his name is a Mass Effect reference) tried to add some information about the 360 Ultimate and although his edit got removed as he didn't give any references I thought what was said, rather interesting.

Microsoft is working on a complete overhaul of the Xbox 360 console system. This new system will have an onboard HD-DVD player and wireless adapter, a hard disk of 320GB and a complete hardware revision. It is likely, due to the current preference of Blue-ray discs, the Xbox 360 Ultimate will have a Duel Hi-Def Disc Player that is capable of playing both HD-DVD and Blue-ray discs. Wether this is the result of the current project "Jasper" is unkown. Currently priced at $500 and scheduled to appear somewhere at the end of Fall 2009.

Now Project Jasper is an ADO.Net thing, but there where a lot of XBox 360 Arcade rumours before that was announced so maybe there is a grain of truth in this.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Architected Game Combat

Having internalised Jonathan Blow's viewpoint on architected gameplay rather than explored gameplay I realise I am so over exactly what Warhammer Online is doing with their combat system (see video). I know there are people that will watch this video and be excited about learning a new RPG combat system, but having learned and played several before, I am so over it all. I want something new and different, maybe even something that doesn't feel like work to play.

Why A Good Specification Is Important

The US Militery hired a few companies to help them complete the invasion of Iraq. To do this they setup service agreements with those companies so the Military became a paying customer to those companies, but it looks like they forgot to agree any levels of quality. The US Militery wanted warter, they got warter, but it wasn't safe to drink. Let this be a lessen to you if you ever setup a SLA (Service Level Agreement) with anybody because unless you specify what quality standard you need the work doing too, it won't be done to any quality standard.

And on the video they mention Cost-Plus, which is effectively the government telling the contractor to just bill them whatever the cost is. This is common is situations where price comparison or price negotiation isn't worth doing, but silly things happen when you give someone your credit card and tell them to buy whatever they want.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Food and Drugs of Gamplay

Last Year at The Montreal International Games Summit, Jonathan Blow did a talk called Design Reboot where he talked about how we might enter a golden age of game design. He talks about how developers are conditioning players to expect predictable rewards thus turning them into reward junkies and that real rewards like a player achieving a personal goal in a game and deriving satisfaction from that, is being ignored because that is harder to architect.

His talk starts well-outside of current thinking, but he states all his points very well and then you will realise that all the best developers in the world have already been applying what he talks about.

I don't like being so cryptic with my writing, but if I cover what is in the talk. I will have written a very long post where I cover everything that is covered by his talk.

[Direct Link: montreal2007.zip ]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ron Gilbert Announces A New Project

Ron Gilbert, one of Monkey Island's Creator today announced that as well as consulting on the Penny Arcade Game he has been designing a game called Death Spank, an RPG! And he now has a publisher and developer behind the project. Which is always a good thing.

I mention this because Monkey Island is one of my top three game franchises and His Announcement Post was written with such fantastic comic prose, I felt that I needed to blog about it.

I roughed out a game design for the first episode and started pitching it around and a funny thing happened. Everyone hated it. But the weird thing is the more publishers that turned it down, the more convinced I became that this was a great idea. Every rejection fueled me with excitement and the knowledge that I was right. Nothing says innovation and creativity like armed security showing up to escort you out of the building while saying "Let's not have any trouble". - Ron Gilbert 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Console Wars So Far

I found this site VGChartz.com thanks to Kim Pallister which has some awesome console sales graphs.

Comparing the numbers of units sold since launch puts the Wii in a very strong position, but look at the PS3 it isn't doing as badly as we all probably thought. The PS3 might have a dismal selection of games, but it is still giving the 360 a run for it's money.

So if the Wii is doing so well, how does it compare to the current king of all console wars the PS2, which has currently sold more than 120 million units:

The Wii does more than double the sales of the PS2 in the same period from launch. And as there is no sign that demand is going to lessen anytime soon it isn't unreasonable to predict that the Wii will sell more than 240 million units in five years.

However as Nintendo has been so successful in releasing second iterations of the GameBoy Advance and GameBoy DS everybody is expecting them to do the same with the Wii. Could we see everybody who has already bought a Wii buy a second one or people like myself who haven't yet bought one yet be swayed if Nintendo iterates on it's design!?

Clearly by the kinds of numbers we are seeing in this generation the market is easily large enough to sustain multiple console manufacturers.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Of all the things that is considered sin, why isn't the docile consumption of media one them?

Because those people who call out sins are the same people who don't want their message questioned.

If everybody was to appreciate the media they consumed then the world would be a place with a lot less sin.