Thursday, May 29, 2008

Republican Space Rangers

In GTA4 there are many TV shows to watch and on of them is called Republican Space Rangers. Next to Team America World Police it is one of the best US Foreign Policy parodies I have seen. If you want to see it in the game just watch Weasel (the one with those two guys on) for long enough and it will come around.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Super Mario World The Musical

People can do some strange things in their spare time. I never thought Super Mario World could be used in such a way. Although I have seen similar videos, none of them are anywhere near the length of thisone.

And Here is a link to the acustic version.

[ Via Digg ]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

XBox Live and Gaywood

There is this guy named Richard Gaywood and he had an XBoxLive gamertage Gaywood. Microsoft forced Richard to change his gamertag because:
Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me [Stephen Toulouse] to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.
'Gay' was originally another word for happy. During the 1800's and early 1900's homosexuals where seen as unhappy, lonely people with an unhealthy sexual affliction. So when the UK sodomy law was abolished in 1967, homosexuals called themselves 'gay'.

The word 'gay' in our modern interpretation is interchangeable with 'homosexual' and is probably why Microsoft wanted Richard to change his GamerTag. But I agree whole heartedly when LesbianGamers Writes:
It does not take a genius to work out what all of this negative affiliation does, not only for the language itself, but for the rebound effects that language has on gay people in society as a whole. The more we accept people using gay in a derogatory manner such as “that’s so gay” to denote something is bad, sub-par, stupid or unworthy, the longer the hatred will flourish. The more we sit back in blinkered silence as the word gay is linked time and again to something sexual, deviant or negative, the longer the hatred will fester.
And another quote to leave you with:
Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.
- Hermione granger

Monday, May 26, 2008

The BBC WiiFit Coverage Sucked

This News Report by the BBC about the Wii Fit sucks on several levels.

They failed to mansion that BMI does not measure fat. They failed to get to the bottom of why WiiFit is telling her she is overweight since her BMI is 18.5. When an ideal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9.

Video game coverage on all the news channels is bad, but the BBC just keep making themselves look like poor journalists everytime they carry a video game related story. Simply because they only understand the issues at a 'my mum' level.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Microsoft Axes Underperforming XBLA Games

Microsoft Has Stated that they plan to axe games on XBLA that are underperforming. Meaning that:

  • They have been out for over six months

  • They have a Metacritic score below 65

  • The trial purchase rate is less than 6%
Initially I was disgusted by this because I believe all the games on the service have value to someone and have archive value. But that 6% conversion rate suggests to me that some titles might be costing Microsoft money in bandwidth and server costs. If a new title came out and nobody bought their trial version, then Microsoft would make a loss on distributing those free trial versions.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eurovision Aftermath

Russia won and there was so much political voting going on between nabouring counteries that I don't think western countries are going to see a win for many years to come. The winning track wasn't bad, but I thought there where a few tracks that where much better. And that includes the runner up, Greece.

Russian Entry

Greek Entry

Sergey Lazarev, a runnerup that didn't make the cut to become the Russian entry for the competition, but I prefer his entry to the winner.

I wouldn't even have been annoyed if the Swedish entry won.

Eurovision 2008

It is the Eurovision Song Contest tonight, that yearly slice of euro-cheese that I love to hate.

This year all the entries can be heard right now over at the Official Eurovision YouTube channel.

I think the German entry has a very strong chance of winning:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mirror's Edge is Looking Awesome

Mirrors Edge puts the player in a Tokyo looking future city where you freerun across skyscrapers. From a ludology perspective I love how the developers have used colour to communicate interactivity to the player. It is suttle, adds to the clean visual styling of the game and negates the need for a HUD or floating icons.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Problem Solving With Video Games

There is a Video Interview With Peter Molyneux where he talks about not being able to do much else but design games, and he wonders if he could apply his knowledge of gaming to other human pursuits and endeavours.

I thought this was an interesting idea, then I realised that I had meant to post about a project that does just that. So here we are.

There are some problem domains in the world where to solve a problem or improve something you have to understand a process completely. Programmers of Artificial Intelligences have been known to spend exorbitant amounts of time looking at quite simple issues so that they can create AIs that model intelligent behaviour. Good examples of this are anything that uses Fuzzy Logic. That is anything from Rice Cookers to Lifts, Thermostats and a huge amount of Control Systems.

There are some problems that are so difficult to understand that they can't yet be translated into software, because we don't fully understand what is going on. The problem I am referring to here is Protein Folding. We know what the acid code of the protein is, we know what it looks like in 3D when it has finished folding, but we don't know how it folds into it's final shape or how it moves, so we don't know what it does.

This is where Fold It! from the guys working on Rosetta@home comes in. It is a game where you as the player are tasked with folding a protein. Higher points are rewarded by finding a structure that requires the lest energy for the protein to fold into. The idea of this is that players will eventually discover general tactics that can be worked into protein folding algorithms and a rosetta method of protein folding be found. From this new drugs could be created in the lab fit for purpose artificially and our understanding of our own bodily processes greatly increases. We might even be able to find a cure for ageing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Game of The Year Contest Starts Now

GTA4 has received a continuous stream of extremely good reviews placing it as a firm contender for Game of The Year, but it now seems like MGS4 Could Topple It.

Gametrailers did a video reviewing years of gaming and this makes me wonder if thisyear could topple the previous champion.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pen & Paper Notes

I remember talking to someone who wrote their final university paper with a typewriter and hearing how difficult that was makes me glad that I had a word processor. But even though it has only been two years since I graduated, my Pen & Paper note-taking might be considered Oldschool Already!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Do Narratives Have A Place In Gaming?

I have heard this question over and over again. So let me try and put this one to bed right now with some recent examples.

Crackdown, Assassins Creed and GTAIV are all very similar games.

Crackdown was awesome, but the mission structure sucked because all you had to do was keep killing mission selected people over and over.

Assassins Creed was an awesome set of gaming building blocks with the roof jumping and wrist blade assassination time action, but sucked because all you did was the same killing of mission selected people.

GTAIV is awesome and doesn't suck even though all you do is the same killing of mission selected people, because there is a strong narrative. I have completed over seventy missions in the game and it doesn't yet feel repetitive at all.

To me anything that doesn't have a narrative should logically be considered an abstract game. Although even abstract puzzle games like Puzzle Quest are made better with a stronger narrative. Making a game with a weak narrative is like making chicken nuggets and then eating them with the cheapest/nastiest barbecue sauce you can find. It shouldn't be done and wrecks the whole experience.

Monday, May 05, 2008

GTAIV Websites

I have been playing a lot of GTA4 this week and I don't think I am going to complete it in under 30 hours (you get an achievement for that). But there are two awesome websites inside the game that I need to tell you about.

Goto an internet coffee and lookup:

The second is a website detailing GTA4 secrets. This is a first, a website made by the game's developers detailing secrets about their own game, on a fake in-game internet. Which is funny because I always look at websites for cheats and secrets, but now I don't even have to leave the game to do that (yes I do know EVE Online has it's own built in web browser, but that is for the real internet, not a fake one).