Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Science, Primates And Sperm

Jacquelin Nascimento is part of a project to findout which primate has the fastest sperm. Not sure who her funders are, but it is quite an odd project.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mirrors Edge And New Monitor

Two things happened this week. Firstly I got a new monitor and secondly I played through Mirrors Edge on it.

Firstly this is my old setup:

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This is a 16" 4:3 CRT monitor I got more than ten years ago and has served me very well over the years. The reason why I haven't replaced it in so long was because I didn't have any desire to. But the fact that Bluray films didn't look any better or worse on it than DVD or for that matter on my 24" Samsung LCD TV made me want a screen where I could see that extra resolution. Plus the idea of widescreen FPS gameplay was an appealing one. So I bought this:

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It is a blue Acer G24, the G24 standing for 24" gaming monitor. 16:10 ratio and very importantly a 2ms gray to gray response time so there is no ghosting on the screen. It has a native resolution of 1920x1800, that's higher than 1080p, well it would be 1800p. This means Bluray films look amazing at their full resolution, but unfortunately DVDs because they don't have as much resolution to them, don't. Games of course look fantastic on and that brings me to Mirrors Edge.

Maybe it was because of my new screen, but I loved this game from start to end. I have read a few opinions and I disagree with almost all of them. And mainly in the area of what kind of game Mirrors Edge is. To me it is clearly an FPS Platformer with shooting elements. Shooting elements that should have been left out, but I can imagine someone seeing seance at EA during development and saying that if there are guns in the game the player should be able to shoot them. Personally I would have left them out all together and replaced them with tasers. Pacing on the game is great, but I would have liked to have played few more basic courier missions to start with to get the player into the flow of the action before the main story kicks off, but then that is me saying that after playing the finished game. It is very difficult as a designer to make such decisions at the start of a project.

The story of Mirrors Edge should have been fleshed out more, although with my interest in writers I was surprised to find that it was written by Rhianna Pratchet, the daughter of Terry Pratchet. I am not familiar with her work, but the story in Mirrors Edge leaves a lot to be desired. The game in general feels very short so my thoughts on this are that if the game was longer, the story would have been better.

Having said all that, Mirrors Edge is by far my most favourite game from last year simply because it offered me a new and original play experience, and maybe my new monitor had something to do with that too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dead Snow

Død snø or Dead Snow as it is called in english, is a film coming out later this year about a group of teenagers who holiday in a cabin that is attacked by Nazi Zombies. This might seem very 1981 and even formulaic, but I think the Nazi Zombie angle could hold my interest.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Won't Miss Bush

In one week Obama takes up the United States Presidency from Bush. Many commentators on the news will probably talk about Bush's legacy, but I don't think anybody, now or in the distant future will anybody call Bush a good president. His legacy is one of death and greed. So Goodbye Bush I am glad to see the back of you.

Random Fact
Bush is responsible for adding more new words to our language than any US president before him.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Buckingham Palace Guard Band

When the changing of the guard happens (Schedule) at Buckingham Palace, The Guard Band plays as The New Guard is inspected. This is a tradition that dates back to the 16th century, however what the band plays isn't necessarily the same pomp of tradition that the rest of the ceremony is.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dates For Your Diary 2009

If you where wondering when the big industry events where taking place this year, I have you covered.
I have included the 3DTV Conference on my list because that is looking to be the big technology this year with 3D-Ready TVs hitting the market.

8th to 11th Consumer Electronics Show (Las Vegas)

10th to 12th Casual Connect Hamburg (Germany)
18th to 20th Dice Summit (Las Vegas)

17th GamesGrads North (Manchester UK)
19th GamesGrads South (London)
23rd to 27th Games Develop Conference (San Francisco)
24th to 26th Game Connection America (San Francisco)

4th to 6th 3DTV (Germany)
12th to 13th GDC Canada (Vancouver)
19th to 20th Nordic Game (Sweden)

2nd to 4th Electronic Entertainment Expo (Los Angeles)

14th to 16th Develop Conference (Brighton UK)
17th to 19th Gcdc (Leipzig)
21st to 23rd Casual Connect Seattle (USA)

3rd to 7th Siggraph (New Orleans)
17th to 19th GDC Europe (Cologne Germany)
19th to 23rd Leipzig Games Convention (Germany)

4th to 6th Penny Arcade Expo (Seattle)
14th to 18th Austin Games Develop Conference (Texas)
17th to 20th Games Convention Asia (Singapore)

8th to 10th Game Connection Europe (France)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Manipulator

There is this game I have been playing called The Manipulator, it is a platformer with puzzle elements. You play a Manipulator, someone who can take controle of a person's mind, read their mind and even kill them with your power of through. It reminds me of Scanners in this respects, but also Metal Gear as you have to sneak around guards and take them out before they realise you are there.

The Manipulator will take about an hour for a complete play through, but you can't save your game (this is deliberate). The thing I like most about the game is that none of the puzzles solutions are obscure, or at least I found all the solutions myself through experimentation. There also isn't a tutorial, just some simple text queues for the controls.

The Manipulator is a surprisingly mature game with many lessons for budding game designers (note the narration, visual setting, environmental setting along with the audio and the simple control scheme).

If you are quite smitten by The Manipulator, you might want to try Messiah (David Perry, 2000) or Oddworld Abe's Oddysee (1997), which have a very similar gameplay concept of playing a weak character with the ability of possession to solve progression obstacles.