Friday, August 31, 2007

An Uphill Battle: Chris Ferriera On Army Of Two's Gameplay and Philosophy

An excellent interview with lead designer Chris Ferriera about the themes and gameplay of EA's original IP, Army of Two.

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Special super-sized deluxe limited edition

I went to Gamestop the other day to pick up a copy of All Pro Football 2k8 and figured I'd browse and see what else was there before making that purchase.

On the shelf of Xbox games I found a Limited Edition copy of Getting Up:Contents Under Pressure for $20. It's a game I already own, but I made the snap decision to pick this up anyway.

I am a sucker for special features and limited editions. If a DVD has only the movie on it, I'm not interested. I'll wait and pay for the 4 disc special edition with a gazillion hours of extras. If a super duper special edition comes out. I will get rid of my special edition and pick up the super duper one. If a game is coming out in a limited edition, I'm going to grab that instead of the game only release.

Since games are much more expensive than DVDs, I don't have very many special editions of games. I have the special editions of Splinter Cell, Doom 3 and Jade Empire, but I am skipping the Halo 3 and Bioshock special editions. I won't have the money.

So do you have a weakness for special editions? Or could you care less?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Original Gaming Bug: Centipede Creator Dona Bailey

In 1980, Atari had one single software engineer who was female. That woman, Dona Bailey -- whose only prior programming experience was assembly displays at General Motors -- created the classic arcade title Centipede, against enormous odds in a high-stakes environment in the infancy of the gaming industry. . . .

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Halo 3 golden

Two weeks after the game was "99.9 percent complete," the Master Chief is now on a direct course for a September 25 launch.

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ESRB Responds To Manhunt 2 Ratings Criticism

Following yesterday's criticism from California State Senator Leland Yee calling for transparency and an investigation into Manhunt 2's new M rating, ESRB president Patricia Vance has said simply that context and depiction changes in the game were enough to warrant the rating.

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Monday, August 27, 2007


It amazes me that people feel so entitled to things that they have not paid for or earned.

Specifically, I am talking about the Call of Duty 4 Beta. Actually, not even the beta but the forums at the Call of Duty website.

After the great success of the Halo 3 beta, Inifinity Ward thought it would be a great idea to provide a similar multiplayer beta of its latest release. However the response to the beta was so great it crippled the website where people could log on.

I can understand being disappointed. I'd like a chance to play the beta too. However, if I don't get the chance, I would not flame the company with all sorts of colorful language.

Why is it that people feel like Infinity Ward owes them something? The beta wasn't pre-packaged with a title a la Crackdown. They are trying their best to give folks a chance at a gaining entry.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Microsoft's Falcon Project

Dean Takahashi talks about Microsoft's plan to update the inner workings of Xbox 360 and what these changes mean for gamers.

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Should Microsoft be in the hardware business?

Historically, Microsoft has been very very successful at developing software. It's track record with Windows and Microsoft Office in particular is unmatched. Even before they took the leap into gaming consoles like the Xbox, they had some success with entertainment software as well such Age of Empires, Flight Simulator, Links and Mechwarrior for the PC.

Lately though, hardware produced by Microsoft has taken a pounding in the press. The warranty for Xbox 360s has been extended to three years to address flaws in the console that were apparent to everyone else but Microsoft. As a precautionary measure, Microsoft is offering a free refit of its wireless steering wheel to address a possible overheating issue. Even the original Xbox had an issue with its power supplies, requiring replacement power cords.

These events aren't the result of a string of bad luck, they are the result of a lack of experience in the design of hardware and devices. While they can compete with Sony and Nintendo in the marketplace, both Sony and Nintendo have dozens of years of experience combined in creating devices and have not had any issues similar to what Microsoft has experienced recently.

Should Microsoft be in the hardware business? While the company has deep pockets, it can't afford any more issues with its future systems. Yes, the company needs to grow its product line but hardware may not be the best way for this company to go. We could see the Xbox division go the same direction as Sega in 2000, software developers and not console makers. Can you imagine how many units of Hal0 would be sold if it were to be made available on the PS3?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mom that's selling Pokemon Cards on E-Bay because her Kids snuck the cards

I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Halo: Past, Present and Future: Gamespot Featurette

Seven minute video history of the Halo franchise.

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Halo 3 IMAX Preview Event

For the first time ever, Halo 3 will be unveiled to the public, in dramatic big-screen fashion at the Seattle Pacific Science Center, on an IMAX screen.

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Halo 3: How Microsoft Labs Invented a New Science of Play

Sitting in an office chair and frowning slightly, Randy Pagulayan peers through a one-way mirror. The scene on the other side looks like the game room in a typical suburban house: There's a large flat-panel TV hooked up to an Xbox 360, and a 34-year-old woman is sprawled in a comfy chair, blasting away at huge Sasquatchian aliens.

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Unreal Engine 3 games do not all look the same

According to developer Mark Rein, if all Unreal Engine 3 games look the same it is because art directors are sharing ideas across projects and not the engine

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Developer claims ESRB does not take games seriously

In his keynote address to the attendees at the Games Convention Developer's Conference in Germany, Julian Eggebrecht expressed concern that the US Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) does not consider video games as an art form.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

A Murderer Has Your Email Address

"Breaking down the fourth wall can be a tricky way to tell a story, however, as developers have to maintain that delicate balance between being a welcome invader of privacy and an uninvited guest. Players provide email addresses and cell phone numbers with a certain unspoken expectation of respect and consideration...."

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Food for thought

"...what makes this life truly worth living are those short moments where you can truly admit you're happy. Find them and cherish them."

ekattan, 20ld2play blog

New id Game Engine levels playing field for multi-platform game development

With all the talk about inconsistent frame rates between consoles for games such as Madden 08 and All Pro Football, id has developed a solution that will make a game perform consistently between the Mac, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Splitting hairs at 30 frames a second - revisited

Last month I blogged about the frame rate difference between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Madden 08. I still think it is much ado without nothing.

Apparently though, it makes a difference. In a Gamespot review and a USA Today review of the game, mention was made of the frame rate. The Gamespot review did briefly touch on the frame rate saying that it was noticeable but the game was still playable. USA Today wasn't as kind calling the PS3 gameplay sluggish compared to the Xbox 360 version.

EA Sports went on the defensive in direct response to the USA Today review, saying that development time was the difference maker for the title.

If development time was the dealbreaker, should EA have held off Madden 08 for the PS3 until the same standards were met as the Xbox 360?

Show of hands...PS3?

I'm not in the market for a PS3 because I have to use the money for diapers and formula for the three amigos. Recently though I realized that not many people I have come into contact with have one either. I have come across a lot of folks with a Wii, a 360 or both.

Show of you have a PS3?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friend or Foe? EA and Ubisoft

In late 2004/early 2005, Electronic Arts(EA) made a bid to buy an almost 20% stake in publisher UbiSoft. Understandably, UbiSoft feared a hostile takeover by one of its biggest rivals. A move to merge the two companies together would greatly benefit EA who hasn't had great success developing anything other than sports games. Initially Ubisoft expressed great concern about a potential takeover, especially since that stock purchase gave EA considerable voting rights, approximately 18% voting interest.

While it isn't abnormal for companies to invest in other companies via stock purchases, it raises a lot of eyebrows when a company buys stock in a competitor. When Microsoft made an investment in Apple in the late 90's, there were lots of questions to be answered and that was for a purchase of non-voting stock.

In the last few days, it has been reported that EA now has voting rights even greater than the founders of the company. This essentially means that EA has greater influence on the activities of UbiSoft's board. Of course, they have gone on record as saying that they had no intention of nominating anyone to the board, but reserved the right to do so.

It is going to be very interesting to see how these events play out in this generation of games. If EA continues to be weak at developing its own intellectual property (IP), they have enough cash and influence on UbiSoft's board to take over.

Should UbiSoft be concerned with these developments? Analysts are saying not to worry, but if I were one of the original founders, I would start looking for a big dog to get the fox out the henhouse.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

Patriots v. Steelers in Madden 08 for Xbox 360. This clip is a full game, running about 42 minutes long.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

ICE ICE baby

Customs officials in a coordinated raid of 30 separate locations in 16 states searched for modchips and other piracy related devices in an attempt to hold off rampant software piracy.

I am all for going after criminals and software pirates deserve what they get. But I have to question how much of a priority is this? How much taxpayer money are we throwing at it? Wouldn't that money be better spent on preventing identity theft or more serious computer crimes?

And by the way, if you sell modified video games systems pre-loaded with games, you don't only deserve to be caught, you deserve a dope slap because you make it more difficult for people who are not trying to take advantage of someone.