Archived entries for gaming

For the uninitiated, Blizzard is, without any doubt or room for argument, the most successful video game company in the world. They own three main intellectual properties: Diablo, StarCraft and WarCraft. Each, in their time, has been responsible for millions of hours of lost productivity, huge sections of the Internet slowing to a crawl, gang fights and at least few random fuckers playing the games so long that they fell over dead from forgetting to tend to their bodily functions. Their yearly revenues are in the billions of dollars. More people play their games on a daily basis than live in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles county.

Diablo is a point and click fantasy action game that introduced an entire generation of soon-to-be goths to their first pentagrams. Everyone called in an RPG, but it was really a way to make people buy more pain medication after they developed Carpal Tunnel syndrome from all that clicking. I hated this game, but it did change the face of how people viewed fantasy games and helped to bring PC gaming back from the brink of death. They are working on Diablo III right now, and the Internet neckbeards are up in arms because apparently the teaser screenshots Blizzard has shown have this weird shit called “color” and “light” slathered all over their “dark” and “brooding” game.

StarCraft is a futuristic realtime strategy game that is over a decade old and it is still played as something of a national nerd past-time in Korea. There are three fucking cable channel dedicated to nothing more than watching people move little men around the screen. But, oh man, what those crazy Koreans can make those little men do is amazing. I played a good bit of StarCraft in my youth, and I can say that it is the only competitive video game in history to achieve perfect balance. What is more impressive is that they did it with a trinary balance (three sides) instead of the traditional binary balance (two sides, ala chess and checkers). They are currently in the process of making StarCraft II. When that game launches I fully expect Korean to disappear from the map.

WarCraft is their third major IP, one that started as a fantasy RTS prior to StarCraft. But, what you really need to know is that Blizzard made a persistent world game out of WarCraft that launched back in 2004. Since launching the game has grown to have over 12 million world wide subscribers. Blizzard rakes in around 150 million dollars a month from this game. In movie revenue terms they are releasing Iron Man every month of the year. The second expansion is slated to come out for this game in a few weeks.

I’m talking about this because BlizzCon started today. BlizzCon is a giant Blizzard fan wank. Tens of thousands of nerds gathered in Anaheim, California to worship at the feet of Blizzard. And this isn’t some small thing. We’re talking about a group of nerds equivalent to the population of a good sized town showing up to this. And the best part?

Some of them dress up.

Please tell me what I’m looking at. Please.

EDIT: The smartest thing anyone has ever put in the gift bag at an event populated by nothing but unwashed nerds.

The Court approves the corrected referee’s report and John Bruce Thompson is permanently disbarred, effective thirty days from the date of this order so that respondent can close out his practice and protect the interests of existing clients. If respondent notifies the Court in writing that he is no longer practicing and does not need the thirty days to protect existing clients, this Court will enter an order making the permanent disbarment effective immediately. Respondent shall accept no new business from the date this order is filed.

Oh, glee, glee, glee.

Check out his wikipedia page if you want more information, but basically, Jack Thompson is a man who doesn’t believe in anything but very, very bland types of fun. And if you piss him off, he’ll turn into a wonderful ball of rage and self parody. He’s campaigned against rap music and movies, but his main target was always video games. The world is now a better place that this idiot can’t be sueing everyone in the industry at the drop of a hat.

From a text message Tim sent me:

Homeless dude to Jessica Mulligan, “I like your hair, man.” Dude didn’t know what the fuck.

For those not aware, Jessica Mulligan is a near legendary figure in the persistent world community. She’s been working in it for as long as people have been dialing into each others machines to play games. Her talks are musts whenever I attend conferences, and she’s notorious for raking the games industry over the coals when it deserves it.

Oh, and she’s also a six foot six transsexual with a booming voice who smokes like a chimney.

I have recently found myself in the incredible, yet unenviable position of having to turn out a complete concept document for the mechanics of a persistent world game by the end of the week. Pretty much by myself.

For those that have no idea what I’m talking about, look at it this way: I’m basically giving myself voluntary ADD. There are a million and half moving parts that make up a persistent world game, and in the initial concept document you bounce from one to the other at a rate that makes your head spin.

One of the core elements in this game is a player driven economy based around crafting, so I figured that would be a good place to start laying down tracks. Crafting is a fairly straight-forward system after all. Raw materials, recipes, and player production. Yeah, right. Before I had gotten done with the first page of notes, I had a dozen separate documents open on my screen into which I was dropping notes on tangential aspects of the game.

The first question with crafting is what are players making. Which means I need to know what items are like. So, I have to start thinking about how items are used in the game (track jump 1), the different types of items (track jump 2), how items are gained (track jump 3), how items are stored (track jump 4) and how items are traded (track jump 5). Thinking about how items are gained leads me into combat and conflict goal questions (track jumps 6-15). Thinking about how items are traded leads me into questions about how players communicate (track jump 16), and how players and NPCs communicate (track jump 17). Thinking about players and NPCs leads me into a faction system (track jump 18) which folds back into the conflict goal questions (track jump 19). Oh, then my brain slides back into thinking about items and how we’ll have to have vanity items that provide only aesthetic changes to player avatars (track jump 20).

I think there are probably a few more jumps in there, but you get the general idea. Persistent world games are so big, and my head can only focus on a few parts of it at a time. Ideally, this would be done in a conference room with a half dozen whiteboards spread across the room to scribble ideas down on. Building worlds like that is very organic, building worlds like this is inviting mental prolapse. But, our team is spread all over the country, with a few in the UK. We’ve got to use virtual spaces instead of real ones.

That being said, I love every damn second of it and wouldn’t give it up for anything.

After all, I can sleep when I’m dead. (Or when the LHC destroys the whole damned world.)


Seedmagazine.com The Seed Salon

What you need to know about this video:

Will Wright is a legendary video game designer who is responsible for the entire line of Sim games, and has recently released Spore, a game that takes you from single celled life on up to interstellar travel.

Jill Tarter is the current head of SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.

Seed is a magazine focusing on the intersection of big new ideas in science and the society they impact.

Seed Salon is when Seed sits two brilliant people down to talk about stuff.

Your brain can now melt into a delicious puddle of nerd goo as these two talk about astrobiology and such.

Ben just pointed this out to me. If you’ve never played Half-Life 2 you won’t get why this is so incredible. But, if you haven’t played Half-Life 2, you’re missing out on one of the most brilliant interactive experiences ever.

From Craig’s List – Want it from behind while you play Super Mario Brothers ? – m4w

Do you love to play Super Mario Brothers on the Classic Nintendo System? Do you like to get tagged from behind while you do it? This is the post for you then.

You must know your way around the game before we meet, must be open to anal sex, also able to fake an orgasm is a plus.

I will send you the address to a hotel and a room number. When you arrive the door will be open. Please come in close and lock the door and close the shades if they are still open. I will be in the bathroom and the door will be closed. Turn on the TV and the Nintendo. Remove all of your clothing. Turn off all lights in the room and kneel down on the bed so you are directly in the light of the TV. You need to be facing the TV with your butt in the air pointed toward the pillows on the bed.

Press the start button on the controller when you are ready. I will hear the sound and turn the light off in the bathroom and come out. You will not look directly at me, only look at the TV. When the first level starts I will begin to finger you and lick you. I will be using lots of lube as well.

When you reach the end of level one, make sure to trigger the fireworks. This is vital to the entire experience. I must hear the fireworks. When level 2 begins and Mario walks into the pipe, I will penetrate you. You may say things like, “MORE”, “HARDER”, “YES”, “FUCK ME”, but nothing else. I will continue having sex until the level ends. DO NOT take the secret level skip. If you die I will pull out and spank you until the level restarts.

When you reach the flag you must again trigger the fireworks, and also orgasm. I will pull out. When the 1-3 starts I will penetrate your ass. You are allowed to say something like “OH GOD”, “YES”, OR “IT HURTS” no other conversation is allowed.

When level 1-4 starts I will alternate between holes as I see fit. You may beg me to cum inside or outside of you, depending on what you want. When boss falls and you reach the princess I will pull out and blow my load where you have convinced me I want too. You may then say something like “Thanks”, “It was great”, “I loved it”, “Don’t stop”

If I am impressed you may continue playing and I will continue to pleasure you. If I am not, I will turn the Nintendo Off and return to the bathroom. At this time you may clean your self with the towel that is beside the bed. Turn the lights on, redress yourself and leave.

I may come back out and talk to you as you dress but the conversation will most likely be short and revolve around scheduling another time to get together.

I want to hit something very hard right now. Like my head against the wall.

Metal Gear Solid 4 - Figumates

Yeah, that would be the male characters from Metal Gear Solid, one of the most successful video game franchises in history…transformed into sculpted polyurethane shoeless girls with giant heads.

I don’t even know what the fuck.

Playboy.com has an excellent break down of this year’s E3. The good, the bad, the alcoholic benders.

The old E3 was all the worst parts of nerd culture mashed up with all the worst parts of frat culture. When these two natural enemies join forces it can only presage the eldritch touch of Satan. Imagine a giant steaming helping of brain-dead rah-rah awesome bro ‘tude combined with sweaty, hygenically challenged man-children futilely chasing their ever-receding childhoods. The old E3 was a three-day migraine with a side order of Asberger’s Syndrome, which turns out is neither pretty nor pleasant. Plus, some of us were trying to get work done. Seriously, no one likes a good party more than me, but a good party has to ebb and flow or people get exhausted. The old E3 was like a four-day bender with your friend who just discovered how awesome crystal meth is. It’s entertaining at first, then it gets tiring, then annoying, then scary, then you wake up in jail without your pants.

That’s right, you’re going to read Playboy.com…for the articles.

If you click that link at work, even though there are no naked ladies, be prepared for your IT guy to have a few questions. Or maybe a high-five.

Well, Microsoft certainly set the bar pretty damn high for their competitors. As the live updates were coming across my RSS reader, my eyes kept getting bigger.

Here’s a few of the announcements:
-Fable 2 in October.
-Gears of War 2 in November.
-Resident Evil 5 in March.
-Exclusive Fallout 3 downloadable content. (Fallout 3 is out in probably October)
-Entirely new  Xbox Live set up, complete with Mii-like avatars.

And here are the fucking coups:
-Final Fantasy XIII, the mother of all RPGs, is coming to the Xbox 360.
-Any Xbox Live Gold member can stream all of Netflix’s movies through the Xbox. (Caveat – we don’t know if that means ALL Netflix movies, or just streaming ones. And there is no word on Sony movies on a Microsoft system.)

So to summarize: Microsoft’s opening salvo was a fucking nuke in the face on Sony and Nintendo. Even though the war is really between Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo has left those two so far behind in terms of new market penetration, they’ll never catch up.

Hello, children.

I am wondering if any of you would be interested in some non-mainstream gaming in the near future? I’m talking about board games of a non-Milton-Bradley nature. Stuff like Settlers, Carcassonne, Illuminati, Munkins, Zombies!!! and the classic Kobolds Ate My Babies. There are even a few out of print CCG games that I’m looking into buying to see what the games play like.

I miss picking apart game systems, and I’d like to at least play some new stuff with people who will take it seriously.

If anyone wants to play, let me know.

OneChanbara is a Japanese video game about a girl in a cowboy hat, a bikini and a boa-thing, armed with a magic sword that fights off hordes of zombies. Basically it is tits and ass plus zombies with a bad Japanese story slapped on it. Apparently, it might offend our Western sensibilities, so they never released it over here. But, in Japan, it was big enough to warrant a B-movie to be made from its story.

So, without further delay, I give you OneChanbara – The Movie

Mutant Chronicles

The guy from the Punisher, Ron Perlman, John Malkovich and that chick from 2 Fast 2 Furious and Sin City in a movie about mutants based on a Swedish board game?

How can this possibly fail?

Oh yeah, this is how:

I don’t know how many of you had paid attention to this week on YouTube, but since the leak on Monday, and the actually release on Wednesday, Spore’s Creature Creator has been giving the Internet something new to fear. I posted an example a few days ago, but that’s is now a weak entry in what is steadily becoming a war between male nerds to out do each other. I’ve seen every type of penis monster imaginable, a few vagina monsters, things that look like people stuck mid-coitus, and I have friends who’ve seen one that looks like a man being lynched from a tree. All of this from a game that is supposed to set a new standard for open-ended, casual, sandbox gaming.

Ultimately, Spore will fail for EA because the primary demographic for games are males between 13 and 35. Sure, that is changing, but it isn’t changing fast enough for Spore. When the game launches, you’ll have a million males making their very own dong monster, which they will raise to the stars. Once they get to the stars, they start interacting with other players as they explore the rest of the galaxy. I don’t know about you, but if every new creature I encounter is some variant on a penis, I’m going to get bored very quickly. I think female gamers will find it even less funny.

You can argue that most guys played the Sims for a few hours, made their female Sims into lesbians, then got them electrocuted, drowned or starved and that game went on to be the biggest franchise in gaming history. And you would be totally correct. But I would also like to point out to you that the player down the street from you wasn’t a seven foot tall phallus with an mouth at the top. All the visuals in the Sims were controlled out of the box. People could replace the textures to get fully nude little polygonal people, but EA had control over what the game looked like when it first booted up. They don’t have any sort of control like that with Spore. Half of the game is people creating something that is unique to them, and then the other half is them sending their creature out to encounter other player’s creatures. And probably eat them. The element of control here is way off, and the Internet people are already doing their best to turn this game into a smoldering slag heap before it is released.

Meet the “Oh, God, what the fuck is that, kill it!”

Taylor is whiny. But, yes, this did come from his Twitter stream.

Real Life S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Apparently some people in Russia are acting out real-life scenes from the video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which revolves around a special forces person fighting off mutants in Chernobyl. I’m not really sure why these people are risking massive radiation doses to re-enact a video game, but some of the images that they’ve produced are stunning.

From English Russia, natch.

Yes, that is Liv Tyler hawking a Nintendo DS and Brain Age. This commercial is part of a series of commercials Nintendo is running for the DS to promote the device to non-traditional gamers (read: males 13 to 34). Turns out the DS is selling stupidly well to women, middle age people and to the elderly. The tactile element of the stylus appeals to these players, as do the casual style of the games. These new demographics are more likely to pick up puzzle games, things like Brain Age, and non-objective games, like NintenDogs, rather than the traditional story based action fare. I think we’re up to our fourth Brain Age game now, and each one of them has been a smash hit, all due to the non-standard demos buying it.

The only downside to this new market is that Nintendo can’t figure out how to sell them a lot of games. Traditional gamers will by anywhere from 4-8 games for their system a year. Theses new groups are only buying 1 to 2 year. So I guess, they are just going to keep pounding in their “game system for everyone” message until they figure out how to sell these people Metroid.

Regardless, the commercial above is brilliant for its simplicity and cross market appeal. Liv Tyler appeals to the male market because she is attractive, she appeals to the younger female market because she still comes off as a youthful star, she appeals to the older female market because she is a mother and she appeals to the casual market because she is wholesome and in her pajamas, relaxing. It is the perfect shotgun spray of advertisement.

The G-Man and Robert Oppenheimer

I don’t know why it never occurred to me that the G-Man from the Half-Life Series would be based on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb. I mean, they both worked for secret government projects that worked on world-altering technologies. The hair, the lips, the nose, the jaw line, hell even the tie and the collar, all match up. They’ve rounded his eyes somewhat, but and made them green for the G-Man instead of Oppenheimer’s blue. But that’s still him.

Know this makes the G-Man even creepier, honestly.

From the article here at Variety.

Universal and Gore Verbinski are going into “Bioshock.”

Studio has signed a deal to turn last year’s hit videogame, which won numerous awards and sold more than 2 million units worldwide, into a film.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” helmer is attached to direct and produce. “Aviator” scribe John Logan is in talks to pen the screenplay.

“Bioshock” publisher Take-Two Interactive is getting a multimillion-dollar advance against gross points on the pic. It’s believed to be the biggest videogame-to-movie deal since 2005, when U and Fox signed onto the since aborted “Halo” pic, for which Microsoft got $5 million against 10%.

There’s an interview here where Verbinksi gives more information.

I’ll put out a tentative positive toward this project. Verbinksi might be a bit of a heavy hand for the subtlety for Bioshock, but we’ll see where this goes.

Vivendi/Activision has dropped out of this year’s E3 and with drawn from the trade organization that runs E3, the ESA.

E3′s been really hurting in the past few years, starting when them limiting the attendance back in 2006, the effective disintegration of a main conference area in 2007, and the rise of PAX and the GDC during those same years. With the largest “independent” third party software publisher in the world pulling out of your big trade show and dropping out of your trade group, you know that you have issues. A few other, smaller, companies followed suit, NCSoft and id Software being the only two notable names.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have been hemming and hawing for a while now about abandoning E3 for individual shows where they wouldn’t have to compete for the spotlight, and I think this just might be the even that sets that off. If I’m right, E3 and the ESA will be history before the decade is over.

Kotaku’s got the story here.



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