Archive for August, 2008

“An interview with the designer of Braid”

Chainsawsuit is a pretty weird comic. It isn’t specifically a comic about video games, but its author does play games. He also thinks about cooking, doctors, and Superman.

This strip is from last week. I like it a lot.

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Something to occupy you during the hiatus

Today, the growing 4 color rebellion network announced the addition of their excellent arts/culture/DS blog, Tiny Cartridge. Topics and subject matter range from Retronauts to Game Center CX, to the cutest little Metroid diorama I have ever seen. Obviously, I added Tiny Cartridge to my feedreader immediately. You should do the same.

I’m getting some freaky health thing checked out, just to make sure it’s nothing serious—I’m not sure how long that’ll keep me away, but if there’s a dearth of updates, yes, that.

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Kloonigames: 24 months, 24 games

Prolific game designer Petri Purho doesn’t need a gimmick, but if he has one, it is this: the man is committed to making one new game every month.

And he’s no slouch. As Kloonigames approaches its two-year anniversary, Petri has created the Big List o’ Games, a one-stop catalog of his 24 most recent creations. Many of them are must-plays for anyone interested in indie game development—so go check them out! Go on! Shoo!

Congratulations on two years of Kloonigames!

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Alien Crush Returns now available in Japan

That sound you hear? It’s the whooshing of Chris Kohler’s envy.

This image I purloined from Game|Life, which conveniently doubles as an illustration of how my intestines feel today, is a screenshot from Alien Crush Returns. The Virtual Console revival of Alien Crush—that is, the original TurboGrafx pinball game from 1988—apparently generated enough interest (and revenue!) that Hudson released this spectacular graphical update of Alien Crush todayish on WiiWare. Well, in Japan.

But Chris Kohler isn’t one for geographic circumscription, so you can bet your bottom dollar he’s already played Alien Crush Returns. His early impressions? ”[It’s] pretty nifty,” he writes.

The game is played with the trigger buttons on the Wii’s nunchuck and remote, and Chris notes that the lack of Classic Controller support “is kind of disappointing—it’s a bit tiring to have to use your index fingers the entire time instead of your thumbs.”

Chris promises a full review later, so keep watch.

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Could you run as far as your WoW character?

“My character was running all over the place,” I wrote in 2005, “and I freaked out because I was like, ‘If I were running this much and this often, I would weigh 90 pounds.’ And then I quit playing because I felt like I should have been investing more time in, uh, moving.”

I’d just sworn off playing Final Fantasy XI for PS2. That version of the MMORPG had come bundled with a proprietary hard drive; consequently, I’d felt obligated to play the game for months. I had tired of levelgrinding, and of fetch quests, but above all I was tired of running.

Over at Hack a Day, there’s a blurb about two guys who wanted to “see what it would be like to run as much as their World of Warcraft characters”—I guess the existential weirdness of watching your avatar live more healthily than you do had gotten to them, too.

These WoW fans rigged two treadmills up to their computers and, in full WoW regalia, commenced on what they’ve christened the RL Race Across Azeroth. The whole write-up (edit: since removed) is hilarious, the rig itself is extremely clever, and the corresponding video (edit: since removed?!) is adorable.

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Waiter, waiter, there’s a Jawa in my lunch

OK, OK. The photo itself is from a few months ago, apparently, and this really doesn’t have anything to do with video games, I know. But I figure Star Wars devotees and video game players might have overlapping cultural interests, and anyway, I liked this. Ready?

The entire Bento Challenge flickrpool is well worth checking out, but Rena’s contributions to the group are just astonishing:


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2D games benefit from HD more than you think

Here’s an interesting aside from Stephen Totilo over at MTV Multiplayer. Totilo writes that he’s taken some flack for having never hopped on the HDTV train—as a matter of fact, he still reviews games in standard def, thank you very much.

So of all the games coming out to the 360 and PS3, which titles are making him rethink his position on HD? Why, the 2D ones, of course.

Specifically, Totilo says, while 3D games still look very nice, 2D offerings like PixelJunk Eden are frustratingly fuzzy, as are the maps in another PSN release, The Last Guy.

Totilo’s point—that it’s the 2D games that suffer most when presented in standard definition—isn’t just interesting, but more pointedly, apt.

I was very recently shocked to see how pretty Grand Theft Auto IV is on a cruddy old monitor. The game itself was crisp and clear, even crystalline. You see, I’d loaned an old computer monitor from 2002 to a friend whose HD CRT is in the repair shop (something inside had melted or exploded, I guess). So he bought some sort of adapter and connected the old monitor to his 360, and at the time I couldn’t help but think GTA4 somehow benefited from the smaller, duller screen. Strange, indeed.

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Tips and tricks from McSweeney’s

Ah, the game cheat: it’s pure magic.

The following is a screenshot from Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. The article itself, “Video Game Hints, Tricks, and Cheats,” was published in 2002. It’s pretty weird.

McSweeneys Video Game Hints, Tricks, and Cheats

Oh, it gets sillier. Much sillier.

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Icon Watch makes me want to wear a watch

Ooh, what a great find.

Icon watch

Never mind the existential agony of the ‘wait’ icon: this is top-notch design. It’s US$89.00—a lot of dough, but worth it, I think.

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Here we go again: more many-sided dice iPhone apps

Last month I pointed you toward the D20 Gaming Dice Set, a 99-cent iPhone application—its developer followed the first release with a US$2.99 “PRO” release, which allows for the rolling of multiple sets of dice at a time.

Dicenomicon screenshotSince that distant time, though, a bevy of dice rolling applications have been added to the esteemed ranks of the iPhone’s App Store. There’s the DieRoller app, which costs a meager 99 US cents. Its developer, Derek Jones, writes:

Non-gamer tip: use 5d6 to play Yahtzee, or use the Percentile roll to make up statistics!

Tempting!

There’s also the simpler DiceDaemon (99 cents), the comparatively pricy Dicenomicon ($3.99; pictured at left), and of course, Dice Bag (free).

Earlier:  Ready for a game of D&D at the drop of a hat

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SCUMM is the new Doom

Recently, I called Twitter “the new Doom.” Just as Doom can seemingly be fitted to run, inexplicably, on any device, so too can Twitter. It wasn’t a very good analogy: when Doom runs on a mobile handset, for instance, it’s really less as a game and more as a tech demo. Twitter, on the other hand, is perfectly usable.

So, I was wrong. Twitter really isn’t ‘the new Doom’ at all. Then what is?

From Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

During a bout of iPhone willy-waving down the pub recently, someone observed that there are two things that always get released for any piece of hardware that’s hacked to run homebrew code, and everyone duly installs them. Then doesn’t do anything with them except show them off to people in the pub. The first is Quake. It used to be Doom, but in the 3D age the big Q seems to have become the de facto way of demonstrating that a given piece of hardware has something decent under the hood. Touchscreen controls mean iPhone Quake isn’t hugely playable, but it does look amazing.

The second, and the source of my point, is SCUMMvm, the esteemed emulator for the old LucasArts adventure games. I suspect everyone who installs SCUMMvm, whether it’s for their PC, their PDA, their PSP or whatever, has a favourite game they install alongside it. For many it’s Day of the Tentacle, and God knows there’s a legion of Monkey Island die-hards, but for me it’s always Sam & Max Hit The Road. Except I never play it. I only watch the intro.


Incidentally—although I wholly agree with the SCUMM assessment—the one game I actually enjoyed emulating on my PSP was the Genesis version of Moonwalker.

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Mega Man cupcakes look cute, yummy, accurate

Snack or Die, the video game -themed baking recipe site, now proffers instructions for Mega Man cupcakes.

This is one project I think I could try. The recipe arrives just in time for next month’s Mega Man 9 living room launch party! And since I can just start with blank, boring cupcakes from the supermarket, I can pull this off without burning anything. Serve with E-Tanks, perhaps?

And look at how cute and scrumptious and worried Mega Man’s little face is!

megamancupcakes.jpg

And he’s so accurate, too! Compare to this Post-It art (“greenscale”) that appeared two years ago on Kotaku:

Post-It art

See? It’s dead-on.

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Children of Men not a big hit among local book club members

My e-friend Nathaniel Payne lives in a small town in America’s heartland. Recently, his town’s local book club agreed to read The Children of Men, a science fiction novel that takes place in the near future (2021, if you’re curious). The Children of Men is generally acknowledged as a pretty good book: it was adapted into a blockbuster feature film, which I own on DVD but have never watched.

Apparently the novel garnered unfavorable reviews from the book club’s members, which resulted the following news item in the town’s local newspaper:

unfavorable

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Make a 3D video game, dance at the afterparty

Gamma 3D flier art

Who’s flying me to Montreal in November? Anyone?

At long last, the fine minds at Kokoromi have announced the Where, the When, and the What of the third annual GAMMA showcase.

Presented in collaboration with the Society for Arts and Technology and the Montreal International Game Summit, the event will be held on November 19th, At the SAT, in Montreal.

Developers around the world have until October 15th to submit their games. Kokoromi will announce the chosen games on November 1st.

And as with every GAMMA event, this one culminates in a great big art show game party with everybody wearing 3D glasses.


This year’s theme is stereoscopy; entrants are required to make their games compatible with red and blue -lensed glasses. (According to the official rules page, exceptions will be made for hacked Virtual Boys, however.)

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Nintendo DS Twitter application: it’s in Spanish

Sorry. I was having trouble coming up with a snappy headline.

DSTwitter v1.0

I should be pretty excited about DSTwitter, the homebrew Twitter application for the Nintendo DS, right? I love Twitter, I love my DS, I love putting homebrew software onto those little DS carts, and my DS is covered in a twitter-blue skin. In fact, I would probably download DSTwitter right away, except that I own a cell phone.

Anyway. When I saw Mashable’s breaking report about DSTwitter, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Twitter is the new Doom. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to Twitter with your toaster. Watch and wait, my friend.

1UP newswriter Kris Pigna also reported on DSTwitter yesterday. I wanted to be snarky and witty and succinct, myself, and I just couldn’t manage. So I really admire and envy the article DEK Pigna came up with: “Now instead of playing Mario in the bathroom, you can tell the world you’re playing Mario in the bathroom.” Tee hee.

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