Archive for July, 2009

Ahab takes on Moby Dick

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A new challenger appears! And it’s… a whale? A great, white whale? On a T-shirt? Yep, on a T-shirt.

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Looking back at The Dig

What I remember most clearly about The Dig is my associated feelings of disappointment. The 2D point-and-click adventure game—released in 1995, soon after Myst—had beautiful, painterly, 1992-era graphics. That is to say, upon its release, The Dig was already dated as hell.

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I was 13 when I played it—The Dig had been in development since I was 7—and it was the first time I’d played an adventure game so “on rails,” so “cinematic,” so a series of narrative moments and cutscenes, each one waiting for your trigger. I remember consciously thinking, “This game doesn’t even need me! It can just play itself if it wants to!” I’d felt, at the time, that the game was, somehow, overly directed, somehow too controlling and too, too linear, and I’d wondered if that wasn’t maybe because Steven Spielberg (!!!) was too protective of The Dig’s storyline. I was frustrated.

What’s interesting, though, is how well the too-dated parts of the game have aged: the 2009 eye can’t tell the difference, I guess, between 1992 and 1995. And contrarily, as John Walker notes in his excellent Dig retrospective for Eurogamer, the 1995-era stuff—those little moments of then-impressive CGI—look comparatively cheesy next to the game’s painted backdrops and setpieces.

Perhaps other aspects of the game have withstood time, too. Maybe the game’s painstakingly planned moments of revelation, and all its meticulous exchanges of dialogue—which, in 1995, were irritating and aggravating for an old pro with her very set ideas of how an adventure game should play and feel—can be accepted and amended by a 2009 eye and ear as simply part-and-parcel of “the way adventure games were back then.” In his article, John Walker even applauds those moments for their capability at pushing a story forward.

It isn’t that I feel at odds with John Walker’s retrospective—I really don’t—but I do wish I hadn’t played The Dig in 1995. If I hadn’t, perhaps I could play it now with Mr. Walker’s fresh, wide eyes.

John Walker writes,

But [that’s] not what I’ve taken away. What I’m left with is the feeling of isolation, the ambient loneliness, and most of all, of a sense of the potential for gaming to slowly, carefully tell a story.

I will say this: I do remember that feeling of alienation, some intrinsic melancholy, in playing The Dig. I’m relieved that Mr. Walker felt that, too, because for years after, I had—perhaps narcissistically—misattributed those feelings to simply being a 13-year old girl, and to being the sort of 13-year old girl who sits all cooped up, hours at a time, with a CD-ROM spinning and spinning in front of her.

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Edit: Chris “Papapishu” Person left a really incredible, illuminating post about The Dig in the comments. I’ve never done this before, and I apologize: I edited his comment, albeit only slightly, and I’m linking to it here.

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Daily Linksplosion: Thursday, July 09, 2009

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The 2600 Post: something old, something new, and something lost

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Of course, after a run of 100 issues over 19 years, I can certainly understand why editor Al Backiel has decided to hang up his hat. That’s a very long time, and an awful lot of issues. The 2600 Connection has been a fixture of the Atari fan community for years, a work of dedication celebrating one of the most important game systems of all time. [...]

The magazine’s demise doesn’t mean that the 2600 collector scene is dead, though; far from it. Atari Age and a number of other sites dedicated to the VCS and its siblings are perfectly alive and active. And people are still producing all sorts of interesting new homebrew games for the platform, such as the infamous VCS rendition of Mega Man that’s been making the rounds this week.
-E. Jeremy Parish

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Daily Linksplosion: Wednesday, July 08, 2009

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Daily Linksplosion: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

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Tour Michael Jackson’s game collection

Last February, Julien’s Auctions announced the sale of Michael Jackson’s sizable arcade game collection, to be auctioned piecemeal. Though the auction was eventually canceled, Jackson agreed to a continued exhibit of his game collection at Julien’s Beverly Hills location.

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Now you can virtually stroll through Julien’s arcade exhibit, as photographed in April. Take your time with it, too—it’s absolutely heavenly. I don’t know what this says about me, but it’s very much the place I dreamt of as a kid. I wish there were photos of the arcade as it stood at Neverland, before the ranch was all but vacated.

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Perfecting your tennis serve with the Wii remote

Mans Shapshak really, really wants to play some tennis this summer. To improve his serve, he reasoned, he needs to perfect that initial toss of the ball in the air. And what better use of a spare Wii remote’s accelerometer than, say, rewiring the Wiimote to measure the speed of his throw?

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“This same technique,” Shapshak writes, “can of course be used for any repetitive activity that you want to repeat exactly every time for consistency. Think golf, bowling, etc.”

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Daily Linksplosion: Monday, July 06, 2009

So, this is sucking. My cron job, which is supposed to automagically chronograph things every midnight, is no longer cronning. I think I need to find a different way to cron.

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Wario: Bigger, burlier, purpler

Following up on his nightmarishly awesome Mushroom Kingdom on Crack action figures, toysmith Donald of KodyKoala returns with a custom Wario action figure. And this villain is built like the Bluto of brick shithouses—Mario and Peach better watch out.

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“I never realized how feminine a guy could look with purple overalls,” Donald writes at his blog, “until I started to paint him. Luckily I was able to darken up the purple, and make it a bit more masculine.”

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Super-girly accessories for your woefully masculine DS

Turns out this feat of imagineering is old as sin (well, about a year old), but I think these Hello Kitty DS styluses and/or styli warrant a closer look.

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The Hello Kitty styluseseses—key or butterfly -shaped, your choice!—are sold by Strapya, international purveyor of all things strappy. Check out the product description:

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It’s tacky. It’s cumbersome. It is irresistible.

Besides, it will go perfectly with my brand new bling:

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Felted Game Boy case for your mobile phone

Katja makes iPhone cases from felt. This one looks like a Game Boy.

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These little phone pockets are already sold out at her etsy shop but, Katja writes, “Don’t be afraid to contact me if it’s already sold—I have tooooooons of them.”

Not yet sold out: an iPhone case sporting a mustache.

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Daily Linksplosion: Sunday, July 05, 2009

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Machinarium

You can’t see me right now, but I’m wincing—I’ve fallen so far behind.

Machinarium is slated for launch this fall, but you can pre-order now.

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