Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What did you say, Jack?

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Okay, this may surprise whole lotta people, but Jack Thompson, who has become a public enemy for gamers abroad with his never-ending lawsuits against video games, actually defended a game this time around. When prodded with recent Fox report on Mass Effect--a must see, by the way. It's on YouTube--Jack says:

I don’t see any problem with [Mass Effect]. The guy who shot his mouth off about it [on Fox News] had no idea what the Hell he was talking about… This contrived controversy is absolutely ridiculous.

You know, although he seems to get too full of himself and perpetrates some humiliating actions in public from time to time, I think he can be level-headed if he tries, as N'Gai Croal once said about him after doing interviews for Moral Kombat. He is where he is today because he makes foolish accusations without hard evidence (things like how he tried to link Virginia Tech's shooting with Coutner Strike). Only if it wasn't for that, he wouldn't be so hated...

Tough Choice

Maybe I should vote for Obama...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yakuza and Musashi?

So, I've been hearing alot about PS2 game Yakuza on 1UP Yours Podcast lately, and got pretty hyped up about this game, albeit it's flaws with combat system and all. And here comes it's sequel (actually 2nd sequel after one that was released here in US), which is the game above.

It's set in feudal Japan when a lot of people had sword on their side, and you're the ancestor of the main character of the first (and probably second as well) game's protagonist, Kazuma, who is... also a part of a Yakuza at the time. Well, that's what I understood from the description given from the podcast, but then watching this video clip, with that child-looking girl (wearing what looks like geisha's clothes... weird) requesting you to kill the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi (which is pretty cool), and then later in the trailer, people start regarding the main character as Musashi himself! At that point, I'm all "WTF"? I'm at loss.

And I want this game!

But then again, this game is only on PS3 (wonder how much Sony paid these guys) which is sad... Also, from the trailer, it seems like there's huge amount of cut-scenes which are nice, but... that doesn't let player direct the plot at all. I'm just worried that it'll be like Final Fantasy, which, despite its attractive points, I regard with disdain for its deeply flawed storytelling. Maybe I'll just wait out on this game and watch the movie which I heard is in the work at the moment...(since I'm not planning on getting a PS3 anytime soon)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Game Shines in the sad face of Movie and Music

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With everyone claiming 2007 as the biggest gaming year in history, I've always wondered how large the gaming industry has become. And, I've found the answer today.

$18.85 billion in sale. $8.9 billion in revenue. Does it not sound awesome? What started as Pong became such giant, challenging movies and music industry for their positions as #2 and #1 entertainment market in US. Although I have nothing against movie or music industry, the news that, while movie industry saw mere 1.8% growth from last year in revenue, and -10% (est.) for music, game industry saw astonishing 28.4% gives me a reason to be excited.

This is because I've always thought that when the size of pie for game grows in size to be comparable to that of movie industry's, we'll finally start seeing game publishers more willing to take risks at trying new things and innovate game medium, because they'll have enough money flowing through the market for it. Well, it seems like we've reached that point already. Now, only if risk-taking, experimental games would come out....

Farewell, William Thatcher, Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland

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The Patriot. A Knight's Tale. Monster's Ball. Brokeback Mountain.

On the day I was born, Heath Ledger, who brought one of my favorite character to the silver screen, has left this world. That day, he was found lying face down on his apartment floor, naked, when his housekeeper found him. Was it drug overdose? I do not know. He was only 28.

Now it'll be different watching one of my favorite movies, A Knight's Tale without thinking of his death, and same goes to an upcoming, highly anticipated movie, The Dark Knight where he played probably one of people's favorite villain, the Joker.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Japan, Shame on You

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I know Japan is certainly a very attractvie country, that, with great workmanship, produced many goods for the rest of the world. That goods alone created numerous people mesmerized by anything Japan, especially self-claimed Otaku's. (Can you hear my sigh?) It is on top of the list of countries people wants to pay a visit, including mine. It certainly looks all shiny and merry, but.. there is another side to this pretty country.

Yes, they make exceptional food.
Yes, they revitalized video game industry.
Yes, they still vitalize video game industry.
Yes, they make many exceptional anime.
Yes, they have cute girls (at least on screen and in anime).
Yes, they made Kendo. (at least they modernized it)
Yes, Final Fantasy was made by Japanese devs.
And yes, they make good food...I think I mentioned this already.

But it is also true...
that each of their sushi incredibly small yet are money whore..
that they became arrogant and lost people's love (think Sony)..
that they make tons of bad creations and perverted ones..
that they quench perverted thirst by advocating sexually suggestive culture..
that they distance themselves from rest of the world..
and that they create foreigners social outcast, especially if they're not white or black.*

Money quote:

... She hates the world, but that's okay, the world hates her too. I certainly do. But I don't hate her as much as those observers who keep claiming Japan is a more polite, respectful country than any other because that is so far from the truth it's laughable, if it wasn't so sad.
So, when dealing with Japanese people, always take it with a grain of salt... You never know what's behind their politely smiling mask...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gamespot, Shame on You

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Well, you all probably know this, but this one's about Jeff Gerstmann, now-former Gamespot Editorial Director, who was fired following a negative review of high-production game from Eidos, Kane & Lynch. It shows an in-depth story of Gamespot's descent, its eroding integrity..

To add my thoughts to the story, I used to go to Gamespot like every single day, no, several times a day, even. It was when Greg Kasavin, a former Chief Editor at Gamespot, left when the site started to crumble. Its reviews became short, less honest, and plain bad.

Now I see how it all went down... and I shall not visit Gamespot now, unless I really need to.

Friday, January 18, 2008

UPDATED A Glimpse of Hope

I just realized that I can probably get $100 gift certificate for Circuit City within a month. With that, combined with other gift certificates I currently have (totaling ~$140 altogether), I can buy myself a Xbox360 Premium Bundle at around only (relatively speaking, that is) $200! Now, that is something I can do!!

P.S. If Xbox360 were in pink, and there's syringe on the controller... that picture would've been perfect! (Think South Park)

P.P.S. This means I can get a Wii, provided I find one sitting on a store shelf (which is harder than reaching star nowadays, apparently), for only... ~$100?! Wow.

UPDATE: I just got updated point balance, and currently have... 9952 Pts! 48 Pts shy of $100 gift card!! It's, like, that pink puff the magic dragon flying right in front of your eyes yet you can't catch it. What a way to tease, damn.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Guitar Hero Huckabee

Following the race of the prominent candidates to White House '09, I saw something that was so interesting. It was the image and stories of Mike Huckabee, an "underdog" Republican candidate who made a sleeper hit in Iowa only few weeks ago. On TV, he had a guitar on his hand, playing what I think was some gospel song.

And I found that fascinating, not because of the fact that he can play guitar, but because the general audience, which were mostly conservative Evangelicals or Baptists, were enjoying that scene.

"So, what?" you might ask, but I'd like to remind you that electronic guitar, which he had, was not seen so kindly by the public only a generation or two ago! Everyone, I mean parents, thought of them "devil's music" or something, and condemned them with all their heart. And here we have a ex-preacher rocking in front of those same parents.

With this image, I could see that, maybe, in future, we'll see a day when some candidates sit down and spend some time with young people by playing some video games with them! That will be the day when video game is not feared by public, but rather, seen as something enjoyable, safe, and hopefully cool!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Backstory of Spore

Yesterday I went to the monthly Atlanta Game Development Meetup, where I met Sean O'Neil, a software engineer who has experience in various game projects, one of them being, very interestingly, Will Wright's Spore, albeit in its very early stage of development.

He had some interesting story to tell, one of them being that Spore was actually going to be a Mars version of Sims. (Well, I guess it wasn't Spore at all then) It would have players build habitable bases on the red planet and deal with Sims living inside them. The project was also funded by NASA. However, Will didn't see the whole lot of point to finish the project--It's not that different from other Sims, presumably--so he scrapped the whole thing and moved on next thing that we know as Spore.

Sean was involved in the project because he made a very efficient atmostphere scattering algorithm on his spare time (what a hobby), which would've been very useful for making those planets look real pretty. He also made a program that generates patterns (that look natural) for planet's surfaces that could create patterns down to smallest detail. However, it was not put to use because Will himself told Sean that they were going with small, sizeable planets, in order to avoid overwhelming players. This all happened during earlier phase of the project, the research-phase, and Sean jumped off the train after that because he did not want to get into game dev as full-time. And rest is history. (Also notable is that Spore team did use his research in the game.)

Since getting out of college, I met several, very interesting people: team lead at my work, who enjoys writing programs and tools at home, or work without getting paid (eh?), and Sean O'Neil, who makes algorithm based CG generating tools that can be measured against Ph.D student's thesis papers. And that's how they enjoy their lives... and here I am here sitting at work complaining about having to write help files and few lines of codes. Oh, boy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Super Mario..Cat with White Round.. Thingies

This may be Super Mario rip-off, it's worth watching. Plagued with some, no, tons of unexpected objects, you can feel the player's frustration, and even fear at some point. It was so funny that I had a terribly hard time trying not to laugh, which ended up sounding like a retard. (I am at work)

Anyways, enjoy~ :)

New Apple's Eye-Candy Announced!

Apparently, Apple has announced their new notebook model, named MacBook Air. It's to be "The World's Thinnest Notebook," at just 0.16 to 0.76 inches thick.

Check out Apple's MacBook Air website.

This notebook features a full-size keyboard, and large touch pad, which employs multi-touch they developed on iPhone (minus screen). Notable exception is that it doesn't have an optical drive. Meaning there is no way of reading CDs or DVDs on this baby--You can use USB Super drive or their new feature, "Remote Disc". But who uses discs now, anyways? (Apparently, Windows still very much does. Heck, it still uses floppy!)

Now, all I can think is, 'how can Apple keep on making such elegant and so attractive piece of technology like this?' I just don't understand why there isn't any other company creating buzz like these nowadays.

That notebook sure does make me drool, but I just know that I have no use for it, especially at $1799!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Excerpts from Interview with Naughty Dog

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Money quotes from the interview with Naughty Dog Copresident Evan Wells and Uncharted Director Amy Hennig who created a notable and critically praised game, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune:

Amy Henning: [With] a lot of games, you get this jumping-the-shark problem at the end because you've got to be ramping up to something. Because movies are more about the narrative and the emotional experience, they get away with less. Whereas with games, it's almost like we have to shift our thinking away from boss battles to peaks of the experience.
AH: ... So many games are cynical and dark and gritty; we wanted this to feel colorful, optimistic, humorous, and romantic. Those are funny words to use for a videogame, particularly one where you're popping hundreds of guys in the head with bullets, but it's that sense of the romance of adventure that we felt was lacking in so many games these days.
Mmm, we need more female game developers...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Digitalized Magazine and Portable Display

Game Developer is a magazine I used to subscribe to when I was younger. I stopped receiving it because I didn't really read them at the time and thought now is a great time to start receiving it again, since I do read periodicals (like Newsweek) more than in those days.

So, I was looking at their subscription page, and found out that they offer two different and seperate kinds of subscription: traditional printed ($49.95/Yr) and digital ($29.95/Yr). Because it's so much more expensive than other periodicals, I kind of want to get digital version. Yet, I know that if I do, it'll be a hell to read. (Try yourself.) OK. It may not be too bad, considering that we're used to write and read on screen these days. But to read a magazine with your butt glued to the chair, having to sit up all that time? Forget it. I like reading magazines before going to sleep, and I'm not planning on falling asleep at my desk.

Then this led me to think; what if there's a portable tablet display? A thin, appropriately sized LCD, lit by bright LEDs (for losing weight) with touch sensitive screen for navigating, with long, preferably unified connector (for power and signal) so it can be carried to a great(er) distance with ease? It'll be wired but at least it'll be lightweight, and so it can be brought around in a room (and to bed, even). It'll be perfect for reading digital version of magazines!

Wait, I think I've seen something like this before.... Oh..... Cintiq.... D'oh!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Prediction for 2008 ..and Beyond

Now that we're in 2008, and that everyone seems to be making their predictions on what's going to happen in game industry this year, here is my prediction (Well, not exactly 2008's prediction, but prediction nevertheless):

  • Xbox360 will keep having strong year, as it had so far, albeit they lack next blockbuster title, such as Halo 3. It's Microsoft; they'll keep the system on luxurious life-support--they have enough gold in their account for this-should the need arise. I just hope they get a new PR for Japan, and get the sales numbers up to at least half that of PS3.
  • Wii will see constant drop in sales, until Wii Fit comes out, when the sale will skyrocket again and keep going forever and ever and ever and... ever. Unless, of course, every single household obtains a Wii, and there is no one left to buy a Wii.
  • PS3, by the way, will keep struggle to sell, even when Metal Gear Solid 4 comes out. But none of these matter, does it? Because of Square Enix's shady (cuz it can't be explained otherwise) affection to Sony's system will single-handedly revive the whole platform, with a little and bloated title called Final Fantasy XIII. (Remember what Squaresoft, SquareEnix before merger, did to Sega's Saturn system? Although lacking 3rd party support, Sega's system was totally on top of PlayStation, yet with Final Fantasy VII, things turned 180 degrees overnight. Poor dear Sega... *sob*)

So, there you go. Unless Microsoft and Nintendo cooperates and drowns PlayStation 3 almost definitely before FFXIII releases, they'll all looooooose. Big time!

PS. When's FFXIII coming out anyways?

There Shan't Be Serious Games?!

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Games have been getting ever more gory, with blood splattering everywhere, body parts flying around, and so on. Now, games are becoming very "real" in that they started to tackle real-world issues. While some people, like this father quoted in the post linked here, are very upset about it, I find it fascinating; games are becoming more than plain entertainment.

What I don't like is that he most likely doesn't have any problem with all sorts of movies talking about issues in real world, either political or cultural, yet, when a game is blessed with real-world relevance, he gets agitated.

Is it because he bought the game for his kids? Is it because he bought it as a toy? Does he believe time is too early for a game that is more than a toy?

While I am so frustrated at things like this, I guess when there are more gamer-parents than non-gamer-parents, when most politicians grew up playing games, things will get better than now. Hopefully.

Monday, January 7, 2008

DS English Training "Game"

A Korean TV Spot was added to It was a pleasant surprise, more so cuz of those pretty girls -.,- Kinda funny.

Street Fighter 4

When I first heard of Capcom bringing one of the oldest game franchise, Street Fighter, back into life by introducing Street Fighter 4, I could not stop worrying about them trashing the whole series. It's not that I think Capcom lost their touches. I still think they're more than capable of making great fighting games. What worried me was that they decided to bring the game from 2D space to 3D space.

I'm not sure if you've ever seen 3D games created by Capcom before, but they... weren't all that good. Well, they had some notable successes, but that 3D Street Fighter game, which I don't even care to remember the title? That was just sad. Graphic was simple, chunky, and downright ugly, animation was stiff and slow, all the special moves and effects didn't cut it.

That's the kind of feeling I had when started watching the above movie, but at the moment they showed the play video, all worries vaporized. The graphic was very stylized; it kinda deviates from normal Japanese trend--Thank God!! And animation was fast, yet fluent, and powerful. It looks tight and solid all around. Fighting moves, while not as realistic as Namco's famous fighting games, look so appropriate for that game. It's both cartoony, stylized, and, probably more importantly, believable.

Now I realize how I was dwelling in the past. I still remember reading "Great 2D trumps poor 3D" way back in the past. Maybe if I haven't played that game, I wouldn't have worried about the new SF4 game.

Long live fighting games!!