Archive for the 'Games' Category

Virtual plague spreading like wildfire in World of Warcraft

Virtual plague spreading like wildfire in World of Warcraft. Huh, that’s neat. I wonder if Second Life‘s scripting engine is flexible enough to create a disease?

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Image: “Clean up efforts for Hurricane Katrina have already begun in some areas.”

Image: “Clean up efforts for Hurricane Katrina have already begun in some areas.” This is pretty great, and is especially timely given that We Love Katamari comes out next week.

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Dreamworks’ snazzy video conference room

Dreamworks’ snazzy video conference room sounds amazing. I think I’d be entertained just by seeing that thing in action. The virtual party they describe reminds me of a party Linden Lab threw during GDC this year at Varnish. They were projecting a real time feed from a Second Life rendition of Varnish where a virtual party was also going on. They were also going to display a video feed of the real party on the equivalent virtual wall, but they apparently ran into some problems with the streaming quicktime functionality required.

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Two letter Scrabble word trainer

I got bored the other day, and made this two letter Scrabble word trainer to help refresh my memory of the 96 two letter scrabble words.

I’m pretty happy with the final result, and think it should be pretty easy to use. The form field should auto focus, so you should be able to type in a bunch of two letter words, hit enter, and then type more words to add to your collection until you either know all 96, or until you give up and ask for help.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, let me know.

SSX 3 First Impressions

So there I was, grinding up a rail, when something orange at the top of the hill caught my eye. “Wait a minute…” I said under my breath, “is that a…!?” But by that point, I’d flown through the fully open doors of a Honda Element, and my question had been answered.

Now, regardless of how much I may like or dislike the Element, I’m pretty positive that SSX 3 didn’t need an Element endorsement in SSX 3 either way.

Other than the Element endorsement, SSX 3 pretty much completely rocks. I’ve been playing it all day, and I just unlocked Peak 2. So far, I’ve only been playing with Zoe, which leaves me with another 9 characters to power up and unlock clothes and accessories for. And if you played the demo and are worried about the quality of the final product, don’t worry, the final product is vastly improved in every respect.

Most importantly, it looks like it has significantly more lastability than the original SSX (which we wore out in about a month), so it looks like I’ll be playing this game for a long time.

And even better, while flipping through the instruction manual just now I noticed that the song “Mas” by Kinky is on the soundtrack. That disc was probably one of our most often played discs on the way to the mountain last year… clearly EA is reading my mind.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance second impressions.

I’ve played a lot more of Tactics Advance since my first impressions, and it being the marathon game that it is, that means I’ve got plenty of time for second impressions:

  • In my first impressions I complained about how annoying it was to not be able to see how a given piece of equipment would alter a character’s stats. Well, it turns out if you hold start, it will show you how the equipment impacts the stats. Thank god.
  • For some reason, I overlooked the fact that a character can equip two different Action “A” ability sets simultaneously. This is an important game play point, because otherwise a character is locked into the abilities of whatever job he is currently assigned. But nope! A character actually gets A abilities from both his assigned job, and one other selected job set.
  • The first time I saw an extra character named “Foobar,” I thought it was cute and laughed a bit. But by the third time I’d seen an extra named “Foobar,” it began to lose its charm.
  • The game time clock says I’ve been playing for 30 hours and 8 minutes,, and 72 missions. Of course, the 30 hours doesn’t take into account either (on one hand) all the times I fell asleep while playing only to wake up and just turn the game boy off in the middle of a battle, or (on the other hand) all the times I set the game boy down in the middle of a battle, only to come back to it awhile later and finish the fight. I don’t actually know if it balances out or not.
  • Finally, it’s been a long time since I muttered something like “This game is a lot of work” about a game I was still actually enjoying. But seriously: a lot of work. And you know you’re in trouble when you start seriously considering writing software to help you play the game more efficiently.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance impressions.

The most notable thing I can say about Final Fantasy Tactics Advance so far is that it’s put me to sleep about 7 times so far.

The intro to the game goes for at least 30 minutes before you can save the game, and closer to an hour if you’re a slower reader. The first time I played the game, I fell asleep before I could save it. The second time, I got to save the game, but when I started the third time, I couldn’t remember anything so had to go through the intro a third time before anything stuck. Variants on the same thing happened several times after that, where I’d fall asleep in the middle of a mission or forget what I was supposed to be doing, and just had to restart from the last saved game.

In addition to the slow pace of the game, there are a few other issues with the game. You’re rather suddenly dropped into things with a fairly steep learning curve, and this isn’t helped by the fact that equipment interfaces leave a lot to be desired. When shopping for equipment, you’re only told what jobs can use that equipment, meaning you have to remember what jobs all of your characters have. Worse, when you’re shopping, you can’t tell if any given piece of equipment will improve your character’s stats. And when you’re actually equipping items, you also can’t tell if the stats are improved — the only way to tell is to note your original stats, swap items, and then see if they improved.

But, this isn’t nearly as damning as it might sound. All those times I fell asleep, I was admittedly pretty tired, and playing right before bed. And the interface problems — while annoying — can be worked around without too much effort. Regardless, that doesn’t change the fact that this game is not for the casual gamer — anyone interested in this game is going to need to invest a lot of time reading things and learning the intricacies of the gameplay. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy and strategy games, check this out. Otherwise, I’d steer clear.

Mario Kart 16 Players!

Mario Kart 16 Players!

Well, if I convince my housemate to get a gamecube, and I get a second gamecube for my upstairs tv, and we get copies of the game and network adapters for all three consoles, *and* we buy 5 more gamecube controllers, then we can do 12 player… I think I’ll just target 8 player with my housemate for now, though.

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Impressions of recent game demos I’ve played.

I recently played demos of several upcoming games, and here are my bullet point impressions of them:

  • GameCube
  • 1080: Avalanche – This amused me for a few minutes, and if I can get this for cheap after whatever unforeseeable point I get bored with SSX 3, I might pick this up.
  • Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike: Attack of the Colons – I don’t think I’m going to get this unless I can get it for cheap. It just felt like more Rogue Squadron, without fixing some of the play control issues that have always bugged me about Rogue Squadron. There are other things I’d rather be playing, like…
  • Viewtiful Joe – Now this game was one I was unsure about before playing the demo, but after playing it I was totally sold. This games style is just too cool for words, and the fact that it’s going to initially sell for $40 just seals the deal.

  • PlayStation 2
  • ESPN Hockey – It’s been a long time since I’ve played a hockey video game (or any sports video game, for that matter), and I was surprised by how damn complicated it’s gotten. The graphics were pretty, and I had fun playing for one period, but I just couldn’t imagine playing for much longer than that.
  • Hulk – I was amused by this demo, but in the end it was way too short. Still entertaining enough to play the demo twice.
  • Ratchet and Clank 2: Going Commando – This was entertaining enough that I spent probably a half an hour playing with this demo, but it’s not a game I’m going to buy. In particular, there was an entertaining racing mini-game, but in the long run it probably would lack depth.
  • Roadkill – Um, I did not enjoy this demo at all. The objective was entirely unclear, and the demo was sufficiently buggy that I got my car stuck against a mountain and couldn’t move anymore, so I quit playing it.
  • True Crime: Streets of LA – This game also bored me silly, and again with the extremely unclear objective.
  • SSX 3 – Last but certainly not least… Unfortunately, this demo was really buggy, with me falling through the mountain at times, or getting stuck inside of a rock…. The controls just felt a little off throughout, and the board’s interaction with the snow frequently seemed very strange. The demo showed a lot of promise, but considering this game is supposed to be released next month, it was kind of scary… But the latest SSX 3 trailer had much improved board/snow interaction, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. This game has a lot to live up to — I just hope it can deliver on all of its promises. The only real question will be what platform to buy this game for.

  • I also watched a video of XIII, and while I believe it’s just a first person shooter, the graphics and style in the trailer were damned awesome. I only have a vague notion of what the story is supposed to be about, but I kind of want to play this just for the graphical/style experience alone… I’ll wait and see what the reviews say, though.

So the results: I would buy SSX 3 unless the reviews completely denounced it; I was convinced to not buy Rebel Strike, and to hold off on 1080; And I was convinced to pre-order Viewtiful Joe.

Puzzleblog

Puzzleblog

Now this is neat, and should be a good way to sharpen my Scrabble skills.

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Street Fighter Plot Guide

Street Fighter Plot Guide

Good lord that’s more Street Fighter than I probably ever wanted to know about, but that’s pretty much the long and longer of it. Now I want to go back and play Street Fighter Alpha 3 again, though, but that would require me setting up my Dreamcast… and I’m lazy.

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The Girls of SSX 3

The Girls of SSX 3

Even video game snowboard chicks are hot. I’ve always been a fan of Zoe myself (though moreso in the original SSX than in Tricky), but Allegra looks promising as a possible new favorite. I suspect the choice between SSX 3 for Gamecube versus PS2 isn’t going to be nearly as easy as the Soul Calibur II decision was.

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