Tuesday, May 27, 2008

That's "Mister" to you.

Like all parents, I want to ensure my kids get a proper education. I believe that starts with a solid foundation based on the classics.

Which is why we took a break the other day from the never-ending Lego Star Wars gaming to introduce Thomas and Jennifer, aged four and a half apiece, to the classic Pac Man franchise. This way I could show them what games were like when I was their age (actually about 3 times their age when Pac Man came out, but I digress).

We started with Ms Pac Man because it's more forgiving. Then we moved on to the original Pac Man, at which point my daughter corrected me.

"Daddy, it's not Pac Man. It's MISTER Pac Man."

Tom likes eating ghosts. Jenny is interested in the part (on 360) when she is presented with a tally of which fruit she has eaten, citing that fruit is very healthy and that both Ms and Mr Pac Man will avoid getting sick as a result.

...and speaking of games as art

...Clint casually mentions that Ubidays (Ubi's big press rollout of the year's coming catalog) is being held at the Louvre.

Rented venue or not, I think that says something, no?

Sex in Games: The Lecture

Alice points us to this awesome lecture-turned-flash-movie by Daniel Floyd.

Well worth the few minutes to watch!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Game mini-reviews: GTA4, Penny Arcade Adventures

I'd been meaning to post some thoughts on GTA4, but have been busy and have only played a couple hours into it. Since "anonymous" seemed to think my pointer to a flickr set of game screens was an endorsment, I guess I'd better do a short review/commentary now.

While I'm at it, I spent an hour or so playing the Penny Arcade Game, so let's throw that into the mix, shall we?


Pros: It's like GTA3, but bigger, badder and better. The world is huge, the content is racy, they've added a ton of stuff to the proven formula.

Cons: It's like GTA3, but bigger, badder and better. The game, like many, is TOO BIG. Multiple hours before you even get to the moderately interesting stuff. Racy content is ok, but its gratuitous and they missed out on many opportunities to treat it more as gameplay rather than fluff. 'Better' as a con in that it's largely many incremental improvements over the proven formula of GTA3, but nothing revolutionary, and certainly not deserving of the over the top review scores.

Other thoughts:

  • As many have noted, the metacritic scores are *out* *of* *control*. It's a good game, but it is not the perfect game by any means. There's a whole other post to write about the group think and pre-launch hype and resultant salivation that helps drive this behavior.
  • As 'anon' commented, the game appears to push the DVD drive pretty hard, and some xbox's are having problems, something to do with dusty lenses? I saw the issue once, but then swapped Xbox360's (one of my had RROD'd and it came back from the fix-it shop) and haven't seen the issue since.
  • The 'score with your girlfriend' potential achievement (ahem) is such a lost opportunity. Could have made a fantastic mini-game that you interact with through the game. Should you attempt to kiss her, take her upstairs, etc, with her reacting based on how long you've dated, what she thinks you'll think of her in the morning, how passive or aggressive you are being, how the current date was going, etc. Instead it's a little bit of gratuitous content and that's about it. Shame.
  • The GPS and in-game phone are ok, but sometimes I think that games go too far to mask the HUD. I mean, really, are we all really fooling ourselves?
  • I havent played multiplayer yet, but the multiplayer modes look like a riot. Waiting until I finish single player game.

Penny Arcade Adventures

I've only played an hour or so this evening, but I was privvy to a little of the background while I worked at MS. There was a lot of heated discussion about whether the more-family-friendly XBLA channel was a good place for a game with a character that copulates with produce, but I guess we can see how that worked out, and I'm glad that it did.

The game is best described as comic-book-point-n-click-adventure-meets-turn-based-RPG. Some thoughts on it:

  • I fucking hate turn-based RPG's, and yet I like this game, so I guess that says something. I'm not even that much of a Penny Arcade fan (I like the comic, but am much more of an XKCD guy, and confess that I have a guilty pleasure in reading Questionable Content.)
  • It's the closest I've seen to the reincarnation of Lucasarts point-n-click glory days. If you liked those games (I did), you'll be willing to put up with the turn-based-combat crap.
  • As a comic put in motion, it's brilliant. Scott McCloud would be proud, I think. I love the treatment of fixed camera views as "panels", breaking the fourth wall. The toon rendering is well done, as is the panel treatment. Best comic-in-motion since Ubi's 'XIII'.

Go try the demo, decide if it's for you, and buy it if it is. Its definitely worth downloading the demo.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's Nau or Never


A while ago, I discovered Nau, a clothing store whose clothes I really liked and who's mission was pretty cool. Then the other day I discovered they were going out of business despite being less than a year old. Crappy crap.

The unique thing about their business seemed pretty well timed, "style with meaning" I guess you'd call it. Things like a portion of your purchase going to a non-profit group which you chose at time of purchase, clothes made from sustainable or reclaimed materials, low-impact biz practices, etc. See here for more detail.

The (somewhat bitter sounding) statement on their website claims investor reluctance, but I can't beleive that's the whole story. There's a ton of VC interest in other environment-related companies right now. Maybe it's the direction the economy is taking that has them reluctant about boutique clothing? I dunno.

Anyhow, rest of inventory is on sale on their website. I went and busted the bank, you should too. They'll be rareties soon enough!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shippin' stuff

Man, People are *shippin* stuff!

Dave's book is done. Congrats Dave. I remember finishing GPG5 and handing off the huge printed stack. Fun.

Robin (and a cast of others) shipped Boom Blox, and it's rockin' 85 on metacritic. I guess I'll finally have to buy that Wii.

Justin & Merci (who's game has been in beta for a while), shipped PMOG, the Passively Multiplayer Online Game.

Mary Jo shipped Iron Man. Congrats to her to, even though she's since left to do consulting. (BTW, the story's cuter coming from her S.O.)

Meanwhile, work on Industry's worst-kept secret will have me not shipping stuff for.... a while :-)

Back on the horse...

Man... over 2 weeks without posting. Very unlike me. (VGVC is lagging even more. Really ought to do something about that...)

Things have been busy between work & settling into the new house. Work's also involved some travel. Did a few days in San Fran for work-related meetings, dinner with Chris, lunch with... well, no one talks about Fight Club.

Montreal last week for 3 days which was fun, but tightly packed. Work related meetings and dinners, tons of work to do in small gaps of time between, and then one afternoon of visits with mom, dad, friends. Flew back 6:00am Saturday to attend Adam & Stacey's wedding party.

Hopefully should catch up now that I am stationary (I think?) until GDC Paris.