Friday, October 31, 2008

things looking down at EA

No one is immune from the current crappy economy and that includes the big players in the video game market, as evidenced by Electronic Arts announcing a lowered profit forecast and the inevitability of job cuts ahead. The official word is that the cutbacks are an attempt to raise the company's profitability rather than a direct response to the economy. It makes me sad because a small part of my brain has always wished to work at EA but then again I've read horror stories of the slave-like working conditions and it does sound like they are following suit of many large American companies and moving much of their workforce to cheaper parts of the world. Most people still anticipate a solid holiday season for the video game industry but clearly it's less recession-proof than people might think. Also, perhaps as the article suggests, EA is not very efficient, which might explain why several of their major titles recently have fallen short of fans' expectations.

EA Lowers Forecast and Cuts Its Work Force

Thursday, October 30, 2008

beatles songs on rock band... sigh

I may occasionally call myself old but really I'm not that old; still, I find myself feeling all crotchety over the news that MTV is planning on infusing Rock Band with Beatles songs. This will be the first "digital" media to score rights to tunes by the Beatles; not even iTunes sells their songs, apparently. So now everyone will be able to "play" along with the favorites. I imagine it will sound something like: "In the toooown... TAP TAP TAP where I was boooorn PLASTIC NOISES lived a maaan BUTTON MASHING who sailed the seeeeaa...". On the other hand, how cool would it be if Apple Corps allowed the songs to be used in a trippy video game version of Yellow Submarine? That would actually be kind of amazing.

With Deal, Beatles Songs May Enter Digital Age

microsoft so wishes it was nintendo

Why can't Microsoft just be happy with who it is as a corporation? Windows clearly wants to be Mac and now Xbox is totally cutting its hair exactly like the Wii. Well, not quite but Xbox's recent updates added a suspiciously Mii-like avatar system to the 360's dashboard... Of course while Nintendo uses the avatars as a fun (and free) way to extend yourself into games and have fun laughing at your friends' Miis that look exactly like them, Xbox is already figuring out ways to make these little guys profitable. Soon enough you'll be able to spend points (ie. money) at the Xbox store buying new clothes and accessories for your avatar, dressing them up like famous game characters and even buying branded apparel for them. Microsoft really needs to figure out a cool new product to release before anyone else, rather than shoddily copying popular market-monopolizing products from others.

Microsoft Plans Online Xbox Live Avatar Store

cheaters suck all around but so do MMOs

OK, I'm a little bit of a hater when it comes to MMOs. I personally prefer to do my interacting with other humans in person and like my gaming time to be MY gaming time. The closest thing I come to a game with online interaction is SPORE, which only uses other user's content, rather than having you actually interact with them. I tried SecondLife for about 5 minutes before realizing that it sucks hardcore. We've all seen the South Park episode where the boys play WarCraft and I think it perfectly sums it up: you play, get frustrated by some loser who spends all his or her time playing and getting better than you, so then you just end up being as big a loser as the original dick who got you pissed in the first place. I dunno, I'm sure people enjoy them. I mean, obviously, people are willing to actually spend monthly money on this stuff. MONTHLY! Craziness.

Anyway that was a long and rambling intro to an interesting article from Game Informer about cheating in MMOs and what the game's developers try to do to prevent it happening (article link below). This article outlines for me exactly why I like my one-player games in my own non-MMO world. I like to be the most awesome one in my games, not some jerk who I have to see all the time when playing! Also, there are so many mean and stupid things done in the name of MMO cheating - bots that play your character for you (while you pay the monthly subscription, right?), taking advantages of glitches to fuck over other people, killing friends and willing victims for point ups... I'm just not sure exactly why these people bother playing games, I mean why not just go, like, become competitive in the real world?

I want to make a quick note down at the bottom that I am aware of how many gals take part in MMORPGs and that they account for a huge percentage of the girly gamer population and I don't fault them for finding a cool outlet to rock it out as chicks against the dude establishment. I still have love for all girl gamers and would certainly enjoy discussing the merits of these games... as long as I don't have to hang out in your mom's basement! Burn! :D

Cheaters: A Special Report

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

electronic arts want a piece of the active-game market

Electronic Arts clearly sees the niche that Nintendo's Wii Fit has come to fill in the past year, helping gamers and non-gamers alike to get more fit and pay more attention to their own health. EA is well-known for its sports franchises and lately has been reaching further into the mainstream market with its All-Play series of family-friendly sports titles, mostly geared for the Wii. Apparently EA has all sorts of ideas up its sleeve about new kinds of controllers that strap onto your person and record physical stats like your jump height or how "strong your thrusts are" (??). There are definitely more fitness oriented games being released this year thanks to the Fit's popularity; I keep being slightly intrigued by this one game I keep seeing in stores, can't remember the name of the trainer right now but it definitely involves running through tires and other such activities. I love my Wii Fit but would also like some more active options to use the Balance Board for. The Fit is great for metrics but the best workout I've devised so far comes from the Free Running for 30 minutes plus some variety of the other choices. At any rate, it seems like fitness games are a hot new market that will likely be a good mainstream profit source for game makers looking for something new.

EA Sports looking to outsweat Wii Fit?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

new guitar hero drums might be crap

So Guitar Hero: World Tour debuted this weekend and in an attempt to defend their stakes in the music video game market, GH now uses drums just like its major competitor, Rock Band. Unfortunately for folks wanting to get the new title ASAP, it looks like the earliest manufactured GH drum sets come with some serious sensitivity issues, mainly that after only a few hits they pretty much quit out on you. Frankly I think this is what people get for wanting to bang plastic circles with plastic sticks instead of actually taking up a real instrument. I saw a bunch of kids loitering around the local GameStop the other day playing Rock Band on the demo machine and damn if it didn't look like the dumbest thing ever, banging away on the plastic drum set, especially since the volume was pretty low and the clack-clack-clack of plastic on plastic was all you could hear. Not sure that would really do it for me but then I guess that's why those kids are loitering and playing in-store rather than buying... Anyway, with any luck the hardware issues with the new Guitar Hero will be resolved and people won't have to be pissed about poor equipment development on Activision's part.

GH: World Tour hardware hang-ups draw outcry

Monday, October 27, 2008

worlds collide and everyone gets his or her ass kicked

I will always lovingly recall going to see Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in theaters on opening weekend with a couple of guy friends, only to quickly realize that I was literally the only girl in the theater. Good story. Anyway, Mortal Kombat is awesome and has some pretty kick-ass chicks in it, and when it comes to comics I generally have to side with Marvel so I'm not so sure how I feel about pansy-ass Batman and Superman trying to go head-to-head with my man Scorpion ("get over here!!") in the upcoming eighth MK series game, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which will come out for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 16th. Looks like this game is already generating some skepticism and speculation but who knows, a fun fighting game is a fun fighting game.

fallout 3 highly anticipated

Fallout 3, the newest RPG title from Bethesda Softworks, drops for release tomorrow on the Xbox, PC and Playstation 3. Bethesda is the company that made Oblivion so you know they've got their RPG strategies down. Fallout takes place after I guess a nuclear apocalypse/global war-type thing. Here's the description from IGN:
Vault 101 – Jewel of the Wastes. For 200 years, Vault 101 has faithfully served the surviving residents of Washington DC and its environs, now known as the Capital Wasteland. Though the global atomic war of 2077 left the US all but destroyed, the residents of Vault 101 enjoy a life free from the constant stress of the outside world. Giant Insects, Raiders, Slavers, and yes, even Super Mutants are all no match for superior Vault-Tec engineering. Yet one fateful morning, you awake to find that your father has defied the Overseer and left the comfort and security afforded by Vault 101 for reasons unknown. Leaving the only home you’ve ever known, you emerge from the Vault into the harsh Wasteland sun to search for your father, and the truth.
Um, global atomic war of 2077? Anyone else a little worried here? I mean, I won't have hit 100 yet by then and I feel like people will probably be pushing 120 or so before they die and you know, I'm really not too interested in witnessing global atomic war at age 93. Still, it does sound sort of cool to explore post-apocalyptic America and see all the burnt-out landmarks and whatnot. Also, Super Mutants! I'm pretty sure this one will be gracing our game shelf in no time, probably for the PC now that we've already got the gamepad.

Friday, October 24, 2008

update on dead space for pc

Everything's cool with Dead Space for PC now that we have a wired Xbox gamepad that plugs right into the USB port on my computer. Apparently they don't actually sell these things anymore but the boy found one at RadioShack on super sale and brought it home to gleefully play his new game. He's super into it now and the "hard" part involving running around and hitting switches took only one try this time around. I'm glad he found this controller rather than getting a USB converter for the wireless one we've got, as that would kind of defeat the purpose of getting it for the PC rather than the Xbox. So anyone out there having issues trying to play Dead Space with a mouse, you might want to try to pick up one of these gamepads.

Ok, the more I look at the name "RadioShack" I can't help but think that you couldn't really pick a more obsolete-sounding name for an electronics store. Time for a reinvention as RS2.0 or something like that ala Electronics Boutique becoming EB Games.

a fun review of fable II

Fable II is definitely one of the hottest topics in gaming right now and each new review offers more insight into the many cool aspects of this RPG, which Lionhead Studios released for the Xbox 360 this week. This particular article highlights the "trade-offs between virtue and experience and the relationship between ruler and ruled" in the newest game by designer Peter Molyneux, who created the original Fable as well as the Black and White games.

I was an honorable man when I began my quest for ultimate power. In my youth I was a hero. I put others’ needs before my own. I sacrificed my body to protect the innocent. Lionized far and wide, I returned home after years battling my nation’s enemies, a paragon of virtue.

Then I turned to politics. I married an aristocrat. I built a fortune in the beer business. And as my wealth grew, so did my quest for power. With the highest office in the land within my grasp, I was seduced into betraying my principles. I turned from the path of righteousness and fell into corruption. I sacrificed my honor in desperate lust to become king.

That’s how I have played Fable II, the delightful and provocative new role-playing game from Microsoft for the Xbox 360. How you play is entirely up to you.

Video Game Review - Fable II - Date With Destiny of Your Choosing

Thursday, October 23, 2008

little big planet delayed, everyone sad

Everyone loves a cute game, and thus everyone is very disappointed that the release of LittleBigPlanet for PS3 has been pushed back; unofficial reports are saying November 14th. The game had to be reworked a bit when, apparently, some dude on a forum posted that he found a couple of references to the Muslim Qu'ran in some of the songs included with the game and respectfully requested that they be removed. I'm having trouble imagining exactly how these Qu'ran "references" or phrases made it into the game in the first place. Is it just coincidence in some weird game language (I often hear what sounds like real English in Simlish conversations)? Very strange. Anyway, conveniently this delay also bumps the game's release closer to Christmas and guarantees crazier demand when it does come out.

Qu'ran References Delay Sony's Little Big Planet

dead space for pc may need some work

In a generous and loving show of good will, my boyfriend decided to pick up Dead Space for the PC instead of the Xbox so that I could occasionally play my Oblivion character. Nice boys are so hard to find! Unfortunately it seems that this game was pretty clearly designed with a gamepad in mind and the keyboard controls make it insanely difficult to get around. Also when you first start the game the mouse is crazy sluggish and weird and we had to spend a lot of time Googling issues with the game. We finally lowered the resolution, which was the only thing that fixed the mouse in his game, even though concensus seems to be that turning off Vsync in the game is the way to fix the mouse. Weird. Anyhoo after much swearing and sarcastic admonishing of his new game the boy finally started getting the hang of the controls and actually advanced further into the game then the first objective of hitting a switch, shooting a thing and then running and hitting another switch. The Necromorphs are pretty damn scary and the soundtrack makes you really jumpy (even if you're playing another game and just overhearing it, as I was). The PC version is getting the same high reviews that the console releases are getting so with any luck the control issues can be overcome, or at the very least we may have to invest in a PC gamepad for this one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

another good profile of cool gamer chicks and why they rock

I wish I had thought of the Nintendo World Store as a birthday destination when I was 16 (unless of course it didn't exist when I was 16... old). This article is a fun read about the rise of game-playing gals and why they are awesome. I appreciate the point about demeaning and stereotype-reinforcing games that are released "just for girls", and I equally appreciate the 16-year old sheepishly admitting that she does sometimes play Cooking Mama. Gina, I will see your Cooking Mama and raise you one Spice World, circa 1998. That game was fun.

[Gina] Sutton, in New York to celebrate her sweet 16 at the Nintendo World Store on September 12, said games that focused on cooking, fashion and babysitting were demeaning. Some of her favorite games are cartoon fighting game Super Smash Bros., racecar game Mario Kart and farm simulation game Harvest Moon.

"But I'm a little guilty of playing Cooking Momma, so I shouldn't judge," she said.

Hand over the controller, girl gamers say

fable II released yesterday

If you eavesdrop on some dorky gamers these days, chances are you may hear the title Fable II being bandied about. Lionshead Studios just released the sequel and it's scored good reviews and plenty of anticipation in the leadup to its release. This game looks pretty sweet although there's no way I would start a character in it while I'm still playing Oblivion (...and Zelda). Still, this game looks cool and different from other RPGs. One major aspect is that everything you do, every choice you make or action you take, determines the shaping of your character towards good, evil and other moral spectra. This reminds me a lot of Black and White for the PC (interestingly also a Lionshead title) which I always loved and admired for its focus on choices determining your alignment. Also there's a lot of emphasis placed on the emotional connection you develop with the land through your loyal pet dog (see pic) who also finds treasure for you. Looks like it features beautiful (although apparently "cartoonish") scenery and character animation along with a compelling soundtrack, but perhaps will be lacking in the depth of story and character development, as well as apparently having a crappy map (sounds like someone's been spoiled by Oblivion's amazing map). Regardless, I'm sure this game will end up on our game shelf eventually. Read the full Gamespot review of Fable II here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

new sims 2 music video

I made a new Sims 2 music video and threw it on YouTube last week so I figured I'd stick it here too. This one is for "4ever" by the Veronicas and is my first video using video effects other than fading in and out.

wii still outshining other consoles

The wonderful Wii continues to sell more systems than the other consoles, selling more than both Xbox and PS3 combined in September 2008. Xbox in fact declined in sales since last year, mostly due to everybody having already bought Halo 3. Wiis are still in short supply so the 37% increase since last year could have been even greater, and four of the top ten titles are Wii games (Fit, Kart, Wii Play and Star Wars: the Force Unleashed) compared to two last year. Of course with the economy as bad as it is everyone is worrying about the holiday season, which for many companies drives the majority of yearly sales revenue.

What will happen this holiday season thanks to the weak economy is anybody’s guess. Both Nintendo and Sony spokespeople emphasized the long-held belief that entertainment does well when times are tough.

Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, declined to predict how Wii sales would fare, except to note that she thought they would be “robust.”

Will Nothing Slow Wii?

a cool oblivion quest

So I've done a few Oblivion quests thus far with my awesome Khajiit and have scored some sweet new weapons and items. I'm really enjoying this game and the many directions it allows you to take, and I loooove the horse riding, of course. My favorite quest thus far has been A Brush with Death, in which a dude has been trapped in a painting (see picture) because a bandit stole his magic paintbrush and painted them both into the painting with a bunch of painted trolls, which I then had to open a can of whoopass on with my turpentine-poisoned sword. I got the Apron of Adroitness as a reward. I think it's awesome that I can play my game with some fighting but not a ton, while my boyfriend plays his game pretty much all fighting and not much talking. Oblivion is definitely the kind of game that can appeal to many different kinds of gamers and offer nearly infinite replay value. Also, I'm very proud of finally conquering the double-sticked controller on the Xbox.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

get ready for more game movies ahead

After the release of Max Payne in theaters this weekend, you can expect to see many more movies based on video games being developed and marketed in the future. It's no secret that Hollywood is hurting for new and original ideas for blockbuster movies and some of today's well-developed games truly have more character and plot than a lot of the crap that gets released on the big screen.

Stuart Beattie, who worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean films, has penned a script for a "Gears of War" movie, based on Epic Games' best-selling franchise.

"For those of us who know how great games are for source material in Hollywood, we're all scrambling to try to make the big game movie that will show Hollywood just how powerful game translations can be on the big screen if they're done right," said Beattie, who is a huge gamer.

Looks like in addition to Gears of War we'll be seeing movies based on the Sims (sweet!), Prince of Persia, and more Street Fighter, to name a few.

"Max Payne" Ushers In Wave of Video Game Films

yay for more wii balance board games

It looks like Ubisoft is a big fan of the Wii Fit balance board! I previous mentioned their new Raving Rabbids game that will use the board, and now I'm getting psyched for Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip, which is coming out in November. I have always enjoyed snowboarding games back to Cool Boarders for the Playstation, so I may have to pick this one up. Early previews seem to say that while (like every Wii release) the graphics aren't quite as nice as the Xbox and PS3 versions but they are actually very nice for the Wii, so that's good. Looks like this game will let you use the board but also have a boardless option, which is nice since it also has two and four-player competitive modes. To do fancy jump tricks you have to use the Wii remote in addition to the board. The snowboarding in Wii Fit is pretty tough, much harder than the slalom skiing where you're facing forward, so it may add some cool challenge to this game, although it sounds like a lot of people might just end up using the Wii remote and nunchuk controls. Still cool, though!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I created an oblivion character!

After several weeks of watching the boyfriend play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for hours on end I finally broke down and had him help me set up my own character. I've never really played RPGs so this is a fun new challenge for me. I made a female Khajiit (translation: kitty person) that specializes in stealth and sneakiness. So far the game is pretty awesome and definitely amazing to look at. The graphics of the world and the detail to every little item, plant or character is mind-blowing. I've also been pleasantly surprised at my own ability to kill enemies, which I generally underestimate (although the sliding difficulty scale helped this too). I'm sure I will get many hours of fun playtime out of this crazy expansive game. Also, the boy found this cool Oblivion Character Creator online, where you can enter the attributes you picked for your character and it spits back the skill levels/points you'll be starting with. Pretty nifty, and just the tip of the iceberg of amazing online Oblivion resources, including this Google Maps lookalike Oblivion map. Amazing!

sims 2 music videos are cool

I really love the movie making function of the Sims 2 and really love the popularity of recreating music videos for YouTube using the Sims 2. I made one of my own for the Ataris' cover of "Boys of Summer" (although it's not so much a recreation as just creative interpretation). This is one of the best ones I've ever seen, and I guess it should be - it was actually made by EA using Katy Perry's (rockingly addictive) new single "Hot n Cold", and even better, the song is actually in Simlish, since it appears in the latest expansion pack Apartment Life. I think this video shows the depth of creativity you can tap into using the Sims as a movie maker as far as storytelling and scene setup goes, plus it has an amazing range of props and costumes. Love it:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

dead space looks freakay

EA Games has released its new survival horror game Dead Space in time for Halloween this year; it was originally schedule to release ON the 31st but has been bumped up several times and is hitting stores today. This game looks pretty awesome and scary and I have to give props to EA for building it up like they have done. In addition to its own website, Dead Space also has a companion narrative site called No Known Survivors, which apparently functions as an exploratory game in which the user can learn more about the story behind the actual game. There also appears to be a comic book (cover at right). It's been getting awesome pre-release reviews including an 8.7 out of 10 at IGN and a 9/10 at Gamespot, who called the game "an incredibly atmospheric and disturbingly gruesome deep-space adventure that will haunt your dreams and leave you begging for more." A good review if I've ever heard one!

My favorite paragraph from the Dead Space wikipedia page:
Combat in Dead Space becomes complicated when Necromorphs do not simply "die" after receiving a certain number of gun rounds. In fact, depending on how they are wounded, Necromorphs can adopt new stances and tactics, even sprouting new limbs and giving birth in the process. To defeat the Necromorphs, Isaac must utilize "strategic dismemberment," the methodical severance of specific limbs or sections of the Necromorphs. Dead Space's executive producer, Glen Schofield, has said that "the primary theme of Dead Space is dismemberment," and early previews of the game have noted the high levels of gore.

The thought of enemies sprouting new limbs and giving birth makes my skin crawl! This one might be too intense for my own play but I may have to convince my resident Xbox addict to try it.

ps3's spore wannabe looks awesome

OK, so I actually don't know if Little Big Planet is actually anything like SPORE, but the marketing sure makes it sound like they are doing their best to piggyback on the success of EA Games' big fall 2008 release for PC. I guess it doesn't actually have anything to do with evolution or anything but it appears to be very cute and aimed at the more casual (read- not a mom's-basement-WoW-type) game player. I don't know much about this game at all and unfortunately it looks like it's exclusively for the one console we don't have. Sure looks cute, though! The graphics really look beautiful and the simplistic stop-action look to the characters is really appealing to me. This definitely looks like my kind of game and I guess that much like SPORE it will derive a lot of its gameplay from the user experience and player-designed characters and levels. I'm glad to see more and more games coming out with customizable aspects; I think it shows a different level of effort and depth on the part of the game designers, and it certainly helps to extend the gameplay of any game, especially one that retails for $59.99!

Friday, October 10, 2008

snowboarding in zelda

Yet another totally awesome part of Twilight Princess, and another example of how to make a game where the controls work beautifully. The snowboarding is surprisingly easy with the nunchuk and Wii remote and it's very fun! Also a wonderful showcase of the lovely graphics and scenery in the game. This isn't my own video but just a good one I found on YouTube:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

more learning games in nyc

Schools in New York City are now using video games designed to help kids learn math, specifically a "video game world" called Dimension M. Sounds like the game designers did a good job - kids love it and can't get enough, apparently:
“We’re hearing from educators that their students are going in before school and after school and playing on their own at home,” he said. “We hear they can’t get them off the machines.”
And it's actually having an effect on grades because kids are, of course, really into video games and, like fiber in delicious breakfast cereal, they don't realize they are also getting something good for them. I think it's a great idea although it's not that new. I remember loving the "video game" type activities we did in middle school to get us good at typing and whatnot, and I also loved Math Blaster and other such learning games. Also, we definitely got to play the Oregon Trail in school, although that was mostly about getting dysentery and breaking wagon wheels. Still, it's a time-proven fact that video games are like crack for kids and if you can design one that teaches, schools might pay you a lot of money!
Ayman El Haddad, 13, who said he has been playing video games since he was 8, said he was skeptical at first about Dimension M but now plays it exclusively. He spends three hours a night, five days a week, on the game, often enticing a few of his classmates to join him.

As Ayman has improved at the game, so has his math grade — rising to a 93 at the end of the last school year, from 85 in the first marking period. He explained: “I started studying more because of the game.”

Video Game Helps Math Students Vanquish an Archfiend- Algebra

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

sims 2 patch for apartment life available

As always, EA Games released the Sims 2: Apartment Life full of glitches and bugs and have now released the patch to fix it, and the corresponding patch notes. Looks like they fixed a bunch of annoying things including the problem (which I haven't had myself but have read about) where the new Butler NPC steals your baby (!!) and the one that makes cellphones disappear out of inventories. Also, I love this one:
Chastity Gere will no longer cause an error if married

Hee. Click here to download the patch and read the full Apartment Life patch notes.

historical games rule

Previously I mentioned the Sierra city building series starting with Caesar with the article about video games and literature. That made me remember one of my favorite PC games ever, Age of Mythology. This game rocks. You play through Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology with real characters like Odysseus making appearances throughout. You can command armies of both human warriors and mythological creatures like the Son of Ra or a Snow Giant. Also, the bad guy is big and scary and totally quotes a G.K. Chesterton poem during his cutscenes. Loves it!

google launches adsense for games

Google moves one step closer to actually placing text ads in our subconscious minds with AdSense for Games, a new advertising function that allows developers of Flash games to insert AdWords ads right into the gameplay. Not only that, but they have their sights set on actually working with clients and game publishers to integrate products right into the game. These Google ads will appear in games on popular time-wasting sites like Facebook. I doubt that we are far from seeing Google ads in internet-connected console games and I'm sure Google will get its paws on product placement in popular console titles as well.

What is most interesting here is that this is one of the few times that Google wants to sell ads through negotiation rather than forcing everything to go through its automated auction. Slowly, Google’s ideology is taking the back seat to its desire to actually serve its publisher and advertiser clients.

In other words, even with casual games, Google is now playing to win.

I'll refer to one of my favorite Futurama quotes for this story:

LEELA: Didn't you have ads in the twentieth century?
FRY: Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio... and in magazines... and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree.

Google to Sell Ads for Web Games

zelda is so awesome, i'm always reminded

When I got my Wii I picked up The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as my first game for it. Awesomely I then was able to resell my GameCube version for like $26 which was amazing. Anyway, I then had to work a lot and also got some new games, and Zelda went on the backburner, sadly before I beat it. And disgracefully I had never even beaten the GC version! Soooo I'm glad that in the last week I totally picked up my old game again (boyfriend had to convince me not to just restart a new game and I'm so glad I listened to him). This game is really one of the best out there for the Wii in my opinion. The controls are pretty flawless and swinging a sword is one of the best compatible motions for the wiimote. The graphics are beautiful and the music is typically Zelda awesome. The horse-riding is just as awesome if not awesomer than Ocarina of Time. The gameplay is fun if not comfortably alot like, well, the plots of every other Zelda game but still, that's why we love them, right?

Also, apparently there are rumors floating around about another Zelda title coming out for Wii either later this year or in 2009. I'll totally get it if it comes out, of course!

Monday, October 6, 2008

wii music looks pretty fun

Everyone knows Guitar Hero and RockBand are taking over the planet, so clearly Nintendo knows it needs to get its foot in the music simulation gaming door. E3 2008 featured the debut of Wii Music. Looks like it may be even simpler than other music games, as you pretty much just simulate the motion of playing. Apparently it will feature over 60 instruments and it looks like it will use Miis as well. I'm sure this will be a popular release but I'm not certain it's really going to compete with GH or RB, games like that that use actual music. People love that crap! It's obviously a money-making wide appeal market. I'm sad to admit I've never actually tried either game but I'm sure I will eventually. Wii Music sounds like it might be a fun rent... We'll see.

ways to not be bored with the sims

I will always love the Sims franchise and even when I get a little bored with it, I don't worry. I can go months without launching the Sims and there they are, waiting for me to come back and direct their little lives. Still, I feel like it takes a little creativity to really use this wonderful game to its full potential. Here are a few things I've done that you can try if you're getting sick of just telling the little bitches what to do all day:

-Get new EPs and SPs. Electronic Arts loves the cashflow and we'll keep buyin' it. If you don't have them all yet, go buy them. I personally think each one has been worth it and it lets EA know that people heart the Sims. And really, who doesn't want to play SSX3 on a hugescreen TV? (see pic - thanks, Apartment Life!)

-Movie Making. It's actually a lot easier than you think it is if you've never tried it, and now that YouTube is so huge and accessible, it's crazy easy to share your creations with the world. It's fun getting comments and especially lots of views. My best movie has over 11,000 views which I think is pretty darn good for a Sims video.

-Custom Content creation. Again, it's really not that hard. If you've ever used Photoshop, you can totally do this. It's fun downloading other people's creations too, but being able to make custom clothing and furniture to your own specifications can really enhance your game, and you can make clothing especially easily with the Body Shop that comes with the Sims software.

-Sims Challenges from TSR. The Sims Resource is an amazing Sims site with crazy knowledgeable Sims fans from all over the world. You can find tons of custom content there for free download, but I especially love TSR for its Challenges. They give a new spin to regular Sims gameplay with goal oriented challenges that reward subscribers with points to use at the site.

Online interaction in general is a fun way to enhance the Sims and I highly recommend it to any bored Sims players out there! Anyway, Sims 3 is right around the corner and that will be a-mah-zing.

video games = good for children's literacy?

Hmmmm. I kind of like this argument! Apparently game manufacturers and children's book producers have noticed the trend that, well, kids are totally addicted to video games, and books, not so much. When I was a kid I was obsessed with reading and am sad to say that I don't read nearly as often as I should now. I do play plenty of video games though. Anyway kids these days have a lot more distraction from electronics than my peers and I did so it's understandably a little tougher to get them interested in a small bound bunch of papers with tiny black and white words printed all over them. I can get behind this movement, then, of game development inspiring literature and vice versa. There are even people who argue that a video game is a better learning tool than a book. Again, I have to think there is some truth here because of the interactive, decision-making environment of a video game.

Researchers, who are just beginning to explore the cognitive effects of video games, have found that in laboratory settings, action gamers are better than nonplayers at focusing on tasks and ignoring irrelevant distractions.

Some gaming evangelists suggest reading feels too passive to youngsters who want the sense of power conferred by a control pad.

“Games are teaching critical thinking skills and a sense of yourself as an agent having to make choices and live with those choices,” said James Paul Gee, the author of the book “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.” “You can’t screw up a Dostoevsky book, but you can screw up a game.”

Ignoring irrelevant distractions while focusing is definitely something video games can teach a kid but ultimately, I think that books serve a different purpose in a kid's development... I get the feeling that a lot of kids these days don't spend much time working from their own imaginations, and I have to think video games have some blame there! This article does mention using Civilization to teach kids about history and I think that is fantastic - I am a big fan of the Sierra ancient city building games and they are generally historically accurate and well made, and very fun to play if you like building.

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

Friday, October 3, 2008

everyone loves video game boobs

Apparently a lot of people are searching Google these days with interest in video game boobs. The following keywords have landed readers here: video game boobs, gameboobs, reality boobs, too many boobs in video games, videogame boobs, and videogame boobs physics. So, if you're one of those readers, here's something you'll love: a top ten list (in video format!) of the best video game boobs out there. Enjoy: Top Ten Video Game Boobies video. At right: one of my favorite sets of video game boobs.

nintendo promises more wiis this christmas

After the last two Decembers of frustrated shoppers desperately searching for a Wii, Nintendo has announced that they will be upping the effort to meet demand this holiday season. It seems it's a slippery slope between holding out just enough to create ridiculous demand (also known as the Cartmanland strategy) and losing out on sales due to not being able to meet said demand. Still, Nintendo makes no promises that every Wii-seeker will find one:
This year, Nintendo executives said there would be a “significant increase” in Wiis in stores, though they stopped short of promising that the company would be able meet demand entirely. “Will there be enough to meet demand?” Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, said. “Ask me in January.”
Sounds like Nintendo will also be releasing several cool and innovative new titles, along with the new MotionPlus wiimotes, so it should be a joyous Wii season this year. So glad I found my Wii and my Wii Fit both without having to spend more than market value. There's nothing worse than jonesing for some exclusive (expensive) product during the peak of the holiday sales season.

Nintendo Promises to Ship More of Wii for the Holidays

eeeee silent hill 5!

I've only ever played the first Silent Hill game in a PSX emulator on my PC, and it was still totally scary and freaky. Also, I really love the movie (it's got lame moments but overall OMG love it, especially the totally badass female lead) so I'm hoping I get to try Silent Hill 5: Homecoming at some point! I almost feel like I ought to play through all the games first, but that would take hella long and be really hard. So, perhaps we will get this one for the Xbox and give it a shot. This preview video is nice and freaky though!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

gamestop buys french company micromania

GameStop has announced that it will be acquiring French game retailer MicroMania for $700 million including debts. This move allows GameStop, based in Texas, to gain a presence in France, and gives the company over 5,000 retail locations worldwide.

France: GameStop Acquires Chain

nintendo to launch ipod-challenging ds

Set to premiere in Japan on November 1st, Nintendo's newest handheld DS (I believe called the DSi) will feature photo-taking and music storage/playing. This is a clear move to get the DS competing with iPods and camera phones and whatnot. The new DS will be 12% slimmer than its predecessor while featuring 17% more screen display space (photo compares DSi on left with DS lite). Part of reducing the size means removing the Game Boy Advance game slot so the DS will no longer play GBA games.

"We are finding ourselves in an unprecedented stage where one of every six people (in Japan) has the DS," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told a news conference on Thursday.

"We will strive not only to appeal to those households without the DS, but to promote a shift to 'one DS per person' from 'one DS per household'."

The DS has in the past been outsold in Japan by Sony's PSP but that hasn't stopped Nintendo from cementing itself as the fifth most valuable Japanese company. And I have to say, I've seen more DS being played on my last few public transportation ventures than I have PSP. I have not played much DS although I did just snag my sister's abandoned DS recently. All we have for it is Mario Kart which is pretty sweet.

Nintendo to Launch Camera, Music-Ready DS in Japan
PC World - Hands on With Nintendo's DSi