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Kate! When she's not busy blowing the heads off of enemies to get to the next level, she's usually playing video games.

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Archive for February, 2008


Thought You’d Be Productive Today? Think Again.

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Browser-based classics for free. Am I dreaming?

I got an email from my brother this morning that could quite possibly lead to my unemployment:

SUBJECT: Bewaaaaaaaaare this email

You will never work at work again. Nintendo8.com

-grant

Oh, man. This site is the holy grail of old school games. Got a Mac? Use a PC? It matters not. You’re all Mario’s children here. These games are all browser-based. So sit back, find your favorite, and behold the beauty of free gaming technology from Nintendo8.com.

I <3 Portal


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You’ve probably heard, but just in case you missed it, Portal won Game of the Year, Best Game Design, and the Innovation Award at the Game Developers Conference. If you haven’t played this game yet, you need to. Not only is it an awesome collection of challenging puzzles and plenty of unlockable achievements, the bot character GLaDOS who accompanies you throughout the game (until you kick her ass) has some of the best dialogue EVAAAAAAA. Srsly. The writing is so good. To me, for a puzzle game to go from good to great status, character development and good dialogue is key.

There are a ton of great quotes in Portal. But I forget that not everyone has played it. At work the other day, we had a catered lunch and were told we were getting cake for dessert. I banged my fist on the table and shouted “The cake is a lie!!!!” before laughing hysterically. The thing was, no one laughed with me. I died a little that day. So… if you haven’t played this game yet, quit making me feel dumb and go play it right now. It only took me about 5 hours to get through the game, and that was Goldilocks perfect. Not too long. Not too short. Just right.

Of course, I can’t talk about how much I love Portal without talking about “Still Alive,” the end credit song. Turns out that you’re going to be able to play it on Rock Band. w00t! Jonathan Coulton – the geektastic dude who wrote “Still Alive” (and who’s blog I’m now officially in love with) played it with guest rockers Leo Laporte, Veronica Belmont, and Merlin Mann at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, Feb 22, 2008 and they ALMOST got through it. (99% FTW!) Valve/Rock Band have not announced a release date for the downloadable song, but I’m tooootally looking forward to it.

(Thanks to Ted for the tip! You rawk.)

Windows 98 Jam

A friend sent me a link to this video on CollegeHumor.com and it was open in a browser tab while I was looking at something else online. I forgot about it, it loaded and started playing and at first I thought my computer was totally freaking out but somehow sounded really good. It’s a song made from nothing but sounds from Windows 98 and Windows XP:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.collegehumor.com/moogaloop/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1802740&fullscreen=1" height="360" width="480" /]

EPOC Lets Gamers Sub Their Mind for Controllers

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A way to control video games with your mind? I believe that. Having it work well for the $299 price tag San Fran-based Emotiv Systems has put on their EPOC head gear? Hrm … skeptical. Here’s the description from the site:

The Emotiv EPOC now makes it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player’s mind. Engaging, immersive, and nuanced, Emotiv-inspired game-play will be like nothing ever seen before. Based on the latest developments in neuro-technology, Emotiv has developed a new personal interface for human computer interaction.

The Emotiv EPOC uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals naturally produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expression. It connects wirelessly with all game platforms from consoles to PCs. The Emotiv neuroheadset now makes it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player’s mind.

The headset was introduced at GDC this week and, according to Mr. Web can “detect around 30 different conscious thoughts, expressions and non-conscious emotions based on electrical signals around the brain. These could include smiling, laughing, winking, shock, anger, smirking and grimacing; excitement, meditation, tension and frustration; and cognitive actions such as push, pull, lift, drop and rotate. In addition, the technology can respond to action based on visualization, such as the ability to make objects disappear.”

All I can think about is how I usually play video games and my thoughts getting in the way of the game. I imagine being in stealth mode stalking the enemy. It’s the boss battle. I’ve got one sniper round left and a clear shot. And then my dog comes and pushes his little wet nose onto my arm (his “take me out right now or I’m going to poop on your Game Informer magazine collection” warning). Will the system pick up on my frustration? Will my character throw his hands up in the air and get kilt?

I did some searching and found this piece on Crave from a dude who tried out the system. It seems that right now, the system is less dependent on what’s going on in your mind and more dependent on you repeating patterns to produce actions:

“…there’s no relationship at all between brain activity that is consciously trying to “pull” the cube forward and what happens. That is to say, it doesn’t matter in any way what you’re doing with your mind, so long as what you do during the six-second calibration matches what you do when you try to enact the action.”

So… the guys at Emotiv are definitely onto something here … I’m just not sure how well this first release will work. I’d like to try it out for myself.

Left With No Help?!

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Does Rock Band Leave Leftys to Fend(er) for Themselves?

So I’ve been gettin’ my Rock Band on a lot lately. I’m really enjoying the solo campaign. Or at least I WAS until I got to Deep Purple’s Highway Star on expert. Holy SCHNEIKIES that freaking hammer-on filled solo is kicking my ASS. So I did a bunch of practice rounds and then decided “Hey! I should check out the tutorials for some advice!”

So I go to the “Freakin’ Hard” guitar tutorial while logged in under my lefty profile and it starts up. Only it starts up with NO LEFTY FLIP. And when I went to the pause menu to turn it on, it isn’t an option. WTF?! Am I missing something here or does this game really not offer a lefty flip option for the tutorials?

You Say You Want an Evolution

Remember the Hall of Fame history of Mario Power-Ups I posted awhile back? Well, here’s a new one worthy of your geek-tastic cube collection: the evolution of a few of our favorite Nintendo characters:

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Now that’s just pixel-perfect stuff. Looking at the second Mario reminds me of a time long ago where I’d spend hours in my room playing Super Mario Bros. alone. Actually, a lot of the time my little brother was there. I’d start a 1 player game, give him the second player controller and convince him that he was doing the jumping and I was doing the rest. That might sound like a sweet way for a big sister to spend time with her little brother, but I was actually a real bitch. I’d always make it his fault when the character died. “Why didn’t you jump?!! We could’ve made it for sure!!!” I wasn’t terrible forever, though. I quit doing that once he started taking karate and learned to put me in a sleeper hold. Love ya, bro!

[Source: Geekologie]

EA Blueprint Targets Indie Developers

Jumping on the social networking bandwagon, Electronic Arts recently announced their plans for EA Blueprint – a new group lead by Neil Young.

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“Took a spin in the laundromat
Played a game in the music arcade
Kept winnin’ while the band played
That’s how good I felt”

Wait… not THAT Neil Young. The Neil Young who was EA’s former Los Angeles general manager, and also the brains behind EA’s Majestic. Alan Yu, EA Los Angeles‚Äô director of artists and the Hollywood agency CAA are also backing the project. So why is EA providing the brains, money and support to develop new games for social networking sites? According to MediaPost’s Gaming Insider,

If you check out the top games in Facebook’s application directory, the answer almost jumps out. Nearly all of the top games were created by college or high school students. The game with the most active players, “Scrabulous” (please don’t sue me, Hasbro!), was developed by two brothers from Calcutta. “Jetman,” another popular Facebook game, appears to have been developed by a high school student. A handful of the games in the top 25 on Facebook were developed by full-time developers, but the edge clearly seems to go to the coders who work late nights in their dorm rooms, for fun rather than for a paycheck (though many entrepreneurial independent developers have turned their apps into cash cows).

So if you’re an indie developer looking for a big break, nestle up with EA. They’ve got your back.

Awesome Aliens from Gearbox

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Duuude. Game Informer just revealed the cover for the March issue. Looks like they’re going to give us a look at Dallas’ own Gearbox Software and their sweet upcoming game – Aliens: Colonial Marines. This is gonna RAWK!

Colonial Marines is invading consoles and PCs in 2009. We have a world-exclusive first look at the squad-based FPS, which aims to recapture the tension and desperation of the earlier films. Check out the first-ever screens of the game in action. [SOURCE: GameInformer.com]

Calendar

In the Media

Game Heroes
Video podcast appearance
—June 2008

Sweet Flag
Interview
—May 2008

Attack of the Show
“The Loop” panelist
—November 2007

CrotchMail.com
Interview
—June 2007

TiedTheLeader.com
Interview
—April 2007