Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Pumpkin Quest

to commemorate both halloween and my recent, maddening addiction to puzzle quest on my 360, i decided to carve out the tutorial girl.  unfortunately, the pumpkin version isn’t nearly as hot.  (i loves me some redheads….)

oh, and hey, cuppy.  does this count for your contest?


The Dungeon Runners Beta

some friends of mine and i are in the dungeon runners beta — and, it’s pretty cool.  the game is entirely worth playing for two reasons:

  1. it’s crazy cheap (free or $5 a month)
  2. the “go to” feature.

the game is basically like a cross between dungeon siege (the controls) and diablo (the mechanics) with a few of the very most basic wow mmo features.  it’s pretty much just bash the shit out of stuff and head back to town to sell your phat lewt.

tho, as we’re all only around level 8, we really don’t have much else to go on.

did i mention the “go to” feature already?  yeah.  it rocks.

all you do is right-click any of your group’s portraits (also, the groups are persistent — logged in or logged out.  like a mini-guild.) and click “go to” to be instantly teleported to where they are.  it’s all kinds of crazy-convenient.  for me, i’m always lost (remind me to tell you about the time i got lost in an olive garden — yes, the restaurant.) so i just warp to my buddies wherever they happen to be.  for our friend kameron, it’s all about warping into a fight to “help out.”

probably another feature i should mention — drops are all pre-owned.  as in, you whack some badass mob, he drops 10 things, 5 are yours, 5 are your buddy’s.  you can’t pick his stuff up.  he can’t pick up yours.  you can, however, pick it up and then drop it again and he has access to it.  totally takes the stress out of worrying over group loot hogs.

pretty much, it’s a grinder’s game.  it’s accessible.  they took some of the most painful parts about group grinding and added some fun features to help.

that being said, the game is still skewed and off-balance.  for example, the skill prices (you buy, not earn new skills — it’s a grinder’s game, remember?) don’t scale right.  i’m a few xp short of a level 8 mage and i just now have enough gold to buy a level 2 spell.

it’s fun.  it’s easy.  it’s pretty pick-up, put-down.  it won’t break the bank.  it’s easy to draft along with your friends.

oh, and i should mention that it’s hella funny.  as you walk away from a merchant after selling some stuff, he says “if you see a bitter woman, send ‘er over here!”  from crazy weapon speed descriptions to “of the liger” suffixes for items, there’s some really pretty funny stuff in there.

i like it so far.  it’s a keeper.


Games Are Keeping Me Occupied

this may come as a shock to you guys, but i love all manner of games.

shocking! see? i told you!

anyway. with all my gaming geekery i’ve surrounded myself with, do you know what has captivated me for the week before last? linley’s dungeon crawl. or, just “sudo apt-get install crawl” for short.

i’m sure all of you guys have played moria or nethack or slash’em or whatever. i know i have. good stuff, but i could never really get into it too deeply. i’d make it a couple levels and have my hack-and-slash satiated. crawl, however, is rivoting.

in fact, my friend maeldron, fresh off the purchase of 2 copies of burning crusade (he’s a dual-boxer sometimes…) and with a week off from work to kill, played… yep, you guessed it. crawl. yeah. he hates me for that.

linley’s dungeon crawl is the very, very best roguelike out there. period.

tho, as much as we (all of us at sas) played it over the last two weeks (not me for this last week. i’ll get to that.), we find ourselves wishing that it was multiplayer. how sweet would that be? a roguelike that was multiplayer! not text-based, zork-like multiplayer like traditional muds, but tactical, graphical multiplayer! (not to bash traditional muds — they are the reason my first semester at college was a 1.7 gpa — whoops!)

that’s what i’ve been doing over the last week. not hacking in a multi-user server for crawl. that’d be a crazy amount of work, but digging up and installing our own private server of the multiplayer roguelike tomenet. (the networked version of “troubles of middle-earth“)

yeah, it’s based on tolkien — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but, it’s hella fun.

it’s a real-time game with shops and dungeons and mobs and whatnot. it’s the only one actively developed on that i could find. it has a windows client (for some of you less nerdy folk) as well as the standard linux fair. it’s open source. (which let me change the terrible, terrible idle timeout value) on the surface, it basically seems like a modern mmorpg only playable at the command-prompt. we haven’t played with it enough to really say “yea or nay” to the game design yet, but, it sure is cool thus far.

that means you can play it on any computer or device with an ssh client. not only computers, but mobile devices too. hmmm… has anyone seen an ssh client for the psp?

well. it’s up and running on our linux server, so let me know if you want an account and i’ll send you some connect information.

if you’ve never played a roguelike, tho, you need to download and play crawl. it runs on just about every platform known to man.



so. i’ve decided that i’m just going to post this early rev/proof-of-concept thing we’re working on. (tj and ben will prolly string me up for it… erg.)

be sure to check out the caveats below.

it’s just that i’ve got a “serious” project i need to work on this week (food temperature/environment tracking start-up thing) and won’t be able to get back to work on a lot of my parts of our new game, hypefighter. and i really, really wanted to launch it last weekend.

the unfortunate thing is that my parts are always the most visible. you guys don’t see any of the crazy stored procedures or web services tj writes — just the rendered page i attach to them. and, you don’t get to see the piles of spreadsheet data or help files ben puts together as we’re balancing the systems, just that stuff displayed on the front end for you.


ah well — here it is:

the concept is pretty simple. it’s like digg for video games, but, everytime you “digg” a story, you recruit another troop into your army.

  1. reviews are knights.
  2. previews are scouts.
  3. commentaries are conscripts. 

the earlier you “digg” a story, the stronger your troop will be. for example, if you are recruit 3 out of 6 on any particular story, your guy will be average. however, if you’re 3 out of 600, you dude will rock shit.

and, as your recruits survive battles and get experience, they’ll level up and get even stronger.

it uses the same location-based play that the singular used, but for the uninitiated: you have to be in the same location as someone you are attacking. right now, we’re all hanging out in “thronehold.”  come get some.

don’t attack heyt or stab.  you’ll very, very much regret it.  they have 9000 point armies. 

beat up on my guy, m3mnoch, all you want.  i’ll try to keep his army stacked for you guys to pummel.

we’re looking for feedback. stuff to improve. things that you think are working as is. stuff to add.


  1. it’s a proof-of-concept thus far.
  2. it’s running on our dev server, so be nice to it. (no submitting it to digg or slashdot or joystiq or anything crazy like that.) it’s your friends only.
  3. we’re actively developing on that server, so it may go down for no apparent reason. or, you may lose your session for no apparent reason. we’re prolly working on something.
  4. it has no branding yet so it’s pretty boring looking.  well.  downright ugly, you may even say.
  5. it’s missing a lot of the player feedback pieces. well. it’s just missing a lot of the pieces. however, you can recruit, travel, scout and attack. you can also message and do a bit of guild stuff.
  6. none of it is necessarily final. so, terminology and interface may change.
  7. we’re going to try really hard to keep your characters and stats you’ve built intact.
  8. feel free to ignore/comment on the “placeholder” parts.

now, a bit on where to start:

  • You should start by recruiting troops from articles.
  • Use the “Submit Bookmark” for fast and easy story submissions.
  • Recruiting Troops costs turns (Knight:8, Conscript:5, Scout:3) based on how strong that troop type is.
  • Your troops need to be in formation to attack.
  • You can only attack someone in the same location.
  • Attacking or Scouting costs 3 turns.
  • Traveling to a new location costs 12 turns.
  • Your troops can level up as they win battles.
  • The earlier you recruit from a popular story, the stronger your troop will be.
  • A turn ticks by every 10 minutes.
  • Turns reset at midnight GMT on the first of every month.

have fun. let us know what you think. ben, tj, please don’t kill me.

ready?  go!


Age of Conan

saw it was coming to the 360 and i was literally paralyzed with joy.  conan was the only game i’d consider going back to a pc for.

keep in mind, tho, this is coming from the guy with a huge stack of conan comics and books — from savage sword to conan the king.

hell.  my shar-pei is named “conan.”


Menopause FTW!

no. i’m not menopausal. it’s bookworm adventures. i just beat the final boss battle in book 2 with “menopause.” thought it was pretty damn funny.

if you haven’t played bookworm adventures yet, you’re missing out. something fierce. it’s completely cool to beat down badguys with words like “bodacious” or with a gemmed-up “aviary.”

my favorite tho? smacking an enemy who is overly susceptible to color words with my hammer that does extra damage on metal words with “bronze.”

hell. yeah.

and, yes. i’ve even seen the rare diamond tile — holy badass, batman.

you MUST play this game. riddling sphinxes. raging boss battles. snappy dialog. is absolutely necessitates your attention.

especially when you one-hit a 29-heart badguy with “temperatures” and a fistful of gems.


UPDATE: ha!  i just found this: dungeon scroll.   it looks like bookworm adventures is a total and complete ripoff.  funny.  i’ll check out dungeon scroll and see how it plays.

Is That a Typo?

so.  here i am, browsing the resistance: fall of man reviews.

pretty much, they’re looking like i anticipated — which is good.  i’m not a big fan of surprises.  and, personally, i think the whole alternate history thing kicks ass.

but, what do i come upon?  the review from gamezone on

what the hell?  at first glance, it looks fine — a 9.5 — but, after looking at his little chart?  that “gameplay” has to be a 9.6 and not an 8.6.

Gameplay: 8.6
Graphics: 9.3
Sound: 9.1
Difficulty: Med/Hard
Concept: 9.4
Multiplayer: 9.4
Overall: 9.5

that, or the “med/hard” part factors in a 10 somehow.  the overall rating is higher than any of the others?  huh?  and the gameplay is an abysmal (by comparison to the other stats) 8.6?  that has to be a typo. 

heh.  or maybe the game is greater than the sum of its parts.

and, in this day and age why are we still breaking reviews down with “graphics” and “sound?”  if you feel like you absolutely need to break it down, try something like this:

design (you know, sound, graphics, artistic vision): 9.6
execution (programming — where the rubber hits the road): 9.4
features (replayability, weapons, multiplayer): 9.4
overall (to hell with all that.  this is what i think): 9.5

disclaimer: those are translated numbers, of course.  i don’t (and sadly, probably won’t ever because it’s likely not coming to the 360 or wii) have the game.

not that i really want to get into the whole 7-9 grading scale thing.  you know how i like to rate games:  good. bad. or meh.


p.s.  speaking of — i’ve got a gears of war review coming.  holy-mother-of-god-awesome….

Too Slow!

dammit. amazon is just too slow. i couldn’t wait anymore.

i won the contest, btw. huge thanks to everyone who voted!


UPDATE: i should also mention that my wife was actually the one to go out and get this for me.  she was tired of hearing me complain about having to wait.

well.  that, or she just wanted to play co-op with me.

she’s so damn cool.


so.  every year, it’s sort of the tradition for me to carve an elaborate pumpkin.  you know, marilyn monroe, superman, haunted moons, demons breaking free — crazy random stuff like that.

well.  this year, i decided to let loose the gamer in me.  lemme know what you think.




UPDATE:  i’ve had a couple “wtf” style questions.  yes.  that’s a real pumpkin.  here’s what it looks like unlit.

Halo 3 is an FPS MMOG

NOTE: because of all the idiotic bile-filled comments this post attracts, i just want to take a second to point something out.  the original prediction was made almost a year and a half before bungie announced what they were making. in other words, when i originally wrote this, we were just coming out of HOLIDAY 2005!

it’s called reading, people.  it’s a REALLY cool skill.  some of you should look into it sometime.

now, back to the original post…

another “you heard it here first” moment.

bungie’s new project is a massively multiplayer fps based on the halo universe.

there are several reasons for me coming to this conclusion. take, for example, prior expertise shown by the folks at bungie:

  • backend server integration with live – these guys are the best at running complimentary xbox live servers tracking megawatts of data. there is no other company around who has this much successful experience bringing external servers and xbox live’s internal servers into harmony.
  • creating party based play – their virtual couch. forming a party. why doesn’t anyone else adopt this? that’s why nobody plays other fps games on live other than halo 2. it’s good to easily play with your friends.
  • heavy, heavy investment in developing the halo world ip – halo books. halo movie. halo character crossovers. they have a fully fleshed out world.
  • the end of halo 2 set up ‘matrix online’ like mmog world ready for war – was it just me or can the ending to halo 2 be interpreted as ‘okay, here is your playground to battle in?’ here are tons of ‘events’ that can be happening. look how open ended it is.

now, let’s look at some of the things frankie was talking about in his last update.

  • extreme ui work going on – there is no greater ui problem than translating something like an mmo interface to a console. my guess? some kind of radial menuing system similar to a neverwinter nights and kameo (when selecting your warriors) cross. can you imagine selecting options by moving one of the analog sticks through a radial interface? hold it over the selected icon for one of dave’s “half second” intervals and it jumps to the menu below. no button push needed.
  • ease of inputing text – why would you need to input text on a 360 in halo? workin’ through text commands in the heat of battle’s not cool. hanging out in a social situation, tho, is much more understandable. social fps?
  • not necessarily split screen – split screen ‘normal’ fps? yeah, duh! split screen mmo? not really.



a few other bonus thoughts.

  • make it subscription free, helping to legitimize live as a multiplayer service. no more of this “why do i have to pay?” nonsense.
  • hottest property (halo) + hottest console differentiator (xbox live) + hottest game type (mmo) = badass.
  • can you think of a better company (one who perfected online console multiplayer) to make the first fps mmog?


so. evidently i’ve touched a nerve with the halo faithful. well. them and a whole ‘nuther crowd: lemmings.

anyway. i thought i would layout a couple of thoughts on how it might work. since some folks *cough* brian *cough* don’t have any imagination.

to get you in the right frame of mind, there are 2 memes to keep at the forefront.

  1. the same blasting, dodging, grenade throwing, first-person, non-rpg fun.
  2. world of warcraft pvp servers.

speaking of wow, think along the lines of aliance vs. horde. only, instead, it’s arbiters vs. spartans. pve could include the flood and the Big Freaky Tentacled Thing™. lots of pocket missions involving the second class citizens — grunts, soldiers, elites, etc.

it’s that third faction (the flood) that makes things interesting. they could act as the lever to counter-balance the world just in case the spartans or arbiters get too powerful as a faction. just enough to keep the state of the universe in chaos, and thus, fun.

they could still have arenas.

they could have big, epic battles pushing the war one way or the other.

they’ve already implemented leveling – based on skill, not time invested.

ranking and feedback? handled by xbox live.

fits right along with their entire “30 seconds of fun” over and over and over, don’t you think?


oh, and of course, it’s not going to be called halo 3. they will still retain the right to make that one. to finish the universe. in the meantime, we’ll all be playing out the big final war on some game named something much more creative than “halo online.”

there’s a reason they keep referring to it as “their next project” and not halo 3. they sure didn’t mind calling halo 2… well… halo 2.

1/31/06 UPDATE 4:

a few things i’m tired of reading about in other people’s comments.

  1. yes. i know planetside was the first fps. i’m not talking about pc games here. i’m talking about xbox games. please pay attention to the context.
  2. legitimizing live as a multiplayer service. everyone who plays online in the pc world or on the playstation has the same argument “my online is free.” bungie, being first party, would be the one company who could legitimately make an appeal to microsoft for them to subsidize their server farm. it’s a benefit to microsoft as they can now combat the “free” counter to live by saying, “look! you get halo online for free when you sub to xbox live!” no other ip has that kind of leveragability on the xbox.
  3. mmo gameplay. previous implementations of mmo fps type gameplay all came out before wow damn near perfected pvp. and, having one npc faction eliminates many of the game design hurdles other non-rpg mmo’s have had. the whole multiple bases multiple ‘ring worlds’ theme allows for single player play. maybe the single player could just be set on a different outpost. maybe beating it unlocks the mmo aspects. there are lots of cool things you could do here.
  4. finally — FIRST PERSON SHOOTER. not rts. not rpg. not abc or xyz.

2/2/06 UPDATE 5:

sweet. an mmo that can be played on the pc too!

they are hiring pc developers. presumably to port ‘halo online’ over to the pc. hmmm… broad platform support. play with your pc only buddies.  sounds good to me.