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6:17 PM on 08.17.2008  

Bioshock and Achievement-Induced Paralysis

Bioshock was really only the second real game I've purchased for my 360, the first being Gears of War. Most of the time I hop on for a few minutes to play some XBLA.

Soon after I purchased Bioshock I played through the first act and then quit. Why?

Achievements.

I'm afraid that if I leave the first act I won't be able to come back. And then I'd have to play the whole darn game through again to get those achievements. Which I'd never do, I usually don't play games through even once, let alone twice.

So, easy problem, right? Except that there's one other thing I hate ...

FAQs.

Yeah, I know I could go to gamefaqs and find out how to get all the achievements. But why? Why is downloading a text file off the internet an intrinsic part of pretty much every console game?

I know this one too -- because some people (lousy explorers) like finding all of this stuff on their own. That's great for you guys. But give the rest of us a chance? I'd even perform an annoying task in game for a map or something.

So, have lame achievements, FAQ-requiring or otherwise, ever made any of you quit a game?

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7:00 PM on 08.16.2008  

Insomniac and Breakneck Development

Destructoid ran a front page story (link) about a "hint" in the Ratchet and Clank : Quest for Booty PSN title about a possible 2009 release for a new Ratchet and Clank game.

So, will we see a new Ratchet and Clank game in 2009? Of course. Of course we will. I'm not even sure why people were surprised, actually.

I like Insomniac not just because of their great games, but also their ability to crank out quality games with Madden-like consistency. They've released a game every fall since 2002.

2002 -- Ratchet & Clank
2003 -- R&C : Going Commando
2004 -- R&C : Up Your Arsenal
2005 -- Ratchet : Deadlocked
2006 -- Resistance : Fall of Man
2007 -- R&C Future : Tools of Destruction
2008 -- Resistance 2 (planned)
2009 -- (guess)

To release games so quickly it seems quite probable that Insomniac is working on multiple games at a time. In fact, we know that this is true lately, as Resistance 2 will come out in the fall, and Quest For Booty (downloadable game for PSN) came out this summer.

The downloadable thing might even become another fixture. 2008 will have a short PSN R&C game and Resistance 2. Why couldn't 2009 see a full R&C game and a short PSN Resistance game?

I'm happy that Insomniac has a little more variety to work with now. The later Ratchet/R&C releases on the PS2 weren't as good as the first two. I feel like Insomniac had gotten so sick of Ratchet and Clank that they felt the need to "experiment" with things that didn't need experimentation.

Best of all I'm finally getting a PS3 in 2009 so I'll be able to play the bleeding new R&C game when it comes out.

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1:53 PM on 08.10.2008  

Warhammer : Age of All Hell Breaking Loose

Lots of updates since the destructoid story ran (link). There isn't really a good central location for all the news that comes out, but I'll try to pass on all that I've seen.


Closed Beta Invites for Collector's Edition

Invites started going out yesterday, although all you can do now is download the client. This from James over at Mythic :

CE Pre-Orders are being invited in multiple waves, and the first wave has just hit the shore. The servers aren't up yet but you can prepare to join the WAAAGH by getting the client now!

Remember that CE invites are still subject to eligibility*, but everyone who pre-ordered the CE will get in for the Preview Weekend coming up soon!

We'll have more for you tomorrow, check back then same bat time, same bat channel.

So, that's more closed beta invites going out at around 5 PM today. Note that something is still not up yet (account center, or something?) so you can start downloading but not start playing.

*by eligibility I'm pretty sure he means that they don't invite people with really bad looking dxdiag files at the moment.

Preview Weekend

Mythic has announced a preview weekend for all pre-orders, not sure when this is happening.

NDA Drop, Open Beta

Mark Jacobs (Mythic CEO) hopes that it will happen this week (post from last week) :

7) Regarding the NDA lift, we hope to lift the NDA next week, one month before launch.

Why the wait? Well, they still had a few more fixes to add before they dropped the NDA :

I wish I could lift it right now but as I’ve said elsewhere, we need to take care of a three issues before the NDA is lifted. One has already been taken care of and I hope that by the end of next week, the other two will be taken care of as well. Once we lift the NDA I’ll go into more detail as to what the issues were and why I wanted to hold things up. The remaining two issues are not earth-shattering by any means but when I explain things, I hope you’ll understand why I wanted to wait another week.

Note that the "Open Beta" in WAR will be invite-only, the "open" just means that the NDA will be dropped.

Simultaneous Launch : NA, Europe, Oceania

Already mentioned in the destructoid story, but thought I'd bring it up again because I think it's cool. Mythic is not going to wait a long time before releasing in Europe (like Blizz did with WoW) and actually has real servers in Australia instead of West Coast US servers set to Australian time (which is what WoW had, last I checked).

Head Start

Collector's Edition pre-orders will get an extra day of "head start" over regular pre-orders. I'm pretty sure it will be 4 days (CE pre-order) and 3 days (regular pre-order), but that was something I saw on an ad, so who knows.

Blogger Guilds

If you'd like to hang out with some video game/WAR bloggers and play the game on a Core Server (PvP only in PvP zones) there's a guild called Casualties of War. I'm probably going to play with that guild.

If you'd like to hang out with some game/WAR bloggers and play the game on an Open Server (PvP in PvP and PvE zones) there's some information over at Keen and Graev's Blog.

My Blog

I have a WAR blog too, yeeha.

WAR is a WoW Clone!

I don't believe that, but I thought I would save some of you the time ;)

blockquotes

Every time I have to quote someone with italics a kitten dies.

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9:17 AM on 07.12.2008  

Relic brings something new to the RTS

I missed this article from two days ago, but there's a good preview of Dawn of War II over at IGN (link).

I'm not a huge fan of innovation in video games. I don't think it's bad, just dangerous. In a lot of ways, innovation is like a scorpion holding a gun loaded with a stick of dynamite. In many ways extremely awesome, in many ways extremely dangerous.

So I'm all about using existing mechanics in new ways. Mechanic X works really well in genre A. Will it work in genre B?

So I was pretty excited to see this :

The scene looks more like something from Diablo II than a real-time strategy game. The warboss even has a boss health meter visible at the screen's top and special attacks, like a shockwave move and a ground attack that lights up terrain in a line before a string of explosions triggered. The tactics of taking him down involve moving troops out of the way of his ground shockwave, steering clear of his melee attacks, and keeping a squad focused on clearing out the Ork rabble that keeps spawning. Once he is finally killed, he drops his gun, which is labeled as a "blue" item.

You'll find iconic boss fights in pretty much every genre of combat-related video games -- except the RTS. There might be a bigger, stronger enemy to kill at the end of the game, but they are generally more of the same, and the final battle rarely requires anything out of the ordinary.

So kudos to Relic for using a well-understood, fun mechanic in an entirely new way. I consider this "safe" innovation. You can add something new and fun to your game with perhaps a lot of effort but without a lot of risk.

And any game developers out there : I'm still waiting on my RPG that uses pinball as the conflict mechanic. It's entirely safe to do (since pinball is already fun) and it would be freaking awesome.

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9:28 PM on 07.11.2008  

The Big Warhammer : Age of Reckoning announcement and how it will affect the game

If you haven't already heard, Mythic announced some big news about Warhammer : Age of Reckoning today, and it's not good news.

They are going to use PunkBuster for cheat protection, which a lot of people are not hot on.

Additionally, of the 24 classes that were meant to be available, only 20 will be available at launch. Mythic said that they were just having problems with the concept of these four classes and just couldn't make them work.

Finally, of the six capitol cities that were meant to be available, only two will be available at launch. Mythic was having difficulties doing justice to all six capitol cities and decided to focus on only two for now.

So what does this all mean?

The Affect of the Announcement on Substance

The career changes will cause some mechanical changes in the game. Previously each race had a tank, a melee DPS char, a ranged DPS char, and a support class. Now two races are going to be missing their tanks and two races are going to be missing their melee DPS. Since the tiered battle system pits races against each other, there's a danger that races missing a career will suffer. Fortunately, characters can already go to the appropriate zones for any race, but it's not clear whether that will be enough to keep the racial balance. Hopefully Mythic will introduce some mechanic to encourage necessary classes to switch areas as needed.

As far as mitigation, we don't know what Mythic will do yet. The indication has been that those four classes didn't work so they were cut. It is possible that the cut classes or replacements could make their way into the game at a later date. However Mythic has also said clearly that the cut classes could be gone forever.

The removal of the capitol cities will affect the campaigns. The campaign takes place through series of zones that connect two opposing capitol cities (empire vs. chaos, dwarves vs. greenskins, high elves vs. dark elves) -- the goal being to advance to your enemies capitol city and "sack" it. Previously there were to be three campaigns, each of which could independently result in the capture of a capitol city. With the extra capitol cities removed, a realm (WAR-speak for faction) will need to win two of the three campaigns to sack the opposing capitol city.

To mitigate the loss of the four capitol cities (and indeed the reason they were cut) is so that extra effort could be made on the remaining capitol cities. They will have more quests and more areas. Honestly, I never liked having three (or four) capitol cities in WoW, so I think this is a step up. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for everyone else) Mythic has stated that the capitol cities will definitely find their way back into the game.

Also, PunkBuster. There are a lot of sceptics but Mythic has stated it will be removed if it doesn't work, and that it will not be used for automatic bans.

The affect of the Announcement on Sales

The change has upset a large number of people. The related thread on Warhammer Alliance (the most popular forum) is currently at 78 pages (the changes were announced this morning).

There are really three main categories of people that are upset -- some were hoping to play the classes that were cut, some people (especially role-players) are disappointed at the thought of losing "their" capitol city, and some people just think it's a sign of weakness.

So many people on the forums (and here) have stated that they will no longer buy the game. Other people think the changes are reasonable. So it's possible this could adversely affect sales at launch.

The long term effects

Word of mouth is really how MMOG's survive post-launch. Good ones, so far, last forever. If WAR is good, word of mouth will bring in subscribers and the cuts won't matter. If WAR is bad, word of mouth will doom it and the cuts won't matter. The real question is if WAR will survive at launch after this. I think it will.

The Bottom Line

As some wiser souls have pointed out, no serious MMORPG has ever been delivered with working versions of all promised features. WoW, notably, ditched the honor system shortly before launch, and then revamped it without including Dishonorable Kills for players. I rolled on a PvP server thinking I would eventually be protected from ganking but it was never to be.

It also says a lot about WAR and Mythic that this news is being released when we haven't even hit the guild beta (which comes before the open beta). Many times players find that the end game is unfinished when they get to the end game and find it unfinished (Age of Conan comes to mind).

Furthermore, throwing out bad mechanics is a trait of successful developers. Blizzard is notorious for this -- there are rumors that a previous version of Diablo 3 was thrown out because it didn't meet expectations. TF2 is another successful game that survived a lot of thrown-out content.

What doesn't kill WAR makes it stronger.

Linkage

the MMORPG.com post that broke the news
Massive thread on Warhammer Alliance forums about the change
Mark Jacob (Mythic General Manager) responds to concerns raised : one, two, three, four (dev post tracker)
Two Warhammer blogs I like, Waaugh and Book of Grudges, have a lot of coverage.

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8:38 AM on 07.03.2008  

Professional Moderator finds EVE Player Council more professional than EU Politicians

A moderator who was worked with the EU in Brussels and the EVE Player Council has said that the representatives of the former could learn something from the latter.

Eurogamer Post
NY Times Post

The moderator complimented the EVE Player Council on their professionalism, their expertise, and their enthusiasm. And I agree, they are to be commended.

But then he also said something that seems breathtakingly stupid :

They are not just fighting for their particular interests but seem to be very socially responsible in wanting to represent all the players of Eve. Perhaps some real-world politicians could learn from them.

Politicians represent the interests of their inhabitants because they have both the moral authority and moral responsibility (not to mention legal authority and responsibility) to do so.

If I say that I'm going to give the poor people of Africa 100 million dollars, I am being selfless and generous in helping people in need.

If I say that my country is going to give the poor people of Africa 100 million dollars, I am not being selfless or generous, because I am not personally giving anything. I am spending the money of the people I represent.

I'm not saying that governments should never be generous. But it should not be regarded as virtuous to disregard your own constituents for "the greater good".

I realize this is slightly NVGR, but I just know it's going to bug me when people talk up this moderator, when really he sounds like an idiot. So here's your gaming related news : I started a Warhammer Blog out on teh interwebs since I figured it would really bore everyone here.

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8:54 PM on 06.30.2008  

The Start of the Affair : Ratchet and Clank

Picking games to play with your wife is a delicate operation. There are many crucial factors to weigh : do we both think the game would be fun? Do I think I’ll enjoy it? Do I think she’ll enjoy it? Will it be too hard?

I don’t know that I’ve ever picked a really great game that we both liked. But one time about five years ago I at least picked a game that I really liked.



Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank was an unusual pick for us. It was not an RTS or an FPS (my staples then and now) or an RPG or straight platformer (my wife’s favorites). But my wife and I saw a piece on G4 about the game before it was released, as well as the many amusing commercials, and we both said “I’d play it”, so there we were.

I was immediately stupefied by the game and I’ve loved the series ever since. Not only were the big things in the game great – the many varieties of base gameplay, the weapons, the graphics – but the small things were also great. The mini-games were tons of fun, and I had a blast gathering all the skill points and golden bolts after I beat the game the first time. The story was so-so but it was generally humorous. The difficulty level was perfect for me and my wife – hard but achievable.

There’s no greater honor I can bestow on a game than completing it – I have had probably 200 games during my life and I’ve beaten maybe 15. I’ve actually beaten every Ratchet and Clank game I own multiple times, including all the extras. Not a big deal for your average gamer, but a huge deal for me.

The awesomeness of the game is overwhelming me, so let us resort to base enumeration.

Ten Things I Loved About Ratchet And Clank

10. The Gadgets

Ratchet and Clank always had neat gadgets to collect that both advanced the story line and made the game easier. It’s hard to pick a favorite but the neatest was probably the Hydro-Pack, that let you move quickly underwater. It makes you think “Why does every other game in the world make me suffer when I’m underwater?”

9. The Characters and The Enemies

Ratchet and Clank are fun (and funny) characters although in the first game they annoyingly bicker a lot. There’s also Captain Qwark, a celebrity superhero who’s humorous failures provide much of the impetus behind the plot. The enemies are smart and memorable and some of them even fight each other – I don’t know why I love enemies beating the crap out of other but I do.

8. The Levels



Big, beautiful, and well-designed. Every time you complete a branch of a level you discover that you are back at your ship, so the game has practically no backtracking. There are a large varieties of settings for the levels : there are levels in cities, in jungles, underwater, on spaceships, on space stations, in deserts, and even a level in a store. And there are just different types of levels : in some you race against time, some are puzzles, in some there are ongoing battles between NPCs. Some are heavy on platforming, others are heavy on action.

7. The Humor

It’s not incredibly funny, but it’s probably the first game that made me laugh (intentionally).

6. The Collectibles

Earning skill points and gold bolts sustained me when I’d already beaten the game twice.

5. The Many Varieties of Base Gameplay



It seems like every level in the game gave you some twist on the basic action-platformer, which was fun on its own. Some levels would see you without Clank, some (Pikmin-ish) levels without Ratchet. Sometimes you would use a grapple gun to swing through a level, sometimes you would use grind boots to slide (on a rail) through a level. There were levels you swam through, with the help of your trusty hydro-pack which propelled you quickly through the water. There were arenas where you fought giant robots with giant Clank (with Ratchet humorously strapped to your back). There were shooting levels where you manned a giant stationary gun. I’m sure I’m missing something. There’s just so much variety in gameplay mechanics and every one executed well.

4. The Mini-Games



The best varieties of base gameplay were fleshed out into their own mini-games, with arenas, racetracks, and space battles that you could revisit for fame, fortune, and fun.

3. The Action Platforming

Just the very base gameplay – the thing you do most of the time in the game – worked really well. It’s great that all the extras are fun, but a great game has to have a great basic conflict mechanic and Ratchet and Clank had it.

2. The RYNO



One gameplay mechanic that I loved (and so did Insomniac, it’s repeated in subsequent games) is the super-expensive, ultra-powerful weapon. The idea is that you can optionally spend a ton of time collecting bolts for the “ultimate weapon”. And it is truly a ton of time – probably a quarter to a half of the time of the entire rest of the game.

In the first game the RYNO (Rip You a New One) is the super weapon. It is just really cool and incredibly powerful. It fires multiple rockets that lock on individual targets and destroy almost any enemy. When you kill the final boss with the RYNO you will go through, IIRC, around nine of the fifty rounds the gun holds.

It’s just a great idea because it’s a blast to have this God Mode in the game, but the weapon is such a difficult acquisition that you’ll probably beat the game once before you ever get it.

1. The Weapons

The RYNO is king of the many Ratchet and Clank weapons and almost all of them are great. it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m rather fond of the Suck Cannon, the Glove of Doom (releases helpful, deadly robots), and the Morph-O-Ray, which turns your enemies into chickens. There’s also a single upgrades for every weapon but the Ryno to turn them into the “Gold Weapons”, which do more damage and have more features.

Conclusion

Five years later I still love all these games. After the first, Insomniac released successors in breakneck fashion, releasing a new game every year. The second game, “Going Commando”, was the best, the later games adopting gimmicks that didn’t really pan out.

As for me, I still don’t have a PS3. I have, however, informed the wife that it will be my next big purchase. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but I’m totally willing to blow 500 bucks on the fifth Ratchet and Clank game.

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6:55 PM on 06.24.2008  

For Ten Cents a Day You Can Prevent Gamer's Block

So far this is my third night in a row with no games. I don't know what to do, but nothing is inspiring me to play. It does remind me of my twice-a-decade resolution to quit video games for a week to prove that I can. I don't twitch or have convulsions or anything but I always quit after a day, because without games I just spend my spare time staring into space, or something even less worthwhile (tv).

So I've spent the last three nights mostly just reading about Warhammer Online. I like Warhammer Alliance and the Waaugh Blogh. The first is a forum, the second is (shocker) a blog. Amusingly, it's one of about five Warhammer blogs that somehow have "Waaaugh" in the title.

For some reason I don't quite understand (although possibly because almost nobody is playing the game yet) Warhammer blogs vastly exceed the quality and quantity of WoW blogs. I was always scrounging around for them but never found one I liked -- or that was active.


So let's get down to business, shall we?

Games I'm Currently Not Playing

Company of Heroes (Just Purchased) -- disappointed that it's not as cool as DoW

Dawn of War -- disappointed that CoH isn't as cool as it is.

Team Fortress 2 -- it's been like five months, I'm out of practice and I have no achievements (not even the medic achievements)

Half-Life Source -- vowed to play all the way through before I played HL2. I vowed too soon.

HL2 And Friends -- waiting to finish HL.

Bioshock -- finished first act. All survival-horrored out.

WoW -- subscription lapsed, in no mood for WoW right now

Outpost Kaloki X -- Yes, I've been back to the XBLA well already. The thought of getting all the achievements for this game (20 hours of work for 20 achievement points yaay) does not thrill me, plus my 360 is sputtering. It needs to work or die, the indecision is killing me.

Obviously that's not a complete list of games I'm not playing right now. What are y'all not playing?

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6:08 AM on 06.18.2008  

Destructoid WAR (Warhammer) Roll Call

So, we need to make a Destructoid WAR guild. So who's planning on playing, and what ruleset/realm do you want to play?


(COMING IN 2011, 40K MMO DESTRUCTOID CHAPTER RECRUITMENT)

Incidentally, the rulesets at the moment are:

Core PvP (RvR) in RvR zones only
Open PvP in RvR zones and PvE zones

The realms (factions), as you hopefully already know, are order and chaos.

Personally, I'm torn on faction -- I'd like to be a dwarf, so part of me leans order, but I also like to be outnumbered, so that part of me leans chaos.

For ruleset I'm not torn -- Core all the way. I'm actually disappointed that they decided to offer an "open" ruleset because it fragments the player base and (ala WoW) is just going to lead to enormous amounts of trash-talking.

Why Core? Well, I play the game to PvP and Core (or PvE/Normal in WoW) gives you more time to PvP. How so? Well, because when you say "I'm going to PvE" you can sit down for an hour and PvE, then finish and PvP.

On PvP servers, when you say "I'm going to PvE", you actually enter this unfun, bastardized PvE-PvP hybrid where you get nothing done. So on a PvP server you actually spend more time doing PvE than on a PvE server.

Plus, while PvP zones are designed to make PvP fun (objectives and such), in PvE zones there are only quests, so what the f*** are your PvP objectives? "Hey, gank that guy so he can't complete his quest and has to log!" "Hey, help me not get ganked so I can finish my quest!" Pointless, Boring and Stupid.

So how are y'all planning to roll?

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6:46 PM on 06.02.2008  

Some Thoughts on Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy

Someone named Sean Maelstrom (possibly not a real name) wrote a pretty neat essay on gaming called Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy here. I'm always up for serious discussions on gaming and I highly suggest it.

It's interesting, well-written, and mostly serious. The essay makes some good points but mostly misses the mark.

Ideas I agree with

1. old-school video games are today's "Casual Games".
For all the haters ... if you played video games before 1990 you were once a casual gamer.

2. Casual games eventually produce more hardcore gamers
Star Wars, scifi-lite if it's science fiction at all, produces more sci-fi fans. My college comp sci professors hated video games but most of my fellow students came to computers for games (etc.)

3. Blizzard and Nintendo (as developers) are something special in the gaming industry.
Nobody makes consistent blockbusters like these two developers.

4. development methods matter
Most gamers discuss only creativity in big ideas -- having a good game means executing small ideas as well.

Ideas I didn't agree with

1. 95% of the Game Industry are worthless copycats that never compare to the original
This misses two important points. First, a good genre can contain more than one game -- nearly every modern game genre is less than twenty years old and most of them began with one distinguished entry.

Second, one of his water-walking examples, Blizzard, generally does not innovate on a large scale. They take existing ideas, then execute the sh** out of them until all that's left is win.

In fact, I was a little put-out that he didn't compare Nintendo and Blizzard more, and talk about why two developers with vastly different approaches were both so successful.

2. Casual Games should really be called "Downmarket Games"
If you write a serious article about games you must provide a new name for something with a serviceable old name that everybody already knows. It's a law or something.

3. Great Companies Make Great Games And Then There's Everybody Else
Nintendo and Blizzard are juggernauts and make great games -- but there are plenty of smaller, "derivative" developers who make also great games.

You could probably name your own favorites, but Insomniac and Relic come to mind immediately for me. They don't make billions of dollars but they make fantastic games.

Besides, in the volatile world of development studios, I'd say that any game that gets you to the next one is a success.

4. Weird Hate of Specific Development Methods

Mr. Maelstrom really goes off on the Waterfall Model, on which he blames a panoply of woes. The Waterfall Method imagines project development as a sequential process, where requirements writing leads to design, which leads to code (etc.)

He says this leads to "samey" games, but misses how adherence to high-level requirements (or whatever the equivalent may be called) is so important in massive games. World of Warcraft is a fantastic game where a handful of (relatively inflexible) high level ideas govern not only the big mechanics in the world but permeate the small ones as well.

Anyway, I could go on and on about software development. If you haven't, I suggest reading that essay.

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7:59 PM on 06.01.2008  

Whereupon I Fill A Blog With Ten Things

10. Churchill, 9. Chamberlain, 8. DoW, 7. More DoW, 6. National Review on GTA IV, 5. OTRSPOD, 4. Iron Man, 3. Indy, 2. Bioshock, 1. ???

10. Reading Old Copies of Old History Books
10. I just finished Book One ("From War to War, 1919-1939") of The Gathering Storm, that Churchill book I mentioned previously. The book chronicles most of the mistakes after the first that helped cause the second, and ends the night before the Germans invaded Poland, starting World War II. Churchill is not yet part of the government, so takes his defense as his own responsibility ...

There were known to be twenty thousand organised German Nazis in England at this time, and it would only have been in accord with their procedure in other friendly countries that the outbreak of war should be preceded by a sharp prelude of sabotage and murder. I had at that time no official protection, and I did not wish to ask for any; but I thought myself sufficiently prominent to take precautions. I had enough information to convince me that Hitler recognised me as a foe. My former Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Thompson, was in retirement. I told him to come along and bring his pistol with him. I got out my own weapons, which were good. While one slept, the other watched. Thus nobody would have a walkover. In these hours I knew that if war came -- and who could doubt its coming? -- a major burden would fall upon me.

The next book starts on the first day of the war.

9. One more thing from the book

Neville Chamberlain often gets a bad rap, even among gamers. He deserves a certain amount of blame but I love this letter he wrote to Hitler shortly before the fighting began ...

It has been alleged that if His Majesty's Government had made their position more clear in 1914, the great catastrophe would have been avoided. Whether or not there is any force in that allegation, His Majesty's Government are resolved that on this occasion there shall be no tragic misunderstanding ... I'm sure you'll all want to read the whole thing

8. Dawn of War

I have fully fumigated and fustigated furiously for four fortnights but I cannot find a game to interest me. Well, OTRSPOD (MORE LATER) interested me for a few days. So it's back to the old faithful -- Dawn of War. Doing the Dark Crusade campaign again, only as Space Marines instead of Imperial Guard. I'm really bad at Space Marines and much better (still awful) as IG. So evidently IG are severely underpowered because I'm blowing through the campaign as SM on hard (not that hard).

You'd think that a game with nine races would be impossible to balance, and evidently you'd be correct.

7. Just when it appeared I had forgotten, More Dawn Of War

This is very, very old. But I had never seen it before. A nice little article on Gamasutra about Dawn of War and why it's not a great competitive game. Who responds but the lead developer on Dawn of War who, surprisingly, concurs :

The design philosophy of Dawn of War was aimed at making a more casual, more fun, less eSports RTS. I personally thought it was foolish to try and outdo Starcraft, because even if you make a better Starcraft, who cares because Starcraft is awesome and no substitute will do! I had no illusions that we could take away Blizzard's audience, I wanted us to find our own audience.

Pretty interesting. And smart. The Whole Article And Comment (Look for Jay Wilson's comment)

6. National Review on GTA IV

I like National Review (a American conservative bi-monthly) but they typically write very little (absolutely nothing) about games. So I was pleased to see a bit about GTA IV in the last issue :

... It is true that we'd rather see young people immersing themselves in the music of Bach or the drama of Shakespeare than in the shenanigans of Niko Bellic, but we are also reminded of noir novelist Mickey Spillane's response to critics who called his work garbage: "But it's good garbage."

LexisNexis Saves Me From Typing The Whole Thing

5. OTRSPOD, or Penny Arcade Adventures : On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

Good gameplay. Very funny. Fantastic writing from Mr. Holkins. I'm in much less interested in Art than Writing but I found the art quite fascinating as well.

More Please.

4. Iron Man

What is it about Comic Book Movies, that they can just crank great ones out like that? Iron Man just seems lame -- how can the movie be so good?

And when will they start making video games this good? And doesn't it just hurt, that after a hundred bad video-game based movies, that the one movie based on a board game (Clue) and the one movie based on an amusement park ride (Pirates of The Caribbean) are better than all video-game movies put together?

I guess the acting must help, or at least it can't hurt. Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges were in the movie. Jon Favreau directed -- no heavyweight, but Elf is a favorite of mine.

Of course, Mario Brothers had Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, and Katherine Hepburn as a Goomba (uncredited), and that didn't help.

More Please.

3. Indy

This is really long, so let's just agree that a hundred blogs the size of this one could not do the horror of this movie justice.

2. Bioshock

Was stoked about it, bought it, played through the first act, saved the Little Sisters (I'm such a sucker for being the Good Guy in games), then I kind of quit. It's great in every way except lacking that drug-like goodness that makes me finish games.

1. Juno and Spiderman

I watched Juno with the wife tonight. Cool movie. Bizarre but fun music. J.K. Simmons was Juno's dad -- he's also in one of the Law and Orders (shrink) and is Peter Parker's slimy but funny editor in the Spiderman movies.

Probably my favorite part in all the Spiderman movies is in the first when Green Goblin breaks into his office and threatens to kill the editor if he doesn't reveal the location of Spidey's "Pal" Peter Parker. Peter is right there, but even his totally slimy, completely amoral boss risks his life and says he has no idea who Parker is. I just love that the most morally bankrupt person in the movie (outside of the villains) is still truly heroic when push comes to shove.

If you read this far you deserve a prize. I can't believe I didn't get to The Venture Brothers.

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6:12 AM on 05.23.2008  

Quick Thoughts on That Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Thing

I'd like to write a richer, more full-bodied review at some point, but I just want to get this out of the way : the movie is comically bad.

(Before I trash the movie, keep in mind that at least one other Destructoidalite thought it was great.)

It was an absolute franchise-killer. It doesn't even compare to the badness of the Star Wars sequels or the Matrix sequels. You have to go back to Blues Brothers 2000 or X3: X-Men United to find movies that so thoroughly trashed a franchise. The new Indiana Jones movie took a great franchise and repeatedly slammed its hand in a car door, and then relieved itself on the franchise.

I remember when people first heard that X3 was going to be directed by Brett Ratner (of Rush Hour fame). They were like -- "Oh No, Not The Guy Who Did Rush Hour!" Well, the joke was on them -- if only X3 had been as good as a Rush Hour movie.

It's hard to decide on the worst part of the new Indiana Jones movie: it had everything. Cornball reminiscing. Cornball exposition. Cornball family reunions. The locations were less grand, the dungeons less booby-trapped and the enemies (Commies instead of Nazis) a thousand times less fun that what we've come to expect.

My family is out of town so I actually went to see Iron Man as well the day before. I liked it a lot at the time. Now it seems like it was the f****** Seven Samurai. I think Spiderman and Batman have taught us that to make a good comic-book movie you need this fantastic hero -- and Robert Downey Jr. is awesome.

Oh -- and get this. The Mozilla spellchecker has flagged "Spiderman" as misspelled but not "Batman".

Spellchecker guys are evidently shameless DC fanboys.

Also it has flagged "spellchecker".

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