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The first console I played was the NES in the mid to late 80's - great times! I've been gaming ever since. Some of my favorite games of all time include:

-Chrono Trigger
-The Guardian Legend
-The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
-Fatal Frame 2
-Final Fantasy X

What do I think of the current generation (so far)?

Best console: Xbox 360
Best new IP: Uncharted
Best game: Uncharted 2
Best under-appreciated game: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Best innovation: Achievements!

My iPhone Game: CherryPicker_ios
Following (5)  

Hey all, a friend of mine has been working on this game in his spare time for several years now. Finally, the game is nearing release and I'm hoping to get some DToid members to help spread the word! The game is equal parts bullet hell shmup and rhythm as you tap specific buttons in beat with the music to destroy enemies. Music for the game is being provided by Kyle Ward who also did music for In The Groove.

So far he's had really positive feedback from testers and even got a shout out from Twisted Pixel on twitter!

Here are some screen caps:

And the launch trailer

Review copies of the games are being sent out very shortly to several websites, but it's still incredibly tough to gain traction as a new indie developer. Check the game out and if you like what you see, anything you can do to help support the game and get the word out is definitely appreciated!

The game is up on Steam Greenlight

And there's also a kickstarter they've recently launched.

Early this year I decided to dive more into game development and I released my first game, Night of the Loving Dead, in late March. Now that the game has been out in the wild for a few months, I decided to reflect on the experience and share what Iíve learned throughout the process. I hope this information is helpful to someone or at least entertaining.

If you want to try the game, you can check it out here; I'd really appreciate any feedback you may have! The premise is you play as a skeleton that must find various parts of his body to become whole again and reunite with the love left behind upon death.

The Good

Flixel - I had never made a game using Flixel prior to this project, but after talking to some friends and doing a bit of research, it seemed like a good way to go: it was. Flixel is a fantastic game engine written in ActionScript 3. It handles nearly all of the really hard parts about creating a game including physics and collision and since it renders via blitting, its incredibly fast. I highly recommend checking it out if youíre looking to make a platform game.

SFXR - This little program is awesome. Itís a fantastic way to generate retro-style sound effects for games. One of the biggest pains in game development (for me) is searching the internet for royalty-free sound effects so SFXR was a welcomed surprise.

MochiMedia - The good thing about writing a game in Flash is the massive distribution avenues available. There are countless Flash portals out there allowing you to get your game in front of a very large audience. So far, Iíve gotten the best results using MochiMedia which has out-performed Kongregate by 600%.

The Bad

Music - Finding music for the game was a pain. Iíd suggest starting this early in the process. Finding music that fits and getting permission to use it can take a long time. I saved this for last thinking it would be simple and ended up sitting on an otherwise finished game for weeks while waiting for replies on music.

Art - Iím a developer, not an artist. Making the art and animations for the game took a LONG time. At the end of the day, Iím happy with what I was able to produce, but I will definitely be looking to improve my pixel art abilities. I severely underestimated how long it would take to create even seemingly simple items. This also gave me a better appreciation for the work artists do. After trying it firsthand, Iím even more amazed by some of the great pixel art Iíve seen on the web.

Lessons Learned

Staying Motivated - When working on a game project, it can be hard to stay motivated. In order to make sure I got the game finished, I tried every day to work on it at least a little. I didnít succeed every day, but I came pretty close. As long as you keep working on it, even if one day all you do is add a button, it is progress. The biggest danger in taking a day off is that it can quickly become 2 days off, which becomes 3 and so on.

Another way I stayed motivated was by sharing the game with friends. I had buddies play the game early and often. The positive reinforcement gained from that went a long way in keeping me interested in the project.

You Canít Please Everyone - It is important to take the feedback of your players seriously, but it is equally important to realize that not everyone is going to like your game. Initially, a lot of people complained that the game was too easy so I added a new enemy (the floating eyeball) and then people complained that it was too difficult. In response to this, I gave the player more health to begin with. I actually liked the game better without the eye, but it seemed like less complaints came in so I left it at that.

Currently I am hard at work on my next game and have so many ideas for others that it is sometimes hard to stay focused! Anyway, that's pretty much it; I hope this wasn't a waste of your time.
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If you know me, then you probably know I'm largely a 360 gamer. I don't play games nearly as much as I did in years gone by, but when I do, I usually reach for the Xbox controller. It may surprise you then to learn that the Uncharted series is my favorite new IP of this generation. Uncharted 2 was absolutely fantastic and I couldn't wait to get my paws on the third installment in the franchise. So here we are; the Uncharted 3 release has come and gone. Having finished the campaign in just under 9.5 hours, I find myself somewhat disappointed with the overall experience.

Note that I tried to keep this blog relatively vague to avoid ruining the Uncharted 3 story for those that haven't finished it yet, but you may want to bail here anyway to be safe.

Don't get me wrong, Uncharted 3 is a good game. The lovable cast of characters is back and in fine form. The storyline is a pleasant mix of historic facts and myth. So what exactly is the problem? It's twofold for me. For one, the gunplay in the game is lacking. I found the controls and aiming in combat to be slightly frustrating; they just don't feel very accurate. I love the characters and story so much that I often found myself feeling annoyed when yet another wave enemies swarmed the screen.

In addition to the great characters and storyline; a couple other favorite features from the series includes exploring the environments and solving puzzles. The environments are always gorgeous in the series and the puzzles are clever; not overly difficult, but not always that simple either. The frequent gun combat in the game serves only to interrupt an otherwise enjoyable experience.

Another problem was that the game just didn't grab me the way 2 did. In Uncharted 2, there were several moments that just blew me away. The truck that comes crashing through the wreckage, attempting to run Nathan down; finding Marco Polo's crew underground; the helicopter that shoots out the building's supports, sending it toppling over with Nathan and Chloe still inside. Those kinds of scenes stick with you; in fact, I get chills just thinking about them.

I only felt that way about one scene in Uncharted 3: the plane scene. Many others; such as the burning mansion and cruise ship, just didn't have the same impact. I felt like the developers were trying to capture the intensity of the aforementioned scenes in Uncharted 2, but just couldn't quite pull it off.

Plus, you know what? I'm all Team Chloe here. I don't really care for Elena; she's boring. Drake needs to drop her already. Ha!

Maybe I just expected too much from Uncharted 3. Perhaps the fact that I already knew what I was getting into with the game just made it less exciting for me. Whatever the reason, it is still Uncharted 2 that I call my favorite game of this generation and certainly the best in this series.

Anyone else feel the same way? Or heck, even if you disagree; feel free to say why. I'd be interested to see what others think of the game and series as a whole.
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1:02 PM on 09.26.2011

Recently Destructoid's Jim Sterling wrote this piece on Rage for Xbox 360 and PS3. At the end of the piece he states "I'm starting to really struggle to find the pros of console gaming anymore." I thoroughly enjoy Jim's writing and admire him for being one of the few in the industry that isn't afraid to speak his mind. So I thought I'd help him out and list the pros of console gaming as they apply to me.

The Display
Console Gaming: 42" Samsung HDTV

PC Gaming: 19" Dell Monitor

The Seating
Console Gaming: Sofa King Cool; note the surround sound too!

PC Gaming: An old and warped wooden chair.

The Controller
Console Gaming: A device that fits comfortably in the hands; created specifically for gaming

PC Gaming: Two devices that don't fit comfortably in the hands; not designed specifically for gaming

Console Gaming: Sit back and relax; upating will be complete in just a few minutes

PC Gaming: FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUU................

The Games

Miss out on all these? No way.

I'm a software engineer. I spend all day sitting at a desk in front of a computer. When I come home at the end of the day, I don't want to sit in that wooden chair at my small, cluttered desk. And I certainly don't want to spend the evening browsing through message boards trying to figure out why the Catalyst driver update just crashed...again. I want to kick back on the big, comfy couch, put my feet up on the coffee table and play games with a small, comfortable controller.

Understand that I'm simply stating my opinion on the matter. You are, of course, free to disagree. :o)
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When Microsoft first unveiled the Kinect not many gamers I knew had quite the same reaction that I did. Most laughed it off, talked about how stupid it looked and wrote it off altogether without even giving it a shot. Those gamers didnít get it; many still donít. Certainly, MS was showing some games and technology to appeal to a larger, more casual audience, but is that all they were doing?

In the words of Al ďtable for oneĒ Borland: ďI donít think so, Tim.Ē

Microsoft wasnít showing off just another gaming peripheral, they were giving us a glimpse into the future of media and control.

Forget games for a moment; weíll come back to that, the thing I was most excited about with Kinect was the UI and media control. Kinect goes beyond gaming and allows for new control of other media types including movies and music. Playing movies and songs with voice commands is slick. Being able to scrub through movies with a wave of your hand? Even more so.

By integrating Kinect control into some of the most prominent XBL services such as NetFlix, ESPN and Last.fm, Microsoft is paving the road for a full, controller-free entertainment environment on the Xbox 360. Earlier this year they promised to deliver a new dashboard update that allows for full dashboard control via Kinect. Thatís something that I canít wait to try. Navigating a user interface without the need for a controller still hasnít quite been perfected, but Kinect marks the best attempt Iíve seen so far and from the looks of things, itís only going to get better at it.

While Kinect will continue to improve in its handling of other media experiences, it will also improve on the gaming front. Not that we havenít seen some good games already; I still havenít tired of Dance Central. Kinectimals also makes pretty good use of the technology if you're willing to give it a chance. Perhaps the best evidence of Kinectís usefulness in gaming is the recently released Child of Eden.

Kinect is an essential part of the Child of Eden experience

Hereís a game that isnít merely enhanced by Kinect, but actually requires it to be fully experienced and appreciated. After playing the game with nothing between you and the action on screen, it is not just difficult to go back to using a controller, but unthinkable. I challenge anyone to play it both ways and honestly say otherwise. This game alone proves that motion control has a place in our industry, even among the not-so-casual.

The future for Kinect looks bright. Some games will use Kinect in supportive roles such as the head tracking in Forza, the weapon customization in Ghost Recon or the voice commands in Mass Effect 3. Still others will be crafted around motion control such as Rise of Nightmares, The Gunstringer and Konamiís LeedMees. I can only speak for myself here, but I think those games look like a lot of fun. Especially LeedMees which is putting an innovative twist on puzzle games by allowing you to use your body as a platform for the characters in the game.

LeedMees: a unique use of the Kinect technology

We as gamers have the right to complain when developers cram motion control support into a poorly made game, but we should also respect the developers who create experiences properly with motion control in mind from the beginning. The automatic and vehement hatred I see from many traditional gamers when it comes to motion controlled games is striking. The very audience that clamors for innovation then fiercely rejects it when it comes along.

The new types of games coming out for Kinect may not be tailored to an individualís specific tastes, but that doesnít make them any less valid as games. They may very well attract a new audience. A new ďhardcoreĒ that differs from what the industry has seen in the past.

The traditional toys such as Halo and Gears of War, Super Mario and Uncharted are still around; theyíre not being replaced. I, as a gamer since the mid 1980ís, embrace this addition to our rich and storied medium. I invite you to do the same.

This is your face on Kinect
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Now that the three major press conferences are over, it's a good time to look back on them and see how each company performed. What follows is my opinion on what went down at the E3 2011 press conferences.

First out of the gate was Microsoft. In my blog leading up to E3, I mentioned what I thought MS needed to do to ward off their competitors. The main three points were:

-Core Kinect games
-New services for XBL
-More exclusive titles

So how did they do? In short, MS delivered. They showed off several hardcore titles that smartly implemented Kinect functionality in unobtrusive ways. Gamers said they wanted to see Kinect work with hardcore games and MS gave us Mass Effect 3, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Fable: Journey in response; not a bad lineup if you ask me. Of course Microsoft also showed off some new family friendly titles with Kinect functionality, but that wasn't unexpected.

One of the more interesting parts of the MS conference was the preview of the upcoming Xbox dashboard which is due to arrive this Fall. The dashboard takes a page from the Windows Phone 7 book with its overall look and feel and is integrating some fantastic new features. MS announced that YouTube will be arriving as an XBL service and that they have integrated Bing! search into the dashboard (which can be activated with voice commands). Furthermore, Kinect has finally been implemented throughout. This was something I have been waiting to see since launch. As if that weren't enough, MS also announced that they are expanding their live television programming with some major networks already on board.

A remake of my favorite game of all time? Yes, please!

If there is one area that I felt MS fell a bit short in, it was the exclusive games arena. Aside from Crytek's Ryse, there were no new franchises. True, we did get two Halo games, but that's not a brand new IP. I was hoping we would get a surprise game announcement in the form of an original property. Still, it isn't all that bleak. The Xbox 360 does still have Forza Motorsport 4, Halo CE Anniversary, Halo 4 and Gears of War 3 to fall back. Also, they're still getting great 3rd party support as shown with the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty demonstrations.

Final Grade: B+

The next big contender to take the stage was Sony. I admired how they got straight to the point and issued an apology for the PSN outage. Sony did a great a job with this. They thanked everyone including developers, retail partners and their consumers. They also showed off some great software. Uncharted 3 just looks amazing. There are no words to describe how badly I want to play this game. The demo shown at the conference was phenomenal looking.

Other big PS3 games included the Ico/Shadow of the Collosus package, Resistance 3, a new Sly Cooper offering and Starhawk. They also introduced Dust 514 from CCP and renewed their commitment to both the PlayStation Move and 3D.

The last big item on Sony's agenda was the NGP; which they are officially calling the PS Vita. I'm still not sure how that name made it past the board meeting it was brought up in; what's so wrong with PSP 2? Atrocious name aside, the Vita did come in cheaper than I had anticipated. You are getting a lot tech for your money, but I still have some doubts about this thing. I've never been a big fan of portable gaming to begin with, but the biggest problem I see for the Vita is this:

This is where mobile gaming's at

Smart phones have made devices like the Vita obsolete. In my previous blog, I stated that Sony would lose me if they focused too much on the NGP and that's exactly what they did. I would call this a missed opportunity for Sony. The MS conference; while solid, was not out of this world. If Sony wants to compete with the 360, then they need to focus on the PS3. I felt like their conference was more focused on 3D and the Vita; neither of which I have any interest in. Not only did they fail to pull out any big surprises, but they left out big games that we were expecting to see.

Final Grade: C+

Nintendo probably had the most excitement leading up to their conference. They were, afterall, unveiling a brand new home console. They kicked things off with Miyamoto and discussed the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. They also had a full orchestra play a few memorable melodies from the franchise and announced some musical collections and an orchestra tour to celebrate the occasion.

After teasing us briefly about the new home console, Nintendo dove into their 3DS lineup for the year and it looks strong. A new Mario Kart game (complete with gliding), StarFox, Kid Icarus, Super Mario 3DS and Luigi's Mansion 2 were all on display and will be hitting store shelves before the year's end. However, as previously mentioned, the portable systems are not my thing so I was more interested in seeing the new home console.

If Zelda on the Wii U actually looks like this, I'll be picking one up.

The new console, named the Wii U, is supposedly Nintendo's bid to provide a console for the casual market and for the hardcore market as well. Judging from what I saw, I don't think they've quite done it. The Wii U still looks like something aimed at a more casual audience. Don't get me wrong, Nintendo's done a great a job with this. For the first time in a long time, it looks like Nintendo has some strong 3rd party support. Games like Battlefield 3 and Batman: Arkham City will be making their way to the Wii U.

What about that unique controller then? Having no hands on experience, I can only offer my opinions based on what I saw and what I saw did not look especially appealing. The controller must be massive to house a 6 inch display and it doesn't look particularly comfortable or easy to hold up.

The other issue I have with the Wii U is that Nintendo didn't give a real release date or mention anything about the price. In addition, they stated that all the stuff shown from Nintendo were only tech demos and not actual game prototypes. We saw several multiplatform 3rd party games, but nothing from Nintendo.

I realize it may sound like I'm dogging on Nintendo here, but really I don't mean to. I think Nintendo had a good conference and did what they needed to for their audience. They showed a stellar lineup for the 3DS and showed off their new console. However, as with Sony, most of the stuff shown wasn't for me.

Final Grade: B

I didn't feel that any of the three companies had a particularly strong showing. I wasn't surprised by anyone this year. Microsoft had the most stuff that I'm actually looking forward to and that is why I gave them the nod here. Sony and Nintendo both had solid showings, but most of it wasn't stuff that I'm particularly interested in or excited to try out. That said, I still stand by Uncharted 3 being the best game of the show.
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