36 Released

November 30, 2008

36

36 is a very small game I made as a simple concept. It was an attempt to use all the letters and numbers on the keyboard as the controls for a game. Download 36 here.

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Midway’s new game is supposed to look “as good if not better than Gears 2” according to a creative director. I recently discussed what I think Midway needs to do to stay viable in today’s industry, and this is exactly the opposite of my advice. This is not a problem Midway can just hype away. They are a company in significant financial trouble and need to address these problems with a real business plan.

Playing the same “huge hype” game as other big publishers just isn’t going to cut it. Anyone who knows anything about the game industry should be rolling their eyes at this. Midway will most likely end up as the new Interplay.

PETA has entered the video game world. Apparently, the new Cooking Mama game really pisses them off. So, in order to protest Cooking Mama, they have made a parody of the game. To make a long blog post short, I will simply tell everyone that the the game is kinda stupid and not really worth playing.

The game has you clicking around the screen to pluck and remove organs from a turkey. The turkey is rather cartoonish, and the game combines this with excessive gore use to try and make a point. It doesnt move past basic mouse controls, but you can’t really lose the game, and don’t have to replay levels that weren’t fun the first time.

I think it’s great that PETA recognizes games as a legitimate means to make a statement, which I totally support on one hand. On the other, though, I don’t really identify with PETA, as there are far worse things that go on in this world than turkeys getting killed. Where are our games about genocide in Africa or games about our failing economy?

Persuasive games are a pretty new concept, and while PETA is recognizing the fact that games can influence people, I really don’t think that they get it. The game sucks, and by simply making a gory parody of an existing game, they aren’t really accomplish anything. PETA, if you really want to make a game that makes people think, make something original, and make it good, otherwise, stop soiling the name of video games with your half-assed attempt at a game people will want to play.

Oh yeah…Happy fucking Thanksgiving.

Diversity in Indie Games

November 26, 2008

inf3a

I recently saw the above picture on an indie games blog, and something about it really bothers me. These three people are supposed to represent the leaders of the indie game movement, and all three of them are white males.

Women make up a large part of game sales, and in certain age groups, the percentage of women who play games is higher than men. Why do women only account for 12% of the industry?

Minorities have also been shoved to the side in the video game revolution. Almost every minority video game character is a blatant stereotype. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter both had their Native American stereotypes, and The Escapist details the lack of black characters in games. The large majority of games feature white protagonists.

With the way independent developers are making names for themselves these days, I really hope to see something make it big that isn’t developed by a white guy. We aren’t the mainstream industry, so let’s not act like it.

Destructoid posted a little article on how Ensemble, developers of Halo Wars, is claiming that their console control scheme is going to be better than a mouse and keyboard. This is a plain lie, and in many circles is also called “bullshit.” Ensemble is going out of business as soon as Halo Wars is released, and any employees are being paid extra to stay onboard. This sounds like just some “clever” PR move to try and sell as many copies as they can to lessen the financial damages caused by closing a studio.

Not to be a skeptic of console gaming, but I highly doubt that this will be that magic game that finally revolutionizes console RTSes…keep looking.

Free Flash Game
Play A game of visual composition

A game of visual composition (I’m not sure if that’s the final title or not) is a project by agj. It is reminiscent of a click & drag puzzle game, but instead of patterns of 3 or 4, the goal is to fare well against graphic design standards.

By applying basic graphic design parameters, like symmetry and rhythm, the game throws out the traditional point system for traditional concepts of design. You can see how well you fared once you complete your design, but it is somewhat difficult to figure out which icons represent which standard.

This is definitely a game which almost flirts with the possibility of “edutainment,” something a lot of people aren’t exactly sure can be done well. Because it is based off real design concepts, hypothetically, if you are good at graphic design, you should be good at the game. I think it would be interesting to see if that holds true. Using a game to measure someone’s skill in a field is an idea I really find interesting. It’s essentially applying a real world skill in a virtual world. I would hardly consider “whooping ass in Tekken” a skill, and would like to see more games that rely on real world knowledge.

A game of visual composition is something that is being worked on fairly frequently, and I really hope to see what it will become. I personally think it would be cool to integrate a way to export the designs you make for use as icons or banners.

The Future of Midway Games

November 23, 2008

Midway Games is currently in jeopardy of losing their listing on the NYSE. Midway hasn’t been doing too hot for a while now, and usually, as in the case of Interplay, when a company gets delisted, they go under soon after. I actually live within walking distance of the Midway Games HQ in Chicago, so this news hits somewhat close to home(sweet pun, yeah).

Sadly, Midway’s biggest problem is usually itself. They are seeing some good returns on smaller scale, more casual, games, but still spending huge amounts of money on titles like Stranglehold, which was decent, but nothing special. At best, Midway has been providing mediocre games. The most recent Mortal Kombat games were very entertaining, and very replayable, but at the same time, they were nothing revolutionary. Midway is pouring money into average quality games like Area 51 and Hour of Victory when they should be taking this opportunity to innovate.

Midway is a small publisher when compared to giants like Activision Blizzard, or the internal publishing of Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo. They are not even in the same league as EA, who has cut off any competition in the sports game markets. The closest competition Midway really has is THQ, and they are having financial troubles of their own. Midway cannot afford to compete within the AAA scene, and needs to invest its money elsewhere.

There has been mention of Midway attempting to start up a casual games portal, but there are already established players in that market. If Midway wants to viable, they need to do what they have been doing for years, make console games…except, now they are going to have to make them well.

Midway Games can be successful if it stays in the console market and produces GOOD games. If they put half the money into game design and gameplay that they do into graphics and advertising, Midway will stay in the game. Take the katamari series, for instance. It was a relatively low budget game that definitely came out past the PS2’s peak. However, it was incredibly fun, and proved that a game could be successful even when the next generation loomed.

I know Midway can make great games. They have pretty much proven themselves to be pretty solid over the years. My advice to Midway is to quit trying to keep up with the other publishers and just make something that people want to play. Midway Games is responsible for so many games which have been influential in the industry, and I am one person that would like to see them stick around.

I was reading this article and they mention the results of an interesting study.

According to data compiled by the Netherlands’ Trimbos Institute for Mental Health and Addiction, after 30 years of the Dutch tolerance policy, usage rates here are somewhere in the middle of international norms — above those in Germany and the Scandinavian countries, but below those of France, Britain and the United States.

Further proof that marijuana really isn’t that big of a deal.

Game Review: Gods and Idols

November 21, 2008

Freeware Download
Download Gods and Idols

Take the space stage of Spore, and combine it with Populous, and you’ve got something pretty close to Gods and Idols(GAI). GAI is an online MMORTS where players assume the role of intergalactic gods ruling over planets. The game starts by having you fly around space a bit in search of a star system with planets for you to plant the seed of life on. Once you have seeded a planet, you are tasked with taking care of your followers on it and upgrading their planet.

Upgrades come in the form of facility upgrades, like housing, or complete planet evolutions, which will dramatically change the look and quality of life on the planet. While you are busy managing your planets, there are many other people online doing the same. The game universe is pretty large, containing hundreds of star systems waiting to be colonized.

GAI is open beta right now, and what it lacks in features, it more than makes up for in scope. The game universe is massive, and while advanced features like hypergates are not available yet, the game is definitely worth playing. With a very friendly community, and new features being added all the time, GAI is playable for longer periods of time, or for only a few minutes.

I am totally into this game right now, so don’t be surprised if you hear some more about GAI in the future.

Republicans oppose the bailout for the auto industry because it helps poor people. That’s it. Wasn’t the Right asking for $700 billion for banks not even two months ago? And now, Democrats want to spend $25 billion of that to keep our auto industry running, and the Republicans really have the balls to try and oppose it. We are talking about money that has already been allocated towards getting the economy back in shape, and a relatively small part of it, too. Why is it acceptable to give money to banks and not automakers?

Because rich people don’t build cars. This is a blatant issue of class warfare, plain and simple. Republicans had no problem in bailing out the financial sector, but now that the option of giving money to the working class arises, they are jumping to attack it. A large portion of the automakers’ costs are in legacy labor costs. They are paying a significant amount of money to retirees, and this is crushing them financially. Keeping the auto industry alive benefits the employees of the auto industry and their communities. This bailout is a handout to the working class, and Republicans oppose giving money to poor people. Not only do they refuse to give them money, but they also go as far as to blame them for the auto industry problems.

The Right’s main argument is that instead of a bailout, the automakers should give less benefits to retirees and lower wages. Cutting labor, though, is not the answer. Instead, the auto industry needs to get its shit together and start working towards a sustainable business model. We have known since the 1970s that Japan was making better cars than us, and this is not the first automaker bailout we have come across.

We are at a time now when I think that the government needs to step in and keep people in their jobs. Our economy isn’t going to get any better without people working, and if $25 billion of money that’s already going to be spent is what it takes, I think that sounds pretty reasonable. We’ve had the bailout for Wall Sreet, and now we are facing a total denial of any form of bailout for Main Street.

Yes, the American auto industry has made mistakes, and part of its current problem is of its own doing, but this is not just an American problem. People aren’t buying cars everywhere. If the auto industry goes under, the cities and communities that depend on them, many of which have been struggling for years, will suffer. This is an avoidable situation, and I don’t think $25 billion of money already appropriated to help stabilize the economy is unreasonable. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake here, but the Right will turn a blind eye, because rich people don’t make cars.