Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Video game art

I like Matt Burlingame's quirky, three-dimensional (real-world) art.

I like quite a few of his pieces. I like that Matt has a video game inspired piece (unfortunately, it's sold), depicting a copesetic Taizo Hori (Dig Dug), Mario bludgeoning a Shell Creeper / Koopa Troopa, and a rabid Pac-Man (complete with mouthed-on remains of Bashful / Inky).

Click the pict in the link to view multiple detail shots.

"The Dynamic Trinity" (mattburlingame.com)

Xbox 360 backwards (forwards?) compatibility update

Hey, I still care about original Xbox games that are playable on the Xbox 360.

The full list of added / updated is on MajorNelson.com, but here are my biased highlights (I’ve been lobbying for the top 4 for a looong time):
  • Armed and Dangerous -- HAH-larious; think Monty Python with firearms and sheep humor (which may be redundant).

  • Breakdown -- Bless Namco for trying this first-person ... thing (and its "What, it's still not over" gimmick didn't piss me off, and was well-implemented).

  • Dungeons & Dragons Heroes -- “Most under-rated last-gen hack-n-slash RPG treatment of the D&D license with 4-way co-op as long as you don't play with people who don't get co-op or are hard-core D&D fundamentalist/legalists” (yes, there's a story there).

  • Hunter: The Reckoning -- Great treatment of the White Wolf license, and Voice acting for Carpenter rocks (and no, I didn’t do it).

  • Syberia II -- This game rocked the high-def when the 360 was just a twinkle in J Allard's eye (Bring back the adventure genre!).
Again, this is just a partial list; the backwards compatibility "ninjas" at Microsoft have churned out an awesome amount of work in holiday time to add to the Big M's (not the Mouse) game catalog.

Note: I realize I've only got an online review for Dungeons & Dragons Heroes; my reviews of the other top-four titles were done in the pre-blog, Email mailing list days. Ah well -- something you long-timers can hold over the newbs heads.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Black Friday video game deals

OK, for the last like five or six years I've given you a heads up on video game deals for Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving).

This year, I'm just pointing you to blackfriday.info, the Website that dares to post circulars from major retailers for your shopping insanity pre-planning enjoyment.

What's the awesome?

You probably need to find what floats your boat (and look for ads for stores in your area, and remember that mistakes or miss-listings do happen occasionally).

But how about a $25 PC Game version of The Orange Box at Best Buy (or a $5 XBox 360 version of Gun, which is cheaper than renting it)?

Maybe a Wal-Mart trip, to net a $30 video rocker chair (which may even be the wireless version, saving you $60)?

Maybe Circuit City, to get a $10 gift card to take the sting out of not being able to get Halo 3 or Assassin's Creed on sale?

Then there's KB Toys, with "buy one get one free entire stock of video games" (limit 4).

Sam's Club will allegedly have the Renegade Game Chair for $180 ($120 off MSP).

Personally, I think Target has some of the better deals on recent games for $48 -- Heavenly Sword, Project Gotham Racing 4, Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box (Xbox 360) -- and some deals like $38 for Gears of the War (XBox 360), and $17 for Saints Row (Xbox 360).

OK, so I didn't just point you to blackfriday.info.

Enjoy your Black Friday shopping.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


So, it's finally happened.

After an approximately three-year focused effort, I'm officially working in the video game industry, hopefully leveraging that perfect storm of my technical skills, business savvy, passion for games, and snarky attitude toward traditional corporate America for the benefit of gamers everywhere.

I am so jazzed.

The recent sporadic posting on this site is because of the physical cross country move ("Goodbye, Texas! Hello, North Carolina!") and new job baptism of fire -- not because of any conflict between the job and this blog. As a matter of fact, the new paycheck-givers are very supportive of my blogging prowess (or proliferation; they didn't really say -- I'll claim both).

So I'll keep blogging my mix of video game news, business analysis, thoughts, ramblings, and rants.

Keep in mind my thoughts don't necessarily reflect those of my masters.

To wit:
"Viewpoints expressed in this Weblog do not reflect or represent the thoughts,
intentions, plans or strategies of my employer, family, friends, acquaintances,
other gamers, or even, quite possibly, me as the author."
There. Think I'm covered now.

Exciting times ahead, kids.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Xbox titles downloadable!

The future is digital downloads.

Well, not the future, but a future. Or, more like a part of the future is digital downloads. Except they've been happening for a while now. So let's just say a part of the retro future is digital downloads.

Anyway, part of the Xbox Live Fall (?) Dashboard update will include (tambor rollo, por favor) the ability "to download and own full Xbox games, such as 'Halo,' 'Psychonauts,' 'Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge' and 'Fable,' among others".

Download, own, and play games. Imagine. It's like GameTap on Xbox Live.

More deets*:
"With no disc necessary, and at just 1,200 Microsoft Points per game, Xbox LIVE members can easily rediscover these hit titles, or check out a game they missed the first time around. This launch lineup is only the beginning, as Xbox 360 owners can expect to see a growing catalog of Xbox games to download and own over the coming year."
`I can't find details on the list, but I wonder if it will be limited to Microsoft-published games (Brute Force, anyone?), or will include all of the backwards compatible titles (Breakdown downloadable? Sweet mother ...

Of course, 1,200 Microsoft Points per game is too ridiculously high -- $14.99. You can buy many of the games on the Xbox backward compatibility list for $9.99 (new) or lower (especially used), just like you can buy a DVD boxed set way cheaper than you can download all of the episodes from Xbox Live -- and someone's pocketing the difference, since there's no $4-$8 physical manufacturing cost.

It's in the right direction, though. Once they fix the pricing model across XBL, I bet they see an explosion in digital purchases.

*Like my street lingo? I'm trying to keep it real with the articulate online gamer peeps. Fuh ral, dat's da shizzle.

Xbox Live turns 5; gamers win

Has it been five years already?


Xbox Live launched November 15, 2007, and this week sees a lot of love from the Big M (no, not The Mouse).

What do you get?

How 'bout a free Xbox LIVE Arcade game,(downloadable between 12:01 a.m. PST on Nov. 15 and 11:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 16); rumor says it's Carcassonne, which is an awesome board-to-video game adaptation.

Want more?

How about an all-night gaming session with classic Return to Castle Wolfenstein?

Get more info about the "5IVE" celebration at Xbox.com, or the various WMA/MP3/PodCast itnerviews at MajorNelson.com.

Enough about this. Now to write the post I really want to write.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Halo 3 OST coming Nov. 20

I'm a fan of the Halo 3 music. I think Marty O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori are two of the more ridiculously talented music folks out there.

And not only is the two-disc Soundtrack coming November 20, but it will include the Halo 3 game score, and re-orchestrated, re-recorded tracks from Halo and Halo 2.

If the following doesn't get you excited, you're probably not the audience for this post:
"... I used a twenty-four voice choir and a sixty piece orchestra for both the new music and the new arrangements of the classic music."
As if that wasn't enough, there's a Website just for the soundtrack, which has the expected track listings and logistical purchase info, but has behind the scenes documentaries and stills, artwork, downloadable sheet music, and "Marty's Playground".

Perhaps the biggest thing sliding under the wire is the announcement that a version of the Adaptive Music System created for Halo 3 will be available after December 1, which will allow you to "'score' in game footage in real-time."

Again, the OST will be available from online and brick and mortar stores November 20, and is available for pre-order now from Amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

WGA out of the game (UPDATED)

So, the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) is currently striking.

So, besides early re-runs and some other, more serious impacts about which I'll probably write on my acting blog, there's a video game impact.

The WGA is trying to a full-on push to get into video games. They put forth big presences and PR as to why it's better to use professional, union writers, at conferences like the Austin Game Developers Conference, even chairing sessions entitled, "Taking Your Videogame [sic] to the Next Level with WGA Talent".

And why wouldn't they want to push into the roughly $26B video game industry?

And why wouldn't we want them too, since we want quality writing?

But there's a problem. Problems. But let's keep it simple.

Problems, like, it's tough to get the majority of the game industry to pay for professional actors, let alone professional writers. (There are some great exceptions, but I'm talking generally.)

And then the writers go and strike.

Why, again, should game companies look at hiring potentially more expensive professional WGA writers, with the risk factor union reps have just introduced into the risk profile for companies assessing whether or not to pay for WGA writers to write games?

UPDATED: Over at IGN.com, it says "A Writer's Guild representative told IGN today that only a handful of game writers are currently represented by the union, and that they fall out of the jurisdiction of the current strike."

Though I still stand by my statements above for possible future impacts.