Games

Oh, the horror

I think the games industry has just demonstrated the very depths to which it is willing to plummet in search of game ideas with Chegger’s Party Quiz. British people my age will have fond (if slightly garishly coloured) memories of Saturday SwapShop which Cheggers (aka Keith Chegwin) presented with Maggie Philbin and Noel Edmonds (before he became an annoying git, or maybe I was just more forgiving aged 8 ), and who can forget Cheggers Plays Pop?

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Kong!

We’ve been getting glimpses of this in the OGRE Forums for a while but now you can actually have a play with it now; Kong! is a deathmatch / capture the flag game with a couple of twists; firstly, everyone plays as a brightly coloured monkey (and you can never have too many monkeys in a game, IMO), and secondly, it’s top-down, like the GTA’s of old. I liked the look of it before but playing it, it’s remarkably well polished - it includes AI-controlled bots, online play and an integrated map editor.

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Mmmm, Orange…

Yes, my pre-ordered copy of The Orange Box turned up today. Seemed like too good an opportunity to miss before the glut of Xmas games comes rolling in - I played Half Life 2 on release, but I hadn’t gotten around to playing Episode 1 yet, so this package includes four new things to play with, namely Half Life 2 add-ons Episodes 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. I wouldn’t call it five games in one really, more one full game and 4 nice add-ons.

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No pain, no gain

I finally managed to finish Hard mode of Guitar Hero 2 last night, having decided finally to stop avoiding the nefarious ‘Furious Fretwork’ section (and particularly two hand-shredding  tracks, Carry Me Home and Psychobilly Freakout) and tackle them head-on. I’d avoided them partly because I don’t like the songs that much, and partly because they’re so bloody difficult, but after a week without playing guitar, real or virtual, I figured my hands were as fresh as they were going to be (although I did do a bit of real guitar practice first).

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PS3 vs 360 wavering

Readers of this blog will already know I don’t own a HD console yet, due to there being no games on either that I have a visceral need to play, at least none that I can’t already play on other platforms. In many ways this generation has been the ‘FPS coming of age’ for consoles, with online play being far more widespread and console lovers lauding it like a new age, but I already did all that on the PC a few years ago so it holds no particular magic for me.

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Bioshock Completed

Spoiler-free section_ _ Well, it took me about a month elapsed to finish it, barring a few days away, and I guess all told it’s been approaching 20 hours play time. Some people have said they found it too short, and that they finished it in 10 hours or something, but personally I think that means they were rushing about too much - me, I took my time. There are lots of things hidden away if you take the time to look, and when the environments are this pretty, and peppered with little side-stories if you look, who wouldn’t want to?

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Zero Punctuation

A friend pointed me at these this weekend and they are absolutely bloody hilarious. The Escapist hosts a rather off-the-wall video commentary on games called Zero Punctuation, written by a British ex-pat now living in Australia. It’s traditional fast-talking dead-pan British wit, so if you like that kind of thing I can’t recommend these enough. His Bioshock critique is really funny - as much as I love this game he’s right to point out that it basically is System Shock 2 with the difficulty turned down, a ripped off Fallout retro style atmosphere and the plot changed.

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Wireless GH controller

Yay, it arrived today. I’ve only tried it out briefly to make sure it worked ahead of a proper breaking in this evening, but it works really well. The feel is a little different so will need some getting used to, for example the fret buttons are glossy and depress flush with the neck, rather than being a little matte and always being a bit raised even when pressed like the wired controller.

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AGDC: Raph Koster On Designing For Everywhere

Gamasutra has a write-up of Raph’s presentation at the Austin Game Developers Conference, and he’s posted the slides on his site. Very interesting stuff, well worth reading and pondering, especially for those looking to capitalise on the large swathes of the market that most of the traditional game industry regularly ignores. I’m particularly interested in his thoughts on asynchronous online gaming (that is, being able to have a meaningful interaction with others even if you’re not online at exactly the same time).

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When weekends go bad, and Guitar Hero controllers

I’ve been relatively quiet online the last few days - I was ‘up North’ on Friday via a red-eye flight to Manchester which entailed a simply wonderful 5am start and returning home at around 9pm, so obviously not much got done that day (besides the consultancy I was hired for of course). On top of that, on returning home I found out that one of our cats had become very ill during the day; retching and hacking and generally breathing really badly, and not eating at all (very unusual for this one).

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