Dead Space teaches you many things. Firstly, that large abandoned space ships are not the place to be if you have frayed nerves. They creak and make random clanks. Lights don’t work properly. Automated systems kick in and scare the bejesus out of you. When things are quiet, think Alien. I’ve heard that it gets less creepy and more combative later on, but I’m 4 hours in and it’s still very much in suspense mode, barring one ‘boss fight’ with a ‘Brute’.
It was my birthday last week (and my wife’s), and while I’ve been far too busy to have any time off (cue world’s smallest violin), I have managed to find a little time to play a few new games. I’m still deeply mired in Fallout 3 too, having invested 60 hours in it over the last 4 months with still loads to do - see, this is why I can’t handle more than one ‘big’ game a year anymore - and Gears and Rock Band are still regular staples, but there’s always room for variety.
When Harmonix responded to GHWT’s user-created content feature by saying they wanted to hold off until they could do it properly, they definitely weren’t kidding. Today they announced the Rock Band Network, which will be online later this year (on 360 only for the moment, because it seems they’re piggy-backing on the XNA Creator’s Club to handle the submission and billing). Rather than provide an in-game sequencer using samples like GHWT does, with RBN bands use their original master tracks, recorded using their usual software but presumably still split into the appropriate tracks, and gives them a set of tools (for PC I assume) to add the MIDI notes which will be translated into the instrument charts.
I’m still waiting to get my 360 back after it fell on its own sword, but luckily late last week I got confirmation that it’s making its way back to me (or at least, a doppleganger with a service label on it is). It’s now languishing somewhere in Belgium as it meanders through UPS’s various relay stations like some signal trying to evade detection. All in all it will have taken about a month for the repair to go through, with a week of that just being lost by nothing happening with the initial web-registered fault report, and the rest just being dreadfully slow UPS shuttling of boxes (a courier that takes a week to go from Germany to here isn’t really ‘express’ if you ask me - I made it in a day, and FedEx is always much faster than this).
In recent years, I’ve been pretty disappointed with Nintendo (barring the excellent Super Mario Galaxy) and their machines for seeming to totally miss the opportunities that their devices offered for new types of games, lamenting that they just seem content to regurgitate every game from their previous consoles and couple it with a lazy waggle / touch control scheme, and go for the super-casual brigade with things that can only be loosely described as games (Wii Fit, Wii Music), and leave it at that.
Too many rant posts lately, let’s talk about something positive. I’m still really enjoying Fallout 3, it’s far, far exceeded my expectations and I really can’t believe it was made by the same company that created the cookie-cutter, sprawling yawnfest that was Oblivion. Now, being a veteran of the series (Fallout 1 and 2 were some of my favourite RPGs of all time, along with Planescape: Torment and KOTOR), to some degree it’s nothing new - they have clearly lifted a great deal of the style and content directly from the originals, but the fact that they’ve managed to do this without trampling over my treasured memories of the original is a revelation.
I picked up on the Gamasutra article about B-games thanks to Penny Arcade, and I found the debate fascinating. I’m a regular casual consumer of B-movies myself, thanks to the fact that the Sci-Fi channel shows them almost constantly, and their ability to amuse is seemingly inexhaustable. I also like the fact that you really don’t need to watch the whole of a B-movie to get something out of it, or even see the beginning or the end; you can have fun just trying to figure out the (usually awful) plot by just watching a 30-minute slot - in fact this is part of the entertainment.
For those who don’t follow these things, the new, free Left 4 Dead DLC drops next week, which does 2 things - it enables ‘Versus’ mode on the 2 maps where it wasn’t available before, and it adds a new gameplay mode called ‘Survival’, which is basically about holing the survivors up in one area of the map and throwing zombies at them relentlessly, with leaderboard scoring for the teams that survive the longest.
Cool, another relatively unknown (in the US anyway) British band is getting their start in Rock Band next week; Glasvegas with their track Geraldine. It’s a really good song, so great that it’s in there. Should I be ashamed that I’m glad Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” is in there too? Probably. And… Spongebob. Yeah, that Spongebob, it’s not some quirky ironic punk band or something. Bizarre - one for the kids though I guess 😀
Deck13 are one of the longest-running commercial users of Ogre in the game industry, having completed 3 full retail games using it now. They have 2 more in the works, and one is Venetica, an action-RPG; and it’s looking really nice. I uploaded a bunch of screenshots to our gallery recently which were passed on to me direct, but they have more on their website too, like the one shown here.