New posts over at RRQ

February 1, 2010

New posts uploaded to Restore, Restart, Quit, while the 2nd episode (with Hyper and PC Powerplay founding member Ben Mansill) is prepared:

  • Preservation vs Profit – can copyright laws be more sympathetic to those preserving games, whilst still enabling creators reasonable opportunity to profit from their work?

  • Green bars in Call of Duty? – Remembering a Call of Duty game that was actually playable online; and
  • Short Memory – gaming discussion is not being preserved, either. Metacritic’s sad list of dead links.

That’s where I’m posting now. Please update your links.

Now podcasting and posting at Restore Restart Quit

January 23, 2010

Rohan Harris and I have started a new podcast called Restore, Restart, Quit, about videogaming in all its glorious forms.

The first episode, with special guest Joab Gilroy from GameArena, is here.

I’ve written a new post on the subject of preserving older games from the ravages of extreme copyright laws, as well.

I’ll be posting on gaming subjects there for the foreseeable future. Please update your links.

Working together

January 15, 2010

You know those DS/Wii “Trauma Center” games, where you pretend to be a doctor and perform operations on pretend patients by applying antibiotic gel, cutting them open with a scalpel, using an ultrasound to find a tumour, make an incision, take it out with the tweezers, seal it up with an artificial membrane, secure it with antibiotic gel, drain some blood from the incision, suture it up, apply more antibioticgelandsecurethebandagequicklybeforetimerunsout?

Aaagh! The pressure!

You wouldn’t think they’d work all that well as a co-operative game.

But they do. Very well indeed.

Picture it – you and your significant other, desperately fighting against the clock and having to work together to keep the patient alive during the operation. While one of you drains the area and tries to piece the bones back together, the other is removing shards and injecting a stabilising drug. One of you drains, the other steps in quickly and sutures before it ruptures. Quick! We’re running out of time! I’ll apply the gel and you bandage! …We made it! With .56 of a second to spare!

And if you like gore in your videogames, IT DELIVERS.

You work together and it feels really good.

Trauma Center: New Blood – my new favourite couple videogame.

Do Americans just suck at COD:MW2?

January 1, 2010

Quick question: does Infinity Ward make the matchmaking system in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 dodgy and unfair for non-Americans because American players are so bad they need all the help they can get? Has the company concluded that US players have no pride, that they don’t mind that every one of their kills against an overseas adversary is cheapened when the game does everything it can to hand them a ridiculous advantage?

Do Americans really need the free lag-kills against Australians and others shoved by the faulty IW game into US-hosted matches because they can’t compete on a level playing-field? Do Americans require the US company that makes the game to give them the extra assistance of precious extra seconds in every encounter, because if they didn’t then then those US customers would abandon them for a company willing to pander to their inadequacies? Are US players really so embarrassingly shit-house that they desperately need online game developers to cripple the game for their overseas competitors?

Or are US players equally as good as players around the world, and it’s just that Infinity Ward is an incompetent developer that doesn’t give a damn about its international customers?

Hit ’em where it hurts: DLC

December 28, 2009

Those publishers with established franchises often feel entirely comfortable treating their customers’ complaints with contempt because the allegedly flawed product sells brilliantly anyway. Prince of Persia and Force Unleashed had extremely dodgy gameplay, but we’d already bought them by the time we realised what the reviewers had glossed over. COD:MW2 might have been a steaming pile of garbage in the single-player, and the multiplayer might have been unplayable for anyone not in the US, but we bought it anyway. GTA IV was an enormous disappointment, but we only found that out after it we got home. Left 4 Dead has appallingly bad matchmaking facilities for non-Americans, but we bought the sequel.

But you know where it does hurt them? DLC. I haven’t bought DLC for any of the above – and it was a happy confluence of principle and what I was going to do anyway. If you don’t enjoy a game that you thought you were going to enjoy, you still might consider the sequel, on the off-chance that they fix the things that made it a disappointment. But DLC, the most profitable form of game development – well, that’s more of the same game. And why would you pay for that if you ultimately didn’t enjoy the main title?

So I have no idea what happens in the PoP “Epilogue”. I didn’t care to find out what happened with “The Lost and the Damned” or Gay Tony. I’m never going to see whatever the extra Star Wars levels were for Force Unleashed. And if they don’t fix matchmaking on MW2 I might well not buy the inevitable new multiplayer maps – I certainly won’t be buying any single-player extensions.

And I’m glad. There should be a cost for developers not properly playtesting their games. And if it isn’t at retail, because we’re not being properly warned by reviewers before purchase, then at least DLC gives us an opportunity to be heard. And where they’re most likely to listen.

Sony PlayTV impressions

December 26, 2009

Reader LGWS wants to share his experiences with the PlayTV/PS3 bundle:

Let me start by saying that Sony’s new ‘PlayTV’ device is a bargain.

Converting a next gen console into a full-blown High-Definition DVR for ~$150? Brilliant.

  1. Scheduled recording is SPECTACULARLY easy. Find the program you want, select, choose record and it’s done. Even better, you can start the recording early, or finish it late, if you don’t trust the TV networks.

  2. Free EPG over the air… no subscription fees.
  3. Very easy to set up and use, download a system update and you’re away!
  4. Sony even gives you a sticker to overlay over your Sony remote, so buttons are easily found.

BUT, like with all things Sony, there are a couple of flaws:

  1. It plugs in to a USB cable, so you have to permanently have a USB cable coming out the front of your shiny new console, and

  2. When you finish viewing something recorded on the DVR, it just freezes on the last frame, until you press stop. (and when you go to view the same program again, you have to reset it to the start manually) {Jeremy: the PS3 does this with all videos, not just PlayTV ones}

This second issue is a HUGE deal if you have a plasma, and put on an episode of ‘Thomas & Friends’ for your 2 year old, who doesn’t know how to manipulate Sony’s remote controller, leaving an image on screen to “burn in”.

Anyway, I highly recommend this product if you don’t have a DVR already, or only have a Standard-Defintion DVR, or have children (ABC has 3 channels showing children’s TV during the day!) or just want to get rid of your current set-top box.

Censorship in other media

December 22, 2009

Do you have a PS3? Fire up VidZone, and select the Eminem song “Stan”. The Sony-approved version is amazing. After censoring every swear word earlier, by the second-last verse they’ve just given up and are cutting almost everything. It’s bizarre.


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