Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chick inspired

As some of you may have noticed, I'm a big fan of Tom Chick. He and I, I think, see games in a lot of the same ways. There are differences of opinion - his complaints about Hellgate: London baffle me a bit, because apparently I'm all in for mindless button mashing from time to time. And inventory management is the game.

One of things that I like most about reading his articles and live journal notes (he also refers to his Web Accessible Journal as a blog) is that it reminds me of gaming related stuff I need to do. Like "Rise of Nations". I love "Rise of Nations". Why did I stop playing RoN? Because the guys (that would be my regular LAN crew) felt it was both like and not "Empire Earth", which given the time, they would rather play. I believe this is the same reason we are not playing "World in Conflict" or "Dawn of War" either.

Fortunately, RoN features a very nice take over the world single campaign, something it shares with DoW - Dark Crusade and the just released DoW - Soul Storm. I'm taking a pass on Soul Storm, mostly because it adds two factions I couldn't give a fig for and because it doesn't add anything to the already very nice Dark Crusade.

As a result of which, while I wait for my pre-release trial client (please stop calling it a beta...) of Age of Conan to download, which is you may have deduced, not the MMO I'm looking for (hint hint warhammer hint), I'm reinstalling RoN to see if it's as good as I've remembered.

Besides its something I can play before the kids go to bed, as opposed to GTA:IV. Which I have to admit I would rather be playing except for the whole not really good for the general audience thing.

Footnote on Presentation

Anything over 2 seconds is too long. If I make a request to a system and have time to actually think about counting, I've waited too long.

GTA IV is the bomb. It's got some pretty harsh political criticism tucked in the corners, which is awesome. The "more realistic" controls are taking a bit of getting used to. I keep mashing buttons to accelerate and brake when I need to be using the triggers.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Media Replacement

I've recently run into a little known Xbox 360 issue. Actually, the small amount of info I have found seems to indicate the problem goes back to the Xbox era as well, but I never had one of those. It seems that the media are a bit on the fragile side and prone to cracking when being removed from the case. It manifests in the form of a tiny crack running radially from the spindle hole. This, of course, makes the disk unreadable. Which is probably a good thing as a cracked disk has a chance of flying apart. Which I have to think would not be real good for the drive.

I don't want to blow this out of proportion. The vast majority of disks are OK and will last you the lifespan of the game, and probably the guy you sell it to. But, like any manufacturing process, it's not 100%. Stuff happens. If I had to guess (no testing here), I would think the choice to embed a hologram in the reinforced spindle ring in order to prove the disk is "real" is what is causing the issue.

I've taken to keeping the games in sleeves, thereby reducing the number of opportunities to crack the disk by accident. The real problem is, I now have two busted games. The first to go, HALO 3, is going to cost $10 to replace. Microsoft has a media replacement program, but only for a very short list of titles.

The second, Lego Star Wars Complete, I'm just going to have to buy, I guess, because Lucasarts insists I have my proof of purchase. That would be the receipt. You kept that, right? Even if I had the receipt, being outside the legally mandated 90 days, they want $15 for a replacement disk. Which brings me to my beef.

Why are you charging me $15 to replace a broken disk? I'm sending you the disk, you can see it's legit, which means I already paid $60 for your license. I'm sure it costs all of about $.50 to make one of these disks now. And I know you don't want to spend $2.00 on shipping, so charge me $5.00 and you've made some.

I'm sure there is some deeply guarded secret of manufacturing that I'm overlooking here. But I have to admit, on the surface, this looks more like customer anti-support.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Like painting with stone hands

I've been banging away with the new engine for almost two weeks solid now. After floundering around, I've settled on a remake of "the Realm". Which was my attempt at making my own version of Talisman while it was out of print. As a board game it was ok. The guys actually voted to play it few times, which with my crowd of friends/testers is actually high praise.

Working with the tool is a mixed bag. I think it's what happens when you try to do fine art with crayons. If you're really good, it can look nice.

That's not the point though. The point is I'm in the zone. The road gets tough, I slow down, I push through. I haven't got any public storage, but once I get some, I'll link to builds as they happen. I may have an alpha in two weeks, assuming I keep my pace.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How about now?

And now the hot sheets are saying it's gone gold? How can that be if the "beta" test is just starting (fileplanet started giving out beta keys yesterday)?

Stop calling it a beta test when it isn't. It's a pre-release demo.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beta Test for Age of Conan

... or at least that's what they're calling it. Of course the game goes to retail in theory on the 20th of May, so how much testing is going on really? How much change can be incorporated into a game for which the strategy guide must already be at the printers. Actually, I don't know if there is a strategy guide for AoC, planed, printing or otherwise, but usually that's how it works.

So it's not really a beta test, then is it? I mean if the testers can't actually influence the design of the game? What are they testing? Is it really a market test? Anyways, it's just become another one of those peeves I have, like the spiritual successor.

I'm going to do my standard get on fileplanet, best $7.50 a month I spend, so hopefully I'll get a peek at it. That's more of a preview han a beta test. I may or may not be able to share, as I take the NDA thing serious. Let you know.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mental Explosion

I just found one of the coolest sites ever. YoYo Games - They make a *simple* sprite game design tool. By simple I mean easy to use, not simplistic and shallow. Oh, and its FREE.

I've already built one.

And then my head exploded. I now need to sit down an re-organize my projects, because with this tool I could literally build any idea I've had in the last two decades. As a video game. That you could play. Assuming I let you.

First up - reorganize the list of projects. I'm writing down the title of every idea I've had and prioritizing them in order of appetite - i.e. how bad I want to play it. Nothing is off side now. Rules of Engagement just came back from shelf 13. Of course I need a new title now, but it's back on. When I settle down I'll post the short list and exec summaries and we can vote.

Need to breath now...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hank Lives!

(DD to some)

Ok, all I have is a serous case of dust contamination. This means two things:
  1. I need to start cleaning my case more often.
  2. I need a new processor fan/cooler, because the one I have is now making a ticking noise.
As I remember it, however, I dislike the mounts for the 775 coolers. They use friction pins, which seems to me to be a recipe for cracking your mother board. All cooler/fan recommendations will be considered. Cool vs. quiet debates will be entertained. The cooler & fan I'm using are the stock Intel pack ins.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dark Gaming Day

If it wasn't April 1st, you wouldn't blink about sympathizing. But I'm not making this up. It appears the gods of change wish to throw me another gaming curve ball. Not only am I now suspicious that my 360 is breaking discs, but Hank (DD to some) has decided to go brain dead.

At 7:35 this morning I came to the workstation to find it unresponsive. Not unheard of, as it is a Windows machine after all. When I forcible re-booted, however, it decided to be cranky. I got a long beep with a long space (repeating) and no video (i.e. no post). This doesn't clear until I cold power the box (unplug it I mean). It came back up once, and then hard crashed again after about 10 minutes.

So, over heating? Bad video? Not sure yet. I'll keep you in the loop. For now it looks like I need to advance my Larry re-install project on the time line.