Humble Bundle

Earlier this year, the head of independent developer Wolfire Games approached his friends and contacts in the games community with the idea that they should offer their games on a “pay what you want” basis. The Humble Indie Bundle, which included indie darling Gish and my beloved World of Goo, went on sale in May and, despite many people offering $0.01 for the collection, raised over $1.2 million (almost $400,000 of which went to charity). The sale was such a success they decided to try it all over again with the Humble Indie Bundle 2, which is available for the next few days.… Read the rest

iOS Gaming Thoughts, Part 1

Warning – this is a rambling rant, based on little experience. It is all speculation on my part – I’m not saying these things will happen, merely musing on what it could mean it they did. Don’t take it too seriously.

As I mentioned on the VL Twitter feed, I now have an iPod Touch. I guess that means I should take a serious look at some iOS games.

I’ve mentioned it briefly in the past, but I’ve been a supporter of iOS gaming, even if I haven’t played on it. The hardware is powerful and plentiful, and the motion control/touch screen combo can be used to great advantage by clever developers.… Read the rest

When are graphics good enough?

In an old Edge column, Mr. Biffo commented that he remembers thinking that at a certain point in console history graphics became good enough. Meaning that at whatever point he picked, the release of the 3DO, say, graphical fidelity in games ceased being an issue. Art could be better or worse, of course, but all in all games simply looked good enough.

This era of good enough began for me in 1999 with the release of the Dreamcast. Early 3D looked kind of terrible and even the PS1/Saturn/N64 games with “good” graphics make my eyes bleed today, but Sega’s early jump into the 4th generation (that’s 4th going by Japanese consoles I care about, starting with the NES/SMS) gave us mature looking 3D that still looks good today.… Read the rest

The Ride of Your Life

Gran Turismo 5 is out now, after years of development time and a daunting number of delays, including a few last minute announcements which left retailers stuck with incorrect ads and preorder cards, and no reliable information for customers as to when they can expect the game .  The end result is that the biggest release in Sony’s most iconic franchise is being met with confusion and ambivalence.

After all this, the question is simple – was it worth it?  The jury’s still out, but the early reviews are coming in, and the good ones all express the same common feeling about the game, even if some of the final scores are typically inflated. … Read the rest

Gadgets and games – when to move on?

One of the nicest things about this console generation has been the lack of concern over the next generation. At the very least it demonstrates that the industry isn’t entirely insane. Microsoft might have put the original Xbox to bed too quickly, but at least its successor, the 360, has been in it for the long haul. Game consoles are damn expensive, and it is a nice feeling to be able to go several years worrying only about what games you want to buy next, rather than how you will be able to afford another “investment” of several hundred dollars.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before some writer decided it was time to declare this generation dead, and this small essay is one of the first pieces I have seen so far.… Read the rest

Medal of Honor and Today’s Market

The new Medal of Honor game is out this week.  The reviews have been wishy washy at best, the sales will probably not reach Call of Duty levels, and once again, we should have all seen this coming.

A game like Medal of Honor is frustrating for me.  I can see what it is striving to achieve (aside from make EA money), and I know it is an impossible goal.  The most heavily hyped aspect of the project was how it was made with input from elite soldiers who took place in some of the earliest operations in the current war in Afghanistan. … Read the rest

Opinion – Final Fantasy 13

For weeks, I have been trying to write something, anything, about Final Fantasy 13, but the task has proven difficult.  One reason is that anything worth saying about the game has been stated already, and by better writers.  Another is that I continue to suffer from the longest period of writer’s block I have ever encountered.  Recently, I came to a third conclusion about my struggles; you can’t say much about a game that itself has no point. That’s the best way I can describe FF13.  It exists as multiple pieces and components, none of which work together to create a unified experience.… Read the rest

Runegate – When Sales Beats Common Sense

Riot Games finally released a feature for League of Legends that has been begged for since the game’s inception: additional rune pages. For those of you who aren’t familiar, runes are one of the metagame features in League of Legends that allows you to customize your gameplay. You get a series of different slots, and can purchase runes that buff various attributes of your character: movespeed, damage, mana, health, etc. This enables additional strategy for the game, and runes can only be purchased via “Influence Points,” a currency that is only earned by playing the game (win or loss), as opposed to “Riot Points” which are only gained through real money transactions.… Read the rest

Sounds

I may have already mentioned ALREADY JESUS CHRIST ALREADY GET OFF MY BACK MOM ALREADY! That I am a big fan of video game soundtracks. Be it the official tunes, an inspired remix and very occasionally I even allow songs which have merely sampled an OT to creep onto the MP3 player. PRO TIP: Never ever, ever be tempted to listen to a video game related song which has been filed under the ‘comedy’ or ‘humorous’ genres. They are almost exclusively 11 year old boys who sound like girls on helium doing the first season Pokemon theme tune. Tetris remixes aside, of which team videolamer are veritable connoisseurs, I do like hard copy soundtracks.

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The New Xbox 360

The release of the newest version of the Xbox 360 came right before I prepared to move to my own apartment, where my roomate’s console would be unavailable for the first time in several years.  Perfect timing I guess, though there are always caveats with console hardware revisions, ones which make all the new features a little less exciting. Rather than research what these might be, I decided to buy the new 360 blind.  Here is what I have found:

– Microsoft continues to rip off their pals at Sony and Nintendo when convenient.   The new hardware has a touch sensor for the power button and disc eject, and it makes beeps when turned on and off. … Read the rest