Month: July 2008

I Swear to GOD…

Tim Schafer cannot catch a break in this goddamn industry.

Move on, Tim. Go work for Pixar. Write an animated movie for them and make a hojillion dollars. I know you loving Gaming, but Gaming is currently controlled by her chain-smoking crack-addicted abusive alcoholic mother Corporate Game Development and until Gaming finds the courage to sneak out of her mother’s house and jump into your convertible so you can spirit her away, you two are obviously never going to be together.

Edit: I jumped the gun just a bit on this (though reading that headline, can you blame me?) I had actually gone to the Double Fine Action News Site to find out if Brutal Legend was going to be okay. I did not think to mouseover the picture of the weevil, but that’s Schafer for you.

Edit 2: Turns out that Activision did drop Brutal Legend – fortunately, Double Fine owns the IP. So things aren’t quite as rosy as Tim made them out to be. Yes, in theory, with Guitar Hero and Rock Band making squillions of dollars finding a new publisher for Brutal Legend should be a no-brainer, but please see the “chain-smoking crack-addicted abusive alcoholic mother” comment I made above.

My Son David’s Two-Word Review of Lego Indiana Jones

“It’s awesome!”

I am inclined to agree. Pulled down the demo over Xbox Live and I am very impressed with it. Lego Star Wars was much more combat-oriented, with the gameplay basically consisting of you entering an arena, shooting or eviscerating anything that moved, and then figuring out how to move on to the next arena. David actually had trouble with this because most of the puzzles weren’t explicated very well. Most of them required you to use a Jedi power to open a path for another character, who could then open the door. While David did figure it all out eventually, I had to help him a fair bit and there was some frustration.

Lego Indiana Jones is much closer to a traditional platformer with lots and lots of well-constructed puzzles to solve as well as some combat. And excellent cutscenes – when Lego Indy escapes the first temple after being chased by the ball he is confronted by Lego Belloc, who demands the golden idol. Lego Indy tries to give him Lego C-3PO’s head instead. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.

One of my design philosophies is “Let players be clever, and reward them when they are” and Lego Indiana Jones follows that philosophy well. And frankly I was amazed at how quickly David – without any direction from me – figured everything out. He had no trouble with the puzzles where you had to do something with one character then switch to another because the game made it much more clear what you were supposed to do. After seeing the demo I will definitely be picking it up.

What My Friends Are Doing

Yes, it’s another “while you are waiting” post. Deal.

I’ve got a couple friends here at work whose websites are definitely worth checking out.

First, Patrick Rogers. He’s an avid Go player who recently hit traffic gold on his site by being the first person to post the complete lyrics to all three episodes of Dr. Horrible.

Second, Brandon “Rusty” Parks. Rusty’s a real character, as you’ll be able to tell when he starts talking about how the universe has a discrete pixel size and a discrete frame rate.

Third, Bobby Thurman…who I actually don’t work with any more and probably should keep in better contact with.

And finally, you know those people who keep coming into game development forums or IRC channels and ask how to program an MMORPG? Yeah, laugh at them. Go ahead. Because everybody knows that nobody can possibly write an indie MMORPG. And oddly enough, it’s being worked on by all three of the gentlemen I detailed above! What are the odds?!

While You Are Waiting…

…no, don’t fill out your registration card and send it in. Brush up on your gaming history instead!

Read about the rise and fall of Mucky Foot, successors to Bullfrog and creators of Urban Chaos and StarTopia.

You may have heard about Ion Storm‘s spectacular flameout, but if you’ve never read the original Dallas Observer article on it, you should!

And you should also read Allen Varney’s excellent (if somewhat biased) article on how EA bought and then destroyed Origin Systems.


That Sound You Hear…

Yeah, that crunching sound? It denotes crunching.

Which is why I haven’t been posting, why I haven’t been able to do anything with Planitia this week and why Name That Game 50! isn’t done (it’s not going to be a contest, but it is going to be a bit involved).

My apologies. Hopefully things will loosen up within a week or two.


I had another game development-related dream last night.

In it I was at a booth at some sort of trade show watching a demo of a new tech that would make computer-generated characters look much more realistic. The tech simulated a colloidal substance for the characters’ skin, which fixed pointy-head syndrome, allowed for much more realistic skin tones since the top layer of skin is translucent, and – my favorite – allowed for much more realistic modeling of wounds. The demo showed characters getting stabbed, shot and slashed, with the wounds then “healing” in a realistic manner. It even showed wounds healing differently based on the medical care the character got.

The only downside was that when the characters talked, the colloidal surface around their lips would seal when their mouths were closed and then tear away when they opened, making everybody look like zombies. When I pointed this out to the guy manning the demo booth, he made a face. “Yeah, we’re working on that.”


Sorry I haven’t updated recently…I’ve been working hard both at work and at home, and also had the holiday over the weekend (which went well; we got a great view of the fireworks and all my kids loved them, though my littlest was covering her ears at first).

Just wanted to let you guys know that the next version of Planitia…will be multiplayer-enabled 🙂 And I’m hoping to have it for you in a week or two.

Oh, and I will be doing something special for the 50th Name That Game! this week…I just don’t know what yet.