Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flashback to the 1980s - 90s

Who doesn't remember waking up to a bowl of Zelda/Mario cereal.  Who remembers those ugly ass PJs every kid had that was 7 sizes to small?  Waking up to Thunder Cats, GI Joe and Transformers before Hollywood turned them into trash.  Well, here's a little throw back to the golden age of cartoons.


Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm cinematic leaks

Blizzarrd Entertainment has been having a rough time keeping video of the second installment in its Starcraft II series under its hat. Late last year, what purported to be an in-development CG cinematic ostensibly spoiled Heart of the Swarm's ending. Now, a second Heart of the Swarm leak has hit the Internet outside of Blizzard's customary channels, though this one falls squarely in the promotional column.
The leaked teaser begins with what appears to be a team of ghosts infiltrating a secure compound. The ghosts make short work of a security retinue, before the group's leader issues the foreboding command: "Find Kerrigan." Her statement is, of course, in reference to the Zerg faction's leader, Sarah Kerrigan, who was once a ghost herself before being assimilated by the Swarm and set up as their queen.
The trailer then offers its first glimpse of series protagonist Jim Raynor, a space marine who is Kerrigan's primary love interest. With Raynor in hot pursuit, the ghosts gain access to a sealed chamber. However, that chamber proves to be their end, as a massive energy burst from within levels the room and destroys the door.
Raynor then enters the blown-out room, only to be greeted by a posterior shot of an individual that is ostensibly Kerrigan.
Blizzard has yet to affix a firm launch window to Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, though the game's director has largely discounted a 2011 release. Last October, Battle.net project director Greg Canessa indicated that the game was approximately 18 months out, putting its release date in the March-April 2012 range. However, Blizzard is notorious for altering its release date plans.

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Android 3.1 Honeycomb - A better tablet

If you haven’t yet noticed, Android 3.0 Honeycomb just got even better with the new Android 3.1 update. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the latest version of Android tick and how it’s a major step forward for Honeycomb tablets like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer.
Google is always working to tweak and improve the Android OS experience, and we’re seeing the fruits of that labor with Android 3.1. With boosted 3D graphics performance, hardware acceleration for Adobe Flash, snazzy new homescreen widgets and support for USB peripherals (like cameras and game controllers), the new update will make that Honeycomb tablet of yours rock!
So, what can you expect in Android 3.1 for your Honeycomb tablet?
Faster, smoother UI
You’ll notice that the entire OS runs smoother and faster. Android 3.1 further improves responsiveness and transitions, so scrolling and transition animations are smoother. Switching between apps and swiping through the homescreen is faster and more responsive. Menu interactions are also more responsive, lending to a more cohesive Android experience on your tablet.
Up to 30 percent better 3D graphics performance
One of the benefits of having a Tegra 2 dual-core processor, equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GPU, in your Android Honeycomb tablet is that you can count on class-leading 3D graphics performance in apps and games. But it’s not enough to simply have the right hardware to do the job – the operating system also has to be optimized to take advantage of what’s ticking underneath.
The Android 3.1 update boasts 3D graphics performance by 30 percent. That means you’ll see higher frame rates in 3D games and a richer gaming experience with Tegra-optimized gaming titles.
Hardware accelerated Adobe Flash content
There are tablet operating systems out there that don’t support Adobe’s Flash web technology. Thankfully, Android Honeycomb has full support for Adobe Flash.  Google and Adobe engineers further optimized Android 3.1 and Flash Player 10.3 to deliver the kind of Flash experience you expect on your desktop.
Android 3.1 adds hardware accelerated Flash into the mix. This latest version of Honeycomb leverages Tegra 2 to display fullscreen Flash videos. That means you won’t have to worry about the video lagging or frames dropping when playing the videos in fullscreen. It also means you can stream Flash videos in full 720p HD resolution from Youtube.com, TV.com, Vimeo.com and more.
Support for USB peripherals
Android 3.1 also supports USB On-The-Go (OTG) protocol. So, you can connect accessories like keyboards, mice, cameras and even joysticks and gamepads to your Honeycomb tablet.
Want to comfortably type out longer emails on your Honeycomb tablet or use your tablet more like you’d use a laptop? Simply connect your Bluetooth keyboard and Bluetooth mouse and you’re good to go.
Looking to offload some photos from your camera? Simply plug your camera into the tablet and see them pop-up automatically in the Gallery.
Or, maybe you simply want to get your game on with a comfortable game controller. Thanks to Android 3.1 and USB OTG, you can enjoy your game to the fullest by using Bluetooth game controllers, Logitech Dual Action gamepads, or any other standard joystick or racing wheel.

When the topic of video game music comes up, gamers and even non-gamers have a tendency to think back on the classic melodies from Super Mario Bros., Tetris, or Final Fantasy. These catchy 8-bit tunes left a lasting impression, especially for anyone lucky enough to grow up during the era of big hair and leg warmers. Older games like the iconic Pac-Man and Pong have also made their mark in the audio realm of video games, but digital music and sound go back even further than the 1970s.
It was 1957 when Max Mathews wrote MUSIC, one of the first computer programs written to make music (or sound) on a digital computer and was widely used in the music research community. Mathews' program spawned multiple descendants including current programs such as Csound, Cmix and MAX--named after Mathews himself--that video game composers such as Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill, Shadows of the Damned) have used. In the 1970s Mathews developed Groove, a system used to create and manipulate music, and it was the first computer system designed for live performance.

Like what you're reading?  Do you enjoy listening to video game music?  Check out this awesome article here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sony's Next Console in Development

The successor to the PlayStation 3 is currently in development, Sony confirmed during the company's investor meeting today. 

Executive vice president and chief financial officer Masaru Kato was asked to explain the rising research and development costs for the company's fiscal year. "In the game segment, we have the NGP to launch later this year. So we have development expenses to be incurred for this product," he explained. 

"For the home console, the PS3 still has a product life, but this is a platform business, so for the future platform - when we will introduce the product I cannot discuss - but development work is underway, so the costs are incurred there." 

Nintendo recently announced plans to reveal its new console at E3 next month, with a full product release in 2012. Meanwhile, Microsoft began hiring for its "next generation console" this past March. 

E3 2011 Preview

Here's a 4+ minute trailer about one of the biggest events yet!  Check out here for more information.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

E3 2011: FIFA 12 Redefines Football Once More

A few years back, EA completely reinvented football (soccer for Yanks) with full 360 degree movement. FIFA 12 has just as significant an improvement, offering great player control and some excellent new gameplay additions. Seriously, once you play FIFA 12, it's impossible to go back to FIFA 11.

There are four major improvements to FIFA's gameplay: Redefined control, new physics engine, better defending, and player-specific AI. EA gave me its spiel, which sounded good, but then I got a chance to play a match in FIFA 12. It's not boastful on EA's part -- FIFA 12 is an incredible improvement over FIFA 11.

True control

For the past few FIFA titles, it appeared you had good control of your player. But turning was an odd thing. Players circled as if they were in a car. Now, players can literally put their foot on the ball while standing and rotate around. Momentum impacts a player (as does his skill), but overall there is more finite control. This might seem like a minor change, but its impact is staggering when comparing how FIFA 12 handles compared to FIFA 11. 

Footballers with great skill can dance with the ball, adjusting pacing, sucking in defenders and then exploding with a deft move to swing around them. And I mean roll right off their back. The sophistication of close contact is impressive, even with just two games of FIFA 12 under my belt. 

It's Gonna Hurt

This is thanks to the new impact engine, which adds more realistic interactions between players. Players pull at one another, as they fight for position. Feet tangle. You'll see hard crashes, painful flips, and the physical toll a match can have. Nothing looks or feels canned and the level of detail is to the point of being able to see a foot get caught and an ankle turn the wrong way for a sprain. 

In fact, injuries occur based on how players collide. FIFA 12 knows every major muscle and bone in a player's body and how force can impact them. EA promises players will hobble when they've pulled a hamstring and otherwise offer more believable reactions to their injuries. In my first game, I had two injuries and in the second there were three. Hopefully the injury bug isn't too prevalent. While realism is great, no one wants to see their team decimated after just a few games. 

Get Defensive

I've always been a fan of FIFA's simple defensive system. Hold a button and you bear down on the ball. It's easy to use and even allows novices a chance on defense. But it can also leave you exposed, since you go right for the ball handler. FIFA 12 solves this. You still hold a single button, but you defend a zone around the other player. At any time you can move forward and initiate a tackle or whatever else you want to do, but if not, you keep some space from the ball to try and avoid allowing Lionel Messi to blow by you. 

More FIFA 12 screenshots.

This allows players to try and edge offensive players into a corner or better intercept passes. It gives more control over how you defend the ball, which means that you don't have to defend every player the same way. 

I found defending far easier and it was like my football IQ automatically jumped a few notches. Suddenly FIFA started feeling like a legit match. It's actually tougher for the AI to exploit the common mistakes a gamer might make in FIFA 11. Once you see the benefits of using spacing to defend against the ball (instead of always rushing forward for a tackle), it's hard to think about playing FIFA any other way. 

Clever Girl

EA calls it Pro Player Intelligence. What the hell does that mean? Players understand who is on the pitch with them and act accordingly. If you have Peter Crouch, chances are Rafael van der Vaart is going to lob a lot of high crosses near the goal to take advantage of his height. 

This also means players will play to their strengths. For example, FIFA 12 takes into a player's field of vision on the pitch. Kaka is going to be able to recognize an opening in the defense for a teammate running down the wing and get him the ball, whereas middies from the bottom of the table won't see the option. 

It's tough to judge this from two games, but it sounds promising. 

If EA can deliver, FIFA 12 will leapfrog FIFA 11's gameplay. At this point, the only real competition for EA is last year's FIFA. And the team seems determined to outdo itself. That's pretty awesome to see. 

ImagiNation Network

The ImagiNation Network (INN), aka The Sierra Network (TSN), was an early online multiplayer gaming system. Developed by Sierra On-Line in 1989, and first available to the public in 1991, the ImagiNation Network was a unique online gaming network that gave subscribers from all over the United States of America a place where they could "play games, make friends and have fun". With a wide variety of games including RPGs, World War I aeroplane simulations, live trivia, and card and board games, almost every user could find something enjoyable to play. INN also featured an electronic post office, many bulletin boards, chat rooms, and the company boasted of having "more than 200 groups, clubs and special events online."
Sierra On-Line founder Ken Williams wanted to create a network that even his grandmother would find easy to use, and to that end INN featured a unique emphasis on a friendly, graphics-heavy interface. Each user was represented by a persona which they assembled using INN's built-in 'facemaker'. The facemaker was incredibly detailed, with enough different options to construct over 84 million unique personas. Users could then indicate their level of skill in various games, in order to encourage fair match-making between players, and a short list of hobbies to help match interests with new friends.

So you all must be wondering what the @!%# is the reason behind this post.  If you want to read more about the history of this network, just follow this link

I remember back in this day when you had a 14.4bps dial-up modem and you were considered the cool kid.  Or even better, if you had the 28.8 or the 56k!  Imagine how blistering fast that was back then.  28.8bps would download at 2.8kb a second.  It would take hours to download a 5Mb file.  

So my buddy use to sign onto this network and they would charge you by the hour.  

Rates as of 1995 were as follows:
  • Welcome Plan: 5 hours for $9.95, $2.95 each additional hour
  • 10 Plan: 10 hours for $19.95, $2.75 each additional hour
  • 15 Plan: 15 hours for $29.95, $2.50 each additional hour
  • 25 Plan: 25 hours for $49.95, $2.25 each additional hour
  • 50 Plan: 50 hours for $99.95, $1.95 each additional hour
  • Unlimited Plan: for $129.95

As you can obviously see, this was a very pricey gaming network, but this was prior to the Internet.  This was in the golden age of  the BBS.  Here you could play DOOR games, write e-mails to others and even some sites had multi-node which allowed you to play four player DOOM.  Which was just unheard of over the phone!

But not to get to far away from the point of the Sierra Network.  The Shadow of Yserbius

The Shadow of Yserbius, originally published by Sierra On-Line, was the first of three graphical MUDs for the online community. Opening to rave reviews, The Shadow of Yserbius, according to industry critics, set the standard by which all future MUDs would be judged. The game was followed by two sequels entitled The Fates of Twinion (1993) and The Ruins of Cawdor (1995). Until recently, only The Shadow of Yserbius and The Fates of Twinion were playable in offline mode.
The Shadow of Yserbius, along with its successors, remained online until 1996, when America Online purchased the rights from then-owner AT&T for an undisclosed price (rumored to be $40 million).

When you would enter this part of the Sierra Network, you would have to click on that little cave at the top of the volcano.

This is how the game looked.  It was one of the first MMORPG type games of its time.

So what's the point of this article?   I just wanted to write something and I miss playing this game, using this Network and BBS games like Trade Wars, LORD, Usurper, etc.  Those were the days.

Diablo III Screenshot

As you can see, there's really nothing exciting about this latest screenshot.  I don't even know what the fuck Blizzard was thinking when they released this.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

 YAY!  More Call of Duty stuff...  *cries* :'(

Click here if you're interested in reading more of the crap I stole. :)  Well, I didn't steal it since you can find the SOURCE HERE! :D  Yeah, now who's talking!!  You didn't know that the freaks come out at night?!
Washington D.C. is burning. A Russian invasion force has swept across the Eastern seaboard and conflicts rage in major American cities. Thousands, perhaps millions of lives have already been lost with millions more threatened by a surprise assault. New York is the latest battleground in a two-day-old war that doesn't appear to be going well for the good guys. 
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 picks up right after the end of Modern Warfare 2, with the Russians first storming DC and then spreading through America. The single-player campaign takes you across the world to London, Africa, the Himalaya Mountains, and Russia, but it starts in the U.S. They call it "Black Tuesday," the day the walls of a once-great republic crumbled. The resistance begins in Manhattan. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The HotSpot - 05/25/11 - Musings from the Infinite

Like podcast?  Neither do I.  But for all the other freaks out there that enjoy someone ranting for 100+ minutes, shoot over here.  This podcast contains a lot of Bioshock chatter and a bunch of other up coming titles.

Kevin VanOrd, Tom Mc Shea, Ricardo Torres, and Brendan Sinclair trade in their scuba gear for an ornithopter. Why? Hard to say. It may have something to do with BioShock Infinite, which receives a healthy amount of chit-chat on this week's HotSpot. Other topics include The Witcher 2, Kung Fu Panda, Gotham City Impostors, and that new Modern Warfare 3 trailer.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

My bad.  I didn't have anything posted today.  That's what happens when you're up at 4:30am getting ready for work.

Okay boys and girls.  Here's some more new screen shots of the upcoming game, Deus Ex.

In the Deus Ex games, augmentations are body modifications that allow the user superhuman abilities. While augmentations in the first two games were nanotechHuman Revolution is set prior to both and instead features mechanical augmentations. These will be divided into four types: Combat, Stealth, Technology and Social. Using social skills, social augmentations and stealth a player is able to play through the whole game killing only the bosses

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition Outed

New edition of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gives Skyrim discount.

Bethesda is set to release a new, 5th anniversary edition of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion this June for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, according to Nitrobeard.com. 

The report states this new edition will ship with Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game Of The Year Edition, Collector's Edition Content (map, 'Making Of' DVD with an added Skyrim trailer), and a $10 Off Coupon for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (redeemable at any retailer nationwide). The expected retail price is $29.99. 

This edition is already available for pre-order at online retailers such Overstock. Bethesda will likely make an official announcement soon. 

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Video Review (PC)

Looks promising.  To bad my computer is as old as the Apollo space shuttle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BioShock Infinite Video Interview

This is for all you people who are living under a rock and have no idea what this amazing game is all about.  Enjoy.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Gameplay Trailer (Xbox 360)

Check out the latest gameplay footage!  But here's the kicker, the developers said they are scared of DICE's engine.  Also CoD: MW3 still doesn't have destructible buildings.  ha ha!

Looks like this year will be epic.  Luckily for me, I'm picking up Battlefield 3. ;)

BioShock: Infinite

It also looks like IGN has a really nice article up talking about BioShock: Infinite.  Shoot over there and take a look at a more in depth preview of what's becoming another classic title.

Click for a much larger image.

BioShock Infinite Updated Preview

For the full story, shoot over the Gamespot and check out more great screenshots and the rest of this amazing article.

BioShock Infinite is shaping up to be one disturbing game. While anyone who played the original BioShock knows this is territory that Boston based Irrational Games knows very well, after getting a tease of what the developer will be showing off at E3, we can say that BioShock Infinite is unsettling in a whole new way. The brief demo of a work in progress version of the game we saw showcased the game's setting, the floating city of Colombia, the cast of troubled characters you'll encounter, your relationship with the mysterious Elizabeth, and offered a deeper look at some key gameplay mechanics. Although the meaty demo did a fine job of answering many of the questions we've had on the game, it wound up raising even more as we got a sense of the scale of the intriguing adventure.
Our last look at BioShock Infinite offered an introduction to the airborne city of Colombia, Booker Dewitt, the game's main character, Elizabeth, the mysterious and powerful woman Booker is sent to retrieve, and a taste of how the game would play. The short, but captivating, demo did an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of what to expect from the upcoming game. For this update, creative director Ken Levine served up another 20 minute chunk of the adventure from roughly a third of the way into the game that focused on Booker and Elizabeth's journey to the home of Z.H. Comstock, the locale he's supposed to drop her off.

As I was reading, you can jump from platform to platform in a free fall.  Or you can zip around Columbia on one of their "track" systems that are all over.
(Click photo for larger image)