Archive for June, 2011

iPad games quickly

Bumpy road
The road is what you control, smirking up into waves of texture and down into obsolescence, bumpy road is a plat former with inventive touch control, tap to jump or hold to run your car at speeds up the games never-ending road. Never ending road is just that, a generative level that ends when you die or run out of gas. Leader boards reveal that some have cruised for days on end, me? I’ve managed a few hours. When you get used to it, the game rocks, but it lacking the story makes platformers special. The generative level can’t substitute for the satisfaction of a level done, or a world conquered. Still, it’s probably my favorite iPad game so far.

Infinity blade
This one took me by surprise. Chair, a European developer, has genuinely crafted a fever dream of knights and ogres. The game itself is an addictive take on punch out, but it’s the fact that you can complete the game in minutes that makes it stand out, this game’s weird surrealist narrative hints at a world far more horrible than our own, a past you don’t want to be there. It’s really the feeling of grotesque that makes it absorbing and worth the replay. Have submitted to the demon king, but have never bested him.

Jenga hd
Rocks. Love it. It’s so awesome to be able to play Jenga on the go. The pass play feature is also essential.

Spider-man hd
Is surprisingly pretty good for what looks like a ps2 game with a virtual analog stick. The controls work rather well and the game is fun, the only problem is the games mechanics stagnate quickly,i found myself annoyed with the combat after awhile, but does go to show the iPad can present a pretty good brawler.

Final fantasy 3
The graphics aren’t as good as the ps one premiere game, but this remake of the original final fantasy isn’t bad either, the controls are amazing and navigating the games many submenus is easy. Really liking it so far, the instant save feature also helps cuz I like to just pop it up and battle a few times on the bus.

Gears
This one really impressed me, the difficultly is amazing, I love how hard I had to work to finish the last levels. The graphics are also really good and the mechanics are just great. I love all the ways the team thought of making ball rolling into a platformer. This really goes to show what the iPad can do is about the only game I recommend you play on the iPad.

Storm in a teacup
Was recommended by kotaku, sucks. Don’t like it.

#sworcery
Is really hyped, but didn’t get into it yet. An impressive feat of indie programming, but didn’t really buy it.

Dream:scape
Man did this disappoint. Has a good story, good acting, well done cgi, but just doesn’t grab me.

Coin drop
Not an angry birds clone, rather an angry birds spiritual successor, I found the graphics a little trite, those sprites need to move, but really enjoyed what is basically a kinds reverse pin ball with coins. Fun and fairly long for 0.99 game, but no where near the birds in terms of length.

ImaginaryR
Have not finished this, but I like what square Enix has done with the comic book manga format. The games are fun, although a little simple, the little interactions are good, but I just enjoyed the experience in general.

Is it just me or is it just having the money for publicity that seems to matter in if your game makes it or not category?

June 23, 2011 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

The Lulz

The Lulz (iPad autocomplete already contains the phrase Lulz in capitals no less) have become the celebrity hackers that Hollywood will one day throw into our future as the past. They are at times an almost perfect imitation of what hackers from The Wachowskis would act like (google the dudes who made the matrix), in fact the fiction of the hacker, the past Hollywood imagined appears to have infiltrated the present, remember hackers? Remember all those 2600 kids and wanna be 2600 kids like me backorficing each other while over irc arguing on the merits of if or if not hackers actually dressed, acted, or even bore a similarity to the actors in that film?

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I do. I also remember a little irc server, set up on the back of a bank’s mainframe, or what the dude claimed was a discarded unix server from a bank, to get on it you just had to know. I was kinda lucky at that time because I was in the rom scene so I had an fserve serving up rooms which i played in slow motion on an ancient Macintosh. It could manage super nes rooms with a little effort. I don’t think my teenage brain ever registered rom hacking as illegal, neither did it occur to me that flash rom carts were just now coming-out and folks were downloading game boy games to game boys, puerto rican sys ops were flirting with 14 year old girls, and we head no idea what the names on the channel that owned the server were up to. Joining the servers other channel was an experience in waiting as the seemingly always on nicks stood there in silence like the arbiters of a kafka story, working their way to some goal far away from the social scene. If you started joking you could stay. Those chatrooms disappeared for me after high school. Computers moved on, games became isos and burnable (I ruined a ps one with an ancient soldiering iron and a mod chip one summer while my mom lived with “friends” between houses) I got einhander to work with out a mod chip and was elated as was I by that square Enix fighting game that I absolutely loved for some reason. My mom’s temporary house came with a big tv and all those lights from square’s games still impress me. The world was abuzz with the dawn glow of the Internet age, anything was piratable, napster and gnutella were downloading music, my college Internet connection introduced me to high speed connections, content was free and piling down the internets like lemmings in the sea. I had video games up to my knees, sega Saturn, dreamcast, psx, neo geo Roms, I played darkstalkers alone in my dorm room, I got a slim sony viao and broke it in a matter of days. The iPod came, and I had music, never used iTunes, I left college, I moved in alone to an apartment. I went broke, I ended up in Asia. That’s when I found the chatrooms again.

The slow decline of life to the everyday is something we all dread. Life doesn’t begin till you’re forty, the Chinese say. My life at thirty was depressing in the extreme, but at least I had made it to semi-stability. That’s when the most ludicrous idea occurred to me, to make video games. I began by starting up my programming lessons again and learning ruby, this naturally lead to JavaScript, to processing, to flash, back to JavaScript, through a little python, back to android sdks aka java, and then today porting a flash project over to ruby. I posted on a million forums and then I ended up in chatrooms. And then the developer conferences, Denver, San Francisco, Shanghai. I met similar illusioned human beings at all of them. In San Francisco at Gdc I was hanging out with two devs from a Chinese mobile phone company when one of them decided to show me something. The dev said he found a room around the corner. We went down one of those paths and out into that city, the tangle of knots impenetrable to security cam, the place where bodies go to disappear, and somewhere on the router we were way back in the metropolis in the part where the chat rooms and the casinos become one. I remember a bar where sys ops went to trade python commands, and another where the Lulz were said to hold unions meetings, but then I saw it, hovering over in space, that impossible feel, the way the ops stood, like marble statues with funny names, and I understood I had been taken back to that room, somehow we had walked into he past the year of the emu when games became physically decoupled from their packages and the companies fought them instead of making them available. It was surreal to see all those games incorporable again, like finding your grandmother’s soul in the attic. We had come from the year of the eshop and arrived at the backbone of internet’s commerce, the first transmission of immaterial goods, lifted from the cardboard and plastic of their origins. Ok I was lying, I couldn’t see the games,but in the room 10 names sat in marble silence. And the Dev said, we found it like this 30 years ago. The silence in the room was startlingly, tangible, the way a white screen worked, and that’s how I learned about the Internet. My best friend , my buddy of twenty years, always there with me.

Well that’s how I remember hackers ending.

June 22, 2011 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Day

I think writers are part myth. Its not so much a product of the genome though as it is a cloud. Kerouac once noted that all beats shared a deep sickness when growing up, as did I. I remember fever dreams, a salamander ranch on the outskirts of Texas, lying in bed for days. The chill of seeing the weird spiral out growths of skin on my lips, picking them till I bled. Is it possible to retain a past? Why do I increasingly feel a touch of the past? I was a lot older then I’m younger than that now.
Jennifer at work seems cool, jane has befriended her. Jane I remain slightly warry of, she has the cold unaffecting remains of a goth, she hates herself in some.very unpleasant ways. The children shout: teacher andrew, they’re in love with me now. Day.

June 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Diary of Woe or the educator’s dream

I am sitting around again tonight solving some basic problems with programming and I was reading this interview with David Foster Wallace, so Mr. Wallace and i am chatting in my head, or more accurately he is giving me advice, “who does it have to be a video game?” he asks and quietly i am of course agreeing, silly me adding to this digital spectacle, but something in what Wallace says, my Wallace not the dead one, presents me with a kinda vision of society I hadn’t been privy to other wise, with out technophilia the u.s. Has no room to grow. If we weren’t in love with ipads, we wouldn’t be purchasing them. Modern literateis growing in spurts, imagine if we valued or saw progressions in language as we value modificstions in chip size, what would we think of colson whitehead’s calm acceptance of the creative life in apex hides the hurt? Would we find in jennifer egan’s recent writing a vertigo of emotion that uses time, subjective time not the type of clock cycles, to push meaning to its edge?

The third twave feminists present a unique vision of feminity (and one that often ignores gender dessent) but one of the things luce irigary argues is that genders can’t be equal, perfect equality just wouldn’t make the thing go. Adam Curtis’ recent documentary all watched over by machinesofi loving grace makes a similar point: our view of nature as balancedis flawed, ecosystem skitteri allover the equality spectrum, life outside of human societyis rarely even. We live in a culture though, or at least i livein a culture perhaps mostly a virtuality propped by my ignorance, that values technological consumption as a virtue, i won’t get into any devils and commodity fetishism, but this is a society very much so balanced on the idea of material goods as to ignore the cultural, immaterial goods such as software are somewhat well paid, while goods such ad maternity or teaching are fairly under valued. This brings me back to Wallace, in our little chat he seems to see no difference between a software engineer and a montessori teacher, and it makes mewonder. Teaching isn’t what those that can’t do as woody allen would have it, rather it is what those that expand empathy to degrees previously unseen, those who squinch and squelter to smplify and reduce ideas, those that try to advance understanding do. At that i see a value init higher than programming,t so much of software is just there to provide consumerism with an easy taget, so much of teaching is to provide people with the opportunities for production. Education grows in leaps and bounds it is merely that new platforms aren’t deployed withthe same vigor as our game consoles, american society should be more abreast on changes in teaching.

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June 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Doodles!

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These are a few inkpad drawings i did over the ladt few days. I think the portraits are a result of face blindness trying to figure out what they’re thinking. Regardless i love ‘m i hope you do to.

June 13, 2011 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

E3 2011 Desire runs over Walls, Wii U fails, the 3DS as a magazine

Papa and yo
Psn / ps3


Sony has quietly built a huge stable of interesting games over the years from Patapon to Parappa the Rapper, but this one stuck in my mind mostly due to setting, a Brazilian favella, and ambitions, the game aims to capture the dysfunctional father son relations of a drug addict and his boy. The father figure is a rhino, the boy has a pet robot. The game looks great, and the world is imaginative from the videos, although something seems slightly flawed, I somehow sense a video artist with a great sense of the line, a programmer that is normally talented, but no writer worthy of such a relation. How the multidimensional axis of parent and progeny will make the leap over to the meager constraints of the game world is what ultimately worries, but I might be wrong about this one, it might be more than a rehash of bigger companies’ ideas, it might be a pyschonauts in the making.

Also of note from Sony is this PS Vita gem:

Gravity lets you use any surface in the game as your floor, which is similar to another fps coming out, but is a nice use of the game world and a good extension of imagination into the reality of games in lieu of simply mimiking our own world. One wonders why the radial gravity of Mario Galaxy has proven to be only slightly infectious, the real still has prominence in the game world.


Prey 2 and Rage
PC/ Consoles?
The original prey I remember weakly as a walk on walls shooter, the sequel apparently takes all the open world fun of Assassin’s Creed and blends it with a chase ‘m FPS. The bounty hunter premise gives them free reign to create a city worthy of free running, corridor shoot ‘m ups, and other thing cities aren’t designed for. What made Prey and for that matter Rage notable to me, is the design of their environments.

The game has gone non-linear (note every review from people who actually went to e3 suggests rage is just a borrowing good looking fallout 3 clone), or more accurately if you look at a standard FPS from the past decade the levels have increasingly challenged us down linear corridors and created interest in ways that keep us from discovering that the sky is just a texture scrolling by a few feet from our faces. The FPS has managed to create environments that center attention, Prey and Rage decent it, you don’t feel hemmed in, you could move around and even better it looks like there is a lot of fun stuff to do out there. Open world games like L.A. Noire or A.C. Brotherhood are great at having big cities, but for the most part one is channeled by story to place to place, it really feels like one might get lost in a particular side alley in Prey 2 and find something more interesting there. A.C. is a great open world game, because clambering over its various precipes is fun to do, but the game doesn’t provide surprise around every corner, rather the city becomes an impediment to story. Something in the way these games are crafted, Prey 2 and Rage, suggests a great non-linearity, or perhaps it’s just the more powerful engine?

Other notes I made about E3: nothing Nintendo showed excited me. The Wii U lacks a good exclusive title, Killer Freaks looks ok, but it has the same pedigree as Red Steel, meaning I’m not expecting much. What really burned me about the Wii U was Nintendo’s complete absence of an app. The Wii had tons of little games with great ideas on it day one, the Wii U premiered along with what the Wii should have had day one: the legend of zelda: skyward sword

Getting to see the Wii’s potential really come through with intuitive flight controls and apparently great sword fighting is a good idea, it’s a shame that the Wii U couldn’t have had its own game, but what Nintendo seems to understand is that hardware released with little fanfare sits there, but the games will arrive soon enough. Nintendo’s other problem is a lack of original IPs, will skyward sword looks original enough to interest me, the mario remake for 3DS leaves me cold as does the idea of playing an old Metal Gear on the system. Resident Evil remains the only game (outside of pilot wings) I really want on that console so far. Nintendo always feels a tad strapped, while Sony works on hardware, it’s developers develop exclusive content for its systems, Microsoft has similarly managed such a feat especially with Bungie and Epic. In fact Microsoft’s exclusives might carry further than any other chain in games today, Nintendo desperately needs developers like these, but often seems burdened with exclusives that fail to capture my imagination. They are so taxed with the Wii, the 3DS, their failing financial position, the Wii U, and managing about 20 second party studios that their weariness shows. While both Skyward Sword and Mario 3DS were given rave reviews, I fail to see anything original outside of a Kid Icarus remake on the horizon. Some of the concepts they had with the wii, namely project hammer, should be fleshed out, and I hope to never see a Star Fox game again. Still, a system’s premiere is a company’s chance to prove the possibilities of it contains, and the Wii U gave us a lot of notes, but no finished narrative to really sink into, that golf game looks cool, having had one that journalists could actually try would have been better. Still, ideas are flowing and next year the big N will come in strong with new ideas and new games for their consoles. I’m still sold on the Wii U even though my ipad is eating through my sanity. One positive, I do like the strategy of super powered console keeps core gamer happy, while keeping the balance boards and wii motes we already own. I want a wii u just to play skyward sword and pandora’s tower on it.

Addendum: Super Mario 3DS does look really cool:


and the mario kart, appears to feel like the original just with underwater tracks and some barrel like interfaces ala the ipad:

mario kart appears to have gone back to the drift of the original which is an improvement, I suppose fun never gets old unfortunately, but the basic realizations the n had when making the game all those years ago have been barely touched except by slightly more dangerous tracks.

p.s. Nintendo really should open up development for the 3DS, will restricting quality control. They have an app store and the strangle hold on some really cool hardware, seeing box2d and other open source game libraries make the leap to the 3DS, after all home brew libs opened the nintendo DS awhile back. Nintendo has expressed concern with not working with garage developers, but what they don’t understand is that they hold the keys to the market, they curate the games on the system. A simple division of testers and comments could turn the 3DS into a worthy publication submitting to. Consoles, fuck ipads, are increasingly like magazines, multiple people want to write for them, but only a few should really be allowed to the top. Such is the problem with most app stores, because we believe in the infinity of digital storage (which in reality is an illusion, after all how many resources are expended per day to keep that ebook available for purchase?) developers allow a huge gamut of quality to flop into our laps, and the quality of the apps is often hard to gauge, my reviews on the ipad’s app store have yet to be logged. Nintendo has the keys to taste in their hand. They proved the Wii’s digital downloads could be exclusive and fun, it’s just the sdk they control that’s the problem.

June 12, 2011 at 3:09 am Leave a comment

The shopping spree

I am in week three i believe of post-ipad being. My once quaint idea of shopping has been expanded by my bloglines having become impulse buys. Indie game blogs offer me new and exciting ipad apps, i nearly bought katamarin and those interactive story games, the new one involves rain, plus of course bubble harp and oh yeah that bubble harp guy is making bjork’s interactive apps for biophilia. But the question I find myself pondering is, are we really intended to consume this much? I have over 8 ted videos waiting, a friend of mine has gigabytes of ebooks pending, gluttony is a sin and while the bible’s ethics? Morals? Quick google search leads here: http://www.philosophyblog.com.au/ethics-vs-morality-the-distinction-between-ethics-and-morals/ which in turn leads to kindle store search for p singer and do look at his ted.com Speech it is great. Btw word press app for ipad is an absolutely horrible text editor and keeps skipping forward to the last word after i go back and try to type a word. But hey now i got an idea, what are the ethics of shopping here? What makes it permissible to buy online and for that matter is android’s stagnant market a result of apple’s customers’ morals?

First i would like to get back to what i was building towards: the ipad allows massive amounts of consumerist desire to be expressed. In terms of consumerism this thng is the orgasm inducing shower massager to the mall’s measly seductions. Dresses, software, comic books, real books, anything yout fancy or just fancied on fancy can be bought, the app store even open up to other mrkets, kindle opens another world of consumerism and the ipad does make amazon’s products look great, all my indie literature blogs have becodme try a sample blogs, back logs of inventive lit await me. Board games that sit a meter away can be played online, neuroshima hex, carcassone, even some orignal designs are there, fuck dude i was playing jinga on my ipad today, and then realized i was sitting in front of a jinga set. But consumerist desire has usually been confined by space, availability, time, and delivery, price, and probably a lot of other things i can’t quite quantify. Shopping in real life is slow, book stores most be browsed, stepping out to buy a board game might end three hours later when the store manages to sell you on a demo, comics can be flipped through, and even better their stands show all the covers and your local clerk even has them organized. The ipad allows transactions at speeds faster than anything possible, and the problem is we just don’t react to impulse buys with the same taste as we do measured transactions.

Impulse buys were invented first conceptualized by giant retail markets. As shoppingu movd from mom and pop to chain the loss was an accumulated intuitive knowledge of the customer. Your five and dime knew the trinkets that sold at the register, it took a genuis and possibly ceo of gap to figure out that chocolate bars should be at the chec out stand at old navy. Such also notes the ineffeciency of the chain model, authority extends so far as to block the local worker from actually developing an idea of the store. The app store is perhaps even worse off, it actually is written in stone, and the accumulated linguistic architecture that derives its display is hard to work with, physicsl space is more mutable than c. The app store needs to step back to web 2.0 and let mash ups bring taste to the market. I would die to have kotaku’s app store select games for me andorganize my shop front, although app recommendations are already running rampant.

Oh geez, yeah so anyway in terms of s college essay i am rambling, impulse buys the last paragraph ended with, shout outs to able bodied game journalists in need of another dime ended it. Consumerism in the impulse era means more than walking away. To tempted by that flat screen tv? Walk away, the ability to purchase it won’t follow you. That impossibility means you don’t worry about it… That much. Ipad purchases stick with you, if you want a comic book series on comixology, well guess what, even if you resist at 9 am, the same option will be there when a spare moment at work opens up around 12. The ipad makes consumption neurotic, the id knows the item is purchasable at anytime, hence the desire becomes neurotic, we begin to worry and obsess over purchases, the ability to consume is readily at hand. Consumption becomes as attainable as self stimulation, it jut requires a moment by yourself. Impulse buys require proximity,the ipad is often close to you, hence the satisfaction of s purchase lingers in each touch, checking email? Get that comic book dude. Additionally, the type of impulse purchase has changed, at barnes and noble impulse buys are chocolate, tea, and bookmarks. On the ipad 1.99 video games, 10 usd graphical apps, 15.00 usd books, and that’s just in my pile of junk, if i’m understanding correctly americans can get movies via netflix, tv shows via itunes, andof course music. My ipad remains music less because apple bans any nonitunes mp3s and itunes music store isn’t available in thailand, but not to worry bjork’s ipad album will fix that.

What makes such purchasables permissible differs. For me at least, its mostly the idea of education,i love learning to learn and being shown new things. My kids will soon be making circuits with play dough while i probably read another interesting book via kindle (provided apple doesn’t ban kindle after ibooks takes off) consumerism, especially digtal consmersm, has been sold to us on the idea of freedom, but all this information, all these games, all these little ways we’ve been taught to desire often just endin stagnation, my games pile remains a festering burr in my garden, my kindle is unmanagably burdened with books, weeding through what i bought remains difficult, but more daunting is not aquiring more.

P.s. As for biblical morality, jesus had some great things to say, a quick google search reveals

Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”
Proverbs 23:2 “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.”

Additionally gluttony in the bible appears to be linked to the king james version of the bible suggesting that the use ofthe church’s authority to warn against the evils of excessive consumption was an after thought to god’s word. Btw the bible really does advise killing yourself if you like eating to much.

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June 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

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