June 15, 2010
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April 7, 2009
Yes everyone who still follows this site I am still alive. Been busy with work/life/stuff to the point that I just didn't have time to update the site and my podcast on a regular basis. I would love to tell everyone that I can start up the site full force once again, but that probably isn't realistic.
However I believe that Twitter might be my savior for now. Writing 140 characters or less on a regular basis should not be a problem. It might not be perfect, but it's going to be much easier than having to deal with always finding "that perfect picture to insert with the blog post" or spending hours upon hours editing the latest podcast. Writing lots of small snippets on a regular basis should be just about perfect for me right about now.
So check out my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/GamingSteve. Find out what I've been up too this past year, what I've been playing, and let's see where it goes from there.
June 24, 2008
If you visit the Blizzard website right now you'll get a strange splash page depicting ice with some runes. People throughout the Internet are speculating what this could mean ... perhaps Blizzard will be announcing a new game? Perhaps the long awaited Lost Vikings sequel will be announced this week at the Worldwide Invitational in Paris?
Well it's quite simple, it's exactly what everyone is hoping/think it's going to be.
Blizzard is going to formally announce they are developing Diablo III this week at the Worldwide Invitational in Paris (or D3 they like to call it).
In fact, much like Starcraft II , Blizzard has been hard at work on D3 for several years and people will quite surprised at just how far along they are with the development of D3. Again, like Starcraft II, D3 will have greatly enhanced graphics, updated gameplay, new classes, and will continue to tell the story of the struggle between the agents of Heaven and Hell (sure that's pretty vague, but it's D3 is D2 with enhanced graphics and updated gameplay, what more do you need to know?).
But when will it come out? Right now from what I understand the loose release schedule is as follows. World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King is to be released by the end of 2008. StarCraft II will be released towards the end of 2009. And Diablo III is aiming to be released by the end of 2010, but I would expect D3 to be delayed until at least 2011.
So all of those who have been patiently waiting for a sequel to Diablo will finally have their prayers answered this week ... and then will have to wait several more years. Well at least Starcraft II should be out to hold those starved D3 fans over.
May 21, 2008
Normally I don’t venture outside of the realm of video games, but with the upcoming release of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition and its many “video game type elements” incorporated into the new version (online play, set party roles, quicker combat, and so forth) I thought I would check out the first official 4th Edition product released this week, the adventure module entitled Keep on the Shadowfell.
This module was designed to work as both a “regular” adventure that could be played as you would any other D&D adventure as well as a introductory module to 4th Edition D&D. In theory all you need to start playing D&D is Keep, some friends, and you’re ready to go. At least that’s the theory. But how does it work in practice? We will see…
Before we delve into the adventure and its contents I have to comment on the quality of the printed module itself. At first glance it’s pretty impressive. Inside a full-color binder you’ll find a 16-page quick-start rules as well five pre-made character sheets, three double-sided full-color battle maps, and a full-color 80-page adventure booklet. Wizards has decided to use the same encounter layout that they started to use in their adventure products last year where nearly all encounters are laid out on two pages (with larger battles spread over three pages). This two-page layout format has further been refined works really well. Each encounter was extremely simple to follow, even in the thick of battle with multiple groups of monsters fighting.
And the battlemaps, although completely unnecessary to the overall game experience, my playtest group really enjoyed using them. It’s a small and simple addition, but something as simple as few battlemaps made the DMs life that much easier while greatly enhancing the enjoyment for the players.Continue reading "Gaming Steve Review: Keep on the Shadowfell" >>
May 19, 2008
With the recent departure of LucasArts from the ESA and E3, as well as the more notable withdrawal of Activision-Blizzard, some problems are starting to appear in the now slightly fragmented industry.
The story goes like this: the Game Critics Awards, a voluntary organization made up of independent game journalists, has shown its intent to include games not only shown "in" E3, but those "around" E3 as nominees for its "Best of E3" awards. This has of course infuriated the ESA which wants only those companies who are actually involved in E3 to be eligible. A response to the ESA from Geoff Knightly, co-chair of the GCA:
"The fact that Activision is not a registered exhibitor for E3 has brought to light the issue of how to determine the eligibility of games... A precedent has been set that in the past, judges have voted on games that have been presented off the show floor at hotel suites and across the street from E3. It would be a shame for me if the best game of E3 didn't win the Best of Show award because it was demoed across the street from the show floor...
A sound argument can be seen on both sides: on one hand, what is a "Best of E3" award if it's not only for actual E3 members? Then again, is it really fair to game developers that their games are excluded from one of the few notable awards because their game was simply across the street? I personally don't think an independent awards organization should have to listen to an industry association, but it is ESA's show, so it will be interesting to see how they react.
May 9, 2008
There has been a small firestorm concerning the Spore Digital Rights Management system. Well Maxis has been listening and Caryl Shaw, Online Producer for Spore, sent me a note about these concerns:
Hey Spore Fans -
Personally I don't see the big deal about the online DRM, especially for a game such as Spore which all but requires you to play online and communicate regularly with EA's servers. Heck, Spore is almost an MMORPG in considering all the online content that will be available for the game once it's released.
Oh yes, and if you think EA's DRM is harsh wait until you see the new DRM that Blizzard is working on for S2 and D3....
May 2, 2008
In their first big move since they became the biggest publisher in gamerdom, Activision-Blizzard have officially left the ESA and will not be attending this year's E3.
From the ESA's senior VP of communication and research, Rich Taylor:
"While the Entertainment Software Association remains the preeminent voice for U.S. computer and video game publishers, we can confirm that Activision and Vivendi Games opted to discontinue their membership. The ESA remains dedicated to advancing our industry's objectives such as protecting intellectual property, preserving First Amendment rights, and fostering a beneficial environment for the entire industry. Our high level of service and value to members and the larger industry remains unchanged."
What does this mean for gamers? Well, for starters, none of Vivendi's developers will be "in" E3 (most will have a presence "around" E3, separated from the official show) including Activision-Blizzard, Sierra, Atlus, Majesco, NCsoft, and WBIE. Vivendi will also have to start defending themselves in cases of government interference and copyright infringement, both areas the ESA helped game companies when defending these interests.
The ESA, like many industry organizations, probably had some rules and perhaps fees that Vivendi just didn't agree with but it's unclear the reason for the departure at this time. Whatever the reason this is something which will probably have significant long term repercussions for the industry in general.
April 30, 2008
So I'm about five hours into GTAIV and I have the following quick observations:
What do you guys think of the game so far?
So what if Grand Theft Auto 4 come from a long history of games that provide hours of entertainment and a deep story full of foul, slimy, but so fun to watch characters? All Saints Row 2 needs is Gary Busey.
In one of the strangest advertisements I've ever seen for a video game, Uncle Gary hands out some educational Street Lessons for those anticipating Saints Row 2. Topics range from heavy weapons to the law enforcement of Stilwater. And yes, Busey is as totally freaking nuts as ever.
April 28, 2008
In an unprecedented move, Ubisoft has announced another sequel in the Prince of Persia series, currently titled ... Prince of Persia. The rebellious move is expected to net Ubisoft lots of money and huge profits.
In another move by maverick Ubisoft, the game will be launch for not one, not two, but four platforms: the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and DS. Ubisoft believes the game will do what no game has done before and "rejuvenate the action-adventure genre." In perhaps their most unexpected move, the game will be on sale during the Holidays of 2008.
In all seriousness, a new Prince of Persia game isn't a bad thing. All three in the recent trilogy were fantastic games, despite some missteps in character and attitude. Ubisoft also announced that the game will have an "illustrative art style" that intrigues me. The upcoming movie also piques my interest: Bruckheimer may not be an artistic savant, be he made a theme park ride into a competent, enjoyable movie series, so Prince of Persia shouldn't be much trouble.
With all the insane hype, the near perfect scores, and the simple fact that it's a new Grand Theft Auto I have to wonder, is anyone out there not buying this game? I even know several people who are buying a new system just to play GTA IV. Everyone and anyone who plays games seems to be buying this game.
But yet something surprising happened to me today while I was trying to arrange some multiplayer mayhem with my Xbox 360 friends ... only few of them were planning on picking up the game. Even with all the hype and amazing reviews they weren't planning on picking it up any time soon. When I asked them they give me a very simple reason ... they don't like the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
And to tell you the truth ... neither do I. (Whew, that felt good to finally get off my chest.)
Yeah, I understand the appeal of GTA III and Vice City, but I just found them ... boring. The cities seemed dead to me with robotic pedestrians, the side-quests seemed more like work than fun, and the endless "collection quests" drove me insane. Those games seemed like a rough collection of mini-games, none of which I found particularly fun or exciting. (However I will say that San Andreas was much better and I actually enjoyed that entry in the series, but still I found it above average at best).
But yet I'm still super excited to play GTA IV, even though I don't really enjoy the GTA franchise. Why you ask?
Ironically it's because of Rockstar's non-GTA games. The Warriors, Bully and even Manhunt were some of the most enjoyable gaming experiences of my life. I found all of those games rich experiences with fascinating characters, complex stories, and engrossing worlds. I enjoyed these games as much as people seem to enjoy the GTA games, and for the same reasons it seems.
Hence, that is why I can't wait to play GTA IV. GTA IV seems to combine the best aspects of Rockstar's non-GTA games along with the "tried and true" GTA gameplay aspects. And if Rockstar managed to combine their two worlds of GTA and non-GTA gameplay, then I fully expect GTA IV to be right up there with the legends.
I guess I'll find out, along with several million other people, in just a few hours.
Anyone else out there own an Xbox 360 or PS3 and is not planning on getting GTA IV? What's up with that?
April 24, 2008
It appears that the Spore development team keeps tabs on the Gaming Steve Spore forums as in their latest update on the Spore web site they featured four creatures created by GS forum members.
LadyM (Mallen), Hydromancerx (Naucean), Petreak (Mentripod), and Oviraptor (Vvukkrauur) were lucky enough to have sketches of their creatures not only turned into official Spore creatures, but each of their creatures were evaluated by the NASA Astrobiology Institute as well as the Spore design team. A sample:
Vvukkrauur, by Oviraptor
Congratulations you four! I only wish I created a creature as well ... doh!
Update: Mason11987 (Swiftick) and Wydraz (Flaaarg) were also mentioned on the site and are active forum members (sorry I missed you two). So six of the eight creatures featured were from the GS Spore forum ... not bad at all.
In the increasingly complicated world of International Intelligence, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was looking for a new way to train recruits in the fine art of "critical thinking" three guesses where they decided to turn (and the first two don't count). Yep, the world of video games (of course)!
Three PC games were developed by Visual Purple (a simulation studio) for the DIA with the explicit goal of training young agents to analyze complex issues. "It is clear that our new workforce is very comfortable with this approach," says Bruce Bennett, chief of the analysis-training branch at the DIA's Joint Military Intelligence Training Center.
Wired got the chance to play these three games, all of which sound very interesting. The games are a "surprisingly clever and occasionally surreal blend of education, humor and intellectual challenge" that range from "Zen Buddhism meets the National Intelligence Estimate" to "a whodunit that begins with scenes of a tanker under attack in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war in 1988". Maybe the government could make up some of the $2.6 million spent on these games by making a consumer copy (I'd sure like to give them a try). And what happens when these games become common in military training? Maybe in the next Call of Duty players will have to train in a video game in order to pass basic training.
April 22, 2008
Mario Kart Wii
Out in Europe for a fair few weeks now – and uncharacteristically late reaching US shores – I thought it only fair to spill a few beans on Mario Kart Wii, thus letting our American siblings know just what they're in for regarding the mustached one's latest at the end of the month.
There's both good and bad to report, so buckle in and take note.
First, let's talk single player. 32 courses – 16 of which are new – 25 characters, and a good gazillion vehicles round-off the features list, most of which require unlocking as you progress through its four different classes of increasingly (and surprisingly) punishing difficulty. Sure, the setup's undeniably familiar to vets of the series, but make no mistake, Mario Kart Wii boasts some neat new additions to this now-aging formula well worth bearing in mind.
Bikes would be the biggest of which, and it's all done a bit of a PGR4 in that regard. A little nippier, easier to knock around, and capable of some fab tricks, they're a blast to wield I'm pleased to say, and prove my personal weapon of choice 90% of the time.
Then there's the wheel; the freebie add-on contraption that Nintendo throw into the box as a bonus. While you play with the standard "hands out in front" Wii-mote pose seen in previous racing games on this system, clipping on this optional plastic shell gives it a far more tactile feel, not to mention one immeasurably more fun to boot. It certainly works in that regard, yet I couldn't help but notice that in terms of raw performance, my lap times shrunk the second I ditched the waggle controls entirely and opted for something more traditional.Continue reading "Gaming Steve Review: Mario Kart Wii" >>
April 4, 2008
Looking for a reason to head back to Paradise? Criterion may have the great answer in the first content pack for Burnout: Paradise: an entire Island. And best of all, it's all free.
The new videos show a very modern, sky scraper laden, downtown, with large curving roads that look great for high speed racing all connected to the main land by a huge, under construction bridge. The first piece of this downloadable content is also going to include the car seen in the video (and perhaps others) as well as "unique game" that Criterion will be revealing soon.
While I really enjoyed Burnout: Paradise, I haven't been as drawn back to it as I was to Burnout 3: Takedown (which is one of my favorite racing games of all time). A new island, cars, and gameplay sound like an excellent reason to return to Paradise City.