Saturday, January 03, 2009

Starcraft: the one thing I'd take to a deserted island

There are few games so perfect that after years of playing it you can pick it up and still find it fascinating. Starcraft is one of those games. Love, obsession, passion are things this game has conjured up in the ten years since its release. The Koreans still consider it the best competitive video game around. It tickles me to think that lots of kids in their teens probably haven't even heard of it, or for that matter played it... although I suppose that could be a completely wrong to assume. I remember being a young man back around Senior year of high school (the late nineties) when this game came out. I played it A LOT. Whats more you could play online (Blizzard, the games creator, basically created the online gaming experience) for free against people across the world.

I picked up a copy of the game and the expansion "Brood War" for only $20 this holiday season. I'm now hooked once again, playing through the single player campaign. Although the graphics and such are a bit dated (the plot acting is horrid on re acquaintance, although the voice acting isn't bad) they don't detract at all from the experience. Actually playing it on my 20 inch iMac feels pretty good. I was using a 14-15 inch CRT back in high school. Maybe by the time I've tired once again of Starcraft I'll be ready to move to Starcraft II which is coming out in 2009 (ten years after the first).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vim on Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron)

If you are like me you enjoy the uninhibited feeling of using a text editor such as Vim. If you are using Vim you also are probably using a Linux or maybe an Apple machine. If not god rest your soul (Windows development drives me bonkers). Well I'll get to the point. I installed Hardy Heron, version 8.04 of Ubuntu, onto my laptop. The version of Vim installed by default could only be described as broken. I'm sure they didn't want to fill up disk space with a full version; assuming correctly (my opinion) that most users would never give it a crack. So what is the good looking, charming and generally decent smelling Vim user to do? Never fear just use your old friend apt-get:
sudo apt-get install vim-full
And with that you can now edit to your hearts content.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Movie Review: Silent Hill

Ok any film buff worth their weight in goobers know that movies which are adaptations of video games almost always fall flat. Seriously 99.9% of the time. Fighting games: Mortal Kombat 1 & 2 and Street Fighter (oh it is soooo bad). Adventure: Tomb Raider. Platformer: Mario Brothers. First person shooter: Doom. Any of these movies I mentioned here are terrible, in both pointlessness and especially in not keeping true to the spirit of the original content. Now the review here is for yet another movie based on a game. This one unlike the aforementioned does not rank high on the lame-o-meter. Silent Hill was a game for the original Playstation. I never actually did get around to playing it. I thought it was a poor mans Resident Evil when I spied it, and I just kinda ignored it. I hear it is an amazing game, at least for the time.

Now Silent Hill has a few things going for it. First off is that the director is the same guy that brought us "Brotherhood of the Wolf". Yes this guy is French. Silent Hill though is in English. Second he plays video games. Third he really liked Silent Hill way back when he played it and hence had always wanted to make it into a movie. Well the movie does not follow the plot 100% from the game. Some characters are modified, deleted and added. The main character is now a woman. Overall though I believe the plot is very close to the game. Please someone correct me if I am wrong.

The plot is interesting, you probably will be wondering what will happen next. It could get boring but the effects and cinematography are top notch. The monsters are also very cool. In keeping with the spirit of the game (according to the director) the camera work does some very unique things. Sweeping shots which float you from one place to another occur a few times and give the movie a voyeuristic feel. I would recommend to any horror movie fan this movie. Most people that see it probably don't even know it is based on a game.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Another game, another 15 hours of my life spent vegging out. Well spent :) I have not played the previous two Metroid Prime games. I have however played the NES, Gameboy (original), SNES titles. They rocked my world as a young man. I have a Wii and was in command of a 100 dollar shopping mall gift certificate. So I bought this game and Burnout Revenge for the 360. So onto the review.

My opinion is that Metroid Prime 3 looks and feels "so-so" in 3D. Somehow being able to move in all directions is awkward. Your visor really sucks up screen real estate, during the full playing time of the game. If Halo or any other FPS did this it would be inexcusable. Oh and you will need to use different visor modes, such as the "scanning" visor to accomplish your goals. The 'Prime' incarnations obviously put a new spin on things by playing down combat in favor of searching out minute details of the environments and recording data. What is this Poketroid? I don't want to record information I want to blow shit up. This really kills the action. Ergghhhh... This actually is my only gripe: MP3 does not flow smoothly. You constantly are switching visors and moving back and forth between areas. I would just like some steady combat. I would like to work through areas and have the story flow in lock step. I don't want to backtrack areas once, twice, even three frickin times! That just screams "padding out the game". It destroys replay value since most people do not like running around the same areas. They want, nay expect new and interesting experiences. This game tries to do many different things but never lets you just get immersed in any one thing. That kills the chance of getting sucked in.

Nintendo, remember Super Metroid? Fantastic game, remember all those cool weapons and power ups? The constant battle? What about enemies that only are effected by using a particular weapon. Your beam in MP3 just upgrades over the course of the game. There isn't any switching it up. I kinda though that was annoying as having you change up your arsenal to fit different combat situations could have made things more interesting. There was a "corruption" mode where you deal out more damage, while risking an "overload". Really though that didn't pique my interest in the game at all.

I do have some words of praise. The voice acting and cinematic sequences are good, I would say on par with Halo, though the story is not. The graphics are also pretty good relative to other Wii games I have played. The controls are not bad, although I don't feel the Wii remote beats a keyboard and mouse or 360 gamepad for FPS gaming. Maybe some game will eventually prove the Wii controller superior for FPS. Mostly I'm just impressed the controls can pull it off, and be so precise.

I recommend you give MP3 a play this if you enjoyed any of the previous Prime games. If you didn't play any of those games there was probably a reason. You were likely off playing more combat oriented shooters like Halo or Half-life, or tactical shooters like Rainbow Six. If so I suggest you save your time and money and try something else.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

More "Reddit" Sites Needed

The thing I like about Reddit is how different it is than other sites. I have been active on the web since my first year of high school, back in 1995! It was love at first site (sic).

I think that Reddit does something more sites should do, which is provide a place for the users to define what exactly the site is. See Reddit is really nothing with out the user provided content. Users define what the content is, and therefore they define the site itself. The content is simple, links to articles and comments on articles.

Now I notice that Reddit is a very liberal site. You can't read five entries on the front page without hitting an entry about politics. Often these do have some liberal slant via the listing's title. I have no problem with this. I like the fact that I can kinda uncover what the more liberal crowd are interested in, worried about, and such. If I were a political analyst I could do better to understand the liberal side of our nation by spending a few weeks on Reddit.

Back to the need for more Reddit. Now in simple terse terms, Reddit is a MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn type of site. Really it is a loose set of rules that define what the content form is. Not what the content is! MySpace gives users a page which they can then decorate with whatever they want. Reddit allows submission of entries which link to articles; while allowing the submitter to give a title to the link, and providing a comments page for the entry.

Now I'm noticing these sites are waaaaay to broad in their scope. As I have mentioned the Reddit site has a very liberal slant. That means there is a great opportunity for a site with a conservative slant. MySpace? How about something targeted towards art and graphic design students (maybe even architectural designers) that targets the features that they want. What are those? HIIK. Stuff that cuts out the posers. There are a lot of posers on the web and people enjoy a site that doesn't feel fake. Now if you are interested in a specific thing like art and design you should use this interest to start a new site. Just keep a couple things in mind.

Allowing the users to post and update content is key. Make sure that doing so is easy. Do not put too many constraints on what can be contained in the content. Define what the content is, like video in X format, images in Y Z formats, articles. Make sure to seed a good amount of content to the site before marketing it. Why? Because you want the site to notify the user via this content what is acceptable. If you wanted to create a conservative site, but you start marketing the site and there is not a lot of content users are likely to post anything. They don't have a good gauge of what type of content should be going into the site.

I feel like the coming years will be about little big sites, which target communities, not everyone on the web. These sites will work to inform, train, and entertain these communities. I think the wheels are already in motion, its just the business side of the web are focused on these mega sites such as Facebook and MySpace.