Blog Flux LinkLog: Outgoing Link Logging and Click Tracking for From the Bottom Up From the Bottom Up: June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

Gaming Gets Classy

Is it just me or are the 3 console manufacturing companies (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) creating a 3 tiered class system for gamers. There has always been competition in the console industry but never have all 3 consoles had such drastically different price points.

Upper class folks can shell out about 650$ for Sony's PS3. The middle class are happy with paying 399$ for an Xbox 360 and us lower class types can pick up a Nintendo Wii for about 249$. Each console seems to be going after a different market.

Now I grew up middle class and was only ever given one console (My NES thanks Nana) Every other game console my parents wouldn't buy for me be cause of the price. So I had to get a job and pay for them myself. Which was great way to me about financial responsibility.

I think the dynamic is changing some people used to be judged by the size of their televisions, or how nice their car is. It's seems that people's station in life will now be dictated by which game console they have in their living rooms. Unless you're like me and will sacrifice your left foot for all 3 next-gen consoles. Who needs a left foot anyway, as long as I have two hands let the games begin.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mario Gets Canned!

Today Young & Dundas Square in downtown Toronto was lucky enough to be host to a 9ft tall replica of everyone's favorite plumber Mario. Built entirely out of non-perishable canned food the sculpture was created to celebrate the release of "New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS and to support "The Daily Bread Foodbank"
Built by Architects from SCOTT Associates Architects Inc. This 9ft sculpture weighs in at over 2600 pounds and is made of about 4000 individual cans and a couple of bags of SmartFood Popcorn. Thanks to Lorena Cordova of Nintendo Canada's PR agency Cohn & Wolfe for answering my questions. All the cans and others items that were donated at the site will be donated to "The Daily Bread Food Bank of Toronto".

FtBU Back With a Vengeance!

Well after a short break and bunch of HTML changes I am proud to say that we are back and ready to take on the gaming world.

I asked all of you readers for feedback and got a few comments but nothing really constructive. I guess that means I'm doing things right and if not......TOUGH COOKIES!

So what's new aside from tweaking the look and adding a ton of subscription options I have added a new page to the FtBU universe "From the Bottom Up: Reviews" where you will now find all our game reviews as well as product reviews, but for all you gaming news with the commentary you love keep that feed reader tuned right here. You know it's kind of ironic I start a video game website during one of the worst video game droughts of the last ten years but I digress. I have also started my own personal blog for everything not related to video games "The World According to Mephis".

Well I hope everyone likes the changes I have made and will continue to read as I will continue to write. Oh one more thing. During the month of July FtBU will be running it's first ever contest and you could walk away with something special.

Happy Gaming.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Is There No End to Stephen Colbert's Geekdom UPDATE!

Awesome little video has been dug up by the crew at gamevideos. They managed to get a hold of a video of Stephen Colbert from the Mi6 Game Marketing Conference in San Francisco. Where he talk about his video games like World of ColbertCraft it's short but a good chuckle check it out for yourself.

*Gamevideos has now posted the full 93 second version of the colbert clip so i've updated the link*

I also heard a rumor as to why there is no Daily Show or Colbert Report on Friday nights.
Word on the street is that Stephen Colbert, John Stewart and others can't film the show on Fridays because they are busy.........Wait for it.........


I would love to play in that campaign but I don't know if they can handle ZOOK the great METAL BARD with his +5 Axe of Doom and 22 Charisma muhahahahahaha.

Have a good weekend everybody and stay tuned because From the Bottom Up has an important annoucment on Monday and it involves you the readers so until then remember one thing.

"Kill the Orcs, slay the Orcs, destroy the Orcs!" - 3 Inches of Blood

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another Manic Monday

Greeting all you readers in Gamerville well on Friday I promised an announcement well here it is.

FtBU has been up for about a month to mild success, I have watched the readership grow despite the lack of subscribers no biggie as long as people are reading you don't need to subscribe. However I have recently started subscribing to some blog with Bloglines and I find it much easier to keep track of the goings on in the blogosphere with their software (yes that's a recommendation) However I digress, Brillulus and I have recently wrapped up our second term at design school and now we have some free time. Now aside from catching up on a ton of games I have yet to play and getting to know my new DS Lite, I can't think of any better way to spend my time off than by tweaking and improving FtBU.

So I open myself up to you the readers, what do you think that FtBU needs what would you like to see, more news, less news, more opinion and commentary, a new look for the site perhaps. I'm open to all ideas it's up to you the readers to let me know what you want to see on what I hope is your favorite place to read about video games. You can post suggestion or comments in the comments section (duh) or via email located in the side bar. I appreciate your feedback so don't hesitate until then.

Happy Gaming!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Daily Show Reports on Video Game Debate

Sweet with Samantha Bee too!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Attention! Future Game Designers!!

CMP Games Group Launches Independent Game Festival Website

Like to design games? Want a shot at 20 000$? or like to Mod and want to try for 5000$?
Then you should definitely check out the the 9th Annual Independent Game Festival website at which launched last night.

There is also also the IGF Student showcase for aspiring game designers like Brillulus and I.

Deadlines for entries are:

Main Competition: September 8, 2006 at 11:59pm PDT
Mod Competition: October 13, 2006 at 11:59pm PDT
IGF Student Showcase: November 10, 2006 at 11.59pm PDT

IGF will also honor 10 Student Showcase winners with the opportunity to show their work at GDC 2007! next March.

I think Brillulus and I need to have a few words with our classmates. Good Luck to all who enter.

If you're interested you can get full details at

EA acquires Mythic


A couple of months ago EA announced The Project Gray Company witch is rumored to be EA's Oblivion killer. Well the worlds largest game publisher is beefing up their RPG development Corps. with their new acquisition of Dark Age of Camelot developer Mythic Entertainment.

Mythic brings over 10 years of experience to EA's expansive development roster, more specifically MMORPG experience. Does this mean that Project Gray will be an MMO like World of Warcraft or an RPG with MMO elements like Final Fantasy 12 or of course Oblivion?

One thing I thought that was missing from Oblivion was multiplayer. If EA succeeds in combining the expansive sandbox world of Oblivion with the PVP and and party adventuring common to other MMORPGs Not only will Oblivion have some stiff competition but imagine... a MMORPG with the financial and development resources that EA has. Now that might just give World of WarCraft a run for it's money,

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NHL <3's EA and 2K Sports

Well the 2005/2006 hockey season came to a close last night, when the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. What better way to celebrate the end of the hockey season than with the announcement of witch publishers will carry the NHL and NHLPA license for the next couple of years.

Surprise it's EA and 2K Sports.... Well it's not really a surprise EA has been a major partner of the NHL and NHLPA since 1991. EA and 2K will develop '07 hockey games for current and next gen consoles. There was speculation the the NHL and NHLPA might sign a deal that would grant exclusive rights to a single publisher like the NFL did with EA but not this time around.

The NHL recognizes that most consumers want choice and decided not to grant an exclusive license. Watch for EA's NHL 2007 and 2K's NHL 2k7 this holiday season.

Psy City Surprise!

Is it just me or is that Flash version of Excitebike ridiculously fun. I still haven't come in first in a race but I did score 12345 points in one race. Well kids that little piece of action script was developed by Psy City a.k.a Ian Kelly a.k.a psycosis91 and he is but the tender age of 14.

This kid deserves major cred in my books. Ok Excitebike is fun but need more proof check out another Psy City game Bullet Bill. A little more difficult but still pretty sweet. You can see for yourself at the Psy City website. There is also a couple of game sprite falsh cartoons wich are worth a look too.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Excite Your Monday Morning

Good morning readers I trust you all had a good weekend. It was quite warm here in Toronto over the weekend, so it was good to get out and about in the sunshine. Anyway enough about sunshine you're stuck at work for the next 5 days. Well what better way to get your week off to an "Exciting" start than with a really awesome flash version of the Nintendo classic Excitebike (one of my all time faves)New tricks interesting game play and an all new Daredevil mode (can you clear all ten trucks? I can!) you can find the game HERE thanks to Kotaku for posting it.

Play this one soon because it infringes on any number of Nintendo's copyrights so it might eventually get pulled from which is a shame cause it's one of the better flash games I have come across lately, Enjoy!

Play Excitebike

Thursday, June 15, 2006

DS Buyer's Beware

Found this on gamesetwatch.

Buyer Beware: First Bootleg DS Games Surface

It helps you spot bootleg DS copies that may be being sold as Nintendo products.

If you just shelled out 150$ for a DS lite like I have, the temptation to pick up DS games cheap on ebay can be a lot to handle but resist. You might end up with some pirated piece of crap!


[Unnamed Konami Title] - Preoder Today!

According to 1UP, you can pre-order your very own copy of the Final Fantasy VII Remake for the PS3, which according to them is to be released in the month of December. Just another strike against the idea of pre-ordering your games, whether it be online or in stores.

The idea of the FF7 remake has been circulating since the PS3 tech demo showing the game's opening sequence at E3 last year. Currently, according to Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake is not going to happen. But that won't stop stores from letting you pre-order the game.

Companies that sell video games will do anything to make a sale, even if that means allowing pre-orders for games with little or no knowledge about them available to the public. Case in point, in late February, I went to a local Blockbuster, only to see that you could pre-order the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which at that time had like 10 screenshots online and no release date. But you could have it when it comes out, whenever that was. It's almost like preordering Duke Nukem Forever in 1997 before they announced a release date. Plus, because there was no news about Twilight Princess, there would be no guarantee that you would like the gameplay is, let alone like the game.

I understand that preordering games in order to make sure you get your game is not a bad idea (I've done it a few times), but I think that stores should only allow preordering about a month or so in advance, or at least when there is a definite release date. That way, you know when the game is coming out, you know what the game is about, and you will get it the day it comes out. But businesses are all about money, and they will do anything in their power to get your money, even if it means allowing you to pre-order almost a year in advance on a game that may or may not even exist.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Who Cares About Backwards Compatibility? Mircrosoft Does....for now

Microsoft has added a few more titles to the Xbox 360 backwards compatible list

Doom 3.....Cool! Lego Star Wars.......Awesome! Star Wars Battlefront.....Sweet, but State of Emergency? That was one of the worst games ever, I wonder how many copies are actually in circulation. Ah well keep 'em coming Microsoft and don't stop until every Xbox game is playable on the 360. No one cares about backwards compatibility? HA!

Surprise! Nintendo's Latest Handheld gets a Facelift

Well, not quite two years after the original launch, Nintendo does what it likes to do best: remodel its latest handheld. Each one has gone through many changes (Original Game Boy getting smaller, then colours; Game Boy Advance getting a compact mode with a flip-down, front-lit screen, then changing it to a back-lit screen (they never said anything about that one), then shrinking to bite-size), and while a remodel of the DS was inevitable (and almost necessary), a change so soon was a surprise to me.

How it Looks - System: Incredible, Screens: Incredible!
The shell of the system got a nice overhaul over its beast of a brother. First, the DS Lite is smaller in width, length, and thickness, making it easier to fit into pockets and small pouches in backpacks and luggage. Second, the multitude of colours available are arguably better than those for the original. Sure, North America can only get white, but that looks a hell of a lot better than what was offered at the original DS launch: silver. Not even a cool, flashy metallic silver, but a dull one that easily comes off when rubbed against things over time. As well, the outer shell is covered in clear plastic not unlike a certain popular MP3 player. One final touch is that the top part sticks out on the edges, allowing it to close shut like a clam shell. This makes the system look slick when closed, and helps keep the bottom screen nice and clean (or at least cleaner than the bottom screen on the normal DS).
The screen got a nice change too, as the colours are a richer than on the normal DS. When I first turned mine on with Mario Kart DS, it looked like the colours were too bright. The opening menu shot out at me with blue. It was startling! This was so much different than the DS, with a duller blue. Easier on the eyes a little, but nothing a little brightness tuning couldn't fix: another option is that while the screen's back light can't be turned off anymore, the lighting has four brightness settings: one under the original brightness to conserve battery life, one close to equal, and two brighter than the original, although I doubt anybody would really need a screen as bright as the highest setting. I could see it fine on low in the dark.

How it Sounds: Same
Not much changed here, though there are fewer holes for the speaker to blare through.

How it Feels: Nice
The plastic covering does take a bit of adjustment to hold, since your hands can slide about on it right out of the box (I know mine did), but it is very comfortable. The stylus is moved to under your right hand (where the ABXY buttons are) and has a nice indent that an unused finger can pop it out quickly. The stylus is also longer, dwarfing the original stylus by at least an inch. While no thumbstrap is included, you can still tie your old one (of if they're sold separately) on the back. The only things that may take some getting used to are the LR buttons are smaller, only taking up half the size of the bottom part, and the start and select buttons are now below the ABXY buttons, and made much smaller. If you're used to the start/select buttons above like I was, it will be often that you stick your thumb up only to find nothing.

How it Plays: Similar
While no buttons were added or removed, and the touch screen is as sensitive as ever, the movement of the start/select button may add about a minute or two of a learning curve back onto any game that uses them, since you have to rememorize their location. This is offset by the position of the stylus, making it easier to get to your hand, since you don't have to take your hand off the controls (with a little practice, of course). A couple of other things have also changed for the better: the power/charger light are now in between the screens on the right, so even with the lid closed, you can see the power lights; the microphone is now in between the screens in the centre of the system; and the battery life is slightly extended if you keep it on the lowest setting. This adds more time to the playtime of your games in one sitting.

Verdict: Buy!
While mostly cosmetic touch-ups from one system to another, most of the changes to the DS improve the experience of the games, whether its the better colour quality of the visuals, or the clam shell to keep the bottom screen cleaner. Not one thing that changed from the DS to the DS Lite was done carelessly (except maybe the movement of the start/select buttons). If you don't have a DS, this should give you enough of an excuse to get one. If you already have a DS, never touch a friend's DS Lite if you don't intend on buying one, because you will never be able to go back and enjoy the games the same way. Now if only you could get it in black...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Great! Now it Sucks to Live in Oklahoma

This morning I was browsing the news at and came across the story about Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signing a new anti-video game bill into law HB30004 to be exact. Now many states have passed anti-video game laws mostly banning or restricting the sale or rental of "Mature" or Adults Only" games but Oklahoma's new law seems to have thrown the ESRB ratings out the window and come up with their own definition of restricted content.

Here's the definition according to
"This definition considers inappropriate any game which lacks serious
literary, scientific, medical, artistic or political value and which
features glamorized or gratuitous violence; uses that violence to shock or
stimulate; features violence that is not contextually relevant to the
material; has violence so pervasive that it serves as the thread holding the
plot of the material together; trivializes the serious nature of realistic
violence; does not demonstrate the consequences or effects of realistic
violence; uses brutal weapons designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain
and damage; endorses or glorifies torture or excessive weaponry, or depicts
lead characters who resort to violence freely."

Wow that sounds like half of the games out there. Well kiddies No GTA or Conker's Bad Fur Day for you. You should stick to Loco Roco and the Bible Game or face a hefty fine. Read the last line of that definition again, characters that resort to violence freely? So boxing, wrestling, football, and hockey games are out? I guess that's OK because no one in Oklahoma cares about football anyway. GO CORN HUSKERS!!!!!!!!

Just watch your back's kids of Oklahoma the thought police are coming for you. Unless you're "double plus good"

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Is Sony committing Suicide?

These days Sony seems to sound more like depressed teenager looking for attention good or bad, than a computer software giant. Now don't get me wrong I am extremely excited to see what the PS3 can do but Sony is throwing a lot of lofty promises in the air, my question is can they deliver?

If there is one thing I have learned about industries including but not limited to the game industry, is that they move in circles. Me and my fellow novice game designers have noticed that Sony seems to be acting a lot like Nintendo did 10 years ago when they were on top of the global console market. Overconfidence is not a trait that consumers normally respond to. Sony is of the frame of mind that "Hey we're Sony we can do whatever we want and charge whatever we want and people will still buy our products." This has been Microsoft's corporate philosophy for many years now. Microsoft has a lot more going for them than Sony does. Like complete control over the global computer software market.

I don't really want to get into the PS3's price too much but it doesn't take a genius to see that 650$ CND is ridiculous. I even though the Xbox 360's launch price was a bit to high. This being the main reason I do not have one in my possession as of yet but as the days go on I do see myself wanting a 360 more and more.

If Sony can deliver on all it's promises than the PS3 will be an awesome piece of hardware but otherwise I don't think that many people will be shilling out 650$ for fancy looking Blueray player.

Friday, June 09, 2006

How to Get Your Own Nintendo RPG

Apparently it's not so tough being a video game character these days. Every video game character has one desire from birth err creation and that is to have a staring role in their own game. Some characters are giving a staring role right from the get go. The work of Samus Aran comes to mind along with Link and his ongoing role in the legend of Zelda series.

How common is it for an extremely secondary character to be given a shot at the big time with his own adventure. Well it has happened before Yoshi got his own game after a strong showing in Super Mario World, but Nintendo's new star was even more secondary than Yoshi. I'm talking about everyone's favorite (except mine) wannabe fairy and map maker Tingle.

IGN reports that Tingle will be getting his own RPG adventure for the Nintendo DS, but how did he make it to the big time? Well for all you video game characters out there just follow my step by step guid.

How to get your own Nintendo RPG

Step 1: Appear as an annoying character in an innovative adventure game along side a major star.

Tingle's first appearance was in The legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask where he sold Link maps of dungeons and that of the overworld. Sold? Selfish asshole Link was trying to save the world and you have the balls to charge him for you silly maps? The nerve!

Step 2: Make it to the sequel.

Tingle also appeared in the GameCube cell shaded adventure The legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, again charging for maps. Bah get out of here you silly half assed fairy.

Step 3 : Be memorable...... and cute

As annoying as I found Tingle did offer a little comic relief him wanting to be a fairy when he is clearly fat out of shape and lakes the ability to fly or restore Link's helth. Who could forget his adorable catch phrase "Oooooh Looooom PAAH!"

Step 4 : Settle for handheld

Not big enough for his own game on the Wii Tingle will have to settle for his own title on the Nintendo DS. You'll make it to the big time someday Tingle but for now baby steps.

I hope you have enjoyed this guide on how to get your own Nintendo RPG just follow these easy steps and then watch the cash role in. Maybe someday Tingle will be able to afford that Fairaplasty and become a real fairy just like he's always wanted.

New Super Mario Bros: Return to Memory Lane

Probably one of the biggest franchises in the history of video games, the Super Mario platforming series gets an update on the Nintendo DS, taking elements from almost every Super Mario platformer and tossing in some new stuff along the way.

How it Looks: Fantastic!
New Super Mario Bros have some of the best graphics of any game on the Nintendo DS, with some impressive 3D polygons that don't blur or pixelate around the edges, making everything look sharp and well-defined. The animations move seamlessly along as well, with nice detail in every enemy's movements as well. Even the water ripples pretty well. I think the best thing Nintendo could do with Mario Bros was using polygons, since you can use the same Mario, scale him for Small Mario, stretch him tall for Mega Mario, and colour swap for Fire Mario, all without having a large library of sprites: everything can be done with a few calculations.

How it Sounds: Good
There doesn't seem to be many (if any) new music in New Super Mario Bros, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The majority of the songs and sounds are remixed from the entire library of Mario songs (mostly Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World), and they sound very good. The music is also a little upbeat than most other games, but that just tries to add a comfort level to those who don't play games (since the DS is targeting everybody, making a good portion of their first-party games available for everybody), and that even adds a little wrinkle in the gameplay: on every beat (almost like someone saying "Ah", or hitting a triangle for underwater levels) the enemies either jump or stutter in place. The Fire Flower power-up also follows suit. Another thing is that they cut back on Mario talking, only keeping it at the beginning and ending of every level. While I don't find it too bad, if they had it every time you jumped or shot out a fireball, it would have driven me nuts!

How it Feels: Intuitive!
The controls of New Super Mario Bros feel very natural, but that has a lot to do with the simplicity of the game. Jumping is done with A/B button , while running is done with X/Y button, though you can swap the buttons if you want. The only other button that does anything is the Start button to pause. While the touch screen only contains the level map (or map of the worlds on the world map), in levels there is a spot to hold an extra item like in Super Mario World. Touching it will drop the contained item above you. Unlike Super Mario World, though, if you get hit, it will not automatically drop.

How it Plays: Fun
Not much has changed in the Mario formula: Get from the start to the end while avoiding enemies and pits, collecting coins and power-ups, getting to the flagpole, etc. If you've played a Super Mario bros game for the NES or SNES, you know what to expect. Power-ups are not as diverse, and mostly are just the mushroom to turn you into Super Mario (they still call him that), and the fire flower to give him fireballs. New to the game are: the small mushroom to shrink Mario into tiny Mario, which allows you to jump extra high, run across water, and get into tiny pipes; the mega mushroom, which causes Mario to grow to the height of the screen, allowing him to crush anything in his path and gain 1ups for his troubles; and the shell suit, allowing his dash to turn into a thrown turtle shell. The small mushroom and shell suit are mainly for finding secret items. There are 8 worlds in total (two are hidden), and multiple levels in each world (akin to Mario 3). Also added are most of the minigames from Super Mario 64 DS, though they are changed to allow multiplayer. The only issue I have is with saving: you can't do it when you want until you beat Bowser at the end of the game. The only times you can save are when you beat a tower or castle, or use star coins on the map.

Game Length: 5-15 Hours
If you just want to kick Bowser off his throne, the game shouldn't take longer than 5 hours. If you want to unlock every level and world, and find the three Star Coins in every levels will raise the game time to about 10-15 hours. The minigames can also help pass the time, and the multiplayer (collect-the-stars with another player and multiplayer minigames) also adds a few hours of fun.

Verdict: Buy!
This is a game that reminds you of gaming roots, how fun it was, and that you don't need to be killing aliens, engaging in an over-arching story, or have HD quality graphics to have fun. Although the game is short, it is a game that you will pick up and play again and again.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Holy Crap! Vista Launches!!

Wow write a blog, go to school, bike home, and Vista Launches. whew!

Download Windows Vista beta 2 NOW!!

You can download it from the Microsoft Website

Run for your Life! It's Doug Lowenstein!

There is a man, a man of great power and great responsibility. He is a defender of freedom a defender of video games he is the ESA's super hero Doug Lowenstein a.k.a THE OVERTURNER!!!

This week on The Overturner: Overtuner vs. The State of Minnesota

Gamasutra reported the other day that our hero has filed suite against the state of Minnesota to overturn another law that puts the government in a position normally reserved for parenting. This law seems particularly ridiculous fining young people for purchasing or renting "Mature" or "Adults Only" rated games. How on earth is a 10 year kid going pay a fine? That's like fining a homeless guy. No income = no payment.

If Doug Lowenstein wins this one he'll be 7 for 7. Why do states keep passing these laws that are eventually overturned for violating the First Amendment? Aren't there bigger issues like high gas prices or soldiers and civilians dieing overseas. Not only does Lowenstein get these laws struck down but he than sues the state government to recoup money spent on fighting these stupid laws. You tax dollars at work people.

A smart man once told me "Doug Wins...... FATALITY!

Microsoft Sketchy On Vista

If you read the press releases it would seem that Microsoft is really excited about their new operating system but I remain skeptical. If you read between the lines you might actually see that Microsoft is not entirely convinced of Vista's success. How can I draw such a conclusion when all we hear from Microsoft is about how great Vista is going to be for gaming? Simple, three words..... Halo 2 exclusive.

Halo: CE for the PC will run on any operating system as long as you meet the requirements, this gave our first taste of Halo online multiplayer. Then Halo 2 launched for the Xbox and a giant was born. So why not allow anybody the PC to do so play Halo 2 without Vista?

What other reason is there to upgrade you OS? I think Microsoft finally hit it's stride with Windows XP after suffering through Windows ME and Windows 2000. I'm very happy with XP it does almost everything I need it to.

I have also heard speculation that DirectX 10 will also be Windows Vista exclusive. I think that developers just won't develop for DirectX 10 . The beauty of developing for PC is that anybody can do it. What's next Microsoft? Are you going require a license to develop for Vista?

Well we shall shall see.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

to be HD or not to be HD

Is HD the wave of the future? Well it really depends on who you ask. Sony and Microsoft are saying yes and including HDMI outputs on their next gen consoles. However word on the street is that the Nintendo Wii will not support HDTV outputs.

Now I understand why you would want an HDTV to play your games on especially if you're a big graphics whore and want the best picture possible, but for simply watching TV I don't see the point unless you're really into National Geographic or Discovery Channel shows. Do you really need 5000$ worth of detail to watch American Idol?

I am not against HDTV I just don't see the point, how good are things supposed to look? I hear things like "Man you can see the sweat coming off people's forehead" My response to that. "Ewwww I don't want to see the sweat dripping off that 400 pound lady on Jerry Springer. I already think that network TV is crap except for a couple of shows like House or CSI but again what do you need the extra detail for? CSI already zooms the camera in to a microscopic level. Can you say redundant?

I got to school in the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) building in downtown Toronto, Ontario and they have HDTV's set up in the lobby so you can watch CBC programs in HD. Last week I stared at an episode of the Simpsons for like 20 minutes just trying to see if the picture looked any better than my TV at home and I honestly didn't see any difference. If anyone can tell me if HDTV has changed their life please email me or leave a comment.

If you really want HD you don't need to look any further than your own eyeballs. "Hey look I can see every hair on my girlfriends head" As she sits next to me on the couch while we play Lego Star Wars on our lovely 32 inch, non-flat, I guess old school low-def TV and that's all I'll ever need.

All Games Large and Small

So what is the hot button topic that is one the minds of video game design students. Well my fellow students and I seem to keep coming back to the same topic. All of us have been very intrigued by the idea of smaller scale games on the new consoles and also by the idea of online game delivery systems.

I once brought up the idea of online game delivery systems like Xbox Live Arcade, Valve's Steam and Nintendo's Virtual Console, to my Ludology (Game Studies) instructor Jason MacIsaac webmaster of . He went as far to say that online delivery systems like Steam "are the future of gaming".

Not only do these delivery systems make content more accessible for consumers but they seem to have created a whole new gaming market that Sony, Mircosoft and Nintendo are very eager to explore. Let's look at some of the most popular games on Xbox Live. Yeah we know that Halo 2 and Call of Duty: 2 are extremely popular among Xbox Live's subscribers but those who are luck enough to own 360 have shown that smaller scale games like Geometry Wars and UNO can be ridiculously popular.

Now as a game designer I think I would be very happy designing little games that are distributed for little money or even free. Who needs the constant pressure of producing AAA titles. I think that developing really solid casual games is a great way to spread the positive influence of video games to people who don't really see the benefit of video games. This early in my career I don't really know where I'm going to end up in this massive industry but I do know one thing. I have been a life long advocate of this medium and it's power to enrich people's abilities whether it's by improving eye hand co-ordination, problem solving skills, thumb dexterity or the proper way to trash talk at some kid you just owned at Halo 2.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Time Well Spent

I came across something interesting this weekend according to CNET news there are at least 7 bills before the Senate and House in the US. Now I have to say that I am not American nor do I live in the US but I do pay attention to US politics especially where video games are concerned.

see the list here

There are two bills in particular that I have a problem with. Bill S.2126 sponsored by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) NY and bill HR5345 sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson (D) Utah both are still in committee and both would bar the sale of "mature" video games to minors. What's wrong with that you ask? Every other media industry has been allowed to self regulate without government intervention. Movies, newspapers, comic books all allowed to self regulate.

You can't just let the video game industry run around doing what they want selling their evil product to kids. If only there was some sort of ELECTRONIC SOFTWARE RATINGS system so that parents could see a lable on the packaging warning them that a title might not be suitable for a younger audience. Better yet this ratings system could be run by a BOARD of some kind.

The rest of the Bills are trying to launch investigations and studies into the impact of video games on young minds or how bad GTA: San Andreas is. Didn't GTA:SA come out like 2 years ago? Now that's quick work.

Alan Kotok 1940-2006

My fellow gamers one of the grandfathers of our industry passed away last week. Alan Kotok was one of the MIT students who back in the 1960s designed one of the first video games "Spacewar" for MIT's PDP-1 computer. Now his contribution to "Spacewar" may have been minimal he did however inspire main programmer and notorious procrastinator Steve Russell to finish writing the program that would go on to inspire another father of the game industry.... Nolan Bushnell.

Before leaving MIT Kotok made another impact on the world of computer gaming by being involved in the design of one of the first computer chess programs. After leaving MIT Kotok began a 34 year career at Digital Equipment where he was chief-architect of the PDP-10 family of computers. He also had Impacts on this lovely thing we call the world wide web. Remember Alta Vista? The search engine? I used it once in grade 8, Kotok was a major consultant on that project.

Kotok shows us that you can inspire an industry even if you did mean to. Well Alan thanks for everything and rest in peace.

Want to play "Spacewar" the game that sparked a media revolution?

well you can ---> here

The End of Killer Aps?

One thing that I have noticed with this new generation of consoles is there are fewer major third-party exclusive titles for the three systems. Sure, Xbox will always have Halo, PlayStation will have God of War, and Nintendo all their first-party goodness, but exclusive third-party titles are going the way of the dodo. Look at Grand Theft Auto - every GTA since GTA3 has been PS2 exclusive for a few months until released on Xbox and PC. At E3, it was announced that GTA4 will be multi-platform from day 1. Final Fantasy XI, the online FF, started with the PS2, then quickly moved to PC. Once released, the Xbox 360 got a hold of FFXI as well, making it the first Final Fantasy on Microsoft's console. And once the PlayStation was released, Mega Man X jumped ship from the SNES over to the PlayStation with exclusive releases of Mega Man X4, X5, X6, and X7 for the PS2. It wasn't until Mega Man X Command Mission did Mega Man X finally return to multi-platform gaming.

What does this mean for the consumer? Good things. With less and less exclusive titles on the systems, it means that you can go out and buy one system to play a multitude of games on it without being shut in the dark completely. There will still be draws to each system, whether it be Xbox's Live,Arcade and Halo, PlayStation's large library of RPGs, Wii's Virtual console and near-perfect first-party line-up, or PC's large MMORPG support and downloadable content. It's just that the lines that once separate one console to another are becoming a lot more blurred.

But one thing is for certain, there will always be those system sellers, the "killer aps" for each system, that will never cross over. You will never see a Halo game on PS3, a Legend of Zelda game on an Xbox, or God of War on the Wii. There will still be some absolutes, just not as many as there once was.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I Think I'm Done With Halo 2

Growing up my parents never really gave a crap about technology or the internet so a high speed broadband connection or top of the line computer were never at home in my house. My parents bought a computer that did the job and normally had basic internet service. So when I finally got my own place last January I pulled out all the stops. I signed up for the fastest internet connection available and jumped right into the crazy world of Xbox Live.

I soon discovered that there were a lot of games on Xbox Live but not many of them were very fun with the exception of Microsoft and Bungie's crown jewel Halo 2 I had played it online at a couple of friends house and it felt like crack I wanted to play more. So it was one of the first titles I bought for my shiny new Xbox Live connection. It took a little bit but I started improve before I knew it I was a level 26 and pretty decent. One late night on halo turned into another before I knew it I was playing way too much Halo.

So it's now six months later and I just don't find it fun anymore. The same old maps the same old guys who have de-leveled and like to pick on players who aren't a good as them. Same old everything. Now it is amazing that a game that came out over 2 years ago can still offer new experience for new players also six months of replay value for 19.99 is awesome. I have just reached the point where I crave something new. Well I have Halo 3 to look forward to but I am a little concerned on how fresh the next installment of the series might be. Well here's for some Halo innovation.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ass Backwards

Over the past two days I have seen a couple of news stories pointing to an interview with Microsoft VP Peter Moore where he talks about the future of the Xbox gaming console.
what shocked me is that Moore says that "Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility" Of course people are concerned about backwards compatibility. Now this may not be a system selling feature but it is definitely an awesome bonus. Sony seems to be the only company who has been able to do this feature right.

You can play any PlayStation game on your PS2 and word on the street is that you will be able to play all your PlayStation and PS2 games on Sony's new PS3 when it launches later this year or early next year. Backwards compatibility is definitely useful It saves space in your living room you can play many generations of games on one console.

Nintendo is also banking on this feature and they are taking it even further with the Nintendo Wii's "Virtual Console" feature. Which will allow users to download games from any Nintendo generation, NES, SNES, and N64 in addition to Wii's ability to play current-gen GameCube titles. Now I grew up playing games during Nintendo's console domination years, so the ability to recapture my youth is awesome even my girlfriend is super excited about the prospect of playing Super Mario 3 without huffing and puffing into our ancient and discoloured NES console.

I think Microsoft is really shooting themselves in the foot with this. It seems that Microsoft is more concerned with all that 1080p, HDMI, HDTV nonsense than they are about providing the best game experience possible. I don't know about you but I play all my video games on a 32 inch non-flat TV and I think they look just fine. We'll save the HDTV argument for another time.

I have quite a few Xbox game and when I upgrade to the Xbox 360 I may still want to play those games with having to drag out that massive black brick Microsoft calls a console. I hope the powers that be give Peter Moore a nice slap upside the head and say listen to your audience!....Idiot.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

AMD + ATI = ATMID?????

Let's talk microchips shall we.

Now I am no expert on computers or those magical green boards inside that do all kinds of crazy stuff but I do know that kick ass chips give us kick ass games. The PC game environment is currently closed to me like it always has been. Hey my little laptop does the job though with it's little Intel integrated graphics card. One of these days I'll get my hands on one of those sweet gaming PCs but what chips will be inside it? Intel or AMD processor? Nvidia or ATI graphics chips? I have not seen or heard anything touting one processor over the other but this changes when I ask anyone about GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). Everyone I have talked to about graphics chips has had nothing but problems with ATI chip sets not because the units themselves are no good but that the drivers never seem to work right. This maybe at an end.

Forbes is reporting a possible merger between AMD and ATI. Does this mean that ATI could finally get it's drivers all in a row resulting in an easier and less stressful gaming experience for all those PC gamers out there. Could it be possible that in the future AMD's main competition Intel could merge with graphics giant Nvidia? Will this merger could breath new life into the fledgling PC game market? Or is this just another Canadian company being gobbled up by a bigger American firm.