Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dead Island's Point of No Return

Oh man, was I pissed.

I had invested a good chunk of time in Dead Island, even starting over because I realized I had crafted a character who was incapable of managing the teaming zombies in the streets of Moresby.

Imagine my reaction when my save game glitched just as I passed the "point of no return" and moved into Act IV. Glitched in a way that prevented me from ever finishing the game.

Like I said, I was pissed.

Spoilers ahead...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Half-Life 3 Protesters in Bellevue

For the second straight day, protesters have picketed outside Valve's Bellevue, WA, headquarters. Their demand? Release Half-Life 3.

By "protesters," I mean two dudes with cardboard signs. And by "picketed," I mean sat on lawn chairs until Valve bigwig Gabe Newell came out and posed for pictures with them.

Kudos, guys! But you should really be asking for Half-Life 2: Episode 3. That's the part they left dangling. We'll never see a proper Half-Life 3.

(via Kotaku: Day 1. Day 2)

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Hiatus

Posting will be somewhat light for the month of August—much to the chagrin of all none of Shame Pile's loyal readers—as I try to get a handle on a different writing project. (*cough*rehab*cough*)

I'll check in from time-to-time, and will be back full time once I head downtown to PAX at the end of the month.

My summer vacation.

(Image from The Oatmeal. Go read it, dummy.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Best Game Ever: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimeWhen I first encountered Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, little did I know that Jake Gyllenhaal was about to lead me on the finest cinematic experience since Citizen Kane...

Ha! Just kidding. That movie blew. I'm talking about the 2003 video game, which is one of the finest ever made.

Early on in the game, a gang of palace guards confront the Prince. I hit the attack button, and instead of merely swinging his sword, the Prince vaulted over the hapless guard's head and impaled him from behind. All slow-motion, Matrix-style.

Was that awesome? Yes it was. Was I hooked to the point of playing until the wee hours of the morning for several days straight? Yes I was.

I've returned to the game several times over the years—one of the key indicators of a classic in my mind—and even purchased the game again on PC once I bid a final farewell to my GameCube and Wii. The Sands of Time is a near-perfect marriage of gameplay and story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fat, Ugly or Slutty?

As part of the first generation that truly grew up with video games (2600 4 Life!), I spend a lot of time trying to convince my contemporaries that gaming is more than a kids' pastime. I truly believe that there are more than a few games that are worthy of occupying an adult person's time.

Hell, I stand my ground in the face of a society that thinks, as one friend of mine does, that it's perfectly acceptable to make Two and a Half Men appointment viewing while mocking me for spending time playing Red Dead Redemption. Come on. We should be better than that.

Sometimes, however, I can see what leads some people to think this way. It's the same reason I don't play too many online games with people I don't know: bile-spewing dudes behind a shield of anonymity.

With that in mind, I'd like to take a moment to address all of the young men who make a site like Fat, Ugly or Slutty necessary:

Fuck you. Fuck every last one of you, right in the poop chute.

Case in point
I think I'm speaking your language, except that I spelled everything correctly and I forgot to include any gender, racial, or ethnic slurs. Sorry about that.

And sadly, that blog is only showing the misogynistic part of online gaming. Whoever you are, expect to receive a sound tongue-lashing featuring the worst slurs you can imagine if you have the temerity to be better than a stranger at Modern Warfare 2. "Faggot," "nigger," and "cunt" seem to be among the most popular choices, presumably because they are more likely to get the speaker the most attention, which is the whole point.

Trash-talking is part of competition, but when people are face-to-face, it takes on a more good-natured quality. On the Internet, the shield of anonymity makes men mighty!

Gabe and Tycho put it much more succinctly:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever Review: It's a Game

Duke Nukem ForeverAfter a pitched battle early in Duke Nukem Forever, our hero shouts "I am the duke! I am A-number one!" That gets a thumbs-up from me because it's a quote from Escape from New York. For you youngsters out there, that's only the best movie ever made.

In fact, several of Duke's post-combat ejaculations made me chuckle for a moment.

Thus ends the positive portion of this review.

For a game that spent fourteen years in development hell, Duke Nukem Forever feels strangely rushed and, in the end, not worth the wait. None of its elements feel up to modern standards, and the end result is a mediocre first-person shooter.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Jesus-Based Approach to Game Design

Wrong! I'm pretty sure Jesus has an Xbox 360.
Over at Kotaku, Owen Good wrote up his experiences at the 2011 Christian Game Developers Conference. Did you know that was a thing? Neither did I.

It's worth a read. It offers a peek into a world that isn't often covered in gaming news, that of the devout Christian game developer. That's not my world*, but I found the piece interesting nonetheless.

The conference was not about designing Christian games, but rather it focused on game designers all over the industry who happen to be Christian. The problems they face being openly faithful, how that can inform their work, and, most importantly, how to make good games.

Cool! I'm all about good games.

Honestly, I don't care what the story of a game is about as long as it's told well and it's fun to play. But as a rule of thumb, if you start on a religious (or political or social) soapbox instead of letting the story take you there, you're going to turn off your audience.

The conference-goers do mention some Christian games, including the controversial Left Behind series. 

I have a morbid fascination with end-of-the-world stories, but you would never catch me playing a Left Behind game for the same reason you wouldn't catch me reading the Left Behind books. I don't have a problem with telling a Christian version of the Apocalypse, but this version is just so smug and superior. I get the creepy feeling that many of the fans are rooting for this to happen, and that's no fun.

In the end, I think my advice for Christian game developers is the same as my advice for other game developers: Make me a good game. I'll pass judgment on that.

*For the record, I worship the bone god Umptysquat. Now go about your business.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Duke Nukem Keeps You Waiting

What's with the crazy load times, Duke Nukem Forever?

Is it some sort of meta-commentary on the game's development? You waited fourteen years for this game, why not wait a little longer? That's not funny!

I have to say, I'm on the fence about this game. And waiting 30 seconds or more to respawn each of the 20 times I'm killed by a mini-boss is not helping its case.

Okay, so maybe the "getting killed 20 times" part is about me being a terrible player. And maybe 30 seconds doesn't seem that long, but it adds up. When you're facing a particularly difficult enemy, you can spend more time watching load screens than playing.

I'm not a programmer, but these seem unacceptably long for a game released in 2011.

I know, as games get bigger and bigger, and the consoles don't advance to the next generation, longer loading times are inevitable. Hell, the Xbox version of L.A. Noire came on three discs, mainly because that platform doesn't have a high-capacity Blu-Ray player.

But man, the loading screens in Duke Nukem Forever are looooong. They try to make up for it with some (sporadically) funny gameplay tips on them. "If you fall from a great height, it's probably your own fault" is my favorite.