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    The walled city of Trinsic has fallen.  A full accounting at a time to be determined, but here are the details.

    Trinsic Murder Stats:

    Men Killed: 10

    Women Killed: 3

    Children Killed: 0

    Respawns Killed: 6 *

    * The respawns included a horse, 2 dogs, a cat and two of Chantu the Healer's patients. These kinds of NPCs seem to respawn, so killing them is pointless.

     

    Kill Order Chain:

    Caroline (Fellowship member) -> Dell (Provisioner) -> Markus (Trainer) -> Apolliana (Barmaid) -> Petre (Stable Hand) -> Gargan (Shipwright) -> Klog (Fellowship Leader) -> Ellen (Klog's Wife) -> Chantu (Healer) -> Gilberto (Town Guard) -> Finnegan (Mayor) -> North Guard -...


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    Faithful Crispy readers will remember that  Jones and I asked Wanted producer Nick Torchia what game laid deep inside his soul waiting to be set free. His answer was a yet-to-be made hair salon game for the DS. MTV Multiplayer has a story up where Stephen Totilo talks to ex-Rare designer Martin Hollis about his new WiiWare game, Bonsai Barber, which lets players cut shrubbery off cartoony plant people. Two things struck me when re-visiting our first Dining with Developers:

     1. When he was elaborating on his idea, Nick Torchia says, "No one has ever done a hairstyling simulation." Similarly, Hollis observes that hair-styling games are "just a complete blindspot for the whole development community." Or did he mean to say...

  • It was supposed to be a fun get-together of eight players for a Demigod match. We were each going to write up 500 words on our experience and turn it into a nice multiplayer feature. What ensued was hilarity, calamity and frustration over the next hour and a half, and no game played.

    Game Truster Tom Chick helped organize the match, pulling in myself, Bill Abner, Troy Goodfellow, Bruce Geryk, Jason McMaster, Kelly Wand and a friend of Tom's. We had spent the last couple days hashing this out, even checking connections early to make sure we could all connect. We had also set it up so each player would play a different demigod and each four-player team would chat via Skype to stay on top of strategies.

    In the end, it was all for naught.

    Chick set up a password protected lobby and we all started to meander in...

  • [I've got a bunch of oddities/outtakes that didn't make the final cut of our two-part chat with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed's lead producer Haden Blackman. So I'll be posting them here as the week goes along. Stay tuned. -jones]

    Narcisse: I had some trouble with the Death Star area at the end. I finally got through it, but man, was it a tough go.

    Blackman: The Death Star is a really tough area. There are two areas that always give me problems in the game. The Death Star and the Skyhook on Kashykk.

    Narcisse: Oh yeah. I remember that.

    Blackman: It's where you have to go around and pull out all those pins, and you've got the snipers up above and the Purge Troopers roaming around.

    Narcisse: What were the big robots called?

    Blackman: The Purge Troopers. They're relatives of...

  • Here's another outtake from our epic Dining With Developers with Haden Blackman. Today's topic: Jimmy Smits who plays Bail Organa in the game.

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    Blackman: I was intimidated to meet Jimmy Smits. Here's this guy, this big Hollywood actor. I didn't know how well he was going to handle the likeness-capture stuff--that's like half a day of getting photographed with all these different expressions--but he was great. And afterwards, we were like, "OK, it's time to go up to the recording studio and actually do the lines." And so we cleaned all the dots off his face, and he said, "Wait a minute, I've got to do something before I go." And he walked back onto the likeness-capture stage and shook hands with every single crew guy in there. Total class.

    When we were in the recording...

  • Evan, Vic and I learned a lot during our dinner with Haden Blackman last month, not the least of which is that there's actually a Starbucks *inside* the Lucas Arts building where they work. Not having to even leave your office to get your Venti double latte sounds like a serious luxury, especially to the staff here at CG, where we have to take a rickety elevator down to the street to buy our watery coffee from the chicken place across from the office.

    Haden Blackman: We have a Starbucks in our building...

    Jones: You mean actually in your building where you work?

    Haden Blackman: Yes, in the building where we work. [Laughs] Of all the cool things that happened to the team when the game shipped, the coolest thing for me was that some of the guys who worked [at the Starbucks] played the game. And on the chalkboard where...

  • Here's one. Take old Sierra adventure games -- the first Space Quest, Police Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry games -- and make them playable on the Web. Then allow you to see everyone else who's playing the game along with you, and to overhear what they are saying to the game.

    "Look body," one player says. "Take rose," says another.

    "Use retrieval device," I say. "Use retrieval device," echoes someone in the room who thinks I have the right idea.

    "LOL HOW DID U GET THE GIRL SKIN," asks one player to another who has changed avatars.

    "Suicide," says a depressed soul at Lefty's Bar in Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards.

    These old point-and-click adventure games were rich environments built to be explored. You...

  • It's becoming a bit of a GDC tradition for me. Last year I met with Bioware's duelling doctors to talk about science fiction (they were stumping for the PC version of Mass Effect, but were happy to sidetrack). This year Evan Narcisse was kind enough to let me tag along with him and meet with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk again. The results of the conversation can be read in the feature, "So What's Your Story?" 

    But one point I wanted to isolate from the interview. There was a moment where I asked about out a major difference between Mass Effect and the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins. In Bioware's last game players had the power to shape conversations in real-time, controlling Commander Shepherd's voice...

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    I just had the following, unsolicited instant messenger conversation with my 15-year-old sister (pictured, right). Typos and misspellings have been left as is intentionally. Instant Messenger handles have been changed to protect the innocent (and my sister).

    Listen along to the podcast

    (15:11:48)
    MySister:
    do
    people realy take 45 min out of there day to listen to u and 2 other
    nerds talk?

    (15:11:58)
    Me:
    Haha...

  • No, the video isn't real, but the game is, apparently. All I'm saying is that this song had better be in there.

  • Standing in my living room, pumping my Wiimote up and down in time to the music, yes, I feel like a dork. It also has gotten me thinking about this whole motion control thing.
     
    I’ve been playing Major Minor’s Majestic March, a game so weird that you feel like you can’t hate it in case you are missing something. So, you act cool while pretending your Wii controller is a drum major’s baton and you thrust your hand up and down with snap precision in order to assemble a motley collection of frogs, monkeys flowers and other hallucinatory band members.
     
    And pretty soon, your arm gets tired (I know, hahhahaha. Insert your own joke here, because I’m not gonna do it.).
     
    But all this motion-...
  • If you are unfamiliar with what's going on here, then you might want to read my introduction to the concept first. While I was thinking about this experiment, I realized that I had a few goals I wanted to accomplish:

    1) kill everyone

     2) beat the game.

     

    In order to do this - and to do it in a way that wasn't a cheat-enabled speed run, I came up with seven rules, though only six really apply to the main goal.. They are as follows:

     

    1. Do not use cheats.
    As tempting as it is to climb the roof to the workshop in Trinsic at the beginning of the game and get the Death Scythe at the beginning of the game, it makes the entire...

  •  I have been writing an article about a rather dark replay of Ultima VII: The Black Gate. I won't go into too many details here in this blog post, but I thought it would be interesting to share some murder stats with you for each town in the game (look for those sporadically when I feel like it). First a little background on why I would be demented enough to play one of my favorite games this way.

    The Black Gate is one of the darkest Ultima games I have ever played. It was the first game in the series where even the bad guys blurted out idle threats and begged for mercy as they ran away from particularly vicious fights with my party of do-gooders. Would the Avatar of old relent if such pleas for mercy were blurted out in his presence. That old saint, that selfless godhead of virtue who came from Earth through a moongate that appeared in his backyard, would...

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    I may have said in the Weekend Playlist that I’d be playing this, that and the other thing, but something happened - the plate of Cannolis pictured above. Made with the kind of love only an Italian grandmother knows, these Cannolis are better than any time spent gaming. In fact, Cannoli consumption is the greatest game of all.

    The game is simple: how many of these can I eat before someone figures out that I have them and asks for one? Two down..

     

    (Cannolis provided by Glenda. I love you with all my heart Glenda. Looking forward to a fresh batch next week! )

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    I tuned into a live online broadcast of Tim McVey's attempt to break the world record on the classic arcade game Nibbler around noon last Saturday. By that time, McVey had been playing for 30 hours. He needed to reach a billion and change; his score stood at about 810 million. Some of McVey's family and friends fielded questions from web commenters during the marathon. "What are the chances you won't break the record?" one asked.

    McVey answered all the questions with the same weary, dismissive tone, like the way your office IT guy acts when you ask him how to log onto webmail. This one was no different. "The power could go out," he said. "The game could crash. The machine could be...

  • What is the last taboo in gaming? While there are still many, I think that one in particular is rearing its ugly little head more than the rest lately. When games like Postal and Doom rolled came out it was violence. Killing children in games and movies was always a powder keg of an issue, but that has even changed to some small degree. Even sex, though still controversial, is no longer that big of a deal except to mainstream media and family groups.  Symbol and imagery equated with devil worship, the occult and demonology were once vigorously assailed, but are now mostly unnoticed in the medium. So what is the last taboo in my opinion: rape. Even seeing that word in print brings forth a torrent of feelings - hate, sorrow, disgust.. 

    I have mixed feelings about this kind of stuff; on the one hand we want content creators, artists and writers to be able to express themselves and sometimes taboo subjects have to be there to drive a story. On...

  • Earlier this week, I interviewed Frank Lantz, creative director of areacode, one of the few NYC-based game development studios*. Lantz is also an academic and has been named the interim director of New York University's Game Center. Working on that piece reminded me that superstar designer Warren Spector–he of Deus Ex fame–will be kicking off a lecture series at NYU tonight. It's already started and I'm stuck at home working but get there before 8 pm to ask the affable and knowledgeable Mr. Spector a question.

    Even if you don't, do check out our podcast interview with Spector during last year's GDC. It'll make you smarter. 

    And yes: my...

  • There have always been many nonsensical, borderline idiotic things about the Resident Evil series. No one says it better than this guy does in his April 2000 review of Code Veronica for Game Revolution. His big problem? The game's puzzles.

     "It's not that you can't solve the puzzles (some are so brainless, a
    zombie wouldn't even eat them), it's that they make no sense. Why is it that
    when I put the 'piano roll' into the player-piano does the bottom half of a
    slot machine open up to reveal the 'silver key'? Who set that up that system?
    It just makes the game feel less real." [Read the whole thing here.]

    When Evan Narcisse and I sat down with...

  • Enviro-Bear 2000: Operation: Hibernation is a chaotic experience, as you can see from the screenshot. You're a bear preparing for hibernation. As you crash through the woods in your camper, things like pinecones, fish, berries, and unruly animals end up inside the car. Some of these you can eat; others get in your way and it would probably behoove you to toss them out the passenger-side window. The catch is that your interactions with this physics-based game occur with only your right paw, which means that efforts to exert any kind of control over the bear, his car and the environment are pretty much futile. You can't quite steer while driving (unless you use an object to weigh down the pedal, which seems beside the point, since something else will...