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  ‘Mass Effect’ Pre-Play Impressions  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Last night I attended the Toronto launch event for Mass Effect, the latest Bioware-developed blockbuster game for the Xbox 360. A dozen or so journalists were plied with appetizers and drinks at Atom Egoyan's "Camera Bar," where Mass Effect project director Casey Hudson walked us through a game demo in the bar's swanky screening room. I haven't yet received a review copy of the game, but here are some quick observations based on what I saw during the demonstration...

The Good:
  • Epic space opera adventure in the style of classic science fiction literature.
  • Above-average in-game cinematics feature a variety of camera angles and depth-of-field effects.
  • Vangelis-style synthetic soundtrack inspired by sci-fi movies of the late 70s and early 80s (odd choice, if you ask me).
  • High production values in alien species design, architecture, and interface design.
  • Extreme detail in character models.
  • Appears to feature the same sort of character progression and item accumulation as previous Bioware titles--fans of the developer or detailed RPGs aren't likely to be disappointed. Not so sure the game is going to excite casual gamers, though.


Continue reading: ‘Mass Effect’ Pre-Play Impressions
 
     
 
   
 
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  Bitmappy Events In NYC And Montreal  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A pair of pixelated events, unrelated in all ways but aesthetically, rasterize in Brooklyn and Montreal this month.

"B I T M A P: as good as new" runs as part of the 4-day Blip Festival. Matteo Bittanti reports for Videoludica that the group exhibition celebrates "the history of the digital image, the, aesthetics of early computing and early video-game consoles. Expect pixels, old monitors and 8 bit sounds!" A reception for the group show, which runs until February, 2008, will reportedly be held Saturday, November 24th 2007 from 7pm - 10pm at vertexList.

Meanwhile, in frosty Canada, the Kokoromi Collective launches its "Gamma 256" show, a game design event where submitting creators were constrained to game space comprised of 256 pixels square or smaller. Should be some really innovative stuff on display given the constraints (more info on the official site). The show launches Wednesday, November 28, 2007, at Société des arts technologiques. The event coincides with the 4th annual Montreal International Game Summit, so if you're in town for the conference, there's really no excuse not to go!
 
     
 
   
 
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  Poll: Kids and Parents Don’t [Ok, Maybe They Do] Game Together  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Associated Press (via CNN) reports results from a poll released this week, which found that parents don't play computer and video games with kids:
  • 81% of kids aged 4 - 17 play games "at least occasionally."
  • 38% of adults play games "at least occasionally."
  • 44% of adults play online.
  • 43% of kids who play games don't play them with their parents. [Update: Matt Mihaly says the other 57% must be playing with their parents, meaning kids and parents DO play together.]
  • 30% of parents who play with their kids spend under 1 hour weekly doing so.
  • 50% of adults and kids play more than 2 hours of games weekly. 50% of adults and kids play less. Roughly 30% [not clear if it's both kids and adults] play 5 hours or more weekly.
  • 59% of adults aged 18 - 29 play "at least sometimes," said to be "double the rate" for adults aged 50 - 64
  • 31% of adults prefer casual games
  • Roughly 16% of adults prefer action games, "the next most popular alternative [to casual games]."
  • "About half of women cited casual games as their favorites, triple the number of men who did so, while twice as many males than females preferred action games."
  • "26 percent said they spent nothing on the pastime last year, another 46 percent spent up to $200 and 12 percent spent $500 or more, with men usually the bigger spenders."
  • "Price is the chief factor for people purchasing a gaming console, followed by the availability of games."
The poll, conducted by AP and AOL Games, surveyed just over 2,000 adults last month. 770 of these said they play digital games.

I'm not terribly surprised by the results finding parents and kids don't enjoy screen time together--not only does each group enjoy its own type of games, most computer games in a single household are played solo (you don't often find dad and son crouched behind the same computer screen). Furthermore, and this is simply my opinion, parents seem to be taking a less active role in the media consumption habits of their kids as each year passes. More family-oriented games, please.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-11  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Xbox 360 Family Timer’ Babysits Your Kids  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Microsoft announced today that new parental controls will soon be made available for the Xbox 360 game console. According to an emailed news release, the "Family Timer" can monitor and restrict screen-time for kids on a daily or weekly basis, turning off the console when the time-limit has been reached. The new system will be made available for download via Xbox Live in early December.

Microsoft cited a telephone survey it recently commissioned, which found "62 percent of [800 surveyed] parents would welcome a tool to control the amount of time children spend using the video game consoles in their homes." Personally, I don't know why a machine is doing a parent's job here. If a child can't be trusted to follow household rules, there are bigger problems afoot than any "Family Timer" is going to solve.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Project Gotham Racing 4’ Impressions  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I spent about a week in Quebec City a couple years ago for my honeymoon. Playing Project Gotham Racing 4's Quebec City tracks, I swear I could spot the B&B where my wife and I stayed. Certainly human memory is flawed, but my impression is that PGR-developer Bizarre Creations did a spectacular job of recreating the city streets. The mirroring is so well-done that over the entire course of the track I never felt lost, passing by many of the sights and tearing up many of the streets I'd spent days wandering around as a tourist. It's rare to be able to practically navigate game-space based on real space.

Continue reading: ‘Project Gotham Racing 4’ Impressions
 
     
 
   
 
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  I Mull Over ‘Manhunt 2’ On City News Tonight  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Roving reporter Amber MacArthur is doing a story on Manhunt 2 today, and roped me in for some soundbites. I was able to play about 10 minutes of the ultra-violent game while we chatted. Amber and I were treated to all sorts of Halloweenish sights during the first few minutes of game-play, including needle-stabbings and poop-flinging. Frankly, I was expecting more but based on what I've seen on YouTube, the action gets more disgusting as the game progresses.

If all goes according to plan, you'll be able to catch the segment tonight (6pm and 11pm Eastern, I believe) on City News, provided you're not already needle-stabbing or flinging poop at local kids during their trick-or-treating.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-10-30  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Ring Around The Rosey  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A good friend of mine has had two Xbox 360s die in the classic "red ring of death" fashion. The second one was refurbished (not refurbished enough, apparently). Hope the third one's a charm.

Anecdotally, about half of my friends who own a 360 have gotten a dud. Even one of the colleges at which I teach got a red-ringed Xbox. Every time my own console grumbles during DVD playback a shiver crawls up my spine.

Certainly there are far more important things in life to complain about, but Holy Helen of the Hand Grenade, what a wobbly piece of crap the Xbox 360 hardware is. I swear the only reason I bought one was for professional reasons.
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  I Could Catch A Monkey  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Word has it that Delhi is crawling with aggressive monkeys. I heard on the radio last night that there are 15,000 monkeys and only three monkey-catchers in India's capital. Apparently Delhi is desperate for more monkey-catchers. With the knowledge that aggressive monkeys are a real and sometimes deadly problem, and with no knowledge whatsoever about the qualifications or specific responsibilities of a monkey-catcher (outside of the obvious), I respectfully submit that this has "video game" written all over it. Here's my high-level pitch...

Continue reading: I Could Catch A Monkey
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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