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  A Little Toronto Gaming Action  
Posted 2007-10-19 by Tony Walsh
Here's a handful of local gaming items for my fellow Torontonians:

1) Three former students of mine have formed their own game development company, chiefly using Flash and Virtools as development platforms. They have recently finished two edugames and are looking for a business manager to help their startup get a foothold in the services market:
The ideal business manager will be an enterprising visionary with a strong desire to make a name for his or her self in the video game industry, be a rain maker able to develop business, and be a project manager able to coach a highly creative team toward on-time completion. On top of all of these hard skills, the right business manager will be an individual of superior character with a heart of gold.
This team is creative, hard-working, and driven--if you can help them, please send an email to photius at shannonware dot com.

2) Every Wednesday at the College St. Diner / Tiger Bar: Show off your Guitar Hero II skillz. "Super Cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon" and no cover. Scary.

Continue reading: A Little Toronto Gaming Action
  links for 2007-10-19  
Posted 2007-10-19 by Tony Walsh
  Can Game Controllers ‘Make Awesome Music’?  
Posted 2007-10-18 by Tony Walsh
A plastic guitar or drum set might be an obvious choice for a music-game controller, but not everyone's ready to shell out for one-shot items ultimately destined for landfill. A smarter play might be to design music games for standard controllers instead--the challenge for users here is to squeeze great music out of an unfamiliar instrument.

My brother Joel has started doing some practical R&D towards the goal of "allowing anyone to pick up a game controller and make awesome music with it." A newcomer to game development but an experienced musician and audio engineer, Joel's got a great sense play, a brain for making things work, and a passion for sound. He's posted his first YouTube video. In it, he's using a PS2 controller as a MIDI device (musical instrument), triggering sounds and breakbeats through a combination of audio programs. Wild stuff. Can't wait to follow Joel's adventures in game development, but of course I'm biased :)

  ‘Eye of Judgment’ Blind to Cheating?  
Posted 2007-10-15 by Tony Walsh
When I first read about PS3 augmented reality game Eye of Judgment, it didn't even occur to me that cheating would be an issue. Surely Sony had planned ahead and would be able to prevent players from pulling the wool over their Eye cameras.

Security expert Steven Davis brought my attention to the cheating issue in his analysis of Eye of Judgment as revealed in a Wired blog post:Wired article explaining Sony's anti-cheating strategy:
"Sony, as a thoughtful designer, had to consider how to handle cheating with their card game... after all, if players manipulate the deck, they can gain a substantial advantage. The solution, as described by Susan Arendt of Wired, is to have the console shuffle the cards and then tell the player which one comes out."
Eons ago, I used to work as a clerk in an all-night copy shop, and having seen everything from counterfeit currency to bootlegged public-transit tickets, I wondered if Sony had considered what comes naturally when you put a flat object of value, people and a color copier (or scanner and ink-jet printer) together in private. Apparently not--the cards don't appear to come with copy-protection measures, such as a unique serial number.

Eye of Judgment: Broken.
  links for 2007-10-11  
Posted 2007-10-11 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-10-03  
Posted 2007-10-03 by Tony Walsh
  Hands-On With ‘Halo 3’  
Posted 2007-09-25 by Tony Walsh
Hands-On With ‘Halo 3’
I spent a few hours yesterday playing the highly-anticipated Xbox 360 shooter Halo 3 on-site at Xbox Canada's PR company, leaving with a review copy of the Limited Edition double-disk set. I plan on writing a full review in the future, but for now, my first impressions are this: If you love Halo, you'll love Halo 3. Like a Japanese mud-ball, Halo 3 is simply a more shiny version of previous editions. The best feature of the game, in my opinion, is its facilitation of shared user-created game content and machinima.

I could easily apply some elements of my earlier Halo 2 review to the latest installment:
"Although some game levels require all enemies to be eliminated before allowing progression, most can be easily blitzed through. Given the scarcity of certain items, and the constant urging by other characters to make haste, it's a reasonable strategy to completing the game..."
Halo 3 actually seems easier than Halo 2. There's very little resistance from point A to point B, which will probably suit my new lifestyle quite well--looking after a 2 month-old baby really puts a damper on intensive game play. Given the apparent ease of game-play, I almost wonder if Bungie designed it for people like me. I'm pretty sure hardcore gamers will need to crank up the challenge-level to get much enjoyment out of the single-player campaign.
  Bungie Forges User-Created Content Path For ‘Halo 3’  
Posted 2007-09-22 by Tony Walsh
Bungie's upcoming Halo 3 multi-player shooter will not only support real-time collaborative level-building, but facilitate sharing of said levels amongst the game's players. Bungie's "Forge" object layout editor, provides eerily-similar functionality to "Garry's Mod" for Half-Life 2. With Forge, players modify Halo levels (solo or with friends) using interaction methods learned through game play, manipulating existing objects, creating new ones, and deleting what doesn't amuse. Forge-spawned maps can be played as Custom Games, or shared along with saved game-films, game variants, and screenshots.

Hey, it's no LittleBigPlanet, but Forge is bound to provide innumerable opportunities for emergent game play and potentially innovations in level-design. Not to mention extending Halo 3's shelf-life all the way to Halo 4. Just make sure you obey Microsoft's rules governing user-created content.

Incidentally, Bungie's first "Forge" map editor was created for its seminal Marathon series, which has a number of thematic and specific similarities to Halo.
  links for 2007-09-11  
Posted 2007-09-11 by Tony Walsh
  What Can Video Games Learn From Alternate Reality Games?  
Posted 2007-09-07 by Tony Walsh
What can the video game industry learn from Alternate Reality Games? Lots, I wager. And so I put together a SXSW panel proposal on the topic. The challenge now, aside from getting people to vote the panel into existence, is finding a particular kind of ARG expert (could be designers, producers, community leaders) who has an informed opinion about improving the way video games are made, distributed, marketed, and played. I've already sent a few notes out to the usual suspects, but I figured I'd cast a wider net by posting a call-out here. Never know who you're going to catch.

Drop me a line [tony at secretlair dot com] if you'd like to be added to the list of prospective panelists (looking for about 4 people on the panel), or if you have any specific questions about the panel thanks!
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