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  Wii Workout  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Even a little wiggling around is better than no wiggling at all, which explains how the Wii Weight Loss guy and Wii Sports Experiment guy have melted some fat, or why the game Dance Dance Revolution was added to the State of West Virginia's school curriculum.

Adding fuel to the fat-burning fire, Nintendo has reportedly revealed new Wii hardware and software intended to increase gamer health. According to TG Daily, players stand atop the Wii Balance Board, which measures body weight and balance. The Wii Fit software will use the Balance Board to chart the results of a fitness regime over time. Nintendo will apparently be adding Wii Balance Board support to future games. I can see surfing games working really well with this, or relaxation games which require stillness, or (obviously) dancing games.

I'm keen to try out the Wii Fit system: It seems like a great example of the productive play I wish more game companies would get involved in.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Sony Expands ‘PlayStation Home’ Microworld [Updated]  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sony spokespeople presented in person and in avatar form during an E3 press-conference yesterday. Among their announcements were expansions to PlayStation Home, an online microworld serving as a lobby from which games and other media are experienced.

According to an emailed press-release, a newly-designed "Home Square" will replace the lobby concept starting this fall, described as an "open air space" intended to give Sony developers more freedom to build upon the Home service (not sure how an open air space accomplishes this--more virtual real estate, maybe?). Four new virtual apartments were introduced, including a Beach House, Norwegian Cabin, Manhattan Penthouse and a traditional Japanese House, places where avatars can gather and share content. I still haven't seen Home in person, but it seems terribly dull.

[Update: Joystiq live-blogged from E3 that Home is coming to mobile phones; users can send mobile pics directly to Home; a social networking service links Home into the web. I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned in Sony's original press release.]
 
     
 
   
 
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  Pushing the DS Envelope  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Pushing the DS Envelope
"Sleeping Kayu" by Shtroodle
I don't like to tinker much with my gadgets, but I just might have to get my hands dirty with some hot Nintendo DS homebrew action. Auriea Harvey pointed out, two third-party applications which captured my interest: DSOrganize (PDA-like) and Colors! DS (turns your DS into a paint canvas). The more productivity I can squeeze out of my DS, the better. Lately it's been weeping in a corner next to my bed, relegated to alarm-clock duty.

The only reason I'd even consider mucking about with DS homebrew applications is that there's apparently very little mucking involved. Just pop in an M3DS Simply cartridge, pop an SD card into that, and whip through the handy Idiot's Guide. I've got an SD-reader built into my PC, so shuttling files between the DS and PC should be a snap (failing a WiFi link). I'm particularly interested in applications for the DS video camera... so much potential...
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  First Impressions: ‘Shadowrun’ (Xbox 360)  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sadly, I'm old enough to remember when the original Shadowrun tabletop role-playing game was first published back in 1989. I had no interest in a Tolkien/Gibson mashup then, and wouldn't have given the Xbox 360 version a chance if Xbox Canada's PR company hadn't sent me a review copy. So, lucky reader, you get my first impressions of the game based on about 4 hours of intensive play.

I was expecting a story-based single-player shooter with token multi-player modes available, but Shadowrun is simply a multi-player shooter wrapped in the same goofy premise as the original RPG. The game borrows a bit from some of the best shooters in history (think Counter-Strike, Tribes, and Unreal Tournament) as well as throws in interesting game play options with its unique technology- and magic-based character abilities.

Continue reading: First Impressions: ‘Shadowrun’ (Xbox 360)
 
     
 
   
 
  4 comments  
  Nintendo Opens Up Wii Development [Updated]  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-27 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Nintendo introduced its WiiWare service today, opening up its Wii game console to independent game developers, who will be able to sell downloadable games through the Wii Shop Channel. According to an official press release, to-be-announced content for the service will launch early next year.

It's not clear from Nintendo's press release what exactly WiiWare is, aside from offering game creators "a simple method" to get games to the public and "reduced barriers to development." Presumably details are forthcoming, but in the mean time I have to wonder about the development platform's hardware, software, and license-fee details. [Update: citizen game picked out a few choice details from a couple of Newsweek stories. Turns out Wii development isn't all that open after all.]

If Nintendo's promises hold true, bigger things are in store for the Wii, which already appeals to a wider audience than the other major game consoles. Opening up to indie developers increases the opportunity for innovation and further expansion of the Wii demographic.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Greetings, Citizen Game!  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A couple of friends of mine have started up citizen game, a smart-ass games blog unlike many others in the sense that its writers are more smart than ass. They've also taken the moral high-road, rejecting advertising and free games (I run Google ads and happily accept freebies). Bless their 8-bit hearts and good luck to `em. I can only hope a drunken podcast is forthcoming.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  ‘The Office’: The Game  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-20 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Casual games publisher MumboJumbo announced today that it will bring a game based on The Office to platforms including PC, Sony PSP, and Nintendo DS. I presume this will be a game version of the American version of the British TV series... sounds terribly unfunny already, but it gets funnier.

According to an official press release, MumboJumbo's CEO says that he looks forward to working with NBC Universal "to ensure that the thematic elements of 'The Office' are closely approximated in the development of the video game." Note that he didn't say that the game itself will carry forth the themes of the TV series, but that these themes will be approximated during development. Given this, I have to wonder if the game will ever actually be completed, or if a bumbling middle-manager on the development team will royally cock things up. Hilariously, of course.

MumboJumbo threatens to develop a game "that combines the quirky characters and humor of the show with a proven, addictive game mechanic..." I'm curious about what sort of proven, addictive mechanic we might be so lucky to play with. What could it be? Matching things? Lining things up into rows? Arranging pairs of complimentary shapes? Wait, I have it: Smoke-breaks.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Major League Gaming’ Gains Solid Foothold in Canada  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Insight Sports, a Toronto-based media company, is bringing Major League Gaming to Canada, providing a localized, organized pathway to "professional" video gaming. To this end, Major League Gaming Canada will be staging an Xbox-exclusive tournament this fall: "The MLG Canadian Open will be held Friday, November 2nd – Sunday, November 4th, 2007 at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre. It will serve as a marquee event within the larger Gaming and Digital Lifestyle show that is expected to attract over 25,000 core gamers and technology enthusiasts during the weekend."

I spoke briefly today with MLG co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni, who told me that MLG chose consoles over the PC platform because of the lower barrier to entry for console gamers--the cost of buying a PC rig is just too high, he said. While MLG is Xbox-exclusive for now, DiGiovanni told me the Nintendo Wii is a possibility moving forward.

Support from Xbox Canada, Yahoo! Canada, Zellers, The Score and G4techTV has already been secured for MLG's Canadian debut. Xbox Canada has ensured the Xbox will be used exclusively during league play; Yahoo! Canada will promote MLG through its media network; Zellers will facilitate retail sales and promotions; The Score TV network will be the official home of MLG, including the U.S., with G4techTV apparently picking up the broadcast scraps.

Not sure what to make of this until I actually see a televised MLG tournament. On the one hand, it's good to see video games get a "pro sports" treatment. On other other hand, is MLG meeting a need? Are North Americans ready for video games as pro sports?
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘More Research Needed’ in Linking Video Games With Negative Behaviour  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health has issued a report entitled "Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games" which taps into 22 years of scientific literature drawn from the PubMed database. The report contains no new findings, but does provide a handy summary of previous investigation into the impact of video games on health.

The Council on Science and Public Health report refers only to the "potential" benefits and detrimental effects of games, referring to studies which showed an "association" between gaming and negative behavior. This seems a more sensible stance than the one taken by Dr. Peter Jaffe, a University of Western Ontario professor, who contended earlier this year that the effects of entertainment violence (including video games) on children "are measurable and long lasting." My question "Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn't It?" still stands--the report indicates "more research" is needed to connect video game content with negative behavior.

Continue reading: ‘More Research Needed’ in Linking Video Games With Negative Behaviour
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘High School Musical’: The Games  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
High School Musical was originally a Disney Channel TV movie, but has since spun out in the form of a soundtrack album, an ice tour, a live concert tour, an upcoming sequel, a movie planned for theatrical release, and now... video games. Disney Interactive Studios will extend the High School Musical experience across Wii, PS2, and DS game consoles this summer. Sorry, parents: Your pre-teens are going to sing you into insanity.

The Wii and PS2 versions of the family-friendly game will involve karaoke antics involving characters from the property and about 30 songs. The DS version doesn't require singing (a pity, since the DS has a built-in mic), instead approaching High School Musical from a rhythm-game angle. DS gamers will be able to compete and trade videos with others via Nintendo WiFi. It would have been an added bonus to tie in DS and Wii game play, but I suppose that'd be asking for too much.

I suspect that even if interest in the sing-along, dance-along genres is waning, a High School Musical game will still have plenty of appeal to the tweenage set, particularly given the pending movie sequel and spinoff. Not sure 30 songs is going to provide much repeat play value, but I suppose the point is to sustain interest in the brand long enough to sell movie tickets.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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