29 July, 2012

Death for Children

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 29 July, 2011

This is the beginning of Splinter Cell: Conviction. You're Sam Fisher, super secret spy guy. In the tutorial, you protect your home from criminals by murdering them. I forget whether your daughter sees you kill them or just sees the bodies, but the game treats the violence so lightly (as most games do) that none of it has any dramatic weight.

The story then jumps forward many years. Sam's daughter has died in a car accident. He's quit the spy game because he has nothing left to spy for. I don't think it takes three minutes before someone is telling you your daughter isn't really dead and you're back to shooting mans in the name of patriotism.

I often say that the stories in games aren't worth talking about. This is the type of thing I mean. It's so ham handed that I'm actually glad the execution is lackluster. It's what half-hearted, manipulative writing deserves.

22 July, 2012


written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 21 July, 2012

Technically it's Fear 3, but they wrote it F.3.A.R. on the cover, so I sometimes call it Fuh-Threar.

I didn't bother taking any pictures on my trip through Fear 3, so here's a picture from the original Fear I've had stashed away.

Apparently I was having a good day with the spike gun to get so many head shots.

So, yeah. Fear 3.

It's totally a game. There's shooting... with guns.

Aw, who am I kidding. I'd like to care about the story in the game, but none of the characters are interesting or sympathetic, so it doesn't matter if they get what they want. The art's pretty good (although the combination of depth of field blurriness and environments the same color as the enemies was a problem for gameplay). There's some nice music. And if you like cat scares (minus any actual cats), say no more.

Still, I'm glad I only paid five dollars.

The Steam summer sale is just about over. It seems like the voting deals and flash deals were just upcoming daily deals, which makes them fairly pointless. I picked up a few games so that I'd never have to dig up the CDs again. I added a few games that won't run on my system for whenever I finally upgrade. And there are a couple other games I'll actually play and write about (L.A. Noire and Legend of Grimrock).

It wasn't terribly exciting, but I'm old and jaded, so that's to be expected. The bar to get me excited is so high the FAA requires flashing lights on it.

15 July, 2012

Steam Summer Sale and From Dust

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 14 July, 2012

The Steam Summer Sale is on. To make sure people don't miss the daily sales, each sale runs 36 hours, which means there are two lists of daily deals. Plus there are "flash sales" that last for 12 hours and occur at somewhat irregular intervals. Plus there is a community choice deal where users vote on one of three deals that will last for eight hours. It's more than I want to keep track of.

It's partly the structure of the sale. It's partly that I've played so much that I've become jaded. And it's partly that I'm working ten hour days and don't have much time for games or gaming. I don't care how cheap Skyrim gets. I'm never going to have the time.

The one thing I've snagged out of the summer sale is From Dust. I knew it was probably a mistake, but Eric Chahi made some strange and cool games, so I figured $3.74 was just a small tip for previous works.

It's fairly pretty. You can use lava to build bridges in water, or water to put out fires or make plants grow in arid soil. It's intuitive.

And when your villagers are thriving they turn your islands into tribal used car lots, which is amusing.

But the game chugs at a painfully slow frame rate which makes wielding amazing godlike power feel like doing chores. And the mechanics the game has added thus far have only added busywork, not entertainment. If I remember, I'll give the game another try when I buy my next computer. But it's more likely that I just threw a little money away.

I could have had a pupusa!

08 July, 2012

Legendary and Gaikai Sold

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 7 July, 2012

Legendary's okay. It gives you fantasy elements like castles and flocks of griffons.

By contrast, it also gives you subway stations full of dead people.

I do not recommend it. But for for an investment of $1.69 and five hours, I got to shoot some monsters.

Seriously, though. It's July. Where's the Steam summer sale?

[goes to Google]

Ah. The bundles that will be in the sale apparently leaked to the internet at large Friday night. regular / indie

Cloud gaming isn't great for me. I like action games and they're laggy on cloud services. That could improve significantly if developers started targeting the cloud specifically, but even with the lag there are many games that work fine on the cloud. And the fact that users can instantly start playing without messing with a disc or waiting for a download is very convenient and increases impulse buys.

To my knowledge, OnLive and Gaikai were the only serious contenders in this space, and Sony just bought Gaikai. If someone else buys OnLive, there may be enough patents between them to keep cloud gaming locked up for twenty years.

Regardless, Sony develops and publishes a broad range of content and can distribute it digitally to every place users could want it. Theoretically this puts them in a strong position moving forward, but I don't know enough about Sony's internals to predict whether they'll be able to capitalize.

Of course with many ISPs and countries having individual data caps that make prolonged HD streaming infeasible, it may be that Sony's at the starting line a day before the race.

We live in interesting times.

03 July, 2012

Uh, Foosball?

written by Blain Newport on Monday, 2 July, 2012

Outside of Matthew's Tuesday night game of TF2, I didn't play any video games. They have a Foosball table at work. I stink at it, but it's kind of a game, right?

Nah. I just don't have time for games now. I have a new job with lots of stuff to learn.

I don't even have time to read much about games. I think I killed over half the feeds in my RSS reader, and I just skim the remainder. I don't even have time for podcasts, which I can listen to while I have dinner.

At some point I will buy a 360 and will likely derive a lot of enjoyment from Bayonetta. It feels like the last great game I haven't played.

I'll still make some videos, try things when they go on sale, game a bit socially, and think about games from time to time. But compared to the last four years...

"All I have to worry about are the Klingons, the Dominion, and the Maquis. I feel like I'm on vacation." -Benjamin Sisko