Billy vs. Steve

Gaming 1 Comment

This isn’t about Microsoft vs. Apple.

I just finished watching King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary about the crazy culture of professional arcade gaming. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading, because I’m going to spoil a lot. It’s a great documentary, so go check it out.

Anyway, the plot revolves around a guy name Billy Mitchel, who set a bunch of arcade records in the 80’s. 20 years later, a guy named Steve Weibe (pronounced Wee-bee) decides, “Hey I can beat Billy’s score in Donkey Kong,” buys a Donkey Kong cabinet and plays in his garage. Eventually he beats Billy’s score.

If only it were that easy. His 1,000,000+ score (something like 150k higher than Billy’s score) must be verified by the officials of “Twin Galaxies” who are the self appointed refs for classic arcade games. The rfefs end up coming to Steve’s house when only his wife is home and start ripping his cabinet apart to verify it. At this point, these guys sound officially insane.

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You Down With 343? Yeah You Know Me!

Game Development, Gaming 3 Comments

The Chief.I’ve been quiet for a while. Too quiet. The truth is I was deathly scared I’d accidentally post something about the team I work with and get fired over it. Man, these Microsoft guys are serious business!

As it turns out, I can now say I work for 343 Industries. Haven’t heard of em’? Soon you will. I have the privilege of working with some of the top talent in the industry, across the board.

Microsoft recently announced 343i’s existence at ComicCon ’09. They also announced some of the stuff we’re working on, like an anime series and something called “Waypoint.” They revolve around a popular intellectual property you may have heard about.

So in short, I got to work on Call of Duty and Nazi Zombies and now I get to work within the Halo IP. Not many people get to say that in their lifetimes.

E3 ’09 Roundup

Game Development 2 Comments

Microsoft Media Briefing

Ahhh… E3 is finally over. It was a huge E3 this year which was great. I missed the classic pig party feel of E3 and I’m glad it was back. Anyway, here’s how my week went.

I flew in on Virgin since it was the cheapest fare a week before the beginning of E3. Now I’m officially a Virgin convert. It felt like flying on a limo and the price was right. Very choice. I caught “Slumdog Millionaire” on the way down from Seattle, which was a bomb-ass movie.

I met up with my buddy who lives in downtown LA. He does contract art from home in his sweet loft apartment. Ahhh, the good life. It’s also great because he lives within walking distance to the convention center, near great places to eat, and near lots cool hangouts. If you’re hungry, I highly recommend Bottega Louise (7th and Grand). It feels like you’re walking into an elegant European¬†restaurant. The place has amazing food and it isn’t pricey.

I got my sweet all access pass for the Microsoft media briefing on Sunday then headed over to the Kotaku Party at the Golden Gopher with some Activision friends. We hung out there for a few hours, even after the free drinks dried up. I got a chance to meet some of the Kotaku guys as well. Mike Fahey was sitting in the back of the bar like the Godfather of the joint. He was super cool and always gave fair reporting on Treyarch, which I appreciate a lot. Good times were had by all, even if I was getting drilled about what I was working on and what Microsoft was up to. No about of alcohol will make me spill the beans though, I’m a human lock box! Although they knew about “Reach” the day before the briefing… hmm.

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Seven Steps to Boost Your Gamerscore

Games for Fun, Games for Points 2 Comments

Points are fun too!

Last time I wrote about why I like getting achievements. This time, I want to give some insight on how I go about getting those ‘cheeves. A few people I know keep prodding me to write about this, so here we go!

1. Play games you enjoy – This probably sounds dumb or obvious, but you shouldn’t play games you don’t really like. You’ll notice I have some games like Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2009 (that’s everyone’s favorite to pick on so I point it out in particular) that I’ve 1000pted. Guess what? I actually like playing those games… rag-dolling animals is fun for me and I don’t get to do that in any other game. By contrast, I wasn’t feeling the recent Harry Potter game (too long and involved), Deadliest Catch (too repetitive), or Dead Rising (terrible save system) so I stopped playing them. I will admit I will put up with a mediocre game just to get achievements though, since playing a bad game is more fun for me than watching a decent TV show. I think it’s really up to the individual player, but as long as there is enough “fun” to keep me interested I’ll stick with the game.

2. Find the fast points – This goes against #1 in someways. You’ll see I’ve 1000pted a hockey game which honestly I didn’t think was that fun (I’m not a big fan of hockey in general, nothing against the game itself). However, early sports games for the 360 are some of the easiest to get achievement points in. Avatar: The Last Air Bender is everyone favorite example of quick points. You can get all 1000 points in under three minutes. For someone who is into getting achievements, getting fast points is fun by itself. If I can play one game of NHL 07 and get 1000 points, it’s pretty freaking fun to see that you’ve unlocked 26 achievements for 1000 points in a match or two. Getting back to Harry Potter; I wasn’t having a ton of fun playing the game and it was long, so the investment in time for points wasn’t worth it.

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A Treatise on Achievements

Games for Fun, Games for Points, Gaming 3 Comments

Achievements!

I get a lot of flak for having a huge gamer score. Part of the problem people have is that I play games to “boost” the score; games I probably wouldn’t play otherwise. For example, I probably wouldn’t be playing Lost, the Cabela series, and a few other games if it weren’t purely for achievements. Also, those people never look at all the AAA games I’ve played, or point out that I’ve played the same or more (both in amount of games and achievements in any particular game) of any game they’ve touched. Haters!

However, here is where I take a stand. On the Internet! Every game I’ve played, even Cabelas, I’ve been able to take something away from. Before achievements, I’d stand around a Best Buy, look at the back of the box and laugh at the value games, then buy my copy of Halo, Gears, whatever.¬† I was a game snob. Now that I play these kinds of games, in addition to the AAA titles, I fully appreciate a good game when I see it. The difference is huge. I remember growing up, when I thought all games were good, mainly because I could only get one a year.

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Indie Games Galore!

Game Development, Games for Fun, Gaming 1 Comment

Going to GDC always inspires me to go on an indie game bender. A few of us are sitting at this big award show hosted by the Independent Games Festival (IGF) waiting for the Game Developer’s Choice Awards and feeling guilty that we’ve played 0% of the games they’re calling out. Between the bunch of us we only heard of like three games they talked about…

So, within the next week I start getting games from Steam, downloading them for the PC or getting them for my iPhone. The one thing I found about a lot of these indie games I’m interested in is that most of the nominees (and some of the winners) haven’t even released their game yet. How does that work exactly? Does this happen in the movie industry too? “Well, no one has seen this movie yet, but here’s your award, I’m sure it’ll turn out great.”

Anyway, after getting back from San Fransisco, I went on my yearly indie game binge. Here’s a quick run down of the games I played:

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Game Developer’s Conference ’09 Summaries

Game Development 3 Comments

A group of us from various companies have decided to put all of our notes, summaries and recaps together from the ’09 Game Developers Conference and publish them for anyone to check out. We even split up on some talks when we were in San Fransisco in order to cover more ground!

Yes, you can buy the audio and video for various talks through the GDC website. However, they’re expensive and I’ve always found it easier to find info if it’s all in text, since I can easily search for things I’m interested in. Plus I can skip around, come back to other sections later, read it on my iPhone etc. You’ll find that some people just put up their notes and outlines of the talks (me!) while other tried to tell more of a story of what happened. I’d be interested to find which format you all found more useful!

Anyway, feel free to share this with the world. It’s not complete yet as people are still adding their content, and there are a few more people who will be contributing, but there’s already a ton of talk summaries up to peruse at your leisure.

In case you missed the link above, here it is again.

GDC 2009!

Game Development No Comments

I’m getting stoked about GDC! As usual I’ll be taking notes and pooling them with a few other developers from various companies. I’m mainly going to design talks, but there are a few production and post-mordem type talks as well. I’m really interested in what Maxis / EA wants to say about Spore. The Blizzard talks are usually good as well.

I also know a few people giving talks this year! Be sure to check out David Wu’s talk on animation, Corrine Yu’s talk on the future of multicore processing and Andy Luedke’s talk on graphics programming! Be warned, I got a preview of Corrine’s talk and it was waaaay over my head, but I’m sure anyone who hasn’t quickly forgotten Calculus will understand what she’s talking about.

Maybe I’ll see you there! If you see a guy wearing a Zombie Train T-Shirt or a COD:WaW DevTeam hoodie then it’s probably me. Feel free to say “Hi!” since I’m not a scary guy and you won’t catch me alone anyway. Be sure to stop by the Microsoft booth as well… we are hiring after all!

One Year (and two days)!

Game Development, Gaming 1 Comment

It’s been a little over a year now since I started this blog. About this time last year, GDC has just finished up and I was inspired by Patrick Curry’s blog (which seems to have fallen into disrepair) to start a developer blog of my own. Blog. Blog, blog, blogity. Blog.

The most popular post? The one about Nazi Zombies, of course. However, the gamer Myers / Briggs personality type post gets quite a few hits as does the collectible design post. For the occasional review, people generally search them for how to beat certain parts of the game, where to find items and so on.

I think doing the game review thing is fun since it forces me to think much more about the games I play and not simply be entertained by them. However, I’ve been slacking. I’ve been playing a lot of games and not writing about them. I blame it on the influx of games around Christmas… there was just too much to play! I think in the future I’ll do less review-y type stuff (or make those posts more terse) and focus more on design “issues” and concepts. Those are more fun to write about anyway.

So, yeah. One year (and two days). Here’s to a bunch more.

“Achievement Guides”

Games for Points, Gaming 2 Comments

Dear Internet,

Please stop publishing “Achievement Guides” that simply list the all the possible achievements found in a game. I can do that from within the game itself. A guide is supposed to tell me the best way to get certain achievements, not just tell me what they are.

Love,

Sir Haxington

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