Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

No Peter Venkman In Next Gen Ghostbusters? December 3, 2008

Filed under: DS,Games,Kotaku,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 12:29 pm
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[Ed. note]: As of about 9:00 EST, Kotaku has corrected their error. 

 

I ain't afraid of no mic.

I ain't afraid of no mic.

According to Kotaku’s story today on Ghostbusters DS, the next-gen versions of the game will not feature Bill Murray’s classic wisecracker Peter Venkman.  It seems that the DS version will have him though, because there is no voice-acting in that version. This stands in stark contrast to Kotaku’s earlier story about Bill Murray enjoying recording his game dialogue so much he would actually consider a third movie.

 

 

In fact, Murray himself has appeared on Conan O’Brien and the Today Show talking about the voice work that he has already put in the can. I’m thinking this is a blown call by the big K, and we can expect to see and hear Dr. Venkman in due course.

 

[Edit: Check out this trailer that clearly features Bill Murray.]

 

Oh Boy, More Sonic Crap December 1, 2008

Filed under: Games,Kotaku,Previews,Wii — Gwyddia @ 7:31 pm
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Continuing their cavalcade of “We Don’t Care If You Like It, We’re Just Going To Put Out A New Game Every Month Instead of Doing What The Fans Want And Doing An Actual Retro Game”, Sonic Team has released new screenshots from the upcoming Wii game Sonic and the Black Knight. You can check those shots out over at Kotaku if you like, I’m not wasting space with them here.

 

In the last few years Sonic has gone to Pseudo-Arabia to make it with a human chick, spun off a gun-toting Shadow, searched deep into his RPG roots, and become a freakin’ werewolf – excuse me, werehog. In fact, he’s done everything but run around really damn fast for 4 hours and collect rings while freeing cute bunnies and saving Chaos Emeralds! For the love of Ceiling Cat and all that is HOLY, Team Sonic, make a damned SONIC game!

 

Thank you. That is all.

 

Congratulations, Bashcraft! November 18, 2008

Filed under: Kotaku,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 2:10 pm
Tags: ,

Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft and his family welcomed their second child into the world today. Three cheers for MicroBash! Now is it a boy or a girl?

 

Weinercast Wednesday November 12, 2008

The Weinercast is go! This week: The Future of DRM.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.

 

Review: Fallout 3 November 11, 2008

fallout3

There is a Fallout fever in my house.  The Weiner Daddy is playing on 360, I’m playing on the PC using both keyboard and mouse and the Microsoft game controller.  We’ve been playing since the game was released on October 28th, and neither of us is anywhere near completing it.  I will also note that neither of us have encountered any of the nasty bugs reported by Kotaku, but these are known issues, so your mileage could vary.

 

Theme:

Welcome to post-apocalyptia, children!  The theme and setting are the same no matter which version you choose. Fallout is set in an alternate history universe full of retro-futuristic kitsch and post-bombing hell. Imagine the American 1950s, only with 22nd century laser and gene-mapping technology.  By the time you are on the scene, the bomb has long since dropped.  It’s 200 years later, you are ready to crawl out of your sealed Vault and see what’s what in the ruins of Washington, DC.  The Capitol Wasteland comprises a HUGE area, and the sidequests alone can take you hours upon hours.  Unlike Bethesda’s Oblivion, however, you can and will want to get back on track with the main quest eventually.

Welcome to the world of yesterday's tomorrow!

Welcome to the world of yesterday

 

Art:

Think bleak.  As befits the setting, the Fallout 3 world is full of brown, grey, and yellow.  Unlike the repetitive trash-strewn levels of Hellgate: London, the environment of Fallout 3 is huge and fairly varied. When does Bethesda reuse something in the game, they are doing it on purpose.  Think all those tract-home shells look alike? That’s the point.  All of that suburban sameness makes it much more powerful the first time you see the ruins of the Washington Monument or the Capitol Building.

 

The character models are straight out of Oblivion, albeit with different clothes. The facial mapping and details are improved from Bethesda’s RPG, but the idea is the same, with the PC having the edge over the 360 in detail.  Enemies vary, from mutated critters to raider gangs to super mutants.  The critters are pretty much all the same, but the raiders and mutants are varied.  If you look closely you can see the attention to detail, as most of the humanoids’ armor is actually pieced together bits of the trash strewn across the Capitol Wasteland.

 

Gameplay:

It is here that the PC and 360 versions diverge.  Fallout 3 is not a shooter and it is not a full-on action RPG, but is something of a chimera of the two.  After fighting with the mouse and keyboard for over 20 hours, it is clear to me that Fallout 3 was designed for a controller.  Even the lowest mouse sensitivity option will swing your view way wide of the enemy in front of you.  Lockpicking is nearly impossible to do without failing a few times, due to the twitchy nature of the PC controls.  My experience was vastly improved when I used a gamepad on my PC.

 

Combat is its own strange bird.  On the shooter side you have the option to take a first-person view and use your weapons as you see fit. On the ARPG side you have the V.A.T.S. system; action points-based pause-and-play combat.  Contrary to popular belief, you can’t really play Fallout 3 entirely as a shooter or entirely in V.A.T.S.  Most of the time you’ll use V.A.T.S., then try and duck and cover while your AP recharges to use it again.  Why?  Because the FPS perspective doesn’t work that well.  The target reticule is small and inaccurate, and there is no lock-on.  This is true in both the PC and 360 versions.  

 

Use V.A.T.S. to shoot the junk off his trunk.

Use V.A.T.S. to shoot the junk off his trunk.

Searching for and picking up items must almost always be done in first person view.  The “target boxes” for small items, such as stimpaks, is ridiculously tiny, and unless you’re nose-to-nose with them, you may not be able to highlight them to grab them.  This is a little better on the 360 version, but here again the PC version suffers from poor mouse control.

 

Overall:

Don’t let the PC control issues dissuade you.  Fallout 3 is a fantastic game.  It is engaging, fun, and deep.  You will care about your character.  You will care about some NPCs and want to kill others. You will make irrevocable choices early on that will truly affect your game path and the game world. Evil is as viable a choice as good, and your experience will differ greatly depending on which path you take.  You can get through the main quest in about 10 hours, yes, but if you do, you’re missing the point.  I didn’t miss it at all, and I’m wondering how I’m going to balance playing more Fallout 3 with the release of Wrath of the Lich King on Thursday.

 

For being an excellent and engaging game with real consequences and deep story branches, I am giving Fallout 3 five weiners out of five.

Line weenLine weenLine weenLine weenLine ween

 

KOTOR MMORPG Combat To Be A Graceful Dance November 10, 2008

Will it go a little something like this?

Will it go a little something like this?

 

At least according to BioWare, anyway. The team is looking for versimilitude with the movie, including the detailed, almost choreographed combat sequences. In an interview with videogaming247, BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk described classic Star Wars fights as “. . . elegant; it’s big, powerful moves and lightning bolts flashing, but in a way that makes sense visually and aesthetically.”

 

 

Some sites, notably Kotaku and Destructoid, are skeptical. They note, and rightly so, that one of the weaknesses of the prequels was the overly-rehearsed lightsaber duels at the expense of thing like, say, dialogue. I, for one, doubt that BioWare is ever going to skimp in the writing department. I suspect the combat will be similar to the pause-and-play back-and-forth of the original KOTOR, with some modern flourished befitting the five-plus years since that game’s release. We’ll know more in the weeks and months to come.

 

Guitar Hero World Tour Creation Mode Woes November 9, 2008

Some snags this week for users of Guitar Hero World Tour’s Creation mode.

 

User-created versions of existing, copyrighted songs are disappearing. This comes as no surprise, as Blactivizzion warned that content would be monitored for infringement. That being said, I think there is a significant legal argument to be made that what people are creating in World Tour is not copyright infringement per se.

 

A little law first, from  the U.S. Copyright Office:

One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1.)  the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2.)  the nature of the copyrighted work;

3.)  amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4.)  the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

 

Making your own version of the Green Hills Zone available for free download in GHWT is not “commercial”, at least for users.  You don’t expect to realize a dime on it.  Blactivizzion, however, may.

 

Kotaku is reporting that the company is considering a fee-for-service model for user-created content. That sounds like foul play, as users were not warned about this possibility before buying the game. Why should we create content for the company to sell and not realize a dividend? And what, then, is the effect of the use of these tunes on the potential market for the copyrighted work? I would think it would encourage people to enjoy the original, whether that be playing Sonic or picking up a song on iTunes. These three “instrument” versions of songs are NOT the original. The nature is substantially different. No one is going to mistake your lyrics-free version of Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen’s magnum opus. And no one who wants to sing along with Freddie is going to miss their chance to do so with the actual song.

 

The implications for your own creations of original material are different, and possibly worse. If Blactivizzion does what they are proposing, you will be creating new music and handling them the licensing fees. Moreover, it is unclear how this structure would affect your own copyrights in the future. All in all, this seems bad bad bad bad and bad. Fun, fairly used tunes are being taken out of play and it seems that they are to be replaced by play-for-play wholesale acquisition of your music.  It’s enough to make me want to stick to Rock Band.

 

Excuse me now, I’m going to exercise my right to reproduce this piece over at GamesLaw.net.