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Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Games of 2008: Q2

(See also, "The Games of 2008: Q1".)

The further out we go into the year, the more sketchy things get on the release front.

But here are the games that ring my bell to one degree or another for the second quarter of this year.

Grand Theft Auto IV (X360, PS3) -- Dunno about you, but this iteration of the GTA franchise (with its displaced, unwilling Russian anti-hero) might actually pull me in. If I don't play it, it's because all of the meta stuff irritates me -- namely, "Hot Coffee" and Manhunt irresponsibility.

Rez HD (XBLA) -- Weird(ish), on-rails(ish), shooter(ish) game from Q Entertainment / Hexa Drive.

PlayStation Home (PS3) -- Sony is late -- but ambitious -- to the console online party dominated by Xbox Live. I'm curious to see how this Second Life / Xbox Achievements mashup thing either innovates, or looks like a late, console(ish), poor man's Second Life / Xbox Achievements ripoff.

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (X360, PS3, DS) -- This strategy games been on the PC forever, and now it's bringing its hard-coreness to the console and handheld space.

de Blob (Wii) -- Painting stuff in games as a game mechanic is the New Hotness, and THQ's jumping in with new IP.

Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball (X360) -- It's "Pirates vs. Ninjas", and published by Gamecock. Golden!

LittleBigPlanet (PS3) -- This game looks artsy and stylish and fun. How cool would it be if this became the PS3 console-seller?

Brothers In Arms Hell's Highway (X360, PC) -- Gearbox Software keeps revisiting WWII, and not only does it not feel tired, it feels important.

Iron Man (PS2, PC, X360, PS3, PSP, WII, DS) -- Yes, it's a movie tie-in, but it's a comic book tie-in. Yes, a lot of comic book games suck beyond belief, but I like comic books, and this title looked good at Comic-Con last year. So they're going to have had ten months to finish, tune, and polish the game.

Spore (PC) -- If this ever comes out, its modern incarnation of a god game may be one of the most innovative titles released this decade.

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy (X360, PS3) -- I like the folks at High Moon Studios, and the time they're taking with title -- which will launch well outside of the film vehicle -- keeps me interested. I wish they'd rename it, though; I'm tired of the whole "[bigNameIwantToSeeInLights] + [longTitle]" formula.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC) -- It is so time for this MMO.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3) -- Hideo Kojima wants to do something important with games. This is going to probably be his best something important.

Left 4 Dead (X360, PC) -- More zombie games. Always need more zombie games.

Hellboy: Science of Evil (X360, PS3, PSP) -- The footage and grabs from one of my favorite comic book franchises gives me the warm fuzzies.

Legendary: The Box (X360, PS3, PC) -- Hate the game name, but I dig the Pandora's Box device to populate the world with the mythological beasties I love. Then kill them, FPS-style.

Hail to the Chimp (X360, PS3) -- Wideload Games rocks (go play Stubbs the Zombie), and Hail to the Chimp looks to be a funny, politically themed brawler with the same trademark humor. And it's published by Gamecock Media.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Xbox 360 Dashboard Update

(OK, I've had too many requests for this, so here's a shortish version.)

Microsoft is readying its next Dashboard update for December 4th, and it's a doozy.

You can find the straight list of features here, or a slightly differently packaged one here (which worked better for me). And if you want to an in-depth breakdown of video FAQs, go here (DivX, baby!).

There is a ton here. If I had to back up and extract some themes from the bulleted lists, I'd say "Social Growth" (Messenger, friends, etc.); "Increased consistency across Microsoft Products, Services, and Accessories" (XBL, Zune, Big Button, etc.); "Audio Video Performance and Functionality Enhancements" (DivX, media handling and streaming, etc.); and "Usability and Aesthetic Improvements" (a bunch, and some nice touches that could be considered "unnecessary").

The MSDN blog poster "IndieGames" gives some insight into the pretty impressive engineering feat showcased by the Dash update:
"Did you know our system update package is only 7MB in size? Or that the entire 360 O/S resides on a tiny 16MB filesystem and when running it is only given 32MB of system memory?"
As much as I dislike what I belabor as Microsoft's poor corporate decision to not guarantee a hard drive will be present on every console, the mother of necessity has pushed the team to do some cool stuff. And they're not dumping 5GB of game data on your hard drive, a la the PS3. (Allegedly.)

The other thing this got me to thinking about is in the rush to "own the living room", it really struck me that Sony is competing with the O/S, software, and media intersection might of arguably the bar in the industry. Puts a different spin on the competition for me.

Oh, and while I acknowledge the engineering feat here is impressive, I'm going to take quick issue with the MSDN blog poster's statement "Maintaining a twice yearly ship schedule is difficult."

Yeah, and water's wet, so cry me a river. Try maintaining a twice a year ship schedule on a multimillion code line, mainframe and distributed, six thousand concurrent transaction per second system. Or 12 releases of varying sizes across 7 services (my last gig) in less than a year. Or being a doctor. Or a divorce attorney. Or sewer employee. Or ...

Now just bring down the overpriced Xbox 1 games that are going to be available for download, and I'll be happier (and you'll make more money, Microsoft; unless you don't care if the downloads to cannibalize sales from brands you don't own, and won't realize any revenue from, anyway).

Ooh, Crotchety Game Dude is back!

Anyway, good stuff coming, and'll probably get better for gamers everywhere.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Xbox Live turns 5; gamers win

Has it been five years already?


Xbox Live launched November 15, 2007, and this week sees a lot of love from the Big M (no, not The Mouse).

What do you get?

How 'bout a free Xbox LIVE Arcade game,(downloadable between 12:01 a.m. PST on Nov. 15 and 11:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 16); rumor says it's Carcassonne, which is an awesome board-to-video game adaptation.

Want more?

How about an all-night gaming session with classic Return to Castle Wolfenstein?

Get more info about the "5IVE" celebration at, or the various WMA/MP3/PodCast itnerviews at

Enough about this. Now to write the post I really want to write.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tokyo Game Show (Microsoft)

I'll have to post more about this tomorrow, but here are some of the highlights from the Microsoft's Tokyo Game Show press conference (mostly lifted from
  • Lost Odyssey will be out December 6 (in Japan; probably)
  • Ace Combat 6 from Bandai Namco is exclusive to the Xbox 360
  • Gundam Operation Troy will be out in 2007, as will Katamari, and Gundam Musou International (that last one is a maybe)
  • Dynasty Warriors 6 will be out in November
  • Ninja Gaiden 2 was announced, and looks to be an Xbox 360 exclusive
  • Age of Empires, Crysis, World in Conflict, the new Viva Pinata party game will all be out for Japan's Games for Windows Live
  • New controller colors have been announced (possibly just for Japan): green, black, pink, and white
  • New XBLA titles include Rez HD, Every Extend Extra Extreme, Ikaruga, Trigger Heart, Exit, and Omega Five
  • New RPG Infinite Discovery was announced, a joint project between Square Enix, Microsoft, and developer is Tri-Ace
  • Square Enix's other project, The Last Remant, will be playable at TGS this week

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Friday, August 03, 2007

QuakeCon happenings ...

Wow, things are flying fast and exciting at QuakeCon, id Software's love-fest for all things id.

First, they've finally announced their new game, Rage, which will be a first-person shooter adventure thing. id's CEO Todd Hollenshead summed up the game:

"It's more than just a first-person shooter, we will show vehicles and racetracks, driving and racing elements," he said. "It is an action-oriented game but with a lot of adventure elements. It will be story driven, but you can also choose your own route to go through things."
Perhaps even more exciting, the game will built on the new id Tech 5 engine, which makes the promise to "allow a developer to create games for the Mac, the PC, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 simultaneously by using identical media for all four platforms". If the promise holds out, this is huge.

Why? Because you don't need separate development teams for each port, and you effectively quadruple your target platforms and quarter your resources (that is, mathematically; after living through a lifetime of "write once, debug everywhere" Java realities, I'll wait until the end of the year when they start licensing to other folks).

Also announced was a free web-based version of Quake 3 multiplayer, dubbed Quake Zero. Free, and supported via in-game ads.

And the fragfest classic Quake Arena will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade.

On the partnership front, id and Valve Software have signed an agreement to make most of the id library distributable on the Steam distribution service. The full list is available on

As far as the Hollywood connection, Hollenshead said id Software did license film rights for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Roger Avary (Silent Hill, Beowulf) will be writing and directing the movie. Not badmouthing the Doom movie, Hollenshead did say they wanted to "learn to do things better". (Good thing they didn't ask John Carmack his thoughts.)

Allegedly, "B.J. Blazkowicz" will remain the name of the lead character in the film. Hope they call him whatever "B" is short for, or "Beej", or something.

Check out's posts tagged "QUAKECON07" to see more QuakeCon news.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Microsoft E3 2007 press conference ...

A lot of stuff came out of tonight's E3 press conference from Microsoft.

You can catch live blogs over at and, and I'm sure more coherent summaries and analyses are on the way soon.

After frustrating efforts to get online, with / G4 (never connected); (never advanced past commercial); and GameTap (un-usable audio and video) all striking out, came through (after a several repeated efforts).

And, honestly, I'm amazingly stoked that Golden Axe from SEGA is downloadable right now from Xbox Live Arcade (remember my XBLA list?). And I am amazingly pissed my Xbox is still in a service center somewhere in Southern Texas.

Anyway, Naruta is an exclusive to the 360, which was a surprise, and the video shown has got me hyped for the game.

And some live gameplay of Call of Duty 4 (prefaced with an unfortunately unintended double entendre) looks more stealthish than previous entries. But the big news is there's going to be an Xbox 360 exclusive beta. Go to for details. The site is traffic (carpet) bombed right now, so good luck. And there are not details yet.

On the other surprise, big-guns exclusives front, it sounds like the new Splinter Cell is hitting the 360 first, and possibly by a big spread. On the Grand Theft Auto front, there will be two new episodes for GTA IV exclusive to the 360 in spring 2008 (though this has been discussed before).

It sounded like they said Virtua Fighter 5 is only online on Xbox 360. That's surprising to me, so I need to verify.

I'm curious as to whether Capcom's 360 / zombie love is going to make Resident Evil 5 an at least timed exclusive (it's the one game shown tonight that's post this holiday season).

Assassin's Creed look and plays stunningly. It was showcased by Ubisoft producer Jade Raymond, who (while also stunning) makes me want to slap game geeks and tell them to grow up. But I'm the sure the game will rock. Y'know, because she's pretty.

And despite the Rah-rah, Games for Windows has been struggling, and creating kiosks and store fronts is a far cry from creating market share. But the announcement of new partners (SEGA, Eidos, etc.) gives the efforts wings, but nowhere near as much as the (badly kept secret) announcement of Gears of War for Windows Live (XP and Vista), which will include 5 new single player chapters, and new multiplayer maps (and at least one new gametype). No word on crossplay between Windows and Xbox 360.

People, of course, want Halo news. And we got a few of neat versions of it.

First, there was the unexpected live action short from Neill Blomkamp, with props from Studio Weta. Think a teaser trailer that hints at a "we're-taking-on-the-Deathstar" army preparation.

Second, in addition to Halo 3, September will see the release of a Halo 3-themed Xbox 360 and related accessories. How much trouble will I get in if I buy that one? Y'know, after I buy one of the 100 Simpsons limited editions off of eBay? (I think the green and the yellow will go nicely together.)

Then there was new Halo 3 campaign video and gameplay. It looks like the Arbiter is back, but is he playable (I'm OK with "no"; make him an AI squadmate, if you must)? And was that Brute wearing a jetpack before he got sniped? Can I do that (wear and jetpack; and probably get sniped)? Please?

E3 is a weird beast, and even weirder in its stripped down, more industry-internal focused state. But some of the big announcements seem to have been lightly received, which has got to be maddening for Microsoft.

Take, for example, that Disney (all studios -- Miramax, etc.) are making their films available in Hi-Def on Xbox Live Marketplace as of right now. Content is King, and if Sony isn't soiling themselves right now, it's probably because they hired someone to do it for them (I don't know what that means, either). But they have a huge library as well (especially from the MGM acquisition), so if they can get out from behind the eight ball, and the E3 PlayStation Service outage heralds something big (and not just a big screw up), they could be fine.

The second huge announcement is Games for Windows functionality will be built into the Unreal Engine 3 technology. That's right, now it's even easier for devs to make their code work on that platform, when they use the middleware that everyone and they're grandma is using (I mean that in a good way).

That's the brief skinny. Fallout should be hitting soon, and it's only 10.5 hours to Nintendo's press conference, and 12.5 until Sony's.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pre-E3 coverage ...

Next week is E3, and even though it's a scaled-down, arguably insiders affair, the pre-coverage is pretty hefty, and pretty exciting. now has their E3 microsite up, and is tracking a wealth of E3, and tertiarilly E3 happenings, as is

Also, Eurogamer has (an at least current for now) list of the games of E3.

Not everything at E3 will be playable, but I'm looking forward to the playable, new announcements (a la Electronic Arts), and if anything anecdotally interesting comes out of the parties (mostly because I like the slant alliteration of the phrase "anecdotally interesting").

So what am I excited about? (List scalped from, who scalped it from Eurogamer, who really should have just pointed to
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PS3, Xbox 360) -- CoD is a stellar franchise, and I want to see what they do to the modern world.
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Battlefield, but with a cooler mythos. Hope it runs better than Quake IV.
  • Spiderman: Friend or Foe -- Anything comic book related for me. Anything.
  • The Witcher (PC) -- Dark, twisted, adult-themed RPG with moral ambiguity? Sounds like my toy job!
  • Fallout 3 -- Middlingly. I'm a big Fallout franchise fan, but this one's a ways out.
  • Devil May Cry 4 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- You seriously don't need me to explain, do you?
  • Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- "The game is a top-down action title that is something of a mix of an old-school stage crawler with Robotron controls.... you advance through levels while plowing through countless numbers of unnamed soldiers."
  • Talisman (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- I think online board games are the New Hotness. Or the new flash-in-the-pan. Which still makes them hot. And this one is a fantasy-themed boardgame with 4-way play.
  • Cliver Barker's Jericho (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Cliver Barker's Undying has some of the best audio on a game to date. And it had good gameplay. And Clive Barker's a talented storyteller. Twisted, but talented.
  • Rise of the Argonauts (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Like comic books, anything mythology related. Please don't suck.
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- In this alternate history FPS, the cab that hit Winston Churchill kills him, and the Nazis take over Europe. Now, it's 1952, and they're invading America.
  • Age of Conan (PC, Xbox 360) -- Bloody good fun.
  • Hellgate: London (PC) -- Just because I still like the premise, have been rooting for it for a long time, and want to see how the free-versus-subscribtion thing works out for them (and us).
  • Medal of Honor Airborne (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Gameplay videos have been me excited about the franchise again.
  • The Simpsons (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS) -- Hey, Matt Groening is the final boss!
  • Dungeon Hero (PC, Xbox 360) -- I have this unnatural attachment to all things GameCock (even if they don't return my Emails). But this is a dungeon crawler without the boredom. Sign me up!
  • Fury (PC) -- MMO without the grinding? PvP? Maybe I'll see you in the demo this weekend.
  • Hail to the Chimp (PS3, Xbox 360) -- Love this game. Man crush on Wideload and Alexander Seropian. 'Nuff said.
  • Mushroom Men (Wii, DS) -- Oddworld aesthetic. 'Shrooms. Need I go on?
  • Two unannounced titles from GameCock (One's probably Section 8)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 -- I'd love an Xbox 360 announcement on this next week, but the game alone, with its hopefully challenging moral mechanics and deep storytelling, has got my attention.
  • Fracture -- This "terra-deforming-as-weapon" from LucasArts has be sweaty palmed. No new news on The Force Unleashed, though?
  • Kengo: Legend of the 9 (Xbox 360) -- I think this is Majesco's first next-gen game (it's at least their first 360 game). Looking for more info, but looks like a Dynasty Warriors-esque take with 9 historical Japanese figures.
  • Blue Dragon (Xbox 360) -- Really want to play this bad boy ...
  • Fable 2 (xbox 360) -- The single-player RPG to beat on the original Xbox, let's see what the former Lionheads do under Microsoft's watch.
  • Halo 3 (Xbox 360) -- You think this wouldn't make the list?
  • Halo Wars (Xbox 360) -- Just for the trailer. Fortunately, leaks about the RTS gameplay have been positive. But they have to go up against Tom Clancy's Endwar.
  • Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) -- Gorgeous. Just brutal and gorgeous. "We are the Knights Who Say Ne -- Oh SWEET MOTHER! MY EYES! MY EYES!" [*gushing blood*]
  • Mass Effect (Xbox 360) -- RPG of the century? Mayhap.
  • Unannounced XBLA titles (Xbox 360) -- Knock my socks off. You keep dissing my proposals, but you keep giving me stuff I like. So we're good.
  • John Woo's Stranglehold (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- I'm excited about this. More I see, I'm excited.
  • Unreal Tournament 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Unreal Championship II was under-appreciated, maybe because it was a gamers game. This looks to be that and more.
  • Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360) -- We've suffered long enough without beauty, thank you very much.
  • Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM (PS3) -- Honestly, I just want to see if they can take this Artichoke and jelly mix and make it work.
  • AION (PC) -- An MMO without grinding, and a leveling system "not like you'd expect"? Demons versus angels (ish)? Wings for both factions (no @#$%^&! earning mounts crap)?
  • Dungeon Runners (PC) -- I'm playing the free version of this MMO from NCsoft, and really enjoying it.
  • Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa (PC) -- He gets to put his name on it. I want to support that.
  • Condemned 2 (PS3, Xbox 360) -- Sequel to the early Xbox 360 sleeper hit, now bloodier, with a revamped combat system and (wait for it!) multiplayer!
  • Gas Powered Games' RPG (PC) -- I respect GPG, so I'm waiting to see this.
  • Iron Man -- Anything. Comic book. Related. (Anything.)
  • TimeShift (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Rescued from the steaming pile of crap not being all it could be, the revamp looks to wow.
  • Heavenly Sword (PS3) -- This could be a console seller for Sony. Hey, it got teased on Heroes.
  • Killzone 2 (PS3) -- C'mon, show me something to wash the tast of the lied about "not-prerendered" debacle.
  • LittleBigPlanet (PS3) -- Have you seen the videos? How fun is this?
  • The Agency -- An MMO from Sony that's not fantasy-themed, and not half-baked sci-fi license. Just don't be stealing from the DC MMO talent pool, kids.
  • BioShock (PC, Xbox 360) -- I want to play this game. And struggle with the choices I've made.
  • De Blob -- THQ is a savvy publisher. And I really like the art aesthetic.
  • Assassin's Creed (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- I think they're hiding the full awesomeness that is this game.
  • FEAR sequel (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- The first made me almost soil myself. Raise the bar, Warner.

This is just the stuff we know about. I'm hoping we get some surprises from folks not yet announced. Certain Affinity. Junction Point. More GameCock than you can shake a stick at. And so on.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back in the saddle ... (Updated)

I haven't written in a week. Fine. I've been on vacation.

Apologies to those of you who hang on my constant industry updates and insights, and ...

Y'know what, screw it. People who need daily updates probably stopped reading this thing a week ago.

For those sentimentalists among you, I'm going getting into the WayBack Machine and doing a post similar to the original "Xbox Buddies Newsflash" of years ago -- lotta brief summaries.

In brief:
  • Video game comics
  • Tenchu Z
  • Castlevania film update
  • Gamecock's EIEIO
  • Halo 3 "goodies"
  • Soul Calibur IV (video)
  • Xbox 360 changes
  • David Jaffe
  • Gears of War DLC
  • 3D Realms announces announcements
  • BioWare's 2009 MMO
  • Carmack's game engine (video)
  • Junction Point updates
  • Steamed Capcom?
  • Sony launches blog
  • Dark Sector due 2008
  • Episodic content expands
  • Usability and Human Factors
  • Peter Cullen (video)
Here we go ...

Video game comics:

It's not just Halo and Marvel -- now Gearbox Software and Dynamite Entertainment are going make a comic book series based off upcoming Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Relative newcomer Dynamite is pretty amazing to me (check out their titles), and I'm looking forward to more comic book goodness from them.

Tenchu Z:

Tenchu Z finally hits the Xbox 360 stateside. The Japanese demo I played way back when left me underwhelmed, but I'm sure this thing has gotten at least two coats of polish since then. And there's the overwhelmingly redeeming facet of getting to fight pirates -- as a ninja. Seriously.

Castlevania film update:

Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, AVP: Alien vs. Predator) is out. Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard, Ronin) is the new Castlevania hotness. To quote Kotaku's Michael Fahey, "So we have a relatively untested director with one major sleeper hit under his belt, but White is also slated to direct Frank Miller's Ronin, and Miller's properties aren't exactly fluff that studios hand out to just anyone."

Gamecock's EIEIO:

This is mainly for its local Austin connection (and my respect for these particular industry folks). but indie-publisher-looking-to-break-the-deep-pockets-mold Gamecock Media is throwing a party at the same time as this year's greatly reduced Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Gamecock's shindig is called the "Expo for Interactive Entertainment: Independent and Original" ("EIEIO"; those guys are nothing, if not punsters).

The gig looks to be shaping up to be less inclusive and more Gamecock-y, but they've got 6 titles for which I'm already stoked, and promise two "major unannounced next-gen titles" (does anyone ever promise two minor titles?). I'm guessing at least one of those two will be from Big Rooster.

Gamecock has not knocked down my door and invited me to their party. I'll let you know if that changes.

Halo 3 "goodies":

Can't get enough Halo 3, now that the beta is over?

Get ready for two, limited-edition wireless controllers (one Spartan, one Covenant), and a limited-edition wireless headset. The controllers will set you back an extra $10 (at $59.99 MSP) over the non-LE wireless controllers, but you get a free Halo 3 figurine. Given the art and figurine are designed by Todd McFarlane (an amazing business and licensing creative), I'm looking for pretty-to-look-at, non-functioning tchotkies. One would hope this applies just to the figurine (Toddy, I like your stuff, but if they aren't fully articulated, it's just your take on the Precious Moments concept).

Better picts of the accessories are available at

(I wonder if JoyRide Studios lost the Halo franchise to McFarlane Toys? That would be sad.)

Soul Calibur IV:

I'm sorry, but weapons-gimmicky button-mashing franchise Soul Calibur is my favorite fighting game. I'm so happy Soul Calibur II now plays on the Xbox 360. And I don't feel like I missed out on the PS2-only Soul Calibur III, given critical and popular reception. But Soul Calibur IV looks to add beautiful interlocking fiber armor and more ... Ivy (fans of the franchise know what I mean). And, so far they're guaranteeing 60fps and 1080p when the game hits sometime in 2008. Buttery ...

UPDATED: I like this open letter to Namco posted on

Xbox 360 changes:

Picts of cracked open repaired Xbox 360s reveal something interesting. A new (additional) heat sink / pipe combo.

So, if we tally up the following:
  • Heat sink / pipe combo (now)
  • Quieter DVD drives (now; in new units and some repaired units)
  • Smaller, cooler, cheaper CPUs (July-ish)
  • Smaller, Cooler GPU (Fall 2007)

By this Christmas, we should see a quieter, more robust 360 -- a scant three years after the console's release.

UPDATED: From Microsoft (a la

"Regularly updating console components is commonplace within the industry
and is a standard aspect of the business for a variety of reasons including cost
reduction, improved manufacturability and improved performance."

David Jaffe:

The dude behind God of War and Calling All Cars might be making good on his "going independent" mutterings. Cell phone picts have surfaced on Jaffe's site, indicating an in-process build out, possibly of a development studio. Will he become a Sony "Second-party" Dev (playing it safe), or will he branch out and show some Wii, 360, PC, and other love? We'll see ...

Gears of War DLC:

A Gears of War free title update (with new achievements) hits late tonight (June 14th) / tomorrow. It'll add eight new achievements for the "Annex" game-play type and Hidden Front Maps. It also includes an improved version of the "Roadie Run" controls.

Also, according to Major Nelson:

'The "Annex" gametype is now available for free and the "Hidden Fronts" Multiplayer Map Pack is available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points. All four multiplayer maps will be available for free after Sept. 3, 2007.'

3D Realms announces announcements:

3D Realms, the developers of the forever-in-development Duke Nukem Forever, have two upcoming non-DNF announcements. Says creative director Raphael Van Lierop:

"I can say that we have a big announcement coming in the next four weeks, and I'm not sure, but I believe we have another major announcement coming in the next four to six months... while I can't say exactly what these are, are they about Duke Nukem Forever? No."

BioWare's 2009 MMO:

BioWare Austin's (Star Wars-themed?) MMO opus won't be hitting until 2009. Yes, "9". Last I heard, they were using a middleware solution so they wouldn't have to build their own engine, so maybe all the extra time is for incredible MMO add-ons and deepenings. PvP newness. Branching paths to the nth power. Cross-platform play. Voice acting for every NPC organism (call me). Important stuff like that.

Carmack's game engine:

Demoing during a Steve Job's keynote address, id Software's John Carmack showed off the new "id Tech 5" game engine -- designed for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and ... Macintosh. Looks slick, promises to make amazing development easy, blah blah blah.

It is cool that it seems to decouple the game play from the asset reworking, so, after finalizing game play, you can still "put artists on it to go ahead and make it look as good as we have time and resources to do."

Junction Point updates:

Another on the Austin gaming connection, over at the recently reworked, new concept art for unnamed game(s) is showing up throughout the pages. And there's a new, bare-bones WordPress blog for Warren Spector and other Junction Point devs to use as a pipe through which to share their brilliance with the rest of us.

Steamed Capcom?:

Capcom's jumping on Valve's Steam distribution / download service, which is huge. Microsoft, Sony, GameTap, RealNetworks, Valve -- there are a ton big (and a plethora of small) players in this space. As broadband speeds increase, ultra-wideband wireless becomes a reality, and fiber becomes the norm, the winners are going to win big.

Sony launches blog:

Joining the now-gen, Sony has launched an official Playstation blog, with the inaugural post by none other than President & CEO Jack Tretton. Some good, reasonably transparent stuff here.

Dark Sector due 2008:

For gamers, this holiday is going to rock. For those (like me) waiting for Digital Extremes' Dark Sector, you're going to need to wait until after the holiday. According to D3Publishing:

"We've decided to pull Dark Sector out of a very crowded holiday season and it is now slated for release in Q1 2008."

Episodic content expands:

Telltale Games got a $6 million influx. What they're using it for is more of their successful multi-platform episodic content.

Honestly, "Episodic Content" and "Digital Distribution" are two of the two New Hotnesses of gaming, so Telltale is on the forefront, and playing this wicked smart.

Usability and Human Factors:

Usability is not a choice. Good usability is. So I like this apropos Penny Arcade strip. Devs, take note.

Peter Cullen:

Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime in the 80s cartoon, upcoming Michael Bay Movie, and video game tie-in, gives a brief video explanation of his role and the voice of Optimus. As a voice actor, I'm inspired. As a fanboy, I have goosebumps.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

What I want to see on XBLA ...

So, this is a little embarrassing.

After pimping Gamerscoreblog's solicitation for Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) feedback, I didn't send my feedback to them right away, and they closed comments to that post within a day or two of my post.

So I sent them Email.

And now, I'm sharing with you what I think XBLA "needs":

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Give Microsoft and Bungie your feedback ...

Hey, Microsoft wants your feedback.

So, rather than gripe and grief through your headsets on your Cheetos-stained couches, take advantage of some open forums:

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