I generally don't do this..

... but damn if its not funny...

:: how jedi are you? ::

posted by sam | 11/26/2003 10:02:00 PM


I Still Don't Know...

...what Infinity Ward means. But if you downloaded any of the demos of Call of Duty to get a taste... forget about them. They DO NOT do the game any justice. I know, there are more games being made/released on WWII than people that can be stuffed inside a 753 blue line. But even if you're sick of ALL of them, try and remember how MoH:AA, in all its scripted beauty hit you on your pseudo 'I want freeform gameplay' face harder than an M1 Garand. Well, these are the same guys, only they call themselves by a different name now.

They've created a game that for the first time does justice and, in a way, pays homage to the war and its many victims. It is an achievement, a landmark in gameplay, so intense, that you actually feel for the people that die besides you. When the first Bravo Company private dies in front of your eyes, GIVING COVERING FIRE TO YOU, you feel a sense of loss that has been very difficult to reproduce in video games.

It tells a story about soldiers that made it through and more importantly, those who didn't. Sporadic, often witty dialogue is masterfully used to bring just the right touch of drama to the dealings. While MoH:AA was a brilliant cinematic experience, Call of Duty is far too brilliantly interactive to be called that. It's a gaming experience in which you feel like you're part of the war, taking place in the events that will shape the fate of our planet. It is an awesome feeling. The movie elements are evident in the exemplary use of music during crucial action scenes, and in in-game sequences that recreate the more memorable movie moments like the Stalingrad assault from Enemy at the Gates. But the cinematic elements are subaltern to the in game action, which is clearly the most impressive segment of the game.

As a band I loved during college put it, "I am overcome"

posted by sam | 11/26/2003 09:20:00 PM


Brain fucked...
Admist the chaos... the face.
Mentally fried, and yet... at it.

posted by sam | 11/25/2003 05:42:00 AM


Gabbar! Main Tera Khoon Pee Jaaoonga!

I just finished one of the most comprehensive books on the history of a medium few share my enthusiasm for. Masters Of Doom is a great book, and everyone should read it. It includes details that many of us already know or could obtain from other sources, but it compresses a great amount of gaming history - the first consumer-level 3D accelerators, John Carmack's .plan files, and early floppy-disk subscription services - into one accessible, single tangible entity.

The biggest strength of the book is the ability of humanizing people like John Romero, who by a combination of personal desire and raucous media focus became a demi-God, or at least the public face of all things id. He certainly wasn't the first "name" to be created by gaming, Sierra put designers like Jane Jensen, Al Lowe, and Roberta Williams right on the cover for everybody to see, in a Gulshan Kumar presents Anuradha Paudwal sort of way, only slightly healthy and with lesser hints of sexual politics. But John Romero - he actively gripped the mechanism of fame and appeared to enjoy its velocity. The book delves into that, and explains with tenacity the story that has all the trappings of another Veeru-Jai saga.

The dissolution of something like Ion Storm is distressing to any idealist - more so to dreamers like me - proof somehow of dire and practical truths that creative sorts constantly work to suspend or rescind. But it was the logical and predictable end. The book covers - with a level of veracity I can't verify - an earlier period in gaming history, where the right mix of people under the right conditions and temperature became id Software and then the thing virtually disintegrated. I mean id is still as strong as ever, but the team that started off together has broken apart and decayed beyond recognition. It is a testament to their creative and practical vision that the company still stands, strong and forward bound.

This book makes a good read for people not interested in gaming history too. The relationship that the harbingers of Doom had, and the vision that they shared, at one point became an ugly mess of disagreements and differences. I have no idea how accurate the narrative is from the perspective of Johns - both Carmack Romero - but I found the dissolution of their creative relationship heartbreaking. It's certainly not without precedent. Is this really how it happens in the end? How many years do you get to work with a friend before you start to hate each other?

posted by sam | 11/18/2003 03:55:00 AM


Its Payne! Shoot Him!

Uhg, another sleepless night.

Trying to balance my time between catching up with pending reading and playing games leaves me no time for luxuries like sleep and food.
But lets backtrack...
As inevitable as me falling for the wrong girl is my vulgarly inordinate spending spree on reading material and electronic entertainment every month. So once again, Wolverine superspecial, long overdue, was mine, along with Hush, Imaginauts, Marvel Mangaverse, Ultimate X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man.

I have always maintained that my taste in games, while usually normal, sometimes teeters towards the insane. Between my usual bouts of BF1942, I have been known to play deep, detailed games on, oh say, salad chef simulation. I am telling you, I must be the only person in my ENTIRE COUNTRY who relished Master of Orion 3 the way I did. I swear, I have little boxes of MOO3 running all across my living room now. God is in the detail, they say. Arun keeps warning me this is unhealthy. Infact he tries to mask his concern for me by saying sensitive things like, "You're fucking crazy dude! You gonna die!". But thats another story.
To fuel this sick perversion of playing games that try to fuck with my encephalon, I acquired Etherlords 2. E-T-H-E-R-Lords. Right, the second one. Delicious. Also got Commandos 3. Challenging, fun, and very atmospheric. If Andy doesn't hijack it this weekend, I'll let you know how it ends ;)
To satiate my thirst for Star Wars until KOTOR comes out for the PC, I got the very mediocre, but sabre-licious Jedi Academy. Also got Freedom Fighters, a surprisingly well made Red Dawn-ish shooter, and the game mechanics play out really well. So well in fact it may have been the action game of the year, if not for...
And now Ladies and Gentlemen, let me give you two of the most anticipated games of the year...*drumroll*
I got Max Payne 2. And I got Halo. You can faint now.

Good, you're back. So lets talk about Max Payne 2. It is beautiful. The engine is robust, the slight clipping problems of last time have gone, each shell falling out of your gun is rendered beautifully, complete with MARKINGS AND NUMBERS! Havok is seamlessly integrated, and character models are way better than last time. The story is interesting once again, with the atrocious Film Noir intact. And Bullet Time 2.0 is a thing of beauty. I swear, I could marry her and not complain all my life. Sometimes though, getting in, shooting at everything that moves and then getting out seems like its gonna get old, but right then, the game throws a plot twist to suck you back in.

Halo. First of all remember that when Bungie was bought by Microsoft, Halo was made a PC/Mac game to an XBox exclusive. In the process, many game mechanics, incredible resolutions, and classic save systems were sacrificed. The end-product was an extremely great game, that sold the XBox on its own merit. But it was no Metroid Prime, the game that owns the crown of the best console shooter. Gearbox directly ported the Bungie original to the PC, and the game shines. The repetitive level design is still there, but other than that it is hard to find fault with. The save system is very unconventional, and some people might find it questionable in a PC game, but the truth is it gels very well with the whole mechanics of the game. The first time you see the outdoors, I guarantee, your jaws will drop.

You still here? Good. This is going to be one long ass post. And you know why... Max and Chief need all the help they can buddy.

Getting back to the long ass post... Player representation in video games. Video game editing and studying social interaction involving video games is something I have quite a passion for. As Andy would tell you, I play a game for ten minutes then spend the next month figuring out how to break it. And that is where games like Morrowind or Tony Hawk come in. They let you customize your avatar, and make it look like whatever shirt you want it to. See that's how I look at game avatars. As shirts. You should look good in your shirt as well as be comfortable wearing it. Let's face it, no matter what you're doing, the experience is soured if either of those don't work. But its still not me. An avatar is a seperate entity that helps me in my goals rather than something that's supposed to be a digital me. I always remember how Chun-Li players had this kind of 'that's my girl' feeling when using her. And I still notice that today with any fighting game out there. If you play a female character and beat ass with her, that's your baby. She helps you win.

When I design my personal digital representation of myself, if it's human, I don't really want it to come as close to my physical appearance as I can get. All I want is an avatar that while kicks ass, is also fun to play with. And of course it has to be good looking. And I am talking decent mesh and polycount, not specific beauty traits. However, more times than not, this is not possible given the limitations. So, I resort to plan B. This is where I try building an avatar as far opposite to me as I can get while still retaining a level of visual appeal. Hanging out at Polycount, I have heard fascinating accounts of people making and downloading models to suit their personal taste. Some people like, cute furry creatures, some like blonde babes with skin tights. Its about a representation of a character, and can have many existential, experiential, and psychological undertones associated with it. Its fascinating. Its not about knowing Maya or Photoshop. Its about what you wear in your game world. And as is the case in real life, it can be deep rooted in your psychology, and you attitude towards their character model, in say Jedi Outcast or Morrowind can vary with each unique individual.

posted by sam | 11/12/2003 08:02:00 PM


It is zee poonisair!

Rolling Stone says The Matrix Revolutions sucks. And there are many reviews that corroborate the contention. Heh. As if that is going to stop me from watching it. I can't wait for the fight between Neo and his evil twin. And since it is releasing here simultaneously with the US release, I WILL watch it this weekend.
So the new Punisher trailer is out. I really don't know about this. Good things: Kick ass superhero, Marvel's producing, and they've done some good stuff lately(X-2, Spider-Man), and its got Rebecca Romjin Stamos! Bad things: the guy who's directing it is the guy who wrote Armageddon and Die Hard With a Vengeance, and c'mon, like you don't remember the Dolph Lundgren Punisher that came out in 1990. Also, Thomas Jane is playing The Punisher. Last time I saw him, he was getting eaten by sharks(Deep Blue Sea), and taking alien eels out of his ass(Dreamcatcher). I worry.

posted by sam | 11/05/2003 02:14:00 AM


Did the right thing. It sucks.

posted by sam | 11/03/2003 12:54:00 AM

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