Wallet Abuse

Well it’s November finally, and we’re in the home stretch leading into Christmas where everyone and everything will try to dig deeply into the wallet. First up apparently is the Xbox 360, with a bunch of really nifty releases coming out this month including Gears of War and Rainbow Six Vegas. Having played a ton of Splinter Cell: Double Agent, I have to say that I now look forward to practically anything Ubisoft is set to release. These guys really know what they’re doing on the platform.

Back playing EVE with some regularity again. It’s good to be back in the nether regions of the game, making money and acquiring some “phat lewt”. With all the changes coming in Kali it’s tough to decide on what skills to train, but thankfully my character’s got the prerequisites for most of the new content already trained up.

With the EVE Fanfest right around the corner, I’m sure some tasty bits of information will trickle out from attending folks about where the game is headed. If it’s anything like the last couple of fanfests, the information should be very tasty indeed, for fans of the game.

The Joy of the Nuke

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you head on to Steam and purchase DEFCON. This is a brilliant thermonuclear war strategy game, from the folks who brought us the insanely great Darwinia.

The retro style and simple premise do not imply the underlying complexities of planning to kill millions of people in your opponents’ countries. The game is instantly easy to get into, but working up effective and unique strategies can be an entirely rewarding and challenging experience. It’s like Risk in a way, except at the end the death toll is usually in the hundred million plus range. Check it out, and look me up if you’re online and want a match. I’ll give you two guesses what my Steam name is.

Galactic Civlizations 2, and my name in lights

Stargamer.net is a site dedicated to news, reviews, and previews of space games. I was approached by one of the site’s overlords to see if I wanted to do a review of Galactic Civilizations 2, and I agreed. So ladies and gentleman, here it is.

This is the first game review I’ve done to be published on an official game site of some sort, so let me know what you think. :p

BSG2.5 and TDU

Ahh, acronyms…

Yesterday saw the release of the second half of season two of Battlestar Galactica, which has to be the most absurd way to release a season of a television show. Many who know me know that I think Battlestar Galactica (the new series) is possibly the best television show done by man, and the second half of season two does not disappoint.

While I was there at Best Buy, I decided to pick up Test Drive Unlimited for the 360. The demos really do not do this game justice, as many of my friends have claimed. It’s a total blast to be able to have free-for-all access to the entire collection of Hawaii roadways presented by this game. This is like a guy’s Pokemon in a sense, where the “gotta catch em all” phrase can be applied to the many vehicles the game lets you buy and race.

The free roaming nature of the game is the one thing Project Gotham Racing 3 lacks. For all of PGR3’s incredible visuals and sim-ish racing dynamics, you’re unable to just take a car out for a spin on the streets of the different locations. Here you can conceivably drive around for hours and hours (like in real life I suppose), taking in the nice visuals of the island and its assorted locales. I’ll have to put up a review of this one in the Games section after I spend some more time with it.

Gaming Weather

Well it’s defintely been a case of the weather dicatating what I did on a weekend. The cold, wet weather we’ve been suffering through for the last week kept me indoors, but at least it gave me an excuse for finally finishing the main quest in Oblivion. I could almost hear my 360 sigh with relief as it finally blooped that I’d got the Hero of Cyrodiil achievement. Now, to do the guild quests, and venture forth to all areas I breezed past in order to complete the main quest.

I’ve scarcely booted up EVE these days for much other than skill training, I just simply haven’t had the time to put towards a serious session with it. Work’s been busy, and when I do get home I’m more likely to plop down on the couch than in front of the PC.

I’ve been enjoying cooking more and more these days. It’s strangely relaxing, and rewarding, not to mention damn tasty (when you get things right). I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of recipes that I’ve been using thanks to sites like FoodTV and such. I can’t begin to say what an amazing resource that site is for guys thinking of getting into proper cooking techniques and making real food (not KD or ramen).

It’s also a great way to impress the women. :)

Two more demos this week

So two demos came out on the Xbox Live Marketplace. One for Just Cause, and another for Test Drive Unlimited.

Just Cause is kind of an amalgam of Grand Theft Auto, Mercenaries, and that awesome sequel to Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It seems to me that the developers paid a ton of attention to making a graphics engine that could handle massively large scale environments, but forgot about one little detail. What was it again?… oh yes, compelling gameplay.

There’s some interesting concepts there, but I can see the full game having a ton of missions to do, all of them variations on a few generic themes.

Test Drive Unlimited will herald itself as probably the 25th racing game for the Xbox 360, but it’s got some interesting twists. Namely, you drive around in your cars, around a closely detailed recreation of the islands of Hawaii. The catch: other players are driving around with you, and you can either cruise the streets, do single player races, or challenge people at random.

The game engine’s neat, but the driving dynamics are fairly clunky. It’s not trying to be a sim, and at least the controls are better than the E3 demo, but spend five minutes with any game on Xbox Live and you’ll see why having a persistent environment with all other players is a bad idea.

I drove around in the demo area, spent a few minutes driving down the wrong way of the main highway getting in everone’s way, just to see how easy it would be. Turns out it’s very easy to be annoying to people just driving around. Better hope the official races with people are instanced, otherwise roadblocking will be a common disruptive tactics by non-racers.

Still, these are just demos, so maybe they’ll nail both of these when they go to retail. But for me the demos have done their job, and I’m confident I won’t be buying them.

Video made from 17000 photographs

I was browing the MacWorld website today and ran across this totally awesome music video. I’m not a big fan of the actual song mind you, but the video was produced without the use of a video camera at all. Basically, the creators used a digital camera and a PowerBook G4 to take an assemble thousands of digital photos into a stop-motion movie.

Very unique approach. That kind of disjointed editing style has been around for a while, but this was a pretty interesting way to achieve it.

New Nature Vraie, errata.

Nature Vraie 9 is now up, go check it out. So far the response has been very positive indeed.

I was watching the latest WWDC conference video at the Apple website after hearing so much fluff on Slashdot about Steve Jobs apparently losing his flair. I have to agree with the sentiments of others, that this is a developer’s conference. They’re more interested in things they can use more than the typical whiz-bang niftiness that usually comes out during an Apple keynote.

Still, there were plenty of interesting items shown, especially those having to do with Leopard. That Time Warp demo looked fairly compelling, but while the ability to go “back in time” to see the state of any folder or file that was changed and resurrect that to the present is interesting, I have to worry about performance on my G5 Mac. And one of the little asides they showed was the new updated iChat client (which I never seem to use). The ability for the software to take a snapshot of what’s behind you in a videoconference and substitute any picture or video in its place is just a stroke of genius.
It’s a neat time to own a Mac, and probably an even better time to upgrade to an Intel one.

New PC first though, for me.

2006 Tournament Ends

Well the 2006 Alliance Tournaments in EVE have finished. In honor of this, I’ve commemorated the occasion as I did last year, with a new comic.

It was an interesting tournament overall, but the semi- and quarter- finals were really a sight to behold. There were some awesome fights, and some great upsets. The finale was a bit underwhelming, shall we say, but it was still great to be able to watch the entire tournament over EVE TV, and to attend the finals in person as a rep for WDA. :)

Maybe the lackluster ending to the tournament will make CCP take notice, and either rework the organization and rules of the tournament next year. Alternately, they could simply come up with some kind of more compelling event for everyone to take part in.