Skip to main content

Xbox points problems

Alice had a fun experience while trying to buy Xbox points. It seems the way Microsoft handles points purchases causes credit card companies to freeze the card preemptively...

"Oh yes, Microsoft's Xbox division pings the card from Luxembourg, and you're not in Luxembourg, and they also do this thing where they charge your card a dummy £1 transaction to test to see if the card works. This is what criminals do, so as it's from a .lu domain, it's done on the internet, and they do this dummy charge, it automatically shuts the card down."

Man, that makes my UI hassles and the fact that I couldn't revive my Xbox 1 Live account on the 360 pale into insignificance.

Amazing chip tunes + Japanese folk song

I really, really like this track by Omodaka, called 'Korikori Bushi':

Well-produced arpeggio-filled chip tunes plus what is apparently the oldest Japanese song in existence, all with a cute video.

If you liked that you may also enjoy 'Yosawya San', with the cute head-bobbing geishas:

Both tracks are available in the iTunes Music Store.

(If you want to know more about those chipmunk-y electronic voices, I recommend this article from The New Yorker.)

(Via Lisa Katayama, guest-blogging at Boing Boing.)

Summer break

Yes, posting frequency has been low lately. I am enjoying a summer break right now. There should be more posts in October at the latest - maybe earlier if I can gather the momentum. But so far, the weather has just been too nice outside.

What have you been doing over summer? I hope you are all doing fine!

IPhone Software Sales Take Off

There has been a lot of news about the iPhone as a gaming platform lately. Here's a quote from a Wall Street Journal article I found particularly interesting:

Videogame specialist Sega Corp. says it sold more than 300,000 copies in 20 days of its $9.99 Super Monkeyball game, in which players guide an orb around mazes by tilting their iPhones. "That's a substantial business," says Simon Jeffery, president of Sega's U.S. division. "It gives iPhone a justifiable claim to being a viable gaming platform."

Indeed. Another internet-related distribution channel for games. Yay!

(Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog.)

Masocore Games

Anna Anthropy, the writer of Auntie Pixelante, has written an interesting post about Masocore games: games that screw with the conventions of video games and the expectations of the player.

trees full of apples. unassuming, you stride under one, and an apple falls from the tree and crushes you, sending you back to the start of the screen. you approach again, this time cautiously poking your nose out under the tree in an attempt to goad the apple into falling before you pass. you don't jump back in time, you get crushed. this time it works, and you begin carefully making your way across a screen full of apple trees. some apples only fall in pairs, and you have to dodge between the two. sometimes you can jump at an apple to spook it into falling early. about halfway across, you notice an apple low enough you can jump over it. tired of the tedious apple-teasing, you graciously accept the respite of an apple you won't have to dodge mid-fall. you jump over the apple, and the apple falls up and kills you. the apple falls up and kills you.

Very interesting. I am noticing a stronger tendency to play with the medium's conventions, but I don't know if that is because I am paying more attention to indie games these days or because there are more indie games or people actually are playing more the medium's conventions... or all three. Yes, I know people have been doing this for a while - I am talking about a perceived increase. In any case, I think it's a good thing.

Two games from Deep Silver Vienna

After Rockstar Vienna was closed down, the founders started a new company called Games That Matter. In August last year they were acquired by Koch Media and they are now known as Deep Silver Vienna.

Two of the projects they have been working on have recently been announced: Cursed Mountain, a survival horror game for the Wii set in Tibet, and Ride To Hell, a free-roaming action game for next-gen consoles and PC, set on the US West Coast in the 60s.

As Deep Silver Vienna uses a development model that's heavily based on outsourcing, they are much smaller than in the Rockstar Vienna days. It will be interesting to see how well these projects do: there are very few console games being made in German-speaking countries, let alone in Austria.

10Tacle Studios AG files for bankruptcy

10Tacle Studios AG files for bankruptcy (in German). Bye bye to that last bit of money they owe me from a few months ago I guess. I am not the only one they still owe money to.

The big question for a lot of people in the German-speaking industry will be: What took them so long? They kept buying studios and not releasing games. My impression is that they were way better at financial wizardry than at producing games.

When I was discussing doing work for them I mentioned my doubts about public companies buying lots of studios. The guy I talked to said: "Maybe it reminds you of JoWooD?" and I said: "No... Phenomedia" (which still exists, wow).

Anyway, luck and strength to all the people trying to make good games there.

Braid - First impressions

OK, Braid is on XBLA in Europe as well. I bought it and am playing it. There are many things to like and only small things to bequibble (I thought jumping from ladders was solved by now). Jon gets a massive amount of benefit of the doubt from me, so I don't mind the lack of explanations and I assume a lot will make sense of one point. There is just one thing I want to know now:

Is this a Zelda-style game where I get new abilities as the game progresses, allowing me to access inaccessible areas in earlier levels? Or does this game consist of really hard puzzles?

Because I hate puzzles. Hate hate hate! Maybe I should peek at the official walkthrough.

Update: ... the walkthrough doesn't contain any spoilers... Damn.

Update: Right, 'traversed' worlds 2 to 6. I am not feeling cool and smart, I am feeling angry and frustrated. I don't think this is the game for me. Ah well, only 10 euros gone.