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Cinematic games has published an article called "Cinemascope: Designers and the movies they love". It starts with:

"More and more, developers say they want players of their games to feel as if they were really playing a movie. For better or worse, "interactive movies" are the way things are headed. We decided to ask developers at the forefront of cinematic games which movies they liked best, who their favorite directors were, and what they've learned from all this."

It is not clear to me whether the people who wrote this know what they are talking about. The current trend, as I see it, is for movies to have similar production values and methods as movies, but few developers still talk about making "interactive movies". This idea died about, what, six years ago? Around the time when the big Hollywood studios realized they didn't get interactivity, and sold the game studios to the big toy companies, who later sold them to the big French companies, and so on.

The article goes on to list the answers of various developers, and then desperately tries to suggest plausible connections between Gabe Newell's love of Kiki's Delivery Service ("you won't find any headcrabs here") and Half-Life, or between Fumito Ueda's favorite, Mauvais Sang (a French thriller) and the excellent Ico. They finally give up when Takayuki Kawagoe, the designer of Jet Set Radio, lists Some Kind of Wonderful, a John Hughes 80s teen film, as one of his favorites, and don't even try to link the work of Warren Spector with one of the many movies he mentions: The Searchers.

Xbox Live launch event

I just came from the Xbox Live launch event, that is, the event to celebrate the launch of Xbox Live in several European countries, among which Austria. It was being held in another part of the building our office is in.

It started in a cinema, with a short movie featuring various Xbox Live players, one of whom was, of course, female (click here, scroll down). Then there were short speeches by people from Microsoft Austria, Xbox, Telekom Austria (the incumbent telecom and ADSL operator), and UPC Telekabel (a major European cable and broadband provider). Then there was a short movie featuring an annoying American dude called Matt and his no-life friends. Then there were promises of live music by musicians with actual names, and catered food, in the Xbox Live club.

So we all trudged over to level 34 of the building, which consisted of a bare floor, with some couches, and Xboxes, and drinks, and two people trying, and failing, to look like Abe from Abe's Odyssey and Master Chief from Halo, walking aimlessly around. I don't remember Master Chief having a long heavy metal hairdo.

We drank, and had some crisps, and found that most of the food and games were taken, and learned that to get to the next level, we would need two stickers on our special pass, to prove that we had played two games. So we did. Grudgingly. (Actually, it was Crimson Skies, which was not bad.) We didn't use the Xbox Live functionality. Some of us used other methods to get the stickers, but this is a family blog and I can't repeat what they did here. Others scoured the place trying to grab as much goodies and free food as possible, displaying behavior which would be considered normal in-game, but was a bit worrying in real life. How many glowing Xbox faux ice cubes does one need?

After we all had two stickers, we advanced to level 35. Instead of being the paradise we had been promised, it looked suspiciously like level 34, but with less people, and, hence, more food and more opportunities to play games without going through Xbox Live (Amped 2 and Gotham Racing 2, both of which I found very underwhelming controls-wise). But behold! one half of the floor was curtained off, and would open at 22:30. We waited with bated breath. Surely here the fun would finally start?

At 22:30 it became obvious that behind the curtains was more of the same, except with people playing loud music. Also, drinks were free until 23:00, so time was running out. My cold was starting to play up, so I decided to quit the game. I only needed to confirm my intention to quit once or twice before finally having left the building.

Admittedly, it was free, but I was not impressed by the game design.

Update: Apparently, I missed the real party where the real debaucheries went on. But then, isn't that always the case?

Update: This is what Abe and the Master Chief looked like, and this is the tamest picture from the party I can post in this family blog.

Toilets in games

This is a site (in Russian, apparently) containing pictures of toilets in games. It's an impressive list: however, they do not have screenshots of Albion, which featured space-age toilets in the human spaceships (designed by Thorsten Mutschall), and weird, organic communal toilet-plants in the houses of the indigenous species (designed by Erik Simon). As far as we were aware, we were the first to put toilets in role-playing games. [Apparently we were not - 2018 Jurie]

A questionable honor, I suppose, but still.

(From BoingBoing.)

A Call For Expandable Codpieces

There is this trend it seems, in MMO games, to have female characters with otherworldly attributes. Now I know the idea is to lose yourself in a wonderful game of elaborate fantasy, ancient lore, unreal landscapes and diverse species, but I ask you: Does a female Gnome really need to wear a 32 DDD cup? Yes, I'm speaking about headlights, tatas, racks, boobies, melons….breasts. I want to know why is it female characters have the ability to make enormous breasts even larger, with newer games having customizable features to do so, yet male characters don't seem to be able to change their size…and yes I mean that size. Who's to say, as a female in real life who plays female characters online, that I'd not like to see male characters with their attributes larger?

Read the rest of this hilarious editorial.

(From Slashdot Games.)

Beyond plumbing

I was still ill, so I decided to move to a new weblog system: TypePad. The transfer of the posts was painless. The comments are, alas, all lost.

Getting my domain to point to this blog will take only a few days (I hope). But then everything should be properly in one domain, instead of still showing that I'm using some crummy free webspace my provider offered me.

Once that's done I can start tweaking with the layout again.

Update: The domain points to the new blog. It went a lot faster than I expected.

TypePad is da bomb.

More plumbing

Because I'm ill and have nothing better to do, I've made this site HTML 4.01 Transitional compliant (well, unless you go back further than about July...) Also the CSS is compliant. I have little buttons that say so, and if you click on them, the W3C will say so too.

Let me know if anything looks out of place or has stopped working.

Oh yes, I've removed the Google search box. It was pretty useless, and not compliant. Die! Die! Evil HTML.