Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: February 2006 (page 1 of 2)


Intelligent Artifice points out the best Breakout clone ever – due to the game’s heavy use of physics to create a Breakout experience like you’ve never seen. The movie is well worth watching, just for a notion of how a simple twist can completely transform a 20 year old idea.

In-Game Advertising Goes Too Far

A new entry into the gaming advertising space advertises their services thusly:

How can I increase revenues from my game investment? You (and us) have been there more than once. DoubleFusion provides the service that allows you to manage your in game advertising real estate, expose it to a large network of advertisers and maximize on in game advertising revenues.

This pitch is accompanied by a screenshot of a KFC ad on, I shit you not, a cow.


Original comments thread is here.

Elephant Hunting

I saw ‘Elephant’ last night. It was, in a word, pretty horrible. I normally like Gus Van Zant, despite the fact that his movies tend to have a certain artsy arrogance to them that normally I can’t stand. I really don’t know what movie these people watched.

One of the ballsy decisions that Gus makes is to use real high school students instead of professional actors. In a result that can only be described as utterly shocking, it turns out that average high school students can’t act. Continue reading

Activision Ordered Not To Use Pre-Renders to Sell Gameplay

Here’s an interesting story, with some potentially far-reaching ripples for how games are packaged and sold: UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that Activision’s TV ads (primarily for Call of Duty 2), which show pre-rendered footage, do not accurately represent the video game they are selling.

The ASA’s investigation revealed that the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) understood the adverts to be made of scenes taken from the games themselves, although apparently no checks were made because it wasn’t until afterward, when contacting Activision about the complaints, that it was informed by the publisher that the computer-generated scenes had been produced solely for the ads. “They said they therefore immediately made the ads unacceptable for broadcast as they did not consider that this was common practice in such ads.”

Emphasis mine. This brings up the obvious question – would the ASA have objected if the pre-renders had come from Call of Duty 2’s Intro Flic? Showing intro flic screenshots in ads and on box covers has long been one of the more annoying traits of making and marketing games – and yes, devs hate it when we do it too. On the other hand, in some games, pre-rendered cutscenes are clearly a part of the experience, even if they do not provide gameplay – Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 and the Final Fantasy games come to mind.


No More PK In Super Voice Girl

Previously, I noted that the Chinese variant of American Idol used the term ‘PK’ to describe the process of kicking a player off the show. The fiancee points out that this probably won’t happen in the future, as the government is stepping in to end the use of such slang when addressing the public in a public forum.

[A] new law taking effect on March 1 that aims to clamp down on the rampant use of internet and media inspired neologisms. The article (in Chinese) that we read this in also states that only standard Chinese should be used in schools and official documents and that no signs for stores and businesses be purely in foreign (non-Chinese) languages. On the surface, this seems like a rather prissy but otherwise innocuous law, but if you keep digging, as Shanghaiist always does, you will discover that “[t]he invention of new words [is] regarded as a symptom of certain psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.”

Incidentally, it looks like I get to visit China in a couple weeks on business. If you don’t hear from me, assume I said the word ‘LOL’ out loud instead of laughing. Which, come to think of it, probably should be a shooting offense anyway.


Dark And Light Moved To The “Likely To Ship” Column

A friend of mine spent the three day weekend playing a lot of the Dark And Light beta, the upcoming MMO whose primary feature is that it’s big (as previously discussed). It’s currently targetting a late April release. His response was overall favorable, although in his rundown of what happened to him during the play session, I found this quote hilarious:

[paraphrased]This guy took me for a ride on his dragon. He took me 3 miles in the air, then dropped me and told me to aim for a lake.

Continue reading

Sleep, Precious Sleep

The National Institute on Media and the Family has recommended, among many of their other recommendations, that parents set up their children’s bedrooms as media-free zones (buried in page 1). I find this interesting – I grew up in a media rich bedroom – mostly books and music, which I doubt NIMF is trying to get rid of. That being said, I never had the luxury of having a computer, game machine or television in my bedroom. If I wanted to play at night, I had to sneak across the house in the dark. More likely, I’d read under the covers with a flashlight. And yes, sometimes, I’d get caught, and get in trouble. Continue reading

Meridian 59 In The News

It’s always kind of cool to see Meridian 59 acknowledged. You must understand, the game was a small hobbyist game that never wracked up big numbers even when 3DO put their weight behind it. 3DO published it with very little in terms of development or marketing investment, and used the disappointing results to claim that Internet gaming would never take off. Oops.

So it was with some pleasure that, when I finally watched The Video Game Revolution on PBS, they began their MMO chapter with a 2 second footnote about Meridian 59 being the grandfather of them all. Which is an oft-quoted claim, but isn’t wholly accurate – games like Legends of Kesmai, the Realm, Underlight, Dragonrealms and a raft of Mythic properties came beforehand or about simultaneously.

Meridian was first at something, I’m sure. What that is, I have no idea – something like “First 3D, Flat Monthly Fee MMO By A Major Publisher.” Funny how that ‘major publisher’ was outlasted by ‘the little guys’ like Mythic and Simutronics. One wonders if 3DO had invested in online to make a game of DAoC’s quality, if they’d still be around now. We really need access to ‘What If’ universes to answer vital questions like that.

Of course, PBS is cool and all, but it’s even cooler to see Meridian acknowledged, even in passing, by the boys over at Penny Arcade, who mention that EQ2 seems to be moving towards a free client model that the smaller games like Meridian and Puzzle Pirates use. Oh yeah, Meridian’s still going, a labor of love by this lunatic, who I note still bitches to me about bugs I left in Meridian’s code-base nearly a decade ago.

Wow, a decade. I gotta go sit down.


Original comments thread is here.

More WoW Humor

From the aforementioned thread of WoWerized fiction:

To farm, or not to farm: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outraged PVE-ers,
Or to take arms against a sea of mobs,
And by kiting end them? To die; to log;
No more; and by logging to say we end
The grinding and the thousand little quests
That leveling is tied to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to log;
To log: perchance to live: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that life offline what dreams may come
When we have logged off this MMORPG coil,
Must give us pause; there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long grinding

If that’s too much culture… click more for the long one

Continue reading

WoWize That Movie!

Here’s their game: take your favorite movie, and update it with WoW references. Gems include:

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire all his shots in his ammo bag?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a Flawless Arcanite Rifle, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?


“I say we Hearthstone out, then AoE the entire instance from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

Honorable mention

I am Inigo Montoya. You ganked my alt. Prepare to die!

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