April 1st, 2010

Flip, Flip, Flipadelphia.I got a new dog. Her name is Flipsy and I adopted her from a rescue. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to have a dog. I’d almost forgotten what my previous dog even looked like. Saya was afraid of cameras; Flipsy doesn’t mind them. I only hope I don’t get tired of taking pictures.

I’ve been playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I wrote a story about the multiplayer. I keep forgetting single player’s even there. I default to the Engineer kit because I like the M2 Carl Gustav recoilless rifle. I can’t hit helicopters with it yet, but it has a larger blast radius and less regard for gravity than other launchers. This makes it good against infantry and lightly armored vehicles. Players say Carl is overpowered. I think they’re forgetting the 40mm grenade launcher, the M60 light machine gun, and the mortar strike. Rock, paper, shrapnel — every kit has its gimmick.

I only wish DICE would fix auto-team balance. Many games are ruined when a team loses and half its players quit, leaving the remainder overwhelmed. And then the server’s dead. It happens every day and it’s terrible. But I love this game.
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March 20th, 2010

Good show. Third party DRM in Steam games makes no sense.

I could follow my instinct to disbelieve Ubisoft, but I think if Valve were taking a moral stance against DRM by removing games from Steam, they’d do it in all territories.

I clicked this headline in my Google Reader expecting to be taken to an article at The Onion.

$5 per new map? Who else is glad they didn’t buy Modern Warfare 2? Phew.

Good one here; I’ve been enjoying the mini-series. I hope it’s in for as good a run as the Knights of The Old Republic comic was.

Perhaps Microsoft and EA weren’t the villains we thought? Ah, probably they were.

I’m more excited for Skate 3 than ever. Graded challenges, landing feedback, and hardcore mode are longstanding features of the Tony Hawk games. Jason Lee was in the last good one (Project 8), too. They should fit well.

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March 11th, 2010

Crouched, my squad and I crept along a low ridge, calling in enemy positions to the other squads. Brittle, wintry trees provided cover as we moved behind our objective, taking the slow approach. We had time, and we had an angle. We were invisible.

And then Kozlov slipped.

The snow hadn’t settled around our sniper before he had seized the enemy’s attention. He hastened to find cover, but found only bushes and the trees that, when on the ridge, gave him adequate protection from enemy eyes, but offered none from enemy fire. The three of us still on the ridge watched in still silence as gunfire caused the trees, and Kozlov along with them, to fall. We were exposed.

The explosives came next, flung, propelled, and dropped from the sky. Popov, our medic, jumped right into the shit, hurrying to resuscitate the unsure-footed Kozolv. But he didn’t see the grenade in his way — the shit overcame him.

Sokolov and I were left on the ridge. I struggled with my fight or flight instinct as he mastered his, and flew. Torn, but thinking it the nobler thing to do, I dove into the white hell below. My AUG made two short bursts and let go of six rounds which made their new home in an enemy sniper. I searched our departed medic’s gear and scrambled to ready the defibrillator as I, like Kozlov, Popov, and so many trees before me, fell.

But death did not take me. Instead I lay in the war-stained powder contemplating our missteps. We had all made some. And then my vision went white; when it cleared I saw Sokolov, who held two whining paddles, moving for cover behind a rock. I joined him there and dropped a box of ammo at our feet. Moments later, the instigative Kozlov and Popov redeployed next to us, and we partook of medical supplies. All without a word, we prepared to have another go.

February 27th, 2010

My words about it are over here.

Does game design work best when it’s analogous to film making, or to music composition? Neither, and I don’t think it’s important to make the distinction. Games shouldn’t imitate a specific art form, they should express the qualities of them all. Because they can. Video games are the culmination of art as technology, and technology as art. They’re amazing. We shouldn’t limit such a medium by trying to make sense of it in the context of less capable mediums.

Games as we know them today owe a lot to Carmack’s work. I can’t think of a person more deserving of this award.

This week also marks the first year anniversary of Quake Live, as well as the 14th year anniversary of QTest. In celebration, Quake Live received an update and event, and id employees past and present have reflected on QTest on the Bethesda blog.

Of course it is.

EA/DICE restricting dedicated server files to certain “partners” is leaving me conflicted about wanting Bad Company 2. They’re keeping dedicated servers on a leash, just out of reach of total freedom. But whether I like it or not, the market is changing, and we players seem incapable of shifting it in our favor. If EA’s restriction really is just to maintain statistic and rank integrity, and to sell maps (which seems benign in comparison to Activision’s or Ubisoft’s), I can be okay with it. Or I could, if it weren’t for EA’s history of shutting down online games.

But I’m probably overreacting. EA appears to deactivate games based on how many people still play. There’d be greater cause for concern if Battlefield 1942, despite its persisting popularity, had its master servers taken offline in light of a sequel being released. Besides, the Bad Company 2 beta was a heck of a lot of fun, and we haven’t had a successful non-Call of Duty, non-Valve shooter on PC in a long time. I’ll probably give in to temptation and buy it.

This is an hour-long “Quick Look” where every cut scene from Amped 3 is shown. I had no idea the game was so surreal.

January 20th, 2010

I use this image of stars to symbolize the future even though the light is actually from the distant past. SPACE.To celebrate the beginning of Downloadable Suicide’s third year, I’m looking toward the future and sorting out which of 2010′s games I want to play. Only two games from last year’s post actually came out (Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor, Dragon Age: Origins), but I’ve managed to play them both. This time I’ve tried to choose games that I’m pretty sure will launch this year, and I’ve added a section for games that might be announced.
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January 15th, 2010

DICE won’t profit, but that’s not to say EA won’t. Still, I’m not bothered.

Very cool idea. If you haven’t, get Peggle, and then get these levels.

I’m so glad that the girls are back, and with Gail Simone writing them, as it should be. If it’s as good as her previous run was, she’ll be writing the two best team books in comics — one team of heroes, and one of villains.

I told you, I’ve got the hot scoop right here. Where’s my check?

Right. Let’s see some details and gameplay at E3, then.

Never before has using the cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover” felt more appropriate.

Vx6 (as I call it — “VVVVVV” is obnoxious) is a good game. Nearly everyone on the Internet has written about it in the last few days, so I don’t feel a need to (just yet). Do read Kieron Gillen’s article, though. Skip to “When I started playing this” if his massive post is intimidating, or if you already know a bit about the game — that’s where it gets interesting (albeit hard to decipher). Also see Giant Bomb’s Quick Look below.


January 10th, 2010

Most player-owned servers aren’t hosted from their homes, they’re rented from third-party hosting companies. As long as EA and DICE don’t keep dedicated servers first-party, all should be well. EA could still charge an exorbitant licensing fee thereby forcing hosts to raise rental fees, but that’s assuming too much. What’s disturbing is that there won’t be mod tools. These decisions together probably mean that EA plans to sell maps. The situation isn’t ideal, but it’s preferable to the precedent Activision and Infinity Ward have set with Modern Warfare 2.

There have been motion controllers for PCs in the past (Wii remotes can even be made to work), but this one shows promise. A video in the post shows the controller being used to play Left 4 Dead 2 on a mirror.

It’s noteworthy because it’s a good Jim Sterling post.

Although I’ve never had a problem using third-party memory units with my consoles, third party controllers have never felt right. This Razer gamepad, however, may be worth a go, especially if the D-pad feels as good as it looks. I use my Xbox 360 controller on my PC as well, so I welcome more buttons. Engadget has a video.

The most impressive statistic? 45% of Steam users have Direct X 10 cards.

A good, hearty article about making games more intuitive and enjoyable, without designing them for children. My favorite is the bit about “Positive Permanence.”

I’m glad that Ben wants to improve Steam, but his suggestions feel misdirected. Few of the problems he discusses are problems that Valve is in a position to solve.

Third-party DRM is redundant, but licensers, such as Sony with SecuROM, may not allow DRM to be patched out of games at the publisher’s discretion. Steam’s multiplayer API is good, and Valve makes the Steamworks middleware available, but it’s up to publishers and developers to power their multiplayer with it. Even then, do we want all games to require Steam?

I don’t like slow downloads and instability — he’s got me there — but that may be more of a problem with ISPs and the Internet in general than with Valve’s planning. Finally, I don’t know how I feel about selling games. I’m sure it could be structured so both Steam and publishers still profit, but I think it would also put stricter usage rights on games so that trading credentials couldn’t be exploited. It could be the end of Offline Mode.

At any rate, Valve’s listening.