Monday, December 29, 2008

ActionScript 3.0

I'm having a fun time converting Brainiversity from ActionScript 2.0 to ActionScript 3.0. There are a lot of little things that are different between the two versions, so I have a bit of work to do to get things up and running again.

But it will be worth it. AS3.0 has a lot of benefits over 2.0 and I love the fact that the language has stronger error checking - especially when it comes to catching mispelled variables - which I do a lot.

Oh, and I'm loving the iMac even more. Being able to see my Flash screen layout AND my Actionscript code at the same time is awesome. I love 24 inch monitors! And thefact that Apple fonts seem to be a lot easier to read helps a lot too.

www.passfieldgames.com

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Moving to the Mac

I set up my iMac on Christmas Eve and have been using it for just over a day now. It's amazing how quickly you just "click" with OS X. There are a lot of little differences to Windows that take some time to get used to, but we're talking a day at most.

Stuff like:
  • The command key is used instead of the CTRL key to cut, paste and copy.
  • The Menu bar (with File, Edit, etc) is actually disconnected from each app. Luckily I always kept my menu bar at the top of the screen in Windows - as I was wanted to keep it this way when I moved to Windows from the Amiga. So the Mac feels just right with the menu bar at top!
  • The close button (a little red X in a circle) on each app doesn't actually quit the app, just closes the window. And these buttons are to the left, not right of the app.
  • You use option arrow key to navigate a word at a time, not CTRL arrow key.
  • Installing software requires you to drag the application into the Application folder. Once you get used to this concept it makes the Windows way seem really, really complicated. All my apps are in my Application folder. How simple is that?
But there are so many amazing things straight out of the box that make you say "Man, this is so simple and obvious - I new Windows was bloated and complicated, but I didn't quite realize it until now."

Stuff like:
  • The Dock is a graphic representation of all your favorite apps on the bottom of the screen. Click once to launch. It's easy to add and remove favorite apps. Active apps have a light below them and the mail app will bounce to let you know you have new mail.
  • The Finder is a cool piece of software that lets you find any app, document, photo or movie within seconds.
  • The Mac environment is so simple - and Finder makes it really easy to navigate. You have Devices and Places. Devices are hard drives, external stuff like iPods and cameras. Places is where your stuff is - it consists of the desktop, your home, applications and documents. Just click on one of these to see the contents - and you can view the contents as lists, icons or in cover flow. Unlike Vista which I have on my laptop and still find it hard to navigate, with OS X I just know where everything is. Amazing!
  • The iMac comes with so much cool software pre-loaded like iTunes, iMovie, Garage Band, iChat, Safari, etc.
  • In the Finder you can see all your documents and quickly search for things using the search bar. And you simply have to click on a doc then hit the SPACE bar and you see the contents of the doc instantly. No loading Word or PowerPoint - it just appears in a window for you to read. Magic.
  • It's blisteringly fast to power on and power off (you can put it into sleep mode with one press of the Power button).
  • Expose is really cool. It lets you see all your open apps at once and choose the one you want. Vista has something like this but I could never work it out. On the iMac you just hit the F3 key to activate.
  • The number of cables is staggeringly small. You plug one power lead into the wall. You plug the keyboard into the monitor. You plug the mouse into the keyboard. That is it. No mess, no clutter. It also has a number of USB slots and other cable slots behind the monitor that are super easy to access - unlike most PC boxes.
So, I've migrated my docs, my mail and my music across. I've also moved my Flash environment over and downloaded the 30 day trial Mac version of Flash and everything works fine. I just have to cross-grade from my Windows license to a Mac license and I'm done.

I was going to install XP using Boot Camp, but at this stage I don't see the point. All my dev is done in Flash at the moment and if I need to create a Windows program I will boot up the old PC box.

Well, those are my thoughts after a day of use. I'll let you all know what I think in a weeks time!

www.passfieldgames.com

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope everyone is having a very happy holiday - and if you celebrate Christmas, then I hope you got some cool presents (and maybe a game or two).

So, keeping with the Yuletide spirit, here is a special Christmas Card...

PS. I'm writing this on my shiny new iMac I got for Christmas. It is truly cool. And shiny.

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some Fun Holiday Viewing

To celebrate the Christmas break, here are some fun holiday movies for you to enjoy!

First up is Game Damage, a video game TV pilot featuring Yahtzee, Yug and Matt.





Next is the Star Wars a capella... nerdy, yet cool.





Followed up by the opening credits to Heat Vision and Jack, an unaired Jack Black/Owen Wilson TV comedy.





And lastly, a cool indie game by ratloop called Mightier.



Mightier from Ratloop on Vimeo.


www.passfieldgames.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New "Proverbs" game for Brainiversity

That's right folks, I've added a brand new game to the Facebook version of Brainiversity. It's called "Proverbs" and has you reconstructing famous proverbs out of a series of jumbled words, as illustrated below.


Simply click on the words in sequence to make the proverb.

I've also removed the 100 point cap on each game. It seems that a lot of people out there are waaaay smarter than I anticipated and are scoring 100% on a lot of games. So now the score is represented as an uncapped number. It will be interesting to see what sort of scores people start to get now!

Why don't you give it a go on Facebook Brainiversity by clicking here?

On a side note I was excited to see my friend Jody appear on the world leader board as this month's top Word Smith. I'm used to seeing people I don't know in the charts - so it's great to see a friend going head to head with some really smart people from all over the world! You go Jody!

www.passfieldgames.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One stop site for gaming news goodness

I use to rely on Game Tab for all my latest gaming news in one place, but Alltop has a very good gaming page with feeds from lots of sites.  Check it out here!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Knytt Stories design tour

David Rosen of Wolfire Games has posted a Design Tour video of the whimsical Knytt Stories by Nifflas
After you watch the video, download the game frome here.  It's free and fun to play.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Scribblenauts

5th Cell have made some very interesting games on the Nintendo DS. Last year they released Drawn to Life, following that up with the Tower Defense inspired Lock's Quest this year.

And next year they will be releasing a game that sounds like it could be quite innovative indeed. That game is called Scribblenauts, and this time it's a puzzler for which the tag line is "Write. Anything. Solve. Everything."





The goal is to help the main character Maxwell reach Starites that are placed in each level. You do this by writing the name of an object which appears on the level for Maxwell to use. According to 5th Cell you can write anything. Football. Ladder. Shark. As long as it's suitable for kids and not trademarked, you can bring it into existance.

It sounds pretty exciting. I'll be interested to see how many real world objects they manage to cram into the DS.

In the meantime, you can find out more in this IGN interview.


www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bug with Animal Crossing for the Wii

I'm a huge Animal Crossing fan and was excited to have picked up a copy today to play with my daughter. A big selling point of the game is that you can transfer your DS stuff to the Wii - and having played the DS version a lot, I was excited to get my cool DS gear into the game.

I followed the on screen instructions, downloaded a program to my DS and ran it, but got the following message:
An incorrect DS Game Card has been inserted. Please turn the power off, insert the Animal Crossing: Wild World DS Game Card and try again.
Right. So I rebooted the Wii, rebooted my DS and tried again. And again. And again. I even got my old school silver DS out and tried it. But no luck.

So, I went off to the internet to find out what was up and thanks to these forums I discovered that the Aussie version of the DS game is actually a US version, and that the Wii game (which is a UK version) will only work with the UK DS cart.

It's already hit the news, so I'm hoping Nintendo patches the game - and soon! This is a big feature - it's mentioned on the box and the game actually asks you if you want to do it in the opening sequence.

If it's not fixed soon I imagine there are going to be a lot of frustrated kids (and adults) in Australia this Christmas...

www.passfieldgames.com

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Keynote Komplete!

I did a keynote on Wednesday at this years Interactive Entertainment conference here in Brisbane.  I spoke about the impact of researchers and academia on game development.  

While researching the topic I uncovered a lot of interesting facts about the early years of game development and was surpirsed at how many of today's genres were defined in a university setting - from RPG's to FPS's - it's eye opening.

I'll post up some of my notes with links later.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

IE08 Keynote

I've been working on my IE08 keynote this evening despite feeling like crap with a head cold.

IE08 - or the Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment 08 - is a cross-disciplinary conference that brings together researchers from AI, audio, cognitive science, media studies, psychology, HCI, etc.

So, what am I going to speak about? Well, I'm a game developer, not an academic - so I'm going to speak from my perspective as a developer. What exactly will I say? Well, you'll have to attend to find out :-)

In other news, the Game On exhibition has opened in Brisbane. I'll be checking it out this weekend. Apparently it has a spotlight on TY the Tasmanian Tiger, a game I co-created back in 2001. It feels weird to have a game that I created on display in a museum. Weird, but cool.

www.passfieldgames.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Storms!

Sorry for the lack of updates - my home suburb, The Gap, has been ravaged by storms in the last week. In fact, we only just got our power back on yesterday.

Huge storms are something to expect in Australia, but these were pretty severe for the area where I live.

You can check out some photos of the storm here.

In game news, I've managed to play a lot of DS (only thing that works without electricity!). This includes Spore Creatures, Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir (which I finished) and My Japanese Coach.

If you're interested in learning Japanese then go out and buy My Japanese Coach right now. It's amazing what they've managed to pack into that tiny DS cartridge.

It teaches you how to write kana, has a built in dictionary and phrase book, has full voice so you can hear how to pronounce all of the words and a large number of lessons that range from basic to intermediate. I'm impressed!

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, November 10, 2008

Seth McFarlane

Fast Company has a great article on Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, American Dad, and a new show called The Cleveland Show.  

You either love or hate his shows (I love 'em), but you can't deny that Seth has become a powerhouse in the animation  field.

According to Fast Company, not only did Seth sign a $100 million dollar deal with Fox, but he also managed to create and retain his own IP when he did a series of animations for the google ad network while he was between contracts with Fox.  What's interesting is the comment from Dana Walden, chairman of 20th Century Fox Television about Seth's google dealings:
"In a completely perfect world he wouldn't be able to do that."
It must hurt to know that not only did Seth do it, but Fox had to pay out $100 million to bring him back into the fold to keep creating the Family Guy.

Anyway, check out the article here.  It's enlightening and inspiring.  I love to see creatives do good!


Friday, November 07, 2008

$8.45 for a bunch of pixels?

The Playstation Store in Australia has a special offer - if you own LittleBigPlanet then you can buy a special limited edition launch week T-Shirt for your Sack Boy.

This T-Shirt is a bit map image. It's not a real T-Shirt that you can wear proudly in the street, but a virtual T-Shirt with a bunch of pixels on it. And how much does it cost to download this T-Shirt with a bunch of 256x256 pixels?

Only $8.45!!! But hurry, it's limited to one week only.

Now, when I think of things like buying items for my game characters, I think of the term micro-transaction. And micro-transaction to me means micro (small) transaction (purchase) - which I equate to be a small amount of money. And a small amount of money to me is 50c, a dollar or maybe two bucks.

But EIGHT BUCKS AND FORTY FIVE CENTS? And I don't even get a real T-Shirt? Come on.

I wonder how many players will actually buy this item? Especially when it appears to be free in the US...

www.passfieldgames.com

*Disclaimer: I have no idea what the width x height is of the bitmap image, but I do know it's just a texture that some artist whipped up :-)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

"Add It Up 2" on FB Brainiversity

I've just added a brand new game to Facebook Brainiversity - the above mentioned "Add It Up 2".

Not the most original name in the world, but it clearly communicates that this is a new version of "Add It Up", the most-played Brainiversity game on the site.

People were asking for a non-multiple choice version, and this new game delivers on that request as well as adding in some ramp up on the difficulty of the math problems to solve. Check it out here!

In other news, I'm looking for people who speak Spanish to test the Spanish version of Brainiversity. Email support@brainiversity.com if you fit the bill and would like to test the game. I don't speak Spanish, so as far as I know the translation could be totally off the mark.

It's not a paying job, but if selected you will get a credit in the game :-)

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Harry!

It's Halloween again!  I took my kids, Zac and Ella, trick or treating tonight.  Ella went as Snow White and Zac went as Bob the Builder.

We scored some booty from the neighbours before settling in to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on DVD.

And it wouldn't be Halloween if I didn't talk about the awesome game that is Halloween Harry.  The original game was created 23 years ago this year.  It's kind of weird having a computer game character that's older than some of the people in the games  industry!

Original Microbee version of Halloween Harry (1985)

If you want to find out more about Harry visit the Alien Carnage / Halloween Harry web shrine here.  

And if you want to download and play the PC version (it's now freeware), then check out Apogee's interview and download links here!

Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Laaaadeeee it's Bejeweled!

I saw Jerry Lewis last night. It was classic Lewis comedy with a mix of music, songs and video footage from his past. Of course, being 82 years old, there wasn't much physical comedy - but we loved it anyway.

He had a question and answer session with the audience and his snappy answers proved that he's still as sharp as ever.

In other news I downloaded the new Hexic, er, I mean Bejeweled game. It seems like a lot of fun - so I'm looking forward to playing more tonight. Interestingly enough it has a 2 hour trial time. Is this a trend?

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jerry Lewis

I'm going to see Jerry Lewis tomorrow night with my good mate Pete.  Jerry is touring Australia with his 24 piece orchestra and will be playing on the Gold Coast.

I grew up on Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Don Knotts movies - and I never thought I'd have a chance to see him live.  I'm excited!

 

Friday, October 24, 2008

DS Games

I've been playing a lot of DS games lately - I love the fact that you can open the DS and begin playing straight away, and when you're finished you close it up like a book.  Very satisfying.

I bought Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir and have been having lots of fun playing it. If you like hidden object games then you'll get a blast out of this, and you can play it anywhere!

I've also been playing My Word Coach, a word based game designed to increase your vocabulary. I have actually learnt some new words and I've had fun at the same time.  So that's a double win.

I've also ordered My Japanese Coach for the DS - a game that teaches you rudimentary Japanese.  It also shows you how to read and write kana (Japanese syllabaries) - which is a perfect use for the stylus.

And of course Christmas is coming up soon, so there'll be dozens of more great games to play.  Now I just have to find the time!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is the first hidden object game to be released on the Nintendo DS.


The top screen shows the whole scene, the bottom screen shows a zoomed in view.

I  downloaded the demo to my DS using the Nintendo Channel on my Wii, and despite the small  screen, I found it to be surprisingly fun to play.  So, this weekend I will be buying the game.

If you have a Wii, check out the making of video on the Nintendo Channel - they talk about using DS  features such as the microphone to enhance the game.  I'm curious to see what they do, so I will let you know when I play the full game.

If you don't have a DS or Wii, then check out the official site where you can play a flash demo of the game.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

iMac is looking tempting

I've been a Windows user for quite a while now. Before that I was an Amiga user, but I moved to the PC when the Amiga market died and the PC was the only viable platform to make games on.

Now, I'm seriously considering moving to a Mac.

The games I make are mostly on console, and what development I now do on PC is really for a web/casual/social platform. The software I use on a daily basis is mostly non-Windows software and I am finding myself using more and more web based apps.

So, within the next month or two, I will probably make the switch to a sexy iMac.

In other news, I've made some updates to Facebook Brainiversity - minor tweaks here and there - mostly to the challenge system. You can check it out here.

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Facebook Updates

The news feeds for Facebook Brainiversity stopped working a few weeks ago under the new Facebook layout, so it was time to fix them with the new API calls.

So, goodbye to the old feed_publishTemplatizedAction() call and hello to the new feed_publishUserAction() call!

Ah, Facebook, how I love you...


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Word Spin for Facebook Brainiversity

I've just added a new Language game to Facebook Brainiversity.  It's called Word Spin and is an anagram puzzle game.  The rules are simple, unscramble letters to make a word.  For example, IBCAS is BASIC.

This game actually required a little more work than the others - I had to generate a reasonably large number of words that only had one possible permutation.  This required writing code to test each permutation to see if it was a valid English word - if it had more than two matches then it didn't pass as a valid word for my purposes.

And as with all word games, you have to make sure there are no offensive words that can be displayed to the player.  This is why I find word games a little more challenging to build than other puzzle games.



Thursday, October 02, 2008

Nintendo DSi

Ah, the best handheld system ever just got better!

- bigger screens
- thinner form factor
- 2 touch screens
- built in camera
- SD card slot to download games to







Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Facebook Brainiversity game: "Shopping List"

A new version of the Shopping List game has been added to the Facebook version of Brainiversity. Click here to play it now.

You will need to sign up for a free Facebook account to play.

This is a variant on the PC version which required you to memorize then recall a list of items. In this version you memorize a series of shopping lists and recall the items from a multiple choice list.

The original required you to spend a lot of time committing the list to memory then recall the entire list, but for Facebook I wanted something that moved along a lot faster. I think this new version does that well.

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

Brainiversity web site update

We've updated the Brainiversity web site.  Gone is my poor attempt at coding html and in its place is a neat little site that is easier to navigate and much easier on the eyes!

And speaking of Brainiversity...  a new memory game, Shopping List, will be hitting the Facebook version  sometime soon.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jewel Quest Mysteries: Curse of the Emerald Tear

Congratulations are in order for Duncan and Marko of 3 Three Blokes - their latest casual game has just reached number one on iWin this week.

It was made in conjunction with iWin and combines the fun of hidden object games with match 3 puzzle solving.

Great work guys!


Friday, September 19, 2008

2 New Brainiversity Games

I've added two new games to the Facebook Brainiversity app.

They are Big Tipper and Number Sort - one math and one analysis game. These are potentially two of the new games from Brainiversity 2 - it all depends on what the players think. Those with the most plays, wins!

Number Sort in all it's graphical glory!

The scoring for these new games also needs tuning, but this is the beauty of Facebook; I analyse player data and can adjust the game accordingly over the next few weeks.

Next up for Facebook Brainiversity is a front end overhaul - I'll be grouping the games into each of their categories: Math, Analysis, Memory and Language - which should make it easier to find your favorite types of games.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yo! Gabba Gabba

Yo! Gabba Gabba is a trippy pre-school kid's show that my daughter watches - it's kind of like Sesame Street crossed with the Teletubbies.

Hosted by DJ Lance Rock, it has cool toy-like characters designed/inspired by Kidrobot.  This makes sense as the show is produced by W!LDBRAIN who also own Kidrobot.

The show was created by Christian Jacobs (former child actor and performer in The Aquabats)  and Scott Schultz and has a real sense of fun about it.  With it's indie vibe and hip-hop music the show is a lot more palatable to watch as an adult.  Check it out if you have kids.  Or if you like cool toys and funky animation.

Here's a clip from the show.




Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pete Mullins!

My old friend Pete Mullins has a blog called "Up the Nose Tube to Monkey Trash". 

Pete is a comic artist, game graphic artist and visual effects guy - and his stuff is great.

I've worked with Pete on various things over the years - we first did a comic strip together in a weekly national magazine back in the early nineties and we've done some games together including my first casual game Word Shake.

You can  check out the Jace Riegel comic we wrote together and Pete drew for Dark Horse on his site.  Be warned though, some of his art contains nudity!


Monday, September 08, 2008

The Indie Games Theme Song

The Pretentious Indie Gamer Scene (PIGScene) have posted a song that sums up the indie game scene as viewed by, well, pretentious indie gamers :-)

They express themselves best in their own words:
"The PIGScene goes beyond the mainstream. We report on real indie games that real indie artists are creating. Note the word “artist” as opposed to “developer.” I’m talking about Jenova Chen before fl0w, or Nifflas before he realized he could make a lot of money making games where you’re basically testing a platform engine.

Don’t dig it? Whatever, we don’t care."




The Indie Game Theme Song

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, September 05, 2008

Brainiversity Facebook Update

Facebook Brainiversity has been updated this weekend.

The Facebook version features a lot of the fun activities from the download/retail version as well as a high score leaderboard and a friend challenge function.

If you haven't played it yet then get on over to Facebook and give it a go!

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Heat Vision and Jack

Heat Vision and Jack is a TV pilot made by Ben Stiller starring Jack Black and Owen Wilson back in 1999. It's a parody of the action TV shows of the 70s and 80s - the opening credits are even inspired by the Six Million Dollar Man.

I found it funny - but I am a Jack Black fan. Anyway, you can check it out below.





This is what video on demand is all about. Thank you internet!

www.passfieldgames.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Born from an egg on a mountain top

Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (of Gorillaz fame) worked with Chen Shi-zheng to create the music and look of Journey to the West, an opera based on the Chinese epic novel of the same name.

Aussies, Kiwis and Brits were introduced to this Chinese story through Monkey - a Japanese TV show filmed in China and dubbed into English. Click on any of the above links to find out more.

What's really cool is that the BBC used the Jamie Hewlett animations for their Beijing Olympics coverage. Check it out.




www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, August 22, 2008

More on Strongbad's Cool Game for Attractive People

I've been playing the Wii version of Strongbad's Cool Game for Attractive People and am enjoying it. I like the interface, it works well with the Wii.

The controls are simple - every on screen object takes a single click to look at, use, pick up or talk to it (if it's a person). The conversation system is easy to grasp - it's represented by a few visual icons that make Strong Bad ask about the image from the icon when clicked on.

Getting around is also easy, you can pull up a map and jump to another location at any time. You can also double click and hold the A button to make Strong Bad run faster to wherever the cursor is on the screen.

There's also a neat little treasure hunt side game where you can use a metal detector in each location to look for treasure.

The only problem I've experienced so far is that some of the initial goals aren't quite clear enough. I had to visite gamefaqs.com to work out what to do on two occasions. Unfortunately the thing I was supposed to do wasn't obvious (at least to me) and I wasn't getting any feedback from the game world to nudge me in the right direction.

It could just be me - I am a little out of touch with adventures and they do require a certain mind set to play. But as a first installment it would have been nice if the goals were a little clearer.

Apart from that, I'm having fun playing the game (thank heavens for gamefaqs.com!). It's worth checking out if you're a Homestar Runner fan and like adventure games.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Some adventure games

Jay Is Games is a great source for indie and casual games. They cover a whole range of games so if you haven't been there I thoroughly recommend you check them out.

They've previewed a few point and click adventure games recently and I've been playing two of them.

Dirty Split is a stylish murder mystery inspired by the works of Josh Agle - an artist with a fifties/sixties commercial art bent. Developed by Dreamagination the game is very slick and is totally free. Grab it here. You can also download the soundtrack.

The other game I'm playing is Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People (episode 1) on the Wii. Developed by Telltale Games it's proving to be fun to play on the Wii - a system that is made for point and click adventure games.

It's worth checking out even if you're not too familiar with Homestar Runner, the website/comic that it's based on. The humor is broad enough for even non-fans to have a chuckle - and the interface and puzzles aren't too difficult (so far).

www.passfieldgames.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Adventures in Facebook

In case you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, you can play the Facebook version of Brainiversity here. It's been up and running for a few months now and the user base has been steadily growing.

Facebook is a great platform to develop for - I get to use my Flash, HTML, PHP and SQL skills all at once! Not to mention I also get to brush up on my art skills :-)

One of the interesting things about game development on Facebook is that it gives you a direct connection with the end user - more so than with downloadable casual games. You can react to feedback almost instantaneously - you launch faster and build your game with the players - making game dev a more evolutionary process.

Very cool and definitely the way of the future.

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dial Up Internet

I'm on vacation near the beach with my wife and kids and we are having a blast chilling out.

Once a day we check email using a dial up service (nope, the place doesn't have broadband!). I had completely forgotten what surfing the web was like not that long ago when everyone had dial up. Needless to say, it's slooooooow.

No wonder people had a hard time predicting the rise of online Flash games - these things would have been a pain to play back then. Heck, they're a pain to play now with dial-up. It's amazing that broadband has opened up a whole new way of playing games.

I can't wait to get it back again :-) Long live broadband!

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, July 25, 2008

Zeeby results are in!

And Brainiversity didn't win, but it was a runner up! Like I said yesterday, I was elated just to be nominated. Here's the results for my category.

People’s Choice Award for Best Word & Trivia Game of 2007

Winner:
Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition (Publisher & Developer: Real Games)

Runners Up:

  • Boggle Deluxe (Publisher & Developer: iWin)
  • Brainiversity (Publisher & Developer: Red Sprite Studios)
  • Flip Words 2 (Publisher & Developer: HipSoft)
  • Jeopardy 2 (Publisher & Developer: Sony Online Entertainment)
  • The 80’s Game with Martha Quinn (Publisher & Developer: Funkitron)
And if you want a summary of the cool stuff from day 2 of Casual Connect, click here for the Gamezebo Day 2 wrap up.


www.passfieldgames.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Casual Connect Seattle

Casual Connect is on this week in Seattle. If you're not attending then check out Gamezebo's coverage of the event - you'll get all the latest news as it happens!

Here's some interesting news from the show:
* Zynga raised $29M with Kleiner Perkins and adds Bing Gordon to their board
* Our friends at Wildfire Studios have released Jungo to retail!
* And a new study of casual gamers shows up some interesting information

Oh, and the Zeeby's are on very soon... I'll let you all know how Brainiversity fares tomorrow.
At this stage I'm just elated to have been nominated for an award!!!

www.passfieldgames.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Home Again!

I've arrived home safe and sound from my LA trip.

Ironically many game developers were pouring into LA for E3 as I was leaving. I even bumped into the guys from Media Molecule (Little Big Planet) as I was catching my cab to LAX.

How things have changed... just a few years ago I would have been super excited about E3 and would have have been looking forward to walking the floors to see all the cool new games. But now I can catch up on all the news as it happens instantaneously via the web. I even get to see more than I would if I was there - and my feet don't hurt after standing/walking all day.

One show I would like to attend this year is Casual Connect. It's on in less than two weeks - but I've already done my share of travel so I'll be sitting it out. I've been nominated for a Zeeby and it would be cool to be at the awards show in Seattle.

I have friends that are attending, so if I do win, they can pick up my award for me :-)

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, July 11, 2008

LA Story

I'm currently chilling out at the Beverly Hills Plaza in LA. It's a nice little hotel on Wilshire Boulevard, just a short walk away from Century City - a Westfield shopping center. Funny thing about Westfield is that it's an Aussie company and they seem to have a shopping mall wherever you go these days.

The trip has been productive - and I even managed to catch up with a friend at DreamWorks Animation and another from The Third Floor.

I was hoping to head back to Brisbane tonight (Friday) but the flights are booked out until Sunday - so I've got two days to chill in LA. Now is a great time to catch up on my DS games and some books that I've neglected. In fact, I just picked up Space Invaders Extreme for the DS today - and it is a lot of fun! So I won't be bored (not that you could be in LA).

Tomorrow morning I'm heading into Santa Monica on a quest for a Barbie doll for my little girl and a cool toy for my little boy. Toy shopping can be such a drag sometimes :-).


www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, July 04, 2008

Coffee!

I got an early birthday present two weeks ago - a Sunbeam Cafe Series Espresso machine. It is a thing of beauty. Sleek, stainless steel and capable of producing the most awesome coffee known to man.

Of course it's not just the machine that makes a coffee awesome. I'm extremely lucky to work in the Valley in Brisbane, ground zero for a lot of great coffee shops/roasters and oddly enough ground zero for the Australian games industry... hmmm, I wonder if there's a connection?

Anyway, we now have a fine selection of coffee blends at home to choose from courtesy of the fine Valley coffee merchants. Here are my faves:

Campos Coffee - makes a mean brew. Their Dark City is smooth and strong. The New York Times says its worth the 22 hour flight down under from New York.

Merlo Coffee - they have a very yummy espresso blend.

Di Bella Coffee - a true blue Brisbane success story, Di Bella's Swiss Water Decaffeinated is wonderful!

Now there's only one problem with having a great machine and delicious coffee at your beck and call any time of the day... you become a coffee snob. I'm off to LA next week and will struggle to cope spending a week away from my stainless steel wonder.

I guess there's always Starbucks...

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, June 28, 2008

IE08

I'll be presenting at the Australian Conference on Interactive Entertainment 08 (IE08) this year.

The conference is being held in Brisbane from December 3rd to 5th and has the theme of "Resonating Experiences".

I'll be talking about the changing face of video games and how the relationships between the player, the game and other players is evolving.

I'll also show off some stuff that I've been cooking up!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

BankQuest

This is kinda cool - Tomy has a new toy that's a cross between a piggy bank and a tamagotchi-like RPG.


Basically every time you save money it is turned into RPG gold that you can use to play the game. It's a pretty geeky way to get kids (and grownups) to save. You can find out more here on the Japanese site:
http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/products/bankquest/

It definitely beats the old "Skeleton in a Coffin" piggy bank that I had as a kid.

www.passfieldgames.com

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lost Winds

I downloaded Lost Winds - a Wii ware original by Frontier.

It's a charming side scrolling adventure that uses the Wii-mote as a sort of virtual fan - you wave the Wii-mote and it blows wind on the screen.

It's a cool mechanic that allows you to create up drafts for your game character to navigate the world.

The graphics and sound are beautiful and the game play is compelling. The only complaints I have is that its sometimes a bit vague about what you do next and the waving mechanic to create wind can be tiring on the arm!

But for the price (1000 Wii Points) it's a great little game - and I'm looking forward to seeing what other devs do in this space.

www.passfieldgames.com

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Leonardo as Nolan

I thought this was cool - Leonardo DiCaprio is slated to star in 'Atari', a bio-pic about Nolan Bushnell. Hollywood Reporter has more here.

It will be interesting how they portray his life - I hope they capture the magic of the 70's and how huge Atari was back then.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kids Games

I'll keep this short and simple.

If I ever create a kids game I vow that I will do everything possible to make the game load straight away with no publisher, developer or licensor splash screens that take up precious minutes of time.

Every time my daughter wants to play a new game (which is often - she plays one for ten minutes, then wants to try another) - we have to sit through the same load screens again and again - many of which are unskippable. Then we get to the menu screen and have to click on more buttons to start the game. She just wants to play. Why not boot straight into the game? My 3.5 year old could care less about copyright notices.

Put all this stuff just before the team credits! That means it will be buried in a menu somewhere, or will only be seen when the game is completed, or printed in small type in the back of the user manual (if the developer is lucky).

They can be as bad as those kids DVDs that take forever to get to the Menu, then don't have the Play Movie option as the default. Grrr. Thank heaven's that Disney has their fast play feature - that is such a great idea. Kids game developers should look and learn.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indy 4

I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night - and I liked it.

It's odd, but I usually hate movies that have incoherent plots or endings that don't make sense - like Ang Lee's "The Hulk" - but despite the fact that this new Indy movie has a bunch of "what was that all about?" moments I found myself enjoying it.

The reason for this is that characters really clicked for me, and my fear that Shia LeBeouf would be annoying were unfounded. All in all it was pretty cool. I could not tell you what the plot was - or why a lot of stuff happened as it didn't make much sense - but in this case it was all about the journey, not the destination :-)

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, May 16, 2008

Boom boom boom

Man, what a week (or even month) to play games!

No sooner does Grand Theft Auto IV come out then we get Wii Fit and now Boom Blox.

All are extremely fun and an essential part of your games collection (except GTAIV if you're a kid). So, with all these options and extremely limited time, I've been mostly playing Wii Fit and Boom Blox. These are both great games to tackle if you only have a few minutes of gaming time available.

So, what makes Boom Blox so great? Here's a few things:
  1. The game play is simple enough for anyone to grasp (you throw balls at piles of blocks, or pull blocks out of piles of blocks like Jenga).
  2. Each level is short but they get progressively trickier without overwhelming you.
  3. The controls are awesome (this game is made for the Wii).
  4. It's got a cute adventure mode with cute characters.
  5. It rewards you a lot so you always feel like you're achieving something.
  6. It has a built in level editor so you can make and share you own levels.
Here's hoping to seeing more games that embrace the Wii and take advantage of what it has to offer. Now, I just have to find more time so I can play GTAIV too!


www.passfieldgames.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hurts so good

Today I am feeling the results of using Wii Fit. Yes, I am actually hurting all over.

Well, I'm actually hurting in my legs and lower torso. Apparently I have muscles there that I didn't know about!

The Balance Board is a pretty cool gadget. Not sure if I'll still be using it in a month's time. I'll let you know if that's the case. In the meantime, it's a fun way to get some exercise. And despite my initial thought of "these exercises won't really work" I am feeling sore, so I guess they do.

Not a bad effort Nintendo!

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, May 12, 2008

Clone Wars... oh dear

There's a new Star Wars animated film coming out. It's called Clone Wars and it's damn ugly looking. It has the whiff of "Shadows of the Empire" about it.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.gametab.com/news/2591945/

And guess what? It has the Hutts in it. Can George Lucas make the Star Wars universe any smaller? I guess Luke was being ironic in Star Wars (the good one from 1977) when he said:
If there's a bright center of the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from.
Well Luke, apparently Tatooine is ground zero for all things Star Wars. Your dad grew up there, Ben Kenobi retired there, Han Solo was imprisoned there, Boba Fett was "killed" there, C-3PO was created there...

Maybe in the new series we'll discover that Princess Leia's adoptive parents have a summer holiday home there where young Han Solo and Lando Calrissian work as kitchen hands. And are actually brothers. And have a pet Wookiee called Chewbacca. Who actually built R2-D2.

On a positive note I saw the excellent Iron Man movie. It's certainly no GTAIV, but it was pretty darn good. It more than made up for Spiderman 3. Here's hoping that Marvel keeps control of their IP and keeps talented people involved in making their movies.


www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wii Fit on Mother's Day

When I asked my wife what she wanted for Mother's Day I was very excited when she suggested Wii Fit! Obviously, I'm a huge gamer, so when she suggested a video game as a present I jumped to it.

So, today Leigh unwrapped Wii Fit and we've had some fun playing around with it. I've already played two player jogging with my 3 year old daughter - and am excited about spending more quality "video game" time together over the coming months.

Of course, it's not all about getting fit in front of a TV - the family is just about to head out for a bike ride at the park.

Anyway, if you haven't seen Wii Fit yet, you should check it out.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Beatrix Potter

We watched Miss Potter last night, a fictionalized film about Beatrix Potter, the children's author of classics like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The filmmakers changed a few facts here and there to make for better drama, but overall it seemed true to her life.

I enjoy finding out about the people behind works of art that impact on popular culture. I've read books on Herge (creator TinTin), Charles Schultz, Stan Lee, George Lucas, etc. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the film.

Anyway, I've been reading an eclectic mix of books to my daughter at bed time, ranging from Peter Rabbit to Tin Tin - and strangely enough she really digs Tin Tin - more so than Peter Rabbit. And she's 3 and a half.

So, she's been asking me if we can read a girl TinTin - and today we went to Border's in search of a TinTin equivalent for girls - but came back empty handed. The only other large sized illustrated books they had were the Asterix series - and they seem very boy oriented.

Is there a series of graphic novels for young female readers that don't talk down to their audience? Surely there must be something out there. If not, there should be. I'll have to scour Amazon.com for some candidates. Heck, even an illustrated Nancy Drew would be a start.

If anyone knows of any, let me know.

www.passfieldgames.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

GTA IV

Like most gamers today, I've been playing GTA IV. And damn, it's good.

In the brief time I've spent with Nico, his cousin and their friends I've grown to like them a lot.

If I was Hollywood I'd be scared - games are so much more compelling than film.

www.passfieldgames.com

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Alien Carnage Surprise

I was visiting a neighbor today and got a pleasant surprise. Their young son was playing a game on the family PC and wanted to show it to me (he knows I make games for a living) - and lo and behold it was Alien Carnage - one of my old games!

I asked him if he knew who made it and he said Apogee. He had no idea that it was one of my games.

It's so cool to know that even today with the DS, Wii, PS3, 360, etc. kids are still playing classic PC games - especially games that I helped create!

And in a related coincidence, just this month I've received 3 different emails from people about some of my old games - including one person who was so inspired as a kid by The Chronicles of Jaruu Tenk that he entered the field of game programming and design.

Pretty cool stuff!

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Site Migration

I'm taking the plunge and migrating to a new control panel with my web hosting service.

This means that I have to back up all my site data then upload it again to a new location. It also means recreating all my databases and email accounts and pointing my domain nameservers to a new location. It's a bit daunting.

Why do it? Because I will upgrade from PHP4 to PHP5 giving me access to heaps of cool new stuff. The results of which will become apparent in due time :-)

So, if you're reading this sometime Sunday then it probably means all went well...

See you on the other side!

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, April 14, 2008

Amazon Queen in Italian!

If you like adventure games and you speak Italian, then check out the Italian version of Flight of the Amazon Queen!


Joe King, Faye Russel and Sparky in the Amazon speaking Italian

Thanks to Grifen at Funware and the ScummVM team, the Italian version of my adventure game Flight of the Amazon Queen is now available to download and play for FREE! That's right, for FREE!

I love owning the IP to my old games - it means that I can do stuff like this without having to plead with a publisher to relinquish the rights to a game that isn't even published anymore.

The more people that can experience these older games the better - unlike the film and book industry our games soon become unplayable due to the march of technology. The efforts of people like the ScummVM team does a lot to maintain our gaming heritage.

Download the Italian version of Flight of the Amazon Queen from here.

www.passfieldgames.com

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People

Hot on the heels of Telltale Games' Sam and Max series comes another comedy adventure game - Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. Five episodes on Wii-ware coming this June.

You can check out a trailer from Home Star runner here, or visit the Telltale Games site for more videos.

Its looking more like the Wii is going to be the place for interesting indie games every day. Microsoft, you're going to have to lift your game on XBox Live!

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, April 05, 2008

You Have To Burn The Rope

You Have To Burn The Rope is an awesome Flash game that you should go and play right now!

Not only does it have a very cool song (just like Portal) but it also completely conveys the objective of the game in the title. I like games that do that. Destroy All Humans! is another great example of a game with a title that says it all. What do you have to do in that game? You destroy all humans. And what do you do in "You Have To Burn The Rope"? Well... I'll let you work it out from the title :-)

In other exciting news Sam and Max is coming to the Wii. Yay!

Now I only hope that they include some sort of hint system for the Wii version as some of the puzzles can be a bit obtuse. When you're playing on a PC it's easy to ALT-TAB to GameFAQs and get help. This isn't as easy when you're sitting on your couch in front of the TV.

So Telltale Games, please test this baby with some regular Wii players to make sure they don't hit a shelf moment and stop playing. Check out Zack and Wiki or Professor Layton for some examples of hint systems that work.


www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Weekend Surprise

I was chuffed to see Brainiversity sitting at number one on Big Fish Games' brain teaser Top 100 list this week.


Lots of chocolate, time with the family and a number one. What a nice way to spend the Easter weekend.

www.passfieldgames.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

PS3!

My PS3 finally arrived - and it's very cool. Yeah, I know, "welcome to 2007" (or 2006 in Japan).

Unfortunately the PS3 is at the opposite end of the house from my wifi - so I'm going to have to invest in a wireless bridge. Still, I get just enough of a signal that I've managed to sign on to PSN.

So what have I been playing? Well, I've been playing Portal and Burnout Paradise. Both are great games.

And of course the PS3 does Blu-ray. Man, is Blu-ray gorgeous. We've joined Quickflix, the Aussie knock of of Netflix and have a list a mile long of cool Blu-ray movies to get through. First up was Cars and it looked amazing. Ah, I love technology.

On a side note it's interesting watching the trends in the casual games space. Right now the Hidden Object game genre is hot. Gamers seem to be consuming these games with a passion. As with Match-3 games I wonder how long the trend will last, but then I think about the First Person Shooter trend that really kicked into high gear back in 1993 with Doom.

And you know what? It could last an awful long time :-)

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, March 10, 2008

Go Brisbane!

This is pretty cool.

iWin has two Aussie made games in the Top 10 this week.

At Number 4 is Magical Forest by 3 Blokes and at Number 6 is Tumblebugs 2 by Wildfire Studios.

Duncan and Marko from 3 Blokes did an awesome job of creating a brand new IP and launching it onto the global stage in less than a year. And this is their first game!

Congratulations to both 3 Blokes and Wildfire Studios for cracking the Top 10.

www.passfieldgames.com

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Back in Oz!

Woo hoo - I'm home in steamy hot Brisbane again. It's been raining a fair bit, but that's okay. It's welcome after the years of drought we've been experiencing.

As I mentioned in my last post, GDC was great, and I learned a lot.

Speaking of conferences, gameOn is on again this year. It's a series of free lectures presented by Creative Industries Precinct in conjunction with Kelvin Grove urban village and supported by the IGDA, Griffith QCA and QANTM. Anyway, I'm doing a talk on creating gamses on Wednesday 2nd April 5-6pm.

Click here and scroll down for more details!

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, February 23, 2008

At GDC

I've been quiet this last week because I've been at GDC in San Francisco.

I've had a great time learning a lot of cool new stuff and catching up with a lot of good friends. It's ironic that I get to meet more Aussies here in the USA then I do back home. I got to say hi to Mark Bracken and Ross Symons from BigAnt, Steve Fawkner from Infinite Interactive, Mario, Jos and Tyrone from Sidhe Interactive - the list just goes on. It's great to see the Aussie industry has a strong presence at the show. In fact, the Queensland Games stand was one of the best - it even made front page of Wired.com.

The conference had some amazing speakers and my only complaint is that there are so many talks that I wanted to see scheduled at the same time. On one day I had five different sessions that I would have loved to sit in on - all at the same time! Luckily the GDC conference produces audio recordings of all the sessions, so I'll be able to catch up on these later.

Well, I'm about to pack my bags and check out of the hotel... then I'll be on my way home to Australia!


www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, February 15, 2008

100 not out!

Today I reached a cool milestone with Brainiversity. The online version has just clocked up it's 100th member. Small fry, I know, but a lot more than I expected in the short amount of time since opening up the beta.

So a big thanks to all the people who are playing - I have some cool new stuff in the works!

In other news, my friend Matt pointed out a neat site called io9. It's a sci-fi blog with lots of interesting stuff from movies, books and even real life. It even includes an image from my other friend Hugh's cover art to the new Indie Jones movie. Included in the cover are spoiler images of the crystal skull, so you are warned!

www.passfieldgames.com

Sunday, February 10, 2008

All good things must end...

And so it with a heavy heart that I remove the Phantom Hourglass cart from my DS. Yes, I have finally finished the latest Zelda game. I played it almost every day, a little bit here and there, and now it will no longer be a part of my life. Sigh.

I had lots of fun playing it - but as I've mentioned before - thank heavens for gamefaqs.com. There were a number of things in the game that I just didn't get. And now that I have a family and a life gone are the days where I would spend weeks trying to work out how to solve a puzzle. Actually, I never did that. Life is too short.

I play games now for fun, and approach them much the same way as I would reading a book. In fact the final boss in Zelda was so obscure for me that it felt like I had just come to the last page of the final Harry Potter book only to find that it was in Latin and Ms. Rowling was sending me the message of "screw you pal, you've come this far and if you want closure then you're going to have to work for it. Enroll in Latin classes now!".

Anyway, I pored over quite a few walkthroughs trying to work out what I was doing wrong. I eventually found out what I had to do and if it wasn't for the internet I probably wouldn't have finished the game - and how annoying would that have been? To invest so much time only to hit a brick wall in the last few minutes.

Not that I'm innocent of such charges. I remember during development of the first TY the Tasmanian Tiger game that I played Halo and was pissed off that the ending of the game required you to use the Warthog - a vehicles that I had avoided where I could during the game. Doing that last section of Halo took forever as I had to learn the skills that they assumed everyone would have had by the end. I vowed never to do anything like that. So, what happened? The final level of TY has you piloting the Doomerang down a stupidly long tunnel. A skill that the player never had to use before. For some reason I let this happen.

Anyway - I was young and naive then. I promise you now that I will never let anything like that happen again... honest... you do believe me, don't you?

www.passfieldgames.com

Friday, February 08, 2008

Congratulations Puzzle Quest!

Congrats to Steve Fawkner and team for winning the DICE Interactive Achievement Awards "Downloadable Game of the Year" category with Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.

They beat out some pretty tough competition with the likes of Azada, Build-A-Lot, fl0w and the other industry casual/hardcore darling, Peggle.

Great work guys!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Magical Forest

Duncan and Marko from 3 Blokes Studios are about to release their first casual game called Magical Forest on iWin. Gamezebo has a good preview which you can read here.

Here's a typical comment about their game: "I beta tested this game and loved every minute of it."

Great work guys! I'll add a link to iWin when the game is released.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, February 02, 2008

HDTV == GOOD

I got my new HD 1080p Sony TV this week. Man, is it sweet. We've watched a few DVDs upscaled and they look great. Can't wait to watch some Blu-ray movies. Here in Australia Blu-ray has won the "HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray" battle so there will be a lot more titles available soon. One of the things that really hit home that Blu-ray had won was seeing animated movies advertised during Saturday morning cartoons with the tagline "Available on DVD and Blu-ray".

Only a few weeks to go before my PS3 arrives. Hopefully Burnout Paradise will be out in Australia by then. I've been playing the demo at work and it's a blast.

In other news I've made the Beta of the new version of Brainiversity open to the public. I'm not going out of my way to market it to people - I'd prefer them to find out via word of mouth... but if you want to check it out you can find it by following the links on my site :-)

www.passfieldgames.com

Monday, January 28, 2008

Phantom Hourglass One Day... Phantom Menace The Next

It's official... The Phantom Menace is a really dull film. Actually, just because I say so doesn't make it officially dull. There have been way more qualified film critics before me who have declared it such.

What brings this on? Well, I've been going through the Star Wars films with my 3 year old daughter over the last few weeks. She loves the original Star Wars with Luke, Leia and Han (back when Luke and Leia were in love in a romantic way, not a creepy uncle-dad/aunty-mom sort of way).

She sat through Empire Strikes back and was entranced by Han being frozen. She even tolerated the boring set up of Return of the Jedi on Tattooine that seemed to last an eternity and ends with Boba Fett being done in by Han Solo in a piss-weak manner. Being accidentally knocked into a Sarlacc pit by a blind space pilot is second only to dying by accidentally falling over in the shower and being impaled on a jumbo size bottle of shampoo. On second thoughts that would might have been a more noble way for Boba Fett to exit the series...

Anyway, watching the Star Wars films every week or two unfettered by the Rose Colored Glasses of my youth it became painfully obvious that I was right. Star Wars is awesome, Empire is great, Return of the Jedi is kind of boring and The Phantom Menace is a snooze-fest. All this talk of trade routes and taxes and blah-blah-blah and the wooden acting and the over explanation of everything - it's just wrong. Not to mention all the fan service with the Hutts and Threepio and the introduction of Artoo - it feels like it was made by a bunch of fans with access to ILM and name actors.

Another thing that struck me about The Phantom Menace was how new everything looked. I watched the making of documentaries on the re-release of the original trilogy and everyone from Peter Jackson to Ridley Scott rave on about how the "used universe" inspired them. They seemed to have forgotten that concept in the new series - it's as if the Star Wars universe was created 40 years before the first films. Or rendered digitally on a blue screen.

Well, I'll stop ranting now. I'm only adding to the already billions of hours wasted by internet geeks on this topic. Next week we'll be tackling Attack of the Clones. From memory I enjoyed that one. I'll let you know how it goes.

www.passfieldgames.com

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass

Well, I'm in the final stages of the new DS Zelda game and am having a blast.

Before picking it up I'd read online that it had taken a casual approach to the series. Yeah right! Maybe for the first hour or two, but after that this baby has some serious hardcore puzzles. I'm not ashamed to admit this, but GameFAQs has been a popular site with me while playing this game.

And let's not forget The Temple of the Ocean King... a dungeon you have to do over and over again, each time it gets tougher and a little more repetitive. The second last time through I had to use a walkthrough to save every second I had (it's a timed dungeon - so if you make a mistake, then you might as well start over again). I couldn't imagine a casual player surviving the Temple and continuing with game without a play through.

But apart from the occasional shelf moment (thank heavens for GameFAQs) - the game is great. I love the stylus controls, the story is fun, the graphics are beautiful, the enemies aren't too hard and the game makes good use of the microphone and clamshell design in delivering unique experiences.

My recommendation: go out and buy Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass then download a playthrough from GameFAQs. You'll need it.

www.passfieldgames.com

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Phoenix Wright: Apollo Justice

The new Phoenix Wright game has a Flash demo available. This is a great way to play the game to see if it's wright for you (pun intended!) before plonking down cash for a Nintendo DS cart.

Check it out:




www.passfieldgames.com

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sony's Neat Idea

Sony Australia has an offer going at the moment where you get a "free" PS3 if you buy a HD Bravia LCD TV set. Now, I've been holding out on getting a PS3* because:
  1. At AUD $699 the thing is waaaaay to expensive for the average consumer,
  2. There haven't been any games that I've had to play on the system, and
  3. I have a standard def set and I'd have to upgrade to really appreciate the "power of the PS3".
Well, I got sucked in with this offer and will soon be the owner of a brand new 1080p TV and a PS3. And I'm not the only one. Each store we went to said they've sold out and Sony had to extend the offer from January to March.

It's strange, the PS3 just doesn't shift units because (I'm assuming) people think it's too expensive. But throw it in for "free" with a hi-def set that costs a few thousand bucks and suddenly it's a bargain! Funny how things work. I wonder if they'll do a similar deal in the US?

As for reason 2 - why I didn't get a PS3 sooner (ie. the games), there are now a bunch that I'd like to play - Uncharted, Ratchet, Burnout Paradise (not an exclusive, I know, but the PS3 has the best version). And Little Big Planet looks like fun.

I'll let you know what I think when I get everything set up.

In other news, Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame has joined Hothead Games where he is working on his new title - DeathSpank - an episodic game described as "Monkey Island meets Diablo".

Good stuff Ron, glad to see you back in the game!

www.passfieldgames.com

* I've been holding out on getting an Xbox360 for a number of reasons too, mainly:
  1. A huuuuge amount of people I know who bought 360s have had them break. In all my years playing games I've never experienced a dud console - and I don't want to now.
  2. Not convinced by the lineup of games - they seem to be focused on the hardcore shooter market and their family friendly games just keep missing the mark - they're a poor second to the Wii's lineup and the Sony brands like SingStar, Buzz, EyeToy, etc.
  3. You have to pay extra for hi-def playback and wifi? My freakin' DS comes with wifi built in! What's up with that????