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Archive for the ‘gaming’ tag

I need something to get my teeth into

Posted on 11th Apr 2009 at 12:33 by Antony Leather with 17 comments

Antony Leather
So PC gaming isn’t dead. To be honest I’ve known that for a while. Even though previous reports had it supposedly well behind console gaming (mainly because they forgot a little genre called MMO, duh), those of us who are lucky enough to have a half decent PC with a broadband connection are usually aware there are things like Steam, and free online games like Desktop Tower Defence that more often than not, occupy way too much of our time to even think about giving any of the current generation of consoles a second glance.

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Why I don’t like consoles

Posted on 9th Apr 2009 at 14:19 by Mark Mackay with 42 comments

Mark Mackay
I should probably start by saying that I’ve owned a few consoles in my time. My first was an Atari 2600, followed by a Sega Master System with built-in Alex Kidd. I’ve owned a Saturn, a Gamegear, a Dreamcast, an N64, a Gamecube, a Gameboy, a Gameboy Advance, several PlayStations and a PlayStation 2.

So what changed? The short answer is, I got a PC, but since I have about 400 words to write so may as well elaborate a little. When I was 18, I finally saved enough cash up to get ripped off by a local PC builder that barely had a clue what he was doing and charged people for the privilege of slapping together PCs.

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Books You Should Own: Trigger Happy

Posted on 3rd Apr 2009 at 13:32 by Alex Watson with 16 comments

Alex Watson
Trigger Happy, by Steven Poole
Fourth Estate, 2000

The importance of criticism in relation to the actual art or products it discusses is matter of debate and criticism itself. Elvis Costello was neatly and completely dismissive of the very idea of music journalism, declaring that ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture.’

Still, it was, in part, the traditions of music writing – and Rolling Stone in the 60s and 70s – that video games writers turned to when they wanted to redefine the point and purpose of games criticism. New Games Journalism was a reasonably successful attempt to widen games writing’s remit and claim a role for it that was bigger than just slapping 9/10 scores on run-of-the-mill sequels and churning out breathlessly keen previews (and it’s also what we here at Bit-Tech practise, at least if you believe Wikipedia).

Before the debate over New Games Journalism, though, was another of my favourite books about computers: Steven Poole’s Trigger Happy. Originally published in 2000, Trigger Happy isn’t subtitled ‘The Inner Life of Videogames’ for nothing. It’s a conscious attempt to push writing about games beyond identikit phrases ‘good graphics’ and ‘great playability’ ‘interesting gameplay’ – and if anything, to think about what words like ‘gameplay’ really, actually refer to.

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Xbox 360 Demo round-up: Guitar Hero: Metallica and more

Posted on 24th Mar 2009 at 09:33 by Alex Watson with 2 comments

Alex Watson
As it's the middle of the month, and I only have cash for practical things, over the weekend I fired up the Xbox 360 to see what free demos were available. First up: Guitar Hero: Metallica. The last band-specific Guitar Hero focussed on Aerosmith, and was a mediocre mid-tempo effort. The graphics achieved the impressive feat of making Steven Tyler & co. look even more like zombies than they do in real life, and there was a distinct lack of soul and care to the whole enterprise.

Judging from the demo, GH: Metallica will be a much better product. For starters, it's based on the Guitar Hero World Tour engine so the graphics are much improved, both technically and in terms of art direction. Whereas GH: Aerosmith was cartoony, colourful and cluttered, GH: Metallica uses Left 4 Dead-style desaturated colours and film grain to give the visuals some bite. The character models of the band look far more realistic than before, and the developers have reduced a lot of the visual clutter - the note streak you're on is subtly illustrated with a skull-embossed plectrums to the right of the fretboard and the rock meter is less intrusive. The game also works in artwork from Metallica's albums - the fist from St Anger punches upwards when the song ends, for instance.

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Addictions on the go: Puzzle Quest

Posted on 20th Mar 2009 at 11:11 by Mark Mackay with 6 comments

Mark Mackay
A few weeks ago I blogged about Fieldrunners on the iPhone. Not only is Fieldrunners an awesome game by any standard, it’s also the first game I’ve ever been truly addicted to on a mobile phone, which I see as a big step forward for gaming.

Today, I’m writing about the second game I’ve been addicted to on my iPhone, Puzzle Quest which is essentially an RPG crossed with Bejewelled.

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My Guilty Secret: The Games I Haven't Played

Posted on 17th Mar 2009 at 13:20 by Joe Martin with 30 comments

Joe Martin
I’ve got a guilty secret when it comes to gaming, several in fact, which I’ve carried for an awfully long time and have occasionally haunted parts of my professional life. There are times when I’ve confessed these things and the result has universally been one of shock and disappointment. Quite simply; there are games I haven’t played.

Well, obviously. There are lots of things I haven’t played; awful tat like Imagine: Petz and so on. What I’m explicitly talking about here though are the reputedly great games out there which I’m expected to have played, but haven’t. Things like Diablo 2, for example.

It doesn’t sound like a huge issue, but it actually is. There’s a huge assumption out there that as a games journalist I should have played every game, ever – or at the very least I should’ve played every game that’s scored a 7/10 or more. There’s a consensus among readers and peers that a qualification for being allowed to review something is that a familiarity with every game like it. How can I write a story about Tomb Raider: Underworld if I skipped from Tomb Raider 2 straight to Legend and never even finished the first two games?

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Cheating in Game Design

Posted on 16th Mar 2009 at 11:09 by Cliff Harris with 16 comments

Cliff Harris
One day, the cheapest laptop will have a quantum graphics computer that can render pixel perfect photorealistic images at 70 frames per second with infinite complexity.

Until that happens, games programmers will do bodges, cheats and sneaky optimisations that you probably don't notice.

I remember a comedy sketch from years ago that ridiculed the kids puppet show Stingray for having a character in a high-tech wheelchair-style device that he slid around on. The joke was that this made him easier to film as a puppet, because it was always the walking that looked rubbish. Game developers do the same thing all the time.

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The Curse of Darwinia

Posted on 9th Mar 2009 at 13:23 by Introversion Software with 9 comments

Introversion Software
The Curse of Darwinia, as it has become known at Introversion, actually began way before we ever got near the Xbox Live Arcade deal with Microsoft three years ago. So before we delve headlong into a discussion about the murky world of commercial independent game development, let me give you a quick recap for those unfamiliar with Introversion and the infamous Darwinia.

Darwinia was released on PC back in March 2005. It got a lot of critical acclaim, but suffered from a bit of a botched retail launch (our fault for over-pricing it), and seemingly had only a small hard core following online. That all changed in late 2005 when Darwinia was released on Steam as only the second non-Valve game on the platform. Sales shot through the roof, and almost seemingly overnight everyone knew about the game and Introversion.

After that we got an email from CMP, the folks who run the GDC games conference. They suggested that we'd be eligible for the Independent Games Festival which was running at the next GDC in March 2006. We entered and waited. Sure enough, we soon found that we'd made it to the short-list of games and received some complimentary invites to the conference which was being held in San Jose. Yay!

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Is it time for RTS games on consoles?

Posted on 6th Mar 2009 at 10:45 by Clive Webster with 9 comments

Clive Webster
Last Saturday night, any insomniacs with radios might have happened listened to myself and Mike Channell from Xbox 360 Mag talking on Radio 5’s Up All Night show about why there’s a glut of RTS games at the moment. And more specifically, why two of these are aimed squarely at consoles.

RTS has never been a particularly successful genre on consoles, and it’s fairly easy to see why when listening to the chaps from Halo Wars and Stormrise. The Whip Select control mechanism of Stormrise is purported to be ‘faster and more efficient than a keyboard and mouse,’ while the chaps behind Halo Wars have opted for a more simplified control system than you’d find in a typical PC RTS. Essentially both companies agree that it's the limitations of the joypad that hinder the enjoyment of RTS games on consoles. But no longer, it seems.

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Why Dawn of War II Is Doomed

Posted on 22nd Feb 2009 at 12:21 by Harry Butler with 14 comments

Harry Butler
I’ve been playing Dawn of War II a fair bit since the excellent open beta launched back in January, and I have to say I’m a little concerned. You see, while the single player is a nifty fusion of RPG and RTS and so highly polished you could shave in its gloriously violent reflection, the multiplayer aspect of the game is ridiculously hostile to those new to the game that if it were an animal it’d be some kind of rabid honey badger.

After logging into Game for Windows Live (a mercifully painless experience) the game drops you into a multiplayer match without so much as a loading screen tutorial, and you’re left to fend for yourself whilst figuring out all of the game’s numerous multiplayer gameplay mechanics.

What this results in is a learning curve that’s more of a learning wall, and it’s not an easy one to overcome. Your first game will most likely be an exercise in frustration and it really shouldn’t be this way.

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SilverStone Fortress FT05 Review

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