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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Virtual Battlefields and Confused Card Games

I don’t think I’ve posted anything yet about my current addiction game-wise, so now is as good a time as any (and of course as always it’s quite a bit after-the fact..). Way back in June, when I was in Fargo, North Dakota, I had the wonderful experience of true broadband, as the Americans experience it. The hotel I stayed in (The Radisson, I highly recommend it if you’re ever there-especially for the breakfasts and the lovely blond serving them ;)) had free broadband internet access. After popping down to reception and making 100% sure I wasn’t dreaming, and that they didn’t charge per-meg or something, I settled in to downloading stuff. And by stuff I mean A LOT of stuff. The newest versions of all the mobile tools I could get my hands on, movies, pictures, and of course Game Demos! One of these was BattleField 2, and thanks to the permanent connectivity, I could actually set up a profile and play online-against South Africans on the SAIX servers no less, with better pings than the SA guys! This says something about Telkom and their screwed up local loop if you ask me..

Anyway, that demo was single-handedly responsible for me spending my two weeks in the states with about 10% of the sleep I SHOULD have had (there’s really not much in terms of nightlife in Fargo, so this was a bit of a godsend). Of course when I got back here, to my 56kbps dialup connection that barely hits 40kbps, I thought my BF2 days were over. I was, thankfully, very wrong. When I started at 5DT in November, it turned out that they had uncapped ADSL, and that they didn’t mind us using it for games after-hours! So in the past two months I have managed to rack up about 36 hours online, and I’m still loving it! It’s actually amazing how addictive the game is, and it’s not so much the game itself as the ‘meta-game’ that exists as a result of EA/DICE’s idea of having a stats feed that allows you to track your progress through various sources. My stat site of choice is, and I actually spend some time tracking the progress of people I know as well.. Emergent meta-gameplay at its finest (hmmm.. maybe this is a good topic for a Masters degree). Besides stats sites, some creative sites have come up with systems that dynamically generate signature images based on a player’s game progress as well. generates particularly attractive ones, such as this one based on one of their standard templates, and dynamically updated from my current stats:

All in all, the whole stat-whoring and meta-gaming adds to the already brilliant battlefield 2. If you haven’t yet tried it, give it a bash!

So that handles the Virtual Battlefield side of this post, where the heck does the Confused Card Games bit come into it? Well I FINALLY managed to get rid of my copy of Lumines this weekend (I don’t care what the reviewers say, it’s boring and it’s overpriced!) by swapping it for Metal Gear Acid. Now for anyone that has played a Metal Gear game before and thinks they know what to expect from this title-you are dead wrong. Rather than a typical Metal Gear game with 3rd person sneaking and combat, this is a card game. The third person approach we have come to know and love in the MG games is still there in a way, you just don’t directly control the character. Instead, you control the action indirectly by playing cards from a hand that you are dealt. There are various classes of cards, and within those classes various different cards. Anyone who has played one of the big card based RPGs such as Magic: The Gathering or Vampire will catch on to the gameplay quite quickly, others may struggle a little-but make no mistake it’s worth the learning curve. As strange as the idea of a card-based Metal Gear game may seem, it works really well! When judging a game, one of the most important elements to me that elusive ‘just one more go’ feeling that made games like Civilization more than just great, but classics (and which is sorely lacking in most modern games). This title has this in spades. I can’t explain why, and I would be lying if I tried to, but it is incredibly addictive and tough to put down. It has the kind of satisfyingly frustrating and challenging gameplay that will ultimately see it remembered as a classic-even if it does end up being a niche one.

All in all, I definitely scored in this trade, MGA is an infinitely better game than Lumines!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stupid reviewers..

I bought a copy of MediEvil Resurrection for the PSP recently from, and it arrived yesterday (quite a bit sooner than expected, to my pleasant surprise).

Graphically, it’s got a really nice colourful look and feel, with a sort of ‘slanty’ style that is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s classic stop motion film A Nightmare Before Christmas (which I recently bought on DVD too.. I never get sick of that movie). In fact I suspect the original game’s style was intentionally fashioned after that movie, though it’s much less dark. This ‘wackiness’ carries through to the characters and dialogue. The game’s voice acting is really well done, and adds to the great sense of humor presented by every other element. The music, while certainly good, does not quite seem to suit the rest of the game-I would have expected something a bit more lively but the developers apparently decided that a slightly haunting classical soundtrack was to be the order of the day.

The only two elements of the game I could criticize at this point are the camera, which suffers from the usual problems present in most games of this type (namely choosing to point in exactly the wrong direction when you really need it to behave because you’re fighting some or other zombie) and the control which, while functional, could have done with some extra thought. For example you may need to switch weapons a number of times in a level-but there is no way to do this other than opening up your inventory and selecting the weapon you need.

Overall, I would rate this title quite well based on what I have played so far-which is why I chose the title I did for this article. How did these fool reviewers manage to give the game an average of 67% when they give something as boring as Lumines an average score of 89%!? They are the sole reason I um-ed and ah-ed about buying it.. in future I know to ignore them ;)

Friday, October 07, 2005

rAge on!

I didn’t get to posting this yesterday.. work and all that.

The annual rAge (really AWESOME gaming event) Expo was held at The Dome in Northgate this past weekend (the weekend of October 1st). rAge is an expo dedicated to all things gaming, and is the largest event of it’s kind in Africa. It includes exhibitors from the hardware, software and gaming culture arenas. Besides including a 700 man open LAN (which I attended for the first time this year), there are official competitions in all the major competitve games as part of the WCG qualifiers track (or something, I don’t know much about ‘pro’ gaming lingo). Also on the competitive gaming side of things, the ‘World’s Number One Gamer’, Fatal!ty made an appearance, and was challenged (in vain) by a number of local hopefuls aiming to win the R20000 cash prize available to anyone that could beat him.

rAge has also become a regular calendar spot for Magic: The Gathering players, and besides the usual pro tournament, this year’s rAge also played host to the launch of a new expansion pack for the popular card based RPG. Once again this year there was also an Anime screen playing a variety of scheduled anime films, and South Africa’s new Anime magazine.. erm.. (ah hell I forget the name ;)) was also launched at rAge.

New to rAge this year was a Game.Dev series of talks (one of which yours truly presented) and I believe this will be the first of many great events on this topic.

The amount of stuff on show at the event this year was simply mind boggling, and I could go on for pages and pages trying to list it all.. A simpler approach is to point you in the direction of the Official rAge Website!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

One big mutha of a post (collection)

Well my posts seem to have been getting further and further apart.. I really do have loads of news but just to keep it sensible (and just because I can) I’m goig to split the stuff up across a couple of posts.

First of all, some personal news that (for some reason) I have held off on adding here.. I’m engaged. This happened way back in February (on Valentine’s day to be precise) but I have just been a bit uncomfortable about posting it on a public blog. I don’t know why, don’t ask me why, it probably has something to do with separation of my real-world and online personality or some stupid Psychological thing about getting tickled in the ear by a phallic-looking bug as a kid or some other such rubbish. Anyway, point is I am, and now you all know it.

I did it the way it’s meant to be done: I took Natalie out for a nice exotic dinner. We went to Wang Thai, an awesome Thai restaurant in Brooklyn, Pretoria, after discouraging her from ordering any dessert (we were running a bit late) and picking up the tab, I took her off to a little park nearby, where I had organised a blanket and tea lights next to the water, along with a bottle of bubbly and a giftwrapped jewellery box, in which I had hidden the ring box. To cut a long story short, once she had opened up the jewellery box I had to help her along a bit to find the ring, then dropped down on one knee and tried (unsuccessfully) to repeat the short speech I had prepared. Thankfully I got the basic idea across, and she said yes :)

So after throwing two separate engagement parties for the family and friends, we are now well into the planning of our March 2005 wedding-and I get to fret over the details of the honeymoon.

So sorry ladies, but I’m now officially off the market-not that it was in doubt before ;)

Virtual Job Reality

And the second bit of news for today: I’m moving jobs (again). After fighting off the urge to slit my wrists out of sheer work boredom at Sun (UTi Sun Couriers Division) for a little over a year and a half, I am finally moving on to a company that will hopefully give me a little more job satisfaction. It’s not that there is anything particularly wrong with Sun, I just can’t bring myself to be passionate about working on financial systems-and for me working on something I can be passionate about is really important.

Anyway, my new employer is 5DT, a company in Lynnwood, Pretoria (yay, shorter commute!!) which specialises in Virtual Reality systems for commercial and military use. They do everything from flight simulators to medical simulators, with a combination of Virtual Reality headsets and hydraulic platforms. I will of course be working on the software side of things, developing backend components and working on their SDK in C++. It hasn’t been too long since my last move, so for the sake of my CV this had better be the move, and I won’t need to move on again until we take smallfry fulltime..

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

PSP Madness!!

Hmm.. It's been ages since I posted, I can't even remember what my last article was about. Let me check.. Oh right, Demolish. Well, smallfry updates would have to be a whole other post.. *sigh*
Anyway, I have just returned from a two week business trip to Fargo, ND in the states, and despite warnings from numerous Americans I correspond with that it's such a tiny speck on the map there was no chance I would find a PSP there, I found one in the first gadget shop I went into! There's and awesome franchise gadget store in the US called 'Best Buy' and they had a couple in stock (and so did at least two other stores in town as I would eventually learn..). So rather than bothering with online orders and taking chances with faulty console returns, I picked it up then and there! Other than finding my PSP, the trip was a bit mixed, the first week was a bit of a waste business-wise, but I think the second week made up for it. It's in a beautiful part of the country, and on the weekend we drove East to 'The Lakes'. Minnesota, the state neighbouring North Dakota, is known as the 'State of a Ten Thousand lakes' for very good reason! It's really something, just a pity that the weather sucked on that day. And speaking of weather, wow did we get lucky. We all packed for chilly weather, and expected to suffer through the two weeks, and ended up enjoying mostly warm, sunny days. We went to a Ribfest (Americans take their ribs waaay too seriously ;-)), caught a movie, did some shopping, had great food, and had an all round lekker time! And we met some of the most knowledgeable guys ever when it comes to MS products. One of the guys, Peter Kalbach, has done nothing but SQL Server performance tweaking for 15 years! He really knows his stuff!
On to the PSP
I bought the PSP (which comes in a 'value pack' that includes a pro duo memory stick, charger, soft carry case, carry strap, cleaning cloth, earphones, demo disk and Spiderman 2 UMD movie), a USB connector cable (a pelican one with a built in charging jack for the PSP), a Logitech PlayGear hard carry case and 'WipeOut Pure' and 'Lumines'. I later bought 'Mercury' and a three-UMD carry case as well.
So is it any good?
The PSP itself can only be described as awesome. It is the single most impressive piece of gaming technology I have seen in years-and it's a pretty formidable multimedia device as well. The huge wide screen format screen, thin glossy black chassis and overall ergonomics make it a really good looking piece of kit- certainly far sexier than Nintendo's DS, which is quite ugly in my opinion. The controls are pretty well laid out, though I would have swapped the dpad and analogue-nubbin-thingy. The analogue is what you use for most games, and with it being so low down on the device, it takes some getting used to. The 'shell' software is pretty cool, with intuitive navigation and some nice little extras like the ability to set up a slideshow of your images. Besides playing games it does a good job of playing movies (in MPEG4 format-that's a pain as you have to download third party software to convert standard formats) and MP3's and acting as an image viewer. As a nice little bonus there are a number PSP formatted magazines available and I found it to be a nice and practical way to read stuff on the go.
As for the other bits and pieces in the value pack, the case is functional, but you'll want to get something tougher, the cleaning cloth is.. a cloth, big deal. The charger does it's job, and thankfully takes a variable input voltage, so if you want to charge it off non-US power you can just chop off the plug and attach a local one.The memory stick is only 32Mb, which sucks considering the amount of extra stuff you could be using it for (music, movies, pictures) and you'll want to upgrade to a bigger one at some stage. The carry strap looks downright gay.. no chance I'll be using it.The earphones are actually quite decent, and include a detachable inline volume and play control. The Demo Disk is basically just a collection of game teaser videos-nothing playable at all. The Spiderman 2 UMD is great for showing off the machine, but that's about it. I don't get the point of buying UMD movies when you could just buy the DVD, and rather play games on the go-but that's just me ;-p
And the games?
First off: Wipeout Pure. What can I say, I am a massive fan of the Wipeout series, and this game probably played a large part in getting me interested in the PSP in the first place. Pure is well named, it is simply the best parts of all the wipeout games distilled and presented for your enjoyment. Everything about this game is wonderful, it has the 'feel' that we have come to know and love-including the incredible sense of speed that no racer outside of the series has ever matched. There's a good selection of tracks, teams, difficulty levels and game modes. One game mode in particular, the newly introduced 'Zone', is a Wipeout fan's wet dream! It is the fastest, purest incarnation of the Wipeout experience you will ever find! This is a must own game that looks good, sounds good and plays like a dream!
Lumines is, well, Tetris with music. It's very similar in concept to Tetris, as are many arcade-puzzle games. This title's uniqueness probably comes from the influence your choices make on the music, with ever larger combos resulting in more and more interesting 'soundbites'. All things considered, it's a pretty fun game, that looks and plays well, but I really think it's overrated and overpriced. If you absolutely love Tetris, get this, otherwise, spend the money elsewhere.
Mercury, on the other hand, is pure genius. It takes the simple concept of those old children's puzzles where you have to get the little silver balls into holes on a platform by moving the platform, and replaces the balls with blobs of liquid metal. That may sound simplistic and boring-but it is far from it. A combination of spatial puzzles, a time limit and being penalized for losing too much of your 'mercury' over the side of a level make for some wickedly challenging puzzles. If Lumines is way overrated, this game is insanely underrated, it looks great, has decent sound and has some of the best puzzle game play ever! Buy it now!
What's with the other stuff?
Other than the value pack and games, I bought a carry case, UMD case and USB cable.
Your PSP is an expensive piece of kit, and that screen and gloss plastic are just begging to be scratched! The Logitech PlayGear case is the answer. It is a hinged case with a hard, transparent outer shell, and a rubber inner shaped to hold your PSP snugly in place. All the bits you would want to access while not playing (i.e. to use the PSP as a music player) are exposed, and when the case is open, it is quite comfortable to play while the PSP is still in it-and the cover provides some glare protection. The case folds over quite far, and can be used as a stand for your PSP, this is great for viewing media or images.. or just for showing it off ;) As an added bonus, the inner layer can be removed, and a thin 'skin' placed between it and the transparent outer shell. The result? A customisable case :) Check out for some great examples!
The UMD disks may look really cool, and the casing they come in will partially protect them, but there is a pretty big gap on the back of the casing for reading that is bound to result in scratched or dirty disks. Sadly Sony did not think to include some kind of spring loaded cover like in stiffy disks, and the actual box you buy the UMDs in is way too big to be carted around. This means you'll need another solution. What I did was buy a little three-UMD carrying case that flips open, I forget the brand, but it's the only one I've seen so if you search around you should find it. It's pretty functional, does the job and looks pretty cool.
The PSP can be connected to your PSP by means of a USB cable, and this is how media is copied onto it (that;s right.. no file transfer over the built-in 802.11 connection-silly hey?). I needed one of these, and found one by pelican that included a charging jack for the same price as a standard cable. This is pretty cool as it means I can charge my PSP from my PC at work-so I don't have to worry about carting my charger around or buying a second one.
So that's it! I have my PSP, it rocks, and I want it to have my babies (erm..). I'm sure I'll be posting more PSP stuff at some stage, for now, cheers!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Demolish also available

Hi all,
Diorgo Jonker's game Demolish (which we are promoting as well) is also
now available through

For more on the game itself you can also visit

Again.. support SA gamedev ;-)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Get. Our. Game.

Hi All,
Abyss is FINALLY available on the web in SA, so please pop by and support SA game development (and smallfry in particular ;p) by purchasing a kickass game for your phone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Noooooo.. My precioussss..

Sony has announced that the PlayStation Portable (PSP) will not be reaching European territories for 'at least a couple of months'. Since South Africa traditionally falls under Europe when it comes to distribution of games and console hardware, that means we wont be getting our hands on Sony's little black miracle for a good couple of months yet. This SUCKS. The PSP is the first console I have been really excited about since the original PlayStation, it seems to get pretty much everything right, and the library of games available for it is already incredibly impressive (yes, I'm a fan boy).
Sony have cited hardware shortages as the reason for this delay, and while that is understandable (and good news since it means that commercially the PSP is a live and well), it doesn't make the whole situation suck any less. I suppose I will just have to vent my PSP woes by updating this blog with regular(ish) PSP news ;)
For more on the delay, visit For really good overall PSP coverage (although being American they don't really care about the EU delay..) visit IGN's PSP site.
On a somewhat more positive note, Abyss (the first game by the mobile development 'studio' a friend and I have started, smallfry mobile) is finally commercially available, on the Hungarian site Jocuri. This is a big step for us, even if it is only in Hungary so far (we have distribution rights to an aggregator, MobilityZone, that covers a number of European sites).

Monday, March 14, 2005

XNA Studio

This week at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) Microsoft announced XNA Studio, a full toolset for game development built around Visual Studio and the XNA platform (announced at last year's GDC). The product suite promises to provide not only programming tools, but workflow and asset and build management tools as well. Anyone who has worked on a modern game development project will immediately realise how useful such an environement would be. Unlike most corporate development projects, game dev projects involve a huge number of non-code assets that are a pain to manage, as well as many different builds to cater for different platforms and configurations (and you thought keeping your debug and reatail builds in synch was tough ;-) ).
With game development becoming increasingly complex, middleware and prebuilt tools are fast becoming the preferred way to develop. With XNA's aim to become a common development platform for multimedia development on PC, Xbox and even Windows mobile platforms, MS is obviously looking to cash in on that trend.
For more info on XNA and XNA studio (and I mean just a tiny bit more, there's not really a heck of a lot of info available) visit the XNA website.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Free stuff.. and you're helping!

Right, back on track for useful stuff. This weekend during our 'crunch' to get abYss working on phones other than the Nokia 40 series, we ran into the major hurdle of testing on emulators vs testing on physical handsets. Well today I found a great solution to that problem, and it will appeal not only to developers, but to those that want free games and apps for their phones as well!
It's called, and it's a site that allows developers to upload demo copies of their J2ME applications, to be downloaded and/or beta tested by the community. It has a list of devices owned by registered beta testers and the number of testers that own each of these devices. It also has some simple management tools to manage your uploaded applications.
On the consumer side, it's a fantastic way to get free demos for your phone- you might just download something so great you'll want to play the full version :) And you're actually helping by downloading the games and testing them for bugs, so you can do your good deed for the day and have fun doing it ;-)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Give me wings to fly!

Ok this does not quite fall into the 'useful stuff' category, but it is interesting. National Geographic is running an article on medical experimentation that makes cloning look like a high-school science experiment. Apparently there are a number of laboratories around the world working on the creation and medicinal use of 'chimeras'. Named for the mythical Greek creature with body parts borrowed from a number of different animals, a chimera in lab terms is a hybrid creation that is part animal, part animal.
One of the biggest anticipated uses for such creatures is the ability to grow 'spare' body parts that could be used for transplantation, but some of the experiments really do cross the line into the world of crazy science. For example, Dr. Irv Weissman (director of Stanford University's Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine in California) is working on creating mice with human brains. The reason for this is apparently to help understand how the human brain develops and works, but it certainly raises some scary moral, ethical and spiritual questions (as do many of the ongoing studies in this field)!
It's a really good, thought provoking read, so pop on over to NG on your lunch break for a real-life freak show.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Subvert 'em all!!

I have been on the lookout for a decent version control system for some time now. Yes, I realise there are loads out there, CVS and Ms VSS being the most prolific, however I had some pretty specific requirements. I work on projects that involve remote collaboration with team members, and we do not have luxuries like always-on servers that we can use to install a version control server on. Also, since we're doing commercial projects, and we don't want to give everyone else access to our code, we couldn't really go the source forge route (well, not the free one, anyway).
Well, we saw a (conceptual) solution to this problem: google. More specifically, google's gmail, in tandem with the brilliant gmailfs shell extension that allows windows users to use their gmail account as a remote file system. We figured that if we could find an entirely client-driven source control system that could make use of a local drive, we would be able to fool it into using gmail through gmailfs.
Well, it would appear we have found such a system. It is an open-source source control system called Subversion. Besides having all the functionality of CVS, it is really flexible in it's implementation. Historically it could only use a BerkleyDB database for it's repository, but an update in mid-2004 enabled the use of standard (remote or local) file systems. The repository does not specifically require any sort of server process to run, everything is controlled by lock files, making it totally client-centric.
In addition to the standard command-line driven interface, there are a number of third party clients available for the system, including a Visual Studio .Net plugin and a windows shell extension called TortoiseSVN.
Unfortunately I have not been able to get gmailfs to behave today (apparently google have made a change to the gmail API again..), so I have not been able to test Subversion on gmail, but as soon as it's up again I'll do that. Even if that does not work out, however, the nature of subversion means we should be able to zip up the repository and send it back and forth to achieve what we need to if push comes to shove..

Oh well..

I installed the latest version of gmailfs, which gets around google's latest gmail API changes. It seems though that the way it's implemented, not all shell commands are available, so we can't use Subversion in that way. Pity.. I'll just have to try to create an http repository on our website. At least we have tried and proved it can't be done (yet). Let's hope that future versions of gmailfs will support extra shell commands added by different installed tools..

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Doing it at home

Continuing on the theme of 'useful stuff', I thought I would mention one of my current favourite sites It's a really great site that aims to get coders together with potential 'employers' that have small to medium projects they want completed. These do not involve any on-site work, meaning it's a great way to pick up some extra work on the side, and also to learn new skills. Unfortunately, due to the fact that PayPal doesn't support South African bank accounts, a chunk ends up being taken out of the money the developer earns for registered postage of payment, but since payment can be held back until a certain amount has been reached, this is ok.
The available jobs are conveniently sorted into categories including everything from standard web development to game and mobile development. Some people even post their homework assignments in the hope of some ethically challenged coder on the site doing it for them (for a fee of course-apparently kids in America make WAY too much pocket money ;)).
Another nice touch is the RSS feed that can be used to keep tabs on new jobs. It's possible to be updated on all new jobs, or to filter the jobs by the same categories mentioned above. And that filtering is definitely necessary! There are easily 30+ new jobs posted every day. So if you are keen on making some extra cash- or give up the day job totally and look for a home-based alternative, RentACoder is a great way to start!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Friendly Keyboard has posted an article discussing a new keyboard design being marketed to replace the good (or is that bad) old QWERTY design. With only 53 keys, as opposed to the standard 101, the New Standard Keyboard has a tiny footprint, measuring less than 23cm x 10cm.
The new keyboard, pictured above, is alphabetically arranged and places the directional keys in the middle of the other keys (I'm not too sure I like that design, but it will probably sit well with WASD players ;)), and it would appear that more focus has been placed on thumb usage than with the QWERTY standard.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What I want after Christmas..

Gamespot has a great piece on their most anticipated games for the upcoming year (well, at least their various staff members' most anticipated games). I can certainly agree with a lot of their projections, especially the Xbox and mobile ones. If I had to compile a list some of those I'm most looking for, it would look something like this:
GTA: San Andreas (Xbox)
What can I say, I enjoyed GTA3 and Vice City, and there have been nothing but good reviews of the next instalment in the series. To be honest the crime theme really doesn't appeal to me, but Rockstar do an awesome job of storytelling through an amazingly well balanced game dynamic.Since I don't have a PS2, I'll just have to wait until the Xbox versions comes out-besides, then I can use the custom soundtracks feature ;)
Halflife 2 (Xbox)
Ok, this may be a wishful thinking, and one might have thought I learned my lesson with the shockingly bad Unreal 2 port, but not all PC-console ports are bad. I've been drooling over shots of the PC version for ages, and while the Xbox is definitely low-spec'd in terms of today's PC standards, it can hardly be compared to an equivalent PC. In addition to this, the HL2 engine is supposedly brilliant at accommodating comparatively low-spec machines.
Brothers in Arms (Xbox)
When I watched last year's E3 developer demo of this title I just about wet myself. Everything about it looks amazing. The commentary by the guys demoing the game was sad, to say the least, but that doesn't make the game any less droolworthy!
Destroy All Humans (Xbox)
It's like a videogame version of Mars Attacks! What's not to look forward to?I just can't wait to unleash the devastating (but comedic) powers of a stereotypical Roswell grey alien on the witless humans in Pandemic's open-ended reproduction of 50's USA. It's just a pity it's not a modern-day setting with George W Bush as the prime target.. I'd love to use a fancy laser weapon on ol' dubya's ass.
Doom 3 (Xbox)
Now don't get me wrong. I'm no Doom fan, but the screenshots just look so damn gorgeous! Xbox owners also get treated to co-op play,and co-op anything is good :)
Star Wars Battlefields (Xbox)
All the classic Star Wars battles, with all the cool vehicles like speeders, X-Wings a Tie Fighters. Again, what's NOT to look forward to :)
Wipeout Pure (PSP)
Ok, so I don't own a PSP, and it's not likely I'll get my hands on one this year, but when I do, this will be the first title I buy for it. I have always loved the Wipeout series, it was the first racer I actually enjoyed, and until NFS went Underground, it was the only series to give the player such a phenomenal sense of speed that eyelids became a very real liability (as the really cool ad campaign pointed out). It also had an incredibly cool control system that just felt so right that I'm sure the first real hover-sleds invented will use the same system. I'm also a sucker for a well-polished product, and every single wipeout title has had a level of polish that no other series in any genre has even come close to.
In hardware terms I will of course be keeping a close eye on what Microsoft is up to. I am a total Xbox fanboy (duh) and I can hardly wait to see what will be achieved with it's successor. I am really (naively) hoping for backward compatibility and that the rumours of the hard drive being dropped turn out to be wrong. But those are minor issues- as long as they give us another great machine (hopefully in a smaller box this time), I'll be happy. Oh, some top-notch games to play on it would be nice too, of course ;-)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Enough now

OK, there are more than enough whiney emotional blogs on the web. I don't need to become part of that trend.. and besides it's bad for my karma. So here's the first of (hopefully) many useful posts. The subject matter will most often be related to the games industry, development in general and other good. old fashioned geeky tech stuff.
So, what's so useful in this post? Two things:
Microsoft has thrown together a new DVD full of useful .Net goodies available to developers. It includes productivity tools and components from a number of their partner companies. You can check it out at:
Just a note though, I tried ordering it and they do seem to be out of stock at the moment.. But that can't last forever, right? Free stuff, free delivery. What are you waiting for. If nothing else you'll get a snazzy new MS coaster!
The other useful bit is Microsoft's new Anti-Spyware tool called (not very creatively) MS AntiSpyware. It's currently in Beta, but is rumoured to be due for official release soon. It is a free download that includes a pretty standard scanner that can be run once-off or enabled to check for runtime intrusions. In addition, it connects to a pier-to-pier anti spyware network called SpyNet. The idea here is that if one machine running AntiSpyWare picks up a new infection, it warns other machines and they automatically protect themselves.. Pretty nifty as long as someone doesn't find a weakness and use it to infect all machines running it with some nasty new bug..
Anyway you can get it from MS at:

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Ho Hum

Well, I have just returned from a two-week 'break'. I took leave over Christmas and New Years, with the intention of playing a lot of GTA 3, and finally finishing Abyss. If I got in two days of solid playing, it was a lot. And while we did work on Abyss for a bit, there are still those frustrating little creases to iron out. At least we're no longer running out of memory, and all the game play is basically in. Funny how plans never really work out. I did spend some quality time with family, friends and Natalie, which is great, but I just feel like I need another break where I can just do.. well, what I planned to do over the last two weeks.
Then there's coming back to work, hence the title of this entry. One would think that after two weeks of R & R, I would come back refreshed, revitalized, and full of supercharged motivation for work. Not so. By last Friday I was already dreading getting back to the horrors of Axapta. Now we're two days into the week and I just can't wait for the weekend to come along. And the best part? It'll be months before I can take leave again. This just can't be the life for me, can it?
I really do need to get back into a job that I actually care enough about to actually want to come back to work after a good break..


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