Here we go with yet another late and picture-less post. Blame it on work and Xbox 360! I’ve been playing lots of Oblivion, advancing in rank in the guilds and just generally enjoying the game world. I have also been playing a bit of Geometry Wars (the guy at the top of the leader-boards with a score of 250 million can not be entirely human!), and I checked out the Sonic the Hedgehog demo on Live. Sonic looks absolutely amazing, and the game-play is extremely simplistic and reminiscent of the old 2D titles, but the games camera is just horrible. I never imagined a camera could affect a game quite so badly, but the developers of Sonic reached a new level of crappiness with their camera. It never points quite where it should and controlling it is painfully sluggish! I really hope this is fixed in the final retail version!
Microsoft’s scheduled maintenance on Xbox Live and xbox.com last week must not have gone quite to plan. Instead of the scheduled 24 hours, the downtime ran closer to about 36. When the Live service finally came up a couple of hours after the 24 hour promised deadline, things were still not well. The service suffered from a couple more hours of unreliable connections, missing marketplace content and general POSiness. Similarly, by the time the xbox.com website came back online, it was far from healthy, with sign in attempts leading users back to the main page, weird FireFox compatibility issues, and all sorts of other nastiness. Of course system maintenance is not that big a deal to anyone working in IT, and we all know that it almost never goes as planned, and it always turns out that the test system on which the upgrades worked flawlessly is not quite as much of a perfect replica of the live environment as everyone imagined. What makes this particular system upgrade special is the uproar it caused amongst gamers. It would appear that some people are unhealthily attached to Xbox Live. The way some gamers were carrying on in forums and blog comments, one would swear that their daily food stipend had been cut off!
When Live did finally come up, and the marketplace was once again stable, gamers could download the then newest arcade release, a port of the massively popular PSP launch title Lumines. I was never a fan of the original, perhaps because I feel being charged a premium game price for what is essentially a casual game is a huge rip off. I decided to give this version a chance, but it still doesn’t really tickle my fancy. Genre tastes aside though, what is interesting about Lumines is the way in which Microsoft and Q Entertainment chose to deliver this version to Xbox Live. At 1200 MS points, Lumines already ties for the dubious honor of most expensive Live Arcade title, but on top of this the 1200 point version is not the entire game! Not only are additional contact packs due to be released at a price, entire game modes are all but missing from this ‘full version’. Between this and Sony’s ludicrous idea to require players to download the bulk of the content for the next-gen Gran Turismo, it seems that companies are taking chances and testing how far they can go with micro-payments and piecemeal content, and I really hope the majority of gamers don’t fall for this crap and vote with their wallets!
I’m a bit late on this one, but it seems sometime in the past couple of weeks Second Life hit 1 million residents. It’s nowhere near World of Warcraft’s enormous numbers, but considering the residents of Second Life actually impact a real virtual economy that interacts with real world currencies, it’s probably much more important.