The 7 Habits of Something or Other

Tighten up the graphcis on Level 3Through Netscape’s usually abominable news aggregator, I stumbled across this article: Seven Creative Tips for Amateur Video Game Makers.

Though it’s targeted at amateur designers, there’s a lot of solid advice that could be applied to professionals as well. Most notably: design on paper, continually reward players for playing, and broaden your horizons beyond video games to come up with really interesting ideas.

There are other good articles on the site as well. Most are game related, but then there’s also one about how to spot abusive men. I’m not sure how the two topics are related, but I suppose it’s good advice all the same. The cycle of abuse ends with you.

This is not a Moblin

Duck HunterSnakeWesker at the Worst. Blog. Ever. has taken a look at how game graphics have evolved in the last 20 years. The two examples used are The Legend of Zelda and the Metal Gear series. Both are pretty dramatic examples of franchises that started in the early 80′s as a loose jumble of pixels, and today offer fully realized worlds richly populated with 3D characters and interactive environments.

The question SankeWesker asks is where game art will go in the next 20 years. Have we hit the wall of diminishing returns? Do developers really want to plow through the Uncanny Valley and create game characters and worlds that are indistinguishable from the real world? Would that even be fun or interesting to the player?

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Wario Moves in Mysterious Ways

WarioWare Smooth MovesI got Warioware: Smooth Moves for the Wii yesterday.

It’s a great example of how creative developers can get with the Wii remote. The game employs a number of unique stances, known as “forms”, that instruct you to hold the remote a particular way. Often these forms require you to move your entire body to complete a microgame. Sure, you can easily fake out the Wii’s robotic brain by doing tiny movements with the remote. But in so doing, you idnetify yourself a douche bag worthy of derision and beneath pity.

Speaking of which, I suspect that this is game is a dish best served multiplayer. The single player is fun. But, after awhile you might feel somewhat douchey holding the remote up to your nose like an elephant trunk. So I guess you’re a douche if you do, and a douche if you don’t. It’s a tough position to be in, but a sanitary one.

The single player game looks like it’s shorter than Warioware Twisted, which had a truly obscene amount of content. I’m okay with what Smooth Moves has to offer, but I’d have liked a few more unlockable toys and mini-games like there were on the handhelds.

What I find most exciting about Smooth Moves are all the nuggests of potential Wii gameplay that the package suggests. Yes, there are duds in the bunch. But, surprisingly few. I could see entire Wii games being built around some of the mechanics that Smooth Moves has introduced.

As a game to introduce people to the Wii remote, Smooth Moves isn’t quite as accessible as Wii Sports. In Wii Sports, the metaphors are extremely clear — The remote might be a tennis racket, a baseball bat, a golf club, and so on. Smooth Moves asks you to make some leaps — Hold the remote like a Mohawk, a Samurai, a Waiter, etc. But if you’re willing to meet the game half way, its humor and fast pace carry the day and deliver a great experience.

Wii FPS’s – How to do it right

Call of Duty WiiVideo Game Vs. has an interesting argument about how First Person Shooter games should play on the Wii: Wii FPS’s – How to do it right

So far I haven’t been too impressed with any of the FPS games on offer. Red Steel and Call of Duty both felt clumsy. I haven’t played Far Cry: Vengence, but from what I understand it doesn’t really improve the situation.

Back when I first heard about the Wii controller, It seemed like a perfect fit for FPS gaming. The Nunchuk and remote sounded like great surrogates for a mouse and keyboard interface. Even better, it seemed like gameplay would be more intuitive, since you can literally can point and shoot at things on the screen.

But in practice, navigating the world and aiming with the wiimote can prove to be very frustrating. And since FPS is such an established genre, the Wii gestures that have been incorporated into the current batch of games feel like afterthoughts.

I’m eager to see how Metroid plays. But as it stands, my gut feeling is that the FPS genre needs to be completely rethought for the Wii, or thrown out altogether. The argument on Video Game Vs. sounds like a good place to start the rethink.

Tags: Wii, FPS, First Person Shooter, Video Game Vs., Video Games

Urban Princess Boutique

Urban PrincessCheck out the Urban Princess before she moves on to another castle: Urban Princess Boutique

She has a number of cool handmade Video Game inspired designs. I love the pacman scarf and hat combination. And the princess herself is too cute.

The Urban Princess certainly gives Miss Ivy and her Odd Couture a run for its money.

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Wind Waker vs. Twilight Princess

Battle of the LinksNow that Twilgiht Princess has been out for awhile and thoroughly enjoyed, the time has come to take a step back and compare it to its misunderstood predecessor, The Wind Waker.

Side by side, who is the victor? Is it manly man Link astride his noble steed, bow in hand, and Wiimote flashing? Or Chibi-Link firing on pirates from his courageous boat-king, swinging around like Errol Flynn, and parrying moblins like nobody’s business. Whose cuisine reigns supreme? Read on to find out.

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Why Wii will Succeed

Wii SuccessPreviously on Maunderlust, we’ve looked at why the GameCube failed to capture the hearts and minds of the gaming public.

We’ve also taken a stroll through the minefield of disasters that could destroy the newborn Wii.

And now we arrive at last at the Paradiso, Why Wii will Succeed. Read on for mystic crystal revelations.

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What Wii Should Watch Out For

Danger WiiRight now the Wii is high flying adored. The launch was a huge success no matter how you slice it. People are hungry for Wii consoles and content. Seeing a Wiimote and Nunchuk at retail is like catching a glimpse of Bigfoot and Nessie partying together in their undersea Unicorn castle.

Things are looking pretty good for the Wii alright. But could it be flash in the pan? A fad? Dare I say… a novelty?

When 2007 is over and done with, will Wii still be relevant? Here’s some stuff that could totally sink this awesome console:

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Why the Gamecube Failed

GraveCubeI love the GameCube to pieces. So it pains me to call my boxy little friend a failure.

But, a failure it was. I know it made buckets of money. And yes, I know that Nintnedo was doing just fine during the GameCube years. And, I know that the Cube had some of the best games of the last generation.

But despite all that, I still consider the console a failure. Find out why after the jump.

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5 Unexpected Reasons to Adore OS X

Happy macA little less than a year ago I switched from Windows to Mac. I find that with OSX I find myself looking forward to the joy of working with my computer, rather than dreading the million little headaches and hangups I might have to deal with to get basic things done.

I knew going in that I would enjoy using the Mac more. But, what I wasn’t expecting were the million little things in OSX that sounded gimmicky at first, but actually make a huge difference in your user experience. I still use Windows at work, and it drives me crazy that I don’t have these features.

  1. Spotlight / Quicksilver: I don’t like having to deal with file management. I love the fact that on OSX I can let the computer worry about computer things, like where to store information, and I can access that information just by typing one word.
  2. No Viruses or Malware: On Windows, the internet is a terrifying minefield. Every website and file is a potential enemy looking to gunk up my computer with spyware and viruses. To combat these foes, I need things like ZoneAlarm and various spyware sweepers. On OS X, the internet is a garden paradise free from predators and worry.
  3. F9, F10, & F11 (Exposé): At first I thought Exposé was just one of those neat visual tricks, like the genie effect, with no real practical value. But I was totally wrong. Being able to layout all of your windows, tab through them, or slide them all off the desktop is absolutely essential to working in a multi-window environment. In fact, it’s completely insane to try and work without it. This, more than anything, drives me crazy at work.
  4. Preview: On the PC, I have a few different programs that I use for browsing various image file formats, other programs I use for viewing PDFs and documents, and still others for viewing different types of media. It’s not uncommon to have a file open (slowly) in the wrong program when all I wanted to do is get a quick sense of what’s in it. On OS X, it’s easy to preview pretty much every file type imaginable straight from the OS.
  5. Mounting and Ejecting stuff: Windows has a secret icon in the taskbar tray that lets you know when you’ve connected a USB device (like an iPod). If you just unplug the device without clicking on the secret icon and navigating through multiple screens of USB gibberish, you get, at a minimum, a stern admonition. At most, all of your data is destroyed. On OS X you need to eject these devices too. But they appear as icons on the desktop that look like the thing they are. When it’s time to eject, you drag them to “eject”. If you want to use them, you don’t have to dig down into “My Computer”. you just click on them.
    Well… Of course you do. That’s how it should work.

If you’ve been following Vista development, you probably know that Microsoft is incorporating similar features into Vista (Okay, not the Virus / Malware free one). I know a lot of long time Mac users are a bit peeved with Microsoft for stealing these ideas from OS X. But, as someone who has to use Windows to make a living, I look forward to seeing these good ideas on as many platforms as possible.