Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Battlefield Heroes Beta Keys

Heaps of Beta keys have been released for battlefield heroes if you sign up to one of the partners. Check out the announcement! I got mine!

Game Controversy: Or Maybe Not

Game Politics reports Faith Fighter a game released over a year ago in 2008 has recently been noticed by 'religious groups' that are now calling for its removal off the internet. Gamer blogs like Kotaku note the extremely long period of time in which religious groups took to even notice that game. A quick glance of the actual Faith Fighter website shows the following response:

On Monday April 27 a misleading article titled "Calls to ban online game of Holy hatred" was posted on the tabloid newspaper Metro UK.

As often happens on the Internet and in our nowadays lightspeed mediasphere, the news got re-posted and further distorted by several other sources.

We feel compelled to give some clarifications:

- The game has been around for more than a year, it got international news coverage, it has been played by millions of player on the Internet and it has been exhibited in several artistic venues around the world.

- So far we received a couple of letters of complaints from individual catholic players but NO communications from any religious organization.

- The whole article on Metro UK is misleading, we assume the anonymous journalist pointed the game to the 3 individuals in order to get statements and give the impression that some kind of huge controversy was happening. At the present moment NO official statements from actual organizations related to the game can be found.

- The "censored" version was part of the game since the beginning, it is in NO WAY a response to protests from religious organizations.

- The anonymous journalist from Metro UK never contacted us, the sentences "The makers of the game ... have shrugged off criticism" and "the spokesman of Italian-based molleindustria said..." is simply a fantasy of the amateur journalist looking to spice up a blunt article.

Said that the game was obviously meant to be provocative but it was more meant to be a response/complement to the one-way western satire of the infamous Danish Mohammed cartoons.

So what we have here is an almost artificial controversy generated by the Metro UK.

At the same time we have another report by Game Politics that the controversial game Six days in Fallujah has been dropped by Konami with all the bad press it has been receiving. As with any other media, controversial topics such as this in the US tend to become less controversial as time goes on.

If we remember, Francis Ford Copolla's Apocalypse Now, now regarded as a masterpiece of film, was surrounded by controversey as the Vietname war was a sensitive topic at the time. Today however, we have games like Battlefield Vietnam and Shellshock: Nam which seem to have flown completely under the conservative radar. We also have modern games like Full Spectrum Warrior which was developed with the assistance of the US army which takes place in a fictional middle eastern country close to Iraq and Afghanistan. In some ways this controversy shows a double standard and a jarring one at that. Time does heal wounds and I suspect games like Six days will eventually be made. But not in today's political climate.

I think these demonstrate the failure of a democratic society to uphold the concept of 'freedom of speech'. Freedom of speech isn't about allowing you to say something 30 years after its occurred when nobody cares anymore, it's about the freedom to debate about the topics while they are still 'hot' so you can influence society or provide a commentary on it. If film makers or game makers want to make a documentary we should support their right to do so.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Web 2.0 has Matured

Recent news shows MySpace continuing to lose ground to Facebook while Geocities is now closing and Windows Live as also launched a new social network type interface.

All this activity It looks like Web 2.0 has finally reached the mature phase of development completely booting out Web 1.0 . The social web is now part of the mainstream surfing experience. For example, I now expect every site to have an RSS feed for me to subscribe to and I expect the ability to share links via Facebook. Web 2.0 has transformed the way we think about the web now and what we demand from the web.

So what's the next phase? Well many commentators say its the mobile web. I also believe the metaweb will increasingly become important. What do I mean by metaweb? I'll post about that later in more detail but check out Nethernet or Rocketon for a hint of what I mean.

Mother 3 Translation

Mother, or Earthbound as it is known in the US is a fairly successful series in Japan. It's an RPG which takes place in a fairly modern setting where the main characters use baseball bats and everyday items to attack. Only Earthbound (number 2 in the Mother series) ever made it in English. I've finished Earthbound but I didn't really think too much of it frankly. Games like Breath of Fire, Persona and Final Fantasy appeal to me more I guess.

Anyway, Mother 3 was released on the Gameboy Advance and the English fan translation was recently completed. I've played about the first hour of the game and I still don't understand why everyone thinks its great. Perhaps its charm lies in the almost serene clear nature of the game, the eco-friendly themes, the simple graphics that harken back to a more innocent time along with the concepts of a warm loving nuclear family. Who knows? I prefer games like Shin Megami Tensei with its serious dark tones and philosophical underpinnings.

Anyway, go check out the translation patch here.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

League of Legends

DOTA (defense of the ancients) is a very popular Warcraft III mod focused around heroes. There are troops and defence towers but you don't actually control them, you just control your hero. As your hero fights the hero gains experience and gold which can be used to upgrade your hero. It's best described as Real Time Tactics as opposed to Real Time Strategy as the base building has been completely removed.

The recently released Demigod is a good example of a professional game based around the idea. League of legends, is another game that is currently in the works with similar gameplay. Part of the time worked on the DOTA mod which is quite an interesting piece of news. With such similar games being released, it's inevitable that people will compare them. I'll be keeping a close eye on both to see which is more successful.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Pirate's Dilemma - Free

Torrent Freak previously posted a guest post by Matt Mason about piracy. In the post, Matt reminds us of reasons one of the reasons why piracy exists is a failure in the current market system.

I wasn't familiar with who Matt Mason was so I decided to check out his website called The Pirate's Dilemma. What Torrent Freak didn't mention was that Matt Mason has published a book called The Pirate's Dilemma and according to the website is
the first book in the history of the world to hit the number one spot on Amazon’s economics/free enterprise bestseller list, and the rap bestseller list, at the same time
. It's also available for purchase online on his site. You can determine the price you pay so you can download for $0 if you like.
The book covers a variety of topics surrounding piracy and also reminds us that the actions of today's filesharers are very similar to the actions taken by other youths of other periods in history. An interesting read and it costs as much as you want. So go check it out and tell more people about it.

Update: Looking at Twitter, a lot of people have twitted on the TorrentFreak post but no one seems to have realised you can download Matt Mason's book for free on the official website.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Prince of Persia - Epilogue

The latest Prince of Persia was released without DRM from Ubisoft at the end of last year. Ubisoft remained fairly sceptical that this would maintain sales as Ars Technica and Torrent Freak state.

Earlier this year Prince of Persia: Epilogue was quietly released for the consoles as downloadable content. Unfortunately Shack News reports that it won't be coming to PC due to 'business reasons'.

Does this mean that Prince of Persia isn't selling well enough on the PC and Ubisoft isn't willing to release it on PC? I hope not, but I can't help but read between the lines when I read this report. Hopefully Ubisoft will release some figures on how well Prince of Persia is doing later this year.

Residual: Grimm Emulator

If you're a big fan of 2D adventure games like Secret of Monkey Island and Broken Sword, then you probably know of SCUMMVM which is an emulator to play those games.

But if you're wondering how to play later games like Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island which use a 3D engine called GrimE you'll need to use a spin-off of the SCUMMVM project, Residual.

Residual's aim is to emulate the GrimE engine so those games can be played on modern systems. They've just obtained their own site so keep a close eye on it. Hopefully you'll soon be able to play Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island the way it should be.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Internet Safety: Norton Online Family

Webware reports that Norton Online Family is leaving beta will be remaining free until the end of 2009. What's different from other online family suites is the it's focus on creating a dialogue between children and the parents on what's safe and what's not.

As Webware says:

This parental control suite provides parents with an interesting and possibly unique approach to online child safety. Norton Online Family does provide a blacklist, boilerplate for most parental control software. However, the suite offers more than just an on/off switch, and provides tools that encourage communication between parents and their children.

There's a wide range of control over what sites a child can access. The restrictions can vary from a strict no-access policy that can block specific sites and site categories, to a more lenient notification e-mail sent to the parents when the child visits sites that parents merely want to me warned about. On the child's side, kids are given the option of e-mailing their parents when they're blocked--if the parents allow those e-mails the first place.

Jody Gibney, product manager for Norton Online Family, said, "We want to encourage a different philosophical approach, encouraging parents to talk to kids instead of setting up an adversarial relationship." To further that, the program's House Rules can be customized to suit the needs of individual children within each family, a useful feature since a teenager will have different browsing and social networking interests than an 8-year-old.

It seems like they must have hired some psychologists to work on the actual product. For example, in the help section there is a section entitled Start the Talk. It's interesting to note that on the Norton website there is an actual Family Resource Center where parents can go for advice as well.

It apparently monitors social networks as well so parents can see what kids are doing online.

Game Development: What went Wrong?

Gamasutra has a good article on game development entitled What Went Wrong? Learning From Past Postmortems. Check it out. Morale of the story: Even relatively famous game studios make mistakes and it's important to treat your game company as business.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Celebrating Earth Day 2009

It's Earth Day 2009. And so here are a couple of websites you could check out for Green idea.
Green Technology
Earth Day Network

And since I'm a gamer, here are a couple of old biology or green oriented games you can try looking for. But try them tomorrow as a way of saving power and being greener today!
Eco Quest
Bioscopia: Where Science Conquers Evil
Sim Earth
Star Wars: Episode I - The Gungan Frontier

Check out the list of educational/nature games on Mobygames here.

One final piece of news: In Wellington New Zealand you get free coffee.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Where do Virtual Worlds Go? - Shadowbane Closure

Ubisoft has announced that Shadowbane a MMO that has been running since 2003 is to be closed. Alas the shadow has won and another virtual world is destroyed.

Instead of books, the rise of the internet has allowed us to created virtual worlds. I believe that virtual world have become an important cultural marker of our society. One only has to look at the effect Ultima Online, Everquest and Second Life have all impacted our lives.

In the same way that we preserve books and old films; from an academic point of view, I can't bear the thought of a beautifully crafted virtual world simply locked away and hidden. The code, graphical assets, music and social interactions should be preserved for future studies if possible. No doubt, the data we see will disappear into the Ubisoft vaults and remain locked away, probably forgotten for another fifty years. I think that is a shame.

It is heartening to know that there has been some momentum in the US academic world. Check out Museum Virtual Worlds, Preserving virtual worlds and The US library of Congress Digital Preservation.

Currently, they are mostly concerned with preserving screenshots of these virtual worlds, however they are currently also looking at preserving the code and assets which can only be a good thing for us!

Internet Brain Implants - Twitter Unleashed

Readwrite Web reports on scientists developing a brain scanning device that allows people to twitter. In essence the device recognises the brain patterns that occur when thinking about a alphabet letter and converts it to that letter.

The technology behind this is actually quite old if you look in any psychology text book so for a graduate of psychology this news isn't a breakthrough. Scientists have long been able to convert brain waves into characters or other forms of output. According to most textbooks I read in university, it took about a minute or so for a single letter.

Wired reports back in 2005 that we already have brain computer interface experiments to improve the quality of life of the quadriplegics. As you can read from the article it is unfortunately exhausting to the person. Anyway, the wikipedia article on brain-computer interface is a good starting point for more info.

Readwriteweb is definitely right in saying that the student is riding pop culture by using Twitter to upload that information

So where does that leave us with brain-computer interface? Well Readwrite web has an article on The Internet Brain Implant: Why We Should Say No. In my opinion however, here are a couple of good reasons we should get a brain implant:

  • Humans are social animals - Humans love to share info. Look at mobile phone texting and e-mail. We have stories about teenagers who text nonstop!
  • Net Generation - Our generation is more comfortable with technology and the internet. In two or three generations who knows what a 10 year old will be able to do on the internet? For them having a brain implant might be as indispensable as a new mobile phone for a teenager's social life. Readwriteweb says that mobile is moving fast but that's precisely why we will end up with brain implants. It's becomes more acceptable to augment yourself with technology. And a brain implant is lighter and easier than having to carry a phone around.
  • Better Quality of Life - Truth is, our quality of life has been improving thanks to technology. Brain-computer interfaces might be the way might be a way for people with disabilities to be even more productive. As above, a quadriplegic might still lead a very productive life as a designer or a magazine editor.
  • Better Life Opportunities - Parents are often concerned with making sure children do their best at school. This is why parents buy computers and subscribe to broadband internet even if they don't use it for themselves. They recognise that information technology is essential for their children's future.
  • Digital Divide - In a similar vein, developing nations like China, Singapore and Korea know that IT is the way of the future. Part of their rapid growth and improvement in standard of living is due to the high-tech industries located within these countries. They will be pursuing this avenue if they believe it will increase their economic growth, I guarantee it.

Google Launches Similar Images

Google Labs has just announced Google Similar Images and Google News Timeline.

Try playing around with both.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Reality TV - Web 2.0 style

Asiajin reports of a web blogger Rie Tomimoto that sells her time and will blog about whatever her clients want with some exceptions. Not that I know much about it but I assume she would do things like give her opinion on food or maybe visit a theme park and snap photos and report like that or maybe find out out the best

The closest thing in Western culture would be daytime talk shows or reality TV. For me being Chinese, what she is doing is very similar to a night time variety show which is an asian version of a talk show. Usually in those night time variety shows, there will be a topic or theme which they base that episode upon along with more regular segments.

This is certainly an interesting development and really is like a Web 2.0 extension of the above mentioned shows except instead of having a large production study and having to buy TV time, it's by one person.

Hmm...you know I'd like to offer my time for hire to record and review my progress in a computer game. Any takers? It's only $25 an hour and you have to send me the computer game for review.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Battlefield Heroes Beta

Battlefield Heroes is a light weight multiplayer FPS that is free to play and will be funded by microtransactions. It's been in development for quite a while and it's now open for beta testing again. So grab your bazooka and checkout Battlefield Heroes' cartoon combat! Just be aware there may be a wait before you get your beta key.

If you've been following the news, you'll also know that it's main competition at this time is Quake Live which is a browser based multiplayer FPS based off Quake III. Who will survive?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Jamendo and Super Cheap Auto

And here I thought Jamendo was to 'European' for us. Jamendo has just completed a deal with the car store Super Cheap Auto in Australia and New Zealand where their stores can now play music from Jamendo's professional catalogue. This means that Super Cheap Auto doesn't have to pay license fees to APRA-AMCOS . You can read up more about APRA here. According to APRA-AMCOS rates available on their website, it's about AU$495 a year for 5 or more devices in an area up from 150 to 499 square metres.

There are differences betwen licensing from either organisation of course. I'm not familiar with every aspect but for me the key differences are:
  • APRA maintains an exclusive right to all works by artists while Jamendo doesn't. Jamendo has a non-exclusive right to the music
  • Artists using Jamendo are using the creative commons license which means its free for private use

Social Wikis from Wikidot in development

Wikidot has just released announced that they are developing a new version of their home page which furthers their goal of making a social network of Wikis/websites. Furthermore, it's similar to iGoogle or Netvibes so you can customise it with widgets. This is certainly an interesting development. This makes it more attractive for someone to hold a Wikidot account, much like how everyone has an e-mail or blog or Facebook account now.

I've often thought of wikis as social club where users can add info and discuss their favourite subject like comics or computer games. I think this only makes wikis even more integrated with our digital lives.

Pirate Bay Trial

Torrent Freak reports that the verdict for the Pirate Bay Trail has come to an end. Unfortunately, all defendants were found guilt. Perhaps more disturbing in the Torrent Freak report is the following:

The judge also stated that the usage of BitTorrent at The Pirate Bay is illegal. Rest assured, other torrent sites hosted in Sweden will be keeping a close eye on developments.


While the judge won’t be getting any flowers for this verdict, Roger Wallis who spoke in favor of The Pirate Bay at their trial and received a mountain of floral tributes in return, noted, “This will cause a flood of court cases. Against all the ISPs. Because if these guys assisted in copyright infringements, then the ISPs also did. This will have huge consequences. The entire development of broadband may be stalled.”
This case which has been watched closely by everyone in the world has ended with the copyright holders winning this round. There is of course, a court of appeal. I think Pirate Bay kind of shot itself in the foot with its pirate image however. I mean, they call themselves pirate bay after all.

Perhaps a better test case is the Mininova case. Mininova has a policy of taking down torrents should they be contacted by the copyright holder. Mininova also acts with copyright holders who wish to promote their works via bittorrent. Part of the case is to do with whether they should actively filter the information.

If the Mininova case does not go well, then I believe that the anti-piracy movement has gone too far and its actions as Roger Wallis believes, these actions will not benefit society in the short, medium or long term. The only organisation it would benefit is the copyright holders associations and maybe not even the artists!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Grim Fandango Models

Grim Fandango remains one of the best adventure games ever made and you should play it if you ever get a chance.

Anyway, Kotaku reports that Iain Reekie, decided to make some models of the characters Manny and Glottis. Cool. Too bad these aren't for sale...

Australia Censorship of Necrovision

Recently the issue of Australian censorship of a violet game Necrovision has continues to

What is most perplexing is that fact that the board can not give a R18 rating as the rating goes only as high as M15 in Australia. It seems simple enough to treat games as the same as movies and TV but apparently not. To me it is clear that in Australian law games are not considered a media form like TV or film but rather considered a form of 'childish toy'. 'Toys' that only children and teenagers (15 years of age and below) can play.

But why should this concern us in New Zealand? Games are subject to the same classification as films and TV shows here so we shouldn't be too worried right? Well, the reason for concern is that Australia and New Zealand gaming markets are very closely intertwined. New Zealand itself is considered too small a market. and many of our retailers here stock Australian versions of games. In New Zealand for example our release of Grand Theft Auto IV was the censored Australian version. Although New Zealand law is different economies of scale dictate we get whatever the Australians get.

From my perspective this is clearly a 'freedom of speech' problem which the Australians need to address. Treating video games as merely a 'childish toy' does not serve society. Many gamers are now adults and it is important for us to start treating a video game console as a medium like film or TV.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Scarygirl Game

Indie Games reports that the Scarygirl game is now available for free. Cool. Check out more about Scarygirl and the flash game on the official website.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Two Multiplayer 'God' Games Released - Experimental Study

If you've been keeping up with the news then you'll know that two multiplayer RTS god-type games have been released recently. The first is Battleforge and the second is Demigod. It will be interesting to see how both do as both are strategy and both are multiplayer oriented games.

Battleforge is an RTS where players uses spell cards to summon creatures and cast spells and requires players to capture certain points to gain the resource to use those spells. The game relies on a microtransaction model where you have to purchase cards in order build a deck of spells and creatures.
Demigods is an RTS where players choose a demigod and help capture points as their armies wage war. You can upgrade your demigod as you gain more experience.

Demigod has followed a more traditional method where you purchase the game once and it's free to play on the multiplayer servers. You will find demigod available for purchase in stores and also online as a digital download. They also plant to release new heroes several months from now. So updates are free.

Battleforge on the other hand has gone the more experimental route. The game itself is free to download but in order to play you need to make your own deck by purchasing cards in card packs. It utilises the microtransaction model in other words and cards are random generated from packs. Updates will take the place of cards so you have to pay for the updates so to speak.

I would love to get my hands on both games (hint hint).

Anyway, here are my predictions for both games.

Demigod - Will take the normal RTS route like Supreme Commander. It will sell relatively well and remain popular for about a year. There will be a small but dedicated cult following after a three years and we will have a sequel around that time.

Battleforge - I really wish this game will succeed, looking at the relatively negative reviews about possibly gameplay imbalance I think the developers need to better manage the perception of their card based model and show that you don't need an expensive deck to win and that you can win with common cards. I also believe their experimental microtransaction model may need the same public relations make over to make it seem fairer but we'll see how things go. We will no doubt see several small card updates during the year and I feel that there will be less frequent but large updates starting from about 9 months from now.

I think Battleforge will last around 3 years before being handed over to the community for free development or shut down. In my opinion if Battleforge is to succeed they need to tap into social network worlds like Gaia Online and really engage players with an amazing fantasy world that doesn't stop when you stop playing the strategy game.

* Please note that these predictions are based on nothing more than what I think. I don't have any hard evidence. Throw in your opinion as well!

Castlevania Chronicles

Castlevania Chronicles is a Playstation game that is a very close remake of an older Castlevania game which means this game has nail biting, hair pulling, controller smashing difficulty. So don't play it unless you are one of those really enjoy playing levels over and over and over again. Because it is hard. Extremely hard and only serious (completely insane) gamers need apply. That being said, because it's so hard when you do finish it you'll definitely feel a true sense of accomplishment marred only by the fact that you want to throw this game away now.

By the way, I was playing on Easy and I still found it nail bitingly difficult.

Shumps - Shoot em ups

Shootthecore reports on a good shoot-em-up site called Ultimate Shump Universe. Good site with lots of Youtube videos if you're a fan of shoot-em-ups.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Competitive Starcraft

The New York Times reports of the Collegiate Starcraft League which hosts competitive Starcraft tournaments between colleges. So far about 27 colleges have signed up it to.

It's interesting to note how the popularity of Starcraft continues to influence society and culture. In many ways, a game of Starcraft is like a game of chess but unlike chess, I think Starcraft has more appeal since its real time and animated. It's much cooler to watch space marines tear up zerglings than a knight attack a bishop (anybody remember battle chess?).

This is a another step forward computer games are making into 'mainstream' culture. Although Starcraft is kind of old isn't it? I thought they would have chosen Warcraft III rather than Starcraft.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

First ever Twitter Fic Contest?

Here's something interesting. The Bookviewcafe.com is holding the first ever Twitter Fic Contest. The rules state you have to create a complete story in your tweet. Talk about tough! That's 126 characters or less for your story! As if things weren't tough enough the theme is Elf vs Vampire.

Baen Free Library

This is another website that offers some ebooks for free. Many of the books made for free are already physically published books that can be found in the library or bookstore. On the home page, we have Eric Flint, one of the authors who has made his books free discussing his view on ebooks and why he made his books for free. It was indeed his opinion that led to the Baen free library website.

His opinion sums up why digital piracy may be beneficial:

1. Online piracy — while it is definitely illegal and immoral — is, as a practical problem, nothing more than (at most) a nuisance. We're talking brats stealing chewing gum, here, not the Barbary Pirates.

2. Losses any author suffers from piracy are almost certainly offset by the additional publicity which, in practice, any kind of free copies of a book usually engender. Whatever the moral difference, which certainly exists, the practical effect of online piracy is no different from that of any existing method by which readers may obtain books for free or at reduced cost: public libraries, friends borrowing and loaning each other books, used book stores, promotional copies, etc.

3. Any cure which relies on tighter regulation of the market — especially the kind of extreme measures being advocated by some people — is far worse than the disease. As a widespread phenomenon rather than a nuisance, piracy occurs when artificial restrictions in the market jack up prices beyond what people think are reasonable. The "regulation-enforcement-more regulation" strategy is a bottomless pit which continually recreates (on a larger scale) the problem it supposedly solves. And that commercial effect is often compounded by the more general damage done to social and political freedom.

In the course of this debate, I mentioned it to my publisher Jim Baen. He more or less virtually snorted and expressed the opinion that if one of his authors — how about you, Eric? — were willing to put up a book for free online that the resulting publicity would more than offset any losses the author might suffer.

The minute he made the proposal, I realized he was right. After all, Dave Weber's On Basilisk Station has been available for free as a "loss leader" for Baen's for-pay experiment "Webscriptions" for months now. And — hey, whaddaya know? — over that time it's become Baen's most popular backlist title in paper!

And so I volunteered my first novel, Mother of Demons, to prove the case. And the next day Mother of Demons went up online, offered to the public for free.

Sure enough, within a day, I received at least half a dozen messages (some posted in public forums, others by private email) from people who told me that, based on hearing about the episode and checking out Mother of Demons, they either had or intended to buy the book. In one or two cases, this was a "gesture of solidarity. "But in most instances, it was because people preferred to read something they liked in a print version and weren't worried about the small cost — once they saw, through sampling it online, that it was a novel they enjoyed. (Mother of Demons is a $5.99 paperback, available in most bookstores. Yes, that a plug. )

Anyway, check it out. There is a small selection but if you're fan of science fiction or fantasy novels I think you'll find some gems.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Gaming Political Climate: Freedom!

Recently I learned of a game called Freedom! by MECC, the company that brought us Oregon Trail and other edutainment titles, that was pulled from the shelves due to controversy. What exactly was the controversy? Well Freedom is a game where you play a slave during a time when slavery was still in America trying to reach the North via the Underground railroad network.

One of the features in the game for example is where you might choose to play an illiterate slave where signs are simply unreadable and require deciphering. Also there is possibility of dying in the game being caught by dogs. It was pulled from shelves for being racially offensive amongst other things.

Reading an old article from Atari Magazines, one gets the feeling that the game itself is far from racially offensive and rather is trying to accurately as possible portray the historical situation. Having played previous games by MECC such as Amazon Trail and Oregon Trail I have no doubt the game contents would have been throughly researched before being included and that any implied racism is in fact part of the 'authenticity' of the game itself.

Unfortunately it's hard to find a copy so fingers cross I can locate a source for it and perhaps review it for myself.

One thing that really bugs me is if it was say a book or film, would it have been pulled from the shelves? And what if it had been released now? I think this is a clear indication of the double standard that is applied to games when comapared to 'traditional' media.

Free Music Archive: Another Free Music Site

Read Write Web reports of a new music site opening up offering free legal downloads! Great! It's good news but I kind of think compared to Jamendo's stats of 18000 albums Free Music Archive's 5000 songs seem a little small...

Friday, 10 April 2009

Torrents and Public Broadcasting

TorrentFreak reports that the BBC is starting to move into BitTorrent and will be releasing shows under the creative commons license allowing downloaders the chance to share This is a big step up for public broadcasters.

Most public broadcasters such as Television New Zealand included have a broadcasting mandate to provide some form of 'public service' including archival. Any member of the public for example, can request something from the broadcasting archives for personal use for example.

A key problem with this mandate of public service is that information is locked away and can't be browsed nor shared despite the advances in modern IT technology which would. Can a public broadcaster be said to be performing its mandate of public service when information remains under lock and key? Wouldn't TVNZ be better serving the public if it made available old TVNZ shows via bittorrent, maybe TVNZ documentaries?

This is a step in the right direction for public broadcasters. I hope TVNZ will follow suit.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Achron Time Travel RTS

Someone has finally done it. They've finally made a time travel RTS! Unlike other games where 'time travel' effects are merely a buzzword for teleportation, speed boosts or fancy paralysis effects, this is a genuine time travel game where you can go back in time and change your orders preventing units from being destroyed or even sending units from the future to assist your units in the past.

Your opponent can also do the same which will make for interesting multiplayer battles. Of course, there is a limit to how much meddling you can perform which is determined by your chrono energy. The further in time you are, the more chrno energy you consume. I'm still a little confused over the details but watch the videos. They explain a lot of the concepts

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 4: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective

A little history, Strong Bad is a character on Homestar Runner which is a flash internet cartoon. If you visit the Homestar Runner website you'll be introduced the entire concept. It's quite flash heavy so watch out!

Anyway, Telltale games from Sam & Max fame partnered with Homestar Runner to deliver a brand new adventure series based around Strong Bad, one of the main characters in the universe.

I downloaded Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 4: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective from Telltale games online during one of their promotions and tried it out. The story involves Strong Bad making a spy movie.

Unfortunately I suspect much of the humour went over my head because:
  • I'm not a fan of spy movies
  • I'm not familiar with the Homestar Runner universe and the characters were sometimes playing as themselves and sometimes as characters in the spy movie.
As such I feel that I have to give it a thumbs down as a 'promotional' episode. I can forgive the fact that many of the spy jokes and references go over my head but the fact that that episode didn't properly allow newcomers to the Homestar Runner universe feel at ease with the characters and settings is a poor decision on the part of Telltale Games.

Unlike Sam and Max which I recently bought, I'm not sure if I want to spend my money on Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People series just yet.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Mighty Ape Deal: Razer Diamondback Mouse

If you've been looking for good gaming hardware check out Mighty Ape's special. For NZ$49.99 you get a Razer Diamondback Mouse and the full version of Battlefield 2142. Crazy!


Recently I've been exploring the net for a good place to get free quality music and came across a really good site called Jamendo.

All music on the site is under a creative common license so it's legal to download and share.

According to Jamendo, they currently have over 17000 free music albums available and over half a million registered users. Although it's free for personal listening and sharing, if you're a business or organisation you have to pay to license it. Considering its success I'm surprised the mainstream press haven't heard more about it which is a real shame!

Although I'm not into music, I really enjoyed listening to some of the tracks I personally think that this is a very good sign of where things are heading towards and I believe that a website like Jamendo benefits both artists and users. I really do wish all the best for it.

Check it out here!

Fringe Gamer

Fringe Gamer is a blog about games, web 2.0, technology and whatever else I find interesting and want to share with the world. I'm currently located in Auckland New Zealand so occasionally I'll blog about things in New Zealand.