Tag Archives: games

Steve Jobs and ET

I watched two documentaries last week. The first was “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine”, which I somewhat regret paying $7 to rent. It had its moments, but also seemed to become more negative and dramatic the longer it went on. I guess we should all hope to be so lucky and famous to have people try to bring out the best and worst of us.

The second documentary I watched was “Atari: Game Over”, which was free on Netflix. It was great, interspersing a history of the rise and fall of Atari with the effort to dig up the ET game cartridges supposedly buried in New Mexico. Highly recommended.

Holiday Wii Giveaway and Twitter

A few months ago I was in Target and they had some Wiis in stock, so on an impulse I bought one. I’ve owned a Wii since launch day, but I had this idea to give one away for Christmas as an experiment to help promote Wii Transfer. I sat on the idea for a while, listened to feedback from others, and finally “rolled it out this morning”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/giveaway/ with two methods to enter: web form (with field to notify a friend about the giveaway) and via Twitter (by sending a reply to @wii).

Unfortunately there was a major snag with the Twitter idea. It turns out that @wii replies won’t show up in my Replies tab (or RSS feed) in Twitter unless the user posting the tweet is already following “twitter.com/wii”:http://twitter.com/wii. I now regret not making that a requirement, but I also know that it would have hurt the simplicity of entering via Twitter.

So what’s the solution? For now, a combination of things. I am now tracking every tweet that contains “wii” (try it, there are some fun ones), which I will aggregate with the standard replies as well as results from a search on “Terraminds”:http://terraminds.com/twitter/ to fill in any of the tweets I missed. It’s all a bit cumbersome because the tracking results come through IM (luckily iChat transcripts are XML now).

It feels very fragile, but hopefully I won’t miss any entries. There’s no cost to submitting multiple times, so consider sending another @wii tweet next week or entering with the web form to guarantee you’re in the drawing. If in doubt, re-read the “last line on the fine print”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/giveaway/.

MacSanta and Wii Transfer 1.5

“Wii Transfer”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ is now listed as part of the “MacSanta promotion”:http://www.macsanta.com/. Only $7 through Christmas day!

I also released Wii Transfer 1.5 late last night. The major change in this version is support for automatically backing up saved game data files from an SD card. The Nintendo Wii by default does not save games to SD cards, but it’s easy in the Wii settings interface to copy your saved games to an SD card or restore later. If Wii Transfer is running when you insert an SD card into your Mac, it will automatically copy the saved games to your hard drive (in Application Support), organizing them by date. Then there’s a simple UI for restoring the games back to an SD card. “Here’s a short screencast”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/screencast_backup.mov if you are curious what it looks like.

One neat part of this that I was able to do — and this is consistent with the whole point of Wii Transfer, improving the experience of transferring Wii data — is to show the real game names in the restore list. The data files actually use a 4-character code, but “WiiSave.com”:http://www.wiisave.com/ is maintaining a list of codes to real names. I’ve baked a portion of that list into Wii Transfer 1.5, and the application also automatically downloads an updated list from the Riverfold web site so that as new games are released, Wii Transfer will know about them.

Now head over to “MacSanta”:http://www.macsanta.com/ and pick up some great Mac applications, all 20% off.

Carcasonne

I picked up the board game “Carcasonne”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005UNAX?ie=UTF8&tag=mantonorg&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00005UNAX/ a few weeks ago and have been enjoying it. It’s great to see some innovation in board games again, and it’s a relaxing change of pace from video games. Target and the other big box stores are still mostly packed with remakes of classic board games, which are fine, but if you seek out the more speciality shops there’s a range of good stuff available. I bought my copy at “Dragon’s Lair”:http://www.dlair.net/, a local Austin comics and games shop that I’ve been frequenting for about 15 years, but I’ve seen it featured prominently at other quality toy stores.

I originally sought out Carcasonne for play between adults, but I’ve found the game also works great for kids even younger than the 8 years recommended on the box. Just follow a few rule simplifications. First, no farmers. Next, as recommended by someone in an Amazon review, use the word “traveler” instead of thief. And finally, just score a single point for any completed castle, road, or cloister. Part of the charm of the game is in constructing the map anyway, so these simplified rules make for fast and enjoyable games for younger children.

Gameplay photo

Video Games podcast

My second podcast episode is about video game music. You can download it here, or subscribe to the new podcast feed in iTunes.

» Download (MP3, 13.4MB)

» “Audio-only RSS feed”:http://www.manton.org/audio.xml (drag to iTunes)

I started working on this last year but it quickly became too ambitious and stalled. I picked it up again just a couple of days ago, simplified it considerably, and got it done. As usual, I learned a bunch, and look forward to improving a few things for the next one. Enjoy!

And some related links for the topic covered:

Buy at Amazon: “Lumines”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/B0007VDF22&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325, “Electroplankton”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/B000CI8EXA&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325, “Katamari Damacy”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/B0002Y2XXQ&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325

All games at Gamespot: “Zelda”:http://www.gamespot.com/nes/adventure/legendofzelda/, “Tetris”:http://www.gamespot.com/gameboy/puzzle/tetris/, “Super Mario World”:http://www.gamespot.com/snes/action/supermarioworld/, “Super Metroid”:http://www.gamespot.com/snes/action/supermetroid/, “Ys Book I & II”:http://www.gamespot.com/turbocd/rpg/ysbookiii/, “Myst”:http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/myst/, “Electroplankton”:http://www.gamespot.com/ds/puzzle/electroplankton/, “Ocarina of Time”:http://www.gamespot.com/n64/adventure/legendofzeldaoot/, “Lumines”:http://www.gamespot.com/psp/puzzle/lumines/, “Myth”:http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/myththefallenlords/, “Katamari Damacy”:http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/katamaridamashii/

Remix credits: “Super Mario World by Jason Cox”:http://www.archive.org/audio/audio-details-db.php?collection=opensource_audio&collectionid=xoc_SMW, “Super Metroid by The Wingless”:http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR01048/

Game history: “TurboGrafx-16”:http://www.classicgaming.com/museum/tg16/, “Ys I and II (Classic Gaming)”:http://www.classicgaming.com/ninjagaiden/ys/music/ys12pce.html, “Ys I and II (PC Engine Bible)”:http://pcenginebible.roarvgm.com/HTML_Games/Ys_I_II.htm

Music archives: “VGMusic.com”:http://www.vgmusic.com/, “Zophar’s Game Music Archives”:http://www.zophar.net/music.html

More links: “Composing with Electroplankton”:http://www.milezero.org/index.cgi/gaming/society/art/composing_with_electroplankton_toc.html, “Video game music emulators”:http://www.bannister.org/software/vgmusic.htm, “Bungie’s Myth”:http://www.altpop.com/stc/reviews/myth.htm, “Myth II demo”:http://projectmagma.net/what/, “Ocarina instrument”:http://www.songbirdocarina.com/

More gaming, year 2

At the beginning of last year “I wrote about my new Game Boy Advance”:http://www.manton.org/2005/01/new_year_gaming.html and how it was finally the system that pulled me back into gaming, something that consoles and computer games could not do. A year later, the PSP is out, the DS is selling well (I own one), and the Xbox 360 is off to a solid start. So what happened with the questions I raised, in particular in regards to 2d games and Game Boy Advance games?

Sadly, earlier this year Nintendo hinted that there may never be a successor to the Game Boy Advance. Their “three pillar” strategy sounded good last year, but the DS turned out much better than anyone had hoped. With the DS Lite fixing all the major design problems with the original DS, it now seems more likely that Nintendo will focus on the Wii and let great DS games drive the handheld market until a next-gen DS becomes needed.

2d games, on the other hand, have seen something of a resurgence. Sonic Rush for the DS has the same feel as the Genesis games. New Super Mario Bros is also fantastic. The PSP has a beautiful if quirky 2d game coming soon in the form of “RocoLoco”:http://locoroco.com/index.html. Even the Xbox 360 has its share of 2d games on Xbox Live, and at E3 Nintendo announced a “2d GameCube game set in the Paper Mario universe”:http://www.n-sider.com/articleview.php?articleid=515. Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection has breathed new life into that original Game Boy game, Tetris; 4-player internet play with “items” is a completely new Tetris and more fun than I would have imagined.

Peterb’s essay “Design of Everyday Games”:http://www.tleaves.com/weblog/archives/000637.html has some great insight into game design complexity, using Advance Wars and other 2d games in several examples.

From the October 2005 Nintendo Power, Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi says:

bq. “2-D gaming can provide such a great game design–games with definite and solid gameplay. From a presentation standpoint, it may lack what 3-D can do, but let me yell once again, what games need are fun and exciting elements! 2-D games offer these things.”

No question, 2d is here to stay, and it’s only getting better. The Game Boy Advance had a good run, but now it’s time to say goodbye. See Modojo’s “The GBA’s Last Stand”:http://www.modojo.com/features/20060524/77/.