Introducing: Alt+F1

Danny O'Dwyer and I are doing a podcast about Formula 1. It's called Alt+F1.

YOU MEAN THE F1 VIDEO GAMES?

Nope, the real thing! With champagne and teammate disputes and way too much money! Although we'll probably wind up talking about racing games at some point, too. We are colossal nerds, after all.

WAIT BUT DREW, I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT F1

That's great! Neither do I! Well, actually, I know just enough to know that the sport is WAY more exciting than what it looks like, which is cars going around a track. I'm hoping that by learning more about F1, it will increase my enjoyment of it even more. Maybe the same will happen for you!

Besides, did you know Danny is from Europe? Over there, people know TONS about F1, and love to tell other people about it, especially Americans. It'll be a learning experience for all of us! If all else fails, expect deep philosophical discussions about racing wheels.

WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THIS IN OUR EARHOLES?

Right now we're planning on recording our first episode on March 10. After that, we're thinking of doing an episode before and after each race, which, with races being every other weekend (roughly), means one episode per week (roughly).

The podcast will be posted on the Giant Bomb Premium Podcast feed, but will be free for everyone to listen to on the webpage itself, at least for the foreseeable future.

SOUNDS GREAT, HOW CAN I HELP?

I'm so glad you asked! We need two things: artwork for the podcast "album cover" and music for the intro. I figure the artwork should probably have the words "Alt+F1" on it, and the music should be original, but aside from that, go nuts! If we don't get any submissions, I'll probably just use that one Cake song and a screengrab from Days of Thunder.

185 Comments

Fritos-Breaded Chicken Sandwich with Sriracha Aioli

Now you too can make your own Fritos-crusted Lunchtime Snack for Lunatics, as featured prominently in the most recent I Love Mondays! Also, you can sound totally awesome by adding anything to mayo and calling it an "aioli." Try it!

I adapted this creation from a chicken fingers recipe I found in a great gluten-free cookbook (I'm allergic to gluten) called Cooking For Isaiah. It has quickly become my go-to lunch, simply because it's so quick and easy to make, and because I don't mind eating the same thing four days in a row. On to the alchemy!

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Cut two chicken breasts in half, lengthwise, so you have four flat, wide pieces of chicken.
  • Crush a whole 10oz bag of Fritos (I use a meat tenderizer, because it's fun) and pour the result into a large bowl.
  • Add some black pepper to the bowl (I like pepper, so I add about a teaspoon).
  • In another large bowl, beat three eggs.
  • Grease a baking sheet.
  • Take a piece of chicken and dip it in the Fritos, then into the eggs, then back into the Fritos (get as many as you can on there).
  • Place the chicken onto the baking sheet, then repeat for the rest of the chicken pieces.
  • Put the baking sheet in the oven for 20 min (or until the chicken is fully cooked).

Once it's cooked, I put all the chicken in a container in the fridge. Each morning, I slather mayo on some (gluten-free) bread, apply a liberal amount of sriracha, put the chicken on, and wrap the whole thing up in foil. When I get to the office, I put it in the fridge until lunchtime when I take it out and reheat it in the toaster oven. It's just that easy!

For the health-conscious, I calculated the nutrition facts for each chicken slab (your bread and mayo may vary):

  • Calories: 605
  • Total Fat: 32g
  • (Saturated Fat): 4.5g
  • (Polyunsaturated Fat): 7g
  • (Monounsaturated Fat): 15g
  • Cholesterol: 210mg
  • Sodium: 575mg
  • Potassium: 1165mg
  • Carbohydrates: 38g
  • (Fiber): 2.5g
  • (Sugar): 1g
  • Protein: 35g

Here's just the Fritos (2.5oz):

  • Calories: 400
  • Total Fat: 25g
  • (Saturated Fat): 2.5g
  • (Polyunsaturated Fat): 6g
  • (Monounsaturated Fat): 12g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 425mg
  • Potassium: 875mg
  • Carbohydrates: 37.5g
  • (Fiber): 0g
  • (Sugar): 0g
  • Protein: 5g

And here's a Big Mac:

  • Calories: 550
  • Total Fat: 29g
  • (Saturated Fat): 10g
  • (Trans Fat): 1g
  • Cholesterol: 75mg
  • Sodium: 970mg
  • Potassium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 46g
  • (Fiber): 3g
  • (Sugar): 9g
  • Protein: 25g

... maybe I should ease up on the Fritos.

138 Comments

Photos from North Korea

Hey everybody! Here are my photos from North Korea that I showed on last week's live stream. It was an incredible experience, one that I would recommend to anyone who wants to travel somewhere out of the ordinary. Guides are required for anyone who visits North Korea, and the tour company I went with, Koryo Tours, could not have done a better job. Our western guide, an affable Canadian named Chris Graper, I'm sure would be happy to answer any questions you guys have about traveling to North Korea. Here's his info:

Koryo Canada

Christopher Graper

christopher@koryogroup.com

www.koryocanada.com

Enjoy!

Air Koryo planes on the tarmac of the Beijing airport.; Checking in.; Tickets!; Air Koryo's Safety Information Card.

Aboard a Russian airplane operated by North Korea. Can't say I wasn't a little nervous.; Our first stop (no photos allowed until now), the "Arch of Triumph." Yep, just like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, only bigger.; The birthplace of the father of North Korea, Kim Il Sung. Images of this house show up all over the place in North Korea.; We climbed a hill and got our first look at the capital, Pyongyang. It looks smoggy, but the air felt a lot cleaner than Beijing.

Our first meal. Overall, the food in North Korea isn't the best, but it's totally edible and there were many dishes I would eat again.; North Korean beer is actually pretty good. Like a cross between Tsingtao and PBR, but less metallic.; My friend Wayne, who joined me on the trip (he speaks Mandarin, helpful in case we needed to escape to China).; The lobby of our Pyongyang hotel, the Ryanggang.

Our room in the Ryanggang.; Our room came complete with an inoperable Chinese radio. Still looks pretty cool, though.; The cozy halls of the Ryanggang Hotel.; Energy saving light bulbs are EVERYWHERE in North Korea, which I guess is understandable.

At the breakfast buffet. There's not a lot of fresh fruit or juice around, so this is actually orange Fanta.; Breakfast at the Ryanggang, including what was labeled as "french roast bread" and "omelete with eggs." Also, "hard" boiled eggs seem to be subjective.; Driving to our first stop of the day, admiring everyone dressed in their best clothes for the holiday, the 100th birthday celebration of Kim Il Sung.; Tons of kids!

On our way up the steps of the war memorial.; Our North Korean guide, Mrs. Kim, laying flowers at the foot of the memorial.; The war memorial celebrates the men who fought with Kim Il Sung in the revolution against the Japanese.; Suddenly, we turned around and saw this. Felt a little strange to be an American here, surrounded by thousands of North Korean soldiers (green is army, black is navy and air force).

Cars are common but not abundant in Pyongyang, though most are fairly modern. White plates (on nearly every car we saw) denote government issue.; The site of an international celebration between North Koreans and citizens of friendly nations (Russia, China, etc.). One of very few traditional-looking buildings in Pyongyang (since the city was virtually leveled in the Korean War).; Some girls prepare for a performance in the celebration.; Look at this dude's camera!

A small army provided music for the festivities.; Hi!; Nearby were some freshly-painted amusement park rides. Not sure if they were operational (we did see one roller coaster in operation later in the trip).; After I took this photo, the owner of the bike came and took it away. Don't think he liked me photographing it.

More amusement park rides.; A nearby aquatic center.; The pool for the aquatic center. They didn't like me taking this photo, either.; From there, I climbed a hill, and at the top was a lake with dozens of people in rowboats, just hanging out.

Ferris wheel.; Quick shot of some farmland. Tractors are DPRK-made, and the North Koreans take great pride in them since, after all their cows got blown up in the Korean War, they apparently pulled together and made their own tractor, saving their agriculture in the process.; We stopped to take some shots of the mausoleum.; Nearby, some kids were playing (note the paper gun).

I gave them some San Francisco chocolate. They were so polite! They bowed and everything! (photo credit: Wayne); My attempt at a close shot of a typical apartment building in Pyongyang.; This kind of stuff is everywhere, it's awesome!; On our tour bus, our guide got a call and announced that we had been allowed to attend the military parade. I could barely contain myself. This is us approaching the parade route.

People waiting for the parade to start.; I still can't believe they allowed us to attend this, though I guess demonstrating their military power to westerners is kind of the point. In any case, it was incredible!; The soldiers were hardly the stoic automatons you see on the news footage. Their genuine excitement and pride was easy to see.; Hello, ladies...

Trucks!; I had expected parade-goers to be there just because the state told them, and they may well have been, but their enthusiasm was so genuine it was infectious! It's clear they are very proud of their country. I have never experienced such true patriotism.; Check it out guys I'm on this armored thing!; Even the brass cracked a few suppressed smiles.

Time to step it up.; Look how pumped this guy is!; Driver Guy is not about to be left out of the festivities.; Heads up: this is what North Korean landing craft look like, in case Homefront ever comes true.

Note the traffic lights. There are very few in Pyongyang, and they're fairly new, but they work.; Guard dudes keeping the peace.; Now it's a Party.

I want to see that guy's photo. "Here's a bunch of white people at our parade. I think we're getting to them."; Drew, don't turn around. There's a tank behind you.; The ground rumbles when these things roll by.; A tank changed gears or something right in front of us, blanketing the crowd with exhaust. Mr. Guard Man still kept an eye on me, though.

Can't imagine this did wonders for the pavement.; Bring the kids!; Eventually, rockets and missiles started showing up.; Like these.

They just kept getting bigger.; Underneath the camo is a giant missile. Earlier, these were uncovered when the parade went past Kim Jong Un.; To our surprise, we left one parade, and ran into another! Not hard, considering most of the main streets in Pyongyang were blocked off because of it.

Most of the people around us were schoolkids.; Ladies love a man in uniform, especially in North Korea.; Look how far this procession extends!; One of my favorite shots. Her shirt reads "D.P.R. Korea, DPRK, Juche."

Wayne, fitting in a little too well.; Lots of waving!; More waving!; Flowers!

Some citizens enjoying their day off in the park.; If you haven't gathered, North Koreans, especially kids, are really wavy!; Seeing animals was rare in Pyongyang, but we did see the occasional goat herd.; We stopped at a restaurant for lunch. This is about par for what our eating establishments looked like.

Pyongyang light rail.; Taking a trip down into the Pyongyang subway.; This is the biggest escalator I have ever seen in my life.; Pyongyang subway station.

Subway train!; My parade sunburn starting to show.; Locals.; Our stop.

These loudspeakers are constantly blasting messages and patriotic music. Also, on our way up, a kid coming down said to his mom (in Korean), "Look! The Americans have come!" Our North Korean guide explained that, to North Koreans, all white people are assumed to be Americans.; The scene as we emerged from the subway.; Entrance to the subway.; A sign advertising holiday festivities.

A rare LED propaganda screen.; Chris equated the North Koreans' interaction with propaganda to announcements a landlord might post on the bulletin board of your building: you glace at it, but it's not really a big deal.; Mangyongdae Children's Palace, where children practice extra-curricular activities and hold performances.; This performance was unbelievable. Each kid up there is a prodigy. A five year-old girl performed the best drum solo I have ever seen.

Did you know North Korea invented the Space Shuttle?; Lots of streets in Pyongyang look like this, but not all of them. A few streets could be described as "bustling," and we even ran into a couple traffic jams.; Murals like this are everywhere. Many times we witnessed large groups of North Koreans walk up and bow simultaneously.; Some traditional Korean BBQ.

Kim Il Sung Square at night! If you've ever seen footage of Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un presiding over a military parade, this is where the magic happens.; Kim Jong Il forbid his likeness to be put anywhere while he was alive, presumably not to draw away from the glory of Kim Il Sung. Since his death, however, the two are rarely seen apart.

Across the river is the Tower of the Juche Idea. Juche loosely translates to "self-reliance" and is the driving philosophy of Kim Il Sung and the Party.; Some newly-erected apartments in the background. Felt like Vegas.; We were at the hotel's gift shop when the attendant pointed behind us and said "Kim Jong Un! Our leader!" Everyone stopped to watch. This was his first time giving a speech.; Watching a replay of the parade, airing on both TV channels. That's right, both.

Pyongyang railway station.; The one with the star is for the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). The red one is for the Workers' Party of Korea.; Kim Il Sung Square by day, getting ready for more festivities.; Ever wonder how the soldiers stand in such perfect formations?

We visited a bookstore for foreigners, where books were printed in English.; I'd say their depiction of tourists is pretty accurate.; Some of "Kim Il Sung" and "Kim Jong Il's" writing.; "President" Kim Il Sung is usually depicted wearing a suit, while "Generalissimo" Kim Jong Il usually wears military clothing.

The exterior of this building, the Ryugyong Hotel, was completed only recently, despite construction starting in 1987. It is 105 stories tall.; Rollerblades!; I wish our museums had names like this.; Our museum guide in front of the obligatory mural of Kim Il Sung. Pretty sure there was one of him or Kim Jong Il in every building we went into.

The museum is all concrete. As a result, it was COLD, at least 10-20 degrees colder than outside.; We watched a brief video about the Korean War, where we learned that after WWII America fell into a depression and, in their desire to colonize Asia, began the Korean War.; Our guide explained that once the North pushed US forces to the southern tip of Korea, the US countered, leading the North to execute a "strategic retreat."; Also, towns are "liberated," not "captured."

Some North Korean instruments of war.; North Korean plane.; Stars on the fuselage, as you can probably guess, denote how many planes the pilot supposedly shot down.; US weapons. That image of the US soldier bowing his head shows up in a lot of North Korean propaganda.

US vehicles.; US planes.; A captured US helicopter. This shows up in propaganda as well, and the picture of the surrendering American is pretty widespread in North Korea.; Tanks!

US soldiers surrendering their weapons.; Upstairs was a gigantic, rotating, 360-degree diorama of a battle scene, made up of physical elements seamlessly blended into a 2D painting.; A scene from the diorama.; It's tough to tell, but the tank is a model, bu the house and soldiers are painted. Pretty impressive.

We bought flowers to lay at the feet of the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il (to be polite).; Walking up here, an old North Korean man wearing a grey suit and a chestful of medals, most likely a Korean War veteran, made eye contact with me (a stereotypically blonde-haired, blue-eyed American) and bowed politely. I was floored, and quickly bowed back.; Laying flowers.; Tie required, smile optional. Honestly, it would have felt weird to smile. The mood was very reverent.

The statues are gesturing across the river to the Monument to the Worker's Party Foundation.; Korean hot pot! (Water boils in the pot and you throw in raw meat and veggies until it cooks, then you fish it out and eat it with rice.); An apartment building.; One of the famous Pyongyang Traffic Ladies. Still images don't convey their mesmerizing robotic movements.

Driving out to the port city of Nampo, we passed a whole lot of countryside.; Lots of bikes in North Korea, but most people walk everywhere, even on the highways.; The road between Nampo and Pyongyang, according to our guide, was "built by our youth." It... is not very smooth.; Train!

We stopped to help another bus with some mechanical trouble. This kid looked at us like we were aliens.; Dump truck!; Arriving in Nampo.; Cargo ships like this, which one associates with international trade, were strange to see in North Korea, but apparently they do quite a bit of trade with African nations.

Rad.; Our hotel in Nampo.; The lobby. Also, that marble? Not marble. Wallpaper.; Inside was a board with a bunch of photos.

Scenes from Kim Jong Il's funeral.; According to the US and South Korea, this rocket never actually made it to space. The day before we arrived in Pyongyang, another rocket, Unha 3, also failed. In a rare move, North Korea admitted the failure.; I like this one.; A generator, just in case. I don't know if it was due to the holiday or what, but we only had 3 power outages, none lasting longer than five minutes, which Chris said was unprecedented.

The hotel bookstore.; Salt fields. Salt is apparently one of North Korea's main exports.; Lots of farming was done by hand, though there were some oxen and the occasional tractor.; Driving along the West Sea Barrage, which separates fresh from salt water, and supposedly prevents the surrounding area from flooding.

Look who greeted us at the barrage monument!; The monument by the West Sea Barrage. Dude for scale.; The view from the monument.; A view of the barrage control station and locks.

After visiting the monument, our guide allowed Wayne and I to walk down to sea level. For a moment, we felt untethered in North Korea.; Most signs we saw in North Korea were hand-painted.; The whole place gave me some serious Half-Life 2 vibes.; A view of the monument from the barrage, with obligatory Kim Il Sung.

Close-up of the locks.; Back at the hotel in Nampo.; Before dinner, we fired up some "gasoline clams" (actually, it's rubbing alcohol). Simply arrange the clams hinge-up, light a piece of paper on them, and pour on the alcohol using a bottle with two small holes in the top. Eat them when they open. Serve with soju.

They were delicious! I've really got to try this myself sometime.; Our dinner: chicken (not sure which part), fish in a sauce, potatoes, potato salad, and bread.; Recycle!; Our room in Nampo.

We had these awesome knife switches in our room.; Breakfast in the morning. Nothing was warm, of course, but I liked that potato pancake.; Our hotel staff was so nice!; Leaving Nampo.

North Koreans will tell you that these are decorative. In reality, the bases are dynamited in the event of a foreign invasion, causing the blocks to topple onto the road, creating a roadblock.; Hmm...; Lots of this kind of stuff in the countryside. It seems like they're operating at about an Amish level.; Locals on their day off.

On our way to our first stop of the day, a glass factory.; The factory itself.; Some nearby messaging.

Get to know your coworkers! Third row, third from left: the female AK-47-toting guard who waved us in to the factory (we were not allowed to photograph her).; North Koreans aren't all that concerned with safety, so they let us just run around the factory. No hard-hats, no railings, just fun!; Factory control center.; Factory floor.

I found a mirror.; It was a big place!; Glass on the rollers. It gets rolled to a cutting arm, then the excess drops away...; ... and ends up outside.

Like I said, the place is big.; Motivational posters of North Korea.; When you do see oxen, they're almost always skinny.; Back in Pyongyang. This line is for a flower exhibition. It's hard to see, but the line goes from the left side of the picture, down to the monument in the back, up the right side, down under the street, and continues on the other side. I felt bad cutting.

The entrance to the flower exhibition.; Foreground: Kimilsungia. Background: Kimjongilia. Both flowers were genetically engineered for their respective leader. The whole show is centered around these two flowers.; About 80% of the exhibits feature Kim Il Sung's birthplace and look almost exactly like this.; My favorite exhibit.

You know, for satellites!; Whenever Korea is depicted, it is always the whole Korea. Reunification is a huge deal for North Koreans. In fact, the guide taking us around the exhibition started crying when talking about reunification.; Our guide Mrs. Kim translated my message in the guestbook to Korean. Hopefully she didn't translate my poor spelling.; Traffic Ladies, like virtually all the guides we had over the course of the tour, are all young, attractive women.

I saw absolutely no advertisements anywhere in North Korea. Even this one, which looks like a real car ad and is the only one I saw that even resembles ads we have in the rest of the world, is state-produced and advertises the state-manufactured car.; On our way out into the country for a BBQ.; Some more countryside. With a little more green it could be beautiful.; Pork skewers and grilled octopus. Both were exceptional.

Chris dancing with one of our waitresses, who were also the entertainment. Everybody in North Korea seems to be able to sing, and the woman on the right can shred on the accordion.; Wayne got up and helped sing a popular Chinese song.; Nearby in the park, a bunch of (probably intoxicated) North Koreans belted out some a capella tunes. These are likely some of the more fortunate members of society.; It's tough to see, but that's an IV bag being used to water this tree.

Back in Pyongyang.; Ice skating practice?; Another apartment building.; The USS Pueblo, a US "spy ship" captured by North Korea during the Cold War. Eighty-two service members were captured along with it and held for 11 months. Depictions of the Pueblo show up often in propaganda, and the story of its capture is a massive source of national pride.

Damage dealt by the North Koreans is circled in red paint.; Inside, shrapnel marks.; Some of the "spy equipment" in the radio room.; Top secret, y'all!

The captured crew appeared in press photographs and on television denouncing the US, and wrote this letter to President Johnson, "demanding" he apologize.; Some captured documents.; Racks of equipment. One of the units was installed upside-down.; Some artifacts, including the captain's uniform.

HP, for all your electronic counting needs.; Coincidentally, our guide from the war museum took us around the Pueblo too.; Armaments.; Kim Il Sung Square at dusk.

Before climbing aboard for a river cruise on the Taedong River.; Our dinner aboard the river cruise. Note: those aren't mushrooms, they're fried potatoes shaped like mushrooms. Still tasty, though.; The Tower of the Juche Idea.; I, for one, have never seen a picture of North Korea like this on the news.

Juche tower by night.; The view from our hotel room.; Another angle from our hotel room.; On our way to the DMZ. It's a long ride, but smooth, thankfully. Checkpoints, which we hadn't encountered before, became more and more frequent the closer we got to the DMZ.

One lonely road.; My North Korean visa.; Near the DMZ, we got a briefing from a man with a pointer.; It's kind of tough to see (I shot this one from the hip, since they seemed to frown on pictures and the mood was pretty tense), but the sign says "Northern boundary of the demilitarized zone."

Wayne and I in the room the Korean War peace talks were held in. According to the North Koreans, the US demanded that the cease-fire be signed in a tent so as to leave no lasting monument to a North Korean "victory."; A museum dedicated to the cease-fire, erected in five days just after the signing.; Upper left: the original UN flag present at the signing of the cease-fire that the US "forgot to take with them because they were so distraught after the signing."; I made a friend.

The DMZ. That grey building is in South Korea. Also, it has about five times the number of surveillance cameras as the matching North Korean building has.; We headed into one of blue buildings, which straddles the demarcation line. Both sides are allowed to use it, though not at the same time, obviously.; Those mic cables are the official demarcation line inside the building.; The view out the window.

Since the building straddles the demarcation line, it's possible to get a shot across the two countries.; Now I just need a matching picture from the other side!; The border town of Kaesong, where we stopped for lunch.; So many new things to eat!

Sweet and chewy!; Dog meat soup. I was a little hesitant about eating it, but it tasted pretty good, like shredded beef only a little fattier.; Nick, the guy on the left, started Koryo Tours in 1993. Any chance he gets, he joins in on kid's games. I hopped in on some volleyball too.; The war left Kaesong relatively unscathed, so much of the traditional architecture remains. From here, we could hear loudspeakers, but also a kid practicing his accordion somewhere in the town below.

In front of a gift shop in Kaesong, where I bought a fan made by this woman.; On the road back to Pyongyang.; Our bus broke down, so we hung out in the middle of North Korea for a bit while our driver fixed the bus.; The monument to Kim Il Sung's three pillars of reunification.

In front of the Juche Tower.; This thing's big, you guys.; The Monument to the Worker's Party Foundation, featuring the industrial hammer, the agricultural sickle, and the intellectual writing brush.; The writing brush looks a little... unfortunate up close.

In a Pyongyang microbrewery. Those are the brewing vats in the back (they didn't want us taking pictures of them).; From left, Makgeolli (rice wine, tasted like yogurt with a kick), the black (like Guinness but less intense), and the brown (like Blue Moon with about 20% of the flavor).; Our last dinner in North Korea, including what tasted like sausages dipped in syrup.; Our beds in Pyongyang were about three inches of foam on top of wood. Consolation: heated floors!

The view from our balcony on the last morning.; One more breakfast buffet.; Soda juice!; On our way out of town, we passed 80 trucks packed full of soldiers heading out of town, who must have been those we saw in the parade. They looked like they were in for a cold ride.

A propaganda poster extolling the virtues of, among other things, Computer Numerical Control machines.; Ticket back to Beijing (that's North Korean customs in the background).; Ticket reverse.; Bye, North Korea! This is one trip I won't forget.

99 Comments

How To Run A Big Live Live Show

Hey folks! Thought you guys might be interested in what kind of planning goes into our biggest live show of the year. What follows is our "cheat sheet," which was created so we knew exactly what had to happen before each segment. "PRE" means "this needs to be done before the segment starts," and "POST" means "do this after this segment is over, since there's a corresponding PRE later that needs it." It was a valuable document, mostly because it forced us to be super detailed about what equipment we needed, but it also helped keep our heads straight while the show was going.

For example, "Mixer" denotes what mics needed to be turned up on our audio mixers, which I manned that day. This was really helpful once the show had started, since it was hard to determine what the mic setup was like just by looking at our preview monitors. Also, you can't see it here, but each "Mixer" bullet point was color coded to tell me which of our two mixers my hands needed to be on. This was especially helpful for when I had to take the volume down on one mixer and up on the other at the same time!

Also, you'll note that question marks pop up occasionally. This is because we didn't know what sort of equipment we needed for that part of the segment, which makes it extra exciting! Anyway, here's the document. Enjoy!

---

Intro

  • Mixer: Couch (Ryan, any others on lavs)
  • POST - Mics: set up ukulele hookup

Dreamcast

  • Mixer: QL Room lav + gameplay (Jeff on lav, Dreamcast gameplay)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay
  • POST - Blackmagic: change SDI from Blackmagic Out to Analog converter box Out

Chainsaw Intro

  • PRE - Mics: set up ukulele hookup (boom?)
  • Mixer: Couch + ukulele (Ryan, Chainsaw, Jay/Jeff on lavs, ukulele hookup)

Volpin Props Intro

  • Mixer: Ryan + standing lavs (Norm, Harrison on Standing lavs)

Chainsaw Continued

  • PRE - Mics: ukulele hookup should still be set up
  • Mixer: Couch + ukulele (Ryan, Chainsaw, Brad, ukulele hookup)

Cosplayers & Photography

  • Mixer: Ryan + Standing lavs + standing stick (Norm, Sara, Tony on lavs, someone holding stick for cosplayers - turn down everyone but Norm and Ryan for the Photography segment)
  • POST - Equipment: set up Capcom’s 360, ensure it works on the monitor and that it’s getting feed in the back; set up fight sticks
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change Cam 5 (bricks) for Aux 1 (Capcom gameplay)

TellTale Walking Dead

  • Mixer: Couch (Ryan, Jake, Sean, Patrick/Brad on lavs)
  • POST - Mics: bass hookup (boom?) needs to be set up, if not the same as ukulele

Capcom with Seth and Noah

  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change Cam 5 (bricks) for Aux 1 (Capcom gameplay)
  • PRE - Equipment: set up Capcom’s 360, ensure it works on the monitor and that it’s getting feed in the back; set up fight sticks
  • Mixer: Standing lavs + standing stick + gameplay + studio monitor (Jeff, Seth, Noah on lavs, Jeff holding a stick for Moe)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay and studio monitor
  • POST - Mixer: change snake outputs 13 & 14 (“stand”) to 11 & 12 (“sit”) on main mixer
  • POST - Equipment: move HDMI converter box, its power cable, and its SDI cable to the Couch set; plug black HDMI cable into HDMI converter box; plug the SDI cable from the HDMI converter box to the Analog converter box on the Couch set; take Aux 1 from the Analog converter box on the Standing set and plug it into the Analog box on the Couch set
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change Aux 1 (Capcom gameplay) for Cam 5 (bricks)

Third Society pt. 1

  • PRE - Blackmagic: change SDI from Blackmagic Out to Analog converter box Out
  • Mixer: QL Room lav + QL Room stick + “gameplay” (Rorie, Alex on lavs, anyone else on stick, “gameplay” for movie audio)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed

Volpin Props Continued

  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change Aux 1 (Capcom gameplay) for Cam 5 (bricks)
  • Mixer: Ryan + standing lavs (Norm, Harrison on Standing lavs)
  • POST - Cameras: move Roving Cam to Bar (plug camera into Roving 2 feed, change producers)
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change Roving 1 feed to Roving 2 feed

Joust

  • PRE - Cameras: move Roving Cam to Bar (plug camera into Roving 2 feed, change producers, get them on heads beforehand to queue Patrick)
  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed, change Roving 1 feed to Roving 2 feed
  • PRE - Tricaster Audio: enable embedded audio for Bar cam for Patrick’s wireless lav
  • Mixer: Joust gameplay (Joust gameplay
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay
  • POST - Tricaster Audio: disable embedded audio for Bar cam for Patrick’s wireless lav
  • POST - Cameras: move Roving Cam to Standing Set, change producers
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change Bar camera feed to QL Room camera feed, change Roving 2 feed to Roving 1 feed
  • POST - Mics: change Bar wireless receiver to second Bar stick, plug in first stick mic

Lock Picking Intro/Jean Baudin Intro

  • PRE - Mics: set up bass hookup (boom?), if not already
  • PRE - Cameras: move Roving Cam to Standing Set, change producers
  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change Roving 2 feed to Roving 1 feed
  • Mixer: Couch + bass + standing lavs (Ryan, Jean on lavs, bass hookup, Will, Norm on standing lavs)

Third Society pt. 2

  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change Bar camera feed to QL Room camera feed
  • Mixer: QL Room lav + QL Room stick + “gameplay” (Rorie, Alex on lavs, anyone else on stick, “gameplay” for movie audio)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed

Chainsaw & Jean Baudin Duet/Lock Picking

  • PRE - Mics: set up ukulele and bass hookups (may need another mic, prioritize ukulele)
  • Mixer: Couch + bass + ukulele + standing lavs? (Ryan, Chainsaw, Jean on lavs, bass and ukulele hookups, Will and Norm on standing lavs)
  • POST - plug iPad into black HDMI cable

James Robinson Interview

  • PRE - Mics: change Bar wireless receiver to second Bar stick, plug in first stick mic
  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed
  • PRE - Tricaster Audio: enable embedded audio for Bar cam for mics
  • Mixer: NONE (All Tricaster) (Tony, Sara, James sharing two sticks)
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change Bar camera feed to QL Room camera feed
  • POST - Mics: change second Bar stick to Bar wireless receiver

Lock Picking Wrap

  • Mixer: Ryan + standing lavs (Ryan on lav, Will, Norm on standing lavs)

VidRhythm

  • PRE - Equipment: move HDMI converter box, its power cable, and its SDI cable to the Couch set; plug iPad into black HDMI cable; plug black HDMI cable into HDMI converter box; plug the SDI cable from the HDMI converter box to the Analog converter box on the Couch set
  • PRE - Mixer: change snake outputs 13 & 14 (“stand”) to 11 & 12 (“sit”) on main mixer
  • Mixer: Couch + gameplay + studio monitor (Ryan, Drake, Pope, Jeff on lavs, gameplay coming from iPad’s mini jack)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay and studio monitor
  • POST - Mixer: change snake outputs 11 & 12 (“sit”) to 13 & 14 (“stand”) on main mixer
  • POST - Equipment: move HDMI converter box, its power cable, and its SDI cable to the Standing set; set up Dance Central 2 (Kinect needs power); plug Harmonix 360 into the HDMI converter box; plug the SDI cable from the HDMI converter box to the Analog converter box on the Standing set; take Aux 1 from the Analog converter box on the Couch set and plug it into the Analog box on the Standing set; (if no HDMI, use Folsom)

As Seen On TV/Ethan Spandex

  • Mixer: Ryan + Standing lavs (Ryan on lav, Will, Norm on Standing lavs)

Reanimator

  • Mixer: Couch (Ryan, Patrick, John, Brian on lavs)

Pre-Recorded Geoff Johns Interview

  • Mixer: NONE

Dance Central 2

  • PRE - Equipment: move HDMI converter box, its power cable, and its SDI cable to the Standing set; set up Dance Central 2 (Kinect needs power); plug Harmonix 360 into the HDMI converter box; plug the SDI cable from the HDMI converter box to the Analog converter box on the Standing set; take Aux 1 from the Analog converter box on the Couch set and plug it into the Analog box on the Standing set; (if no HDMI, use Folsom)
  • PRE - Mixer: change snake outputs 11 & 12 (“sit”) to 13 & 14 (“stand”) on main mixer
  • Mixer: Ryan + Standing lavs + gameplay + studio monitor (Ryan on lav, Drake, Pope, Jeff on standing lavs, Dance Central 2 gameplay)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay and studio monitor
  • POST - Equipment: move HDMI converter box, its power cable, and its SDI cable to the Couch set; set up Iron Brigade; plug Double Fine 360 into the HDMI converter box; plug the SDI cable from the HDMI converter box to the Analog converter box on the Couch set; take Aux 1 from the Analog converter box on the Standing set and plug it into the Analog box on the Couch set; change quarter-inch-to-XLR cables from Standing set Analog converter box to Couch set Analog converter box (if no HDMI, use Folsom)

Third Society pt. 3

  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change Bar camera feed to QL Room camera feed
  • Mixer: QL Room lav + QL Room stick + “gameplay” (Rorie, Alex on lavs, anyone else on stick, “gameplay” for movie audio)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed

Eat Your Words Intro

  • Mixer: Ryan + Standing lavs (Ryan on lav, Will, Norm on Standing lavs)
  • POST - Personnel: Run producer back to bar to queue Starcraft segment and troubleshoot gameplay feed

Jean Baudin Continued

  • PRE - Mics: set up bass hookup (boom?), if not already
  • Mixer: Couch + bass (Ryan, Jean on lavs, bass hookup)
  • POST - Tricaster Audio: enable embedded audio coming over gameplay feed and bar cam for Starcraft

Starcraft II Pros

  • PRE - Personnel: Run producer back to bar to queue Starcraft segment and troubleshoot gameplay feed
  • PRE - Mics: change second Bar stick to Bar wireless receiver
  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed
  • PRE - Tricaster Audio: enable embedded audio coming over gameplay feed and bar cam
  • PRE - Cameras & Tricaster Inputs: Rover? (only if it goes long, into the dogpile)
  • Mixer: NONE (All Tricaster (Norm on wireless lav, Brad on stick)
  • POST - Tricaster Audio: disable embedded audio coming over gameplay feed and bar cam
  • POST - Cameras: move Bar cam closer to band

Double Fine & Iron Brigade

  • PRE - Equipment: move HDMI converter box, its power cable, and its SDI cable to the Couch set; set up Iron Brigade; plug Double Fine 360 into the HDMI converter box; plug the SDI cable from the HDMI converter box to the Analog converter box on the Couch set; take Aux 1 from the Analog converter box on the Standing set and plug it into the Analog box on the Couch set; change quarter-inch-to-XLR cables from Standing set Analog converter box to Couch set Analog converter box (if no HDMI, use Folsom)
  • Mixer: Couch + gameplay + studio monitor (Ryan, Brad Muir, Greg Rice, Iron Brigade gameplay)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay and studio monitor
  • POST - Mixer: change snake outputs 13 & 14 (“stand”) to 11 & 12 (“sit”) on main mixer
  • POST - Equipment: plug Spy Party PC into the Folsom; SDI out from Folsom to Couch set Analog converter box; stereo mini goes into the PC audio out; Aux 2 connects to the Couch set Analog converter box

Screened Trivia

  • Mixer: Ryan + Standing lavs (Ryan on lav, Rorie, Alex on Standing lavs, proxies get no mics)

Spy Party

  • PRE - Equipment: plug Spy Party PC into the Folsom; SDI out from Folsom to Couch set Analog converter box; stereo mini goes into the PC audio out; Aux 2 connects to the Couch set Analog converter box
  • PRE - Mixer: change snake outputs 13 & 14 (“stand”) to 11 & 12 (“sit”) on main mixer
  • Mixer: Couch + gameplay + studio monitor (Ryan, Chris Hecker, Spy Party gameplay)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down gameplay and studio monitor
  • POST - Get Buckner and Garcia on the line

Eat Your Words Continued

  • Mixer: Ryan + Standing lavs (Ryan on lav, Will, Norm on Standing lavs)
  • POST - Cameras: move Roving Cam to Bar (plug camera into Roving 2 feed), producer on heads to queue Brad
  • POST - Tricaster Inputs: change Roving 1 feed to Roving 2 feed
  • POST - Cameras: move Bar cam closer to band

Buckner and Garcia

  • PRE - Equipment: Make sure Skype is running
  • Mixer: Couch + Skype + studio monitor (Ryan, Jeff, Buckner & Garcia on Skype)
  • POST - Mixer: remember to take down caller volume, studio monitor
  • DURING - Cameras: take Camera 5 and make it Outside cam; Vinny, with walkie talkie, wireless lav pack, receiver, wired lav, and two XLRs, heads outside, plugs into Outside drop, we plug Outside cam feed into Tricaster somewhere, after done with setup Vinny grabs Ana and resumes Tricaster duty

Glowing Stars

  • PRE - Cameras: move Roving Cam to Bar (plug camera into Roving 2 feed), Thomas on heads to queue Brad
  • PRE - Cameras: move Bar cam closer to band
  • PRE - Tricaster Audio: enable embedded audio for Bar cam for Brad
  • PRE - Tricaster Inputs: change QL Room camera feed to Bar camera feed, change Roving 1 feed to Roving 2 feed
  • Mixer: Glowing Stars audio (Brad with stick (take down after intro, bring back up for throw), Glowing Stars over two XLRs)

Real Fruit Ninja/Glowing Stars

  • PRE - Mics: stick mics & XLRs Outside, plugged into Outside camera
  • PRE - Personnel: need producer upstairs to queue Will and Norm, need Thomas in the bar to queue Glowing Stars
  • PRE - Tricaster Audio: enable embedded audio coming over Outside camera feed
  • Mixer: Ryan + studio monitor + Glowing Stars audio (Will, Norm coming over Outside camera embedded audio, Glowing Stars come in later to play us out)

Outro

  • Mixer: Couch + boom (Everyone!)
54 Comments

The Wonderful World of Video Data Management

Giant Bomb's Game of the Year awards are fast approaching, and you know what that means! Asset compilation! This is the time of year when we descend into the dusty catacombs of Giant Bomb's video archives and pull out all the relevant footage of games we're talking about. Since a few of you have requested insight into such topics, I thought now would be a good time to shed some light on how we manage our video data.

 Capturing some exciting gameplay footage.
The life of a Giant Bomb gameplay video, such as a Quick Look, begins at the capture stage. We plug our consoles into our capture gear, turn on the microphones, and hit "record" (it's a little more complicated than that, but that's for another post). The resulting video file is saved onto our capture machine, which resides in the control room. From there, the producer copies this "master" file over the network to their machine so they can work on it.

At the same time, the master is copied from the capture machine's local hard drive to an attached external hard drive. This is so we can delete the master from the local drive to save space (the local drive is only 500GB, which lasts us a week at most). When the external hard drive gets full, we unplug it, label it "Capture Archive ##," and set it on the shelf. A new hard drive goes in its place, ready to accept hours upon hours of game footage.

 The compressor machine's output log.
Meanwhile, the producer is toiling away on a video, using the master file brought over from the capture machine. Once the video is edited and complete (at this point, we call it an "export"), it gets copied, over the network, to our compressor machine, where magical things happen. Because we use an off-site compression solution (i.e., we send our videos across the Internet for someone else to compress), we first have to get our videos down to an Internet-friendly size. To do this, we do a preliminary compression using the compressor machine in our office. This turns our unruly 30GB video files (for a 30-minute video), into a little under 1GB. This file also ends up becoming the HD version of the video that members download/see on the site. From there, our off-site encoder chews through the video we give it and spits the result out onto the website.

When that's done, the original file from the producer (the "export") and the resulting compressed file (the "output") are copied to an external hard drive attached to the compressor machine. As before, when that hard drive fills up, we unplug it and label it "Exports ##." So now, we have three iterations of the video file (master, export, and output) in two places (Capture Archive and Export Archive drives). But THAT'S. NOT. ALL.

We still have all the files on the producer's machine! As you can imagine, a project like a Video Review takes up a LOT of hard drive space with all the footage we have to capture (sometimes upwards of 100GB). Technically, we could archive all that stuff, but in reality, when you're done with a project, there's really no reason to keep all that unused footage around. That's where "trimmed" projects come in.

 Media manager, making it look easy.
Final Cut Pro, the software we use to edit all our videos, has a feature called "Media Manager." Media Manager looks at all the clips you used in your project and copies only those sections of the original video file to a folder you designate. That means, if I have an hour-long gameplay video, but only use 15 seconds of it, Media Manager will only keep the 15 seconds, not the entire hour. This cuts down the project from a suicidal 100GB to a much more manageable 5-10GB. When Media Manager is done doing its thing, we copy the folder it makes to an external drive called "Trimmed Projects." The cool thing about trimmed projects is that they keep the Final Cut project files as well, allowing us to make small changes to the video after the fact if we find a typo or something.

 Our super-secret hard drive database software.
Now all our projects are now safe and secure in the Capture, Export, and Trimmed Projects archives. Nice, but how do you FIND something if you have to go back and dig something up? We here at Giant Bomb use an extremely powerful and highly technical database application known as Google Docs. When a drive fills up, we enter the file names of all the files on that drive into a Google Spreadsheet document, with each drive getting its own tab. That way, all we have to do is search the document for the game we want footage of, and we can see exactly where it is.

And there you have it! Now, hard drives aren't the best backup solution (they are subject to data corruption, hardware failure, and nuclear strikes, unlike cloud-based storage), but they are cheap and easy. Our archiving solution may not be the most secure and flexible, but it is cost-effective and easy to do. And best of all, it works for us!
 
 The BOBOD: Big ol' Box o' Drives.
65 Comments

How to Make a Monday

Hey y'all. At the risk of breaking the illusion, and driving you all insane with our banjo loop, I thought I'd give some insight into what it takes to edit a typical segment of I Love Mondays, from start to finish. So, in the immortal words of Jonesy, "here it is... at ten times speed." 
 
  

  
129 Comments

How to Dismantle a Bomb

Pics from the Great Sausalito Exodus. 

 Vinny and Ryan recording the last Quick Look to be shot in Sausalito, Wipeout.

 The green screen comes down, revealing some ancient design docs (on the expo board).

 Everything is in boxes, but Vinny feels like he's forgetting something.

 There we go.

 The scene as we left the office. Now everything is in the hands of the movers (Luchadeer was brought to the new office with an advance team, to ensure the movers' safety).
103 Comments

XNA Community Games Worth Downloading

I was going to dole these out a week at a time (see my previous posts on Being and Organon), but since I have zero free time these days, let's just get on with it.  There are a ton of Community Games out there, and, let's face it, most of them are absolute trash.  While it's cool that anyone who wants to can put a game up on CG, the sheer number of games is daunting for anyone that just wants to check them out.  The “Popular” tab doesn't help much either as it just feeds on itself, leaving out some of the gems.  There was only one way to separate the good from the bad: play all of them.  So I did.  And now, without further ado, here are the XNA Community Games that are, in my estimation, at least worthy of a demo download.


Note: To save time, I didn't include any puzzle, table-top, or card games.  Also, this list was made around mid-January 2009, so I haven't had a chance to check out anything that has come out since then.

Artoon


Gameplay Description:

Jump on tiles to color them, complete the level by coloring all the tiles. Extra points for never hitting the same tile twice.

Why it's worth downloading:

Each level has a different artistic theme (cell-shaded, colored pencil, mosaic), as well as an occasional quirk to the gameplay (move the camera away from a certian angle and the screen gets fuzzy), and I found myself looking forward to seeing what the next level would be like. Playing the game is serene, but at the same time you're also trying to be very precise so as to maximize your score. It gives you a letter grade score for each level, so I could see myself replaying each level to get the A+.

    BIOLOGY BATTLE


Gameplay Description:

Twin-Stick Shooter. Use power-ups and bombs to kill as many enemies as possible.

Why it's worth downloading:

Yeah, it's a lot like Geometry Wars, but it adds a lot to the formula. Power-ups like autonomous AI ships and different screen-clearing bombs are welcome additions, not to mention the fact that this can be played with four people! Definitely worth a look if you like shooting stuff.


Blow


Gameplay Description:

Blow bubbles from one end of the level to the other by placing fans around the environment.

Why it's worth downloading:

The music, as well as the lack of a timer, makes the game very relaxing to play, and the art quality is some of the best on Community Games. The game makes it easy to see how the placement of a fan will effect the bubbles' trajectory before you place it, but that doesn't mean it isn't challenging.

Bomber Boing


Gameplay Description:

2-3 players bounce around a Worms-style destructible environment and try to blast the ground out from under their opponents.

Why it's worth downloading:

There really isn't much to Bomber Boing, but that's part of the attraction. It's just stupid fun! Fast and frantic, it can be lots of fun with other people.

CarneyVale Showtime


Gameplay Description:

Shoot a ragdoll out of a cannon and use grappling arms in the environment to swing him to the top.

Why it's worth downloading:

For one, it's the most polished Community Game I've seen yet. Second, it's addictive. Like really. It takes those Flash ragdoll “games” that are so abundant on the Internet and builds a real game framework around them, making for an experience that, again, looks fantastic. It's very easy in this game to get into a rhythm of grappling, swinging, and releasing, very much like Pixeljunk Eden. Not to mention there are dozens of little balloons to collect on each level, which will keep completionists happy. I would love to see more games of this caliber.

Colosseum


Gameplay Description:

Brawler. Use the right thumbstick to attack and the face buttons for special moves.

Why it's worth downloading:

Impressively crafted for a Community Game, Colosseum is fully 3D and has a solid fighting system to boot. The camera gets a little wonky sometimes, but it's tolerable. As someone who is not great at fighting games, just using the right stick to attack was pretty easy to pick up, although that makes it easy to spam attacks too. Worth a download if you're into that kind of thing, and maybe even if you're not.

Galax-e-mail


Gameplay Description:

Twin-Stick Shooter. Destroy enemy bases to move on.

Why it's worth downloading:

Don't let the description fool you, this isn't a Geometry Wars clone. While there are dozens of those on Community Games, Galax-e-mail manages to outshine them with a twist on the gameplay: an objective other than “stay alive.” Players pick up a package at the beginning of each level with the objective of depositing it in a wormhole that only appears after every enemy base is destroyed. Various power-ups and the ability to change ship types (fast, normal, and heavy) on-the-fly, not to mention level designs more exciting than GeoWars' rectangle, make this a Community Games highlight.

    Groov


Gameplay Description:

Twin-stick shooter. Shooting enemies contributes to the music.

Why it's worth downloading:

Groov is Geometry Wars, except your bullets and enemies' explosions make up the soundtrack. You don't have a lot of effect on the music itself, but it's a great tune.

Hexothermic


Gameplay Description:

Introduce electrons to a grid of unstable atoms and create chain reactions.

Why it's worth downloading:

Each link in the chain contributes to the mellow guitar soundtrack. I could see some people really studying each level to figure out the most efficient way to do it, but that's too much work for me, so I just blast away. Still, there's nothing like getting that huge combo.

Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp


Gameplay Description:

Platformer. Manipulate objects in the levels to kill all enemies.

Why it's worth downloading:

Yes, it's another platformer, but it's another good one. JPBR puts more of an emphasis on the puzzle-solving than straight platforming, but the controls are still as solid as they come. Levels are short and sweet, so there's little frustration, and the game is actually funny at times. The loud 8-bit art style and soundtrack may be a bit much for some, but I like it.

Loot, Steal 'n Destroy


Gameplay Description:

2 or more players sail their pirate ships around a 2D map trying to steal gold from the map and each other.

Why it's worth downloading:

Great fun if you've got someone else to play with.  Like Age of Booty, but simpler.

Plasma Spheres


Gameplay Description:

Platformer. Use your arsenal of tools to free little spheres hidden around the level.

Why it's worth downloading:

Well, it's kind of a platformer. Players control a little sphere and navigate a 2D level using jetpack-like thrusters to help free trapped allies and lead them to safety. There are enemies and environmental obstacles to deal with (you have a gun) and while the controls are a little unintuitive and the art is plain, it's still a competent game.

sin(Surfing)


Gameplay Description:

Excitebike on an oscilloscope. Press face buttons to pull off tricks while in the air.

Why it's worth downloading:

You control a little dude surfing on sine waves. It doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but it's surprisingly engaging. Pull off combos by jumping off waves and flipping around. Holding the jump button spins you faster, and you can stand on your head for extra points (though this makes it more difficult to land). I found myself trying again and again to land that huge combo. Leads to a lot of "okay, one more game."


SMASHELL


Gameplay Description:

Drive your pod around an arena, jumping on enemies and collecting power-ups.

Why it's worth downloading:

The gameplay is pretty basic (jump on dudes, shoot dudes), but it's easy to control and not bad to look at (unlike a lot of other Community Games). Upon completing a certain number of waves, your pod gets an upgrade, such as the ability to shoot upwards or double-jump. That, the different types of enemies, coin collecting, and boss battles keep things interesting.

StarPilot


Gameplay Description:

Tron lightcycle game with power-ups.

Why it's worth downloading:

The Geometry Wars aesthetic seems popular in Community Games, probably because it's easy to create. So, while StarPilot doesn't really innovate in art or gameplay, the lightcycle part of it is fun, and the power-ups do well at making the game last. There are also numerous single-player challenges, and one of the few games on CG that features competent enemy AI.

Weapon of Choice


Gameplay Description:

Side-scrolling shooter with some twists.

Why it's worth downloading:

It's Contra with a few additions: super loud art style (which sometimes makes it difficult to see what you're doing), crazy weapons and enemies, and a close-call mechanic that slows time down when an enemy or projectile gets close to you, allowing you to dodge out of the way. The framerate isn't always great, and I'm not a big fan of the art or music, but it's worth looking into if you dig side-scrolling shooters.

World Revolution


Gameplay Description:

Missile Command on a sphere.

Why it's worth downloading:

The gameplay is essentially Missile Command, where the objective is to shoot missiles out of the sky, except that instead of being played on a 2D plane, this game is wrapped around a globe of the earth. This means that missiles can come from any direction, adding, literally, another dimension to the gameplay. Some of the UI elements are a little small to read, but overall it's a solid game, though I can't see anyone playing more than few rounds of it.
11 Comments

Community Games Spotlight: Organon


Organon, like many Community Games, picks one gameplay mechanic to execute on and does it very well.  In this case, flight in 3D space.  In the game, players pilot a ship in first person, flying inside a giant box populated with numerous cubic obstacles scattered randomly around the space. The object is to avoid hitting the “good” cubes (which damage your ship) and shoot down the “bad” ones.  Add in the fact that the cubes are constantly teleporting short distances (sometimes, annoyingly, right in front of your face), and you have a challenging and addictive 3D shooter.

Flying your ship is done solely with the left joystick, and it works wonderfully.  The right stick controls your speed and the triggers fire your lasers.  The UI does a great job of telling you where the baddies are and how you’re doing on health.  In fact, these parts of the game are executed so well that it’s a shame there isn’t more to the levels.  There are a few stages here and there that break things up, but they don’t come around nearly often enough.  I would have like to have seen a bit more emphasis on precision flying, too, since the controls are so good.

Since this is a Community Game, where there are often only enough development resources to focus on a single aspect, the lack in level variety is understandable.  But even so, Organon is still a joy to play. The flight controls are a dream and the graphics, while simplistic, fit with the music and overall vibe. It's another one of those games where you can just sort of turn your brain off and enjoy.

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Community Games Spotlight: Being


I like to think of Being as the poor man's Braid.  Sure, there's no time-reversal mechanic, and the level designs are hardly mind-bending, but it is a very capable platformer, one without the air of pretension ever-present in Jonathon Blow's offering.  Sometimes the level designs are so straightforward they border on throwaway, but this is part of the reason I like the game.  It means that, like Super Mario Bros., you can just zone out and fly through the levels, thanks in part to the game's solid controls.  Enemies are indestructible, which I found to be annoying, but you can decide for yourself whether avoiding them adds to the challenge or detracts from the potential fun of stomping on dudes.

Colored-keys-and-doors puzzles help bring your mind back into it, but while their presence does keep the pacing fresh they occasionally bring with them moments of frustration.  Tension also mounts when you have to restart the level you just spent five minutes on because you missed the last jump to a moving platform.  It wouldn't be so agrivating if the fault was all your own, but often the level design contributes to your failure.  For example, sometimes it's impossible to tell where a moving platform will reverse direction, leaving you to guess at what time to jump.

The game looks nice, although those with small TVs beware: your character is about the size of a pea.  In any event, Being is what I want from a platformer: a good-looking game that controls so well I can forget about it and just play with as little brain activity as possible.  I think there's a lot of potential for platformers to do well on Community Games, so here's hoping we start seeing more as good as Being.
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