I Can't Live the "Neutral" Lie Anymore...

When I first came to Giant Bomb (the day it opened as a site), one of the choices I was presented with was my alignment. I now understand that this choice was largely a cosmetic, insubstantial carryover from Comic Vine, but I made my choice seriously - an attempt to reject the idea of fanboyism, I chose Neutral, even though I, personally, have now bought an Xbox and two Xbox 360s, but have not purchased a Sony product since the PS1 (I gained a PS2 by marriage, and plan on buying a PSP in two weeks).

I still hope that I can keep myself free of the debilitating mental illness of fanboyism. But I've realized that I cannot, in all honesty, call myself neutral. Not when, in my heart of hearts, I believe that there is one platform superior to all others. One platform that will always be superior to all others.

Be it user-generated content, physical network multiplayer, Internet multiplayer, digital distribution, first-person action, real-time strategy, casual gaming, social network gaming, or whatever may come along in the future... Any advance gaming consoles have ever made, the PC did it first, and did it better.


Experimental Game

Just did a bit of reading up on Introversion's game in development, Subversion. They're developing the game in the public eye, of sorts, posting updates on their progress over the last two years. They've developed some incredibly impressive tools for procedurally generated cities, from streets to buildings to rooms to internal systems. And yet, after all the reading I did on the game, not only did I have no idea what the game is, but I had the very strong impression that the designers themselves didn't, either. This was confirmed (in a manner of soeaking) in a Eurogamer interview designer and programmer Chris Delay did with Kieron Gillen:

Kieron: Of course, despite you doing this developing in public... you haven't actually revealed what the game's going to be about. We're seeing technology, graphic experiments, everything... but we have no idea what it is. I can't help but wonder if you're being a bit meta with the title "Subversion". By showing exactly what you're up to, without revealing what you're doing, are you trying to play games with people's expectations?

Chris: There's no attempt at manipulation or "playing games" in any of our blog postings - I'm just writing about the stuff we're prototyping on a day to day basis. It's true that I haven't yet cleared up the mystery and written anything like "this is exactly what the game will be", but that's mostly because we're not sure ourselves yet. We really are experimenting - as much with technology as gameplay. We've learnt from Darwinia that a game design can undergo seismic shifts during development, and we don't want to do a Molyneux and end up disappointing everyone when our game doesn't solve the world's energy problems.

My first reaction to reading this was glee at seeing a British developer describe their mouths writing checks their games can't cash as "do[ing] a Molyneux".

My second reaction, however, linked his answer with a recent song from They Might Be Giants:

I already know the ending, it's the part that makes your face implode.
I don't know what makes your face implode, but that's the way the movie ends.
It's in my Experimental Film, which nobody knows about in which
I'm still figuring out your face implodes in my Experimental Film.

Yeah, you're all gonna be in this Experimental Film
And even though I can't explain it, I already know how great it is.


BioWare's Mass Effect 2 Teaser

This post relates to the new ME2 teaser trailer, so if you haven't seen it, go see it... somewhere. Like masseffect.com.

OK, you're back? Good.

Is Shepard really dead in Mass Effect 2? Maybe, maybe not, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that one way or the other, you're not going to be playing as Shepard in the second game.

When BioWare said that you'd be able to port your saves over from ME1, they never said you'd be playing as the same character. Instead, the save will affect ME2's backstory - for instance if you played a female Shepard and don't port your save over to ME2, then the supposedly dearly departed Shepard will be male. If you do port the save over, however, Shepard will be female. Other likely influences: whether Shepard was a Paragon, Renegade, or both, whether Shepard had a romantic liason with Kaidan, Ashley, or Liara (I can't wait to talk to my Shepard's asari daughter), whether Shepard killed the rachni queen on Noveria or the asari communicator on Feros, etc.

This is similar to what they did at the beginning of Knights of the Old Republic 2, where they had the player fill in details about Darth Revan which were variable in the events of KotOR 1 (male or female, Jedi or Sith). So BioWare's pulled this trick before, they're just finding a smoother way to do it.


EA vs. Activision - Oh, Snap! Quotes I and II

Two "He did not just say that" quotes in 10 days from the EA side of the Titans War.

Feb 3: Concerning their new partnership with EA after Vivendi (Activision) dropped their rights to the license, Keith Boesky, representative of Robert Ludlum of Bourne Conspiracy fame, says: "We're dealing with grownups now."

Oh, snap, indeed. But wait, it gets better!

Feb 10: Activision decides not to publish Brutal Legend. EA decides to publish Brutal Legend. Activision threatens suing EA and developer Double Fine over Brutal Legend. But EA's not worried, telling Variety: "We doubt that Activision would try to sue. That would be like a husband abandoning his family and then suing after his wife meets a better looking guy."

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, SNAP!


Unashamed Free Advertising

But considering the esteem that GameStop's trading/reselling scheme is held in my circles, I doubt any of you will mind.

This month, I had occasion to try to pick up a couple of games that have been out for a while - Need For Speed: Most Wanted for the 360, and Spyro: The Eternal Night for the Wii. I also had a copy of LEGO Indiana Jones for the 360 to offload. I decided to experiment instead of using the GameStop machine, and visited PlaySwitch.com. As of this writing, I sold LEGO Indy for 24 dollars, but I had to pay 11 for shipping (thank you, Alaska). I have also purchased and received Spyro for $15 (GameStop.com price is $18) and I have agreed to a price for Most Wanted for $11 (GameStop.com price is $20).

PlaySwitch.com usually charges $1 to the buyer and the seller per trade, but they have suspended that for the month of December.

It's worth a look, I think. I've had a good experience so far and will keep using them for now.


If you haven't read this yet...

...you really need to. Like, now.

Video Game Journalism Symposium: Part One

I think Jeff is on the money with his points, and I generally agree with Stephen Totilo and Kieron Gillen as well. On the other hand, although I respect him as an intelligent, well-spoken, and accomplished individual, N'Gai Croal is largely talking out of his hind orifice, I feel. But intelligent people can differ!


KensterFox's Best of 2008 (work in progress)

The staff members and moderators of Giant Bomb have been asked to post their top 10 games of 2008 to contribute to the upcoming feature on the subject. I will sort these later, but here they are, my top 10 games of the year, listed in order of release.

Burnout Paradise
Grand Theft Auto IV
Metal Gear Solid 4*
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4*
Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2
Dead Space*
Fallout 3
Gears of War 2*
Left 4 Dead*

The entries with asterisks next to them are games that I have not played myself, and I am assigning a place on the list based only on media coverage of them.


Two Great Tastes...

All right, that's it, no more peanut butter-and-pepperoni pizzas before bedtime. I just had the strangest dream. I was playing video games (no, not Zombies Ate My Neighbors), and they were so WEIRD! They... well, I'd better just describe them.

This first one was about this cute, colorful world where some archetypical comic evil genius had erased all the data on these cute, papery critters that looked just like little cars, and I had to raise them and make them race and do tricks and run into each other so they'd explode and leave candy all over the place... At least I remember the name of that one - "Viva Piñata: Trouble in Burnout Paradise". I had others, but for the life of me, I can't remember what they were called...

So there was this really hard one about this kid who left home with the hopes of going to Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and other cities and rescuing people from a zombie invasion...

Then there was this one about a gameshow about wearing the most stylish clothes, which made it easier to pick up stuff around the environment and kill people with it...

Let's see... then I played one where I used a detailed character creator to make an everyman kind of dude who wanted to be an assassin, so he leveled up by taking on quests to mow lawns, clean graffiti, and kill bad guys (who were also assassins)...

OK, then there was this one where you and a buddy could be dinosaurs who beat up members of a criminal organization that's taken over the city's government...

Then I played a game about a fighter pilot who had committed a murder. He finds out that he did it because he was influenced by an insectoid race invading from another part of the galaxy, and he has to blow up the gate they are using to make the trip before he is caught by the two detectives tracking him down...

That's all for now, though I know there were others... anyone have this dream before? If so, do you remember the names of the games I played?


Fox Sports Net - Showdown Town

Thought I should share this, because it's brilliant. This is the text scrolled across the scoreboard hanging over the Jiggoseum area of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.

Latest Results...

Football: L.O.G. City  10 - Grunty Rovers 0...
Grottenham Coldspur 1 - Dullby County 3...
Jinjo Village 2 - Dingpot Town 1...
Twycross Athletic 4 - Trashton Villa 0...

Darts: Mrs. "Bullseye" Bottles is the new champion of the arrows, beating Gruntilda "Double Chin" Winkybunion even though Mrs. B couldn't see the board...

Tennis: A. Jinjo beat J. Talbot 6-0, 6-1, 6-0...

Basketball: Blubber Pirates 98 - Boggy Bulls 25...
Humba Heat 120 - Mumbo Magic 78...
Trophy Tigers 101 - Mr. Fit Maverics 100...

Is anybody actually reading this?

Boxing: Franklin "Furry Fists" Fizzlybear beat Professor "Punchbag" Pester by T.K.O. after 12 seconds of Round 1...

Golf: Frustrating Weekend Hobby Cup Round 2 - "Good Wood" Nabnut -5... "Eagle" Eyrie -3... Chris P. Putter -1... "Divot" Mayles Jnr. +1... "Any Old Iron" Price +4... G. Kirkhope +15...

Athletics: Mr. Fit set a new record of 45 feet in the Long Jump, only to be beaten by Trophy Thomas with his next jump of 46 feet...

Pool: "Lucky Break" Banjo beat "Cannon" Klungo 3-2...
Johnny "The Brown Ball" Dodger beat "Missin" Mary Maggie 3-0..
"Jump Shot" Jamjars beat Babs "Ball Buffer" Buffbrass 3-1...

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts must be boring if you are reading this rather than playing the game.

Cricket: Nobody in the U.S.A. can understand the rules, but Boringshire beat South Yawnshire by an innings and 265 runs to claim an old, dusty cup presented by an even older man...

Baseball: Pikelet Brown Sox 3 - Tooty Angels 7...
Jinjo Giants 9 - Minjo Dodgers 6...
Jolly Bandits 11 - Canary Mary Cardinals 2...

And finally, the sporting calendar showcase...

Dominoes: In the 134th Showdown Town Domino Marathon, held at Ye Old Empty Kettle, Lord Woo Fak Fak beat Weldar after 5 years and 172 days' play due to Weldar rusting away to nothing. Fak Fak wins the first prize of 50 pence and a bag of pork scratchings.

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