Tag Archives: 360

Xbox Live vs PC

This is really more about the paid online service that comes with the Xbox and specifically, how it works with one game.

Specifically, in this case, Borderlands.

In order to start a multiplayer game of Borderlands on the PC.  I had to remember my GameSpy account.  And that was a pain.  Then there was something that I had to do on my end, either placing my game machine temporarily in the DMZ or port forwarding.  Then there was the bit where I had to double check windows firewall rules and it still didn’t work.  Eventually we figured it was the GameSpy network itself, because a couple of hours later, it was working.

I know it’s not the same, but the ability to send an invite in game and then just have the other person pop in is worth the $50 a year to me.  When I want to start playing a game with my friends, I don’t necessarily want to spend a half hour troubleshooting connectivity issues before we even get started. That’s what makes the xbox live work so well is the drop in and drop out functionality.  When you send an invite, it’s the same method for each and every game you play.  You hit the jewel, see if your friend is online and send the invitation.  They accept it.

I remember when that half hour troubleshooting was the first part of playing video games with your friends.  The half hour was spent was setting up the computers and configuring them to use the same network.  Additionally, they were all in the same room you were playing in.  None of this headset stuff, you just yelled at them for camping the spawn.

Or better yet, actually walked over and threatened bodily harm.

Ah, the good old days.

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I did enjoy Diablo and Diablo II.  I think I enjoyed them to the point where I actually wore out a mouse from clicking, which was probably the worst part of the Diablo titles.

On the other hand, I picked up Torchlight which is basically Diablo, right down to the Soundtrack, much more streamlined, and not as annoying.

But, I’m going to talk about Borderlands now, and the references to Diablo aren’t completely apparent until I talk about guns and equipment.

Borderlands has four classes, 50 levels, and about 87 bazillion guns.  The equipment is procedurally generated, so there’s no real set list of equipment, merely modifiers for elemental types of damage, manufacturer, type of gun, magazine size, burst fire rate, melee damage bonuses—the list goes on, but you can see how you would end up with lots and lots of different guns.

Borderlands is so much fun that I have beat it.  And gone back to play it again on the harder difficulty.  I have 90% of the Achievements for it for the Xbox 360 version, including the ones for the Zombie Island DLC.  That almost never happens.  I’m also playing it again on the PC with some friends who only got the PC version.  So it’s kind of embarrassing how much I’ve been playing this game.

It does not have the most critical acclaim for the best story, nor game mechanics, nor the graphics.  What it does have is solid, fun, and engaging gameplay.  It’s well put together.  To be honest, I think they could have gone back and actually touched the main character’s back stories a lot more.  It’s just that once the main storyline starts, it’s just a rollercoaster ride because you finish quests quickly, and often.

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Full Disclosure: My link to Dead Space in two circular degrees

So I’m twittering about my experiences playing the game Dead Space.  Awesome game, highly recommended.  I’m on my second play through.

But, back to the I get a follow (on twitter) from someone I don’t recognize, but don’t really think anything of it until I check out who it is.  Turns out it’s the Environmental Art Lead for Dead Space.  So he shows me a couple of things I missed and then I notice a name I think I recognize.  It’s the guy that lived in our group house for a couple of weeks, a friend of one of my roommates.

I do some additional research and well, he is the same artist that painted the triptych sitting in my bedroom, awaiting framing.  He painted them 13 years ago as a thank you for letting him stay.

And he did UI design for Dead Space.

Small world, indeed.

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Friday Night Frights: Dead Space, Part III

Dead Space as a social activity excels if your audience is into it.  I am going to discuss it here as an interactive movie, with the player as the cameraman and primary actor.  Imagine a movie (one like Event Horizon, Leviathan, or The Thing) where the camera actually responds to your input.

Compare the following scenarios.

Movie: While the main character is investigating a broken console, a shadow quickly flits down the hallway to the right, but the main character notice it.  Everyone yells, “What the hell was that on the right?!”  Character continues to repair broken console oblivious to their doom.

Dead Space:  While the main character is investigating a broken console, a shadow quickly flits down the hallway to the right, but the main character doesn’t notice it.  Everyone yells, “What the hell was that on the right?!”  This time, the camera turns and the actor actually investigates the hallway to the right.

The art in Dead Space plays no small part in the movie like experience. The USG Ishimura, while abandoned, is believable as a large spaceship equipped to house over a thousand people.  It has a work areas, living areas, engineering, and most importantly, a tram system and a zero G basketball court.  A shopping mall and even a virtual brothel are insinuated by advertisements that are strewn about the ship. There are trash cans and bathrooms.  Luggage is found near the flight deck but not near the mining facility.

In short, it’s a believable set.

Which is what makes it more unsettling for the audience when they find out that there doesn’t seem to be anyone on it.

If you look, really look at everything in Dead Space, the environment is telling you a story.  Literally.  The strange graffiti on the wall?  That’s all Unitology script that can be decoded because they created an alphabet for it.  Thomas Holt pointed that out to me and, I would have missed it because it was such detail.

I was avoiding Dead Space.  It came out in November of last year and I just was not sold on it.  I was done with the survival horror genre.  I had heard about it, and read favorable reviews, but then attributed those reviews to fans of Resident Evil.

Then, slowly, I was worn down by praise from people I knew and finally asked to borrow a copy from a friend.

I played three chapters on a Friday night, followed by a marathon session on Sunday because it was so compelling.  For the rest of the day on Sunday, I was accompanied by a friend of mine who was a fan of movies like Event Horizon.  She loved it not only because of the storyline, but because of the interaction and the feeling of immersion.

I’d like to see someone try, as a social experiment, playing Dead Space with an audience, a chapter a night say on a movie night.

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Ballerinas in space: Dead Space Part II

For a long time, Resident Evil been considered the king of the survival horror genre.

For a long time, the control has made absolutely no sense to me.

Left stick moves.  Stand still to aim and shoot.  No sidestepping.

Dead Space controls make sense to me.  Left stick moves, right stick is the camera and aiming.  Not much to say about it, however there are a lot of comments being thrown about regarding the Resident Evil 5 control scheme and how it adds to the tension of the game.  The main contention here is that you cannot strafe while aiming.  I am not a big fan of this particular design decision.  I have played the demo and Chris Redfield is incapable of sidestepping while aiming a weapon.  This means he cannot ready a weapon while turning around a corner.

This is a weakness not only in the gameplay design, but in the writing.  What they are telling me, with their icy, necrotic grip on an outdated control scheme, is the following:

Chris Redfield is a paramilitary special agent who cannot aim a weapon down a corridor whilst turning and walking to go down it.

By comparison, Isaac Clarke is a communications engineer in a space suit wearing grav boots who can.

An engineer. Continue reading

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