Category: general

online gaming without nubes? Is it possible???

I broke down and did the old Steam pre-order of Half-Life 2. I know I’m such a sucker.
So even though I’m hip deep in Painkiller (I hate that swamp monster so much!!!) I couldn’t resist trying out the Source Engine version of Counter-Strike.

Guess what? I’ve put in 2-3 hours and haven’t seen any trash talking or people just acting like asses yet. Wow! Now I’m sure they are out there, but it is certainly refreshing to be alb e to play CS without jerks.

That most jerks don’t seem to be on the new version yet is an interesting phenomenon. Basically, the group of people playing CS:S right now are the hardest of the hard core and who have the money to spend to buy the pre-order. Which raises the question of who lamers really are. Are they really 13 year olds? Are they people who don’t have the computer to run the new version? Are they casual gamers? It will be interesting to see how the new CS community develops and what will happen when Half-Life 2 finally hits the shelves.

On a related note, CS:Condition Zero came with the Steam package I bought and while I was waiting for the Source version to download, I started playing it. It is fun to play with the bots, but boring as heck when you die. What I found interesting though was the fact that CS has one version of the maps, CS:CZ has another version and CS:S has a third. So we have a constant process of remaking the same maps (not to mention the older versions of some maps that have evolved through the betas of CS). It is an interesting process which has some similarities to Lucas’ constant tweaking of Star Wars. What is interesting, however, is that I haven’t found anyone lamenting about how the old versions of the maps are better, unlike the constant lamenting of the original versions of Star Wars.

Whether this is, again, a case of only the hardest of the hardcore playing the game at the moment, with criticisms yet to come, or somehow revisions of levels seem to function in a different way for players than revisions of films do for watchers is yet to be seen.

Despite the fact that CS:CZ comes with “Deleted Scenes” I wonder if some day there will be a “Special Edition” of Counter-Strike that features tons of various versions of the Dust and Office. If they reinstate the jailbreak and VIP modes and include Jeepathon2k you can count me in!

g4m3rs 4 gØd???

I was going to go teach Monday and I saw something interesting on a bulletin board. There was a flyer for a Halo tournament. That is far from unusual, but was unusual was that it was hosted by the campus Christian Student Fellowship house. I guess they are trying to use videogames to convert people?
g4m3rs 4 gØd???
Of course to show how much gaming is naturalized in my mind, the fact that Halo was chosen by a group of Christians was probably not accidental did not even occur to me until a friend pointed it out to me!

Something I saw somewhere else…

Well, I’m trying to ease off of the instant buyer’s remorse of buying a new computer. I just put my orders in for the parts and although my current desktop is old (Athlon 1900+) the thought of spending the money shocks me. Oh well, I ordered some l33t components. Athlon 3500+ (with the fancy new socket) Radeon x800, gig of ram. Watch out all you lamers, i’m coming after you!

But I was surfing around over at water cooler games and saw the link to the interesting Gamespot article, Redefining Games: How Academia is Reshaping Games of the Future, which is the longest article I can remember ever seeing on Gamespot. Despite not having a printer friendly link that I can see, author Lauren Gonzalez does a good job of covering the bases. It links to several game blogs, but of course not mine! (But then again there are tons of gaming blogs that don’t link to me even though they link to any other fly by night blogs… but I’m not bitter or anything…;-)

The article ends on the interesting note of asking people what person unrelated to the field of games–famous or not, dead or alive–they would chose to be a game developer. The answers are pretty interesting and revealing of a persons theoretical standing. Of course, that begs the question of who I would choose. Honestly, I don’t have a solid answer to such a question because I spend so little time theorizing games (and most of my time theorizing players and the appeals of playing, which is of course related, but as my high school principal once said, “It’s the same, but different.”). Musically, I think I might pick Led Zeppelin from the height of their careers, or the Flaming Lips. I think it might be interesting to have the guy who makes up the New York Times Crossword puzzle make a game. If I were cruel, I would suggest that it would be great if the makers of Final Fantasy made a game, but I’m not cruel enough to say that… 😉 From art, I would second Salvador Dali or Escher. But it would also be a very tranquil experience to have Bob Ross rise from the grave and design a game. From the realm of literature? I seem to be drawing a blank on that one… Man, I am just grumpy today.

On that note, I will wrap this up. In the past couple days I’ve ran into a couple of people that say they read my blog. I just want to give a shout out to my peeps. Thanks for reading!

Crystal Waters can relate

No posting latly since my lease on my old apartment ran out last Friday and my new apartment isn’t available untill noon this Friday. So I’m homeless, I’m homeless.

However, just a quick tip. I don’t know if I’m just dence, or what, but I’ve been going to Shacknews pretty frequently for a while now. However, it is only recently that I’ve started taking notice of their “Latest Interesting Comments” feature at teh top of the main page. It turns out that is where the REAL late breaking news often occurs. People will find out about it, post a message and often it will be news that won’t show up untill the next day, or it will be a link to some interesting pic or freeware.

While not entirely game related, it is a good way to keep track of the pulse of the gaming world. Also a study of it would be facinating in that it would show the spread of news and information that the internet allows.

Followup on German sources

A little while back I asked for some German-language references for a paper I have to write for my German class. Thanks to some helpfull posters as well as the kind people on the DIGRA mainling list, combined with my own research skills, I was able to find some articles that seem fairly interesting. I thought I would share them if any readers of German are curious:

Bruns, Karin. “Game Over? Narration und Spannung im Computerspiel.” Kulturrevolution. 45-46 (2003): 85-89.

Fritz, Juergen. “Action, Lebenswelten und Transfer.” medien+erziehung (merz), 47:1 (2003): 7-21.

Fritz, Jürgen and Wolfgang Fehr. “Identität durch Spiel: Computerspiele als Lernanreize für die Persönlichkeitsentwicklung.” Medien Praktisch. 4 (1999):30-32.

Gunzenhäuser, Randi. “Darf ich mitspielen? Literaturwissenschaften und Computerspiele.” September 22, 2003. July 20, 2004 .

— “Raum, Zeit und Körper in Actionspielen Max Payne.” dichtung-digital. March 31, 2002. July 20, 2004 .

Mathez, Judith. “Von Mensch zu Mensch. Ein Essay über virtuelle Körper realer Personen im Netz.” dichtung-digital. November 7, 2002. July 20 2004 .

Müller, Jörg. “Virtuelle Körper. Aspekte sozialer Körperlichkeit im Cyberspace.” 1996. July 20, 2004 .

Schindler, Friedemann. “Von Super Mario und Super Marion.” January 29, 1999. July 20, 2004 .

Suter, Beat. “Computerspiel und Narration.” April, 10 2003. July 20, 2004 .

Wenz, Karin. “Computerspiele: Hybride Formen zwischen Spiel und Erzählung.” March 5, 2003. July 20, 2004 .

— “Computerspiele und Kulturwissenschaften.” April 3, 2003. July 20, 2004 .

I guess this means I have to work on translating them now…!

Long time no see

It has been a bit longer between updates than typical, but I’ve been busy. TV won’t watch itself!

And there is some interesting stuff on TV occasionally. On the otherwise dreadful G4TechTV one generally great and always interesting show is Icons, which features short half hour documentaries about videogame related topics. Friday they had a pretty good show on about DooM. Like all things on cable it will be on again soon. Bluesnews posted links to various videos of the episode.

One thing that I gathered from the episode was that Steven Kent, author of The Ultimate History of Video Games, among other things, is writing The Making of Doom III, which should be an interesting companion to David Kushner’s Masters of Doom.

OK, time to watch some more TV. I think this might be the one where Gilligan messes up their chance to get off the island!

Am I supposed to call it 3.0?

Here it is! I hope everyone likes it. Below is lots of non-game related web design lamenting, so if you aren’t into that, the game content will return in the next post (unless I’ve broken things so much I have to apologize!)

Well, after a month or so trying to figure out CSS, I think I got enough of it under control so that I have something I am happy with. I hope everyone enjoys the new site. For those LONG time readers, you may remember that when I first started a blog, it was a 3 column layout, and now it is again. The more things change the more they stay the same.
The layout started out as a template I got from Firdamatic but it was fixed width and I wanted a liquid layout. That broken layout can be seen here. I eventually found A List Apart which had a great article about “Creating Liquid Layouts with Negative Margins.” Now I have to admit, I still don’t entirely understand why the margin has to be negative, but it works. Of course it didn’t work right away, because these things never does. I had to just basically cut and paste the article’s CSS the results of which can be seen here. I discovered an invaluable took for people messing around with web design, editcss, an extension for Firefox which places an item in the right click context menu that pops up the css of any site and allows you to edit it on the fly. With the help of that I was able to get things looking the way I wanted them. But of course, that was only when I was looking at it in Firefox and Mozilla. The calendar was all screwed up in IE and Opera. Now not being a web design wizard, I did what anyone would do, I turned to Google. Eventually I found someone that had encountered the same problem and was able to fix it. So with the help of editcss, I was able to figure out what Palestars did to fix it. Finally came the little fiddling with the borders and the colors. The banner picture is a picture I took here on IU’s campus. I originally was going to have more pictures of places in town where I have seen videogame related things in public, but decided it would be too busy. I made the title with the font silkscreen which I first ran into on the web comic Diesel Sweeties and I tried to keep the actual title fairly small so that it shows up in a wide variety of screen resolutions.

So that is it. I haven’t changed the archive templates (and I should mention that I figured out how to display category archives from Learning Movable Type) and I’m not sure if I will. I’ve tried out the site on Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, IE6 on Windows and Safari, Mozilla, and IE on the mac (it looks a little odd on IE for the mac, but I have no idea how to fix it and according to the server logs it doesn’t look like very many people are using it) but if someone finds something looking weird, let me know. I probably won’t know how to fix it, but I’ve gotten really good at cut and paste!

change is in the air..

Four short posts about change:

So, not to like get anyone’s hopes up, but I think I’m just about done messing about with the css for the new layout. Look for a new improved design early next week!

On game related news, it seems that Doom 3 is going to come out fairly soon. I guess that is even more motivation to buy a new computer.
However, I have to say that if it is like the preview that they showed at E3 a couple years ago that had the constant mini-cutscenes, I will be very dissapointed. All I ask is no cutscenes! Don’t show me doing something, let me do it!

Speaking of E3, from the debut of the PSP and the Nintendo DS at the last E3, it looks like the landscape of gaming could be changing with the good old gameboy having some serious competition. I’ve never been much of a mobile gamer, I’ve never owned a gameboy — although I did have a handheld Space Invaders game back in the day. I turned over the score counter on it. See mom and dad, I wasn’t wasting my time, I was doing research for my future career! You got to have that cultural capital man!

But nexy year’s E3 seems to be the one where everyone will be showing off their new consoles. I don’t know. I feel like it is time to replace the PS2. Some may disagree, but I think it’s limitations are holding back some cross platform games. But I don’t really feel like my x-box has reached the end of its life yet. I think it has a couple more years left in it. And of course with Microsoft radically changing the architecture of the NeXtbox (whatever it ends up being called) there won’t be any backwards compatability. However, I think the idea of modding one of the current boxes and archiving a bunch of games on it does look compelling.

Well, wasn’t that just disjointed and rambling?

Lazy days of summer…

It is indeed the lazy days of summer. I just want to lay in bed all day. But my adoring crowd of fives of fives of dedicated readers insist that I update my blog. Oh the responsibility of blogging!

Random game related things:

I’m playing through Half-Life again. I know that it has been talked about to death by many people, including myself, but it still has something going for it. Lots of people mention the great story, but even having played through the game more than once, I really don’t see where this plot is. Sure, there is a storyline, but I don’t really care about it at all. What makes it so interesting for me is just that it is put together oh well. Never are there places where you have to really guess what you are supposed to do which makes playing it such an intuitive experiences.

However, it is not all wine and roses. For a games that is this old, and is still being patched from time to time, I’m surprised that it has as many bugs as it does. Every time I ride an elevator, I have to jump at the end of the ride or else I get stuck and can’t move. It is incredibly irritating and serves to remind me of how fragile the reality of a game is.

On another topic, I don’t think I ever mentioned it but Dungeons and Dreamers is a facinating read. It is strongest when it concentrates on Richard Garriot of Ultima fame and somewhat weaker when it strays to other subjects such as the id people (which is probably weakened all the more by coming out after Masters of Doom). *Irony Alert* I think that by focusing so much on people, however, the book actually missed out on addressing a much more interesting phenomenon. I know, I know, I’m the guy who is always saying, “Videogames are about people!” and”Ethnography is da bomb!” but while the story of how Richard Garriot amassed a fortune, and helped to create an industry and then got forced out from the company he founded in his parent’s house is facinating, I think that it really serves as an illustration of a larger phenomenon of the corporatization of the gaming industry. Garriot’s story nicely illustrates how the computer software industry moved from something that people literally did in their garages, bedrooms and attics by themselves and hiring friends and family and marketing games themselves to a multibillion dollar industry which is driven by profit rather than artistic vision and now takes years and large groups of people to complete. It also signals the death of the autuer, which is in and of itself an interesting phenomenon in that to the vast majority of people who buy games they are an authorless medium. Had Dungeons and Dreams explored this aspect with a little more detail, it would have made for an incredibly facinating analysis. Oh well, I guess that’s my job!