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Evo 2009, Rock Band Network, ESA vs CTA [Game Overview]
Jul 24th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover this week, so let’s get cracking right away. Will I mention Left 4 Dead 2 again? Read on to find out:

Thank God Atlus Made a Mistake

Video game companies take note: countdown timers suck. No one likes them. Stop teasing your announcements and just make announcements like normal people do.

Or you could do what Atlus just did and tease an announcement and follow it with an accidental premature reveal. The cat is out of the bag, Atlus announced another new spinoff iteration to their MegaTen series with the upcoming (comes out 8 October) Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Story details indicate that the main character is a member of a UN research team deployed to investigate some weirdness at the South Pole. I’m a fan of MegaTen in general, so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Big Numbers

It seems that Dragon Quest IX has sold another 600k or so since last week. Good on them, keep it up and localize that game faster!

Rock Out!

Guitar Hero fans were so smug about the music creation tools within GH: World Tour. It turned out to be a rather niche feature that created midi-representations of songs that vocals couldn’t even be recorded for. Clearly not what everyone was expecting. Harmonix announced the Rock Band Network this week, allowing bands who hold copyrights to songs to chart their own songs and release them within Rock Band, fully realizing their vision of making Rock Band a platform for music distribution. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see if some of my favorite underrepresented bands will start submitting their music to the game. There are a few caveats with submission, namely that the content must remain rated T, but it’s still some of the best news I’ve heard from the company not pertaining directly to The Beatles: Rock Band in a while.

While I’m on the subject of Rock Band, research is showing that sales of boxed copies of Rock Band and Guitar Hero are down 49% in no small part due to the Guitar Hero glut diluting the marketplace. Thankfully, Harmonix’s music platform idea has caught on, earning them a cool billion dollars in revenue. They’ve sold over 40 million tracks online. Good on you HMX.

Get Rock Band 2!

Evo

Evo 2009 came to a close this year and if you know anything about Street Fighter, you can probably guess who won. Daigo “The Beast” in the West and “Ume” in Japan Umehara, playing as Ryu, faced off against America’s Justin Wong, playing as Balrog, in a fight that truly went the distance.

Known around the world for his almost psychic shoryuken deployment, Daigo squeezed past Wong with truly expert execution.

If you want to see more Daigo vs Wong, check out Daigo’s most famous moment from Evo 2004. The epic action begins at about 2:43:

Confused by what you just saw? Daigo, as Ken, parried all 15 of the hits in Justin Wong’s Chun-Li super move. This is no easy feat, especially considering that he had to jump to do one of them. He then takes advantage of Chun-Li’s recovery time to unleash a super of his own, winning the match and Evo 2004.

While they haven’t faced each other as many times, I like to think of Wong and Umehara as the Federer and Roddick of the fighting game world. Good luck next year Justin.

Swamp Fever

Come on, you knew I was going to mention it? New L4D2 details have emerged thanks to SDCC. Valve has released details and footage of the Spitter at Comic-Con.

The Spitter seems to fall into Valve’s “split up groups” policy in Left 4 Dead. Not content to allow players to sit on their haunches with the same tactics from L4D, the Spitter will disperse survivors by lobbing spit balls in a mortar-like fashion that cause continuous damage when players stand in the same spot. Combined with the Charger, this game is looking to be a lot harder.

Other announcements include the common-uncommon infected, modified common infected specific to each level. One can guess that the hazmat, fire retardant infected are one example of this innovation, but Valve has specifically named Mud Men from, I assume, Swamp Fever as common-uncommon infected. They will crawl and move very quickly.

That video actually shows off quite a bit. You can see the residue from a Spitter quickly take down Coach and Ellis and Nick is knocked away from the group and savagely beat against the ground by a Charger (the little arm is so funny looking) while Rochelle is overwhelmed by common infected. It looks intense.

The Fortress

Everyone loves Dwarf Fortress-related comics. Matt and Ian at Three Panel Soul have put together yet another strip.

Man Do I Love “Paperback Writer”

While we’re far away from the subject of The Beatles: Rock Band, how about I post the new gameplay trailer?

I need this game when I get back from Japan.

Time for Updates!

The Xbox 360 dashboard will be updates on 11 August. New features seem to be their games on demand service, movie parties (think MSTK3000), and an avatar marketplace so you can buy gear for your Mii knockoff.

Grand Theft Advertising

Chicago poked the bear by prohibiting the advertising of games rated M on their public transportation ad spaces while not also prohibiting the advertising of R-rated movies. The suit comes from the ESA who claims that the whole thing defies the first amendment. Nice work getting yourselves in trouble Chicago. Was it really worth it to get rid of GTA IV ads?

Recession Gaming: Dwarf Fortress [Game Overview]
Mar 20th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

We’re gonna take a quick break from talking about Final Fantasy villains until I take some time to figure out how I’m gonna tackle XI and instead talk about the game that kept me up until ~0345 this morning: Dwarf Fortress.

You’ve probably never heard of this game, but this incredibly robust one-man (!) coding project will knock your socks off. Here’s how I got around to it:

DF has been released since 2006, but I first heard about it on Three Panel Soul, Ian McConville and Matt Boyd’s followup project to Mac Hall. There was a strip in there describing a dwarf fortress whose entire economy consisted of cats. I was intrigued, but the game’s simple ASCII graphics made the interface look daunting and scary and kept me from trying it out right then. The seed was planted, I just didn’t have the time or patience to try it yet.

Fast forward to earlier this week. I’m listening to one of 1up.com’s podcasts, Good Grief (you rock Tina!), when they started talking about the ancient roguelike Nethack. I had to pause the podcast to go to work, but memories of the Dwarf Fortress strip clawed their way back up to the front of my brain (admittedly not very well, I thought the strip was about Nethack) and I started looking for the strip to get information about the game. Again, I found the graphics daunting, but I learned of a graphical tileset available at May Green that allowed you to take the hyper complicated ASCII graphics and turn them into at least more recognizable icons.

Still, it wasn’t enough. The game’s interface was super daunting when I booted it up and I was too intimidated. Cue the timely rant reference to the game by Tycho of Penny Arcade. His intervention led me to a detailed tutorial that allowed me to finally come to grips with the game mechanics and implement all the stuff I’ve been reading about.

Phew, so that’s a long way to get to where we wanted to get with Dwarf Fortress, but I think it’s a great story. DF has totally blown my mind as a game. Right now I’ve got abou 12-14 dwarves under my command and as I have them bore into the earth, deforest the landscape, trap bears and kobolds in cages, and wrestle so hard their clothes start to fall off in the barracks, I find myself falling in love with this quirky game. Every tiny detail is tightly modeled. For instance, every creature in the game has an organ system. Battle can cause damage to a dwarf’s spleen, causing him to die if he doesn’t get medical care. Individual limbs can be damaged. The guy in the tutorial caught goblins in cage traps (my main defense right now) and somehow in the ruckus the goblin’s eyes were gouged out. Now it just sits in the cage, freaks out, and repeatedly passes out. Here’s an excerpt from a dev about development of these systems:

Today was compound fractures as well as fractured layers being knocked inward to damage soft inner portions. So a bone in the arm for example could break through the skin if the arm is struck by even a blunt weapon, and impacts can also force jagged skull edges into the brain or a broken rib into the heart or a lung (generally, the broken layers can cross body part boundaries according to the wound’s path over body part relationships)

I could go on and on for hours about my fortress, but I’ll hold off for a bit until I’ve got some screenshots and some story to go with it. Can’t wait to get home and play some more instead of napping.

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