Want to feel smart the easy way? Here's how: watch David McCandless' TED talk, and then go check out his stuff. McCandless is the latest rock star in the rapidly expanding field of data visualization. His imagery mixes graphic design and data together in such a compressed and visually enticing way that large amounts of information leap out of his images and straight into your mind. This is the best possible news for those of us who don't have time to painstakingly chart where the world's money resides, or determine whether the world's total nuclear arsenal is actually capable of eradicating humanity.
This Week In Games 8.5.10
Duke Nukem Forever was playable at PAX this weekend. It's being developed by Gearbox (Borderlands), who will hopefully be able to put a cap on the game's 14 year dev cycle. Here's some shakycam gameplay footage.
Bangai-O, hands down my favorite Dreamcast game, is getting the Xbox Live Arcade HD treatment. Hopefully they retain the crazy. It debuted at PAX this weekend - here are some first impressions from TVGB.
StarCraft II sold over 3 million copies in its first month.
In Australia, it's now OK to sell something, and then take it away without repercussion.
Kotaku has new Wii game stats up.
Game Informer's sweet October cover does it Saturday Evening Post style with Irrational's Bioshock Infinite.
The collaboration between Oddworld Inhabitants and Just Add Water bears its first fruit - Stranger's Wrath on PS3 for early 2011.
More Portal 2 was revealed at PAX this weekend.
Upcoming WoW patch leaves Power PC based Macs behind.
The Xbox Live Gold subscription price will go up as of 11/1/10 - buy those cheaper subs now, kids!
Deadspace 2 multiplayer will be soldiers vs necromorphs.
There could be a Resident Evil 6 announcement very soon.
What Are You Playing This (Long) Weekend?
I'm still hanging in there with Wolfenstein, so a little more of that is on the menu. I'm not convinced that it's as good as the reviews would have you believe, but just the same I tend to really dig in when I play. Last time there was a double arm-blade wielding enemy that popped in and out of visibility similar to Nightcrawler the X-Man. He kept brutally stabbing civilians just out range for most of the level, but he went down surprisingly easily once I went toe-to-toe with him. I think I got stabbed maybe once. Such a tease. I'm close to the 50% mark, and the game still hasn't managed to produce an actual challenge more than once or twice. Ho hum. I promise this will be the last I ever whinge over Wolfenstein. If I don't manage to polish it off this weekend, it's out of the running for my attention.
I'll also be getting deeper in to Toy Soldiers (hint: I'm playing it right now), which is a tower defense game where all of the units are WWI style soldiers and weaponry. The main gimmick is that it all takes place in a dioramist's toy box. You can see bits and pieces of furniture off in the distance, which works to sell the tempest in this particular teapot. The battles are packed to the gills with WAR, and you can jump into and control any of the several types of weapon emplacements. So far, it's been a real treat.
This Week In Games 8.29.10
How awesome is this Dragon Age 2 trailer?
University of Florida adds a StarCraft studies honors course to teach resource management.
FTC slaps PR firm over fake iTunes store game reviews.
Portland bike lanes now have Mario Kart powerups. Automobile commuters better watch out for that blue shell.
Virtual photographer squeezes unintended art out of game glitches.
Here's another entry in the ever growing realm of game generated machinima. This time it's Mirror's Edge meets the Half-Life universe.
EA isn't going to back down on including Taliban fighters in Medal of Honor multiplayer.
Mega Man Online trailer - more like Akira than NES.
Ever look back on your gaming life and think, "I should sue ..."?
Zynga sued over Mafia Wars name.
What Are You Playing This Weekend?
I finally managed to get a copy of Raven Software's Wolfenstein at a price it seemed to be worth, about $18. I've played a bit so far, and I think my sense of its value proposition has dropped a little. First, the story is pretty throw away. Boiled down to its essentials, it goes something like this: The War Bosses: "The Krauts have gotten ahold of some wicked bad supernatural technology, so go kill 'em, B.J. Blazkowicz!" B.J. Blazkowicz: "Not a problem." So, you mainly kill everyone/everything in your path, and collect the goodie at the end of the battle, becoming ever more badass; repeat (presumably) until the game is over. Second, in what seems like a nod to "modern" gaming, Raven structured the missions around the fictional town of Isenstadt (read: hub world). You return to its cramped alleyways between each mission, and slog pointlessly through mobs of Nazis until you reach the next area of interest. I have to say, for as much as I like shooting glowin' occult Nazis, the slog is starting to wear on me a bit. The flip side of this is that once you're out of the town, the actual missions are generally enjoyable, so I'm going to play again this weekend and see if I can wring a little more fun out of it before selling it on craigslist.
I bought Chime this a.m., and I'll certainly be getting some of that in over the weekend. It's a music/puzzle game available on Xbox Live Arcade where the music gets better as you puzzle better. So far it's quite lovely, and a large chunk of the very reasonable $5 cost goes to the Starlight Children's Foundation, and Save the Children. For all you non-Xbox folks, it's going to be released on Steam for PC on September 6th. No word yet on the price, but the charitable donations will continue, so do your part to save some kids and you'll get a very cool game in the bargain.
Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Pac-Man
At the 2010 Usenix Security Symposium, hackers from Princeton and University of Michigan demonstrated how they replaced the software on a Sequoia AVC Edge voting machine with - wait for it, wait for it - Pac-Man! By itself, that's not totally amazing considering the machine's role in some pretty suspect election results, but the kicker is they proved it could be done without breaking the "tamper-evident" seals on the device, because the "software can be replaced ... simply by removing screws and opening the case." Now if election boards would just stop using the things.
This Week In Games 8.22.10
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will have a fancy collector's edition.
There will be a Resistance 3.
Mass Effect 2 is coming to PS3, but Mass Effect 1 is not. Bioware promises a smooth entry into the ME mythos.
The Dawn of War II DLC due out March 2011 will include an Orkz campaign!
Dawn of War III will follow 12 - 18 months after, and may be free-to-play.
PC Gamer talks with Valve about the new Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 campaign, "The Sacrifice." The super sweetener is that the L4D 1 campaign "No Mercy" will also make it to L4D 2.
Save a little of that Christmas money! Portal 2 will miss the holiday 2010 sweet spot, but will come out soon after - 2/9/2011.
Rumor: Some developers shown a PSP 2 prototype with touch controls ... on the back of the device.
Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain sold 4x its projected numbers in the US.
Something Wicked This Way Will Come
Ray Bradbury, you dog you. I don't know what you did to turn Rachel Bloom on, but whatever it was, you should write a book about that, bro.
Peter Shows Milo At TED
Today's TED talk is from Peter Molyneux, Creative director for Microsoft Game Studios Europe and famed developer of the Fable series of games. When the Microsoft's Project Natal was first announced (now called Kinect), Molyneux showed off Milo, a virtual 11 year-old boy you could interact with via Natal's unique controller-free interface. At the time, Milo's job was really to help evangelize the Natal and the potential of such an interface, but Molyneux's studio has continued to develop the software, and Milo has begun to form up as something approaching an actual product. The demo is really worth watching, partly just to see the thing in motion, but mostly to hear Molyneux talk about the bits of Milo's design (including his mind) that are literally out of the box.
What Did You Play This Weekend?
Indie developer Playdead's 2D platformer, Limbo, picks up where Edward Gorey left off with The Gashlycrumb Tinies. You play as a silhouetted boy in a black and white world who, at least according to the game's description on Xbox Live, is searching for his sister. Starting the game cold tells you none of that, though. You play as the boy, yes, but you wake up in a nearly black woods with no instruction at all. There's an obvious blockade to the left, so running right is the thing to do. Run right, then, and pretty soon you run into the big, enthusiastic nod to Gorey. Death. Find the bear trap, and Wham! Dead. Get too close to the giant (I'm talkin' 20 feet tall, folks) spider, and oh, that slight movement you saw was it preparing to impale you. Fall into a pit (of spikes). Dead. Face goes below the surface of water. Listlessly drown. On and on it goes, and even though I'm not finished with the game, I'm starting to think a Gorey-esque Limbo alphabet might not be out of the question. Of course, the object here is to avoid as much death as possible, and therein lies the challenge. Most of the puzzles are physics or timing based (with a few stray unclassifiables), and a bit brain teasing, but so far none have strayed very far from being fun. Currently, Limbo is only available on Xbox Live Arcade, and while it seems pretty unlikely that Microsoft's exclusivity will wear off anytime soon, Little Big Planet owners can at least sooth themselves with this kickass remake.