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Donkeljohn Blog

Where You Can Find My Thoughts

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Hey all!

With the news of Ray and Greg retiring from games, I wrote this thing over here. I'd be pretty stoked if you read it and commented. Warning: it's not really written for people who play games as much as it is composed for people that start companies.

After working in a few startups over the last 4 years I've really come to appreciate the hard work and team effort that goes into building something from nothing. It's amazing to think almost 20 years ago two doctors got together to build what would be one of the best RPG development houses in the world. Neverwinter Nights was instrumental to helping me break into the game industry and a clear catalyst to landing the job I had at GameSpot. If it wasn't for the Aurora Toolset and the collaboration with some talented college friends, I'd probably would've been writing end-user training manuals for enterprise software all these years (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Today, I'm excited to be helping to build something that has been designed to make the startup life easier, leaner, and more illuminated.I hope to succeed and wouldbe chuffed to bits if you'd share it with your friends on Twitter & Facebook...especially if they are the entrepreneurial type[s].

I wish each of you all the best and will continue to check in here from time to time. Just thought some of you might find the write-up of interest.

Happy playing, my friends!

Epic Thread[s]

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I'm not sure how many of you like comics, but there are some amazing ideas being created in this thread over here.

One of the funny bits.

If you want the best of the thread distilled down to a nice jumping-on point, click here. If you want to get in there and mix it up, no need to thank me. It was the least I could do.

If you follow comics, where do you usually get your information from?

Cake and Ice Cream

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I've been thinking about doing an updated video proclaiming my undying love of pie.

[video=dndixWSo5b8MvTLW]

That video is four years old.

But today's release of the Mr Freeze trailer for Arkham City gave me a renewed desire for some ICE cream.

What flavor do you prefer?

Looking Forward to the Cataclysm

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No, I am not talking about the unending economic troubles, the impending energy shortage, credit and financial debacles, governments conspiring against their citizens, or a world destroyed.

Well, I guess I am talking about a world destroyed. Today's announcement of the new World of Warcraft expansion definitely sounds awesome. Changing the face of Azeroth sounds turbulent, but also promising for shaking up the world, the game, and the addition of some exciting new races. I am very much looking forward to playing a Worgen, almost as much as I had anticipated the arrival of the blood Elves.

Now if you will excuse me, I will go back to taking in Blizzcon, less people.

Regarding Comic-Con 2009

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I was initially okay with missing some of the awesome, exclusive collectibles available for purchase at Comic-Con 2009. But the news that Dr McNinja Volume 3 is getting a release party during the Con--and I am not going to be there--is almost too much to bear. Dr. McNinja is hands-down the funniest web comic out there.

Hastings, you are such a tease.

. . .and if you are thinking about showing up, forget it. The whole Con is sold out. No onsite memberships will be sold. So, I guess that explains the random dude I saw last year with Dino's badge.

What E3 2009 Taught Me

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Come back in 2010.

The lion's share of the games I am interested in getting/must play are coming out in 2010.

While I can't decide whether Mass Effect 2 or Castlevania will be the game of show for me, I can safely say 2009 seems to hold little in the way of enticing titles coming out of interest. The surprise game of interest to me, Split/Second is said to be coming out in Q1 of next year. The driving experience looks pretty fun. I have found--over the last year--that I enjoy arcade racers and this title's destructible/unlockable environments looks like a blast. Castlevania Lords of Shadow looks like a great game (based on that one magnificent trailer) and I hope to see a lot more very soon. TGS is sure to be a fountain of trailers, hype, and awesome.

Crackdown 2 comes out next year, but. . . I don't know. The idea of collectiing more Agility Orbs (confirmed in the trailer) or Hidden Orbs is not something I find enticing. I did enough of that in the first game and it was arguably a process that spoiled the fun of the title for me.

Final Fantasy XIII is an obligatory play for me. Finding out the game wasn't coming to North America until next year took the wind out of my sails, but has not deterred my faith in the franchise . . . despite my pass on XI and XII.

Lost Planet 2 needs no introduction. It was arguably the greatest thing in 2007. . . next to The Orange Box. What I saw of LP2, looks bigger, better, and a lot more exciting. Hopefully I'll get to enjoy a lot more coop (anything is more than zero). The carry-over of multiplayer modes is good news too. . . so long as the achievements are not predicated upon ranked wins as they were last time.

The new Metroid has me excited that the series is going back to a non-FPS format. While the game looks a lot like Xenosaga, Star Ocean, and predictably Ninja Gaiden. Metroid has never been known for characterization, despite Fusion having some great backstory sections and interaction with friendly alien entities. My concern is having two females prominently displayed in the trailer is the game devolving into Space Station Number 9 territory or some other vapid Soap spectacle. The trailer does concern me; especially if I find out the alien brawling is all controlled via quick-time events.

Exceptions

Last year we knew ODST was coming out in 2009, but I can't say I am especially psyched about its release. In truth I all but forgot about it after the rush of last year's announcement. Fall of Reach is too early to say anything about.

My afore-mentioned loyalty to both Chair and Orson Scott Card gives me hope in 2009 only because Shadow Complex is going to emerge in a matter of weeks. I love Metrovania gameplay and this should easily scratch that itch.

E3 Day One Picks

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Watching Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft hold their press conferences today was bittersweet for a number of reasons. Sure I wasn't there to see them live with the staff of GameSpot and I had a hard time not thinking of publisher decisions from a business perspective, but I realized my tastes are very different today. I'm not sure if it was because I was watching most of the coverage with my two kids or a possibility that my tastes have just outgrown all the "mature" content.

Whatever the reasoning, a few games stood out to me as my new titles of interest.

Shadow Complex

Once upon a time I applied for a job at Chair Entertainment. Since Epic acquired the Provo-based studio (and maker of one of my favorite XBLA games, Undertow), I have struggled to see how the two companies could go well together. From what I have seen of Shadow Complex and what I know of the creators, I will have to carve out some money to download this Epic title. I like Metroid, I like Castlevania, and I love to hate the corruption within the United States government . . . so, why not?

Lego Rock Band

It wasn't really shown in a press conference, but a new trailer dropped for it today. It reminded me what I love most about Legos and what I dislike most about Rock Band (the heavy songs I hate). I'd love to link the trailer, but I can't. Playing inoffensive contemporary tracks on a pirate ship, in a castle, or adorned with space paraphernalia is a dream come true. They just need to get some tracks from Man . . . or Astroman! and The Aquabats in there and it is a no-brainer.

The Beatles Rock Band

I can hope my instruments will carry over and multiple vocalists will be able to harmonize on some of the greatest songs of the 20th Century, but I don't know for sure. What I do know is my adolescent love of The Beatles and my current enjoyment of casual rhythm games conjoin to form an undeniable draw for me to want to play this game. Admittedly, I don't know much about it--since the live streams of Microsoft's Press Con were universally dead to me today--but I did catch a fun trailer while I was on Giant Bomb. That counts for something I suppose.

Metal Gear Solid Rising

I enjoyed MGS4 last year as a great way to wrap up the Solid Snake storyline, but I wanted more time to understand the mess that had become Raiden. Hopefully MGS Rising will be that opportunity. After all, with synthetic blood, artificial limbs, and fake angst, you'd think they could give him a replacement lower lip. I mean, really.

Final Fantasy XIII

Sure it is not coming out until next year, but I have some cautious optimism. I skirted FFXI and FFXII, but I am interested to see what is going on in the return to a true futuristic Final Fantasy universe. Lost Odyssey was a Pyrrhic victory for my JRPG tastes. By playing it I realized my appetite that can only be satiated by SquareEnix, anything else is not as interesting and Atlas leaves a nasty aftertaste.

As far as games I might rent or borrow from my financially flush friends, I could include:

Brutal Legend

Halo 3 ODST

Forza Motorsport 3

Halo Reach

Crackdown 2

Mass Effect 2

That pretty much was the extent of my Day 1 impressions. I concluded everything else I saw was wholly unappealing to me. Perhaps Day 2 will have Sony reigniting my interest in my PSP or providing a compelling reason to spend money I don't have on their third console. Heck, they might break with Microsoft's strategy and announce a new console. At this point, any manufacturer is foolish to release new console hardware. Natal isn't bad, per se, but really wasn't the closer a lot of us were looking for from Microsoft's introduction to this revitalized E3. Nintendo may very well showcase that Mario game they are working on during their Press Con tomorrow. personally, I want a decent Zelda, even if it will be on the DS. At this point in my life, family gaming is becoming more and more interesting to me.

Ubisoft, whenever you bring James Cameron out, make sure you have a way to get him off the stage. You should have learned from his history with the Oscars.