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A Little Chat About 3D

Hello dear readers. Sit down in my study and lets have a little chat shall we? Nintendo just announced the 3DS and I'd like to talk a little about some of the short sighted comments I've read already mere hours after the announcement. If you'd like a good sampling check out Gamespot's gut reactions piece or just head to the comments section under any article about the system.

One concept that people like to throw around in this industry is 'gimmick' and man are the 'gimmick police' cracking down hard on the 3DS. Never mind that none of these people have even seen the system yet. It's a gimmick, well, because...well it just IS. After all Nintendo is making it.

But here's the thing, 3D in video games is NOT just a gimmick. Stop and think a moment about 3D...no, really...do it. DO IT or I'll send Drake to steal your secret asparagus stash (new readers--just don't ask).

Now that you've thought about it let's talk. What is 3D? Well one way of talking about it might be to talk about the number of dimensions in play. You have an X, Y, and Z axis. These things together make up 3D space. But we're already playing games that make use of this style of 3D. Up till now that's all 3D really meant.

So what IS this new 3D that's invaded our movie theatres and now game consoles? What does it mean? Two words: Depth perception.

We exist in 3D space, but only see in 3D thanks to our two forward facing eyes. This is a very common trait amongst preditors, because it allows them to more effectively chase down and capture prey. Many prey animals on the other hand have thier eyes on the sides of thier head. They don't get depth perception, but benefit from a wider field of view that lets them see trouble coming.

So obviously nature doesn't think depth perception is a gimmick. It affords us a genuine evolutionary advantage and one that many people may not fully appreciate. Hurt an eye though and you'll get to experience a world without depth perception. All of a sudden even the simpliest of actions...say, grabbing a cup of coffee off a table, becomes an exercies in frustration. Your hand fumbles to find the glass and even drinking can be more difficult (just how far is that glass from your mouth anyway?).

Walk around and you'll find yourself tripping and walking into things that you'd normally easily avoid. Complicated actions like driving become practically impossible.

My point is that depth perception is a fundamental part of human vision and our daily lives. Yes, if you lose an eye you will eventually adapt, but would you choose to live that way? I think not.

In movies depth perception is at best a visual effect. It doesn't actually change the experience because movies are a passive experience.

But this is a video game site and the 3DS is a video game system. Video games are not passive. They are active experiences that often require players to move characters in a 3D space without the aid of depth perception. I'm sure I'm not the only one to misjudge distance in a 3D platformer. Like a person with only one eye we've adapted and most of us probably don't even realize it.

My point is that 3D has the potential to truly improve the way we see our video games. The ability to see depth in a game should make almost any game set in 3D space easier and more intuitive. Shooters, platformers, driving games and everything in between...all of these should benefit from the additon of depth perception.

So before you scoff and mutter the word 'gimmick' under your breath stop and consider how you'd like having an eye poked out. Would you be happy to be free of that gimmicky depth perception or maybe...just maybe...would you rather keep it?

Play My Game!

Hey guys, I know, I know...I've abandoned poor Agent Nine. Who knows what happened to him at that box factory? I may get back to that eventually, but let's be honest--people haven't exactly been busting down the internet doors to read it (except for you Carstairs...you rock!).

Instead I've spent the past three months creating a piece of Interactive Fiction for the Jayisgames Casual Game Design Contest 7. A week ago that contest went live and all the entries are now open to the public--including mine. If you've enjoyed my work in the past I have a feeling you'll find something to like in this game, which can be found here:

http://jayisgames.com/cgdc7/?gameID=8

It shouldn't take any longer than an hour. It's probably too easy for its own good, but there's an interesting story there. I'd love if you guys checked it out and gave me your thoughts.

For those unfamilar with IF, it's basically what text adventure games have turned into. You get around entirely with text commands: north, south, west, east to navigate. Look, to inspect objects and your surroundings. Take, to take something. And insert to place something in something else.

Every other command needed for the game is given to you in the room and item descriptions.

Episode 6 - An Old Friend Returns

I left the office feeling pretty pleased with myself. Sure I'd just been told to take a leave of absence due to the fact that my boss suspected me of helping to lace the world's water supply with hamster urine, but hey--at least I wasn't in jail. And Dr. Z had promised me that when I got back to the secret lair (deep in the bowels of the local Wal-Mart) he'd introduce me to the kingpin of overlords. For years as a secret agent I'd heard wild rumors of this Kingpin, known by the alias D3, but I'd never believed a word of them until Dr. Z informed me that he was a real person.

"Hello, welcome to Wal-mart." A kindly looking old man sat on a bench nearby.

I paused and tried to remember the secret passcode that Dr. Z had given me.

"Uh...hi. Um...I need to...I need to buy a bottle of asprin?"

"Aisle 3." He pointed over across the store.

"Is that..." I looked around suspiciously. "Is that where the entrance to the secret lair is located?"

"Er..look, I'm getting paid minimum wage here sonny. They don't pay me to deal with you kids and your stupid pranks."

"Is that a no?" I bit my lip. "See, I forgot the..."

The old man stood up, hoisted his heavy metal stool in the air and proceeded to beat me senseless. When I awoke I found myself lying on a cold floor in a dark cavern. Also, all my teeth were completely broken.

"HELLO!" A myserious voice echoed throughout the room.

"Are you him? The secret kingpin? THe mysterious D3?"

"Do not dare to call me by that name! I will slaughter a room of kittens and purree them and make you drink the puree all while staring at the kittens mothers as they cry themselves to sleep. My name is Davion Drake Daniels, but you can just call me Davion. But never Dave. If you call me Dave I'll punch you in the gut."

He stepped out of the shadows and toward over me, a gaunt man with a wide grin and eyes that never seemed to be looking in the same place at the same time. I accepted his hand and he pulled me off the floor.

"Say, where's Dr. Z?"

"Oh, he ate the last stalk of asparagus so I had him skinned and sent his skeleton to a university for research. His one request before he died was that his body not be used for anything good. Also I had his organs donated."

My mouth went dry. This man was a genius. An evil genius of the highest order. And he smelled great. I don't know what calone he was useing, but man. Fantastic. I made a note to ask him about it. Over the phone. Just in case it was the sort of the thing that would cause him to donate my organs.

"So...er...boss" He narrowed his eyes. "Davion! Davion...what's the plan?"

"The plan?" He smiled. "You want to know my plan. Well, it's quite simple really...I'm going to...hmpf. But that would be telling. No. No. I don't think I'll tell you just yet. For now I must test your resolve. I need you to..."

I waited with baited breath. Would he ask me to slaughter babies? Kick puppies? Steal canes from old people (who I currently wasn't very fond of anyway)...

"Go to the local box factory and buy thirty boxes...make sure to get plenty of medium sized ones and just a few of the larger kind."

"Er...buy?"

"Are you questioning my orders?"

"BOXES?"

"I will tell you only once. Do as I say without question or...well, I can be creative, but it will likely involve a thousand starving spiders and a confined space."

Next Week: To the Box Factory!

Episode 5 - Double the Agent and Double the Fun

"Oh ho ho! And you see that's how I defeated Dr. Z."

My boss looked up at me from his desk and took a long drink of water.

"Wait, I don't get it. Weren't you still strapped to Dr. Z's wall at the end of the story?"

"What are you saying, that I haven't written a report in three weeks?"

"Uh...well yeah, and you promised another report and then...nothing. I don't hear a bloody word from you, my worst secret agent, for three whole weeks and then you just saunter in here laughing and going on about defeating Dr. Z."

I swallowed. Was he on to me? Only one way to find out. Ask him.

"You aren't implying that I made a deal with Dr. Z to become a double agent so that I could escape certain death in a tank of sharks are you?"

"Er..." He squinted at me. "I think I'm going to have to take you off active duty for the time being."

"Because you really don't have to do that...I would never betray my own country to help a mad man lace the world's water supply with hamster urine."

My boss spit out the water he'd been drinking and sat there sputtering.

"Well, I'm off to do anything BUT meet with my new boss Dr.Z and scheme ways of taking down the agency once and for all. Anything but that. Also I think I need to buy more bottled water. Tottles."

I clapped my hands and headed out the door. I'd been worried about being bad at this double agent thing, but it turned out it was pretty easy.

Next Week: D3?!? Can it be?!? Long time readers should recognize this special upcoming guest star.

Episode 4 - At the Point of a Thousand Hamsters

The hoard came upon me with shuffling little feet and beady black eyes. Thier soft fur tickled as they crawled up my legs.

"Aww...they're so cute."

They opened thier mouths to reveal gleaming white teeth.

"And such fantastic dental care!"

I felt with my tounge for my many rotten and missing teeth. If only the US government took as good care of me as the evil villain took care of his hamsters. Oh well. If wishes were horses I wouldn't be strapped to a wall covered in hamsters. No, if wishes were horses I'd be strapped to a wall covered in ladies and surrounded by horses.

Captain Dolphin cackled maniacly as the hamsters opened thier mouths and dug into my skin.

"Yes! YES!!! Devour him like your newborn young!"

In the midst of my screaming and flailing I realized that I was no longer covered in hamsters. The little beasts lay on the floor frozen. Some of them hung from my skin by thier teeth. Where had my rescue come from?

"Dr. Z?!?"

"That's right. Have you forgotten your true nemesis? I've become a footnote in this story. A footnote with really sticky floors and no armored hamsters. But no one kills a government agent in my secret base of doom but me. No one I say. Captain Dolphin. You've interfered with my base. Stolen my hamster armor. And generally made a mess of my evil schemes. Prepare to DIE!"

He turned his ray gun (I didn't mention that he had a ray gun? Well what do you think happened to those hamsters?) on Captain Dolphin and fired. A blast of light issued forth towards Captain Dolphin only to be stopped by a gyser of water that exploded from the floor.

A chittering dolphin popped his head out of the gyser and Captain Dolphin lept onto its back.

"You haven't seen the last of CAPTAIN DOLPHIN!"

Next Week: A gyser of water out of the floor? What kind of sense does that make? This story is going downhill fast. Will I ever not be chained to a wall? Are all those cute little hamsters really dead?!? I may have to shed a tear or two...next week on Ax23000's blog.

Episode 3 - Captain Dolphin to the Rescue

Captured by the wicked Dr. Z! Soon to be defeated by hamsters!! The free world at jeopardy!!! My dry cleaning...not picked up!!!!

These were the exclamatory thoughts running through my head when Captain Dolphin, top agent for PETA, burst into the room in a fiery explosion of...well, fire.

"Come my furry brethren!" He pointed to the hamsters, who were busy chewing on all the electrical wires in Dr. Z's command center. "Let us run free! Free as the lions I broke out of the zoo."

The hamsters looked up at him, blinked, and continued to nibble on the wires.

Captain Dolphin stumbled down the pile of rubble.

"Hey...you...you there." I shouted up at him. "Do you think you could rescue a fellow secret agent from certain death?"

"I don't know." He whipped off his black sun glasses and peered at me through narrowed eyes. "Do you eat meat?"

"Do I ever! Steak. Hamburgers. Chicken. Shrimp. Shark fin soup. Dolphin flavored tuna. I can't get enough meat. One time, on a secret mission in the middle of nowhere, I devoured a baby bunny I found huddling in a burrow. Meat has never tasted so good and so tender."

Captain Dolphin turned and threw up on the floor.

"Why do people insist on vomiting on my floor?!?" Dr. Z stood amidst the nibbling hamsters.

"So I take it you aren't going to rescue me then?"

"Hamsters!" Captain Dolphin roared. "Rise up against this treasonous beast! Devour his flesh. Let our ears dine on his screams!"

As one the hamsters took up Captain Dolphin's call and turned their eyes upon me.

"Isn't convincing a bunch of hamsters to eat me kind of going against your code?"

"You gotta do what you gotta do. Scum like you must be chewed from this planet one tiny bite at a time."

Next week: Can anything save Agent Nine? Will Dr. Z ever have a clean floor? Does Captain Dolphin truly captain a team of dolphins? Or is his name just for show? Find out. Right here on...Ax23000's blog.

Episode 2 - Hamming it Up

I once faced down a demon looking to bring about the apocolypse. It was the most terifying moment of my life. So what if it turned out that it was Halloween and that demon was just some poor kid trying to get some candy? When you're a secret Agent you can't ever take anything for granted.

If I thought a nine year old dressed in a demon cosume was scary I couldn't even begin to describe the terror that coursed through my veins as row upon row of fuzzy little hamsters waddled into the room. Thier black eyes glistend with evil! Evil I say!!! Well, technically they glistend with water. But evil water.

"Wha! Ha! Ha! Ha!" Dr. Z cackled. "With this army of armored hamsters I'll be unstoppable! UNSTOPPABLE I SAY!"

He stopped monologging and stared hard at his neferious army.

"These hamsters aren't armoured at all? Where's the kevlar? The back mounted bazookas? The pine tree shaped air freshener strung around thier little necks?!?"

"Air freshener?" I gave him a look. A really stern look that said I meant business.

"Do you have any idea how bad hamster cages smell? Any idea at all? Multiply that by 10,000. I don't want to rule a stinky world. I'd be the laughing stock of evil geniuses everywhere." One of his henchmen came over and whispered something in his ear. "Who stole the hamster sized army equipment?!?"

It's at this point that a nearby wall exploded revealing a man in a black suit wearing black sun glasses on the other side.

"Thank god!" I shouted. "MIB back-up".

"False sir." He took off his glasses and placed them in his front pocket. "The names Captain Dolphin. Top agent for PETA!"

Next Week: People Eating Tasty Animals has sent in Captain Dolphin to devour the hamster army. What do you mean PETA doesn't stand for People Eating Tasty Animals? But...but...I have an entire plot inolving...CYVA (CURSE YOU VAUGE ACRONYMS)!!!

Episode 1 - NEW STORY?!?

My name is Agent Nine. No, seriously, that's my name. It was this whole thing with my parents wanting to free me from the shackles of soceitiy by giving me a fruity name. Instead they just got me punched in the gut from first grade all the way up through...uh, well...now. Seriously. Right as this story begins I'm being punched in the gut by the neferious Dr. Z.

You see I decided that if I didn't want to look like an idiot for the rest of my life I'd have to actually become a secret agent. I failed all the agent tests, but it was the Bush administration and nobody cared how competent I was just so long as I was willing to battle the forces of evil in distant lands.

And boy did I lie and SAY I was willing to battle the forces of evil in distant lands. Turns out this was a mistake. You see, distant lands have this horrible tendency to be...well...distant. And I hate traveling. Also I hate being punched in the gut...we've already seen how well that turned out for me.

So not only am I now a completely incompetent secret agent who has to travel far from home, but I didn't even achieve my number one goal of not being punched.

"Wha!Ha!Ha!" Dr. Z's henchmen dragged my body and chained me up to the wall. "Now, at long last I'll be able to achieve my ultimate evil and neferious scheemes!"

"Ugh...You'll never get away with this Dr. Z." I know this sounds really brave, but I really meant that he would never get away with punching me without consequence as I was about to vomit all over his beautifully polished floor.

"Oh...but I will Agent. I will. And when I'm done everyone in the world will cower before my army of armoured hamsters! Wha!ha!ha--ew--HENCHMEN. Clean that up! NOW!"

Next Week: Will Agent Nine's stomach feel any better? Can his vomit be cleaned up in time!!! And most important of all...ARMORED HAMSTERS OF DOOM TM.

Samus needs your support!!!

Hey guys, I know I haven't posted in a while. I've been pretty busy with life and haven't decided what to do with this blog yet. Still, something WAY more important than real life has come to my attention.

That's right the All Time Greatest Game Hero contest is really heating up.

As you may already know Bub and Bob of Bubble Bobble and Bust a Move have been burning up the charts. They defeated Master Chief and Sonic already.

Now the match with Samus has started. Things are hella tight. Bub and Bob MUST be stopped here. A line must be drawn in the sand...this far and no farther. Samus is the star of some of the greatest games ever made. Her franchise continues strong. Her character was one of the first female protaganists in a video game. In short she is an icon that remains relevant to games today.

Bub and Bob are certainly classic, but they simply don't deserve to pass Samus in this contest. Please get over to the voting page and vote now. Get your friends and family to vote. Do anything and everything within the legal bounds of the contest.

We must prevail!!!