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Hybrid Title Awards #1

The games that should be made,
from pieces of the names of other games.


Ever wish developers would stop releasing new versions of old IP's?
Ever wish designers would come up with some new ideas?

We dont!

Welcome to the inaugural Hybrid Title Awards, where we take some of your favourite games, force them to pro-create, and marvel at the disgusting fruit of their love. This weeks awards include titles of old and new, from cl4ssic Commodore titles, to xbox live gore-fests, and everthing in between. So lets get the ball rolling in what is to be, the most important think-tank in game design ever created. Go....

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Brain Training 4: OblivionOblivion DS
You take the role of a civilian in the land of Cyrodil, who wakes up in a prison cell in a haze on amnesia. Encumbered only with a lock pick, 2 gold and your Nintendo DS, you must attempt to reach a brain age of 25 or lower, if you're to succeed in your noble quest to free your mind, from the awesome evil, of boredom!

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Sensible World of WarcraftSWOW
Put on your epic set, hop on that mount, and ride straight into 90 minutes of 11 versus 11 soccer between the Horde and Alliances factions. The goal of either side is to kick the murlock into the opposing team's portal more times than their opponent before the time is up. At half time, both teams are allowed 15mins to re-buff, drink manna potions and eat Boar meat. At full time, the team with the most scores gets 5000XP, while the losers have to spawn at the nearest graveyard.

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Gears of PersiaGears of Persia
You play Marcus Phoenix, a war-hardened soldier, stuck in a prison cell in Persia who has 60 minutes to save his girlfriend from a frankly unpleasant marriage to the evil Sultan. Over the course of the next hour, you must run, leap and grenade-tag your way through the maze of twisted corridors and chambers that lie between you and your true love.

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Mortal Uno
Mortal Uno
A group of the universes best fighters are transported to an unknown realm to battle it out, in a winner takes all Uno contest. Use special cards to change the direction of play, or simply uppercut your opponent into an acid pit.

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Viva Quake!Viva Quake
One for all the family! This first person garden adventure takes place on the planet Strogos, where the newly ended war between the human and strog forces has left miles upon miles of landscape in ruin. It's your mission, armed with a selection of mutilating weaponry, some seeds and a watering can, to return these barren lands to their once beautiful state.


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CHECK BACK FOR AWARDS #2 NEXT WEEK...

Stranger than Fiction

America's ArmyOn some random GameSpot browsing, I came across this video in the commercials area of the videos section. For those of you not bothered to click on that link i just spent the past 15 seconds creating and then explaining, it is the first trailer for "America's Army: True Soldiers" the upcoming Xbox360 game from Red Storm Entertainment.

Bit of a back-story to explain my situation here, globally. I live in Ireland. The "Irish Gamer" thing at the top there, doesn't mean im some dude from Boston with an Irish great-great-grandaunt. Im actually Irish, in Ireland now, breathing Irish air *inhales*....ahhhh...

So yea, im not ignorant to the fact that there has been one of these US Army funded games out on the PC for a number of years. I remember being shocked then too, but i just saw this add, and it really hit home how absolutely wrong this form of recruitment is.

Im not going to get into the whole Iraq/Foreign Policy/The rest of the world hates your Government thing. It upsets people, and understandably so. I understand that some of you on this site have probably lost friends and family over this whole horrible episode, so I'll concentrate on what disgusts me about this trailer.

Throughout this trailer, phrases including "Teamwork" and "Tactical Gameplay" transition onto the screen in Hollywood Blockbuster type fashion. Now, i know it would be asking much to assume that "Death" and "Suicide Bombers" to appear in the trailer, but to even mention phrases like this, in a game that is so directly related to the turmoil overseas, is just horrible (maybe not in gameplay, but u can't deny the link). Talk about trivializing the deaths of thousands!

But it's the next word that appears that really gets to me.

HONOUR

Honor...
Not because its spelled in the America English way (although it did throw me off! - we spell it "Honour" over here), but because its selling "honor" as a reason to fight. A reason to play this game. Honor...What?! I can say that many people im sure, have done many honorable things in that war, and many other before them in others. But honor is something you achieve, not something you can strive towards, something you can buy.

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Still reading? Take a look at this video next so. It's the first trailer for Haze on the Playstation 3. It's a sort of propaganda reel featuring images such as men giving supplies to civilians in a desert, with burning oil wells littering the backdrop. Another piece shows a man using a chopper mounted chain gun to shoot out at fields. The soldier in question laughing ala' Full Metal Jacket. These images of war sound familiar? This is a trailer for a fictional game. It gets away with it, because it's a parody. It's not real. We gamers can distinguish between what is obvious parody, and what is distasteful, which leads us to criticize the media and our parents when it comes to video game violence. Quite simply, we know better. When watching the America's Army trailer, i think i finally know how parents feel when they see a GTA trailer; disgusted.

AA Ingame

I mean cmon, how is it the collective morality of the media can give out about GTA, and leave this stuff pass by?

The similarities deepen. In the America's army trailer, the phrase "Official US Army Weapons" pops up. In the trailer for Haze, the presenter says to the camera; "Mantle core will give you the finest weapons ever made!" Both are selling their services to prospective customers.

One is for a fictional role in a fictional war that will last maybe 15 hours and will cost you $50.
The other is for a real role in a real war that will last years, and could cost you your life.

Does anyone else see the distaste in this?
- Danny O'Dwyer

Nintendo Blasphemy

Every few hours when i drift onto the GameSpot Forums, I like to indulge in a big of discussion with you fellow gamers about a variety of topics. But there is one topic that quite frequently dances on the tip of my tongue. But I can't say it! I wouldn't dare! Im an "okay guy", and like most "okay guys", I don't like voluntarily evoking hatred or anger in other people.

Thumbs up for Wii

But it's started to take its toll on me. This vein on the back of my neck here has doubled in size over the past few months. My shakes are coming back and I think Imight be going blind in my left eye. So im going to splurge all I can into this blog post, and let the haters express what they will, in the nice little comment box underneath. Before I start however, I just want tell my potential murderers one thing:

I own a Wii!

Okay now the formalities are over and done with, let me begin.

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Nintendo.
Nintendo are a company.
Companies like money.
Companies like money so much that without it, they die.
A company is like a rabid predator, gorging on the sweet money-filled carcasses of their prey (that's you!). But there are many "companies of prey" out there. There's the Microsoft Wolf, the Sony Tiger, and (oh no, don't say it!) the NINTENDO BEAR!

Nintendo loves its fan base, it's true. They love them because Nintendo are basically the only large console manufacturer from the "retro times" left on god's green earth. They have survived! All down to you, the Nintendo fan *clap* *clap*.

But just as Nintendo loves you, and respects the gaming values that you have adopted as you have grown older, they still need delicious, wholesome money to survive. But these new companies with their massive money stockpiles have been hogging all the meaty customers for themselves. Those meanies! Nintendo cannot survive on just you loyal fans, so (as in the last generation) they must attempt to entice new victims.

Enter Nintendo Wii. On one hand it satisfies loyal fans with its innovation, and on the other its a gimmicky plaything that catches the eye of Joe Blog's on the street. Horah, delicious money for all!

Wii - It Prints Money!


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My point here is that a lot of Nintendo fans seem to think Sony and Microsoft are evil companies who just care about profits and, if given the chance, would buy your soul and install a HDMI port in it. And they're probably not half wrong!

But Nintendo have the exact same goals as the other two. Their investors and shareholders would tell you the same if they could speak English. Don't get me wrong, this is nothing to be ashamed of! Without a strong business ethic, and all the skills of decades upon decades of sales, marketing and research, Nintendo would not be here today entertaining millions of us with two of the best consoles ever made!

Nintendo Bunny RabbitBut to have this opinion that Nintendo is run by small bunny rabbits who are constantly in dodge of the blood-soaked claws of their mortal enemies Sony and Microsoft (last animal reference....I sware!) is naive, and quite frankly, exactly what they would want you to think.

Nintendo didn't go in the innovative low-tech direction, and rename their console "Wii" because they wanted to save gaming. Well not entirely anyway. Microsoft and Sony are huge multi-industry companies who can afford to pump loads of money into research and production of new technologies and can also afford to lose money on console sales for a few years. Nintendo are not. They could not compete in a market which already has 2 high-spec machines that are beyond their manufacturing capabilities. They had to go in a new direction. Tap some new market somewhere. Something they did do, and very successfully I might add. But this wasn't a decision made on a moral issue....

This was business.

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I love playing my Wii. I also love my xbox 360. I didn't purchase a PS3 because (a) I cannot afford one, and (b) my 360 has most of the good games anyway.

This isn't my moral high ground, it's just common sense. I have biases like everybody else, sometimes we just can't help them. But when it comes down to gaming, its best to forget the soap-opera between the three main factions in this industry and just game towards what you love and enjoy.

Who cares what multinational corporation funds your joy!
C'mon. Can't we all just...get along?:)

Wii, PS3, 360

My Top 5 uses of Music in Games

I continue to be bewildered by the stale use of Music in games. Don't get me wrong, i love listening to some rough punk when im skating in Tony Hawk, and the ambient orchestral pieces in Warcraft bounce across green plains and against mountains during late night raids. But i have a feeling that many developers are worried to use anything more than incidental music. "Background Music". I think thats it. I want foreground music!

To that end, here be 5 moments in my gaming life, where music made the difference. Where it enhanced the scene, and embedded that one gaming moment in my mind.

Be gentle guys, these are my 5. Feel free to use the comment box to let me know the ones i should have played! :D

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Call of Duty Call of Duty
Unsurprisingly my first comes from this audio-tastic WW2 shooter of recent years. There are many moments thought-out the series when load orchestral pieces are introduced to signal demise or victory, but for me, one stands out. The last mission in the Russian campaign, in the first game, has you and hundreds of your fellow comrade's rushing the Reistag, and eventually waving the Soviet flag from the rooftop to signal the taking of Berlin. The use of the piece in question as you run screaming through the building, blowing away any Nazi that dared put up a fight, to get to the top of the building, is enthralling. It rises and rises until the eventual exhale of emotion that happens just before the screen fades. One of the few moments in gaming i shed a tear, and it was all down to the music's shameless presence.

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PreyPrey Jukebox
Anyone who has played Prey already knows what i am about to mention, and its a testament to how well it works. Start of the game. Your in a bar. Jukebox in the corner. You can flick through the 5 or 6 songs on offer and play them, wait for the scripted scene in the bar to play through, until...BAM Aliens. All power is off. TV, Jukebox, Lights, the words! Eery Silence. Doesn't last long! Jukebox turns back on, and on comes (Dont Fear) The Reaper by Blue Öyster Cult. The shock is compounded by a sort of joy. Pure comedy in its delivery. I almost didn't mind being abducted!

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Resident EvilResident Evil 1
Every once in a while, a certain piano piece comes on the radio, or TV, or PA system of a shopping mall and i smugly say to whoever is around me "Great song that...The Moonlight Sonata...". For anyone who hasn't played the original Resi, there was a puzzle early on where either Jill Valentine or Rebbecca Chambers (used to help Chris Redfield as he lacked the appropriate finger-skillz) had to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on a grand piano to open a secret area. I can still hear the keys being plucked away in my head right now. The eery use of this, was when (if playing as Chris) you left the room, you could hear Rebbecca Practising the piece as you wandered the house, at various volume levels, depending on your distance from the Piano room. For a game that didn't have much in the way of background audio for lots of the indoor segments, it added a horrible eery twist. I was always waiting for the piano to just stop. As if poor unarmed Rebbecca attracted the attention of a wandering zombified piano teacher.

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Half Life 2Half Life 2
There's background music. And then there's Half Life music. I think any music that actually makes you shoot faster, run quicker, and battle harder, is doing its job right! The scene in Half Life 2, just after where you get your first pistol in "Route Kanal", as you battle your way through across the train tracks and into a tunnel, being chased down and shot at by Metro Cops, is just thrilling. The track in question "Klaxon Beat" would pump gasoline through the veins on any gamer in its wake, and lifts the level from just another bit of shooting, to an adrenalin fueled scramble for survival. Just try playing the level with the speakers off.

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Def Jam IconDef Jam Icon
Look, I'm not going to try and convince you that this is one of the best fighting games around. Its not. But in an age where its so easy to re-hash the same IP with a few new bells and whistles each year, i commend the men and women at EA Chicago for what they did with the music in this game. It seems each beat in the came is intrinsically attached to a piece of the terrain or background, so the level bounces and bops to the track playing, the same way you are in your head (or feet!). Getting your character to spin an invisible turn table, turns the sky-scape in an identical circular fashion, and special downbeats can be used to trigger various hazardous elements in the levels. Couple this with your character fighting better when his track is playing, and you have one of the most shameless attempts to use music to immerse players in a game. Would i have played the game if these mechanics weren't there? Doubt it. Lets hope they sort out the actual fighting for Icon 08' :D

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So thats my lot.
What about you guys?

My First Amiga

A long time ago, when Santa was still real, cereals still had decent toys in the box and "apple" was a fruit, love was a grey box with keys and a side-mounted floppy drive. My favourite spanish girlfriend, my "Amiga" joined our small family in the Winter of the early 90's, and allthough she died years later in a tragic swap-meet incident, she will remain in my heart forever.

 

Amiga 600
The clean white exterior didnt last long.

 

The flagship of Commodore's fleet at the time, the Amiga 600, was my first taste of gaming at the tender age of 7. Over this side of the world (Western Europe) it had a decent market share of the home computing area, as many parents saw it as an educational tool, and a more benifical alternative to a straight-up games console. Allthough there were many educational tools available for the Amiga, its power lied in the cheap 3 and a half inch floppy disks, which could have commercial games copied onto them, with relative ease. This power of this hand to hand distribution gave breath to a huge indy and PD scene, which made most players disk collections in the hundreds. The glory days of the Amiga didnt last a hell of a long time, but to those of us who were fortunate enough to experience them, they hold fond memories.

My Amiga story started on an island in the Caribbean. Melee Island to be exact. In the visage of Guybrush Threepwood. The first game i ever completed opened me up to a world of stories and experiences i never seemed to enjoy from books or television. After that the hits came hard and fast. Marathons of Sensible Soccer to this day have been the most memorable bonding experiences ive ever had with my older brother. Putty and pushover taught me how colourfull and bizzare games could be, while Geoff Crammonds "F1 Grand Prix" taught me that you could win any race by simple turning on invinceability and ramming into the other cars untill you win by default!

 

Cannon Fodder
Spare a thought for Jools, Jops & Stoo


When i think back at all the insane disk-changing, it really makes me realise how impatient ive become as a gamer. Mortal Kombat 2 on the Amiga had 4 disks. The initial loading of the game took 2 disks to complete. After you chose your character, you had to load another 2 disks to get into the game. God forbid you successfully pull off a Fatality button combo, you had the joy of 2 more disks changes to see the animation, followed by another 1 to go back to the character select screen. Monkey island 1 had 4 disks too, which was manageable considering the length of the game, but when Monkey Island 2 came out, with its high-res backgrounds and sweet audio, it came mounted on a monstrous 12 disks!

So many of cl4ssics of gaming culture were born out of its grey-plastic heart. Worms, Turrican, Cannon Fodder and Speedball are solid peices of gaming, even today. Of course the Amiga had its fair share of absolute howlers too, from the "Mario with Girls" Great Giana Sisters, to the "Soccer with Orgasms" Empire Soccer.

 

Great Giana Sisters
Great Giana Sisters: Gamings Biggest Coincidence

 

So fond are these memories of mine, that the Christmas we opened up the box is my 2nd favourite Christmas in my entire life. I allways regretted giving away my beloved Amiga, but that day when me, my brother and sister ripped open that wrapping paper to that fantastically coloured box, really does fill my heart. So whats my favourite Christmas you ask? Last Christmas. When my real amiga (girlfriend) wrapped up a replica of that very same console, for me to re-live that christmas, and since then, the glory days of gaming as my childhood eyes will allways see it.

I think most people's first console, would allways be their favourite. Nostalgia has a powerfull grip over most of us. But i compell any of you who hav been looking forward for your latest gaming fix, to spare a moment to look back. If you, like me, lost your first console, eBay is only a click away. Sometimes its only by remembering the past, that we truely appreciate how far we have come.

Oh good god okay, ill start a blog!

My desire to post into this blog, is solely so get rid of that annoying message that plaques my Gamerspace currently. Ever since i uploaded a video a few weeks back, and have actually ahd people check out my space, ive had a nagging feeling that i should just put SOMETHING up here.

So this is said "something'. Enjoy yourself with it!

My name is danny, im from Waterford in Southern Ireland. I love games like 99% of the people on this site. Im in college locally, and i do work in various aspects of multimedia to pay the bills. Over the past 12 months ive been employed as a graphic designer, web designer, video editor, photographer, theatre projectionist, radio presenter and games reporter.

I have qualiifications in none of these fields, but people keep giving me money to do things, so im keeping hush hush about it all.

Over the summer, me and my buddy Dale are developing a game in C# for the xbox360, more details of which, ill probably be posting up in this section.

Anyway, thats my bit.
Im off to grenade tag some english locusts. :P