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Entry Seventeen 4/1/10

Electronic Literature and Lux-Pain

I'm reading this book for school called Writing Machines by N. Katherine Hyles which deals with cybernetic fiction. I'm about thirty pages in when I suddenly realized that game I played a while back called Lux-Pain, wasn't really a game but a more sophisticated electronic literature (with an annoying mini "kill the silent" game function that would pop up sometimes in the chapters).

The reason I didn't know it at the time was because I didn't know what a electronic literature was. I thought that meant e-books or something, but the reality is if you removed that little "kill the silent" part of Lux-Pain, it is the full heartiness of an electronic literature (an interactive story on the computer/DS/console).

Why is this important? Its not really, but it gives reviewers a justified reason to critique Lux-Pain as something that's not a game, which makes it an abundantly more enjoyable.

Entry Sixteen 3/17/10

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I know over here in the USA St. Patrick's Day is generally thought of a excuse to do a lot of drinking and wear outrageous amounts of green, I think like 20% of Guinness' yearly sales come from this holiday, but I hope each one of you will take a minute to actually think about what you're celebrating before you start your bingeing.

I'm not going to go into detail about who St. Patrick was, or how the holiday changed from a break in lent to a celebration of Irish heritage, but I would like to encourage you to maybe think a little bit outside of that fantastic party you've been invited too. Maybe instead of watching Riverdance, read something short by Roddy Doyle or a poem by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. Just something outside of the stock Irish you see in the Chicago parade.

No matter what you do, make sure you have plenty of fun. I myself plan to turn on some Flogging Molly and crack open some of Seamus Heaney's poems before the night's celebrations start.

Entry Fifteen 3/14/10

Dragon Age: Origins Add ons

One of the games I play is Dragon Age: Origins, an RPG by Bioware, which allows the players to create their own modules for the game via use of a toolset. These modules can be shared with other players on the Bioware Social Network under the Projects section.

Recently I downloaded a module titled "Fragments of Ferelden" by Mengtzu. It's the first chapter of a stand alone campaign and is looking to be quiet the creative little masterpiece. It's only about 1-3 hours long (based on side quests) but its well worth the effort to download it.

On the DAO timeline it seems to be based somewhere after you destroy the Arch demon in a labyrinth. I dare you to give it a shot. It can be found here: http://social.bioware.com/project/1504/

Entry fourteen 3/11/10

Dragon Age II

Today (Mar 11, 2010) gamespot posted an article announcing that Dragon Age II is expected to come out early next year on February 1st. As of now the game should be available for the PC, councils, and "unspecified portable platforms" (PsP? DS?).

The flyer and article can be seen here: http://gdc.gamespot.com/story/6253427/dragon-age-2-coming-feb-1-2011

Or you can just go to the Dragon Age II section on gamespot here: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/unnameddragonageprojectworkingtitle/index.html

As of this moment there is still nothing on the Bioware or DAO website pertaining to this announcement.

Entry Thirteen 2/15/10

Project Natal

For those of you in America, happy Presidents Day, I hope you had fun and saluted the flag at least once today. If you're not here in America, then I hope you at least had a good fun day, maybe caught the latest high lights of the Olympics in Canada (I think Switzerland has the most gold medals so far).

Any way...

By now I'm sure many of you have heard of the 360 and PS3 eventually getting motion sensitive cameras to compete with the Wii and once again reclaim their ranks and leave Nintendo in the dust. Maybe you've been attentively following their progress with your eyes glued to the news reports, and know everything there is to know about Project Natal and the PlayStation Eye + Controller, but if you're like me you haven't bothered to keep up.

Well its time for an update.

Sadly non of this should really be news, but since I didn't keep up with the last E3 and I only recently discovered Project Natal, I'm posting what I've learned.

To start with the least impressive retaliation, PlayStation created the PS Eye's motion controller. The motion sensitive controller is a complete and total rip off from the Wii remote only done better. It is a far more accurate then the Wii, works with PS Eye camera, and comes in black. In other words, Sony didn't seem to put much thought into it and it's really nothing to get excited over.

Project Natal on the other hand is the XBOX 360 solution, which if it is really as accurate as all the videos make it look, then it would be quiet impressive. It is basically duel cameras that measures 17 points on the skeletal frame of the body to gage your motions with intense accuracy, coupled with features such as facial and voice recognition, for whatever video game your playing. It is not the next XBOX machine but works with your existing 360. Lionhead is already making a game for Natal called Milo and will possibility include Fable III to the compatible game list for Natal.

Entry Twelve 2/8/10

Mass Effect 2 Review

By now you have read the reviews and watched the Gamespot videos of Mass Effect 2 (ME2) and have all but come to a complete decision on whether or not you are going to buy Gamespot's Most Anticipated Game of the Year. This has lead you to this review and the only question you have now is if its wroth the hype? Perhaps you never played the first game or you just don't want to risk wasting that valuable money you put aside for your gaming collection, either way you're here looking for the answer.

Yes.

The Mass Effect trilogy is here to stay and has fully met expectations with their newest addition ME2. Gamespot has placed it as their editors choice for not one, but several great reasons. Those who have played the first game will be ecstatic in the new improvements in the sequel and those who haven't will find themselves knee deep in a lush incredible universe that they'll love so much, they might even go back and buy the original.

For all you poor Mass Effect newbies, the new ME2, as a stand alone game, may take you a few minutes to get a grasp on but by the end of the prolog quest (Freedoms Progress) you will find yourself equally addicted to the game as the rest of us. I'm not going to lie, some of the choices you would have made in the original game will be made for you (saving certain people) and it will have a impact on your game, but the truth is that unless you actually played the original game and know what those choices were you probably wont care. Picking up from the second game in the trilogy wont hinder you, except maybe for the previous romance options form ME1 which can be carried out in the third game (note: you will get other romance options in this game as well). The biggest problem for a Mass Effect newbie is that you wont already be familiar with the universe around your character. This might be frustrating at first, but the game provides plenty of opportunity for you to catch up in the dialogs and the codex, which you will want to take advantage of as there is a lot of rich culture and racial tension below the surface of the Mass Effect universe that can help guide your character into some pretty interesting moments.

For all of you, like me, who are returning to the familiar Mass Effect universe that we grew to love in the original game, there is a lot to be said for what Bioware has done with its sequel. You decisions in the first game truly do matter for your ME2 character. It actually wasn't just a deceptive incentive for you to buy the original game. If you finished Tali's side quest in ME1, you will have different dialog options when you first meet her and she will be more willing to trust you now that you work for the pro-human Cerberus group. If you let the rachni live in the original game, helped out Parasini, did not kill Shiala at Zhu's Hope, and other decisions you made in the first game will come up again in ME2. Even more so, some of these decisions look like they will reappear in the eventual ME3.

Bioware also made a lot of improvements to the game itself. The graphics are better, you no longer have to worry about overloading your innovatory, those hateful elevators are gone, and the Mako has been replaced with a shuttle that will take you straight to your needed destination. However this means you will have more, but shorter, loading screens and to get resources you have to scan other worlds, which anyone can tell you is quiet a pain to do. Those resources are used to upgrade your weapons, armor, powers, and (the critical one) your ship. This makes it so you wont be concerned with finding new weapons and armors (as few as there are) but in upgrading them. You also will no longer have unlimited ammo, but the only place this will really bother you is with your heavy weapons (grenade launcher, etc...).

There has been a lot of concern about the story for the sequel on the boards, specifically that the characters aren't as deep as the ones in the original. It's true that you could learn a lot more about the characters in the original ME and that at first glance these characters may come out as something less. However there are a lot more characters to learn about in ME2, and though you may not have as many opportunities to open up new dialogs with each one individually, they are anything but shallow and their combined dialogs are probably just as large as the ones from ME1. Probably the biggest mistake in this respect, is that their default statement doesn't truly change after you beat the game and have this kind of "open world" universe to explore. Nor do you get any new planets or opportunities that open up in the universe after you beat the game.

The loved Jack Walls is back in ME2 with new songs (better songs) which Shepard can listen to in his officers cabin while customizing the look and stats of his armor or while watching his space hamster or giant fish tank on the new SR2 Normandy before heading to his next missions. You will be able to meet all the characters that didn't die in the first ME and some of them might even surprise you. The game is darker, deeper, and more action oriented then the original (but you RPG fans will still love it don't worry). As far as game sequels go, Bioware has really out done themselves as this is probably one of the best sequels to an original game they have ever made.

The bottom line is, if you don't have it, you should get it. It is well worth the hype and I guaranty you will want to play it over and over again.

....

The original review can be seen here:

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/masseffect2workingtitle/player_review.html?id=706293

Entry Eleven 2/3/10

Dollhouse, The Guild, and a little Mass Effect 2

I just watched the last episode of Dollhouse which was created by Joss Whedon (who also created Buffy, Angel, Firefly and others) and starred Eliza Dushku (who among many things played Faith in the Buffy and Angel series, starred in True Calling, and recently voiced the main character in the video game Wet). Since Fox has canceled Dollhouse, the episode skipped a few years and spent a short (confusing) intro going over what had happened in the meantime.

All of this is fine and mighty to you poor folks who have never watched the series and are probably wondering why I am posting this on a gaming website?

Well, this episode featured Felicia Day as a guest star who also is the writer/producer/main actress from her web series The Guild (www.watchtheguild.com). For those of you unfamiliar with the web series (shame on you), The Guild is a comedic show about a bunch of crazy MMO players and their day to day lives around the game and the guild which they formed. Perhaps you would be more familiar with The Guild's music video "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar" if not the series itself (I've met a few people like this).

So I, being a fan of both series, thought this was awesome and only wish Whedon could have finished the time gap between the two last episodes so I could have seen how she entered into the Dollhouse universe. However, being that that is not going to happen, at least I still can eagerly wait and see her in the next season of The Guild (which should hopefully happen after all the Streamy Awards it won this last season).

I would have posted this earlier, but I only just watched the last Dollhouse today 'cause I have been so busy playing Mass Effect 2! :P

If you don't know what Mass Effect 2 is, then I wont bore you with the details. However, I will say that it is the best sequel I have ever played, there is a reason it is listed as one of GameSpot's editors choice, and if you haven't played it you should. Also I will be writing a review on it later, so heads up.

Entry Ten 1/20/10

I live in one of the dorms in Western Washington University. I have a sweet desktop that sit on my desk (which is glued to the wall) and hooked up to the provided campus internet via cable to a jack that is stationed over the head of my bed on the other side of the room (Kudos to the designer who came up with that idea). The speed of my connection fluctuates daily based on the amount of other students online in my area.

I've learned not to watch videos online after two pm (when the majority of the student body is no longer in class) and its always a gamble if this same rule works on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I've also learned that the "buffering" symbol really means "Haha, you wish!" and have recently begun to wonder if pauses every three second truly is how videos are supposed to be watched.

But I move on! And the truth is, most nights this doesn't bother me. If the connection truly ticks me off, my phone can usually do the trick (unless the video is on Youtube, that for some bizarre reason stumps it). However on nights like tonight, when I see a new video has been released for an upcoming game I'm dying to play but I can't watch it, the situation bugs me a bit.

I guess what I'm really wondering is what is everyone else situation and if you have any humorous ones to share?

Entry Nine 1/14/10

Bioware (a gaming company) website is temporarily down. And here is their message:

"The BioWare websites; online store; master server; and online authentication are temporarily unavailable. Sorry folks; we're having a few technical difficulties. Those pesky Gnomes are banging away at the giant; steam-producing clockwork computers we keep in the basement guarded by Swikky the dire squirrel. We will be back up as soon as we can."

Entry Eight 1/7/2010

My Review on Lux Pain

Difficulty:Very Easy

Time Spent:10 to 20 Hours

The Bottom Line:"Mixed reactions"

Quick Look:
Made for stroy driven gamers
Limited gameplay interaction
Should be treated like a graphic novel

Review:
Many games out there seek to maintain a balance between different types of game play for a variety of audiences. Lux Pain is not one of these. This isn't to say that Lux Pain is a terrible game, but it seems to only cater to a select type of story driven gamers. Those who like Siberia, Myst, The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall will probably enjoy this game. However, even they may be disappointed in the lack of interaction between the game and the player. The "gameplay" (and I use this term loosely) is made up of dialogs and mini "games" where you find the hidden symbol by scratching the screen with your pen before the clock runs out. There are no real puzzles and playing the game is more a kin to reading a graphic novel then an DS game.

The story itself is very interesting. Its a serious some what dark mystery and sucks you in even if your disappointed with the game play. It does lull at times, going off on tangents that really aren't related to the main plot, but these spots only increase your appreciation for the characters.

As GameSpot and other reviewers will tell you, the translation to English is terrible, however it's not really as bad as it has been made out to be. Yes it is noticeable, but you wont have to stop and reread the sentences as some of the reviews are making it sound. It's mostly little things, for instance if I turn on my game now and have a conversation with one of the characters... instead of saying "I should stop complaining and do something about it." Aoi says "There's no time to whine." and later on in the same conversation instead of saying "If I get lost and you happen to see me, please don't laugh." she says "If you find me lost, please don't laugh, ok?" It sounds a little funny, but you can easily understand the translation.

Overall, as a video game Lux Pain failed on a massive scale and deserves the low scores the critics reviews gave, but as electronic graphic novel it is worth the purchase. I would suggest anyone to at least try it out, but not to look at it as a game because you will be disappointed.

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