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wedgewu Blog

Hungover...

From the GDC.

It was an exhausting 4 days (4 for me, I had to set up on Tuesday) but incredibly productive.

I'll get the first thing out of the way - as far as swag goes, I managed to pick up a UMD of the Family Guy movie, TWO (yes, that's right... two) copies of Brain Age, a bunch of small-sized t-shirts (which you almost NEVER find as a giveaway - much lubs to Ninty for that!!), some mints, a nice compact pink mirror, a PSP screen cleaner, a laser pointer and a small lego set.  There are probably some others... I went for quality this time around as opposed to quantity (which is usually my MO at E3).

I didn't get to roam the expo floor too much since I was stuck with a lot of booth duty, but I did get to meet a bunch of interesting folks.  My throat is, of course, now hurting from all the talking and such, but the networking aspects are always worth it.  :)

I spent alot of time in the Nintendo booth, since they were situated right next to ours... but who am I kidding?  Really, I probably would have spent a lot of time in the Nintendo booth regardless, given that they had so many awesome games being showcased - plus the DS Lite, which I'm absolutely POSITIVE I will buy now.  The same "oooh" factor that you get from the sleek design of the PSP is just oozing out of the DS Lite.  Given that it's easily my favorite system, currently, I wouldn't mine springing for yet another one.  With Tetris, Metroid Prime Hunters,  Big Brain Academy, New Super Mario Bros - on top of all the games I already have - the DS is just phenomenal. 

I also got to take a gander at the Revolution - what a tiny device!  I mean, I'd known the specs already when I saw it but to see it in person and see how tiny that thing is - I'm incredibly excited.  I had a long discussion with one of their engineers on the hardware design, actually, and I'm thoroughly impressed.  Given that I'm a performance weenie, it was interesting to hear their take on the hardware, and what bottlenecks they wanted to reduce.  I'm not expecting the Rev to be a powerhouse, obviously, but it's some slick hardware design that they've come up with, and with a SFF, it's one delicious little package.  I'm really looking forward to it!

The Nintendo keynote was incredibly entertaining - Iwata is a great public speaker.  While I would've liked more information on the Revolution, there were plenty of great surprises.  Of course, my favorite surprise was that everyone in the audience got a copy of Brain Age.  :)  I've been playing the game so much since I got it - I'm not entirely sure what the allure of the game is, since it's mainly just doing math problems and reading aloud, but it's great to see myself improving.  Well, that and there's also the Sudoku puzzles, but I've finished 10% of them already!  :)

Aside from Brain Age, there was of course, the Sega announcement - which is just icing on the Revolution cake.  Of course, there's also Zelda for the DS - we all knew it was coming, and it looks like it'll make some great use of the touchpad.

I also got myself addicted to Feeding Frenzy while at the XBL Arcade booth - and I promptly downloaded it once I got home.  :)  Such a simple game, yet so addictive!

Will Wright's keynote was absolutely phenomenal - if you haven't read the reports, he merged research in game design with astrobiology in what I would consider a seamlessly chaotic manner.  He has a manner of delivery that, while fast, is incredibly engaging probably because he's just talking in a stream-of-consciousness manner.  The man is genius, pure genius, and I hope he continues to make games for a long time.

Another highlight was the fact that I got to shake hands with my hero, Keita Takahashi.  :)  I also took a picture with him, and probably completely embarassed myself by being a fangirl to a guy who can't even speak english.  -_-

After all of the GDC festivities, there was the Video Games Live concert.  Great show, though it seemed to be more about fanservice than the music.  During the Final Fantasy concerts, the screens only showed a few clips from the games, whereas VGL had videos playing the whole time - the music then felt more like just background instead of something you'd want to listen to.  Still, I had a great time - the Zelda bit was probably my favorite, along with the Mario and Sonic.  (Tommy Tallarico said that I was "old-school" when I told him that)  After the show I went to a meet and greet with some industry celebs, including Cliffy B (I got a picture with him!) and I even got my Halo and Halo 2 soundtracks signed by Martin O'Donnell.  :)  I also managed to snag a copy of GRAW's soundtrack, signed, since the guy said he loved my enthusiasm.

Overall a great show, and now I'm counting down the days until E3.  :)

Longterm benefits of gaming

Those who are loyal readers may remember me mentioning a project I was working on - no, it's not forgotten or abandoned, but it is on hiatus now while I sort through the myriad of conferences and other things that are going on in my life.  Between IDF, GDC and plans for E3, there are just so many things going on.  Add some other major stuff (which I will get into later) to that and I've been one busy girl.

Well, the ideals of the project still live on in me, and seeing this article today gives me those warm fuzzies that I'm hoping to spread to all people about gaming.

Article Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060307/ap_on_hi_te/japan_elderly_gamers

It's great to see the revamping of edutainment software - games that are also meant to stimulate your brain.  There were a variety of these back in the day, such as The Castle of Dr. Brain, or the Island of Dr. Quandary.  They were great games and I played them many times through. 

Maybe I'm just out of touch with educational software these days, given that I'm no longer in an academic environment.  I do feel like they've more or less disappeared - at least, anything that's good and targetted towards people older than the age of 10 (though I have to say, I sure as heck enjoyed playing around with Putt Putt back in the day). 

Hopefully Brain Age does a good job satisfying that itch.  Besides, it has Sudoku in it... can't be all that bad, can it?  ;-)  I'm glad to see that it's also helping not only children develop sharp mental capabilities, but helping seniors to at least be mentally stimulated. 

And for those who can't wait for Brain Age, like myself, I've taken to going to Braingle.com and trying out their daily brain teasers.  They're pretty tough, but I got yesterday's right.  :)

I love puzzles and I love to challenge my mind! :)

Still playing...

It's odd to think that I'm now hitting my one-year anniversary of playing Halo 2 online.  Who would have thought that I could stick with one game for so long?  If you had asked me a year ago I would have told you that there was no way I'd still be playing that game at this point in time, but online play has a way of keeping us reeled in.

And I'm not the only one either - Halo 2 is still the most frequently played game on Xbox Live, and it's been out for quite some time.

Along those same lines, I'm still playing World of Warcraft too.  I started my character well over a year ago, though because I play so sporadically I still have loads to do in the game.  A year ago!  When I was in elementary school a year felt like forever.  Now it just seems like a blip...

This reminds me of the days when I played Starcraft almost daily online.  It's hard to believe that the game was released almost 7 years ago, because I know that I still play it from time to time.  When I think about it - the game ran perfectly fine without the need of even a graphics card.  THAT'S how old it is.  How strange.  7 years... I was a teenager when the game was released.  It's like an old friend that has been with me for the past 7 years - I can turn to Starcraft whenever I'm feeling off and a game or two will set me right again.

Online play has a way of extending games way past their singleplayer lifespan - something that I recognized the first time I played Warcraft II against a friend through our 14.4Kb modem.  I did jump onto the XBL bandwagon a bit late, but only because it was appalling to me to pay for an online service.  It's apparent now, however, what online services should aspire to be - and it's well worth the money.

Women in Gaming International

Last Saturday I attended the Women in Gaming International conference here in San Francisco. It was somewhat interesting - moreso than I thought it would be since I'm not a game developer. Er, I think I've stated those words in the past 4 blog entries of mine.

I am, however, a gamer. The first session was the keynote, which talked about something that's not quite a game, but has a very large female population. That would be Linden Lab's Second Life - essentially a MMO without the "game" aspect of it. What was interesting to me was that there are a lot of women (and men, probably) who make a living in Second Life now. They create products and sell them in the world of Second Life, and you are completely capable of trading in your Second Life money for actual USD. Their economy is pretty well controlled, though their population is still somewhat small. It did seem a little odd to me, though, that the keynote to this conference about women in GAMING didn't feature an actual game. Details, I suppose.

The next three panels were Games for Women, Games by Women, and Women in gaming. Essentially, what would appeal to women, what women are creating in the game industry, and women who already do play. I found the first to be absolutely intriguing, since much of the talk was about "casual gaming" - a term that is now becoming industry standard. Casual games are like the ones that Pop Cap makes, or like some of the ones featured in the XBL Arcade. According to MSN Games' statistics, 70% of their casual game players are women. What did bother me a bit though, is how much focus was on the casual games. It seems like women are already into casual gaming - so how do we make the leap to get them into "core" gaming? Much was discussed, such as cooperative gameplay (so that couples could play together) and even games that allow a user to play in small increments of time - 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there.

Lastly, there were multiple roundtables on various topics of games. I attended the one with the Frag Dolls, and it was interesting to hear the questions people had for them. Of course, being as it was a tableful of gamers, we all pulled out our DS's and played Mario Kart against each other. :) Like true gamers would. Here's a picture of us at the roundtable:

Edit: Am I just retarded? Why won't the picture show up when I save my entry? Well, here is the link...

http://www.wedgestation.com/albums/2006_prezdayweekend/WIGI.sized.jpg

There was dinner and a networking session provided afterwards, and I chatted with a few people - I'm not looking to get into the game industry but I did get recruited for a small game company based in LA anyway. I also got an invite to a GDC afterparty along with it. Sometimes I wonder if I should make that jump - but I am incredibly content with the industry I'm in now... it is, however, always nice to know that I have that option.

This event was small, but overall it was pretty good. I would've liked to see more men in attendance, as it would be good information for them to take back with them when making these games. John Romero was there, though, so there's a start. :)

Psy-cadet?

No!  I am now a Psychonaut!  Well, Raz is anyway.

One more game done... check!  Still makin good on my New Years Resolution.

I bought Chibi Robo over the weekend - that is my next game to conquer.  I played a little bit over the weekend and I just love it!

I'm no game developer...

But I will be attending their conference.

For anyone else going to GDC, I will be there for 2 out of the 3 expo days, and likely with booth duty.  So stop on by and make sure to grill me with questions.  :wink:

In other news, I think I'm getting towards the end of Psychonauts.  I'm excited yet sad at the same time - excited to see the conclusion, of course, but also sad that it will be over.  I'd have to say that this game is probably one of the funniest I've played in a long time.

Thoroughly enjoyable.  :)

EDIT:  I just got this sent to me by my boss, and while I'm no game developer, I still found it interesting:

http://www.st.cs.uni-sb.de/edu/seminare/2005/advanced-fp/docs/sweeny.pdf

Take a glance... especially if you're a nerdy programmer.

The Culling

I have gone through both my GS friends list as well as my XBL friends list and removed all those people whose names I don't recognize, or cannot attach to a personality.  :)

If I've removed you and I actually did know you, I'm really sorry - I know an awful lot of people (even after my culling efforts I still have over 70 people here on GS that I recognize) so sometimes I can overlook folks - especially if, say, their XBL name varies from their GS username.

I've been doing all sorts of cleaning today, starting with my apartment, my laptop's HDD and now friends lists.  It may be a month later than I intended, but it's a new year and always a good idea to start fresh!

Wordplay

Keep your eyes peeled for this documentary called "Wordplay."  It's about crossword puzzlers - I haven't seen it myself, but I am advocating it because my friend is in the movie - he won the American Crossword Puzzle tournament in 2005 and was thusly filmed for this documentary.  He would be the, ah, 20-year-old "frat boy prodigy" (as dubbed by Variety) who wins the tournament in the film.  It was shown at Sundance and now is picked up by IFC films to be distributed in theaters in 2006.  :)

Over the weekend I played more of Psychonauts (which is such a great game, I wonder why I didn't play it sooner) and I beat Outpost Kaloki, despite the fact that I had to replay all the levels since my saves were stolen.  I don't know what it is, particularly, but I just really enjoyed Outpost Kaloki a lot - and the little bits of story that are there are really funny and quirky.  I'm looking forward to playing through some of the other scenarios. 

Oh yes, I also picked up Indigo Prophecy, Tamagotchi Connections and FFIV Advance. 

Indigo Prophecy just may be a little too creepy for me to play on my own.  ***MINOR SPOILER WARNING***  I got as far as the scene where I bandaged my wrists, and when I closed that medicine cabinet and saw my victim's reflection, I decided that I couldn't handle the game late on a Saturday night by myself.  ***END MINOR SPOILER***

Tamagotchi Connections is sooo cute, though the gameplay is fairly easy.  I could see it as being a GREAT game for a kid (and I mean like, toddler age) - very cute, not overly difficult.  I'm enjoying it though, as I can't get over the cuteness.  :)

Like a barrel full...

Monkeys monkeys and MORE monkeys!

I bought, played and beat Ape Escape 3 last week.  Monkeys are fun!

My impressions aren't much far off from what Alex wrote in his review.  If you liked the first ones, the third is more of the same... which is awesome.  If you've never tried the series, any of them are a fair place to start. 

As it stands, I've finished 4 games so far this year.  I finally beat Quake 4's singleplayer campaign, I beat King Kong, and I've finished Ape Escape 3.  I also finished the DOA4 story mode and got all the characters unlocked, but I have to redo that.  :(  I was also almost done with Outpost Kaloki, but again, I lost my save and now I have to start over.

Last night I played some more of Hexic HD.  I was playing the Survival mode, which is surprisingly easy compared to the regular marathon mode.  I finished it on the first try, in about an hour, and got my acheivement.  :)  I do have to say though, that puzzle games like Hexic and Bejeweled bother me a bit.  Mainly because they rely so much on luck (what pieces you get) rather than strategy or building things up.  I mean, you can't just build up a combo in Hexic or Bejeweled like you can in say, Tetris or Lumines.  I hate relying on luck, so those types of puzzle games will always be subpar in my opinion.  But I still paid $10 for Bejeweled and can't get any acheivements, so who am I to talk?