Thursday, September 25, 2008

One more thing...

 LittleBigPlanet is going to be soooo awesome.

Once I can get my hands on it, I am going to make sure that every one of our company's internal (and maybe a few external!) presentations are going to be done with it.

Also, I made my first level in Bangai-O Spirits and was able to transfer the sound clip. I will upload it to a host later on for those who might be curious enough to try it out. I am quite happy with it actually even though I am sure it is not really anything great design-wise.

A couple more and I think I might start working in Knytt Stories and see what I can come up with. All this is in aid of making sure that I move along properly to the whole path of making videogames. One of my goals this year is to pay for a programming course in order to learn C, C# and one or two scripting languages. With this base, I hope to be able to move on to C+ and so on by myself (with the aid of loads of books and reference manuals). But, first, I can still make levels so I might as well get the work in there.

And, for those of you that are waiting on my IF project, Mindstar, have no fear, that is still being worked on, albeit very slowly.

Keep It Clean

Bungie just released the above teaser footage for their new game(?). The video is called Keep It Clean and is obviously related to Halo 3. The teaser doesn't show much, rather like most teasers, but it does show Flood, multiple drop pods (probably Flood-infested) and shots of a futuristic city.

I have two theories about what it could be.

1. This is in the future, after Halo 3, mankind has rebuilt, and the flood somehow come to our planet and this is the story of some gutsy marines keeping the parasite at bay without the aid of Spartan 117.

2. My second theory, and the one I hope is right, is that this story is going to take place on a Forerunner world and chronicles the attack of the Flood that caused chaos for them before they left. I would love to play as a character called Mendicant!

Anyways, sorry (to all three of my readers!) I have been absent for a bit. Work got pretty intense and is looking to remain so for at least another two weeks or so.

Monday to Wednesday are public holidays however, and I am planning to take as much advantage of them as possible, so maybe I will make a couple more posts during the next couple of days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bangai o Spirits!

Am I late to the party yet? This game is everything I wish I could do with an action/puzzle/shmup right now.

My bro got me a copy for my birthday (which hasn't come yet btw)

Ever since I played bangai o on the dreamcast, I was smitten with the universe and the game. I always thought that it would be cool to do a game about explosions (with or without fruit). But Treasure went ahead and did another one anyway, simultaneously dashing my mad dreams and firing me up with their level editor.

I will write more coherently about it soon, once I have finished at least 50% of the levels on offer. Suffice to say though, I am way impressed with it. Such good, frustrating, addictive fun. Tearing through a cloud of missiles with an energy sword to reach the robot firing them and then destroying said robot with a couple of slashes will probably never get old.

I think I see what they see in that star wars ish.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I think we need more of this

We definitely need more of this around.

via rockpapershotgun

Quite a lot of my interest in a variety of subjects was inspired by gaming and reading comic books. Quantum physics, ancient mythology, kabbala, cybernetics, nanotechnology, cloning, swords, martial arts, world history and even various styles of art and artists.

You really can chuck a lot into one package doesn't it? If you follow the link to the post over on rockpapershotgun there are links to other videos by the same author.

Oh! Internet

I decided to go online in order to see if anyone else was writing about the Nigerian gaming scene and I found a couple of articles written by Mayowa Tomori on the Nigerians going to the World Cyber Gaming Tournament this year. The article shed some more light on three of the contestants and he was quite supportive of our going at all. They are definitely worth a read and I am going to be following up on the company that is organising the whole thing, La Kraft Entertainment.

All that was quite inspirational and it made me feel good to be a gamer, and a Nigerian gamer at that until I decided to have a look at the comments on this one in particular.

Wow. The degree of stupidity and quite frankly, ignorance on display was quite disheartening. Usually, I get annoyed by most internet comments pages, but this was just outright reprehensible.

To think that people who are supposed to be in a land that grants them exposure, education, opportunities and infrastructure that one would think would allow them to develop in a better way are just wasting all their opportunities away. And the worst part is, I can see how it can happen. When you're in a culture that can afford to support, and in fact actively encourages individualism and freedom of thought, most people will probably go for the meanest and laziest path available to them.

It scares me sometimes as we rush headlong into a democratic and 'developed' society. Is that what is waiting for us? A new generation of internet idiots waiting to suck at the teat of a fibre optic cable with no sense of propriety? It is no wonder that the majority of gamers who were commenting on various blogs and sites during the whole Resident Evil 5 racism wahala were completely oblivious to how imagery in the game could even be construed as racist. I remember watching the video, and I would be the first to admit that it didn't make me think 'racism' the minute I saw it, but after a bit of thought it did come off a bit indelicate. Not racist so much as using racist stereotyping.

All that most of them saw was a black man saying that blacks should never be zombies.

Well, I guess this is even more of a reason for more Africans to get into the game development/playing scene. The more these net kiddies see real Africans and African inspired games the more used to our culture they could get. Instead of getting it all from news reports about wars, killings, and from Black Hawk Down on blu ray.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I forgot to mention on here that I got linked to on GameSetWatch. Which is actually pretty cool considering I really like the site as is probably evidenced by my linking to them fairly often and having them in the right hand column.

Thanks again to Simon Carless.

Halo 3 All-nighter

I just had my first Halo 3 all-nighter. It was quite an impromptu affair. Last Friday was my friend's birthday and we were all too tired (and BROKE!) to go to a bar or club so we decided to play a bit of Halo 3.

I had just finished the campaign on Heroic and was in the mood for some fragging. So, we got another one of my friend's involved and the birthday boy's cousin in order to have a full set of four. I also had an extra copy of Halo 3 (long story, don't ask) lying around, so I decided that we could try 4-player co-op first.

After messing about with the router for a while, we were able to set up a game and we started on Legendary. We were just beginning to get into a groove, me and my friend's cousin (from now on known as El Cij) made a very nice team, when suddenly the game seemed to freeze and we heard loud groans from the next room. My friend's power box had given up the ghost. Apparently, because his 360 is an NTSC one, the guys he bought it from had supplied him with a custom power box that automatically stepped down the voltage so that it would work here without the need for an external step down adapter. It would come back on in an hour or so, but he couldn't guarantee it would last any longer.

We then began discussing how this was actually his second power box. The one he had used previously had been blown by a power surge in their house (oh the perils of not having a stabiliser!).

We then decided to make some coffee, get a bottle of white wine and settle in to some Slayer. El Cij went to bed about 1am and left the three of us to play. We decided to use the opportunity to put in some practice on the levels and learn the new weapon dynamics before we have the halo gaming day where we will hopefully have up to 16 guys and 4 consoles. Most of the people we are inviting have played and owned Halo 3 since last year. We didn't want to go into that with absolutely no preparation at all!

It went pretty well actually. We came across this really cool combination of shotguns and graviton hammer. That made for some really enjoyable games. Maybe by the 1st of October we will be able to put up a fight.

Oh, did I say that the multiplayer is really, really good and better than Halo 2's? Well, it is. And the Spartan Laser is sexy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Great War

Just read an awesome article about the player-versus-player conflict in EVE Online. It was written by Jim Rossignol over on rockpapershotgun and was originally written for PC Gamer.

Just reading about something like what occurred in his write-up is so overwhelming and cool at the same time that I want to know more, but I doubt I would ever go and play the game. The amount of dedication required just sounds quite frankly scary, even though the world has fascinated me ever since I heard about EVE and I used to lurk around their website and the forums before the game launched.

The Internet Luxury.

Spore is finally out! Spoke to my brother in England about it yesterday and he was saying that it was all over the place. It was at that precise moment that I realised that I wasn't all that interested in Spore.

This is not because I think it is going to be crap or that Will Wright sucks or anything like that, I generally am not really a sandbox type of player and so have missed a lot of his games. In this case though, I think it is more the fact that it seems a majority of the game experience is directly related to trading and seeing other peoples' spore creations is quite a deal breaker for me.

I mean, forget the DRM. Who cares that the game is going to allow you to install the game three times before you have to call them up and get more installs? I can see it being a problem, and on principle I don't like it, but for me, the main thing is the dependency on internet.

I could have maybe bought it on a whim (and maybe I still will), but the reliance on internet is quite depressing. It seems like a lot of games, and more particularly, single player games, are beginning to require the internet in some way shape or form.

I remember installing Half Life 2 on my PC then having to reformat it. Re-activating it on Steam on a rubbish connection like the one I have in the office is not fun at all. I don't want a game that people are saying a lot of the fun is going to come from seeing and experiencing other people's creations! To be fair, I don't know whether this is true or not, but I honestly just feel that if you are making a sigle player experience, the addition of downloadable elements and so on should enhance instead of complete.

Spore is even not that bad, at least you can buy it for the PC. What about games that are only available on a console internet store? Rez HD? Tried to get it and guess what? Xbox LIVE doesn't accept Nigerian post codes as legit. Pixeljunk Eden? Same thing. I am not even going to think about Bionic Commando or Braid or Castle Crashers or Ikaruga or...the list goes on and on. And this is when I can even get the console online at an acceptable speed.

So much gaming and I have been cut off from it not because I can't afford the games, or because I don't want to play them, but because of where I live. At least with boxed games I can pick some up whenever I travel, but these will just sit and exist for me on youtube and desktop wallpapers from the internet. I see people on various blogs talking about how annoyed they are with Spore and its DRM, but of course nobody even bats and eyelash at the fact that one of the major unique selling points of the game is linked directly to availablity of relatively fast broadband internet. Why should they? They seem to take it for granted.

How I wish that we in Nigeria had the luxury to complain about having only 3 installs on a game that we can get full mileage out of. Or even hell, having the luxury to even play one of these download-only games.

Looks like I might have to start travelling with my consoles if I want to get some of the good downloadable games out of them. I might also have to try and get a foreign credit card in order to buy and play the majority of them.

Michael Abbot of the Brainy Gamer was rejoicing in one of his posts about the increasing quality and availability of online games, and how mazing it would be for a plastic free future. I dunno whether a download-only future for games is one that I am really looking forward to. Well, that is if our government and the various companies that provide internet to us here at ridiculous prices will ever begin to take getting us as a country connected seriously at all.

Of course, this is not to say that the rest of the world should wait for us to catch up, but it would be nice to know that we were even thought about at all when they are making these decisions. After all, do they really think that just because they do not officially distribute here that no one is playing video games?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Lo-Fi Minds just released a new flash game called xWUNG. I love the music and art style for it. Then again, I love Cactus' design. Always seems fresh and retro at the same time. Can't wait for their major game in development, Brain Damaged Toon Underworld to be done and released.

More Old Stuff

This one I also wrote in 2004. I was still heavily into Final Fantasy XI at this point. The raw idea itself has merit I think, although the implementation would need some serious work most likely. I will probably revisit this at some point in the future, maybe merge it with some of my other thoughts on this type of mmo design.

A lot of videogames place you in the position of a hero/heroine. Granting you powers beyond the ken of mere mortals. Whether it is the ability to shoot fireballs out of your hands, fly through the air, slow down time...the list goes on. But, not only do you get their abilities, you get to BE a hero. Saving the world, rescuing the damsel in distress, and helping people in need. This is all great, but have you ever felt a sense
of urgency while doing it? The people you are saving are all AI routines. They don't have feelings or anything to lose that they don't when you switch off your console or PC. You're basically riding on the urge to complete the game. If the game is well written you might develop an attachment for some of the characters, but even then, you don't really feel like you're under pressure to not fail in your task.

What if you could be the hero for other human players? In a massively multiplayer online world, other players have a vested interest in their characters and belongings, for the simple fact that they put in time and effort to get to the point that they are in the game. It could be very interesting for a world like that to come under threat from some foe. A foe that can bring about the annihilation of everything the player-base
have built up. Towns, items, would give those in the position of being heroes (maybe the highest level players, or those that are regular contributors)something to fight for, not actual lives (and who would want to?), but something more tangible than the cries of yet another computer-controlled character telling you that your character is part of some prophecy. How cool would it be to be in a village and see the 'chosen' party come round to your shop? You could give them weapons for free and wish them luck. Join them even if you were high enough level. Losing would not be an option in this case, well, it would be, but for the
wrong reasons. Of course the quest would have to be tweaked to make sure that the players could actually get through it, but having harsher consequences for dying could also lead to some interesting gameplay
elements as well. Watching the trailer for Otogi 2 inspired this post, and hence the next thing that I think could be added...the ressurection of 'legendary players' that have fallen in major battles to serve the player base. If a high level player lost his character in one of these quests with high stakes, then he could be added to an ongoing legend of the game. He might have to make a new character, maybe with some perks to make his
new start easier, but if another quest was to come up, the option to resurrect his character could be provided. The way Raikoh is called back from the dead to deal with a new threat. It will provide a wonderful
framework for player-created mythologies to be created and perpetuated. I think it's something that could be looked into. Of course this is not to say that being the main character in an offline game is a rubbish idea, or
that all online games should have this feature worked in, but I think it would provide variety and make players feel more important in a world that they dedicate a bit of their free time to.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why so serious?

Nah, this is not yet another Dark Knight post. This is about having more comedy games. Everywhere I look, most games take themselves too seriously. And even when they have elements of comedy, they are generally in the form of comic relief or just comical situations.

Gaming started out as a very abstract affair I guess in part due to the limitations of the technology available at the time. But, because of this abstract nature, I think it lead game designers to take themselves less seriously. Even when they were not overtly funny, the bizarreness of the gaming locales and character designs made it obvious that the game designers did not see this gaming malarkey as serious business.

What got me thinking about this was the deathspank teaser (Deathspank is being developed by Ron Gilbert, one of the designers of Secret of Monkey Island - the first laugh out loud funny game I ever remember playing) which you can see for yourself below.

The other two can be found here -

It is fun and made me feel all nostalgic for those days when videogame characters were spunky, and bright and cartoon-like. Nowadays, we have Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, Wander and Ico, Cloud and Sephiroth, Lara Croft and the Prince from Prince of Persia (ooo, and for extra points, the dark Prince from POP 2 onwards). Not that there aren't funny characters anymore, or that there weren't serious characters back then, but it just feels like all of the games I have for the current-gen consoles are just filled with hard men/women/machines/cyborgs/boys/girls. At least on the PS2 I have Katamari Damacy and its cast of crazy characters as well as Disgaea 1 & 2, Godhand, even Devil May Cry1 and 3 are quite tongue in cheek in certain respects. There are also loads of games like that on my Gamecube.

I definitely want more humour in my games. It may seem a little odd considering the types of games I have been talking about playing which are light on the dramatics and heavier on the gameplay, or intense like Immortal Defense and Etrian Odyssey, but the truth is that even those games are quite bizarre in their own way, and me? I am a sucker for absurdity. What really got me interested in Etrian Odyssey were the excellent manga-style comics that the developers made for them, as well as the F.O.E music video on youtube. And Immortal Defense is quite bizarre too in the little quotes that pop up on the screen whenever your points accomplish something, and even their design is a bit odd. Rescue the Beagles which I talked about before is quite old school in its approach to bad guys and plot. Two young activists fighting against an evil cosmetics corporation. Yeah, quite. And of course there's also Mighty Jill Off...

And the horizon is looking quite lean for comedy games on both the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Now, again, it's not like I am advocating that we make only funny/quirky/odd games, but it would be nice to see more of them.

Nvidia Advert

Nvidia hired the mythbusters team to create a demonstration showing the superiority of its new GPU over older models, and they come up with something truly cool.

I just recently came back to Nvidia as they launched the 8xxx series and I haven't looked at ATI since. Yes, yes, no brand loyalty me :-)

found via Super Punch

Street Fighter IV

I am sooo looking forward to this game now, especially after this review from EDGE.

The fact that they have made the inputs a little bit more lenient and the whole look of the game I think has convinced me to make a proper investment in the game. Might end up getting it for the PS3. Will get it along with some nice Hori arcade sticks if they still 'ave 'em as well.

Just watching the above trailer brought back memories of guys coming round my house back in the early nineties to play SFII Turbo. Sometimes we had up to 17 people all in my room waiting for their turn.

I was never VERY good at it, but I could at least hold my own against most people. I wonder if the benefit of age and more gaming experiences would have helped my SF game somewhat. It doesn't matter even if it doesn't though, I am sure I will have a blast generally anyway.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This is not gaming related...

but Don LaFontaine, the trailer guy (and I am sure he also must have done a few game trailers, and has definitely inspired some others) died yesterday from complications related to pneumothorax. The world is definitely short something now.

Once you see all those movie trailers he had done it really hits you that he birthed a proper legacy.


This is so nice!

ELA in Love at First Byte from Fernando Sarmiento on Vimeo.

I would love to see a videogame with this art style and feel. The colours are just too nice! Maybe even with the FMV to go with it. Would be cool and subversive to have a modern videgoame out with graphics like this and cutscenes involving real people again. Only Command and Conquer seems to be keeping the flag flying. Well, them and Kojima in his introductory sequence to MGS4.

But, with regards to the art style itself, it just reminded me of TRON and Rez all over again, but with a richer colour palette. Rez was the last game in recent memory to push the envelope on vector graphics and such and was all the better for it. Would be nice if more game developers were to make games with this sort of 3d pixel vibe to them. Maybe even with more muted colours. The thing that I quite like about the colour selection in this video is that you can believe that it doesn't take place in a computer world (a la Rez and TRON), but just in a strangely animated one.

Found via super punch and made by Pepper Melon with more info on the short here


I was just going through the posts I put up on my first proper gaming blog way back in early 2004 (or maybe even late 2003!) and I realised I actually had some good ones.

I will be posting them throughout the week so that the blog will at least see some daily activity. I might tweak some of them for grammar or whatever, and some of them I think started some ideas that have shaped my thoughts on games and game design, so those ones I will probably want to go over and maybe develop some of them. Oh, and I will keep the original titles as well, so please forgive some of them.

Anyways, here is the first one, and it occured at the time that I had just gotten seriously into online gaming via xbox live. I actually like the style I had back then. don't think I still write like that anymore, and in some ways it is sad, in others at least I can say that I have moved on.


I woke up quite late today after a night of vivid dreaming. The first thing I heard was the sound of gunshots.

My brother was playing Resident Evil on the Gamecube. Seeing him do this just reminded me about how much fun I had with that dinky machine since I got it at the Japanese launch. It made me think back to why I had stopped playing it religiously and now measured my gaming experiences by the amount of time spent on Xbox Live!

Last summer, I lost all the data on my memory card. It contained every single save I had since I got the machine. At least, every single US save. Goodbye trophies from Super Smash Bros.! Goodbye Wind Waker! Sayonara PSO, Timesplitters and tons of other game stuff. Even my beautiful replays from Super Monkey Ball on Expert mode...*sigh* When I realised it was all gone, through an oversight on my part (I mistakenly agreed to wipe the contents of the memory card while I was about to play a Japanese game)I just lost interest. Then, I got an Xbox. Life became about getting as lost as possible in the worlds of Vvardenfell, Halo, and the skies of Panzer Dragoon. I never even gave my Gamecube more than a second glance in those heady days with Mr. Driller been a slight diversion to the cube's delights. Even Mario Kart only kept my brother and I playing till we unlocked all the cups. By now though, PSO had come and brought with it all its addictive goodness.

Now though, my brother has gone to the back of the mansion and is at the tombstone that requires the arrowhead to get through. It's all coming back to me. I tell him to go back inside and go upstairs to get it from the room with the mirror and the two zombies. It feels cool.

I am going through a gaming fallow period. Being online is fun and all that, but only about four people out of all the people on my friends list make it worthwhile. I had more fun playing all these single player games offline. Or just messing about on Super Smash Bros. with my flat mates. Those days were cool. Of course, I am not saying that Live or online gaming as a whole is without its strong points and its allure, after all I already have a copy of FFXI waiting to be installed on my PC, and NWN is also probably only going to be played online. Overall though, I think that I play games for the experience of gaming. Getting lost in a world and having it affect my own environment as well - the theme tune for a level coloring my memory of summer for example - creating a dialogue, both spoken and unspoken between me and a group of friends, even if they don't play videogames.

Finishing the Fight

I finally got my mitts on Halo 3! Yes, yes, I know this is probably old news for most people with 360s, but it is still quite an achievement for me, and getting it was almost as interesting as playing the game itself.
Basically, I went to every department store and electronics shop on the Island in Lagos asking about it, and like I detailed in an earlier post, most people don't even seem to stock 360 games, let alone having Halo 3. I was about to give up and look to the internet and my hit or miss credit card to help me get it when I went to the NuMetro Media store in the Palms shopping mall. By this time, I had given up on getting Halo 3 in any of these stores and was just looking for a control pad (they didn't have any by the way) when one of their sales reps came up to me and asked what I was looking for. I told him that I was looking for an xbox 360 pad. He looked thoughtful for a second or two and then told me to wait for him. He looked like he was going to the back of the store and so I just said in passing that if they also happened to have a hidden copy of Halo 3 somewhere in there, I would want to get that as well.
He then asked me whether I wanted a PAL or NTSC one and I told him either. He went away and left me with my hopes actually raised and when he came back with both his hands empty I was disappointed. He then told me to come back at 1pm. I looked at my watch and saw that the time was 12.30pm, so I told him this and said that I would just wait. He then told me to give him my number and that he would call me when the stuff was there. So I did so, asking him when he thought they would be available, and he said the next day.

And so, I left.
I went back about the same time the next day (Saturday) and I saw him. He told me that they still weren't there, but that he would definitely call me once they were available. So, I went back home again, getting ready to attempt the internet purchase option. On Sunday morning I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognise and it was the guy from the store! He told me that he had the goods and that I could pick them up that day. Thinking that all I would have to do is drive down to the store and go get them, he then confused me by asking where I lived. I answered automatically and told him that I lived near the mall at Lekki Phase One then he told me that he could bring it to me. At this point it dawned on me that when he told me that they would be getting the Halo 3 and the control pad soon, he was talking about himself and his side-business (or PP - Private Practice as they say). Well, Halo is Halo and so I got in my car and met him at the entrance to the estate. I parked on the side of the road and he got into the car with a black polyethene bag. I thought for a moment at how this must look like such a shady deal being executed. Anyways, he brought out the Halo (which looked to me almost like it had been hastily re-shrink wrapped by Alaba boys), paid him N13,500 ($114) with a big sigh and drove off. I had already picked up a game pad from another store and did not have enough money to buy one more. I am planning to pick up two more pads from a store near my office. They are offering them for about N6,000-N8,000 ($50-$67) which is still a damn sight better than the N10,500 they are asking for in the department stores.
Anyways, long story short, I got my game, and I have been playing for two days now on Heroic. Africa has been glassed and I am on my way to kick the ass of the people who made it necessary. The Flood. The game looks really nice, and I prefer its visual aesthetic to Gears of War which I also finished recently. Halo's art design is a bit subtle in that it appears to be really just generic space marine tosh, but on closer inspection, there really is a lot of work and artistry put into it. And at least I can tell the difference between a Brute, Elite, Grunt, and marine at a glance unlike in Gears of War where everybody looks like they are on the same steroid regime.
The game is also quite nice too so far. :-)

World Cyber Games Championships...

And Nigeria is participating! How this flew under my radar I have no idea. I think I remember reading about a competition, but since it didn't involve any games I play or am interested in, I just didn't pay too much attention. Guessing that that is what it was.

I am quite pleased at this development, although I wonder how well we will actually do given our track record for assuming we are GREAT at something only to find out that we are only wonderful relative to the others around our neighbourhood. Will still be an interesting experience however. Wish I had the time/excess funds to go to Germany as my visa is still valid.

According to the official Nigerian World Cyber Games (Wow! I don't believe I just typed that) website, the games available for representation by us are - Need for Speed, Age of Empires, Warcraft and Fifa 08. If I had seen anything on Halo 2/3, I might have actually considered going on a training regime with a team in order to see about participating. Even if we get our asses handed to us over there (which is most likely), it would have been very fun.