How much time do you spend in each single session when you play games?

It's Official, Big Surprise!
The New York Times is reporting that the Xbox 360 Elite is in fact coming. Probably one of the worst kept secrets, the Elite will be black, have a larger 120Gb hard drive, a HDMI interface and cost $80 more. Further evidence towards my theory that all Microsoft rumors eventually come true.

"Microsoft is clearly hoping to fill what it sees as a hole at the top end of the market."

I am not so sure I agree with this statement. I don't think there is much of a top end to the market. The Wii has been flying off the shelves because it is an awesome value ( and a pretty fun system ). Microsoft needs to cut the price on it's excellent, if not slightly unreliable, console. Adding a black, upscale PS3 killer to the Xbox 360 line up seems kinda silly when the PS3 is kinda ... well ... if not dead, surely limping along. Most gamers who would be ready to plunk down nearly $500 for a new console probably already have an X360.

If you haven't bought a X360 would you get the Elite? If you already own a X360 would you consider replacing it with the Elite? How about just buying a 120 Gb hard drive replacement?
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 28, 20074 comments
Old Electronics, What to Do?
Tech Bible has posted some suggestions on how to safely dispose of your old PC. I replace my systems about once every three years. I am not sure whether the hardware becomes obsolete or the operating system has devolved into unusable chaos. Either way I personally go through a lot of computers and components. PCs specifically and electronics in general contain toxic chemicals like arsenic, nickel, lithium, cadmium, chromium and mercury. Throwing that stuff in the trash isn't really the best way to go.

For the most part I just keep the stuff around much to my wife's chagrin. The computer graveyard has grown to quite a sizable heap and occasionally I salvage a replacement part for something that suddenly died. eBay can be a pain and I am skeptical of where the parts will ultimately end up if I donate or recycle. What do you do?
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 27, 200718 comments
Banned MMOers coerced into donating blood
Weird Asia News is reporting that MMO operator Moliyo is allowing banned players to reactivate their account by donating 1 litre of blood. Unfortunately for those outside of Nanjing, players wishing to donate much travel to the city and donate in a public blood drive. Chinese hospitals have had increasing difficulty attracting blood donors in recent years due to scandals around unhealthy conditions.

Moliyo arranged the event in an attempt to “create a civilized society, and enhance online gamers’ appreciation of social responsibility and public welfare.”

Would you donate blood to get you account back? Can video game makers use their position to influence or coerce good behavior?
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 26, 20079 comments
Cure Cancer, Warm the Earth
Joystiq's PS3 Fanboy is urging all 15 or so PS3 owners to leave their units on tonight to help save the world. This week marks the first ever Sunday Night Foldathon donating unused computation cycles to Stanford's cancer research efforts.

"The S.N.F event is simple. On Sunday Night (March. 25th 2007) everyone who wants to participate in the S.N.F event simply turn there PS3 on and start the folding program, could be anytime you want or when you goto bed, you may let the program run as long as you want but would be great if it could at least last till 7am Monday morning, its all up to you since anything helps. This is to see how much help we (the playstation community) can be for this program and to show them that the feature is being widely used and maybe saving lives in the process."

Utilizing the computational power of idle systems to solve distributed computing problems is nothing new. From cracking encryption algorithms to finding extraterrestrial life, hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded and run these programs. Has any one of these programs every elicited a breakthrough that helped mankind? Sure some cryptography schemes have been brute forced apart, but does the actual benefits really outweigh the increased power consumption of hundreds of thousands of machine that should be off or at least idle?
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 25, 20078 comments
Unicorn Lynx breaks the 50,000 barrier!
That's right, folks, our long time approver and top contributor Oleg "Unicorn Lynx" Roschin has recently broken the 50,000 points barrier, being the 4th mortal to enter the house of MobyGods! Congratulations Oleg, now stop contributing and go give attention to your wife! =P
Submitted by chirinea (33687) on Mar 24, 200712 comments
If Blu-ray wins, Xbox will have it
CVG posted that the Blu-ray versus HD DVD battle is in full flow and Microsoft has said that it will support it whatever format wins the war.

Neil Thompson, head of Xbox in the UK. "The Xbox 360 offers a better gaming experience than PS3 for £150 less," he said. "The only debate is if you want to watch Blu-ray movies and pay the extra money for that feature. We prefer to offer the consumer choice."

Thompson added, "Whatever format wins it is highly likely we will offer a solution."
Submitted by Loaded007 (36) on Mar 23, 200715 comments
Racing Games May Lead to Car Accidents
Video games have become the scapegoat for violent murders, and now they may become the scapegoat for car accidents as well.

German psychologists recently published three studies in the Journal of Experimental Psychology that examined 198 men and 92 women ages 16 to 45 while they played various racing games on a PlayStation.

To win, players had to perform typical racing fare like driving really fast while crashing into other cars, etc. Afterwards, players who participated in the racing game had more thoughts and feelings linked to risk-taking than those who played a non-racing game.

Although the experiment was never taken on the road, researchers now believe that people who play racing games will drive more aggressively and have a greater risk of car accidents than those who don’t.
Submitted by Loaded007 (36) on Mar 23, 200718 comments
Xbox Black
The rumor mill has been a buzz with talk of a black Xbox 360 with HDMI support. engadget has confirmed with trusted sources that a black Xbox 360 may be coming. Thanks guys. The folks at the tech blog have coded named the device Elite for no real apparent reason.

Some facts that may or may not be true:
  • Quantities may be limited
  • The system and peripherals may be black
  • The unit may have a larger hard drive and HMDI support
  • $479 is the estimated price in the US
Microsoft rumors have a surprising habit of coming true. While the post may be full of crap, history tells us not to ignore such things. Is a larger drive and HDMI really worth the extra money? Seeing how Sony has been treated with its high priced console, is raising the price point really such a smart move for Microsoft?
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 21, 20075 comments
Why Forbes has its Head up its Ass
Forbes recently ran the most irresponsible piece of journalism , "Why Gears Of War Costs $60", I have ever seen from a supposed financial publication. In it they breakdown the cost of making a game. According to Forbes, publishers make about $1 per unit or 1.5%. However a quick look at Electronic Arts , Activision or THQ shows a gross profit margin of 35-60%. What gives?

Well Forbes lumped everything into variable cost. Variable cost is what the publisher pays for each game unit it makes. Using Forbes own numbers, and I am being generous here, after the retailer takes it 20% cut, variable costs are only 42%. The publisher sells more games its got to pay more to produce boxes, DVDs, fees paid to Sony and Microsoft to use their hardware etc etc. I've even lumped marketing costs as a variable costs even though most of the marketing dollars are sunk way before the game ever hits the shelves.

What's left over, 58%, is pure profit AFTER development costs are recouped. That's the big trick. It is no secret that the next-gen games are bigger, better, longer and that requires bigger teams and more money. That money is spent well before launch. If the publisher sells five games or five million, it has little impact on the development costs. However once those costs are covered it's payday for the publisher. Nearly 60 cents per dollar. Publishers that can crank out hits make lots of money. Way more than 1.5%.

A title that sells for $60 means that the publisher has to sell less titles to cover the cost and will get into the profit zone quicker than a title that sells for $50. Somewhere some accountant at Microsoft decided that $60 games will mean more profits than $50 games. Sure some people may not buy as many games, but the higher price will more than make up for the few lost sales. That is why Gears of War costs $60.
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 20, 20078 comments
Three Halo 3s
GameDaily Biz is reporting that Microsoft will be releasing three different versions of Halo 3 to squeeze every last dollar out what everyone assume will be a megahit game.

Collector editions are a widely accepted part of the industry. True blue fans are willing to pay extra for figurines, t-shirt, posters, fancy boxes and all the other stuff thrown into a collectors edition. Publishers are more than happy to take the money. Never one to miss out on a few extra bucks, Microsoft is releasing a collectors edition AND an even more expensive Legendary Edition for $129. The Legendary Edition comes with the typical bonus content and a Halo helmet. EBGames is already taking pre-orders . Due to the size there is an extra $10 shipping.

Are people going to buy this? Probably. Are the uber hardcore going to buy BOTH the Legendary and Collectors Edition? Probably. Is it really worth it? You tell me.
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 20, 200723 comments
New MobyGames Banners
We finally got around to posting new MobyGames banners. If you want to link to MobyGames from your website, blog, forum or whatever feel free to use the MobyGames banners anyway you wish. If you want to make your own go ahead and send it to us. We will post the good ones : ).
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 19, 20074 comments
Play Games using only your Brain
Hardware enthusiast Mad Shrimps is reporting that memory oem, OCZ Technologies, is planning on releasing a device to control your computer using only your brain. Named the OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator, it looks like a headband with electroleads connected to a PC.

"The NIA separates three different areas of neural and myographic signals: electro oculographic, which tracks and responds to movement of the eye, electro encephalographic signals, which tracks brain waves (activity) and myographic signals, which tracks muscles movement.

These signals are decoded and combined to help link certain commands on the PC to inputs from the electrodes on the user's head. A fully functional brain can generate as much as 10 Watts of electrical power!"


When I first heard of the Wii-mote I thought, "Boy, is that dumb." Of course after some hands on time with the device I soon realized how wrong I was. Is the NIA the input device of the future? Will hand-eye coordination be a thing of the past?
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 19, 200715 comments
Ratings for free and rated by developers - TIGRS
GameProducer.net is reporting that there is new rating system available, rated without cost and by developers. It is called TIGRS

TIGRS is simple, three age ratings (Family Friendly, Teen Content, Adult Content) and many rating descriptors. TIGRS ratings are created with rating generator.

Will developers and more importantly the retailers adopt this system?
Submitted by tarmo888 (5316) on Mar 17, 20072 comments
Take, Burn, Sink or Destroy
That seems to be the orders the lawyers from Epic are under. Kotaku is reporting that one of their artists, Pavel Dolgov, created a "one-of-a-kind, hand painted, acrylic on canvas" inspired by Gears of War. After an image of the painting was posted on Dolgov's website he received a cease and desist from Epic's general counsel. In the notice Dolgov was informed he must remove the image and destroy the painting or send it to Epic. Did they at least offer to pay shipping?

Doesn't this feel a little heavy handed? Unfortunately the laws in the US are structured in such a way that copyright holders must assert their rights or potentially lose them. Is it possible that Epic could lose the exclusive rights to what must surely be very valuable IP because of an acrylic painting? I for one smell a collectible item and should Pavel be reading this we feel the painting would look great in the MobyGames offices and Epic need not be the wiser.
Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 16, 20076 comments
YouTube's getting sued.
It had to happen eventually... Viacom's sued Google and YouTube for $1,000,000,000 due to copyright infringement. You'd think that insisting that YouTube removes their copyrighted videos would be enough. As much as I love YouTube and how it's all free, I don't think they have a leg to stand on.
Submitted by NatsFan (132) on Mar 14, 200710 comments
The Digital Game Canon
While I missed the actual presentation for this at GDC because of illness, the New York Times has written up The ten most significant games of all time.

Before you start flying off the handle: The criteria they used was "what was the first game to introduce a gameplay element that is still in use today". Even so, I only agree with half the list. Christopher Grant's choice of Super Mario Bros. 3 is very suspect; he says it's included because you can go backwards which leads to non-linear gameplay. Considering that Wibarm, Metroid, and many other games already did that by the time SMB3 came around, I don't agree with his choice.

The problem most videogame journalists today have, IMO, is that they aren't 35+ years old. As a result, their memory only goes as far back as the NES.
Submitted by Trixter (8734) on Mar 14, 200760 comments
Game falls into Enemy Territory
Todd Hollenshead of ID Software just finished a talk on piracy that Flipkin and I attended. It was a bit of a call to arms about piracy but he also dispensed information that Quake Wars : Enemy Territory has been leaked, but they're not sure how.

Turns out that every single one of ID Software's games has been leaked before shipment. In fact, the leaking of pre-release versions is such a concern that they added a hardware dongle solution that the in-progress builds of Quake Wars need to run and they are guessing this is the only reason that it hasn't been rampantly distributed on the net.

Do you believe its wrong to download an illegitimate alpha or beta of a game? Is this different that illegally getting a final version? What other possible steps could or should companies take to secure their games?
Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 10, 200721 comments
Gaming Geography: Does where you live affect how you play?
Gaming Junky has just posted up the latest piece of content by Livia "Liefje" Teernstra entitled "Gaming Geography: Does where you live affect how you play?". Livia takes a look at past tournament results and compares them to the countries of the players. The article is filled with information on previous tournaments, players and a ton of shiny graphs.

Full Article: http://www.gamingjunky.com/article/2007/3/8/gaming-geography:-does-where-you-live-affect-how-you-play/
Submitted by Diego Rosa (4) on Mar 09, 20072 comments
Small but big update added
So it's been awhile since we had our last update to the site. Things have been pretty busy and we wanted to add a bunch of stuff at once. But we've decided to push some things that have been done for awhile to let you know we're still plugging away. Most notable is the ability to pull your submitted items back from submission to edit as needed. Check out the other changes in the changelog.
Submitted by Corn Popper (69780) on Mar 08, 200729 comments
The War of Game Design
Cliffy Blizasnski did a session today on the design of Gears of War and how the design evolved over time.

Originally the game started as a concept called 'Unreal Warfare' which was a class based large scale territory controlled team game. Eventually, this concept ended up evolving into the "Onslaught" mode in Unreal Tournament 2004, but the concepts for characters and certain ideas were carried over into the design for what would become Gears of War.

The concept art went through many iterations but originally the COG human soldiers looked more like traditional soldiers and the locust (originally called the geist, but went through a name change for legal reasons) looked more like armored mecha soliders in a way.

When the design was rethought out, Cliffy sold the concept as 'Resident Kill.Switch' mainly because of the feelings and slowness that Resident Evil invoked and the unique sort of detailed cover system that Kill.Switch had. Originally, the game also had a money based reward system for killing guys where you could buy new weapons, a morale meeter which judged how scared or confident your soldiers were, and a detailed order system for your teammates. All of these things were dropped (except for the order system which was heavily simplified) because they didn't fit with the slow tactical action game they wanted to build.

There were also conscious design choices made to try and simplify certain aspects of the game to increase control. The game was made so that you'd be able to tell which objects you'd be able to get cover behind by their size being close to that of the player's and limited to only two levels of vertical encounters so you wouldn't feel the need to want to jump.

Originally, they simplified the controls so much that nothing was mapped to the Y button. So they finally settled on making the Y button just look at anything cool that was happening at the time.

He had quite a bit to say about the design process and the evolutionary design of the game over time and how features evolved and changed like the addition of the 'Dead but not out' system of being down and having players be able to revive and execute that was added in late in the game and the evolution of the torque bow that went from being a wrist mounted player controlled explosive device to a crossbow-esq timed explosive device.

The take really gave some neat insight into how the team went about making games and was a neat behind the scenes look at Gears. Has there ever been a game you wonder how it got made? Ever wonder about how a certain feature made it into something? Also, Who's the game designer you'd like to meet the most and why?
Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 08, 200713 comments
"Upending the Tea Table"
Today was the Keynote by Shigeru Miyamoto who has created countless video games and video game characters for Nintendo. His keynote primarily focused on the creative vision that both he and Nintendo have and how they coincide.

His concerns seem to be ones replicated by other developers in many different fields of game development, sales may be up but the reputation of the game industry is suffering and the industry has fallen into a cycle less concerned with innovation and more to do with iteration.

He talked about many pieces of Nintendo's vision, their commitment to expanding their audience, their devotion to the entertainment business, and their willingness to take risks. Miyamoto joked he had a way of judging the success of a game using what he called the 'wife-o-meter' which measures the interest of his own wife in a game. He talked about the progression of getting his wife involved in games and the ideas he incorporated to ease his wife into gaming that occurred over the designs of games like The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, Animal Crossing and Wii Sports.

He also talked about how the balance in Nintendo that occurred where everyone provided input when it come to building the Wii controller and the concerns of the many teams to helped to build it. Apparently, there were three primary teams that provided input: a team who experimented with new gamplay designs, the zelda team who wanted to make sure more traditional styles of games would still be possible, and a team concerned with making sure the new controller would be accessible to third parties so they could make games as well.

He also talked about the risks involved with many design choices they'd made over the years with the Nintendo DS's touch screen, the Gamecube's larger differently colored A button, the idea to go with a one handed controller for the Wii. Miyamoto said that every so often he ended up "upending the tea table" to test a new idea or take a chance and that while people might be nervous, you needed to not look at what you might lose but what you might gain.

Miyamoto also discussed his own design process where he focused on how to get the player to smile and have fun as the goal for any gameplay experience. He emphasized the points of communication, prioritization and tenacity in his speech. Especially interesting was how he discussed how the idea of player created avatars evolved over time into what we have today in Miis on the Wii. It took attempts on the NES disk drive, the N64's disk drive, and the Gamecube before the idea was full realized the way we see on the Wii and even then it evolved out of a project that originally started on the DS.

Miyamoto also took the time to show a Super Mario Galaxy trailer and talk about a new Wii channel he's working on where people will be able to submit their Miis and everyone will be able to vote on which are the best.

It's always interesting to hear Miyamoto's words because he has a such a pure view of game design. You could tell he was trying to get people to realize that innovation doesn't just need to happen in graphics but in the way you manipulate the players during the game. What do you guys think about Miyamoto? Would you rather have more simpler gameplay experiences or more complex deeper experiences that might not be as accessible? Do you enjoy the feeling of being able to share a communal game experience?
Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 08, 20071 comments
GDC: Security and Privacy in games
I had the opportunity to observe an industry roundtable here at GDC regarding security and privacy in games, specifically regarding online gaming. (Disclaimer: While I didn't get clearance to report actual game company names, I did get clearance to report on what was discussed.) The problem for publishers is that there are two sets of rules to follow: The need to secure and anonymous personal information, and the need to somehow have that information available for legal action (ie. stealing money in gambling games, etc.)

The game industry is a massive target for people wanting to sidestep the rules: People want to hack higher scores, or grant more in-game points, or maybe just assume the identity of someone else as a form of revenge. To prevent this, for protection of both the company and the players, there are many steps taken, depending on the game:

  • All IP addresses are not considered private information and are logged.


  • All in-game chat is logged.


  • One company's anti-cheat software, bundled with some games, can take screenshots of gameplay or query parts of your computer to determine if you are cheating or not.


  • Repeat offenders are banned via IP address and netmask, even though this locks out many more potential customers, simply because repeat offenders are a greater legal risk.


  • Bet you'll read that EULA more carefully from now on, eh?

    Some of these practices are changing. For one thing, some european countries are lobbying to consider IP addresses private information, which means they could no longer be considered private data and be logged (or "strive to avoid logging it" according to one company).

    Another aspect of privacy that is being tested is bots, and when their use constitutes an illegal act. Is gold farming illegal if it doesn't take (real) money away from end-users? It's a gray area, but to prevent abuse, some bots have to pass some interactivity tests to see if they are bots are not -- kind of a weak Turing test.

    The end result of all this are preventative measures. You can't sue a cheater in court because you have to prove actual damages, which is difficult. So it's better to stop them before it gets to that point.
    Submitted by Trixter (8734) on Mar 08, 20077 comments
    Gears of a'War'ds
    Here are the winners of the Game Developers Choice Awards:

    Innovation:
    -Line Rider
    -Okami
    -Wii Sports

    New Studio:
    Iron Lore Entertainment (Titan Quest)

    Writing:
    The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess

    Game Design:
    Wii Sports

    The Maverick Award:
    Greg Costikyan of Manifesto Studios

    Audio:
    Guitar Hero 2

    Character Design:
    Okami

    The First Penguin Award (for developers who show courage and bravery in testing new waters):
    Alexey Pajitnov (creator of Tetris)

    Technology:
    Gears of War

    Visual Arts:
    Gears of War

    The Community Contribution Award (for building community, sharing knowledge, and contributing to the art form of game development):
    George "The Fatman" Sanger

    Lifetime Achievement:
    Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.)

    Best Game:
    Gears of War

    I think the thing to take away from this is that if you haven't played Gears of War or Okami yet - go at least rent them. I was a little disappointed The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion didn't get any awards as I think it was very deserving of some recognition, but everything that won really deserved it. What do disagree with any of the winners? What was your game of the year for last year?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 08, 200766 comments
    If you're an independent game developer and you know it, clap your hands!
    Here are the winners of the independent game developer awards:

    Best Student Game: Toblo

    Best Single Player Mod: Weekday Warrior (Half-Life 2)

    Best Multiplayer FPS Mod: Eternal Silence (Half-Life 2)

    Best RPG Mod: Darkness Over Daggerford (NeverWinter Nights)

    Best Other Mod: Spawns of Deflebub (Unreal Tournament 2004)

    Best Mod: Weekday Warrior (Half-Life 2)

    Excellence in Audio: Everyday Shooter

    Excellence in Visual Art: Castle Crashers

    Technical Excellence: Bang! Howdy

    Design Innovation Award: Everyday Shooter

    Best Web Browser Game: Samorost 2

    Seumas McNally Grand Prize: Aquaria

    Definitely google some of these up... I know I will when I get home... Everyday Shooter seemed pretty awesome from the clips I saw. Anyone try any of these? Anyone think of any independent games that didn't make the list or didn't win that are awesome?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 08, 20071 comments
    Sony's Virtual Mall
    Today, Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, announced three new services which Sony hope to bring them in the direction of user generated content and playspaces.

    The first of these was 'Playstation Home' which will launch in wide beta in April and will be out in full release later this year. The service allows users to create their own human avatar with customized facial features and clothing and then build your an apartment for your avatar. The environment lets you customize it however you want so you can place furniture and other appliances in your virtual home. You can place chairs your avatars can sit in or put TVs or picture frames up with your pictures or video streaming from your Playstation 3.

    You also get a trophy room where you can get 3D trophy models for doing things ala XBox Live. You can compare your accomplishments with your friends as well as show off your trophy room to others. The trophy room is another place you have control over the customization of and you can move your trophies into display cases however you choose. You can also view trophies and accomplishments for games you don't have to choose what you want to get later.

    While your apartment and trophy room are privates space you can invite people into, there are also public spaces created by Sony and other developers. There is a lounge where people can meet that's decorated with banners and videos that acts as a hub to other areas with mini games built in such as billiards and bowling. You can voice chat, gesture, text chat or mix and match pre-made phrases to communicate with others in these spaces.

    Developers and publishers can also create their own spaces for players to visit to promote themselves or their games. They can even create spaces just for their titles. Later on, other products other than games might get their own spaces to for other players to experience. These spaces can also incorporate mini games or other activities for people to participate in.

    The big issue with this whole idea is that it just seems like a glorified marketing space, more like a big mall designed to suck up money and get you to buy stuff more than anything else. Dynamically updated videos and banners are everywhere in these spaces selling games and other stuff. Some of the furniture and clothes for your avatar will need to be purchased over the playstation network or you'll get when you buy certain games. Even the trophy room seems to be designed to sell you on the idea of games that you don't have or might not normally play.

    Part of the reason I like XBox Live's features is that they're built in, streamlined and simple. Home seems needlessly complex as a friend and matchmaking tool. Even viewing your achievements is somewhat involved. Not to mention how shameless it is as a marketing tool. Even your option menu is skinned to look like a 'virtual psp'. I've herd people compare it to second life made already, but this just seems like a poor man's second life at best considering how little the player actually has the ability to create, you're essentially just moving the building blocks around that they give you or want you to buy.

    Anyone thing that maybe this thing is actually a good idea? I do see myself using it, but wishing it were more advanced and allowed the player to maybe build their own world objects. What would you need to sell you on the idea of Sony's Virtual Home World? Did this sway anyone's thoughts about possibly buying a PS3?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 07, 20071 comments
    A Motorsport made for you and me
    I just got out of a meeting with Dan Greenawalt at Turn 10 who is working on Forza Motorsport 2 for the XBox 360. For the uninitiated, Forza Motorsport is Microsoft's premiere racing simulation game. We got to see how far the game had come and aside from some graphical bugs, it seems like the game is shaping up well. Much of the game's focus revolves around a strong online presence which includes heavily customizable races, scalable difficulty and player generated content.

    They haven't really tried to reinvent the wheel, but rather make the wheel more detailed and more useful. For example, instead of trying to do modeling for tires in different ways, they are doing something called 'Load Sensitivity' which is supposed to be a way to accurately model the tires of the car and track all sorts of information. This information is passed onto the players to increase how accurately the tires are represented, information like the temperature on different areas of the tire, speed, air pressure, wear, and camber are all measured and displayed if you want them to be. Damage modeling has also gotten a boost and pieces of the cars fly off when they take damage and have even more of an effect than they did in the first game. There aren't many games where you can clip the side mirror off and watch it bounce on the street.

    The ultimate goal is to bring people who like cars who don't normally play games and gamers who might not be well versed in cars, together. Like the first game it employs a bunch of options so you can scale the difficulty, the harder you make the game, the more points and experience you'll get. But if you're not a huge car person and just like making things, you'll be able to choose from over 300 cars and apply all sorts of real world parts. Then you'll be able to add a custom paint job of about 4,000 layers of color and decals. Once you finish your dream car, you can take photos which will go on forozamotorsport.net or you can sell it in the auction house so you can start building your next masterpiece. One other neat aspect is if you just like painting cars and you want to make something unique, you can lock the paint setups you make to the cars or distribute them freely if you believe in an open source (or open paint, in this case) world. Dan also mentioned that new tracks and cars should come as downloadable content later on (and even made mention of possible new parts and gameplay modes, but nothing definite).

    For me, Gran Turismo ends up being way too hard, but I played the first Forza game and had a lot of fun with it. I was able to find a sweet spot where it was hard, but not impossible like GT. I'm also a nut for tweaking out cars and being able to customize them...for me its almost better than racing (I know... I'm a girl like that...).

    I'm looking forward to Forza 2's release in May, but what about you guys? Did anyone play Forza? Which do you like better Forza or Gran Turismo? What's the one feature you'd love to see in a driving simulation game?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 07, 20070 comments
    Innovate this!
    The last event yesterday was the first mobile game innovation hunt. Any one can submit a mobile game, but they are then whittled down till only the top 15 remain. This session took those 15 submissions and gave each developer three minutes to present their game to the audience. A panel of judges made up of an Nvidia representative, IGN's mobile games editor, and some representatives of cell phone carriers scored the games and then the audience got to vote for their pick.

    The judges tied between two games, Sil: The Silhouette Game and Tornado Madness. Tornado Madness is a game by Digital Chocolate in which you control a tornado using one button. Depending on if you press a button decides if the tornado moves in clockwise or counterclockwise fashion. This simple mechanic makes the game simple and fun to play. There's also some depth too in the different gameplay modes. One has you causing as much destruction as possible to the 2d isometric city. Another has you setting goals for which buildings you'd like to suck up with your tornado and adding them onto your own city. The unique game mechanics along with the ability to cause carnage made it a hit with the audience and judges.

    Sil: The Silhouette Game not only tied Tornado Madness in the judges scores, but also took the audience choice award. The game is simple, you've given a 3d object and you can see a silhouette of the object in the background, then you must orient the object by rotating it to match the silhouette in the background. You get points for how quickly you can accomplish this and get a combo score for doing this correctly in short periods of time. Sil's ability to be scaled to different hardware platforms and its colorful 3d cartoonish style, accessible game mechanics and broad appeal drew lots of applause and praise.

    While it was neat to see some different ideas, I felt like somewhere around a third of the entries weren't really innovative, that they were just heavy refinements to existing game concepts. I'd like to have seen more games use the assets of the mobile platform like location sensing and the camera in unique ways.

    Personally, my pick was a game called Barcode Wars that is a collectable card game of sorts where you take pictures of barcodes using your phone's camera and then the game generates unique cards based on the barcode. You can then use these cards to fight in Pokémon type battles. Apparently, companies can also make deals to get their barcode to generate certain types of 'Power Cards' that act as unique characters that can be used as promotional tie-ins. I like the idea of collecting things and this introduces an active mechanic into the game that lets the user interface with the real world. That's real cool.

    Overall, it seemed like an interesting display of talent and kinda gave everyone a look at some of the interesting things you can do with the mobile platform. Maybe someone in the audience will be inspired by the examples to do something new and different, maybe they'll even get to enter it in next year's mobile games innovation hunt. Do any of you guys have a neat idea of how to take advantage of the mobile platform? What unique things do you think mobile developers should be doing with the camera, microphone, and GPS in your phone?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 07, 20073 comments
    Welcome to NOT the N-Gage.
    N-Gage is back! Only... not. Nokia has brought back the N-Gage name but with a different purpose. This time, N-Gage isn't a hardware platform but a software platform on which mobile games run.

    Apparently, Nokia is transitioning from being a provider of hardware to a provider of "experiences". The experience the new N-Gage is attempting convey revolves around being community driven and user friendly. You'll be able to download demos of games to try them and then contribute reviews and rank how good the content is as well as even play online with others and build friend lists and such. From the way it was being described, it almost sounds like Nokia looked at X-Box Live as an example of how to design their new service.

    Companies like GameLoft, EA, and THQ Wireless are supposedly on board to create content for the new platform. All you'll need to do is download the N-Gage application in the Fall when its released to start using it. What wasn't clear is how new your phone needs to be, if it'll be service dependent, or if you'll need a Nokia phone (the N series of Nokia phones was mentioned, so it wouldn't surprise me).

    Supposedly, one of the benefits of the new platform is how easy it makes things for developers. Because there is a C++ layer in between the Symbian OS, you'll actually be able to use any C++ code in the creation of your games. You'll also be able to use a bunch of N-Gage APIs to control not only the hardware, but the N-Gage platform itself (to grab things like friend lists and such in-game). Lastly, because all of the games run on the N-Gage layer, as long as the N-Gage client runs, you shouldn't have any porting to do to make it run on different handsets.

    I'm a bit skeptical... in theory this sounds like a good idea, but it depends on how many companies get on board and how good the games are. If it only runs on new Nokia phones too, it'll take a while to permeate the market. If you believe Nokia, this'll happen nearly overnight as the numbers they gave have Nokia controlling about half of the global converging media device market (and they also have that market expanding by over three times in the next two years from 80 million to 250 million). The major killer for me is that this does nothing to improve the control problems that gaming on a phone brings so you can really forget anything sophisticated. This also seems to be geared more toward the hardcore gamer at the moment rather than the casual gamer that Trip Hawkins was talking about this morning and kinda goes after the wrong market.

    Do you think that you'd be swayed to buy a new phone just for the gaming capabilities, even though its still a better phone than it is a game console? Do you even care how well your phone plays games if you own a PSP or Nintendo DS? What do you think is the most important thing for the new N-Gage platform to have?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 06, 20073 comments
    GDC: Quick first day impressions
    The first day of talks are over, with mobile gaming and serious games being some of the major tracks, with IGDA special topics another track. It's amazing how large GDC has gotten without losing the feeling of being a tight-knit developer community. Even in a room with 500 people, a programmer can crack a Duke Nukem Forever joke, or people can listen to Trip Hawkins talk about his early Electronic Arts design decisions, and no matter how many people are in the room, it's almost like a one-on-one experience.

    While the Expo isn't going to be set up until Wednesday, I took a look around (MobyGames is an exhibitor as well as press) and saw an incredibly diverse portfolio of exhibitors. Some middleware companies, such as fmod, Rad Game Tools, and CRI are here. 3-D control device vendors are here as well, along with Autodesk (hey, someone has to make all those 3-D models). There are also some unlikely exhibitors, like Sun Microsystems, who is evangelising java as a gaming platform. More on that later, I guess.

    The booths and displays are looking like they'll be the biggest yet; Sony's in particular looks like it's going to be some sort of dual-platform riser, with meeting rooms on the top platform. Just another reminder of how big the business of gaming has become.
    Submitted by Trixter (8734) on Mar 05, 20070 comments
    "Games need to sell themselves..."
    So Dave, Jim and myself are down here in San Francisco for GDC and we've just come back from the kick off of GDC Mobile where Trip Hawkins of EA, 3DO, and now mobile developer, Digital Chocolate, fame.

    Trip was here to talk about the poor state of the mobile games industry and discuss ways to pull the industry out of the fire. Instead, Trip talked about the importance to move people around the fire, so they socially discuss games and so people will talk about what they like, hopefully encouraging people to buy more. The social aspect is one of the most important area mobile games need to improve, because right now if people talk about mobile games, they have nothing good to say.

    Trip made mention of his time at EA too. He talked about his decision to develop for the Commodore 64 rather than the Atari 2600 then wanting to move to the Genesis because of the idea of having more complex two player experiences. He also made mention of how this changed EA. "One of our company values was quality and we dropped it, although I think some of you know that..." Instead, they ended up adding customer satisfaction because they deemed it more important to try and give consumers what they wanted.

    Trip also talked about the overcrowded license market and how more original titles will encourage the growth of the industry. Trip also talked about the royalty fees that a major licensor imposed awhile back. For GameBoy games it was 4%, for Playstation it was about 7%, online stuff it was about 11%, and for mobile games it was about 50%. This type of abuse causes the quality of games to be lower and as a result, the consumer, the publisher and the developer all end up getting burned.

    Ultimately, Trip sees the mobile market as just beginning and the asian market as being a sort of look into the near future for what will happen in the US and Europe. He put alot of the burden of the failure of the mobile market on quality of games, poor user interfaces, the low reach mobile games have, and the necessity of games to be clever. Trip seems to think that overcoming these problems will catapult the mobile market into the next stratosphere and that games that promote "just killing time by ourselves isn't enough".

    I think Trip has it right. By making games more fun, and changing how they're marketed, you'll improve the experience and people will want to talk about what they're playing and share their fun experiences with others. Hell, I've never really had a good mobile game experience, Pac Man and Tetris are awful on my phone because of the terrible controls and the 24 game was a waste of time because its not fun to look at or play. The only game I've played on my phone worth any time at all was Diner Dash which was a bit fun for a while and looked pretty good.

    What do you guys think? Do any of you even care about cell phone games? What has your experience been like with cell phone games and what would you do to improve it? Do you think this whole 'mobile cell phone game' thing will ever be big?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 05, 200710 comments
    Richard Joseph Dies
    Legendary computer game musician Richard Joseph has passed away at age 53. He had been ill for a short period of time with Lung Cancer.

    The BAFTA-winning Joseph was one of the British pioneers of sampling in games. While he was known for his many Bitmap Brothers tunes (featuring well-known artists such as Betty Boo), he worked steadily in game music up to and including Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Many fondly remember his creations for Sensible, such as the controversial "War Has Never Been So Much Fun" tune in Cannon Fodder and, of course, "Goal Scoring Superstar Hero" used in Sensible Soccer.
    Submitted by Stratege (15341) on Mar 05, 20075 comments
    It's the Price, Stupid.
    Next-Gen is reporting that the market research firm IDC is predicting that the Wii will out sell the PS3 and Xbox 360 for the foreseeable future.

    You can talk all you want about market segments, casual vs. hardcore , innovative controllers and processing power. None of that matters. $400 is a lot of money to pay for a console. $600 is an absurd amount of money to pay for any consumer electronic no matter how bad its commercials are. $250 just feels right.

    I know, I know. I've spent $200 or more on additional Wiimotes and Nunchucks. I know I will spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on games. The few hundred dollars difference in consoles shouldn't matter, but it does. It's an emotional thing and I am not alone.
    Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 02, 200724 comments
    Rumble for SIXAXIS ?
    After considering rumble a last gen feature and impractical with the motion sensors of the SIXAXIS, Sony backtracks and signs a deal with Immersion, holders of the patent allegedly violated by Sony in their DualShock line.

    While it's not clear where will the licensing come into use, it's very easy to believe that the SIXAXIS will have rumble sooner or later: Immersion CEO Victor Viegas says that the companies "new business agreement with Sony is specifically intended to enable advanced vibration capability for the benefit of the PlayStation community".

    Sony consistently made PR errors constantly before and after the launch of the PS3. While the rumble feature (which some say is overrated) would add to the features of the controller, isn't this it yet another mishap by Sony after claiming rumble would mess with the motion sensors?
    Submitted by Luis Silva (13294) on Mar 02, 20073 comments
    Well... that would certainly make the journey longer...
    Funcom put out a press release today to state that they'd received a grant from the Norwegian Film Fund to partially finance the research and development phase and a bit of preproduction for an episodic continuation of 'The Longest Journey' series of games titled 'Dreamfall Chapters'. The release even makes mention that part of this exercise will be to research ways to expand the brand while reducing piracy and specifically pointing out the possibility of an MMO iteration of 'The Longest Journey'.

    Now, I've never had the pleasure of playing The Longest Journey myself, but I do know people who played it and its less well received sequel, Dreamfall. An episodic delivery form might not be the worse direction to go because it seems to lend itself to being broken down into small chunks. However, an MMO? Didn't anyone learn anything from Uru : Ages Beyond Myst? That seems like a bad idea...

    Can anyone else think of maybe another direction to go to 'increase brand value while reducing piracy'? What are the chances for a successful 'Dreamfall Chapters' or Longest Journey MMO?
    Submitted by Ronald Diemicke (1148) on Mar 02, 200710 comments
    Xbox Scratch Master 360
    There have been numerous reports of Xbox 360 units scratching disks. What leaves many to believe that the unit itself is scratching the disk is that the damage is perfectly round rings visible to the naked eye. Obviously careless handling of the disk would not create circular scratches. I know for a fact that my 360 has scratched my Battlefield 2: Modern Combat disk.

    Hardware.info was asked by the Dutch television program Kass to investigate the issue and has published its findings. It appears that the lens in the Toshiba-Samsung drives can in certain circumstances scratch the disk. Interestingly enough the consumer version of the drive, the SH-D162, has a small protective cushion around the lens to prevent it from ever touching the disk.

    You can tell which drive you have by the shape of the DVD tray. Would something like this be considered defective? Knowing how spotty MS support can be should I even bother trying? Would it be safer and possibly cheaper in the long run to just go ahead and buy a new system with the newer, quieter drive?
    Submitted by nullnullnull (1471) on Mar 01, 20073 comments