Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Extras and Extravagances Number One: The Diablo III “Book of Cain”

Welcome to the first post of Extras and Extravagances, a small segment about all the non-game gaming stuff you’re interested in. Everything from books to controllers to collector’s editions and art prints will (hopefully) grace this segment at one point or another.

To start us off, the Book of Cain is a recreation of the tome carried by everyone’s favorite old man who really wants you to stay a while and listen, Deckard Cain. A tome of all the knowledge Cain has collected on his travels across Sanctuary, the book is a collection of knowledge about the Diablo universe. As a huge Diablo fan who has played through both the existing games several times, I was immediately interested in it as soon as I heard about this item. As an officially licensed Blizzard product, I definitely expected the book to be high quality. Additionally, the somewhat high price point of $35.00 (MSRP) was initially somewhat off-putting.

Thank God for Amazon.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tech Brief: One Command to Free Up 3+ GB on Your Boot Drive

If you're a desktop gamer who never uses Windows 7's hibernate function this tweak is for you.  When you hibernate a laptop, the state of your open programs and hard disks is saved on your hard drive so that the computer can be completely shut off.  Sleep - used more often by desktop users - puts the program states in memory and draws a small amount of power.  You basically always want to use sleep if you're not concerned about saving battery life since it's faster to read from memory than a hard disk.  Windows keeps a large hidden file on your drive to store this data when hibernate is used - hiberfile.sys. On a PC with 8GB of memory I've seen this file take up 6GB.  On a 4GB PC it seems to be 3GB.

Open up a command terminal by holding Windows Key + R and typing "cmd" in the Run prompt.  Type "powercfg -h off" and the hibernate feature will be disabled, deleting the hiberfil.sys automatically. This can be reversed by typing "powercfg -h on".

How to do this in XP
Sleep and hibernation: frequently asked questions

Thursday, December 15, 2011

FTL: The Space Alert of Video Games

I am so excited that I am using three exclamation marks!!!!

I added one, because that's how excited I am. Why? Because of this game.

According to its website, "FTL (Faster Than Light) is a spaceship simulation rogue-like game. To survive hostile environments and enemies, you need to balance power between systems, manage your crew, and upgrade the ship."

This reminds me of the dearest, most prized of all my board games: Space Alert.

Space Alert is a real-time spaceship survival board game. It is one of the most stressful, hilarious, challenging games I have ever played and always gives rise to cooperative screamathons with your buddies. If you've never played it and have a group of open-minded friends to try it with, do everyone a favor and pick it up.

Now that I'm done being a commercial I want to make the inevitable comparison between what I've seen and know of FTL, and Space Alert. It's not a direct comparison, such as, "FTL is Space Alert!" or "You guys are ripping off Space Alert!", but instead more of the sentiment that FTL looks like the quieter, indie, digitized sibling of a terrific board game. This is a good thing - perhaps a great thing. If you have been lucky enough to ever play Space Alert, then you are likely seeing the beautiful similarities already: real-time, roguelike, spaceship, impossible odds, crew and energy management, so on and so forth. That's why I know this game will work.

Never did I realize how brilliantly Space Alert could translate into a PC game, but now I get it. I didn't even realize that I wanted this game until I knew it existed. And now it's a dream (that I just had) come true.

No more talking - hit the jump for the trailer!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Epic Reveal: Fortnite

Epic Games have released a trailer to a game they are currently developing called Fortnite. Just like it says above in those incredibly shanty letters. Explore, scavenge, gather supplies, build and fortify your base by day. Cower in the shadows of your base and wait until morning as the zombies come out - by night. Nobody is really sure what to expect just yet, but the idea seems like a solid one even if it isn't tremendously novel.

I'm partial to exploration games, also various types of defense games, so maybe there is something here. This could provide the twist on typical post-apocalyptic games that we all need. A lot of people seem to be making the Minecraft + Team Fortress 2 comparison, and while this might be visually accurate, it's realistically far too early to make any judgments about the gameplay.

There are no announcements as to what platforms this will be released on, but I can only hope PC.

Check out the Brink-color-paletted trailer below.

Check out the Fortnite page and Twitter.

Mesmerized By Pinkish Magic

If you didn't catch the Mesmer video leak a few days ago, here are some of the class details and skill videos that we have come to expect. Unlike those vultures over there at Kotaku, who couldn't wait until the official reveal day to post this, I respected ArenaNet. Just kidding, it's just because I'm slow, not because I have principles.

Hit the jump for the Mesmer class details and skill videos, all lifted directly from Guildwars2.com

History's 11 Worst Video Game Songs

Video game music is not all beeps and boops. There are thousands of breathtaking pieces written by legitimate composers, often adapted from RPGs such as the Final Fantasy series. Besides, who can't hum the original Mario theme? There is even an orchestra that tours and plays video game music. The preconception that video game music is bad, boring and for losers is an outdated, moot suggestion. However, this is not an article on the validity and value of video game music.

For each great video game song, there is another out there that shocks the ears. There is a plethora of abysmal video game music that has been put into games over the last 30 years, and I did my best to ensnare the top 10. Unfortunately, I didn't have the willpower to trim it down that far. So much like Spinal Tap's amps, this one goes to 11.

Feeling happy with your life? Optimistic about the world? Things going a little too well lately? Need a downer? Hit the jump, punish your ears with this best to worst list.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gunpoint Closer To Release - Dev Asks What Would You Pay?

Gunpoint has changed quite a bit since the last time developer (and fellow game journalist) Tom Francis and I spoke. The graphical placeholders have been replaced by some sharp, Blade-Runneresque pixel art, and the gameplay is looking more and more attractive and entertaining.

For anyone who isn't aware of Gunpoint, it is "a stealth game about rewiring things, punching people, and trying not to get shot." Good Mr. Francis would also like to know how much you would pay for it. Leave a comment for him and let him know if you think it should be free, or if you'll donate your firstborn like me. It's okay, I don't want kids yet anyway.

Gunpoint is yet another very promising game, like Spelunky and Dustforce, made in GameMaker. Let's stop underestimating this tool, folks.

Hit the jump for the new gameplay trailer to get an idea of how fun being a spy with an MA in Electrical Engineering could be.

Half-Life 3 or Half-Life 2: Episode Three?

Valvians and fanboys - this is NOT fake. Chandana Ekanayake of UberEnt spotted a Valve employee wearing this at a Washington developer event. He was unable to extract any additional info from the shirt-wearing culprit, but this is the first actual acknowledgement that the Half-Life series is still in development and on its way. Will it be Half-Life 3 powered by a new engine? Or will Valve use their Source engine one last time to complete Half-Life 2: Episode Three?

Only Valve Time will tell.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Video Game Music Performed By Mechanical Hardware

My gut tells me that videogame music created by electronic hardware and moving parts is a fairly niche musical genre. Quick, let's all be hipsters and get into this before it goes mainstream. Because then it's not good anymore. I think that's how it works.

This is sweet music to my ears: Jonathan Coulton's famous Portal end credits song, Still Alive, performed by the nostalgic tones of Floppy Drives. Huge success!

Hit the jump for Super Mario on a Laser Cutter, Imperial March on electric motors and Fur Elise on a scanner.