Archive for the 'Gaming' Category

Tired of Games That Are Fun? Try ‘Farmville’

February 13th, 2010

short BioShock review

February 3rd, 2008

Bioshock for the XBox 360 is probably the best game I played through in 2007, and this was a year with other truly great games like “Portal” and “Super Mario Galaxy.” What makes Bioshock good is a combination of old-fashioned, first person shooter action. What makes it great is a richly detailed underwater art deco universe that never blinks, and a backstory that I’m convinced does sly double-duty as a refutation of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Pick it up, if you can.


A strange and beautiful thing

August 18th, 2007


A cross between an animation and a video game. Both lovely and surreal. In other words, ideal.

action button

April 14th, 2007

Once upon a time, there was Old Man Murray, and if you wanted funny yet intrinsically correct video game reviews you went there. Sometime around 2002 Old Man Murray went away, and there hasn’t really been anything to fill that void, until now: I think Action Button is ready to step in. Hilarious and insightful reviews combined with a killer dithered black and white graphic style — highly recommended.


roll vs. SAN

February 6th, 2007


As some loyal L-Dopa readers have surmised, I’m a game designer. As such, I keep an eye out on what others are doing with the medium. For several years now “Matthew/C++” has been writing what he calls the HYBRID RPG. But to call in a “role-playing game” is to grossly underestimate the scale of the endeavor. What Matthew/C++ is working on is a System of the World in the philosophical sense. And he is doing it with some of the language of 80s role-playing games.

Below, find one of my favorite sentences.

In Champions/Hero rpg, END (0, ½) USUALLY APPLIES TO MUTANTS AND means that person starts @ 0, which is NOT a value of 0, but meaning default, THEN if the character is a mutant, but he must be a mutant in order for him to have the or/and be @ ½, which is what his mutant power level will by @ after his IQ is reduced after his IQ is increased by +1 advantage, meaning his C2 will double or increase by factor of 2x, which is then reduced to ½ advantage or ½ limitation from his 2nd 0 END, which is his NEW PL after having his PL increased due to his LS or Life Span decreased, such for a character such as the MU Spiderman, allowing him to increase his PL or Power Level @ C2 by factor of 2x with advantage of +1, which @ C2 for IQ is increased to which must be decreased to have mutant power(s), the more he decreases his IQ, the more power(s) he gets, and NOTE that he already starts with a larger LS or Life Span than an average adult male human, allowing him to decrease his LS to human levels, which in turn will increase his PL, and since his PL is, also, greater than average adult male human, his PL will increase even more, with his LS decreased: this all can be reversed to apply for PL (rather than LS) @ C2 of ½ its original value @ -1 limitation, which will increase LS by a factor of 2x which is +1 advantage, to increase LS @ C2 by factor of 2 by advantage of +1, which is NOT usually done, since mutants usually crave power(s) rather than longevity or/and longer life span: this is NOT the rule itself, but a little background information on what I’m about to say after my next comment, which will also serve as a little extra background information on what I’ll say later, in a brief moment, after this brief commentary to serve as a little background information on what I’ll say later so that it’s NOT taken out of context.

What I find most fascinating about this is how totally earnest it is. He’s trying to model the universe (one, significantly, without women*) using the language of computer science and, I think, physics. It is a view unhindered by communication, so we can’t understand it (I presume). It is a glimpse into someone else’s mind, their symbolic system. We all have these but we translate it into symbols that we share so that we can simplify enough to share. Matthew/C++ has no such concern with HYBRID. This is his symbolic system, compromised only insofar as that it uses letters, words, and numbers that we know.

* “… {(0,0) END} is a human, usually a male human, at least in this rpg HYBRID, since women are too complicated to make in my rpg, since creating women in my rpg requires politically incorrect math …”

customer choice

January 21st, 2007

ohboyohboyohboy! — thanks to the RSS feed at, I’ve discovered that has the Nintendo Wii in stock — but in a move reminiscent of the Bush Adminsitration’s naming conventions, Walmart will only sell you the “Wii Customer Choice Bundle” for $600; the “choice” being described here are the seven games you’ll be required to “choose” to buy at the same time.

It’s the best kind of fun: mandatory fun!


the interactive conversation interface

December 26th, 2006

One of the most interesting software titles of produced during the 1990’s “CD-Rom era” of computing was the “You Don’t Know Jack” series of games. Set up like a game show, with a sardonic and surprisingly real host, the game was a hoot to play with a friend and a showcase for how much audio could be stuffed on a CD.

The truly impressive aspect of the games was the seamless interaction with the host; it always seemed eerily real. Jellyvision, the company who made the YDKJ games, lays out some of their hard-earned secrets in the “Jack Principles of the Interactive Conversation Interface“. It’s packed with really insightful HCI (Human Computer Interface) maxims, and should be studied by anybody making software that people have to interact with.

Also good news: the You Don’t Know Jack guys have created a web version of their game, “The Daily Dis or Dat“. It’s short, it’s punchy, it changes every day, and it’s just as much fun now as it was back in 1999.


wii love it

December 13th, 2006


Oh man, is it possible that I’m the first ldopan to play with the Wii?

(Ed. — it looks that way. Dammit! ~jeff)


It is awesome.

It’s really easy to learn to play and fun right away. The Wiimotes (or Wiinises, as my host preferred to call them) are comfortable to use, and seems like they would be comfortable for most-sized hands to feverishly grip for 10+ hours. The speaker in each Wiinis is utilized well. Because the speaker is in each controller, you get individualized feedback for when it’s your turn and if you’ve achieved the proper motion for the game you’re playing. The sound from the Wiinis also integrates well with the more-backgroundy sound from the TV, making your sound experience subtle and useful at the same time.

To start, you create a Mii (I know, painfully cute) with enough control over the look and size of the cartoonish features that you can make a really specific and personal guy. Apparently these Miis can mingle over some kind of internets people keep telling me about.

It comes with Tennis, Baseball, Golf, Bowling, and Boxing, with three additional training supplements for each. I didn’t try any Boxing or the non-training Golf game since apparently they’re more complicated and difficult, but I was able to recreate my suckage in sports with incredible accuracy with the others. Yet it was still incredibly fun. It was so intuitive and came out with results that seemed pretty reasonably realistic (while remaining cute and cartoonish) to the point where I was actually wondering to myself if I could use it to train and avoid the embarrassing mistakes I make in baseball in private, enough to join a real team. Then I remembered being good at these sports entails actual muscles when you’re not playing on the Wii.

The action is smooth and the controller is responsive. The buttons are pretty simple, though a first-time user might not realize that while A is the big button on top, B is a trigger underneath. There are helpful (i.e., soon-to-become-annoying) diagrams it shows you on screen when you’ve mixed something up. The Wiinises have both infrared and internal proprioception, so it is generally faithful to your motion with few errors.

The paper lamp in my friend’s living room has sadly suffered some of the collateral damage we’ve all been hearing about, so enjoy the totally new gaming experience (TM) with care.

poor lamp

double dragon, 18 years later

November 10th, 2006

Nice initial offering from “Dot Comedy”, NBC’s stab at a You-Tube-style online comedy channel.



July 18th, 2006 has a funny article discussing some of the worst video game title screens ever, but honestly, I just wanted to post that awesome picture of a werewolf holding a flag — if you’re in the market for a tattoo, I’d at least consider it.


miyamoto interview

May 11th, 2006

not pictured: dignity

There’s a great interview with Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto here where he answers the question on every gamer’s mind: do I have to jump around like a silly giraffe when I play a Nintendo Wii game?:

I think what’s really important is to think of how the player feels while they’re playing. For instance, with the Tennis games, you don’t necessarily have to do big swinging motions to play it, you can actually make just very simple motions; you could even just tap the controller back and forth on your hand and still execute the actions on the screen. But in fact for most players getting a good swing in and actually playing the game with those sweeping motions is a lot more fun. Simultaneously, something else that we’ve tried to think of is, as we’re creating the games is does the game look like it’s fun to play when you see someone else playing it? I think that’s very important, this idea of when other people are looking at the player are they being encouraged to actually try and play the game as well. And so really it’s a balance between these two, and I think that’s something we’ll be working on going forward.

UPDATE: Monkey Ball.


wii are psyched

May 10th, 2006

I’m astounded by Nintendo’s current agility; their new Wii console looks killer, the Wii’s incredibly innovative controller is getting rave reviews, and the Virtual Console “iTunes Music Store for Videogames” looks hot and is confirmed to allow downloads from indie developers. Even their elegantly redesigned DS Lite portable is getting an hypnotically awesome new Mario game and a killer web browser that takes full advantage of both the DS’s dual screens and lower touch screen.

It’s so gratifying seeing both the press and the gaming community reward true innovation; lord knows, not every gaming company is currently taking such risks.


details on how to spend $600 on a freaking videogame machine

May 8th, 2006

Sony announced additional disappointing details about the upcoming Playstation 3 today:

  • It’s expensive, just like they hinted — $499 gets you the 20GB model, $599 gets you the 60GB model. That would be about right if this was 1993 and we were all still using SCSI hard drives. That’s a $100 premium for 40GB additional space? $100 should get you at least 250 GB of additional space.
  • It launches on November 17th in the US, just in time for Annual Gift Man.
  • The online service is a rip-off of Microsoft’s XBox live, and you can buy stuff using it, supposing you have any money left after Sony holds you upside down and shakes the money out of your pockets.
  • The controller is a rip-off of Nintendo’s Wii controller. It’s also dull as dry toast.
  • The PlayStation 3 font is still apparently the “Spider-Man” font. Does Sony not have any other fonts installed?
  • It hooks into the Sony PSP in some nebulous, ill-defined fashion. Something about downloading PlayStation 1 games to your PSP, which is great if you’ve been dying these past ten years for another round of Battle Arena Toshinden.


penny arcade podcast

April 30th, 2006

I’m about five weeks late on this, but yesterday I finally listened to the Penny Arcade podcast, and it is utterly charming. It’s pretty much comprehensible only by hardcore gaming geeks (and even then, probably only for a subset of those) but if you feel that tag applies to you, then I suspect you’ll love it. Both of the guys are equally unabashedly dorky and hilarious, and it’s fascinating hearing these two guys develop an idea — for every gag found in their strip, they must reject at least five.

It’s been inspiring watching these guys improve their game and evolve their niche over the past couple of years. Jerry has gotten sharper with regards to writing the strip as Mike has improved at illustrating it — also, they’ve done a whole lot to evolve the profile of “gaming” and “gamers” in general. These guys represent a very rare case of people deserving of every ounce of success this world can heap upon them… I’m choking up a little here.


new super mario bros.

April 25th, 2006

Just how lame is it that I’m psyched for the new Mario game? Pretty freakin’ lame, I’ll admit, but see, me and Mario go way back. Twenty years ago (!), I saved up my lawn mowing money for an entire summer in order to mail order one of the very first original NES consoles — I remember that I had seen “Super Mario Bros.” in a Howard Johnson’s off I-84 and I was understandably mesmerized. The original NES console came with “Gyromite”, a stunningly obtuse and unfun game that no one remembers, with a robot that spun tops, and “Duck Hunt”, which everyone remembers because of the dog that laughs at you. I has to also special order “Super Mario Bros.”, and the first time I found a warp zone, well, it was all over. The “New Super Mario Bros.” comes out on May 16th, and I, um, might have some unexpectedly pressing business at the mall that day, or somethin’.