Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh China, You Crazy Cats are at it Again...

Guards at a labor camp in northern China were forcing some 300 prisoners to farm.

Okay, you say, in your way, today, yay!  Farming might be expected at a labor camp.  What's the big deal?

The big deal, I say, irritated by your stupid interruption, is that they weren't doing regular farming, they were gold farming.  For anyone who doesn't know, gold farming is the practice of playing an online MMO such as World of Warcraft, collecting as much gold as you can, and then selling it to gamers for real money.  Yes, people do that.

WoW has a policy against gold farming, but really, you think the guards who were hawking the online gold for cash really care?

According to Liu Dali, who was imprisoned between 2004 - 2007 for "illegally petitioning" federal authorities about corruption in his local government, said that after a long day of having to carve chopsticks and toothpicks by hand, he would be forced to spend hours farming for gold online, and if he failed to meet either his day or night quota he would be beaten with plastic pipes.

Dali said that the online farming was more profitable than the physical labor they were doing, turning in around $770 to $925 a day.

You can read the article here.  Thanks to Jessy for the tip.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

COWABUNGA!!!! Kevin Eastman to Co-write New TMNT Comic for IDW

Kevin Eastman, one of the original creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has signed on to co-write, help with layout, and alternate covers for a new TMNT comic being published by IDW.  For anyone not familiar with IDW, they have been gobbling up IP rights over the last few years and publish Dr. Who, Transformers, and G.I. Joe titles, among others.  They are also responsible for the popular 30 Days of Night (which I have to say I wasn't a huge fan of, although I did enjoy Vol. 8, Red Snow) and one of my personal favorites, Locke & Key, written by Joe Hill (aka Joseph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen King).

I think this is exciting news, although admittedly I haven't read any of the original TMNT comics since I was a kid.  But it may mean a return to the turtle's grittier, darker roots from their Portsmouth days...

And red bandana's for all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GI Asked if Hitting the Reset Button is Cheating - I Answered

Last night, May 23, an interesting article was posted on Game Informers website by Ben Reeves.  Reeves asked readers if they thought hitting the reset button in a game was considered cheating, and it focused mainly around L.A. Noire, as many people apparently aren't happy unless they get a perfect run on a case and a lot of resets are occurring.  You can read what people had to say about the subject in the comment section to the article.

While I subscribe to GI and frequent the website, I decided write my answer here instead of in their comment section.  My answer, the most lawerly of them all - it depends.

I know, seems like a cop out, but I really do think it depends on the game.  For example, in L.A. Noire, once a mission is complete and a case solved, you are allowed to go back and replay any case you want for the purpose of trying to achieve a perfect score.  In this case, no, I don't think hitting the reset button is cheating, it is just a faster way of doing what the game will allow you to do anyway.  How can it be cheating to do what an in game mechanic allows you to do?  I don't think it is.

On the other hand, when a friend was recently about to be eliminated in a game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in NHL '11 he was quick to quit the game and give it another shot.  Is this cheating?  I would say so.  The player was going to lose so he took himself out of the game in order to give himself another shot.  There was nothing in game that would allow him to do this, so essentially he had to go out of game, and what do we call not playing by the rules of the game?  Cheating.

What I worry about more when I am debating whether or not to hit the reset button is not cheating, it's cheapening.  Hitting the reset button takes you out of the game, and in a day and age when gaming isn't just a plumber squishing a mushroom man, when the story and the characters matter, nothing breaks that fourth wall faster than resetting because things didn't go the way you wanted them to.  I don't think anything demonstrates this better than the Fallout series.  In Fallout 3, for example, the game plays entirely different depending on whether you save or destroy Megaton.  While I don't begrudge anyone from multiple saves, seeing how things play out first and then making a final decision, it does take away from the game experience.  A big aspect of Fallout, as well as many other games, is that the player doesn't get game over when they make a decision, but instead has to live with the consequences.  It's what makes the decisions matter.  If you can just reset, then what's the point?

So that's what I think about hitting the reset button.  I personally don't like to do it, but I know a lot of people do.  In the end though remember it's just a game.  Play how you want.

Another Crappy Amy Adams Romantic Comedy...Or Is It?

Have you seen the trailer for "Green With Envy" yet?  No, well, maybe you should, even if you dislike Amy Adams as much as I do.  Jason Segal's a plus.  And the cameo(s).  I'm going to see this movie.

Monday, May 23, 2011

No Seriously, Shut Up!

There are a lot of dumb reasons to get arrested but today I think I read about one that has to be near the top of the list.  Lakeysha Beard, was arrested last week for talking on her phone in an Amtrak quiet car.  Talking on your phone on the train may not seem like much, but here's the thing, it was during her trip from Oakland, CA to Salem, OR, and when I say during her trip, I mean the ENTIRE trip, all 16 hours of it.  That's right, this woman spoke on her phone, nonstop, for 16 straight hours.  You can read about it in the Village Voice here.  I'd also like to mention I agree with Jen Doll (real name?) the author of the article when she says if it had been on the east coast we would have put an end to it after 5 minutes...just saying...

Actual Dead Island Gameplay Footage

So here is some actual gameplay from the upcoming Dead Island.  Similar to Dead Rising in it's open worldness and Left 4 Dead in that it is a first person shooter.  I think it looks like fun, and when he was talking about the fast travel he said the island is so huge that if you tried walking it would take you forever.  I don't know about you, but that's a great thing to hear when on the subject of open worlds.

I'm a fan of the more melee style gameplay.  I never understood why just because the world ended your character suddenly became an expert marksman and there were tons of guns lying around everywhere.  Seriously, as much fun as I had playing Left 4 Dead there are only a handful of places I would expect random piles of M-16's lying around (Baltimore, I'm looking at you), and I certainly wasn't expecting it at a carnival.  Plus, this is an island resort...why would there be a surplus of military weapons?  There wouldn't be.  So you use a baseball bat.  Word to the wise though - dude uses nails in his bat.  Nails stick.  Last thing  you need is not to be able to pull your weapon out of a shattered skull when ZED is on your tail.

I'm also all about a fatigue system.  Just because you need to be in good shape to survive the ZA doesn't mean you can mow down an entire island of ZED.  Stop, take a break, smell the roses, and the corpses I suppose...

Four player is another bonus.  I thought one of the biggest downfalls, as did a lot of people, to Dead Rising is the lack of multiplayer, even in the second one.  While I still haven't decided on whether or not I'll be picking this game up (slapping ZED on a box just isn't enough), if the reviews are good, multiplayer might be the deciding factor.

Anyway, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Death of a Legend

Macho Man Randy Savage died today when he had a heart attack while driving and his car hit a tree.  He was 58.  I don't know if it was the attack or the accident that killed him.  Either way this is a tragic event and a sad day for wrestling, as Randy Savage was one of the greats.  He will be missed.

Maybe This is Old But it's Noob to Me

I don't know how old this is, but it made me laugh out loud.

If you want to see the original, without subtitles, it's here.

It's Time for start filming...

Apparently principal shooting has begun on Christopher Nolan's final installment of his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight rises!  You can read the details in the press release here.

I don't know about you, but these are very exciting times for me.  I am a huge fan of the first two movies, as I think most people are, and have full faith and confidence that Nolan will be able to complete the hat trick and deliver another amazing Batman film.  I'm also excited to see that all the key players, Bale, Caine, Oldman, and Freeman, are returning, and am really excited that Joseph Gordon Levitt has been added to the cast, slated to play a cop by the name of John Blake, as well as Marion Cotillard, who will be playing Miranda Tate.

One thing I'm not excited about - Anne Hathaway (as Selina Kyle).  Just not a fan.  Everyone keeps telling me how great she is but I have yet to see the performance to make me believe it.  I'm not saying she's bad, just, least to me.  Whatever though, I wasn't thrilled about Katie Holmes or the other Gyllenhaal either, but neither of them detracted from the movie.  Like I said before, full faith and confidence in Nolan.

Anyway, I know it's just starting and we have a long way to go before we see an actual movie...but good Batman news is always worth posting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nice to See Noire Hit Gaming Consoles

As a reader, writer, watcher of all things Noire, I'm happy I can now add player to my list of Noire enjoyments.  Yesterday, May 17, Rockstar Games released its long awaited title, L.A. Noire, in which you play the character of Detective Cole Phelps trying to make a name for himself in 1947 Los Angeles.

When I originally saw the trailer for this game back in 2007, it literally made me salivate, and I'm happy to report the game lived up to expectations.  L.A. Noire borrows from all aspects of the genre, from spinning newspaper headlines to shadowy dark alley's,  and blends them together nicely, and while the game isn't lacking in action sequences, they aren't the main focus, or draw of the game.  Most of the game, from what I've seen so far, is not about using your gun, it's about using your brain.  Gathering clues, interviewing witnesses, putting the pieces together, that's what L.A. Noire is all about.

Speaking of interviewing witnesses, that is where L.A. Noire shines brightest.  The developers of the game created a new technology in which they film live actors performing their lines for their character and use the footage in the game.  The result is the ability to actually read a characters facial expressions and body language, which the game puts to great use in it's interrogation scenes.

As Detective Phelps interrogates a witness, it's up to you to decide if the person is telling the truth or not, and whether or not you make the right decision effects the information you receive as well as your ability to discover clues later on.  It's nice to see new gaming technology used to enhance the plot, not just make a game look better.  It was fascinating to see a character shift their weight and avert their eyes when you changed the line of questioning to something that made a witness, or suspect, uncomfortable, and maybe, not as truthful as you would like.  But don't think it's easy to read the game characters.  Believe me, it isn't.  Well, sometimes it is.  See, that's the thing, different actors playing different characters means that each character has their own unique triggers and tells.  Mrs. Brown might look away when she's lying, Mr. Jones might shrug his shoulders.  Each character is as unique as the person playing them.  The result was a player glued to the screen during an interrogation the way I would be during a shoot out or car chase in most games, perhaps even more so.

I've only played a short amount of time, but already I'm hooked.  Any gamers out there who are fans of crime drama, you owe it to yourself to pick up L.A. Noire.  You won't be sorry.