Archive for the 'Gaming' Category

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Cloverfield… beyond the monster (warning: potential spoiler)

Yes, this has spoiler potential, so read more only if you’ve watched already…
Continue reading ‘Cloverfield… beyond the monster (warning: potential spoiler)’

China struggles with growing Internet population

Test your website on the "Great Firewall of China"
I’m personally tracking China’s Internet development as part of my dissertation work on the regulatory forces of online space.

It’s only a matter of time… Wall Street Journal highlights a China Internet Network Information Center report that China’s total number of Internet users rose 53% to 210 million at the end of 2007 up from 137 million at the end of 2006 and 162 million in June 2007. More importantly, this means that China is now just five million users shy of surpassing the United States as the world’s largest Internet market (via TechCrunch).

Meanwhile, supporting this growth, Reuters reports that China’s online game market grew by 23% to 40.17 million in terms of users last year. As Raph Koster counterpoints, the numbers may fall as China goes on a crack down.

“Although China’s online-gaming industry had been hot in recent years, online games are regarded by many as a sort of spiritual opium, and the whole industry is marginalized by mainstream society,” Thursday’s China Daily quoted Kou Xiaowei, a senior official with the General Administration of Press and Publication, as saying.

Despite the Chinese government’s stance, the lack of a proper rating system in China and easy access to pirated games makes such regulation difficult.

Macworld 2008: Now Playing Freeverse’s Neon Tango (Geometry Wars?)

It’s quite rare to find good original Mac games nowadays, and while original might not be the right word for Freeverse’s soon to be released Neon Tango, it does remix elements from games we love, such as Asteroids, Geometry Wars, and Time Pilot. There seems to be this trend of remaking vintage games with new spiffy graphics, especially from game consoles developers for Xbox Live, Sony PSP, and so on. Just add multiplayer and I’d be sold.

Here’s what we know about it:
- Psychedelic retro arcade shoot-em-up genre.
- 50 stages of glowing enemies and pulsating bosses.
- Ability to bounce your shots off of walls and enemies
- Ability to charge up your cannon to deliver massive energy blasts
- Ability to stop time.
- Ability to use hyper thrusters.
- Uses OpenGL graphics.
- Killer soundtrack from Digital Droo.
- Three game modes: Campaign, Survival and Fast Score.
- Comes out on 5th February for $24.95

As you can see in what’s possibly the first video of Neon Tango’s gameplay, it looks quite fun. :)

This was how we rawked Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving @ Peter's Place
Click to see entire photo slideshow…

Thanksgiving is the time of the year when American families get together to feast, a tradition started by the early English settlers (in Dec 1619) to give thanks for their harvest.

Since my family isn’t here, Thanksgiving is a time for me to be with friends, makan and play mad games. Almost every year, I go to Peter’s home for Thanksgiving, doing it potluck style.

Thanksgiving @ Peter's home
First time making my fav dish: Sweet Potato Casserole

I made my favorite Sweet Potato Casserole, and topped mine with both Glazed Pecans and mini marshmallows. Most people make either versions, but I wanted to have contrasting textures by having an all-in-one dish (crunchy & soft). It turned out so delicious I wanted to make more! This is one of those traditional American dishes I love to eat, partly because it’s a relatively easy to make side-dish which seems more like a warm dessert.

Thanksgiving @ Peter's home
Argh, seeing this makes me hungry again!

Of course we couldn’t just eat Sweet Potato Casserole for Thanksgiving, so others contributed as well. My housemate Hai Lee made Italian pasta salad to bring along, which was quick to make and great as an appetizer. When we arrived at Peter’s place, he had already prepared his delicious stuffed Turkey, his tasty stuffing, sweet carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes. To top it off, we finished off with his home made Creme Brulee for dessert.

In between the glorious food, we got to try out Peter’s new $160 Rock Band Xbox 360 game (the one with two guitars, a drum set and a mic for the singer). With Peter and my housemates, Kenny and Hai Lee, already Guitar Hero veterans, we formed a band with me frontin’ as singer. Florence, who celebrated her birthday recently, helped with the camera work.

I belted my grungy heart out to the likes of Nirvana’s In Bloom, Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So, Hole’s Celebrity Skin and Radiohead’s Creep. My favorite tune of the night had to be Beastie Boy’s Sabotage, of course.

There’s something quite artard about the game though; Rock Band made us replay these song over again and again just to unlock new ones. It’s not exactly fun singing the same thing a gazillion times, so we gave up and enter the cheat code just to unlock everything.

How was your Thanksgiving?
I bet it’s nothing as violent as this though…

FriendFarming: Harvesting Social Networking Friends for Sale

MySpace t-shirts

Previously…
GoldFarming: The act of playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) solely for the purpose of harvesting and selling loot, accumulating gold and then selling that virtual gold for real money in online marketplaces such as eBay or IGE.com. (See Wikipedia entry)

And Now…
Friendfarming: The act of playing a Social Networking Site (SNS) solely for the purpose of harvesting and selling relationships, accumulating friends and then selling that user account for real money in online marketplaces such as eBay or Craigslist. (See relevant eBay auctions)

On eBay, MySpace accounts with 8500+ friends are being sold for around US$75, 7000+ friends for US$65, 4000+ for US$35, and the list goes on. Given this trend, I wonder if it makes sense to sell Facebook accounts as well.

In a recent study, IT security firm Sophos created a fake Facebook user account under the name ‘Freddi Staur‘, and randomly requested 200 members to be friends with ‘Freddi.’ Out of those 200, 87 accepted the friend request and 82 of those gave ‘Freddi’ access to “personal information” such as e-mail addresses, dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers, and school or work data (Thanks Derek!).

Both cases break the magic circle. Both also involve some form of labor, although it is often partly automated through the use of bot programs.

While this might not be ethical, it remains to be seen if the harvesting of user profiles might still be cheaper than Facebook’s new targeted advertising system. After all, being “cheaper” is what drives email spam till today.

When playing a game of Halo with a girl…

Halo 3 guy vs gal

… you should try to lose convincingly to her.

This guy went ahead to beat this chick 15 to 8 in the finals of a video gaming event today on campus. No chance of him getting her number now. ;)

A long time ago…
Reminds me of my recent trip to Singapore where I played a nostalgic game of Counterstrike with my friends at some cybercafe. They brought their girlfriends along and man did these ladies serve us guys our asses on a silver platter. I wanted to puke because I couldn’t fathom how ladies could do better than guys, especially in first person shooters. I asked them how they did so well and they simply said that they got bored watching their boyfriends play, so they joined in and learned the ropes. I find it strange because I know more girls than guys of are fast learners. I wonder if that hold true to the rest of you…

Portal: The Flash version (an addiction for the rest of us!)

Portal: The Flash 2D version
This is how I passed level one…

You don’t need to be a hardcore gamer to appreciate Portal, a new kind of action puzzle shooter which came out this week with Valve’s The Orange Box (aka Half-Life 2: Episode 2).

Unfortunately, those of us without souped-up Windows PCs or Xbox 360s won’t be able to join in the fun right?

Not anymore! Here’s the same Portal game, set in a flash-based world. Simply go over there now and play right in your web browser. Mind you, while the original game is in three dimensions, being two dimensional doesn’t make it any easier. Warning: Expect lots of highly unproductive work hours.

Yes, I wish to play and risk entering a time warp // No, I’d better not try this, ‘cos I’m a pussy.

Confessions of a Halo 3 addict: Beyond the game…

Halo ActionClix game (very detailed figures!)

Taking a break from the heavy material, here’s something I enjoy in my spare time. These Halo 3 related images I shared seem to be making rounds from my Flickr feed. Too bad flickr doesn’t show trackbacks or referrals, so I’ve no idea who’s linking to them.

Above you see the ActionClix Halo figures and as you can see, I got a super rare invisible Arbiter. I do feel embarrased buying them since they’re meant for kids, but I love the detail on these tiny figures. Besides being toy figures, they doubles up as part of the ActionClix game, which looks quite fun. I don’t plan to collect them all since it’d be too expensive. Still, I do wish the Wizkids folks would sponsor me all 90 figures!

Halo 3 merchandise (pins, buttons, magnets, stickers)

Here you see one many Halo-related merchandise. There are pins, buttons, iron-ons, stickers, tshirts and caps on sale now. Aren’t they cute?

Kneed in the head (front)

Here you see a high-res shot of me executing a perfect knee from above. The blue enemy had first shots at me so I was certain to die… that was until I somehow executed an aerial move with a melee from above, killing him instantly. Thanks to the amazing built-in film editor mode, taking screenshots and video clips of past games is easy. Even my non-Halo friends were amazed at how I could pause time and move the camera around, much like bullet time in the Matrix.

My Halo 3 Service Record

I find it amazing how much data gets recorded by the game servers. Military ranks show multiplayer experience, while skill points indicate one’s ever fluctuating standing against other players. Halo 3 features several layers of gameplay, for the straight shooter, to the meta-game (collecting skulls, achievements, unlocking hidden armor), to machinimists, and so on.

If you play Halo 3, look me up as xX10kiloXx. Otherwise, check out the rest of the “Halo 3 maddness” photo set…

Facebooking: Compare People is Evil + What we do in FB

From Facebook App: "Compare People"

Compare People is Evil
As seen on my Facebook “Compare People” app, you can see my hall of fame ranking here. Looks simple fun, with voters made anonymous (unless they opt to be disclosed). Thing is, for $10, you get to actually see who’s “most compatible” with you, as the system actually reveals those who voted on you. Full story over at Sugarrae…

Facebook Activity Breakdown by Compete.com (Aug 2007)
Facebook Activity Breakdown by Compete.com (Aug 2007)

Facebook is designed as a walled garden, so it’s essentially impossible to do anything as a non-member. This means giving up some form of identity, even if this involves using pseudonyms. According to site analytics company, Compete.com, just over 22 million people signed up in August (woah!). I’ve always wondered what people do on Facebook, so this chart reveals a list of activities in ranked order: 1st: Browse Profiles (21 million), 2nd: Interact with Applications (14 million), and 3rd: Browse Pictures (16 million). See the entire breakdown at compete.com.

The Short Head of Facebook Apps
Tim O'Reilly's Facebook Long Tail

Speaking of Facebook applications, the power law is in full effect, with the utility of the tail end being referred to by Tim O’Reilly as the Long Tail. Essentially 87% of all application usage went to 84 applications. Being a social network, these applications get to experience the network effect, but as you can see, not all seem to be triggered the same way. In case you’re wondering, that most popular app is Slide, giving users the ability to add slideshows and video playback on their profiles. O’Reilly’s full story over here…

BTW: The “better in bed” ranking on the first screenshot is just a joke. In reality I’m stuck in my room with zero social life in Buffalo.

How did Peter Parker stack up against Master Chief?

Blogosphere dominance: Halo 3 vs. Spiderman 3
See the live trend chart version on BlogPulse

Data Mining blog did a comparison between halo, resident evil and borne, so I thought I’d do a little better…

All over the web (actually about 351 news articles from mainstream and online sources), the predictions for Halo 3 were clear. As yesterday’s LA Times noted, “… the video game is expected to pull in more than $150 million in sales in 24 hours. By comparison, “Spider-Man 3″ blitzed box-office records when it took in $151 million at theaters during its three-day opening weekend in May.”

So now that Halo 3 (major video game) is out, how did it do over Spiderman 3 (major motion picture)?

As seen on my chart comparing “Halo 3″, “Spiderman 3″ and “Resident Evil” (ironically, its both video game and movie), you can see the results for yourself. It’s still a bit early to tell, and I don’t have the financial figures, but an initial look at the amount of buzz in the blogosphere (tracked by no. of blog posts) gives us a clue as to how many people have likely bought and played Halo 3. As seen in the chart above, the amount of “Halo 3″ related posts in the first 24hrs might not trump that of Spiderman 3, but it’s certainly more than half. Since video games are typically less accessible media compared to movies, these numbers are quite impressive.

Still, what would the opening day sales be like? Well, given that a movie ticket might cost around $12 while a present generation video game cost around $60, that’s a five time multiplier for every sale made. Even with the roughest of estimates, I think that if Halo 3 captured just over half of the bloggers who watched Spiderman 3, that’s two-and-a-half times more dough to roll around in.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, what makes the video game business tantalizing is the potential profits. For Sony Corp., the estimated profit margin for “Spider-Man 3″ is 46%, according to entertainment research firm SNL Kagan. Microsoft Corp., which publishes “Halo 3″, has the potential to see a profit margin of 90% or more for the game.

The LA Times article breaks it down further for us, including how Spiderman 3 weighed in about $400 million to make and market, while Halo 3 around $60 million. Do give it a read to learn more about these industries differ, and how we might start to see an entertainment shift towards the use of digital actors, independent production (corporations).

While we see the lower cost online media (e.g. blogs, videocasts) eroding advertising dollars from traditional print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines), it’s not as simple for movies to lose appeal compared to video games. However, I might see a shift occur where ideas might break in video games first before hitting the movies (a shift in being prime media).

UPDATE: The figures are finally out. Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 exclusive game “Halo 3″ has officially become the biggest entertainment launch in history, garnering an estimated $170 million in sales in the United States alone in the first 24 hours. Yes, Halo 3 eats blockbusters like Spiderman 3 for breakfast.