Crossover -> DirectX 9|
If anybody knows how to get DirectX 9 working in Crossover then I will be extremely grateful and contribute many kudos to you. Email me or just leave a comment.
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 11:25 pm
Prey - Blackshawk's Opinion|
Most of you know how I review games. For those who don't, here's a brief rundown. I take a look at what I consider the Big Five. G2SC (graphics, sound,storyline, controls) and the fifth is Fun. I'll look at these individually.
Graphics - The graphics in Prey, while not top notch, are undoubtedly good. I played this game on the 360 and while it isn't what I'd call "next-gen" graphics, its definitely better than anything I saw on the original Xbox. Unfortunately, much of the game is shrouded in darkness, so much so that it can be difficult finding your way (more on that later). There are some pretty effects, and the gun textures are great, but I really feel like the game went out of its way to show off some of these. Don't do that. Let the game speak for itself.
Sound - The sound is alright. Guns make nothing more than your traditional firing sounds, although the sound of your wrench smacking into an opponents skull is pretty cool. However, the voice acting in this game was ehhhhhhhhh, with some extremely lame comments and fake emotion. Toss in the dead grandpa with the classic Native American accent and I found myself imitating him in a rather cruel, mocking manner. The music in the game is fairly good, although its not oustanding. One bone I have with this game is the repeated use of the "F" word and other expletives. I believe I heard the F-bomb dropped at least four times in the first level. If you're thinking of buying this game for your kid, reconsider.
Storyline - Aliens invade earth. Aliens capture you and your girlfriend. Escape, save your girlfriend. Kill the bad guys. Prey is your typical save-the-world-from-the-aliens first person shooter, but fails to deliver on the epic scale that games like Halo and Half-Life achieve. Most of your time is spent meandering through tight, poorly lit corridors stuffed with aliens and holding down the trigger button. I almost think it would be more to sit back and watch these ugly little critters conquer the world. Then I wouldn't have to listen to main character's grandfather say in a stock Cherokee accent, "You must fiiind the spirit within yourself, Tommy."
Controls - I didn't find any real problems with controlling my character. Occasionally you'll come to a spot in a level where you need to maneuver a little bit to continue, but nothing that caused me to say "aaaaaaarg!" while playing. Switching weapons is a little difficult but not frustratingly so. The game really borrows from the Halo and Halo 2 games with its controls, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Why change a proven formula just for the sake of being different from another game? Kudos on the controls.
Fun - This game is rarely fun, and I really recommend that you skip this title. To demonstrate, the first half of the first level (there are only five, and are fairly short) is spent fighting with a wrench. Under different circumstances this would be cool and fun, but instead its hard. So after you finish smacking aliens around with your wrench for awhile you come across a gun and you say, "FINALLY! A real weapon!"....... Turns out that weapon is nothing more than an alien paintball gun, and deals damage accordingly. Not to mention that the ammo for it looks like Nerf-gun ammo. You're stuck with this weapon until late in the second level, when you receive a substantially cooler weapon that runs out of ammo after about five aliens......... I have a gun. Let me shoot it. Wandering through dark hallways, scrounging ammo, shooting alien paintball guns, not fun.
Also, some of the puzzles in the game can be frustratingly hard. A few are challenging but a few just make me say, "How can anyone be expected to figure that out???" Don't get me wrong, I love a good puzzle. If you don't know that I like the Legend of Zelda by now then you're a dope. Everybody has lauded this game for such amazing technical achievements but anybody who knows anything about game development knows that these "achievements" are nothing more than a few lines of code that flip that camera and change direction.
Final Word: Dull.
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 11:08 am
The live show is finally over. We've been planning and working on it for weeks, and I think we pulled it off nicely, especially since it was our first broadcast and we're using makeshift equipment and software. It was more physically exhausting than I thought it would be, and much more intense than any of the other shows we've done. The problem with it being live is that you aren't really allowed to screw up, at least not badly. Our only screwup occured about half a minute in, and so we just redid the whole intro. Hopefully Mike is capable of removing this unfortunate sequence from the edited show.
Having people in the iChat forum was a lot of fun, especially with them delivering feedback on the spot concerning the topics we were discussing. Its also nice having so many people handy to do on-the-spot research; if we're unclear about a topic, or have no idea what we're talking about somebody in the chat was always ready to provide us with a link. It was also nice to be messaged with cutting remarks for Stefan and myself to deliver to Mike.
We really pulled off some good discussion IMAO. I thought we'd all be jittery (it being the live show) but both Stefan and Mike sounded like they were really on top of their game, so kudos to them. I have no idea how I sounded or played out; I'll have to wait until Mike finishes editing this odyssey of an episode and posts it up in iTunes.
As a note, this is the FOURTH recording of Episode 6. Its not that we're just being lazy and not doing the podcasts in a timely matter, its that we've been plagued by all kinds of technical and personnel delays. The first recording failed when Mike went off skiiing and Stefan and I thought that for some reason we were capable of recording and editing an entire show ourselves. I believe all that is left of Episode 6.1 is a smoldering crater. 6.2 was better, but still without Mike; this time we had Bryan on the show, who failed to record his audio and thus rendered 6.2 another smoldering crater. No offense meant Bryan, we still love you on the show ;). 6.3 was with Mike and with Bryan, but then Mike revealed to us that the episode was too long to be edited in Garageband. I believe my initial reaction to this was an extremely heinous expletive, but I finally said, "Screw this; if we can't record it, let's just broadcast it so they can hear before it goes into the editing crapper." Thus the live podcast was born, and so another week was spent preparing for that. I was beginning to fear for my forum rights as Gary was growing more and more impatient as the weeks wore on, podcastless.
Somebody complained about the lack of a comic during the live show, but the truth was that I just didn't have time to draw one. I have a few extras drawn up, but none of them really fit the context of the show, so I decided to sit on them and wait, especially since my demo version of Lineform has expired. I have neither the money nor the desire to actually buy the program, as I have Illustrator and can probably continue the comic from there. Lineform was beginning to feel a little inhibiting as well; I found myself longing for the freedom of being able to do Photoshop touchups and working with layers and having easy color designs. Sometime next week if I have spare time I'm going to see if I can rework the characters so that they live and breathe in a fully colored world. I'm also starting to move away from Comic Life, as it is a very inhibiting medium to work with.
I really did enjoy doing the live show, and its something that I hope to continue doing in the future. Although before we do we're going to spend a little money to invest in some technology that will make it easier on both listeners and ourselves. First, we're going to have our own phone number and answering machine here in the next couple of days (kindly paid for by myself) so instead of sending us emails you can just leave us your opinions on our answering machine for us to play live (or read off, if requested). Not only this but the new system will greatly ease taking callers on the show.
Next live show will likely be some time in February, mostly for technical reasons that I don't fully understand. If you really want to know, I suggest asking Mike. Stefan and I are too stupid to know any of this; we just do what Mike tells us.
Update coming soon with *gasp!* Preeeeyyyyyyy. I finised the campaign but still want to try out the multiplayer before I write my final review.
Posted on January 10, 2007 at 9:51 pm
Anatomy of a Live Podcast|
I'm going to do something different with this article. Usually I just write out whole articles in one or two sittings depending on the length, but from now up until the 9th this article will be in a state of "constant updates" so you'll need to check back every day or two to see how things are progressing. Yeah, I know I'm shameless in getting people to read this thing.
Setting up a live podcast is quite a bit different from the usual recordings that we usually do. First and foremost, the required software is different. Usually Mike, Stefan, and myself just get on Skype and talk nonsense while Mike uses a program called Audio Hijack to record us. If we're worried about audio quality we might record ourselves locally in Garageband or Audacity and then mix everything together later.
While we can use Skype to hold the conversation, we need additional software to actually allow the show to be broadcasted in real-time (actually I'm lying here, there's a 15-second delay). For that we've been testing out a variety of products which include Shoutcast and Nicecast. I believe Mike has been leaning toward Nicecast more because its from the makers of Audio Hijack and thus feels like a similar program. We know that we can do a live show, and last night I heard Mike yelling at me over iTunes in real-time.
Trying to get callers on the show turned out to be a bit of a problem, but one that was fixed fairly simply. Originally we'd hoped to have a phone number that people could call and then be hijacked into the feed, but that requires a mixer, something we don't have. A mixer costs quite a bit of money ($40 for a cheap one) and Mike can't afford one and I have no idea how to use one. As for Stefan, we're scared he'd spill beer all over it. ;)
Our solution might put a few people off, but its really the only workable way that we've devised (for free). To call in with something other than Skype (their cell phone or landline for example) they'll send their phone number to us and then we'll call them using Skype Out when we're ready to have them on the show. We might come up with something better in the next week but for now this is the way it has to work. Right now my biggest concern is that a caller won't realize there is a 15 second delay between actual audio and when it starts streaming through the feed and freak out because he can't hear himself. If you call, either quit iTunes or pause the feed.
Working without edit points is our biggest concern right now. Usually every episode has three or four edit points that we call because we've either 1) screwed up big time, 2) Mike has sworn so badly even bleeping doesn't help, 3) Stefan has run out of alcohol and needs to make a beer run, or 4) we stop to check a fact or take break.
Sadly, none of this is possible with a live show. We might call a break for a little bit at some point but anything we say is going to end up being broadcast into your homes and iPods. No edits. No re-dos. No 1UP to revive us when we fall, and trust me, when we fall we fall pretty hard.
Enough terrifying. Tomorrow's update will be positive. Hopefully.
Blake Buck's goodwill came through, and according to Mike everything is "peachy". Sound effects are working (this means we can still have intro/outro music, segway ties, recording clips, etc.) perfectly.
Tuesday is going to be epic, not just because its our first live show. Since its been almost two weeks since we've released an episode, we've accumulated quite a mass of listener feedback, some of it quite hysterical. Not only do we have the typical in-tray of emails, but we also received an audio recording that Stefan and I believe to be the funniest thing to ever come about on this earth.
Don't worry, we won't be going the way of the old IMG podcast, where every episode was a comedy show. A very hilarious comedy show, to be sure, but according to our mandate we're to keep things more news oriented. I'm sure nobody will begrudge us spicing things up a little bit with some humor. After all, who wants to listen to a podcast that's dry as the dust in the Moab Desert? Certainly not me, and some of our earlier episodes have bored the crap out of me.
Tomorrow is "dress rehearsal". Stefan and Mike are going to do a fifteen minute mock show with me listening over iTunes to make sure that everything is working as planned.
I really encourage everybody not only to listen on Tuesday, but to participate in the live chatroom we'll have going as well. Stefan, Mike, and myself will all be available for comment before (and after) the show and Mike will be monitoring the chatroom for us throughout the episode for comments to read.
While we'll read comments, we'd really prefer to take callers. This is our special Macworld Edition, and I don't doubt that there'll be plenty of controversial Apple news that everybody will be wanting to discuss. And sometimes iChat & the forums just aren't a strong enough medium to convey what you think about a particular topic.
To call in with Skype (which we prefer) just send Mike your Skype call-name via an instant message. To call in with a regular phone (or cell phone) send him your phone number and we'll call you when we're ready for you to come on. It sure beats the heck out of sitting on hold for five to ten minutes with your phone to your ear.
Update tomorrow after the rehearsal!
Oh my........ I just realized that if I am no't present, the live show will be awful. Ha ha ha. Thanks to AussieMacGamer for impersonating me while I sat in judgement of the other's audio quality and effects.
Everything is "peachy". There are a few annoyances in our setup but nothing major, and they will likely be ironed out by the next live show that we do. Right now I'm poring over the Engadget and Macrumorslive live feeds for the keynote, which is due to start any minute. The podcast team has been prepping for days, and we've had a veritable army of volunteers helping us debug the setup, so an especial thanks to Bryan (Quicksilver) and Dominic (aussiemacgamer) for helping us iron out all the kinks in the broadcast software. I didn't have my microphone on me for our debug session last night, so Dominic was kind enough to fill my place and try to imitate my voice. This proved somewhat impossible, and for the next five minutes a contest insued to see who could best imitate my voice. I'd say the trophy here has to go to Stefan, who, in spite of his British accent, pulled off the best me. Dominic did a good extended rendition but Mike was purely awful. For some reason he thinks I have a Texan accent or something.
Tuncer will be joining us for the show. He told me when we started the show that he would like to make appearances like he did with the old podcast, and so far I haven't really done anything to have him on. Sorry Tuncer. But you all can look forward to hearing from the titan of Mac gaming himself, Tuncer Deniz.
I'll have another update before the show starts.
Posted on January 3, 2007 at 12:16 pm
Happy New Year! + How To Get An Xbox 360|
A very happy new year to all of my readers out there! 2007 is here and it looks to be a killer year for gaming with the console wars heating up and several great Mac games in development.
What can you expect from this blog in the future? Well you can expect the occasional Mac game review, the plethora of Nintendo games (wax lyrical!), and Xbox 360 titles. Yes, I know I've put off the Xbox 360 for awhile now but after selling the four systems I got at launch (for monstrous profit, I might add) I just picked up a system for the house last week.
Want an Xbox 360, but don't feel like paying the $400 price tag? Here's a few good tips you can follow to eliminate a good chunk of that bill.
First, trade in your old Xbox at a Gamestop or EB Games. These places frequently run a promotion where you can receive $80 in credit toward a 360 if you trade in your original Xbox. Also make sure to gather up all your old Xbox controllers, accessories, or whatever you have and bring them as well.
Next, look around your game collection for piles of old games that you don't play anymore, or don't play very often. I received $20 in credit for a beat up copy of Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. Chalk up another $15 for Prince of Persia (I own it on the Gamecube also, so I didn't need the Xbox copy) and $30 for Lord of the Rings: The Third Age RPG. I also dumped several Gamecube titles I no longer play. Also, make sure that you use your EDGE card for an additional boost to your trade-in values. It costs a little money to get but its definitely worth it if you'll be doing a mass trade-in like I did.
If you plan on getting a Wii soon, toss in your Gamecube as well. The Wii will be able to play all of those Gamecube titles you have laying around so there's not much point in keeping the system. You can easily get $30 or $40 for the system (don't ditch your controllers though!).
All in all, I was able to shave about $230 off the premium Xbox 360 system. Accounting for tax ($428) I only paid $198 for the system. I didn't know about this when I went in to make the purchase but they toss in a free copy of GRAW (ghost recon: advanced warfighter) and a one year complimentary protection plan. In short, it means that if anything goes wrong with the system I can bring it into the store and walk out with a replacement free of charge. The store themselves will handle the haggling with Microsoft, which IMAO is a VERY good deal. If you've ever dealt with Microsoft customer support before you know what I'm talking about.
For the time being I'll be off enjoying my new Xbox 360 and an Xbox Live that doesn't crash every ten minutes when I'm playing Halo 2. I know that I gave it a very harsh review last year when the system debuted but it has since turned into a fun game console with several great titles that I intend to pick up. Next well I'll be playing through Call of Duty 3 and GRAW as well as several shareware titles from Xbox Live Arcade like Geometry Wars. On the horizon there's Halo 3, Assassin's Creed, Halo Wars, Mass Effect, Too Human, and other great AAA titles that I can't wait to get my hands on.
Happy new year, and expect Episode 6 of the podcast sometime later this week. We've been having some technical difficulties with it, but all in all its going to be a great episode.
Posted on January 1, 2007 at 1:39 pm