Thursday, July 28, 2011

Links, Links, Links and Appreciating Older Games  


Games: So, I find myself playing another XBLA game that's currently under embargo. However, this is certainly a title that deserves much praise from what I've seen of it so far...

I've put in a request asking to specify whether I can talk about it (or not) as long as no official review is published, but in the meantime, let me just say that [redacted!] is pretty friggin’ SWEET.

... seriously, nothing but love for it.


In case you missed the links on Twitter or haven't been to GameCritics in a while, I just had a couple of new reviews go up. Click on these to see what I had to say about Bastion, Akimi Village and From Dust.

Also, the most recent GameCritics Podcast (episode 56) is now up, and it's a real monster. Featuring a bunch of games, a little bit of movie discussion, and an event-filled interlude with a drunk-dialing @RichardNaik, there's a something here for everyone. You can download and listen to it right here.


My friend @PeterSkerritt is an extremely sharp guy and he has a lot of really on-target things to say about the gaming industry. One of his recent blogs talk about some of the mistakes that Capcom has made recently, and even though I'm someone who has a lot of love for the house of Mega Man, I certainly think Peter is preaching the gospel here. Check out what he has to say.


Finally, I can't quite remember what brought the subject up again, but I often think that it's a shame that a lot of older games don't get the appreciation they deserve. Or, more specifically, I think a lot of players lack an appreciation of history. [disclaimer] It's a bit of a complicated problem and I'm not sure that I am awake enough to do the entire subject justice at this particular moment [end disclaimer] but it seems to me that there are two main issues here:

The first is that many players trying older games for the first time lack historical context, and the second is that games, moreso than any other medium, suffer from the rapid pace of improving technology.

Still good.
As an example of the historical context problem, put Goldeneye 007 (N64) in front someone who's never played it before, and I guarantee that their reaction will be less than positive. However, people who are old enough to have played it when it first hit often speak of all-night multiplayer binges in reverent tones. The difference there is that people who have the proper context know what gaming was like at the time, and what it was like before Goldeneye made the strides in multiplayer that it did.

I'm not saying that current players must play the game and love it the way that older folks do, but I do think it's important to remember that particular games became milestones for a reason, and forgetting that means forgetting how we got to where we are today.

Still good.
The second issue, improving technology, is a fairly obvious one.

Anyone can go to the library and pick up a book from ten, twenty, fifty, or even a hundred years ago and appreciate what the author had to say. Oh sure, some of the language may be different, but the barriers to benefiting from such a work aren't really that high. The same goes for films. Anyone can track down a movie from the last few decades and watch it, and although special effects and production values have risen quite a bit, the quality of the performances and the message of the writing will still be able to be enjoyed. That enduring quality does not seem to hold as true for games.

I'm not trying to say that current gamers are shallow, but it's rare when I meet someone who’s interested and motivated enough about educating themselves on the medium to put up with the graphical quality and technical issues of a game from last generation, let alone two or three generations ago. That is, of course, completely putting aside the issue of the logistical difficulty of finding the games and hardware to play in the first place…

(For more on this, my friend and former E3 roomie @KyleOrl wrote a piece on his own journey of discovery here.)

I think there’s a lot of value in seeing where games came from and what they used to be like. Not only does it give a greater appreciation for the quality of games being made today, but it also shows which "innovations" are actually iterations on ideas previously put forth and provides a lot of insight into current design. I'm not even forty years old, but when reading certain reviews or talking with gamers younger than myself, it seems quite clear that many of them have large gaps of knowledge that, if filled, would increase their appreciation of the hobby, not to mention informing discussions and examinations of same.

Still good, but good luck convincing modern gamers of it.
What's the solution?

Well, I've certainly got a few ideas of my own, BUT I'm interested to hear the thoughts of my blog’s brain trust. So... if you've got some ideas, what say ye?


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting Back in the Groove  


Apologies for the irregular updates lately.

Although I haven't mentioned it often here at the blog, my oldest son has been spending the summer with us, and whenever he's here, I notice that my productivity drops a little bit. Despite my best intentions of keeping on schedule and maintaining all of my obligations (self-imposed and otherwise) it's hard to avoid slipping behind on a few things and as much as I hate to admit it, the blog is usually one of the first things to be put on hold when free time is at a premium.

Anyway, I didn't want another day go by without posting at least a little something, so I better get to it...


Games: I'm currently playing From Dust, and I recently finished Bastion, both on XBLA.

From Dust
From Dust is still under embargo so I can't really say a lot about it other than the fact that I'm playing it, which I am. I've got the review half-written already, though, so my coverage should be up fairly soon after the embargo lifts.

Bastion was a much more difficult game to come to a conclusion on.

I had intended to have my review up on the day of release, but I kept going over and over it and wondering if I had the right angle. It's not often that I'm really torn on a final decision, but I will admit that this one had me in a bit of a tizzy.

In fact, I almost wanted to write two separate, concurrent reviews for it -- and if I had more time, I might be tempted to go back and do just that. However, I've already got three other things on my plate and I feel like the review I finally submitted did a good job of encapsulating my feelings.

Can't say I'm really looking forward to the comments, though...


Podcast: Fans of the GameCritics Podcast will be happy to know that we finally ended our long (and relatively unplanned) hiatus to record a chunky new installment.

It hasn't completed the editing process yet, but it will be up relatively soon. Topics include Ms.’Splosion Man, Bastion, Lost Odyssey, LA Noire, Transformers 3 and Black Death (films) and a few other random bits, including two surprise guests. Look for it soon.


That's it for now, and I'll do my best to get the updates back on track soon. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seattle Indie Expo 2011  


Games: If there was ever any doubt (and really, there wasn't) then last night's Seattle Indie Expo has settled the matter for good -- the Pacific Northwest has got a serious surplus of top-notch development talent.

Taking place in an easily-missed, nondescript warehouse on the south side of Seattle's downtown, the event was hosted by Haunted Temple Studios (Skulls of the Shogun) and provided an up-close, intimate venue for gamers, journalists and developers to mingle without any of the usual middlemen to satisfy or hoops to jump through.

The turnout was strong, the mood was good, and the games were outstanding.

Here's a quick look at what I saw…


Title: Containment (working title)
Developer: Bootsnake Games
Platform(s): iOS, PC

A highly non-traditional puzzler that captured my attention immediately, Containment does away with colored gems or oddly-shaped blocks and replaces them with differently-colored types of citizens: orange vigilantes, blue police officers, green soldiers, and so on. The point of play is to isolate and surround zombies with a ring of humans all the same color. Once "contained”, the humans dispatch the undead with extreme prejudice.

There's a lot more to the title than a simple formula of substitution, though. For example, certain humans give certain bonus items when used to contain. When soldiers see action, they award grenades to be used to clear the field, nurses give a life item of some sort, and so on.

Other places Containment shows freshness are the setting and story. By combining interactive urban backgrounds and brief snatches of text as the player changes boards, the game provides a much richer, more holistic feeling overall. Throw in some boss battles and a few other features as well, and it's definitely one of the most interesting puzzle games I've seen in quite some time.


Title: Vessel
Developer: Strange Loop Games
Platform(s): TBD

Despite the event taking place in such a small space, I nearly walked out without some hands-on time with Vessel, and that would have been a big mistake.

A 2D physics-based puzzle/platformer, Vessel sports warm, appealing Steampunk aesthetics and displays an impressive array of ways to use the fluid that is at the heart of the story.

The game is currently at a very early state, but it was already looking like a knockout to me. You heard about it here first!


Title: Rook (working title)
Developer: Carbon Games
Platform(s): TBD

Most easily described as a beautifully updated version of the cult classic Herzog Zwei, this real-time strategy game featuring transforming robots and unit deployment was already looking stunning -- and according to the developers, it's only been worked on for a month or two!

Featuring a strong multiplayer focus (up to 4 simultaneously) the game seemed to strike a good balance between strategy and action -- the player is definitely asked to do more than sit back and amass units at home base. In addition, Rook features a streamlined resource scheme and a variety of characters similar to the Commanders in Advance Wars, each with their own abilities and special powers.

If the game looks as good as it does after just a couple of months, it's going be mindblowing by the time it's finished. Unfortunately, because it was so early in development, no screenshots were available. More to come on this one soon, though.


Title: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Developer: Fuelcell Games
Platform(s): Xbox 360

There's been a lot of early buzz for this title, and after having played through the demo, I can say that it's certainly warranted.

Launching soon as part of Microsoft's summer Xbox Live Arcade promotion, ITSP has the player piloting a nimble UFO through a series of diverse levels. It's a bit like a vehicle-oriented Metroidvania, only with slightly different sensibilities and an absolutely fantastic art style.

One thing that hasn't really been discussed with regard to this title has been the multiplayer aspect, which was on display at SIX for the first time, anywhere. While I'm not generally a multi-sort of guy, the modes available are quite intriguing and lend themselves well to team play. This one's got instant-classic written all over it.


Title: Skulls of the Shogun
Developer: Haunted Temple Studios
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC, iOS

The final game on my list, Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game that draws much inspiration from both Japanese iconography and classic SRPG games like Sega’s seminal Shining Force series.

Taking advantage of a void where simpler, more approachable strategy games should live, SotS seeks to capitalize on the middle ground that's been largely unpopulated in recent years. Featuring both a single player campaign and multiplayer options, players of either flavor should find something to chew on here. It’s also been recently picked up for publish by Microsoft, so 360 players will have it to look forward to soon.


Although I usually try to keep a level head and avoid hyperbole wherever possible, I've got to admit that the quality of games on display at the Seattle Indie Expo was through the roof. Every single one I looked at was great, and it was doubly impressive that so much quality software was generated by people right here in my own backyard.

I'm not much of a sports fan so I can't say that I've ever spent a lot of time "rooting for the home team", but that's definitely going to change... with so many great developers like these (and many others) in and around Seattle, I've gotta get some jerseys made.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review Links, Netflix, MHFU Multi, Serious Sam and Rice Pudding  

Games: A couple of my reviews have gone up at GameCritics recently, and here are the links in case you missed them. The first is for Alice: Madness Returns, and the second is for Ms. ‘Splosion Man. As always, comments welcome!

TV & Film: A while ago I was asked what my opinion is on the Netflix price increase, so I figure I’ll post it here and kill a bunch of birds with one rock.

So: although I think they could have done a little better in terms of communication beforehand, I think the end result is that the price of Netflix (if you opt for both streaming AND discs in the mail) is still a total steal for a pretty amazing service.

I heard a lot of people grousing about the price hike, but I have a hard time feeling sympathy for them. I myself am on a ridiculously tight budget, and even I can manage to squeeze out another few bucks here and there. For streaming and one disc, it's something like $16. Compare that to what cable costs in my area (between $80-$100/month) or pay-per-view movies of $3-$5 apiece and there’s no contest. Besides, if you’ve got consoles and play games or check in at iTunes regularly, it’s pretty likely that you’ve got at least a little discretionary income for video.

Bottom line, skip one (maybe one and a half) cups of Starbucks a month, and you’re all set. Otherwise, pick streaming OR discs, and the price actually goes down. Not much to complain about, in my opinion.


Games: Quick Monster Hunter update: I'm closing in on fully completing the upper ranks of what Freedom Unite’s got to offer -- I hit Hunter Rank 8 yesterday, and it caps out at 9.

I'm certainly no slouch when it comes to beast-slaying, but the rapid progress has been thanks to having my son along as a constant quest companion. He may be 9 years old, but he kicks some serious monster ass. However, once he goes back to his mom’s once summer’s over in another week, I’m gonna be stuck without someone to help mitigate the steep difficulty.

He won’t be back until the fall, so if you’re interested in playing MHFU multiplayer between now and then, drop me a line!


Games: The good people over at Mommy’s Best Games have sent me an alpha copy of the upcoming Serious Sam Double D and I’ve played through the first world. Despite being at a very early stage of development, the game is coming together very nicely.

For those that haven't heard of it, it's basically a side-scrolling 2D version of the Serious Sam FPS games slated to hit PC and the 360. I can think of few developers I'd rather see handling it other than Mommy’s Best thanks to their deep, deep love of 2D action, and from what I've seen so far, it appears to be a perfect match.

Look close and you'll see the gun stacker in action.

Apart from translating the sort of action one would expect from Serious Sam, Double D’s big hook is the “gun stacker”. This device looks a little bit like a wrench, and it does exactly what it sounds like – it stacks guns, literally.

Sam starts off with a peashooter, but by the end of the first world I had that peashooter on top of a Tommy gun on top of some other sort of machine gun on top of a grenade launcher and the whole mess was bolted on top of a chainsaw. The gun stacker is a little bit silly, a little bit crazy, but it's mostly awesome.

More to come on this one as I make my way through it.


Food: Although my wife and I agree on about 99.5% of the foods we like, there are a few things we part ways on. One of those? Rice pudding. Another? Raisins. As such, she finds Kozy Shack Cinnamon Raisin Rice pudding to be nauseating -- but I think it’s pretty damned delish.


If your taste buds align with mine, do yourself a favor and check it out. Creamy, raisiny goodness ahoy!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interview with... @DeadEndFiction  


Writing: Twitter is an amazing way to meet and connect with people, but there are some very creative individuals who are using the micro-message format for more than just quick greetings or rapid news exchanges. In fact, there’s a growing segment of Twitter devoted to crafting short-short-short fiction. As a writer who is constantly working on being concise, seeing people produce quality shorts under these extremely restrictive circumstances is quite intriguing.

For tonight's update, I am pleased to present an interview with my favorite micro-writer specializing in Horror, @DeadEndFiction. One of the more prolific and regular writers on the service, I can be quite honest in saying that these particular tweets are a darkly-tinged bright spot in my day…


Please tell us who you are and a little bit about your work on Twitter.

@DeadEndFiction is short horror fiction confined (or coffined) to 140 characters with a beginning, middle and dead end. As the writer of these Twitter stories, I’d like to remain anonymous.

Fair enough. So, Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but what experience have you had writing in longer formats?

I do lots of creative writing, mainly short stories, but @DeadEndFiction has definitely conditioned me to write in very short bursts. A 1,000 word short story is now a daunting task. In fact, writing my shopping list now seems like a scribal mountain. I find I don't set aside time to write at the moment, because the Twitter-fiction I'm writing is so short it really doesn't interrupt anything else. It's like writing a little note.

How did you get started writing micro-Horror? Where did the inspiration come from?

It was more a case of me coming across Twitter and thinking – what can I do with this? When I started following Sean Hill’s @VeryShortStory it became very clear that Twitter-fiction was something I wanted to try, and I hoped to carve out a niche by exploring the Horror genre specifically. It has lots of readily recognisable imagery associated with it. Everyone knows what a vampire needs (blood) and hates (sunlight) so dealing in these ideas makes it easier to work with the limitations of Twitter.

What’s your process? Do you carry a notebook around, or just tweet on the fly? How long does it take you to come up with the average micro-piece?

I don’t carry a notebook, but I will frantically jump on a scrap of paper if an idea jumps into my head. A lot of it is wordplay, so someone might say something like ‘my feet are killing me’ – and that will provide a starting point. Sometimes I’ll write something like that down and it’ll be months before I actually develop it into a tweet. I keep a 'bank' of stored ideas in a Word document on my desktop. Everything ends up there.

It's not very Edgar Allen Poe.


Relationships seem to come up often as a theme in your work. Any particular reason?

Relationships offer an instant dynamic that everyone can recognise. There needs to be a ‘someone else’ to create drama. I guess, because I’m in a relationship, I’m also writing about what I know. Certainly, if my partner says or does something to upset me, or vice versa, a tweet is often born from that. Not as revenge or even as a confession, but just because it's likely to preoccupy me.

Have there been particular pieces that you just can’t get under 140? What’s the shortest one you’ve ever done?

I try to hit 140 dead on. When I can’t do that, and I can’t even get close, there have been ideas I’ve put to one side to develop into longer stories. It doesn’t happen often though, because I’m always thinking within the structure of something short enough to tweet. Maybe 135 characters is the shortest I've tweeted, but afterwards I would have hung my head in shame.

Have you ever been tempted to take one of your twitter pieces and expand it into a short story or novel?

Most of the stories are designed to be the length that they are. To go back to them and extend them into longer stories would feel like stretching them to breaking point or spreading them thinly over too big a gap. I think it’s a completely different discipline to write a short story or a novel. And I’d approach those forms from a very different angle. Writing @DeadEndFiction is more often like writing Horror-themed jokes, with odd little punch lines.

Before we end the interview, would you please share a few of your hand-picked personal favorites?

I don’t know if these are my favourites, but they are some of the more popular tweets.

My husband did not believe in ghosts, so I was intrigued, after his funeral, to find him sulking in the attic, too embarrassed to haunt me. @DeadEndFiction Jun 11 2010

I fell out with my imaginary friend. I said I couldn’t see him anymore. Bitter and forgotten, he plotted a fate for me beyond my imagination @DeadEndFiction Oct 15 2010

The pen wasn’t mightier than the sword; they were equally useful as I hacked off his head with one and forged his signature with the other. @DeadEndFiction Jul 26 2010

Thank you so much for speaking with me, and I eagerly look forward to more short-form creepiness -- and to those of you who don't already follow @DeadEndFiction… what are you waiting for?


Monday, July 11, 2011

Ms. Splosion Man, Knights Contract and the PAX 10 of 2011  


Games: So I've been playing Ms. ‘Splosion Man on XBLA for the past few days now. I've been wanting to mention it earlier, but the embargo was pretty specific about not saying anything, whether positive or negative. Thankfully, that embargo ended at midnight, so now I can spill...

As you can tell from this review, I was pretty high on the first ‘Splosion Man, and for good reason -- it was a fantastic game. When I heard that Twisted Pixel was going back to that well with a female twist, I have to admit that I groaned a little bit. I was having a hard time imagining how such a revisiting could be as interesting or fun as the first one was, but… although I haven't completed the single or multi campaigns, I think they pulled it off.

I'll save further discussion for my full review, but from what I've seen of the game, this is easily an instant-purchase. New mechanics, new music, genuinely funny bits and a co-op campaign that's totally different from the single player… some of the checkpoints are a *wee* bit too far apart, but that's really my only complaint up to this point.

If I was to give it a score RIGHT THIS SECOND, it would be getting pretty great marks.


When I haven't been ‘sploding, I've been putting time into Knights Contract on 360. (There's no apostrophe anywhere in the title? Really?)

I know that the game has been panned almost universally, but I was still intrigued enough to check it out. Although I'm not a fan of escort missions per se, I did like the idea of being an immortal bodyguard tasked with keeping a mortal person safe in a fantasy-styled adventure.

At a point maybe a third of the way through, I can see that it's heavily flawed, but I'm not ready to call it the train wreck that others have.

As a way of explaining its problems in just a few words, it's important to know that the title was developed by now-disbanded Game Republic. If you're familiar with their games (Genji, Folklore, Majin) that pretty much says it all.

To be honest, that studio has always fascinated me because they come up with some brilliant ideas, yet they always managed to completely bungle some aspect of them every single time. They screw up so regularly and so consistently, in fact, it's as if they are intentionally sabotaging themselves. That is certainly the case here.

The good: great concept, fun and powerful magic system, some neat bosses.

The bad: simplistic melee, mazelike levels with maps so bad they’re insulting, frequent load times.

Apparently things get worse as you get further in the game so my opinion could certainly degrade over time, but right now it's just another one of those "almost really good" Game Republic titles. It's a shame, really -- with just a few different design choices, they could have had a string of hits. Instead, they're not even a studio anymore.


PAX Prime 2011 is just around the corner, and the annual picks for the PAX 10 indie competition have been announced.

I think it's fantastic that Penny Arcade takes the time to put such a spotlight on Indies, and it seems like they've got some really good ones this time around. (Like they always do...)

From the official press release, here are the nominees:
 A Flipping Good Time (PC) - Digipen Institute of Technology - Players will have a flipping good time in this fast-paced free-flowing 2D platformer as they flip and fly through an expansive underground world using the fluid nature of gravity to avoid hazardous terrain.

Antichamber (PC) - Alexander Bruce - Journey through the depths within a non-Euclidean labyrinth where geometry and space follow unfamiliar rules, and many obstacles are a matter of perception. Players must create, destroy and manipulate matter in this mind-bending psychological exploration game.

Atom Zombie Smasher (PC, Mac, Linux) - Blendo Games - The zombie apocalypse is upon us! Take strategic command of mercenary forces to conduct massive rescue operations using military forces such as snipers, artillery crews, and orbital bombardments to hold back the undead while the civilians escape.

Fez (XBLA) – Polytron – Guide Gomez, a 2D creature, on a voyage of discovery into the mysterious 3rd dimension. Change his perspective and look at the world in a different way.

Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (PC) - Final Form Games - A neo-classical top-down shooter for up to 4 players set on 17th-century British Colonial Mars with a new twist on the genre. There are no shared pools of health or lives; so long as any player survives, the team can be brought back from death.

Snapshot (PC) - Retro Affect - Pic, a robot camera, can actually absorb objects into photographs, removing them from existence! By pasting pictures back into the world, captured objects - everything from doors, light, even copies of yourself - can be used to solve puzzles.

Solar 2 (PC) - Murudai - In this open-world, sandbox game set in an infinite abstract universe, players are the planets. Play constructively: grow your system, nurture life and attack enemy life in huge battles. Play destructively: crash into objects and cause chaos, use orbiting objects like wrecking balls and steal planets.

Splatters (PC) – SpikySnail - You play as a group of semi-suicidal, liquid filled Splatters that get their kicks by igniting in colorful confetti bombs of liquid. Crash into spikes, ride the slides, Air-Strike into bombs or do just any stunt-combo you can think of. With every new maneuver learned, each show becomes more spectacular.

Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare (PC) - Bad Pilcrow - Standing between Vanessa and freedom are platforming mechanics. The twist? Her two-dimensional world lies on the surface of a three-dimensional cube, and players must rotate each face to find clever solutions to a wide variety of problems.

Word Fighter (iOS & Android) - Feel Every Yummy – A one-on-one word battling game that mixes rules from popular word games like Boggle and Scrabble and wraps them around a competitive fighting environment. Think "Street Fighter" meets "Words with Friends", or word games mashed together with "Super Puzzle Fighter".


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catherine's Nightmares, Super Powered Love, and the Cambodian Space Project  

Busy, Busy, Busy… Just a short collection of links tonight while I catch up on other things.


Catherine, Catherine, Catherine… Only three more weeks or so until this infamously enigmatic title hits, and personally, I couldn't be more excited. Rather than explain why, I'll simply post a link to the latest trailer and I think it will speak for itself.

Check it out, and in case you haven't already heard, there is a pretty sweet preorder package for those of you who go for such things.


Kirby Kirby Kirby… If you read this blog, then you probably know that I'm a big fan of nerd rockers Kirby Krackle. If you are too, then you’ll want to know that the first track from their upcoming album, Super Powered Love, is now available for listening (and purchase, if you're so inclined) right here.

Additionally, if you're in the Seattle area, KK will be putting on an entirely free concert. From the official press release:

…Mark your calendars if you're local to Seattle - on FRIDAY, JULY 15th at 8:00pm we will be doing a FREE all-ages Album Preview Concert! What does that mean? That means the band will play through the entire 13 tracks from Super Powered Love! This will be happening at The Comic Stop in Lynnwood, WA (3333 184th St. SW, Suite G, Lynnwood, WA 98037)!

I've seen Kirby Krackle play live several times, and they always put on a great show. If you're going to be in the neighborhood, don't miss it.


Cambodian, Cambodian, Cambodian… I can't understand a word of the lyrics, but I first heard about musical group Cambodian Space Project on NPR and I decided to look them up afterwards.

The radio story was intensely boring, but I'm glad that I didn't change the channel because there's something quite interesting about this group's music. I can't quite put my finger on it and I'm not sure that I would want to sit and straight-up listen to a CD of it, but having it on in the background while I do other things put me into a nice little groove.

Maybe it will for you too?


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Upcoming, Book News, Pixel Fences and Torchwood: Miracle Day  

Games: Not a lot to report at the moment.

Non-game work has been keeping me pretty busy, and since it's summer, the kids are active all day long and go to bed later than usual. Since I don't play singleplayer or violent games when they're around, my hours for burning through "grown-up games" are limited.

On the one hand, it's not too bad since there is a bit of a lull in the release schedule and the other writers at GameCritics have been able to cover what needs to be covered. On the other hand, my attempts to whittle down the backlog are going pretty slowly... I think I need to start drinking a lot more coffee at night.

coming soon...
Anyway, looking at the upcoming release schedule, it looks like Catherine, El Shaddai and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are the next things I'm looking forward to, and there’s still a couple of weeks until the first one hits. With any luck I'll be able to get back to (and polish off) Lost Odyssey and Portal 2’s multiplayer mode.

We’ll see…


Writing: After being on hiatus for quite some time, I'm finally going to get back to the final edits of Speaking in Forked Tongues.

I started the project when I had regular evening hours to devote to it, so now that my schedule has shifted around a bit, it's been tough to find time when the house is quiet enough to write and I'm still awake enough to do so competently. Not trying to make excuses here, but I do admit that it's been personally challenging to stay focused and motivated with so many distractions.

you know how hard it is to find ribbons for this thing?
All that aside, I think the time is right to plow ahead and get it done. If I writer-up and do at least a chapter a night, I think I'll be able to put a ribbon on it within the next month.


Games: I can’t remember who originally tweeted it (and apologies for not being able to credit you, whoever you are) but here's a link to a pretty cool site where a guy is creating 8-bit images using chain-link fences and colored plastic cups.

I wish he'd come up to Seattle and do a few fences around here.


TV: Just a heads-up that Torchwood: Miracle Day miniseries will be premiering in the United States on July 8 on the Starz channel.

For those of you who don't know, Torchwood is the “after dark” spinoff from Doctor Who. Featuring rogue from the future Captain Jack Harkness and the rest of his extraterrestrial investigations crew, the show ran for two seasons and had one previous miniseries. While the seasons themselves were wildly uneven, the miniseries (Children of Earth) was one of the best pieces of science fiction I've ever seen. Not even kidding about that.

Early reviews for Miracle Day have been glowing and Captain Jack is one of my favorite characters, hands-down. I am most definitely looking forward to Torchwood’s return to the small screen! Check it out when it hits, and for those of you who've never seen it before, the entire run of the program was available for instant-watch through Netflix last time I looked.