New LOST Internet Game…and it’s Cheatable

Are you a raving LOST fan? Have you run out of people who want to hear your theories about how the island is really a projection into our universe by a hyperintelligent transdimensional race and was once mistaken for Atlantis? I know I have!

Never fear! The LOST crew is out there with yet another alternate reality game, in the form of the website:

http://www.dharmawantsyou.com/

It’s just the kind of maddening, quasi-canonical thing I’ve come to expect from the LOST folks. Themed after the scientific-religious hippie group, the Dharma Initiative, which is reforming and wants you as a recruit. So far, you have to answer a bizarre, somewhat non-sequitarish psychological profile to sign up, and then, you get a logic puzzle!

Great thing about the logic puzzle is, there’s a cheat to allow you to remove the time limit. Just punch the space bar as the game begins and you’ll be able to lock the timer.

Wii and X-Box 360 — Like Chips and Dip?

There’s an interesting snippet of an article over at Gamasutra about the Wii and X-Box 360. It’s an interview with the Director of Product Management for the XBox 360 and Live, where he posits a couple of things:

  • Wii users as casual gamers might want to upgrade to the XBox
  • A lot of Wii users break it out as a party game
  • There’s no need for a Wii2, because casual gamers don’t care about horsepower

They’re interesting points that I mostly agree with. I’m actually one of those gamers that bought a Wii first because it was a “novelty” as he says. Thing about the novelty of it is, for the games that really make use of the Wii controller, they are still fun to go back and play again because of the visceral nature of the experience.

I wasn’t really interested in a next-generation game console for a long time because, as I get older, I find I have less interest in shooters and scrolling games that are just a bunch of button-mashing. What finally made me buy a 360 was Rock Band. Again, it was the visceral nature of the experience that made me break out the bucks. And Rock Band is still the main game I play on the console. As far as the party game aspect, well, I think the more visceral and physical an experience is, the more it becomes the kind of experience that is better shared. Sports, dancing, playing music, even sex, human social experiences tend to be not so much intellectual as physical.

I’m not so sure I agree about the Wii2. And I’m not so sure I think that Microsoft agrees either, as I’ve heard rumors on the net of a Microsoft Wii-like controller. I’ve had my moments with the Wii where I realize the movement tracking isn’t quite what it should be, and that I could really play the game by flicking my wrist. Hopefully, if we do get a Wii2 or XBox motion controller, it will be more sensitive and allow players to use more and subtler adjustments of motion to play games. (Be a bitch to program for, I’d imagine.) Of course, that almost has to make the games more hardcore, so maybe they’re right….

Things That Make Me Glad I Quit Star Wars Galaxies

This is one of those things that made me glad I gave up on the Star Wars Galaxies online game.

A collectible card game inside an MMO. Look, I know the two are related and the same people are probably interested. I know they probably make a lot of money off the EverQuest one they have. But, really, if they had taken the money they spent on this and hired some decent content developers, I would still be in the game and playing and they wouldn’t just be milking money out of the rather small number of people that still bother to play the game.

Dumb.

Of course, on the plus side, they have appearances by the Max Rebo band.

Max Rebo Band image from Star Wars Wiki

I really need this kewl Max Rebo cake for my birthday…..

Max Rebo rocks the cake

Dungeons and Dragons 4E Powers

Really liked this article on 4E Powers, and I really loved this pic from the article of one of their dry-erase power cards. They really ought to market these. (And I’m not just saying that because I am a Hasbro shareholder.)

Dry Erase D&D 4E Power Card

(Image from Wizards.com)

Just got my 4E game books today, and I have to say they are the prettiest D&D books ever. I really love the color in them. From the bits and pieces I have read going through them, I’m really excited about the new edition. Seems fast and fun.

I’m a little intimidated by the whole Powers idea, though, trying to figure out how to create a Power for a new monster ought to be very interesting.

World of Warcraft to Get Achievements

As if there weren’t enough OCD disorder creating things in World of Warcraft already, Kotaku is now reporting that the “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion will add an achievement system.

Achievements done well really amp up the level of interest I have in a game. The ones on the screenie look interesting, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this system looks like.

I’m guessing the “Level Without Dying Guy” lines under the achievement names might be some sort of titles, which a lot of people have been asking for in the game. I’d like to see them add something like that, since they took out the PvP title system.

Dungeons and Dragons Game Day (4th Edition)

So, Saturday was National Dungeons and Dragons game day, and also the premiere of the 4th edition of the game. I took the time the day after (because I was busy with Star Wars Weekends the day before) to check out the quick start rules for the new edition in the first module released for it.

First module for 4th Edition

I have to say, I kind of like the new edition of the game. It’s slick and simplified, plays a helluva lot like a computer RPG, and really focuses on the players as heroes, as opposed to a first level character being food for rats. I also like that they’ve dumped the memorized spell system, so that wizards aren’t the “Wham! Bam! Can I rest and regain spells now?” characters they used to be.

I’ll write more about it as a I get to know the system better. If you’re interested in hearing what the game sounds like, check out the podcast the folks from Wizards, Penny Arcade, and PVP are doing.

LucasArts Layoffs?

So on Friday, evidently there was a fairly sizable layoff of folks from George Lucas’ game company LucasArts. I have kind of a strong interest in this for two reasons. One is, I have always been a huge fan of really getting to escape into the Star Wars Galaxy, and LucasArts games have pretty consistently been a way to immerse myself into that environment. The other is, I have a close friend that works there, and layoffs are really painful on people whether you get to stay or not.

I’ve seen some interesting theories on why the layoff happened, from Lucasfilm claiming it was just a scheduling thing, to people speculating that the departure of Jim Ward was actually a refocusing of the company to just sell the license to outside developers. (And hey, the replacement for Mr. Ward was a guy from EA, which now owns two of the best Star Wars development houses — Bioware and Pandemic.)

There’s one thing that is driving me nuts about some of the reports I was reading: the articles or the comments keep talking about how LucasArts was producing crappy games the last couple of years. Yet, if you recount the last couple of years of titles, they actually were really high-quality experiences. My personal favorite was “Republic Commando”, a superbly gritty look at the troops of the Republic, which went on to be adapted into novels. But the list could go on, “Battlefront I and II”, “Knights of the Old Republic”, “Lego Star Wars”, “Mercenaries” — there were quite a few good (and often underrated) titles. A lot of the titles were made by third parties, so I’m not sure how they can say LucasArts is refocusing on external development exactly?

It’s going to be interesting to see how this changes the company. One of the things that concerns me is that they might just be shipping all of their production support jobs out of the country.  I’m not protectionist, in that I think we have a global economy now. But I would rather hear companies start admitting that they’re moving in that direction. And it struck me funny yesterday that when they were talking about “The Clone Wars” feature/series yesterday at Star Wars Weekends, that the LucasArts rep said the series was being created at Big Rock Ranch. As far as I know, it’s being developed there, but the bulk of the animation is being done at Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore.