Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Space Invaders from Space

Here is another great vintage video game environmental art project. These guys found out that Google was going to being doing a fly over of the campus and decided to put up some stuff that would be visible from Google Earth.

Now I’m a little confused about ‘Google’ doing the fly over as I am pretty sure Google doesn’t own and satellites.

Check it out.

When I first saw the pictures I thought it was bigger than it is. There is a link to a large picture where you can see the two pieces with the buildings from the campus to put it them in perspective. I can imagine we will probably start seeing a lot more of this art from space sort of thing in the near future, then advertising companies will start doing it and it will quickly become uncool.

In the mean time I need to think of some cool vintage video game environmental art project of my own.

While I'm on the subject and instead of making a whole new post about, my personal favorite is the tile mosaics and I just found these two on flickr: Bubble Bobble tile mosaic on Bear Gardens SE1 and A Bomberman tile mosaic bitmap spotted about 15 feet up a wall in London.

Friday, January 19, 2007

That is Not Me

You might have seen the story about the "Apprentice" applicant who is suing Donald Trump for age discrimination. Several news sources are reporting his name as "Joseph Hewitt" though his full name, as seen in other sources, is "Richard Joseph Hewitt". If you care, which I can't see why you would, you can read the story here.

I am also not the Joseph Hewitt who did the Gearhead games.

Okay, glad we got that all straightened out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Song of Fire and Ice to HBO and The Diamond Age to Sci Fi!!!

Variety is reporting the following:
HBO has acquired the rights to turn George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy series "A Song of Fire & Ice" into a dramatic series to be written and exec produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
"Fire" is the first TV project for Benioff ("Troy") and Weiss ("Halo") and will shoot in Europe or New Zealand. Benioff and Weiss will write every episode of each season together save one, which the author (a former TV writer) will script.
And Sci Fi channel is reporting:
SCI FI Channel unveiled a new slate of programs in development, which includes shows from executive producers George Clooney, Darren Star and Mark Burnett. SCI FI made the announcement Jan. 12 at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

Diamond Age, based on Neal Stephenson's best-selling novel The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, is a six-hour miniseries from Clooney and fellow executive producer Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Productions.
I'd give all that a “double woot” but that might put my expectations up too high which may lead to disabilitating depression if they fail to live up to my already inflated expectations.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Impulse Gamer Interview

There is a new interview with yours truly up at Impulse Gamer which you can find HERE.

You’ll notice I plead ignorance when asked about how Auran was formed. I just got the following email from my boss filling me in on Auran’s founding history.
Very good Joseph – you sounded reasonably intelligent.

For your historical knowledge, AURAN was “founded” by me and a hot shot “genius” gamer called Greg Lane. The company began with the name Australis Microprogramming on Jan 1, 1995. Its name was changed to AURAN about a year later.

The company was then “saved” by the Hilliam family who became involved in 1998. Tony commenced as a full time working director in 2000. He and I own the AURAN group of companies.

Greg lane has left the building.

Kind regards
My boss says I ‘sounded reasonably intelligent”. That’s a good thing isn’t it? “reasonably intelligent”? Wait, does “sounded” reasonably intelligent mean I’m not reasonably intelligent but I did a good enough job that I may have fooled people?

Well he does end with “Kind regards” instead of “pack your things and be out of the country by sundown” so I think I’m good. Whew!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dear Blizzard, Regarding your Marketing Department

I tried to post the following to the World of Warcraft Forums, but since i took so long writing it, by the time I went to post it, it told me I had to log in again. So I did but then it returned me to a completely blank post entry page. The entire thing was gone. Well would have been gone if I hadn't learned long ago to type this crap up in Word and then copy/paste it over. So tried to repost it and got the error "???wow.web.forums.error500.message???". So I'll just post it here instead.

update I got it posted, lets see if it lasts or is deleted and I'm suspended for through some odd interpretation of the rules. You can find it on their forums HERE.

Dear Blizzard,

I don’t want to sound like I’m trolling or anything but I was pretty annoyed when I got the latest Blizzard Insider email with links to all the stuff in the collector’s edition. What’s the point, they are already GONE!

Let me start over by telling my story:

I pre-ordered 3 copies of the TBC from Electronics Boutique in August only… ONLY! 2 months before you even announced that there was going to be a collector’s edition. There was no price or release date for TBC at that time.

So when I went back and got my 4th copy of the game (my wife has taken over my second account. Don’t judge me) and a 4th pre-order of the TBC they manager asked me when I had pre-ordered my other copies. I wasn’t exactly sure and said, “a few months ago.”

She pulls out the pre-order book and starts at the beginning looking for my name and she gets to somewhere in July and there is a red line across the middle of one page. Nope she says, “You didn’t order soon enough to be offered the collector’s edition.”

She went on to explain they only got *some number I forget* copies of the collector’s editions and they are calling people in order they pre-ordered and offering them a copy of the collector’s edition. She said that there was a chance that somebody could turn one down and that if I had ordered within a few weeks of that red-line date maybe I could still be in the running. The other guy chimed in that nobody had turned one down so far.

I checked my receipts when I got home and saw that I was almost 2 months out from that red line in the book I knew I wasn’t getting one. Again note this is all still before there was a price or a release date. The people who were listed in the book before the red line pre-ordered over half a year ago.

A friend of mine’s wife called Harvey Norman (Yeah I’m a yank living in Australia, don’t judge me) Anyway, they took great pleasure in informing her that she would have had to pre-order the collector’s editions the day they were announced… and besides the employees had already claimed them all. They were probably joking… probably.

So back to the point, why are you advertising the collector’s edition? They are already sold. Do you just want to rub it in? The only thing you are accomplishing is driving up the price for the guys re-selling them on Ebay. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you didn’t grossly underestimate the demand for the collector’s edition. Maybe there will be copies available on the shelf. Maybe you’ll have a contest for coming up with the funniest game-related ‘maybe’ punch-line for this paragraph.

I understand you wanted there to be a limited quantity. What I don’t understand is why the percentage of collector’s editions to accounts is so low. I think the only people who would be upset if there was a higher percentage are the people who managed to get one to sell on Ebay. Am I pushing the ‘selling on Ebay’ thing too much? I really don’t see them becoming valuable collector’s items years in the future. People really do want those extra goodies in the box. The DVD, the art book, the in-game pet… yeah we actually want to open the box and get those.

What I don’t understand is what your marketing department has been doing all this time. The figures they came out with recently: troll priest, undead necro, and tauran shaman. Great marketing job on that one, never even heard they were coming. I managed to grab the last one they had for the first two, but the shaman was already sold out. They are already gone and yet everybody who sees them is amazed and asks where I got them. The t-shirts Jinx is selling, “Camp Taurajo”, yeah I’m sure that one is flying off the shelves. The cool shirts you had on sale from Warcraft III that would still work as WoW shirts have never been restocked.

Now I think the company who put out those figures I mentioned above did all the work there and that Jinx designed their own shirts, so umm what has your marketing department been doing for the last 2 years, raiding? And don’t say promoting WoW or TBC because it seems to me that isn’t too hard and shouldn’t be taking up that much of their time. The Burning Crusade doesn’t really need that much extra marketing kick, its kind of selling itself. You already got the market nailed. The girl manages the hair saloon around the corner has a 60 rogue. My wife has six level 60’s and her MOTHER has two!!! Marketing TBC is kind of like putting up ads for life preservers on a sinking ship, I’m pretty sure you got a sale there.

Here is some DKP-free constructive advice, assuming you guys do want to make some money... you do don’t you? A little dragonling beanie and the Murlock beanie that gurgles, you know the Murlock one that everybody has been talking about for the last few YEARS! Yeah, people would buy those.

Now figures, people love to have figures on their desk. I am sure you know that everybody wants. Everybody wants a figure of their own character and I’m sorry to admit I haven’t figured out how you could do a pieces-parts figure that people could dress with their own facial options and equipment. But until we figure that one out, put out a couple of packs of the 6 inch figures, for example an Alliance pack, a Horde pack, and a few mob packs. If those do well you can expand it to include some of the top end dungeon theme packs with mobs and a larger boss figure. If Homestar Runner can sell those 6 inch figure sets, I’m sure a multi-million dollar company like you guys can pull it off too.

All my love,

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Call of Duty: The Lawsuit

Gamasutra has great article up exposing some of the dark underbelly of the game industry. Basically lawsuits are flying between Activision and Spark Studios over the 3 game development contract of the Call of Duty series. The contract was included as an exhibit in the lawsuit so when the judge unsealed it became public information. So Gamasutra got 3 leading game attorneys to comment on it. It is exactly what you would expect to find in a contract between a large experienced publisher and a newly formed company. It is 15 pages long, but that is only because they include scans of the entire contract with their comments in-between the pages explaining the various sections.

Read the Wii on the Wall

Friday night was the monthly IGDA (International Game Developers Assoc.) get together for the local Brisbane chapter. It was hosted at Yug’s new apartment. Yug is also one of guys who runs Australian Gamer. You might remember I mentioned meeting them at the Game1 expo in Melbourne. They were the guys who had the Sonic and Shadow mascots playing Sonic in their booth. Here are the clips of they posted on Youtube.

Sonic & Shadow in the Australian Gamer booth at Game1 in Melbourne, part 1.

Sonic & Shadow in the Australian Gamer booth at Game1 in Melbourne, part 2.

Anyway, he has this new apartment in the Valley. It is right above all the fancy restaurants and a block away from all the party bars. The best part is the fact that his apartment is on the top floor with a GIANT balcony. We had the BBQ (or barby as the Aussies say) Now being the computer nerds we are, we got a projection TV up there and a Nintendo Wii.

It was a little bit of trouble at first setting up a table for the projector and finding a place for the IR thingy. Then we realized we had to rearrange everything because we had to stand behind the projector. Say what you want about the graphic quality of the Wii compared to the Xbox 360 and the PS3 but it look pretty damn cool up there on the wall. Also being computer nerds those of us who weren’t playing were deeply involved discussing the nuisances of the Nintendo paradigm and the way games like Wii Sports lets complete video game neophytes jump right in feet first and have fun competing against hardKore players.

You can find more pictures in this thread on the Australian Gamer forums if you actually have that sort of time to waste.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm a Playstation3. I'm a Nintendo Wii.

Ah, so many possible jokes I could add to this and yet so little time. I believe the parody is from G4TV.

So with that look at where we are now with the current generation how about this pictorial history of video games consoles.

I used to have pretty much all of those including some other dedicated pong machines they don't show. I had them on display in my office at Westwood Studios at one time but wound up giving most of them away to Goodwill when I had to pack up and move to Australia. I sold the later ones and kept the current generation ones and the Vetrex.

If you tour the office of any game developer and don't see a Vetrex sitting on somebodies desk, something is horribly wrong.

I took the Vetrex home from my office and EA shut down Westwood, need I say more?