Monday, June 30, 2008

The Magic Portal

Somebody at work found these on Youtube and passed the links around. Its The Magic Portal, a Lego movie made by Interzone Futebol's resident World Builder, Lindsay Fleay back between the years 1984 to 1989.

Lindsay is the CGI artist who created the green falling symbols in The Matrix. I'm sure he gets twice the chicks I get for creating the Thottbot logo! Once you are done watching it, hop on over to the The Magic Portal's website and read all about how it was made.

The Magic Portal

Part 2:

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Somebody sent me a link to this time travel flash game awhile ago but I never got around to checking it out. But today a future version of my self popped out of a time portal, grabbed my old Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick that has been collecting dust, and just before he vanished back to the future, reminded me to check this game out. Never one to argue with myself I did. You should too its pretty fun.

by Scarybug Games and presented by Addicting Games

Hi, don't mind me. I'm just another future version of me who just wrote this post. I had embedded the flash game in the blog, but it was too big for my layout so instead I'm just putting in the link. Lots of other cool stuff at Addicting Games by the way. Gonna go play over there for awhile... hope I don't need a joystick.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Marvel Universe Online Canceled

News went out recently that the Marvel Universe MMO game had been canceled. I finally got around to reading the interview with Shane Kim, head of Microsoft Games Studios where he talks about the reasons why. It all boils down to they didn't think a standard monthly subscription model would work and they had gone too far into development to change to another model. Smells more like they didn't know what they were doing and realized nobody would pay for what they were making.

I was really curious about how they were going to make the game work. If you are making a Marvel Universe MMO, you are really selling people on the idea of actually playing Marvel heroes such as Spider-man, Wolverine, and the Hulk. Nobody was going to be happy just being another nobody who suddenly found one day that he had super-powers and then you had to grind your way into being somebody. This is the lesson everybody else learned from Star Wars Galaxies. Nobody wants to be Uncle Owen, everybody wants to be light saber wielding Jedi's.

I really find it annoying that they blew this with so many of Marvel's properties doing so well right now. The Spider-man and X-Men movie franchises are doing great and I hear good things about the latest Hulk movie, still haven't been to see it myself.

Personally. I am going to just say they are idiots. They blew it. I am going to rest easy in this knowledge because I applied to be a designer on that project. I am a game designer with a plethora of published games under my belt, lots of experience with MMO's, and am a big Marvel comic book collecting zombie. I even won a "no prize!" They didn't even think I warranted a phone call. I simply can't understand why, when a resume like mine fell onto their desk, they didn't say, "Hey, lets at least talk to this guy and see what he's about." Now I know they are just idiots and thankfully I avoided that bullet.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Supanova Perth

SupanovaI had forgotten that Supanova is this weekend in Perth. I popped over to their site to get the details and found that a lot has changed since I last looked.

Hayden Panettiere, Claire Bennet the cheerleader from Heroes, canceled.
Due to the possibility of a Screen Actors’ Guild strike this July, popular Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere has been forced to postpone her impending trip to Australia to appear at the Supanova Pop Culture Expos in Sydney and Perth. (MORE)
Morena Baccarin, Inara from Firefly/Serenity cancelled and is being replaced by Jewel Staite, Kaylee from Firefly/Serenity.
Its with great happiness that we inform you that Jewel is coming BACK to Supanova for the Sydney and Perth events saving us from the tragedy of Morena having to stay back in the USA to film a pilot! What a saviour! She was an absolute blast in Melbourne and Brisbane and now its time for Sydney and Perth to enjoy meeting the lovely Jewel Staite! MORE
I had missed Jewel when she was at the Brisbane and Sydney conventions, so I will still get another one of my Serenity comics autographed.

Speaking of Serenity. I found out there is a Can't Stop the Serenity charity screening of the movie going around Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately, I then found that they were in fact able to stop it, in Perth at least.
The Perth event has been cancelled, with reasons cited as being beyond their control. MORE

BrokenCrap Interface

Assassin's Creed, I can't quit you.

Watch what you have to go through to quit out of Assassin's Creed assuming you don't get pissed off half way through and just yank the power cord out of the wall.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

WTF - I want one!

North Carolina drivers whose license plates have the potentially offensive "WTF" letter combination can replace the tags for free. FULL STORY
Replace them? If somebody doesn't want theirs, can I have it? Unless that means I have to move to North Carolina in which case, never mind. No offense but its "WTF COLD" there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Diet Soda

Over the weekend I was typing up a blog post about trying to give up soda. I eventually stopped writing it thinking maybe I would finish it later. It sucked and needed a lot of work. The very odd thing about it was that it started with me telling the story about how I gave up soda the first time when my mother had taken me to see George Carlin at The Sahara. After learning that Carlin passed away I went back and looked at it. The time date stamp indicates that I was in the middle of writing it when he was admitted to the hospital. Hope it wasn’t something I said.

The only thing besides that odd fact above (which, jokes aside, I hope was a coincidence) from the post that is worth salvaging is the torture my ex-girl friends have heaped on me over the years with diet soda.

Diet Dr. PepperFirst there was Melissa who would constantly try to convince me that diet soda tasted just as good as regular soda. At least that was her excuse at the time. Her particular poison was Diet Dr. Pepper. She would constantly switch drinks with me thinking I wouldn’t notice. Then she would do things like not actually switch drinks with me but would act mildly suspicious. I would think she did and take her drink thinking it was actually mine. Then she would switch and act mildly suspicious so I would think she was faking being suspicious and drink the wrong one AGAIN! She even got her friend Angel in on this game. The two of them were way too entertained with the idea of getting me to drink that disgusting swill.

That is nothing to what Kia would do. I told her the story about Melissa and Angel and she thought it was the funniest thing in the world. She tried to do the switch thing but by this time I was drinking iced-tea and I could easily see which drink was carbonated. Then she figured out her own trick. We would sit down in a restaurant and order. The drinks would come and she would take a drink of hers and make a face. Then she would push the drink toward me and say, “Does this taste like diet to you?” I don’t know what it was but I swear I fell for it EVERY TIME!

Now, I don’t know if you’re aware, but about three years ago I found out I have Type 1 Diabetes. I didn’t feel good one morning at work, passed out, rushed to the hospital and have the doctor say, “What do you mean you didn’t know you had Diabetes?”

Long story even longer, I start drinking diet soda. Just switched the next day and didn’t even notice it. Not that I’ve done any sort of scientific taste test but I don’t even really notice the difference between Diet Coke, Coke Zero*, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. This includes Caffeine Free Diet Coke & Pepsi both of which I can rarely find for sale. A few months after being diagnosed while still trying to adjust to the blood sugar management thing I was low, so I had small drink of regular soda. It was HORRIBLE!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

First 24-hours of Data

Now that Google Analytics is working I took a look at my statistics and in 24 hours I've had over 100 hits! WTF!? One hundred people! The map chart on the Analytics page shows that they are from all over the world.

This didn't sound right so I looked into it. I found that 80% of them were coming from Ron Gilbert's often incoherent and bitter ramblings about the Game Industry. He says that not me, that is his sub-title for his blog Grumpy Gamer. Just didn't want you to think I was the saying that about his blog. Granted it's completely accurate description, but I still thought it a good idea to point out that he said it not me. The man created Monkey Island and shouldn't be trifled with. Point being Ron posted about Spore's character creator and penises, but really who hasn't this last week? Anyway here is the basic post:
With the release of the Spore Creature Creator, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the first thing most people want to do is create genitalia. I certainly hope it's not a surprise to Wil and the crew at SporeCo. I have no doubt that smart scientists using today's modern super computers could calculate the "time to penis" of any game editor.
Looking through the comments I found:
Posted by Andrew Herron
Why make genitalia when you can make animals that look like porn scenes? :)
So first off, thanks for the link Andy! I call him Andy because that's the name of his blog, Andy's Blog. So I'm assuming he isn't a nut case like me who feels he has to correct people who call him by a shortened version of his name. Really though, my dad and I have the same name, so he is Joe and I am Joseph!

Granted all these hits on this site starts me off with completely unrealistic expectations for what future traffic data will show, but I'm getting used to disappointment. sniff... its not like anybody but Bughunter comments. Even my mom who occasionally reads this blog, and wants one of those mugs by the way, doesn't even comment. Though on second thought maybe its best that she doesn't... yeah probably for the best.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Google Analytics

I have no data tracking or hit counter stuff for the blog. I know that there are quite a few people reading this blog that don't bother to make comments because I'll occasionally get a flurry of email about something I've said. For example the tiny mention about one of my recent (bad) dates filled my mailbox with emails, a lot of them from people I don't even think I know. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?! :-)

Then late last night I stumbled across Google Analytics and decided to give it a go. I copied in Google Analytic's snippet of code but I think it broke that blue sidebar graphic I had over on the left. Maybe I put it in the wrong place. I'm at work now so I can't take the time to investigate further or make jokes about it. But if anybody has any experience with this particular Google thing, let me know.
"I don't know such stuff. I do eyes. Just - just eyes. Just genetic design. Just eyes. You Nexus, huh? I design your eyes." -Hannibal Chew (Blade Runner)
UPDATE: Tim pointed out that I had indeed put their code in the wrong place. It was a case of me having said I was going to bed 2 hours before but one thing kept leading me to another and I was really tired. It wasn't so much me misreading the instructions or knowing what to do, I just did it wrong regardless. I remember reading that their code was supposed to go right after the end body tag (the blog software is complaining and won't actually let me type the tag) and I remember thinking that is where I had to put it. But instead I put it before the start body tag. Shrug.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2008 Aurealis Awards

The 2008 Aurealis Awards website went live recently. As you may remember I was a judge last year on the Fantasy Short Story panel.

This year in what can only be defined as "poor judgment" they decided to make me the Convenor for the new Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel category. I think they may have gotten the impression that I know something about them from the shelves and shelves of them that I own.

There are actually two new categories this year, Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel and Best Collection/Anthology. They replace the Golden Aurealis Awards which were "Best of" awards that really didn't seem to fit anymore.

It was really fun last year though I did get a little behind in my reading toward the very end. I'm really looking forward to reading all the stuff this year.

Monday, June 16, 2008

User Created Content

It seems with every new publisher I deal with, there comes the point where we have that talk about why user created content isn't a good idea... at least for a game they don't expect to have an "Adults Only" label slapped on it. As evidence, I give you the following two videos created with the Spore Creature Creator Demo.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Circa 1991

Oh and I forgot to mention that picture thing hasn't quite died yet. We are having our little morning scrum (team meeting in the Agile method of software development) and Jeremy is standing there with his cup of coffee. Then after a few minutes I notice what's on the coffee cup. He says he felt Darren wasn't doing enough work to keep taunting me.

You too can own this unlicensed piece of merchandise for mere $12 by heading over to Cafe Press.

Roman Geeks

I have still yet to watch Rome but a friend of mine simply won't shut up about how good it is. I had seen a few seconds of a few episodes last year but it didn't really catch my interest. He claims its just as good if not better than Deadwood. I will probably buy and download it from iTunes since I had so much fun watching Burn Notice on my iPod.

The reason I mention Rome is that I learned this weekend that those Romans... they were AD&D geeks. And for just under $20K you can buy one of their 20-sided dice.
Circa 2nd Century A.D.
Deep blue-green in color, the large twenty-sided die incised with a distinct symbol on each of its faces
2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm.) wide

Several polyhedra in various materials with similar symbols are known from the Roman period. Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used.
Can't you just imagine Ceaser yelling "Roll the dice to see if I'm getting drunk!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Frank Muller

I popped over to to check out the newly released audio books this morning and found out that Frank Muller had passed away last week.

We are sad to announce that Frank passed away on Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. Fortunately, our whole family arrived in time to say goodbye. We treasure the years we had him with us as he was an amazing husband, father, son, brother, and uncle to us all. Knowing that the long struggle is over for him gives us some measure of comfort. We will miss him dearly but we celebrate his life, his love, his career, his heart.

I stopped reading as much as I used to after graduating high school. Instead of devouring a book every few days, I would spend upwards of a month or more slowly dragging my way through one. It wasn't that I didn't want to read, its just that there were so many other things taking up time in my life. But then one day I discovered unabridged audio books at the library. They allowed me to listen to books while working.

Back then there wasn’t much of selection and I found myself listening to a lot of books I wouldn’t have otherwise been interested in. Up until that point I was really only a fan of fantasy and science fiction stories. But one of the first books I listened to from the library was Presumed Innocent written by John Grisham and read by Frank Muller. I was so drawn into that story by the way Frank read those words. On my next trip to the library I didn’t even look at titles, I just looked at the narrator’s name trying to find more stuff read by Frank. I wasn’t able to find much but it pushed me into looking for more information on “Recorded Books Inc.” and “Books on Tape,” two companies that rented audio books on cassette by mail. I have been devouring books again ever since.

The artwork for many early computer games that came out of Westwood Studios (then Westwood Associates) were created while listening to those books. Hillsfar, Eye of the Beholder, Kyrandia, and the original Command & Conquer all have a little of Frank Muller in them.

Just last year I re-listened to the first few books in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I remember listening to the first book in that series when it was first published which was read by Steven King. I had never finished the series, and still haven’t although I have gotten much further and do have the next book already. But the thing that got me to download them from Audible was that I noticed the first few were read by Frank Muller. Nice story Stephen and I agree there is some value to having the story read by the author, but Frank Muller pwn’ed you. He just took that story to the next level.

Stephen King himself said this of Frank, “When Frank reads, the blind will see, the lame will walk, and the deaf will hear."

The horrible news came in 2001. Just after learning that his wife was pregnant with their second child, Frank lost control of his motorcycle on the freeway. He sustained multiple fractures, lacerations and abrasions, and went into cardiac arrest three times. He also suffered severe head trauma, which was subsequently diagnosed as Diffuse Axonal Injury. Frank survived but due to this brain condition was no longer able to work and required very expensive ongoing medical care. On Wednesday, June 4, 2008 Frank passed away. I didn’t even know him and I miss him greatly.

You can read more about Frank Muller, his career, and his family at There is even a short video there of some of Frank’s acting work, one of which was a McDonald’s commercial I remember from when I was a kid. has posted this article and has even put together a free 15 minute montage of some of Frank’s recordings.

Thank you Frank.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fury's Ending

Just as Interzone Futebol officially starts off it looks like Fury is winding down. Tony posted the following the Fury Forums earlier today.
As most of the Fury community know, things haven’t quite gone to plan for Fury since our launch. In a nutshell, whilst we have made dramatic improvements to the game, we have not been able to generate sufficient interest amongst the PvP player base to improve our player population.

Today we have a small core audience who love the game and play every day. We have another small core audience who would love to play if there was a vibrant community and challenging competition. We receive a number of new players every day and for various reasons, most new players do not climb their way into one of these two categories. This all means there are far too few players willing to pay money to support further development of the game.

We have been working to improve certain parts of the game and many of these are almost ready for release. The core audience believe these changes will make the game better and more fun for new players. This still leaves two problems. Firstly, attracting a large proportion of the past players to return to the game will be difficult as many have decided Fury is not worth another chance. Next, generating large numbers of new players requires spending large amounts on marketing.

Without both a good percentage of players returning and an increase in attracting new players, Fury cannot survive. The only viable option is to enlist the support of a strong marketing partner. This approach would give sufficient time to make the last remaining changes and to get the marketing plans in order to re-launch on a grand scale. We will continue to search for this partner, but of course the current small population makes this task rather difficult. We have to find someone who, like us, sees the enormous appeal and potential of a pure PvP game.

Meanwhile, we will be maintaining the current service for as long as we can whilst the search continues. This does not include releasing any new patches for now. Hopefully we will have better news in the coming weeks.

Tony Hilliam
CEO, Auran Games
This means that they won't be finishing and pushing all of the changes that Cam has been working on all this time. Shame as I think they would have really improved the game play.

Interzone Futebol Announced!

Interzone Futebol
hot Brazilian chickHey! Look what I am working on! That's right I can finally say what I have been up to here in Perth. It's an online multi-player Futebol game.

Futebol? Don't you mean soccer?

No, we are releasing in Brazil first, where Futebol is Life. So in Portuguese it's Futebol! Say it with me, "Futebol! Get that Uuh and Oo sound in there. FUuhTEBOoL! Very good. Keep this up and you'll be attracting hot Brazilian chicks in no time."

The Interzone corporate website just went online this morning and there will be more information coming out soon so stay tuned.

Monday, June 02, 2008

G4TV Sucks Again

Let me see if I get this straight. G4TV decided it would be a great idea to do a weekly newscast that would report on the various happenings related to MMO games. Its called The MMO Report, and it sounds like a pretty good idea. Us MMO fans are always interested in hearing the latest buzz.

Unfortunately, like everything else G4TV does they screwed it up royally. They decided to make constant fun of the target demographic for such a report not once, but in every story segment. The constant jibes that people who play these games are unsocial shut-ins with bed sores really got on my nerves to the point that it pissed me off to no end.

“...and if you don’t know who that is you probably play outdoor sports.”

And if we don't know who the hell you are its because your show sucks and that’s why you don’t have your own Wikipedia page you moron.

Conan's Age of Downtime

I bought Age of Conan last week and this weekend I finally got to play it. By that I mean that I managed to log on while the servers weren't down. The servers are taken down for maintenance and updates that lasts for five hours every morning at 7am Eastern Time. That just happens to be 7pm to Midnight here in Perth.

When I picked a server I picked an Oceanic server and I expected they would also make the server downtimes suit those regions. Obviously not.

I found a thread in their general forum posted by Athelan a Funcom employee. It is filled with people yelling at each other with stuff like
"You Aussies do know that the world is ROUND? The Devs choose to work on this game in the middle of THEIR day so THEY are not inconvinenced. If you do not like this, then play an Aussie MMOG and not a European one."
I'll go ahead and mention that Fury, an Australian MMO, has some of its own problems, being off line isn't one of them. Oh by the way they are running a $25,000 free to play tournament at the moment if you want to check that out while waiting for Conan to come back online.

Back to the topic at hand, here is my addition to the thread:
QUOTE Originally Posted by Athelan:
"I have forward your concerns on to the dev team and inquired about the starting of region specific downtime cycles."

Well, its just shy of 70 pages later; whats the word from the devs? Anything or should we just continue on for another 70 pages of people slagging off each other for having the audacity of living in a different country?

Me personally, I finally got to play yesterday for the FIRST TIME since buying the game. But here it is right now 8:00 PM in Perth Australia and the servers are down for another 5 hours.

I also don't want to hear that there isn't anything that can be done about this because at the end of the day there is. Funcom could not start charging my credit card until 30 days after they get their act together. Says right there on the front of the box that I get "30 days of free play." Kinda hard to play when the servers down right smack in the middle of the prime time. It doesn't say "30 days of free play if you are unemployed, ditching school, or an insomniac."

Thanks for listening.
I have also seen complaints about the game itself and have a number myself, but what really gets me is that so many people are leaping to their defense. This isn't Funcom's first MMO, though compared to the launch of Anarchy Online this is a major improvement. I think AO's launch was the second worse in MMO history behind World War II Online. But I've no sympathy for a company that should have already learned their lessons.