Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cherry On Top

I put a reference to Cherry On Top frozen yogurt in Highborn and now Cherry On Top has announced on their blog that if you take a screen shot of that bit and send it in, you could win stuff.

I do think they have the best frozen yogurt. Yum.

Go read about the contest here.

Merry Christmas from Jet Set and Floyd

I did another quick Jet Set Games Christmas picture. I didn't get a chance to spend as much time on this one as I would have liked. I imagined a scene with Floyd as Santa, carrying a bag of presents, and filling a lot of 'odd' shaped stocking hanging above a fireplace. Each stocking would have a picture of one of the Worgon kids with a large picture of Enzo and Jessica on the mantle.

...but since Danny didn't have the time to actually do I real picture like that, I Photoshopped this together from the Chapter 3 key art in under and hour. Brett commented that it was very Tim Burton and asked if maybe we could have an alternate one featuring says, Trillian. I have to remind him that we are hard at work on an exciting new game and I did this on my own, seriously cutting into my video game playing time.

I do wish I had saved all of the thrown together Christmas pictures I've done over the years.

In other news:  Rade and I just did an interview with PC Game about creating the original Command & Conquer where it was pointed out that I have worked on more C&C games than anyone. This is only due to a technicality. I re-did some artwork for the German version of C&C Generals, turning the infantry on the sidebar to androids, giving me a one up on the rest of the core C&C team. That article is probably a few issues off from showing up though. I'll remind you about it later.

I also, just this second, found a Highborn page on TV Tropes, amazing level of detail. I am going to have to go back over my dialog file to see if they missed anything. You should go check out the page to see if you caught all the stuff they did.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Birth of the First Real-Time Strategy Game

I happened to look at the trivia section for Dune II on Moby Games. I found the following entry:
This game is commonly called "the first real-time strategy game", but that designation is incorrect. Dune 2 borrowed many elements from a previous Westwood release, Battletech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge. And thatgame borrowed elements from what is probably the first true game in the typical "RTS" genre, The Ancient Art of War.
This is all false. I was an artist and designer on Battletech: The Cresent Hawk's Revenge and its predecessor Battletech: The Cresent Hawk's Inception. I must, somewhat embarrassingly, admit that I never played The Ancient Art of War though I heard it was a very good game. I could also point out that some of Westwood's earliest projects were converting SSI's games to the Amiga and Atari ST. But the point that this guy doesn't seem to understand, and made funny by this comment of "typical RTS" was that those were all "turn-based" strategy (TBS) games. Dune II was the first "real-time" strategy (RTS) game. Maybe he just never knew what R.T.S stood for.

I don't have the text of my update and it is pending approval on Moby Games. When they approve or reject it I'll get an email where I'll have access to the text of it again. I'll post it here when they do.

I figured since I was at it I would also share some other information on the game's history.

French developer Cryo Interactive was developing a Dune game for Virgin Interactive, but it wasn't going anywhere. Not wanting to waste the Dune license, Virgin gave the game to Westwood, who they had just acquired. This is circa 1992 and when Westwood change from Westwood Associates to Westwood Studios. Virgin was planning on canceling the Cryo game, but instead one of their producers flew out to France and got things going again and did. Virgin soon found they had two Dune games, though they were quite different. Cryo’s Dune is more of an adventure game that basically followed the story of the first book/movie. Westwood’s Dune was the first Real-Time Strategy game. Cryo finished their game first and it was released first, hence this game being Dune II.

Westwood wanted to just call the game, Dune: The Battle for Arrakis, but Virgin’s American marketing department insisted on calling it “Dune II” and they didn’t like the sub-title, “Battle for Arrakis” because they thought it made the game sound too much like one of those slow and boring, turn-based, strategy games that were dying out at the time. It should also be noted that some of Westwood’s first products were porting SSI’s turn-based strategy games onto the Atari ST and Amiga. Virgin wanted to emphasize the building and development aspect of the Dune II, so it would appeal to people who liked games such as the then popular: Populous and Civilization, two of the three games that inspired the gameplay in Dune II by the way. The third game that inspired Dune II was the Sega Genesis game, Herzog Zwei.

Later when Virgin’s European office was given the game to market in their territories, without knowing anything of the previous argument, renamed it, “Dune: The Battle for Arrakis.”

Friday, December 09, 2011

Blade Runner, the Cool Twitter Kids and I

One of the cool things about twitter is getting to listen in on people (I was gonna say famous people, but that sounds lame, especially when the people I am talking about aren't mega-famous, just authors or artist I like) talking to each other. There is the somewhat neat factor when you find out the people you like and follow also follow and talk to each other. You get the feeling that you are there with them while they are talking about stuff. That all still sounds pretty Access Hollywood lame, but there you go.

My point, which is covered up by my new hat everybody seems to like, though somebody did say I look like a shady character, is that I was reading a twitter conversation between Joe Hill, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Oeming where Oeming mentioned how much he liked playing the Blade Runner game we made at Westwood Studios back in 1997.

I should admit that, although I worked on the project in the beginning, nothing I did remained in the project when it shipped. For the longest time the Windows icon was the last thing remaining that I had created, but at the last minute they changed it. Mine was the silhouette of Decker used in the title on the movie poster, which I thought was the perfect icon. No idea why they changed it. I'd ask Rade, as he was the producer on the project, but after all these years I don't really care that much. My heart has since mended.

Anyway, nerd boner. Though I will admit I have no plans to frame these tweets like I want to do with the ones where Monkey Island creator, Ron Gilbert, praised my game, Highborn, on the iPad.  Note, that I haven't framed Gilbert's tweets, I just have had plans to frame them for about a year now.

Copy & Paste Customer Service

Following this introduction is my exchange with a Blizzard customer support representative regarding the issue in my previous post.

Now, I cast the blame partly on him and partly on the corporate mentality that emphasizes issue resolve time and neatly worded replies. I worked briefly in Customer Service for Star Wars Galaxies at launch so I know what goes on. I had plenty of co-workers who would do nothing but use a program that pasted issue solutions. They did just what Osomveskin does, see the basics of the problem paste the generic response. You can the same thing on a lot of phone support where you can tell they are following a flow-chart. Yes, they appear to have a great resolve time, but they it is still HORRIBLE customer service because they not only don't solve the customer's problem, they look like idiotic monkeys.

All is not lost however, there are some companies who shine at customer service like and American Express. With both of those companies I have personally experienced, and heard many stories from others, about how they listen to your problem and fix it beyond the customer's expectations.

You'll note in my response to Osomveskin that I did figure out what the problem is with a further search of the forums.
12/8/2011 8:39 PM
I have been accepted into the Diablo III beta and played for a little while. I have found, however, that I cannot post in the Diablo III forums. I get the "game license has expired or been cancelled" message when trying to reply and creating a new topic. A search for this error has only given me old information pertaining to other games.

Customer Service Representative
1 hour ago

Thank you for contacting the Blizzard Entertainment Tech Support Department.
If you are having problems accessing or using the Forums, we have some steps for you to try to correct the problem. Note that an active StarCraft II or WoW account is required to post on the forums.

1. As a general step, you may want to clear the temporary internet files and 'cookies' on this computer. Please note that this may clear your saved passwords and settings for certain websites. Instructions on how to remove cached files and cookies for some of the more common browsers are listed below. If your browser is not listed please consult your browser's help files on how to delete cached files and cookies.

If you are using Internet explorer, click on Tools in the menu bar at the top, select Internet Options, Look for the Temporary Files or Browsing History section and click the Delete button. Make sure to delete Files and Cookies when prompted.

For Firefox, select Tools from the menu bar, click Clear Private Data, and make sure Cache and Cookies are selected and click the "Clear Private data now" button.

For Safari, in the menu bar click on Safari, select Preferences, Security, Show cookies and Click remove all.

Cookies must be enabled for you to access the forums. Your browser security settings or computer security software can stop you from accessing the page properly. If you are unsure how to clear your temporary internet files, or change the security settings for your internet browser, please see your browser's help section for further assistance. You may even want to try a different web browser.

2. If you receive a "Login Server Down" message, the login server itself may be experiencing a temporary downtime. This is often concurrent with login problems with the game itself, and should be resolved shortly after the login server is back online.

3. If you receive any generic or specific "Error" when you try to post, please wait 5-15 minutes and give it another try. This can occur during website maintenance or even during login server issues
If you are using Google Web Accelerator with your internet browser please try disabling it and then log back on to the forums. If you are not sure how to disable the Google Web Accelerator, please visit for further assistance.


Freddy M.
Customer Support
Blizzard Entertainment

A few seconds ago
Thank you for your cut and pasted reply that doesn't address my issue at all and was a complete waste of my time to read.

Here is a link to the actual solution to my problem:

I just got home and found that they took the Diablo III beta server down until tomorrow, but as I'll be out of town until Sunday night it means I won't get to play this weekend.

I did get another update to my customer service ticket though, and this guy actually read my email and spend the time to type out an actual response. See, they aren't all bad. I don't even mind the mistakes (yeah, like I'm one to talk) because this way I know that I am actually getting his attention where the pre-typed out response makes me feel like I'm being ignored.

Customer Service Representative 3 hours ago Hey there Joseph =)! I do apologize for the earlier response and it was just a general troubleshooting for a lot of forum threads. For beta testing within D3 (congratz btw!) some of the issues and answers can be found on the forums as you found =). If you do run into any future D3 issues I do implore that you do post on the forums as well as the developers *do* read them and it is important we document any problems as well. Thanks in advance for future feedback and hope you enjoy your time in D3 not only in Beta but on actual release as well =). Happy holidays! Thanks and take care! 
- James

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Diablo III beta

I have been in the Diablo III beta for two nights now. At this point it sucks because I can't play.

I got to play a little last night, but it keeps losing connection to the server. If you've kept up, you have to be connected to the server in order to play, even if you are playing the single-player game. They've said some things but we all know it is for two reason which are not in any particular order: anti-piracy for one. And two, the real-money auction house where you can buy and sell items and they really want to make sure you aren't going to cheat. But watching the server go up again down like (insert inappropriate joke about your mom here) you can see where the concept is slightly flawed.

The worst part, and the reason I am so frustrated, is that the launcher gives you an error that is a number that tells you nothing. I think I have seen three different error numbers but I don't know what they mean. At first I thought maybe there was something wrong on my end, but at least I on the forums this isn't the case. The last post from Blizzard was over two hours ago and said the server is back up, which is then immediately followed a few minutes later by a billion posts from people who can't get on. Nothing else official has been posted.

Oh, and I can't post on the forums. I get "This account has limited posting access due to the following condition: This game license has expired or been cancelled."

I tried to search their forums for what this problem was related to, but all the information I could find was related to the old Starcraft II beta and not relevant. I went to their customer service section and filled out the web form, of course their neatly organized categories didn't really come anywhere close to the problem I was having. I picked something that seemed relevant if you squint. Hopefully it will get passed along to the right department.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ain't it Gory

The following is a reposting of what I just wrote on Westwood's facebook page:

Here is an old Westwood game I am sure you have never heard of. I wasn't actually sure it was ever released until I was sent this video yesterday by Brian. My faulty memory remembers it haven been shelved, but then sometime afterwards I heard that some other company was interested in picking it up and publishing it. I'll try to remember to ask Louis or Brett next time I see them.

Most of the artwork was done by the late, great Rick Parks. It was all orginally done in EGA on the PC and just ported to the Apple IIgs. I still don't think the PC version ever came out. I know I did some work on it, but honestly can't remember what exactly. I remember we had a lot of goofy fun picking the name before settling on Ancient Glory. Everybody internally called it "Ain't it Gory."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

EA is PUNISHING early Battlefield 3 pre-orders on Origin?!

I pre-ordered Battlefield 3 on Origin in mid-August. Later I heard that as a Battlefield 3 Pre-Order incentive, they were giving away a copy of Dead Space 2. I thought that was pretty cool as I hadn't played Dead Space 2. I've been busy, but tonight I planned on downloading from Origin and giving it a whirl.

Turns out, it that deal only applied to NEW pre-orders! SERIOUSLY?! Are you kidding me? Is Electronic Arts really that stupid?!

First, it is a digital copy, which is almost no cost to them. It isn't like they are still worried about selling physical copies on the shelf of this game anymore. It's a year old, which is FOREVER in game years. Not to be confused with MMO years, which have a mid-life crisis and go free-to-play. Besides, getting people to play Dead Space 2 while waiting to player Battlefield 3 is a great way to bait them into buying Dead Space 3 which should be coming along pretty soon.

Second, by setting this precedent you can be sure I will not be pre-ordering anything again, at least not until the absolute very last minute. Why should customers give them early pre-order numbers if it means we will be screwed out of some incentive later on for the people who were waffling and weren't supporting the game with their pre-order dollars?

Third, they are trying to pump up Origin, their new digital store. Everybody already says it isn't good as Steam and that Valve is good and EA is bad. You buy some indie bundle on Steam and they later add a game to it, it gets added to your library automatically. This just proves that EA doesn't know what they are doing and are screwing up Origin just like they screwed up every other attempt they've made at a online digital store in the past. What is this their 3rd or 4th attempt at a digital store? Anybody else think they only named it Origin to thumb their nose at Lord British?

There are people on EA's forum have said when they contacted customer support, they were told the only way to get Dead Space 2 was to cancel their pre-order and then re-pre-order it. The sound you aren't hearing is my head banging on the table.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Highborn Chapter 3: The Audacity!

It occurred to me today that I was so worried about the blog artwork that I never did a post about Highborn chapter 3: The Audacity, which has been out for iPhone and iPad since late June. I really think it is the best Highborn chapter so far and you'd be a fool to miss it. Remember, Mr. T still pities fools, you wouldn't want Mr. T to pity you, would you?

When brainstorming the backstory Joe, my co-designer and the head of our playtest department, it started with, well Floyd the Arch-Lich has been defeated. Well, what does that mean? We didn’t even get halfway through that sentence when we realized we had hook for chapter 3. You play as Floyd and the forces of Decay as they predictably escape from prison. This also meant interior missions which we thought would be a cool change up. After a round of high-fives, Joe and I set out to plot the missions. We quickly came to the conclusion that the escape from prison plot would start to wear thin very quickly. What would Floyd do once he got out? Would get spend the rest of the missions on the lam or would he have another wild scheme for taking over the world? That is when the second thunderbolt stuck and I realized what the plot would be. He would run for President, which I later changed to Imperial President just to be loopy.

First we needed a new boss. Although we did want to use the old Highborn gang, we didn’t want to make Archie the big bad guy that you had to defeat. We needed somebody that was on the good guy's side, but could still be the bad guy of the story. It took me awhile to figure out who the incumbent Imperial President would be. I have no idea what reminded me of the term “foozle,” which we old-school gamers used to use to describe the generic evil guy you had to defeat in all early role-playing games. Anyway, Foozle became his name he was initially going to be the love interest for Trillian. The reason Floyd was going to run for office was that he had a secret crush on Trillian and was jealous. After awhile I realized we had overdone the lovey-dovey stuff in Chapter 2, so I dropped that storyline. Danny came up with the concept that Foozle was just a punk, emo kid with a big crown, cape and chest full of dubious medals.

Rade had already expressed desire to have a unit that had combat support like the towers and forts, so we created the siege towers. They are basically mobile combat support for your units, though they can still attack like other units.

We also wanted to close out the Enzo and Jessica story with regards to their kids, and I thought it would be great to have Floyd trying to get back home only to have to chase those damn kids of his lawn. This lead to the Worgons, half wizard and half gorgon.

The third new unit came about when we were creating map spells for the Decay Heroes (anti-heroes?). All the Highborn Heroes you’ve played before have had maps spells, Archie can heal all units for 2 points, Trillian can stealth out, Enzo has his Freeze spell that slows down all enemies by one movement point, and even Floyd the Dragon has his Fear spell (which he had even when he was a Decay Hero in chapter one.) Cabus was given a spell to summon Dire Wolves, which means we had to create those as a unit.

Oh, we also set the Horrors on fire which kinda makes them a new unit too, but man the smell is bad.

The other Hero spells are Mind Control for Floyd which allows him to turn any non-hero or mechanical unit into a decay unit. Icky got Sacrifice which allows him to heal like Archie, only the player has to sacrifice the life of another Decay unit to do so. We were a little stuck on iB until I got the bright idea to match the random behavior of his combat spell. iB's map spell is Random which literally randomly casts one of the other hero’s map spells.

There was some initial worry about how we would do interior mission map artwork with our off-set grid, but it wasn’t a problem and Danny’s maps look great! It appears to be really hafd for me to write parody stuff without including more Star Wars jokes. This time we went all out and even drew one level of the highborn dungeons, the kitchen, with Star Wars themed art. It's all Star Wars parody wrapped around Foglio cooking humor; he is trying to cook iB who is in the Princess Leia role. Don't worry, no gold bikini.

This was also about the time Portal 2 came out so we turned the Highborn vault into a portal parody where you go up against MaDOS. Danny really nailed this nailed a retro, steampunk inspired version of the Aperture science labs.

On top of the maps themselves, Brad spearheaded an effort to make new 3D combat backgrounds that match those interior maps like we did for the moon in Chapter 2. He’s right that it would have looked silly to have the outdoor 3D environments when you were indoors, and doing them to match the theme of the map was more than I hoped for.

We always try to do something really cool for the final level and we had several ideas for Chapter 3. We tried to do something where you had to battle the Highborn for delegates to win the election but that didn’t work. We tried one scenario where both sides had nothing but Mad Wizards and Milita without their buildings to spawn from. The idea was to have a giant battle where you had to plan your moves really carefully because all those guys are one-shot kills. That didn’t work either, it just wasn’t fun. I’ll let you play through yourself to see what we went with.

Remember to follow Jet Set Games on Facebook and Twitter for up to the "whenever we remember to post something" news!

P.S. Jet Set Games is not responsible for the numerous grammar and spelling mistakes in the post that I'm too lazy to go back and fix.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Small Fix

I've gotten half a dozen comments on my last post via twitter, email and IM and yet not one comment on the post itself. would it kill you guys (and girl) to make a comment on the blog itself and make it look like somebody is actually reading this crap and I'm not just talking to myself!

I found the PSD file for the blog's background last night. I re-fixed it up. The previous fix was me just working on the JPG file. I am still skirting the edge of the overall file size. I had to up the JPG compression and remove the right side bit where I made it wrap, but at 3000 pixels wide I'm not too worried about it.

It is still doing that thing where it is showing half size on the blog when I upload it. I took a picture with the original picture over the top of the webpage so you can see what I'm talking about. It is cropped, but that is the left edge of the picture and the blog. See how the boxes would extend further out at full size. That way the logo, when I eventually create a new one, would tie in better.

I probably have to go into the template code to fix it, but I'm not sure how to do that with these templates. No time to look into now nor to redo the logo graphic, but I at least have a better idea of the color scheme.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Which In-App Things are Players Buying?

Flurry recently posted on their blog about the shift of revenue from paid apps to freemium (free with in-app purchases.) They noted that 65% of all revenue generated among the top 100 games now come from freemimum games.

They then posted that freemium players spend an average of $14 per transaction for in-app purchases.

Their latest post is about what players are actually spending money on based on a year’s worth of data of 57 million purchase transactions across a set of fermium iOS and Android games that averaged over 2 million daily active users.
Their data broke down as follows:
Personalization: 2% - lasting item that has no gameplay benefit and is purely decorative.

Durable: 30% - lasting gameplay benefit such as a piece of armor that your character wears.

Consumable: 68% - non-last benefit such as a health potion that is gone after you use it.

I have a small problem with how they broke this down. I want to see in-game currency and time separated out.

They state in the post that they included in-game currency as a consumable item. A lot of games only sell in-game currency. Players use that in-game currency to buy everything - personal items, durable items, and consumables. How much would that data change if we could see how much of that consumable percent was in-game currency and/or the data adjusted to show durable items and personalization bought with in-game currency?

Second, I also assume they have lumped time in as a consumable. For example in some games you can spend money to speed up tasks. A lot of times this is a a different in-game currency, such as energy, which you can buy separately from your main in-game currency.

Tiny Tower ONLY sells their in-game currency, Tower Bux. You use Tower Bux to move the floors in your tower, speed up the construction of new floors, buy new elevators, paint your floors, speed up sales of items in your stores and move a new tenant into an apartment. You can also convert Tower Bux into coins which you use to buy new floors, stock your items, and customize your tenants. According to the Flurry data, all that is getting counted as the player buying a consumable even though the player is using that consumable to buy durable goods, personalization, time and another currency which he can then use to buy other durable goods, consumable goods and personalization.

Another problem people have pointed out is that durable and personalization items can only be purchased once. Once you have bought a durable item, you have it and probably don't need a second one. Also if you game isn’t social/multiplayer, your players are probably less interested in spending money on personalization, because nobody else is going to see it. I remember reading an article about Farmville during the height of its popularity (which I am not going to spend hours trying to find.) It talked about how the main motivation of players was the perception of what other people might think of their farm when they visited. What percent of player purchases are for personalization in a game where you can show that sort of thing off, as opposed to a non-social game?

In the end I am NOT saying that consumable items that the player will want to keep buying isn’t the big money maker. I am just saying that it isn’t as cut and dry as the chart suggests. I really wish I could see their data based on game type.

Little Blog Fix-up

I did some little fixes on the blog the other night to at least make it readable.

I re-did the background graphic, darkening it to a shade of blue similar to my twitter background. Sometime between putting up the previous background and when I just redid it; it finally starting showing at its actual size. The current background is again NOT displaying full size and I don't know why.

I also changed the text and background colors a bit.

I want to reiterate that I changed the blog on accident. I was just starting to screw around with a new template, seeing what options I had available. I didn't mean to push it live. I am going to start over and do what I meant to do the first time, which is mock the whole thing up in Photoshop first and do a new title logo and everything. I will also do a mobile layout.

Finally, I wanted to post one last picture about the balloon prank. This is what happened to my finger after tying a bunch of balloons. It literally ripped the flesh off my ring finger.

BTW I hate how the preview function doesn't show me exactly how the post will look once it is published. I can never line up pictures the way I want without publishing it and then editing it which I'm sure all the people reading this through RSS feeds or the like must hate.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Balloon Prank at Jet Set Games

Again, blog layout and artwork still broken. Been too busy filling Josh's office with balloons to fix it.

Josh went on vacation and we thought about what we could do to his office while he was gone. There were some really good ideas floated about, the best of which was probably the one where we'd drywall over his door. The problem with that one, besides the cost which would have been totally worth it, is what happens next in that scenario? Think about it, you come in and your office is gone. There is just a wall and no office. What happens next? Sledgehammer? Crawl in over the roof from the next office?

What we decided on was a little more workable, we just decided to fill his office with balloons. Here are some pictures and videos:

1. Rade blowing up some balloons at the beginning.

2. Quarter way filled up.

3. View from outside as Josh is kicking them out of his office.

4. Paul buried in his cube.

5. View from down the hall.

V1. Josh Opening his door.

V2. Closer View of Josh trying to clear out the balloons.

Share and Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dear Battlefield, "Я не говорю по русскому"

Alright, I know I still haven’t fixed this damn blog’s artwork. Any time I actually have the time lately, I’ve been playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2. A few of us pooled in at work and got our own server, you can find it as “JSG Clan Server” if you want to play with us. It used to be called, “Jet Set Games Clan Server” but the way we are kicking and banning cheaters, we figured we shouldn’t be so open about who we are.

But cheaters though, that is the thing. I found out that when I’m not playing on a server where a bunch of the guys on the other team are using aimbots and wall hacks, I’m actually not bad at the game. I pretty much always rank above 50% and often am right up top. I’ve also come to accept that the medic is overpowered and that is the class to play to rank up.

But I didn’t come here to whine about how cheaters are taking over the servers in Battlefield and that Punkbuster has failed. Instead, I decided to make a little post about voice localization in these types of games. Battlefield, to continue with that game as an example, has excellent background audio. Not only is there the voices of your teammates when they do something, but there is low level background radio chatter as well. It really helps set the mood. These games areset up as the U.S. forces verses some other nationality and at times in multiplayer, you take turns being the attacker and defender so you play both as the U.S. forces and as somebody else.. If you are playing the other nationality, you have the option of playing their voice audio in their original language or localized. I like playing the original language in these cases because, like I said, it really helps set the mood.

The problem is I don’t speak Russian or whatever nationality I’m playing and I need to understand what is being said. The game expects you to play a lot and start to recognize what phrases are associated with what gameplay element, but that takes a long time and isn’t really all that fun. Though, I always find it funny to hear things that aren’t there in the foreign phrases. I could have sworn one of the clips in Battlefield 2 was, “The cost of a sniper, is less than I thought.” Another in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which I think is a “Ha, I got you message” in Russian, sounds like he’s saying, “Where’s Wolfgang Sally!?”

When you set the voice audio to play in English for the foreign forces, it just plays the U.S. forces audio. But what I would rather see is every language done in the original language and in English with an appropriate accent. I can pretend I am speaking Russian if the radio chatter is in English with a Russian accent. I also think it would be fun to have a nonsense/gibberish English version for the U.S. Forces, so I can play another nationality’s forces and NOT understand what the U.S. forces are saying.

That is my two cents, though I’d pay a quarter if they could figure out a way to remember my localization settings between games. Dice makes some good games, but they really need to work on their user interface.

P.S. I am hoping that if I post more I'll be more motivated to fix the artwork.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pissed at Valve

Alright, so I still haven't gotten time to finish the blog updates. I spend my weekends in California with my girlfriend and almost every other waking second working on Highborn: Chapter Three.

I say almost every other waking second, because for about an hour a night every third night or so, I've been playing Team Fortress 2. My friend Angry Anthony made a Chef's Hat for the Piro, who I usually play, so I logged in after more than 2 (3?) years away and bought it. Then I started playing a little. A lot has changed and you can tell it hasn't been the top valve team that has been working on it.

Two issues I want to rant about real quick. First is they are having these Saxxy Awards for user submitted videos. They advertise this on the main menu. The ad takes up more than half the menu screen and has a gold statue, think Oscars, rotating to the sound of clapping and camera flashes... THAT DOESN'T STOP!! Oh, they die down for a little bit with the occasional clap or flash, BUT THEN IT PICKS BACK UP AGAIN! YOU CAN'T SHUT IT OFF! MY GOD IT IS ANNOYING!!!

Second issue and what really set me off. I logged into Team Fortress just now and when I tried to connect to a server (their new server menu isn't the greatest piece of technology either by the way) it told me that "This account does not own this game" and promptly disconnected me. I tried several severs with the same result. I'm logged in on the main menu, it shows my achievements and past stats, the game is listed in my Steam library. WTF!

I tried searching their support site. When I type the phrase ""This account does not own this game" it told me that the words THIS, DOES, NOT, and OWN were common words and were omitted from the search. Yes, I put the search phrase in quotes. Tried several way of searching for an answer. No luck finding anything relevant, big surprise.

I then just did a Google search and for it and found another post somewhere complaining about. Somebody there linked to a Steam forum post that said they were doing maintenance on accounts created around the time of the Orange Box release and they would be down for about 20 hours.

I know these kinds of things happen. Account maintenance is understandable. No email message about this? Nothing on the Team Fortress 2 twitter feed, though plenty of posting about the new hats they are selling ingame. No news post when I launched Steam, though plenty of advertising for other games I should buy? Not even a warning when I launched the game that some accounts would be unuseable during this maintenance?!

They thought a pop-up saying I didn't own the game would be sufficient?!

And if Valve is supposed to be this leap forward, super-duper, do it right on don't do it at all company, why doesn't their support site have any mention of this that is searchable? Or hey, how about a top issues list on the support home page? Instead... they thought it was acceptable for me to get all the way into the game, and they be told that I was being disconnected because I didn't own the game?

They thought a pop-up saying I didn't own the game would be sufficient?!

I keep saying that because these are the people that pioneered digital distribution. The ones who are trying to get the skeptics to believe that it is okay not to have physical media that I can hold in my hands. Trying to get us to feel safe and secure in the knowledge that if we buy it digitally from them online, that we will still own this game.

...unless... they decide we don't own it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Work in Progress

I am obviously working on updating the blog's artwork and layout.

This isn't what it is supposed to look like, I got interrupted while working on it the other day and I haven't been able to get back and fix it. I won't be able to get back to it this weekend either.

Nothing you see here at the moment is something I am happy with. I really didn't mean to switch the blog over to the new layout when I did. I was just starting to experiment with the new template and a background when I clicked on the wrong thing.

I have a better version of this background, but for some reason blogger is shrinking it 50% when I upload it and that is where I left off. I still have to redraw the blog logo and fix all the text and background colors. Then I have to rebuild the links that got lost because I had hacked them into the old sidebar.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1 Louder Than 10

Last week Jet Set and Electronic Arts unveiled the limited beta of Music Construction Set: The Blues. It isn't so much a game (yet) as it is an experiment. It let's you rock out with your plastic guitar controller. ...on YouTube.

Here, I'll let Dr. Fantastic, aka Owen, explain it better.

The YouTube channel where you can find more information including the download link, instructions, FAQ and videos of people rocking out is

Check it out, Rock out, I'm out...

EDIT: Added the Logo, fixed the link.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Joseph Hewitt - Dangerous Assassin!

In Conspiracy on the PlayStation Home, we have a large screen that cycles through some game-based propaganda screens. Just some ad-like pictures for some of the corporations in the game. Danny created the wanted screen below with my name and image. I thought it was hilarious.

Propaganda Wanted Joseph

The other day we were hanging around in the Volcano Base, the public hub of the game, and managed to witness the following conversation.

Joseph Hewitt Assassin PSHome

DrJeanGreY: name two types of technolgies they make
wildswagg345: hey wats gud
DrJeanGreY: any of the technologies in the slide show would have been correct
DrJeanGreY: the guns
jaylive1234: =( (3
DrJeanGreY: battle suites
DrJeanGreY: nano tech
DrJeanGreY: all of that
DrJeanGreY: finally..
Kendahl: samus aran
DrJeanGreY: the name of the fugitive who is wanted by I.C.I
PuertoRicenGirl: what that mean?
DrJeanGreY: His name is Joseph Hewitt...
DrJeanGreY: And he is a dangerous assassin
jaylive1234: ****
RAWDABOSS: get from behind me
DrJeanGreY: that we will be targeting in the coming missions
DrJeanGreY: come
aussie554: i love the way you walk jean
aussie554: lolz
Kendahl: ^^ ME 2

Friday, January 14, 2011

Loads of Stuff!

I don't want to be one of those people who apologizes for the lack of blog posts. Heck, I didn't even want to be one of those people who has a lack of blog posts. But I really have been really busy. I know EVERYBODY says that, but I not only have proof I can now finally talk about it.

=Highborn Chrome=
First up a bit of slightly old news, Highborn is available on the PC as part of Google Chrome's store. You can find it HERE.

Highborn Chrome
Unfortunately, the updates for the iOS versions listed below are not ready for the Chrome version as of yet.

=Highborn iOS Update=
Highborn iOS update has been submitted to Apple with a host of new features including the much awaited Chapter Two!

Highborn Chapter Two
• Updated 3D artwork. Many of the characters in the 3D combat scenes have been improved.
• Units now display their attack range when they move.
• Selecting a Monolith will show you which spell it represents and if you control that Monolith it shows you its cooldown time so you know if it is ready to be cast again.
• End of mission statistics screen filled with detailed information about the mission that you can analyze to your heart’s content.
• An undo feature implemented so you can stop your pathetic little whining about how you messed up and move to the wrong square or whatever! You shake the device and it will give you the option of redoing your turn. This only works in campaign mode, not in multiplayer.
• Chapter Two as an in app purchase.
Highborn Chapter Two Sell SheetNote that you do not have to buy Chapter Two in order to get the other new features, they are included free in the update. Look for it to go live on the App Store very early next week.

Conspiracy for PlayStation Home was finally announced and the first billboard advertisements went live in PS:Home's Central Plaza in yesterday's update.

Conspiracy Logo
I'll let you do your own research into what Conspiracy is, because what kind of conspiracy would it be if I just came right out and explained it to you. Actually, we never had this conversation. Pretend you don't know me.

Shandor, our active furniture item for PlayStation Home was updated. There is now a way to win a virtual item and he has a few more secrets to divulge.