Sunday, May 31, 2009

FURTHER READING / 05.31.09

Today was a downer, to say the least. With an Xbox 360 red ringing on me, I'm a little put off. Unless it comes back to life, or some sort of megaton announcement drops, I'll be leaving the blog behind for the rest of the day. I have to be able to blog Microsoft's press conference tomorrow morning with some sincerity (otherwise I'll bitch the entire way through). In the meantime, I'll keep looking forward as,

Red Ring of Death, a rite of passage

Well, a year and a half of gaming on an Xbox 360, and I've finally landed myself three blinking red lights. It must be some sort of rite of passage. Why is it happening exactly 24 hours before I'll be leaving for E3?

I went to turn on my 360 today and was met with the dreaded Red Ring of Death. I tried to remain calm, but lets face it, I was taken by surprise, not to mention this has probably been a period of high usage for me, so I was a little upset. I googled the problem, finding an entire Wikipedia entry dedicated to technical issues with the 360, as well as Microsoft's own support page. Then I turned to the trusty towel trick, although I'm going to have to send it in anyways.

As I write this, the 360 is mid-toweling. I wonder if it will really work. I'll update when I'm done with resuscitation.

Update: It didn't work. I've submitted the service order. My box will be here in four days. I think maybe I'll try the towel trick again in a little bit.

FURTHER READING / 05.30.09

I'm going to start a daily feature here at PLAY READ WRITE. Since I can't post on everything all day like the bigger sites do, I'll start gathering the big stories into one post. Now I might not be able to keep a large part of this together through E3, I'll pick it back up after the big show. In the mean time, I'll say that I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed about how much is slipping out before E3 week even starts. Rumors aren't exactly rumors anymore as,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Updating quickly: apparently PSP-Go! is legitimate. You can check out information from a leaked Qore episode over at Kotaku in the mean time. They're also running a pair of leaked clips from Ubisoft's E3 stock. You can check these stories both out at Kotaku until I update later. What I feared is already coming true and there's still a whole day left before the first press conferences. Will companies be able to keep a tight lid on everything? Or will the spill over continue?

Friday, May 29, 2009

I just picked up my business cards. How many will I be able to give out at the big show? I think the nicest thing is that I now have something with my name and my blog url on it.

Only for video games...

I'm watching Fox News online right now, Stephen Totilo of Kotaku (formerly MTV Multiplayer Blog) is on the "Strategy Room" (intense!). You can check out the live stream right now at http://www.foxnews.com/strategyroom/.

A quick edit: Why is Fox News choosing to show a video of Modern Warfare 2 that details the guns used in the game? Why not the actual trailer? (PROTIP: It's fear).

Also: Stephen is doing a great job. He's been quick, informative, and he doesn't seem to fall for any questions or topics that could possibly be trapping.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2?

Destructoid is running a rumor they've heard about a sequel to Left 4 Dead with four different characters, similar (yet different) areas, and a new boss infected. They liken it to Ada Wong's side missions in Resident Evil 4 that had the second character running through the same areas in differing orders.

Users at Neogaf think that it doesn't seem like Valve's style to release this sort of rehashed levels with a couple of new characters. And I agree. I would think that Valve would be releasing new campaigns for their existing Left 4 Dead title.

As much as I'd like to see some Left 4 Dead news at E3, I'd much prefer Valve showed off something brand new that no one has seen before, or something on Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

The PS3 Slim is real?

Rumors have surfaced today about the validity of the PS3 slim model we've already seen pictures of. Apparently Ars Technica has a mole (most likely in the retail sector looking at the other leaks attributed to him/her) that has confirmed the existence of the PSP-Go! and the slim line PS3, but notes that we won't be seeing the PS3 slim at E3. It makes sense based on the fact that there are still plenty of PS3 units in stock at retail right now and announcing a new model would freeze the sales of those units.
Looking at the pictures, I can't say that I like the design. They've gone from George Foreman Grill to a flat pancake gridle. Either way, a redesign won't necessarily get me to buy one, but a price cut might, or even finding an older model for cheap on craigslist or the like....

We'll see how it all goes, I know that with these leaks they've already frozen some sales, but the average consumer who doesn't frequent the gaming blogs online will probably still be picking up PS3s this summer along with some new greatest hits titles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The King of Kong: An E3 Encore

I just finished watching The King of Kong on my Netflix streaming service. When I read reviews nearer to the original release I got the feeling that it was going to be a story about an underdog who succeeds in the end. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I was a little disheartened watching Wiebe try his best, keep a good face on through the entire ordeal, and not come away with the Guiness entry.

Luckily, Wiebe beat Billy Mitchell's top score at home, in the environment he originally set out in. It kind of has me excited to see the man in action at E3 on June 2nd. Apparently the attempt will be captured by G4 as well.

How am I going to find the time to stop by and check it out with all of the other crazy stuff happening this year? The days draw to an end, seemingly slower and slower. The weekend will last an eternity.

REVIEW: Flood-It! for the iPhone

Flood-It! is a free game for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It was released on the app store on March 16th and has since found its way to my iPhone through the top free apps section (as many iPhone games do). What's differnt about Flood-it! is that it has actually maintained fairly frequent use. With quick play, puzzling challenges, and the convenience of any game that fits in my pocket, Flood-It! will probably be around for a while.

The object of the game is to "flood" the board with the same color. Starting in the top left of the board, you switch between 6 different colors in order to turn the whole board. The challenge comes from the limitation that you only have 22 "moves" before you fail the board. You can take your time in order to find the least moves needed to flood the entire board, thus enabling score freaks to constantly try to undermine their previous "lowest-move board."

Flood-It! also tracks your lifetime scores so that as you play and complete or fail boards you'll be reminded of your win percentages. Despite this, if you get down to your last color change and realize that you won't be able to clear the board, you can load a new one without penalty to your score tracking. I think the developers did this because you won't be able to clear every board in the number of moves. I could be wrong but there have been plenty of boards that had solutions that eluded me, and I've been playing for some time now on beginner difficulty.

You can also choose from medium and hard difficulty which makes the board larger while also limiting your number of moves so that the difficulty ramps up. The colors are vivid enough that you won't lose your way on these modes, but if your eyes are even mildly difficient you'll have some trouble seeing all of the tiny squares.

I would recommend Flood-It! to anyone based on its ease of play and bite-sized puzzling, plus its free, but if puzzle games aren't really your bag, there are plenty of other time-wasters on the app store.

PLAY READ WRITE / REVIEW SCORE: 3 OUT OF 5

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New Title

I changed the title of this blog today in order to better reflect the professionalism I hope to convey as I continue to pursue a career in the video game journalism world. The new title is "PLAY READ WRITE."

I had originally used this moniker in my short description of this blog. You can see it in its original form beneath the title. Wellspring of Games was a fun title, and my play on it was reflected on my first post. However, going forward, I felt like the url was a little unwieldy and that "Wellspring of Games" took a little too much time to process.

I think PLAY READ WRITE actually portrays a more accurate description of what I do right now in video game journalism. I play games, I read a lot of the reporting done by the bigger sites, and I write my own slant on the stories or games that I find most interesting.

I hope you'll (how many readers do I have now?) help me welcome PLAY READ WRITE as I begin writing more and more and contributing hopeful to sites with larger and larger readerships.

GTA IV Expansion: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Rockstar games announced the title of the second DLC episode for their open-world opus, Grand Theft Auto IV today. This time, titled The Ballad of Gay Tony, the DLC will take players to a Liberty City of "Guns, glitz, and grime." This time, players will take the role of Luis Lopez, "Part time hoodlum and full-time assistant to legendary nightclub impresario Tony Prince (aka 'Gay Tony')"

What I'm much more excited about is that this episode, along with DLC episode one "The Lost and the Damned," will be packaged on a retail disc for gamer consumption.

Why am I excited about that? Because I like feeling like I own my games. If the content I pay for is floating around on some server somewhere, I feel like it isn't really in my possession. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, along with the retail disc version of both DLC episodes, will be available later this fall.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I just completed Chapter 1 of Moira Brown's Wasteland Survival Guide in Fallout 3. The game is still managing to make me jump, but all of these wild dogs, mole rats, and wasteland raiders are starting to get annoying.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Larger than life advertising

Isn't it interesting how games are advertised anymore? A decade ago I barely started noticing television ads for video games. Most notably would be the Super Smash Bros. ad set to "Happy Together" by The Turtles and an advertisement for Banjo-Kazooie. Maybe all this face-time (and what large faces they are) is contributing to the general public's growing acceptance of video games as a viable medium. As people lose their unfamiliarity with the names and images of video games, do they begin to gradually accept them more as well?

Who's to say? Isn't it natural to react negatively the first time you encounter something?

Either way, I'll be sure to snap a picture of these huge Final Fantasy XIII adverts when I'm down at E3 at the start of next month.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

That's the Name of the Game - 10

Another week, another column entry over at bscreview.com. I can't believe I've only written 10 entries! I'm over 50 posts on this blog though. Not really a milestone, I'm hoping to write over 300 pieces for this blog before the year's end. Here, in bullet point format so it is an official goal:
  • I will write a minimum of 300 pieces for Wellspring of Games by the year's end.
I just realized how much that is.... I better get to it!

Now, on the eve of another E3, the hype train is rolling again. Unfortunately it appears to have pulled into the station a little early.

Take for example the screen shot from [adjacent]. It was taken from a teaser trailer that teases another trailer. The gaming populace is being enticed with a few seconds of in-game footage in order to get them excited for a mere minute of in-game footage. It’s a little ridiculous, in my opinion. Why are we being led on like this?

You can read the rest of my entry on poor PR tactics at: "http://www.bscreview.com/2009/05/thats-the-name-of-the-game-pr-out-of-control/"

I don't know if I'll be able to post another "That's the Name of the Game" before E3, but I will be posting here, and at the big show I'll be posting at both Wellspring of Games and at bscreview.com. See you there!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I turned in my last final today. I can't believe I'm finally done with this semester. It has been a turbulent one, but I've started lots of new projects (like this blog!) and successfully cultivated them (in my opinion). Anyways, I'll be here tomorrow and my goal for the foreseeable future (having accomplished the ones I set out a few months ago) is to blog every day and have a great time at E3! So long to the semester. Hello to the summer!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Sniper update reveals itself to be the Spy update

The latest update to the Team Fortress 2 blog details the Spy's new weapons. Apparently, Valve used the Sniper update to stealthily infiltrate the enemy base. Revealed today are weapons the Spy can use to counter act the Sniper's new advancements. Its good to know that Valve remains dedicated to keeping the game balanced while all of these updates are rolled out. I just wish there was a slightly newer game mode (instead of just a redesigned Payload mode).

The spy can now trick his enemies into thinking they've already killed him while he sneaks behind them, invisible, to stab them in the back. The spy also has a new invisibility cloak that will keep him in hiding for an indefinite amount of time so long as he is standing still. These updates seem to introduce a slew of new tactics to the games expert spy players will have to master in order to be successful behind enemy lines. I'm not much of a spy player myself....

To date I've only played 4.6 hours with the spy class (out of 70 hours total since the game was released back in 2007). Jeez, I'm such a casual....
Does this confirm the Pyro's gender as female? I think so... interesting, but it must be lonely being one of only two females (especially since the other is just a disembodied announcer voice....

Edit: The text on the announcement has since been changed to read "Pyro's going to be inconsolable now."  Pretty suspicious if you ask me....

That's the Name of the Game - 9

Pssst.... you can see my latest That's the Name of the Game column entry a little early today, well, that is, if you see this posting right now before the entry goes live at bcsreview.com today at 3 o'clock.

This week I wrote about the concept of "The Long Tail" in video game sales:What happens when the core video game demographic is marketed to? The core video game demographic tends to buy titles immediately, and then pass on the ones they don’t pick up right away. As the business side of the video game industry starts to attack this issue in order to increase sales, we see tactics like those of developers Valve and Criterion Games rise in popularity. These methods of development take titles and continuously shake them in front of gamers in an effort to keep the attention and the sales driving forward.

First off is Valve’s Team Fortress 2. TF2 launched packed together with other Valve titles like Half-Life 2 and Portal, and while those titles certainly made a splash together when they were released back in 2007, TF2 has been continuously updated. Every other month one of the character classes in the game will receive an update. New weapons, achievements, maps, and game modes will be released for the PC version of the game. More and more gamers will buy the game with each update and as such Valve has seen specific sales spikes every time they have an update or free-play weekend for the game. This allows Valve continued sales, marketing, and awareness.

You can check out the rest of my column this week at "http://www.bscreview.com/2009/05/thats-the-name-of-the-game-the-long-tail/"

As a general update, I've started posting much smaller (bite-sized) thoughts and musings. I'm finishing up this semester and in an effort to continue to generate content I'm throwing a mobile post up every so often when I can. This will come in handy at E3 as I walk the show floor and attempt to digest as much as I possibly can.

Also, if you're reading this and you're even mildly interested in producing a podcast with me I'd love to hear from you. You can drop me a line at danielrbischoff@gmail.com.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I can't help but feel like Duke Nukem Forever will still be published. Am I the only one who's suspicious that all of this media from the game, screenshots, and even video now, are being released in this manner to continue the charade that the game will never be released? Who's in on it? Either the gaming population is going to be depraved of Duke's own brand of ass kicking, or the PR on this game is amazing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

That's the Name of the Game - 8

When I was a young lad, my family frequented California's highway 5, traveling up and down the state visiting family, going boating, camping. I can't tell you how boring the drive is. There's a handful of truck stops, but not much else. One year, we were about to leave on a house boating trip. In the grocery store, my eyes stumbled up a Nintendo Power. I asked, and I received. It happened to be the E3 issue (issue 98 with Starfox 64 on the cover, one of my favorite back issues to look at). Countless new Nintendo 64 games were detailed. I was in on all of the latest information, the latest screenshots. Was there a game coming out that I didn't have inside knowledge of? Nope.

Maybe that's why I'm here today. I've always wanted to go to E3 to absorb every last detail of the latest and greatest video games. That's turned into a thirst of video games news that can't be quenched, and now I'm writing about video games.

This week's That's the Name of the Game is about the return of E3:

Hardcore gamers all around will tell you that E3 is the Mecca of gaming. Why? Because there’s no where else that indulges the video games industry in its gaudy, flashy, consumer driven glory, not to mention all of the huge announcements that come out of the show. Where was the Nintendo Wii revealed? E3. What about the Playstation 3’s launch price? E3 again. Where do the biggest and smallest video game companies reveal their biggest titles? E3 of course!

You can check out the rest of this week's column at: "http://www.bookspotcentral.com/2009/05/thats-the-name-of-the-game-e3s-return/"

Jenna and I should be hearing back from Expo Registration on whether or not our credentials were official enough for our trip.  Either way, when the show starts in June I hope to tackle it as if I were writing here for my job, whether or not I actually go to the show.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I know I've been a bad blogger this week, but I'll make it up to you readers (are there anymore of you out there?). Finals and school are taking a lot of me, but tomorrow will see a new entry at bcsreview.com, and then hopefully in the coming weeks more original content here. See you soon! (If you're reading this drop a line in the comments, I think this blog needs a new name).

Friday, May 1, 2009

That's the Name of the Game - 7

It has been a busy week. Two papers were due and more are due next week, finals don't seem so far away anymore, and the semester is drawing to a close.

But I'm back at the helm of "That's the Name of the Game" after Jenna's excellent guest-spot. This week, I'm writing a little bit about Left 4 Dead:

Last year saw quite the influx of zombie-related media, and video games were no different. EA released Dead Space, and the Playstation Network which plays host to many downloadable games was the platform for “The Last Guy.” While both titles had great spins on the undead-horror theme, neither made as big a splash as Valve’s Left 4 Dead.

Maybe playing both sides gives you a sense of where the other players are as you attack. As a survivor, you know that the infected players will try to attack at certain points and in certain formations. As an infected, you know you’re inducing a panic that will only further the damage you do to the survivors.

Its this sense of duality to the game that breathes new life into the zombie-horror genre, not to mention the cooperative efforts you make when playing with others.

You can check out the rest of my column this week at: "http://www.bookspotcentral.com/2009/05/thats-the-name-of-the-game-left-4-dead/"