Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gaming News and Notes

Armageddon Empires is getting so much love (and deservedly so) that I can't even keep track of all the coverage it's getting in major publications. Now Gamasutra, in its 2007 Game A.I. Awards, has given AE the "Best AI in an Independent Game" award.

The other games mentioned in this article? Half-Life 2 Episode 2, BioShock, Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed. Strong company, indeed.

It's been years since an indie game has steadily gained traction like this, and it's my favorite gaming story of 2007.

Dean Takahashi did something very interesting in his Mercury News column today: he said he made a mistake.

Takahashi wrote a column last week where he called Mass Effect "Mass Defect." He discovered, though, that he had missed entirely a fundamental game mechanic--the one that levels characters. In his mea culpa, he discusses this, admits he made a mistake, and goes on to discuss the game with revised impressions.

I don't know many people who admit to mistakes anymore. He could have just let it pass, but he didn't.

I haven't written about Mass Effect yet because I haven't gotten very far--I encountered a bug that made me lose several hours of gameplay, got pissed off, and haven't gone back yet. It's a funky, strange brew, though--spectacular writing, voice-acting, and character models, mixed in with a framerate that is absolute shit and an obtuse interface that's remarkably annoying.

I think I'll get past the negatives, but I just haven't gone back to it yet. But given that what's good is better than anything I've ever seen before, it's a real shame that they couldn't have had a few more months to iron out everything else.

Lastly, an article in the MIT Technology Review discusses a financial fleecing that people have been taking in Second Life--with real money. This is a detailed and thoughtful article which brings up all kinds of worthwhile questions about commerce in virtual worlds.

The key point, to me, is that best practices in a virtual world aren't really different from best practices in the real world--both involve a high degree of transparency.

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