Category Archives: Games

Wakka, Wakka, Wakka

Microsoft is kickin’ it old school and will be hosting a Pac-Man world championship.

Players from around the world will be competing over the next month to be among the finalists invited to NY City June 5 to play, not on the old arcade machines but on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Network.

The winner gets:

  • Free Quiznos sub sandwiches for 26 years (huh?) 
  • 100,000 MS Points to d/l content from Xbox Live (cool)
  • one of a kind Pac-Man embossed Xbox 360 (cool)

InformationWeek has the story. Go there to learn how to sign up.

RPG Fans Worldwide Decry Loss of Dragon/Dungeon

DnD News

Sad but true.

Wizards of the Coast has killed off the 30+ year old rag ‘Dragon‘ and its younger sibling spin-off ‘Dungeon’. They’ve ordered Paizo Publishing to cease production of the magazines after the September 2007 issue which would be DRAGON #359 and DUNGEON #150. If you have a subscription, Paizo wants you to start here: http://paizo.com/transition.

If you’re foaming at the mouth angry and want to get even foamier, read the entire press release. Or, for your venting pleasure, here are some threads on the subject in the WOTC forums you can jump into:

1) Dungeon/Dragon discontinued
2) What WoTC Products Have You Bought Specifically Because of Dragon and/or Dungeon
3) So I finally subsribed to Dragon
4) Why won’t Wotc respond?
5) WotC’s Response.
6) don’t expect the e-zine to be free
7) Wotc can suck the big one.
8) Stop overracting.

Why?

The primary reason given for this is because WOTC believes we prefer getting all that hard copy material online and that an e-zine is the way to go. They feel that since they’re disseminating so much material through their Wizards.com site anyway, publishing a hard copy of unique material isn’t as cost effective if they simply make their online location the one stop shop.

Maybe in some cases they’re right, but there’s nothing quite like the experience of laying down for the night before turning out the light and reading an article in a magazine you like so much. Printing out a copy of the e-zine PDF to take to bed with you just isn’t as satisfying.

Is it Hasbro’s fault?

WOTC is owned by Hasbro. Hasbro will be reporting their quarterly earnings Monday and there is speculation among Dragon fans that this decision to cease publication came down from the parent to cut spending to the bone. I can’t really argue with Hasbro’s financial performance (sym: HAS) at a high level, check out their stock’s 1Yr chart below, outperforming Dow and S&P by a significant margin:

HAS stock performance

What’s a good alternative RPG Magazine?

[whispering] The wife is surprising me for my birthday soon with a subscription to Knights of the Dinner Table. Oh yeah!! 😀

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading these roleplaying comics published by Kenzer & Co, you’re missing out. I got into the comic about a dozen years late, so I’m playing catchup by reading the ‘Bundles of Trouble’ compilations of the issues dating back to the ’90s while also reading the latest issues coming out on the stands.

KODT 121 - You Get What You Slay For

PCs vs. Consoles, Are You A PC Snob?

Gamespy has a handy guide to discover the PC elitist in you. Then again, if you’re reading this blog you’re likely a PC snob.

Some of my favorites from the list are:

– You believe that only chumps play first-person shooters with a gamepad. In your eyes nothing matches the precision of the good old keyboard and mouse combo..

– You constantly remind people how weak consoles are. Your PC has at least 2GB of RAM, far more than any piddling console and you’d pick an Alienware system over a PlayStation 3 any day…

– GamerTags are Overrated, who needs Xbox Live when you’ve got the Internet?

Windows Live Messenger Coming To XBOX

Sometimes I think you can just be too connected. And that’s the reason why I turn off Communicator at work, because people can randomize me to the point where little gets done.

Of course I’m not the target audience for this XBOX announcement anyway since I don’t even have a ‘360’. In fact, I’m still waiting for the prices of the Atari 2600 VCS to come down in price before I jump into this whole console deal.

Here’s the press release.

Financial Support For D&D Clubs!

Wizards of the Coast “Dungeons and Dragons” division is providing US$20,000 to D&D clubs in an effort to help continue, expand and perpetuate the roleplaying genre. This initiative is being billed as the “Expand your Role” Grant. (Clicky)
DND Table

Who is eligible?

Any roleplaying club that is passionate enough to apply! Note: And must be governed or sponsored by a college or university!

How many Expand Your Role Grants are available?

A minimum of 15 grants will be issued to clubs.

How much financial support is available through the Expand Your Role Grant?

Clubs can apply for a grant amount ranging from a minimum of $50 to a maximum of $1,000. Applicants must provide a detailed budget for their anticipated costs.

How do I apply?

Using the online application provided (25k), tell them in 500 words or less how a Grant from Dungeons & Dragons will benefit the club, provide a brief background/history on the club, and describe how D&D has made a positive impact on your life.

Check-Mate for Indian Chess Player after Phone Ploy

An Indian chess player, Umakant Sharma, participated in the country’s qualification rounds to get into the national chess championships. And he was winning games…lots of games. Accruing points on such a furious pace over an 18 month period that India’s chess tournament officials were suspicious of Sharma and his rivals were bemused.

Sharma was finally caught cheating after all this time. How did he do it?

He had stitched a bluetooth device into a cloth cap that he always pulled over his ears. He was communicating through the device with accomplices on the outside who were using a computer and feeding his moves to him.

Sharma has been banned from the tournaments for 10 years.

You can read the full Reuters story on eWeek.

Addictive World Map Game

I know you’re probably tired of the zillions of Flash based games on the net, for the most part I am too.

But here’s one I recently heard about that I find fun. Well I find it fun ’cause only a geek would really find something like identifying countries on a map of the world fun: World Map.

I knew I was pretty weak with the African continent, but looks like I need to bone up on my geography in Eastern Europe due to the many new states that arose from the USSR.
World Map Game

Asteroid’s Revenge

Remember the classic coin-op game Asteroids? Below is a screenshot of the original. Well now you can relive the game but with a twist! In this version *you* are the asteroid, out for revenge against the spaceships trying to avenge your brethern destroyed in the original 1979 classic. Asteroid’s Revenge is a flash based game hosted on Games Cheat Codes.

This game has pretty much all of the look and feel of the original, you turn and apply thrust to the asteroid the same way you did with the ship, your goal of course is to destroy the ships! The fun will last for about 2 minutes before it gets old, but if you were a fan of the original you at least have to try this out for that long (I didn’t see the UFO in that time, please let me know if you do). Enjoy!

  Asteroids

3 Scrabble Records Shattered by Two ‘Average Joes’ in One Game

I’m not a big Scrabble fan, but I’m aware of the several hundred Scrabble clubs and the professional Scrabble tournaments held around the country throughout the year.

On Oct. 12, in the basement of a church in Lexington, Mass., a carpenter named Michael Cresta scored 830 points in a game of Scrabble.

His opponent, Wayne Yorra, who works at a supermarket deli counter, totaled 490 points.

The two men set three records for sanctioned Scrabble in North America:

  1. Most points in a game by one player (830)
  2. Most total points in a game (1,320)
  3. Most points on a single turn (365, for Cresta’s play of QUIXOTRY).

‘Quixotry’ means a quixotic action or thought.

You can read the play by play on Slate with analysis of the most critical moves, here are views of the final board, one from a camera phone.

 Scrabble Camera Phone   Scrabble Final Board

Interested in starting a Scrabble club, finding a club or joining a club? Here you go.

 

History of Computer Chess (video)

It’s not ‘new’ news, but in 2004 the Computer History Museum in Mountain View held a panel discussion on the History of Computer Chess, you can watch the technical discussion on Google video here.

The thing that has always fascinated me about computer chess programs is their relation to AI advancements and the future possibilities in that area. I’m still waiting for my personal ‘agent’. If you have any interest in Computer Chess programming here’s the Beginners page at GameDev.net.

Sargon IIIAnyone remember the classic Sargon on the Apple // or Z-80? Good times!

From the site:

Playing chess by computer began in the early 1950s, nearly as soon as computers became available.  As a human activity, chess is believed to require thinking, yet in 1997 a massively-parallel supercomputer, drawing on over four decades of continual advances in both hardware and software, defeated the best human player in the world.  Does playing chess require thinking? Or is human thinking perhaps a form of calculation, parts of which a computer can mimic? What is the tradeoff between knowledge and search? Was Claude Shannon’s 1950 prediction that studying computer chess might lead to applications in other areas fulfilled? This panel, comprising seminal contributors to the solution of this challenge including two of AI s leading pioneers will discuss these and other questions as well as the origin and development of computer chess and what it tells us about ourselves and the machines we build.

Fishopolis: Revolutionizing Smartphone Arcade Gaming?

FishopolisRivia is a new software developer that focuses on Windows Mobile devices.  They have a new game out called Fishopolis with a unique controlling system which utilizes the phone’s camera to detect movement. A trial version with access to the first 3 levels is available from their site, or you can purchase it from Handango for US $12.95.

Here’s a more detailed description from the Rivia site:

Fishopolis is Real-Action Shoot’em Up game. Your task is to shoot fish, but what the real fun part is that you are using your whole phone to aim. Simply – to aim to the right, move your phone to the right. Fishopolis is using the image from the phone’s camera to detect movement. Now this is real action!

Go through the quest for Fishotreasure which consists of 11 levels with 8 different types of fish to shoot or try yourself in Time and Countdown challenges.

This is the game that will make you feel that your smartphone is really Smart!
Features:
– Unique controlling system, based on camera movement
– 3 game modes – Story Mode, Time Trial, Countdown Mode
– Story Mode with 11 levels
– 8 different types of fish with unique behavior to shoot at
Amazing Graphics and Sound experience
– Possibility to keep the high scores for each game mode

[found via msmobiles]

A playable piece of art from Capcom

Capcom’s latest game for the PS2 is Okami. The big deal around town is that they’ve taken a decidedly different approach to making games more visually appealing. Instead of trying to make it more lifelike, they’ve delivered a fantasy game rendered as a traditional Japanese watercolor painting.

Gamespot has tons of screens to revel in the old and new art forms blended together, here’s their Okami site with gameplay videos and very favorable reviews. Enjoy.

Okami thumbnail