Manipulating Gamerscores

Recently, Microsoft has just finished another massive cleanse of offending Xbox Live accounts. I think Microsoft has adopted one of the best policies to deal with users that artificial inflate their gamer score. The user’s gamerscore is wiped clean and their Xbox Live account is branded with the mark of a cheater. The account can still be used for online gaming and purchases though, so the money that went into the account is not wasted. Continue reading

Portal in Flash

Most every gamer knows about the Valve game, Portal, but not many have seen the flash version of the game. While a very simplified version of its PC muse, Portal: The Flash Version actually attempts the same physics in a side-scroller. It was created by some valve fans around the same time Portal was launched. The game was nominated for a 2008 Zeeby casual game award, but failed to bring in the award.

The physics and portal technology achieved in the game should be applauded for the difficulty in execution in a flash game, but the gameplay leaves something to be desired. Continue reading

Little Big Planet

Little Big Planet is an amazing and unique game. The difficulty of the game is challenging, but never frustrating. It is a great product for gamers of all ages, and should be a little bit of an added incentive to anyone that has not purchased a PS3 yet.

The puzzles for Little Big Planet can be difficult at first, but are always solvable with a little bit of trial and error. The difficulty curve for the game takes a big step up to challenge the players after a few levels. There are challenges further into the game that will boggle anyone’s mind for a bit.

The art style for the game is a mix between beautifully modeled realistic objects and a happy-go-lucky cartoon land. The two graphical styles actually blend quite nicely. The environments are cohesive and flow well.

The story of the game seems very unnecessary and a little awkward. The actual gameplay does not have much to do with the story. The objective for getting to the end of the level is easily forgotten and a little odd. I guess some story is better than none.

One of the gameplay elements that takes a lot of getting used to is the three depths in which the character exists in. The game is essentially a side-scroller with three layers the character can be moving in. It becomes difficult to see which depth the character is in and easy to accidently jump into a different depth.

All in all, I had very little complaints with Little Big Planet. It is an excellent product and I recommend it to everyone.

Shiny New Xbox Dashboard

Behold and be amazed, the new Xbox 360 dashboard has been released for all to enjoy. Sufficient to say, it is a massive improvement from original dashboard. There are a few kinks to work out, but it is an overall sleek and appealing design.

The new tab design will take a bit of getting used to, but the categories are easy to navigate. The customization is not exactly advanced, but it looks very impressive. It is a beautifully crafted user interface and I applaud Microsoft for the update.

There was a lot of talk before the update of how Microsoft was just copying Nintendo’s idea of the Miis, but even with that being where the idea for the Xbox 360 avatars came from, Microsoft did a better job with the avatars. I have always felt that the Miis where lacking in individuality and pizazz. I am actually proud of my Xbox 360 avatar and feel it represents me. The clothing options are limited at the moment, but will eventually include an array of commercial outfits.

The highly anticipated Netflix functionality got off to a very shaky start. Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony, has pulled all of their movies from the Xbox Live version of Netflix for licensing reasons.

Students’ Rights to School Projects

There are quite a few schools out there specializing in teaching the tools to create video games, and a lot of them have a policy of school ownership of student work. Controversy has stirred up recently over DigiPen claiming all rights to Synaesthete, a recent student project and winner of several awards, including best student project at the 2008 Independent Games Festival. DigiPen has claimed the rights to all assets, code, and the design itself for Synaesthete. Is it right that a school can claim ownership of an IP created and implemented by students?

Sad to say, this is not just schools with this policy. There are many game developers that have very strict contracts with restrictions on employee generated work, and I have signed a few of them. The contracts state that all ideas and assets generated by the employee while employed by the company are property of the company, which also includes any work done outside of normal working hours.

Prominent members of the IGDA are speaking out against such policies, but it would take nothing less than an industry wide change to sway some of the schools. The schools and companies with such policies are very upfront about them, and are proud of their stance. The schools believe that selling a game should not get in the way of student education, even if it means locking up the game IP.