The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

My Guitar Freedom 3?

So that guitar thing is pretty fun. But boy are my arms tired! Henny Youngman probably wouldn’t like this game is all I’m saying.

December 31st, 2007 Posted by | Games | no comments

Laser attack go!

This news article isn’t anywhere near as fun as the title would imply. I kind of feel like I should write them an angry e-mail and demand my money back for such a horrible letdown.

On the other hand, you have to love the ignorance that went into writing it. Did you know that a laser pointer can expose people to dangerous levels of radiation from a mile away? I am so getting me one of those.

December 28th, 2007 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

My brother, ladies and gentlemen

My new goal in life is to be as entertainingly foolish on YouTube.

I’m so proud.

This one’s even better.

December 25th, 2007 Posted by | My new goal in life | no comments

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody. I hope Santa treats you to some truly phat lewts this year, assuming you’re in to that sort of thing. Hope you’ll stick with me next year!

December 25th, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | no comments

Dariencast go!

So Evil Stephen and I finally got off (on?) our lazy asses and recorded another mammoth, epic-length Dariencast for your listening pleasure. We didn’t really want to miss the entire year of 2007, so we shoehorned this one in at the last minute. Feel free to leave whiney comments about how we’re providing you with entirely too much free entertainment – it wouldn’t be a Dariencast update otherwise.

Oh, and I promised in the podcast that this link would be available in this announcement. If you read this blog regularly, you’ve freaking seen that already. Not that I’m implying that it’s insufficiently awesome to see over again.

December 24th, 2007 Posted by | Games, Meta-meta | no comments



Pointless pimpage for this list of infuriating video games. It’s a pretty fun read, even though it’s on the unstoppably lame Oh, and even though that top "Mega Man" screenshot is quite obviously from Mega Man 2.

Excuse me a moment. I need to go kill myself for noticing that.

December 24th, 2007 Posted by | Games | 2 comments

Put on your tinfoil batting helmets

At last, George Mitchell’s nefarious plot has been exposed!

I have a soft spot for that theory. The idea, see, is that since George Mitchell has a stake in the Red Sox, he intentionally left them out of his report. Except for Eric Gagne, I suppose, whom everybody hates anyhow. See, normal, sane people would view the lack of any Brewers or Rangers as a problem with this theory, but the Daily News has concocted a lovely explanation that only requires a moderate amount of data-searching in order to survive. See, Mitchell let his own team off lightly, but he also let the Brewers go because Bug Selig used to own the Brewers and he’s a good buddy. Obviously it would have hurt his feelings had Mitchell implied that anybody on a team he used to have a financial stake in participated in a wave of cheaters that Mitchell estimated at around 25% of the entire player-base.

The bit about the Rangers is even better. You know, President Bush used to be an owner of the Rangers. So clearly senator Mitchell – senator Mitchell, wink wink – would let the Rangers off easily so the President won’t… ahh, won’t… well, maybe he’d preside Mitchell upside the fucking head for that. I don’t really know, and the Daily News and its "baseball official with no ties to the Yankees" don’t tell me.

Even better than that, though, is this idiocy: "Without subpoena power, Mitchell insisted, he was limited in terms of where he could take his investigation. But that’s a cop-out. Investigative journalists don’t have subpoena power either and look at what they’ve been able to uncover independently over the course of history." Do investigative journalists generally call people up and say "hi there, my name’s George Mitchell and I’m working with your boss and the federal government to find out if you’re a cheater so we can send you to jail"? I don’t really know, but I’m thinking maybe if they did they wouldn’t get as far. And senator Mitchell was burdened with an extremely-high-profile journal to investigate. Food Lion this ain’t.

December 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Baseball | one comment

They’re everywhere! Everywhere!

Guy I work with had a bottle of pep pills with him the other day, since he was working a long day and I guess wanted a bit of extra "zip." Now, we’re not talking the super fun happy kind here; these are just those OTC caffeine nuggets. Off-brand No-Doz, basically. One of my other coworkers was shocked (shocked!!) that he would be taking such a thing. The reason being? Don’t you know that has chemicals in it?

I would like to take this opportunity to offer a giant fuck you to the entire stupid hippie organic subculture that’s responsible for people actually saying shit like that. If you were wondering, attempts to explain to this girl that her beloved herbal remedy of choice contains substantially higher levels of psychoactive chemicals than a damn No-Doz resulted in a blank stare and an exasperated "it’s different because that’s natural."

I guess the caffeine used to make No-Doz is an alien substance imported from Bizarro Utah or someplace.

December 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

You may already be a winner!

My new goal in life is to start one of those sweepstakes groups like Publisher’s Clearing House. The main difference is going to be that we’ll have two possible grand prizes, and you won’t know which one you win until you actually get it; it’ll either be the traditional check for a million dollars, or else a flaming bag of poop. Think of the possibilities! Ed McMahon pulls up in front of your house in a great big van, and tons of guys with TV cameras and balloons pile out and they ring your bell and yell “CONGRATULATIONS!” and then dump a bag of poop on your steps, set it on fire, and leave. You must admit this is much funnier than the way they do it now, what with stuffing the poop in your mailbox and then trying to bilk you on those stupid “prize claim” phone calls.

December 23rd, 2007 Posted by | My new goal in life | no comments

On cinematics in video games

Note: This is a reprint of something I posted on the main site some time ago. I decided to publish it over here too because sometimes I want a more convenient way of linking to it.

People have developed this idea that I don’t like cinematics in video games. Sure, it might be because of something I said somewhere along the line, but still, it’s not technically the case. I like cinematics just fine, and I think they can really add a lot to a game when they’re done correctly. The trouble is simply that, most of the time, they’re not. My goal here in this little vignette is to explain how to make sure the cinematics in your game are good. That’s me, always willing to lend a hand in the service of mankind.

The first rule of cinematics is that there should be substantially less cinematic-time than there is play-time. You’re making a game, here; if your goal was to make movies, you may have found yourself in the wrong business and may wish to correct that. Your audience isn’t buying games in order to avoid playing them, after all, so don’t feel the need to hide the game under layers of prerendered cutscenes. The easiest and most common way of breaking this rule is by piling the movies thick and heavy at the very beginning of the game, as though you’ve made some hefty work of great literary merit that will take the players serious fucking research in order to understand. And yet, my (significantly) informal research appears to show that players tend to “zone out” when faced with a wall of cinematics, and will comprehend and retain the information better if it’s presented in context during the game than they will if it’s exposition-dumped on them in a big “Read This First!”-style lump at the very beginning. Do the extra work and integrate your story into the game instead of forcing the game in through the cracks.

Rule two of cinematics: this is not the time for pinching pennies. Get the translation right. Hire decent voice actors, give them proper direction, and for fuck’s sake do the take over again if somebody blows a line. And, whatever you do, get the audio in sync with the video. Honestly, if you’re not committed enough to adhere to basic principles of filmmaking, you really shouldn’t be putting movies in your game at all.

Rule three: cinematics are not where the cool stuff happens. This is probably the most important rule on this list. Games are interactive entertainment by definition, and the action and the “awesomeness” should always remain player-driven. Use cinematics to introduce new characters, new areas, and new plotlines. Use them to show what the bad guys are doing while the good guys are off hero-ing. Use them for comic relief. All these things are fine. But no major plotline should ever be resolved by a cinematic, no especially cool events should be entirely contained in cinematics, and by all means no major villain should ever be defeated in a cinematic. Cinematics are great for setting up the plot; resolving it should always be left to the player.

Rule four: all cinematics (barring the ending) should be skippable. Nothing kills the replay value on a game quite like the prospect of sitting through a ton of unskippable cinematics you’ve already seen and didn’t particularly enjoy. All games containing cinematics should allow them to be skipped, and should make the method of doing so obvious and well-documented, while preferably not as simple to perform accidentally as “press any button.” A good compromise that I’ve seen is to allow the game to be paused during cinematics (a good idea in its own right) and offer “skip cinematic” as a selection from the pause menu. Remember, you’re making a game, and a game is about entertaining the players – take pride in your cinematics, certainly, but if your players don’t enjoy them, they shouldn’t have to watch them.

Rule five: the ending is your time to shine. The game is over, the villains are hoist by whomever’s petard, and the princess is no longer in another castle. Cinematic-wise, this is the big one. It should also be the best one – after all, this is the big victory party for the player, right? So this is the time to show off your best stuff and leave the player with the impression that the game was really cool. That’s what video game cinematics are all about, after all: enhancing, not replacing, the game.

So there you are. Use your cinematic powers for niceness instead of evil, and you’ll live longer, have more money, and chicks will be all over you. That’s the logical result of doing what I say.

December 22nd, 2007 Posted by | Games | no comments