little Dariens, standing in a row...

Welcome to version 3.0 of! We figured we could use a version number since we needed a way to be more nerdy and gay. I mean, we've already given awards to video game characters, made computer jokes, talked about classic philosophers and communists, and basically canonised Liface. But is that nerdy and gay enough, we asked ourselved? No. Our fans deserve more. So we added a version number. We tried " XP," but it just didn't feel right. So 3.0 it is, yes? Excellent.

That's right. - the only web site that really cares.


Current News

Check the blog for regular updates and rambling!

Which witch is which? (10-08-08) -

I've witched my way through The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, and you can read all about it in the usual place. Short review: sex, drugs, and killing.

i liek pie (07-17-08) -

There's a new Dariencast for all y'all to chew on, and this one's even not two hours long. In addition to this exciting announcement, there's also a review up over in the place where things like that go of Nintendogs, and I didn't write it.


Curiouser and Curiouser (06-26-08) -

I've played Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Played the shit out of it, as a matter of fact. Played it like you read about. Or, anyhow, like you would have read about, had you already read this. So go read that.

W. I. Norton Donovan (05-15-08) -

I did a review of LostWinds on the Wii. It's pretty good. The link will give you the spoooooky details.

Better late than... more late (04-10-08) -

Hey, we cut a new Dariencast a few days back, and I totally forgot to update the front page and say so. My bad, dawg. Make sure you check it out, since it'll probably be the best thing you've ever heard in your life. Even with all the mic stutters.

Super Super what now? (12-31-07) -

MORREVIEW. This time, I throw rakes and pitchforks at Guitar Hero III and see if anything catches on fire and/or explodes. Does that appeal to you? You know it does.

Is it that time again already? (12-24-07) -

Merry Christmas all, and happy new podcast! Yeah, we actually did one of those foolish things again. We really do intend to do them more often, it's just that we... don't. Ah well. Better late than never!

MOR NOT BLOG (12-20-07) -

Hey hey, what can I do? I can review a new damn game, that's what. And as an added sinister holiday twist, so can Dave! That's right, it's another exclusive reviewer. How do I get all the top talent like this even though I don't pay anybody a bean? Blackmail, my friends. Blackmail.

Oh, and, while we're on the subject, this mofo's wordy, knaamsayin'?

Resistance is Futile (09-25-07) -

I've finally decided to take a bold leap into 2005, and I've opened my own blog. All the chatty-cathy nonsense I tend to spew on the front page here is more at home there anyhow, and I can devote the main site to its usual purpose of not being updated with humour items. Everybody wins!

I can't think of a good title for this update, so here's this (08-03-07) -

Some new fabulous game reviews on the ol' fabulous game review pile. Check out Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Super Paper Mario. I hid all the jokes for this update in the reviews, though, so I don't have anything witty to say here.

Samus > Gordon > Marine (06-30-07) -

According to a recent poll at GameFAQs, the Metroid Prime series is the most popular sci-fi FPS series of all time, beating out both Doom and Half-life vy a substantial margin. Am I the only one who's surprised about this? I mean, sure, Metroid Prime was a fine game, but better than Doom and Half-life? I mean, the hero's a woman, for fuck's sake. Why is she out manning around when she could be ironing my jeans and getting me a beer?

On video games and cinematics (06-22-07) -

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. So be sure you're with us next time, when I discourse on what's wrong with modern RPGs other than the fact that the cinematics suck.

What kind of fuckery was that, anyway? (05-19-07) -

Starcraft 2. All that buildup from Blizzard - a week of teaser splashes and "upcoming product announcement" bullshit and it turns out to be Starcraft 2, which we all knew would be Blizzard's next product pretty much since World of Warcraft was announced.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm sure it'll be great, and everybody will have a great time, and Koreans will be able to humiliate the rest of the world like it's 1998 all over again, but still. I can't be the only person who thought this whole brouhaha was a bit of an anticlimax. I was hoping Blizzard would announce something truly worthy of all that buildup, like maybe a massively multiplayer 3D virtual world based on the red-hot SVPEL REOPALD PANTS STVFFEL BVFFET 3000 intellectual property. Or maybe even a Flash game about nerfing rogues. Well, there's always next time.

Oh, yeah, that kind. (04-26-07) -

Specifically, the "news page split" kind. I should maybe keep an eye on that so it doesn't always come as a surprise. Anyhow, the Old News has another page of rambling bullshit, and the New News is now startlingly short. Which is almost an update.

What kind of fuckery is this? (04-26-07) -

I know I'm famous for saying I'll do things and then not doing them, but the Dariencast I keep talking about is actually not delayed because of me. My sidekick's come down with a nasty case of Wii Elbow, and evidently can't use a microphone as a result. I'm not clear on this either.

Well, so I didn't do that. I did do some new FAGgin', though, and I bring to you reviews of Ratchet: Deadlocked on the PS2 and Contact on the DS. Are they any good? Who knows? I do, asshole. So go find out.

The Mayor
The Dord of Darien

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