Browsing the blog archives for March, 2007

Crysis Engine Editor Demo

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Games

All I can say is “Wow.” The guys behind the new CryEngine must have made a deal with the devil to get this game to look so good and react so smoothly, either that or there’s some major trickery going on here that allows them to do such amazing stuff in real time.

Battlestar: WTF?

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Personal, Visual

Well, I just got around to watching last Sunday’s episode of Battlestar Galactica. I think my post title here accurately sums up my feelings on the subject.

Here be spoilers…

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XFire

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Games, Technology

Unbeliever over at MMODIG has posted a bit on a new gaming utility called Playxpert. He gives some really cool examples of what this program may be able to do, which sound quite impressive. At the same time, he calls it an “XFire killer” which has me a bit worried. I started using XFire a few months ago and it’s troubled me from day one — And now something even better, or worse?

XFire1

Maybe it’s just because I’m not from the generation that XFire is aimed at, but I have a big suspicion about the program. I mean, look at it. It even looks like Real Player.

I mean, it seems to allow for some nice things. The good:

  • Keep in contact with your friends
  • Connect with friends-of-friends to expand your in-game social network
  • Know when your friends are playing at a glance so you can spontaneously jump in or out
  • In game communication
  • Find new servers / games
  • Get generally interesting statistics (like the featured XFire top games of today, which lists 17,000,000 minutes of World of Warcraft played today amongst all XFire users)

And while some of these things are nice, I’m not sure the benefits really outweigh the negatives for me. Those being:

  • A bad interface designed with form over function
  • Scans your computer (ostensibly to detect games, but who really knows?)
  • Regularly updates itself with crap you probably don’t need nor want
  • Friend-of-friend social networking features means people who you may not even know are keeping tabs on you
  • General XFire statistics gathering means a loss of privacy with an increase in the amount of information publicly available

Of course the examples that Unbeliever lists for this new Playxpert program seem even worse — I could do without having the stats of my character in a game datamined so that someone can look up my build and make a counter, thanks very much. By far the majority of the little widgets and doodads for games seem to be for World of Warcraft, though, so as long as I steer clear of that…

Sexy Sprites

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Games, Guild Wars, Visual

SexySprite1

Via Zen of Design I came across this interesting little site: SexySprite.

This is basically a “Hot or Not?” site for characters in videogames. What’s kind of amusing to me is that pretty much all of the top-rated characters are from Guild Wars — Score one for ArenaNet’s consistently strong visual design, I suppose. Only Lineage 2 and Second Life even break into the top 50, albeit with the typical “nearly naked chick with big boobs” strategy.

Just browsing random images, it seems like Second Life people are far overrepresented on this page. About half of all the images seem to be from Second Life. I’m actually kind of surprised that the art is as good as it is in Second Life, even if it isn’t that great. There are even a few that aren’t geared towards the lowest common denominators of sexuality and might actually be considered attractive. Second Life character portraits also have by far the largest amount of touchup work done on them. Characters from virtually every other game are simply screenshots or assemblages of screenshots using an emote for posing variety. Second Life characters will have artificial backdrops, color splashes, bloom effects, image smoothing and all kinds of other editing done to them.

SexySprite2

I guess I’m feeling a bit of an academic twist coming on. So much is made of the malleability of appearance or perception of appearance in online games, I think it says something (particularly with regard to Second Life) that these are the appearances people willingly choose for themselves when they want to present themselves publicly. I’d say “So much for psycholinguistic conspiracy theories about the constructedness of beauty” and whatnot, but then I realized that it’s futile to even try and make an argument when it’s just going to be twisted or subverted anyway.