Lego video games

For some reason the other day (other week?) I was thinking about the various Lego video game franchises out in the wild:

  • Lego Star Wars (2 games)
  • Lego Indiana Jones (2 games)
  • Lego Batman and Robin
  • Lego Harry Potter

These games are actually really fun, and I got to thinking about other franchises that might be good fits:

  • Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Lego Matrix
  • Lego Lord of the Rings
  • Lego James Bond
  • Lego Spider-Man
  • Lego Back to the Future
  • Lego Die Hard

(Even though I just came up with that last one while writing this, it makes me smile; something about “Yippee-ki-yay” and Lego minifigs is just too good to pass up.)

So I typed in “Lego video games” in Google and linked to Wikipedia’s List of Lego video games and lo and behold, not only is there a third Lego Star Wars coming out this year… but there actually is a Lego Pirates of the Caribbean coming out as well.

Huh.

PlayStation 2

So I had a bunch of Christmas and birthday money this year and decided to go crazy and do something I normally wouldn’t do: I bought a PlayStation 2 game system. I know, I know, new XBox, yadda yadda, but frankly there’s a larger library of PS2 games out there and most of the ones I really want to play are on PlayStation only anyway.

It was the Costco bundle; comes with the console (which includes one controller), an extra controller, memory card, and two games. The one game we played around with this evening (kid friendly) is ATV Offroad Fury 3. It’s pretty fun so far. We get a kick out of watching/causing some truly spectacular crashes. :)

Also I’m intrigued by the possibility of plugging it into the internet and doing some network gaming, since it has that capability. We’ll see.

Interactive fiction

Every once in awhile, I duck into the world of interactive fiction (IF; also known as the world of “text adventures,” for those of you who are appropriately old-school), one of my all-time favorite computer game genres, to get an idea of what’s new in the field and what’s been happening. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read that Wikipedia link; it gives a much better summary than I could and goes into fantastic detail.)

I love interactive fiction, going way back—we had a bunch of Infocom games when I was a kid and for my money, those were some of the best computer games around, bar none (still are, to a large extent). My two favorite Infocom games are “Planetfall” and “The Lurking Horror,” though of those two I only ever finished “Planetfall”… but I digress.

Infocom games were the shizzle (who says that anymore?), but I even enjoyed simpler text adventures, and even crafted a few of my own, in Commodore 64 BASIC. I actually designed, on paper, many more text adventures than ever made it to the computer; this is the same love of creating/world building that drives my desire to write fiction for a living, among other things.

Anyway, back to the here and now. Interactive fiction exists today in a kind of unique space; here’s what the Wikipedia article says about it:

…interactive fiction no longer appears to be commercially viable, but a constant stream of new works is produced by an online interactive fiction community, using freely available development systems… these systems allowed anyone with sufficient time and dedication to create a game, and caused a growth boom in the online interactive fiction community.

Today, the games created by enthusiasts of the genre regularly surpass the quality of the original Infocom games, and a number of yearly competitions and awards are given out to the best games in the field….

Yes, strange to say, there is a small but thriving community surrounding this arcane game form. None of them do it for the money—okay, maybe some who enter the competition for the cash prize ($500) do—which is what makes it truly remarkable (nearly everything about it is free—the games, the programs to play them, the authoring tools, the documentation—everything). They do it for a love of the craft.

What’s weird is this week, the Wall Street Journal Online published an article on text adventures: Keeping a Genre Alive. Total coincidence; in fact, I was checking out the IF sites before I saw the article. That’s kind of a freaky wavelength. At any rate, it’s a bit of a look-down-the-nose take on the genre and IF community, but it’s not all bad.

So, having “rediscovered” interactive fiction (and downloading and checking out the latest authoring tools), writing some will be added to my perpetual list of Things I’d Like To Do But Don’t Have The Time For. This like many other interests will fall off the list at some point (probably in the near future) and then be re-added when I rediscover it again. It’s a big list. I’ll post it sometime.

Leeroy Jenkins!

My brother sent me this video the other day, and it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile (you have to be nerdy to really appreciate it though): Leeroy Jenkins (Windows Media File, 5MB). I’ve been laughing over it for days. It’s a clip from the World of WarCraft multiplayer online game, of a group of players talking (over headsets) about a strategy for fighting a bunch of dragons—typical nerd game stuff—when suddenly one of the players jumps up, screams “Leeroy Jenkins!” and takes off, getting them all killed.

Repeated watchings and listening to the comments make it funnier. I imagine drinking some beer while watching it would be even better :). As a bonus, check out LeeroyJenkins.net.

I’ve got a copy of the file, but I’m afraid to serve it because of bandwidth issues; but if the one I link to above has problems, I’ll consider uploading mine.

Emergent

This is interesting: Sims 2 hacks spread like viruses, where hacks that people have made to their Sims 2 game has unintentionally spread among unsuspecting users. In-game virus?

Entire neighborhoods of Sims are being mysteriously graced with eternal youth, while some characters are finding all their needs fulfilled by a single shot of magic espresso. Others no longer need to empty the toilet after potty training their toddler. Some Sims are being abducted by aliens when they glance through their telescope — every time, instead of just occasionally, which is normal.

 

All this mayhem is the work of a community of experimenters wielding hex editors, custom programs and reverse-engineering skills who began mastering their own Sims 2 worlds immediately after the game’s release last September. The hackers share their weird science with one another through public websites and forums.

The article also goes on about how the hackers have created a type of antivirus software to scan for and remove the hacks. That’s cool.

An odd thought struck me as I was reading about this: it must seem to people getting these hacks that their games (their Sims more specifically) are starting to exhibit emergent behavior. (You know, emergence. New patterns or behaviors from complex systems…) How spooky would that be? Just wait til the first hacked Sims figure out they’re merely simulations in someone’s computer…

Grand Theftendo

Via Slashdot tonight, this is totally amazing and cool: Grand Theftendo, a port of Grand Theft Auto III to the original Nintendo Entertainment System (an 8-bit machine!). (“Port” is a bit misleading; it’s all original, from the graphics to the dialogue to the code—it’s probably more of a tribute.) What’s more, the guy is writing the thing in assembly. Using an assembler and compiler he wrote himself to do the job.

Did I mention this is just a hobby that he works on in his spare time?

I stand in awe, and am half-seriously considering giving up this computer thing to become a potato farmer or something.

Sony Bend… Again!

I saw this yesterday (actually, my wife saw it and sent me the link) and forgot to blog it: “Bend firm gets paid to play,” about the mysterious Sony Bend and the release of their third Syphon Filter game. As usual, Jake beat me to the punch on blogging this and gives me entirely too much credit for this article.

Pretty cool, though. And, anyone who wants to work in the video game industry, take note: Sony Bend is looking to hire 20 artists, designers and programmers this year.