Monday, November 27, 2006

Rainbow Six Vegas Faces

So my friend Jade is running this little contest for us Canadians. In fact, by the time you read this it will probably be over. Regardless, I've decided to share my Rainbow Six Vegas game face. I'm not shy to admit that this game is the reason I purchased the Vision Camera so many moons ago. Indeed, in my review of said product I specifically pointed out that there was no good reason to buy one (yet).

My friends, that reason is now upon us and it is face mapping in Rainbow Six.

What’s going on

What a great month. Seriously. Okay, right up I know I haven’t been around much. Rest assured a new comic is being worked on (although I admit… slowly). But I can explain! Too many good games to play!

Gears of War = awesome game. I don’t think I need to try and win anyone over on this. As I predicted, it did live up to the insane amount of hype it generated. The co-op is implemented flawlessly and HotelQueen and I are working our way through the campaign. On Hardcore, naturally. (I despise the term *natch*)

Rainbow Six Vegas has hardly left my drive since I purchased it last week. This game, unfortunately, does NOT have flawless co-op. In fact, I can point out quite a few flaws with this game (and I have done so on the official Ubisoft forums). Pretty much all of my concerns revolve around split-screen in one way or another. I mean seriously, why can’t we both use our custom PEC characters during co-op? One of us can but the other can’t? Not cool. Fortunately, the lackluster split screen support is somewhat offset by the engrossing single player and Xbox Live play. I’ve only made it to Private 1st Class, but I’m looking forward to eventually grabbing some killer night-vision goggles.

Small Arms is so much fun I literally giggle when I think about it. I even managed to grab that elusive “Six Degrees” achievement on my very first Live match. I do find the single player campaign a little too difficult on the later levels mind you.

I also want to take a moment to point out this article (thanks Major Nelson). It’s a feature on J Allard, the legend behind the Xbox 360’s creation. I honestly felt very inspired after reading it. Mostly because of that little snip about how he sent out this big email telling everyone to pay attention or get smoked by the competition. Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to do that?

Three years into his Microsoft tenure, Allard was working on Windows NT server software, with no direct reports. Frustrated, he wrote his now-famous memo. Allard wanted Microsoft to figure out what Internet users wanted to do, build tools to help them do it, and become a technical leader before rivals did. "Embrace, extend, then innovate," he wrote. "Change the rules: Windows becomes the next-generation Internet tool of the future!"

Thanks for that J.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Marcus Fenix's Secret Identity

I'll give credit to the mighty and powerful Hotel Queen for pointing this one out to me. Fun fact, did you know that Marcus Fenix (Gears of War) was voiced by John Di Maggio? Name sound familiar? He voices Futurama's Bender too! Cool!

Community Spot: 360 Arcadians Attack My Inbox

Okay, I admit it... I'm slow at checking my messages. It's a bad habit, and it's been going on a long, long time. So, maybe you've heard of the 360 Arcadians before? They're a Penny Arcade / XBOX 360 fansite. They have podcasts for you, two of them in fact. Truly, today is your lucky day.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Emergence Day!

Wow, does this game kick ass or what? I'll tell you, I haven't had this much fun playing co-op in forever and a day. I'm thrilled to see a developer finally managed to nail co-op gameplay perfectly. Sure, I've got a few minor gripes here and there, but nothing so bad as to take away from the masterpiece that is Gears of War.

I shouldn't leave out the versus mode, because it truly is fantastic. Why? Mostly because it allowed me to chainsaw fellow Canadian Greenskull in half about a dozen times. That's for not eating your olives buddy!

Since this is Emergence Day, you can download a fancy gamer pic and theme. The kicker is that these are available today and today only. The theme is especially awesome.

On another note, I owe some thanks to two very prominent Microsoft peeps. My immense gratitude goes out to Major Nelson and Jade. Both helped me with two different things, and it's because of them that I'm able to enjoy Emergence Day with all of you today. Cheers.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Review: Xbox 360 Wireless Headset

The other day Maranda and I were in our local Toys R' Us laser tagging things for our baby registry. When we were finished we headed over to the "R Zone" (the video games department). After checking out any newly released DS games I strolled over to the XBOX accessories. There, much to my surprise, I saw one final wireless headset sitting there in all its glory.

Now, Maranda loves gaming gadgets as much as I, but even so I had a considerably difficult time explaining to her the value of a wireless headset. After all, the wired headset works well, and even though it has that evil wire... the controller doesn't. It's not like you NEED to have a wireless headset. In the end, I didn't win her over to believing it was a purchase of value... but I bought it anyway.

Probably the most critical aspect you need to worry about when purchasing any headset, aside from sound quality, is comfort. It you can't wear it during a long, drawn out gaming session then the value of the product is significantly lessened. After latching it on to my ear, I was surprised to discover that it held quite firmly. Even while messing with the volume buttons, it hardly ever moved. For Maranda, unfortunately, it was a different story. She is, well, rather diminutive (read: small) and has smaller ears to match. She couldn't get it to stabilize on her ear regardless of the positions we tried. In addition, she also pointed out that people whom wear glasses (as she does) may have problems wearing both at the same time. I concede that this could be a problem, so if you wear glasses... be wary of you purchase.

Included in the package is the charger. There are two important things to note. First, know that unlike the 360 controller, you cannot use the headset and charge it at the same time. Second, it charges via a wall outlet instead of using USB. Now, I've read other reviews that have called this an 'issue'. I'm going to blatantly disagree; I think it was a wise move. Since you can't use it while it's charging, there is no point in having it leach off of one of the three precious USB ports. Four hours of charging gives you about 20 to 30 hours of gameplay.

The sound quality is on par, and sometimes better, than the wired headset we've all become accustomed to. There really isn't too much to say here, since the old headset's quality wasn't all that bad to begin with in most cases.

The largest benefit this headset gives you is reliability. In the wired headset, the component most likely to break first is, in fact, the connections on either end of the wire. As any person with experience will tell you that a soldiered connection is always the weakest point in the wire. Personally, I've already had one of my wired headsets fall to this fate of the wire coming loose. Two of my friends have also reported the same problem.

To conclude, at such a high price point it is a difficult sell to anyone. The advantages it gives you are small but, in comparison, the negatives are just as small. I'm going to go ahead and recommend it, but only for its 'coolness factor' and only if you've got cash to spare.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gears of War Canadian Launch Party Pics

After some serious depression about missing the Gears of War launch party in Toronto, I decided to further torment myself by asking Jade for some pictures of the event.

So what do you get when you have Gears of War + Church + Smoke Machine + Homeless Guys? A freakin' good time.

Head on over to the Gallery.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ep11: It's A Religious Thing

A long, long time ago in a forum far, far away Jade threw a contest. The premise of this contest was simple in nature: write about your plan to get off work/school on Emergence Day so that you can play Gears. Here we find the inspiration for my Gears of War comic spectacular!

I missed out on the Gears of War Canadian launch party. Believe me, I'm kicking myself for it. Just thinking about Gears gives me goose bumps. Yes, it is that good.

Back when I had the opportunity to meet Mark Rein from Epic (raised in Toronto, btw) I was telling him that I was in the process of writing a comic about his game. As I was standing there having my Gears poster signed I realized how incredibly stupid I felt offering my comic to a gaming legend. Oh, and to make matters WORSE the artistic director (Jerry) was there too. He makes beautifully stunning games and here I am with my tiny Photoshop job. Awkward.

Anyway. Gears, baby. It's almost here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Happy 200th Podcast Major

I mentioned earlier that way back at X'06, I had the esteemed honour of spending a rather significant time with Larry Hryb - Director of XBOX Live Programming, better known as the infamous Major Nelson. One of the conversation topics was his upcoming 200th podcast. I can tell you that back then, he didn't really have much idea what he was going to do. Maranda and I can take credit, however, for urging him to do something special.

I don't know if that last part is true, but it sounds good so let's run with it.

Anyway, to help him add a little whiz-bang to this occasion I sent him a comic. Now, obviously, this is the greatest thing ever... it makes me wonder what he's going to follow it up with later tonight!

On another note... to my fellow Canucks: Did you know that you can go to instead of There is a difference! There is a Canadian community team working just for you so be sure to come by and check often.

Now it's back to work on Emergence Day. Ciao for now!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ep10: X'06 Toronto - Part 3/3

Our trilogy is at a close. As I mentioned previously, I had a lot of difficulty wrapping this one up. Script after script was rejected before I decided to fall back on the original joke of the comic.

On another note, I've been chatting it up with the fine folks on the forum. They have a solid, international and very friendly community. I know a lot of you use their services so why not stop by and say hi.

Stay tuned for our Gears of War extravaganza!

EDIT: Oh, the new Zune site is online. I've had the opportunity to play with one of these... very sexy. Sinnix likes and Maranda has been bugging me for something to listen to her music when she starts taking the baby for walks. I think we have a winner.

Crossing Tyria

You know, long before I started drawing comics for XBOX Canada I started up a resource site for the popular PC game Guild Wars. Since the link to that site is buried way down at the bottom of the page I thought I'd take a moment to talk about it here.

The site is called Crossing Tyria (Tyria being the name of the continent in the first chapter). It focuses on easy to read content and information, as well as the finest Guild Wars forum on the internet. If you're a fan of the game why not stop by and introduce yourself?

New Location for Photo Gallery

Apparently the Picasaweb albums were giving quite a few people difficulty so we've gone ahead and moved to Flickr. There aren't any new galleries, just the old one from X'06.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mmmm... XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2

It is here. Yes my friends, the newly released XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 (which we were told is essentially a release candidate) is now available for your consumption. So what's new? Check it out:

  • The addition of XNA Framework Content Pipeline, a feature set that makes it simpler and more straightforward for game developers to use 2D and 3D content in their game projects from third party digital content creation packages like Autodesk® 3ds Max®, Autodesk® Maya® and SOFTIMAGE®|XSI®.
  • New content importers for .X and Autodesk® FBX® 3D asset format in partnership with Autodesk.
  • Xbox 360 project system gives game developers the ability to preview game design specifically for the Xbox 360 and pre-compile games starting today, giving developers a head start in preparing their games for the XNA Creators Club availability in December.
  • Improved game component architecture updated with a simpler design, adding increased usability based on community feedback.
  • Overall performance improvements and optimizations – XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 is a near final version of the tool.
  • More details via TeamXBOX
Apparently the closed beta for GarageGames’ Torque X has also started today. How did I miss signing up for that? I guess I've been out of the loop ever since I started spending so much time working on 360P. Oh well, I'll be okay. With the imminent release of Gears of War and Rainbow Six I have doubts that I'll be spending my free time in front of a computer.

You know, just a hunch.

EDIT: It's not too late to sign up. Sweet.