SciTechBlog
April 7, 2010

Springtime for Harry, Mario, Tiger, Samus

Posted: 11:24 AM ET
Harry in the showers
Harry in the showers

The next three months of game releases are going to be light compared to the first three months of this year. Expect a lot of downloadable content to come out for previous released games, but not as many blockbusters.

There are some big names coming out this spring, though. Mario makes a return as well as Harry Potter, Tiger Woods and Metroid. And there are hints about something that has been nearly 12 years in the making.

April kicks off with "Splinter Cell Conviction" (Ubisoft), as hero Sam Fisher gets some new moves and tricks to make him even sneakier than before.

A new "Mark and Execute" command lets Fisher take down opponents faster, but stealth is still required to make your escape.

"Splinter Cell Conviction" is rated M (blood, drug reference, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language) and available for the PC, iPhone and Xbox 360 on April 13.

"Monster Hunter Tri" (Capcom) is a RPG game for the Wii in which you battle monsters with huge, oversized weapons, collect loot and then do it again. The Wii controllers make it more than just a button-mashing game and the early release in Japan is doing very well.

"Monster Hunter Tri" is rated T (blood, use of alcohol, violence) and available only on the Wii on April 20.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa kicks off in June, but why wait to see who will hoist the gold trophy. "2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa" (Electronic Arts) will let you carry your favorite team to glory and includes all 10 stadiums that will be used in South Africa as well as regional stadiums.

The game is not rated yet, but will be available on the PS3, Xbox 360, PSP and Wii on April 27.

May marks the return of the Prince as "Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands" (Ubisoft) takes us back to the deserts. Our hero is forced to do whatever is necessary to save the kingdom. The Prince gets a partner in this chapter of the saga, but wait until you see at what cost.

"The Forgotten Sands" has a tentative rating of T+, but that rating is not final. The game will be out for the PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii and DS on May 18.

"Modnation Racers" (Sony) has been called a cross between "Mario Kart" and “Little Big Planet." Players can customize their vehicles, the drivers and just about everything else.

If you aren’t feeling creative, there are many pre-made elements to let you dive right into the racing portion. "Modnation Racers" is rated E for everyone and will be out on May 25 for the PS3 and PSP.

June begins with the next installment in the now-classic series in golf games, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11" (Electronic Arts). This version integrates the Ryder Cup into the mix as well as online team play.

Tiger is also sharing his cover art this year with Irish golfer Rory McIlroy to give it more of an international flavor. "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11" is rated E and will be out on June 8 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PSP.

Snake is back and ready to kick tail. "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" (Konami) takes us back to the 1970s where the "Soldiers Without Border" group gets its start with Snake in the lead.

Gaming Web sites are already touting this as the PSP Game of the Year, but hold those expectations in check until the final version comes out on June 8.

It is a PSP-exclusive and has a tentative rating of M. There are also reports that Snake may be appearing in other games, so keep your eyes open.

"Metroid: Other M" (Nintendo) lets players switch from 2-D side-scroller to 3-D action-adventure as Samus' past is explored. It is going to be a Wii-exclusive title so expect some unique gameplay using the Wii controllers. "Metroid: Other M" is expected out on June 27 with a T rating.

June will also be the premier of Harry Potter – in Lego form. "LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4" (Warner Bros. Interactive) chronicle the boy wizard’s adventures in "Sorcerer's Stone", "Chamber of Secrets", "Prisoner of Azkaban", and "Goblet of Fire" in blocky, Lego fun.

"LEGO Harry Potter" will be available for the Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Wii, PC, PS3 and PSP in June (no specific date yet).

Plenty of other games will be filling in the gaps including some movie tie-ins ("Iron Man 2", "Clash of the Titans") and a new Mario game ("Super Mario Galaxy 2") that offers up some new powers for the famous plumber and his faithful dino, Yoshi.

Casting a long shadow this summer is the expected release of "StarCraft II" (Blizzard). They've been working on this title for years and released a closed beta to select gamers for testing. A spokesman for Blizzard said they are on track for a mid-2010 release, so don't be surprised if Terrans, Zerg and Protoss descend on your PC this spring.

What are you looking forward to in the next three months? New titles or DLC for ones you already own? Let us know!

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Filed under: Games • Gaming • Nintendo • Sony • Tiger Woods • video games


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April 5, 2010

Geek Out!: The inside scoop on more Easter eggs

Posted: 04:45 PM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

We reached out to some of our gaming contacts, who provided us some great stops on a gaming Easter egg hunt. Have you gotten any of these?

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii, 2007) - Press buttons inside Samus’ ship and hear secret voice messages from Nintendo executives, Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Iwata. Also, if your Wii saved files for other games and you got a certain bonus, the ship would be outfitted with cool bumper stickers

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii, 2009) - If a player has 99 lives the map-running Mario will lose his hat

Wii Sports (Wii, 2006) - Players have the ability to throw the bowling ball backwards, surprising the crowd

Wii Sports Resort (Wii, 2009) - Hold down any direction on the D-Pad while the bowling game is loading and you can change the colors of the bowling balls

Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996) - Fully complete the game, getting all 120 stars, and you can unlock a cannon in the castle's front courtyard. The cannon can get you onto the roof of the castle to meet Yoshi (who will provide plenty of extra lives)

Metroid (NES, 1986) - Enter the code "JUSTIN BAILEY" to start the game will full power-ups.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992) – Find the hidden room that contains 45 blue rupees and a plaque from the ‘creator’ of the Easter Egg

Super Mario Bros. (NES, 1985/1986) - Hit hidden blocks to get a ‘vine,’ which lifts you above the clouds to a series of coins and warp pipes

Halo 3: ODST – Buck and Monkeyman: When Vergil lights Avery Johnson's cigar during the interrogation, push the right thumbstick to the left and the scene will pan over to the left, revealing Edward Buck picking something off of a Caveman eating it
Siege of Madrigal: A song from Bungie’s game, “Myth,” can be heard in the Kikowani Station in several Halo games, including ODST. On Legendary, when standing on top of the small roof above the door on top of the bridge, you can see Marty O'Donnell dancing along to a musical beat with winged hearts flying around him.

Fable II – The Dingly Egg: Find The Grumpy Rabbit book and follow the instructions to the Dingly Egg, an Easter egg that lets you access the rabbit hole and a commemorative mug which is decorated with three of the Lionhead development team's faces

Gears of War II - Find the cowboy hats that your character and allies can wear during the game. There’s also toast and a toaster that provides funny banter between the COGs.

Halo 3 - A gorilla face can be found on the mountains in the Valhalla multiplayer map. Also find Bungie’s Valhalla graffiti on certain holidays, like one that says “BBQ at Bob’s Place” on the Fourth of July

Halo Wars – Forcing the marines to continuously march will make them break out into song. They sing many marching songs that are quite humorous

Sim Copter - There was the code that made all the male residents wear swimsuits and kiss one another… That one got someone fired

iPad app for Paramount Digital Entertainment’s “Top Gun” - Want to turn your jet in to a stock car from Days of Thunder? Change your pilot's name to "COLE TRICKLE". After the name change, you will be wearing a snazzy racing suit during cut scenes! What if you wanted to turn your jet in to a space ship? Just change your pilot's name to "LASERFACE JONES". To unlock the secret volleyball mini game between Iceman and Maverick, change your pilot's name to "VOLLEYBALL.”

Filed under: Geek Out! • Uncategorized • video games


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Geek Out!: Our favorite 'Easter eggs'

Posted: 04:10 PM ET
God of War 3
God of War 3

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

Need a break from this past weekend’s Peep-induced sugar coma? Here’s something else that’s pretty sweet for Easter Monday: some of our favorite Easter eggs! Easter eggs are those fun extra features in games, DVDs and even in some software that play out with a magic code, or some deftly-pressed combination of left-right-left-right-up-down-down. These are the ones that really bring out our inner geek:

My favorites are from the extended editions of the "Lord of The Rings" DVDs. They’re on each one of the films. The first 2 are a little racy as Jack Black is at the council of Elrond in “Fellowship,” and Gollum/Smeagol is accepting an MTV award (with some colorful language) in “Two Towers.” The tamest and possibly funniest are on "Return of the King," where Elijah Wood gets prank interviewed by Dominic Monahagn and Peter Jackson gets asked about making more LoTR-themed movies.
– Nikki Rau-Baker

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” was a 1993 Williams Electronics pinball game based on the popular TV show. When you shoot your pinball into the Holodeck you are presented with a choice of either 25 million points or a “shuttle simulation.” Instead of choosing one over the other, hold in the trigger and press the right flipper button. Once you do that, you will be sent to a hidden video mode where you play a hand of poker with Commander William Riker (voiced by Jonathan Frakes).
– James Dinan

A couple of years ago, when you clicked on the moon in Google Earth and zoomed way in, the moon became a chunk of cheese. It was a super cute easter egg.
– Karyn Lu

The Disc 1 commentary track of “Freaks and Geeks - The Complete Series" shows anime photos of the characters Lindsay and Sam.

“Lost Season 2: Everybody Hates Hugo” - Jorge Garcia talks about sweating.

“Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” - Yoda dances to The Roots, as seen in the photograph above.

"Spider-Man 2" DVD – Willem DaFoe and Sam Raimi prank Alfred Molina.

"Star Wars Trilogy" - hidden blooper reel

"Firefly: The Complete Series" - Adam Baldwin sings "Hero of Canton"
– Henry Hanks

At the end of the video game "God of War," Kratos is left in a room with two huge statues. One is Ares, the former god of war and the last boss of the game, the other is of a giant Minotaur.

If you steer Kratos to the statues and spend close to 5 minutes just wailing on the statues they will eventually shatter. There is nothing to give you a clue that they will break: no crunching sound or debris falling from the statues.

You will doubt yourself, thinking this is not going to work - but it will.

Once they're gone, a special phone number pops up on the screen. When you call it, an automated message from Kratos kicks in telling you that you might think you've got the video game goods because you beat his game, but he will still kick your butt, because *he* is still the God of War.

This was really fun and gave me a good laugh after finishing a great game. This also guaranteed that I would waste a lot of time trying to bust unbreakable statues in both of the sequel video games.
– Gustavo Castaneda

My all-time favorite is the "Fight Club" DVD. David Fincher inserted several subliminal frames of Brad Pitt’s character Tyler Durden in the film – long before you find out he’s a mental projection of the narrator.
– Valerie Streit

By far the best set of Easter eggs I have found has been for the 2002 Best of Bowie DVD video collection.

They added nine cool extras that are completely hidden and have unique ways of getting to them such as leaving the page alone for 5 minutes or having a different version play every 2nd time you select a clip.
– Will Etkin

So what are your favorite Easter eggs? And how did you find them? In the mean time, check out a few more tips for hunting Easter eggs here.

Filed under: Geek Out! • pop culture • Uncategorized • video games


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April 2, 2010

New baseball games swing for the fences

Posted: 03:22 PM ET
Baseball games swing for the fences
Baseball games swing for the fences

The baseball season officially starts Sunday night when the Boston Red Sox take on their perennial rivals, the New York Yankees. For gamers, that means the latest incarnations of baseball video games are released. Here's a look at two heavy hitters on the market.

MLB10: The Show” (Sony) and “Major League Baseball 2K10” (Visual Concepts, 2K Sports) both launched last month with brand new features and highlights.

Both try to put you in the game with realistic player movements, authentic ball parks, and lifelike sounds from the seats. Each is licensed with Major League Baseball so you get real players with real stats (always important in baseball) to simulate actual MLB games faithfully.

“The Show” has upgraded the accuracy and variety of animations for players, coaches and fans. Improved logic and presentations provide a wider type of hits, ground balls and even player collisions. Hitting a hard one back through the middle deflects off the pitcher rather than going through him into center field.

“2K10” unveils a new Motion Model, which features hundreds of new signature movements and a totally revamped fielding system. The new animations try to give accurate portrayals of batting stances and pitching deliveries for all players around the league.

Each title allows for different types of game play to suit your mood. Career mode lets you build your own player and guide him through the minors to his big league club. There are manager and franchise modes to allow gamers to take charge of as many aspects of their team as they want.

In an effort to hang on to its title as the #1 selling baseball franchise in history, “The Show” adds new stadiums, new practice drills and customizable music, fan yells and chants. The biggest addition is the ability to call the game if you play as a catcher in career mode, thus providing more control and more realism to the gameplay. Previously, the catcher was only involved if the ball was in play. Now, players can call pitches, locations and plan strategy for the game.

“2K10” is challenging gamers to play their best game ever - and is willing to pay them for it. 2K Sports is offering $1,000,000 to the first player to pitch a perfect game in “2K10” and record it. A couple of provisos: the game has to be played on the PS3 or Xbox 360 and it must be recorded in its entirety either digitally or with a camera pointed at the screen. 2K Sports said they expect someone to do it.

The biggest difference between the two baseball franchises is how the controllers are used to play the game. “The Show” uses meters and buttons to pitch, hit and throw. “2K10” uses the right stick to sling those curveballs or to swing for the fences.

Baserunning controls are also slightly different for the two games. “2K10” wants you to point in a consistent direction for each base (right for 1st, up for 2nd, etc.). “The Show” requires you point to the next base as you are viewing the game, which can cause some delays when the camera angle changes after the ball is hit.

The differences in gameplay are subtle even if the differences in presentation are not, so it may be a matter of preference for which game you want to play.

“MLB 10 The Show” is exclusive to all PlayStation consoles (PS3, PS2, PSP, and PSP Go). “Major League Baseball 2K10” is available on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, Nintendo DS and Windows PC.

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Filed under: Games • Gaming • video games


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March 26, 2010

Geek Out!: Wheaton wows gamers

Posted: 05:21 PM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

"I was a weird kid," Wil Wheaton told the masses of excited, hardcore gamers at the Penny Arcade Expo (or PAX) Friday afternoon in Boston, Massachusetts.

While some kids were playing football, Wheaton said, he was delving deep into the world of fantasy gaming. The former "Star Trek: The Next Generation" actor turned geek icon gave the keynote address at the annual festival, which welcomes console, computer and tabletop gamers alike.

Wheaton's speech came from the heart, from someone for whom gaming has been a major part of his life - something he described as the foundation of some of the best friendships he's ever had.

"This small red box [of Dungeons and Dragons handbooks] was the first step onto the path that led me right here," he said. "In the '80s, I didn't have the Internet to tell me that carrying around character sheets and 'D&D' books wasn't weird."

Wheaton said the advancement of gaming platforms has been a hallmark of his generation. "In my lifetime I have had a front row seat as games have gone from Pitfall! to Portal," he said.

He said that he realizes how special games have been to his generation, because when he tells his children about gaming, they aren't nearly as interested as he would hope.

He had harsh, and off-color, words for "elitists" who criticize games like "Rock Band" because they're not the same as playing a real instrument.

He went on to say, "When we play 'Rock Band' we are creating a world where we get to be the rockstars we can never be."

This was the second time Wheaton has spoken here. He said he loves the festival so much that he separates his life into two columns: "pre-PAX and post-PAX."

[CNN's Henry Hanks in Atlanta contributed to this post.]

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Filed under: Geek Out! • pop culture • video games


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Geek Out!: New Nintendo handheld goes for bigger, better

Posted: 10:02 AM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's Marquee and SciTech blogs

Is bigger better?  Or is it just bigger?  Nintendo is banking that their latest handheld console – the DSi XL – will be both.

The Nintendo DSi XL is similar in many ways to its little brother, the DSi.  The configuration of the buttons and screens are the same as are the camera tools, Internet connections and available software.

 What sets the two apart is the size.  The XL version is 93 percent larger than the regular handhelds.  The new screens measure 4.2 inches diagonally and the closed unit grew to 6.3 inches wide by 3.6 inches tall.

 Nintendo is counting on the increased size to promote family fun.  With the smaller DSi, gamers hunched over their consoles to focus in on the action on little screens. 

With larger screens and an improved wider viewing angle, Nintendo hopes to make it easier for friends and family to watch and join in on the game.

 “For some people, good things come in big packages,” Nintendo executive vice president Cammie Dunaway said. “This new portable system really lets players enjoy the fun together.”

 The XL comes pre-loaded with three titles: "Brain Age Express: Math," "Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters," and "Photo Clock."  Nintendo is also releasing 2 new titles at the same time, "America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking" and "WarioWare: D.I.Y.," which it hopes will highlight the advantages of the larger screen.

 I got my hands on the new XL and it definitely felt better than the smaller version.  It felt solid and didn’t feel like it was going to snap apart in my hands [not that I’m a strong guy, but I am destructive].

 There are no new features other than size.  But the size difference makes itself felt when you power up the device and load some software. 

 The new screens made it easier on the eyes to enjoy my games.  "Flipnote Studio," a program that allows you to draw and animate, became easier to work on finer details in my art.  Gameplay jumps out of the screen and finesse seems more manageable.

 Nintendo said the DS handheld (Lite and DSi combined) sold 11.2 million systems in 2009 in the U.S. alone.  It said they sold 30 million DS units in Japan during their last fiscal year, so they have a large market to entice with their latest device.

 However, Nintendo just announced that they would be launching a 3-D version of their DS handheld sometime before April 2011.  Will gamers go big or go 3-D? 

 The Nintendo DSi XL will be available on March 28.

UPDATE (Tuesday): Nintendo announced that games on older handheld consoles cannot transfer over to the new DSi XL. The company said DSiWare games and points would have to be repurchased on the new XL console.

Nintendo of America released this statement: "The games and applications are specific to each system, not each user. We’re looking into that specific topic, but we don’t have anything to announce at this time."

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Filed under: Geek Out! • Nintendo • video games


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March 24, 2010

Will EA charge for game demos?

Posted: 10:02 AM ET

In an effort to expand its video-gaming business, Electronic Arts may start charging for certain pre-game content – a possible move that is already drawing fire from gamers.

In an interview with Wedbush Morgan Securities' industry analyst Michael Pachter, EA Group GM Nick Earl said the company plans to start charging for “premium downloadable content” before releasing the entire game at full price. Earl said the strategy would "serve as a low-cost marketing tool” and limit the risk of promoting a full game that may not do well.

Reaction from gamers was swift. Some denounced the move as a blatant attempt at money-grabbing while other urged patience to see what the final plan would be.

A user named Fimmel wrote on GameSpot’s message board, “Do they really think we'll pay to DL the beginning of the game before we've even gathered enough information to decide if we want to buy the game at all?”

Another commenter, Lord Thayer, wrote on Kotaku, “So, is it safe to assume that, if you buy the demo, then upgrade to the full game digitally, that they would take the price of the demo out? If so, I actually think that would be rad. “

Facing a possible backlash, Electronic Arts has tried to clarify its position on demos. A statement from the company said there were no set pricing strategies for the entire EA portfolio and included a curious line:
“None of the proposals call for charging consumers for traditionally free game demos."

The statement also said EA was working on delivering “premium content” to gamers before, during and after the launch of a final game package. It said each division of EA was experimenting with downloadables in an effort to provide “fresh game content in formats players want to experience.”

We’ve asked EA officials for further clarification about what they mean by “traditionally free game demos” and what impact this will have on future game releases. We’ll let you know if they get back to us and what they say.

UPDATE (10:37 a.m.): An EA spokesman responded to our request for additional information. He said, "EA will continue to release demos and we have no plans to charge for them."

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Filed under: Games • Gaming • video games


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March 19, 2010

Geek Out!: Starcraft II : Wings of Liberty

Posted: 11:20 AM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting nerd culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

[Correction: I mistakenly say in the video that Sarcraft 2 is published by
Activision/Blizzard, but in fact it is being published by Blizzard
Entertainment
. Sorry, Blizzard!]

I got a chance to check out “Starcraft II,” along with colleague Larry Frum.

Subtitled “Wings of Liberty,” the sequel – currently in closed beta - is a long-awaited follow-up to Blizzard’s much-loved real-time strategy game.

The attached video is our full review. But here are a few high points:

Pros:
Beautiful to look at
Smooth game play
Smooth controls

Cons:

Unbalanced game play, based on which race you play
Hard to see whole map
No single-player mode

We both like what we’ve played so far, and patch updates from Blizzard have done a lot to help with the unbalanced game play.

The game will have three releases. We’re expecting the first will allow single-player play as a Terran [i.e. human] and the future ones will expand to the other two - Zerg, Protoss. And with just the first full release, players will be able to go online, at battle.net, and play the other two races in multi-player mode.

What was our final verdict? Watch the video to find out.

Are you in the closed beta? Have you had a chance to play? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.

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Filed under: Geek Out! • video games


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March 17, 2010

Advice for budding game developers

Posted: 03:20 PM ET
Uncharted 2 wins 2009 Game of the Year
Uncharted 2 wins 2009 Game of the Year

So you want to design a video game?

One way to break into the field is to customize existing games like Sim City, where users can create your own clothes and change various gaming mechanics. 

That was the advice from Shanna Tellerman of WildPockets.com when I asked her about entry-point recommendations for someone who is interested in creating video games but lacks a computer-programming background. 

Tellerman participated in a South by Southwest Interactive panel designed to share unique approaches for game creation accessible to anyone. The panel was one of many gaming-related events at the festival, which ended Tuesday.

Between console games, online games and social-networking games such as FarmVille, there are more computer games and genres today than ever before.  But why would an ordinary person without a gaming or computer background want to design their own independent game? 

Michael Agustin from GameSalad.com says games are important for teaching and sharing meaning. "Creating games for parents allows them to take an active role in the context of the games their kids play, and to be more involved," he said.

Video games have also been used to raise awareness for social issues or to aid victims during natural disasters.  They are educational tools, but let's not forget that games are also meant to be fun.

Designing the next World of Warcraft or best-selling app for the iPhone might be a bit of a reach for most newbie game designers.  Game developer Adam Saltsman, or 'Atomic Adam' as he's known in the gaming world, tells beginners to become familiar with Gamemaker from YoYo Games. 

"It offers great resources with community support and is visually easy to get into," said Saltsman, who believes game creators shouldn't aim for mobile platforms in the beginning but instead focus on designing for the Web. 

Saltsman, whose Canabalt game was an Internet sensation last year, says Web-based game design is generally much easier to maneuver than mobile platforms because many mobile devices are not Flash enabled.  Eventually designers can move to mobile, he said.

Tellerman suggests that budding game programmers look for 24 hour 'game jams', weekend events where groups of designers collaborate on dynamic game-development projects.  "It's mostly simple games being built, but the process and experience is a great value," Tellerman said.

All of the South by Southwest Interactive panelists agreed that would-be game creators should spend a lot of time experimenting on their own time. After all, Tellerman said, some of the most successful independent game developers lacking formal computer-programming educations.

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Filed under: Gaming • SXSW • SXSWi • video games


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March 16, 2010

Geek Out!: Two CNNers rate 'God of War III'

Posted: 01:40 PM ET
God of War 3
God of War 3

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature on latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From sci-fi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's Marquee and SciTech blogs.

"God of War III" is officially out today, and scores of gamers are no doubt fighting fatigue after waiting in line last night to get their hands on this highly anticipated game. "GOW III" follows a warrior, Kratos, who has a serious beef with the ancient Greek gods. He battles zombie warriors, minotaurs, ogres and other mythological creatures on his way to exact revenge. And when he gets to the gods, "God of War III" gets really good.

Two of CNN.com's resident gamers, Larry Frum and Dereyck Moore, have played the game and are raving about it. *SPOILER ALERT* If you're one of those people who don't want to know about the gory, HD details, look away now. For those of you ready to find out specific details and gameplay, read on!

Larry Frum, one of our bloggers, got his hands on an advanced copy of the game. Here's what he had to say:

“God of War III” is spectacular in all facets of the production. From the graphics to the gameplay to the story itself, the team at Sony Santa Monica really put their all into making this game worth the three-year wait.

Boss battles are with various gods and defeating each has far-reaching consequences. Beating Poseidon, god of the sea, causes the oceans of the world to rise. Killing Apollo, the god of the Sun, darkens the skies and blocks out the light. Breaking the neck of Hera, wife of Zeus, causes all plant life to die. This game is all about making the Kratos series bigger.

There are new weapons to use, new magic to unveil and new combinations to dazzle opponents. Kratos can strike with Hercules’ gauntlets, and then use Army of Sparta magic to fend off opponents, before finishing them off with the Nemesis Whip.

Indeed, the scale of the game is probably the most impressive aspect of “God of War 3”. Battling gods on top of Titans while other Titans are climbing Mount Olympus and watery horses rise up to try to drown Kratos – it can be a bit overwhelming.

It is difficult to stop playing at any given point in the game. Even after boss battles, I find the story pulling me along to the next sequence without feeling rushed. This is a game that I want to play because I will enjoy the challenges, battles and cinematics. But more than anything, I want to know how it ends. And that’s what compels me to go forward.

Dereyck Moore, a member of our Digital Business Integration team, waited in line last night for his own copy of the game, and couldn't wait to start playing. Here are his impressions:

I left the store with my copy in hand at about 12:10 am. By 12:30 am, the PS3 was fired up, and so was I. From the moment the game began, it didn't just feel like watching any old movie, it was a movie of considerable size and scale. It felt "Avatarish."

Scale has always been an integral part of the "God of War" trilogy storytelling, and with the Sony Playstation 3's ability to produce unparalleled graphics and sound, "God of War III" is a complete assault on the senses. Every drop of blood from the hoards of Kratos' victims is visible and distinct, as is the way he can dismember one of them, or one hundred of them. The scenes depicted bring many of the traditional Greek mythological buildings and characters to life in breathtaking detail and artistry.

Did I mention the sound? The game does an outstanding job of accentuating the strength, might and willpower of its central figure to endure all that he sees and experiences. No titan is too large, and no foe is too gigantic to deter the will of Kratos, and it sounds like it. As he fights his way through these unimaginable worlds, the detail of every crunch, every grunt and every blade slicing an enemy can be heard perfectly in stunning quality. At the same time, his footsteps in a darkened corridor or an enormous chamber reflect the depth of the space compared to the action he's facing, and those sounds are equally as impeccable. The game's music soundtrack completes the mood, and it is also outstanding.

Have you gotten your hands on "GOW III" yet? If so, what do you think so far?

Filed under: Geek Out! • video games


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