A few extra lyrics never hurt anyone…
Our engagement/wedding photographer Michele took some great family photos for us a few weeks ago! More on her blog.
Musicbot! Available as a print at Society6.
Happy 6 months Cameron! More photos here.
It takes me a little longer to get through games nowadays (with playtime regulated to the short spurts when Cameron is sleeping), but I’ve been slowly trudging through a few adventures:
Bastion (Xbox 360)
I have mixed feelings about this download title. I love the in-game narration, the imaginative world, and the diversity of gameplay that the shield and different weapons bring to the table (I’m using the hammer, bow & arrow, and grenades now). The level design hasn’t been particularly compelling though - it’s fairly linear, and the levels don’t feel too different from one another (aside from the art changes). I guess I expected more Diablo-esque mazes and dungeons. Still, a steal for $15.
Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360)
The sequel that apparently no one wanted ended up being better than the first. More refined mechanics (in-game hacking, dual wield weapons & plasmids) and a solid story (although I’d still say the original had more impact). The level design and art direction were brilliant as expected, and the Minerva’s Den DLC was also a worthy add-on. I had this lying around on my pile of shame for a while, and am really glad that I finally got around to finishing it.
Bulletstorm (XBox 360)
Borrowing this from a co-worker. I’m only 2 acts in, but it’s crazy. Slo-mo tethering and slinging bad guys off ledges (Vertigo +50) hasn’t gotten old yet. Coming off of the deliberately slow pace of exploration in Bioshock, it took a while to get used to this game going 110mph all the time. Even the super-saturated color palette is over the top. It’s mindless junk food, but unquestionably fun.
Refreshing hand-drawn art, old-school adventure game mechanics, and a wonderful sense of humor, storytelling, and emotion. There was a lot of trial and error with the puzzles, but none of them felt unfair, and the in-game hint system was a welcome addition. Point and click puzzlers like this translate perfectly to the iPad, and I wish I could play hundreds more as good as this one.
My alarm buzzes at 4am, interrupting the relative silence of a typical suburban morning. A redeye flight descending into SFO softly rumbles in the distance. The automatic sprinklers of our townhouse community whir to life, knowing no one should be up at this ungodly hour. I roll out of bed, fix myself some coffee, and power up Borderlands on the Xbox 360.
Coming from 2500+ miles away in Virginia, the voices of my brother Andrew and our friend Don crackle into my headset. Within minutes, my lingering drowsiness is replaced by adrenaline as the three of us battle a horde of zombies. We’ve decided that before our weekends get underway on opposite coasts, we’ll chat, get caffeinated, and blow up some bad guys.
I still love solo experiences. The latest Zelda or Fallout game will always be a day-one purchase for me. And yet as good as those series are, I’m having even more fun playing co-op Borderlands. I’m seeing my personal gaming habits shift more towards multiplayer; everything feels better with friends. Shared moments of victory when we take down a massive boss. Taking a break to look through our inventories and trade any loot we’ve discovered. Rushing to heal a downed teammate before he dies. Strategically divvying up roles on the battlefield and which missions to tackle next. Someone unexpectedly driving a car off a cliff, just in time to smash through a mutant spider that was about to attack a friend.
It’s an incredible escape; like most video games, we don’t have a chance to experience these kind of situations regularly in reality (unless you go car cliff-diving on a daily basis). Multiplayer gaming takes that a step further, adding layers of social interaction, unpredictability, and cooperation and/or competition.
Companies like Valve have it right when they say they’re done with single-player games. That doesn’t mean every game has to have a co-op or deathmatch mode tacked on where it doesn’t make sense. Modern developers are increasingly figuring out smart, creative ways to work multiplayer elements into traditionally solo experiences (the shining example being Demon’s Souls).
Trudging through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with two of my best friends over coffee? I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning.
Cameron is slowly growing up with swimming lessons, solid foods, and a bear outfit.
> Flickr Photo Album: Cameron (3-6 Months)
Check out a game I’ve been helping work on, Clash: Rise of Heroes. It’s a collectible card game with awesome art, a challenging single player campaign, and real-time multiplayer battles. Unlike many Facebook games, this one requires skill and strategy (you know, actual gameplay), as opposed to how fast you can harvest corn and produce chickens.
Gif Shop is a new iPhone app made by a couple of friends, which lets you make little animated images to share on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, email, and so on. Check it out - it’s a ton of fun to play around with. I made the above animation on a whiteboard. Here are a few others I did today at my desk: