Wired.com: Duke Nukem Forever

For anyone who played FPS games in the late 90s, Duke Nukem 3D was a big deal, and the sequel was one of the most anticipated and drama-filled, flame-war topics on sites like shacknews.

Wired just posted a story from this month’s magazine, Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem, with a bit more background on what exactly went wrong with the sequel. In summary:

…the Duke Nukem Forever team worked for 12 years straight. As one patient fan pointed out, when development on Duke Nukem Forever started, most computers were still using Windows 95, Pixar had made only one movie — Toy Story — and Xbox did not yet exist.

Definitely worth a read: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_duke_nukem/

So what do people think — will this game ever come out ?

Video roundup: Crysis Physics demo, Homeboy Chanukah, and “Here comes another bubble”

Three great videos to share today.

The first, is demo footage from upcoming game called Crysis. It shows off a pretty amazing physics engine. This game and a few others may get me back into PC gaming one of these days:

The next video is called Homeboy Chanukah, and is simply hysterical. My buddy Tom who runs the film company New York Street Films created this video:

And lastly, Kara Swisher just blogged about a new video called “Here comes another bubble” sung to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Pretty funny and well produced:

Waiting for Mac OS X Leopard: Why no digital download option ?

OS X Leopard imageThe newest version of Mac OS X “Leopard” is out in the wild, but my Amazon.com order has an estimated delivery date for next week.

Not a big deal, but made me think: In today’s world of broadband and on-demand user behavior, why doesn’t apple offer a digital download option ? On top of it, it’s environmentally more responsible to do away with all the extra packaging, fuel costs for shipping, etc.

As far as expertise and DRM issues, Apple has the experience with it’s iTunes store and .Mac service to offer this kind of option and make it secure.

In the gaming space I’ve seen Valve‘s digital efforts evolve over the last few years into a really impressive offering. They have a service called Steam (gigaom review) which essentially allows you to purchase games and download them instantly. They also use the service to foster online gaming, do auto patching, premier game trailers, and fight against cheats. It was initally conceived because they had trouble with 3rd party distribution, and ironically today Steam is used as a distribtuion platform for other game publishers.

The other company that could also facilitate this would be Amazon themselves. They distribute music digitally with their new amazon mp3 store — so why not do the same for software ?

Useful Mac apps: Play WMVs, Google Analytics Widget, and Quinn

Some helpful ( and fun ) OS X apps that I’ve been using recently:

– id Software released HD footage of Rage (trailer & developer walk-through), the new internally developed game, at QuakeCon 2007 (Shacknews coverage). It’s in WMV format, so if you are on a Mac and not running some kind of virtualization/windows combo, you should grab the WMV Quicktime component. While I haven’t played PC games in years, this one is looking pretty solid.

– Using Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic and running OS X ? Dashalytics is a new OS X widget that shows a snapshot from your Google Analytics account in your OS X Dashboard. On the subject of traffic stats, if you are running WordPress, make sure to check out our WordPress.com Stats plugin.

– Must be something about playing Tetris for hours on end back in the day (aka “Tetris Effect“) that caused me to seek out Tetris clones. A really good one that a few people have emailed me about (and just saw that Jamie wrote about recently) is called Quinn. Really clean interface, and even includes “extensive online highscore database” 🙂 Definitely worth checking out.

– (UPDATE #1) Forgot to also mention the excellent OS X port of Open Office called NeoOffice. It even handles MS Word tracking changes which is something Google Docs does not currently support. (thanks Matt for the tip)

FPS games, a look back and why I seem to still need a keyboard + mouse

WASDFirst Person Shooters ( FPS ) games are great, and it’s the genre that I really got into for a while — mostly in my late high school / early college years. The first game in this genre that really grabbed me and put me in this zone was the FPS game Wolfenstein 3D, followed by Doom ( modem to modem style ), and then my big time waster QuakeWorld w/ Threewave CTF ( old timers remember that QuakeWorld was an optimized Quake version for 56K/ISDN usage /200+ms ! Until QuakeWorld, the folks at id were all playing on T1s and had no idea what lag was like on a 56K connection ).

I played Wolf3d, Doom, and Quake1 all with a keyboard, no mouse. I used tons of keyboard shortcuts for certain moves, and it felt crazy to not use a joystick, but it all seemed to work great, and I was always near the top of the list for any given game.

Then came the 3dfx grafx card that I had to have, and it really changed the PC gaming scene. 3dfx was formed by a bunch of former SGI folks, who wanted to bring big time 3D grafx to the masses. The first generation Voodo card was an add-on card that kicked in any time you fired up a 3d game, and it really upped the stakes ( brought OpenGL into the mainstream too ), and made 3d style games look great and feel much more immersive.

All of the sudden I actually wanted to look around in 360, and I made the switch to keyboard + mouse, using what was then called WASD ( W to move forward, A for left, S for back, and D for right ). The mouse acted as my viewpoint, so that I could now move at will, and look anywhere. Capture the Flag (CTF) QuakeWorld games also introduced a grapple that made the maps much more 3D and meant that you had to be aware of your surrounding – and be ready from any angle.

And so the controls were set, a super fast laser powered mouse, plus a few simple keyboard keys, and every FPS I played from that point on – Quake2/3/Arena/UT mods, and Halife 1/2, were controlled in the very same way.

It became like second nature to play keyboard+mouse, and the pro players, and tournaments that followed, all were based on a similar controller setup.

I then fell out of gaming as RealLife took over, random free time was diminished, $$ spent on upgrading a PC seemed like an irrational thing, and the overall learning curves for games seemed to get higher and higher.

I didn’t play much of anything for a while, until I received a PS2 as a gift. I dipped my toe back in, mostly playing sports games, but tried a few FPS games as well. Sports game were great with a console’s controller, but FPS games seemed just wrong. I needed my mouse + keyboard, and I needed a true FPS angle, not this 3rd person stuff that seems to be the rage on consoles.

I’ve now picked up an Xbox360 – and if I’m lucky I get to play 1 hr per month. I still enjoy sports games – Tiger Woods, Fifa, etc — but I kept reading about how great Gears of War was – so I picked that up too. And yes, it’s a great looking FPS game on my 40″ LCD HD, but the controls still seem all wrong ! I’m pretty good at learning new things, but how do you aim with precision when it’s a controller ( hint: many of these games auto aim for you ).

What’s wild is to see a generational shift from keyboard+mouse –> console controllers all because of one game — Halo. People who grew up in gaming with an Xbox have only played with a controller and look at us old guys as relics. To be fair, there are some hardcore gamers out there that say “get a keyboard+mouse and hook it into the Xbox360” – gizmodo reviewed such a product, and the comments could have come from me:

“I always prefer keyboard and mouse – more controls, more configurable, easier to combo. Not to mention that I’ve spent/wasted way too much time honing my keyboard/mouse skills in Quake to give it up.”

Fantastic idea. I’m a PC gamer and could never see myself using the standard Xbox controller for FPS’s. This has me one micron closer to a console, but for now i’m sticking with the PC

I’m personally not keen on introducing more gadgets that into the living room, but I do wonder how many people do that.

So not sure if I’ll ever quite master using a controller for FPS games on the console. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing — as RealLife does have many advantages over gaming 🙂