May 2004 Archives


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Just got back from seeing them tonight at Darien Lake with my niece, Lindsey, and her friend Christy. Wow. What a fun band they are... so much energy. Travis, the drummer is amazing. Even with a broken foot he rocked the house. They all did. And my ears are still ringing. Thanks for a great time, Mark, Tom & Travis. I'll always be a fan.


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Anti-Bush Game screenshotA lot of thought and design went into developing the Anti-Bush Online VideoGame. It's a mix of SouthPark brashness with old-school 2D side-scrolling fun. Everyone should play it, if for no other reason than to see just how George Bush has failed us as our president. The Emperor has no clothes! We must get rid of him before it's too late.

The tag line for the game says it all:

"A fun and fact-filled adventure about the most appalling presidency in the history of the United States."

And that may be the understatement of the century.

Play Anti-Bush Game


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Rating: 4.5/5 (71 votes)
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Viridian RoomMore Flash fun coming from Japan this time, Viridian Room is a place from which you wish to escape, but have you the soul to withstand the challenge? Muha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

It's another point-and-click puzzle, and very reminiscent of Myst. Nicely done with eerie sound effects. The game was created by Toshimitsu Takagi and appears as a shareware game on the Fasco-cs.com site.

Play Viridian Room

The introduction to the Viridian Room game makes reference to a previous and similar puzzle, Crimson Room. In fact, as a note of trivia, if you look through the keyhole of the door in the Viridian Room you will actually be looking into the Crimson Room. If you like games like this, you may want to try to escape from this room as well, though Viridian Room is the better of the two.





Play Crimson Room

With thanks to Robert for the link. =)

Update: If either game appears in Japanese when clicking on the image above, simply close the window and click the image again to play the game in English.

If you liked these games, be sure to check out Takagi-san's latest escape game: White Chamber

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On Friday of this week, Bungie posted on their website a 3D screen shot taken from the latest build of Halo 2 using Bungie's proprietary technology and QuickTime VR for viewing. Just by clicking and dragging the mouse to the left or right, you are able to view the action of the scene in full 360-degrees, Matrix-style bullet-time. Click.

If the link doesn't load properly or you can't rotate the image around with your mouse, then you may need to download the latest QuickTime player from Apple. Click.

Halo 2 is slated for release on November 9th, and only for XBox. For a detailed explanation of how they created the 3D screen shot, check out Bungie's site. Click.


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Rating: 4.8/5 (262 votes)
| Comments (85) | Views (2,660)

A wonderfully bizarre and strangely fun Flash game by Jakub Dvorský of Amanita Design. Samorost is an adventure game that is full of clicky puzzles and beautifully rendered scenes mixed with animations and various gadgetry. The soundtrack is delightful with sound effects and music to fit the mood of the surrealistic adventure. It's not very long, but will keep you busy for just the right amount of time. It's quite large though, measuring 950 pixels wide by 750 pixels tall. Enjoy this masterpiece of creativity and interactive art.

Play Samorost

Also check out Jakub's latest creation, Quest for the Rest, a game and website for US rockpop band The Polyphonic Spree.

Play Quest for the Rest

You loved Samorost and now you want more?
Play Samorost 2 and Machinarium
.

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"Screw the planet, I'm an American!" Life is good. A must read from Mark Morford at SFGate.com:

"It is our global peril and our national trademark. Americans are notoriously, famously, massively blind to causality. We make zero connection between how we consume and the effects of that consumption on our bodies, our politics, the planet. It is staggering and sad and it is also nothing new."

Read.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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While on the subject of Pacman, several months ago there was a posting on Slashdot games about a Japanese programmer who re-created Pacman entirely in an Excel spreadsheet. Upon reading the story I was both amazed and curious, so I downloaded the zip file from the site linked-to in the story. And it really was Pacman, right down to the cut scenes between levels! An excel-ent job, if I may say so. =)

Since then, the links don't seem to work anymore, but I still have the zip file if anyone is interested in checking it out. I'm not sure if this is was what Dan Bricklin had in mind for the purpose of a spreadsheet when he and his friend Bob Frankston first created VisiCalc back in 1979, but it's still very cool! It is a testament to just how far personal computers have progressed in such a short period of time. The PCs of those days would never have been able to handle the processing power required for all the cell manipulations in the Pacellman spreadsheet. Click.


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Rating: 4.7/5 (38 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (222)

PacmanAnother classic game, and this one needs no introduction. Arguably the single game that injected the most excitement into arcade video games during their infancy. Original game: copyright Namco, 1980; this version hand-coded in Flash by Paul Neave. See his other games, as well as his excellence in design, at Neave.com.

Here is Pacman, complete with high scores for this site.

Play Pacman


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mancala, a general term given to a variety of board games that make use of pits and pebbles for its counting oriented gameplay, is believed by some experts to have originated in ancient Egypt, though others claim the origin to be Central America. [Source] Whatever the origin, the game is very simple to learn and therefore just about anyone can play.

Mancala Snails is a cute Flash version of Mancala that uses snails as pebbles and drawn squares as pits. The graphics are quite pleasant to look at, and there are two different modes of play: single player against the computer, and multiplayer where two people can play by taking turns with the mouse. This particular game was produced by RocketSnail games—hence the Snails motif—and they even have a classic Mancala game available at their site for the purists out there.

Play Mancala Snails


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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I just came across this fantastic Asteroids recreation called Hot Rocks from Shawn at Hot Flash Games, and boy does it rock! Very authentic classic gameplay with a serious modern soundtrack that just... ROCKS! Shawn did an excellent job designing the sound for the game, as it contains a mix of classic Asteroids samples and some phat rocking beats. It's very enjoyable to listen to and adds to the atmosphere of the game. This is classic gaming at its best. Very nice.

Play Hot Rocks


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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MastermindLately, I've been wanting to play a game, called Mastermind, that I used to play a lot when I was in high school, but couldn't find a decent version of it anywhere online. The versions I did find were either buggy or weren't much to look at. So I made a better one.

The object of the game, as you may already know, is to try to figure out the secret code based on postion clues given each time you make a guess. A color you select could be in the correct position as the secret code, it could be in the wrong position, or it might not be in the code at all. Secret codes may be made up of duplicate colors, so it's not as easy as it looks. I hope you have as much fun with it as I have.

Play Mastermind


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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For our final project for MUMS (Multi-User Media Spaces), Jonathan Atleson and I wanted to create a predator-prey simulation in Director 3D. Our objective was to show how naturalistic behavior can emerge from simple intelligent agents. A pre-existing set of schooling fish are introduced to a shark who initially possessed a subset of fish behaviors. The fish are programmed to detect a nearby shark and to flee independently for a while before regrouping. The shark is programmed to lock on to a fish at a specific interval and attempt to capture it. By modelling natural behaviors on a one-by-one basis, we were able to successfully simulate some typical behavior of a real shark in a tank with schooling fish.

User controls allow manipulation in real-time of several factors affecting overall fish behavior. See my previous MUMS project for further explanation of those factors.

Play Predator-Prey Sim


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Today marks the day that the Spring quarter is officially over for me. This evening our group, for Andy Phelps' 3D Graphics Programming class, presented the game we've been working on all quarter: BattleLaX, a battle lacrosse game for the Windows platform, coded in C++ using Microsoft's DirectX (V9.0b) advanced graphics API. Our game kicked virtual butt, literally. With thanks to my team mates (Andy Lorino, Nate Rode, Delvin Mason, Mike Locke, and Pat Bellanca) our game shined like no other. It was truly amazing what we had accomplished in just 10 shorts weeks. The image above is from the menu system I created for it which even shows a small in-game screen shot. Andy Phelps has suggested we work over the summer to put the game into shape for an entry in August to the Independent Games Festival competition, part of the Games Developer Conference held each year. Good work team.

Update: If anyone is interested in this game, one of our team members, Nate Rode, has set up a website where you can download the game. Click.


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Put a bunch of stop-action cows together in a barn, add a drum set, a stage, and a large projection screen and what do you have? MooTV and it's Live in Barney's Barn, where you get to record your own drum solo and watch it live, on stage, in front of hundreds of screaming... er, I mean mooing cows. This is interactive creativity at its finest, with a dash of humor thrown in for good measure. Let's boogie tonight. Moo.


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Rating: 4.7/5 (109 votes)
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Defend Your CastleThis game comes highly recommended by fellow RIT classmate, Dave, so you'll have to blame him for it. I'm busy studying for finals, wrapping up a quarter I won't soon miss. So, in the meantime, I'll leave you with Defend Your Castle, an odd and addictive little game of violence against stick figures intent on invading your castle. From what I can glean, the gameplay has some depth by allowing you to purchase additional units and upgrades between levels.

Play Defend Your Castle


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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From Shockwave Japan, this cute little Flash game requires you to click on adjacent animals to swap places and line up 3 or more of the same. It sounds a little confusing, and with the instructions in Japanese, I was a little confused at first myself. Just ignore the first screen with the cell phone, don't click it—it's an ad. Wait for the game to load and the Play button to show. I figured it out, and it's fun to play, so...

Play Zoo Keeper

I'm taking Beginning Japanese over the summer, so hopefully I will get better at translating these Japanese games.

Update: Shockwave Japan changed the link so that you must first sit through a short advertisement. Rest assured the game will begin shortly after clicking the game link.


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Now that E3 has wrapped up, images pervade my thoughts of the many innovations and games announced and displayed at the show. Yes, there were many sequels shown—in fact, almost all the biggest games of this year's show have a number at the end—but video game sequels fare better in the hearts and minds of gamers than their counterparts in Hollywood. And so that's where much of the money goes: the tried and true, the license or franchise, the guaranteed return on investment that bean-counters prefer over the uncertainty of innovation.

What gets me most excited about a game is not whether I have had any prior experience with it, such as with a sequel in a series or franchise; or whether it contains any recognizable characters or locales as with a license. For me, it's the possibility of going to a new world undiscovered, or experiencing gameplay mechanics unfamiliar yet comfortable and natural to the touch. It's a game which defines a new genre, or defies existing ones; a game so gratifying to play, it demands playing over and over again.

It is no wonder that with all the mulling over I've done this week about the announcement deluge that was E3, the one image that continues to circle around my thoughts is that of the Nintendo DS. What is it about this device that is so thought provoking? I think I've got an idea or two.

Touch screen. The touch screen, like Sony's EyeToy before it, means a completely new source of input for a console game machine. Along with a new interface comes new game ideas and development possibilities. Such an innovation has the potential to create enthusiasm and excitement toward developing for the machine, the end product of which will likely be numerous and varied games exploiting the new handheld's capabilities. This, in turn, increases the probability of adoption by the mass market.

Wi-Fi. By making their new handheld Wi-Fi compatible, Nintendo is opening the door to worldwide connectivity for handheld games. However, not only are online games about to hit the mass market, I'm seeing the DS as being a mass market PDA device as well: instant messaging, chat, and...

Voice over IP. It's no accident that Nintendo is building a microphone into the DS—a handheld device with two screens, by the way. Besides the possibility for speech recognition, I believe the killer app for the new handheld device will be interactive chat applications using voice over IP technology. The only remaining piece yet to fall into place would be an integrated cam for video chat.

Time will tell whether this new innovative device will bear fruit or waste away underdeveloped. Nintendo has proven itself as an innovator and one capable of mass market appeal; its software continues to be the most sought after of all entertainment software in the world. The cards are stacked in their favor.

With the fierce competition of the games industry today by three gargantuan technology behemoths, it truly is an exciting time to be into games; but even more exciting to me will be participating, as the industry embraces an innovation and rolls out completely new ways of playing, interacting, and communicating.


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There is so much happening this week at the E3 expo in Los Angeles that it's really hard to keep up with it all. So many games, so little time one might say. And subsequent to the announcements from Nintendo on their new DS handheld and the upcoming realistic Zelda game, I've found it difficult to come up with anything worthy of a follow-up to all the exciting news.

After all, this is not a site where you can find all the latest news and reviews on all the latest and greatest games available—it's just a site about what jay is thinking is cool at the moment, which is quite often about games and various other interactive multimedia and web technologies.

And I think this is cool, so... Click.

By the way, it is likely you will need the latest Quicktime, Shockwave, and Flash players installed when visiting this site since I like to link to these multimedia file types.

(And no, it's-a-not-me playing the piano. =p )


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Eiji Aonuma: “I'm sure all of you saw the video of the new Legend of Zelda game at this point. One thing that I'd like to point out to everybody is that none of that is CG. It's all done in real-time and running on the [game] engine. That movie was actually created by somebody who took a version of the game, played it, videotaped and then cut the pieces together to make the movie.”

That's quite a feat considering the awe-inspiring cinematography that it contains. If you haven't yet seen the new Zelda video, don't just sit there... Click.

Read IGN.com's excellent interview of Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, the creator and producer of the breath-taking new Legend of Zelda game announced this week at E3. Click.


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Dating back to Nintendo's Space World 2000 demo reel, a brand new Legend of Zelda was revealed today for Gamecube at Nintendo's pre-E3 press conference. The latest installment won't be due out until next year, but from the looks of what was shown today it is well along in development and looks absolutely gorgeous! Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's legendary game designer and creator of the Zelda series, had this to say of the game:

"Even after 18 years, the Legend of Zelda never stops changing and this game is no different. We are now taking you to a world where Link has grown up—a world where he will act different and look different. In order to grow, Link must not stand still and neither can I. Thank you and goodbye."

Caution: viewing the trailer may cause goosebumps, tears and uncontrollable fits of giddiness. Click.


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Along with all the goodies Nintendo delivered to a game-starved audience today, were these trailers of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in action. The highly anticipated sequel to one of the best video games ever produced is due out in November. Click to get wet.


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The world got its first view of the next generation handheld from Nintendo this morning as the first pictures of it were released via a USA Today article. The article mentions the new device will contain Bluetooth wireless communications, a touch-sensitive screen, and the ability to play regular GameBoy Advance cartridge games as well as games on the smaller-sized DS cards. There's much more to come from Nintendo today as they kick-off their pre-E3 press conference in Los Angeles.

Update: The DS system shown is a non-final prototype that will likely be revised before it's released later this year. Also, the DS will contain both IEEE 802.11 and Nintendo's proprietary wireless communication protocols, not Bluetooth as was noted in the article. Check out Nintendo's site for information on the new DS. Also check out IGN.com for screen shots and videos of the many DS games revealed today in Los Angeles.


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Rating: 4.4/5 (46 votes)
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For the puzzle lover in you comes this cute little Flash Telescope game from Dyson, a UK vacuum cleaner manufacturer. The aim of the game is to get the silver ball into the hole by clicking on the telescopes to make them push or pull the ball across the grid.

There are several telescope-themed variations to this game available, including:

A very clever little twist on a classic puzzle game concept. It even remembers the progress you made through the game in case you have to leave and come back. Sweet!

Play Telescope game


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Rating: 4.5/5 (25 votes)
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File this one under interactive Flash tools for creative expression. Scribbler is just one of many interactive "toys" available at Zefrank.com. This "generative illustration toy" allows you to draw with the mouse in the window, then Scribbler takes over and creates its own drawing on top of what you've drawn. There are even interactive controls that you can set and tweak to your heart's content. It makes me want a Wacom tablet.

Play Scribbler


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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This is simply amazing. Someone that goes only by the name of Voxel, has created a 3D version of the original Metroid game in Director, titled Metroid Cubed! By taking the Metroid tileset, he built a utility that allows him to convert 2D sprites to 3D sprites, and then he uses those to build the levels of the game. Check out his site, which also has a complete history about how and why he did what he did.

Play Metroid Cubed (requires Shockwave).


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Crab Ball is a crazy funny Flash game I found at Spikything.com, though a word of caution: the site includes annoying pop-up ads. But the game is just too fun to not give it a try. There is a single player mode against the CPU, and a 2-player mode you can play with another person using the same keyboard. Hilarious fun, and just in time for beach weather, too!

Play Crab Ball

Update: If the game doesn't load by using the links above, try this version which only offers single player mode.

Play Crab Ball (Single Player)


| Comments (3) | Views (52)

Over the weekend I decided to give the blog a facelift, and though I had been changing the old banner's colors every month, as well as the colors of the associated style sheet, I wanted more significant changes: center the content in the browser window, and randomize the style sheet with a banner to match.

Here's what I did to get the random style sheets working properly...


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (254)

This billiards game from the UK, Blast Billiards, has a unique twist: it's a race against the clock to get all the 'balls' in the pockets before time runs out. Your score is dependent upon how quickly you sink each ball. Nice and solid presentation, and the ball physics are fairly realistic.

Play Blast Billiards


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You can certainly tell when it's getting near the end of the quarter around here at RIT, as the servers grind to a halt. Great timing. As if we have the time to be sitting around waiting for our requests to be processed—or timeout as is more so the case.

So, if you've been trying to access the blog lately, it's likely you've been seeing a lot of this picture in the status bar of your browser.

If it's any consolation, just know you're in good company: 15,000 RIT students are all doing the same thing.

Update: I just talked with the campus ITS Help Desk about the problem with web services, and apparently there are so many infected computers on the campus network, with the latest Microsoft-exploit virus (SASSER), that the servers are being overwhelmed by it. So, if you're running any Microsoft OS, here's what to do:

  • Copy and paste http://www.microsoft.com/windowsupdate into the address line of your browser and press Enter to start Windows Update (in Windows 2000 and XP) or Product Update (in Windows 95/98 and NT). Your operating system will be analyzed and you will be provided with the number and type of updates (patches) that are available for your system.
  • Follow the instructions from Microsoft to download and apply the critical patches.

Thank you, Microsoft, for ultimately being to blame for this latest hit to my productivity.


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (11) | Views (221)

Space InvadersBack in the day, Space Invaders, by Japanese company Taito, was one of the coolest games to come along as it was one of the first (if not the first) electronic game ever to offer open-ended gameplay. What that means is that it's impossible to 'beat' the game, the aliens just keep coming at you relentlessly. The motivation came in the form of entering your initials on the high scores board listed on the screen between games. That was 25 years ago. This year, Taito plans to sell 10,000 brand-new stand-alone Space Invaders game machines to mark it's 25th anniversary. [Source: CNN]. And so, here is Space Invaders.

Play Space Invaders


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (45)

In one of the sections of Interactive Digital Media that I'm a TA for this quarter, one of the students wants to create a Simon game in Director. And while I think that a Simon-type game is entirely doable in Director, I also think that it wouldn't be much of a challenge. And that got me thinking about how much fun I used to have with Simon when I was young—and Merlin which was similar though contained a variety of simple Simon games—that I set out to find one on the net, and voilà! Simon ala Flash.


| Comments (1) | Views (26)

Google filed for their IPO this week ending months of speculation and anticipation for what many are hoping will be the next Holy Grail for IT sector investment opportunity. It is hoped that the excitement for Google will spill over, providing the catalyst to ignite a lagging market.

If anyone can do it, Google can—as their technology permeates so much of what we do in IT. To illustrate just how pervasive Google has become within my own life, in particular, consider this:

Recently, while trying to remember whether a particular event occurred between family members several years ago, a fleeting thought occurred to me that I might try a Google search for the answer.

It's true that as soon as the idea popped into my head I dismissed it as ridiculous, but the significance is that for a moment I considered using Google to search through my memory. Oh, if only that were possible(!) I'm thinking that it would become extremely valuable to me the older I get.

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