December 31, 2010

My Favorite Games of 2010

I bet you're sick of seeing this headline, eh? I wasn't going to write this, but there were two catalysts that finally pushed me to do so.
  1. I'm tired of seeing Red Dead Redemption not only make every list, but top most of them.
  2. At dinner the other night, my girlfriend revealed that she had kept a list of every new restaurant we had tried in 2010. It was awesome to look back and see everything we'd eaten, all the places we've been. I wanted a similar experience for my see what I really like most.

December 30, 2010

I Have Found a Practical Application for History

I love history. When other kids were reading novels, fiction, and that sort, I was reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Theodore Rex, and fiction based on history. Typically, this is only useful in lame jokes and references that mostly only amuse me. Last night at True Grit, I alone in my group of four understood a particular line of dialog between Rooster Cogburn and La Boeuf.

Remember the scene early into their hunt where Cogburn and La Boeuf are arguing about their service during the Civil War, both give offense to the other and they decide to part ways? This one here:

La Boeuf proudly claimed to fight for the Army of Northern Virginia, which was the primary Confederate army under the leadership of Robert E. Lee. Meanwhile, Cogburn spoke about a leader that I'm sure you haven't heard of and he didn't seem to belong to the Union or Confederacy.

So who?

Cogburn was a bushwhacker in either Missouri or Kansas. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, while the battlefields of the east coast were soaked in blood at Antietam, Gettysburg, and the outskirts of Richmond, there was a whole other bloody and bitter fight between Missouri and Kansas. One a slave state, one not. The Bushwhacker conflict was dirty, a guerrilla war that didn't exist purely on a pre-ordained battlefield, but in homesteads, farms, and that meant civilians.

This makes Cogburn's past far more interesting. He wasn't just a Confederate or Union soldier fighting in a typical war. He was a passionate ruffian doing potentially unspeakable things on a distant battlefield not discussed in a lot of history books.

I took great satisfaction in describing this to my fellow movie-goers. I'm pretty sure they zoned out about 8 seconds into my explanation.

December 27, 2010

Facebook Favorites

My new company makes mobile games for iPhone and Droid phones, but also Facebook games. I think one of the most important things to do as a designer is play games, so to me this clearly means I need to play Facebook games. Oh no, the dreaded hellpit of evil, theft, and villainy of the video game world.

I've found my assumptions to be largely confirmed in my Facebook game travels. But I've also found that there are some games I genuinely enjoy. In fact, I even have a favorite Social game developer now: Wooga. It seems I'm not entirely alone in my enjoyment of their games. Maybe I should get about making better games to beat them...

Social games are largely asynchronous cooperative time sinks. As such, maybe a post like this will encourage you to join me!

December 6, 2010

If Fable 3 were my game, what would I have done differently?

My relationship with Fable is a contentious one that dates back to Fable on the Xbox in 2004. Fable the first just angered me, and honestly I'd just finished Knights of the Old Republic. The comparison was not in Fable's favor. But then, Fable 2 arrived for my Xbox 360 and I swooned with joy. Fable 3 spent 60% of its length retreading the familiar ground of Fable 2 (with some changes), then spent the last few hours in strange new territory.

I really didn't like this territory. But I'm not here to whine. I don't learn anything that way and really it has no impact on Lionhead's success. Therefore, the question is "What would I have done differently?"

December 1, 2010

Coming to Terms with San Francisco: My Best Of List

For a long time I've been quite frustrated with my California existence, though life isn't all that bad. It's the combination of the high cost of living, farcical state government, and a healthy dose of nostalgia for place of my upbringing. Alas, I grow older and the circumstances of my life (girlfriend, career) and the realization that I have absolutely no desire to live in Texas has forced me to re-examine the place that will more than likely be me home.

I  need to come to terms with San Francisco and this seems like the perfect excuse to make a personal "best of" list for the city. True, they are common, and more true, I may have very little to add that others haven't already stated, but I can be quite negative and I need a fresh, positive outlook.