Monday, April 25, 2005

Computer Games

For a full goose bozo computer nerd, I have one glaring deficiency (well, I'm sure I have many, but just play along, k?): I don't like computer games really. I mean, I dug "DOOM" when it first came out, because it was fun to explore a completely made-up world, and because it was gratuitously violent (which, again, was fun at first but then became kinda gristly for my tastes). I was a big Dungeons and Dragons player as an adolescent, and that's what appeals to me: Poking around in imaginary, fictional worlds. Being able to shoot stuff was a quasi-bonus, but I wasn't so much into that aspect of it - they were just things that got in the way while I was looking around. I always played in "god mode" so I couldn't die for that reason.

"DESCENT" appealed to me even more, because you got to fly around in tunnels and look for stuff, even though you had to shoot stuff out of the way. At least it was less gory - they were just little spaceships and sparks rather than blood sprayed everywhere. And I still played in invincible mode because I just wanted to see how it ended, I didn't care to repeat each death lesson umpteen times over the course of months. "DESCENT" remains the only game that I enjoyed enough to actually see how it ended.

Even though it would seem like an obvious no-brainer, "MYST" didn't appeal to me because you didn't so much move around in a virtual world as move around in a sluggish slide show. It was like weird uncle Marv's acid trip to the 7-11 that he somehow managed to photograph and then subject the family to after a huge turkey meal and a couple glasses of wine on a sleepy holiday afternoon. "Yeah, Marv, that organ in the zeppelin is really trippy {yawn}, and there are a lot of trees, aren't there?" Oy.

I've probably played "TETRIS" five times in my life. I have never cleared my rows. I have never managed to care.

Like the rest of the planet, I've played the game of Solitaire that comes with MS Windows (when it's not been disabled by the installation guys when a company fears that hours will be wasted on it, thereby losing more money on working to disable the thing than was probably ever really wasted by bored employees playing it). Yet, the biggest bang I got out of that was the Easter egg where - in the original version anyway - one of the things in the picture on the back of the cards would move if you didn't touch anything for a while. Big happy fun time, you betcha.

I recently bought one of those $20 joysticks that contain five classic arcade games because I recall really liking "Galaga" where you shoot bugs who make a hilarious-and-pathetic-all-that-the-same-time sound when they fry (and because we have a "no video game consoles" rule in our house, so this is our tiny concession to that), but discovered that the fond memories were probably fueled more by huge slurpees and competing with the buddies rather than the joy of the game itself. (Though my pulse still elevates when the bat tries to beam me up.)

Therefore, I am mystified when I see advertisements for little packages of wonder like "Grand Theft Auto" where you get to pretend to be a car-stealing, drug-selling homie waiting for that rap record deal to come through, but in the meantime level L.A. just for grins. Even were I a teenager now, I'm not sure I would enjoy playing a game where the point was to be an evil, murdering thug. (But then I didn't like playing characters who were "chaotic evil" in D&D, either, so maybe it's just me. Some guys and gals I knew wouldn't play anything but bad guys.)

I'm even more mystified when I read that video games are a larger market than both movies and music. (Well, maybe not music so much anymore. Talk about an industry that slashed its own throat out of sheer stupidity, greed and stupidity.)

Anyway, if you're still reading, I prattled on about all of that merely to point out the ONE THING that I would find intriguing in a video game, but by circumstance will never experience...

One genre of video games is the movie tie-in, and more often than not, the stars of the movie submit to a full body scan so that their character can resemble them as much as possible. They might also provide any dialogue needed. Jada Pinkett Smith said that acting for the "Matrix" video game was much more work than doing the movie itself.

TLD: Wouldn't that be an odd career to have found oneself in? Scanning live, practically nude* major Hollywood stars covered in reflective marbles for your video game? Likely you would fit the uber-nerd profile (comme moi) and not have much experience with powerful, charismatic people, let alone having dated much, and there you are telling someone like Jada to hold still while you scan her quivering flesh. Those poor guys must practically pull it clean off when they get home. Most humble apologies to the more tender souls out there for that image.

*One aspect of the scanning process sometimes includes a nearly nude scan, according to Bruce Willis. I couldn't find examples of it on the web, natch, but do recall a few actors relating the joy of the experience.

So here's what I think would be a hoot:

If you were the child, sibling or spouse (or son/daughter-in-law! Yes!) of say, Bruce Willis, Jada Pinkett Smith, and all the other stars who've been, well, assimilated, you could buy the game they star in and make them do silly stuff, get them killed over and over again to work out that aggression, and so on and so forth. That would fun, I dare say.

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Games & PC Games News - Oct. 16, 2005


Is the PC game market? (Dallas Morning News)
The last few years have not been all fun and games for computer game fans, but that might be changing. As attention has shifted to sophisticated video game consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation 2, PC gamers have watched their preferred platform wither.

Xbox 360's New Media Play Finding Fans (eWeek)
Consumers were impressed by the expanded multimedia features of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 at the Digital Life conference, while gamers were excited to begin using the devices to access other types of services.

NewTek Releases Fifth Free Feature Update for LightWave 3D (Digital WebCast)
NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading 3D animation and video products, today announced the release of the fifth free update and the 64-bit port for Emmy award-winning LightWave 3D . Version 8.5 offers hardware support of OpenGL 2.0, the new Multishift tool with editable history, Photoshop -style texture blending modes, improved dynamics, and easier integration of third-party file formats.

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