Friday, November 25, 2011

Video Game Collectibles

I'm all for gamers getting hold of collectibles for games they like. Sure, it's geeky as hell and maybe you don't get to display them when polite company comes over -- Morrigan is one such figure at my house -- and right now there are plenty of deals out there. Take for instance Gaming Heads' huge Tank figure (from the Left 4 Dead games).

It's on sale right now through Sideshow Collectibles and worth serious consideration for fans. It's kind of a macabre figure to have on display and I think I'd rather have a Survivor diorama, but still you get what you pay for with figures like this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Video Kids Strike it Rich"

In the process of doing the research for the Radical Entertainment feature, I've been finding all sorts of interesting stuff related to the company. The most basic thing -- and I knew this prior to researching the feature -- was that Distinctive Software, founded in 1982 by Don Mattrick and Jeff Sember, played a crucial role not only in Radical's past but game development in Vancouver, period. Nearly all game development in Vancouver, BC can be traced back to Distinctive Software.

That's why it's interesting to stumble upon a clip of Mattrick and Sember in the CBC television archives. The show aired March 30, 1983. It's a neat bit of history:

One aspect I noted right away is that both of them are wearing suits. Quick name a game developer that wears a suit, even during a television interview? That's right. You can't. Even the execs go about things casually.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sitting On A Post

One aspect of running a website that takes a lot of oganization is scheduling reviews/articles to be posted in a timely manner. The biggest obstacle to my schedule and utilizing any organizational skills, the one thing that has me currently sitting on reviews of Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Battlefield 3 (among others!) is lack of time.

If my day had about another 3 hours -- a 27 hour clock -- I think I'd be set.

When I get home, I spend time with my family, then, when the kids are in bed, I'll hang out with my wife, sort out finances, take the dogs out, etc. By the time that's all done, I have very little time to actually get something posted and/or play a game. The only option I see since the 24-clock isn't going away anytime soon, is that I stop sleeping.

And there are problems with that option. So, that's why a backlog exists. I'm waiting for an hour or two to free itself up so I can jump in a get some of the backlog posted. It's at those rare moments where a little organization goes a long way in getting articles posted.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Upcoming Feature Close to Flowering

One of my pet projects that has been germinating since E3 is finally starting to really grow.

It was after a demo of Prototype 2 that I fully realized that Radical Entertainment has been around for 20 years. I wanted to know a little more of the history of the place and the Wikipedia entry was woefully uninformative. About the same time I was reading Harold Goldberg's "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" which chronicles some really interesting gaming histories, like Trip Hawkin's bold moves with Electronic Arts and the crippling emotional problems that spun out behind the scenes of 11th Guest. I got to thinking about writing a comprehensive history of Radical Entertainment.

So, I started doing some digging, making calls, and sending probing emails. At least one of the key figures in Radical's history has been stand-offish -- waiting to see just who else would agree to be part of the story and offer some insight into the company's last 20 years. Suddenly in the last few days there's been a surge of progress. Things are in the works. It's not "finished" by any means but hopefully -- my fingers are crossed -- this feature will break right before the launch of Prototype 2, the company's 35th title to see release. (Past titles include "Mario's Time Machine" (1993), "Independence Day" (1997), "The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction" (2005), and "The Simpsons: Hit & Run" (2003).

Maybe the best part of this Feature is that I'll be seeking the help/advice/guidance of an actual Editor so the whole thing makes sense and comes together as a coherent story.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FTC Endorsement Guides

With the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 press package I received there was a sheet included titled "ATTENTION - IMPORTANT NOTICE" which seemed a little redundant given that it's all in underlined bold caps. Here's a scan of the document:

I had to Google "FTC Endorsement Guides."

"FTC" stands for "Federal Trade Commission" which was established in 1914 "to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce as part of the battle to “bust the trusts.”" Being a Canadian (living in Canada, no less) this is kind of the first I'm heating about the FTC ant its endorsement guides. More than ten years into the enterprise of The Armchair Empire and I don't think I've ever acknowledged that we receive review copies of games. I feel so guilty! It's on a rare occasion that any money is spent on a game to review it -- usually a copy just shows up from the publisher. (Dead Island was the last game I had to buy.) This note from Activision got me thinking about the topic. I can think of only a precious handful of gaming sites out there that make any effort at offering this particular information. (I mean, aside from the usual unboxing videos and casual bragging that happens on gaming podcasts.)

I'll certainly be making some changes to how this information is conveyed to our readers in some obvious way, until then I have to admit that Activision sent us the "Hardened" version of Modern Warfare 3 (for PS3).

I feel better already.

Saints Row: The Third

So, I just posted Tazman's review of Saints Row: The Third and he seems to have enjoyed it quite a bit. Click the gratuitous cleavage shot to reach the climax of the full review (you know you want to):

I'm playing the Playstation 3 version between bouts of Battlefield 3, which is pretty damn awesome (outside the single player campaign which is merely so-so). Saints Row: The Third has some pretty sharp writing and never seems to take itself seriously. It's a game world, and the designers revel in it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Post the First

The first post is typically where the writer would explain why they're writing the blog and what they hope to convey or gain from blogging. I have none of that really. This blog is an outlet for my horrible creative urges. I have to put them somewhere and sometimes putting them on The Armchair Empire just isn't suitable. That's the short of it.

The long of it is, expect to see pictures of beers that I've quaffed, books I've read, and games I've played -- all with plenty of commentary and one-liners that are usually very successful at amusing me and only me. I might even throw in some info on what I'm working on next. So, until then, enjoy this G-rated picture of my foot alongside Playboy's Gamer Next Door, Jo Garcia:

Redefining "business casual."