Sunday, September 30, 2007

Halo 3: Unedited

This week's column contained a heavily edited version of what Chad George and Robert Evans thought about the game. Here is their thoughts, plus all of the stuff I left out.

Chad George

Let's start by saying up front that I am not a Halo fan, never have been. The first game was amazing in the fact that it raised the bar for all future first person shooters by letting gamers do what they wanted all along; play against a computer controlled enemy that actually "thought." The following game had one of the best multiplayer components to date. The final chapter is simply a prettied up version of those two combined. Don't get me wrong, the graphic are absolutely amazing in single player and multiplayer... but at the end of the day, Halo 3 is the same run and gun game it has always been. The single player campaign is short and, while I have not 'finished the fight,' it seems the all the hype poured into the game is just that. Gameplay is smooth and the enemies are smarter ( i.e. they form together to attack en masse, run off to alert comrades, etc...) but it is extremely linear. In this time of open world exploration and sand-box games(think BioShock and Grand Theft Auto,) one would think that Microsoft's biggest release of the year would include the ability to go where you wanted, when you wanted. There is a bit of the ability to roam, but there are definite boundaries that force you to fight enemy A and then enemy B. Halo 3 doesn't do anything new, but it is very pretty. In the end, all you have to remember to win the game is: Don't run out of bullets.

On the other hand, the multiplayer is very robust. The sheer number of game variations, addition of the theater, and the "Forge" make this an online game to have. Finding a game online is very easy and matches you with people of the same skill level (rank) 99% of the time. Additionally, if you have a large friend's list you can have a group of up to 16 people in the game so you know who you're playing against. If you make a great kill, find a spot to snipe, or just want to show off to your friends the ability to record and share your game movie is a perfect addition, as well as being able to take a snapshot from the gameplay. The forge lets you change any map to your liking to make things different from any other map. You cannot change the map itself ( i.e. can't move a mountain, add grass, etc...) but you can add weapons, vehicles, and spawn points... among other things.

In my opinion, Halo 3 is a must have if you enjoy online gaming and have a Gold Xbox Live membership. Other than that, I would probably rent it or add it to my GameFly list.

Robert Evans

Halo 3, the conclusion to one of the most influential game trilogies this generation, sold over 170 million dollars in sales on the first day, setting a new industry record.


For the conclusion to an epic story such as Halo's, the campaign of Halo 3 was relatively short. The campaign features nine levels with some of the most epic enemy encounters and massive battles in any video game. For skilled players, though, you can play through the entire multiplayer experience on Legendary (the hardest difficulty in the game) in around seven hours.

The story is extremely immersive and creates a great conclusion to the Halo Trilogy. Halo 3's campaign felt very much like Halo: Combat Evolved, a very good improvement over the lacking Halo 2 campaign. However, many storylines from the second games were completely forgotten in the final title (such as the religious conflict between the many branches of the Covenant).

Multiplayer

The real fun begins when you load Halo 3 multiplayer and begin playing with friends in your house, on your block, or anywhere around the world. Locally, up to four players can participate in Halo 3 multiplayer and two players can cooperatively play through the campaign. Over system link, up to 16 players can play in multiplayer and up to four players can cooperatively play through the campaign. Likewise, players from around the world can join with their friends or strangers to challenge others in multiplayer or invite friends to help them in the campaign.

Weapons

The weapons in Halo 3 have seen some changes since the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta earlier this year. Two weapons that saw the greatest changes between the Beta and the final game are the sniper and beam rifles. Unlike in Halo 2 and the Beta, you must be much more accurate and even lead your prey when trying to kill them with the sniper rifle (much like Halo: Combat Evolved).

The Gravity Hammer, a weildable Brute melee weapon, was also added to the game. This weapon rivals the Energy Sword in power (the gravity hammer can kill enemies in one hit and knock vehicles, players, and even rockets out of the way), but lack greatly in speed. Two inflammatory weapons, the Flamethrower and Incendiary Grenade, have also been added to the game to let us burn each other up.

Forge and Theater

Two of the coolest new features in Halo 3 are Forge, a limited multiplayer map editor, and the Theater. Forge allows players to edit elements of multiplayer maps, such as weapon placement, vehicles, spawns, and even objectives, and save their new creations to share with players in the community.

The theater is a video playback feature that allows players to watch videos of their latest multiplayer and campaign games, take screenshots of the action to save to their computers in high definition, or capture clips to share with their friends over Xbox Live.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday's column

I'll post some of the unedited stuff I got tomorrow.

‘Halo 3’ — is it worth the hype?

This week, I’m guzzling my special-edition “Halo 3” Mountain Dew and taking it easy. I know some local folks who have a better perspective on this “Halo 3” madness than me.

Chad George, in addition to being the general manager of Oxford’s International House of Pancakes, knows his video games. Robert Evans keeps his own “Halo” blog.

Here’s what they had to say:

Robert Evans: For the conclusion to an epic story such as “Halo’s,” the campaign of “Halo 3” was relatively short. Skilled players can run through the entire nine-level multiplayer experience on Legendary (the hardest setting in the game) in about seven hours. The story is immersive and is a great conclusion to the “Halo” trilogy. However, many storylines from the second games were completely forgotten in the final title.

The real fun begins when you play “Halo 3” on multiplayer mode with friends in your house, on your block or anywhere around the world.

Two of the coolest new features in “Halo 3” are “forge,” a limited multiplayer map editor, and the “theater.” Forge allows players to edit elements of multiplayer maps, such as weapon placement, and save their new creations to share with other players.

The “theater” is a feature that allows players to watch videos of their latest multiplayer and campaign games, take screenshots of the action to save to their computers in high definition or capture clips to share with their friends over Xbox Live.

Chad George: I am not a “Halo” fan. I thought the first game was amazing. It raised the bar for all future first-person shooters by letting gamers play against a computer-controlled enemy that actually “thought.” The sequel had one of the best multiplayer components to date. The final chapter is simply a prettied up version of those two combined.

Don’t get me wrong; the graphics are absolutely amazing. The sheer number of game variations makes this an online game to have. But at the end of the day, “Halo 3” is the same run-and-gun game it has always been. In the end, all you have to remember to win the game is: Don’t run out of bullets.

“Halo 3” doesn’t do anything new, but it is very pretty. “Halo 3” is a must-have if you enjoy online gaming. Other than that, I would probably rent it.

I hate zombies

First of all, they’re undead, which makes them hard to kill. Secondly, they appear out of nowhere demanding my delicious “braaiiins.”

“Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition” is a great game, simply because I get to shoot these things in the head. Lots of people give video games grief for their graphic depictions of violence, and there’s certainly a buffet of gore in this game, true. But if you can think of a less bloody way to dispose of zombies, I’d like to hear it. I say shoot them all. With the Wii mote, that is.

“Resident Evil” gets four buttons out of five.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Something I love


If you've got lots of time to kill at work, enjoy flash animation done really well, have an appreciation for absurd humor, or just like cartoons, Homestarrunner.com is the place for you.

The site revolves around a group of characters best described as "too weird for children's television, but appropriate for all ages."

The main character, in my opinion, is Strong Bad. You'll wanna check out his emails, which are the most often updated thing on the site. Among the ones that are must-see are "Dragon", "Virus", "Army", "4 Branches", "Garage Sale", "Animal", "Caffeine", "Kids' Book" and "Caper".

There are some duds, but for the most part it should have you giggling.

In the "Toons" and "Shorts" menu, look up the Cheat Commandos for superb G.I. Joes parody, and enjoy the "Teen Girl Squad".

Heavenly Goodness


I rented "Heavenly Sword" for the PlayStation 3 last night and I was not disappointed. There have been a lot of comparisons made between this game and the "God of War" series. I can see it, but so far, I think "Heavenly Sword" does some things much better. The cinematics and acting are definitely making the best use of the PS3's raw power.

Expect a full review next week.

"Halo 3" story in Biz section.

Local retailers report strong sales for ‘Halo 3’
A ‘Halo 3’ guide book and the game are displayed at Best Buy. Along with the game, players can also buy Halo game consoles and controllers. Photo: Kevin Qualls/The Anniston Star

“Halo 3,” one Internet spoof video contends, will cure cancer and end hunger, among other world improvements.

The game wraps up the trilogy of a sprawling science-fiction story starring the character Master Chief, a superhuman soldier. It also has a battle mode, where players can fight each other online.

Microsoft racked up $170 million worth of sales in the U.S. during the first 24 hours of the game’s release Tuesday. They called it “the biggest entertainment launch in history.”

But is the “Halo 3” living up to its own hype by meeting the expectations of retailers and area gamers?

For the most part, yes, they say.

More >>

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I have a Roxas t-shirt

I don't know a thing about "Halo 3" but I do have more Kingdom Hearts babble! :)

A friend of mine designed these really awesome Organization XIII-themed t-shirts and I finally got my hands on one. This one is a Roxas shirt!


The front


The back


Totally not nerdy in the least, nope! ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I want my "Halo 3"

I know, I know- it's the biggest video game launch of the year and where is my coverage? Well, as I've admitted in a previous column I just don't get into "Halo" as much as some people- like my brother, for example.

That doesn't mean we'll be slacking- I'm gathering the thoughts of a special few in the area who not only play "Halo" but give it the attention fans deserve. Their voices will be in this week's column. I'm now working on an article for Friday's business page on how local businesses did with the release.

So you'll get the "Halo 3" stories- but it might not be as in-your-face as all the hype we've seen leading up to it. Sorry, but I don't do hype.

Wii crap?

Electronic Gaming Monthly has an article in its November issue taking a hard look at how Nintendo's standards for the Wii and DS have gone downhill. I agree there are a lot of crappy games for the Wii, but I'm not sure why they're any worse than the ones I've seen on the PS3 or Xbox 360.

They argue its easier to get games greenlighted with Nintendo than it is with the PS3 or Xbox 360. While it may increase the amount of godawful titles out there, it might give unlikely games a chance to make it onto the shelves. Just playing both sides of the argument.

So its time for another poll: are Nintendo's standards getting too low? You can vote on the right side of the blog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The long-awaited launch of Halo 3 is upon us but there's a problem

'Halo 3' packaging scratches disks

By Jessica Mintz
AP Technology Writer

SEATTLE — Within hours after die-hard fans finally got their hands on a copy of "Halo 3," blogs brimmed with reports that special limited-edition packaging is scratching the video game disks.

Microsoft Corp., which owns the studio that makes "Halo 3," responded quickly on its Xbox Web site with details for a replacement program. Customers can fill out a form and send in their scratched limited-edition disks for a free exchange through the end of December.

A Microsoft spokesman and a member of the company's outside PR firm did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails from The Associated Press requesting more information.

More >>

This week's column.

My column for this week will focus on what local fans thought of the much-anticipated "Halo 3." I'll also have a little blurb about my new favorite zombie-huntin' game, "Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Three new Kingdom Hearts titles

I keep getting wind of more and more Kingdom Hearts news. Exciting! Three new titles have been announced: Kingdom Hearts Coded, 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep. Coded is unfortunately a game that most Americans won't get a chance to play, as it is yet another cell phone game in the works. Cell phone games are increasingly popular in Japan and I don't see that trend catching on here anytime soon, so that makes me sad. :(

However, 358/2 Days is being released on the Nintendo DS and Birth By Sleep for the PSP. I have no doubts that those will make it over here since KH is insanely popular in the U.S. But I still have my fingers crossed.

Very excited for the things I've heard about 358/2 Days! You will be following Roxas's adventures this time and I'm still really confused on the exact time frames - something about the number of days Sora was asleep and then the number of days before Roxas's story starts - anyway, the Organization XIII will be involved as well! I'm hoping we get to see Roxas's point-of-view while working within the Organization and all that. Yay!

Here is the Birth By Sleep trailer - some people might recognize it from the end of the KH: Final Mix+ game, the one where everyone thought it was more KH3 for the PS3 teasers. (I'm still anxious to see what will come of a Kingdom Hearts + PlayStation 3 marriage ...)



Now I'm going to have to grow some money for a PSP. Curse you gadgets! @__@

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blood elves are made of win

I finally downloaded Burning Crusades, the expansion pack to World of Warcraft. I wanted it from the start because I was going to be a horde character and I didn't like the way any of them looked except for the blood elves. That particular race is only available if you get the expansion pack. Anyway, long story short, I have my level 20 troll rogue and now I have a lovely level 11 blood elf warlock!

Now I realize that the blood elf race is a lot more than prettier faces. They are made of awesome and win. This Penny Arcade comic that a friend sent me sums it up best:

(click image for full-size)



Source: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/10/17

Zombie hunting


So I've been playing "Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition" and I have to say: any game where I can shoot zombies is a good game, generally speaking.

"RE4" has a solid control scheme which doesn't feel tacked-on, like some other Wii games I could mention.

The graphics, while certainly not on par with the PlayStation 3, aren't too shabby. The dialogue falls really flat in places but, you know, it's a game about shooting zombies.

I really can't emphasize this enough. I just love blowing the heads off of zombies. Its like playing "Grand Theft Auto" without the anti-social guilt. I just wish the undead weren't so hard to kill.

In other news, the people who bothered to vote on the poll have spoken. I'm getting a PS3. Whoo-ah.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Devil May Cry 4 trailer

Well, the Devil May Cry 4 trailer is mighty pretty.




All the more reason to buy that PS3, I think? Hahaha!

Alabama man blames murders on video games

We ran this story today about an Alabama man accused of murdering police officers in Fayette. His defense? "Grand Theft Auto" made me do it.

Attorneys say game played role in deaths
Associated Press
09-20-2007

MONTGOMERY — An attorney for Devin Moore, sentenced to death for the killing of two Fayette police officers and a dispatcher, argued that Moore did not get a fair trial because the judge refused to allow expert testimony that he shot the victims because of a violent video game.

Moore’s attorney, Angela L. Setzer, told the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in arguments Tuesday that the trial judge erred when he did not allow testimony that Moore lost contact with reality because of his continuous playing of the game Grand Theft Auto. It’s a game where players assume the role of criminals, who sometimes shoot police officers.

Read the rest of it here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition"




Tonight I went to Hollywood Video and rented a copy of "Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition." After running out of bullets in the first 15 minutes, I was pummeled by Spanish-speaking (I think?) zombies. This game is not as simple as it looks.

In a completely unrelated gaming matter, I've learned LucasArts is developing a Wii light-saber game!!!

Whether they'll put out any lightsaber shaped Wii-motes remains to be seen, but I got to say, this news brightened my day a bit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Expect to get your Smash on


I know this has me excited, and it should excite you too. "Smash Bros. Brawl" is going to be online-playable.

"UK, September 18, 2007 - Nintendo has smashed fears that the eagerly-awaited "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" won't make use of Wii's Wi-Fi Connection by announcing a four-player online battle mode and saying that more Wi-Fi modes will be revealed in the weeks to come.

Within the battle mode there are two options - fight friends (who you've exchanged Friend Codes with) or scrap with anyone across the globe. When taking on pals you can check if they're playing online, request a match and enter short pre-set messages after brawls by using the d-pad."

Check it out here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Joystiq.com reports leaked "Halo 3" ending is a popular Google query



Check out this from the writers at Joystiq.com. As of right now, the "Halo 3" ending is number 27th in Google searches. Apparently someone selling a copy of it leaked the ending on eBay. I would be terribly offended by this if "Halo" had a coherent plot to begin with.

Apparently, some wise-ass decided to take advantage of the hype and posted this bunk link to the "Halo 3" ending.

It truly is the best day ever.

Upcoming games

I was going to do a post about some upcoming games I'd like to see this morning, but I checked my e-mail and wouldn't you know it? Movie Gallery sent me its own corporate survey about what games Teens and "Tweens" want the most.

Thanks for the time saver, Movie Gallery.

TWEENS AND TEENS REVEAL THEIR HOLIDAY VIDEO GAME WISH LISTS

Guitar Hero, Mario Party DS, Super Mario Galaxy, My Sims and Halo 3 Among Most-Wanted Games for
8-17 Year-Olds; Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 Among Most-Coveted Game Systems


WILSONVILLE, Ore. – (September 17, 2007) – Video games and game systems will continue to be hot holiday
gifts this year, with more than 80 percent of tweens and teens expecting to ask for a video game title, game console
or handheld system, according to a recent survey by Game Crazy, a video game specialty retailer. Game Crazy went
straight to the source to find out the video game gifts that will make kids happiest during the holidays. The survey
found that, across all ages and genders, Guitar Hero, Mario Party DS, Super Mario Galaxy, My Sims and Halo 3 are
some of the most-wanted video game titles. The Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 will also continue to be hot sellers.

Most-Wanted Games (8-17 Year-Old Boys and Girls)

• Guitar Hero (Rated T)
• Mario Party DS (Rating Pending)
• Super Mario Galaxy (Rating Pending)
• My Sims (Rated E)
• Halo 3 (Rated M)
Girls
° 8-10 Years-Olds:

• Nintendogs (Rated E)
• Mario Party DS (Rating Pending)
• My Sims (Rated E)
• Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Rating Pending)
• Guitar Hero (Rated T)
° 11-13 Years-Old:

• My Sims (Rated E)
• Mario Party DS (Rating Pending)
• Nintendogs (Rated E)
• Super Mario Galaxy (Rating Pending)
• Guitar Hero (Rated T)
° 14-17 Years-Old:

• Guitar Hero (Rated T)
• My Sims (Rated E)
• Mario Party DS (Rating Pending)
• Super Mario Galaxy (Rating Pending)
• Halo 3 (Rated M)

Boys
° 8-10 Years-Old:

• Super Mario Galaxy (Rating Pending)
• Pokemon Battle Revolution (Rated E)
• Mario Party DS (Rating Pending)
• Transformers (Rated E10+ or T)
• Mario Strikers Charged (Rated E10+)
° 11-13 Years-Old:

• Guitar Hero (Rated T)
• Halo 3 (Rated M)
• Madden 08 (Rated E)
• Need for Speed: Prostreet (Rating Pending)
• Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground (Rated E10+ or T)
° 14-17 Years-Old:

• Halo 3 (Rated M)
• Guitar Hero (Rated T)
• Madden 08 (Rated E)
• Super Mario Galaxy(Rating Pending)
• Need for Speed: Prostreet (Rating Pending)
Most-Wanted Video Game Systems:

Girls

• 8-10 Years-Old: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony PS3
• 11-13 Years-Old: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony PS3
• 14-17 Years-Old: Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, XBOX 360
Boys

• 8-10 Years-Old: Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, XBOX 360
• 11-13 Years-Old: Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, XBOX 360
• 14-17 Years-Old: Sony PS3, XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii
SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The Game Crazy survey was conducted online August 17-20, 2007, by Weekly Reader Research. 1,000 U.S. male
and female participants, ages 8-17, were recruited from Weekly Reader Research’s INSIDERS survey research
community. Random sampling procedures were employed to ensure the respondents accurately reflect the nation’s

42.7 million 8-17 year olds in terms of age, race/ethnicity, gender and census region. The margin of error is +/-3.2
percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.
About Game Crazy

Game Crazy® (www.gamecrazy.com) is the nation’s second largest specialty game retailer with more than 600
locations across the country. Hollywood Entertainment of Wilsonville, Oregon was acquired in 2005 by Movie
Gallery, Inc. and operates Game Crazy. Movie Gallery, Inc. is the second largest North American home
entertainment specialty retailer with more than 4,000 stores located in all 50 U.S. states and Canada.

LittleBigPlanet - Help me help you

I'm still trying to figure out what LittleBigPlanet is about exactly ... but whatever it is, it looks REALLY COOL! Check it out for yourself! :)



Apparently players are supposed to help each other move along by swinging, bouncing, climbing and whatever else you can do to each other. It looks adorably fun. The full version is expected to be out in early 2008. *grabby hands* Looks like it is time to convince Dan that we need to buy that PS3 from our friend after all. ;) I'm just waiting for all the girl-friendly games to emerge ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Funny "Halo 3" video

Few things can bring about world peace like "Halo."

Working, but still having a little fun


Whenever I have a larger, Sunday centerpiece story due, I always give myself a little extra time by coming to the office, sorting through my pile of notes and making some early attempts at a first draft. I enjoy being here when everything is a bit less hectic. I find it helps my writing process more than writing at home, because I don't have tempting distractions like the PlayStation 3 or "World of Warcraft."

But whenever I get get writer's block on a big story like this, I have a secret weapon. "Big Brain Academy" for Nintendo's DS lite is good for a five minute break with its menu of brain-teaser games. It helps to get my mind onto something else for a moment so when I return to the subject at hand, I have a bit of a refreshed perspective.

It helps make these extra-curricular work days feel like college...if only for a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party is just around the corner!


John was over visiting us tonight and we started talking about the new Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party that is coming out for the Wii. I just realized that it's due out this October! We are super excited - so excited in fact that I think we probably will end up shooting video of ourselves being dancing idiots the day it comes out. HOT! :D

Friday, September 14, 2007

Column for Saturday, Sept. 15

The “WOW” effect

Meet Blitzcreg. He’s a noble soul at peace with the earth mother. He also looks like a giant cow. He’s my new Tauren druid character on “World of Warcraft” and he’s almost level 17.

“WoW” is a Massively Multiplayer Online game, where players from all over the world make characters of different races and join one of two opposing teams; the Alliance or the Horde. People on the same team kill monsters and collect treasure together; people on opposing teams kill each other.

Frankly, I didn’t think much of “WoW” when I first played it. I loaded it, used it for about two days, and then had a vision of the future. I saw myself sitting in front of my computer for weeks on end, a handprint-shaped cheese-puff stain on my double extra large T-shirt.

The game went back in the box and I didn’t touch it again. Then I went to Dragon*Con. I was fascinated by how normal it was to play “WoW”; how everyone connected to it on a very casual level.

Millions of people play “WoW.” For computer gamers, it’s become the MySpace of MMOS. You can get a lot accomplished on “WoW” just by logging on for 30 minutes to an hour. It’s very easy to stay longer, if you have the time. But I get the feeling I’ll be a casual “WoW” gamer, for now. Blitzcreg will show up every once and a while, like a John Wayne with bullhorns, pop off a few spells at some Alliance scum and clip-clop off into the artificial sunset.

It’s the way it was meant to be.




“Metroid Prime 3: Corruption”

Among the franchises Nintendo has created, the “Metroid” series has stood out: Its hero is female and playing it involves massive amounts of backtracking and retracing steps. In almost every other “Metroid” game, the sense of isolation is palpable. It adds suspense in a way zombies, gore and dark lighting just can’t. It’s one thing to be fighting evil in the dark; when you’re fighting evil alone you could be doing it in a field of daisies and you’d still be on edge.

And that’s really the only gripe I have with the new “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption”; you’re not alone.

Granted, it is nice for the franchise to try something new. But there are never any moments where you feel it’s just you against the world. There are other bounty hunters, and galactic Marines. Even your own spaceship can be called in to help. The atmosphere never feels quite right.

Otherwise, this game is amazing. The graphics are excellent and the gameplay (from new weapons, Hyper Mode and evil puzzles) is one-of-a-kind. It gets five buttons out of five. End of story. Just know that if you’re a “Metroid” purist, you’ll love it, but not the way you loved the original.

— John Dietrich

Random thoughts to start my morning

I picked up my edition of Gamepro this morning and it contains a feature on the upcoming "Grand Theft Auto IV." You can pre-order copies from developer Rockstar here.

I have fond memories of playing in the sandbox of "GTA: III" and "GTA San Andreas." I particularly enjoyed breaking out the often hilarious cheat codes, like the one where all of the pedestrians become ninjas or where you get a super-powered arsenal. Then it was time to wreak havoc.

I am contemplating the purchase of a PlayStation 3. I know what you're thinking, "No way I'd pay $600 for that." And you're right. But I'm actually contemplating a very sweet deal from a friend. It would mean one more gaming console in front of my television set, but the PS3 is so shiny- and, lets be fair, it has a better handle on shoot-em up, action games than the Wii and has its head in the right place on the use of the Internet. (The Wii's "friend code" garbage doesn't do it for me.)

So I'll put it to whoever reads this column. Should I buy a PS3 for a ridiculously discounted price? Let me know what you think. The poll is on the right side of the blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom"


Picked up this title for Sony's PlayStation 3. It's a fairly old one, but it looked cool. Unfortunately, it's not much better than the older-style "Dungeons&Dragons" arcade game and its just as repetitive.

And this really should've been a PlayStation 2 game, I think.

Europe to get silver DS Lite


On October 12, Europeans will be able to go grab the DS Lite in a new color - silver. This new color will be available alongside the white, black and pink DS Lites.

Man, they get silver? Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my pink DS Lite but I imagine if I had a silver option I might have gotten that one instead. I can't really nitpick about colors though ... Japan has a metallic rose. That's like silver-y pink! Yep ...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sony PR guy leaves to work for liquor company


I always knew David Karraker's gig as Sony Computer Entertainment America's Senior Director of Corporate Communications would drive him to alcohol.

I wish Karraker all the best in his new gig. Now if I could just find someone at Sony who will hook me up with some review-copies of upcoming games......

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Really awesome Organization XIII costumes

This is a bit random but I came across a post in one of the Kingdom Hearts Livejournal communities with some amazing Organization XIII costumes! Probably some of the best (especially their Axel and Roxas) I've seen in a while, even if they didn't have all 13 members there ...



For those out of the loop, the costumes are based on these guys - Organization XIII - the baddies of the Kingdom Hearts video games. (OMG best villains EVER! :D )




The original Livejournal post can be found here.

"Army of Two."

My friend, local "Halo" champ Dustin McLaughlin, said there's a lot of early buzz about an upcoming EA game called "Army of Two."

I got to admit, after looking at a few of these trailers, it looks like a pretty aweseome game.




I've heard it will be released for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sometime during the holiday season. I look forward to seeing what its all about.

Find out more news and tidbits
here.

Thanks for the heads up, Dustin.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New "Superman" movie stars Adam Baldwin



Last nigh I was watching television when I caught a preview for the upcoming Superman: Doomsday straight-to-DVD movie. Actor Adam Baldwin plays Superman.

Of course, people who watch this blog, particularly the 76th Independent Battillion here in Anniston, know Adam from his work on the show Firefly.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

It pays to have lvl 70 WoW friends

I'm kind of falling asleep at my desk. Hrmmm, I wonder if it has anything to do with playing World of Warcraft until 5 a.m. this morning? -_-


Because of an unfortunate overtime football game, the night owls here at The Star didn't finish up until 2 a.m., so when I got home I was a little reluctant to plop myself back down in front of a computer screen.

But WoW has a way of beckoning you in and I was sitting there thinking to myself "Oh, I can just finish up one quest real quick like and then go to bed..."

Upon logging in I saw that a friend of mine, the very same friend who urged us to try WoW again, was online so I sent him a message just to say hello. He responded with an invite to this city, which I think is a central hub on our server, and a promise of treasure. Treasure! Okay, sounded good to me. (My friend is a level 70 warlock and has been hooking us up since we started. Am I cheating? It sure is saving me a lot of time ...)

So I meet up with him and he leads me to this dungeon where some pretty scary creatures apparently drop some good items at my level (currently 13). I get instructions to follow him in, stay back, don't hit anything and loot like crazy when the beasties are dead. On top of getting some cool stuff, I also got experience points for everything he killed! :D

Not gonna lie, I'm anxious to get to high levels and I want to do it as fast as possible because these FedEx quests are getting boring and I'm sick of getting my butt kicked by centaurs (current quest I'm on - very annoying, those centaurs).

Yep, WoW is fun. Yes, addicting. I'll continue to chronicle my feelings on the game and whether or not Dan and I decide to invest in the $40 expansion pack in a couple of weeks.

There's no point to this post really



Other than to say the Tauren race in "World of Warcraft" remind me of the Chik-Fil-A cows....

Kingdom Hearts novels: C'mon Disney, where are they?


There has been quite the hubbub around the Kingdom Hearts fandom about two upcoming novelizations of the popular video game. (KH fans need to have something to get excited about since KH3 is but a rumor at this point.) Disney Press was supposed to have released them in August 2007 but eager fans, many who had pre-ordered the books, have been told by Barnes & Noble that the release date has been pushed back to July 2008. July 2008! Another year??

Amazon, Borders and the B&N websites still have August 2007 as the release date, but only the option to pre-order is available.

All I've heard is speculation as to what the novels will be about ... most likely centering around the plot in Kingdom Hearts II and hopefully with more background information on Organization XIII. I also hope they get to cover scenes that didn't make it into the video game.

The first novel is called Kingdom Hearts: The First Door and the second is Kingdom Hearts: Darkness Within.

Anticipation! I want to get my hands on these already! :)

Official portal for the Kingdom Hearts video game series

Close Call



In the process of cleaning up my kitchen this morning, I had a mini-George Foreman grill fall on my left ring finger. Fortunately, it did not hinder my ability to play "World of Warcraft."

My Tauren druid is 14th level, going on 15 and has the ability to shapeshift into the form of a bear.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

column for next Saturday

Ramping up the columns this month. I'm planning to follow up Saturday's column with some of John Dietrich's observations on "Metroid Prime 3: Corruption" and my own musings on the universal appeal of "World of Warcraft."

Found this awesome video on how to convert your Nintendo Wii remote to play "WOW."

I can think of a lot of other games this would come in handy for.



This guy calls himself Poochthedawg and you can find more of his videos here.

I believe his blog is called the Wiicast.

This week's column.

Here's the column for this week. You can see the online version here.

It's free.

Dragon*Con 2007 — Trying to separate fantasy from reality


Dragon*Con, the annual science fiction, fantasy and pop culture festival held in Atlanta, has seen its attendance numbers swell to 30,000 over the last two years.

But Dragon*Con 2007 wasn’t over before people attending it began to vent online: The crowds seemed bigger; there was a tedious wait for some events and elevators, and the food was ridiculously expensive.

There were some wild stories online about problems caused by what many thought was a larger-than-usual crowd. Some I found hard to believe. Some sounded ominously true. After reading a variety of accounts, I felt the need to separate fantasy from reality.

Chris Anderson, director of sales and marketing for the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, said Dragon*Con attendance grows 15 to 20 percent every year. Star Roberts, media relations director for Dragon*Con said Friday the official number for this year is 30,000, the same number the convention has reported for the past two years. Hotel staff I spoke with said they thought the convention was bigger this year. It could be a perception generated by construction issues at one of the host hotels.

The convention in 2007 was held in three hotels, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the Atlanta Hilton. Anderson and the Marriott staff felt Dragon*Con’s growing pains this year. The Marriott’s 25,000-square-foot ballroom is being renovated, causing corporate vendors and exhibitors to relocate to the Hilton. The Marriott was stuck in the middle of the three hotels but had less space to accommodate the throngs of visitors who passed through its doors. The Walk of Fame, where fans gather to meet celebrities from their favorite movies and shows, also moved to the Marriott this year.

“What that caused was us simply to be the superhighway and a bottleneck between the Hilton ... and the Hyatt,” Anderson said, adding later, “People just wanted to hang out and wait in that bottleneck, causing a lot of problems.”

Anderson said hotel staff encouraged people to walk around the Marriott to the Hyatt and, for the most part, traffic kept moving. The constant flow of fans moving to different floors did break an escalator, he said.

“We had enough weight on one of them that it actually bent an entire gearbox,” Anderson said.

Among the more well-publicized issues this year was the fire marshal blocking access to the Hyatt because of crowding. Brian Richardson, producer of convention’s Dragon*Con TV channel, said, “They blocked access coming back into the Hyatt, because the lobby at one point had so many people in it because they were stopping to take pictures. It became so full that the Atlanta Police Department and the fire marshal felt if they added more people it would be a fire hazard.”

Roberts said, “Due to the size of the crowds, the fire marshal did temporarily shut down entry to the Hyatt on several occasions throughout the convention — all during evening hours when the crowd was the thickest.”

Richardson said he knew of one person who had a heart attack.

“Statistically, if you get 30,000 people in (one place) you’re going to have a medical problem,” Richardson said. “We’ve had staffers (in the past) who have fallen down escalators. This is not unusual for a crowd this size.”

Roberts could not confirm the number or type of medical emergencies this year, but said no deaths were reported and emergency crews did not have a problem getting to patients.

I contacted the Atlanta Police Department and asked if there were any major security problems at the event this year. Judy Pal, the public information officer for APD, told me officers on the ground didn’t report anything unusual.

“It wasn’t a social event on our radar,” Pal told me. “These kinds of events happen in Atlanta all the time.”

I didn’t take this to mean there were no security problems at all. They simply weren’t a big deal for a city the size of Atlanta.

Richardson said Dragon*Con organizers have discussed both limiting the size of the convention and expanding the number of host hotels as the convention grows.

“The convention size was the reason the Hilton was added two years ago,” Richardson said.

Roberts said over the next year there will be “much discussion” about spreading out events more evenly among the three hotels.

“We definitely prefer expansion over capping badges, but no decisions have been made,” Roberts said. “We are still trying to process the events of this year and decide what is best for the convention and the fans.”

One host hotel is expanding to meet such needs..

“Next year we’re adding 45,000 square feet of convention space and Dragon*Con is taking all of it,” Anderson said about the Marriott renovations, adding later, “We want to grow with this show because we know if we don’t, this show will move.”

Richardson said some armchair quarterbacking (or in this case, dungeon mastering) is common after the convention, but he said getting 30,000 people in and out of a convention safely using mostly volunteers is a remarkable feat.

“For a convention of this size, the problems we’re having are not necessarily bad problems to have,” he said.

I think organizers should think about two things for next year: Encouraging guests to take alternate routes around hotels and setting up clearer rules for taking pictures. Guests who stay on the first 10 floors of the host hotels would fare better if they used the stairs instead of the elevator. I was on the 16th floor and found walking downstairs was often more efficient, and walking around the hotels is often a better option than cutting through them.

Because taking pictures is such a huge part of the event, I think the rules need to be clear up front. I know my media agreement barred picture-taking in the lobbies and other common areas, but this rule was inconsistently enforced for other guests. And, while I have nothing but respect for convention staffers, hearing people say “No picture-taking” over and over again gets a little old.

There should be more areas where people can sit down and rest. The hotels provide their own lobby furniture, but it wasn’t uncommon to see people sprawled out on the floors.

I have my own selfish gripes (there weren’t nearly enough events devoted to video games.) But I’m definitely going back next year, because few experiences compare to seeing a grown man dressed up as a Muppet.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Online gaming is really where it's at

I saw this article on IGN.com and figured I'd pass it along. Enjoy:

"Console games with some type of online feature have become commonplace, at least on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. And with good reason -- a new report from research firm Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDR) finds that games with online components can bring in more than twice the revenue of offline titles.

A summary of the reports findings published on Reuters shows that games that allow online multiplayer result in twice the revenue of those that don't, and titles with at least some online component will bring in up to 25 percent more than completely offline games.

"Developers who are not embracing online opportunities to a greater level are leaving money on the table," said Geoffrey Zatkin, president and COO of EEDR."

For more, go to:

ign.com

Anime to check out : Death Note

As I've mentioned before, I'm an anime fan in addition to playing video games. In my mind, anime and video games pretty much go together like peas and carrots. Or biscuits and gravy, since we're in the South after all.

I've gotten a little behind in my anime watching, but the last series I finished recently was an awesome one. Death Note is about a super student, Light Yagami, who is generally bored with life but one day happens upon a little black notebook called a 'death note'. It was dropped, on purpose, into the human world by an equally bored Shinigami death god named Ryuk. Light discovers that any name written into the Death Note will cause that person to die and he vows to use his newfound "power" to rid the world of all evil. As more and more criminals begin dropping like flies, the Japanese police send for their secret weapon, a legendary detective known only as "L".

The story is interesting, the characters are compelling and the animation looks much nicer than some I've seen. The animators stuck very closely to the original manga (Japanese graphic novel) that this anime is based on and it is actually a short series with only 37 episodes. (Trust me on this one, many animes go up to 100 episodes easily and are still not finished!)

I watched the entire series as they were released in Japan but it has been licensed in the United States now, so any downloading of the series is illegal. However, you can purchase Death Note from Viz Media soon - they have announced that the first DVD will be available November 20, 2007.

Death Note - U.S. Official Anime Site.

Finished my post Dragon*Con wrap up article

Two good things: 1) I finished my post Dragon*Con wrap up article, detailing the size of the crowds and what effect it had on the event this year, as well as some of my own personal thoughts. 2) I got it moved to the "free" section of The Anniston Star online.

Late edit: It will be in Saturday's paper.

Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mario Kart on Wii to support online play


This has me excited:


Mario Kart Wii supports 16 online, includes DS maps?

As much as I loved this game for DS, I can't wait to see what they'll do with it when it comes out for the Wii. But I hope Nintendo figures out a way to provide for a better online gaming experience to get around their ridiculous "friend codes."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Con Story

I spent some time today talking to representatives of all three host hotels for Dragon Con; the guy at the Mariott Marquis was really helpful and gave me some good information, which I am now digesting and compressing into column form.

What have I learned so far? Attendance was definitely up, which is not a big surprise to anyone who was there. The woman at Atlanta Police Department press office told me the convention was no more unusual than any major convention held in downtown Atlanta- except for all of the people dressed up as Storm Troopers, that is.

I have not had any luck getting in touch with the Fire Marshall on the situation at the Hyatt but I put in a couple of calls. I also thank those of you who were on staff who took the time to respond to my questions.

That's about it on the story development side. I'll have a more coherent thought on the con-wrap up story later as I look through and organize my notes- Now I have to take John Dietrich to Apple-Bee's for a birthday toast.


One quick note: World of Warcraft now owns my soul.... in thirty minute intervals.

Working on a Con follow up

Was Dragon*Con out of control this year? Is there a need to limit its growth or expand to accomodate it? Or is this a case of perception overtaking reality?

This week, I hope to get a couple of answers. I've put in calls to the Atlanta Police Department, the Atlanta Fire Department and have attempted to contact Con staff. It could be the event is the same as it ever was- or some adjustments may be needed.

Perhaps the truth will be somewhere in between.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Dabbling in World of Warcraft ...


While Dan and I were at Dragon*Con, we shared our hotel room with two old friends of mine. Over the weekend we listened to them chat about playing World of Warcraft (WoW) and how Dan and I should create characters and play on their server.

A few months ago, Dan got a new computer that could actually handle computer games and he also purchased a copy of WoW. I remember he started playing around on the free trial version and he said he didn't really like it after all. So the game lay unused for some time on our computer desks.

After we got back from the convention, he dusted off the box and reinstalled the game so we could give it another go, this time with a paid account for the month.

I gotta admit, it's pretty fun and addicting. Before I realized it, I had sat in front of the computer playing for around 2.5 hours. You can get a lot done quickly and it helps that we had high level friends giving us money and items to start us out.

My character is a troll rogue named Bellatrixx, currently at level 8. I really wanted the elf but you have to purchase and install the expansion pack, which is another 40 bucks and I just don't know how into this game we are yet.

That being said, I have an itch to go level up my character some more and finish a few of the bajillion quests I'm on right now. If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, send out a group for intervention plz thx. ;)

And which upcoming game am I most excited about?

Guess....


Monday, September 3, 2007

76th has a bash

As with any weekend-long festival (which for many fans is like Christmas, Independence Day, and Halloween rolled into one), Dragon*Con invites more supplementary partying. In this case, Tom Millington, a.k.a. Tristan, founding member of the 76th Independent Battilion had his post-con shindig here in Anniston.

They were all members of the 76th Independent Batillion, a group of browncoats i.e., fans of the show, Firefly.

There were two guys there from Scotland and one from Canada, that I knew or met. Tristan says there are people in his group from South Africa and Australia as well.

Oh, and these guys, the Bedlam Bards. They were there singing songs from a CD inspired by the show and movie.

And these guys all had air-soft guns, which are like little b-b guns that shoot plastic bullets. They were running all over the house shooting each other and eating dumplings. It may not make much sense to the casual observer, but if you were there and you liked Firefly it made you smile.

The You Tube video really doesn't do the Bedlam Bards justice.




Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

More than just about any game that has been previewed for the Wii, I wanted to get my hands on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. I am a huge fan of the first two games in the trilogy, and the thought of a first-person shooter with Wii controls had me giddy.
After surviving a crazy football weekend on the desk, with the game purchased but unopened (sheer agony, y the way, being too tired to play after I get done with work) I finally took it for a drive earlier today.
My first impression is that the controls are going to take getting used to. A lot of getting used to. There's really no way to compare it to any other first-person shooter on a console. Dual-analog control is no match for point and shoot. This game is about as close to virtual reality as there is at the moment. If you love FPSes, you'll enjoy this game.
As far as the graphics go....I could care less. This is why I owned a Gamecube and now own a Wii. So long as I can make out what's going on, how pretty it is just doesn't matter. That being said, the game is decidely pretty, though it won't compare with anything on the PS3 or X-Box 360. But again, ridiculously awesome controls, and I'm still not totally comfortable with it. Once I've locked myself in my apartment for a day playing it, I fully expect to realize the brilliance that is revolutionizing gameplay over graphics.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Dragon*Con on CNN!

This link was passed along to me so I will continue the favor.

Dragon*Con video on CNN

In summary

Note: I'm on a friend's computer- I'll post more photos later.

I usually leave the events on Sunday, because by this point, I'm so tired and like having labor day to decompress. The 76th Independent Battilion is throwing a shindig over here, so I'll get some pics from that as well.

The good: I met the guys who created Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Space Ghost Coast to Coast. I saw Kevin Sorbo, John de Lancie, who played Q in Star Trek The Next Generation, the original Hulk, and various other celebeties on the Walk of Fame. The Dealer's Room was a bizarre bazaar of pop. retro, tech sci fi novelty and other gadgets- like Spencer's on Steroids. The art display had some good stuff and some serious security. The costumes- just beautiful. These people really know how to have a good party.

Oh, and the upcoming "Age of Conan" MMO looks amazing. I don't know if it will unseat "World of Warcraft" but it will put butts in computer chairs.

The bad: Con food is expensive and the larger crowds don't seem to jibe with the fire codes in Georgia. As far as attendance, people were throwing some crazy numbers around- won't know until after the Con, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was 35,000 people- which raises an interesting question: Can Dragon*Con sustain its current pace of growth with three hotels? The only other options, in my opinion, are to restrict the number of people who attend or opening up yet another hotel. How bad were the crowds? I saw at least two elevators that broke down and con staff did their best to keep the flow of traffic moving to keep from clogging up certain floors.

I expect to get some good columns and video out of this down the road.

Check Out

It's been fun, but my checkout is in an hour so I won't post again until this evening. See you back in Anniston, with more pics and some final thoughts.

Story in www.theannistonstar.com

Dragon*Con draws locals
By Dan Whisenhunt
Star Staff Writer
09-02-2007



ATLANTA — Tom Millington of Anniston works by day in an insurance office. He spends his free time in a room in his basement where a brown coat hangs on a mannequin torso.

Millington has spent months here, carefully dissecting and recreating outfits from a cancelled television show.

"I watched how the coats fell," he said, his hand turned to a page in a book about the show Firefly, the stories of a renegade space captain and his crew. His basement is a nod to the show's aesthetic scheme, the walls decorated in Chinese lanterns and red sheets

Saturday morning, Millington and members of fan club he helped to found, the 76th Independent Battalion, marched through the streets of downtown Atlanta in the annual Dragon*Con parade.

A cool breeze swept through the intersection of Peachtree Center Avenue North East and Baker Street; Millington's crew, 35 members strong, marched in a tight formation, sharing time with zombies, storm troopers and pirates. It was as if a pop-culture piniata had exploded.

Since 1987, Dragon*Con, an annual Labor Day Weekend multi-media event in Atlanta, has drawn ever-larger crowds. Last year, 30,000 people filled up three hotels in the southern capital city. Millington and his friends — fans who come from as far away as South Africa and Canada — represent one fandom among many.

The event is billed on its Web site as "America's largest, multi-media, popular arts convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film."

People who go to Dragon*Con can participate in a plethora of role playing, table-top and computer games. They can join in workshops, including a writer's workshop. They can shop for obscure movies and comic books or hang around and meet celebrities from their favorite shows. There are charity events, tournaments, theatrical, television and musical performances, and wrestling events.

Many who attend wear costumes and make the rounds, posing for pictures with total strangers. Their garb ranges from the elaborate to the titillating; women dressed busty Japanese cartoon characters and men wearing gladiator outfits are as plentiful as the alcohol.

"It's a spectacle," said Dorothy Nelder, a Piedmont family-practice physician who attends the annual convention. "There's nothing like it. People go all-out for Dragon*Con. You see some amazing things."

Millington made most of the costumes for his friends, and says his own cost $400 to $500.

"The 76th is based on 20 minutes of flashbacks which show the characters during the war," Millington said. "So we've based an entire group on maybe 20 minutes worth of stuff. The name, 'The 76th' is mentioned in one of the deleted scenes."

Tricia Byrne is recent transplant to Piedmont from New Jersey. She goes to the convention to meet with other fans and stars of Stargate SG-1. Byrne writes "fan fiction" about the characters in the show and has met many of its stars, even getting photo credits in a book about the series. She also collects trading cards from the series in big, three-ring binders.

"The cards are insured for $5,000," Byrne said, pointing out some of the more expensive ones. "It goes on the homeowner's as 'collectibles.''"

Byrne moved to Piedmont partly because of her friendship with Nelder, who also writes fan fiction in her spare time.

Stargate follows a military team as they fight off an alien menace. Unlike Firefly, Stargate had a healthy 10-season run and has its own spin-off series, Stargate Atlantis.

"Last year I hung out primarily in the Stargate Track Room," Byrne said. "The year before, the con didn't have one. This year, I'm working the track room."

Julie Cochrane is not originally from Calhoun County, but the best-selling science-fiction author of Cally's War spent many summers in Anniston while her mother attended Jacksonville State University, and she comes back to visit family.

"My basic grounding in southern culture when I was little was from the South," Cochrane said, adding later, "My ability to relate came from the summers I spent in Anniston."

Friday, she was part of a discussion about mentoring and collaboration on science-fiction books with her mentor and co-author, John Ringo. The character on the cover of her book was inspired by a costume she saw a fan wearing at Dragon*Con one year.

For her, going to the convention is pleasant part of her job.

"I like to make myself available and accessible to readers," Cochrane said. "If they're going to take the time to go out and want to talk to me I'm going to take the time to be there."

Joel Laird has gone to the convention for the last few years. The Calhoun County Circuit Judge collects comic books and celebrity autographs.

He can rattle off the names of half-a-dozen stars he's met while on his usual day-trips to the convention.

"I'm not interested in dressing up," Laird said. "I do like seeing the costumes. Some of them are so life-like."







About Dan Whisenhunt Dan Whisenhunt covers Anniston and Calhoun Co. for The Star.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Picture post.







Nothing to see here. Move along.

I love my nerdy companions


I'm an anime fan as much as I am a video gamer, so of course, I wanted to participate in the whole costuming thing at Dragon*Con.

My good friend, Sherry, came all the way from California to the convention and she accompanied me in dressing up as characters from the anime, Bleach. She actually put together the entire thing...she made the skirts, found the shirts and wigs and everything.

I would be the dorky chick in the black wig (Rukia) and Sherry is in the red wig as Orihime. I think I look incredibly lame, however it has been a blast. Dragon*Con is definitely more fun when attended in costume. :)

MMO social issues


Just got back from a very interesting panel on social issues in Massively Multiplayer Online Games- like "World of Warcraft."

There are currently few or no rules governing what happens when in-game issues become social issues. If a player in a game buys an account from another player, for example, there is no recourse if the player who sold the account goes to the game maker and fraudulently claims the game was hacked, reclaiming the character.

There are also questions of jurisdiction- who is responsible when an agreement between two characters goes bad? The game maker's country of origin? The origin of the server for the game? The country (or, countries) players live in?

Who is the final arbiter in these cases? Adding to the worries of gamers is a court system where the people in control are likely to have never played an MMO.

Like I said, very fascinating stuff. I expect a column to come out of it sometime in the future.

Now, more Con pics.

Dragon*Con: Crowd Control

Crowd control- with parts of the Mariott under construction, some people here are saying it gets out of hands at times.

http://community.livejournal.com/dragoncon/1262874.html?#cutid1

(Note: sorry you'll have to cut and paste for now. This software won't let me link it for some reason.)

Keep in mind there are a LOT of people here. Waiting for the elevator takes epic lengths of time and people are wearing big, bulky costumes. Last night we went to the High Velocity bar in the Mariott, where light sabers were as common as brightly-colored cock-tails.