international group blog is a group blog run by a group of irc zealots, the prefabricators; each is a member of an exclusive irc channel on phrenzy. en-gb Tue, 06 Jan 2009 01:23:14 +0000 Tue, 06 Jan 2009 01:23:14 +0000 1.0 (Jon Ellis-Jones) international group blog Fallout 3 (anthony) I recently purchased Bethesda's excellent 'First-Person RPG'; Fallout 3. After 20 or so hours, I've made a few observations about this excellent game I would like to bring to light:<br /> <br /> Ammo Plz - The problem with most games is too much ammo, you can't seem to open a soup can in most shooters without finding a shell. Not so in Fallout 3. Ammo is scarce so far in the game. Often times I will finish a quest with no ammo left, having started with enough rounds to bring down most of the Canadian Army.<br /> <br /> &hellip;and the horse you rode in on - Kevin Costner once played a postman in post-nuclear war America, where he rode a horse and duped people into believing the government was coming back, before becoming a hero somehow that I forget. Anyways, he rode a horse. Some form of transportation beyond my feet would be amazing. It's not so bad when you instant-travel to already discovered areas. But it's long walk to Rivet City from Megaton is all.<br /> <br /> V.A.T.S. of crap - VATS - that is to say, the system that stops time and allows you to aim at specific body parts to dismember your enemies or even blow their heads out, is at best a nice gimmick. The first few times you use the system you are amazed at the varying results. Until you figure out the grueling pattern; take out the legs then blast away the torso. My biggest annoyance with VATS is the fact it often makes no sense; 5% chance to hit torso but 95% chance to hit an arm? What the hell is this?<br /> <br /> The above being said, this is still an amazing game.<br /> <br /> I also recommend everyone check out <a href="" title="Auditorium (External Link)" rel="external">Auditorium</a>. This has to be the most addictive thing since WoW.<br /> <br /> <br /> Tue, 09 Dec 2008 03:25:07 +0000 games fallout pc xbox 360 opinion rant Short videos for short attention spans (Jon) <img src="" alt="5 second films logo" /><br /> I came across this website this morning, and I have to say it is <a href="" title="pretty (External Link)" rel="external">pretty</a> <a href="" title="damn (External Link)" rel="external">damn</a> <a href="" title="funny (External Link)" rel="external">funny</a>. Well, if you like *that* sort of humour it is (and I certainly do). It looks like it has only just started out (October 2008) but there is a wealth of good shorts on there already. Reading through the <a href="" title="about (External Link)" rel="external">about</a> section of the website, I get the impression that it started off as an 'idea' amongst a group of friends. With that in mind I thought there may be a lot of in-jokes and shorts that I just 'would not get', but it doesn't seem to be the case. Most of them are accessible and immediately amusing: something of a byproduct of the films being just five seconds long! <br /> <br /> One of the reasons I find this funny stems from something the prefabricators stumbled upon by accident many moons ago. On the <a href="" title="TinyPic Video (External Link)" rel="external">TinyPic Video</a> page, there are occasionally clips that are a few seconds or less long. It was here that the infamous <a href="" title="bus good (External Link)" rel="external">bus good</a> clip was found, amongst others. Will any other clip ever surpass its greatness? I doubt it. Tue, 25 Nov 2008 09:26:34 +0000 video humour youtube Will we finally see some online RPG's on the DS? (ethan) If announcements hold true, yes we will. In the form(s) of:<br /> <br /> <a href=""><img src="" alt="Dragon Quest IX" /><br /> <span>Dragon Quest IX</span></a><br /> <br /> <span>&amp;</span><br /> <br /> <a href=""><img src="" alt="Phantasy Star Zero" /><br /> <span>Phantasy Star Zero</span></a><br /> <br /> Party up now, peeps.<br /> Mon, 10 Nov 2008 14:07:50 +0000 gaming Jack Thompson To Be Disbarred! (anthony) Everyone's favourite anti-video game crusader just received a huge blow in the state of Florida, which is recommending that, in 30 days Jack Thompson be officially disbarred; IE: prevented from practising law and can never re-apply to do so again.<br /> <br /> Source:<a href="" title="GamePolitics (External Link)" rel="external">GamePolitics</a> Sat, 01 Nov 2008 13:31:54 +0000 jack thompson games law florida If the world could vote (Johnny) Just something interesting i stumbled across:<br /> <br /> <a href="" title="If the world could vote (External Link)" rel="external">If the world could vote</a>. Sat, 25 Oct 2008 03:09:42 +0000 politics usa world Mother 3 Fan Translation (ethan) <img src="" alt="Mother 3!" />Guys, it's out. And it's fantabulous. <a href="" title="Get it here. (External Link)" rel="external">Get it here.</a><br /> <br /> I'll have more to say on it as I play through it, but even two hours in, I can tell you it is by far the best fan translation ever to be completed. It feels official; it's that good!<br /> <br /> If you don't know what Mother 3 is, I'm sorry. I don't think Europe ever experienced the magnificence of Earthbound, so it may be a bit lost on a lot of you. <a href="" title="Why not do some reading? (External Link)" rel="external">Why not do some reading?</a> Thu, 23 Oct 2008 17:19:10 +0000 gaming Canadian Politics (Johnny) I would just like to rant a little here, as I love my country and the election process and yadda yadda&hellip;.but there is a problem. You see, when Bush was re-elected, people everywhere, all over Canada in fact hooted and hollered about how ridiculous it was to re-elect him.<br /> <br /> Well in fact, I think Canada has one-upped the United States, we have in fact re-elected a prime minister for a second time whose election platform was, in fact, non-existent. His entire campaign was spent defending things he did in his past 3 years as prime minister, he didn't put forward anything new, and yet SOMEHOW he GAINED seats. So, while we rip on someone who at least puts forth a plan of action (no matter how much we might disagree with it) we turn out to have no problem at all with someone who puts forth no plan in Harper. Annoy.<br /> <br /> On another note, hooray for the Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys being injured, I sure hate the Dallas Cowboys.<br /> <br /> Thu, 16 Oct 2008 21:17:59 +0000 canada politics rant Houses (anthony) Hello, again.<br /> <br /> In the past week we have had a minor flood, a near oil-spill (damn furnace), a computer nearly melt and the coffee maker seems to hate me.<br /> <br /> Aside from that, owning a house is wonderful. We can blast music at all hours of the night (provided the baby isn't asleep), I can play Bioshock until my eyes bleed at high volume (again, provided the baby isn't asleep). The annoying thing about home ownership is the responsibility. When renting if something goes wrong you just call your landlord and it gets fixed. Now it is an ordeal! Scheduled appointments must be made, payments completed, plumbers yelled at for leaving their dirty tools in on the floor!<br /> <br /> My daughter will be a full Earth-year shortly. October 12th is the date. We are excited she did not succumb to colic and in honor will be holding a party, complete with cake.<br /> <br /> <strong>Reading:</strong><br /> Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism<br /> Ex Machina - The First Hundred Days<br /> Henry Rollins - Roomatarian<br /> <br /> <strong>Listening:</strong><br /> The Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden<br /> Rise Against - Appeal To Reason<br /> Mastodon - Blood Mountain<br /> Finch - Finch<br /> Mon, 06 Oct 2008 00:31:04 +0000 houses plumbers annoyances Nintendo announce the Nintendo DSi (Jon) <img src="" alt="Nintendo announce the new Nintendo DSi handheld console" /><br /> This morning in Tokyo, Japan - at the Nintendo's Fall Press Conference, it was announced that they will be updating the Nintendo DS with a new model, known as the <strong>Nintendo DSi</strong> (see above).<br /> <br /> Nintendo is currently (and has been for a long time) the dominant force in the handheld gaming market, commanding a 70% share. The announcement of the new handheld device comes only a couple of weeks after Steve Jobs' (Apple's CEO) laughable statement about the iPhone as a gaming platform, where he said "&hellip;you can make a pretty good argument that the [iPod Touch/iPhone] is the best portable device for playing games on".<br /> <br /> The move is entirely unsurprising of Nintendo, who do have a habit of releasing minor revisions of their handheld consoles every few years. The new console has an interesting new feature set, and it is difficult not to get excited by the prospects (scroll down and watch the video if you are impatient!).<br /> <br /> In a nutshell, the new Nintendo DSi will:<br /> <br /> <ul> <li> be 12% lighter </li> <li> have a 17% larger screen (now 3.24 inches large) </li> <li> have improved speakers, and <a href="" title="AAC (External Link)" rel="external">AAC</a> support </li> <li> contain a 0.3 mega-pixel VGA camera (capable of 640x480) </li> <li> have two touch-screens! Both are now touch sensitive </li> <li> <strong>NOT</strong> have a GBA game slot&hellip; </li> <li> &hellip;instead, have a SD Card slot </li> <li> support web-browsing (probably via <a href="" title="Opera Mini (External Link)" rel="external">Opera Mini</a>) </li> <li> run downloaded 'DSiware' games: similar in concept to Wii ware </li> <li> come in two colours (see above): "White", and "Frosted Black"</li> </ul><br /> So, when can we get hold of it? It is currently slated for a <em>November 1st, 2008</em> release in Japan, which is a little over a month away at the time of writing. Nintendo has thus-far been relatively tight-lipped about release dates of the Nintendo DSi in other territories. Currently, the <em>Nintendo DSi</em> release date is pencilled as <strong>Spring 2009</strong>. Price wise, it will be released at JPY 18,900 (which is we work backwards, comes out as about USD 179, EUR 129 and GBP 99). As you can see, it's not all that different in price to the existing Nintendo DS. And what about games? Well, check out this video for an overview of expected releases. It's probably worth noting that some of these games look <em>very Eastern</em>, and as such I will be surprised if all of them make it over here to the most conservative West (which is always a shame).<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> I was interested to hear about the <strong>DSi Shop</strong>. Apparently, customers will get 1,000 points free upon purchasing the console that they can spend at the DSi shop, which do not expire until March 2010. Games (and other such things) in the shop fit into four categories: Free, 200 points, 500 points and 800 points. The top level, I assume, will be for premium games such as new releases. This is fantastic news. If I understand correctly, it equates to at least one free game upon purchasing the console!<br /> <br /> One final thing I have heard regards the built-in camera. Although I find 0.3 mega-pixels terribly disappointing (couldn't they fit in a 1.0 mega-pixel camera, at least?), it's a nice addition. A lot of people have critisised the decision to introduce a camera into the DSi, stating that most people these days have at least one device that can already do that, and better (a typical mobile phone these days has a camera at least five times better). I suppose they didn't want to include a camera capable of massive resolutions due to the <em>lack of storage space</em> on the DSi. It was probably part of the reason they chose to include an SD Card slot on the console just for memory. Oh, and another thing: photographs taken on the DSi can be put straight into your "Photo Channel" on a Nintendo Wii console.<br /> <br /> Overall, I'm happy with the announcement. I think the games are the clincher, especially a new Kirby game and of course <a href="" title="Chrono Trigger">Chrono Trigger</a>. The camera, I couldn't really care less about. The lack of a GBA game slot? Hmm, we'll it's a shame that the old Advance generation has been put to sleep by Nintendo, but it has to happen at some point. I am interested in how well <a href="" title="Activision (External Link)" rel="external">Activision</a> are going to take it however, since their new-ish "Guitar Hero on Tour" requires the GBA slot for their fret peripheral. The improved audio capabilities are welcome &mdash; although, I play many DS games with the volume off. Perhaps the new sound capabilities will have me turning up the sound, or using headphones. Larger screen, yes, good. Lighter? Doesn't bother me too much. Thinner? Good I<br /> suppose, but a lot of this just feels superfluous: I just want it to play games. One genuine improvement over the original though, is <strong>two touch screens</strong>. I can imagine that will make the next iteration of Wario Ware a <em>lot</em> of fun! <br /> <br /> So what do you think of the new console? And have you heard anything else as laughable as Apple's claim? Leave me a comment. Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:24:19 +0000 gaming news nintendo EA's Spore released on 7th September 2008 (Jon) Sandbox game addicts, get your wallets ready. One of the most anticipated games of the year, and perhaps even the past five, is about to hit stores on <strong>7th September 2008</strong>. Spore's release date has been widely publicised since it slipped last winter by six months.<br /> <br /> So, what exactly is Spore? It comes from the <em>terrifyingly</em> clever mind of Will Wright and his team at Maxis (the same company behind the phenomenally popular 'Sims' franchise), now a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. It is also a game which has proven <em>difficult to explain</em>, although the best explanation I have heard so far is “it is Sim Everything”. You start out as a small organism and, much like the real world, it's survival of the fittest. Progress through the game is rewarded with upgrades, where you can spend DNA points on upgrading your lil' fella. As the game progresses, you move from simple organism to pond life, to a land animal, and from there to founding society, then civilisations, and onto becoming the dominant species of your world. But that is not all – from there, the game folds out allowing intergalactic travel to other worlds, where the local monsters have been populated from a huge database of other people's creations.<br /> <br /> I toyed with the 'creature creator' a few weeks ago. It's a small part of the game that EA released early, so we could get a taster of what is to come. The creator is fantastic fun – I made a crocodile with a huge head for instance, and I laughed at it for probably fifteen minutes straight. The bright and colourful models together with the very cutesy animations your creation performs (my crocodile almost shat itself in excitement when I gave it an extra set of eyes, for example) not only entertained me, but roped my non-gamer girlfriend in too. It was interesting to see what monsters she came up with. Inevitably, the first one looked very sappy and cute, some sort of hug-monster. I have a sneaking suspicion come this Friday, I may have competition trying to get on my PC!<br /> <br /> So what is this blog about? The pitfalls, really. I don't mean to be cynical but I'm British, and it's in my genes. I really want this game to succeed, I really do. A few things worry me, however. First off, great, it's a game where you can 'level' your monster up (reminds me of E.V.O. on the Super Nintendo, if anybody remembers that game), which is great. I'm familiar with that concept, and together with the creation mode, it sounds like a game I'd have a lot of fun with. What about the <em>other</em> areas of gameplay? If you <a href="" title="watch the trailer (External Link)" rel="external">watch the trailer</a>, it shifts from top-down munch-em-up to a third-person action game, then to an RTS, then to a space-faring sim. The variety looks great and I applaud it, but I hope it doesn't feel like I'm just playing a set of mini-games with a tentative link between them all (the link being your creation, as it will be constant throughout, although you can 'upgrade' it). It's that sort of detached feeling that made <em>Wii Sports</em> a decent game and not a great game, in my eyes.<br /> <br /> The second is the fact that content comes from other people. If this thing gets as big as 'The Sims' did, which lets face it is likely, there will be a hell of a lot of content within Spore. Somebody has already mentioned: what happens when the Star Wars, Pokémon and Futurama creations start appearing? Are they protected from take-down notices? Will EA have to screen all the content? If you're new to the whole concept of Spore, or gaming in general, you may not be familiar with the one core concept rooted deep within our kind. If you give a gamer (especially a male one) a sandbox environment where you can build or model things, they <strong>will. make. a penis</strong>. I haven't got the statistics to hand, but apparently there have been <strong>thousands</strong> of cock-monsters uploaded already and the game isn't even out yet. Spore has an ESRB rating of E10+. Would you want your ten year old daughter and her interstellar pal 'Mr. Cuddles', the green snuggle-monster to suddenly arrive on a planet filled with huge pulsating penis-monsters, wriggling around and oozing god knows what? I'm not so sure either.<br /> <br /> I hope it lives up to the huge weight being placed upon its digital shoulders by the Internet. I'm sure it will pull me away from reading and programming in the evenings for a while, at least. The game has to be admired, just for the sheer scale, the ingenuity (you can give a creature a billion legs and it just <em>works out</em> how to walk), and the love that has gone into designing something this complex. At five or so years in the making&hellip; let's see if can match the hype. Thu, 04 Sep 2008 02:13:37 +0000 spore gaming ea forthcoming hype