Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Math Clocks

I just spotted these on Amazon. I particularly like the one on top.

Malfoy v. Potter in Scrabble Throwdown

Harry Potter actors Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) ended their decade-long on-screen rivalry with a cut-throat game of Scrabble. As Felton tells it, after the big wrap party for the final film,
There was an after, after party, if you will, and we had a few of the cast members there. Everyone was expecting us to be popping Cristal and all the rest of it but we actually played Scrabble until about two in the morning; Daniel [Radcliffe] and I got very heated at a game of Scrabble!
H/T Kim Vandenboucke at The Game Aisle 

The New Cut the Rope is Due ...

... tonight! It's called Cut the Rope: Experiments. TechCruch was able to squeeze a few meager facts out of the developers:

What on earth is Om Nom?! That’s what millions of fans of the widely acclaimed game, Cut the Rope, have been asking about the cute little monster who eats candy like its his job! That same question has a mad (but not bad) scientist studying the little creature that mysteriously arrived outside his house.

There's a teaser trailer up at TechCrunch, but it doesn't have any in-game footage. I think Cut the Rope's gameplay kicks Angry Birds in its feathery butt, so you better believe I'll be checking the app store around midnight. 

A Few Words About Cards and Cribbage

Jordan Wiklund did an interview with me at his site, Cribbageland. Don't forget to check out his event, Cribbage in the Field, if you're in the Minneapolis area. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Deepak Chopra Makes Boring Game

Actually, I've only seen the trailer, but I believe it is metaphysically certain that a forthcoming game from contemptible New Age quack Deepak Chopra will be blindingly boring and spiritually nugatory. THQ spent a bundle last year to nail down the rights to the Chopra ouvre, and the first fruit of that deal is named Leela. (I thought she was still working for Planet Express.)

The game includes things like "Chakra-based meditations." These "task players with moving their bodies to control graphics onscreen set to a soothing soundtrack ... the root chakra exercise, for example, directs players to tilt their hips to seed a virtual planet." It seems to be a motion control thing aimed at the Wii and Xbox Kinect markets. I shall be waiting by my mailbox every day until it arrives.

Here's my favorite D-Pak moment:

Exit quote from Deepak: "Hope is a sign of despair." And people have made this fool a multi-millionaire for peddling this tripe.

Diablo 3 To Include In-Game Auctions With Real Money

Blizzard's upcoming Diablo 3 will include many of the social and economic feature that are already found in World of Warcraft, including trades with in-game gold. However, Joystick is reporting that the current beta also includes a kind of in-game eBay that will allow players to purchase items from other players for real money. Blizzard will take a commission on each sale, and the money will go into the seller's Blizzard account. It can be used to buy other items from Blizzard, or cashed out for actual money (for another fee, of course).

This is a whole new concept in monetizing gaming that could have fascinating ramifications. There have always been gold farmers in online games. Some estimates claim there are already 100,000 to 200,000 people who do this for a living, most of them living in China. By integrating this process, Blizzard a) increases the reliability of the exchanges, and b) increases their own profits. Win-win! With the real-world economy in a shambles, will it be possible for even more people to supplement their income by collecting and trading items within games?

App O' The Mornin': Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

Grade: B
Price: $5

Although burdened with a cumbersome title, Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer scratches an itch many gamers didn’t even know they had, at least prior to the release of Dominion.

Ascension is a deck-building game created by a team of Magic: The Gathering tournament players. Originally publishes as a conventional tabletop game, it feels a bit like a mashup of Magic and Dominion. Players take turns building a deck by buying various cards. Most cards either generate Runes or Power. Runes allow you to buy more cards to add to your growing deck, while Power allows you to defeat monsters. Players earn honor points by defeating monsters, and the player with the most honor, wins.

Each turn, a player can draw five cards. At the center of the table is a line of cards which can either be purchased for your deck, or “banished” in order to keep another player from purchasing them. As your deck grows, you begin to search for cards in specific classes—Enlightened, Lifebound, Mechanic, or Void—since these work well together. By careful deck building and management, you can create a hand that allows you to buy and fight effectively, thus earning more honor and winning the game. There is a modest strategic element to the deck building, and the game has a quirky, appealing feel.

There is a load of data on the screen, which makes the layout a bit cramped on an iPhone/Touch screen. It functions well, however, and there are no accidental moves that can ruin a game. Gameplay is addictive, with clever card design and a diverse range of powers to draw upon. The AI didn’t impress me much, but fortunately the game has a multiplayer component with a matching service. The result is quite entertaining.