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Gaming, Star Trek Style: Star Trek: Borg November 30, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Tonight at 8pm, a documentary that I’ve been looking forward to watching since the New York Comic Con is going to air on the Science Channel. It’s called Trek Nation, and it’s being done by the son of Gene Roddenberry. With the show airing tonight, I wanted to talk a little bit about my personal memories with Star Trek, and its enduring gaming legacy.

My first major experience with Star Trek gaming came when I rented the VHS version of Star Trek First Contact. My cousin had access to Pay Per View, and I remembered enjoying the film tremendously when it was shown on the service. When I finally gave the film a rent, I saw something that appeared odd during the previews section of the tape. There was some NEW Star Trek footage I hadn’t seen before. As the preview progressed I saw an extremely high quality video produced of some new characters I was unfamiliar with fighting the Borg. Then at the end of the preview they said this was not a new television series or movie, this was going to be the next Star Trek game, an interactive Full Motion Video (FMV) adventure, and it was called Star Trek: Borg. As someone who just got his hands on his first Windows 95 CD-ROM PC, I had to play that game.

Another popular electronic’s chain from my childhood was closing down for some reason and taking all of its local stores with it. My father wanted to check it out and see if there was anything worth picking up in the major sell off. It turns out, they did have some copies of Star Trek Borg in the store, but some of them had been looted. As we were about to leave the store, I found an unopened copy of the game, slightly dented but still quite intact. Didn’t cost more than $10.

I was having a problem with my audio drivers on my computer at the time, but once I solved the problem I was able to just boot up the game and play, and boy was it a lot of fun.

The story followed a young Starfleet Cadet (the player, shot in a first person view) whose father was killed at the famous battle of Wolf-359 along with the rest of his ship. Ten years later, the Borg are coming back, and all cadets onboard starships planning to go into battle are ordered off, no matter how much they want to stay and fight. As you’re leaving, Q (played by John deLancie) decides to pay you a little visit and offers you the chance to go back in time and stop that from happening. You take over the body of the ship’s head of security, an alien with a very special gift you’ll need, who was supposed to have died before the battle, and with Q’s help (he’s taken over the body of the ship’s Chief Medical Officer) you have to save the ship and your father from the Borg!

John deLancie’s Q is one of my favorite Star Trek characters, and I thought he really overdid himself in his performance. In fact, in my opinion, it’s deLancie’s best Q performance, because unlike in previous Trek episodes, where he was a secondary guest actor, Q is literally the star of this game, and really had the chance to shine. Nowadays, I’ll always watch anything he appears in whenever it ends up on TV.

It took me three months to figure out how to survive the Borg Cube sequence on the third disc, but I was very satisfied with every second of the game itself. If you’re like me, and were a huge fan of the FMV CD-ROM craze back in the 90s, give the game a look.

Unfortunately, I can’t find that commercial anywhere anymore. Even Simon & Schuster Interactive’s official website only had a teaser which put together Borg related clips from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Heck, when I finally did buy myself a VHS copy of First Contact, the game’s trailer was not included in it! They must have only included it with the initial batch of the movie’s VHS release.

The Christmas Helper Strikes Again November 30, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Happy Holidays everyone.  With the passing of Thanksgiving I’ve decided to spend several times over the month sharing some of my favorite gaming related Christmas shopping memories.  I want to share another quick story with all of you from a few years back.

I’ve got a pretty short story to tell this time.  With all the major technological advancements that are made every year and then become standard within the next year, some people who are just jumping in can find themselves in deep water without a floatation device.  Six years ago, did anyone even know what an HDMI cable was?  By 2013 everyone will have to support it if they want to continue to watch Blu-Ray movies after that date.

I have two stories that happened at two different years right around Christmas that involve people from the analog generation being thrust into the digital one, and thankfully, I was there to help them out so they could give their families a merry Christmas.

The first story happened while I was Christmas shopping for various friends and family, and at the time I was just browsing looking for deals on hardware.  I overheard a cell phone conversation with this older gentelman (looked to be in about his mid-40s) and it was clear he was talking to someone he had trouble understanding.  While I couldn’t hear what was on the other end of the phone, his mannerisms and what he was saying made it pretty clear he was being told to buy something he had no understanding of, and was completely lost.

Just to show you how lost he was, he clearly said into the phone, “What’s HDMI?”

Oh boy, was he in trouble, and he needed help.  I flipped around a DVD player I was looking at and saw it had an HDMI port.  I said to him, “That’s HDMI,” and pointed at the port.  He heard me and nodded and I walked away.

I know I probably should have minded my own business since that’s the popular judgement most people have for each other nowadays, but it was Christmas and this guy was obviously completely lost as to what he was expected to do.  I figured some help was in order, and I’m sure his family appreciated that he got them the correct gifts for Christmas, instead of running the chance of having to find reciepts and return anything that he incorrectly purchased that wouldn’t work properly with whatever their existing setup was.

In short, this is just another example of what can happen when you have what should be private cell phone conversations in public.  People around you can probably hear you better than the person that’s on the other end of the phone.  In my case, I decided to be a nice guy and help him out.  I mean, wouldn’t anyone help a lost man find his way out of a forest?

My Mother, The Crusader November 29, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Happy Holidays everyone. With the passing of Thanksgiving I’ve decided to spend several times over the month sharing some of my favorite gaming related Christmas shopping memories. I want to share another quick story with all of you from a few years back.

Like many people, I will usually have a few video games on my Christmas shopping list. My family knows next to nothing about technology so they usually just prefer that I write down specifically any gifts I may want so they can show it to a store clerk who may be able to make heads or tails of it. This doesn’t always work, however, as I’ve still had to return a few gifts that were incorrectly picked out by a clerk, but its fine for the general majority of things I’ve asked for. After Christmas ended a few years ago and I had some new games to play, my mother had a shopping story she just had to tell me.

The story, as my mother told it, was that the clerks at the register knew that what my mother was buying wasn’t for her. So they asked her very calmly if whoever she was buying the game for was old enough to play it. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Even though I am not under the age of eighteen, I do not agree with mandatory ID checks on people when buying movie tickets, video games or music. There’s no law against buying video games at any age like there is with alchohol or tobacco (in fact all attempts to make these laws have outright failed since they violate the first amendment) so its just store-enforced age discrimination, which to me is quite immoral. Sometimes if I do get carded when buying something I’ll just up and leave the store with the unpurchased item still on the clerk’s conveyor belt. I figure they should have a reality check on just how many lost sales those policies will give them.

When my mother was confronted with a clerk spouting this policy to her (a woman in her mid 50s) she told me she looked at the guy with an odd face and said, “Yes, and he’s old enough to buy the beer to go along with it.” and left. When she told me this story I broke out laughing. I guess these sentements run in the family.

Don’t Listen to Clerks, Listen to Me November 29, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Happy Holidays everyone.  With the passing of Thanksgiving I’ve decided to spend several times over the month sharing some of my favorite gaming related Christmas shopping memories.  I want to share a quick story with all of you from a few years back, it didn’t help me get a job, but it may help you out this shopping season.

I was in my local Best Buy during the holidays, buying some Christmas gifts for my friends and family.  An older couple was behind me in line to ring up their items.  They had purchased a Nintendo Wii and a bunch of shovelware games with it.  A clerk was with them talking about the Wii and the games they had purchased.  The clerk was completely clueless, and had no idea about the technicals of what he was selling.  My evidence to this conclusion ranged from the gaming selection the couple had to the comments he made to them, like he had no idea what kind of internal memory capabilities the Wii had (it does, but not very much, just enough for saves and a few downloadable games) or if Wiimotes have rechargeable batteries (they don’t, they use two AA batteries, and you can only get a rechargeable batteries for it through third parties, not recommended).

As he walked away I turned around and commented on their Wii purchase.  The line was pretty long and I figured I had about five minutes to kill, so it didn’t bother me.  They were actually quite nervous about their purchase and had no idea if they had bought their son right thing.  I’m platform agnostic, so I saw no issue with anyone receiving a Wii as a gift, as long as they got some good games along with it.

I asked how old their son was and they responded he was twenty-two.  I looked at the stack of games they had, and not seeing the obvious game any twenty-two year old with a Wii would have I told them to leave the line immediately and buy him Super Smash Brothers Brawl, which as far as I was concerned was a must play for the Wii.  When they asked what it was about, I said it was a cartoonish fighting game with Nintendo characters and it was very well made and quite fun (I had been playing it at the time).  They left the line and came back with a copy, now satisfied of their purchase.

I guess my problem is I have a serious issue with minding my own business.  But thank goodness for that, or else I’m sure their son would have been out $50 for the copy of Super Smash Bros he would have eventually bought for himself.

I know that a lot of you parents are going to be stuck buying things on your child’s Christmas list that may look as if its written in some foreign language.  You may be asking yourself things like, “What the Hell is an Xbox 360 Kinect 250GB?”  Worry not, because that’s what I’m here for.  If some random person who is not wearing a store tag tells you something knowledgable, take it with a grain of salt, but listen well, he may just know what he’s talking about.

My Date with the Calendar Man: Day 2 – Thanksgiving November 25, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Another holiday has passed us by and that means another day has come when we can visit our friend Julian Day, also known as The Calendar Man, in Arkham City.

Apologies for not having this up yesterday.  I shot and edited it yesterday, but YouTube was malfunctioning and not accepting the upload when I wanted to upload it.

Batman: Arkham City  is now out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.  Playable Robin DLC has just been made available for purchase through the PSN and XBLA marketplace.  That DLC was previously only accessible for those who preordered the game at Best Buy, but now anyone who wants it can buy it for about seven dollars.

Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Coming December 6th November 23, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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It’s been in testing for a while now, but it has just been announced by Major Nelson that the next incarnation of the Xbox 360 dashboard update will release on December 6th.

First shown at E3 2011, the new dashboard will greatly expand the Kinect functionality of the Xbox 360, give a whole new interface, and add new features like cloud saves.

When released, Xbox 360s will automatically update to the new dashboard when connected to Xbox Live.

Doom 3 Source Code Released November 23, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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As John Carmack has promised for several years, the source code to Doom 3 has been released with the help of Timothee Besset.

Doom 3 was released in 2004 and was at the time considered to be one of the best looking graphics engines of its day. Since then, graphics engines have improved, but Doom 3’s unified lighting and shadowing system still holds up today.

Doom 3 wowed everybody when it first came into the spotlight at E3 2002, but I had been eagerly awaiting it for the entire four years it was being developed.  The morning it was released I intentionally took an early shift at work just so I could have a break when the stores opened.  I had preordered it at three different locations because they had three different preorder incentives (which were little pewter figurines of the original Doom enemies).  I had no idea one of the stores I preordered at just so I could get one of the figurines would be the place I would actually pick it up from!  When my boss saw what I was playing on my computer during lunch, instead of repremanding me, he sat down just so he could see how the game looked on my computer!

The code is released under the GPL. If you intend to modify it to create your own product with it, you MUST release it under GPL and include your source code with it.  According to the terms of the source code, no game content is included with the code, as that is still protected under the game’s EULA.

Give the code a download here!  This code is literally a huge footprint in the history of gaming and should be seen by software engineers and coders everywhere!

Star Fox 64 Gameplay November 22, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Well, El Train and I had the N64 plugged in, and we had the games and the controllers all set, so we figured why not play a game of Star Fox 64 for old time’s sake on my big screen.  Apologies for the crude image, we had to use an old CATV adapter to connect the Nintendo 64 to the TV, so the image greatly degraded.

But just remember, this is the same game that has recently been re-released for the Nintendo 3DS.

And it is also the same subject of this YouTube hit!

So take a look at the first level of this game, as it was originally designed to be exhibited.


Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Kinect Features Demonstration November 21, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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With the 1.1 patch, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary has added its promised Kinect functionality.  I have a Kinect, so I decided to give it a spin and show everyone how it works.  Take a look!

Nintendo 64 Games Discussion November 21, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Maniac and El Train continue their Nintendo 64 games discussion by showing off some of El Train’s Nintendo 64 games collection and discussing the games.  Now this is no means a complete game breakdown, but we did also talk about some games he didn’t have.