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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dr. Horrible

Am I the only person who hadn't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog until now?

It's interesting, in that it's a unique take format and distribution. And I'm certain we'll be seeing much more of this now, YouTube and cellphone movies, freely distributed, funded by donations. Games have already paved this way pretty well, I think.

Anyway, Neil Patrick Harris is an absolute gem, the first act is pure beautiful adorable heart-warming awkward love. Which we're all familiar with, I'm sure. But it's never quite been summed up like this before.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Carrie's Top 10 Games of 2008

With my caveat being threefold:

1. I didn't play every game that came out this year (obviously), so you can pretty much rule out sports games and lots and lots of those hyped highbrow 300 hour JRPGs. I also did a crappy job of playing games that came out before the launch of Warhammer, though many of those I don't even believe were contenders.

2. I still don't like some games that everyone else loves, so as much as I wanted to like it, or as badass as the soundtrack was, GTAIV is not on this list. (Other noteworthy absences: Fallout 3 = Oblivion, Fable II = Would have been #11)

3. I'm not going to factor any game I'm involved in (Warhammer) or any direct competitor (Conan, WotLK, Mines of Moria).

And with that out of the way. I shall commence listing.

10. Mirror's Edge - I know I'm in the minority when it comes to Mirror's Edge. And I understand the flaws, I really do. But to me, as an experience, Mirror's Edge is sublime. Visual and visceral, it had some of the most thrilling gameplay I experienced all year. And I believe that any game that moves gameplay and game discussion forward deserves to be elevated above some of its faults.

9. Left 4 Dead - I was late to the L4D bandwagon, which is probably the only explanation on why it's so far down the list. As far as unique experiences go, Left 4 Dead fires on all cylinders. But considering you'll want to play with your friends and probably not random Xbox Live dewds, it places a slightly higher barrier to entry than I would like. Still those moments, when your team has huddled together to make the last stand against the zombie horde, those moments are pure exhilaration.

8. Professor Layton and the Curious Village - At first I thought Professor Layton was a kid's game, until I spotted the review over at GameSpot. Though it contains a number of classic riddles and puzzles (those with a penchant for moving matchsticks will recognize more than a few) it has more than enough to make up for any you might be familiar with. It's the perfect DS game, easy bite-sized pieces, and it goes out of its way to give you plenty of outs if you're stuck.

7. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts - Umm where did this come from? I almost didn't pick up Nuts and Bolts because it seems like every platformer these days churns out a racing game just to make a buck. But this is not just a racing game, and in fact, the racing is the least interesting part. Part cart-building and all-collection, Banjo Kazooie infuses the charm of the first two games into another version that is as every bit a classic, and not even nearly as tedious.

6. World of Goo - Physics games are awesome, but World of Goo isn't just about physics. The puzzles themselves are great, but it's the OCD mode that really takes it to the next level. While each puzzle is beatable with some leeway, OCD often requires that you bend your mind a different way. And the Tower of Goo mode with the floating clouds of other people's heights is pure competition genius.

5. Dead Space - One hour in, I wasn't sure what to make of Dead Space. It was atmospheric, yes. It felt really good, yes. The UI was awesome (and I'm not just saying that because it's Dino). The sound was out of this world...literally. But it took me a couple hours to truly love it. It was nuanced, it was scary, I even liked that it got a little predictable. (Oh something is definitely jumping out of there). But above all, it was fun. Really really fun, the entire time I was playing it. And that's all that matters, yes?

4. Braid - Not sure that Braid needs any more love at this point, so I'm going to forgo talking about how awesome it is and talk about the one thing that I thought was dumb. The ending. No, not the ending, but the part after with all the exposition. Ruined the whole thing for me. I wished they had stopped at the "in reverse" sequence. Everything else was tops.

3. Little Big Planet - If LBP hadn't blown the first week it was out, it might have changed the way people play games. For that matter, if more people owned PS3s, it might change the way people play games. Either way, it's adorable, lovable, endearing, and I want to take a little sackboy around with me everywhere I go, because I love to see him smile. And OMG do I HATE to see him sad.

2. MGS4 - It may come as a surprise that MGS4 isn't my number 1, but it isn't because my number 1 had more diversity. MGS4 is the finest, most beautiful, most storyriffic game that has come out in a long time. It is epic, it is emotional, and above all, it's a big fat pile of Carrie-fan service, that I've been waiting for since the original Metal Gear Solid. So thanks for that Hideo Kojima. Way to go out with a bang.

1. Gears of War 2 - Gears of War 2 is the best example of a sequel that I can think of. More. And more of the stuff you want. More levels with awesome Gears of War content. More co-op levels. More cogtags to collect. More CHAINSAW. But where it excels the most, and honestly the reason I think of it as my favorite game of this year, is Horde mode. I've played it a lot, and it is awesome in every way. And they didn't even have to do it, it's just delicious icing on the top.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Serious Elevator Action

Thanks to the lolling knight!

It began harmlessly enough. I was leaving my office on the 2nd floor (I have relocated to the 2nd floor since we launched, so that I can get my secret special projects on in peace) and about to take the elevator to the 8th floor, when I noticed a repairman standing at an open elevator shaft.

"Hey if I press this button, is that going to mess anything up for you?" I asked him.

"Yeah it will electrocute me" he said in a friendly way, not a snide way.

I chuckled and pressed the button, but while I waited, I found myself drawn to the open shaft. I find elevators to be extraordinarily fascinating. They're so simple, yet we don't understand them. They're everywhere, yet many people are afraid of them. They're an easy target for myth and hyperbole, and I've never even bothered to find out what's true.

"Hey have you ever stood on top of an elevator?" I asked him as I stood just outside the door. The elevator guy nimbly jumped on top of the elevator roof and grinned at me.

And then began my education. He told me of all the stories that are told about elevators and why they should be debunked. A single elevator cord can hold the entire weight of the elevator plus 25%, so there's no snapping and plummeting. There's no plummeting anyway because elevators have brakes and the counterweight weighs more than the elevator itself. You can't crawl out the top, they're entry points for elevator operators only. You can't pry open the doors, they're physically locked even if they feel otherwise.

The other elevators came and went, and people laughed at me standing in that open blackness. But my elevator friend was awesome. He told me, most interestingly, that in order to figure out what's wrong with an elevator that people are claiming is broken, that he will sit on top of it and ride it while it makes its routes.

"You hear a lot of really interesting conversations that way".

I can't possibly recreate for you that experience, but I can share with you my follow-up, as I was trying to fact check to see how much of what he said was really true. This is an amazing article (it's a very long read, and you should do it, but this video also sums up the main story), and truly might tell you more than you'd ever want to know about elevators, but for me, I feel like I've found a new obsession.

Friday, December 26, 2008


There's no excuse for my accidental erasing of the Elevator blog (previously) except that I appear to fail at the internet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


There's been a mild internet hoopla over Paul's video that he staged with WAR Technical Director Colin Shannon, mockingly chastising him for *a* code bug that made its way into the live version of Warhammer. It resolved in the best way possible, which is Paul taking pie-after-pie in the face. (I heartily approve.)

If you're one of those Paul haters, feel free to watch the video without volume. You get the two most important bits: 1. pie! 2. Sorry Colin!

It's funny to think that people following Warhammer might not know this, but Colin is one of those guys, without whom, either this game wouldn't have been made properly, or a lot of people who worked on it would have gone crazy, myself at the top of that list. I think he deserves nothing less than being on the giving end of a Paul-pie-face-sandwich. In fact, if Colin Shannon wants to throw pies at me too, I will happily oblige. He's. that. good. of a Technical Director.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Understanding the Internet

Not much from me in the past few weeks, arguably if ever. I've had a hard time writing a blog, as I have a hard time understanding its audience. It is, inexorably, myself, but clearly posting it to a public forum comes with the knowing (and in fact the very reason) of sharing with other people. Otherwise I would keep a journal, which I'm terrible at.

Then of course the small audience consists of mostly my friends (too far away and who I talk to too seldomly), some of the GameSpot devoted (love you guys) and Warhammer fans (love you guys too, but then again you're probably done with me now that the game is out... still love you).

Then of course, there's far too many ways to reach out these days: AIM, MSN, ICQ (barely that anymore), IRC (not really since my CS days), Facebook, Myspace, Friendster (for the two friends who won't get on Facebook), Blogger, GameSpot profile, Giant Bomb profile, YouTube (I think I'm finally too old for something), text messages, email, phone calls. I knew something was wrong when my niece balked at the thought of me sending her MAIL.

Anyway this is all an excuse to say that in my desire to understand communication better these days, I'm attempting to try out some new methods of it, the first and foremost being "Twitter", which I now have added to this blog, and which may sound very frivolous. Forgive me, I'm trying to adapt and grow and learn.

Which leads me to the question of what I'm doing these days. Since shortly after Warhammer's launch I've been working on some other stuff. Fun secret stuff. I hope you all are enjoying yourselves and have a happy holiday or two.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I am not patriotic.

But one day, every four years, I get really excited about my rights. I stand in line to vote, I wear red white and blue, and I get passionate about politics. Also, I happen to deeply love West Wing, so that helps.

For the first time in my life, the president that I have voted for, has won the election. It makes me proud to be American. Tonight Virginia went Democratic for the first time in 44 years.

Hell to the f'n yeah.