Matt Barton's blog

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The Five Things I'd Love to See in a Modern CRPG

I'm fine with these graphics; just give me gameplay.I'm fine with these graphics; just give me gameplay.It's been a long time since I've been excited about a forthcoming CRPG. I usually just find myself disappointed and then bitter when I find that the latest "CRPG" is just another mindless twitch-fest with bigger boobs than ever before. Sigh.

So, what would I like to see in a CRPG? I thought I'd provide a wishlist.

#5. Quality packaging. Yes, I know that games are data and are best distributed over the internet. But that doesn't mean that there can't also be a tangible component, such as nice printed manuals, maps, and reference cards. The goal here should be to make those "extras" not only a pleasure to hold, but truly useful in the game (i.e., no collectors' edition bullshit of interest only to fanboys). Periodically the game should refer you to them, as well, since there is nothing more boring than being asked to read a lot of text on a screen. Why not do like the old games did for copy protection, and ask you to read entry #43 in your lovely printed journal? Hellz yeah! That sure beats trying to read a bunch of stupid text on a screen, or, worse, hearing it read by some voice actor without a clue of its context. As for nitwits who can't be bothered to actually read a book, those idiots wouldn't be interested in my kind of game anyway so to hell with them.

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Why Does Duke Nukem Forever Suck?

Forever wasn't long enough, apparently.Forever wasn't long enough, apparently.Well, the first wave of reviews are in, and it looks like somebody's gonna freakin' pay for screwing up Duke's comeback. IGN gives it a 5.5 and offers us this stinger: Duke has not aged well. As simple as he ever was, as irrelevant as he's ever been. Ouch! Joystiq gives it similar treatment: Allow me to borrow Duke's trademark line which he, in turn, borrowed from a fellow 1990s artistic endeavor, Army of Darkness: "Don't come get some." PC Gamer was more forgiving, settling on an 80 score, but warns us that the development-time-to-awesomeness ratio isn’t impressive.

The complaints are many and numerous, but most come back to how long this game took to make and how lackluster the finished product finally turned out to be. Wikipedia even has a special page just for the game's long and storied development cycle, which according to them went into production in 1997.

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Jon Hare and the Stupidization of the Videogames Industry

“Tiny Wings is an insult to professional game designers.”

This week, I chat with Jon Hare, founder of Sensible Software and a guy who doesn't mind telling it like it is. The gist is that back in the day, computer games were made for intelligent people and designers could take bigger risks--after all, an intelligent gamer isn't turned off by a true challenge or learning something new. According to Jon, that changed dramatically after the introduction of the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and the Sony PlayStation. Once the ordinary children could play videogames, the industry got really nervous about anything remotely intellectual and the result is the endless sequels and dumbed down games we're saturated with today. Warning: Jon pulls no punches here. If you're a diehard console or FPS gamer, expect to be offended by this video.

Download the mp4.

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Alien Life Discovered on Mars

It belongs to us!It belongs to us!Is it a secret military base? A Martian condo? The set of Total Recall? A Wal-Mart? See it for yourself. Scientists are calling it a "linear streak artifact" caused by a cosmic ray. Aw, come on, we all know that thing is jammed full of space demons!

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Matt reviews The Witcher

By popular request, I've decided to review a modern action-RPG called The Witcher. Originating in Poland, The Witcher offers a rich story, great characters, huge leveling system, and intense action-based combat. Check out the review below. Warning: I do make some criticisms of the game here, which seems to be offending the fanboys--so steer clear if you're unwilling to hear about the game's flaws.

Download the mp4.

Buy the Witcher: Enhanced Edition from GOG for only $10.

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The Web Writing Style Guilde

I thought some folks here might be interested in the just-released Web Writing Style Guide. It was produced by an "unconference" of professors and instructors by a "writing sprint," a sort of ad hoc collaboration project. It turned out well in my opinion, so head over and see if you might learn something.

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Real-Life Superheroes

I have been and always shall be...your kickass grandpa.I have been and always shall be...your kickass grandpa.Shazam! There's lots of cool stories in the queue this morning. First off, there's a stun-glove that lets sheriffs punch perps with the added benefit of 300,000 volts. It even has a flashlight and video camera built in for instant replays. In the words of a certain movie, "It's so bad."

But wait...that's not all! There's also this cool Jetpack for those still hankering to free their own inner Willy.

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Brains, Brains, Brains! (and epic Atari stash)

Brains!!! Oh, yes, brains. Are you an idiot? Well, fret no more, now there's a brain exercise that really works. The key is Dual N-Back Tasks, which looks about as fun as it sounds. Still, with just a few hours ago, you won't be doing stupid stuff like virginity checks! Hurry; new people are signing up every minute!

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Jeff Williams on the Anti-Adventure Prejudice in the Games Industry

I'm back this week for the second and final segment of my chat with the excellent Jeff Williams. If you don't think Jeff is awesome, it's because you haven't watched these videos. The guy knows exactly what's wrong with the industry and isn't afraid to speak his mind! You also have to admire anyone with the audacity to self-fund such a huge project and the persistence to see it through. And by the way, if you haven't already purchased Darkstar: The Interactive Movie, quit being a lamer and grab it now, if for no other reason than to support this heroic effort to fight the power. We need more guys like Jeff for the betterment of our favorite hobby.

Download the mp4 and save it for posterity!

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Matt's Game Design for "Rampin' Rescue"

Several months ago I began working on a game that would combine elements from three classic games: Choplifter, Kickstart, and Defender. Unfortunately, I was never able to figure out how to use Gamemaker to simulate a vehicle going up and down slopes, so I'm giving up and moving on to something else.

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