Category Archives: video games

Nintendo New 3DS Trim Guide

For anyone else that picked up a New 3DS today and is making due with trimmed XL screen protectors until properly sized versions arrive, here’s a guide I threw together to make it easier to trim those larger overlays down to size.

Nintendo New 3DS Trim Guide

(the image itself it 6×7 inches, print at actual size)


RETRO magazine

Dear reader! Starting with the next issue, I’ll be writing regular columns for RETRO magazine, covering arcade history and game tech, two subjects that are pretty much always on my mind anyway.


I’ve been a subscriber since the magazine’s debut, and RETRO has continued to improve with each issue since. I’m pleased enough to be writing with a retro gaming focus, but after chatting about the team’s plans for the upcoming year, I’m even more thrilled to be onboard.

RETRO is currently running a Kickstarter to bolster subscription numbers and add additional content for year two. The funding goal was quickly surpassed and now the focus is on stretch goals, three of which (more pages! stickers! posters!) have already been met. If you’re interested in reading, it’s a good time to subscribe, as the Kickstarter rate is a hell of a deal.

A Day at the Expo

Originally published in Las Vegas Citylife on September 5, 2013

“Hey, you went to the GameStop Expo? Did you get a copy of Madden 25? Some guy said that VIP badge-holders got Madden 25. He came in today to trade it in.”

“Uh, yes. No. We’re press. Same bag, different stuff inside.” I opened the drawstring bag-cum-backpack thing, revealing its contents. “Our bags were mostly publisher knickknacks and information about– hey, there’s a Skylander in there!”

Gamestop Expo 2013

Last weekend, video game retailer GameStop held its second public convention, a sort of baby Electronic Entertainment Expo bolted onto the company’s conference for store managers. While GameStop’s employee-only conferences are a yearly function (I attended one in 2007 as a developer, demoing Universe at War for Petroglyph/Sega), someone at corporate must’ve realized that, since publishers were already setting up extravagant booths to woo GameStop staff into supporting their titles, costs could be recouped by extending the show by a day and opening it to the public.

After a successful start in San Antonio, Texas (a quick flight from the company’s Dallas/Fort Worth HQ), 2013’s Expo was held here in Las Vegas at the Sands Convention Center. For a city known as a convention destination, we have surprisingly few shows related to the video game industry (and none open to the general public), so I’m hoping this year was successful enough that GameStop decides to stick around.

But whatever, that’s all background. Let’s talk about video game stuff!

While little breaking news was expected to come out of the expo (the press room reflected that, I think the most journalists we ever saw in the room at one time was four), the conference was one of the first opportunities for the public to actually handle the controllers of and play both Microsoft’s Xbox One (November, $499) and Sony’s Playstation 4 (November 15, $399) consoles. If the line extending out of the conference area and well into the hallways was any indication, the chance to touch new hardware is a powerful draw.

Microsoft and Sony, situated on opposite ends of the convention like boys and girls at a grade school dance, each operated expansive booths, beckoning the audience to come and play their games and to nevermind the menace on the other side of the hall. Between the two was a small sea of game publishers and a surprisingly large number of headphone manufacturers, none of which I’ll be covering as I’ve only got so much space to work with this week.

So how do the new consoles feel?

The Xbox One. After an early public relations stumble over how the company would be managing internet connectivity and the use of pre-owned games, Microsoft’s marketing engine appears to be back on track with the Xbox One, and a good number were on display and playable at the company’s booth. The consoles, positioned around a full size statue of the protagonist of the upcoming Ryse: Son of Rome, were hidden behind plexiglass, gamepads resting on stands during brief moments of inactivity. In the hands, the controller feels like a slightly more robust version of the widely-praised Xbox 360 controller, albeit with a much improved directional pad and a lighter overall feel. Full size arcade-style fighting sticks by Mad Catz were demonstrated, set to be released alongside Microsoft’s revival of the fighting game Killer Instinct.

The still capable and newly slimmed-down Xbox 360 was also on display, and may end up a solid alternative for new console buyers not looking to drop five hundred bucks on a gaming machine.

Gamestop Expo 2013

The Playstation 4. Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve never been a fan of the ubiquitous DualShock series of controllers featured on Sony consoles since the original Playstation. With the PS4, that’s changed. The controller may retain the name, but the new redesign has made it a pleasure to grasp and the controller fits perfectly in the hand. The twin analog sticks, perilously close together in previous iterations, are now spaced further apart (tested particularly well with the upcoming Octodad: Deadliest Catch), and the directional pad is just as well-built as ever. Unfortunately, none of the games I demoed offered an opportunity to use the capacitive touch pad.

Speaking of games, my favorite from the Sony booth was NOT a Playstation 4 launch title. Tearaway, a Playstation Vita game developed by Little Big Planet’s Media Molecule, will be one of the first AAA games to properly make use of the Vita’s touch controls without feeling like the result of a developer checking off boxes on a features bullet point list. Additionally, much like the Little Big Planet series, Tearaway is absolutely full of charm and clever design, and I expect it to be a system seller.

Oh, one little piece of news from the show: in a display of competitive love from both Sony and Microsoft, GameStop store managers (all 6,500 of ‘em) will each be receiving a free Playstation 4 and Xbox One, along with a handful of games for each, just in time for the holidays. I’m still waiting for the tech columnist console giveaway announcement, and I’ll let you all know the moment that comes through.

Molyjam Deux: The Results

Originally published in Las Vegas Citylife on July 10, 2013

Game jams are exhausting. Forty-eight hours of concentration, problem solving, design, and compromise, followed by an hour or two of tension and high anxiety as the developers attempt to bundle everything into a single working cohesive piece to demo. If a team is lucky, development aligns enough with the initial game plan that the full-day work sessions are punctuated by sleep. Some of the teams aren’t so lucky, powering through on willpower, caffeine, and the demands of a deadline. Game jams are amazing.

This week: Molyjam wrap up!

Okay, first a brief recap. Molyjam is an annual game jam where current and aspiring game developers gather and create video games over the course of a single weekend, all themed in a loving mix of homage and parody of renowned designer Peter Molyneux. This year, the stated rule was that all game concepts were to be based on actual Molyneux quotes, pulled freely and without context from over two decades of interviews and presentations.

(For the less brief recap, read my previous column.)

On the evening of July 5th, a dozen game developers in Las Vegas gathered together at SHFL Entertainment’s interactive office, formed teams, came up with concepts, and hunkered down to work alongside hundreds more from around the world, all simultaneously creating games for Molyjam.

Two days later, over 250 titles by nearly 800 developers had been submitted to the Molyjam website. While the majority of the games are playable by anyone on a standard Mac or Windows computer, some teams chose more niche platforms (the Oculus Rift VR headset was especially popular this year), and one programmer even designed and wrote a game for the Atari 2600.

For some participants, just the act of completing something mostly playable in two days is enough. Others will continue to hone and polish their projects over the coming weeks, so if you come across a submission you especially enjoy, be sure to let developers know, and keep an eye on them for future announcements.

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