Monday, December 31, 2007
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HL2 Gets The Spaghetti Western Treatment

I am a man who enjoys Half-Life 2. I am also a man who enjoys Spaghetti Westerns. To cap it all off, I am a man (perhaps the only man) who enjoyed Lucasart’s Outlaws. So you can see, this project sets my heart aflutter. It’s called Fistful of Frags, and is a multiplayer mod for Half-Life 2. Sure, it may not look like much, but Sergio Leone fans should note (in case, you know, it’s not obvious by both the map’s and mod’s name) that one of the maps is an attempt at a faithful recreation of Fistful of Dollars’ El Paso. Including the bank. A beta build’s just been released, you can grab it at the link below. Beta 1.0 [Fistful of Frags, via Blues News]

Jade Empire 2 In Development At BioWare

Dean Takahashi over at the San Jose Mercury’s got the scoop: BioWare are already hard at work on a Jade Empire sequel. And that it’s definitely coming to the Xbox 360. And…that’s it. You should be able to fill the rest of the gaps in for yourselves, though: expect Mass Effect’s conversation mechanic to feature, expect more martial arts action and thanks to EA’s purchasing of BioWare you can probably expect a PS3 version as well. A small but interesting scoop: Jade Empire 2 is coming [Mercury News]

Wii Officially Hacked, Lies Naked And Defenceless

A lot of this may not make much sense to you. And it’s certainly not as sexy as running Doom or some other darling of the hacking/homebrew set. But the basic fact remains: these guys have hacked the Wii, and they’ve hacked it good. End result for you, consumer, is that very soon you’ll be able to go ahead and run anything on the Wii the system’s hardware will allow you to run. Which when you break it down into alphabet soup spells “GOOD TIMES”.

Xbox Live Is Very Sick, Needs A Lie Down

Many readers have let us know over the weekend that, yes, Xbox Live is experiencing difficulties. For some, anyways. For others it’s straight-up not working, which at this time of year (ie everyone’s at home gaming) is not exactly helpful. Microsoft’s Larry Hryb’s cap is very much in hand: You may have noticed that the LIVE service has been having a few issues over the past few days. This includes things like signing in, matchmaking and account recovery. Not everyone has had problems, but I know some of you have and I wanted to give you and update. While the service was never completely offline, problems like this are not acceptable. The entire LIVE team has been working day and night to ensure that you can have a great LIVE experience. While we’re not done yet, I wanted to let you know that things are getting better each hour and that no one on the team is going anywhere until the job is done. Thanks for your patience.

So it’s not working, and may not be working for a while yet. Bummer. On the bright side, there’s sadistic pleasure to be had in knowing whips are cracking against bare skin at Microsoft HQ right now. Xbox LIVE Status [Microsoft][Image]

Weekend Note: The End of (Holi)Days

To: Luke & Ash From: Flynn Subject: Game journalist seeks 2 BR apartment in SF

Ahoy, gents! I trust that your holidays have gone well? I have been searching for an apartment in what is probably the worst time of the year to be doing such a thing. The housing market in SF right now is bordering on insane. Each apartment has a half hour open house and is converged on by 20-30 people all desperate for a place to reside. The landlords have become extremely anal and the pile of stuff you have to bring with you (proof of income, proof of employment, credit report, references and in some cases info on your bank account) is staggering. What’s next? A blood test? My first born? (well, THAT one’s not going to happen for obvious reasons) But, I have faith that something will break and I will find myself ensconced in a place in the next few weeks.

Some things you might have missed this weekend:

Ole’ Jacky Boy is up to his old tricks

These new FF: Dissidia and KH: Birth by Sleep screens have everyone atwitter

I round up a year and half of Arcade Flyer Art Saturday in one handy dandy post

And now, I bid you adieu. I am off to look at some more ridiculously overpriced crackerbox apartments. Hope you have a great New Years and I’ll see you in 2008! Sayanora, schweethearts!

Week in Games: Racing on the Wii Edition

The final game releases for 2007 go out with a whimper and a moan. This week’s four game releases beats last week’s two games, but the titles still aren’t what one would call “must haves.” It’s all about racing on the Wii this time around on such varied transportation as quad bikes, cars, monster trucks and big rigs. Not really anything that piques my particular interests, but I’m sure fans of racing on the Wii will be thrilled.

Kawasaki 4X4 Quad Bikes (WII) Racing… on quad bikes!

Classic British Motor Racing (WII) Racing… in British cars!

Monster Trux: Offroad (WII) Racing… in monster trucks!

Rig Racer 2 (Wii) Racing… in big rigs!

Confessions of an Academic Blogger: How Did I Wind Up Here Again?

2007 was a pretty big year for me – ch-ch-ch-changes! ruled supreme. I got into my dream PhD program (which left me wondering – after the requisite running around and squealing – ‘How in the hell did I manage that?’), I moved back to Virginia from Taipei, I moved from Virginia to San Diego, I started grad school – and, oh yeah, landed a pretty sweet gig at Kotaku this past spring. It’s been a year filled with getting used to new things. delightfully bad Chinese press releases, learning how to be a grad student, learning how to deal with undergrads, learning how to be on the Kotaku staff – and figuring out how to balance it all.

Of everything that’s happened this year, Kotaku has been probably the most surprising and made me feel like a fish out of water most frequently. Me? I’m not a pro journalist. Well, I guess I technically am now in some small way – but I’ve not been to journalism school. I’ve never had any real desire to do the work of a journalist (give me an archive and books and I’m happy). Writing lit reviews comes more naturally than dealing with breaking news. I’ve spent the past couple of years aggressively pursuing academia, not breaking into video game journalism. I certainly never thought I’d wind up writing for one of the bigger gaming blogs out there. It was a pretty giant leap from the little site I wrote for to Kotaku Tower, and – just like when I got an email from one of my future advisors saying ‘Congratulations, you’re in!’ – I find myself wondering with some frequency ‘How in the hell did I manage that?’.

We get a lot of queries about breaking into the biz, which I always feel totally unequipped to answer. I haphazardly blundered into writing about video games (thanks to a post on Kotaku, of all things), and I found myself writing for Kotaku in much the same manner. How do you break into the business? Good question – let me know if you figure it out.

Confessions of a Homeless Gamer

Any of you that have been vicariously following my exploits through mentions in articles and weekend notes know that I’ve been on the move quite a bit recently. What may not be clear however is that for the last five months I have been homeless. No, I’m not dragging my belongings around on a shopping cart and bathing in the local cafe’s bathroom sink, but, I have not had an actual place of residence since August. At age forty, I certainly never thought I would find myself couch surfing again and not for this extended amount of time, but this is what life has thrown at me and so I’m adapting the best I can.

5 Gaming Industry Keynotes, In Short Form!

From Magical Wasteland comes a hilarious (and quick) wrap up of five of the gaming industry’s most popular keynotes. Maybe it’s just because I’ve hit my saturation point with this sort of stuff, but I found it wickedly funny and oh-so-true. My personal favorite is the first:

Let’s think about the future for a second. You probably don’t understand the kids that make up the bulk of our audience, but I do. I call them the network MySpace remix 3.0 social generation. Unlike any other people before them, young people today like to interact with each other. They also like music. YouTube is the perfect example of whatever point it is I’m making. Everything should be online and customizable.

It’s short. It’s funny! It’s worth a read. As someone in the comments section said, “You just saved me so much in travel expenses.” Touché.

Five Short Video Game Industry Keynotes [Magical Wasteland via GameSetWatch]

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