The Conan Lorebook

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Game on!

Well, I'm hauling the entire crew of MN Forhans to WI this weekend for Midwest Gaming Classic. I will be a vendor at the show as I have in the past, but it's been 7 years since I last attended! Time flies, you know...

You can learn more about the gaming goodness here:

Some of the organizers of this show even attend JagFest '99 which I organized nearly 10 (!) years ago in Rochester!

I know my older boys will love the show; they have never been to these shows at an age where they can appreciate all the games.


Gaming Headsets

I have no exterior game speakers beyond the cruddy ones in one of my monitors.  So, I don't mind spending some extra money if I can get good quality. The headset, which is a  headphone with a microphone, is needed for times when I play games with others -- like when Shannon talks me into a hot game of Company of Heroes.


I was very happy with my last headset, the Razer Piranha.  I got it on sale at $69.95, and was quite pleased overall.  The sound seemed good and the fit was comfortable.  My main problems were twofold:  the third cord, a USB-only was merely for lighting the headset, was just an extra wire hanging around for me.  The other was the annoying ease of unintentionally muting the microphone.  I believe Shannon is also having problems with his microphone itself.  Unfortunately for me, while pulling out my computer from its cubbyhole, the cord got caught and microphone no longer works.  Best Buy no longer carried the Piranha locally, so I looked for another set.


After reading a few reviews, I decided on the slightly more expensive Plantronics Gamecom 777.


 read more »

Atari Modern Classics!

Since we have an Atari (Jaguar/Lynx) producer in our fold, this is a great "what if" Carl were to develop for it and port modern games over to the 2600:


Atari Modern Classics.

Check out the Halo3 box.

Age of Conan

As this is "the conans" and we discuss games, I would be remiss not to mention a new MMO:  Age of Conan.


Age of Conan is, of course, based off the famous books and movies.  Some of you may even recall Carl playing a Play by Mail Conan game, where he would receive a letter then make his moves and email it off to places unknown. 

I was in on a very short beta test.  I wish I could have seen more, but I think it warrants a second look.  What I saw of the world is one which is very rich.


Gamespot is running a contest to give away 15,000 beta testing keys.  So, if you have the interest in testing it, head on over and sign up.  They announce winners on the 16th, so I'd suggest doing it ASAP.  No guarantees any of us will get in, but may be worth the chance. Note, too, it's a beta --which means there could be unforeseen problems.  It's still a chance to check out a game for free, though!  

Game Review: N+

N+ is the new hotness on XBox Live Arcade, created by metanet software as a sequel to their flash game, N.  Lauded as a paragon of substance over style, it is a hit with game reviewers all over.  It has a laughably small download size: 13MB. 

The game prizes control and level design over fluff like graphics.  The biggest problem with the game is that the control feels heavy, and the level design is tedious.

Obviously, they're trying to make it feel "physics-y", where the character has weight and momentum, but it only occaisonally comes off that way.  If you aren't making a gloriously long leap after a run, the character just feels sluggish.

As to the level design, I have to admit that I was only playing the demo, and there are something like 200 levels in the full game.  But they were often merely passable, not clever.  When I see a long corridor of 40 deathtraps that I have jump one by one, stopping each time, I am not enjoying it.  And when I die halfway down that hallway, I'm not only not buying the game, I'm deleting it.

N+, you're just going to have to try a bit harder in the fun department. 


Pat's Rating system:

  • How much would I pay for the game? Maybe $3-5, if I'm bored.
  • How many times would I replay it? Do I really have to finish it?  It has people hooked, but I just can't see myself trying the same level over and over again like I can with Puzzle Quest.  Multiplayer is supposed to be fun, but that's not enough justification.

Caveat Emptor?

OK, so I've gotten far weirder and far more nefarious email offering money. This one was for real, and is in reference to the game contest for which I made some art . The contest ended on March 1st.


The bottom line is that they've canceled the contest "due to a lack of participation." The only reason I joined in the first place was because the deadline originally was two weeks and no one else had apparently joined. I spent a good 80 hours or more of professional work on a very nice game level, so it wasn't free money. They soon stretched that deadline to over two months. And now, six days after the contest ended, they've called it off.


They offered a $500 consolation prize, which is a far cry from the $2500 that was promised to the winner. On one side, a bird in the hand is definitely something to consider. On the other side, it ticks me off that a company like Turbo Squid is doing this.


Caveat Emptor.



The Shape of Things to Come

For you video game-hungry bros out there, I think you'll like this video. It comes from last week'sGame Developer Conference and is a tech demo of the latest version of the Unreal 3 engine -- the earlier version of which brought us Gears of War.


Since I'm in this type of biz, I totally geeked-out and wished I could have this tech to play with right now. Unfortunately, the price tag is about five zeros out of my league. As gamers, it's a very cool preview of things to come: Soft-body modeling (makes things like a "Blob" or Jell-o), realistic interaction with water, materials which break apart like their real-life counterparts, large crowds, ambient occlusion (fakes shadowing under places that are almost always dark, like armpits, under ledges, etc) and more. Very, very cool technology.


Watch the presentation here:

XBLA Undertow mini-review

So I finally played some Undertow over the last couple days... seems like a pretty nifty little game, with some very nice graphic effects. I enjoy "territories" game types (ala Halo 3), so this one is mostly right up my alley. Mostly.



1. Really nice graphics

2. Fast and furious gameplay

3. Character selection and upgrade

4. Cool powerups

5. Multiple ways to traverse the map



1. I have a really hard time figuring out how to switch my character in the base

2. Do I have any control over how often my teammates spawn, where they spawn, and what kind of characters they are?

3. Very limited life, and no way to ram people, so the bigger ships seem almost useless.

4. No real strategy for the solo game; it's just jump in guns-a-blazin'. And why don't my teammates protect our bases more? It's not like my one character can be everywhere at once.

5. Could the story mode have any more cheese in the cut scenes?



 I like the game, and would really enjoy playing multiplayer to see if it improves some of the strategy limitations. I got mine free on XBLA so it's a great value overall, but would I have paid for it? Hard to say.

More Eye Candy

The last pictures concerned me, as they looked nowhere as nice in the pics as in-game. So, it made me consider actually having a brighter game level. Note these are the same exact models and textures only lit (I did change one side's cubicles to red). Please click on the thumbnails for larger pictures, then click on the largest size option to the upper-right for best viewing:


Edit:  Newer and better pictures can be seen here



Conan for the Xbox 360

What an appropriate name for a game for an unappropriate website!!!

 Anyways, I have spent the past few weeks beating this game.  First of all I rented the game because I remembered as a kid loving the movies and Arnold. 

 First of all, there is a gratuitious amount of gore (dismemberments, decapitations, etc.) in this game, so, not for the faint of stomach or people who are not a fan of this sort of thing.  

My first impression of the game was this is silly.  The animation was done in strange style.  The back ground is 3-D, but the characters were done in cartoonish aspect, while still trying to hold on to a 3-D image.  After playing the game for a while, it really fit the style.  And the graphics of the gore and fighting are excellently done.  This game is almost a carbon copy of God War I&II, just set in Hyboria.

The storyline in this game is very simple, reminiscient of the Conan movies.  So, if you want to play this game don't get it for the story, get it for the adventure.  This game packs a ton of action.  Very well thought out battle system, multiple fight styles (Sword and Board, Dual Wield, & 2-handed sword), 20-30 different moves in each fighting style, cinematic slow motion of moves, very smart AI, and great environments for use to down your enemies.  Any weapon an enemy has you can use; any spike, boulder, crate, barrel, or stone pillar in the game can be used too.

 The only downfall to this game is the boss battles.  Long (5-6 instances per battle), extremely hard, and no clue what you are doing for the first few tries.  Though the end sequence where you have to push buttons and the right time to get a very cinematic death of the boss is very satisfying.

 Other than the fact that the game is a bit hard and boss battles get ridiculously hard, this game is blast to play, and it only takes about 6-7 hours to beat. 

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