Freitag, 24. Dezember 2010

My wife's first exhibition

My lovely and talented wife Anna had her first photo exhibition ("constructed reality") last week at T-systems in Saarbrücken ! I am soooo proud !!!

Donnerstag, 23. Dezember 2010

Great drawing book

Its fantastic what awesome drawings with painting like quality can be achieved with coloured pencils...this book can teach You how and some tricks or two...

The Art of Dying

It is interesting to see how a persistent feature like "collecting hearts, coins, bananas and puzzle pieces" actually can imply that the player can sacrifice a "life" to get more bonus symbols. This way, dying in "Donkey Kong Country Returns" can indeed be rewarded like any other gameplay challenge, and can be considered a game design success !

Sent from my iPhone

Mittwoch, 22. Dezember 2010

Animated backdrop element...

Used some LightWave in combination with Grafx2 and ProMotion...working on more animated backdrop elements for our game...

Samstag, 18. Dezember 2010

Donkey Kong Country Returns

RETRO STUDIOS is the developer this time, and many of You will know them from the popular METROID PRIME series of First Person Adventures on Gamecube and Wii.
For those of You who played the Donkey Kong games on Super Nintendo, this new entry in the series is not drastically different in gameplay.
The original Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country Returns
For those who don't know any game of the franchise, this is a so called jump'n'run platforming game, where You control the ape Donkey Kong (in two player mode You also can play Diddy Kong, Donkey's young sidekick) in his adventure to get back all the bananas that have been stolen by mysterious creatures.
There are two control schemes, one with and one without nunchuk support, and they both work well after a short while of learning.
The game plays on an island and is divided into different levels, with each level subdivided into smaller stages.
To advance to the next level, You have to jump and run and climb Your way through the different stages and finally beat an end-of-level "boss" to unlock the next level.
Those levels are nicely shown on an animated map of the island, where You can progress from stage to stage, a bit like in Super Mario World's map.

The Stage Map of the Beach level
While running and jumping through the various beautifully done stages, You must avoid the enemies that walk along predetermined paths, or get rid of them by jumping on their head à la Super Mario.If an enemy touches You, You loose one heart, if You loose two hearts You loose one life and have to use a "continue" in the form of a balloon that slowly floats down from above.
Besides the enemies, You must overcome "natural" environmental obstacles such as spikey spears, lava and the like, and collect as many bananas, coins and puzzle pieces as possible. For 100 bananas You get one extra life (up to three max), the coins can be used in a shop to buy more balloons, hearts, keys (to unlock secret passages), and the puzzle pieces unlock bonus stuff like concept art and songs.
There is quite some variety in the gameplay, too, as Donkey Kong has often to use different "vehicles" to progress through the stages, each with its own way of handling.
Donkey Kong about to ride on an rocket barrel 
The graphics in DKCR are really colourful,from the lush detailed tropical forests to the firey volcanic mountain tops, vibrant and vivid, each level has its own theme, and the environments and creatures You encounter are superbly animated and full of personality, the textures are sophisticated and the mood and look fit the Wii like only few other games.
Donkey Kong in "Super Guide" mode
The sound effects and songs are moody, jazzy and offer a lot of "whistling along" qualities.
The game also features Nintendo's "Super Guide" mode, which players can use to overcome difficult parts.The game automatically detects how many times You failed at a certain point and offers You kindly this mode.Of course, with "Suoper Guide", You can't collect any coins, bananas or puzzles.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a great platforming game with a great longevity, partly because of its higher difficulty, partly because its easy to learn, difficult to master and very rewarding through several playthroughs (bonus items, bonusstages, time trials for beaten levels etc...).
The cooperative two player mode is a blast and will keep You and friend busy for countless hours, I would say this is one of the best two player coop games out there.

Conclusion: If You like old school platforming games, don't mind a moderate difficulty, love finding bonus items and unlocking new content, have a friend to play with, enjoy great graphics and own a Wii, this is a must buy for You.Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the best, most entertaining titles this year on ANY platform (no pun intended).

Freitag, 17. Dezember 2010

Wii rule the world... least for video games :)
Considering VGChartz  chart, Wii is still selling more games and hardware than any other platform .
It has sold already 4 times more than the "Gamecube" and 30 million more than the "Super Nintendo".Next to beat are the "Playstation 1" and the "Playstation 2" (still selling 200,000 units per week worldwide), the latter will be pretty tough, but who knows what happens when Nintendo cuts the price of "Wii".
If the Wii keeps on selling like that, it beats the sales figures of the "Game Boy Advance".
"WoW:Cataclysm" is out for a week and kicked "Wii Sports" to the second place (although in the US, Wii Sports holds the top spot with almost 80k units more than Cataclysm).
The top five contain 3 Wii (first party) titles, with combined sales of almost 95 million units !
The Top 20 has only 2 third party Wii games :/
Interesting is that "Kinect Adventures" can be found there, with almost 4 millions sold worldwide, and no PS Move title in the Top 20, only one at spot 37.
Looks like Move looses against Kinect.
Personally I am happy for "Donkey Kong Country Returns" (1.7 million in three weeks) and "Epic Mickey" (more than 500k since launch).
And "Kirby:Epic Yarn" has also sold past the 500k point, great :)

Donnerstag, 16. Dezember 2010

Tickets ordered

Sunday is TRON:LEGACY day, can't wait.I hope it'll be good, it better be.
I love TRON and its visionary style for the period, the pictures I saw from the new one seem almost too wanna-be cool, but I am open minded, and I like seeing Flynn again after all these years.Hopefully it'll inspire me like the first one.

Mittwoch, 15. Dezember 2010

Stop talking, start acting, for the PS3's sake..

Most game comparisons of titles appearing for both the PS3 and the Xbox360 end with the box beeing da winna.
And every once in a while some developer stands up and states that their game (plese insert Your favourite hardware pushing exclusive) "only uses a fraction of the power of the PS3".
I am not the smartest person in the world, but even I start to wonder, if Guerilla state that Killzone 2 only used a fraction of the PS3s power, then why is this so ? Why didnt they give paying customers 100% of the console's power ?
Wouldn't we exspect that 4 years after the PS3's release, devs should be able to use all its power and thus fulfill the "next gen promise" of 30fps at 1920x1080 (which almost no game except for a handful ever achieved).
Slowly I start to think that maybe its all just masquerade and the PS3 has already been used to its fullest but no licensed developer is allowed to say so...

ALAN, WAKE me up, I fell asleep cause I am so bored...

Well, so Time magazine crowned ALAN WAKE "Game of the Year 2010" because its oh-so "mature", and meta and whatever, because You have to use light against Your enemies etc.
My buddy Matze and I played it together, and we found it to be boring as hell, repetitive, disappointingly vague, without any interesting conclusion and pretty much a waste of time.
The graphics are splendid, and the atmosphere is great at the beginning, but the further You play, the more confusing and aimless the whole thing gets.
In Alan Wake, You basically run from lightsource to lightsource, kill enemies and push the occasional switch (aka "puzzles in Alan Wake").
It clearly aims to be something like "Silent Hill", and fails totally.
I played "Silent Hill: Homecoming" afterwards and half an hour with that game gave me more story, more suspense and more TO DO than the 10 hours or so of Alan Wake.
And please don't count on AW's "story", as it has none, at least nothing that merits a game.
I have been following AW's development starting back in 2005 or 2006, and I really wonder what happened in those 5 years...