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The Uncanny Valley Episode 2: Podcast Simulator 2013

This week, we talk about games!

Topics:
**Game of the week: Hotline Miami**
Don Mattrick
Microsoft news
Gameday 98
Double Fine kickstarter
Extra Life 2013
UPlay hacked
Shitty Sim games
Blaz Blue
Fez
Solar 2
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Walking Dead 400 Days
Sonic Generations
… and more!

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The Uncanny Valley Episode 1: Suck My Daxter

The debut official episode featuring our very first guest!

Topics covered this week:

Microsoft DRM Flip Flop
Occulus Rift
Penny Arcade
Phil Fish
NVidia Shield
Atlus Financial woes
Console Launches
State of Decay
Jak and Daxter Collection
Machinarium
Saints Row The Third
XCOM iOS
The Last of Us
…and more!

Last of Us spoiler talk starts at 1:34

Perler Beads!

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   So one of the hobbies that has taken up a lot of my time in my absence from this blog is bead-spriting. It’s basically recreating sprites, pixel by pixel with small colored beads. You arrange them on a pegboard, and then melt them together with an iron. If done right, they come out pretty cool. You can make small NES era sprites, larger 16-32 bit sprites, or just use completely original pixel art of any size. Since this is a video game blog though, I’ll just relate this to game spriting. Here’s some things to help you on your way if you want to try it yourself.

   First, you’re gonna need pegboards and beads. Pegboards can be easily found at your local Michaels, Jo’Anns, or other craft stores. Beads on the other hand are trickier. You can find big jars of mixed color beads in stores, and most likely a limited supply of individual colored bead bags. The big jars aren’t really a viable option for spriting as skimming through an entire jar for a specific color you need is inefficient. You’re better off going online to eksuccessbrands.com to purchase the specific beads you’ll need. If you get to the point where beading is a regular hobby it may be a good idea to start ordering there in bulk to have all colors available to you. There are also different brands of perler beads called nabbi and hama that offer slightly different color pallets, but thats something you only need to look into if you’re an advanced spriter trying to get the absolute perfect colors for your work.

   You can head to http://www.spriters-resource.com to find sprite sheets from pretty much any game you can think of, to use as a template.

   If you have an image that isn’t natively a sprite, you can use this program to help convert it into a usable template for a sprite.

   Once you have your sprite all laid out on a pegboard, it’s time to iron it. You need to cover your sprite with perler branded ironing paper, or cooking parchment paper found at your local grocery. I use the parchment paper and it works great. The ironing process takes practice. Every iron is different, you need to find the right setting and spots on your iron that will melt the beads together just so that they are stuck together, and not ruining your pegboard by over melting. Once its all stuck together you can pry it off your pegboard, flip it over and do the same for the back. At this point you can decide how much you want you beads melted together. Some people keep the melting to a minimum, others like to melt them to the point where they look just like one singular piece of plastic where you can no longer tell they are individual beads. It’s up to your personal preference. One tip I have if you plan on completely melting your sprite is to put a layer of beads around your sprite that you can cut off after its cooled. Otherwise, your outer edges and corners will be rounded and have lost the pixelized look.

   Freshly ironed sprites have a tendency to curl up or down, so I suggest stacking a book or two on top of it during the cooling process to flatten it out.

   After that, you’re done. Put them on your walls, make magnets out of them, do whatever.

Here’s some examples of other sprites I’ve made:

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You can find most of my stuff at Drusyc.deviantart.com.

Me and a good friend of mine have just started up a gaming podcast. Mostly because we both play a lot of video games and don’t get a chance to talk about them too much. So, we’re going to get together once a week and make a thing of it. We’re only one episode in, it’s not great, but it’s our first time, so be gentle. Listen if you want, or don’t, its cool man. I’ll be posting links to episodes here, which has revived my desire to post here again.

Episode 00:

  • http://www.uncannyvalleycast.podomatic.com/entry/2013-06-21T07_28_48-07_00
  • Twitter:

  • http://www.twitter.com/UncannyV
  • Facebook:

  • http://www.Facebook.com/uncannyvalleycast
  • Tumblr:

  • http://www.uncannyv.tumblr.com
  • So, I haven’t touched this blog in quite some time… and looking over some of these posts, I’m wishing I’d spent more time editing them. But nonetheless, I am going to attempt to start posting here again, so prepare yourself. Until then, continue to enjoy the poorly edited content of questionable quality that still lay dormant here within.

     

    Game of the Year

     

    Red Dead Redemption

    I realize its already March, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Red Dead is somewhat of an obvious choice for my game of the year, but there’s a reason for that. Rockstar worked their magic once again bringing their innovative open-world gameplay to yet another setting, this time the wild west. Drawing influences from Sergio Leone’s famous “Man with No Name” trilogy, among other films, western pop culture and history, they craft an intriguing world that’s brought to life with fleshed out characters and fully realized environments. I liken RDR to Bully, as in they both take the GTA formula and apply it to a new setting and create something much more interesting in doing so.

    Honorable Mentions

    Heavy Rain

     

     

    – Innovative and engrossing, Heavy Rain is one of the more unique and satisfying experiences out there.

     

     

     

     

    BioShock 2

     

     

    – Maybe an unnecessary sequel, but the result is a game better in every possible way than its predecessor, albeit lacking a bit of the “magic.”

     

     

     

     

    Blur

     

     

    – The most fun I’ve had with a racing game, ever. Bizarre Creations, you will be missed. Good night, Sweet Prince.

     

     

     

    Final Fantasy XIII

     

     

     

     

    – The most polarizing FF among fans and critics alike to date, I happen to fall on the positive side of the polarity.

     

     

     

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    Game of the Decade: #1

    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

    Well, it took me over a year, but here it is. My favorite game of the past decade, and maybe of all time, GTA: Vice City. GTA 3 really blew everyone away when it came out with its open world gameplay, but it wasn’t until Vice City hit that it was certain that Rockstar was here to stay as a true AAA developer.

    I can’t think of a better possible setting for a game such as this other than the pastel draped, new wave mid-80’s Miami. It takes a lot to pull this off, and make it believable and authentic, but they knocked it out of the park. The amount of time and detail put into making the city come to life and be era-accurate is unreal. The characters and the script are hilarious, and I don’t think they could have possibly squeezed any more pop culture references in than they did. The voice acting is also top-notch, featuring actors such as Burt Reynolds, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo and even Lawrence Taylor. Ditching the route of the silent protagonist; Ray Liotta does a

    ...I like this shirt.

    great job with Tommy. Gameplay wise, maybe it wasn’t not the best third person shooter out there, but considering the nature of the open world gameplay and the melding of different genres here, it’s still impressive. Above all else its just an insanely fun game, and a blast from start to finish.

    It also features maybe the greatest licensed soundtrack ever. Every hit you can possibly think of is here, backed by GTA’s patented fake radio banter and ads. Even the games original radio content, such as its talk shows are insanely well made and make just cruising around vice city aimlessly a ton of fun. The whole game is one big love letter to the 80’s and I’m sealing it with a kiss.

    Trailer
    Reviews

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    Game of the Decade: #2

    Final Fantasy X

    2001 was a simpler time. Brett Favre had no camera phone with which to capture his underwhelming penis with, Pluto was still our little 9th planet that could,  and the Square was still Soft instead of enix. Final Fantasy X takes me back to a time when I could truly get lost in an RPG. Lost in it’s world, its mythos, it’s story and really get involved and attached to the characters. FFX was the last game I can remember that drew me in and gave me this experience. I can’t say whether this really is  due to the loss of Square”Soft” quality, or if its just a factor of me getting older and more cynical, but both the former and latter are sad conclusions.

    Square went back to its roots completely gameplay wise, featuring a turn-based battle system with enough new twists on the system to keep it  challenging and ultimately very strategically delicate. Even it’s extreme linearity is a throwback to the classic days. Which is something some people can’t seem to grasp. One of the main things people harp on when talking about X, or the most recent XIII, is how linear they are, and how Final Fantasy was always about adventure, and exploring, but that was never really the case. Sure, they featured traversable world-maps, but thats just a way to mask the linearity, you never really could go anywhere you want, your hand was always held and you’re always pushed along a very specific path. X simply doesn’t try to trick you, it ropes you along its path and takes advantage of its design to engage and tell you a story in the best way they can.

    The visuals were top-notch at the time, and still hold up pretty well today. It’s still one of the prettiest PS2 games out there. Uematsu’s score is also another classic, ranking up there with his best efforts.

    HA HA HA HA

    The voice acting wasn’t great, maybe it wasn’t even objectively “good”, but to be fair this wasn’t a time when voice acting wasn’t widely done in games of this magnitude and they do an admirable job with it, though it certainly has its awkward moments.

    It  spawned the first direct sequel of the series, X-2, which also turned out to be quite polarizing amongst fans, but I am pretty fond of it aswell. No, don’t worry, it isn’t my #1…

    Trailer
    Reviews
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

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    Game of the Decade: #3

    Uncharted 2

    Naughty Dog’s blockbuster sequel came somewhat out of left field for me.  Not that I wasn’t aware of it, it just wasn’t on my radar as something I was interested in at all.  After playing through (or at least trying to) Drake’s Fortune, I was unimpressed. I thought the gameplay was stale and repetitive, and the set-up was typical “Dude Raider” affair. Luckily, I gave Among Thieves a shot and I was blown away. The graphics are vibrant, the environments are lush, and the facial animation is some of the best to date. The buzz word that gets thrown around all too often when talking about Uncharted 2, is setpiece, and I’m throwing it around aswell. It’s loaded with them, and they altogether form a great action experience.

    One thing the Uncharted team gets so so right when creating the series is the way they motion capture and voice record. Everything is captured with all actors on set together, which creates a real chemistry between the characters that is fluid and unrivaled in the industry. The voice acting itself is phenomenal, there’s a reason Nolan North is featured in what seems like virtually every other game nowadays, and it’s because he’s the best. He’s great at what he does; Nathan Drake is entirely his creation and a big part of why the game is so enjoyable.

    Mark Wahlberg is no Nolan North.

    Trailer

    Reviews

    The aforementioned Wahlberg cast as Drake in the hollywood adaptation

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    Quick Hit – Ilomilo

    Very rarely is “charming” a word I get to use when describing a game, yet Ilomilo has me drinking tea and eloquently raising my pinky as I do it. The set-up is simple enough; Ilo and Milo are old friends trying to meet up at the park they used to go to, but they find that they have trouble remembering the way back, and everything seems to have shifted around. Ilomilo is a simple puzzle game that involves you navigating 2 different adorable plush alien fellows starting on opposite sides of the map, to meet each other somewhere along the way. You switch back and forth between characters and help them create paths and overcome obstacles together. Along the way you’ll unlock memories of their past time together via flashback photos and letters. The graphics are very littlebig planet, with everything looking as if it were made with real fabric, and real… “cuteness.”  The soundtrack is suitably quaint and melancholic, and employs flower-esque sound cues that work really well.

    For awhile, Ilo was available for download via a “secret code” from the developer’s website, but it seems that window has passed. If you missed out you’ll just have to wait until January 5th when it hits the xbox-live arcade.

    It’s also available for free on Windows Phone 7.
    Trailer

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