Matt Hackmann

2007 - A Year in Gaming

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ds
games
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wii
xbox 360

2007 was, indeed, a monumental year in gaming. So many triple A titles, ninety-nine percent of which were released in the holiday season making it very expensive for those who wanted to stay on top. Today I'm going to take a look back at gaming in 2007 (the games I have played, at least).

Wii

Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

This was my first foray into the world that is Wario Ware and, as such, cannot compare it to previous entries in the series. For the uninformed, Wario Ware is a collection of micro games, meaning each little game has one goal and you have about five (or less) seconds to complete said goal. The folks at Nintendo got incredibly inventive and this game shows off the abilities of the Wiimote excellently. As far as looks go there isn't anything jaw dropping, but the art direction can be hilarious at times and it certainly fits in with the zany, face paced style of the game. I only wish there were some better multiplayer options especially since this is a great party game (especially when over zealous players put their hand through a ceiling fan).

8/10 Stars

Super Paper Mario

Previous entries in the Paper Mario series have been more RPGish in that battles were turn based and you traversed the world in three dimensions. Super Paper Mario takes a more unique approach, cleverly blending old school platforming with RPG elements. There is, of course, the flip element to the game which makes you look at everything in a whole new perspective (forgive the pun). About the only caveat to this game would be the mansion level, but the clever puzzles mixed with awesome writing make this a must have game for the Wii.

8/10 Stars

Super Mario Galaxy

I will admit, I do not own this nor have I played it much. However, in my time with it I can see how it has gotten such high praise. The visuals alone are simply beautiful, I'd say the best looking of any game made this year. The music is a joy to listen to with many motifs going back to the days of Mario 3 and some Mario 64 selections as well. Most of it is orchestrated which makes it all the better. The best thing is, these are only the icing on an extremely delicious cake. The game play is simply fantastic. Gravity plays a huge role in the mechanics of this game and you had best be keeping that in mind whilst traversing the spherical levels. There's really not much to say about this game aside from that it's everything a Mario game should be.

10/10 Stars

Xbox 360

Crackdown

This is probably the must underrated game of the year. If you bought this game just for the Halo 3 beta, raise your hand. (raises hand) If that's the only reason you bought this game and never even played it, then you should be ashamed of yourself. I was originally going to pass on Crackdown and the Halo 3 beta, but after playing the demo I realized that it (Crackdown) was a really cool game. I've never played a sandbox game before and just the ability to go wherever and do whatever I wanted was awesome enough. Throw in being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and run faster than your mom and you've got one sweet game. The ending does suck, but story isn't the most prominent aspect so I'll let it slide. I spent many a good hour with this game.

7/10 Stars

Eternal Sonata

Eternal Sonata was supposed to be the Final Fantasy for Xbox 360, at least in my eyes. It was simply gorgeous and it had an awesome battle system, however it is missing the one crucial element that a good RPG needs: story. I haven't played very far into this game because, quite frankly, I don't care about the characters. In games such as Final Fantasy VI or X there was enough story to keep me going to find out what happened. The problem with ES is that no real story has been setup after a few hours of play. There's been a little bit of character exposition, but not much compelling me to play through.

6/10 Stars

Halo 3

By far the most hyped game of the year, luckily it delivers. There really isn't much of a difference from the previous games, but enough of an evolution for me to say that it is the best looking, best playing Halo out there. Multiplayer still rocks, they brought back the assault rifle, and the addition of multiplayer match replays is very sweet. If you are a 360 owner and haven't bought this yet, you need to do some deep soul searching and then go and buy it.

8/10 Stars

Rock Band

Rock Band, aka Drum Hero or the Real Guitar Hero III, is by far the best rhythm game ever. Guitar Hero was awesome, but there's not much room left for innovation in that game outside of new songs. I don't know if this is what Harmonix was thinking or not, but they definitely upped the ante with Rock Band. Guitar is more or less the same, same for vocals if you've played Sing Star or Karaoke Revolution, but the drums is an entirely different beast. Getting all your limbs to work separately from each other can be a challenge, albeit a very satisfying one once you get the hang of it. In terms of song selection, there should be something for everyone especially with new downloadable tracks coming every week. The only thing about Rock Band is that, as the name suggests, you really have to play it with other people. Playing the solo tour is fun and all, but the multiplayer is where it's at. Paying attention to our band mates and saving them (or vice versa) adds an extra element to the game. The most awesome part, though, is when your singer can't sing. It can be hilarious and horrible... all at the same time.

10/10 Stars

Nintendo DS

Phoenix Wright: Justice for All

The Phoenix Wright series was already fairly well established by the time I got to it. I originally a half ass purchase as a game to play on my flight to Orlando in May. It turned out to be one of the best things I bought this year. Phoenix Wright was like an interactive Encyclopedia Brown story, only with killing and stuff. The stories are so intriguing that it is hard to put them down, and when you do finish you are saddened because the awesome ride you were just on ended. Graphically there's not much to see, though the artwork is nice. If you're into thinking type games you should definitely pick this one up.

9/10 Stars

The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass

Zelda's first foray onto the Nintendo DS brought some radical changes to gameplay; namely, a game controlled entirely by the stylus. As bad as that may seem it works amazingly well. The game's visuals and sound are near identical to its predecessor, the Wind Waker. Despite all this, I felt the game was somewhat lacking and felt very scaled down. Granted, this is a protable release and the target audience was newcomers, but it still took away some of that Zelda feel. However, they still could've made some better music for the dungeons.

7/10 Stars

Portal

Just yesterday I picked up a copy of the Orange Box. Five games for fifty dollars is simply too good of a deal to pass up. At this point in time I have only installed/played/completed Portal. Portal is, by far, one of the most awesome games I've played in some time. The concept is insanely clever and forces you to think in a vastly different way. The writing is top notch and there were several things that I laughed out loud at. My only problem is that the game was far too short. I completed it in a few hours. Luckily there are advanced maps to complete yet and hopefully some stuff made by the community that I can get later.

9/10 Stars

If I had to pick one of these as my number one game of 2007 I would have to go with Rock Band. The drums are simply awesome and having a whole bunch of people doing co-op play makes for an awesome time. I would have to say Mario Galaxy would come in at a close second. It's awesome on too many fronts not to give honorable mention.

Well, there you have it. 2008 alredy looks to be promising with Brawl coming up right off the bat. Hopefully we'll see the same amount o quality games, but maybe released over a longer period of time. Happy New Year and keep gaming.

So many all nighters

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airport
art
christmas
school

It's true; I have pulled an insane amount of all nighters this year and here I am doing it once again. I am currently at Orlando International where I await the departure of my flight at 6:23am, a little less than six hours from now. I was hoping to walk in here, dump off my luggage, and get through security right off the bat. However, good old Northwest Airlines has, yet again, left me with an unmanned counter. So, I am stuck with my twenty pound bag of clothing and vigilantly watching for the first signs of life at the counter.

Once again I have finished another two courses at Full Sail. This time was Design and Art Theory (DAT) and College Math (CMD) which was basically an Algebra course.

DAT was alright; it was essentially a traditional art course with design centric properties. Not being able to use my computer was difficult for me especially because pencils and paper don't have the Ctl+Z option. If you screw up, you've screwed up. Congratulations. However, I did pump out some decent stuff which I will show to you now.

image

This is my fice piece still life. I pushed it a little bit by counting the drum sticks as seperate objects, but meh. It went ungraded anyways (as did most things in that class).

image

This is the only piece I am truly proud of. I don't really have much to say aside from it was painted with acrylics on canvas and it was my first time doing any painting outside of using Crayola watercolors. The colors are a little dark because mixing paints is a bitch.

I did do several other pieces, but I don't have pictures of them and seeing as I'm at the airport I won't be taking pictures anytime soon.

Nothing really to report on about math because that's exactly what it was. What is sweet, though, is that I may pull an A out of that class which would thrill me to no end as I thought math was my suckiest subject.

So, there's my month on a nutshell. I'll probably post again once I'm in ol' Bartlesville. Until then, keep on peacin' out!

Welcome to Relaunch 5.0!

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christmas
site news

Not sure if that version number is correct or not, but it seems about right.

So, yes, here is the new design. It's not the same one I was working on back in October. No, it's better. I was actually going to use this for my final project in Fabian's class (NOS), but he borked his server and essentially axed the entire set up a blog requirement. I do owe him a lot for this design as it was his, shall we say, technique that inspired me. Design aside, this is the easiest transition to new design/engine I've ever had (thanks in no small part to the fact that I reused the current database structure).

That's all I'm going to blog right now. I'm going to be returning to good old Bartlesville for Christmas in a few days. Perhaps I'll write something then. In case I don't say it in time, I hope everybody has a Kick Ass Christmas!

P.S. Yeah, I added tagging. Maybe I'll add a tag cloud later.

Site upgrades: Now with more caching

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I have culled some scripting from my WIP site to add database caching support to the current scripts. I've been noticing lately that the database has been having trouble keeping up with the higher demand so that is why I rushed this out the door. Overall things are much faster, however, information is only pulled from the database once an hour so there's going to be a delay between, say, somebody adding a comment and it actually showing up on the page. This bug will not plague the next iteration which is set to roll out within the next two weeks.