LOST season 6 countdown

Monday, March 30, 2009

5 Ways to Improve Xbox Community Games

The XNA Community Games that launched with the 2008 Dashboard update is a service which lets indie developers post their games to the Xbox Live service after a series of peer reviews. In theory it has the possibility of upsetting the current environment that surrounds development and distribution, which is something that we could all benefit from.

A post went up on Joystiq today "Some creators disappointed with XNA Community Games sales" which indicates that developers believe they are not making the kind of sales they were expecting. The service is good as it is, but it's lacking a critical feature: user reviews.

I'll mention from the start that I am in no way associated with Microsoft, and have no stake in XNA succeeding or failing (but as an aside, community manager Kathleen Sanders is a badass). That said, here are 5 ways to improve the sales of community games on Xbox Live.

1) "Dashboard" user reviews - Nothing says "TRY ME" more than 100 other users recommending a product to you. The fact that they're not associated with the product being sold is a bonus to the person at the receiving end of a review. The best example of user reviews that I can think of are the rating systems that iTunes uses. On iTunes I can search for any word, in this example "Nerd Alert" and get an idea of which of the items returned are the most popular. This should not be a written review, rather a 5 star rating that could be used with an Xbox controller very easily.

2) Related Recommendations - It would be nice if there was a place in the community rating which takes into account other games that user has reviewed. Much like Amazon's product recommendation or Netflix DVD Recommendation, there should be a feature that says "It looks like you enjoyed Rumble Massage, 95% of users who enjoyed this application also enjoyed Remote Masseuse."

3) A community webpage / community podcast - There ought to be a webpage where people can share their thoughts about their experience with a demo or full purchase. The current XNA Website is focused on creaters, not gamers. An example of this would be something like iFanboy.com. If you're unfamiliar with the site, it's built around 3 guys to read a stack of comics, and each week one of them presents their favorite. They have a review part of their website where site members can also read, and respond, and pick their own favorite comic for that week. This generates lots of discussion and lots of free P.R. for the books that are "Pick of the Week", and gives the creators immediate feedback. The Podcast is for those of us who like to read with our ears, or have boring commutes. It's important to note that this website is not assosciated with comic book publishers at all, and therefore is free to say whatever they want in a review.

4) Greater involvement in the game review/preview community - I've never actually seen a site like Giant Bomb or Kotaku or 1up review a community game. I've seen the remote masseuse application show up as a news item, but I've never actually seen these games reviewed by large, or small, gaming review outlets. Perhaps this could be remedied by targeting smaller review blogs, and gifting them Review codes. I also understand it's hard to get "previews" for these games for review because the release schedule is up to the peer review process, but it might be nice to let previewers see a product in it's beta stage, in order to drum up some P.R. for its' release.

5) Internal Advertisements - the problem is that these games are created by users who do not have the P.R. budget of a larger XBLA Game... or any P.R. budget at all. If Microsoft wants to not only provide a place for community games to exist, but also to thrive, they'll have to do advertising out of their own pocket. It's akin to the commercials that Comcast puts on cable TV, or the way a newspaper will sometimes have advertisements for itself in the classifieds. Microsoft owns the billboards, and can put whatever content they want there. If they want more users to download these games, and pay to unlock the full versions, they have to let users know that they exist. The dashboard advertisements are clearly a great way to get more downloads. Major Nelson's podcast is more free billboard space, and could be a good place for gamers and developers to learn more about well recieved XNA games.

It's my hope that Microsoft is already working on some of these suggestions. Of course, I have a few more in mind, but this is just the demo. Please convert your NerdAlert consultant to the full version for unlimited access.

Jonpaul is a media critic at NerdAlertNerdAlert.com. He lives in Portland with his Yorkshire Terrier-Mini Schnauzer-thing "Indiana", and likes those little mandarin oranges that are in season right now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Game Review : Madworld for Wii - 1/5 Stars

I heard that Madworld was for the seasoned gamer like myself. What I found was a mindless beat-em up, with the same "waggle your right while moving with your left" as the majority of 3rd person over the shoulder Wii games. The problem is that I'm not looking for another game that controls like Zelda, but has the F word and a lot of blood. That's not what draws me into games, and makes me want to keep playing them. For example, Grand Theft Auto obviously has violence, but that's not the reason it suceeds. It succeeds because of the environment that it builds around your character is so believeable, the radio and the cars, and the pedestrians and random dialogue, that when violence is interjected its stunning and demands your attention. Chainsawing a guy up the middle over and over again doesn't have the same kind of oomph.

The graphics are pretty good, and it pulls of the Black, White and Red of Sim City or Grendel as a video game, which is no small feat. It actually looks like a Frank Miller drawing in motion. The sound mix is abysmal, and I had to adjust the levels in order to hear to "mature" commentary. It's provided by Futurama's John Dimaggio but you would never know that because it's suspiciously missing on his IMDB page

Let's not get started on that man in the black-face.

In short, stunning violence and profanity do not a hardcore game make. Give me some innovative use of the control scheme, like Boom Blox or Residen Evil 4 or Mario Kart. Do not buy. Do not rent. 1/5 Stars.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack drops on April 9th.

The maps which were previously exclusive to the collector's edition of Halo Wars will be available for all players on April 9th. They will cost 800 spacebucks.

Microsoft: The Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack Happens On April 9th (via Kotaku)

I want this.

I really want this.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shatner's Birthday

Chris Pine, your destiny awaits.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I talked about this during the podcast, but I thought I would reiterate. Marvel (y'know, comics) is finally releasing Spider-Man 2099 as a trade! About freakin' time! I bought the first issue at the first con I went to. Actually it wasn't really a con. It was more like a few vendors (i.e. local card shops) in a hotel lobby with a few tables set up. Anyway, the series was great. The writing was good and the art was fucking awesome. Leonardi is the man. I loved his shit in Warlock and the Infinity Watch (don't laugh), and was pumped when he came back to 2099 to do Fantastic Four 2099, another fun book. I only read the first issue of that one so I am not sure how long it hung around. Probably not long since 2099 imploded soon after.

But I digress.

Spider-Man 2099 vol.1, collecting issues 1-10, is hitting April 22nd. The price? $30.

$30? That struck as being a little high. I guess it makes sense, but still. Am I a cheap bastard? Or just chronically broke? Whatever. I'll still buy the damn thing. But for $30 it better have some kind of cool foil/embossed/hologram cover.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Watchmen. Oh, Watchmen

Well, I finally saw Watchmen a couple days ago.

It was very entertaining. Fun to watch. But... I didn't feel anything. The thing that, for me, made the book so great was the realism of the characters. The emotion of it. But what Zach Snyder has done is to repeatedly neglect drama in favor of spectacle.

A few of examples...

The prision riot scene. Rorschache in the cell, Big Figure and his goons trying to get him out. Rorchache ties one of the goons to the bars, and the other goon has to kill him so they can get into the cell. In both the book and the movie, this scene is very bloody. In the book they slit the goons throat. You can see the fear in his face as his friend reluctantly comes at him with a box cutter. It's a short moment, but a dramatic one. In the movie they cut his arms off. Close up of blood splattering against the wall. The goon screams as we look at the bones sticking out of his stump. This is not dramatic. It's a cheap shock. And it would have taken the same ammount of time to do it the dramatic way. Our loss.

The sky fuck scene. Dan and Laurie do it in Archie. In the book this scene represents the moment when the characters finally feel like themselves. After years of living impotent lives they finally feel vital again. There is nothing wrong with the movie version of this scene, but rather it is the set up that falls short, making the scene gratuitus. The scene where Dan can't get it up is in there, but it doesn't connect. It's far too brief. It felt like a light moment. A little joke. Because of that scene's inabilaty to perform, we wind up with a scene that serves no other purpose other than showing off whatsherface's tits. Tits that, in the book, were hidden in shadow because they weren't the fucking point of the scene!

And then there were several scenes that added carnage, seemingly for no other purpose than to add carnage. In the book, when Dan and Laurie get cornered by the gang in the alley way and fight their way out, it is really just punching at kicking. For some reason the movie decides to add bullet wounds and compound fractures. Not really sure why. Same goes for the scene where Adrian fights off the assassin in his building. I don't recall the assassin opening fire into a crowd a splattering brains everywhere in the book. I don't see how that helps the movie's narrative.

And I know that Dr. M blows people up in the book, but here we get blood and guts flying everywhere. Cut to a woman covered in it, looking stunned. Everyone laughs.

I am not saying that Watchmen is a bad movie, but it's not a great one. Hell, I know I'll see it again when they come out with the longer DVD. But my point is that Zach Snyder has a ten year old kid in him that loves to see blood and guts. In his other movies it worked to listen to this kid, but for Watchmen it is in bad taste.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nerd Alert Episode 5: The Parasaurolophus

In this Episode of Nerd Alert...
We're back after an 11 month absence! Mark doesn't know what Twitter is and we try to explain it. We talk about old Star Wars Video Games. Jonpaul gives his spoiler-free Watchmen movie review. Mark gives his take on the new Star Trek Trailer. We gush about Walking Dead and Invincible. Mark submits his idea for a Reno-911-pedia. Jonpaul wants more Backwards Compatibility. We're trying out a new format this episode, with the music underneath the conversation, I'm sure it will evolve. Please leave your comments below, and let us know what you think.

Mp3- Nerd Alert Episode 5

Subscribe to the NerdAlert podcast in iTunes!


Visit the Nerd Alert Blog at

Mercury Blogtown

Obi-wan is the Villian Guy - Link Forthcoming

Wiimote Head Tracking - 3d

Star Trek Trailer

Green Goblin's last Stand Part 1

Green Goblin's last Stand Part 2

John Williams - Superman Theme
The Cardigans - Iron Man
Thelonious Monk - Bemsha Swing
The Who - Wont get fooled again
RJD2 - Two more Dead
MF Doom + Talib Kweli - Old School
Dressy Bessy - Girl you Shout
Ratatat - Tropicana
Zelda Theme - Koji Kondo original
Le Tigre - The Empty (BBC live version)
Leaning Towers - Aaron's Birthday
Matson Jones - Good Advice
Pixies - Alec Eifel
Apples in Stereo - Baroque

New Wiki

Hey, are you a fan of Reno 911? Me too! Thats why I started a new Wiki for it. Reno 911pedia!

Come check it out!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nerd Alert Episode 4 (repost)

We are mostly back, though we need to do some housekeeping before getting back to full speed. So here is a repost of Episode 4, recorded last year. We have just finished recording Episode 5, which will be posted this weekend. In this episode we talk about Season 4 of Lost, The cardboard cutout ghost of Ted Danson, Shaq-Fu, and Trekkie Fever!

MP3 - Nerd Alert Episode 4


Thursday, March 12, 2009

8-Bit Hip Hop

Coming from the ...Shot Then blog 8 Bit Hip Hop Medley.


About 4 minutes long...

Jay-Z — Dirt Off Your Shoulders
T.I — What You Know
Chamillionaire — Ridin'
Ludacris — What's Ya Fantasy
Bonecrusher — Neva Scared
Kanye — Overnight Celebrity
Ludacris — Move Bitch
Lil' Jon — Get Low
Kanye — Gold Digger

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Woah! We're back? Guess so. Anyone been geeking out over the new Star Trek trailer? Yeah, me to!

Almost as much as the the new Star Wars trailer!

And don't worry. The place won't look this bad for long.