Beware Wordscraper’s Custom Boards: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

I just scored 592 points on a single word in Wordscraper.

The score board for a Wordscraper game, showing I played a 592 point word

But let me start from the beginning. Read more…

Wii Usage Lower than 360, PS3

I got pointed to this interesting article today.

In the interest of fairness, the clarification points out that these numbers may not be generalizable. But I still think they’re interesting , and I have a few ideas about why the numbers might actually be lower:

  1. Social Games Require… People : There are certainly some Wii games that are single player, but I tend to have the most fun playing multi-player games with a big group of people, like Smash Bros, Guitar Hero, Wii Play, or Wii Sports. This can only happen as often as I have people over, which isn’t as often as I play single player games.
  2. Shorter Average Playing Time : I don’t have the numbers on this, but I can say that adventure games on the Wii (so far) have come nowhere near the 100+ hour behemoths of the Final Fantasy / Dragon Quest franchise.
  3. New Markets = New Habits : The Wii is applauded for breaking into non-traditional gaming markets. Well, guess what: Non-traditional gamers probably aren’t as obsessed with games as hardcore gamers.

The last point is particularly interesting, because it begs the question: Who cares? Just because Wii usage might be lower doesn’t mean that gamers get less value out of it, or that it’s not as solid of an investment. Personally, I like that I spend less time on the Wii than other consoles. It lets me focus on the real world from time to time.

Spore and Smash Brothers Brawl: Bloated or Brilliant?

Given how popular both of these games are in the blogosphere, even suggesting something negative about either one makes me think that something like this will happen to me in the near future.

But as a designer, I’m constantly faced with people suggesting (often quite obscurely) that software should be more like a video game. There was even last year to that effect.

So here we are in 2008, and Spore and Super Smash Brothers Brawl are two of the most anticipated games of the year . What can they tell us about UI Design? My first impression is that they are each taking on quite a bit, albeit in different ways. Software designed this way is sometimes referred to as bloated , suggesting that the scope is too broad and not user-focused. Bloated software often falls victim to slipping on its release date, as well ( Cough . ).

Time to scope out these games. Is the future of video gaming aligned with the future UI design? Or are these games falling victim to the same usability issues that UI designers have known about for years? I’m diving in after the jump.

Read more…

DQ: Swords Releasing One Week Early!!

I was ecstatic to hear that Dragon Quest: Swords was releasing one week early , meaning that the title will be releasing in just one week!!

The game cover of Dragon Quest Swords for Wii

I’ve been a long time Dragon Quest fan, well before I was even aware of the Final Fantasy franchise, which has led me to buy any Dragon Quest game that comes along, even the blatant Pokemon ripoffs . But there’s plenty to be excited about with this game.

Read more…

Behind the Times

I got an interesting email last week:

Wow… it really took Nintendo over 8 months to come to the conclusion that some sort of Virtual Console update would be a good thing? As a Wii owner, I’ve got to say, I’m a fan of the Virutal Console. However, after 3 weeks of checking every Monday, just to be let down because random games from TurboGraphx got added to the mix, checking Virtual Console updates manually became my least favorite part about the whole system.

Read more…

Circular Sudoku?

I like to play Sudoku at work I’m aware of a sidebar gadget on Vista that lets you play Sudoku. (Gotta be careful, my manager reads this. :)) One day when experimenting with this gadget (I was testing it, really…), I discovered a potential solution that, while technically correct, was counted as incorrect.

Read more…

Forgotten Presidents

Yeah yeah, so I couldn’t quite take a day off. Independence Day is a great day for a post about forgotten Presidents, so how could I resist?

One thing that I find interesting about checking the Digg headlines is the interest that the “mainstream” audience takes in knowing geography and history (especially given how poorly America tends to stack up in those areas). You may recall that a few months ago I mentioned the Geography quiz as a fun way to pass the time when you’re sick. These days I’m to the point where I can find any country on the map… except in Africa. Africa’s tough, but I’m getting there.

Read more…

Heroes Gear for Mario Fans

I haven’t really been following Heroes much, but I’ve had multiple people tell me that I should be. For those of you Heroes fans who grew up playing Mario Bros, I found on 8-Bit Theater’s site that you might enjoy:

A Mario Bros Tshirt that says Save the Princess, Save the World

Uh oh, you found the princess! -=Beeehhh=- She’s in another house, go away.

So Many Puzzles…

Just over a month ago, there was an article on Digg saying that the PerplexCity cube had been found . It sounded intriguing (especially the part about winning $200,000) so I checked it out. Apparently, there’s a puzzle site called PerplexCity which involves a series of collectible trading cards, each with a puzzle. You log in, solve the puzzles, and get clues to the location of the final artifact.

PerplexCity Logo

Read more…

Memories of Mario Party

A shot from the Penny Arcade comic where Gabe looks quite pissed off.

This is exactly how I feel about Mario Party. The only exception is that the comic doesn’t mention the joy that I get watching Quinn try to play. She’s tops at jumping into pits repeatedly.