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Empty Expo Hall


Wish I could play with the demos now…

Posted in Photos, Video Games Tagged with: , ,

Full Expo Hall


PAX was crazy busy today. I stuck to the tabletop area mostly.

Posted in Photos, Uncategorized, Video Games Tagged with: , ,

PAX East 2012 Indie Megabooth


Early this year, I made my fifth PAX pilgrimage, this time to PAX East 2012. Even though we only attended two days (because of Easter Sunday and impending travel), we managed to fit in a mix of activities, including the keynote from Jordan Mechner, the Saturday night concert featuring JoCo, a few panels, and some good tabletop gaming. I also spent a fair bit of time on the expo hall floor. An interesting twist this year was the creation of The Indie Megabooth, for which a bunch of small independent developers pooled their resources to secure one large booth.

This is where I ended up spending most of my time, because to me, this is where the gameplay innovation is happening. Also unlike AAA games, many of these games were going to be available much sooner, are generally more affordable, and are more likely to be available on my platforms of choice (Mac and iOS). Another bonus was that the lines were short, so you could get a demo of many of these games without having to wait a couple of hours in line for a preview video (which in my mind is a total waste of your PAX ticket).

They also did something fun: they created a little achievement card, called the Indie Mega Passport, with silly activities or game actions that you had to complete at each booth. Pictures of my completed passport, plus a review of the games I was able to play, are below the cut.


Posted in Reviews, Video Games Tagged with: , , ,

Top 200 Video Games of All Time According to Game Informer


Oh yeah, I have a blog! Lots has been going on in the intervening months (see my Twitter feed for short attention span details), but I figured a video game post during NaBloPoMo would be a good way to get back on the wagon, even if I’m not actually posting every day during November.

While visiting my Little Brother this weekend, I noticed a rather unusual magazine cover… a (very pixelated) monster from the original Doom. This turned out to be the latest issue of Game Informer, specifically Volume XIX, Number 12, Issue 200. In honor of this decimalist anniversary, they published their Top 200 Video Games of All Time list, which unsurprisingly is linkbait for any video game fan who likes to rant about what should and should not be included in such a list. I ran through my opinions quickly with my Little, mostly fixating on why so many recent games were already on the list, but decided a deeper analysis was in order.

Instead of complaining about the contents of the list, I thought I’d use it to track my personal video game history (much as my father has in the past used the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time to guide his music purchases). I’ve also done some histogram breakdowns of what’s on the list. I would say that my guideline for inclusion on any such list would involve adjectives like “innovative” and “influential”, and explicitly avoid conditions like “critically acclaimed”, “popular”, or “best-selling”. This in turn means that inclusion must be viewed through a somewhat temporally distant lens, for sufficient perspective on a particular cultural artifact’s import.

How many of these have you played? Do you strongly agree/disagree with any of the rankings?

The columns are Game Informer rank, game title, platform(s), and year of publication from the original article; I believe using this data for commentary is covered by Fair Use. I added platforms in a few places to account for the particular port of a game that I played. I have also added columns for myself, for Played, Owned, and Completed. The full table and further analysis is below the cut.


Posted in Video Games Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Spending Time

Playing with Wolfram

I was inspired by a recent tweet by Doc Searls to play with Wolfram|Alpha and get some stats on how old I am. In particular, if you make a query of the form [<month name> <day of month>, <4-digit year> birthday] Wolfram|Alpha (why is there a pipe in the middle of the name?) will calculate your age in a number of differen units, and how many days until your next birthday. You will not be surprised to learn that I am a total statistics addict, so this got my brain juices flowing.

First, I’m 9,720 days old. I recently got a good laugh by pointing out that I was “twenty-six and a half!” after someone commented on how young I look; I think the “and a half” made me sound too much like a 4 year old being ever-so-proud of being closer to 5 than 4 :oD.

Quick aside: someone (I forget who) on a SWIL mailing list suggested the notation of writing search queries demarcated by square brackets, since this is not something that is typically in search strings. This was in response to people saying things like “You should just google “search string””, which leads to nasty quote-nesting problems and also induces some ambiguity as to whether to quote (and therefore group) the specified search keywords. I’m not going to post the full BNF notation for this, so I hope that [<search term> …] is a clear enough explanation of the format.

Second, I realized that I’m pretty close to 10,000 days old. While I usually am not a big fan of celebrating arbitrary anniversaries, particularly those that favor Base 10 (that’s for all you decimalists out there), I missed 213 days a while ago and I have a ways to go until 214 :oD. Another quick Wolfram|Alpha search ([today + 280 days]). I guess this means I’ll celebrate my 10,000th day of existence on March 12th, 2010. A quick glance at Wikipedia doesn’t indicate anything particularly auspicious about that date, but hey.


I don’t have a problem

I am of course referring to World of Warcraft. Seeing my age in days reminded me of the /played command in WoW, which gives you how many days you’ve played a particular character. I have only one primary character, which I had a vague recollection of being at over 100 days; however, I have two other level 80 characters (as of Wrath of the Lich King, the level cap), plus a number of mid-level alts as well as some very low-level alts rolled on various other servers either as experiments

I didn’t feel like mathing this all myself, so I grabbed the addon AllPlayed to do the hard work for me; all I had to do was login on each of my characters so that it could accumulate the data. This addon also has some other nice features, including allowing me to see which of my characters are fully rested (giving them the optimal XP bonus while leveling). I enjoy all of the character classes, and while sometimes I’m in the mood for one class or another, I try to make leveling as fast as possible given my play time (which I’m sure is more than most casual players, but less than a lot of people I know and play with, primarily because I’m limited to a few hours in the evening, possibly with longer sessions on the weekends).

The cold, hard total is 179 days, 4 hours, the vast majority of which (61.2%) is on my main Kjallstrom (109 days, 15 hours). That means I’ve spent about 1.84% of my entire life playing World of Warcraft. I’m pretty sure I could have done some amazing things with that time (which probably does not include writing the great American novel), but on the other hand, it’s entirely after work entertainment which most people would spend watching TV (about 13.5% on average over a 65 year lifetime). I would argue that it’s a bit different, given that it’s interactive and social, but I know a lot of people disparage online socialization as “not as good as the real thing”. I contend that I’ve greatly expanded the diversity of my friends on a number of axes thanks to long-term involvement in the guild community.

I’ve been playing WoW since October 2005 (I don’t have an exact date), and I’ve been playing on Kirin Tor (and a member of Mellonea) since November 2005. I did play non-trivially on other servers with real-life friends well into 2006, and briefly convinced them to join me on Kirin Tor, although they eventually gave up on the game. If we isolate the percentage to just the time that I’ve owned WoW, the past 1300 days or so, that gives about 13.7%, which is on par with the typical American’s TV usage.

Even more absurd details below the cut.


Posted in Computers, Video Games Tagged with: , , ,

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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