Monday, February 26, 2007

Our new NMSU site is up

The new New Mexico State University home page went live today. It's much nicer than the old version, IMHO. (Props to Phillip for the excellent design work!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This is mainly for myself, but ModalBox is a nice Javascript implementation of modal dialogs for web applications. I was actually building something like this for a custom CMS a while back, so it's nice to see something polished and ready to go.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Neph to present on Science Pirates development at ACE/NETC 2007

If you're interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Science Pirates: The Curse of Captain Brownbeard, come to ACE/NETC 2007 where I'll be presenting a session on its development.

ACE/NETC 2007 is a conference for master communicators and the IT staff who support them. We're hosting the conference this year, and to make sure it's a lot of fun, this year's theme is Double Creature Feature. How can you go wrong with flying saucers and giant monsters?

(And be sure to check out the conference web site - it's available in 2-D and TERRIFYING THREE-D. Be sure to have your red/green 3D glasses ready.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Introducing Arkham Investigations

Arkham Investigations is a fan-made expansion to the excellent Fantasy Flight game Arkham Horror.

Unlike other fan-based expansions, Arkham Investigations does not attempt to add a new locale, new characters, etc. Instead, it attempts to modify the gameplay to achieve a few goals:
  • Add an exciting endgame sequence when the players do well, too, not just when they fail to close gates fast enough.
  • Allow for more bibliographically faithful, plot-based investigations by limiting the monster pool and including staged encounters that follow a story.
  • Allow players to cooperate against monsters and location challenges (but also allow monsters to cooperate against players!).
  • Provide a mechanism that allows other fan-based expansions to be easily created by other fans.
Arkham Investigations is intended to be an alternate method for playing the game, not a complete replacement. This is primarily because in order to play, you need a casebook, which is probably only interesting for one or two playings. Hopefully, this will add value to your game, and give you and your gaming group a fun way to pass an evening.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Don't ask me why I'm linking to this

Don't ask me why I'm linking to this, but if someone ever made a realistic FPS from the perspective of a deer, it would probably look something like this.

Friday, February 16, 2007

State of the Nation

Today when I opened Newsvine to get a dash of news, the top seeds included:Ah, nothing gives me a surge of patriotism like those three headlines all in a row. Not.

And let's not forget the new Fox News ripoff of The Daily Show. It's just sad enough that you kinda even feel sorry for them, until they start rolling out the racist jokes. It's no wonder they had to pipe in a canned laugh track - the audience must have been sitting there in embarassed silence.

Oh well, at least Fox is finally starting to fess up that they're in the fake news business. And the fact that they're desperate to mock Barack Obama when there's really no joke there (other than, apparently, "Marion Barry did drugs - and he's black too!" - ain't that a gem?) lends credence to the idea that Obama's the right man for the job. Let's hope their fears are well-founded.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

24hour RPG

24hour RPG is a competition where contestants have 24 hours to come up with a working RPG, complete with system and setting. Some interesting-looking entries have already been submitted, including an audiobook-based one.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Think is a free productivity app for Mac OS X from the makers of Burning Monkey Solitaire. Basically, it adds a backdrop to whatever application you are "thinking" about, to cull out all the visual clutter behind the windows you are looking at.

Multiuser Shockwave over Jabber

Wow, it's flying today. In addition to SmartFox, there's also the Shockwave Lingo Library, which supports communicating via the Jabber protocol.


Looks like there's a new Multiuser player in town for the Flash/Director scene. SmartFoxServer is a new platform for developing Flash-based multiuser games and applications, and it comes recommended by the guys at Chamber of Chat, which is one of the bigger multiuser Director/Flash apps out there. It includes features such as:
  • curse filter
  • native database connectivity
  • 100% Java, so it's cross-platform
  • extensibility for server-side logic via Javascript/Actionscript, Java, and Python
  • cheaper than Flash Media Server (but doesn't do video streaming)
The jury is still out on whether it is better than Nebulae for making Director-based multiuser games, though.

Great photos of Terroride and Dracula's Castle

I just found some great photos of Lagoon's dark rides - Terroride and Dracula's Castle. Along with the venerable Disney's Haunted Mansion, these were the two attractions that fueled my childhood love of dark rides which, thankfully, never went away. The uninitiated will find the faux facades and less-than-realistic horror trappings cheesy, but really, it's all part of the fun. And when you're a little kid, it's not cheesy at all; it's scary. I remember being creeped out by the Terroride witch that opened and closed the wooden shutters and glared down at you while you waited in line. I remember being aware that it wasn't real, that somewhere behind her, there was a motor pushing her forward and back, but it still made me apprehensive about what I would find inside.

Part of me wants to go back and re-experience these rides before they get torn down. But another part of me is worried that it will sap all the magic out of them. The rotating tunnel in Dracula's castle doesn't work any more, and I suspect other elements will be showing their age, as well. Maybe it's worth it to only have wispy, half-formed memories of those dark interiors. Better that, perhaps, than to see the ruin of a childhood fantasy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lost Planet reviews?

I was flipping through the latest issue of Game Informer magazine over the weekend, reading the reviews and previews, when I looked at the back cover, which was a full-page ad for Lost Planet, a new XBox360 game.

Part of the ad listed some things that different video game reviews had said of the game, such as "Gorgeous graphics..." from GamePro and " action game on full throttle..." But the one that caught my eye was the quote " simply rocks" from Game Informer magazine, the very magazine I was reading.

"That's funny," I thought. The Lost Planet review was in that same magazine, and "it simply rocks" was certainly not the impression that I was left with after reading it. So I flipped back to the review, and re-read it to see if I could find the quote.

Not only was the quote not in the review, but phrases like these showed up:
  • "the game is quite dull"
  • "disposing of pawns [referring to non-boss monsters in FPS's] is hardly ever this boring"
  • "you'll confront legions of grunts that don't pose any threat"
  • "Capcom missed a major opportunity with the story"
  • "major revelations in the game fail to have any kind of impact", and
  • "it's somewhat short and boring"
Now, I'm not so gullible as to believe a game ad when it pulls out a phrase that could easily have been taken out of context, but it seems to me that the words should actually appear in the review. Maybe there's some review that I haven't seen, but even then, clearly, "it simply rocks" is a gross mischaracterization of the review in Game Informer magazine. The review does mention the good points of the game, but there are enough caveats and gotchas discussed that it's obviously not so simple as to say it rocks.

(And why would Game Informer allow themselves to be misquoted - or at the very least, misrepresented - in their own magazine? I'm beginning to see why the budget for a AAA title is $15 million nowadays; it's not all in development.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

OOTS keeps getting better

If you haven't been reading Order of the Stick, you're missing out. Every episode, there's at least one little gem in there for people who like to get their geek on, and today's strip is no exception. "Treasure Type O." Funny.

And it doesn't stop with the strip. If you enjoy the series, there's a fun little game that is a lot like Munchkin. My buddy Rich has it, and it's got enough charm to make its rather long play time worthwhile.

I just wish I didn't have to wait a few days between strips.