Nightwish, Slayer, Marilyn Manson along with a few others. Slayer were capable but boring (I just don’t like machinegun metal); Marilyn Manson was effective but a bit uninspired; Nightwish totally rocked the place, with great performance and what I believe to be the best sound I’ve experienced in a live concert since Mike Oldfield.

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Will Wright, Revenge of the Sith

Will Wright chatted with Wired, and participated in an E3 panel. Great stuff in both articles.

I went to watch Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and was pleasantly surprised! While the two prequels had been visually amazing, the story, dialogue and character development seriously lacked. Episode 3 – RotS is different: the story is really good, and it certainly has the darker tone that Lucas had promised. None of the cute puppet shows of episodes 6, 1 and 2. Ewan McGregor’s characterization is astounding, he really does look like he will grow into Alec Guiness’ Obi-Wan. Hayden Christensen’s acting is mostly forgettable, but he does look dark and scary as he transitions to the Dark Side. Palpatine steals the show performance-wise. There are many childish dialogues and cheesy scenes, but I was so interested in the story that I could somehow imagine those scenes as I think they should have been done. I’d rate this movie up there with the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, and I’m really happy that that the series ends leaving a good taste in my mouth.

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Sony 1 – Microsoft 0

The first battle, in what will hopefully be a long war, is over. Both have given their first presentation, and Sony has completely stolen the show. Why? Because they have shown a lot of cool stuff and Microsoft hasn’t, that’s why. At the moment theres a certain feeling that Sony has Dreamcasted the XBox 2 (I refuse to call it 360).

Most of the videos are pre-rendered clips, and for those that are in-game footage, when you see the screenshots you notice a lot of tricks which you know will lessen the sense of photorealism and detail. BUT, the fact remains, that Sony is showing games, and doing so in a great bang, whereas Microsoft has been trickling, leaking, and finally exposing, lists of features and plans and visions and fucking celebrity endorsements. Sony shows (prerrendered) footage from MotorStorm and Killzone 2, while Microsoft announces that Final Fantasy XI will be ported to XBox2. Meh.

PS3 has about twice the overall computing power of the XBox2; same RAM (thank god Microsoft listened, they really believed 256Mb was good enough!); I expect very similar rendering features; similar extras, with wireless, net, pluggable HD and etc; Blu-Ray discs versus XBox’s DVDs.

With the same RAM and only twice the raw rendering / computing horsepower (real performance is a different thing), both consoles end up very similar in my book. I doubt that Blu-Ray vs DVD is going to make a difference, Sony simply wants to push that format into the living room ASAP. No, Sony, I’m not going to buy all my movies again. In fact I don’t believe I’ll even have a HDTV for a few years.

The next battle starts tomorrow when people hit the E3 floor and see (and play) the beasts; that is, if the PS3 is in playable form (I bet not).

Nintendo? We should find out soon.

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E3 and Next-Gen media machine

It’s official: I’m overloaded with videos, screenshots, announcements, rumours and facts sheets. Everything has become a messy blur of bumpmapped shading, explosions and numbers.

Imperial Glory is finished and I have a final copy. I only worked on it for three months, but (with permission of the dev team) I am as attached to it as to any other game I ever worked on.

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All About Eve and other movie stuff

If you only ever watch one classic movie (those filmed in black and white, before you were born), you won’t go wrong if you choose All About Eve. Amazing script, great performances and witty dialogue… it really is one of the best movies ever made.

Interesting interview with Paul Verhoeven (from 2002). I really enjoy the unique view of the world he creates in his movies (I even found Showgirls not that bad!), and his tasteful use of sarcasm, humor, sex and violence.

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Lecture slides

Gave my lecture at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and the slides (in Spanish) are available here.

I’m not terribly happy with the way the lecture went. To begin with, there were very few attendants; Friday afternoon right before a long weekend with sunny weather? Even I was anxious to hit the road and get to the beach! I also felt that the students were more curious that truly interested in professional and philosophical games development issues. Finally, I am a lot more comfortable giving a lecture while standing, but I had to speak sitting down with my laptop to the right. Oh well – all in all it wasn’t a bad lecture, just not a good one.

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Space sims

For some reason, I just remembered good old Epic, a pretty ambitious 3D space shooter/sim from 1992. I found it truly amazing despite its 2D-ish coordinate system, kind of flying on a horizontal plane in space. These flight mechanics were more similar to terrain-based 3D sims (Magic Carpet) like than to true 3D space sims (Elite, Tie Fighter).

I don’t think that modern space sim fans would accept such a control system; there was enough bitching back then! However, I also wonder why space sims are not attracting much attention from games players. I am biased, of course, since I am a space nut and the first game-like thing I envisioned making with a computer was a docking 3D sequence like the ones depicted in the Galactica TV series. But it’s an intriguing idea: if players in general are being put off by the complexity of pure 6-DOF flight, maybe an Epic-like game would actually work in today’s market.

In truth, I think there are many more issues lowering the appeal of space sims. Flying sims, even arcadey ones, are not seeing much success either. But it’s a good thought experiment anyway.

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