August 2005

[floatleft][/floatleft]The anticipation for this game was immense. I had played [i]Conker’s Bad Fur Day[/i] on the N64 for hours upon hours, but my only real experience with it was the multiplayer (the Beach level was absolutely amazing). I had played the single-player campaign only for about an hour and decided the game was more fun on the multiplayer end, so I never really finished the campaign. Well, apparently, I missed out on some really fun stuff, and I had plans to eventually play the game and found out my chance would be renewed with [i]Conker: Live and Reloaded[/i] without even having to dust off the N64.

It’s no secret that this game is strictly a multiplayer game. Not only does [i]Conker: Live and Reloaded[/i] not try to hide that fact, but its default option when you turn on the game is Xbox Live. With that being said, let’s first dive into the single-player campaign and the world of Conker, a tiny, furry, loveable, hungover little squirrel. The campaign is again called [i]Conker’s Bad Fur Day[/i], and it is almost an exact port from the N64 version, with a ton of improvements. The first and most noticeable change is the graphics, which are sharper, clearer, and definitely cleaner than the N64 game. Also, because the game is an ‘exact port’ of its N64 counterpart, there are tons of jokes and references. For example, at the very beginning, you use the same exact strategy to defeat the Gargoyle, but it doesn’t work. Conker looks at the screen and says, ‘Hey, they promised me that this would be an exact port!’ Conker also wears different costumes depending on the level he’s in, which is something that the original game did, but to a much lesser extent (and I know this because I used my [i]Bad Fur Day 64[/i] guide to beat [i]Live and Reloaded[/i]). One thing that [i]Live[/i] did was censor all curse words, but since Potty Mouth is one of the unlockable features, I’m not complaining.

[floatright][/floatright][i]Bad Fur Day[/i] is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. Story-wise, it’s utterly ridiculous (in a terribly great, ingenious, and hilarious way). The fabled Panther King is drinking milk from his chalice, and when he puts the chalice down on his throneside table, it topples due to a missing leg, and he gets very angry, threatening his servants with duct tape if they don’t fix the problem. The solution: a red squirrel can fill the gap between the floor and the broken leg. Conker (who is coincidentally a red squirrel), meanwhile, has had too much to drink and wanders home the wrong way, beginning a sequence of horribly odd eventsA

[author]Snowcone[/author][i]Editor’s Note[/i]: Mods are perhaps the one thing that will always give PC gaming an advantage over console gaming. User created mods breath new life into a game and allow the game to be taken in directions that the original developers never intended or thought about. Many mods are started and die lonely deaths as half-finished works of art, while others flirt with copyright issues and very often get shut down long before release. Some mods, on the other hand, are wildly successful. The blockbuster game [i]Counter Strike[/i] began as a mod. One thing is for certain and that is mods are here to stay. With the release of [i]Half-Life 2[/i] and the new Source engine, I was interested to see what the modding community would be able to accomplish. One of our newest writers set out to explore the extensive world of [i]HL2[/i] mods, and this is what he found.

[url=][/url] lists 153 multiplayer mods and 33 single-player mods as being currently in development, but only 15 of them are playable in any form. Are any of them worth your precious bandwidth, I hear you cry? In order to answer this question, I have downloaded, played, and rated all of the multiplayer mods that are currently available. Bear in mind, however, that many of them are still in alpha stages and may improve over time.

[b][u][size=18]Multiplayer Mods[/size][/u][/b]

[b][url=]Art of Ascension[/url][/b]
According to its Web site, Art of Ascension is a mod that “combines the spirit of online role-playing games with the faster battling pace of classical first-person shooters.” This mod is really too early in its development to judge its worth. At the moment, it features no new maps or weapons, and the system for controlling your character’s advancement is command line-based. It is really impossible to tell at this stage whether or not this will ever develop into something worth playing.
[b][i]Verdict: Not worth it (yet).[/i][/b]

Dodgeball is (predictably) a mod that allows you to play everyone’s favorite playground humiliation game over the Internet on the Source engine. The maps are simple but well done, and the gameplay is fun and easy to get into. Needless to say, there isn’t much strategy involved, but once you get more than six people in a game, it becomes very entertaining trying to dodge the barrage of balls thrown at you and watching your opponents fly backwards when they are hit.
[b][i]Verdict: Worth a try, but won’t occupy you for long.[/i][/b]

[b][url=]FL3X DM[/url][/b]
FL3X DM is not a massively innovative or exciting mod. It is virtually identical to the [i]Half-Life 2[/i] death match but with the addition of turrets which players can place and get kill credits. This small change is perfectly well implemented, but it really doesn’t alter the fundamental gameplay enough for it to be worthwhile.
[b][i]Verdict: Don’t bother.[/i][/b]

[b][url=]Half-Life 2 CTF[/url][/b]
[i]Half-Life 2[/i] CTF does exactly what it says on the tin: it is a mod that allows you to play capture the flag in [i]Half-Life 2[/i]. Veterans of the Quake or Unreal Tournament series will be familiar with this type and just how fun it can be, and this iteration is no exception. The maps are well designed and easy to learn, which is critical in this type. This mod’s only letdown is the fact that there aren’t really enough people playing it, so it’s hard to get a good match going. Despite this, the [i]Half-Life 2[/i] CTF mod really is a must-have, especially for anyone who has never experienced this thrilling game type.
[b][i]Verdict: Get it. Now.[/i][/b]

[b][url=]Plan of Attack[/url][/b]
Plan of Attack is a mod in which a team of American do-gooders takes on a team of terrorists, and in which individual players earn money to buy better weapons every time they make a kill. Sounds familiar? Plan of Attack isn’t a [i]total[/i] Counterstrike clone, but it’s so close that it really isn’t worth the bother. In theory, Plan of Attack is ldblquotecf2 a multiplayer first-person shooter that highlights strategy[i], [/i]teamwork[i],[/i] and out-thinking your enemy,” but in reality, most rounds quickly descend into a team death match, and the concept of capturing or defending objectives (which the game is supposedly built around) is ignored. This mod does have solid new maps, character models, and weapons, but none of them is unique enough to make a difference.
[b][i]Verdict: If you have CS:S, don’t bother. If you don’t have CS:S, get CS:S instead of this.[/i][/b]

Sourceforts is a mod of two halves. In the first half, each team is unable to attack each other and must use the gravity gun and a pile of barriers to create a fort. In the second half, the two teams attempt to use their forts to give them an advantage in a game of team death match. This mod shows a lot of promise and has an interesting core concept, but it is really too buggy at the moment to be any fun. The tools to build your fort are very hard to use, and the shield that is supposed to prevent combat in the building phase doesn’t work properly, making it very likely that just as you are about to finish positioning a particularly tricky barrier, you will get a crowbar to the back of the head.
[b][i]Verdict: Wait and see.[/i][/b]

[b][url=;36076]Source Racer[/url][/b]
Source Racer is a mod with a simple premise: it allows you to race your friends around a variety of tracks using [i]Half-Life 2[/i]’s airboat vehicle. The airboat handles just as it does in the game, and the tracks are all well designed and good fun to race around. The only problem with this mod is that no one plays it. I tried on several occasions including peak weekend times and never found any Internet games.
[b][i]Verdict: Get it, but only if you have a lot of other HL2 users on your LAN.[/i][/b]

[b][url=]Strider Mod[/url][/b]
Strider Mod is a mod that spices up the ordinary death match by letting players drive the strider and combine tank vehicles from [i]HL2[/i]’s single-player game. There are several reasonably well-designed maps in this mod, and each of them features one tank and one strider. The strider is surprisingly well implemented: the animation is smooth, and it doesn’t clip through objects very much at all, and controlling it is straightforward once you get the hang of it. As for how it plays, I really can’t say. As with Source Racer, I never found a single game to join.
[b][i]Verdict: See above.[/i][/b]

[b][url=]The Hidden: Source[/url][/b]
The Hidden is a new take on the old idea of having all but one of the players in a game going after a single player who has special abilities. In this case, the lone player is almost completely invisible but can only attack with knives and grenades. The Hidden features solid maps and character models, and it is played by enough people. So finding a game with enough players will be easy. My only beef with The Hidden is that the lone player is really too hard to see. Most rounds consist of wandering around the map in small groups for several minutes until you hear the sound of a swishing knife, and then spinning around while emptying your SMG until you see blood splattering from midair.
[b][i]Verdict: Definitely worth a go.[/i][/b]

[b][url=]Tim Coop[/url][/b]
Tim Coop pits a team of players against waves of super-tough [i]Half-Life 2[/i] monsters; and, if you find a good server that is running a good map and has four or five good people on it, it is easily the most fun of all the multiplayer mods. There is nothing quite like crouching at the end of a hallway with three of your friends and blazing away with all you have against the oncoming hordes of head crabs that simply [i]refuse to die.[/i] Unfortunately, finding the aforementioned good server, map, and people can be frustratingly difficult, but it is well worth persevering until you do.
[b][i]Verdict: Best thing since sliced bread (some of the time).[/i][/b]

LEGO Star Wars

August 24, 2005

My son and I made a trip to the Rush last night to trade in something and pick up LEGO Star Wars. I was not disappointed. The combination of 2 awesome things like LEGO and Star Wars cannot be described. You seriously have to experience it to understand it’s greatness.

I was also pleasantly suprised to find out I had a nice chunk of credit on my Gamerush card. With that I think I will be preordering an Xbox 360. Does anyone know when they are officially taking cash and making reservations?

[author]Snowcone[/author][i]Editor’s Note[/i]: As games become more mainstream there will always be people asking how they can get into the industry. Most of the time these people are interested in creating games. Since that seems to be a constantly hot topic I would like to present you with an interview with a gentleman from Full Sail. Full Sail is the premier technical college that has an actual degree program in Game Design and Development. Hopefully this will steer many of you in the right direction and give you some insight to what it is like on the inside. I would also like to take this time to welcome Ben to the staff of Snackbar Games.

[i]- Starting off, please introduce yourself and describe your position at Full Sail.[/i]
My name is Liam E. Hislop, and I am the Senior Associate Course Director for Game Project. Game Project is the final class in the Game Design and Development Program, and the students are charged with making a game.

[i]- What is Full Sail?[/i]
Full Sail is a technical college focused on the entertainment industry. Full Sail has been in existence for over 25 years.

[i]- How many students are in your program?[/i]
There are roughly 600 active gaming students.

[i]- How long has the Game Design program at Full Sail been running?[/i]
The Game Design & Development Program has been running for around six years now.

[i]- How much convincing did it take to convince the higher-ups that video games are valid media? Or was it an initiative from the start?[/i]
Obviously, it wasn’t an initiative when Full Sail started 25 years ago. However, over the last 10 to 15 years, Full Sail has been focused on offering Digital Art programs, such as Computer Animation, and Game Development was and is an important part of the entertainment industry.

[i]- Your Web site touts much of your staff as people who have experience “in the industry.” What companies has your staff worked for and are there any popular games that they have been connected with?[/i]
Many of our staff have been involved in the industry and connected with games. We have staff members formerly from THQ and EA, to name a couple. We even have one of the co-creators of the original [i]Dungeons & Dragons[/i] game, Dave Arnesson.

[i]- There are many aspects to a video game, from the 2-D and 3-D art, to the graphics libraries, to compilers. What sort of tools do your students generally use?[/i]
Our students are focused mainly on the programming side of gaming. As such, they are usually programming in C++ using Visual Studio .NET as their interface. As for APIs, our students are exposed to a wide variety of C++ and 3-D APIs, such as OpenGL and DirectX.

[i]- How much of your program is dedicated to the Computer Science aspect of game design?[/i]
Percentage-wise, I would say around 85 to 90% is focused on the Computer Science aspectA

Maybe comparing snipers to Terrell Owens is a bit farfetched, but calling them selfish is not. I knew that when [i]Battlefield 2[/i] introduced stat tracking, you would see gamesmanship go out the window like litter on the freeway. I knew that you would have point farmers (which I have seen) and people looking out for number one. People looking out for number one is not entirely new, but now that you get awards for it makes everything just a whole lot worse. This article however is about the sniper. Allow me to explain.

The sniper is not just the person who picks the sniper class and hides about. The sniper is a “look-out-for-me-only” type of cat. You know, the one that will join your squad and then just perch the whole game. The sniper has been around since online FPS has been out, and you just learn to deal with him on the field of play. Even I have come to just accept the fact that people love racking up kills (one-shot kills, mind you) and perching somewhere. They do not feel the need to help capture flags or put a rush on the opposition. They care about one thing: kills. I do understand the mentalityA