Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

   “LAN in Starcraft 2 Please.”

hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition
service, at:

   http://www.PetitionOnline.com/LANSC2/

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too.  If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider
signing yourself.

Best wishes,

Drew McGee

"My Preciousssss"

"My Preciousssss"

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About a week ago (or was it two? Days…blurring together…), I had the opportunity to hang out with a buddy, sip a little Courvoisier (yes, I am now classified as a mature gamer with refined tastes 🙂 ) and play the latest in one of my favorite survival/horror series, Resident Evil 5 by Capcom.  The only problem with this was the lack of horror.

If someone doesn't oil my massive arms IMMEDIATELY, it's going to get messy around here.

If someone doesn't oil my massive arms IMMEDIATELY, it's going to get messy around here.

A brief setup for the game: you’re Chris Redfield, the continuing protagonist for most of the RE games. You’re in Africa where terrorists have seized the T-virus and mutated it. You and your new partner, Sheva Alomar, are 1 of 3 teams trying to find a certain terrorist when things begin going wrong…zombie wrong.

I remember the nights working at Hollywood Video and closing the store at 1am, coming home and popping in Resident Evil 2. I remember those nights because they were damn near sleepless. Every door you walked through had it’s own creepy cut-scene (albeit, giving the Playstation just a bit of time to load the next scene) and you never knew what to expect in the next room. The lighting and music lent itself perfectly to the genre and enhanced the tension. I’ve been talking to a lot of colleagues about “moments” in games; the small scenes in a game that stand out and stick with you long after you’ve forgotten the name of the main characters or how the game ended. There was a “moment” in RE 2 when you walked down a certain hall with boarded windows, in fear of one of the Lickers attacking you, when suddenly zombie arms burst through the window boards and tried to kill you on the spot. I remember literally jumping out of my seat when this occurred and it has stuck with me ever since.

Fast forward to RE 5…no such “moments” and plenty of opportunities. In the first village, you walk around and witness someone being beaten in the street and a bit of tension rises as the members applying the beat-down slowly turn to look at you (all in-game). You walk a bit further down the road and a voice comes across a PA system. Suddenly, the town seems empty – again, a bit more tension. In hindsight, this would have been a perfect opportunity to secure the “horror” element for the game with something simple like a chicken popping out at you on a forced turn. Seriously. Something little that makes you jump and feel a bit embarrassed about doing so. Sprinkle several of these “moments” throughout the game, mixed in with actual times that the player does need to start firing to save their lives and you’ve got a winning combination that will have your audience punch-drunk, the way they want to be.

Visually, RE 5 is stunning. The motion-capture used on the zombie hoardes (and I mean hoardes…no more 2 or 3 zombies per screen) and protagonists alike is spot on. Even the textures in the walls of run-down buidings and villages look incredible.

Unfortunately, once you’re past the glitz and glamore of the graphics, you’ll notice a fairly weak storyline made worse by choppy, unbelievable dialogue. Gone are the days of ammo conservation (which set this series apart in a good way), so feel free to run and gun. And lastly, the first boss fight is much harder than anything you see throughout the majority of the game. Granted, I haven’t finished the game, but 5 hours into playing, I had not discovered a bigger challenge than the level released as a demo. Hmmm…I’m not saying false advertising, but…

In all, the game is fun but I don’t feel it lives up to its namesake. If you’re making a survivor/horror game, make sure it’s a struggle to survive and, for Pete’s sake, make sure there are moments of horror. C’mon, Capcom, you know this. Or at least, you did.

Catching Up on Things

April 9, 2009

It’s easy to be the first to report on such things as Game Developers’ Conference and World of Goo, etc. It takes passion, talent and determination to be the last to report on these things. So, here I am, bringing you the greatness of late news.

Drew McGee in "Manifest Destiny!"

Drew McGee in "Manifest Destiny!"

First things second, I’ve been playing a couple of games including Midway’s last ditch effort at a Mortal Kombat game: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. My complete coverage of this game will be available soon on www.GamersInfo.net, but for now, steer clear. The game was obviously rushed, lacks the gore that MK fans yearn for and the overall fighting mechanics leave you more frustrated than ecstatic.

I also played TellTaleGames new launch: Wallace & Gromit in the Fright of the Bumblebees. My complete coverage of this game is already up here. As you will read, I highly recommend this game for about 5 hours of pure fun.

Okay, San Francisco and the GDC 09. Brilliant! I tip my hat to Aaron Murray, Founder of Tandem Games, for flying me out there and allowing me to experience the greatness. I spent most of my time on the expo floor where we displayed our new casual game, Bumble Tales, in the Garage Games booth. Speaking of which, BT will be available for download in May from sites like www.BigFishGames.com and various other portals, so look for it. A match-3 style game with content galore including 35 unlockable characters and stories, high-res art, full voice-over and more than 100 levels of fun!

There was an awesome game right behind these girls, but they wouldn't move!

There was an awesome game right behind these girls, but they wouldn't move!

I was given a copy of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune by Naughty Dog’s own Richard Lemarchand (couldn’t ask for a nicer guy than this) and immediately popped it in when I got home. If you’re a fan of the Tomb Raider series, this will be right in your wheel house. The music is amazing! I literally found myself sitting there waiting for the music to loop before moving on in the game because it was so big. The music took me back to the movie theater when I first saw Jurassic Park…that good. The puzzles weren’t difficult at all, but the story really made the game come together (and no, I’m not saying that just because I’m a writer). I’m going to say “Buy It” because it’s a good 10 – 15 hours of solid gameplay and finding all the treasures will have you OCD gamers enthralled.

Lastly, World of Goo. Play it! Buy it! I loaded this last night and wanted to try it for 30 minutes. I ended up playing for almost 3 hours. The game design is fan-freakin’-tastic: beautiful levels, hilariously cute Goo balls AND it makes you think! Again, the music in this game could be a soundtrack you listen to for recentering your chi or something. Take my word on this: you won’t regret this purchase.

Post-lastly, Domain of Heroes made a few headlines here and here!  Okay, that catches you up on a lot of things. Leave comments, wishes, or money. Whatever you like.

Just Before GDC

March 24, 2009

The title might be a little innaccurate, as technically this is the 2nd day of GDC 09, but I am heading to San Francisco tonight, so, the title works. Moving on.

I’m writing partially because I have failed to do so in a month and partially (or I’d like to think mostly) because I read two interesting articles on Kotaku just now: one made me mad, one made me happy.

Starting with what made me mad (so I can have a happy ending 😉 ), Apple: please do not do this. It only takes a moment to see what will happen here. Indie developers with little capital to create their games put out their product and yes, maybe it’s not great, but maybe they make a little coin off it and their next title is a hit. If they end up getting smacked down with returns, they could very easily go in debt repaying consumers and then the creative flow stops. Meanwhile, larger companies who can afford to take the hit will continue producing the same drivel they’ve always put out there and consumers will buy it out of sheer lack of options. The iPhone has been wonderful for the indie development scene. It would be a shame to have a major drop off now.

The second article makes me happy because I own a PS3. For the longest time, I’ve listened to friends talk about how great their exclusive XBox titles are and have been saddened a bit on the inside that a powerhouse like Sony hasn’t grasped the concept that devoted fans of their system need games to play. I appreciate the Blu-Ray player (though I’ve had to replace mine twice), but I wanted a gaming console, not a glorified DVD player. Finally, with a lower price on the dev kit and easier-to-use tools, hopefully 2010 will be the year of the PS3’s domination!

Check back soon as I will be covering my first GDC 09 experience with pictures, audio and whatnot! If you’re lucky, I’ll double the whatnot. 😉

Just a Quickie

February 20, 2009

Not to sound too much like I’m justifying the fortnight since my last post, but I’ve been working a lot on trying to craft the newest expansion of quest lines for www.DomainofHeroes.com. We’re having an overhaul of gear and tying in lore pieces, so the work is a bit extensive. Along with that, I’ve been grinding out character bios and thinking of story lines for a casual game we (www.TandemGames.com) hope to release in May. All that to say that though I’ve been less than diligent with my blog posts, I have been writing…which is the goal, right? Oh, and that reminds me! My newest Smallville blog should be up by noon today.

As for actual gaming, I’ve been sneaking a few hours of RockBand 2 (PS3) in whenever possible. The truth is, I have very little actual musical ability (although I’ve been applauded for my karaoke skillz) and this is even more apparent on RockBand. I’m addicted to drumming on those plastic/rubber pads, but as of now, I’m a Medium drummer at best. The song that will probably be the death of me is Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups. I can 95% it on Medium, but I step up to Hard and the syncopated notes jump out of the screen with billy clubs and beat me into submission. Here’s to you, real-life drummers. You deserve the women! 🙂

Drew as The Real Slim Shady

Drew as The Real Slim Shady

A little late in the reporting, but Wednesday, the SXSW/Screenburn crew joined hands again with the likes of Bob McGoldrick and the Austin Community College for the 3rd annual Mixer before SXSW. Real quick, are any of you making it out to Southby this year? It’s March 13th – 22nd and loaded with booths and contacts for interactive media, movies and music. As far as gaming in Austin, TX is concerned it is one of the Big 3 events of the year, so try to make it.

The Mixer held a panel with popular names such as Rich Vogel (EA/Bioware) and Billy Cain (Heatwave Interactive), along with others that are becoming gaming household names including Rodney Gibbs, Frank Roan and Lori Durham. Austin’s Chamber of Commerce member, Tony Schum, also delivered information on the economical state of Austin’s gaming. The overall mood was a bit somber as the realization of cutbacks and layoffs was heavy in the air. The silver lining seemed to be that gamers can look forward to solid games being released as companies can’t afford to grapeshot money at projects that have no value. It was great to see some familiar faces again and let’s face it, being around fellow gamers and developers is almost always good company.

The “& More” bit of the title is all about a link to my most recent work: Blogging for The CW Source – Smallville, in particular. You can check out my first paid blog here! Please leave comments here and on that site; it’s how I know you love me and how my boss knows I’m worth keeping. 😉

Farewell, Kristin Kreuk!

Farewell, Kristin Kreuk!

That’s right, for all you audio lovers, the silky sounds of me are on Cryptic Allusion’s Anniversary Cryptocast. Be forewarned, it’s long and I’m only in it for about 15 – 20 minutes somewhere in the middle, but the guys and gal at Cryptic Allusion are great and worth listening to.

"That's right, I said a PODCAST. They'll be huge one day!"

"That's right, I said a PODCAST. They'll be huge one day!"

For those interested, I pretty much plug Tandem Games and Domain of Heroes and talk about recent games I’ve been playing. I’ve been considering adding a small 5 – 10 minute podcast to this blog maybe twice a month. Do you think it’s worth it? Post a comment and let me know (yes, that means you).

Wii Must Increase Our Bust

February 3, 2009

This is the first time I’ve ever linked to a Yahoo! article, but as I avoided covering Wii Fit last time, Nintendo has forced its way into my blog with this headliner.

wii-fit-chuck-norris-1024x768

Another reason for accepting this as tonight’s topic falls on my parents’ shoulders. They actually played Wii Fit a week and a half ago and they loved it! My dad couldn’t stop telling the story of how my mom faced her brother and was punching at him instead of at the TV for Wii Sports Boxing. My mom talked about tipping forward while trying to do the ski jump. I cannot believe I had nothing to do with this moment whatsoever. They didn’t even bother to tell me about their delving into the gaming world until I Skyped them. Kids these days.

In all seriousness, the article really hits home with what my hypothesis and personal experience have hinted at: actively playing a video game (more than twitching the thumbs) is something that sounds like a great idea, but quickly loses its charm. I have no doubt that certain members of society are getting the maximum benefit out of the Wii Fit, either through inhuman willpower or a bet, but for the most part, this is a device that will go the way of the Nordic Track or the ThighMaster…or the Dodo. People love novelty ideas such as this and they especially love the idea of having friends over to make fools of themselves trying to hula five hoops, but when the newness wears off, the balance board gets tucked away and forgotten.

If you are one of the seperatists that have actually been using the Wii Fit balance board for its intended purpose for longer than a month (and at least 3 times a week), or if you know someone who has, I’d love to hear from you. I won’t ask for any alibis, I’ll take you at your word.

Currently, I do not own a Wii. However, this weekend, I was in San Antonio visiting some family and had the unexpected opportunity to play both Wii Fit and Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2009. I’m choosing to cover this title over Wii Fit because, seriously, I think Fit has been covered.

"Simba, it's me! The great white hunter!"

"Simba, it's me! The great white hunter!"

Dangerous Hunts places you in the role of the hunter of all hunters, Flint Abrams (totally fictitious character, I looked it up). This man puts the late Steve Irwin, if not Steve McQueen, to shame. He can barrel roll with crocs, stab leaping cougars in the throat and rifle butt three hyenas with ease! Mix that in with Flint’s Hunter Sense, which darkens the screen and highlights surrounding beasts and you’ve got an expert who is called around the world to quelch daily issues with wildlife.

There was a bit of a learning curve with the zapper controller (Wii-mote on top as a barrel and the nunchuck as the stock) but once I understood all of this, the game became incredibly fun. One level stood out to me as a writer: India. Tigers escape from a truck hit by a rock slide. Your mission is to track the tigers and tranquilize them; any harm to the tigers results in a failed mission. The interesting part to me is the the herd of water buffalo. Peaceful giants grazing in a field quickly turn to angry, charging death-machines if you disturb them in the slightest. Because there is a time limit to achieve maximum upgrade points (the coolest part of the game: upgrades!), I wound up slaughtering all of the buffalo from a distance to avoid their horns while searching for tigers. It was a decision that gave me pause because I really did not want to kill them, but alas, my greed for a new rifle scope won out.

Pick up the game as a rental and if you end up enjoying it as much as I did, buy it. My nephew loved simply walking in circles and hearing the gun fire. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Flint’s athleticism compared to 95% of the hunters I actually see in Cabela’s.

All in Good Time ;)

January 25, 2009

Here we are, folks. 2009. The last week of the first month and the first true blog entry. Let’s get started.

The company giving me a chance!

The company giving me a chance!

On January 1, I accepted the role of Creative Writer/Story Designer for Tandem Games.

I’m officially a game writer!!!

The entire goal of this blog was to journal the process of becoming a game writer – I know I never officially stated that – but now that it has happened, I don’t want to quit. Actually, time considered, I want to start again and not quit. 😉

Technically, I am the creative writer for Domain Of Heroes which is the second released title for Tandem Games, but since I am working on story for another Tandem project, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that my brain’s ideas continue to be enjoyed by the founder. If you get a chance, I strongly urge you to check out DoH, as it is an MMO that can be played at work! Feel free to leave me feedback here or on the game’s forum.

As part of this News Package de Awesomeness, I will be attending the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco at the end of March, so if you’re going to be there, leave me a message and lets try to meet.

Here's to success in all things, in all aspects of life in 2009!

Here's to success in all things, in all aspects of life in 2009!

Oh, and a quick shout-out to my best friend, Meredith! Happy Birthday!