This week has been incredibly kind to quite a few of the tech areas I follow. First up, following chronological order, is HTC and Vodaphone’s recent Android phone announcement at the Mobile World Congress. Called “Magic,” the phone is reminiscent of the aesthetically-maligned T-Mobile G1 due to its “chin” and Android, but that’s where the similarities end.
The phone is entirely touchscreen-based, except for the navigational trackball and few buttons at the bottom. It looks much more sleek and appears to have white as its primarily-marketed color. Unfortunately, it is Europe-only for now, though I somewhat expect (and hope) that T-Mobile will distribute it in the United States as the “G2.” It is indeed one sexy little phone, although Android has always been the attraction-factor for me.
Next up is the official announcement of Dead Space for the Wii, titled Dead Space Extraction. I mentioned this before in my entry “Good Day,” which actually prompted that entry as I was so excited about it. Unfortunately, my hopes of an actual Dead Space game have been dashed and Extraction will be an on-rails first-person shooter, similar to Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and The House of the Dead: Overkill. Even though you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger House of the Dead fan than me (even loved the movie!), this is not what I wanted, expected, or thought EA meant by “shifting focus to the Wii.” This isn’t shifting focus, this is tossing a one-off bone to the dominant console base starved and deprived of games such as the inevitable PS3/360/PC-exclusive Dead Space 2. I am exceedingly disappointed in EA for trying to pull one over on Wii fans with this; an actual “shift” for EA would be putting actual sequels on the console, not forgettable spinoffs.
I don’t think I’ve directed this much venom towards any Wii game announcement, but this is the first time my hopes have been dashed by such an announcement. Usually announcements for the Wii are cause for joy, as I normally expect nothing from third-parties and even Nintendo from time to time. But when you hype a game as “This is it, Wii owners! An actual game like you’d see on the PS3 or 360!”, then disappoint, you create, well, disappointment. And frustration.
The last announcement as of this entry is the Nintendo DSi. Launched last October in Japan, it boasts internal memory, expandable memory (SDHC meaning up to 32GB), two cameras, downloadable DSi-only games and apps, 0.25-inch larger screens, brighter screens, better speakers, and a thinner case due to the removal of the GameBoy Advance slot. It will launch in North America on April 5th, 2009 for $170. If I had my archives uploaded at the moment, you could see the fervor I was in over the Lite’s Japanese and subsequent American launch, and this is no different. I was initially put-off by the price, but by having two DS Lites to sell/trade in for a DSi, I hopefully won’t be in the red too much. Pokemon Platinum also come out a little earlier, so the two will probably combine to make me addicted to my DSi for the following two months.
While the “last [tech] announcement” was the DSi, I still would like to devote a little time to an announcement of my own: A Game announcement. Essentially, the product of my resolutions, it’s a small, simple, and short turn-based role-playing game written using Microsoft’s XNA.
The title? “A Game.” Short and simple, like the game. I’ve set some restrictions on myself; if the gameplay lasts one whole hour I’ll be thrilled (three is kind of the target), the battle system has to be simple enough to be picked up immediately yet engaging enough to last the whole game, and I can’t bog myself down with the art style- this is why all the sprites in the game are geometric primitives made in Paint. I don’t have any screenshots ready just yet, but I’ve already accomplished things that a few weeks ago seemed impossible: sprite rendering, font rendering, content managment, sprite movement, XML parsing (for dialogue and level designs), and just yesterday, collision detection. I’ve even got it running on my Zune! The game is in an experimental state right now as I’ve just gotten done testing these things, but once I clean it out and start actual work on the level design, story, and dialogue, I should be able to show some real screenshots. The story I have in mind surprised even me as I was iterating and adding to it and I hope it will be enough to grab players’ attentions.
“A Game” is built on a custom Windows Game Library that I’ve dubbed the Ribbons Framework, a name I chose because I’m fond of Microsoft Office’s Ribbon interface (as it represents the fact Microsoft can change drastically for the better when it wants to), and because it has quite a few of the letters of my last name in it (R, b, o, n). Hey, let’s see you come up with something better. The codename for A Game is Ribbons Project 1, and I have a few other small games in mind to expand and test the framework. As an aside, I’m also recreating the Golf card game in Windows Presentation Foundation as both an introduction to the technology and a gift for my grandparents. This will mark my fourth attempt at translating the game onto the computer, but I’m a little more confident this time. Hope that isn’t my arrogance talking…