Posts Tagged 'WALL*E'

Review: Wall-e (Game for Wii)

Summary: Fun Game – Rent Me First

Pros: Fun to play, easy-ish controls, tons of multiplayer options, nice graphics, cheat codes.

Cons: Not a whole lot of replay value, only a couple of multiplayer games are fun, cheat codes cause glitches.

Game Cover

Game Cover

I rented this game, and I’m sure glad I didn’t rush out and buy it.  As much as I loved the movie, I was hoping the game would be good.  Plus, I read some reviews and found quite a few people saying the game was actually pretty fun (as far as movie games go).  Since most movie games turn out to be lame, and some people were saying this one was fun, I decided to get it.  I almost just bought it, but in a fit of good judgement I decided to rent it first.

 

From the very beginning the game established a routine with me – lots of waiting for things to load.  This game loads especially slow, even for a Wii game.  I imagine the load time comes from the massive graphics.  Every new level brought a loading screen that would show hints and tricks completely unrelated to what you were about to do.  I love Wall-e though, so I was willing to wait for him.

I imagine that you, as a potential buyer of this game, are interested because you loved the movie like I did and are hoping to jump into the story and feel of the movie through this game, reliving those beautiful memories.  While this game does a much better job of carrying the feel of the movie to your game console than past attempts, it still falls short on too many levels to really get me excited.

The production of the game began before the movie was released, and the game crew was working with concept sketches and written descriptions of many parts of the unfinished film in order to do their job.  In several places they had to do their own thing rather than follow the actual movie, though most of the time the game follows the movie’s storyline almost exactly.

I was able to work through the entire game in a matter of hours (two or three) which unlocked most the game’s content.  The remaining unlock-ables are cheats that can be found by searching the web.  Unfortunately, the cheats rarely made the game more fun, and in most cases they caused severe glitches that, on occasion, completely crashed my system and necessitated restarting the Wii.  This may not be the experience everyone has, but it was certainly enough for me to avoid using the cheats and recommend that you do the same (or, cheat at your own risk!).

The little Wall-e character was adorable on the screen (just like in the movie) and the look and feel of the environments was appropriate.  Some of the challenges were difficult, but beating the game was not.

I especially enjoyed a couple of the multiplayer modes, but was disappointed that only one or two of them was worth my time.  In fact, my overall evaluation of the game was not as positive as I would like to report.  Video games based on movies are rarely up to the quality that they should be, and I was hoping (in vain) that this one would be the exception.  If you have ever played and enjoyed a game based on a movie in the past, and you loved the movie Wall-e, then I recommend that you try this game.

Try it, then buy it if you like it.

Long-Awaited Update

I’m sure thousands of pairs of eyes are anxiously reading this in hot anticipation of the mounds of news I’ve been sitting on for the last three weeks. This particular post will serve it’s purpose as an update for friends and family, and the geekiest of you are going to have to wait a little longer for a solid update on my current project.

Just on the side though, my project is coming along nicely and little remains to be coded by way of the engine. All that’s really left is to design the levels, maps and events that will make up the story of the game. Much of that exists on paper for now, but coding is proceeding at a steady rate as I have completely dedicated my writing time to the development of this side project (as you’ve all noticed). Once it is finished, the stories that have been brewing in the back of my mind will begin to spew forth in a garbled flush. You may want to have your rain coat handy.

Now for the family news. Micah started school, of course (this should be old news to you by now). We only recently got the photos from his first day downloaded from the camera to the computer and subsequently uploaded to the Internet. OK, we only uploaded ONE photo to the Internet. Allow me to explain…

Photo by Rochelle, edited in Photoshop by Brian | From Family Stuff (album)

OK, if you’ve got relatively sharp eyes or if you are actually paying attention to the photograph, you might have noticed the background (what is BEHIND Micah). No, we didn’t send him to study in Egypt, he’s safely sleeping in his room right now. What you see in the photo is the product of my last half hour’s work in Photoshop.

You see, I wasn’t there when my wife took these photos of Micah before taking him to school, so I wasn’t there to suggest they turn on a light or take the photos outside instead of against the front door in the entry way with the light off. When I filmed a short video clip of Sophie crawling a week and a half later, and tried to transfer it to the computer yesterday, I didn’t realize there were photos on the camera as well.

As can be expected with technology, there was a hiccup, and the data on the camera’s card became corrupt. The software that handles the transfer of our photos reported a complete failure and I had to reformat the card. We were depressed because the video was really cute, but today I caught her doing her thing again and shot a couple more videos (more on those below).

When I downloaded the videos and a couple of new photos of Sophie, I was surprised to find that yesterday’s attempt hadn’t been a complete failure. All of our photos and the video were still completely in tact.

Unedited Photo by Brian | From Family Stuff

Well, when I saw the pre-first-day-of-school photos I was not impressed. I was impressed that Micah wasn’t making an entirely ridiculous face or pose in every single one of them like he usually would be; but the lighting was horrible, and thus the images were grainy, and the backdrop was completely flat and dull (our white, plain door with parts of the door knob and dead bolt showing).

Perhaps the saddest part of it all was that Micah was so presentable in these photos. We don’t have any nice photos of Micah because he always loses it in front of the camera (even if the camera is off, fake or broken). He goes bonkers, and we can’t get a good picture.

Well, being the Photoshop lover that I am, I decided to see if a little touch-up could work a miracle for one of these ill-fated photographs. I fixed the histogram and levels, then I did a cheap trick with the despeckle and unsharp mask filters (I hate doing it, but sometimes it’s the only way…), and finally did a little more with the brightness/contrast until it looked descent.

My biggest gripe was still the backdrop, so I edited out the door knob and dead bolt, and started thinking about what kind of background would look better. That’s when I remembered the horrible shadow from the flash and cloned it out.

In the end I went with an Egypt backdrop (from my Egypt photos album) because I thought Micah would enjoy visualizing himself there. I finished blending the edges and realized the image still looked flat because everything was in focus. So, I blurred the background and it looked better.

Not by best image manipulation, but not a bad job for half an hour while tending a crying baby off and on. I did a test trying to deepen the lighting effects on him (more shadows and highlights to simulate the outdoor lighting of the backdrop), but decided to leave him lit the way he was (flat). Not because it looks better flat, but because my painting skills stink at any resolution greater than 64 by 64 pixels (but I don’t think I’m a bad pixel artist).

There isn’t much more news to share that you can’t get by watching the three videos I uploaded today. I’ll provide links at the end, and if I feel like it I’ll even embed them here so you don’t have to jump to YouTube to watch them. Be sure to check the third photo I uploaded today too at our Picasa Web Album (the google album). The videos deal mostly with Sophie’s newest trick: CRAWLING! You may remember she was trying a month ago to get it. Well, as of a week and a half ago she’s been totally mobile around the house. We are still baby-proofing everything, but so far the worst she’s done is stick trash from the trash can in her mouth.

As always, keep in touch with us via e-mail (it’s easier than phone calls because we are always running around). Let us know if there is any news and we’ll keep you informed as well. Thanks for reading and enjoy the videos!

Oh, and sometimes I wonder how many of you don’t ever see the notes I write about the videos on the video page at Youtube (in the upper right-hand area by the video window). Sometimes I put little antecdotes or facts about the video there that I don’t mention here. Make sure you read them (you might have to click the “more” link to expand/lengthen the text).

BONUS VIDEO!  Since I love Wall-E, I thought I’d share a video of my favorite little robot with you!  Enjoy it until next time.

Where I Went

Occasionally I may disappear from time to time. I should hope that anyone who knows me at all would realize that my disappearing does not mean that I have ceased to be actively engaged in something. In fact, when I neglect something like my “thing” here it’s usually because I have something more exciting going on.

In fact, over the last week I have had several more exciting things happening than this.

In small news, we rented a fun game over the weekend. I loved the movie “Wall-e” so much that I just had to try the Wii game. Overall, my impression of the game was a good one. I think the developers rushed through parts of the game, but the majority was well thought out and fun.

The real time sucker for me the last week or so has been related to my last post about the game project. Shortly after writing that post, I came up with the bright idea to set the actual game portion aside and continue with an aspect of my original idea – the part where simple games could be made even by a novice or child.

I remembered the days when I had a TI-eighty-something graphing calculator that allowed for some simple code writing (scripting) in its native language. I was able to program it to play a number guessing game. It would print out on the screen “guess a number between 0 and 100” or whatever two numbers I chose, then I could guess. It would tell me “too high” or “too low” until I got the answer and it reset to “guess a number…” The experience with programming that simple application was enough to spark my interest in computer and web programming and has led me to better learn linear/sequential-thinking skills (I guess I’m a visual/spatial person, and linear or sequential thinking is difficult for me).

What I’m getting at is this: I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if I could write a program that would ease my son into the world of programming!?!” My son is definitely sequentially challenged and could certainly benefit from a bit of computer interaction at the programming level. How do you teach a five-year-old to write code though? So, I devised a plan (like I always do).

The plan was only complicated because of how elegantly simplistic and straightforward it was. It would be able to teach anyone the basics of a simple web programming language known as JavaScript. I developed an outline for a set of lessons that would walk the user through various levels of difficulty in programming functions. The program itself would adapt its interface to grow with the user as he progressed through the lessons and became more proficient.

I may or may not create the JavaScript teaching program, but I am already nearly done with one of the projects the program would walk the user through creating.

In fact, the project has grown into something far more complicated than anything I would ever ask a new programmer to attempt. It has even stumped me a couple of times in big ways.

When I finish it, I’ll try to upload it to my Google page so you can try it out. Quickly, before I go off to bed, I’m going to explain what it is and ask for your input and suggestions.

I’m making a simple game that will be played in the web browser. It is programmed entirely in JavaScript and is (as of right now) designed to be played in one sitting, though each time you play it your choices will create a different experience. If I go back and review techniques for writing and reading cookies to your local machine, I may be able to allow you to save your progress, but for now the entire game resets when you close the browser, refresh the page or load the page.

Right now, the entire look of the game is achieved with text. Here are a couple of screen-shots to illustrate:

Eventually I may take screen-shots like these into Photoshop and modify each individual character to better represent its item (saving the modifications as small images and having the program assemble the images in the same manner as it assembles the text).

For now, I would simply have to explain what each character represents for a person to be able to play the game. The @ symbol represents the main character. The & represents other people, the s and S are snakes, the $ is money, * is health and the C is a lucky horseshoe. Of course, the e is an enemy, as are the Q’s and the snakes. The H’s at the tops and bottoms of the screens are doors, and the I’s are also doors on the sides. The ^ represents a hill that can be walked on, but an A is a mountain and cannot be initially transversed (perhapse special shoes could be obtained allowing one to scale a mountain). The w is water, and a raft (#) is required before one can cross rivers that do not have a bridge (=). Sand and grass are represented by periods, semicolons and commas, and trees are exclamation points.

Of course, there are many other characters that I have used, but it would be a simple job to have the Javascript replace each letter or character with an image and thus create a much less jarring visual experience for the user.

Essentially, I have too many ideas (just for the game engine, the inner-workings of the code that drives the game) to outline everything here. The room on the right in my example was dark (represented by a screen full of E’s) until I used my candle to light it up (many ideas are drawn from games like the Zelda and Link series). I have set my code up to be flexible enough to do almost anything. All I need now are more ideas.

What kinds of stories would you tell if you had an open ended game like this? What kind of adventure would you go on? You can’t bring any friends with you, and your items may be limited (with no features for animating, enemies don’t move and it would be nearly impossible to actually use the bow and arrow – for now I don’t plan on animating anything), but many quests and adventures are still possible. Send me your best ideas and I’ll see if anything sounds fun to me.

My wife has already contributed (Burt and the gummi worm are her handiwork). What ideas will you contribute?

Once I’ve finished the basic game engine I’ll try to post it online somewhere so you can see what it’s capable of. I won’t have a story fully developed by then, of course, but everything should function properly (as of right now, it is possible to lose a battle and end up with negative health points, but you don’t die). I’ll work out the bugs and you can come up with ideas for me. If your idea requires a reworking of the basic engine, but it’s good, I’ll see what I can do. Remember, I’m keeping things fairly simple, but complicated enough to be fun.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering… The portion I expected an intermediate beginner to be able to code was finised within the first day. It consisted of a few lines of code to draw the map and some buttons that moved the little man around in the map. From there I just kind of went crazy… And what if you could collect items? Oh, and what if you could have a raft? Wow, and how about doors? Let’s put some enemies in! We need weapons, and battles, and candles for darkness, and keys for doors, and guys to talk to, and boss battles, and stores, and dynamic items and terrain, and conversations, and why won’t he die?, and, and, and… … …

Three is a BIG Number

When you’re stressed, tired or just four months old, three can seem like an awfully large number.  We had three events today, all of them sizable, and all of them enjoyable (when taken one at a time, per day).

First, a movie!  I love movies, and I especially love Pixar movies.  Today we saw what may soon be known as my favorite movie – WALL*E.  I generally consider movies either one of my favorites because I don’t want to actually say one good movie was better than another good movie.  In this case, though, you’ve got some great animation, wonderful characters, good story, fun laughs, stunning visuals and strong emotional elements.  Before this movie I loved Stardust, A Knight’s Tale, The Incredibles, and a few others – each as one of my favorites.  Now, though, I may begin saying that WALL*E is my favorite movie (until I find something better).

After the movie my five-year-old had to go to the bathroom and I was left holding Sophie in the lobby.  There was a huge, cardboard model of WALL*E, so I had the baby pose for some pictures in front.  Click on the smaller images to see larger ones:

Next, a birthday party for two little girls each turning one in the same month.  Silly?  Yes.  Excuse for adults to get together and drink?  Also.  We left at the first signs of tipsiness from one of the hostesses.  Not because she was getting drunk, but because we have a four-month-old and we had other things to do.

Before I leave the subject of that little party, I have to mention that it is so funny to watch the four-month-old baby when she gets her little fist wrapped around a Twizzler and starts to suck on it.  She absolutely loved the Twizzlers and the chips (don’t worry, I only let her suck until they got too soft but before they broke apart).  She also enjoyed sucking on ice and baby carrots.  Oh, and Laffy-Taffy.  She enjoyed the Laffy-Taffy for almost fifteen minutes.

Finally we headed over to the home of our friends (D’n’A) and ate dinner.  After dinner we played some games among screaming babies.  It was a good time despite my utter exhaustion and high stress levels.  I get stressed for reasons most people would scoff at, and the stress often gets worse if I begin worrying about whether my stress and social awkwardness are making others uncomfortable with me.  Fortunately for our friends D’n’A, I don’t stress much at their house because I don’t worry about whether they are uncomfortable with me or not.

At last we ended up at home with a very tired baby girl who had too much to do in one day.  I played a few minutes of a Wii game while my wife fed the baby, then I started typing this (which turned into a much longer project than I thought).  I think I hear the baby making some noise now, so I’m off to work.  Soon I’ll begin writing for the sake of writing again.  For now I’ve been using this mainly for family updates.  Before long I’ll get back to work!


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