Friday, August 7, 2009

IGN tries out more user suggested words

Volume 2 of IGN's Random Thoughts in Scribblenauts series recently popped up. This volume is all about trying to find objects that aren't in the game. Not really an original premise anymore, so there aren't a lot of new things to report.

Wait! Don't leave yet! I would still like to discuss some things that stood out to me!

HibernianFC requested Haggis. No problem. But without a Scotsman around to eat it, it's just going to lay around and spoil. Unfortunately, that's not an allowed word in Scribblenauts, so...

Haggis is in. That's kind of special, because 5TH Cell said they wouldn't be including regional foods. The haggis is famous for being absolutely revolting, though. Famous enough to make the cut, it would seem.
But Scotsman, on the other hand, is not in. Maybe I'm missing something here, but why is that? Scotsman is a concrete noun, and not a proper noun. It also isn't vulgar or copyrighted. What Scribblenauts rule does Scotsman break? My only guess is that 5TH Cell is afraid people would be offended if stereotypes were included.
I guess we'll just have to improvise and type Man and Kilt.

dreammitchconner requested a Magic Wand, which the game offers (it's just "wand.") But we need a test subject, so I pulled up "prince" and then shot him with the wand. Ribbit.

Pretty cool. It leaves me to wonder how the wand will work, though. Is "frog" its only spell? Does it react the same way to everyone? What if you use it on an inanimate object?

The rest in that article is rather run-of-the-mill, really. But we do find out Coyote beats Roadrunner. I guess Wile E. Coyote was overthinking it all this time. Or maybe it's just because the Roadrunner in Scribblenauts didn't have any roads to run on. Hmmm...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another "Suggest items to try out over Twitter!" story, only this one is from someone at 5TH Cell

I'll skip straight to the Twitter account, as I believe she posted this last night and would be doing it today. So suggest items!

Now that you're done with that, let's find out who Brittany Aubert is.

According to this
she's a 5TH Cell producer. Neat! So these suggestions will be going straight to the horse's ears and the results will be straight from the horse's mouth.

New interview with Brett Caird, QA Director at 5TH Cell

An early story today. This interview is done by "Atomic Maximum Power Computing", which...well...I'm not entirely sure why they wanted an interview with the maker of a NDS game, but that's ok! You can grab the interview here and the interesting tidbits below...

*The restrictions of the DS actually helped them narrow their focus. It probably wouldn't be the game it is now if they were allowed free reign with the graphics.

*The cartoon style is very important to the game, both in its creation and as its defining feature

*Not just marketed to kids, but rather, to just about anyone with an imagination

*"If we look at other systems, it won't be for a while"

*The game had a LOT of problems early on (due to the amount of objects they had to test), and it took their entire team to help fix them

*"There were some ideas like level specific rules that would restrict what a player could use in that level, and time limits, which in the end didn't seem necessary or fun so they were cut."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dialing Down the Hype: Part 1

Alrighty, it's been awhile since I've done any sort of article write up. Scribblenauts has been RIPE with news and info lately and it's been hard to squeeze anything in. However, I've had the idea for this article for a couple of weeks now, and I think it's important enough to take the time and write it.

Readers, this is an intervention.

Scribblenauts? It won't be as good as you're expecting.

Now, it might be more than a little weird to hear that from the owner of a fan site. But even if you think I'm trolling, believe me, it's for our own good. Hype? It ruins games. It raises expectations to astronomical levels, and even if a game IS good, if it doesn't live up to the image people created in their minds, it will be seen as a failure. The best example I can give is Spore, a game cited as "revolutionary", which was met with a brief burst of activity before everyone decided they hated it. They didn't hate it, not really. They were just upset that it was a different game then they hyped it to be.

In an attempt to help us all be realistic I've decided to bring a semi-frequent feature to the site. Each time I plan on examining one flaw of Scribblenauts. Something to bring it down to earth. Or I might dispell some hopes or wishes people have for the game that we know just won't happen.

Without further rationalizing, let's get on with today's topic.

You're going to be seeing a lot of repeats. A lot of repeats.

Scribblenauts has a great tagline, doesn't it? Write anything, solve everything. It embodies the image of the game and really drives the point home that you really can write any object you can think of and it'll pop into the game.

Well...not exactly. See, though the game boasts "tens of thousands" of words, we can't help but wonder how many OBJECTS they point to.

For example, typing "Crate" and "Box" spawns the exact same object. Now that makes sense, right? You can count the differences between those two on one hand. But there are some repeats we already know that don't make a whole lot of sense. Take this for instance...

Prime Minister

all produce the same white skinned, gray hair individual with a suit.

We know that fact from various previews and videos we've seen. Now I guess you could argue (rather humorously) that you can ALSO count the differences between all those people on one hand...but social commentary aside, some gamers are bound to be disappointed. After all, us Americans know just how (stereotypically) different Republicans and Democrats are. The fact that we won't get to fiddle with that is a bummer.

But taking that further, we can make some pretty safe assumptions. I'm willing to be...


all point to this guy as well. Already we're seeing a possibility of a single object having close to a ten or so words all pointing back to it.

Now, again, some people might not think that's a big deal because there's not a whole lot that's TANGIBLY different about them. However, going further, we can find words that are barely linked together that point to the same object.

"Pot of Gold" doesn't give you a pot of gold. It simply gives you a gold bar. "Blood" doesn't give you blood. It gives you a bat (creature). "Treasure" doesn't give you mounds of riches or valuables. It gives you a single diamond. "Epic Fail" doesn't give you some hilarious internet meme object. It simply gives you a nuclear explosive, just like if you typed in "Nuke".

I think you see where I'm getting at here.

We're still going to be surprised at what objects ARE in the game. A lion is different than a tiger, and they're both different than a liger (yeah, that's in the game!). But I guarantee you're going to run into at least one object that's a repeat that you didn't expect. Imagine the guy who tries to make an epic fight between a Republican and a Democrat while the President cheers them on...only to realize he just spawned 3 copies of the same person.

One thing I definitely need to make clear: I don't blame 5TH Cell even a little bit for any of this. To even write this article is an exercise in nitpicking, and I know that. I don't seriously think these things detract from the game very much.

But some people - and with the hype train in full throttle, I'd warrant to say a lot of people - probably think that every word they type will map to a different and unique word. This will not always be the case, and I think we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that one object can be shared across dozens of words, even if those words aren't closely related.

A bunch of very awesome videos from 1Up

Gotta check these bad boys out. 1Up really did these things up in style, focusing on doing "scenes" in with the engine that followed a theme. We got 5 videos for you today, averaging a length of about 2 minutes each, and they're all amazing.

First up we're shown a video with the theme of "vehicles". We see a rickshaw (I do hope someone can pull that for Maxwell while he rides in it!), then a pogostick which looks glorious. It bounces pretty high and can destroy things. We also get confirmation that some things can be broken off into parts. The seat portion of the rickshaw was destroyed, but it left behind a wheel.

I also absolutely LOVE the ghost looks so cool! And who would have thought something like would be in the game? There's lots more to this video (I'm not going to give a commentary to EVERY thing), so check it out.

This is called "big monster battle", and boy does it live up to its name. It starts out with Bigfoot vs. Yeti, each being smashing the other while making monkey noises. Bigfoot does reign supreme, though he fails when pitted against Nessie. Nessie is ALSO able to take out Manbearpig (holy fuck!) but not even the Loch Ness Monster herself can defeat an old god like Cthulhu.

Then, well, a T-Rex comes along and just ruins Cthulhu's shit after he was distracted with Maxwell. The T-Rex here wins them all, even killing a bothersome kraken as he chases Maxwell into the ocean.

And if the music from "The Ultimate Showdown" was playing in your head while you watched that, then you're not alone

This one is called "The Final Frontier", and I think you'll figure out why soon enough. I like how they included all sorts things you'll find in the sky. My mind exploded when "aurora borealis" worked. Holy shit!

I also wonder if that "Scribblenaut" was the original character design of Maxwell back when the game was about traveling through different planets. Hmm! Very interesting.

Whoa, now THERE are some powerful beings. God kills Satan and a zombie easily enough (and "popo" spawns a cop) but succumbs to a vampire, who turns him into a ghoul!

Then a Necromancer pops up, apparently picks up a spell book (I couldn't quite tell) and begins turning everyone into skeletons. Uh oh. The assault on poor Maxwell was relentless, and nothing he tried, not a super hero nor cyborg, could save him. Except for, perhaps...plutonium? After hitting the necromancer it apparently turned her into a radioactive mutant. This apparently gave Maxwell the idea to set off the nuke, ending them all.

I definitely think I saved the best for last here. This video is full of fantasy references, featuring elves, dwarves, wizards, and even excalibur itself. Unfortunately, as these stories tend to go, no one quite knows what to do with the dragon...

...well, except for the guy in the tank.

Official Nintendo Magazine is taking item requests again

and they've also dropped off this lovely picture

Oh...good...internet memes...


So hop on Twitter and give them some good words to try out.

And make sure they're good words! Or else.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This Week in Jackson on NeoGAF: Jul 28 - Aug 4

I decided we could use a review of some of the stuff that was posted on NeoGAF by Jackson. (AKA super important Scribblenauts Guide as seen in the Rooster Hat)

Jackson is very active in the Scribblenauts thread on NeoGAF, often correcting different misconceptions:

I have the info. People have misconceptions, I like fixing those misconceptions. Is that so wrong? :)

Kinda like I'm doing right now...? O_O lol

Now then, let's take 'em on.
There was apparently a rumor that you would need to stay connected to WiFi in Scribblenauts constantly to play the game. This was quickly shot down by Jackson with some sarcasm.
We've changed Scribblenauts to now require you to first be in the range of the word.
If you want to type elephant you need to be within 15 feet of a real elephant. Don't worry we've hired 1000s of people called "Scribble Friends" to attached RFID chips to everything in the world.

Then there was of course the Joystiq video that was taken down. For a moment, rumors spread that it showed something "disappointing". However, Jackson clarified:

It was taken down because ******* showed too much straight footage which every other site (including *******) agreed to show much less than that. So it gave them something unfair over all other sites that got the preview build. So WB was trying to be fair and told them to take it down.

Conspiracy theorists ftl?

There has also been some recent rumblings about Scribblenauts not living up to it's hype (based on some of the previews complaining about the controls and the lack of some items). Jackson pointed out the source of all the hype

The thing is myself and 5TH Cell haven't really hyped the game, others have for us. We just said what the game is. And like any game, controls take awhile to get used to. It's not perfect, it's DS and we had a year to make it. It's just a really cool idea (ok I'm biased there ) that was done as best as it could be on a DS in a year's time. And most everyone comes back happy and impressed and every preview even the ones that point out flaws still say the game is the real deal and is worth buying.

One final point posted today, another fact that I didn't realize until Jackson said it

I'm not 100% certain, but I think she was holding it below his line of sight, behind the table. I could be wrong though... AI has line of sight though. So when it was standing upright, the bull noticed it immediately.

I didn't really realize, every time someone made an item for a person or animal, they always put it in front of the animal/person. I'm actually glad for this, you can try to hide from a bull, or something like that. It's not just people instinctively knowing an item is in play.

Another Hands-On and Joystiq Challenge: Round 2

First up on the list we have a hands-on impression from Ugo...whoever THOSE guys are! You can grab it here, and catch my "highlights" below. Not much new, but I rounded up what I could.

*Theramin is in, as is a Fisherman's wife. I wonder if you can play the former, and does the latter stare longingly at the ocean on top of a lighthouse?
*"The controls are atrocious"
*Really loves how it felt like "edutainment". The previewer learned lots of new cheeses and metals!

Next up we have Joystiq redoing their challenge post. This time without a video. They describe the events as they happened in the video, but you can catch the actual video and my impressions right here.

New Destructoid interview

This one is with Jeremiah, better known to the internet by his NeoGAF username, Jackson. You can read the interview for yourself right here.

In terms of new things it's pretty lacking, if only because we know most everything said. We do learn that to create an item takes "a few hours", which is mind boggling when you consider the tens of thousands of words in the game.

How many licks it take to get to the center of a Scribblepop? Well...

I'm not sure what I was going for with this blog title, but it's too late to change it now! I'm committed!

Seems like I was just half-right last night. Kotaku was planning on multiple attempts to solve one level, but it was just one guy, and he attempted it 16 times before he actually won.

The level, as discussed, was 1-11, and you can find a detailed account of his exploits here. Don't expect any videos or screenshots, though, as you won't find any.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, "Wow, 16 attempts? Have we finally found a level that's hard?" Well, not really, no. The level, which involves killing some bees and fish on your way towards flowery conquest, really is not hard at all. We've seen a bunch of videos of people solving it in pretty simple and typical ways.

The difference here is that the previewer documented EVERY attempt, including failed attempts where he was just getting a feel for the system. For instance, it seems like he didn't know you could drag your creations into the trash to get rid of them. In 4 attempts he tried to kill a bear he spawned instead of simply trashing him. Perhaps, though, you cannot get rid of hostile creatures that easily?

It's a very "real" account of a level, something you yourself might do if you're trying to figure out how the engine and such operates. I won't quote it verbatim but I will grab some interesting tidbits that are in it:

-Bear traps are in, seemingly work as expected, but the bear broke out of it!
-Exterminators are armed and able to kill insects on their own. Neat!
-You can fish successfully, though it seems fish are still alive and angry once they're on land
-Guns seem to disappear after use. Not entirely confirmed on this one, but we've seen bazookas disappear after only one shot, and I have a feeling that might extend to all weapons. Hmm
-Bullets can ricochet? No way! I can't believe the system is that advanced. I'm guessing it just fired the wrong direction...?
-It's really easy to destroy a flower, which fails the level. Go figure, eh?
-Beekeepers flee from bees (doh) and the fisherman couldn't fish (though perhaps he was just afraid?), which is kinda lame
-Throwing corpses to distract a piranha sounds hilarious and awesome

All in all a good read, I'd say. Don't go thinking this is a typical way to solve the level, though. Once you get a grasp on the game engine and controls you could probably beat this level in just a couple of items and probably a single try

However, it is a good look at a real gamer playing the game for the first time, and it's great in the way of experimenting. Also, it makes for an entertaining read, so make sure you check it out.

Could Kotaku be planning a contest of their own?

The stars themselves point to "probably".

This video was updated on YouTube today:

Followed by this description:

"Fly-through of Scribblenauts level, to accompany write-up on the game that will run on Kotaku"

It seems like it's possible Kotaku will be running a similar contest to Edge and Joystiq, where they have the community try to solve a level. Their level of choice is 1-11, in which you must traverse a few obstacles in order to collect flowers.

This story itself might not be newsworthy, but as we've we seen from both the Edge and Joystiq videos, contests like this are a GREAT way for the community to test the limits of the game without actually having it in their hands. Let's hope it is what we think it is!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Joystiq challenge...the results! [Last update]

Super Final Update: Yet again Jackson over at GAF clears some things up.

It was taken down because Joystiq showed too much straight footage which every other site (including Joystiq) agreed to show much less than that. So it gave them something unfair over all other sites that got the preview build. So WB was trying to be fair and told them to take it down.

Conspiracy theorists ftl?

I've watched the video, I didn't see anything "disappointing". The bull went after the red flag.
The elephant clearly and obviously didn't knock all the bottles off the stand, he should have moved it. The dude sucks at using rope. And then maxwell rode the elephant which made him "cheat" by getting to close and knocking them down himself

Almost every solution worked... that should work.

It would seem nothing nefarious was going on. You'll also notice the rather snarky message Joystiq left behind is also gone. I have a feeling there was some mixup here and that perhaps not everyone knew what was going on.

Regardless, now that we know that we should be able to get the video on YouTube and put it back into the post!

Did you enter the Joystiq Challenge I mentioned last week? If you didn't, it's a bit late now, as it's over and they have composed a video of some of their favorite solutions. You can check it out below. Like the IGN solutions I'll also grade them based off of creativity and intelligence. It makes it a bit more entertaining then simply repeating everything said in the video.

Black hole: Pretty hilarious solution, in both its execution and its simplicity. Despite being creative I'd say it's not very original, so I gotta dock some points for that. Overall? 8/10. Good start!

Bull and red flag: A great and original idea, though the previewer didn't give it the love it should have gotten. We do get proof that despite the fact the flag was red and yellow, the bull knew enough to attack it. Pretty awesome. I'd be interested to try this solution with other red items, like an apple. Points for creativity, despite failing! 9/10

Grenade: Heh, I really like this one. It's simple and to the point and it looked pretty cool as well despite killing the girl. Or, perhaps, BECAUSE it killed the girl...hehe. 9/10

Steak Baby: I'm not sure what the original suggestion was, but I doubt he wanted to attach it with rope. The previewer should have used glue! We do get "confirmation" that lions can and will eat babies attached to steak. Which, uh, I guess is what we've all been waiting for. It didn't work, but it was entertaining enough. 10/10

Termite: Eh. Not very original (we've seen that solution used wherever there is wood), but it worked quickly and easily. 6/10

Flamethrower: Similar to that of termite. We've seen that suggestion a lot. Not too impressed by it. Apparently fire destroys glass, which is neat. 4/10

Horse and Mallet: I really like this idea, but I think we're all sort of understanding the limitations of the system. Things might mess up and not pan out depending on how the game interprets your command. This could have been a pretty cool solution if the previewer did it over correctly, but unfortunately it's left as a reminder that we shouldn't be thinking this game is the second coming of Christ. 10/10 for the idea alone

Elephant and Mouse: Yet another solution held back by the system. Getting a bit discouraged here! Not sure why it didn't work, as it was a fantastic idea. It seemed perhaps one bottle didn't fully make it off, and when he went to ride the elephant he got too close. Pretty lame. 15/10 for the solution itself because it really was great.

Now it may come as no surprise to you that this was the same guy in the Joystiq podcast I mentioned last week who had some pretty negative things to say. After watching him going through this video I'm inclined to agree his complaints might have some merits.

We can tell some of the failures were clearly his fault. But others? That was the game not cooperating with our imaginations. We cannot fault the game for that because it'd be an impossible task to make it work like everyone wants it to.

But it's easy to hype this game as having infinite solutions when it most certainly will not. You might have solutions fail that should have worked, but due to a glitch in the engine it messes it all up. That WILL happen, and it might happen a lot depending on your playstyle.

I think at the end he got it right: the game will reward you for being creative. It will not reward you for being convoluted. We should all probably dial back out hype and expectations lest we get burned by them.

Would Scribblenauts make you buy a DS?

It's not exactly a big secret I try to follow any discussions around the internet involving Scribblenauts. One site in particular, Twitter, allows me to follow both gamers and game journalists alike. Indeed, if you haven't already, you should follow me on Twitter right here ;)

Lately I've been noticing a trend: people are already calling for a port of the game. It surprises me the amount of people who seem to say, "I hope they bring it to _________ because I don't want to shell out the money for a DS!" The most common desire is an iPhone port, though a PC port is a close 2nd. Some even want to see it as an XBLA game, though I wonder just how well that would work.

On the opposite side of the fence are people claiming they're buying a DS JUST for this game. This is quite impressive given Scribblenauts is 3rd party. Typically it's the 1st party exclusive games that push actual systems. Further, the DS has been around for a long time and has an insane install base. The fact Scribblenauts can push even deeper is something Nintendo should be very aware of.

So my question is this: Let's pretend you don't have a DS (and if you don't, then you're already done!). Would Scribblenauts convince you enough to buy a $100+ DS? Would you hold out until you knew of other games you might like? Are you more likely to wait for the game to come out on a console you already own?

This is just an informal brain picking so feel free to just leave some comments at the end of this post.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Delayed trip!

I mentioned earlier today I was leaving on a camping trip. Well, that's not happening now, as I don't feel very well and have decided to take a rain check. It's been postponed to Thursday.

New preview of the "near final" build

This one is courtesy of Vooks. You can check the article here. I'm in a bit of a rush this morning (due to the camping trip) so my highlights section might be a little sparse. Make sure to read the preview yourself to make sure I didn't miss anything!


-Another confirmation that corpse + electricity = zombie. Hell yeah. I can't have that confirmed ENOUGH!

-Portal Gun does NOT exist, but rather, spawns a normal gun

-Beam Sword just produced a normal sword

-Rainbow is in as a background object (of course), though Pot of Gold only spawns a gold bar

-Puma, Lightbulb, Turnpike are in.

-On average you can spawn about 8-9 items at once

-President, Prime Minister, and Official all spawn the same object. We also know Democrat and Republican ALSO point to the president model, making for at least 5 words to 1 object

-Nuke kills everything and anything, even in sandbox mode. "Epic Fail" also spawns a nuke. "lol wut" seems to spawn a giant Maxwell head that you can wear...gonna have to see that one in action!

-Scribblenaut produces another mascot like Maxwell, and "Maxwell" produces another Maxwell with a palette swap

-Overall it was a pretty positive preview

German video shows new level. Also, site news!

Thanks to SmellyWaffles of NeoGAF for finding this one. The video is entirely in German and contains 2 levels we've already seen. However, it also contains what we can assume is the puzzle level of World 10 that was included in the preview build. Remember, the preview build contained 1 puzzle and 1 action level from each world 2-10, and we've already seen the action level of world 10, which was the "suspended over lava" level.

Check it out

Got a couple of things worth mentioning here. First, I love his solution to that "collect the flowers" level. I would have never thought to use "Island" to cross the water, yet it seems so obvious! I also like he used a bird - natural enemy of both insects and fish - to kill the bee and piranha.

Of real note is the level we saw only a fleeting glimpse of: the prison level of world 10. We can infer it's a puzzle level, and it would seem a bunch of convicts have escaped prison and you have to help some police officers in stopping them. It also looks like you'll have to rescue some civilians and break down some barricades. It looks like a really involved and cool looking level.

As for site news, I'll be leaving for a camping trip sometime this afternoon, and I won't be back until Wednesday or Thursday. This is unfortunate as it seems a good deal of Scribblenews will be coming out this week, with at least Joystiq and 1Up releasing new videos. Still, I have faith in my two fellow contributors to pick up my slack.

But if you're wondering where I am, don't worry. I didn't quit again ;)