The Mystery of the Sabotaged Led Zeppelin Concert

clue boxOne mechanic that is used in a lot of games, old and new, is the concept of imperfect information, that is, information that is concealed from the player either at the beginning of the game or any other time throughout gameplay. Taking away information from a player is an extremely good way to change how a player plays a game.

The game of Clue probably uses the concept of imperfect information perfectly. For those unfamiliar, the game is a classic “who-dunnit” game which pits players against each other in order to find out who murdered Mr. Boddy, the games murder victim. The players roam from room to room of a big mansion in order to scope out clues as to who committed the murder, where the murder took place, and with what weapon.

At the start of the game, all of that info is put in a classified file that is only revealed at the end of the game, after everybody has made their connections. The remaining cards that contain the different players, rooms, and weapons are distributed to players evenly. The players play the roles of the suspects, who will deduce and take notes on the different clues that they find. They can only make accusations in the rooms, not in the corridors, and the weapon in question is moved to their room. The other players can disprove the accusations because they may have a card that contains some of the information that the player poses. The point of all this madness, is that it pits the players against each other, to accuse each other of information in which they have no knowledge of. clue characters

A murder mystery like this one would be no fun if the player knew all of the information before the game even started. It would probably just end up with the other players cornering Mrs. Peacock in the Dining Room and killing her for killing Mr. Boddy. It would be a horrible mess of a game. Keeping the important murder information from the players keeps the game grounded and it in general makes it more fun and meaningful.

With that being said, lets relate this example of Clue with a Led Zeppelin concert. Now, your probably wondering how the heck these two things are even remotely related. However, when you really start to think about the possibilities that can arise from a mix of the two, you can see why this may be a good idea.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHLets go back in time to January 1975, back to a time where Led Zeppelin was performing at Chicago Stadium. It is a big night for them and the concert is going to be huge. Lots of people have bought their tickets and it looks like it is going to be a sold out concert. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. But, the big news surrounding the event is the sabotage that has taken place the day before the concert. It turns out that someone on the crew has destroyed all of the sound equipment for the show. This could end up being a disaster considering there is no point to a concert if there is no sound.

Can you see where I am getting at? This situation could be the background behind a new video game. The game will put the player in the position of a private detective that has been hired by Led Zeppelin to investigate the situation and quickly solve the mystery before the big night. The answer to the mystery will be withheld from the player as they go around talking to people backstage and around the stadium about the mystery.

You can interview people, asking them questions about where they were during the time of the destruction, or a plethora of other questions. The player can also snoop around for objects or specimens that could somehow be related to the mystery. This would continue up until the point of the concert. Chicagostadiumnight150

By this time, the player would be asked for their accusation. They will have to give their insight as to who destroyed the equipment, where it was destroyed, and how. If the player gives the correct information, the sound equipment can be fixed and the concert will go on just as planned. But, if the player accuses the wrong person, the concert will be successfully sabotaged. And most likely the blame for the disaster would be put on the master detective, you. You don’t want a stadium’s worth of angry fans after you, that’s for sure.

Additionally, to improve the replay value of the game, the information can be changed up every time. Not only would this game provide the players a chance to go back in time to the golden age of Led Zeppelin, it would allow you to learn the history behind them and what went into making the Chicago Stadium concert a reality.

When you think about a game about going back in time to a Led Zeppelin concert, a game based of Clue is probably not what you expect. But the mechanics that make Clue work so well would make for an interesting game about Led Zeppelin, one that is totally unique from anything else out there.

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Pinball FX 2: A Lifeless Attempt at Pinball

For the past couple of days, I have been playing some Zen Pinball 2 on my phone and I have been enjoying it. The tables have been pretty cool and the visual style is awesome.  However, the touch controls were a little spotty and I found myself tilting the table instead of hitting the right bumper, which caused some frustrating moments.  This made me decide to transfer the experience to my computer, where the controls would probably be a bit tighter.Sorcerers_Lair_Logo1-550x236

That led to me getting Pinball FX 2, a game by Zen Studios, the same people who made the Zen Pinball series.  Pinball FX 2 is basically the pc version of the game since the Zen Pinball series is primarily on the Sony platforms.  I have put some time into the game, specifically the Sorcerer’s Lair table (the only free table) and I found some blemishes in the experience.

The table’s seem a bit lifeless, in the audio at least.  The visuals for the table are pretty nice and there is lots of animations going on.  Lights will be flashing as you hit certain triggers on the tables and ghosts will start appearing on the table.  This is good and all, but what about the audio cues?  Obviously there is some voice-overs here and there and some things make noise, but generally I found the tables to be pretty quiet.  It just overall sounds pretty boring.

pinball fx 2 sorcerer's lairThis is a shame because everything else about the game is pretty nice.  The controls are much nicer than the mobile version and I found myself getting better scores.  The dynamic scoring system always updated me on where my score was and what level I needed to get to in order to reach a new high score.  Also, as I mentioned before, the tables look pretty nice too. Its just disappointing that they didn’t have the well thought-out audio to go with them.

I probably won’t find myself getting more tables in the future because I hear that the other tables are the same way.  Great visual style, but lifeless audio.  It’s a shame because the game has a lot of good things going for it!

The Grammy Awards: My Predictions

It’s that time of year again.  It’s the Grammy’s, dubbed music’s biggest night.  Just like previous years, the competition looks pretty fierce.  Some artists will get lucky, while others will be locked out of heaven.  The anticipation for Sunday night is getting radioactive as the lines are getting blurred on who will win.  It will be royal.  Sorry, that was a lame attempt at using the record of the year nominees.  Anyway, on to my predictions…

(Bold lettering denotes my winners)

*I included all of the major categories and/or the ones that matter the most to me.  Obviously there are a lot more categories that I am not mentioning.

Record of the Year

*Get Lucky – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)get lucky

*Radioactive- Imagine Dragons

*Royals – Lorde

*Locked out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

*Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke (feat. T.I. and Pharrell)

Album of the Year

*The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareillesthe blessed unrest

*Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

*Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City – Kendrick Lamar

*The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Red – Taylor Swift

Song of the Year

*Just Give Me A Reason – Jeff Bhasher, Pink and Nate Ruesssame love

*Locked out of Heaven – Ari Levine, Philip Lawerence and Bruno Mars

*Roar – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry and Henry Walter

*Royals – Joel Little and Ella Yelich O’Conner

*Same Love – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert and Ryan Lewis

Best New Artist

*James Blakekendrick lamar

*Kendrick Lamar

*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Kacey Musgraves

*Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Solo Performance

*Brave – Sara Bareillesroar

*Royals – Lorde

*When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

*Roar – Katy Perry

*Mirrors – Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

*Get Lucky – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers)stay

*Just Give Me A Reason – Pink (feat. Nate Ruess)

*Stay – Rihanna (feat. Mikky Ekko)

*Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke (feat. T.I. and Pharrell)

*Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake (feat. Jay-Z)

Best Pop Vocal Album

*Paradise – Lana Del Ray2020 experience

*Pure Heroine – Lorde

*Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars

*Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

*The 20/20 Experience -The Complete Experience  – Justin Timberlake

Best Dance/Electronica Album

*Random Access Memories – Daft PunkRandom-Access-Memories

*Settle – Disclosure

*18 Months – Calvin Harris

*Atmosphere – Kaskade

*A Color Map of the Sun – Pretty Lights

Best Rock Album

*13 – Black Sabbaththe next day

*The Next Day – David Bowie

*Mechanical Bull – Kings of Leon

*Celebration Day – Led Zepplin

*…Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age

*Psychedelic Pill – Neil Young with Crazy Horse

Best Alternative Music Album

*The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – Neko Casevampire weekend

*Trouble Will Find Me – The National

*Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

*Lonerism – Tame Impala

*Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

*Power Trip – J. Cole (feat. Miguel)holy grail

*Part II (On the Run) – Jay-Z (feat. Beyonce)

*Holy Grail – Jay-Z (feat. Justin Timberlake)

*Now or Never – Kendrick Lamar (feat. Mary J. Blige)

*Remember You – Wiz Khalifa (feat. The Weeknd)

Best Rap Song

*F**kin Problems – A$AP Rocky (feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar)kanye

*Holy Grail – Jay-Z (feat. Justin Timberlake)

*New Slaves – Kanye West

*Started from the Bottom – Drake

*Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Wanz)

Best Rap Album

*Nothing Was the Same – Drakeyeezus

*Magna Carta…Holy Grail – Jay-Z

*Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City – Kendrick Lamar

*The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Yeezus – Kanye West

Best Performance on the Grammys

(I know this is not a category, I just feel like picking who is going to have the best/most talked about performance on the Grammys on Sunday.  Since there are so many, I will pick 4 winners.)

*Beyonce and Jay-Zbeyonce and jay z

*Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Miranda Lambert

*Bruno Mars

*Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams & Stevie Wonder

*Hunter Hayes

*Imagine Dragons

*John Legend

*Juicy J

*Kacey Musgraves

*Katy Perry

*Keith Urban

*Kendrick Lamar

*Lorde

*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Madonna

*Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton

*Metallica and Lang Lang

*Paul McCartney and Ringo StarriHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 2 - Show

*Pink and Nate Ruess

*Robin Thicke and Chicago

*Sara Bareilles and Carole King

*Taylor Swift

*Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Fallout and My Trip to the Wasteland

When I think about a game that has really gripped me recently, I immediately start to think about the game Fallout 3. Although the game originally was released six years ago in 2008, I found myself joining the bandwagon a little late, about a year ago to be exact.fallout 3 boy

Fallout 3 takes place in the post-nuclear wasteland of Washington D.C. This was actually one of the main reasons why I really wanted to play the game. I lived a big chunk of my life in the D.C./Maryland area, and I was interested to see what the area looked like when it was all destroyed. In the game, the “Capitol Wasteland” is full of monsters, raiders, ruins, and even some attempts at civilization. The game was massive, and there was so much to do over every hill that I crossed. The minute I started the game, I never wanted to stop. There was always something waiting for me…

The most important reason my Fallout really got it’s grasp on me was the massive amounts of endogenous value that it fed into the game in literally every single moment. Whether it was the rich story lines that ran through the game or the different items that were scattered throughout the land, endogenous value was every where. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the different forms of endogenous value that the game contained.

First off, the game gave me a rich story right off the bat. In a sense, the game takes place during a large portion of your character’s life. The game puts you in the shoes of a small baby who wakes up in Vault 101, a nuclear bomb shelter. As you grow up in the vault, you start to learn different things and before you know it, there is a bigger arching story that is waiting for you. Your father ends up leaving the vault and it is up to you to go out there and find him, as well as the answers to some questions about your character’s life. The main story line alone is chock full of value that kept me playing till the end. There are story twists and surprises that all reveal themselves by the end of the game. It was simply amazing.

I felt really invested in the story. The makers of the game really did a great job of making me care about what happened. In the beginning it is implied that your character is curious about what information is being withheld from him, and I found myself extremely curious too. This in turn, made me anxious to get out there into the world and figure out the mystery for myself, just like my character.

When I finally stepped outside the vault into the harsh world that was above, I was immediately drowned in a wealth of locations that I could explore. I took a look at the map and saw my little blip on the map in comparison to the huge wasteland. This piqued my interest in finding every single location out there. It seemed like every location that I ended up finding contained it’s own story. Even the smallest shack on the map seemed like it had a connection to the main story.

fallout 3 screenshotI also found myself instantly starting a bunch of side quests as well. I would talk to the different NPC’s on the map and they would have their own stories to tell, and they wanted you to help them as well. For some reason, I found myself on a mission to complete every side quest I found because they all meant something to me. I can’t remember a bland side mission that I found myself doing. They all had value to the story, and I was rewarded pretty well too.

One of the most interesting parts of the game was the karma system that they instituted into the game. This concept was new to me, I’ve never played a game that had this sort of system in it. I found that everything that I did in the wasteland had some sort of positive or negative value attached to it. It really made me think as I was exploring the wasteland.

For example, you would get negative karma for killing someone, obviously. But, stealing a dish from a table in a house could give you negative karma as well. To get positive karma, you had to help other people with their troubles, if their problems didn’t involve killing another person or stealing something. In other games, there isn’t really too much consequences for helping someone, or killing someone. In Fallout, every possible thing that you did had some consequences that went with it.

Lastly, their was a wealth of items that could be found throughout the wasteland. Some items in the game are junk like tin cans or silverware but you can find other items of higher value like weapons, armor, chems, and bottle caps, which is the game’s currency. Every time I walked by a trash bin or a container, I had to check to make sure I wasn’t missing an item. You could either keep these items or sell them to the different vendors throughout the wasteland. Some people even wanted junk like tin cans, and were willing to pay me a pretty penny for them. It seemed like every item in the world had a value somewhere.fallout 3 items

In conclusion, the endogenous value that was present in Fallout 3 was unprecedented for me. Up to that point, I never played a game that absorbed me into it’s world as much as Fallout. It was one of my favorite gaming experiences I had in a while.

fallout 3 bottom image

Beats Music: The Music Service for You

beats_music_3Streaming services are abundant and plentiful these days as apps like Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes Radio are taking over listener’s ears.  The people behind the wildly popular Beats headphones now want a piece of the pie.  Last Tuesday, Beats Music, the newest streaming music service on the market, was released and it is on a mission to take down juggernaut services like Spotify and Pandora.

Unlike those previously mentioned service, Beats Music is making an attempt to actually give listeners what they want to listen to.  Services like Spotify and Pandora give us recommendations and playlists based on numerous algorithms and calculations based on our listening tendencies.  Beats Music is actually using an editorial staff that will determine which songs we should listen to.

The editorial staff, headed by Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails), consists of music critics and musicians alike, all with the mission of recommending tracks that are hot and worthy of your ears.  They do this by curating tons of playlists which range from artist introductions to top 25 lists to essential playlists.  With the amount of playlists that are being curated, it will be impossible to not find something new.

When you first open up the app, you create an account and the service gives you a bunch of genres and tells you to pick the ones you love and the ones you hate.  It then gives you a bunch of artists and again asks you which ones you love and which ones you hate.  Using this information, the app creates a section titled “Just for You”, which gives you a bunch of albums and playlists that relate to your tastes in music.

If you are in a situation that requires a certain type of sound, then the service has you covered in that department too.  There is a section in the app called “The Sentence” which will give you a playlist for the craziest of situations.  It will ask you where you are, how you are feeling, who you are with, and what do you feel like listening too.  For example, I generated the sentence, “I’m at home & feel like jet setting by myself to dance.”  I ended up getting a playlist full of Daft Punk, more specifically “Give Life Back to Music”, which was the first song on the playlist.  This is a unique feature that is one of a kind.

Lastly, the service allows you to create a library that can consists of songs that you like on the different playlists and even full albums.  The service is not looking to have the “most tracks” but it looks to have the “most tracks you care about”.  All of your favorite albums will be on the service in their entirety.

The only thing that may be a detractor to the service is the “subscription” only model.  There is a seven day free trial, but other than that, there is no free option.  The service will cost $9.99 a month, which is pretty much an industry standard.  There is also talks about an annual subscription too which may end up being cheaper than the monthly option.  This may seem like a big financial investment, but it is worth the money for its wealth of unique features and its appealing interface.14.01.21-Beats_Music

Beats Music is looking to change the streaming music service game by advertising itself as a companion that will “think for you” instead of just giving you a list of songs based off an algorithm.  Beats Music may actually have a chance of dethroning the likes of Spotify and Pandora.