Consoles and Couples

Something I left off of Monday’s post about Burnout Paradise was its lack of local multiplayer.  They aren’t alone.  Tons of games don’t have local multiplayer.  And even more rare are games that allow more than one player to play online.

One of the greatest features of Rock Band is that my wife and I can both play, and play online.  Now, of course, the interface for Rock Band is pretty simple… but the fact remains, if I wanted to sing, my wife wanted to play bass, my brother wanted to play guitar and my brother’s wife wanted to play drums, despite living a thirty minute drive away from each other, the four of us can do that, my wife and I on our console and he and his wife on their console.

Burnout Revenge had a local multiplayer mode, so the wife and I could race… but if I wanted to go online, she couldn’t play again, because only one player can be online from the same console in that game.  And that’s how most games are: Local or Online, but not a mix of both.

More games need to explore allowing multiple players from the same console play online.  I don’t work at a game company, so I can’t say for sure, but I would love to know what the hang up is.  Do they just not think about it?  Do the games require so much bandwidth that they can’t possibly run two sessions from one machine?  Is there not enough RAM or processing power?  I realize that there would have to be limitations… perhaps in Burnout Paradise, the second (and third, and fourth…) player from a console could only join if the first is hosting the game, and they can only join the locally hosted game.

Since I did name Rock Band as an example where a couple can play online together, does anyone out there know of other games that allow multiple players to be online from the same console?

Burnout Paradise

I have my Criterion Elite license, which means I have won every race, unlocked every car and ruled every road.  I have 350 out of 350 on the Freeburn Challenges.  I have all the achievements you can get without having a camera (and if I ever find a spare $40 laying around, I’ll get those too).  And now I’m spending my time chillin’ helping out other folks on their challenges or looking for races, so I think its fair to say I’ve seen the entire game… so here are my thoughts.

Overall, this is a fantastic addition to the Burnout series of games.  If you like the older Burnout games or like racing games, definitely think about picking this up.  It is worth it.  But instead of looking at the game as a whole, lets take a moment and look at a bunch of the design choices of the game, or missing features, and rate those either as a Pro (good idea) or a Con (bad idea). Read more

New Toys

I’ve always wanted a Wacom tablet, and for my and the wife’s two year wedding anniversary, I bought one for myself.  I bought her one too, a larger one with more frills because February 14th through March 13th is a gangbuster gift giving season for me (Valentine’s, the anniversary, and then her birthday).   Anyway, I really love the thing.  Being left handed but having accepted the right handed orientation of all software and hardware design for PCs, I’ve never been able to draw well with a mouse unless I was willing to take hours to make images that should have taken minutes.  My right hand on the mouse works great for gaming, but never for the really fine motor work of graphical art.  But with the tablet, I’m able to move the task of drawing over to my left hand without having to fight with software and seeking out rare left handed mice.

I’m not great at drawing, but its nice to be able to doodle directly into the computer what I would normally be doodling on pieces of paper.  There are a few examples of my new digital doodling handiwork rotating through the banner images here on the weblog, and there will be more to come.

The wife also got me another gift, one I didn’t pick myself, for our anniversary: Burnout Paradise.  I’ve always been fond of the Burnout series of games, and this one is no different.  The single player game play really isn’t much different from prior games, you race, you win, you gain rewards.  Where this game really shines, however, is in the online play.  While previous entries in the series offered online racing, Burnout Paradise offers up what they call “Freeburn” which is where you get into game with up to seven other people and can explore the city together.  During this Freeburn, the host can initiate races or can pull up one of 50 challenges for everyone to do together (there are 350 challenges in all, 50 for each grouping of players from 2 to 8).  The only disadvantage to the new Burnout game is the “sandbox” style set up for the single player.  Races begin at intersections and proceed to wherever, and if you fail to win the race, you have to drive back to the start to try again.  It can be extremely frustrating if you lose a race by just a couple of seconds several times in a row.

I’m really enjoying both of my new toys.