Little Witch Academia 2 Kickstarter – fund an expansion to Trigger’s next project

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The anime studio Trigger has started a kickstarter to expand the sequel animation to Little Witch Academia.  It was a great one shot animation project and I for one am happy to support its continuation.

If you haven’t seen it you can check it out on YouTube.

They’ve already reached their goal but any extra will go to improving the project or for further materials – so go donate!

X360ce – An XBox 360 Controller Emulator for Windows

So after buying Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara I found that it wouldn’t support my $20.00 generic PS3 controller by default.  In fact most games nowadays don’t seem to support it.  It seems that only Xbox 360 controllers are supported for many newer games.  I don’t play many games where I feel that’s a problem because  I prefer Keyboard and Mouse in the vast majority of cases.  But for this game…I desperately needed a gamepad.

And that’s how I found X360ce.

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It’s an emulator that maps regular DirectInput calls to XInput calls – essentially letting you use the older, more widely supported input format that virtually all usb gamepads will map to.  And it works like a charm.

All you do is download the application, put it in the game executable folder, and run the executable once to create a controller map.

I’d encourage anyone without an Xbox 360 controller to give it  a whirl!

http://code.google.com/p/x360ce/

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

For those of you who grew up in the 90’s you may remember the wonderful side scrolling beat-em-up games Capcom released using the D&D license: Dungeons & Dragons: The Tower of Doom and Shadows Over Mystara.  I remember my favorite part of going to the boardwalk at Ocean City as a kid was hitting up the arcades and dropping loads of quarters into Tower of Doom with my brother.

Well they’ve been re-released and are available on Steam as Dungeons & Dragonsn: Chronicles of Mystara!  With multiplayer!  And new game modes!

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The price is steep… but I’ve been wanting these games to be re-released with a multiplayer component ever since college so I couldn’t say no.  Seriously, I had plans to do an Unreal Tournament 2000 mod to recreate Tower of Doom back in freshmen year…which pretty much ended with me realizing that creating that much artwork was way beyond me.  So yeah, I’ve wanted this for a long time.

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Still one of the best feelings ever…

 

Opera Next – First Impressions

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Opera is my day-to-day usage browser and has been for the past several years.  Ever since the first time I used Speed Dial I knew it was the browser for me.  It meant no more hiding my daily stomping grounds in favorites lists but rather having them displayed like windows ready to peek through with a single click.  With Opera Sync I’ve had the same Speed Dial for years – never mind the dozens of OS re-installs I’ve done in that time.  When I’m setting up my PC I know that getting my internet back to the way I like it is as easy as installing Opera, enabling sync, and waiting a few seconds for all my pinned sites, favorites, and passwords to be restored.  Not to mention ‘paste and go’ was the best thing to ever happen to browsers.  And since then what have we seen?  Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft have all copied those features.

So I love Opera.  Always have, even the not so stellar releases.  But this latest release… there’s something unsettling about all of the changes and concessions Opera has made with their next browser.  It still has the same sparse look – even sparser now with fewer tabs, only a single search/address bar, and no side panels – and the same great dashboard.  But it feels less unique and I regret that.

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The main change you’ll find in Opera Next is the entire rendering engine.  Opera used to develop their own tech for this, but now they’re using webkit – a solution used by their competitors in both Chrome and Safari.  While this will have some benefits in helping bring more speed to the Opera browser, it will also mean your Opera experience is more samey.  And considering webkit comprises over 40% of all browsers it will also take away the special snowflake feeling that using Opera used to give – an probably the security of using a browser nobody felt like taking the time to hack.

In the beta Opera sync is also not working.  You can log into the web portal and manually add your saved sites to the speed dial, but it’s not automatic now.  Nor does it retain your previous passwords.  Hopefully this will be fixed in the coming months.

The e-mail client is gone as well.  It was apparently using too many resources – a laughable assertion – so they’ve stripped it to make the browser seem more small and efficient.  For me, using the beta for the past few days and not having my mail instantly pop up while I’m browsing has been a real letdown.  Honestly I don’t know who Opera thinks they’re pleasing with this – I’d bet 75% of Opera users don’t even know the mail client is there.  Why remove something that people can simply choose not to use and is very helpful to others?

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There’s also a new ‘Discover’ option that pretty much just shows you trendy news and blog posts.  If you feel there aren’t enough services trying to target you with inane articles then I guess you might want to take a look at Opera.

There are some good aspects – Netflix finally works in Opera.  Yay I guess?  And there is one nice new feature that lets you temporarily save a site you want to return to in your ‘stash’ which can be accessed from the Speed Dial.  I haven’t really used it but I can see where it would be convenient for other folks.

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With that said, I feel like my special browser is changing and becoming just another run-0f-the-mill Chrome skin.  And I really am worried about how this change will affect the security of the browser.  I don’t see how trying to be more like Chrome is going to get Opera a larger install base, but I do worry that changing and removing iconic features from the software could drive away loyalists. Ah well, this wouldn’t be the first dud that Opera has released, and a few steps back here will hopefully give way to some real innovation in the future.

Infographic: Top colleges and highest salaries in gaming industry | GamesBeat

I saw this posted on some forums I frequent today – an interesting tabulation of salaries in the gaming industry.

Infographic: Top colleges and highest salaries in gaming industry | GamesBeat.

I was surprised to see Volition included as one of the top stuidios – they totally deserve it but I’ve always felt their efforts receive less notice than other AAA studios.  So that’s welcoming.  Also, I didn’t realize that Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA was a University known for game careers – if only I were choosing a college to go to now instead of 14 years ago. . .  I would have taken that short drive in a heartbeat.

vNES – a Nintendo Emulator for Windows Phone 7

Recently I tried out vNES light for Windows Phone 7 and was pleasantly surprised to find it supported most of the games I’d want to play on my phone with intuitive save states and syncing with Skydrive.  For me, I wanted an emulator so I could play old RPG’s on the go – Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy titles.

The good:

  • Easy setup and import of games – direct web download of .zip files
  • Saves states, up to 10 per title.
  • Play while holding the phone vertically or horizontally.
  • Automatic save state backup to Skydrive, as well as syncing a games folder from Skydrive
  • Performance options – optional frameskip and sound emulation

The bad:

  • Slowish performance on 1st gen (1.0Ghz) WP7 devices.  Sound emulation must be disabled to get reasonable framerates.
  • Picky controls – it’s an onscreen d-pad so this is somewhat expected.  I wouldn’t try to play Mario on it.
  • Some games don’t render properly or crash – Dragon Warrior 4 amongst them.  The author says he is working on mappers to support more games.
  • Ads!  The Pro version costs a whole 99 cents?!?

I’ve been having a blast with it – I just bought my full plate armor in Dragon Warrior and now I need to remember where to go.  Who needs new games when we have such great games from childhood?