What we’re playing: Bubbles Bursting edition

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sports nut (but in no way associated with nuts called Buckeyes). For me, it really doesn’t get any better than March Madness. The buzzer beaters. The upsets. The Cinderella teams. It’s AWESOME, baby!!! Awesome except for the fact that my alma mater hasn’t made the Big Dance in the past decade. You can see just how bad things have gotten by looking at the score of their final game played today.

The good news for me is that misery loves company. My fellow Bethesda Blog pals, Pete and Ashley, won’t have much to cheer for either. Pete’s Demon Deacons showed promise at times this year while battling adversity, but ultimately, they were outmatched in a very competitive conference. As for Ash, his alma mater, the Unversity of Maryland, has definitely seen better days. Their loss yesterday in the ACC Tournament pretty much sealed a trip to the NIT.

I suppose we can still hope for exciting games to watch in this year’s tournament. And if the games get boring, there’s always plenty of videogames to play.

Here’s what we’ll be playing this weekend. Let us know what you’re playing, and if you’re into college hoops, tell us who you’re rooting for.

Angela Browder, Associate Producer: Lost Odyssey, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Transformers: The Game

Sam Bernstein, QA Tester: Carcassonne, Catan, Eternal Sonata, and Fallout 3

Orin Tresnjak, Graphics Programmer: Pata pata pata pon. Pon pon pata pon!

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Team Bethesda vs. Shacknews community

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If you’ve kept up with the blog, you’ve probably seen that some of our developers have a bit of a Team Fortress 2 obsession…so much so that they made a habit of besting developers from other studios — including BreakAway, Retro, Bioware and EA Mythic. Not too long ago, however, the Vault 101 Dwellers suffered their first loss at the hands of Ubisoft’s Montreal studio.

A competitive bunch, Team Bethesda doesn’t like losing, and they’re looking to bounce back with a victory. Tonight they’ll get their chance — competing on Dustbowl and Gravel Pit against some of the best players from the Shacknews community. Having talked with Nate Purkeypile about the matchup, he mentioned the Shack community has got some real ringers, most notably Nasty Jack, who he claims “is probably the most feared demoman in all of TF2.”

Hmm, is Purkey playing head games, or is V101 still licking its wounds from the Ubi loss? Time will tell, and I’m sure the community will be discussing the match tomorrow.

Bright Shiny Things: Zeleny Zany for Iron Dukes

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Fred Zeleny is rather a connissconna…lover of the sort of things we cover in Bright Shiny Things, so I thought this go-’round I’d let Fred tell you about one of his favorites. Mr. Zeleny, you have the floor….

Imagine Sid Meier’s Pirates!, but replace piracy on the high seas with depth-defying salvage in treacherous waters. Less swordplay and swashbuckling, and more steampunk and surrealism. But keep the minigame action and addictive qualities.

Oh, and add the occasional geyser of blood. Never forget geysers of blood.

Now you have One Ton Ghost’s hilarious, award-winning browser game, Iron Dukes.

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What we’re playing: Getting ready to Brawl!

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For those Wii owners out there, you’re probably well aware that on Saturday night at midnight, the much anticipated Super Smash Bros. Brawl goes on sale at thousands of stores across the country. Like others at the office (I’m looking at you, Mike Dulany), I’m definitely looking for forward to picking it up as soon as possible. Not sure that I’ll brave the midnight crowds though, especially since I’m already going to lose an hour of sleep because of daylight savings.

Whether you’re playing Brawl or something else, feel free to share what you’re playing this weekend as well.

Mike Lattanzia, QA: Hellgate: London (always!), Patapon, Rock Band (spending way too much money on DLC), and Super Smash Brothers Brawl finally!

Mike Dulany, Programmer: Smash Brothers Brawl

Jabarie “Pokemon Trainer” Brown, Quality Assurance: Rock Band (I challenge you to a rock off!), World of Warcraft (I wish I could quite you…no, seriously I do.), Halo 3, and SUPER SMASH BROS. BRAWL (this is going to be amazing)!!!!!!

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R.I.P. Gary Gygax

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Gary Gygax reportedly passed away today at the age of 69. He was, and still is, a legend. As co-creator of D&D and co-founder of TSR, there probably aren’t many RPGs that haven’t been influenced in some way by Gary and what he started, not to mention his being responsible for Gen Con and the consumption of countless bags of Cheetos and gallons of Mountain Dew. Personally, I have never been able to look at a Crown Royal bag without thinking “dice bag.” I spent my first all-nighter playing a game because of AD&D.

We asked around the team for thoughts on the influence Gary and D&D/AD&D had on them. Here’s what folks had to say:

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Two Years Ago…Oblivion went Gold

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Yesterday was the two year anniversary of Oblivion’s “Gone Gold” announcement. Personally, those two years feel more like a decade to me. The team is insanely busy right now, but a few developers did e-mail me some thoughts on the anniversary. I’ve worked on Oblivion longer than most people here, and I continue to be amazed at how successful it was and is and how many people still play it today.

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What we’re playing: Game Over Edition?

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So this week we’re back to talking about games, and I’m starting to wonder if guys at the office actually spend more time watching stuff, listening to music, and reading books — you’ll see the response level is about half of what I got last week. Could be that everyone’s busy, or maybe they’re just playing the same things they were last time?? I’m guessing it’s the latter, and that when I turn on my 360 or PS3 over the weekend, I’ll see guys from the office playing plenty of stuff

At any rate, here’s what some of the office is playing. We’ll kick it off with Jeff Gardiner, since he whined that he never gets to be “on the front page.” Congrats Jeff…you made it!

Jeff Gardiner, Producer: Sins of a Solar Empire

Chris Esko, System Programmer: TF2, Mass Effect, Descent the board game.

Pete Hines: Just finished Professor Layton. Playing Brain Age, Tiger Woods 08, Picross, Zelda

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What we’re reading…

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Sometimes I get the impression from parents, politicians, and Fox News that if you’re playing videogames, you’re not reading. So when I decided we should do a “What we’re reading” post this week, I was pleased to see so many responses. It’s worth noting that a handful of folks relate reading to videogames in their answers — but I suppose that’s fair game. On that note, I hear there’s tons of optional reading in Lost Odyssey. After getting an email from Gavin, I’m think it’s one game I need to read up on:

“The plot (at least so far) revolves around one character trying to build this giant station called. ‘Grand Staff.’ So you get lots of lines like ‘I must complete work on Grand Staff!’ or ‘Grand Staff will make our magic stronger!'”

I couldn’t agree more. On that note, let us know what you’re reading. Have a great weekend!

Erin Losi: Gluten Free Girl, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Grazia (my new favorite British gossip mag)

Steve Meister: Just finished The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, which was extremely good. I also recently finished Scarlet, by Stephen Lawhead, the second in his re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend, which was also very good. I am now reading The Wanderer’s Tale, book one in the Annals of Lindormin by David Bilsborough, and I’ve got to tell you, this is one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time. It really has no redeeming qualities. Avoid it.

Brendan Anthony, Programmer: Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, The Pillars of the Earth, Michio Kaku’s Visions.

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What we’re playing: Off to GDC!

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Starting on Monday, the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) kicks off in San Francisco. The week-long event is a chance for game development industry to get together and attend meetings, panels and keynote speeches. Since a lot of guys in the biz know each other, it’s also an opportunity for catching up and having fun. Thus far, I know two of our Ryans, Ashford and Salvatore, will be attending the event…as you’ll see they’re already planning the DS games they’ll be packing. For more info on GDC, take a look at the official website.

On with the list…

Ryan Ashford, QA Engineer: Playing Phantom Hourglass on my flight to San Fran for GDC!

Ryan Salvatore, GDC-bound: Advance Wars DS, LoZ Phantom Hourglass, New Super Mario Bros.

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