What we’re playing this weekend: Devs eating up the Orange Box

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I thought our guys at the office had it bad for Bioshock when it came out, but I think the frenzy over the Orange Box might have eclipsed it. It’s not too surprising, it’s got Half-Life 2 and the episodic content, Team Fortress 2 for frenzied multiplayer, and that’s without mentioning the ingenious madness of Portal.

Still, there’s plenty of other games being played. Folks are digging pointing and tapping action of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglas, and playing recent favorites like Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, Halo 3 and Bioshock.

Here’s the rundown:

Joel “Dixie” Burgess, LD: Wrapping up Halo 3 campaign, TF2, Portal, Portal (flash!), Brain Age 2, Fallout 3

Phil ”Finger Puppets” Nelson, Aspiring Superhero Sidekick: Orange Box

Jonah Lobe, Character Artist: Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2: Episode 2, Red Orchestra

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What We’re Playing: Awaiting The Orange Box

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A week later, folks at the office continue to battle through Halo 3 on both campaign and multiplayer modes. Earlier this week, I completed the game on Heroic, and now I look forward to some campaign co-op and some multiplayer with guys here at the office. I also got NBA2K8 and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass to check out before cheering on the Lions against the Redskins.

Outside of Halo 3, the buzz around the office seems to be Team Fortress 2, which is part of Half-Life 2’s uber pack, The Orange Box. A lot of guys are playing the beta and counting down the days until The Orange Box is released next week. I imagine the folks at Valve are pretty pumped about its release so they can go out and start playing Bioshock…poor guys.

Anyhow, here’s what the rest of the folks at the office are playing:

Gavin Carter, Producer: Halo 3, PGR4, On DosBox: Rise of the Dragon, Star Trek 25th Anniversary.

Dan Lee, Environment Artist: Persona 3, Picross DS, and perhaps some Pokémon Diamond to continue the “games that start with the letter ‘P’” trend.

Cory Dornbusch, Intern: Fallout 1 and 2, and Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.

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What We’re Playing: Finish (or begin) the Fight Edition

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This one’s going to come as a shocker. There’s plenty of guys and gals from the office that are planning on playing Halo 3 this weekend. You can count me in on that as well, though I also hope to get a little NCAA 2008 action in.

As for the rest of the crowd, here’s the weekend lineup…

Jangjoon Cha: This new game called Oblivion goty, and …(cough cough)…Halo…

Angela Browder, Associate Producer: Fallout Collection, Halo 3

Jesse Tucker, Level Design: Crackdown, Guitar Hero II, UT2004, I’m taking advantage of the fact that my roommate just got a 360.

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As if there were anything else to talk about today…

Kudos to the folks at Loading.Ready.Run for creating this. It’s genius. You might want to grab a sandwich while it loads up.

Me? I’m running to the store today at lunch to try to see if I can fight through the mob to get a copy of Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. Kurt, Bruce, Jeff, and I still play multiplayer at lunch every day we can (Jeff and I had a stunning come-from-behind victory in Point Du Hoc yesterday) so we’ve been eagerly awaiting this day for a different reason than most of the rest of the known universe.

What I learned going to TGS

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So I’m back from a weeklong trip to Tokyo and the Tokyo Game Show, my first trip there. Folks have been asking how the trip was so I thought I’d recap. I went down to meet with a few different folks and mostly to talk to the press about Oblivion, as it just came out there not too long ago for 360 and comes out on PS3 this Thursday.

The press folks were extremely nice and all went out of their way to talk about how much they liked Oblivion, how different it was than Japanese RPGs, asked lots of “how did you do this” questions, it was fun. Doing interviews via a translator (my Japanese is limited to anything mentioned in a Styx song) is always a bit trying as every question and answer gets repeated in both languages and can be pretty time-consuming, but Tetsu (our guy from Oblivion’s publisher in Japan, Spike) and I have done this a couple times now so I’m getting comfortable with it. Plus, when you get asked the same questions over and over, it gets to a point where he could pretty much give the answer without even asking me. We did a live interview on the show floor with Famitsu on Saturday, the first day the public can show up.

And let me tell you, show up they do. It’s like a big concert just got out and ran smack into Halloween. People crammed in everywhere, waiting in long lines for a chance to have a hands-on experience with their favorite upcoming game. The image at the top, which I borrowed from the boys at Kotaku, gives a pretty good idea of what the show floor looks like. Not everywhere mind you, but in enough places that it’s still pretty impressive, and daunting.

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Michigan Loses in our “Big House”

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So as some of you may know, I’m a huge Michigan Wolverines fan. I grew up cheering for them, went to school there, and have suffered as Lloyd Carr would say, “tremendously” following the upset loss to Appalachian State as well as last week’s blowout loss against Oregon.

Cheering for another crummy team this year, Todd Howard is a Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan. The Irish have been outscored 64-13 in losses against Georgia Tech and Penn State. Even worse, the Irish’s offense hasn’t found the end zone yet.

Given that our teams, who are #1 and #2 in all-time win percentage square off tomorrow (for the first time both with 0-2 records), we decided to have a grudge match of NCAA ’08…in our theater, on our 121″ x 215″ HD-formatted theater screen (see below for more pics and details).

Now I’ve been playing this game since NCAA ’96 on the PS1, but apparently Todd takes it a little more seriously. The game started off with a few people watching, and for almost two quarters my defense came to play. But around halftime, Todd began to dominate, and eventually won the game 28-0.

Todd was pretty excited because he said I’d have to sing the ND fight song at our next team meeting, but I reminded him that the bet is actually for the real game tomorrow. So I might get to see him sing Hail to the Victors…but I’m not holding my breath.

Check below for some more details about our theater.

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What we’re playing: TGIF Edition

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TGIF…another week goes by, and our developers can get back to doing what they love best…playing games. It’s funny when I send out an e-mail to these guys because 5 minutes after I hit send, I can look in my inbox and see that 50 people have already submitted something.

Anyhow…

Jay Woodward, AI Programmer: the UNN Nightwalker campaign for System Shock 2, Carcassonne, Fallout, some eurogames with friends (probably two of Notre Dame, Amun Re, Princes of Florence, or Puerto Rico).

Cory Edwards, World Artist: Beat Metroid Prime 3, now playing Bioshock.

Jeff Browne, Level Designer: Red Orchestra, FO3, maybe Bioshock, but most of the weekend will be spent fishing and getting outdoors.

Pete Hines, VP of PR and Marketing: NCAA Football 2008 (Go Wake!) and Bioshock

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“The Feel-Good Hit of the Summer”

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In post-apocalyptic news, Emil dropped me a note that over on Dark Horizons there’s a post referencing an Entertainment Weekly story that Viggo Mortensen is in talks about playing the role of the father in a movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” a book that has been very popular around the office. I borrowed a copy from Josh Jones and finally got around to reading it during my trip to Leipzig.

Anyway, Viggo would be fracking awesome. He’s perfect. Hope they get him, and can’t wait to see who they get for his kid. Not familiar with the work of the guys they have doing the adaptation (Joe Penhall) or directing (John Hillcoat), but I’d love to see this movie happen. As bleak a picture as has ever been painted of a post-nuclear world.

If you haven’t read it already, you need to. It’s that good.

Inside the Vault: Mike Lipari

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Today’s Q&A is with programmer, Mike Lipari. How important is Mike? Whenever we have a day that Mike has to leave early, we all get nervous that something will go horribly wrong while he is away. Nothing we ship leaves this building without going through Mike’s hands.

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