What we’re playing: Playing Basketball like Kurtis Blow

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So because nearly everyone in the ZeniMax family is playing Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2, and I already mentioned it this week, I thought I’d share a little game Nick introduced me to last week that I’ve become obsessed with. It’s called Basketball, and it’s available to play for here…for free!

Now I’m already a basketball fan — my cat’s name is Chauncey Billups and I tried to name another Tayshauna Princess — but I’m pretty sure anyone out there will enjoy this game. The point-and-click shooting method offers quite the challenge, but it’s quite rewarding when you get good — especially since you can compete against hundreds of other players every three minutes. As I was writing this, I decided to play around and was giddy about making my first 10 shots in a row. Thanks Nick…I’m obsessed.

When you need a break from Mass Effect or whatever you’re playing, give it a shot.  And now, the rest of the games we’re playing…

Nate Purkeypile: Mass Effect 2. I have Space Fever.

Megan Sawyer: Star Trek Online and Mass Effect 2.

Jay Woodward: Mass Effect 2.

Amber Hinden: Mass Effect 2, Bayonetta, Dragon Age, and Darksiders.

Steve Perkins: Borderlands, Torchlight, Machinarium, Ponzi Inc. (Facebook), Battleship (iPhone), and The Horrible Vikings (iPhone).

Josh Mosby: Online Games: Basketball — with a high rank of 135!

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What we’re playing

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If you look at this week’s “what we’re playing” — there’s games you’d expect to see (like Uncharted 2, Borderlands, Forza 3, and Brütal Legend), but the game that’s taken the office by storm this week is Runic Games’ Torchlight. For more details on the game, visit Runic Games’ website.

Below is the rest of the games we’re playing. Feel free to share the games you’re playing. Have a great weekend!

John Pisano: Torchlight, Borderlands, Brütal Legend, and Tropico III.

Nate “Red Spy” Purkeypile: Uncharted 2, Brütal Legend, Torchlight, L4D2 demo and most importantly, the TF2 Halloween Weekend Special.

Jay Woodward: Red Faction: Guerrilla, Brütal Legend, and Race for the Galaxy.

Daryl Brigner: Borderlands and Torchlight.

Orin Tresnjak: Forza 3, Borderlands, and Demon’s Souls. Maybe trying out Torchlight.

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Bright Shiny Things: Karoshi

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Welcome back to another edition of Bright Shiny Things — this week brought to you by Fallout 3 Lead Producer, Gavin Carter….

Death in games is traditionally something to be avoided. Yet I’m sure in moments of weakness and frustration, we’ve all indulged in the urge to purposefully send our ill-behaving digital characters to their doom down some spiky pit or fiery furnace. For those who can’t get enough of such anti-social behavior, I recommend downloading Karoshi and Karoshi 2.0 by 2D Cube (aka Jesse Venbrux), a pair of hilarious puzzle platformers.

“Karoshi” is a Japanese term that translates literally into “death from overwork.” Playing a suit-clad businessman, the object is, quite simply, to kill yourself. Each level is laid out using a variety of very simple elements — blocks, spikes, safes, and a small variety of set dressing pieces. The game controls like a standard platformer, and death can be visited on your character a number of ways. Whether you collide with a set of spikes, fall off the world to your death, or get your head smashed in by a falling safe, you’re rewarded with a cloud of blood and and an explosion of limbs guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

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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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Bright Shiny Things: XNA Games

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If you followed Microsoft’s GDC press conference this week, you probably heard a little about their XNA service for the 360. XNA is a way for the community to create their own games, have their games reviewed by their peers, and then make them available for other 360 owners to download. Kind of like YouTube…but with games. If you’re interested in developing games via XNA, you can download XNA Game Studio 2.0 for free — though a paid membership to the XNA Creators club is also required ($49 for 4 months or $99 for 12 months). As I understand it, released XNA games would then be something you’d be able to purchase via Xbox Live.

Wait a minute, isn’t Bright Shiny Games all about trying things cool things on the cheap (and preferably free)??? Well, as announced during Microsoft’s keynote, there are seven XNA-developed demos available on Xbox Live. Some of the demos are relatively short, but you get enough time with each game to get a flavor of what they’re like. I’ve spent a few hours over the past few days playing them, and I’d recommend that anyone with Live do the same.

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Bright Shiny Things: Teh Forum Game totally pwns…RLY!

Ever since Pete started Bright Shiny Things a few weeks back, I’ve been searching for the perfect game to write about. While thumbing through the February issue of GFW, I found inspiration in a feature titled “52 Free Games: A Year’s Worth of Gratis Gaming.” I’ve downloaded a few of the suggested games (Bossinabox, Crayon Physics, and Gunlimb), but when I came across Teh Forum Game, I knew it was match made in heaven, considering I spend a good amount of time each day in our our forums.

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Bright Shiny Things: World Golf Tour and Fairway Solitaire

I’ve had a casual game golf fetish lately. Two actually. World Golf Tour is an online closest-to-hole golf game that you play via your browser. Only in beta at this point, so it is free. I can see this expanding to lots of different golf courses and allowing multiplayer play by email functionality. Imagine following the PGA season by playing the same courses along the way. I created a team called Vault101. Shoot me a note if you’d like an invite.

The other one is courtesy of Bill Harris’ excellent Dubious Quality blog — Big Fish Games’ Fairway Solitaire . Similar to Puzzle Quest’s genius melding of Bejeweled and RPGs, Fairway Solitaire merges solitaire and golfing into a fun little game. You can download it and play locally, but I actually play the browser-based version so I can play on multiple computers.

Bright Shiny Things: Desktop Tower Defense

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Between all of us here, there’s very little that stirs in the gaming universe that doesn’t pop up on somebody’s radar. Whether it’s the simple genius of Peggle or some random freeware project somebody stumbles across, we go to great lengths to entertain and amuse ourselves. Simple, hopefully free (or at least very close to it), and entirely worth looking into. Freeware, shareware, cool demo,thing you have to try out. Bright, Shiny Things.

I thought perhaps we could start sharing some of these nuggets that folks may or may not be aware of. These are not going to be earth-shattering new things, but I often find that what one person has been playing for two years, someone else just found out about yesterday.

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