Monday, December 20, 2004

Toe-MAY-toe, Toe-MAH-toe ... it's all the same site

First off, I need to tell you guys about an interesting new toy I've found online. Anyone who knows me, knows I love using Google for my searches. Today I was introduced to another search engine called Clusty. Clusty does a damned good job on searches as well ... plus it groups them together into clusters. I'm facinated by the amount of info I pulled from Clusty, and I'll be certainly using it at least as a backup to Google.

So, I'm doing a search on my name in Clusty because ... well, I have an ego to feed ... and I came across something that surprised me. Apparently I have credits listed at Rotten Tomatoes. Check it out here. As of today, they only have twelve of my reviews listed, but I'm surprised to even see that, considering I never submitted the articles to them. Hell, that alone made me start to feel like I've really "made it" ... or I'm at least on my way.

And so, it's back to putting my nose to the grindstone. I've got a review of SmackDown! Vs. RAW that went up on Electric Playground's site over the weekend, and I'm writing a few more reviews for them this week. Also, I'm putting together an interview and a preview for GameSpy. Plus, I'm shooting off a number of letters to various publishers to drum up some more freelance work. All that AND I'm working on Visionary Ink.

Oh, and I decided to get myself into the holiday spirit by pulling out the greatest Christmas CD ever made ... Tales From The Crypt: Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas. Ahh, nothing like singing along with such classics as "We Wish You'd Bury the Missus" and "Deck The Halls With Parts Of Charlie". Why, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Either that, or my indigestion is acting up.

EA ... it keeps growing and growing

Hot on the heels of Electronic Arts' exclusive NFL deal comes news that the software publisher is trying to take over some of its biggest competition. According to a recent EA press release, the company recently acquired about 19.9 percent interest in rival publisher/developer UbiSoft Entertainment. The shares of stock were purchased as a block from Talpa Beheer B.V., and is awaiting final antitrust clearance from the U.S. government. The financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

What makes this news even more interesting is that UbiSoft has previously reported a stock float of 69 percent. For those who don't follow the stock market, the "float" is the number of shares available for public trading that aren't owned by the company's management. That means that (if the numbers are correct) UbiSoft management owns a solid 21 percent controlling interest in the company. With EA now purchasing 19.9 percent, it (EA) would only need another 1.2 percent to gain controlling interest of UbiSoft. Considering UbiSoft's impressive library of titles, including the Tom Clancy and Prince of Persia titles, it's not surprising to see EA trying to get their hands on the company. It could be only a matter of time before we see Sam Fisher sneaking around in the neighborhood of the Sims.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Look!! Another round of gaming news!!

It's time again for another round of headlines.

  • In case you haven't heard, the biggest news lately to shake the gaming community is Electronic Arts' lucrative five year licensing deal with the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The deal, rumoured to have cost EA between $200 and $300 million dollars, gives EA the exclusive rights to use NFL teams, players, and stadiums for the next five years. Basically, this means that if you want to get an actual NFL video game for the next five years, you're choices will be narrowed down to Madden and NFL Street. And people say Microsoft is the master of monopolies.

  • In related news, Midway Games seems to be fairly unphased by the EA/NFL deal. In a press release issued today, Midway announced the development of a new unlicensed football game called Blitz: Playmakers. Since the game is not using actual NFL teams, players, etc., Midway is not under the scrutiny of the "family-friendly" NFL executives. This means Blitz will get more violence, more attitude, and even the occasional off-field violence and drug use.
    “Midway's Chicago studio has laid the foundation over the past year for what is the ultimate alternative to watered down NFL sanctioned football games,” said Steve Allison, chief marketing officer of Midway. “No longer bound to the NFL license, there will be no league restrictions on content and gamers will finally experience what makes playing a football videogame really fun: off-field controversies, dirty hits, excessive celebrations and much more. Blitz: Playmakers buyers will be assured of one thing – our game will include all the gameplay and fun the NFL won’t allow."
    The new game is scheduled for a Q4 2005 release.

  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is undoubtedly the best selling game of the year on the PlayStation 2. Well, Xbox owners won't be left out in the cold for much longer. Take-Two Interactive has announced that the game will be coming to the Xbox and PC sometime in Q2 of 2005. Sorry Gamecube owners. Still no GTA love for you.

  • Speaking of the Big N, Nintendo of Japan quietly announced that they will be releasing a special adapter for the Nintendo DS (and the GBA SP) that will allow the unit to play video files (MPEG-4) and audio files (MP3) off of a standard SD card. Undoubtedly, this is designed to compete with the video and audio features in Sony's PSP handheld system.

  • Yep, the PSP has officially been released ... in Japan at least. According to published reports, Sony's handheld sold through more than 80 percent of its shipped units on its first day of release. Want one? You can shell out about $500 on eBay for a Japanese unit. Looks like I may have to check the couch for spare change.

Well, there's a lot more news to report on, and I'll be posting more later. Also, be on the lookout for more additions here, as well as a new and more ambitious project coming up called Visionary Ink. Also, one of the things I'll probably be adding here is a shop for Visionary Ink and Stacking the Deck merchandise (ooo ... ahhh).

Stay Tuned

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Good things and small packages

So I got my refurbished PS2 Slim in today. I hooked it up and decided to put it through its paces (especially considering that it's NOT a brand new system). Things seem to work great. In fact, the newer model seems to have a faster read time than the older ones did. I'm genuinely impressed with it. Of course now my Xbox looks like a behemoth next to it. If you want an idea on the size, I snapped a shot of the new system and posted it on the moblog. I may post another here later. Right now, it's back to work though.

Later all.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Okay ... so it's been a while

Things have been pretty hectic the past few weeks. I went down to Jacksonville for a few weeks. It was supposed to be no more than two, but circumstances forced me to stay longer. During the trip, I also ended up losing my PS2 and 24 total Xbox games. It's a long story, but suffice it to say, they went the way of the dodo w/ no chance for recovery. So today I ordered a refurbished PS2 from EBGames just so I can have a system to do my work on. Do you know how hard it is to find one NEW around Christmas? Ah well. Que cera cera.

In work news, I've got a few things I'm working on at the moment. For EP, I'm writing up reviews on Smackdown Vs. RAW (PS2), Super Mario 64 DS (DS), and Mr. DRILLER Drill Spirits (DS). Funny thing I learned about Mr. DRILLER. The main character is actually the son of the original Dig Dug. I was an addict when it came to Dig Dug ... and I'm turning into one for Mr. DRILLER. I just wish that Namco had actually tried to make the touch screen on the DS useful. For GameSpy, I'm working on a preview of Super Monkey Ball Deluxe for the Xbox ... though it won't see the light of day until February. Also, I'm working on an interview with Christina Z., former Witchblade writer and current writer of the upcoming BloodRayne comic book. I've known Christina for a few years, and she's a great person and a talented writer. The interview ought to be a lot of fun. I'm also trying to snag an interview with the developers of the new Stubbs the Zombie game coming out using the Halo engine.

In other news, it looks like I'll be relocating again soon. I'll keep you guys posted on the wheres and the whens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Are two screens better than one?

So, I picked up a Nintendo DS yesterday for work. I've been more than a
little curious about the system. The dual screens are unusual enough,
but the touch screen in particular is an odd twist in gaming. Yeah,
yeah. I know that PDAs use touch screens, but it's nothing like this.
Using the touch screen on the DS really does a lot to bring players
deeper into the game.

I started off playing the Metroid demo packaged with the system. It
took a little bit for me to get the hang of using the touch screen, but
after getting past the slight learning curve, I found the controls to be
a fun new experience. Graphically, the system packs a pretty good punch
too. While the DS is essentially a portable N64, the graphics actually
look a lot more crisp than most of the games I've ever seen on the
classic home system.

So, after playing the demo, I'm really looking forward to the getting
the full game. To tide my over until then though, I picked up a copy of
Super Mario 64 DS. SM64 still ranks as one of the best games of all
time, and this portable version is even better than the original. I
hesitate to call the game a remake simply because there is SO much
changed and added to the game. The most obvious change is the addition
of the 3 other characters: Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario. Each of the
characters has his own set of special moves and abilities, adding a new
aspect of gameplay to the original game. And then there are the
minigames. These cool little additions all add up to make SM64 DS a
rock solid game.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

One LONG day

Okay, so the day started with a nine hour drive from Virginia to
Florida. Now, I'm visiting Jack on a job. For those of you unfamiliar
with my friend Jack, he is the definition of a jack of all trades (no
pun intended). He's a PI, DJ, Bouncer, and limo driver. Tonight, he's
in limo mode.

So, we're in the limo driving some people around who've been partying
all night. After a couple of the girls decided they wanted some "extra"
services, Jack and I decided it was best to keep to ourselves. These
people took "party hearty" to a whole new level ... but not in that good

Now, I've finally wound down for the night. I've got some things to
work on this week, including one particularly important situation.
Hopefully everything will work out well. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Moblog Fun

Okay, so I got my new Sidekick II cell phone today. First off, it's a great damned phone. Beyond all of the ways it helps with my work, it also has a a basic camera built in. You know what that means, right? Moblogging!! For those of you unfamiliar with this latest in online geekdom, "moblog" is short for "mobile blog". It's basically an online scrapbook where people post pictures instead of standard blog entries. Most people use this in conjunction w/ camera phones to capture those oddball moments that come up and to share them with the online community.

Well, if you take a look at the links on the lefthand side of the page, you'll see a new entry topping things off: "Stacking the Deck Moblog". I've also tweaked out the template code, so it SHOULD also post a thumbnail of the most recent picture anytime it goes live on the moblog.

Hey, what can I say? Anything to keep all of you entertained.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Previously on "Stacking the Deck"

Okay ... this is more for me than you guys. I decided to put together a list of link to my various articles current through today. I got tired of having to constantly track down the URLs. Anyway, if you missed any of these before, or just feel nostalgic:

First off, there's my work at GameSpy:

Shaman King: Power of Spirit (PS2)

The Urbz (GBA)

Scaler (Xbox)

Scaler (PS2)

The Incredibles (PS2)

The Incredibles (Xbox)

The Incredibles (GCN)

The Incredibles (GBA)

Outlaw Golf 2 (Xbox)

Colin McRae Rally 2005 (Xbox)

Robotech Invasion (Xbox)

Robotech Invasion (PS2)

Conflict Vietnam (Xbox)

Conflict Vietnam (PS2)

Rocky Legends (PS2)

Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee (Xbox)

Vietcong: Purple Haze (Xbox)

Monster Hunter (PS2) – preview

Monster Hunter (PS2)

GunGrave Overdose (PS2)

NASCAR 2005 Chase for the Cup (Xbox)

NASCAR 2005 Chase for the Cup (PS2)

A Dog's Life (PS2)

Indy Car Series 2005 (Xbox)

Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy (GBA)

Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage (GBA)

McFarlane's Evil Prophecy (PS2)

The Death (Jr.) of the Comic Industry – interview

Comics to Consoles – "Top 10" feature

Comics to Consoles, part 2: When Good Comics Go Bad – "Top 10" feature

Jimmy Palmiotti Talks Up The Punisher – interview

Solid Snake Signs a Book Deal – article

And then there's the work at Electric Playground:

City of Heroes (PC)

Red Dead Revolver (Xbox)

Mario vs. Donkey Kong (GBA)

Transformers (PS2)

X-Men Legends (Xbox)

Spider-Man 2 (Xbox)

Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox)

Rocky Legends (PS2)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)

Mortal Kombat: Deception (Xbox)

There are a lot of other things I've done as well. A couple of pieces for Artxilla's subsite called "Gamexilla", and all my work at Play Magazine. Play doesn't have their articles online though, and I'll get to the Gamexilla stuff later. Also, there's more posted all the time. I've got the Halo 2 and Smackdown vs. Raw reviews for EP, and I've got a couple of reviews and previews waiting to get posted at GameSpy. Like I said though, this is mainly because I got tired of having to track down all the links when it came to sending off writng samples.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Must ... sleep ... now

Okay, obviously the big news of the day is the midnight release of Halo 2. I've got it. I played it. And after some sleep, I'll play it some more. I WANT to play more now, but I REALLY need some sleep. So far though, it has lived up to all the hype.

It's been a rough time with little sleep. I just wrapped up a handful of reviews over the past few days. First off, there's my review of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2) for Electric Playground. Then there are my GameSpy reviews of The Incredibles for the PS2 and GBA. Right now, I'm also working on reviews of The Urbz for the GBA, Halo 2, and Shaman King for the PS2.

Now, having said all that, I promise to post more later .. really. Right now though, the bed is calling to me.

Monday, November 01, 2004

"Exclusive" news and more

There's quite a bit of fun news making waves in the video game industry as of late. Oh, and the "exclusive" news? Well, that tops the list:

  • Capcom's not-so-exclusive title. After all the hype built up by Gamecube fans over the impending release of Resident Evil 4, Capcom has just announced that the title will be making an appearance on the PS2. Siting consumer demand and requests from shareholders, Capcom has announced that RE4 will be jumping ship to the PS2 towards the end of 2005. For those of you keeping score, the Gamecube version is scheduled to come out on January 11th. Capcom also said that each version of the game will be tailored to the strengths of each console.

  • All "Halo" breaks loose in Stubbs. If you haven't heard of Wideload Games yet, odds are you will. Wideload is made up of a group of veteran developers, many of whom used to work at Bungie on a little game called Halo. And knowing a good thing when they've worked on it, the guys at Wideload are using the Halo engine in their debut title, Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse". According to the press release:
    What begins as one zombie's search for revenge quickly escalates into an all-out war between the living and the dead - but this time it's the zombie fighting for truth, justice and the redemption of true love. Yes, it's a love story too.
    The game is due out on Xbox, PC, and Mac summer of next year. And while it's still a ways off, I have to say I'm really looking forward to this game. Check it out for yourself at the game's official website.

  • "Arrggh. Thar be pirates in Nintendo waters!!" Nintendo has begun a serious crackdown on counterfeit systems littering the countryside in shopping malls everywhere. C'mon, you've all seem 'em. Many of these systems are designed to look like N64 controllers, and plug directly into the television loaded with a handful of pirated NES games. Nintendo has started in its home state of Washington, obtaining restraining orders against the import and sale of these fake systems. In response to those orders, authorities will seize any of the counterfeit systems from shopping malls and other retailers in the Washington area.

  • "Let me tell you about the Matrix, Neo." More news on the development of the upcoming Matrix Online video game. Warner Bros. and Sega have annouunced that they have signed many of the stars from the Matrix trilogy to voice their characters in the game. Sorry folks, no Keanu this time around (you DID see the end of Revolutions, right?). However, some of those that WILL be reprising their roles include: Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Monica Bellucci (Persephone), Mary Alice (Oracle), Lambert Wilson (The Merovingian), Harold Perrineau Jr. (Link), Harry Lennix (Lock), Nona Gaye (Zee), Collin Chou (Seraph) and Tanveer Atwal (Sati).

  • The New Old Republic. Anyone out there remember a little franchise called Star Wars? I thought you might. Anyway, one of the best video games to ever carry the Star Wars brand was Knights of the Old Republic. Never one to rest on their laurels, the folks at LucasArts have announced that the official site for KOTOR II: The Sith Lords has gone live. The game takes place five years after the events of the first game. And this time around, the choices you make not only determine your path, but the path of those who follow you as well. Check it out for yourself.

More news to comes. Oh ... one more week 'til Halo 2.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I'd buy that for a dollar (or 186 dollars)

Hitting the news wires today is the latest round of info from Sony regarding its PSP gaming device. Sony has announced that the device will launch in Japan on December 12th at a price of 19,800 yen ... or roughly $186.00 US. This launch is only one week after Nintendo is set to launch the Nintendo DS in Japan. There are also plans to release a value pack that will include an things like a Memory Stick, case, headphone set, and more for 24,800 yen ($233.00 US). The device is also reported to have a 4-6 hour battery life when gaming, and 4-5 hour battery life when watching movies. Of course other options could change that (such as screen brightness, wireless LAN, volume, etc.). More than 20 games are also scheduled to be released when the system debuts in Japan. As far as the US goes, no firm launch details have been announced.

And in other news, my review for Robotech Invasion (PS2) went up at GameSpy today. Oddly enough, the Xbox review hasn't posted yet. Strange. Also, I'm looking forward to seeing the reviews I wrote up for Scaler this week.. Anyway, I hate to cut this short, but I've got some cars to jack in San Andreas. Later.

EDIT: The Xbox review of Robotech Invasion did get put over at GameSpy ... it was just late getting posted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Another day, another round of headlines

Here's what's happening in the world of gaming today:

  • "I'm Batman." In a joint press release that hit the wire today from Electronic Arts, Warner Bros., and DC Comics, it was announced that EA is going to be publishing games based on the upcoming Batman Begins film. The game will be released "date and day with the film", and will be released on the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP, and Game Boy Advance. No mention of a Nintendo DS version, but one can assume that's coming as well. What makes this announcement even more interesting is the fact tha EA is ALSO developing a new line of fighting games featuring characters from the Marvel Universe. Hmmm ...

  • Laying the Smackdown. THQ and Jakks Pacific have announced that their eagerly awaited SmackDown vs Raw has gone gold. What this means for gamers is that the game, which features online play for the first time, is on track for its scheduled November 2 release date, despite the lingering lawsuit filed last week by the WWE.

  • Okay, no big surprise here, but today is the launch date for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The game actually appears to be living up to the hype. I've got my copy here now. As soon as I spend some time getting into it, I'll post my thoughts here.

  • This has got to be the funniest press release I've seen in a LONG time. With all of the video game leaks that have sprung up recently, inXile Entertainment has decided to use these problems to help promote their upcoming title, The Bard's Tale. Read for yourself:
    Developer/Publisher of Hotly Anticipated Game Evaluating Following In the Footsteps of Other Triple A Titles By Implementing An Official, Unauthorized Leak

    NEWPORT BEACH, CA (October 22, 2004) - Interactive entertainment developer and publisher inXile entertainment today announced that it is considering some form of leak of The Bard's Tale, its eagerly anticipated action-role playing game (RPG), as a strategic plan to follow a growing trend among Triple A games.

    "The Bard's Tale is a highly original game in the same category as a Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 so we feel some sort of leak that sounds similar to what they have experienced may be the next logical step in our launch plans," said Brian Fargo, founder and CEO of inXile entertainment. "Of course we would immediately condemn the leak and make every effort to stop it if we proceed with it."

    "In The Bard's Tale, our main character, The Bard, is an opportunist always interested in getting goods at a discounted rate so we feel he would applaud some sort of leak," said Matt Findley, president of inXile entertainment.

    It's unclear how the leak will be handled, if implemented. Pirated or unauthorized playable game code would not actually be made available over the internet or otherwise but the full version of the game could be attained by game enthusiasts at major retail outlets as early as October 26th 2004.

    For those wishing to help track down any potential thieves of The Bard's Tale, inXile is proactively offering the following advice: If anyone finds information on websites with links to unauthorized downloads, information, scans or videos, please contact us at

As always, I'll post more as I hear it.

Monday, October 25, 2004

New game stuff

It's that time again. Time for another round of news and the like from the gaming community. Buckle your seatbelts boys and girls, 'cause here we go:

  • Impending Doom. Activision and id Software have announced the development of Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, the first official expansion pack to Doom 3. It's time to return to Hell once again with new weapons (including the return of the double barreled shotgun), new location, and new characters. Even more importantly, the expansion will expand the the weak multiplayer aspect, doubling the number of possible players to eight.

  • THQ Keeps Nickelodeon. THQ and Viacom have announced that their license agreement has been extended through 2010. This gives THQ the publishing right to video games based on all existing and future Nickelodeon properties, including all TV and movie projects. At least this is one license THQ can count on keeping for a while, unlike their other major license ... the WWE.

  • 'BC' is DOA. BC, Lionhead Studios' highly anticipated prehistoric action/RPG, has officially been put on hiatus. What makes the announcement even more surprising is that it looked like the game was near completion. No reason was given for the hiatus, but according to Peter Molyneux, Lionhead hopes to revive the project at a later date.

  • Make a Date with Everquest II. Sony Online Entertainment announced tha Everquest II finally has a ship date. The game will be released in North America and Europe on November 8 ... putting the game at odds with the Microsoft juggernaut, Halo 2. EQ2 will ship with 3 different versions: CD, DVD, and limited edition DVD. The limited edition will also include bonus in-game items, an art book, CD soundtrack, cloth map, and more.

So there ya go. The latest news that's fit to print. Oh ... in what has to be the fastest turnaround ever on one of my reviews, I turned in a review for Outlaw Golf 2 to GameSpy last nigh, and tonight it's gone live. It's a great golf game, and I think you should definitately give it a shot ... especially for the $20 price tag.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Attack of the dopplegangers!!

This is something that has to rank up there with funny events. Everyone knows that I do work with Electric Playground, right? Well, recently G4 re-aired the 100th episode of EP ... one of many episode featuring the infamous EP Elf. For those of you who don't know, the EP Elf is actually producer Rob Koval in ... well ... an elf costume (hey, I don't make this stuff up). So, while filming in San Diego this year, the comment was made that I apparently resemble Rob quite a bit. In fact, jokes were made about the guys firing Rob and having me become the new EP Elf ... or even the Elf stunt double.

So where am I going with this? Apparently, a longtime friend of mine caught the 100th episode of EP. He called me up afterwards to tell me he thought I was hilarious on the show, but he wondered how in the hell they convinced me to wear the elf costume. This friend of mine who has known me for years thought it was ME in the Elf suit!!

Anyway, I decided to have some fun and post a side-by-side comparison. Decide for yourself how much I resemble the EP Elf. Oh yeah ... I'm the one on the left.

"Call in the stunt double!!" Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Deja vu all over again (and other news)

Okay boys and girls, it's time for another round of the latest videogame news.

  • Coming as no surprise to anyone (especially those of you who beat the game), Activision and Raven Software have announced today that they are developing a sequel to their hit game X-Men Legends (sorry Shane).

    According to Ron Doornink, CEO of Activision Publishing:
    "For 40 years Marvel's X-Men have captivated consumers worldwide and today the brand is stronger than ever," "X-Men Legends is already on track to be the best selling game in the franchise's history."
    And from Ames Kirshen, director of video game development at Marvel:
    "We are thrilled with the critical and consumer response to X-Men Legends. Marvel and Activision are committed to ensuring that the X-Men Legends series will continue to be a top notch game franchise for years to come."

  • In an unusual twist of irony, the latest video game to find itself stolen and pirated online is none other than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Apparently, there are illegal copies of the game, as well as images from the manual, popping up all around the net. Rockstar has released a statement similar to Bungie's statement after the leak of Halo 2, explaining that investigations are ongoing and asking the gaming community to report any information on websites with links to unauthorized downloads, scans, or video to

  • The WWE has decided to lay the Smackdown onto Jakks Pacific and THQ. On Tuesday, the WWE filed a fourteen count lawsuit against Jakks, THQ, Stanley Shenker & Associates, Inc., and Bell Licensing, LLC. The lawsuit claims that when James Bell was the WWE’s Senior Vice President of Licensing and Merchandising, he arranged for Jakks to receive the WWE videogame license, ignoring better offers from both Activision and THQ. In return, Bell allegedly received over $100,000 in bribes. Now before anyone thinks I made a typo by saying a deal from THQ was overlooked, it should be noted that THQ did not partner up with Jakks until AFTER Jakks was awarded the license. In the WWE's lawsuit, there are no claims of direct wrongdoing by THQ, however the WWE is looking to terminate their existing license agreement.

    According to Linda McMahon, CEO of the WWE:
    “We very much regret having to take this action today, but regret even more the facts and circumstances which have compelled us to do so. WWE’s intellectual property is a valuable asset of the Company, and we believe the actions taken today are necessary to preserve the integrity of our licensing process and essential to ensure that WWE receives appropriate and fair compensation for the grant of a license to use our intellectual property.”
    For its part, THQ released a statement saying in part:
    THQ is committed to preserving its rights under the videogame license with the WWE. THQ believes the WWE is pleased with the manner in which THQ has managed their brand in the video game category. As THQ is not directly accused of any wrongdoing in the complaint -- rather the complaint alleges wrongdoing on the part of JAKKS Pacific and others of which THQ was and is unaware -- THQ is not in a position to comment on these allegations. In any event, either there is no basis for terminating the video game license, or THQ expects to be made whole by those whose conduct is eventually found to be unlawful. THQ intends to vigorously protect and pursue its rights, if necessary.

    The lawsuit has no effect on games currently scheduled for release, including WWE SmackDown!(TM) vs. Raw(TM), which is scheduled to ship on November 2.
    You can check out the full 73-page court filing here.

  • Following in the footsteps of Halo 2's marketing, Nintendo has launched 2 fake websites, Channel 51 and Orbis Labs, to promote its upcoming Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The sites will be updated regularly, leading up to the ultimate release of the game on November 15th. The sites are actually pretty cool. Check 'em out.

As always, keep checking back for more news.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A riddle to ponder ...

What's small, round, and expected to bring in more revenue in 24 hours than any single motion picture's opening day box office? Think it over, the answer comes later ... but first:

Well, my reviews of Conflict: Vietnam for the Xbox and PS2 went live on GameSpy last night. Man, I've got to take a minute to thank Ben, my editor on that, for helping to pull it together for me. I reread my initial draft that I had written while going though this bug I had ... and it really needed work. I said what I wanted well enough, but repeated myself in a few places and made more than a couple of spelling errors. Here's my free tip for writers: DON'T try to write with a fever!! It just doesn't work very well. Anyway, Ben helped pull everything together and get the reviews up to snuff.

Now, moving on to my riddle. The answer is Halo 2. That's right. Microsoft has just announced that pre-orders for the game have exceeded 1.5 million units. According to Peter Moore, VP of worldwide publishing and marketing for Xbox:
"'Halo 2' is expected to be the biggest 24 hours for a video game title in retail history and is projected to bring in more revenue than any day one box office blockbuster movie in the United States. We call it the Halo 2 effect. We've even heard rumors of fan anticipation of the 'Halo 2 flu' on November 9."
Many stores will be opening at 12:01a on Tuesday, November 9th to give customers their first opportunity to pick up the long awaited game. For the record, I'll be picking up my copy from EB Games #3067 at Westridge Square in Greensboro, NC. Why should that matter to you? Well, I'm going to be covering the event for the Electric Playground website, as well as writing their first review of the game.

Okay, that's all for now.

Monday, October 18, 2004

News around the 'net

First off, my second review of Rocky Legends went live over the weekend. This one was for the Electric Playground website.

Moving on to the latest news:

  • The Consumer Electronics Show has confirmed that Bill Gates will be giving a pre-show keynote address. The speech is scheduled for Wednesday, January 5th at 6:30p at the Las Vegas Hilton. The rumblings from the rumor mill is that Gates is going to use the CES speech to officially announce the Xbox 2 system. This time frame would coincide with rumored plans to actually unveil a playable build of the system at E3 2005.

  • Unless you've been living under a rock the past few days, you've probably heard that Halo 2 was leaked to the public last week. It looks like a disc was swiped during manufaturing in Europe. The pirated copy has French speech and English subtitles, and (being unsigned code) will not run on a standard retail Xbox. Obviously, this also means that the game will not run on Xbox Live. Microsoft and Bungie are investigating the theft, and both say that the theft will not affect Halo 2's November 9th release date.

  • Game developer Clover Studios has announced that it is currently working on a new version of Viewtiful Joe for the upcoming Nintendo DS system. The game will not take place in "Movie Land" and will introduce "an important new character". There's also interest building in how the game will make use of the DS touch screen. I'll be curious to check this out when it's released.

  • After all of the drama, lawsuits, code theft, etc., Vivendi Universal has at last announced that the long awaited Half-Life 2 will be released on November 16th. Now we'll finally get to see whether or not the game proves to be worth the wait.

Sorry it's taken a couple of days to get this started up with news updates. Truth be told, I'm running behind schedule on a few things. Apparently I came down with something over the weekend and it has had me laid up with a high fever. I'm working to get over it, and hopefully I'll be back up to par in a couple of days. I'll be trying to play catch up in the meantime.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Artpunks Weenie Roast

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the First Annual Artpunks Weenie Roast. This is a a private gathering of comic talent from around the area. The whole shindig was held at Randy Green's house, and included Mike Wieringo, Val Staples, Rick Ketchum, John Wycough, and a whole lot more. Everyone played horseshoes, ate some hot dogs and hamburgers, sat around the fire, and swapped stories. Then everyone moved inside for a few hours of video games. All in all, it was just agood time to be had.

First Annual Artpunks Weeine Roast;Posted by Hello

Friday, October 15, 2004

A slight change of direction

I've been giving some thought to how this blog has been progressing since I started it almost six months ago. Since it was started, Stacking the Deck has been a tool of blatent self-promotion. Hey, what can I say? I'm a media whore. So anyway, after giving it some thought, I've decided to ... expand ... things in the blog. In the coming days, you're going to start seeing a lot more material around here. "Like what?" you ask yourself. Okay, maybe you don't ask yourself that, but I'm going to tell you anyway.

Besides continuing to keep everyone posted on what work I'm doing, I'm also going to be adding a few new things. For one, I think its about time I do something a little extra for those of you who frequent the blog. Besides linking to articles I've written elsewhere around the net, I'm going to start writing some articles exclusive to Stacking the Deck. I'm going to start adding more news and information from the video game industry to the blog. And hey, if some other news grabs my interest, it may just pop up here as well.

Some of this is a precursor to the launch of something bigger I have planned, but mostly it's a way for me to cut loose with some more writing while also giving all of you something new to look forward to. Keep checking back and let me know what you think of the progress.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Once more around the track

Another day, another review. This time around GameSpy's got my take on Colin McRae Rally 2005 for the Xbox. Keep in mind, I'm not the biggest racing fan in the world, but I always try to judge games on more on their merits than my personal tastes ... most of the time. Anyway, I was surprised at how good this budget title really was.

I'm still waiting for the Robotech Invasion reviews to go live. As soon as they do, I'll post the links. I'm also trying to wrap up the Conflict Vietnam reviews for GameSpy tonight. If I don't wrap it tonight as planned, I'll get an early start tomorrow morning. I've been so busy with these reviews, I have yet to even take my new copy of BloodRayne 2 out of the plastic wrap. I did get a chance to play the game last night while over at Randy's though. It's a HUGE improvement over the original. I'm really liking the game so far. And for once, its a game I got for myself that has nothing at all to do with work.

Moving right along, looks like some bad news for Microsoft today. If you haven't heard the word, it seems that Halo 2 got leaked to the public. Floating around in the underground internet channels is a French PAL version of the game. According to Microsoft, an investigation is currently underway to find out how the game got leaked, and anyone distributing or downloading the game will be considered guilty of theft.

It's alive!! IT'S ALIVE!!!!

Woo hoo!! Hot damn!! And any other exclamation you want to throw in there for good measure. The Xbox "tweak" is operational. I got everything installed and running ... and surprisingly quick too. What's that mean for you? More reviews ... and FINALLY my thoughts on preview builds as well. Stay tuned for more on that front.

Also, it looks like I'll be doing a piece covering the release of Halo 2. Some EBGames stores are having a midnight sales event for the game. One store I'll be going to try and go all out w/ catering, radio remotes, prizes, and even special guests. I'll let you know more as things develop.

And finally, I always try to give credit to Shane over at Near Mint Heroes every time he promotes my stuff. (Thanks again, Shane) This time around I want to say thanks to Chris Brown over at Chris "Lefty" Brown's Corner. Apparently, he's been keeping up with what I'm up to as well, and he had a few questions to throw my way. I've always said that you guys are more than welcome to drop a line and I'll do my best to get back to you ASAP. Anyway, thanks for the mention on your site, Chris.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

One more sign of the apocalypse

So I wrote a review of Robotech Invasion today, for both the Xbox and the PS2. As is usually the case, one version was hands down better than the other. It had sharper more colorful graphics, richer sound, and a solid multiplayer inetrface. Here's where things get all "Twlight Zone"-ish. The better version was the one on the PS2 ... NOT the Xbox!! Just to make sure I wasn't losing my mind, I had Randy and Will (another comic artist up here) watch both versions of the game. Using a system selector, I swapped back and forth between the games. Both of them mistook the PS2 version for the Xbox, with Randy going so far as to say that Microsoft should be pissed at how much better the PS2 version of the game is.

In other news, BloodRayne 2 comes out tomorrow. I played a demo today and while there are still a couple of rough spots, it's a hell of a lot better than the original. I'll be picking it up later and I'll try to post my impressions of the final version here.

And finally, it looks like tomorrow's the day I'll be working on my Xbox. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, October 11, 2004

More material from yours truly

More reviews went up tonight over at GameSpy. Head on over there to check out my reviews of The Dukes of Hazzard (Xbox) and Rocky Legends (PS2). I've also submitted my review of Colin McRae Rally 2005, so it should be up within the next couple of days. I will go ahead and say that if you're a fan of rally racing, CMR 2005 is definitely the game to pick up.

Also, as a side note, I am still working on some ideas for the eventual debut of my web site. I did some tinkering around with a couple of programs today, and as a result I have a few fun extras I think I'll be throwing in. Stay tuned for more information.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

May the Force be with you

First things first. Over at the Electric Playground website, my review of Star Wars Battlefront went live today. I liked the game quite a bit, and I think it's something that Star Wars fans are sure to get a kick out of.

Now, if you check out the EP front page, you'll see that the blub for the review mentions me by name. No, I haven't lost my mind and started referring to myself in the third person. Instead, Vic has brought a former staff member back into the fold as the Online Editor. From now on, he'll be the one responsible for posting the reviews I write. Also, I'm not the only one who will be posting reviews any more. You can look forward to a diversity of opinions there now, as well as (hopefully) a LOT more content.

In other writing news, I wrapped up my reviews of Rocky Legends and The Dukes of Hazzard for GameSpy. As soon as these go live, I'll have the links posted here.

And finally, I want to know ... what you all of YOU like to see on the blog? More reviews? More artwork? More BS-ing around? Give me some feedback in the comments.

More work for the coming week

It's funny how things happen sometimes. Earlier this week, I was getting more than a little frustrated by what felt like a lack of forward progress w/ my writing. Things seemed to dry up all at once. For a little while, I was even beginning to feel like it might not be worth doing the writing thing much longer. But anyone who knows me also knows I'm WAY too stubborn to just stop. Well, lo and behold, today I get a FedEx package from GameSpy with FIVE games to get reviewed this week ... plus I have three reviews I'm working on for EP. Technically, the GameSpy reviews are for three titles (Robotech Invasion, Conflict Vietnam, and Colin McRae Rally 2005), but two of those need reviews for both the Xbox and PS2 versions. And if you're following the titles I'm writing about, the games I'm reviewing for EP are Mortal Kombat: Deception, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, and Rocky Legends.

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted on new developments as things progress.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

More coloring fun

Well, I decided to take some time tonight and color one of the other penciled pieces I got from Randy. I had to clean up the original pencils just a bit, but only because some shading he put into the cheeks was interfereing w/ the coloring. Of course, everything I've been working with was originally sketched without the intention of being colored. Also, I intentionally went light on the shading and lighting effects, as I really liked the cleaner look this piece had. I still added some effects on the clothes and some color to the cheeks though. Personally, I really like the way this ended up ... and it's a great companion piece to the last sketch I posted. Let me know what you guys think.

Original pencils Posted by Hello

Color image Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Relaxing with a digital canvas.

I decided I needed to unwind some today, so I did a little bit of digital painting. I've got some design artwork that Randy did, and found a couple of them I thought I'd take a stab at. This is the first piece ... done in about an hour and a half. Let me know what you guys think.

Original pencils Posted by Hello

Color image Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Checking out the Playground again

Well, with things finally getting fixed on the Electric Playground's web servers, I'm finally able to post reviews up there again ... which I will be doing on a regular basis. Today marked the debut of two new reviews: X-Men Legends (Xbox) and Spider-Man 2 (Xbox). There's a lot more coming down the pipe, and I'm really interested to hear what some of you guys think about the reviews.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Really, it IS my work!!

Y'know something that'll bug the hell out of me? Not getting credit for work I've done. I've had it happen before w/ Play when they forgot to put my credit in the masthead for some work i did. Y'know what will get me even more torqued? Seeing my work credited to someone ELSE. Not too far back, I did a review of Doom 3 for the Gamexilla web site. So, imagine my surprise when I saw my review posted on the site ... word for word ... only to see that it was credited to Autumn Sims, the Artxilla/Gamexilla Creative Director. I talked it over with one of the guys there who said that it was a mistake on the part of the programmer, and that it will be fixed ASAP. I understand that, and I know that ... "stuff" ... happens. But it STILL irritates me somewhat ... especially after having already been burned once before. Ah well.

There's also no rest for the wicked, as I've had another review go live over at GameSpy. This one is a review of Vietcong: Purple Haze on the Xbox. Also, I had a phone conference with the guys over at Greedy Productions, and it looks like things are about to go full swing with me writing content for the Electric Playground's web site. I'm working on a new batch of reviews as we speak. Originally, they also wanted me to post the stuff I wrote back before the server crashed just so it wouldn't go to waste ... but I'm not really inclined to do that. My reasoning is I don't think many people want to see a batch of reviews that are three months old. Maybe I'm wrong. Chime in and let me know what you think.

And finally, I've been having some fun with a new toy lately. I took an older PC that was in storage and set up the latest version of the Fedora (Linux) OS on it. I've been wanting to do some more work on things like that for a while, and since this PC didn't have any recovery discs I figured it was a good place to start.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Murphy's Law

So ... I had a frustrating day yesterday. Every bit of planning I had for how the day was supposed to happen fell through. On the upside though, it did give me more than enough time to finish up my review of Vietcong: Purple Haze for the Xbox. Some people have really hammered the game, but I actually had fun with it. Sure it has its flaws, but it was still entertaining. Ah well.

Speaking of reviews, my review of Monster Hunter (PS2) went live today at GameSpy. Some of you may remember that I wrote the preview for it a few months back. I liked the game well enough, but I thought there was still some polish Capcom could have added to it. Unfortunately, there really wasn't any difference between the preview copy I played and the final retail version. It's still fun, but it just fell short of its potential.

And finally, I've got a phone conference to take part in later today w/ Greedy Productions. Now that everything is running smoothly on their servers again, it looks like I'll be back posting content for the Electric Playground website. If all goes as planned, I'm looking to post an average of 3 or 4 pieces a week over there. As soon as I can iron out all the details w/ Vic, Rob, and Tavis, I'll let all of you know what to look forward to.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Quick update

Short post this time around. The GunGrave: OverDose review went live at GameSpy tonight. I just got my review copies of Monster Hunter and Vietcong: Purple Haze, so those should be done by week's end. And with any luck, I'll be picking up Star Wars: Battlefront for the Xbox tomorrow. I'll let you guys know what I think.

Friday, September 17, 2004

And the hits keep on coming

No, I'm not talking about the hurricanes in Florida ... although I have dodged a few bullets there. Of course I'm in Virginia now and we're getting tornados from Ivan's aftermath. Ah well. Nope, this isn't weather related. Instead I'm talking about more reviews coming up from yours truly.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm not only working on that comic article for GameSpy, but I have three reviews assigned to me: GunGrave Overdose (PS2), Monster Hunter (PS2), and Vietcong: Purple Haze (Xbox) ... and that's just for GameSpy. I'm also about to write up a new batch of reviews to update the Electric Playground website. Since the servers are finally back up and running smoother than ever (knock on wood), things should be in place for me to do regular updates.

It looks like my plate is about to get pretty full with the writing gigs (thankfully), but I always make sure to post the latest news here. Oh, and before anyone asks ... no, I haven't stopped doing the digital coloring. I just am putting more focus into my writing. But don't worry ... more art WILL be posted here in the near future.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Back to the written word

Okay ... so I've been dabbling in the world of digital coloring as of late, but first and foremost I'm a journalist. Having said that, it's back to the virtual typewriter for me now. I've got a new piece I'm doing for GameSpy. This time around, I'm focusing on various comic companies which are doing projects based on different video game properties. It's basically a round table discussion on the interaction between the two industries. It's set to be a three or four part feature. I'm really looking forward to seeing how everything comes together.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Working with new toys

Well, I broke down last night and got a Wacom Graphire 3 tablet to help me out with my digital coloring. After using this for a while last night, I've got to say that if any of you are serious about doing any graphics work on your PC, you REALLY owe it to yourself to pick one of these things up. I was amazed at how much I was able to do with it.

Some of you have caught me online and asked me how much progress I've made learning coloring techniques. I decided to use a Red Monika (Battle Chasers) sketch I had on file from Randy to tinker around with. You can click on each image to see a sharper image. Here's what I started with:

Original pencils Posted by Hello

I spent some time on Monika herself, then copied just those layers over to a new image so you can better see her with the coloring work I've done:

Initial colors Posted by Hello

I'm still playing around with it from time to time, adding more colors to the rest of the image. Here's the piece as I left it when I decided to post this blog entry:

Adding some extras Posted by Hello

And finally, just because I could, I tweaked out a Grayscale version of the art ... just to see how it looked:

Grayscale Posted by Hello

Although I know I still have a LOT to learn, I'm having a hell of a lot of fun doing this ... and it helps me to unwind. I'll keep posting things here from time to time, along with the usual updates on my writing. I'm slowly expanding what I feel like covering in the blog, so expect to see more as time goes on. I'm also beginning work on my "official" website as well. We'll see how that goes in time as well.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Vroom vroom!

Okay, so it's not the most original title ... sue me. Anyway, the NASCAR 2005 reviews went live on GameSpy today. There's an Xbox review and a PS2 review, both written by me. The only differences in the pieces were a few lines specific to each system.

Beyond that, it's just been a hectic day. Worked out a deal for Tommy to get a colorist on a project he's doing (no, not me ... a REAL colorist), and spent some time working some contacts. Oh, later today (y'know ... when the sun comes up), I'm hoping to get a UPS package w/ some stuff for me ... including another cell phone. It looks like Nokia sent me the new N-Gage QD to go over. When it comes in, I'll put the new sysem through its paces and write up a review. In the meantime, after I spend some time with it, I'll post my initial impressions here.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Now THIS is how to do an interview

I got a big laugh out of this interview earlier today. The interview is with Cliffy B., and is conducted by my editor at GameSpy, Raymond Padilla. The interview was done during the Atari University press event in Cabo, and y'know Ray actually managed toget in a couple of gaming questions. Overall, it's definitely worth checking out.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A box of digital crayons

Well, I said I'd post some stuff up here as I learn to do digital coloring. It's been a long day and I couldn't sleep, so I decided to take a stab at applying some of what I've learned already. I know that I'm still a long way from professional work (hey, I AM a writer after all), but this was relaxing, I had fun, and hey ... I don't think it turned out half bad. Let me know what you guys think.

Original pencils Posted by Hello

My colors Posted by Hello

Friday, August 27, 2004

Turn left here.

Okay. So anyone who knows me also knows that I'm not the biggest race fan in the entire world. As such, what I know about the world of NASCAR could probably fit comfortably into a thimble with plenty of room to spare. Basically, I know a few of the names and that the sport has a noticeable lack of right turns. However, I AM a big fan of video games. Regardless of the type of game, if it's good then I'll play it. So where is this all leading? NASCAR 2005: Chase the Cup from Electronic Arts (PS2/Xbox). I just received review copies of this game yesterday, and it actually looks to be an interesting game to me. I'll be really digging into the game today, but it looks like EA went the extra mile to put a little more "umph" into it. Besides the online play (FINALLY EA is utilizing Xbox Live), there's acareer mode which touts that you can "be a hero or a villain". That's right ... you get to be a total ass of a driver in the game if you want, and you're rep will build as such with the other drivers. Also, EA added a few cars to the game other than your basic NASCAR fare. After I've played the game a while and written up the review, I'll let you know my thoughts ... but it's at least piqued my interest.

Moving along, I spent yesterday hanging out with Randy in a day long brainstorming session filled with Mountain Dew, video games, and a hell of a lot of creative ideas bouncing around. I'm going to have my hands full up here for a while now, but it's definitely worth it. Odds are, I'll be doing more and more of my work at his studio ... though still getting the majority of it done at home. And thanks to Randy's infinite patience, I'm going to start learning more and more about doing digital coloring. I'm blown away at all of the Photoshop tricks I never knew about. Randy's even offered to let me play around with coloring some of his art just to get in some practice. Thankfully it's digital coloring,so there's no chace of me actually screwing up the originals. As I tinker around with it, I'll be sure to post the results here so all of you can see my handiwork.

Monday, August 23, 2004

A dog-eat-dog world

It was a crunch-time review, and I think it could have been better ... but the review of A Dog's Life went live tonight over at GameSpy. You can check it out for yourself over here and tell me what you think. Tomorrow, I'll be working on some ideas for new stories and keeping myself busy. Not much else going on other than that at the moment ... but stay tuned.

One move down

Well, I got through the move fairly well this weekend. I'm in Virginia now surrounded by boxes. The drive up on Saturday was a pain, but both WonderMutt and myself made it in one piece. Speaking of my canine companion, WonderMutt served up a lot of inspiration for my latest review. I just sent off a crunch-time review of A Dog's Life (PS2) for GameSpy. The game is a kid-friendly look at the world through the eyes of a dog. It's definitely geared more for young kids ... or adults who don't play many games. But overall, it's an entertaining game worthy of a family night rental.

I should be meeting up with Randy tomorrow. We'll hang out and talk about some ideas we're bouncing around. I'm also hoping to get some more stuff set up at the place here ... like a computer desk. Right now, I'm sitting on the floor typing up this entry into the blog with my monitor sitting on a TV stand.

As always, I'll be posting whatever's happening with me on the blog, so keep checking things out. As I get settled in up here, I'll probably be posting more on a regular basis ... of course I'll also be writing a lot more too. Feel free to drop me a line and say hey any time.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Another busy weekend

Things are going to be more than a little hectic this weekend. Tomorrow I'll be moving up to Virginia for a while. I've got some projects to work on while I'm there too. So, I'll be keeping myself busy. Speaking of work, I had two reviews go live over at Gamexilla's web site. The reviews were for The Chronicles of Riddick on the Xbox and a hardware review of Tapwave's Zodiac PDA console.

Tomorrow, I should be getting a copy of the PS2 game A Dog's Life. I'm writing up a review on it for GameSpy. It's one of those crunch time interviews that needs to be finished by Monday. Considering the move tomorrow afternoon from Florida to Virginia, I'll basically be burning the midnight oil on Sunday to wrap things up. Like I said in the beginning, things are going to be more than a little hectic.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Damned embargos!

First the good news. Another article went live today on GameSpy. This time it was a preview of the upcoming Monster Hunter PS2 game from Capcom. So what's the bad news? I turned in the preview exactly one month ago. The reason it didn't go up any sooner had nothing to do with me missing any deadline, or the guys at GameSpy dropping the ball. The reason for the delay is that the article was hit by one of the little known hazards of the journalism field ... press embargos.

In a nutshell, it breaks down like this: A company provides product or information to journalists so that the journalists can write up an article on the company's product. The problem is, the company decides that it wants to grant an exclusive story to a particular outlet, or it wants to keep everything under wraps until just prior to (or just after) the product's release. Whatever the reason, the company imposes a press embargo, in effect telling the journalists that anything written up about the product can't go live until after a particular date. Most of the time, the press embargos aren't too terribly bad ... just more of a nuisance. In this case, the preview copy of Monster Hunter came across my desk way back at the tail end of June. However, due to Capcom's press embargo, nothing could go up online until after yesterday (August 17).

So, the next time you're wondering why you haven't heard the latest news about an upcoming game from your favorite magazine or website, don't so so quick to lay the blame on them. It's quite possible that their hands have been tied by the game's publisher.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Another day, another article.

This time around, the article is an interview with Ted Naifeh, the artist behind the upcoming Death Jr. comic book series ... which is based on the upcoming PSP game of the same name. I think the interview turned out nicely. You can check it out here and see for yourself. Once you read it, let me know what you think.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Just a quick update

Yeah yeah, I know it's been a week since the last posting. Things have been pretty hectic here. In terms of working, I wrote up an interview with Ted Naifeh about the Death Jr. comic book ... based on the upcoming video game for the PSP. The interview should be going live on GameSpy any day now. I'll post the link when it goes up. I'm also working on a review of Doom 3 for Gamexilla. I will say that the game looks great visually, but there are a couple of flaws. It is still a very fun game though.

I'm in a fun situation right now, where my work is pretty backed up. That's not to say I've got a lot of work to do ... but that my work is backed up at the different outlets. GameSpy does a great job of posting anything I do right away. However, due to technical problems, both Electric Playground and Gamexilla have run into delays getting new articles posted. Things have also slowed down a bit over at Play, but I expect that to change soon. The next issue should have the Randy Green BloodRayne cover I worked out the deal for, as well as my report from the floor of Comic-Con.

Not really a whole lot more to report on in terms of work. On a personal level, I've been running myself ragged lately keeping everything balanced ... but I'm getting everything taken care of. I also was one of the lucky ones in Florida to dodge the bullet in terms of Hurricane Charley. Originally, it had been expected to plow through the state and still hit this area with hurricane force winds. It veered off to the east just before and after landfall, sparing this area anything worse than rain. It still made for a long couple of days though.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

I knew something was missing

Leading up to Comic-Con, I kept talking about the work I was doing for GameSpy listing out the 10 best and 10 worst comic book based video games. I was looking over the blog today and realized that although I did post a quick link to the 10 best list, but I forgot to post a link to the 10 worst. So, for those of you that missed either article, here they are:

Comics to Consoles
Comics to Consoles Part II - When Good Comics Go Bad

Moving right along, I've been working more leads on doing some new articles. I'll probably be doing an interview soon with video game personality Cliffy B. Among his credits, Cliffy B. is the lead game designer for Epic Games.

There are a few other things brewing as well. Things are about to get a lot more interesting.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Now here's a first

I've started doing writing for Gamexilla now, and they've just made the announcement on their site. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw the title: "Gamexilla welcomes a REAL writer!" HA!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Slugging it out through the days

For those of you who check out the blog on a regular basis, you may have noticed that I'm not posting quite as often as I used to. Right now, it's simply a matter of making time for everything. I've got a couple of substantial projects going on right now, and I've been getting some extra writing done. I've written up reviews on The Chronicles of Riddick for the Xbox and Tapwave's Zodiac2 hardware console for Gamexilla.

Beyond that, things seem to be progressing further with Play Magazine. If you're already a regular reader of the magazine, expect some really cool things coming up in the near future. And if you're NOT a regular reader ... go out and pick up a copy today!!

Friday, July 30, 2004

I've had a few people ask me about how the filming for Electric Playground went while I was in San Diego. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun too. Since they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a few thousand for ya. And yeah, if you haven't seen me before, that's me with Stan Lee in the last picture.

Signing for fans Posted by Hello

Tommy realizes what his priorities are Posted by Hello

Interviewing a legend Posted by Hello

Excelsior!! Posted by Hello

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Showcasing some artistic talent

So, here's a little project I set up that I thought you guys might have fun taking a look at. For the upcoming issue of Play, I had Randy Green draw up a cover based off of the upcoming BloodRayne 2 video game. The cover was pencilled and inked by Randy, and the colors were provided by Val Staples from MVCreations. Here's an opportunity to see how the cover piece developed from beginning to end. It's actually a little hard to see in these smaller images, but there were some minor coloring issues fixed between the first colored piece and the final artwork. All that's left is to incorporate the magazine's title and cover graphics into the final piece and then go to press. Let me know what you guys think of the images.

Initial Sketch Posted by Hello

Inked Art Posted by Hello

Initial Colors Posted by Hello

Final Image Posted by Hello

This was also a good opportunity to toy around with the Picasa image hosting. It works pretty good, so expect to see more images in the blog now (kind of like the Audioblog). Beyond that, nothing major going on today. I'll keep you posted as soon as anything develops.

Post Con recovery

Okay, so I've been slacking a bit updating the blog. It's not intentional, but the show took a lot of my time ... and getting settled after the show took even longer. I got back into town late on Monday, and used the better part of Tuesday to recouperate. After that, I started work on my con report for Play Magazine, as well as some general writing for a few other places. Also, I've begun preliminary work on some major new projects. I'd love to actually open the floodgates and let you guys know everything that's going on, but I have to keep my lips sealed on it. (Shane, YOU know what it is ... heh). Don't worry though, as soon as I can say something, I will post it here.

Friday, July 23, 2004

More news to use

This has been a productive day to say the least.  Met w/ Dave @ Play today and disceussed my future.  It looks like Play wants to hire me on staff in order to cover games AND comics, since they're adding a new section for comics.  Another nice aspect is that I'm not required to give up my freelance gigs if I take the job at Play.  Also, Vic has decided to bump up my title now.  This means that instead of being listed as a production assistant for the show, things have been bumped up for me so I'll be listed as the "Comic editor"

More big news to come, but right now I'm too beat.  Will talk later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Let the circus begin

Okay, so I made it to San Diego in one piece.  I spent the day dead on my feet though.  I wrapped up GameSpy's 10 Worst Comic Game list at 3:00a, then got about an hour and a half worth of sleep before getting up to get to the airport.

Preview Night for Comic-Con has come and gone now.  I spent the time running around confirming interviews for Electric Playground's Comic of the Week segments.  I also found some new projects to do interviews on.  I'll be running the list by Vic tomorrow to see what he thinks.  I'm even trying to work in a few surprise celebrity interviews if things come together well.

Like last year, I beat everyone I'm working with into town by a day.  Starting tomorrow, I've got to meet with the usual suspects (EP, GameSpy, and Play), as well as set up some meetings w/ a few other media outlets.  I'll be splitting my time up a lot, while still making sure to leave a little time for myself to have some fun.

Look for updates here as I get news, and expect to see some Audioblog entries over the next few days. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Bound for Comic-Con

Well, things are going to be hectic for the next few days.  Tomorrow I'm flying out to San Diego for Comic-Con International for a whole pile of projects.  I've got filming with Electric Playground, articles and panels with GameSpy, con coverage for Play Magazine, and host of meetings and interviews to handle.  I'll be updating the blog regularly while I'm there, both via email and via Audioblog entries.  I'll also post some pictures of the show after I get back into town.

Keep checking in to see what's happening.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Another day another .. well, you get the picture

Still a busy time in preparation for Comic-Con.  I've got most of EP's Comic of the Week interviews nailed down.  I've also got some meetings before the show w/ GameSpy and Play Magazine to discuss coverage of the con.  I'm also talking with the guys at GameXilla about doing some work with them.  If you haven't checked out their site, go do it ... you won't be disappointed.  Also, I've just found out about a new game "magazine" on the market called Konsole Kingz.  The magazine is sent out in DVD format and it's set up with a Hip Hop flair.  Their website is over at
Moving right along, the last of the 10 Best Comic Games went up on GameSpy's site today.  You can check out the complete list over here.  I'll get more updated to the blog soon.  Keep checking in, okay?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Trial by fire

This is going to be a very busy and very ... interesting ... week. Right now, it's full swing on the writing career. I've wrapped up half of the "best of" list I've been working on for GameSpy. Also, I've got most of the interviews squared up for Electric Playground's Comic of the Week segments.

Tomorrow, I've got a lot of phone calls to make and take. I'll be trying to set up a meeting with the editor of Folio Weekly about setting up a weekly column for the paper. Also, I should be hearing from the editor of Play Magazine about some new opportunities coming up. Besides all of that, there's the usual grind for EP, GameSpy, and anyone else that comes along.

So, guys and gals, keep your fingers crossed and hope I don't burn myself out soon. Heh


Thursday, July 08, 2004

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat, "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

It's just one of those times when that particular passage comes to mind. The world is a mad house, and we're all in the straitjackets. Things are going to be crazy around here for the next few weeks. Want a rundown?

First off, I'm going to be up to my eyeballs in comic games for the remainder of the week. Today alone I need to write up summaries of at least four games from the 10 Best list. I'm also going to go ahead and wrap up my preview of Monster Hunter by week's end. And during all of that, I need to make sure I remember to fill out the paperwork required to make sure I get PAID for all the work.

I also need to make a number of phone calls finalizing plans for San Diego and working the show. I have to come up with some ideas for an interview with the VP of Konami (discussing Yu-Gi-Oh!). I need to talk to the guys at EP to get the latest batch of articles up on their site. I've got to work on some ideas for a gaming column for a local publication. Etc. Etc. Simply put, I'll be buried in writing related work for the foreseeable future.

There's a lot more madness going on too, but as things progress it'll be posted up here. In the meantime though, I need to dive back into the paperwork. So until next time ....

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Another busy weekend

Well, there's no rest for the wicked once again. The guys at GameSpy are currently looking over information for my upcoming series of articles. Since things are already underway, I can say that I'm working on a series for GameSpy discussing the 10 best and 10 worst comic book based video games of all time. It should make for an interesting read ... especially with the extra surprises I have in store.

Besides that, I'm working on wrapping up a few more game reviews for Electric Playground, and I'm going to go ahead and get the first "Comic of the Week" segment written up for the EP site. The first review will cover DC's Identity Crisis. Speaking of the "Comic of the Week", I'm putting together the final list of "CotW" segments to be filmed in San Diego. Oh, let's not forget that I'm doing the initial design work on my personal site. And if all of that wasn't enough, I also have a large number of emails to send out ... dealing with everything from interview requests and confirmations, to inquiries about writing for other outlets. All in all, it adds up to a hell of a lot of writing over the next few days.

Anyway, it's been a hell of a week ... with a lot more fun to come.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"... does whatever a spider can"

Sorry guys and gals ... not too much done today due to getting hit head on by train disguised as a migraine. I DID however manage to get a review done for Chronicles of Riddick and Showdown: Legends of Wrestling for EP. With luck, they'll be up before week's end, along with a couple of other reviews and the first "Comic of the Week" web segment.

Speaking of comics, I've got two cool recommendations for all of you ... with only one title to remember: Spider-Man 2. First off, the movie is amazing ... it's spectacular ... it's sensational (okay, for all of you comic fans out there who DON'T get where I'm going with this ... SHAME ON YOU!!) Seriously, it's simply a damned good movie. I enjoyed this one even more than the first. It will definitely leave you anxious for Spider-Man 3. And if that's not enough to cure your arachnid addiction, the Spider-Man 2 video game was released today on the Xbox, PS2, and GameCube. I've got my copy of the Xbox version and have been having a blast with it. It's got an open-ended gameplay and lots of web-slinging fun. To be perfectly honest, I really can't remember the last time I had this much fun with a video game. And hey, it's narrated by none other than Bruce Campbell ... so you KNOW it scores high marks on the coolness factor. I'm working on a review for the EP site, and I'll get into much more detail there.

Just as a side note, I've started up preliminary work on my personal website. The plan is for it to focus on my writing career, along with other tidbits of info I find of particular interest. I've got a ways to go before anything gets posted, but once it gets set up, I'll be sure to let all of you know.

Anyway, it's well past time for me to bail. With luck, some sleep will help knock this migraine out of my system. In the meantime though, check back here for the latest and greatest in what's happening with my writing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I see Carpal Tunnel in my future

The GameSpy review of IndyCar Series 2005 is live now. Feel free to go check it out. I also finished up my list of the 10 worst comic-based video games. I've got most of the list for the 10 best also. Right now I'm waiting for the GameSpy editors to check over my choices and chime in with a few of their own. If all goes as planned, I should be working on the articles by week's end.

Moving on to the EP front, I'm going to be pretty busy tomorrow (today?) with a lot of writing for Electric Playground. I'm hoping to get three reviews taken care of: Chronicles of Riddick (Xbox), Full Spectrum Warrior (Xbox), and Far Cry (PC). Another piece I'll be writing up is something that people have asked about for a while. I'm going to incorporate EP's "Comic of the Week" segment into the web site. What this means is that once a week I'll be writing up a comic review to add to the site, along with my two to four video game reviews. Between that and the work for GameSpy, I can pretty much so guarantee that I'll be having a few more late nights and early mornings.

Beyond that, there's not much going on ... but isn't that enough? Seriously though, I should be busy for a while, but I'll certainly keep things up-to-date here. Keep checking in and let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Idle hands and all that

I've been keeping myself busy quite a bit lately. I wrapped up a review of IndyCar Series 2005 (Xbox) for GameSpy. With luck, it will get posted sometime tomorrow. I'm also working on a preview of Monster Hunter (PS2). There's an online press embargo on that one, so don't expect it to see the light of day until either the end of July or early August. I'm also playing around with the new game Showdown: Legends of Wrestling (Xbox), in order to write up a review for Electric Playground.

I pulled together some more info for the GameSpy and EP features I've been working on. The GameSpy piece is going to be a 10 Best / 10 Worst list of comic-based video games. I've been working on the list over the weekend. Just about finished with the list. It should be a pretty cool series, as I do have a few fun twists in store. As for the Electric Playground piece, I'll be keeping with the comic theme and doing a run down of some upcoming comic-based video games. The Punisher, 100 Bullets, etc. There's a lot coming down the pipe, and I'm going to cover as much as I can.

While I'm at it, I'm going to check with Vic at EP to see about possibly adding the Comic of the Week segment to the website as well. I should be able to format a comic review similar to the game reviews. Let me know what you think about the idea.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Recess time at the Electric Playground

Well ... I FINALLY did it. I figured out what the glitch was on the scripting of the Electric Playground site. After a few hours of tinkering around, I've got all of my reviews up and running. Plus, I'll be adding more reviews and features to their site on a regular basis. But for now, you can head on over to Electric Playground and see what my thoughts are on Transformers (PS2), City of Heroes (PC), Red Dead Revolver (Xbox), and Mario vs. Donkey Kong (GBA).

While you do that, I'm going to get some sleep.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Better late than never

No ... I didn't miss a deadline. The reviews for Spyro Orange and Crash Purple went live today. I was hoping they would both get posted before today, so they could be included in the latest GameSpy invoice. Ah well, instead they'll just be the first articles included in the next invoice.

Speaking of GameSpy, I pitched an idea over to Raymond (GameSpy's senior console editor). For obvious reasons, I can't really say much about it until someone picks it up, but trust me when I say it will turn out pretty cool when everything comes together. I've got a few other ideas I'm working on for both GameSpy and Electric Playground.

Tomorrow I'll be fleshing out some pitches, and checking on some new possibilities for getting my work out on the market. As always, the best way to find out what I'm working on will be right here.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

What is this "down time" of which you speak?

Been running myself ragged this weekend ... well, limping myself ragged. Pulled a muscle in my knee earlier this week, so I'm moving around at just above a turtle's pace. It's getting better though, so I'll be back to speed shortly. In the meantime, I managed to get the Crash Purple and Spyro Orange reviews done and turned in even earlier than expected. I was hoping that the reviews would get posted before the weekend, but it looks like it'll be next week before they hit the site. Ah well.

Right now I don't have any pressing deadlines. I've got a couple of pieces I may go ahead and write up for Play to help fill the Ink section next month. I'm also working on some pitches for GameSpy. My main goal for the weekend is to go ahead and get things organized somewhat around here. Basically I want to make it easier to keep track of everything, such as invoices, business expenses, file copies of articles, etc. I'm also putting together something to help me keep track of each individual assignment, and respective status. No biggie ... just a bit of the usual mind-numbing background work.

And hey, maybe I'll even take a break this weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Life's a glitch ...

Anyone who knows me knows how big of a tech geek I am. That being said, there are times that even I get pissed with technology. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I got an email from one of my editors asking me how a review was coming along ... especially when I never received the assignment to begin with. It looks like something happened between him sending it to me and my receiving it (or rather NOT receiving it). No worries though. It takes too much time and energy to worry, and it doesn't solve anything.

I got in touch with the editor and explained the situation. I told him I'd take care of everything and get it to him ASAP. So, I picked up the games I need to review last night (Crash Purple and Spyro Orange for the GBA). Stayed up most of the night and into the morning playing the games. I'll toy around with them some more today, and I should have both reviews wrapped up no later than tomorrow.

In the meantime, it's going to be another long night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Be afraid ... be very afraid

The review of McFarlane's Evil Prophecy went live today. I warned you guys it was bad. How bad? Read my thoughts for yourself over here. Hell, I feel cheated ... and I got the game for free.

I'm still working on a few pitches for GameSpy. I've got some interesting ideas, but nothing concrete yet. I'm also working on setting up the next round of "Comic of the Week" interview segments for Electric Playground. Greedy Productions will be doing filming for both EP and Judgment Day at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and a few days before that in the LA and San Diego areas. I'll be with Greedy for most of the show, but I've also got a few other meetings scheduled as well while I'm there. If anyone else is heading out to Comic-Con, keep an eye out for me and be sure to say hello.

And with that, it's time to crash for the day. Definately need to catch up on some sleep.