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Microsoft Closing Ensemble Studios After Halo Wars

What started as another one of those rumors within the span of a day became a confirmed truth: following the release of the upcoming Halo Wars RTS game for the Xbox 360 console, Ensemble Studios, known for the Age of Empires RTS series of games for Windows, will be shuttered. A new studio, like Ensemble part of Microsoft Games Studios, will be formed to support Halo Wars. Employees releated to Halo Wars will be offered spots in the new studio; those currently working on the project have been offered extra incentives to continue working on it through release.

X-Files 2: Who Wants To Believe?

It's been awhile since I did a movie nitpick, and of the two films I saw most recently: X-Files: I Want To Believe and HellBoy 2, it's X-Files that gets the nod.

Not so much for the film itself, but for the very mixed reaction I've seen to it.

IMDB has fans who liked it, fans who hated it, and fans who were disappointed but grudgingly appreciative as only truly devoted fans can be.

It also had non-fans who liked it, who hated it, and some who thought it was OK. Some non-fans thought it entirely accessible. Some fans thought you had to have seen all nine (or at least the first six, maybe seven) seasons of the series to truly appreciate it.

So this nitpick isn't really going to be a review of the film; at some point, fandom takes over and makes a review something of value only to other fans, who all have their own reviews in their heads anyway. Instead, I thought I'd take a look at some of the more common of the criticisms of the film and nitpick those.

Independence: Adding Insult To Injury

So a couple days ago I wrote a bit on how Bungie got the rug pulled out from under them at E3.As near as the Intertubes can piece it together, a few days before E3, Microsoft let Bungie know they wouldn't be included in the press conference.

Bastard Son Of The Wii And Cover Flow

Now, I'm not saying the whole Keep It Clean debacle doesn't deserve a couple thousand more words (which it surely will get) but I felt I couldn't let E3 week go by without comment on one of the announcements that Microsoft did feel was important enough to show-- namely, the impending renovation of the Xbox 360's dashboard interface in the fall of this year.

Bungie: Welcome Back To Life As A Third Party Developer

Ah, the heady days of the early and mid 90s, when Bungie was an independent developer and publisher, master of its own destiny. They developed what they wanted to develop, announced when they wanted to announced, and shipped...

Five Long Years...

...is apparently how long humanity fought the Covenant over Harvest. It is not, gratefully, the amount of time you'll have to wait for Halo Wars from Ensemble Studios to come out, since supposedly the game is now set for a release sometime in Spring 2009.So, a little less than one... long...

The Man With The Iron Skull: Part One

After the discussions about death prompted by my last blog entry, specifically those mentioning the Iron skull, and whether a gamer who dies even once in a level can be said to have accomplished anything, I thought I'd give the skull a serious try in Halo 3 for the first time.There are some skulls I like playing with, to the extent that I nearly always enable them now when playing campaign, solo or coop: Catch, because more grenades equals more fun, Cowbell, because bigger explosions means bigger fun, Mythic and Thunderstorm, because Heroic with a few tweaks is more tolerable than Legendary

Death And Punishment

Game Over. Insert Coin.The balance between carrot and stick, reward and punishment, in game design was so much simpler back in the arcade.Take the gamer's money and give them a limited number of chances to progress, usually called "lives" since failure nearly always means death. When the player runs out of lives, they can pay to keep playing if they agree within a given time period.

Halo 3 Soundtrack iTunes Track Listing

Track listing of Halo 3 soundtrack, as bought from iTunes Store (US).

More Olympic Torch Stories

Couple more Olympic Torch Relay posts: