The Almighty Orz Shirt

fingers can be interpreted as a way to describe an individual Orz, according to UQM Wiki”

I received an e-mail from Joe who sent me an Orz T-shirt he created.  It’s got a nice outline of an Orz with the cryptic phrase “fingers”.

The Orz really stand out in Star Control II as that race that is difficult to understand and is a valuable ally.  Unfortunately, they’re the only ones who know what happened to the Androsynth and pressing them on this topic makes them “frumple” and will turn against the player. Their music is very soothing and is mixed in with strange sounds.

It’s definitely an awesome shirt. Obviously, most people wouldn’t understand fingers or what the Orz is, which adds to the mystery of the Orz itself.

I remember seeing a forum thread a long time ago on the forums where someone made a T-shirt with all of the Star Control ships arranged in a circle with their ship name underneath each one. Fan creations are always cool stuff to check out. There are different ways to create custom shirts from images. The ways I have seen are iron-on printing paper, using a screen-printing machine or paying a company to do it for you.

It’s awesome to see that Joe became inspired by Star Control and the fanbase and created a shirt design to show his love for the series.

I’d love to create a bunch of custom shirts for myself. I just need to find that right balance of style, price, resources and time. I remember looking at an online website that specializes in this and each shirt wound up costing between $20-35; of course, each image was full color and large.

This is a nice image and a great shirt, Joe. Thanks for sharing it with the world.

UQM Forums - I printed an Orz shirt (which was a shirt that now has the Orz on it)
UQM Wiki article on Orz communications
YouTube - Orz theme
YouTube - Precursors - Squeezing the juice Orz theme remix

Lego Star Wars: Ace Assault

“The game, which, to be perfectly frank, makes me really want a new Star Control​ game…”

“‘This game is a cornerstone of the digital marketing campaign and an integrated part of the overall marketing strategy,’ said Yasin Jensen, Digital Strategy Manager at Lego. ‘We were anticipating the game would be a great success, but this has exceeded all of our expectations.’”
‐ Pete Davison,, “Star Control Inspired Lego Star Wars Web Game Reaches 10 Million Plays”

“We were anticipating the game would be a great success, but this has exceeded all of our expectations.”

To promote the recently released Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, 4T2 Multimedia Limited created a flash game that can be played in a web browser for free. 4T2 is UK agency that specializes in “creating online games and websites for kids”. It shares a few things in common with Star Control and it is definitely worth checking out.  In addition to single-player, two-player is available by clicking on the X-shape with the 4 arrows on the top right of the game near the mute button.

Ace Assault has been played over 10 million times.

Each ship has unique stats, primary/secondary fire, and a key combination for a special ability.
Each ship has unique stats, primary/secondary fire, and a key combination for a special ability.

There are a total of 10 ships to select, 2 of which need to be unlocked with a code.

It’s been a long time since I’ve played Lego Star Wars. From what I’ve seen, Lego Star Wars III has had mixed reviews and people still considered it a good game for fans of Lego Star Wars. Ace Assault is a very interesting way to promote the latest game from Traveller’s Tales; I’ve seen flash game promos before, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a Star Control style game used to promote a popular franchise. It’s definitely superior to the flash game that Atari produced, which was developed by a small team that only had a few days to finish it. The fact it’s been played over 10 million times shows that this style of gameplay can reach a wide audience, it’s easy to understand, and people have incentive to play it more than once.

I’d like to thank Pete for writing that article for GamePro and even recommending that people check out Star Control 1 and 2 on  Thank you 4T2 for creating this small promo that has made people think about Star Control once again.

What do you think?  Do you think this could be the sign of more Star Control related games to come? Speaking of which, I know of a bunch of indie games I want to check out and I wish I had more time to play them in more detail.

Play Lego Star Wars: Ace Assault - Star Control Inspired Lego Star Wars Web Game Reaches 10 Million Plays

Check out Deko-Deko Quiz

Greg Johnson is the creative genius behind games such as ToeJam & Earl and Starflight. He is also a longtime friend of Paul Reiche and he provided the voice for the Utwig in the 3DO version of Star Control II which can also be heard in the SC2 re-release, The Ur-Quan Masters.

Greg formed a new studio called HumaNature Studios which has released a Facebook app called Deko-Deko Mail. It can send personalized messages to other Facebook users with a distinctive hand-drawn art style, and can be embedded in websites. HumaNature’s latest Deko-Deko release is Deko-Deko Quiz. Its design reminds me of a fortune cookie because it shows auto-generated text describing my personality based on my answers. The questions from this quiz are easy to understand, short and shows pictures as choices rather than text. For example, the user may be asked which robot represents his or her inner self. If your friends answer the same questions, answers can be compared. I have seen other apps that quiz users and compare answers with friends and this one isby far the most artsy and creative. I’m not just thinking about words; suddenly, I’m thinking about how things are being portrayed in drawings of food, robots, dinosaurs, cars, plants, space, funny hats, etc. In addition, the key currency in Deko-Deko Mail and Quiz are shared across both apps. The keys can be used for inputting more pictures into text; it’s a way of encouraging people to share the apps with a special currency.

For Facebook users, this is definitely worth checking out. New quizzes are sent out each day. What do the quizzes say about your personality? Links
Deko-Deko Mail
HumaNature Studios

Deko-Deko Mail

Not only is Greg Johnson the creator of games such as ToeJam & Earl and Starflight, he is also a longtime friend of Paul Reiche. They have both contributed to each other’s games, Star Control and Starflight. Greg has created a new studio called HumaNature Studios.

Their latest project is Deko-Deko Mail. It is not actually a game; it is a Facebook app that allows users to send a message to someone in the form of a flash video with a cartoon font and quirky animations. It is currently in the beta stage and more features are on the way. As of this post, the only thing that can be done is post to other people’s walls publicly.  There will be a feature to send people private messages and be able to write letters with multiple images in it.  They do have plans to create other Deko-Deko related products in the future.

It is possible to buy Facebook credits which can be turned into keys, the currency for Deko-Deko Mail. Keep in mind, the app itself is free and the user is rewarded points whenever someone’s wall is written to and when the app is opened.

For the month of March, they have donated money spent on keys towards the Japan relief effort.

I-Wei Huang

The art style is very simplistic and uses short animations to convey their subjects. The artist is I-Wei Huang, who is also a character artist for TFB. With the help of GameVision Group, they were able to create thousands of images for Deko-Deko Mail. Don’t be deceived by this art style; I-Wei is actually a highly skilled with art, animation and robotics. He has even been featured on TV:

ToeJam & Earl are in Deko-Deko Mail. They can be searched and there are the characters from the game and the logo itself. There is also a button to request new animations. Why not request Star Control and Starflight, another game that Greg made?

In conclusion, this is definitely worth checking out for any Facebook users who have been wondering what Greg Johnson and his studio has been up to during this time.  The Facebook market is definitely booming and is a popular platform for casual gamers.

Good luck to HumaNature Studios and their future success.

HumaNature Studios website
I-Wei Huang’s website

Star Controller is now 3!

I know it’s four days late to announce this.  Star Controller is now three years old.  Coincidentally, this is also my 200th post.

One thing that’s been notable this year is the fact that we now know that Toys for Bob’s current project is Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and they have been concentrating on the Wii version while the other versions are being worked on by other developers. From what I’ve read, TFB had strong creative control over how they designed this game; they even considered a darker version of Spyro. It’s nice to see it’s not a movie-licensed game this time. The official release date has been announced and it will be available October 16 2011.

It makes me even more curious about what TFB’s next project will be; it could be a Skylanders sequel or something else that is completely unexpected. I still think about Star Control and at the same time, I’m just as eager to see what TFB can pull out of their magical genius hats.

Anyways, I just wanted to keep this nice and short. I’m curious to see what will happen in the future and I hope to see lots of good news in the future.

Kotick Talks About TFB's Time Extension

I found an article on Forbes by David M. Ewalt where he quotes Bobby Kotick on Skylanders.  In it, Bobby Kotick discusses his past decision to give TFB an extra year:

"When they [Toys for Bob] were giving the presentation last summer on the game, and how close they were to releasing it, I grabbed our head of studios and I said, ‘It’s great but it needs another year of real polish… we should wait another year and really give them extra capital and time and resources.’ I think that they were coming in knowing that they needed that, but a little afraid to admit it… they were coming in to say,’We won’t let you down,’ and the senior management of the company was saying, ‘No, we want to give you more time to make it great.’ And it will be great as a consequence."
‐ Bobby Kotick

Other Forbes articles have quoted Kotick on other subjects such as “why Guitar Hero failed”.  With regards to Guitar Hero, he stated “we’re going to go back to the studios and we’re going to use new studios and reinvent Guitar Hero. And so that’s what we’re doing with it now.”

I think it’s safe to say that Activision will have more games planned for younger audiences; something more than movie-licenses and mini-game compilations.

Kotick will be making an appearance as a “CEO president and a director of the Athletics” in the upcoming movie, Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt.

Links - Bobby Kotick on Hatching Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure - Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure: Boundary Blurring Fun - Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick: How To Be An Innovator

Battlefield 3 vs Modern Warfare 3 - Why we should care?

If anyone has been keeping track of big-budget games, it’s no secret that fans of BF3 and MW3 will be keeping their fingers crossed this year for their respective games.

First of all, this really has nothing to do with Toys for Bob or Star Control.  With the news of Activision closing studios and laying people off, these two games going head-to-head in direct competition will be another chapter in the big book of “video game politics”.  I want to pay attention of the sales of these two games and how they are rated.  It’s hard for me to guess which game will be more successful.

Remember Modern Warfare 2?

After Modern Warfare 2 was released, it was announced that there was a dispute over payment owed to Infinity Ward.  This resulted in key members leaving to form a new studio under Electronic Arts, Respawn Entertainment. Jason West and Vince Zampella stated that are attempting to gain the rights to Call of Duty.  At the moment, it seems like Activision still owns the franchise.  After this time, Activision created a new studio called Sledgehammer Games; some people in this team have previously worked on Dead Space.

Another engine war

Both EA DICE and Infinity Ward showed off the latest versions of their respective engines. They are both in-house developed and compatible with Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I don’t consider myself a graphical expert; they both look great to me and they clearly know how to use their tech. It’s one of the advantages of using custom in-house products instead of third-party: Complete control. They can even license the engine to other developers if they wanted to.

Who will have their finger on the trigger?

This is really the question I’m asking. Various developers have closed down or reduced their staff due to lower than expected sales. While I understand that these decisions are not made lightly, it makes me feel more nervous about who else will be next in line. What happens to Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software if BF3 has higher sales and ratings? What would happen to EA DICE if MW3 had higher sales and ratings? I have no idea. They are both large studios with years of experience and success.

The most recent game I’ve played that competed directly with Call of Duty is Homefront.  Its ratings were still lower than Call of Duty: Black Ops and Homefront has sold more than two-million copies across the different platforms.

EA DICE will also be working with BioWare on Mass Effect 3.


At this moment, I am unsure if there will be any restructuring resulting from the sales of either games.  I agree that Activision is continuing its “pump one out every year” philosophy and it’s no secret that Black Ops reached over $1 Billion in sales.  Battlefield and Call of Duty are both strong franchises and have very deep roots.  It’s nice to read comments from fans of both franchises supporting these games and having faith in the developers.  I have seen various games in direct competition with Call of Duty and they usually have slightly lower scores than the newest COD game at that time.  I’m just worried that publishers might use the aftermath as an excuse to restructure the developers.  Would EA feel tempted to push BF sequels every year depending on BF3’s success?  I hope that whatever happens with these games, the developers will remain prosperous no matter what and not be subject to corporate greed.

ZOMG!!! UQM HD Mod Artwork by dczanik!

Ur-Quan Masters HD: Vux - Zex by *dczanik on deviantART The plushies on the right are a nod of Zarla’s art and love for the ZEX.

Some people may have seen dczanik’s artwork in the UQM mod, Project 6014.  While this project has just started, it’s awesome to see high-quality artwork.  After all, recreating a masterpiece is no easy task.  However long it takes, I hope the news spreads around and people check it out.

So, check it out and take a look at his DeviantArt profile.

UQM Forums: Ur-Quan Masters HD Mod
dczanik’s DeviantArt Page

P.S. I have increased the number of posts per page from 2 to 5.  Originally, the site was slow and lowering the number of posts to load made the site faster.  Hopefully, things should be stable and I might even increase the articles per page to a higher number in the future.

Skylanders on the 3DS

I saw an article from Kotaku by Owen Good about the 3DS version of Skylanders.  It features Ben Throop from Vicarious Visions showing the 3DS connecting to the portal using the console’s infrared port. Did you know that Vicarious Visions also made portable versions of two other games TFB made: Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure for the GBA and Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam for the DS. The DS version of Downhill Jam did have multiplayer capabilities but is no longer available because the THDJ servers have been taken down.

In Owen’s article, he mentions that this version of Skylanders will be significantly different from the other versions:

If the 3DS isn't the lead platform for the game, per se, it certainly has the coolest implementation of Skylanders' signature feature. The handheld version of the game also differs from the console in that it's set off in a different realm, facing down a different force of darkness.

It's also a bit more of a traditional platformer, drawing on Vicarious Visions' experience with the Crash Bandicoot series. Intriguingly, the developer also said that the Tony Hawk franchise served as a model for level design, in that the designers wanted to offer multiple tasks in each board, such as scavenger hunts, races and collection challenges.
‐ Owen Good,, "Pulling Action Figures Into a 3DS with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure"

After some reading, I think it’s safe to say it’s confirmed that Toys for Bob dedicated their work to the Wii version of Skylanders while other dev studios worked on the other versions.  With Activisions goal to spread across as many platforms as possible, expect more developers to port Skylander’s to other consoles such as Android, iOS, Blackberry OS, Mac OS X and even browser-based or cloud platforms. With that said, I’ll be getting the Wii version of Skylanders to see what it’s like.

As of this post, a specific release date has not been announced for any version of Skylanders.

Pulling Action Figures Into a 3DS with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

Will Activision take casual games more seriously?

It’s no secret that Activision has pushed many movie-licensed games for millions of parents to buy for their kids.  Now that the contract between Activision and Dreamworks is over, they no longer have that resource for publishing family games.  Activision continues to publish other properties such as Transformers and Spider-Man.

A while ago, Blizzard Entertainment announced Project Titan, a MMO game that is not related to World of Warcraft or any of their other titles.  Not many details have been given regarding the game’s genre or style of gameplay.  The most recent rumor is that it will be a much more more casual MMO compared to World of Warcraft and Diablo.

What about TFB?  They have been working on Skylanders for over 2 years and during development, they were given extra time to make more improvements and additions to it.  While it is geared towards children, the technology behind the game itself is very fascinating to most gamers.  In one of the Skylanders interviews, Paul Reiche did mention that there will be RPG elements in it.  In addition, Jeff Poffenbarger mentioned that TFB had lots of creative control and many of the ideas such as the toys and portal spawner was their idea.

TFB probably will not be working on a new Star Control as their next project after Skylanders.  If their next project gives them as much creative control like they had with Skylanders, their next project will be just as fascinating if not more.

I think Activision will address other casual games.  They might have games that will compete directly against games such as Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart, The Sims and LittleBigPlanet.  It would fit their trend of a low investment, high return.

In conclusion, Titan remains a mystery.  I think the success of Skylanders will be the deciding factor for future games for both casual and younger gamers.  With their strong creative control and company growth, they can definitely add their own twist to any genre.

What do you think about the idea of Activision taking casual games more seriously?  Do you think they’ll go head-to-head against other publishers such as Nintendo?

Joystiq - Blizzard’s Titan a ‘casual’ MMO