Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Soundtrack CD

Nothing much to report in the last week or so... a few more reviews have popped up here and there, but nothing too exciting.

I did see this listed the other day on and - the original soundtrack.
(the soundtrack will be available in Europe even when the game itself is not firmly listed :\)

Anyone got this yet? Any reviews?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Week 3 Contest clue...

Here it is...

Week Three:

Clue: Gideon says, "Those ships just keep coming and coming... at least I have the access code for these things!"

Level range: Located somewhere within Chapters Two through Four...

UPDATE : CONTEST SUSPENDED TEMPORARILY. Please read the comments section. I think this is for the best for the time being. Be patient, and be confident knowing the Majesco and MS XboxLive ARE trying to make the whole experience better for everyone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Walkthroughs and Wallpapers...

Two great pieces of reader work today.

First up is a Walkthrough of Advent Rising by Berserker! I haven't read it as I'm still trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, but it looks very comprehensive. You can download it as a .zip from the permanent link in the sidebar. Excellent stuff Berserker.

We are also coming to the end of the Algarys wallpapers. This one might look familiar but it actually has a different background to the one we've seen before.

There may yet be a few left up my sleeve!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mustard brothers leave GlyphX

From Donald Mustard on the official forums:
Hi Guys,

As planned, my brother Geremy, who is the technical director, and I left Glyphx when Advent Rising was completed. However, we will remain involved with the Advent game trilogy and all other projects associated with the franchise.

I wish I could offer some insight into the contest, but unfortunately that is one aspect I am not involved with.

Hope this clarifies some things.

Donald Mustard

Ummmmmmmm... well it actually doesn't clarify much to me! Please post in the comments if anyone can offer any more details.

Majesco and GlyphX are ripping us off...

... or so some posters on the internet would have you believe. (apologies for the headline BTW!)

Have they ripped of consumers by releasing a glitchey game ? Who's fault is it ? I think it is too simplisitic to try and say 'its Majesco's fault' or 'its GlyphX's fault'.

Yes Majesco will have said to GlyphX - this is your final deadline, you have no more time for bug fixes.

BUT GlyphX has had a fair bit of time to know this and schedule their work accordingly – the game has been in development for a long time. At some point the developer needs to lock down the content and move on to polish. It would seem that GlyphX chose to spend more time on the content than the polish (or probably underestimated the time required for polishing…). GlyphX is not alone in this problem though, it is common (I would even argue the norm) for many software development projects. Take MS Longhorn for example. I’m sure that scope creep is blowing out development time there, and the level of polish required there cannot be compromised on. Hence we see delays measured in years.

So should have Majesco just given GlyphX more time after they discovered that they had run out of time for bug-fixing ? For Majesco it then becomes a trade-off… if they keep spending money on the game will it mean more sales ? Maybe they decided it would be better to spend money on promotion than to get a polished product. If this was the case I think this was a poor decision. I think 8-9s with IGN, Gamespot etc would have been better for sales (and a hardcore fanbase) than a million dollar comp. Maybe their assessments were different. (They obviously have a lot more data on the situation than I do)

The other factor that Majesco needs to consider is timing. If they delayed the game another 2 or 3 months, would the game not sell because Xbox owners had started to look to the 360 ?

Neither GlyphX or Majesco deliberately wanted to piss anyone off with a buggy product… but sometimes business decisions do not match with delivering the best possible player experience. Both will have learnt from the experience and I’m sure we’ll see a better end product next time around.

Enjoy the game we have, and if you can't get over the shortcomings, sell it on Ebay, cut your losses and move on to the next game...

PS. The issue of a 'con' with the million dollar contest. Again I don't think that Majesco deliberately tried to con anyone with this contest. However, it is fairly clear that it was not planned that well. I think any future contest of a similar nature would have to address the problem of the data propagating through all Xbox servers and being available to all users at the same time. Perhaps an alogorithm could be developed that hides the time taken to find the icon into the code unlocked by players so it is a genuine race in the game, rather than a race to download and then submit the code.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

New clue... and a warning

The clue for week 2 is up :
Week #2 Clue:

Clue: Gideon says, “I don’t deserve to be alive… it should have been me out there!”

Level range: located somewhere within Chapters 1 through 3

And also of note is something off the Microsoft website :
"Contest downloads begin at 5:00 P.M. PDT every Thursday. Attempting downloads prior to this start time will result in a three-hour penalty."

I think this is a new condition they have added in an attempt to make it fairer to all... good luck.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Donald Mustard speaks ! And DLC ?

Donald Mustard speaks ! It's great to see that DM is still keen to support the fan community. The following was posted on the official forum:

Hey there. Sorry it’s taken me a few days to post, but I’ve been reading your messages (well, when I’m not walking around Times Square…) and I’m so thankful to all of you for your continued support of the game.

It’s been crazy. You’d think our jobs end when the game comes out (at least I did), but we’ve been really busy promoting the game and the contest! Not to mention preparing for some future projects we’ll talk about some other time...

Back to the contest. Now, normally I’d be like “whatever, contest, blah, blah, blah.” But hey, you can win a million bucks! Who lets you do that?

So, yeah it sucks that the contest people had some tech issues during the first week, but Majesco is awesome and is giving everyone a chance to re-compete for the prizes again this week! I mean, you already have the game. Why not compete for some cash? So, good luck competing this Thursday for twice as many prizes.

I know a lot of people are upset with some less flattering reviews of the game and all I can say to that is...well, I think they suck too. I stand behind Advent and I’ve had a great time playing it. We set out to make something different and it’s always difficult to do things differently because people immediately love it…or they don’t. We had a number of hurdles to overcome with our first game – some we expected, some we didn’t, none of which I’m in a position to discuss at this time – but we still accomplished a lot of which we were told we never would and we’re still determined to do more with our future games and to try and change things - as opposed to settling for what everyone else is doing. More importantly, I swear that any mistakes you may find in this game will NOT be tolerated in our future games. Period.

Keep posting your feedback on the game. Whether you love it, hate it, or are somewhere in the middle – I want to know what you think about every last little detail.

Thanks again for all of your support. Like I’ve said before, we are making these games for you, so your feedback means a lot.

Donald Mustard

Great to see a creator willing to talk to fans and address some of the bad publicity the game is getting. BTW - I am officially excited again to be getting the game, hopefully in July. (A disturbing lack of information on that Euro/Aus release though...)

Also of interest is some speculation around some Downloadable Content. There is obviously the DLC involved with the competition, but some eagle eyes on the official forums spotted this on the contest instructions:

Map 1 and Map 2 ? What could this be ?! It could be nothing, just a placeholder or something... but maybe for example the PC version ships with a little extra content, with this extra content available on Xbox Live ? All speculation, but isn't that half the fun ?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A change of pace...

So let's put all this talk of contest screw ups, bugs and framerate problems to the side for a sec shall we ? :)

Bad news everyone - the Algarys series of wallpapers are coming to an end. But there are still a few to go, and this is another nice one. I love the planet in the background through the ship window.

If anyone else out there would like to share something Advent related with the rest of the world, let me know. It could be more wallpapers, artwork, play guides, easter eggs - whatever - send it in.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Majesco responds to the problem... sort of...

The following message was posted on the official forums and on the competition website:

June 10, 2005

Majesco has confirmed that a technical issue was responsible for the problems experienced with last night's launch of the Advent Rising "Race to Save Humanity" contest. The cause of the issue has been identified and rectified, and Majesco currently sees no evidence to suggest a reoccurrence.

We understand the angst this issue created and we've begun to identify winners for Week #1 and will award all allotted prizes. Furthermore, for next week, we will be increasing the prize packages to include an additional $10,000 cash prize and a host of other prizes. The Week #2 competition kicks off as planned on Thursday, June 16 at 8PM ET/5PM PT.

Majesco regrets any inconvenience to players and wishes them good luck over the next five weeks of the competition as we build to the big $1 million grand prize.

Not completely forthcoming, but they are trying. On to week two it seems !

Official contest website

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Million dollar fiasco

Well... the hunt for the million is on... but the contest seems to some major problems.
Players are posting all over the place that some of them cannot:
a) download the DLC containing the icon
b) submit the code once they have found the icon

With this being the case it's hard to claim that it is a fair hunt... more like a random process for getting a winner. That is not a bad thing in and of itself (to have a winner determined at random) but there seems to be A LOT of disgruntled players out there.

RedPhoenix over at the Majesco forums had an excellent post sizing up the situation and making recommendations for change.

the contest, at the time of your post, was NOT available to everyone who was considered a valid player. [Ed:This post was in response to a semi-official announcement from Majesco that the DLC was available 'NOW' DLC does NOT become available to everyone at once on Live, it hits different users in waves. It has never hit everyone at once in any game delivery yet - we just do not notice it much because normal game DLC has no bearing if we get it late and we usually are not sitting in front of the console waiting for it.

It was 10:45pm CT (8:45pm PT) before DLC was available to users in Canada's CT area. I know that many users in New York and other Eastern area also see similar delays. I'm not just talking about "having trouble downloading it" - I mean it literally could not even be SEEN in the download area. Congestion, as you suggest, would only affect being able to actually download it - not SEEing it.

The only way you will make this contest "fair", if you cannot do anything further about the DLC delays nationwide, is to NOT give out any clues until at least 24-48 hours into that week's contest.

It is usually traditional to wait until it is apparent that the players are having troubles before you tell them (almost straight out) where it is. I knew pretty much where to find it from the way-too-obvious clue you supplied. Once I finally had access to the DLC it took less than 15 minutes to locate it.

These players all have legitimate gripes about how the contest was conducted so far and you trivializing the problem makes it even worse.

Now, to add fuel to the fire, you (or whomever the IT team is) either did not fully test the submission process or you never load tested the servers handling the submissions, because it would appear that the servers are offline - if it was excessive traffic and timing out the server request, we would more likely see a 500 error, not 404 errors.

A 404 error only usually comes up if the page is really non-existant or the web service is not responding.

My suggestion to you (meaning Majesco) would be to cancel this week's contest and chalk it up to trial and error, fix your submission code/servers (or get new ones), do not supply clues until after at least a 24 hour window, and work more closely with Larry and the rest of the staff at Xbox Live to get the DLC better delivered on time.

You cannot run a contest of this proportion with this many loose ends still dangling in the wind.

This entire fiasco aside, the game is great.

Let's hope they fix this up by next week. Seems Majesco is still on a learning curve. Should some of the blame also be pointed at MS for the Xbox Live performance ? Or is it simply a matter of how the contest was designed to start by Majesco ?

Speak out in the comments section if you are having good/bad experiences with the contest.

The Race for a $1,000,000

So the 'Race to Save Humanity' is about to start ! As I said back when this was first announced, this is an amazing prize being put up by Majesco and if you have an Xbox and a broadband internet connection you really should be having a go at this.

Come on! I want a blog reader to become a millionaire! Post in the comments section if you win something, have comments on where and when you found the first icon etc. Also send in a pic of what you found... we'll all be interested. (And jealous if we can't take part)

So here is the first hint from Majesco:

Clue: Gideon says, "Alright, at least she is still alive. Now we've just got to make it back in one piece..."

Level range: Located somewhere within the Epilogue or Chapter One...
And this is what you need to be looking for...

Good luck !

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

GamePro review

OK... another review... sorry if this is getting tedious... but what else can I put up while i dont have the game ;)

GamePro... gave Advent Rising a 4.5/5 ! Editors Choice award ! Sounds great... the only negative they mention are the vehicles not being as good as Halo.

However... I'm not going to get too carried away with it. The simple fact is that gamers impressions AND professional on-line reviews have identified many more problems with the game. (Albeit while agreeing with a lot of the positives in the GamePro review)

So why is GamePro so different ? I've read suggestions that they were paid off. Unlikely. Much more likely is the way that print publications have to do their reviews. They usually have a lead time of 6-8 weeks where content has to be locked down to get ready to go off for printing/distribution etc. so that you get your mag with seemingly brand spanking new reviews in it. GamePro probably reviewed a version that is about 2 months old and may have been given assurances that minor bugs and framerate issues would be fixed up for the final release.

Also worth noting is the fact that the stylized Gideon seen in the review (also in the sidebar of the blog) is a specially created piece of art for GamePro. It was released in the fansite pack a few months ago - again indicating that Majesco and GamePro had been at work with this for a while.

I'm not suggesting any conspiracy, just letting you know some of the facts on how the gaming media works. Another example you may have heard of is the way that most of the Halo2 reviews were set up - a play session conducted months before release was used to write reviews to appear in print mags in time for the November 9 launch.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Box Shots !

Thanks to 'Berserker' some shots of the Xbox packaging along with the packaging of the bonus DVD that came along with EBGames pre-orders. (if I remember correctly)

Some shots of the game disc, manual and bonus disc.

Good work Berserker !

Friday, June 03, 2005

TeamXbox Review

Yet another review up... this one notable for a few things.

It is the highest score to date - 7.9 / 10.

The tone is generally much more positive and the all important story element seems to have hit the mark according to the reviewer 'Horus'.

It also points out that they reviewed the retail version of the game, that may have less framerate issues than the review versions.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the severe framerate issues that plagued the 2-disc review debug version of Advent Rising, chose to base our review off of the final retail copy of the game. A few of the problems experienced in the debug version of the game were resolved or lessened in the retail version. We did not feel it would be fair to review a product that is not representative of the final retail version.

While its admirable for TeamXbox to take this approach, it does sound like something that Majesco/GlyphX should have got right before shipping out the review copies.

Also please dont expect that the retail version of the game will have NONE of the framerate issues other reviews have pointed out :
For one, the game is plagued with glitches and bad transitions between sequences. Enemies will become stuck in walls, you will occasionally hang in space before falling to your death, and the overall polish is severely lacking. The framerate is a problem throughout the game, however, not nearly to the extent that it originally was when playing through the debug review version of the game. The odd thing is that the framerate is choppy most often right after a cut-scene finishes, not while in the heat of battle.

TeamXbox Review

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Gamers have their say.

Some posts from GAMERS around the web to counter some of (but not all) of the criticisms we have seen in the reviews to date. Note that my impression from reading around is that if you were a fan eagerly waiting for the game you WILL NOT be disappointed. I wish that I could share with you my actual impressions from playing the game, but still no word on when the game will get a release outside the US.

I’ve noted opinions that I particularly value with Advent art and most posts have been edited a little for spelling, length etc.
(No offence to the opinions without the pics, I just haven’t read posts from them before and can’t really judge their credibility)

Xeran : Official Forums
Yes it is as good as everyone is saying it is! and yes there are some issues with the framerate however it is nothing that ruins the game in any way at all. graphics are as good as expected, and the gameplay is just awesome, hehe i played it for 2hrs straight and i dont think i blinked at all...i had a headache afterwards.

i do have one complaint about it tho. the whole "choose your own path" aspect of the game isnt as full as i thought it was going to be, i think it couldve been fleshed out quite a bit more, but thats only a minor complaint.

Schwarzwald : Official Forums
-Action-friendly targeting
-Weapon upgrade system
-Overall Story

-No real graphical textures
-Framerate and Camera hitches, though occasional, are still a bit of a pain
-No movie scene index YET

Still, for me the Pros are far out-weighing it...

Delirium : Official Forums
My first impressions of the game are simple. I REALLY REALLY like the game. It's not perfect(what is?), but it's a hell of a lot of fun.

The flick targeting is kinda odd to get used to, but at the same time it's not like if you don't flick you get your butt whipped. The game does a good job of auto-aiming for you while you decide who to flick to. Also, Gideon automatically prioritizes who the second weapon fires at if you're shooting two guns at the same time. The fights are fun, but if these are the first levels, the later ones are probably going to be really challenging

The frame rate issue has been a non-issue for me so far. I've only had two bits of slow down. Both at the beginning of cutscenes where the game has stuttered a bit. But then once it started playing, the cut scene went on fine. If I hadn't heard of a frame rate issue (unless they're later) I'd actually probably credit those bits of choppiness to my XBox needing it's disc-reader cleaned, or the disc having a small scratch or imperfection on it.

Oh, and the thing everyone wants to know. the Choice system is STILL in the game.

This game so far is exactly what I was hoping for, I can't wait until I start unlocking abilities and can have even more fun fighting people. Dual wielding enemy assault rifles is fun, but is using powers.

Oh, and I don't know what the Gamespy reviewer was smoking, but the dialogue is actually really good.

Ferretwave333 : Teamxbox Forums
I am playing the game right now, trust me, there is no severe framerate issue. Please get it, this is really a great game, its just getting under rated, ask anyone on this board who has the game, they love it. Really, we can't all be lying. I need this trilogy to be continued its really good.

Finalsolution : Teamxbox Forums
The game is not mediocre just because the framerate killed the game, Im so pissed that I have put $50 to a game and not even enjoy it. All I know from now on I will never buy a game on a release date because it sux and Im pissed.

They were better just delaying the freaking game and try to fix the bugs, How the hell are you supposed to race for $1,000,000 if the game cant even run good.

Nimblevagrant : IGN Forums
Ok, first off, the game is great so far, and I haven't even got to play with the powers yet.
The reviewers were right on when they were talking about the framerate. Now, I am not a stickler for framerate by any stretch of the imagination but, there are certain points where it just chugs. However, it doesn't take away from the gun play. The gun play is freaking sweet. Both the auto-targeting and the flick-targeting are well implemented (for being a new type of targeting at least). It takes a short minute to get used to it but, once you do, you will be blowing Seekers away like theres nothing to it.

Buried-in-a-box : IGN Forums
. I really love the water effects and the jumping and floating around feeling. First person view seemed to help the framerates out a little bit too.

So far, the story and music have truly impressed me, and that's a hard thing to do. The pseudo-anime style works for me too, as the whole package of art direction just seems waaaay ahead of other game designers art direction.

God, I love the water effects!

I'm what is known as usually being a total dirty graphics slut whore, and even I am impressed here. No it's not Gears of War or even Halo 2's "clean" graphics package, but it's exactly what I expected after seeing the screens in the Xbox Nation 5 months back.

And even then they said the framerates could get pretty bad, and I didn't expect them to change. Not with all this detail on screen at once.

InsideRaindrops : IGN Forums
Yes, the gunplay is awesome, I have to agree with that. There were also some preview-authors who stated, and repeatedly, "Why do they give you all the guns early? Because when you get far enough into the game, you won't want/need them." Guess what, ladies?

It is *SO* true.

Flick-targetting. I love it. I really, really love it.

However...and this is one of my problems, although I don't know if it's with my XBox, or with the game, itself....the music and sound both cut out, for no apparent reason. At random.

Now, wait, wait, issues? Are there issues? Certainly there are issues. No game is perfect, and this one, as well, could've been worked on, just a bit. There are frame-rate dips, when there's a lot of stuff/explosions/enemies going on. Does it go on, forever? Not at all.
I have to say that both Gamespy and Gamespot were way, way, way off their marks.

Aross2004 : Gamespot forums
The framerate gets WAY worse later in the game. At first, it kind of just stutters a lot, but later in the game, (the sinking ship for example), it just bogs so bad that you can't do a damn thing except jump so you don't die while the framerate tries to even itself out.
Anyone who quotes scores from Maxim magazine should be tarred & feathered.

Edder1010 : Gamespot forums
After playing this game for 3 hours, I think that it will really disappoint those of you who waited two years plus for it. And yes it has all to do with the frame rate. In just about ALL this gun fights i've had so far in the game the frame rate dips down. Not to the point were its unplayable but.....its ugly.

other than that story, sound, and controls are all on the up and up. But the framerate can ruin it all. like i said it...its ugly

And for those of you who has the x-boxes that freeze and stutter in cut scenes all the time you might want to skip this one. this one freezes up more than KOTOR .

Gamespot review

Gamespot review is up... and it's bad.

5.7 out of 10.

Pretty much the entire review is negative, but here is one quote I'd appreciate someone rebutting.

However, there's one big fundamental flaw with the whole system: namely, its irritating tendency to latch onto targets as you're walking along. Essentially, as you move around, enemies and objects you can target will catch the attention of your reticle, so you'll immediately snap your focus to them. This is a big problem, mainly when you're trying to maneuver around a group of enemies to get to a health pack or a fresh ammo clip, as your speed is immediately reduced by about half when you're targeting something. You can click the right control stick to remove the reticle, but it will immediately snap to a new target the next time you get close to one.

Gamespot Review

I'm going to be back shortly with a BIG round up of GAMER impressions from around the web.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

First reviews in...

Well as you may already know, the first reviews of the finished game are coming in on the web.

And there is no other way to spin it - I'm dissapointed.

Gamespy chime in with a 2.5 stars out of 5. Ouch. What makes it worse for me is that I usually prefer Gamespy reviews over all others. It doesn't even get top billing on the site !
Unfortunately, the player will also be struggling to find meaning because the story just isn't conveyed terribly well. The cutscenes are a poorly edited mess, showing little understanding of presentation or engaging storytelling. The dialogue is especially lacking and contrived, considering the talent behind it.

Gamespy Review

Moving on to IGN... we have 7.8 out of 10. More promising. I quite like IGN reviews, but to be honest I find them overly forgiving on most games. The Gamespot review will let us know if that has been the case here.
By flicking the right analog stick in the general direction of an enemy the reticule locks onto the target and directs all of Giddeon's attacks at this point. Players can toggle between enemies in the heat of battle by simply nudging the stick in their direction. Players who are used to constantly maneuvering the camera will find this system to be awkward at first, but as you learn to work with the targeting system it opens up a world of possibilities.

IGN Review

Both review speak a lot about dodgy framerates. Donald Mustard himself has addressed this on the Official Forums :
As far as framerate in review code: the game has a pretty dang good framerate. It will dip occasionally, but its not so low that it hurts the gameplay. That being said, Advent has so much content that the retail version has to be a dual-layered dvd. This is awesome for you because we crammed in a ton of stuff. This is bad for reviewers because Microsoft is the only place that burns these special dual-layered dvd’s and then sends them straight to manufacturing. Those disks are what you can buy today. Review builds obviously have to go out before today, so reviews get a 2 disk version of the game that does run a little slower than the retail version. Sucks, but whatcha gonna do?

Sooooooooo... lets wait and see how the game plays when in our hands ! Gamers out there - when you have the game, please write in and tell us your thoughts !