April 2008

The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet

by Joey deVilla on April 30, 2008

The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet distills the best tips for improving your site’s findability by search engines down to two sides of a letter-sized sheet in PDF format. Download it, print it, design your sites by it!

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Speeder Dogs!

by Joey deVilla on April 30, 2008

As both a dog person and an aficionado of science fiction action flicks, this photo amuses me to no end:

\"Star Wars\" Stromtroopers riding dogs like speeder bikes
Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

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Websites You Shouldn’t Have Missed in April 2008

by Joey deVilla on April 29, 2008

Websites You Shouldn’t Have Missed in April 2008 is a collection of 52 links featuring graphic design tutorials, Ajax, CSS, tips for freelance workers, free fonts, icons and graphics, tools and generators, WordPress themes, typography sites and sites to inspire you. Well worth perusing.

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GTA IV Grab Bag #1

by Joey deVilla on April 29, 2008

Here’s a first in a series of regular updates on the just-released and much-awaited Grand Theft Auto IV

A Hint for Those of You Who Can’t Speak Niko’s Language

In some of the dialogue between Niko and Roman, they switch between English and (I’m assuming here) Serbian. The bits in Serbian are asides that aren’t crucial to the story and can be inferred from context, but if you really want to feel like Niko, you’d like to know what they’re saying, right?

The solution is simple: just turn on subtitles (you can do this from the Game menu). When they speak in Serbian, the English translation will appear in grey text.

Another 10 Minutes of Gameplay

For those of you who haven’t yet had a chance to try out GTA IV, here’s another video showing the next 10 minutes of gameplay (the video showing the first ten minutes is here), featuring:

  • A little exploration of Roman’s apartment,
  • a carjacking (which isn’t as easy as it used to be),
  • exploring the hood,
  • abusing a sportscar until it explodes (with Niko in it),
  • respawning outside a hospital,
  • noodling with Niko’s appearance,
  • and fun in multiplayer mode (including a rocket launcher mishap and gunning foos down with a pistol and fully-automatic weaponry).

An Observation from GameSpy

Here’s something from Fargo’s Thought for the Day, which is included in GameSpy Daily, an email newsletter from GameSpy:

Thoughts on Sandbox Games

Since around the time that Grand Theft Auto 3 and The Sims came out, the phrase “sandbox game” or “open world” has seeped into gaming literature and even into marketing speak. It kinda drives me nuts, because a “sandbox” in and of itself isn’t very fun. It’s easy to screw it up.

Ask any game designer and they’ll tell you: if you put a person in an open world, where they can do anything they want, they spend a few minutes testing the limits and then he or she will get bored. The real trick to these games is to provide a lot of directed gameplay even if people don’t realize it. The object of an open world is to let the player set his or her own agenda, and then to provide tons of cool gameplay once they decide what to do. Sims 2 is a great example: you can do whatever you want, but no matter what decisions you make for your characters, you’ll always run across interesting mini-games or tough decisions to make in order to accomplish your goal.

Of course the Grand Theft Auto games have an overall story that you can work through via a series of directed missions, but even when you go “off the rails” and start freestyling in the sandbox world, you’re never far from the guiding hand of a designer encouraging you to collect something, discover something, set a new record, kick off a minigame, etc. Few design teams can do an open world right — but when they get it right, the experience is spectacular.

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Rogers to Offer iPhone in Canada

by Joey deVilla on April 29, 2008

It’s official: Rogers will be offering the iPhone in Canada. No word on whether they’re going to lower their ridiculous mobile data rates to reasonable levels.

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Here’s a photo of the line outside my local EB Games (the Runnymede/St. Clair location in Toronto) for Grand Theft Auto IV, taken last night at midnight:

Midnight line for GTA IV outside the EB Games at Runnymede and St. Clair, Toronto

The 30-car parking lot behind the store was full of cars that I could’ve sworn were lifted right from the previous game in the series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: small sports cars painted in bright colours with lowered suspensions, chrome wheels and obnoxiously loud exhausts and stereos driven by guys in hoodies. The male-female ratio was high, but there actually were some teenage girls in line, which is a good sign: why should guys have all the realistically rendered fun in a virtual New York?

The door to the store is a few paces past the “no left turn” sign in the distance. I waited in line for about an hour and managed to get one of the last non-pre-ordered copies for the XBox 360.


A trailer for Grand Theft Auto featuring my character’s cousin Roman.

After getting back home, I played the game for about an hour, soaking up the the visually gorgeous opening sequence, running errands for my character’s cousin, Roman, shopping for clothes to impress a lady and beating up Albanian loan sharks. I’m going to have to jack a car and explore the city, as it’s so gorgeously rendered that it feels quite real. While the “San Francisco” segment of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gave me the feeling of deja vu (I lived there for a year), Grand Theft Auto IV made me feel as if I was in Brooklyn right now.

Here’s a video of the opening of the game, featuring the title sequence and the first few minutes of mise en scene:


The first 10 minutes of Grand Theft Auto IV.

I’ll post more details as I play the game.

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Darth Emo

by Joey deVilla on April 29, 2008

Jeff “Coding Horror” Atwood will tell you that there’s nothing like a computer you build yourself, and as the Star Wars comic below shows, it applies to droids you built yourself too:

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