Chasing the Skyrim Dollar
- Feb 27, 2013 2:33 am GMT
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In 2006, Epic Games put out version 1.0 of the Unreal Engine 3 with Gears of War. It employed a simple button-in cover system that solved a lot of the problems inherent in third-person shooter design. Over the next 5 years, the "third-person cover based shooter" became ubiquitous as developer after developer thought "we can do that but better!" In 2007, Call of Duty Modern Warfare reinvented the online multiplayer shooter by dangling the carrot of a new perk or weapon in front of the player and the first-person shooters of the world promptly followed suit.
As soon as an idea or mechanic draws a significant audience, the industry iterates on it with a ferocity. Some might call it piggybacking off someone else's successful idea, others would argue that games are inherently iterative and this standard practice has resulted in some truly terrific games.
Now, and I think about 10 million of you might agree, the new "thing" to be copied and iterated upon is Skyrim's brand of world-building and expansive fiction. The idea that one can walk north and find content worth experiencing struck a chord with millions of players in a way that previous Bethesda games have not. So obviously, it should be pinched as soon as possible.
The prime suspects for this first act of creative imitation are CD ProjektRED, EA and Capcom, hoping to bask in some of Skyrim's glory while the name still curries favour with players. The question is: If Skyrim is the new Gears of War, who is going to put out Uncharted?
If I could bet money on anything, I'd bet that EA and BioWare combined aren't going to be the ones to do it. Dragon Age 3 and whatever subtitle the marketing division have chosen for it today is a game that you can be sure will take liberally from the Bethesda playbook with the sole purpose of attracting the newly converted towards microtransactions and DLC plans. As we've seen from Mass Effect 3 and Dead Space 3, the prime directive from the EA management seems to be "appeal to everyone". In practice this probably will mean stripping out the complexity of Skyrim's AI and character building systems to appeal to the kind of people who probably wouldn't play a game called "Dragon Age" anyway. On top of this, it's hard to tell who/what BioWare is at this point. Originally there were two teams, one for Mass Effect and one for Dragon Age, but now a significant number of EA studios have been rebranded as BioWare studios (and subsequently changed to Visceral Games studios following the backlash against ME3). The Doctors are out and after the gradual decline in the quality of EA's products following Dragon Age 2 it's hard to believe BioWare have it in them to produce a worthy competitor to Skyrim while people are still interested in playing more of that kind of game.
CDProjektRED however may be the perfectly positioned to offer up the counterpart to the Bethesda giant. Let's be frank, the PC developers of old took over the HD generation. Epic, Crytek, Bungie and not least Bethesda weathered the storm of the PC slump to come out as the powerhouses going into the next generation and CDProjektRED is yet to have its first console hit. Anyone who played the Witcher 2 on a PC that could run it will attest to the fact that they have the technical prowess to make an amazing open world and the writing chops to back it up. In addition, the Witcher 2 played like a good action game rather than the cludgy mess that Skyrim can be or the mindless amped-up gorefest of Dragon Age 2.
My only personal concern is that their claim that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be "bigger than Skyrim" smacks too much a developer who may not know what their target is. Skyrim's world is big AND full of compelling content with a sophisticated AI system that makes it seem like a real place. The one-upmanship of "our game is bigger than their game" suggests, at least to me, that they may have their priorities wrong. In end though CDProjektRED have the experience and a wealth of established fiction to back them up, and they've proven themselves twice already in the RPG-making business.
The same probably can't be said of Capcom. As the first of many to hitch themselves to the Skyrim train with Dragon's Dogma, Capcom have made it clear that they're going after the western style of RPG the only way they know how. Solution: add good combat, seed Monster Hunter mechanics into the enemy encounters and hope that it all catches on. Surprisingly, Dragon's Dogma found an audience and the critical consensus was "Nice combat, this world is boring. Make a sequel and fix that last bit."Everything coming out of Captivate's and E3's of year's past sounded like Capcom were making a huge open world RPG without quite understanding why that style of game was popular. In the end we got a mechanically strong RPG with some neat ideas like the pawn system in a universe utterly devoid of flavour.
The issue here is that the trailer shown at the Sony press conference on February 20th wasn't Dragon's Dogma 2 running in Capcom's new engine but "Deep Down", a game that seems to be Dragon's Dogma in all but it's name. Dragons, knights, dirty-looking men with sharp metal objects? Cmon Capcom, that sounds an awful lot like that last game you made doesn't it? Regardless of whether this is a completely new IP or the tacit admission that Dragon's Dogma is a terrible name for a videogame, if Deep Down does turn out to be a successor to Dragon's Dogma then it's probably the most exciting thing Capcom has going right now. What the expansive open-world do anything subgenre that Bethesda has popularised lacks is consistently fun combat. By all accounts the combat systen in Dragon's Dogma was the reason to play the game and if Capcom takes lessons from the criticism that game received and say, hires a few writers who know a thing or two about lore, then a marriage of those mechanics with that kind of world could be a killer combination.
Whichever way I look at it, the sudden realisation that there is a large market for the Bethesda style of game can only yield positive results. Competition breeds creativity and innovation in the hope that both will help sell copies and we as players gain nothing but benefit from that. Personally, I think CDProjektRED have the most potential to become a heavy hitter in both the market for that sort of game and in next generation in general with the next Witcher title, but Capcom seems so hungry for a slice of the Skyrim pie that anything could be possible.
With the possible exception of Dragon Age 3 (pay 80 microsoft points to get this Elvish helm), whoever wins the upcoming scramble for a piece of Bethesda's newly found audience, we as the players come out on top.
Horror is more than just one definition
- Feb 25, 2013 6:13 pm GMT
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I remember that night as if it were only yesterday. It was around 12:00 AM in my time zone. Halfway across the world, my GameSpot friend @mufujifi introduced me to a relatively unknown indie game through the Steam network. It was a first-person adventure that took place under the cover of darkness with the player possessing only a flashlight, and everything was almost entirely black-and-white with shades of grey inbetween. The goal of the game was to find eight pieces of paper scattered all throughout a bleak and uncertain deep woods environment that draws obvious comparisons to those old Blair Witch movies. However, the player also had to contend with a bizarre looking boogieman creature who popped up entirely at random, designed to surprise you when you least expected it. Well, perhaps "surprise" is the wrong word. This creature will not attack or kill you, but the game ends when you stare at it for a lengthy period of time, and he will appear in more frequency the further you get and the more pages you collect. It doesn't appear to be any more frightening than that badly-drawn cartoon mummy you see on those Count Chocula cereal boxes. What makes this creature particularly scary is its element of surprise within a dark and foreboding environment, and you've got nothing but a flimsy, battery-run flashlight for company. So, this rather simple creature that looks like something my six-year old niece can draw with a blindfold on has the very real capacity of meting out a whole lot of "oh, s***" moments.
The game is known as Slender: the Eight Pages, and it is quite possibly one of the most psychologically scariest games I've ever played. Not so much the fact that it isn't about zombies or homicidal maniacs brandishing chainsaws, or the idea of it not being an exercise of resource management against horrifying odds. It's because of the mental strain of being constantly watched by something that hides like a diminutive cockroach under a kitchen stove, lying in wait to scutter from underneath its laurels to reveal itself to the unwitting. The creature in the game, called "the Slender Man", is an unsettling bit of imagery that has the ability to take the fullest advantage of your fears without ever needing to look like a monster.
Games like Slender are a stark indication that indie developers are looking into different definitions of horror to appeal to people that enjoy horror-based genres; something the larger third-parties have yet to be fully aware of. We live in a world where violent games like Resident Evil, Dead Space, and Zombi U are chalking up the horror amplitude with disfigured zombies, limited resources, mutant scourges, atmospheric scares, disgusting images, and lots of blood and intestinal entrails. Yet, most people don't realize that the horror genre, whether it be in games or otherwise, can be construed as many different variables outside of all that. In video games, horror can be alternately used as a pure psychological factor to draw reactions that aren't necessarily based on shock value. A horror game can successfully tap into a person's mental and emotional fears. In the case of Slender, there's the feeling of vulnerability and a fear of being watched and surprised in an uncertain environment or situation. In the case of the Fatal Frame series, the player snaps photos of ghosts who represent stigmas of very real deaths. Seeing a ghost that is clearly representative of an actual demise causes a almost knee-jerk fear of death and mortality.
Uncomfortable as this may all seem, psychological horror can actually work well in video games, and people who play video games like to immerse themselves fully in the experience to maximize their enjoyment. Just as it is with a burst of laughter, an adrenaline rush, a fit of rage or a need to solve a problem, the act of experiencing horror in all of its forms, not just merely through disgusting imagery or ugly zombies, is indicative of watching a movie or reading a novel; we experience these to BE scared, to BE surprised, to confront our fears. The same should hold true for video gaming as well, and the bigger industry giants will want to take notes from the little guys who are helping bring the horror genre back from the brink of relative darkness.
Que the evil laughter.
Masters of Reality
- Feb 25, 2013 1:10 pm GMT
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Although the announcement and arrival of the Wii U mark the point where a new gaming generation started, the unveiling of the Playstation 4, or at least the reveal of what it can do, feels like yet another beginning, because it gives us the first glimpse at the real graphical capabilities of this coming era. As an organic function of this competitive highly advanced age, it is only natural to expect that systems will be constantly taking steps forward in relation to the technology they carry to power both visuals and sound, and the early displays of Playstation 4 games confirm that, in spite of the ever rising costs of production, the industry keeps fearlessly betting on pushing hardware forward.
Bean counters will excitedly lean over the numbers and try to figure out the economical effects of that move, and while that does interest us and our wallets, there is an even more intriguing consequence to all of this, which is how games are getting progressively more realistic. Once upon a time, games were more about crafting brightly colored and wacky worlds than simulating the real world; whether that was a physiological reaction to the constraints of the early machines or just a wish to create games based on fantasy, the fact is that about ten years ago gaming store shelves were much more colorful and vivid than they are now, and the industry grew up supported by the outlandish and the ridiculous.
With the landing of technology that gives life to developers' aspirations to build a very real world, most games - or, at least, most titles by companies that can afford the luxury - will move towards scenarios that are closer to reality. It is pretty obvious that gaming will not lose its magic even if it continues to march towards that direction, after all even if they do manage to, one day, perfectly emulate and represent the lights, dull colors and physics that our eyes perceive, the art of gaming design will still allow its artists to decorate that boring realism with items, behaviors and powers that are either non-existent or are hard to be achieved by a regular human being. We will still be able to pretend that we are secret agents, superheroes or other fascinating subjects. With the advent of unbelievable reality, games will become ever more reliable on developers' ability to create interesting mechanics or dazzling scripts.
For those who can't resist the charm of games that blend technology with the quirkiness and insanity of cartoons - such as Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Ratchet and Clank, Banjo, among others - the future could indeed hold some bad news. An industry that initially relied on the charm of platformers, which were a product of an era where processing power was very limited, has gone on to transform into an industry where shooters rule. Some say it might be a sign of lack of creativity or laziness; others might point towards the strong sales of those titles, indicating that the market demand is what is moving the industry onto that path; but it is probably a combination of both of those factors that is pushing companies to that single-minded approach. Not only do simulators require less artistic prowess, something rarer to come by than technical proficiency, but they also tend to sell better, and that can be easily evidenced by the number of "fantasy" franchises that have come to life in recent years compared to the number of new series that go for simulation and realism.
Ironically, the answer to that somehow worrisome trail might lie in another surging force of modern gaming: digital distribution and the power it places on the hands of small developers. Creating big blockbuster titles demands a whole lot of cash, because it invariably involves pushing the hardware as far as it can go and developing new complex engines, and, as a natural response to that obstacle, developers with unlimited talent and imagination, but with limited resources, have to go for the uncanny and unrealistic to call attention, since any attempt at realism would throw their titles on the shadow of the industry's giants. In recent years, that dependence on being different and creative bore some incredible fruits like Bastion, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Limbo, Journey, Minecraft, and many others.
While the mainstream "fantasy" franchises seem to be mostly limited to those who appeared back in the 80s and early 90s, showing a clear lack of renovation, the amount of great indie titles with a ton of commercial potential keeps growing. It is from garage studios hidden in some small unknown cities that the humble defiance to the dictatorship of reality might come from.
The Ten Best Videogames of this Generation (thus far)
- Feb 24, 2013 4:20 am GMT
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Are you excited about the next generation? Hopefully you are, because then we'll get to have another one after that. In the next few months it's going to get crazy in the gaming industry. Tech specs will be leaked, claims will be refuted and hundreds of developers will be hard at work figuring out how to make a guy hide behind cover in Unreal Engine 4.
Now though? It's a dead zone, and even though this current generation of consoles has a few games left in it yet I think now is the time to look back and think about what the last 7 year's worth of gaming experiences have done for us. I'm not a huge fan of lists so the numbering in this list is vague at best and of course this is all highly subjective so don't burst a blood vessel when you favourite first-person shooter doesn't get a look in.
This is my way of internalising which of the experiences I had in this developing medium were the most meaningful/important/enjoyable or a combination of all three.
Number 10: Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2
When Geometry Wars RE2 came out in 2008 they may as well have canned the twin-stick shooter as a genre once and for all. The phrase "infinite skill ceiling" is one you'll hear bandied about in relation to something like Starcraft or Dota but I can't think of a more skill-based game than GW2. It honed and refined the already superb formula of the first game while setting the standard for leaderboard implementation for the rest of the generation. GW2 made scores-chasing matter again and it did so while at the same time being the most mechanically faultless game on this list. If I was stuck on a desert island with only one game to play for the rest of my life, it would be this one.
Number 9: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Hideo Kojima you magnificent nutter, keep doing what you're doing because Metal Gear Solid 4 is probably the best example I can give for why authorship is important for videogames. Remember how hard the world said it would be to wrap up five years of the Mass Effect universe? Well Kojima tied up 20 years of gaming lore in MGS4 in the most ridiculous and extravagant way imaginable. This is what you get when you give a blank cheque to a gifted madman and tell him to make his kind of game. Even today, few games can match the insanity and audacity of MGS4. From the hours of cutscenes to the stylishness of the presentation to the best damned use of button-mashing in a videogame, MGS4 set the bar for what we consider to be "epic" in games. So far, that bar has yet to be reached by any other game this generation.
Number 8: Braid
The story, gameplay and presentation of Braid are immensely interesting in their own right, but not as interesting as the character of Jonathon Blow and his game's effect on the industry. These days tiny indie platformers made by one guy in his attic are a dime a dozen, just check out Steam some time, but at the time the idea that one man had essentially built this thought-provoking and ingenius puzzle-platformer by himself thrust the very idea of "indie" into our collective consciousness. It helps that Braid is also one of the best puzzle games around, blending a powerful story with puzzle mechanics that kept changing and evolving. Braid made me feel smart, sad and intrigued. Sometimes all at once.
Number 7: Burnout Paradise
"Hey guys it's DJ Atomika comin' at ya live this morning from Paraaadddiiiiseeee Citttyyyy." Yes, I went there.
Damn it Criterion make another Burnout game, or maybe just make Burnout Paradise look a bit better and re-release because for my money it's the best racing game of this generation. It's also, surprisingly, one of the best open world games of this generation too. I never do the whole "let's go out and explore" thing that the Skyrims and the GTAs of this world encourage, because there just aren't enough yellow gates and awesome jumps. Paradise City was and is the perfect defintion of a playground, a sandbox, a place where you and your friends can practice ramming each other off cliffs to your heart's content at 60 frames per second with the most incredible crash tech you have ever seen. The multiplayer alone is the reason Burnout makes this list as no game before or since has realised the full potential of an open-world driving game to the same extent. If only there had been a "Restart" option in on day one.
Number 6: Mass Effect 2
Dark middle chapters are always the best. If I had my way all games would be the dark middle chapters, the sequels to games that never came out because the best bits of a trilogy are the middle bits where everything seems awfully dicey. Although I do love Mass Effect 1 despite its clunkiness, Mass Effect 2 is where it's at. Its broad array of interesting, relatable characters was the reason you cared going into Mass Effect 3 and consequently why I at least was disappointed when some of them didn't get the attention they deserved. Sure the combat isn't what it should have been and the main storyline is little more than a sideshow but Mass Effect 2 is the peak of BioWare's writing talents compressed into a playable product. Hang the depth and complexity of RPG mechanics if it means I can get to the next dialogue sequence faster say I and BioWare did just that. The Mass Effect universe was at its richest, its darkest, its most stylish and most self-assured in Mass Effect 2 and as a result I'll always think of it as the defining RPG of this generation.
Number 5: Saints Row the Third
I love videogames. I love them so much I ADORE those that understand that they're a videogame. If there's one thing we've learned from the past 40 years of gaming it's that games are an amazing form of catharsis. Saints Row the Third takes that knowledge to its logical extreme. It's like every time a designer at Volition came up with a crazy idea for a level or a character, the director shouted down any and all naysayers and stated "Yes we can have a text adventure! Because videogames!" There are so many noteworthy moments in Saints Row 3 that could have gone wrong yet came out so so right that you should just stop reading this and play it. So find a tiger, conquer your fear and embrace the fact that Saints Row the Third is the videogame to end all videogames.
Number 4: Bioshock
Bioshock is so ingrained the pysche of popular videogame culture you might as well replace the Spike VGA's with the Andrew Ryan Awards. It was the first hint at the fact that during this generation, games would become more thematically complex and intellectually stimulating than we could ever have expected. Playing Bioshock is nothing to write home about. Ice hands + wrench = victory. But inhabiting the world of Rapture and seeing how the story played in that setting was its own reward. Bioshock made me think about videogames and how they're constructed, it took philosophical concepts and crammed them into a medium that today is still more about headshots and explosions than it is about exploring ideas. Games are art you guys, it started here.
Number 3: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Naughty Dog are awesome because they made Uncharted 2. Wait what about Crash Bandicoot and the Jak and Daxter series they we really awes-SHUT UP UNCHARTED 2 UNCHARTED 2. Call of Duty 4 changed how we thought about online multiplayer, Uncharted 2 changed how we thought about the presentation of action in videogames. Before, an action game was branded as such because there were guns and red barrels and if you introduced the two excitement could occur. Uncharted 2 showed us that action could be about leaping from truck to truck while fighting bad guys on a snowy moutaintop, or jumping out of a collapsing building just before it hits the ground. It's a game that takes the best elements of Hollywood: the set-pieces, the snappy writing and the setup, while slyly eating Steven Spielberg's lunch by amping all those elements up as only videogames can. It was so incredibly good that Naughty Dog failed to top it with its follow-up and has now resorted to making smaller games about zombies and homeless people in the hope that nobody will ask them to make something as fantastic as Uncharted 2 again.
Number 2: Portal
Again, you know about Portal. Everyone knows about Portal. For a while I felt super smug about having a wallpaper with "The cake is a lie" on it and soon after I realised that I was officially prat. Nevertheless Portal inspired that kind of enthusiasm because it was so different and unexpected. In a stellar collection such as the Orange Box, who would have thought that a 2 hour puzzle game would rise above the games it was packaged in with to simultaneously become the benchmark for humour and puzzle design in the medium? Portal 2 is undeniably a more polished, more thrilling and more overtly amusing than Portal but it wasn't surprising in the same way. I'm probably never going to play Portal again, I probably don't want to either. For those 2 hours it made me feel like a genius and then took the hardest left-turn a clean, dryly humourous puzzle game could possibly take. If you never had that experience then I feel sorry for you.
Number 1: Bastion
It's no secret that one of my favourite games of all time is Max Payne 2. Max Payne 2 is a game that understands that story and storytelling are not things that need to be separated by a six-foot wall from gameplay, with only a small peephole through which such things as cutscenes can be used to connect the two. Bastion also understands this. It respects your ability as a player to take in the world and fiction of a game while also engaging in combative gameplay. In the space of around 7 hours Bastion introduces its world and develops it to the point where everything seems grounded and believable, something that countless 30 hour RPGs fail to do. Its combat system is deep, customisable and crucially, perfectly responsive to you as the player and yet it's also one of the handful of games that have managed to get me all choked up. It's a seamless, polished package of story, presentation and gameplay that isn't afraid to make you listen to one man's voice from beginning to end. Basically, Bastion is the real deal.
Well thankyou ladies, gents and other lifeforms for getting this far. Do feel free to insult my taste in games at every turn and say "but what about Dark Souls", it won't change my feelings in the slightest. Here's hoping that by the time the new consoles roll out this list will be as obsolete as John Carmack is clever.
The Next Xbox
- Feb 22, 2013 4:04 pm GMT
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Alright now that the PS4 has flooded the internet with it's announcement 3 days ago, I decided to share what I think the next Xbox will offer. First thing is a sensor that will warn you when someone whether family or friend will come to where you are playing and calculate how much time they will take away from your gaming before they enter the room. I think this will prevent more game over screens from happening due to being distracted. Next would be a holographic interfeace with the next Kinect being made. In Minority Report, they have the interface right in front of them and they can search alot easier which makes me hope the next Kinect has this to offer. I know the Xbox has a music player and I think it would be awesome to edit and pick your music and such this way.
The name is what has me worried as a gamer and a consumer since they already did the Xbox Elite. Not to mention an article from a Microsoft employee stating it won't be called the 720 I mean really. The only name I can think of is Xbox 2 or Xbox Pro, no no that won't work. Well whatever name they pick, I'm sure they took the time to do so. The size of the machiine is another thing, I mean can they make it smaller than it is now? I bet they will make look more like an X like the first Xbox did ecept they had the X imprint on the top of the console. An Xbox shaped like an x, sounds unique, but it probably won't be able to hold all that technology and it would make the price go up.
Pricing is the next thing since It's been a year for me having the slim Xbox and to be honest, I really don't feel like buying a new console since I haven't even decided on getting the Wii U. No doubt it will be in the 300-400 dollar range, but maybe they will have it at a lower price for once, who knows. What would be beneficial is a video game disc buffering machine to come along with the Xbox. Be honest, who hasn;t had to buy a used copy of a game and to find it has scrateches!! That really irks me as a gamer that other gamers don't take care of their games. Imagine being able to make a scuffed up game work like brand new when you plug in the machine and your Xbox tells you if it can be saved or not. It would save tme and money from buying the machine at Best Buy when it comes already with the console.
Alright this is what I would want with the next Xbox so it's from a consumer view and what I think what should be in it. Also I wonder how big will the hardrive be for this console? I knnow 350 is the biggest for the Xbox and it makes me wonder if they'll make a 450 gb hardrive. That would be helpful and it will make people buy more Xboxes, but hey I could be wrong. If you're going to leave a negative comment, then don't for I will keep blogging and those who leave negative comments are jerks!!
BOOM! There it is.
- Feb 21, 2013 12:29 pm GMT
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******** ATTENTION ********
The following comments are my own opinions, they may, or may not match yours.
So there I was last night, so excited for the Sony announcement. We all knew it was going to be about the PS4, but even knowing that, the gamer within MADE me stream the "meeting". Stream might be the wrong word, unsless the word "stream" means "watch a stop motion video where the audio just could never catch up", but that's a different story....
I will keep this short and to the point. Yes, I will be getting the PS4 when it comes out, not because I am a "fanboy", but because that's what I do, I buy new shiny fun things to play with, and that's where this story goes south.
In todays world where leaks about new products are common place, or maybe even part of a greater marketing tool, we already had loads of information about the PS4. If you looked hard enough, you could find info about streaming games, social sharing and even "letting your friends play your game". So last nights "meeting" (for me) was not so much about what this new toy could do, but what was it going to look like, how much is it going to be, and maybe most important, when will it be available.
Three things I really wanted to know, am I the only one that is disappointed waking up today knowing those questions went unanswered? Ya, ya, "Holiday Season 2013" thanks again for the breaking news...
The best way I can describe my feelings are "I went to a car show, expecting to see the new models, when I entered the showroom I was presented with a steering wheel and information about what type of mechanics it will take to work on the cars", No tires to kick. It can't be good when the day after Sony is already apologizing for not having something more to show.
I tured off my stuttering stream last night with one feeling, "there go 2 hrs of my life I will never get back"
Back to the rumor mills for me.
Letter to Sony: How to make the PS4 as succesful as the Wii U
With the Gaming Journalists raving about the unprecedented sales performance of the Wii U, it's time to for Sony to get a few pointers on how to make their upcoming Playstation 4 reveal and launch to be as successful as Nintendo's magnum opus.Don't name the system Playstation 4
- Feb 17, 2013 6:03 pm GMT
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Naming it the PS4 would make it seem like it is superior or different from the PS3. Nintendo smartly avoided this by naming their system Wii U, which conveys absolutely no implication of a successor or improvement. In fact, it makes it sound like Ubisoft's Udraw tablet add-on for the Wii, which is a great idea because that is also a tablet that could be used with the Wii. Since the Wii U had a tablet controller, people would totally think it's a Wii bundled with the Udraw tablet, and that is guaranteedsales! Do the same for the PS4, and see the money be raked in.Design the system to look exactly like a PS3"I already have the Wii, can't I get the tablet seperately?"Nintendo designed the system that if anyone saw a photo of it, they would think it was a Wii. Which is a great idea, because everyone bought the Wii in the past. By having costumers confuse the Wii U for a Wii, you get to ride off the immense success of the Wii. If you design the PS4 to look exactly like the PS3, people will think it's a PS3 and gladly buy the same thing again! Heck, you guys already did the same thing with the Vita (which looks exactly like a PSP), and it's success in the marketplace shows what a great idea this is.This is not the Playstation Vita.Make producing the console be extremely expensiveThe Wii U has a tablet controller that costs $85 a piece. This controller dramatically increases the production costs of the Wii U, to the point that Nintendo makes a loss even while selling it at the extremely high price point of $350, despite the system's specs being not much different than the PS3 and Xbox 360. The higher price tag makes it seem like a premium product, and people alwayswant the more expensive product. You guys did great with the PS3, making it such a swiss-army knife of technology that made it début at $600; and we saw just how great the PS3 sold back when it was at that price point.Make ads that hide the fact it's a new game systemAlongside the name and design, Nintendo also went to great lengths to hide the fact that the Wii U was a new system with their TV ads. By making sure that the new system was obscured and that it was never mentioned, putting the focus only on the tablet controller, and showcasing the types of games you already saw and had on the Wii, you got a marketing campaign that successfully and actively misinformed the public that a new system came out, and that you were still advertising your old last-gen system.Release the entire game library at launchPeople don't like waiting for games, so what better way to avoid this by releasing everythingthe system has right at launch? Big launches are always more important that a filled release schedule, so if you have every game the system has out by launch (just like the Wii U did), the costumer has the entire library to pick from right at launch. People won't care about the huge drought that will come later because they have a huge backlog of games to play! Also, once they play everything they wanted, they will have fun going on message boards and patiently waiting for the next game worth buying for months because there's nothing else to play on the system.Be arrogant, believe you are invincibleYou already did that well with the PS3. Carry on.Focus on things that aren't gamesInstead of putting out compelling new software, Nintendo is spending their valuable resources on little toys like Wii Street U, which is free for a limited time, meaning they will eventually charge people to pay for this stuff. This will surely get your gaming audience to stand by you no matter what, and you will gain the respect of everyone in the industry. Invest in similar stuff, Sony; you're missing out on the Google Streetview audience!!Make it for no oneMost importantly of all, don't have a target audience at all. Nintendo wanted to attract the hardcore gamers, and they made a controller with dual analog sticks and most of the buttons you find on a competitor's console (but not all of them); but they also want to attract the casuals, so they made the controller like a tablet and made it graphically behind so that they could sell it a "low" price. Of course, those things contradict, and you had a tablet controller that was too complicated and feature-less for the casual market, and a system that was too underpowered for the gaming masses. The system appeals to no one, no one gets it, no one wants it, no one can even tell the difference between it and the system they bought six years ago, let alone why they should get one. So Sony, if you want your PS4 to be as successful as the Wii U, make sure to do all of the above.You're good at copying, what are you waiting for?(no, I'm not serious, don't do this Sony, you'll die)
Review: A Snapshot in Time or Evergreen?
- Feb 15, 2013 11:09 am GMT
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As many of you who read this blog might know, I have a bit of an issue, buying older games, not getting to newer games, having a gaming queue that is far larger than it should be. This isn't unusual for most gamers, but when I was a kid, I always envied one friend in particular who had tons and tons of games, enough to fill an entire shelf, much like I have now. I realise that being materialistic isn't a good thing, and as I get older, I am more interested in attending things than playing games, like, going to see a hockey game over playing a new release, which I'll be doing next week. When I do find free time, I play some of my older games. This year, my goal is to actually play game from 2013 and finish them. Sounds stupid, I know, but that's a legitimate goal for me, and probably some of you.
What struck me this past week, as I slogged through a few games that are several years old is, as I wrote the reviews, I realised that newer games were colouring my thinking, making me short-change a game because someone years later improved upon something that had been previously done. It isn't the gaming companies' fault that there are just too many games out there and not enough time to play them. Really, it is a blessing to have so many stellar titles out there. I know some of us dreaded long stretches of last year just for the lack of amazing titles, but this year will not have the same weight upon it.
My question, however belaboured it may be is this: do you rate a game on its own merit, or in comparison to all the others that you've played up to that point? I find myself doing the latter, comparing a game to all the others, sometimes even clones of games I've not yet played. For example, I recently played Uncharted and was astounded by how much it played like Castlevania (in the climbing aspects!! not the fighting mechanis!). When I looked at the dates of release, Uncharted came out in 2007, Castlevanie in 2010. Is that a fair comparison to make? Uncharted did these things before Castlevania came out, but in my mind, as I played the games in the chronological order of purchase, it didn't play, perhaps, as well as it should have. Should there be a moratorium on old games? I mean, how many blogs do you read about people playing older games and loving them?
I find myself conflicted as I score games, wondering if I'm being fair, wondering what fair really is. I give the game time to convince me, for good or for ill, to wow me, if it does, it does, if not, then the score will reflect that. At what point can I distance myself from previous games and play a game, enjoying it for its own merits? I read other reviews on this site and see the comparisons in force everywhere. It isn't just me, I'm certain of that. But the question remains, how do you fairly assess a game, truthfully?
20 February Spoiled
- Feb 14, 2013 3:31 am GMT
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Just a quick announcement to let you all know that there has been an announcement that there will be an announcement on 20 February from Sony about ... something. Announcement, announcement, announcement. The word has lost all meaning to me as I have read it so many times but I do know one thing, that all these announcement, announcement, announcements are an effort by Sony to get us gamers slavering like tigers at the zoo when the fat camp kids trot by. All aboard the hype train everyone. Toot, toot.
Well I am not having any of it because what we are going to be told on 20 February is that Sony have been developing a PS4 with a tenuous release date of Q4 2013, after which the suit in charge of the bleeding obvious at Sony is going to inform us that night follows day, the Pope is indeed a Catholic and that bears enjoy their poops 'al fresco'. Of course there might be a few shocks as well. New Little Big Planet. No way! A Naughty Dog exclusive. Stone the flaming crows! New Gran Turismo at launch! OK thats stretching things a bit.
You know that last episode of The Apprentice where the finalists have to present a new kind of shoe or something and its all a bit uncomfortable, well imagine that but with a bigger budget to spend on indoor fireworks and professional dancers. The only surprise will be which slightly confused celebrity will be led on stage. You know that Sony wont be cutting corners with a Kardashian but when Jay-Z (or whoever) comes bounding into the spotlight there will be plenty of navel-gazing after the inevitable awkward banter where Kaz Hirai asks Jay-Z 'Does Beyonce let you play games in the front room?' (Oh Kaz you card) and Jay-Z replies 'I played Street Fighter when I was a kid but don't bother much anymore can I have my cheque please?'
But fear not this will all be washed down by the thick, dry wheatgrass smoothie of a powerpoint presentation where lots of specs will fill up the screen and people like me who have to put up with this kind of brain laxative for a living will glaze over and start wishing they could go back to a time when our dreams of a wild new electronic frontier were alive and well. To think that I labelled all that pointless speculation and flimsy conjecture as a waste of time. Such ignorant guesswork seems like paradise now although on second thoughts this announcement, announcement, announcement probably won't hinder it by much, in fact it might crank it to 11. Will we never learn?
Then when all the dust has settled on Wednesday and caretakers are sweeping up all those drunken journos, throats sore from all that hooting and hollering, we will all feel a little bit hollow, desperate to fill the void within us that Sony have failed to. In our terrible sorrow we will have no choice but to start thinking about the next earth-shattering announcement, announcement, announcement when (and you'll never believe this) Microsoft will tell us that they have been developing a new console (shut uuuuuup) with (are you sitting down) a new (get ready for it). Halo! Its like stepping out the Matrix people.
Sega? Gearbox? Aliens? What went wrong?
- Feb 13, 2013 11:52 pm GMT
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The tagline for the Aliens films is "in space, no one can hear you scream." I wonder if that holds true for the video game industry and the development teams that churn its gears.
My friend picked up the collector's edition of Aliens Colonial Marines yesterday and I was watching him play it for several minutes. This was before I realized how horrible a critical reception it received right off the gate. 4.0 from GameSpot. Major website publications calling it a "disappointment" and a blight on a storied legacy of a beloved film franchise. Personally, I expected the game to be a lot better than a 4.0, seeing how it's Aliens and all, but it looks as if Gearbox once again unintentionally committed a second offense after Duke Nukem Forever -- taking the reins of a game that languished in development hell and turning up a less-than-stellar effort.
The question remains -- what happened? The overall lurid reception of Colonial Marines can be blamed on a variety of things. First, it's been reported that Gearbox had been inundiated with Borderlands 2 development around the same time Colonial Marines was being made and, because of the obvious strain, were collectively forced to hand over duties to another team known as TimeGate. Second, the team that handled Colonial Marines in Gearbox's temporary absence (sans Borderlands 2) supposedly butchered what Gearbox had started, resulting in a game that languished in a horrid state. Third, there were signs of tension between Sega and Gearbox in regards to the lengthy time period of Colonial Marines' development. Sega was reportedly ready to pursue legal action against Gearbox, and that Gearbox themselves requested several extensions to polish the game while they were simultaneously working on Borderlands 2. All in all, either Borderlands 2 stalled the potential of Colonial Marines, or there was some nastiness going on behind the scenes between Sega and Gearbox.
Even though the game is disappointing, the fault does not necessarily lie with Gearbox. I'm lead to believe they might have done everything in their known power to ensure a quality product with Colonial Marines, but were met with various obstacles. I'm left to wonder -- could Colonial Marines have been a better game if they did not have Borderlands 2 to contend with? Would it have been possible if Gearbox had not taken on two different projects at once?
They could have gotten away with simply outsourcing the rest of the game to another developer and relegating themselves to advisory status, but it isn't immediately clear whether or not Sega would have been entirely happy with them abandoning ship at a crucial point in Colonial Marine's development cycle. After all, they did threaten legal action. Conversely, Gearbox could have delayed Borderlands 2 instead and diverted their focus in getting Colonial Marines done and polishing all the rough edges, but it isn't clear whether or not 2K Games would have been happy with Borderlands 2 being pushed back either. As you can see, Gearbox found themselves in a bit of a pickle.
I'm also worried if the heavy expectations of gamers might also have played some part in straining the cycle of development. Not just this game in particular, but many more like it. For anticipated titles like Colonial Marines, gamers expect nothing less than a solid game that hits on nearly every note, and rightfully so given the fact that they're paying $60 of their hard-earned money. They are known to express their disdain and frustrations against developers in company message boards, and I'm fairly certain the same holds true with the Sega/Colonial Marines message boards right now.
Whatever the case may be, what you see is what you get. Colonial Marines has become a tragic catalyst of the unfortunate behind-the-scenes squabbling, industry shoe-horning, and heavy struggles that developers endure to make games for us to enjoy. And I fear there will be many more like it in the future as the game industry continues to change -- for better or for worse.
My friend, however, did tell me the next day he enjoyed the game and was looking forward to playing more. For Gearbox and Sega, who probably aren't even friends anymore, that should be some bit of consolation.
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