I am going into my sophomore year at my university in a Computer Graphics/ Video Game Design major and I am wondering what I should purchase in order to be prepared. I feel like a graphics card and a good amount of RAM would be the essentials hardware wise, but I feel like there is more I could have. I have 8 gigs RAM, 1TB hard drive (plus 750 mb external), and am looking into buying a 1 gig graphics card. Is there anything else that would be useful? What about software besides the actual creation stuff?
Generic dev advice would be...
A video card capable of driving dual monitors.
Two monitors, preferably the same model.
A solid, easy-to-type-on keyboard.
Dual monitors is the key thing. It allows you to have code examples or reference material be up while coding. It does wonders being able to step through the code and see the output at the same time. 3D modeling and/or texturing/skinning also benefit.
You might also look to virtualbox or vmware workstation. Being able to run virtual machines and isolate your build environment is quite helpful.
"Understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth." - JMS
Just got the new issue today. Please note that my spelling is probably going to be terrible as I'm running on 10 hours of sleep spred out over the last 3 days.
Worst news tip of the month:
If you're playing COD if you get in a tower and wait you'll come in first almot every time.
Bull, bull, and did I mention bull. Do not do this unless you want to come in last. Yes, you might actually get to kill everyone else in the game once but don't forget that every time you fire a shot, you show up on the mat as a red dot, and the person you killed gets to see his death through your eyes, so they know exactly where you're hiding and can easily hunt you down if you stay in the tower.
An article on next gen systems and what they're waiting for. Believe it or not, the thing that determens when a new system comes out is the engine driving it. Right now the systems are using Unreal Engine 3.
Unreal Engine 4 is being designed by Epic and they're announceing a 2014 finish line. Other companies are starting to come up with ideas as a result and if you had to pick a year to see at least one next-gen system come out, it's 2014.
Sony is considering allowing PSP owners to download games they already own on the PSP onto the Vita should they buy one. Don't get your hopes up on this, though.
Capcom announced the Devil May Cry HD pack Collection for PS3 and 360 in early 2012. This comes with the original DMC, DMC2, and DMC3: Dante's Awakening Special Edition, and it's only $39.99.
Say it aint so. Mark Hamill, known today as the beloved voice of the Joker, has announced that Batman: Arkham City was the last time he will voice everyone's favorite villian.
Sony's been hacked again. No credit card info lost but someone tried to log in on 93,000 accounts. Sony has locked out the accounts and send notified the owners of those accounts to change their password.
If you've tried to play Rage then you know why you're angry. Lots of tech bugs despite the experience of the company making it. A patch has been issued but the game has earned a not so nice name as a result.
This month's Quote:
'We'll probably cancel it' - Glen Schofield discussing the fate of Sledgehammer Games Call of Duty project.
Grand Theft Auto 5 has been announced. To add to this, it's Rockstar's 10th anniversary, and they're pulling out all the stops on this one.
Not too many details yet but this is going to come out across the board, literally. Not only on the consoles but also as an app on IOS and Android based systems.
Rockstar is also releasing some goodies in the form of figures and lithographs. Keep in mind, these are not cheap in any form of the word and they are very limited.
Ubisoft is lending their top assassin, Ezio, to Soulcalibur V. He appears to be rather powerful as well.
The VGA awards are on Spike on December 10th. There are three pics in the article. I have got to find out the story behind the android want-to-be from Metal Gear.
Dragon Quest X was revealed in Japan recently at a convention. This is Japan's #1 RPG franchise (in the US the #1 rpg franchise is Final Fantasy). It's coming out for the Wii and the WiiU. This is getting mixed reactions.
DQ has always been a straight up RPG. Not so in this case. It's going online in the form of an MMO through Nintendo. This is new and it's a different direction.
Square Enix is handeling this all on their own, which is the other part of the problem. They're very good at RPGs but they aren't so good at MMOs.
Video games will be invading your tv in a new show called Man Up.
Blizzcon 2011 came and went. Blizzard made a ton of announcements at the convention about various upgrades and new things to do and buy in WOW. Read the article as I'll be here all night typing this one up.
An essential guide to Asassin's Creed. If you know the entire story, this will help fill in a lot of the holes and explain some of the players.
Top 10 puzzles:
10. Closing Time (Trace Memory) - the first game where you had to close the DS to make something happen in the game.
9. Poseidon's Challenge (God of War)
8. The Marbles (Riven) - don't feel bad if you couldn't solve this one on your own. You weren't alone.
7. Cat Cookie (King's Quest III)
6. Colossus 13 (Shadow of Collossus)
5. The Painting (Braid) - This game beged the fraze: attantion to detail.
4. Bookshelf Bash (A Link to the Past)
3. Test Chamber 15 (Portal)
2. The Truth (Assassin's Creed II)
1. The Lost Woods (The Legend of Zelda) - North, west, south, west is the way to solve this one.
This month's interview is with Jay Wilson, aka Diablo 3's dungeon master.
It's the 2011 holiday buying guide. I'm going to do this in order of price, starting with the lowest ones:
1. Simpson's Tom Tom GPS Voices - would you trust homer telling you to turn right? $12.99 simpsons.tomtom.com
2. Batman Arkham City Figures - $17.99. dccomics.com/dcdirect
3. Life of George - Lego's just got upgraded. Build what he wants, take a pic on your IOS device, and have fun. $29.99. george.lego.com
4. Walking Dead figures - 19.99. spawn.com/toys
5. Mortal Combat Cardboard Standups - hello Sonya. $34.95. advancedgraphics.com/store
6. Mass Effect SSV Normandy Ship Replica - 34.99. darkhorse.com
7. Elder Sign Dice Game - 34.99. fantasyflightgames.com
8. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box - 34.99. pazio.com/pathfinderRPG
9. Squid Kids D'oh Figurines - kawaii warning, at least for the nerds. $75.00 whatisbilk.com/shop
10. Batbaby Shark Vinyl Figure - a shark wearing a batman outfit. $47.99. toyqube.com
11. KRE-O Transformers Optimus Prime Construction Set - This one looks really nice. $59.99 habro.com/transformers.
12. Pac-Man Blik - aka wallpaper. $75.00. whatisblik.com/shop
13. Logitech Harmony Link - this turns your IOS or android device into the only remote you need for the entire house. $99.99. logitech.com
14. Star Wars Wallpaper - $120.00. super7store.com
15. Powerbag Messenger Bags - The Superman of messenger bags. $139.99. mypowerbag.com
16. Santa Cruz Duff Skateboard - Homer is the featured skateboard. $159.99. mfgbysc.com/simpsons.
17. Mortal Combat Figures - 164.99. sycocollectibles.com
18. Kisai Rogue Touch LED Watch - 179.99. tokyoflash.com
19. Kindle Fire - 'nuff said. $199.00. amaon.com/kindlefire.
20. Apple Iphone 4S - $199+ (with a 2-year contract). apple.com/iphone.
21. Nike ID Lebron 9 Shoes - $206.00. nikeid.com.
22. Cantina Blues and Other Robot Art - $225 - $500. ericjoyner.com
23. Wolf Link and Midna Statue - from Zelda: Twilight Princess. $329.99. first4figures.com
24. Recon Mod Live Ski Goggles - $399.99. reconinstruments.com
25. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - $499.99 (Wi-Fi only) and $629.99 (Verizon 4G). samsung.com
26. Nikon 1 J1 - $649.95. nikon.com
27. Alienware M18x Laptop - $1999.99+. alienware.com
28. Gibson Firebird X Limited Edition Guitar - $5,570.00. gibson.com
29. Sony Bravia 65-inch HX929 Smart TV - $5999.99. store.sony.com
30. Battlestar Galactica Life-Size Cylon Figure - Say it loud and say it proud. You want it but you can't have it. Sounds like the tv version as well but it doesn't move like them. Still, put this up in front of the door when you want to play games and nobody will bother you. $7999.99. sideshowtoy.com
There is also a seemingly enless list of music, books, movies, and games listed as well.
And, just in time for the holidays, a handy dandy list of the best games of each genre. Genre's include:
I must say I do not agree with the horror catogory. None of those compairs to Fatal Frame, especially the second game from that franchise.
The opinion section this month is on the future of media. The example given is first time you played FF7. Anyone who has played this will probably say they felt like they just played a movie upon finishing the game, and this was groundbraking back then.
Where does it go from here?
The cover game this month is called The Enemy Within. I expect a long depate on this one, but I am not surprised at it at all, for Clancy has made a living on writing alternent outcomes based on the real world.
And, naturally, Clancy, aka Rainbow 6 for the video game players, took todays world and made a game based on (and here's the debate) a possible future outcome of current day USA.
In short, you will once again be a member of Rainbow 6, but this time, you're on US ground, and your target, are the militias, which have grown in number faster than the government can keep up with them. Can you pull the trigger on a US citizen and what will be the price you pay for doing so?
It's a long article and I'm going to skip this one as for all the print there really isn't much in the way of details on the game (more on how the franchise planes to com back after being out of the loop for 3 years), however, they did talk a bit about multiplayer and I will say that they have been doing their homework. When more details come out on this I expect the multiplayer function to shine brighter than anything else.
2013, pc, ps3, 360.
A look at Star Wars The Old Republic. I'm not planning on getting into this (deliberatly trying to stay from MMOs that require you to sit in front of the computer for days on end), however, when it was shown at Pax East last March, the line to play was over 2 hours long.
To compare, the 3DS was only a 40 minute wait.
Again, super long article and I'm short on time so I have to skip this one.
There has been much waiting on the part of gamers for more info on VITA. At last, it's here. I fully expect this to give the 3DS some very real competition as it, unlike 3D, actually offers a new control element. 3D is nice, but all it does is throw things out at you. The back controls on VITA can make a difference in a game, however, and that is usually more important to a gamer.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Resistance: Burning Skies
Little Deviants (this one looks really fun)
ModNation Racers: Roadtrip
Hot Shots Golf World Invitational
Lumines: Electric Symphony
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Touch my Katamari
Army Corps of Hell
Shinobido 2: The Revenge of Zen
First, you can choose between two different versions. Wi-Fi version costs $249 and the 3G (supported through AT&T) version is $399. Wi-Fi simply means you won't always be connected to the network. With 3G, you're always connected (so they say. I can tell you personally that if you have AT&T and you're in a building you aren't connecting).
5" 16.9 multi-touch OLED screen.
Dual analog sticks (they got this one right in the design fase, unlike Nintendo).
Front and rear VGA cameras.
Multi-touch capable rear touchpad.
Sixaxis motion control.
Built-in GPS/Wi-Fi location support.
3 - 5 hours of battery life while playing games.
Yes, you can link this with the PS3 and use the VITA as a remote and can also play games from your PS 3 on VITA without having to buy two separate copies (this is up to the company making the game, however, not Sony).
All digital PSP games will be playable on Vita, but there is no word on UMDs. Sony has also confirmed that VITA is capable of PS2 emulation but they have yet to release info on this.
It will have a Playstation Suite (area to download on-line games).
Pre-loaded aps include:
Welcome park - minigames that teach you how to use the interface.
Playstation Store - 'nuff said.
Group Messaging - Chat with friends that have Vita, PS3, or PSP.
Trophies - your virtual trophy room.
Music - you can store music on this.
Photos - 'nuff said.
Internet Browser - 'nuff said.
Friends - like the Xbox live function, you can see which friends are on and what they're playing.
Near is the name given to the app I refered to as Friends. It also lets you compare trophies. This also has an updated version of 3DS's Street Pass, in where you can leave virtual gifts for people who pass a real world location, and the first person to get there would get the item (possibly a new weapon for a game).
Party is the name given to the feature that allows cross-game chat. Yes, now you and your friend can be using completely different applications and still hold a conversation.
That's all the details for now on Vita.
In the previews file:
I tend to look for the non-mainstream games in here. You know the big names in the field but you don't the little ones.
True board games aren't that popular on consoles. Some have cult followings but most don't seem to take off outside the casual crowd.
Nintendo is releasing the latest version of one such franchise. It's called Fortune Street and it's comint out for the Wii. For those of you that are into such board games, the only say I can discribe this is to mix Monopoly with Top Shop (a PS2 business sim).
Game of the Month:
Zelda: Skyword Sword, and it earned a perfect 10.
And it had competition. Saints Row 3 got 9 and Battlefield 3 got 9.5.
The classic file this months look at game called X Com, which, although it only has a cult following, is considered to be the best turn-based strategy title ever made.
It's being remade by 2K games.
The final article is with a guy named Harvey Smith (Deus Ex designer). They asked him about his first game (that he worked on) and it is a title called Technosaur.
That's it for this month.
By the way, if you're into conventions, please note that Pax East has had pre-reg open since Nov. 3. Don't wait to register if you plan on going as this usually sells out by Jan. 1.
Why do I mention this? Pax East is an overall gamers convention, however, it is best known as a video game convention. So, if you go to this, you'll not only be able to try out the newest board, card, and RPG games, but you should (and I stress should. The companies would be fools not to bring them) be able to try out the Wii U before you buy it. You also get your hands on the very latest software to try.
Here I sit at work, getting some very hard to find OT in the process, so I thought I'd sit down and talk about a type of video game that GI won't touch with a 10-foot pole.
These are actually great for adults that can't sit in front of a computer all day. They're category is Real-Time MMO.
The most popular one, and it's really the starting point or trainer for anyone looking to get into this, is called Evony (type in Evony Online in yahoo to pull it up), although there are many more popping up these days, including a few on Facebook.
The premise of these games is to build up your city, and eventually an empire of connecting cities. Sounds easy but it's anything but.
I'll use Evony's style as the basis as it's more forgiving than the one I'm playing now.
You start with the game's version of a town hall. Evony is set in the middle-ages, so it's an old-fashioned structure that's a town hall. It starts at lvl 1, and you start with x population, money, and resources.
Use these very wisely as once you run out of resources, you have to wait for them to replenish, and they don't replenish quickly.
Your options early on are very basic. Just the basic resource plots (grain, wood, stone, and ore/metal). The more of and higher level of these that you have, the more they produce.
As you upgrade your town hall, you'll unlock more types of buildings, eventually building warehouses, barracks, the research lab, staging tent, healing tent, residential buildings, and a wall.
Don't build blindly and don't go by the missions in your quest book (I'll get to those in a moment). Research what each building does and decide accordingly (I'll list recommendations later on).
As you level up your buildings, you'll be able to build an army and city defenses. This is very important, for in the end, the game is all about kicking the daylights out of your neighbors, and if you don't do it to someone else, they'll do it to you.
That's the basic premise. Evony offers you more options on moving and getting resources to let you build up your city faster. The one I'm currently playing, which is based on The Godfather, does not offer those abilities, so it's much harder to get up and running (I recommend The Godfather only to expert players that know what they're doing).
How do you get into this without becoming cannon fodder?
First, you need time. You will have to log in and spend some time on it every day. More importantly, for the first 3 days, you'll need to spend a lot of time on it.
This is because of the city protection. It's automatic for any noob on the system. Nobody can attack you for x days and you can't attack another city during this time either. Although you can opt out of this early, I would not do so without a very large army on-hand to thwart an attacker.
During this protection time, though, you want to make the city as strong as you can. My method of choice:
1. Upon starting up, your first buildings should be resource buildings. Divide the available plots equally amongst the 4 types. Build all the basic ones and then start upgrading them all the way to level 5. This will eat up the better half of day 1.
2. Build your lab or upgrade your admin building until you can build the lab. Upon building the lab, look for 'Construction' and build what you have to to make it available (it's a high level skill so it won't be available right off the bat).
Construction lowers the time it takes to build a building so the higher it is the less time it takes you to upgrade something. Work on raising this skill for the next day 1/2 and get it as high as you can.
3. Your building set should be:
1 town hall
5 - 8 residences
1 staging tent/healer
1 inn (to hire heroes)
1 Alliance bulding (name's different for each game)
And each of those buildings should be no less than level 5 after three days (the earlier the better, actually).
The reason you want so many barracks is because each barracks operates independently from the others, meaning you can be building 10 different units in small numbers quickly as opposed to a large unit that takes days to build.
Alliances are the key to survival in this type of game. Think of them as guilds in Everquest. You join an alliance and everyone in the alliance is working towards world domination.
Some alliances have strict rules, others don't. It's up to you to research them and choose one. Keep in mind, you don't have to choose an alliance but if you don't choose one or start one then you are completely alone and nobody will help you if you're attacked.
Yes, you can start your own alliance if you wish.
Quests are helpfull in that you can get extra resources, coins, experience, or respect points if you complete them. There are various types but the most common type of quest deals with your city. Upgrading a particular building to level x is common, as is producing x amount of a particular resource.
Some games out there offer daily quests that replenish on top of city quests.
By day 3, you should have everything in your city at level 5 or higher. If at all possible, your town hall and lab should be higher (the town hall cannot be higher in Evony unless you want to drop protection but it can be in other games).
After day 3, if you've got everything at level 5, this is when you can take breaks as the time it takes to build things is now measured in hours and not minutes.
If you haven't already started, now you need to start forumlating your army. Having 10 barracks make this quicker. Start with archers and infantry and move to heavier types (calvalry, artillery, specials) as you level up your barracks.
Also, don't forget about your wall. If you click on it, you can level up the wall but you can also build defenses on the wall. Towers are nice but you need archers to man the towers. Traps work 1:1 against infantry. Remember, the wall can only hold so much, so split the various types of defenses evenly on it.
For those of you who are experts at this, may I suggest kabam.com, specifically The Godfather: Five Familys. No ability to buy, sell, or trade resources so planning is critical but protection lasts for 7 days.
It's set in 1935, before the movie. The Corleons are one of the familys but they haven't taken over the other gangs yet and they get no bonuses what-so-ever in game.
I'm in the Stracci family. Stracci's aren't powerful in a fight, but they control the docks and are experts at obtaining info and using its influence.
In the case of The Godfather, alliances are known as Crews. Building make-up is pretty much the same (restaurant for food, apartment for money and influence, cement factory for cement, and the steelworks for steel). The mansion (town hall), library (lab), and front gate (wall) are there, but there's a few new ones that I haven't seen in other ones (guesthouse which allows you to host other crew members armies, garage which allows your armies to travel faster, and workshop).
The map is confusing, though. It's a city grid, not an open landscape, so if you lose where your city is located, finding it isn't going to be easy. You can send armies to gang controlled city sections to fight them and return (grants you goodies) or you can send armies to an empty city section to take it over (earns you more money and respect).
Also, one other reason why I say The Godfather is for experts only: you can only build one building at a time and there's no way to boost this.
Like I said, early on you need to spend a lot of time with this, but later on, buildings take a while to build, so you don't have to look in as often. I can tell you, though, when it takes 40 hours to upgrade a building, well, then you get the picture.
If you're playing The Godfather, I'm on the latest server under the name nagash.
An interesting trick to the Godfather game I mentioned in the earlier post. You can set it up so you can be attacked and it won't do anything to you.
On your mansion, click on it to open the menu and click on protection. Select the hide function on the right to hide your army. Then start upgrading your warehouse as it protects more and more money and resources each time it's upgraded.
When you're attacked, your army will survive if it's hidden and your warehouse will protect all the goods (if it's a high enough level).
Sort of makes sense, though, as in this particular game you also can't expand to a second city.
New issue of GI as well, and this one has a surprise waiting in the review section.
Those burning questions keep coming up:
Are the short answers to readers burning questions real: Unfortunately, yes.
You're cool. Wanna hang out: Sorry, we're busy that day.
Worst News Tip of the Month:
'I want won for free please'.
The first article deals with motion gaming and it's apparent stagnant motion. Kinect flew off the shelves at 8 million units in 60 days, but only 2 million more since last June. Move also hasn't generated large numbers the way Sony envisionied.
There is a reason for this and it's not because motion systems are a fad. Kinect is the current king of motion sensing devices. This is because Microsoft developed ways to use it that didn't involve games. The Xbox, with Kinect, is just as much a video conferancing device as it is a game console, and that's why it's on top.
Sony developed Move with games in mind, but to their credit, they didn't bet the company on it. They're taking the slow approach, slowly developing games for it over time, hoping gamers will slowly make the switch without noticing it.
One thing that is certain for all motion systems, however, is that the game line-up is dismal at best (even Nintendo). Granted, I've been saying all along that it takes a minimum 2 years for a developer to design a game, and it's only been one year since Kinect and Move were released. It simply hasn't been long enough for core, must-have games to have been developed.
Motion gaming is here to stay, though, so you can't complain about gamers being couch potatoes all day anymore
An interview with Dan Houser, and this one would be interesting if you're a writer looking to get into the video game business.
Infinity Blade II gets a brief article with popular gamer questions.
EX: why is IOS the exclusive platform? Answer is because IOS is better than Android for the game.
An article on what in the world happened to Capcom? This one doesn't paint a rosy picture of one of the former #1 game companies in the world. All of their creative employees left and they are not simply releasing new versions of their core games to stay alive, but they're still posting losses.
An article looking at the lost art of a smart military shooter. COD and Battlefield may be king but anyone who's played it will tell you that all you need to do is jump around and pull the trigger. Tactics are not part of the current kings, so here's a list of which games still use tactics over reflexes:
America's Army 3
Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
If you thought the current crop of games this holiday season was a one time rush, think again. Various companies have announced expansions and add-ons for COD, Saints Row, and Battlefield, so keep your eyes open and wallet full.
Microsoft has sold 57 million Xbox 360 units in the last 6 years. Sony has sold 55 million PS3's as well, but Nintendo still owns the roost with 90 million sold.
EA and Dice have removed the free version of Battlefield 1943 that was supposed to be included on the PS3's Blu-ray disc. PS3 owners are allowed early access to Battlefield 3 DLC but this was something that was already announced before Battlefield 1943 was pulled, and is not a new gift meant to compensate.
Take-Two has delayed the XCOM reboot all the way back to 2013 and no reason has been given. The original launch date was March of 2012.
Silicon Knights cut over half its workforce after an unnamed publisher pulled out of a project with the studio. They are saying they are going to continue the project and that it'll be one of the most requested titles for the next gen of platforms. Hope its Eternal Darkness 2 and not Too Human 2.
Quote of the month:
'Unfortunately, we have not been able to build a satisfactory revenue model in our target group, and therefore, have decided to close the game'.
Jesper Vilstrup, VP of Lego Univers explaining the demise of the Lego MMO.
A short blip about the new Zelda game.
An interview with developers about Battlefield 3 and then a comparison page between COD: MS3 and Battlefield 3.
I've got to do more investigating on this but there's yet another new real-time MMO (like the one I mentioned in the previous article) called Wakfu that flips this genre on its head if I'm reading this right.
Let me investigate this one, but to give you an idea, this is saying there's turn-based combat, which many thought to be impossible in this type of game.
Top 10 Video Game Assassins:
10. Mega Man
9. Rikimaru (Tenchu series)
8. Herman Smith (Killer 7)
7. Thane (Mass Effect 2)
6. Sniper Wolf (Metal Gear Solid)
5. Wander (Shadow of Colossus)
4. Jack (Bioshock)
3. HK-47 (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
2. Agent 47 (Hitman series)
1. Ezio Auditore da Firense (Assassin's Creed series)
An interview with Ken Rolston.
Toys: they went 3D for this one:
1. Sony Bravia 46HX729 - 46", 1080, HD with 3D capability (need glasses). $1,499. store.sony.com
2. PlayStation 3D Display - This is a partial appeasement to make 3D easier from Sony. It's a 24:, 1080p with active 3D-enabled display, and it comes with 2 pairs of glasses and Motorstorm Apocalypse. It also has Simulview. Alas, only 3 games support Simulview at this time. $499. store.sony.com
3. D&D: The Legend of Drizzt board game. $64.99. wizards.com
4. Mass Effect 3 M-8 Avenger Assault Rifle Replice - $650. projectriforce.com
5. Boardwalk Empire (Note, this one is definitely not for the kids) Season 1. $79.98. store.hbo.com
6. The Greatest Video Game Music - London Philharmonic Orchestra permoning songs from Super Mario Bros., COD, Zelda, Halo, WOW, and Angry Birds. $9.99. x5musicgroup.com
The opinion article this month is in defense of Japanese games, citing the apparent writing off of games made in Japan by Western gamers.
The cover game this month: South Park
Obsidian is developing a new South Park game with the full blessings and input of Parker and Stone.
Parker and Stone are writing the script and dialogue.
The game itself will be a turn-based RPG. You do not play the famliar characters. You play the new kid on the block and have to make friends with them (a difficult task if you watch the show).
The characters start out playing in a Live Action Role Playing game or LARP. After you pick your class you go out amongst the town making friends, keeping rivalries alive, and kicksome some serious South Park behind.
PS3, 360, sometime in 2012. Note that this is a 1-player game.
An interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
The Witness preview. If you like mazes, this one's for you. It's a puzzle game, not unlike 7th Guest or Myst, but the puzzles in this game deal with drawing a line from one point to another to solve. Sounds easy but it's not. The puzzle is always the same, but the clue as to how to solve the puzzle is always different.
No hidden objects or levels to pull, or rare items to acquire. Simply pay attention to the clue and apply it to the puzzle in the form of a line.
PC & IOS (Consoles TBD), late in 2012.
Grand Theft Auto 5 - Yes, it's coming back but I'm not liking the quality of the pics. In short, they stink. Some of the gameplay features are raising an eyebrow, however (Golf? Jet Skiing? Also, flying seems to be a big part of this one).
A Game of Thrones - This is an interview with the developer's project manager, Thomas Veauclin. This is not a rehash of the first book or the HBO series season 1. This is a separate timeline starting at the same time as the first book, dealing with some of the main characters but in parts you don't see until later on in the book. I'll be keeping an eye on this one as that HBO series one of the best they've done in a long time.
Lollipop Chainsaw - I can hear the screaming already. Take one pigtailed cheerleader in a skimpy outfit and give her a chainsaw to fight off evil hordes of zombies. Do not mistake this for a typical hack & slasher, however.
It's funny, the zombies actually apply tactics in fighting you, it has a progression system, it has an award winning soundtrack (Akira Yamaoka, who did the Silent Hill series), James Gunn is fleshing out the script, takes its style from modern horror/explotation films, has an interesting combat system, she has character and isn't a total airhead like Buffy, and has a completely crazy director in the form of Suda 51.
Game of the Month: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
PC Game of the Month: Minecraft
Here's an interesting situation. Skyrim got a 9.5. COD:MW3 got 9, Assassin's Creed Revelations gets an 8.75, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection gets a 9, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 gets an 8, Goldeneye 007:Reload gets a 7, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary gets 8.5, Minecraft for 9.25 and Mario Kart 7 got 8.5.
Why bring this up? Remember the game Fortune Street that I mentioned in a previous post? It got 8.5.
You can pick your mouth up off the floor now. Yes, GI, which abhores board games, gave Nintendo's board game for the Wii an 8.5
How is this possible? Well, Nintendo, for once, did its homework, and I have to say after looking over the website, they have a winner.
Fortune Street - This is actually already in stores. It just came out on December 5, and although I thought this was a download title, you can order the game on disc via the Nintendo website.
Although I would like to say the game is what happens when you mix Monopoly with Top Shop, that's not quite how it works. The Top Shop reference is to a game released in 2004 for the PS2. The bank, specifically, is what reminded me of this, but the bank in Fortune Street does something completely different than what it did in Top shop, so it's not a match.
Here's how it all works:
Movement - This is the random element of chance. You roll a single die to move around the board, and this can be maddening when you're trying to reach a restricted area via transport tyle.
The Monopoly reference is to how real estate works in the game. You can buy unclaimed tiles you land on just like you can in Monopoly and you pay rent to the people who own a tile you land on just like in Monopoly (vice versa as well). Also, if you own a bunch of properties in one particular local, you get more rent from those properties, just like in Monopoly.
The Bank is what makes this game worth the while. It introduces stock options in the game, and those options turn a typical game of Monopoly on its head as it allows savvy business dealers to earn cash on properties they don't even own.
There's also a subset of tiles based on the 4 suits of cards in a normal card deck. Getting these, along with performing well, can get you a promotion, which gives you bonus perks.
The characters used come from the Super Mario Bros. universe and also the Dragon Quest universe.
The goal is to be the first to make x amount of money (set at game start) and make it back to the bank.
This is not your typical boring game of Monopoly. The introduction of stock options means you're really going to have to think as its entirely possible for another player to take advantage of you doing all the work.
Specifically, the stock you are buying is on various plots of land, so if you think someone else is going to build up a particular section of the board, if you jump in early via stock, you get a piece of the profits everytime someone spends cash on that section of the board, regardless of who spends the money.
I realy like this one. The game is only for the Wii and it's going for $50, and though you might be able to get Monopoly for $25 or $30, introducing such a higher end function in a board game usually hikes the price to $60 - $70, so $50 isn't a bad deal.
It's also one of the more kid-friendly titles available if you don't like blood, gangs, or nightmares this holiday season.
And, since we're on the subject of board games, don't be afraid to ask me about board games, as I'm an expert on them. I go to conventions and teach people how to play various board and card games on the market.
So if your kid is bugging you for Dominion and you can't interpret all the various boxes sitting on the store shelves, ask me and I'll explain them.
Do keep in mind, however, that the board games these days aren't cheap. Dominion's base set, for example, goes for $45. Agricola, a very popular board game for people into more complicated games, starts at $70. That isn't to say there aren't cheaper games worth buying out there, but overall the games are getting to be just as expensive as their video counterparts.
Yes, another issue of GI is out. Alas, I am off to a convention this weekend and do not have enough time to post the info here before leaving work this morning.
There's gonna be a lot of top x lists as this is a year-in-review issue.
More sad news in that my chances of getting to Pax East this year getting smaller and smaller as each day goes by. I just don't see how I'm going to be able to afford it.
I'll have to wait and see if I can find a way in for free, although this is a very hard thing to do, despite the companys out here looking for help at the con.
I do apologize for missing a month. Real life is getting in the way as I'm in the process of getting a divorce as well as doing the prep work for another convention running President's Day weekend (I run the game room for that one).
One glimmer of hope, however, in that I may yet be able to go to Pax East as a helper in one of the company booths. If so, look for me in the front part of the open gaming section. I'll tell you which booth if I am accepted as a volunteer for them.
Another issue of GI. Starting things off....
According to the magazine, the phrase 'just sayin' is now officially passe. Just sayin.
The first article is one of the more interesting I've read in a long time. It's about The Scars, which is the term for the awards given out by the organization.
If you've watched what can only be called the spectable of a Spike TV video game awards show, then you know the pain. It's all glitz and noise and even the actual people who should be getting the awards are angry at them. Mark Hamill, who definitely deserved an award for best voice actor for his part of The Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum, actually tweeted during the awards show and it wasn't a very nice or enthusiastic one, either.
Basically, Spike forgot that it was a video game awards show and went with the music and celebrity focus.
Thankfully, someone out there is doing it right. They not only do a proper show (modeled on the Academy Award Show) but they award games based on innovation and not sales.
15 years ago, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) sanctioned the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) to help recognize artistic achievement in the world of video games with the Interactive Achievement Awards (IAAs), which are celebrated every year at the Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (DICE) Summit.
In 2009, the cable channel IFC started broadcasting the award show in 30-minute segments. This year, it's on gamespot.com, which aired a live stream of the show last night.
The board of the AIAS is made up of video game industry veterans from all over the world. The award show looks very much like the Oscars in that there is very little glitz and noise outside of actual clips from the games in question, so if you're sick of Spike's over the top production, you may want to give the IAAs a try.
A list of their Game of the Year winners:
1998 - Goldeneye 007
1999 - Zelda: Ocarina of Time
2000 - The Sims
2001 - Diablo II
2002 - Halo: Combat Evolved
2003 - Battlefield 1942
2004 - Call of Duty
2005 - Half Life 2
2006 - God of War
2007 - Gears of War
2008 - COD4: Modern Warfare
2009 - Little Big Planet
2010 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2011 - Mass Effect 2
At long last the legal battle is over and Bethesda has wound up with all the rights to a Fallout MMO. It'll be a while before anything comes of this (Bethesda isn't saying a word about production) but at least the legal battle is over.
Another interesting article on the current state of video game operations. The question is how long will the current way of playing games (via a server with constant updates and patches) be feasable?
You got to love first person shooters. Regardless of how good you are you have to admit there's just something about coming home from a hard day at work and blasting someone's head off. The only problem is, when you've been playing them for 20 years, it starts to get old. Everything looks the same, and sure enough, GI has put together a handy-dandy chart that explains all the twists and turns in any plot ever conceived for a FPS.
An interesting switcheroo. I said in a previous post that a new Transformer game in development is going to be a really big deal. When this game is released, it erases the 30 - 40 years of Transformers history thus far, becoming the only official canon of the Transformers franchise. All movies, tv shows, games, and toys released afterwards will follow the new timeline.
The game is being designed by High Moon Studios. Hasbro owns the rights to the toys, however, and they're not waiting. I can't say I'm surprised by this, and actually, I have to say, these look fantastic.
The first set to be released is going to be worth going after. First, they are being made in the deluxe size format. Second, the first 5 figures are all decepticon aligned and they combine to form a giant robot called Bruticus. No word on price or release date but these will be highly collectible.
And that leads to this story, in which every parent of a child between the ages of 4 and 12 now hates with a passion a company called Activision because of a game called Skylanders.
It's not the first game to use this platform. Freaky Creatures was the first and it bombed. Not so with Skylanders, and I have every reason to beleive it's because of who the game is marketed at. Freaky Creatures was to teens. Skylanders is to small children.
The article basically explains how a tiny little company called Toys for Bob, which was tasked with rebooting the Spyro franchise, pushed Activision into the toy biz. I'll let you read the horror story for yourself.
For those that don't know, Skylanders is a video game that uses the miniature figurines/toys. The Wii picks up the signal from the toy and you use it in the game. It's what Pokemon wanted to do back in the day but couldn't.
GI got their hands on the VITA. Here's their review:
Display - 5", 960 x 544 resolution OLED screen. No hints of ghosting or tearing. Better quality than a PS2 but not quite in the ballpark of the PS3.
Design - Overall it gets a good grade. The analog sticks in particular are well done but there is one problem with the placement of the right stick in that it's too close to the x button (players with large hands may have a problem moving from the stick to the x button).
Battery - 4 - 5 hours. Shorter than the DS but much, much longer than the 3DS.
User Interface - If you've used a smartphone then this will look very familiar. Short of that, this is definitely a 1-player system. You can't pause a game and check messages or activate another app. You have to close the game to enter another app. Also, the first time you log into your Playstation Network account with Vita, that Vita is forever tied to that account. Short of a factory reset there is no way to share accounts on the VITA. Yes, it does have internet but it's just as bad as the PSP, so don't bother with it.
Touchscreen - Thumbs up all the way. In fact, the only time you use anything but the touch screen is when you're playing a game. All other functions are controlled by touching the screen, and that screen is fast and very responsive. Also, the back touchpad works flawlessly.
Camera - The one glaring disappointment. It's a 1.3 megapixel front/back camera and it's a joke. The only time you'd use this is for an augmented reality game. No other purpose.
Welcome Park - This is a software app that was included in any VITA demonstration model. It contained minigames that utilized all portions of the system to get people familiar with using them.
Apps - Confirmed at launch:
Netflix is hopeful (Sony is in negotiations with them and they have high hopes that it will be set to go at launch, although that day is fast approaching. Regardless of launch or not, it's pretty much a guarantee that Netflix will show up as an app).
249.99 with Wi-Fi only
299.99 with AT&T 3G
19.99 for a 4GB memory card
29.99 for an 8GB memory card
59.99 for a 16GB memory card
99.99 for a 32GB memory card
A game will cost between 29.99 and 49.99
Data plan (3G model only) will cost 14.99/month for 250MB or 30/month for 3GB (no contract involved in either).
Summary - A good system but it has its drawbacks. #1 is the price. It's expensive. #2 is inability to get replacement parts cheap if at all (if the battery is damaged then the system cannot be repaired. If you lose the wire to charge the system then you have to pay for a very overpriced cable from Sony).
Final Grade: A-
My own personal opinion on this is sort of mixed. I fully believe that this will undoubtedly give the 3DS a serious run for its money. However, what was Sony thinking when they went with AT&T. It's the joke of the industry. If they went with Verizon then they may have been taken seriously but everyone knows that you can't get reception on an AT&T phone inside buildings unless you're standing next to a window.
The afterwords section this month deals with the origins of a character called Rayman.
Top 10 Surprise Snowboarding Levels
10. Mini Ninjas
9. Mega Man 8
8. Rayman 3
7. Kirby's Epic Yarn
6. Sonic The Hedgehog 3
5. Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex
4. Tales of Vesperia
2. Final Fantasy VII
1. Zelda: Twilight Princess
A look at the companies making games for social websites with the point being that these aren't overnight companies started by high school kids. There's some real names on this list of industry veterans and some of the companies (say, Zynga) have been involved with some of the biggest and best video games to hit the shelves over the years.
A very interesting article on the current status of SOPA and PIPA. I would need to see the actual text of the bill but if it was truly worded as vaguely as this says it was then yes, the prosecutors would have far too much power and the defendents would have none to fight back with.
SOPA and PIPA have pretty much died but there's a new bill on the floor called OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act) that is getting support from facebook and google. The motion picture society, of course, feels that OPEN doesn't do enough to stop piracy.
Who won the holiday sales craze? Here's a list for the US and Japan:
US top 10:
10. Zelda: Skyward Sword
9. Super Mario Land
8. Batman: Arkham City
7. Saints Row: The Third
6. Madden NFL 12
5. Assassin's Creed: Revelations
4. Battlefield 3
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2. Just Dance 3
1. COD: MW3
Japan top 10:
10. Wii Sports Resort Wiimote Plus Pack
9. Dragon Quest MOnsters Joker 2 Professional
8. Tales of Xillia
7. Rhythym Heaven
6. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd
5. FF XIII-2
4. FF Type-0
3. Monster Hunter 3G
2. Super Mario 3D Land
1. Mario Kart 7
An article entitled Prognosticating looks at the major publishers current lineups, potential pitfalls, and general outlooks:
Activision - Love'em or hate'em they're still a game company and they have some worth keeping an eye out for. Another WOW game for one, but their key game in the future is going to be the Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
Bethesda - an interesting situation. Bethesda owns Tango Gameworks, Shinji Mikami's game company. He's the driving force behind some of your favorite horror games. Games that have been announced include Dishonored, Doom 4, and Prey 2.
Capcom - They made a lot of gamers angry last year by cancelling a MegaMan game but you have to tip the hat to a company that knows when to pull a plug and take a chance. They've always survived a game that bombed and they will continue to do so. Alas, Resident Evil is probably why and yes, there's another one in the works. A new Devil May Cry game is also in the works (get rid of the emo haircut and bring back the real Dante) and also a new Steel Battalion game. Did I mention Street Fighter X Tekken?
EA - They put out a lot of games and they own some serious money makers. Star Wars alone is enough to put them over the top. However, they also take chances on new ones, and this year it's going to be Curt Schilling's new game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Mass Effect 3 is also on the map along with a revamped version of what is arguably one of the best PC games ever made, Syndicate.
Konami - Alas, they lost their momentum. The one-time kings of music games have had to turn their attention to non-music games. They have a new Metal Gear game coming out along with a new Silent Hill game.
Microsoft - Which way will they go? Will they continue to develop and upgrade the 360 or will they aim for a new console? Hopefully this will be answered at E3 this year. One thing is for sure, though, in that Kinect has taken off and is showing no signs of stopping. Alan Wake's American Nightmare is on their radar as is Halo 4 and the joke that is known as Kinect Star Wars.
Namco/Bandai - This company is in real trouble. They took chances on what should have been promising hits but the games went nowhere (takes more than a picture to get people to play games). They are revamping and going back to franchises. Look for an RPG called Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Soulcalibur V, and a pair of Tekken games. Also, a new Katamari game.
Nintendo - A busy year lies ahead. The Wii U will be released this year, and although it's not a glaring improvement on the Wii, it does offer some incredible tricks that will change how and even when you get to play a game. Specifically, with the new controller, you don't need the television set anymore to play a game. You can play it on the screen on the controller. As long as the game isn't text heavy, you should be able to play all day while mom gets to watch her soap operas. Also, and I urge everyone to raise hell on this one, where the **********$#%%*&*&)&*%&($*%$&%$*)$&% is 3D Kid Icarus! I've only been waiting 2 years so I get to swear about it Release it already before I have Kid shoot an arrow where it counts!
Sega - They've been pushing Sonic past the point of exhaustion, but this year they are taking some huge risks. Will it pay off? If it does then they're going to be in the money for a long time. Lots of games coming out this year covering all the genres. One of the harder games coming out (and I believe this will be a gem in the making) is Aliens: Colonial Marines. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is also on the map as are a pair of Yakuza games. Also, keep an eye on Anarchy Reigns. It's a 4-player fighting game. It has the potential to be a big, sleeper, success.
Sony - Also a busy year with VITA although one can't help but feel that they're buying time with VITA to figure out where to go. One thing they're doing that Nintendo isn't is making their own games. Jak and Daxter Collection is the HD release of the classics. Another LittleBigPlanet is also on the map. The big game, however, is undoubtedly Twisted Metal (and this game is the only reason I wish I owned a PS3).
Square Enix - They made a very smart move in acquiring Enix, which gave them access to franchises like Deus Ex, Hitman, and Tomb Raider. Busy game schedule covering all the bases. Dragon Quest X, FF Versus XIII and FF XIII-2, Hitman: Absolution, another Kingdom Hearts 3D game, Tomb Raider, Thief 4, Quantum Conundrum, and Wakfu.
Take-Two - This is the company to watch in 2012. It's not that there's a lot of games on this company's list but they are some major games. Bioshock Infinite for starters, and if you're mouth isn't drooling over that one then you're still playing Atari. Borderlands 2 is also on the map. GTAV is also being developed although I don't know if it'll be out this year. Max Payne 3 is in the works.
Telltale Games - Their games are so-so but it's the franchises this company holds that are the key. There's not much on their radar. Only Fables, King's Quest, and The Walking Dead are in development. Their other franchises, however, included:
Back to the Future
Sam & Max
Wallace & Grommit
THQ - The future for this company is a giant question mark. No new IPs this year and the only one on their radar is a new horror game scheduled for 2013. The big question for them is what is their Montreal branch doing? It's headed by the designer of Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia. And, there's a rumor that their future release schedule is being reassessed. Upcoming, however, are: Darksiders II, Metro: Last Light, South Park: The Game, UFC Undisputed 3, and WWE Brawl.
Ubisoft - Look for these guys to put out a lot of games for Kinect. The future releases are: Assassin's Creed 3, Brothers in Arms: Furious 4, Far Cry 3, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Ghost Recon Online, and I Am Alive.
Valve - The creators of Steam could stop designing now and be set for life, however, thankfully, they aren't. Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are on the map, but the question everyone is asking is if Half-Life 3 will ever see the light of day.
Warner Bros. Interactive - If you liked Batman: Arkham Asylum then you can thank these guys. Look for Gotham City Imposters (a shooter) soon. Also, and it will be very interesting seeing how they market this one, look for Lollipop Chainsaw. This is also the company behind some of the Lego games and they are working on Lego City Stories which is exclusive to the Wii U.
Miyamoto (Mr. Mario himself), despite having changed his position within Nintendo, is still working with the younger developers to make a game for an unknown system.
Although the first week of sales were strong, VITA took a nosedive on week 2. 321,407 to 42,648. That's worse than the PSP.
Well, games are delayed all the time, but these particular two shouldn't surprise anyone. Max Payne 3 is pushed back to May 15th for PS3 and 360 and May 29th for PC.
Future Soldier is now on May 22 for PS3 and 360 with the PC version shipping at a later, unspecified date.
'We are not making any announcements at E3' - Kaz Hirai, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertaining, knocking down rumors that the PS4 will debut at the E3 convention in June.
There's only one game in the Massive section of the magazine and it's Star Wars: The Old Republic.
This month's interview is with Meggan Scavio.
In the toys department:
Star Wars: The Old Republic gaming keyboard - where was this when I was playing Everquest? It lets you instantly reconfigure the keyboard to whatever you need (different in-game functions). It also has a touchpad. It also holds 10 keys worth of commands so you don't ghost anything in combat. $249.99 at razerzone.com/swtor
Echo 1 ST6 DEVGRU - for you airsoft players out there, this is a working airsoft gun modeled after the M4 CQB. $195 at echo1usa.com
Razer Star Wars: The Old Republic Gaming Mouse - as if the keyboard wasn't enough, this mouse has 17 keys and, yes, it takes some getting used to. $139.99 at razerone.com/swtor
Sifteo Cubes - These look very interesting, albeit they're expensive. It's a game involving small cubes with tv screens. You have to rearrange, tilt, and fiddle with them to solve puzzles or guide digital characters through a maze. You do have to be within wireless range of your computer to play, however. $149 gets you 3 cubes and additional cubes cost $45 at sifteo.com
The month's featured game is The Last Of Us, a new survival game from Naughy Dog. PS3 exclusive in late 2012. 1-player with multiplayer option TBD. The trailer debuted at the Spike video game awards. The Cordyceps fungus, which attacks ants in real life, jumps to humans and causes the end of the world as we know it. All in all, this is another zombie game, which does not get any points from me.
Darksiders II is also featured. The big difference here is that instead of War being the protagonist, his little brother Death has taken his place. Completely different style of fighting. Death is smaller, thus he's faster and more agile. Look for more movement puzzles like in Assassin's Creed as a result.
In the previews Section:
Street Fighter X Tekken - 'nuff said.
I Am Alive - now this is what I call a survival game. Post-apocalyptic with no resources or weapons to start. You must find them and use them wisely.
Mass Effect 3 - The end of the trilogy and it's also compatible with Kinect.
Unit 13 - first FPS for VITA.
Kid Icarus: Uprising - about #$%^&*()&%*& time.
Game of the Month: Soulcalibur V with an 8.5
Also worth noting:
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Curt Schilling's game) got an 8. Not a bad rating.
In the Classic department:
Do you remember Sega's mascot before Sonic jumped on the scene? Sonic debuted in 1991 so he couldn't be the original mascot. The original, forgotten mascot goes by the name of Alex Kidd, and GI has an interview with them on their website. In the magazine they covered his old games.
It also covers his cameo appearances, including a hilarious Japan only release called Segagaga for the Dreamcast in 2001. In it, your job is to keep Sega from going out of business and you catch up with Alex, who at that point is drearily living out his days working in game retail.
The final listing in the magazine is the answer to a question asked to Evan Wells: What was your first game: Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron.
That's it for this month. If I can get into Pax East (3-day passes are officially sold out. You can still get in buying all three 1-day passes but it'll cost you $105, $60 more than the 3-day pass) then I should be able to do some research in between working the booth. Definitly going to try and get my hands on VITA and the Wii U.
Was there a category for free MMO's??
DC Universe is a bit light but if its the free version, it's cool enough. Although DDO is still a biggie.
I recently started playing, finally, Mass Effect 2.
I decided to create a second character and apparently the first got deleted when I did that. That is not good, I was very upset.
Other than that it seems to be a good game but not heads and shoulders above other games. I do like the fact that we don't have to drive around in that stupid truck from the first game all the time.
No, there wasn't a category for free MMOs. I'd recommend The Godfather: Five Families if you're an expert in that type of game and have the time to play it. If you're a newby in this type of game then go with Golden Age as it lets you build 2 things at the same time, which is a huge advantage.
Keep in mind, though, that those are both empire building games. There are other types of MMOs out there besides those.
I haven't played Mass Effect, so I can't comment on the gameplay, but I do know that what you do in game one decides the course in game 2 and what you do in game 2 will decide the course in game 3. As such, it's not about replaying any one of the games, if you replay it, you have to start all the way back in game 1 and run all the way through game 3 again.
I didn't realize March and April could be this busy. Between the club, work, and conventions, I'm essentially working double shifts each day.
Speaking of conventions, if you're in the Boston area this weekend, there are two mega cons going on across town from each other. AnimeBoston is the big anime con in this area and Pax East is the big gaming con in this area. AB is at the Hynes and Pax East is at the BCEC. 3-day passes are sold out for Pax East, although you may still be able to buy 1-day passes for Friday or Sunday (Saturday 1-day passes are long gone). AB is not sold out and you can get into that one, and if you are a gamer and couldn't get into Pax East, not to worry, AB has a very good gaming lineup of their own.
If you are going to Pax East, stop by the Mayfair booth and say hi. I'll even show you how to play one of their games.
New issue of GI.
First up is a round table interview with some of the biggest names in comic books.
Markus 'North' Persson has expressed interest in funding Psychonauts 2 for Double Fine.
Activision/Blizzard has filed a legal opposition to Valve's application for a trademark on the name Dota. Blizzard is saying that, for the last 7 years, the name has been commonly associated with products and services related to the Dota mods that were created for Warcraft III. Valve is working on an unofficial sequal called Dota 2. The silver lining for this one, however, is that the lawsuit appears to be over the name only, not the content of the game.
Those of you that use STEAM will want to read this. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has warned Steam users that last year's hack of the service's database and forums may still pose a threat. Valve and an outside security firm discovered that the user names, transactions, email addresses, and encrypted billing and credit card info (not Steam passwords, however) of users was taken. Valve is cautioning everyone that has a Steam account to keep a close eye on their bank accounts just in case.
Quote of the month:
I spent close to 2 hours playing it, and after 2 hours I was still standing at the beginning of the game. I said, "This is garbage. This is an unbelivably bad game". So I put it aside - Shuhei Yoshida, Sony president of world-wide studios, on his self-confessed mistake of passing on publishing Demon's Souls in North America.
A very hard look at THQ and how they're struggles mirror the video game industry as a whole. Short version of this one is that THQ has been experimenting with games and accessories and losing big. uDraw, for the Wii, was a complete disaster, and Homefront is not the best seller they hoped it would be. All the companies are facing some misses but when you don't have at least one occassional hit then you're in real trouble.
A new way to finance a video game. Tim Schafer and Double Fine have teamed up to make a game. Only problem is that they didn't have the money. What did they do? They went to kickstarter.com, which is a website where people working on projects (key word there, projects) can ask John Q. Public for cash to finance said project.
People log onto the site and donate what they want to what they want to see. Could be $1. Could be thousands. Donate enough and you get put on a list to receive special bonuses upon the completion of said project. The bonus depends on the project.
As of the time the article was written, 60,000 backers have donated $2,000,000.
If you've donated at least $15, then look for the game (I believe it's called New Adventure) on PC, Mac, Linux, IOS, and select Android handsets in October.
Do you like fighting games? Well, GI has page to help you build the perfect fighting game.
To 10 Spiritual Successors: (elements of x game used for a new game)
10. Demon's Souls (from King's Field)
9. Odin Sphere (from Princess Crown)
8. Dragon Age (from Baldur's Gate)
7. Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (from Ghosts 'n Goblins)
6. Bayonetta (from Devil May Cry)
5. Final Fantasy Tactics (from Tactics Ogre)
4. Call of Duty (from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault)
3. Rock Band (from Guitar Hero)
2. Perfect Dark (from Goldeneye 007)
1. Bioshock (from System Shock 2)
The D.I.C.E summit was held recently and GI tracked down some of the big names for interviews. Over 6 pages they cover those interviews along with some info they overheard at the summit. There's also one entire page dedicated to what the game developers want to see in the next gen consoles.
In the toys department:
Mad Catz MLG Pro Circuit Controller - You'd probably think I was nuts for suggesting a $99 controller, but this controller is modular, allowing a person to literally pull it apart and put it back together again in the configuration that they are most comfortable with. It's not wireless and you still can't rerrange the start and select buttons, but it's a start. madcatz.com
In the opinion file:
Apples App Store is very popular, but are you really getting the correct info when you look at a game? The ranking system is the problem. It may say it's in the top 20 but is it really?
The game on the cover is Assassin's Creed III: Liberty and Death and it's just weird seeing an assassin directing George Washington on his historic ride through the icy waters.
This is set during the American Revolution. The main character's name is Connor. Unlike Ezio, Connor is a freedom fighter. He's not in this for personal revenge as much as he is to destroy tyranny.
Unfortunatly, I'm quite busy at work so I have to keep this one short, but there are some changes to things. One quick one is that it is possible to remain hidden whilst walking. This will aid you considerably in sneaking up on someone, but it's really handy when you're out hunting with your bow and arrow.
PS3, 360, PC, 1-player at this time (multiplayer TBA), October 30th release date.
An article detailing how Zen Studios keeps cranking out those top selling pinball games for XBLA.
This issue of GI also includes the next installment of Gameinfacrcer, the parody version.
For instance, on the first page, it suggests Mortal Kombat vs. Warner Bros. Not for nothing but I think Bugs Bunny would win.
Also, the walking tie-fighter is definitly worth a look.
In the reviews section:
Game of Thrones - The story looks intriguing at this point. It is not a retelling of the books or the tv show. Two new characters were created for the story and it takes place within the confines of the GOT universe. You will recognize some of the characters from the HBO show, but the story lines are unique to the characters you play.
Gravity Rush - if you like Portal, you'll like this one. This one's on Vita, and it takes full advantage of the motion controls.
Game of the Month: Journey (got a 9)
Twisted Metal got an 8.5 and I'm very intrigued by the pic featuring a Sweet Tooth mecha.
In the classic section, an interview with Roger Barr, creator of Abobo's Big Adventure. Don't let the title fool you, this is nothing short of a tribute to some of the best games ever made for the NES.
Look for things from Zelda, Mario, Mega Man, Contra, Kung Fu, Pro Wrestling, and many more.
The final page is a trivia page. Know the Creed is the game and Assassin's Creed is the domain.
That's it for this issue. I'll make another post when I recover from Pax East and hopefully have some info on new games.
My brother-in-law could use a controller like that if they can make it wireless, he only has a left hand. He loves games though.
Back from Pax East and I'm in withdrawal mode
Where to start.......
Spent half the con working at the Mayfair Games booth, and let me take the opportunity to thank them for allowing me to work for them and learning how to play a few new games in the process.
Working at the convention has its perks, though, and one of those is that you get to see everything from a relaxed, fixed position (you're sitting down demoing), so you get to see all the people, many of the exhibits, and since most of those exhibits have huge tv screens set up, you get to see what's going on in those booths without actually having to wait in line for them.
As to what I saw, well, the first thing I noticed was that there are a lot more girls into gaming than when I was a kid. Get your mind out of the gutters, unlike some conventions this one has a lot of girls my age in costume to look at.
Best costume, however, IMHO, had to go to Big Daddy and Little Sister. Those characters are from the game BioShock and I got to talk to the guy in the Big Daddy suit as he would stop in to sit down and take a break at the booth I was working in.
He was in a home-made divers suit with a helmet made of real, light waight metal. Even then, though, the helmet waighed a ton due to the attachments on it. Very heavy suit and he even had a working drill on his right hand.
It took lots of work to make, lots of work to walk around in, and the drill kicked...well, you get the idea.
Lots of new games coming out, and not just from the big companies anymore. Indie games, as they are called, are coming on strong, and they were out in force for this one.
Look for the Indie games on your Ipad or downloads on your console or PC.
As for the big companies:
Microsoft had Kinect set up in its section. Alas, with all the work I was doing I only had time to play 2 video games at the convention, and one was in this booth. I forget the name, but it's a video game version of Crossbows and Cattabolts, where you load the cattabolt with the ammo, fire, and manipulat the ammo trying to aim it to hit the targets for bonus points. Really nice game and very fun. You must have a Kinect, however, to play, and this one is download only.
Shame on Nintendo. They're holding out. They did not bring Wii U to Pax East. Instead they brought a bunch of 3DS units and showed off the new games. I hate to say this but I've been waiting for 2 years for Kid Icuras. Doesn't quite pack the punch it used to.
For you Aliens fans out there, the news is good. Aliens: Colonial Marines had a booth all to itself, complete with guy dressed as a Marine letting people in line. First, you went into the booth and watched the trailer, then you got to play the game, then you had the chance to get your picture taken in a lifesize equipment mover with queen alien attacking from the front (just like in Aliens). The trailer for this one is so good that you won't need to play the game to know it's worth the money.
Props to Lolita Chainsaw. They earned it. The game was set up in an actual school bus that was parked in the corner of the booth.
Lots of various companies and I just don't remember most of what was there as I didn't get to play any of them. I was not only working for Mayfair I was I was also promoting a convention I work and talking to the companies rather than playing their games.
On the board game side of things, the buzz was around two games, one of which I have played and the other I still haven't.
Failty is a hot game. Got to playtest this last year at a gamers get-together. There was a tournament for it at Pax East and the designer of the game was hosting.
Cards Against Humanity was the other game that couldn't stay on the shelves. Alas, I did not get to play this one and will have to do some investigating.
One thing was clear, however, for those of you looking for work, the game companies are hiring. Not the big ones, I mean the little ones. The Indie companies, in particular, are looking for people. The articla in the Herald yesterday confirms what I heard on the floor.
Brass Monkey is looking for game makers. Hitpoint is looking for 40 people. Turbine, which was promoting its on-line D & D game, is looking for 50 people.
Pax East signed a long-term deal with Boston, so it will be here for a while, and gaming in general is so popular here that attendence for both Pax East and AnimeBoston went through the roof. AB ran the same weekend, and although I don't have the real number, I was told of a conversation between 2 staff members in an elevator on Saturday about that number, and the response to the number was:
Are you kidding me? It's only Saturday and that's more than the total from last year.
Same could be said about Pax East. Even if the number is a gate number, that's way more than it was last year.
Until next time, dont' let the controler get cold.
Mark the calanders. I should've said this a few months ago but E3 is going to be held the first wekend of June. Keep an eye on G4 to see the press conferances on tv.
Nintendo is bound to unvaile the Wii U at this one. And there's also rumors about Microsoft talking about the XBox 720. Sony has said that they are not, currently, working on a PS4.
To MMO or no? If you thought Civilization 5 was the end-all, be-all of 'all your time belong to us', well, you haven't seen nothing yet.
Elder Scrolls is going on-line. It's the newest MMO to be announced and consider this your warning.
I'm not going to be playing this. I do not miss playing adventure style MMOs in the least. Unlike empire builder MMOs, adventure MMOs need constant attention. You have to be logged on and in front of the computer to get something done. With an empire builder, once you get past the first 3 or 4 days, the time it takes to build something is long enough to allow you to walk away from the computer for a bit.
EX: I'm playing Thirst For Night right now. To upgrade city hall to level 9 took more than 2 days, and that's with a construction bonus of level 8 (80% off the time it takes to build something). During that time, you can't build anything else. If you start a research function that takes a long time and build more troops for an army that take a long time, then you don't have to log in for a long time. As such, now I'm at the point of logging in once a day and picking a building and research option to upgrade and then I can walk away and do work, go to the bathroom, or eat (what those of us who played adventure based MMOs refer to as necessary nuisances).
Incidentally, for those you looking for a more challenging empire based MMO, try the ones on kabam.com. The Godfather is also on that site, and both games play similiar in that it is designed for planners and you can't expand to a second city without building an incredibly large army to take down a boss to get the item that will allow you a second plot of land.
This means that you not only will have plenty of time away from the computer but when you are able to expand you'll have the resources on-hand to comfortably start it up and the army to defend it, something players in other games find out the hard way is needed before you step out your front gate.
Sorry that it took so long to update things. Got the new issue of GI...
First, please remember that, if you obtain a hard copy of the magazine, every once in a while, there is a section called Game Infarcer. Yes, it's a complete joke, designed to make fun of the industry. Some people, judging by the letters written to the magazine, haven't figured this out yet.
First article is the current goings on at the ESA. They had a hand in successfully defeating the CA bill that would've outlawed the sale of any video games deemed violent (which can, literally, be interpreted as every video game ever made) to anyone under the age of 18. They're also fighting a bill introduced to Congress that would put a warning label saying 'Warning: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to agressive behavior' on any and every video game, no matter the rating. And no, psychiatrists to this day cannot actually make the link to declare the warning to be true, making this a false analogy.
They're also working on trying to create a rating system that is better suited for the world, rather than just the US.
The ESA is also the group that is responsible for running the E3 convention.
An interesting article deling with how adventure games are staying alive. The hayday for them has come and gone but there's still a die-hard community of fans that both make and play new adventure games, most of which are downloadable for free.
There's also a list of the 5 must-play adventure games of all time:
King's Quest VI
Day of the Tentacle
Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist
Are you in the DC area or will you be visiting sometime in the near future (before September 30th)? If so, stop in the Smithsonian and check out the video game exhibit.
If you've ever wondered precisely where the money you used to buy all those points and games goes, there's a handy guide in the book for you.
Buying games at the store is still the #1 way to obtain them, and don't look for this to disappear anytime soon. Downloading games is gaining steam but not as fast as many predicted.
Watch out for those 'free to play' games. Yes, those games are free to play, so long as you don't want to use any of the bonus features. Just about any game on Facebook has this feature, where you can play for free but it takes forever to get something done where, if you pay, things get done instantly.
Then there's Microsoft, which nickles and dimes you for every little thing. You pay for Xbox Live, you pay for pionts to download content, you pay for downloadable games, etc., etc.
Look for more games to earn their initial funding through Kickstarter.
A handy article looking at the trends between console generations. Comparing the PS2 to the PS3, for example, in terms of software trends.
The only genre to actually drop in sales was the adventure genre. Other trends:
Biggest average review score boost: platform games.
Worst genres: adventure and simulation.
Biggest increase: shooter.
Biggest decling: racing.
Head to head system comparison: PS3 beats all.
Biggest sales: shooter.
Largest average drop from last generation: RPGs.
Genre with the most games rated 9.0 or higher: action, with 88 entries.
How bad does the Wii stink: remove Wii games from this generation of consoles and all categories rise in rank.
Biggest jump when you remove Wii scores: rhythm/music genre.
An interview with the makers of Indie Game: The Movie.
Top 10 Space Marines:
10. Presidents Washington and Lincoln (Conduit 2)
9. X-Com Crew.
8. COG Gears (Gears of War)
7. EDG Soldier (Earth Defense Force)
6. Major Dutch Schaefer (Alien vs. Predator)
4. Ultramatines (Warhammer 40K)
3. Terran Marine (Starcraft)
2. Master Chief (Halo)
1. Doom Guy (Doom)
A look at the pros and cons of your mobile phones when it comes to games. IOS is in the lead with Android right behind it and Windows Phone 7 in the dust.
An interview with James Gunn about his work on Lollipop Chainswas.
Kratos returns in God of War: Ascension. PS3, sometime in 2013.
Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore, died at the age of 83.
Darksiders II is delayed until August.
Prey 2 is delayed out of 2012.
Gears of War: Exile is canceled.
Sony closed Zipper Interactive (makers of the SOCOM franchise).
Sega announced layoffs, general company restructuring and the cancellation of certain, unannounced titles.
Quote of the month:
'To put it another way, the food was no good and the portions were small. THQ won't be around in six months.' - Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, offering his assessment of THQ. He would later say he regretted his comments, calling them 'inappropriate'.
An article on some of the games that have come out for Kinect that are designed to get the family off the couch.
An article explosion a new WOW world: Mists of Pandaria beta.
An interview with the new senior director of Playstation digital platforms, Jack Buser.
In the toys department:
Sphero - The easiest way to describe this is a rather expensive remote controlled ball that can be used via your IOS or Android device. Range of 60 feet. At this time, the apps out for it stink, but in time, the games can get interesting. In the meantime, this is perfect for driving your pet nuts. $129. www.store.gosphero.com
Rubik's Cube Table - A 14-inch square end table that lights up. No, you can't pull the panels off. $500. www.shopgreyarea.com.
In the opinion file:
A very interesting piece on the cost of making a video game. This is especially interesting where Schilling's 38 Studios just went under after releasing a game that sold a million copies, which is actually about 2 million under what he needed to break even.
The point of the article is that this cannot be blamed solely on the consumer for not buying the game. Costs for making or maintaining a video game are skyrocketing (what did 38Studios in was the cost of maintaining the servers). Companies need to take responsible steps to cut down on those costs and consumers need to learn to expect less in their video games.
Featured game of the month: Elder Scrolls Online.
It was only natural for one of the best selling games of all time to make the jump. Where I haven't played any of the Elder Scroll games, however, I am not able to make any real statements on improvements and such in the game. It's a rather lenghthy article, though. PC, 2013.
A review for the new The Amazing Spider-Man game. Don't look for a new schtick for Spidey in this one. They looked way back for the inspiration to make this one, as well as taking into account the movie coming out this summer. Spoiler alert: the game takes place after the movie, but it's going to be released a week before the movie. Play at your own risk.
The Justice Leage has gone Lego. 'nuff said. All platforms on June 19th.
Devil May Cry - This is not a rerelease of the original game. The story has been completely rewritten, the world has been completely changed, and, worst of all, Dante has gone emo. PS3, 360, 2012.
There's a look at the Bioshock Infinite bad guys. PC, PS3, 360. October 16th.
Epick Mickey: Power of Illusion is coming out for the DS in September. Also, Epic Mickey II is coming out for the Wii.
Resident Evil 6. PS3, 360, PC. PC release is Oct. 2nd. No date confirmed for consoles.
In the Photophile:
Sorcery - Haven't heard a lot about this since 2010 but apparently it hit the shelves on May 22nd.
Double Dragon: Neon - Yes, it's based on the original Double Dragon, and it looks nice.
Guacamelee - Think Metroid, only melee based with luchadores instead of bounty hunters.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor - The original game had the most elaborate controller ever made. Now it's on Kinect, so you don't need a controller at all.
Game of the Month: Fez with a 9.25
Worth noting that Kinect Star Wars only got a 5.5, which stinks, which means they never upgraded the AI.
In the classics department:
For video game veterans, you've seen it time and again. One game on two different systems, but if you play them on the two different systems you quickly realize it's not the same game. This particular article compares SNES vs. Genesis.
Mortal Kombat - Genesis version wins with blood and precise controls.
NBA Jam - Genesis wins, although both versions were decent.
Sunset Riders - SNES wins.
Jurassic Park - Genesis wins.
Street Fighter II Turbo - SNES wins, but not by much.
Aladdin - Genesis wins as it had better animation capabilities.
Shadowrun - 50/50 split. The problem here is that it was, literally, two different games. Genesis version is favored by action RPGers where traditional RPG fans prefer the SNES version.
And, in ending, there's a list of things you didn't know about Ken Levine.
Don't forget, E3 is running June 5 - 7. Look for it on Spike and G4TV and you can also stream the press conferances on-line on various websites.
Also, for you Power Up card holders, Gamestop is apparently going to have their own version of E3 in Texas and all Power Up card holders are invited. Head to Gamestop for details.
That's it for now.
A quick update on things:
Caught Nintendo's press conferance yesterday. Still haven't seen Microsoft's or Sony's. Where my laptop is dead and I can't access any of the video game sites from work, I can only watch them online when I'm at the club I belong to. This is going to make my reports on this spotty as I can't watch them all in one day (have work to do there) and need to split it up over the course of the week.
I am planning on watching all three and then posting the results.
Short, short report on Nintendo:
Alas, simply not enough time to tell the story. Nintendo only had 60 minutes, where they really needed 120. I was looking for technical specs (especially how much damage the new controller can take) but they went with game demos.
As for the demos, I will only say this at this time: my, oh my, what that new controller can do.
This is going to take longer than I thought due to a very busy weekend. 2/3rds of the way through Microsofts press conference and haven't even looked at Sony yet.
Have caught some of the coverage from G4, though, and some things stand out:
First and for-most, a huge upset for Microsoft in that Halo 4, the game everyone thought would be voted the best game of E3, has apparently lost (sits at #2) to a game called Tank Tank Tank.
Tank Tank Tank is a sit-down arcade game that debuted at E3.
Activision now owns the rights to James Bond video games, for better or worse. The first game revisits the old movies and lets you play Bond in them. 5 levels, of which the only one to be released to the public thus far is Moonraker.
I'll give Activision this much in that they went back and got the rights to everything, and are using the faces of the original actors.
I must apologize, I do not remember the name of the game but there's a new television show that will start in April 2013 and an MMO will be released of the same name. For the first time in history, what the players do in the MMO will directly effect what happens in the show.
Three big zombie games:
Resident Evil 6 - explosives are fun
Lolipop Chainsaw - Probably the most fun hack & slash game you could ever hope for.
ZombiU - Old school, die-hard survival game, where hiding and avoiding are more important than fighting the zombies.
Wreckateer - I played this at Pax East and it's a blast, but you must have Kinect to play it. You use a giant slingshot to shoot various ammo at a castle trying to knock down as much of it as you can whilst going for the bonus points on the way. You use your arms to steer the shot. Very fun game and everyone can play.
Microsoft, what can I say, you let me down. I won't go into details, but the direction Microsoft is going in is the exact opposite of what I want in a console. Gates tried this in the 90's and it failed miserably. That's because my generation didn't want or need it. Today's kids can't live without it, so us old-timers are going to be left behind.
I will post the details by next Wednesday.
Sadly, it appears that the only original game (not a sequel, not a gimmicky Connect game) was demoed by two guys known for animating a singing piece of poo. Really bad, Microsoft, when the best game at your event is from the South Park gang... not a group especially known for video game development.
"Understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth." - JMS
Interestingly, I was in a discussion along similiar lines at the club I belong to. I'm also their big video game expert (not to mention board and card gaming expert).
There is a perfectly valid reason for so few original games (as opposed to sequels for a franchise) on consoles. Nobody can afford to do it anymore.
The short version of this is that it is simply too expensive for a company, even worse a start-up company, to design an original game from the ground up, promote it, and support it after its release.
There is no guarantee John Q. Public will support an original game upon release, so most companies are sticking with 4 ot 5 franchise games, which will make money, and leaving everything else to die.
Two great examples:
1. Alas, I don't remember the name. Main charater was a female and you had to avoid the people looking for you rather than fight them. Came out for the Xbox and PS3. Failed miserably and the company lost a fortune on it.
2. 38 Studios. Granted, their mistake was making an MMO as their first game, which are the most expensive games to support upon release. $60 Million is a drop in the bucket when dealing with an MMO, and the game just didn't get enough sales to support it.
As such, the only original games you'll find are for your phones or computers. There are some really good freebies out there (Hawkin, for the mech drivers out there) and a good deal of them are free where some are not.