Monday, July 30, 2012

2 For 1 Blog Post!

The first from the wonderful corner of the Consumerist. Also part of the “haha, nice try getting DRM to stick”.

Apparently there are some plugins buried into the games that can be prodded by keyloggers. So while trying to keep their game from being copied they can open your computer up to hacking. Thanks Ubisoft!

You can view the full list here. But it’s basically everything Assassin’s Creed and some Tom Clancy.


PEGI new system
PEGI is the ratings classification for Europe, and now a new law is in place in the U.K. that allows retailers to be fined if they’re caught selling a game to someone under age. I.E. if a 12 year old buys a 16 rated game, the retailer can be fined and the employee sentenced to up to 6 months in prison.

As I’ve stated on multiple occasions, I don’t know how they can enforce this. Short of having a police officer stationed at every retail location that sells games, and I’m sure they have much better things to be doing, there’s no real way to make this law stick.
I think the ESRB’s findings are pretty clear that kids are not getting those games from the stores but from their parents or elder relatives.
There are also changes to the PEGI system to make it more clear which products are 15+, 18+, and the newer guidelines for the 12+ category. All video games will now be regulated through PEGI and the U.K.’s regulators will be absolved, except when a game needs an 18+ rating (which is like our version of NC-17 or XXX: very rarely.)

The Supreme Court has already ruled in our favor in the U.S. Let’s hope that the English courts do the same because you know this is going to head to trial.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gaming + Olympics

As the world gears up for the opening ceremony of the Olympics (of course I’ll be watching too as a former competitive gymnast; I’m a sucker for the games), someone has to talk about Michael Phelps obsession with video games.
Oh yes. Because he is working towards another 7 gold medals this year, someone has to point out that he plays Call of Duty up to 30 hours a week. Which is bad according to Liz Woolley, founder of Online Gamers Anonymous. Apparently video game addiction is even more dangerous to people such as Phelps who have a highly driven, competitive nature.

Of course there isn’t any proof to back this up that Phelps has an addiction, and that it could be detrimental to his time at the Olympics.

Look I’m not going to discount that video game addiction could be a real problem. Someone who spends a week straight doing nothing but playing a video game and allowing their life to deteriorate probably has some issues they need to address with a psychiatrist.

Maybe for Phelps this is his way of relaxing. 4-5 hours a day really isn’t that bad. And from experience I find that people tend to round up when they talk about their gaming time. 30 hours a week is probably more like 20.

You know what would be awesome? If he won his 7 gold medals. Then it would be about “how video games can help you win gold medals”. How’s that for a spin?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Looking Inward While Dressing Funny

I decided to write an open piece today about my other hobby turned geeky habit that has been slowly taking over this blog: cosplay.

Hey. It’s still a geek blog about geek things. Cosplaying video game, anime, movie characters counts.

In the process of cosplaying, I’ve found myself settling into particular niches and styles that I feel are reflective of my personality. Which makes sense until you start factoring in the villains.

As I’ve progressed in this hobby, I’m looking more and more into the sociological aspect of how and why people choose to dress up. The answers will vary from person to person; everything from I want to be my favorite character to expressing love for a fandom. I feel that there is more to cosplay then simply dressing up, in that it speaks to our personalities and reflects who we are (sometimes without us realizing it).

I have always been interested in hearing people discuss costume construction as well as why they chose a character. Having judged a few contests, whenever someone asks the question you’ll typically get “I really like the character” and that’s fine. It’s not like you’re docked points for your answer to that question. But the ones that really stick to me are where they feel a connection to the character, or it’s a movie that affected their lives.

I remember one young lady who told the story about her father never liking that she cosplayed. She wanted to get a costume done for this particular convention but her father ended up having a pretty bad stroke and was in the hospital. She visited him every chance she could and put off finishing her costume. One of the last things he said to her was that even though he didn’t understand it, he wanted her to keep cosplaying because it made her happy. She finished up that costume for the convention.

How awesome of a story is that?

That became a connection to cosplay that some people may not have considered. It speaks a lot about the person that we are, or that we wish to become.

Looking at myself, cosplay has been my way of expressing my fandom. I don’t draw (read that as: I can make stick figures and that’s about as good as it will get). I write but I never got into fan fictions. I’ve been on a few forums, but never long enough to really get past the “well this game is better” stage where we can discuss things at length in a logical, possibly philosophical manner.

I’ve been a crafter at heart for as long as I can remember. How many people do you know can weave on a loom? Or cross-stitch, or macramé, or can sew on a button? Ok the last one is silly but not many people know how to do it, and are willing to drop $10 at a Laundromat to get it taken care of. Rip off I say!

The longer that I have been cosplaying, the more I have seen patterns emerge. For example, I tend to stick with obscure or under-cosplayed characters. You’ll probably never catch me doing Sora (Kingdom Hearts), Cloud (FF7), or Yuna (FFX), or the Naruto’s, and FMA characters. That’s not my style. I like those characters (not Naruto), but not enough to spend months making a costume for them. I’d much rather make a costume for Cloud of Darkness from FF3, Queen Beryl from Sailor Moon, Dahlia Hawthorne from Ace Attorney. Obvious aspect of these characters? They are very rarely, if ever cosplayed. I’m the first Saki Omokane from Marvel vs. Capcom. I’m the first Lady Lilith from FFXI. I don’t intentionally go after those characters just to say “Firsties!” but because something about those characters intrigues me that I want to make costumes.

The other thread is that I like villains. I’m not entirely sure where that stemmed from but I have a theory because I think I’m a pretty nice lady. It takes a whole lot to piss me off and I’m pretty passive.

So my theory is this: Halloween. When it came to that wonderful time of year, as a kid I always picked the bad guys. Now I’m sure some psychologist and/or therapist somewhere would say that being a bad guy on Halloween was my way to release aggression because I have all this pent up rage from being a quiet, shy, girl. Want to know the real reason? The bad guys had all of the best costumes and cool gear.

When I was a kid, costumes had more bulk to them and a lot were useable for several years, not the cruddy plastic stuff that is made today. Bride of Frankenstein had some of the best fabric and wig available and it was so much fun! We (my brother and I) were able to get cool weapons, capes, cloaks, canes, make-up, wigs, all these awesome things in comparison to the “princesses” and super-heroes who typically had the lame plastic crap that was only good for one wearing.

Maybe those psychologists would be right. I was a pretty quiet timid child. But I wanted to be the cool bad guy with the awesome cane that converted into a sword, not the crappy plastic batman mask that only covered 1/6th of your face. Who wanted that?

So I think in my subconscious I’m still fulfilling that childhood desire of wanting to have a cool costume, and bad guys always look cool in comparison to the good guys. Not to mention, I stood out. When everyone spends so much time focusing on the heroes, the villains are very rarely cosplayed. It’s a great opportunity to make use of a spot that needs to be filled.

Ok yes. All cosplayers want some attention. You’re lying to yourself if you say you don’t. Let’s be honest with ourselves here. We’re dressing up as characters with 10 foot swords, bright orange spiky hair, with talking monsters, 6 inch platform shoes, tails, and short shorts. We’re going to get noticed and we want to be. If you are saying “I’m doing it for the art” then you’re totally lying to yourself. It’s ok to want a little bit of attention. We’re human and animals. We all have a desire to have someone to notice us, even for a brief moment. There’s nothing wrong with it! Just admit to it.

And being a bad guy will get you noticed.

So will being an undercosplayed character.

I’ll admit that my costumes are either really big hits or really obscure misses. Saki: 2/20,000 got it. NiGHTS: I made a girl cry with joy. It has its ups and downs. My only goal is to get one person to recognize the character and then I’m a happy camper. So far I’ve succeeded, even in my ridiculously obscure Sith cosplay where she appears in an art book.

When I get to the core of it, it is about me expressing my fandom through my own creative way. I may not be the best, and I don’t pick popular characters, and I like to be the bad guy for a day, and it makes me happy. In so many ways, I think it speaks to a lot about who I really am; someone who doesn’t like to follow the crowd, open-minded, thinking outside of the box (as a villain would), willing to learn and reach for impossible goals.

The video games I play probably say the same thing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pretty Geek Girls Exist!

It’s nice to see that men are finally stepping up and being responsible humans in defending the other gender from allowing them to dive into the geek pool, so to speak. Sometimes the freelance blog from CNN contributors are pretty good. Their geek blog in particular has some highs, and the occasional low. While the title is not really appropriate (booth babes does not always = geek, many of them are models paid by a company to push product; sometimes they know their stuff and sometimes it's a job), Joe Peacock is one such geek fan who is standing up for the rights of women, and telling the posers to gtfo.

Part of the trouble with women being accepted in a community that is male dominated is that there are those that want to, unfortunately, capitalize on it. Geeks and nerds are a target just like everyone else. When someone finds a way to exploit your weakness, given a chance they will. It’s a sad fact. Some women pander in costumes to get attention (outside of the normal cosplay attention). Marketing has been doing it for years to get games and geek products sold.

Here is my stance: Men. Don’t automatically assume that all pretty women at a geek gathering are doing it for the attention. Guess what? There are a lot of pretty women who are into geek things. At the same time, don’t barrage them with an endless string of geeky questions that most geeks probably can’t answer themselves. I’ve brought it up before. It just pisses us off that we have to constantly test our "geekness".

If you want to check a woman’s geek factor, bring up something she might be interested in. How do you find that out? Well look at what’s she wearing; maybe there’s a gaming logo in her shit. Or see what comic book she picked up at the booth she’s at. Or ask about the buttons and patches on her messenger bag.

“That’s a cool Master Chief button. Is that the 2 armor?”

“3. But I really want to get an original of so-and-so character before they made him shiny in 3.”

And there you have it. You’ve confirmed her geekness without asking “where is the bathroom on the Enterprise” question.

My only qualm is his gripe against the Frag Dolls (I originally wrote that as gripe on gripe but that was weird). In their early inception, they were a group of women that really did game and enjoyed it. They may not have been “geeky” in the sense that we expect them to be, but they found a love for gaming and went to tournaments as a team of women. While they currently do a lot more than game by creating merchandise to sell themselves (and who doesn’t these days?), I don’t feel like they “play up to be geeks” like the 6 of 9’s Peacock refers to. Most of them are legit gamers. They have a few titles under their belt. Yes, they are pretty and utilize it. Not something I agree with, but they’re not complete fakes with gamers either. They know their stuff.

Aside: I know I typically don't refer to women as "girls". Truely, I only titled and used girls to directly correlate to the original article. As many of you know, I prefer to use the term "female gamer" and "female geek" over "geek girl" or "girl gamer".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Phoning It In

Get it? Mobile game phone. Hah!
Yeah. I'm phoning it in.

At least I admit to it.

Go read this at Gamasutra. It's a nice summary about video game research and how we're usually only presented with one side of the story (negative).

And Amazon is having Gold Box deals all day for 360 games. Ignore the photo as it is obviously outdated.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beyond Our Influence

An interesting article by Simon Hill on Digital Trends has me asking if gamers are pushing too hard for changes, or are devs becoming more aggressive at sticking to their guns.

Lately we have been hearing a lot of backlash from gamers about making changes to games. The ending to Mass Effect 3 is a prime example. There was a giant uproar from the internet and people were not going down quietly. The result was a free add-on of an alternate ending.

Much of what you see online with MMO’s is also from the influence of customers. Not just new items or quests, but sometimes redesigning the whole damn engine. Consumers have a lot of power, mostly due to the almighty dollar (they want your money of course).

Not all ideas are good, however. For every 1 good idea, there are probably a million really crappy ones from fans.

Realistically if devs followed the whim of every gamer, there wouldn’t be any content out there, or a bunch of really boring games. Even if you want to see a tiger riding a motorcycle spewing flames at rainbows, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world wants to see it too. In fact, most of us probably don’t. I’m not spending $59.99 without tax on that.

I like Katsuhiro’s (Tekken) point of view as well as some of the BioWare devs (posts removed after beta testing for TOR so can’t really link them). But the summary is to put some faith into the devs. They know what they’re doing and they’re doing it for a reason. Take a step back, look at the whole picture, and stop being babies.

Thumbs up.

There is a balancing act of trying to get your ideas across without it going over the heads of your audience. If after testing people truly don’t understand what’s up, then yes. By all means please change your game, and a lot of times devs will do that. If it’s just “let’s do this” but devs know that would never work in said game, then it won’t happen.

Realistic Expectations.

That’s what it should be called. If fans unite in mass and are truly unhappy with something in a game, they need to provide realistic alternatives to resolve the problem.

My simple 2 cents.

Go To The Movies

2 postings today. This is one I have to get off my chest.

The violence in Aurora, CO at the theater showing a midnight premier of The Dark Knight is sad, unexpected, and unnecessary violence. We are all sending positive thoughts to the families and friends of those involved.

The reaction from the fall-out is, of course, overblown. I’m glad I went to the Thursday midnight showing because I would not have been happy to go this weekend with the “extra security” roaming.

I know what happened is sad and people want to take extra precaution. Here’s the thing…we’re letting these crazy aholes win by freaking us out.

Every time something bad happens on a plane, security gets beefed up that now toddlers are getting pat-downs.

Whenever someone threatens a school, we now have metal detectors and kids can’t wear backpacks. (Ask me about the year after Columbine. Worse, year, ever. School sucked bad enough. After Columbine, it really freekin’ sucked.) You know why so many kids today have health issues? Carry 10 AP books in your arms from class to class and tell me how you feel at the end of the day.

Now that someone went after a theater, we’re going to see things change. Unfortunately.

AMC was the first to ban costumes outright, only to later amend it to no face-masks and fake weapons (I wouldn’t bring any of my prop weapons to movies anyway). The outpour from people on their Facebook page has been a mix of “you should ban costumes it’s not Halloween” to “why are you taking the fun out of the movies?” Clearly I’m for the latter. Seriously. Who made the former the fun-police?

Dressing up in a costume is no different than a sports fan putting on body paint of their teams colors, dying their hair, and going to a game to show their support. I know that analogy has been used a lot lately, but why is being a sports fan “normal” but dressing up as a comic book character “weird”? Damn hypocritical society.

Even though AMC clarified their rules, the whole situation sucks. Things are going to change. People and the news are going to blame the media and probably video games. Again. Even with the power of the internet, there’s only so much we as consumers can do.

But there is one thing.

Stand up against the violence.

Don’t be afraid to live life.

This really was a freak act of violence. It’s not a daily occurrence. If we dictate how we live life based on what we see on the news, we’d all be sheltered in our homes and never leave.

There is a chance every single day that you wake up that you may get hurt. You may lose a limb. You may die. But you get up anyway don’t you? You go out to your car and drive daily knowing the risks. In the U.S. alone there are over 6 million car accidents every year (note accident /= death), and 1 person every 12 minutes is killed in a car wreck. You know how many accidents occur on a plane on a yearly basis on average? 10 world-wide. with just under 400 fatalities. Way safer to be on a plane.

We shouldn’t allow the actions of one man stop us from living life.

Go to the movies. Don’t be afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Enjoy every moment that you have.

Don’t allow yourself or anyone else to succumb to fear. There is so much joy, laughter, and enlightenment from going to the movies. No one should bar themselves from that experience because of these murders.

And don’t be fun nazi’s. Everyone is allowed to enjoy life and dressing up is a part of it. If you do the sports thing, being in a costume is no different.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ace Attorney Movie. The Review!

I have wanted to see it since the moment they first published stills of the movie.

It was originally only going to show in New York and possibly LA for film festivals.

Somehow, through the glorious power of the Dallas Asian Film Festival crew, they brought it here. I wasn’t aware of the first showing (my own dumb fault) but was thrilled to see it would play again during closing night.

If I could summarize the movie in one sentence it would be this: Should the movie play in your town, drop everything that you are doing and go see it.

This isn’t some fan girl playing up to the games. This is coming from the point of view of a movie reviewer and a gamer. Ace Attorney isn’t perfect, but it is a gavel bang of justice that is sorely needed for the video game movie genre.


- This is by far the best adaptation of a video game to a movie yet. Why? Hollywood didn’t get their hands on it. Capcom stayed away from the project (which could have been bad; look at the Super Mario Bros. movie). They gathered cast and crew that really committed to the characters and cared about the content of the game. Down to the hairstyles and clothing, it was all about bringing the game to life.

- Classic characters and new twists. Even if you haven’t played the games, you knew when Phoenix was on the screen, or when Edgeworth was going to respond with a point and a snap, or that Larry Butz was going to do something in the background to grab your attention. Larry owned that movie. But some of the characters were given a new spin, such as Redd White (spoiler: the murderer in the second case) went from being a flashy man in a pink suit to a disheveled man in black, dark shades, and mangled hair as a reporter, not a hotel manager. And his perky assistant? Gone.

A lot of this possibly had to do with the way they were trying to convey the story; a more obvious note to the viewer that “this guy is bad, this guy is good” so that the final case would be even more of a surprise to new-comers of the series.

While I miss the flamboyance of Redd White, the change wasn’t all bad.

- Making the game come to life. It’s not just the characters, their hair, and their mannerisms, but it was clear that the crew really paid attention to details to make the set alive. The blow-up Steel Samurai from Gourdy Lake? Picture perfect replica from the game. The gavel the judge used? Exact. The attorney badge? Legit. Even the insanity that was the digital projection screens that displayed pieces of evidence (and it was ridiculous) felt like you were right there, playing the game, tapping away to solve the case and exonerate your client.

- Everything old felt new. Takashi Miike and the script writers took on a difficult task squishing 4 cases into a 2 hour movie. The way they approached each case wasn’t like the game at all. They were all inter-twined and some slightly altered to showcase the power of the court system and how the determination of one lawyer can turn the system upside, around, and backwards to ensure the innocent are proven not guilty. The movie was well crafted to interject a lot of fan favorites but keeping the tone right where it needed to be, borderline serious and amusing.

- Subtitles! This gets its own category because it’s obvious that the production company had an influence on how titles would read to audiences. Yes the Japanese names were changed to their American counterparts, which was a nice gesture. What I really loved is that they included accents, tones, and inflections that you see from characters in the game. Lotta Heart, the paranormal photographer, for example, has a Southern twang in the game. Guess what happened with the subtitles? All Lottafied! Now we all know she didn’t really speak like that in the film, but it made it all the more compelling.


- Not all character changes were a good thing. Detective Gumshoe and Maya Fey will probably get the brunt of the blow because their characters are not as they appear in the games. Gummy was more of the hard-nose detective. His charming, cheerful demeanor was lost and at no point did Edgeworth threaten him with a potential pay cut. Maya wasn’t her cute, bubbly self either. She had those moments of a juvenile mini-tantrum, but that sparkle that we expect from her wasn’t there. And what was up with the dead fox around her neck? If that was supposed to be a method of keeping warm it failed because her legs were still pretty bare and open to the elements.

- Lack of context opens up confusion for non-fans. While I understand that they couldn’t squeeze all 4 cases in, some things like the Steel Samurai and The Blue Badger were probably confusing to newcomers, it didn't address all of the game's cases well enough. The sequence involving Dee Vasquez (see guys I knew I’d remember the name eventually) in the courtroom (one of the producers of Global Studios that produces the Steel Samurai). Her part was to help develop Edgeworth’s character as this prodigy prosecutor, and that’s about it. But unless you’re in the know, the in-side jokes/references are for fans only.

- Too much humor and too much seriousness. This is both a positive and a negative for the film because one aspect I did enjoy is how well they blended in the sillyness of the game with the real world aspects of murder, theft, corruption, and all the things that make up a courtroom drama. But then there were these spans where the humor was really high that you couldn’t catch your breath or the drama was incredibly intense that you were pretty freekin’ depressed. It was a bit odd for the movie. The moments when they were blended worked out quite nicely. But to go from the heights of busting a gut laughter to the incredibly depressing back story of Yanni (which you know about in the game but it wasn’t visualized) was a kick to your senses. I know Miike has his style, but this was a little off-kilter even for him. We needed time to recover before the movie could continue.


This is the video game movie we all have been waiting for. Go see it. They have not announced a release to DVD for the U.S. so you may have to import it. It’ll be available in Japan August 22nd (after a short theater run) on DVD and Germany spring 2013.

This is one of those films where I would LOVE to see a sequel just to see where they take the story from there. But something to keep in mind is that AA is a cult franchise. It doesn’t have a high number of sales, but Capcom knows that the fans will always be there. We buy it and we spread the word. It’s difficult to not get hooked onto AA. Even hearing people leave the theater were talking about wanting to play (try EBay because it’s a little tricky to find these days). There’s a magic to the series. This might be one of those where it did only 6 mill at the box office (limited release for a very short time) but the DVD sales will win people over.

Aside: Hollywood and U.S. studios. If you ever want to make another video game movie, follow what AA did. We won't accept your crap anymore. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Catching A Date Site Geek

Wallowizzard is spoken
in hushed tones on the
I had to laugh at all of this. I know people want to find “love” and their true match in life. Especially if you’re a gamer, what better way to meet someone then to do it through a website just for gamers!

This is a nice tie in to yesterday’s post about “men are going to kill the species because of porn and games”.

Yeah. Anyone can tell you that a lot of these sites are just revenue generators. You’ll have way better luck finding a geek guy or girl on or eHarmony. It’s another situation where you’re looking for love in all the wrong places. And those websites are trying way too hard to get your attention, and your money, with nothing in return.

Here is how you can easily spot the fake dating websites from the real ones:

Fact 1 Not all men or women look like the images portrayed. The real websites will use real people or all shapes, sizes, and skin colors.

Fact 2 Interests and finding out about you to locate a match will be more than a 5 question form. Real websites will have you fill out pages (and interests range beyond “I like Pop music”.

Fact 3 Dating websites won’t use gun’s in their logos, unless it’s for a local gun club single roundup. Yes those really do exist. I’ve seen the ads.

Fact 4 Real websites won’t use “cute, hot, sexy” in their taglines. Just avoid those. If you want any of that, go find some porn.

It’s pretty obvious to tell the real from the fake sites, but some people are hoping for some kind of human connection that they overlook the warning signs. So gamers, just be aware of where you’re going for dates. Even craigslist might be better then these “gaming dates” websites.

For those out there wanting to find love with a geek girl whom shares your interests, I’ll let you in on a few things.

~ Let your lady be herself. She can be excited about her interests, both with games and other hobbies. She needs to be allowed to express those aspects of her life.

~ Don’t force her into playing games she doesn’t have interest in. Suggesting to her to try something out of her norm is fine, but don’t push her into it. Let her game how she wants to.

~ Co-op (both on and offline) can be a lot of fun. Pick games that you both share interests in. Or if you don’t like the same games, Mario Kart and Resident Evil 5 always work for hours of fun.

~ Respect her and report online abuse. Which seems obvious, but a number of guys I know will rattle off on Xbox Live with their girlfriend playing without thinking about what they’re saying, or not taking into account that someone is threatening her because she’s a girl. Stand up to it. Ask them to stop (politely, don’t go nerd raging on them) and report them. Your lady will thank you in the long run.

~ On the same train as the last point, if your lady is feeling uncomfortable in a game and the jerk offs won’t stop, report them and leave. Don’t keep yourself and her in that situation because it will cause tension between you two later.

~ Let her experience your nerdy/geeky moments together. Look she’s going to find out eventually. Better sooner than later. You’ll be happier in the long run.

~ Not all gaming girls look like Asian supermodels like the media and booth babes portray. Don’t go out there and expect to get a woman that looks like one. At the same time, not all gaming girls are overweight. A lot of them are pretty normal or healthy. Be realistic about your expectations. You have probably overlooked quite a number of women interested in you because you were shooting for something that doesn’t exist. Same for you ladies. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be physically attracted to someone. That’s an important part of a relationship. But trying to aim for someone that doesn’t exist will cause you to overlook all of the wonderful women around you.

~ Don’t hit on anything that looks like a woman. It’s not attractive. It’s slimy and creepy. Approach a woman with confidence, but be humble. Ask if you can buy her a drink. If she’s not interested, take the hint, be polite, and leave her alone. Don’t be the creeper. Women find out fast if you’re the creeper in the room. Mingle with your friends again before approaching another woman that you find attractive. Geek women are just like real women. We don’t have any special codes to unlock. We want to be talked to just like everyone else.

Sh*t. When did I become a dating expert?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Says Games and Porn Will Kill The World

WoW will turn us into
mind-numbing zombies! >.>
It’s another one of “those” books, but the summary reads a lot like that Futurama episode where Fry made a Lucy Lu bot as a companion, and the Planet Express crew tried to make him realize that it was bad for humanity if he didn’t procreate. Funny episode.

Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford professor psychologist along with co-author Nikita Duncan, are saying in their new e-book “The Demise of Guys” that video games and porn are going to destroy the world because men won’t be out procreating. Instead they will be sitting at home, playing video games, and getting sexual gratification through hardcore porn.

Their argument centers on the idea that today’s generation is being re-wired by the media presented to them.

The article makes a good point that the argument is more anecdotal and not as conclusive because there is no evidence to suggest that men and boys are staying indoors and not socializing, thus preventing production of more humans.

And then I had a flash of that episode of Fry sleeping with his grandma. It explains so much!

I don’t think anyone will dismiss that a large number of the human population spends more time online today than they were a decade ago. But there’s no direct link that it’s been disrupting relationships for the sake of procreation. Has the world population growth rate slown down in recent years? Sure. But I don’t think video games and porn are the reasons. There are a wider array of contraception’s available. Men and women have more say in if or when they want to have children and can better plan their lives. If video games and porn are any factor in the world growth population, I’m betting it’s insignificant and I’d like to see the research to prove it.

This is another one of those books that makes remarks but doesn’t provide the research to back it up. It’s all baseless assumptions that all men are lazy, non-social bums when really it’s the opposite. I know a ton of gamers who are way more normal then most sports fans, or corporate American workers on the 9-5 schedule. I hate to say it, but that e-book is the ramblings of an elderly gentlemen who doesn’t want to take the time to understand the current generation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Random Gaming Facts

Today is just one of those days. The thoughts are swirling with no place to go. Or rather they don’t want to leave and therefore I can’t create a comprehendible sentence. So! I’m going to throw at you all some very random facts about video games.

Legend of Zelda: The first game you could only carry a max of 255 rupees. That was the maximum value of an unassigned 8-bit integer, and more then that would require more memory, which wasn’t an option back then.

Link’s Awakening, Dr. Wright aka Will Wright creator of the Sims appears in a house. The advisor for the SNES game as well as Sim City brought him to life.

In A Link To The Past, there is a portrait of Mario inside the house in Kakiriko Village.

Speaking of portraits, Final Fantasy 7has a painting of Hironobu Sakaguchi inside a home in Rocket Town. And Darth Vader in sillouete form appears in the Spirits Within movie in the window of a dilapidated building. Not a movie, but it counts!

Faz Chodat gets an honorable mention for using his cell phone on a plane to play tetris. He got 4 months in jail as his punishment.

The human gene chromosome 7 use to be named Sonic. Until the science community had a change of heart and dumped the “comedy” names.

For more Sonic news, Sonis 2 was the very first game to have a simultaneous worldwide release date.

Scarface: The World is Yours, didn’t use Al Pachino, but the man did pick the voice actor Andre Sogiluzzo to be his sound-alike.

Anyone remember Golden Axe? Well the screams used were digitized versions of screams found in First Blood and Conan the Barbarian (the Arnold S. version).

Or how about Capcom’s first mascot? It wasn’t Megaman or Rockman. But Captain Commando. He was more of a superhero in a blue/white suit, but people were not responding to him as well as Megaman.

Toshuyuki Takahashi holds the world record for pushing a button on a game controller 16 times per second. Some notes say it’s from an Xbox, but my vote is it’s a keyboard of Playstation controller.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert was heavily censored and altered in Germany. Hitler, who was central to the plotline, was completely removed from all cutscenes. And all the soliders? Well they became cyborgs.

Starcraft is the first game to have physically made it into space in 1999 by Mission Specialist Daniel T. Barry.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Difficult Games

Another week without a computer.

Round 4 with Toshiba.

Seriously if you ever get one of their laptops, which is a pretty nice piece of equipment even with its age-it just has a really stupid heatsync issue, never go to tech support for help. Always afk to go to the consumer relations department. They’ll be the only ones willing to help you. Tech support just plain sucks.

So the postings will be very limited for the next few weeks. I’m trying to keep a positive spin on this and hopefully it won’t take them 48 days like last time. We’ll see…

For today’s topic, I want to discuss the most difficult video game created. What is it? Well I’m not really certain.

Difficulty is an ambiguous word. What might be a challenge to one person can be a joke to another. For example I think Devil May Cry is a challenging game, but not difficult or impossible. If you put enough time and effort into understanding the game schematics you can “beat” the game in the end. Whereas others that I know think it’s too difficult to complete. It’s all about perception, performance, and whatever is relative.

Arguably when it comes to measuring difficultly, Ghosts n’ Goblins and Ninja Gaiden are usually at the top of the list.

Poor Kinght in his boxers. What crappy armor.
The former is an NES game that is defined by its ridiculousness in difficulty when it seems so simple on the surface; make it to the end of the level without dying. Ok first off, if you get attacked twice you die and have to restart the level (assuming you didn’t make it to the checkpoint). Second, there’s an arbitrary clock running at the top of each level and you have to complete it before time runs out. That clock loves to run out on you before you’re even a quarter into the level. Third, there are a lot of freekin’ ghosts and goblins out to get you and they really love to hurt you. Fourth, if you really want to complete the game, you get to do it twice. The first time you beat the final boss you think it’s all said and done, but it’s really not. You have to replay the entire game all over again because Satan was faking you out. Now the second time you do defeat him is real, but man. What an ass. And this is from a time where “game saves” were really unheard of. So you had to run your NES for days, if not weeks, to finish the game.

And then there’s the Ninja Gaiden franchise. Not just one game but the entire series. Tecmo prides itself on making this a really fing hard game series to complete. In fact, they made it even MORE difficult for Western audiences during its original releases and the remakes.

Ninja kick!
 The basic premise for each of these games is to kill everything in your path, collect essence from your enemies, and move to the next area. Rinse. Repeat. Again, it sounds easy but the enemies make your life a living crap hole. Let’s start with the bosses on each level. Anyone remember that flaming turtle that you spend an hour whittling down its life, only to have it explode on you at the last moment and causing you to restart the entire level?

Oh yeah. If you go on the hard mode, you die pretty fast and have to start the level all over again. Awesome, right?

NG had a series of “modes” that you can run through so if you care about the story you can go in through Easy and Medium with no harm done. Hard/Expert/Master Ninja will make your eyes pinwheel. It’s not simply taking away the number of “continues” and upping the enemy damage output. It’s making you hate yourself type of difficult. Take the merchant, for example, who will trade you essence for healing potions. That 1k you spent last time in Medium just went up to 5k in Master Ninja. And you know that bounty of essence you got last time? Yeah that just got halved too. Oh and you die in 3 hits, not 20.

The difficulty on NG is really about beating you to death, mercifully, as many times as possible before you give up and play something else. Did you know that barely over 1,000 people have completed the Master Ninja mode on the original NES game? That’s out of 2 million+ purchases. Less than .01% of those people completed that ridiculously hard mode. That’s the type of mode where you have to stay up 3 days straight and pray to whatever deity you believe in. And I’m sure every single one of those players cried afterwards and had to go to therapy.
If there were a Rage Scale,
GG and NG would rank 11.

The difference between GG and NG is that GG is always difficult all the time. NG at least gives you an Easy mode, because the story is pretty good and it sucks not being able to see it when there are dinosaurs stomping you to death. Oh yeah. Ninja and dinosaurs is always an instant win on the awesome scale.

Those games I would say are more physically difficult because they require you to be very dexterous with your controller, weaving back and forth as you kill enemies and speed run to the end before time is up. What about mental difficulty?

That is another tricky aspect. Tetris could be considered mentally difficult. I mean how many people do you know were able to make it past 20 minutes of Tetris, with the increase in speed and random objects without pausing? I bet it’s not that many. Most of us probably can last 10 minutes before the game wins and we restart it trying to beat the last level we were stopped at.

Others may say that games like Angry Birds or Crush the Castle are difficult because it requires precision, timing, and unexpected math (the more recent Space Angry Birds has you factor in gravity). Or how about Professor Layton or Ace Attorney? I know a number of people who are unable to finish those games, even though they have pre-set conclusions and you can’t really lose. If you do get the “game over screen” you just pick up right where you left off.

Games such as Starcraft or the original Warcraft, even Age of Empires could easily be considered some of the most difficult for mental exhaustion. Those games are not about overpowering your enemies, but taking your time, planning out your moves, and being able to change everything up in an instant should your enemies tactics change. The Zerg Rush can only work for so long; now that people know what it is, Zerg players have been retool their way of attack and defense constantly.
What is up with the sheep in Catherine? Mind jack.

I don’t really know what should be considered “difficult”. I want a game to challenge me physically and mentally. Catherine might qualify, because it jacks with your brain so much that you can’t play the game as one normally would without fear that something will cause it all to twist out of bounds again.

I feel that we’re past the point in gaming’s lifespan that difficult is not longer “you gotta kill this enemy time 1,000, and you only have one life, and you die on the first hit, and you have to beat the level in 1 minute.” “Difficult” is being reshaped as games evolve.

So what is considered “difficult” these days?

Friday, July 13, 2012

My 7 Minutes With Halo 4

I bet you’re all waiting for me to talk about Halo 4 since I posted last week that I would get a chance to play it before anyone else.

I think I’ll make you sit on your hands for a little bit longer. :)

Nah I’m not that mean. I spent this past weekend at RTX, an expo for RoosterTeeth fans where “gaming meets the internet.” That’s their tagline. Not mine. You know you’ve made it big when you can have a convention about your business. I remember when RT was just starting out as this crazy little web series for Red vs. Blue. And it wasn’t RoosterTeeth but CockBite. Ok it was still RT but they always joked that it was CB. 10 years later and look at the success if has become. Even Elijah Wood (Frodo himself) jumped into a panel with the RT crew. Madness ensued.

From a convention aspect, these guys really didn’t anticipate their popularity. Even with our special passes, we had to wait in line upwards of 3 hours to get into a panel. And needless to say, if you didn’t line up within that first hour of 3, you weren’t getting in. I think they realized that and next year they’re going to take advantage of the larger rooms. (They were in the smaller section of the convention; the area that not even SXSW uses because it’s tiny. Good call!) As Gus said, 4,000 people seemed smaller on paper. They learned their lesson and I’m sure they had a ton of complaints to make their panel rooms ridiculously large next year.

No convention is complete with a StormTrooper.
Playing a Kinect game of course.

Other than that, it was a fun weekend. The exhibit hall was filled with new, unreleased games from Xbox to PC, and there was still plenty of walking room. There were lines for…everything. Even the RT booth for merchandise had a line that was 1-2 hours long. Seriously. A line to buy stuff. I missed out on getting a Grifball because of that. :/ BTW, if anyone is going to SDCC or Pax East I’ll pay you to buy me a GrifBall from the RT booth. It’s a convention only item. And I want one. They run for $20 and I’ll throw in a 50% finder’s fee. (Someone was kind enough to get me one. Thank you Clement!!!!)

Back on topic, I got a chance to play LoadOut, a third person shooter that looks a lot like Team Fortress. But with more cartoonish violence. And you can shoot off body parts but still keep trucking (I ran around without a head for a good minute while still being able to play). The game is currently in beta test if you’d like to try it out. It’s very much about customizing your weapons and online, multiplayer play. There is no single player campaign.

A kid kept asking us if we were fans of the game. How can you be a fan of something that hasn’t released yet? It may not even come out before 2013. And then they have the “beat the devs and get a cool prize” contest. Sure. People who have never played the game would stand a chance against the developers that work/play this on a daily basis. Needless to say, no one ever won during the weekend.

There was a vintage game booth that had a lot of old stystem…most of them beat up, but hey. They were there! Ataris. Calicovisions. Nostalgia away! They guys at the booth loved my costume so much that they asked me to pose in the “museum”. Ah the good old days.

Of course I went in costume. I may not have any Halo armor, but it was a gaming convention afterall.
Target practice at your favorite RT employees.

And as RT is always about giving back to their fans, one of the surprises of the final panels on Sunday during their podcast recording was they gave out 2 replica weapons (each at $500-$800 apiece) from Gears of War and Mass Effect. Apparently they had a staff member walk down the line talking to people, but I didn’t see that happen, but whatever. Very generous of them. Lots of free stuff to be had during the weekend, and quite possibly the best swag bag ever. Just look at this thing! No plastic BS that you have to lug around all day. It’s a nice bag to sling over your shoulders.

Ok that’s enough stalling. Onto Halo 4 talk.

A number of staff members from 343 were there to facilitate demos and rattle off information. For playing the demo you got a card for free Master Chief armor for your 360 avatar. Freebe for playing. Cool.

The booth was set up for multiplayer matches: first to a set # of kills or highest kill count after 5 minutes wins. Of course the teams were red vs blue (4v4).

On the graphics end of it, it was really shiny. Armor was shiny. Walls were shiny. Floors were shiny. Even the sky was shiny. It was nice not to see so much bloom, but man. Shiny!

Gameplay-wise the controls are what you would come to expect from a Halo game. Anyone who has played will be able to dive right into it without any trouble. But for newcomers there are some slight tweaks to the control setup that will allow you to ease into the game. As for the story, well no clue. We were only able to test out the multiplayer so gameplay and immersion wasn’t really an aspect that I could review. It was a simple “shoot the enemy” demo. Ok then. Shoot the enemy I shall do!

For the Halo fan you’ll notice little bits here and there that look improved, but really it’s the same game we already know. 343 couldn’t reveal too much about the story, just to expect some surprises and that it’s the Halo game that they’ve always wanted to make (didn’t they say that about the last 3 games?). They were looking to improve the multiplayer matchmaking process so that newer players won’t get immediately grouped with those who have experience and have their butts kicked.

While there wasn’t a demo of this, 343 did announce that they are bringing back the Foundry system with creating maps and allowing more customization, ease of use, and variety of content.

And yep…it’s Halo. I mean, I don’t know what to say about it anymore. The multiplayer is everything you already know. I’d love to talk about the story, but they didn’t show us squat. And everyone kept asking about Grifball in Halo 4 at the Grifball Panel. Which would have been fine, however creator’s of the Grifball League (yes there is one) kept saying they didn’t know a thing about Halo 4 other then it looked pretty on the exhibit floor. And yet people kept asking questions! Way to listen fanboys. Go sit down and stop hogging the mic.

I feel like there should be more I should contribute to the post, but there’s really little I can say. So if you are heading to SDCC this weekend, expect to play a multiplayer game that you have been playing for years. That’s your demo. Enjoy it or not. Your call.

I’m going to leave you all with clips of a 4 team match from Halo 4:
(Here's the footage direct from Twitch TV.)

And then this round where an 11 year old girl kicked ass at this round of Mortal Kombat. She claims she never played before, but I think she’s a ringer. :D

Next year I’m making Halo armor in some fashion or another.

Full photo set can be found here.

Even Forbes Is Talking About Sexism In Video Games

Forbes got real. I*t. This isn’t the Forbes that I know. When did they become more lax about their articles? Is it because he’s a contributor and maybe not officially with Forbes? Who knows.

But now with the Anita Sarkeesian punch game (really trolls? You’ve hit a new low making that), more people are crawling out of their comfort zone to speak up about female gamers and how women are portrayed in video games. Whether you like it or not, it needs to be talked about.

And while it probably won’t change the minds of the trolls, and it probably really is only a small minority of the issues, it’s out there. If we are open about it, we can change the culture surrounding it. It’s ok to say “No. That’s not funny,” when people drop the r word. And if we keep an open dialogue developers will see it and it can impact the future of games.

There’s my piece for the day. Keeping it small. I’ll have the Halo review up eventually. I haven’t had a chance to pull photos and video off my camera. >_<

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Little Bit of Ooo-Yah In Your Life

A new technology firm called Ouya has announced a new system they want to release for under $100 for home entertainment systems. Like other consoles it connects to a television and plays with a controller. However unlike the others this thing is about the size of a rubix cube (which is pretty freekin tiny!) and will be a customizable open-Android system to play phone and tablet-like video games.

Basically you can play Angry Birds on your TV without having to get all the extra hook-ups and tools to pull it from your phone, as it overheats in rage while you play.

The controllers will be similar to what’s available now for the PS3/360, with joysticks, and a touchpad. The system can connect to an online store similar to GooglePlay or the Apple App Store where you can try games out for free before buying them. That is the goal of course. Get people to spend more money with a really cheap system. You’re basically buying a phone to play games on your TV but not make any phone calls. Hmm…sounds like the iPad.

They have started a Kickstarter fund for $950,000. (owie) If you donate $699 you will get a console, two controllers, and a game development kit. Some open-source developers such as the brains of Minecraft are looking into developing a version of their product for the console. This isn’t meant to be for larger products like Madden or NCAA, but for smaller companies to make their games known and not be a strictly cell-phone product. Something like Limbo could do nicely on the system.

So a notch above The Jungle, but an uncertain future. Best of luck to them. Their fund has already exceeded it's $950k goal with 29 days left.

Monday, July 09, 2012

And All Shall Fear "The Void"

This is the most ridiculous image ever.
Which is why it's not real and from the parody site

We’re reaching for an article today in the Huffington Post.

It’s loosely, very loosely trying to tie in religion to Final Fantasy and that the fans worship as a religious aspect. I know I have sold my soul to Square a long time ago. They own it and will never give it back. I’m a fan to be sure. But to worship it? That’s a little much.

How am I a Final Fantasy fanatic? If the cosplay isn’t enough, how about having to own every copy of every game in mint condition? Does that work? I’ve estimated the worth of my collection once before. Now that I have it completed (thanks to a very lucky find of the original FF6 JP release never opened-NRFB!!!), I don’t want to think about its current value. It might make me want to sell it.

I have a deep respect and understanding for Final Fantasy. It takes a lot of the classic Hero’s Journey concepts and creates mystical realms of fantasy and science fiction, and flips them. It also has a great theme of friendship that a lot of us try to bring into our lives. I’ve bonded with a number of people over our fandom of Final Fantasy. It teaches us a number of values that we can incorporate into our lives. It provides us with comfort when we’re down, and gives us hope for a better future…ok this really is sounding like a religion.

*throws hands into the air*

Praise Jenova!

But I don’t see any of us as religious worshippers to Final Fantasy. Sure we have the fan fictions and the crazy art, but we don’t bow down to the creator and think of him as a god…damn.
Yevon symbols? Yep. Totally an Angel.

Yeah we do. We buy anything that Sakaguchi and/or SE makes.

Ok so maybe we worship Final Fantasy. It’s not a traditional religion where you go to a church, have your communion, and go off to pray every Sunday when it’s not the Super Bowl or Indy 500. We have message boards and convention gatherings discussing the logistics of a lifestream and why the hell they can’t remake FF6 already.

I’d imagine if there were a church of Final Fantasy it would be like this:

The holy sanctum would be in Japan because that is, of course, the holy land. The building would be a replica of Balamb Garden (because that is probably the most church-like without really being a church building from the franchise).

Sakaguchi would, of course, be sprawled across every wall in multiple art forms from acrylics to pixels. His apostles would be Uematsu, Tanaka, Kawazu, Amano, Terada, and Nomura. All would, of course, have their own pieces of art representing them throughout the building. I’d imagine Amano’s would be filled with beads.

Kneel before Zod!
Services would be yearly because for many of the members, they don’t live in Japan so a weekly trip is just out of the question. But to piss off the non-Japanese members, they’d make it weekly anyway.

For sh*ts and giggles, Sage Sundi would hold the services, giving us a nod and a Kupo to start us off.

“All rise. With a choco and a kupo, praise be to Sakaguchi.”

“And all shall worship him with our crystals.”

Of course we would have to have a sermon about the logic behind Kefka. There has to be a sermon explaining how he fits into the paradigm. He’s just too nuts to make sense; he makes the other villains seem normal.

(I realize that if there is a hell, I’m going straight there.)

Ok so maybe Final Fantasy is a religion. At least we have interesting discussions about life, promote friendship, and are tolerant of other people’s beliefs. Name one religion that does that AND practices it.

This was not at all how I planned for this blog post to turn out. I wanted to talk about playing Halo 4 this past weekend. Oh well! There’s always tomorrow.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Gameplay meets game play meets mechanics within gameplay.

While you wrap your brain around that title, I wanted to talk about the need for gameplay with video games. A number of people will focus on the story, character development, and mostly graphics (go reviewers go!). Very few will discuss the importance of gameplay, which I think helps make or break a game’s success.

But there’s a challenge in all of this because we don’t really have a standard definition for gameplay. Some believe that it’s the interactive aspects built into the game that allow the user to play. There is the argument that it’s another way to say “game mechanics” which are the rules in the game that allow the user to enjoy it. In general, the consensus is that gameplay allows video games to be distinguished from other mediums for its interactive quality versus paper books and film.

The Ambiguity section of the Wikipedia article is probably the best example on why it is difficult to incorporate gameplay into a review for a product. Sid Meier relates gameplay to a series of choices. There’s one definition that it is the interactive process of the player with the game. Or how about this “[a] good game is one where you can win by doing the unexpected and making it work.”

It’s a hodgepodge when you get to it. No one person has the same definition. We can all sort of agree that it has something to do with the game and the playing of said game.

I feel that the true definition of gameplay is an amalgamation of multiple definitions. It we take the concept of game mechanics, include the game designer’s goal, and how users play the game, we can come up with an idea on what gameplay is: A series of mechanics, both intentional and abstract from what the designer pre-disposed, that allows the user to interact with and creates the context for the game.

Take that Webster!

I feel that gameplay is best represented in both how the developer designed the product to be played, and how the user ends up playing the game. In some cases with the latter, that means breaking the game within the laws of what’s possible. Grand Theft Auto for example. We know that RockStar did not intend to make it a game where you can beat up hookers for money after you sleep with them to regenerate your health. But that’s well within the mechanics of the game, and evolved the gameplay for the user.

It's like skipping rocks on water. Just with a Mog.
Come on. It'll be fun, you weird white fluffy stuffed animal.
One of my recent favorites is from FFXIII-2 where you gain the ability to throw Mog, Serah’s moogle/bow buddy, to pick up hidden treasure chests. Obviously you’re suppose to throw the moogle. I don’t think the developers intended it to be so enjoyable; the way that he bounces and squeeks as he gets chucked across the field. A few of us began to make it a game to see how far, or how creative of a throw. Sometimes it was to see how many times we could get Mog to bounce in a ravine, or who would be the first to peg the cactuar statue from an impossible distance. Clearly, not the intent of the game developers, but it became a part of the gameplay once it was placed into our hands.

Gameplay can have a big impact on how the product is perceived. You can take something like GTA and review it as a driving simulation game, or a cops and robbers where you pick which side you want to be. It’s all within the design created by the developers and the consumer can manipulate it to their desires. This isn’t hacking; this is all within the context of what has already been created.

This is an aspect of a video game that can completely transform it. I’d be more inclined to read more gaming magazines if reviews applied the gameplay to their criteria. How did they play the game in order to achieve their responses? Did they follow the guidelines presented to them by the developer or wander off on their own to play the game their way?

This isn’t a new concept either. Think back to some of the first RPG’s. Grinding wasn’t an inherent trait of the genre. There were monsters, random battles and their purpose was to help you progress in levels to defeat the next boss. However, the idea of getting to level 99/100 before you continue with the game was not the intended design. We as gamers came up with that. “Why go smack this level 20 boss when I’m 18? I don’t want that challenge. I’m going to grind and power level until I’m 30.”It affected your perception and gameplay of the product.

That’s the key right there. Your perception of the game is how you interact with it, therefore determining its fate. Think about the next game you play. Do you feel restricted by the rules that the developers have placed on you? Do you like those rules? Are you more concerned about how to circumvent the established system? Have you tried doing something considered “not normal” for that game (i.e. not shooting anyone to complete your objective in an FPS) but it’s within the rule-set?

It may put a whole new perspective on a product that you love or hate.

Gameplay is one of those aspects that I feel could use more development and reviewing (literally and figuratively). Imagine all of those reviews of really great or really crappy games according to the reviewers. How do we know that they were playing the way the game was intended, or not trying something new outside of the confines of the instruction manual? I know I’m not suppose to intentionally throw Mog around to see how many times he’ll bounce on a cliff, but it put a new spin on the game for me.

Personally, I’d love to see more gameplay discussions implemented into reviews. I’d like to know how the reviewer played the game and the intent of the developers. This is beyond the “well you push this to shoot that”. I want more substance. Something to think about for future reviews~

Microsoft Buys More Domains. The World Stops Turning.

I’m not sure why this is news, but people spaz over little things, and sometimes they don’t know how the internet “works”.

Microsoft bought up a few more domains such as Xbox
It doesn’t mean squat for the time being as they bought up other domains like XboxPhone and 360xbox063. Why? To keep the name under their belt. Businesses do it all the time. I can’t imagine the thousands, if not tens of thousands, owned by Sony. I know a lawyer who has over 1,400 to keep his name and business safe. You’d be surprised at the number of people that type in the wrong web address or google the wrong name to get sent to, and spammed with adware.

So kids. Don’t crap your pants. Until Microsoft says they are announcing a new console, it’s nothing to concern yourself over.

Also, Xbox8 is a stupid name. About as bad as the 720, which will most likely be the product title.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's Ok To Have An Ok Video Game

Where would we be
without Professor L?
As the future of the gaming business has been changing, we’re finding more and more of the mid-size developers going out of business. Radical Entertainment for example is being picked apart with the leftovers being sent to Activision for CoD. SEGA is restructuring and will be pulling out almost every single office in Europe, minus their UK base.
Yep. SEGA is a mid-sized gaming company since it began throwing itself into third-party titles and their primary IP’s were no longer the cash-cows as originally expected. Remember when it was Sega vs Nintendo, Sonic vs. Mario? Good times. Now Nintendo basically owns Sonic, the poor little rat blue bastard.

We’re in a phase of the business where you are either the largest company making billions or you’re a small company focused on phones and flash-based games. The middle-guys don’t really have as strong of a voice.

Before you ask, yes it is possible to be a mid-sized developer and still have a strong future. Gearbox for example has been plugging away at Borderlands 2. (By the way, if you Google Gearbox, I’m the second to last posting on the first page. Go me for turning down their test offer. *sad face*) Their past products have done well to keep the company going. Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t a big hit, but enough mediocrity that it made people happy. They haven’t allowed themselves to be bought out by the likes of EA so they really are working it for themselves to produce the games that they want to make.

There is nothing wrong with that. We could use more mid-sized gaming companies to make new content. These are the companies that give us dynamic products. Instead of the slew of Call of Duty’s (or is it Duties?), we get your Professor Layton and Dark Cloud (from Level-5 before it became a super power), PixilJunk shooters (Q-Games), No More Heroes and killer7 (Grasshopper Manufacture). They’re not all great games, but some are pretty good. Because these companies lie in the middle of the system, they can test the waters and pull off some crazy stunts. Sure sometimes it fails, but the failures can be just as grand as the successes. Duke Nukem Forever was the game that everyone wanted to play just to see if the reviews were right about its downfalls.

The trouble happens when these companies get absorbed by the larger devs. Being with EA isn’t a safety net. The companies have just as much of a chance of getting “restructured” as anyone else. In fact, the standards that need to be met are greater. When EA is expecting a million copies of Madden or CoD to sell in the first week, the mid-sized developers have to catch up to meet that demand. While Prototype 2 is a fine game with a pretty good-sized fan-base, with it's current sales it couldn’t reach EA’s standards. For a mid-sized company those are pretty good numbers (especially when you factor in the global economy). For an EA game, it’s not good enough.

We <3 you Will. Sorry EA
screwed up your games.
I know we don't have to apologize,
but it feels like we should.

The message that is being sent among the business community is that if you’re just “ok” it’s not good enough. You either have to be on the top or making phone games. What’s wrong with being in the middle? None of the devs started out on top. They had to build their way up, and probably got a lot of their good ideas in the process. Remember when Maxis was just a mid-sized company producing some really great content? I do.

Oh Will Wright. Come save us. Let us live in mediocrity again.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Halo 4 Coming To Comic-Con and Others

So it’s not surprising that I have a general concern about Halo 4. The game ended pretty well. At least I thought so. Bungie seemed adamant about stopping the train. And then they released ODST and a bunch of other spin-offs that made us scratch our head. 4 is officially coming out in November on U.S. election day. I’m still unsure about it, but guess who gets to play it this weekend?

Yep. Me!

I can still question the logic behind it and play it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

A part of me feels that it’s Microsoft pushing them to keep the franchise going. Much like EA does with…all of their games. I’m sure there are a number of people that want to do other things. Heck a chunk of them left to start their own company (still under Microsoft btw). It just feels like the series came to a good conclusion there really isn’t a need for 4. But far be it for me to decide. It’ll sell a million+ copies on the release date, easily. Why question when money is involved.

See this is why I couldn’t be a professional/paid writer. I’m too cynical and talk bad about some companies.  I don’t like to at times, but when you get screwed over by EA one too many it’s kind of hard to play nice.

No promises that I can snag photos or videos. They’ll probably make me turn off my camera. So enjoy this preview of the live action series (really? We need that too?) while I try it out this weekend.