May 30, 2008
Steamcloud is Valve’s latest attempt to get software on your pc. What’s it do? It takes your software and configuration files off your computer and store it in the "cloud." What’s this mean to you? If you’re visiting a friend’s place and playing Counter-Strike, you can log in (presumably with your steam id) and get your mouse sensitivity, custom binds, maybe even your buy scripts. Sounds neat, but I wonder what we’re giving up. Back in the day I used trainers, programs that modified your save file to give you special items, levels, etc. You can read more about it here.
Also, ninja looters are bad.
May 29, 2008
Yesterday was Ubiday. If you’d like to be sold on Ubisoft games that won’t be out for months (at best) please feel free to visit any site but mine.
In real news Game Politics reports JT is trying to subpoena Jeb Bush, a few judges, and the president of Take Two. I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think high ranking state officials are susceptible to subpoenas. I’m almost positive the rich aren’t. Nice try Jack. It wouldn’t shock me if some of these people would show up any way. Certainly there’s enough animosity between Take Two and JT that Strauss Zelnick would probably want to be in the gallery for this.
May 28, 2008
MTV, as a game developer/publisher/pr vehicle obviously has great access to review builds. The weight of the name alone can get PR/Marketing teams to open their doors. They still have to follow the same rules as everyone else which may or may not be reasonable, depending on the rule.
Destructoid is a second or third tier blog. Their position in the industry is obviously enviable (at least to me, a bottom tier blog) in that many PR teams will work with them. In the blogosphere getting early access to games brings hits, especially for high profile games. Dtoid has managed to solve the chicken/egg riddle by getting enough views for the industry to take them seriously. Good for them.
Now let me tell you about the early days of No Hype Reviews. I took a stack of my favorite games and went to each developer and publisher’s website. These weren’t all titles like Gears of War, most were niche titles like Black and White. I asked these companies for access to review code and/or screen shots for upcoming games. I received three types responses from the 50 or so emails I sent.
The most popular response was nothing. For example I’m still waiting to be approved or denied for Nintendo’s press release site. Of the three responses this is the most annoying. It indicates that these companies consider me a nuisance that will go away if ignored.
The second most common reply was to point at something about the site and say "We can’t help you because of this." Sometimes it made sense, I don’t assign numbers to games. I expected that to close some doors for me, and I accept that. Some were a little frustrating, "You haven’t been running the site long enough." Others were just ludicrous and wrong, "Your site doesn’t have a way to view older reviews or search by platform."
A few companies brushed me off politely by tossing my name on a mailing list. Capcom gets a shout out here for having the most useful mailing list. 99% of what they send me is the same sales pitch for an upcoming game that everyone gets. But periodically they offer "extra copies" of review code.
The real trick, especially for PC gaming, was to get in with 3rd party PR firms. It won’t get me access to Halo Wars, sure, but I can get in on some smaller games (Mythos, for example) a little early. I’ve found this method comes with a ton of red tape such as non-disclosures, embargos, and terms I agree to that make it difficult to publish anything other than an advertisement. I have to strike a balance between my service to the readers and my desire to get at games as soon as possible. As a result I turn down some press betas to avoid compromising the site’s ethics.
Destructoid says they’re fine publishing reviews weeks after a games release. They say they review for the love, not the money. I’m happy that they’re in a position to be able to make that choice, because it’s really where I want to be. However I run a small site, and no one comes here for the news. When I post a review my traffic increases two or three fold, and that effect decreases proportionally when I’m behind the curve. I love writing my reviews, and I’d be thrilled to take more time with the games I cover, but I also love people reading it. No one will care about a GTA IV review published this July. At that point you’re not informing people about a game, you’re talking with people who already have opinions. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just not what my reviews are about.
So MTV, here’s Rule 5 for you: Have some review code around for the small guys.
May 27, 2008
The list of games that Microsoft is removing from the service has made its way to the public. There are a few titles I think people look into before they’re gone, including Contra/Super Contra, Texas Hold "em, and Ecco the Dolphin. Also it appears you will be able to download titles you paid for again later. This is all from the various rumor-mills on the internet, so don’t take it as gospel. Still, the list looks pretty probable so I believe this rumor to be true.
Daniel Floyd put together a brilliant video which is essentially a lecture on sex in video games. Watch it.
May 26, 2008
It was a pretty slow weekend in terms of news, so I’m going to wing it Dennis Miller style.
Valve’s release dates are as reliable as Peter Molyneux talking about his next game. Sure Valve claims Left4Dead will be gettable in November, but if Gabe Newell has proven anything it’s that the game will ship when it’s damn well good and ready. Why do they even bother giving dates if the actual release is three weeks after it’s finished? Hype, that’s why.
Speaking of hype why the hell is Spore still getting coverage? There hasn’t been anything new to talk about in months, but these scuttlebutt mongers keep digging up new articles. The demo will be out in three weeks, save your crescendo of praise for a playable build.
Itagaki-san fell in line with a growing number of game developers sniping at each other. This time he was being glib about the depth Kamiya-san’s Devil May Cry. Excuse me Tomonobu, but I remember DoA 1 and 2, and those games were boobtacular clones of Paper/Rock/Scissors. Maybe in eastern cultures that’s a new spin on gaming, but over here it’s something we play in grade school cafeterias for chocolate milk.
May 25, 2008
I just noticed a mishap in our database that caused some articles to appear in sections they didn’t belong in. The issue has been corrected and I’m sorry for any inconvenience that you may have felt.
I have also noticed some compliance issues with WordPress’ EULA which I will be correcting in a few moments.
Finally there may be some down time Sunday evening, between 11:00 and 12:00 CST while I take care of some deeper issues and add a new feature to the site.
May 24, 2008
RSPD is the start of a series of games inspired by the characters of hit web comic Penny-Arcade. The game plays like a hybrid of an adventure game and a turn based RPG. It is set during a period of the early 1900s where war was not sweeping the land.
Let me begin by explaining what this game does right. The music fits this game’s spirit by being both retro and light hearted. The crackling tinny tones on the phonograph was really nice.
The graphics are also great. The characters look as if Mike “Gabe” Krahulik drew each animation with only a few hiccups. While I doubt the game will really push anyone’s graphics card, it is stylized to the point that I can’t imagine anyone complaining.
The plot has you hunting down parts of a giant robot (you know the one) being guarded by hobos and mimes. The dialog does come off a little hokey periodically, but for the most part it holds up to what you’d expect from Penny-Arcade. Despite the setting the characters you know from the comics behave as you think they should.
Which leaves us with gameplay. There’s one word to describe it: Shallow. Combat takes place like a turn based RPG, without any meaningful way of manipulating statistics. The special attacks require some extra effort on your end, however all three characters use the same three mini-games to determine how successful your attack is. For your character you hit the space bar when an arrow reaches the right points, for Gabe you mash the space bar as quickly as you can, and for Tycho you press wsad keys as instructed by a random sequence that appears on the screen. I found Tycho’s minigame on the hardest setting to be the only one that presented a challenge.
The entire game suffers from a similar problem. It’s always blatantly obvious where you needed to go and what you needed to do. Part of that is because the game only has three zones. They did a good job of maximizing how they were used, but I would have preferred a little more level variety.
Buy it: If you’re the kind of person who has purchased their books and made your way to conventions for for doodles and autographs, you’ve probably already purchased the game; if not you should.
Demo: There’s a demo available that will give you a good taste of what you’re in for. If you’re interested in something light hearted, check it out.
Skip it: In terms of game play there is no reason to go out of your way for this. If you’re not into Penny-Arcade you won’t miss this game.
May 23, 2008
I know you were all wondering, "How’s Ubisoft doing? Do they have enough lunch money? Are they weathering the financial hardships of the recession with grace?" The answer is yes. They have a net of 150 million euros (that’s $235 million in currency my keyboard has a symbol for) just laying around and have reported the 2007/2008 fiscal year was their most profitable to date.
Gamespy got a picture of the MGS4 box. Normally I wouldn’t care about this sort of thing, but it reveals a 4 gig install is required for the game. I’m starting to feel really bad for the 20gb hdd owners out there.
It was looking like another slow news day, then Gamasutra dropped this article on us. There are three take away points here, first the size limit on XBL arcade games to 350 megs. Hurray, bigger, better games! That’s the end of the good news. The not-so-bad news is there will be no spring update on your 360. Instead they’re going to focus on their servers. Assuming they get things figured out there shouldn’t be any downtime/extremely laggy connections this holiday season. Finally the bad news: Microsoft will begin to remove titles that are scoring below 65% on metacritic that have a 6% or lower trail to purchase conversion rate for three months. It isn’t clear what will happen to people who’ve purchased those games and want to download them again, or how many titles are effected. Three months to boost a metacritic score seems like a good way for less scrupulous review sites to make a quick buck.
May 22, 2008
There’s been some controversy over a pair of Xbox Live gamertag being banned. The tags in question? TheGAYERGamer and RichardGaywood. Not to be a Microsoft defender, but come on people. In an environment like Xbox Live which is more likely? The word "gay" appears in a gamertag as a derogatory term or someone using it as an accurate description of themselves (be it their real name or a statement of pride)? Now consider how many handles Microsoft has to deal with. Is it fair to ban URGay but let IRGay stick around? Is it even feasible to consider these tags are banned by hand? Let me show you the script Microsoft runs: if gamertag=*gay* (ban=1). I honestly feel bad for Richard Gaywood, not because his tag got banned, but because his parents were such pricks.
…That’s it. So I bring you: Filler!
May 21, 2008
Since my local game store wasn’t willing/able to set me up with Haze yesterday I decided to install WoW again to kill some time. It took me two hours to download and install updates. It’s impressive that Blizzard keeps on top of their game so well, but I wish they had fewer "service pack" style updates so I wouldn’t need to install 5-6 updates every time I want to jump back into the game.
Xbox live arcade can now support 350 meg titles. To me it sounds like they upped the limit to bring Soul Calibur out, looks like we might be seeing that soon.
JT has been found guilty on 27 counts of Misconduct. I the discipline hearing has been scheduled, but I’ve got no idea what he faces for punishment. Be sure to read GamePolitics‘s thoughts on the mater.
I’m a little pressed for time today. Forgive the short post. I doubt it, but if I missed something important I’ll be sure to cover it tomorrow.