June 30, 2008
A lot has been said about the health of PC gaming in the last week. First Crytek says 20,000,000 units of Crysis have been pirated. Not only that, but they believe a lot of other titles are being stolen at a similar rate. They’ve vowed to add more DRM (because that totally works) to their titles, as well as focusing more on console development.
On the other hand Eurogamer wrote up Valve’s assessment from May. They’ve reluctantly stepped up to champion the platform with figures like “260 million online PC gamers” which is more than all current gen consoles combined. World of Warcraft is making $120,000,000 a month, just to put that in perspective they could recover the money Sony lost on the PS3 in in under three years. Valve clearly states the way forward is to think of games as a service as apposed to a product.
MTV is releasing Rock Band 2 this year. One of the big fears we’ve had was regarding previous DLC. They’re promising full backwards compatibility. They are claiming 100% master track songs (no covers!), and new drums and guitars. The new instruments will work for Rock Band 1, I assume the old instruments will work with the new game.
June 29, 2008
This review was written by Caleb (Ripskin in the forums). I’m posting it as is because he worked pretty hard on editing it. Enjoy.
Quite recently the pyro pack for Team Fortress 2 came out; and I didn’t even know it. The pyro has always been my favorite of the nine. I’m rather pleased with the achievements given.
The achievements prove to be challenging, but nowhere near as hard, or even odd as the medic’s. For example, how are you going to save someone about to die from a fall, without staging it? I guess some people can, but it’s just a matter of chance. I digress, the pyro achievements, right.
When I first found out about the pack’s release, I was on the beginning of a two-day migraine. So I turned my monitors brightness to 10%, sealed the window so no light would come in, turned off my speakers and began.
I tried to do these in regular maps, which proved ineffective, but I wanted that flare gun. So I went and asked my good friend Cheap to help, which he awesomely said he would. It only took 20 minutes to get around 12 achievements just staging all of them with the good Mr. Awesome. Finally I said screw it, and went to an achievement box. From there I got all but four done in an hour. I then played regular games for the kills to not feel like I was cheating that much.
For some of you that don’t know what an achievement box is, it’s a map that gives you all the conditions needed to get any achievements for the pyro/medic. Usually people help others, in exchange for help of their own achievements.
So the achievements were really simple; and that’s just fine, simpler the better. The weapons they unlocked? Made of pure concentrated awesome. The flare gun (what I like to call the ‘Poof-F-U gun’) is a long range flame thrower, except more fun to shoot. I say it’s more fun, because what beats seeing some sort of enemy run away after seeing a pyro, then getting set on fire anyways with this toy flare gun from 50 feet away? It’s also pretty funny to shoot it straight into a croud, just to see whoever you hit crying for a medic.
The next weapon is the back burner, which is just a beautiful gun featuring the head of some sort of amphibian at the end, which just makes it even cooler. The ‘back’ part of the burner isn’t near as effective as the +50 hp it gives. I mean, sure the insta-crit is great, but you find yourself trying to hit their back more then trying to set everyone on fire.
Lastly, the Axtinguisher, which is a beautiful and bloody axe with barbed wire wrapped around it, and it honestly doesn’t do much for me. Yeah, it’s gorey and beautiful; but you have a flamethrower, why are you going to run at them with an axe? I guess for the 100% crit against burning people which is just as pointless as trying to hit dudes in the back instead of setting everyone on fire. Also whenever I look at the axe, I get this hollow feeling in my teeth, reminds me of the braces I had to wear like five years of my life..
All in all the pyro pack is a great addition to the game, and I can’t wait for the next one. Supposedly, it’s the engineers turn. In all honesty I hope it’s the demo, because that’s my second favorite, and of course what I’m using almost all the time right now because pyros are almost useless against pyros, which is half any team you’ll fight right at the moment. But hopefully the flashiness of the new achievements will wear off soon.
June 29, 2008
The title of this “game” tells you everything you need to know about it. You make various animals that you will later be able to use when the full game ships later this year.
There’s two problems with reviewing it. The obvious one is the demo that is freely available that has been widely download and shows you all the mechanics this “game” has to offer. The other problem is it’s not a game, it’s not even a demo for a game.
If you purchase the full version of Spore Creature Creator you are essentially paying EA/Maxis to create content for their game. Sure, it’s fun to do, but you’re still doing some of the work that used to be the content creator’s job. That’s not a bad thing, by itself, but to pay for the privilege seems wrong somehow.
There’s a pretty wide variety of legs, arms, mouths, eyes, etc that you can attach to your monster, but I still found it difficult to get exactly what I wanted.
The animation engine works fairly well, but I am disappointed that your creature’s body parts can clip through themselves. I’m hoping Spore 2 will have a rigidity/flexibility slide bar implemented to prevent your creature from impaling himself on a feather.
Skip it: If you have absolutely no creativity. It’s really hard to recommend avoiding the demo to anyone.
Demo: If you’ve got a pc or mac from the last ten years, go get the demo. Everyone can have a little bit of fun here.
Buy it: EA and Target have said they will give you $5 off the full game when it’s released, if you pay $10 now. Full access to the parts is nice, but I’m not sure it justifies the price to any but the most hard core fans.
June 27, 2008
There were about three hundred items in my news feed today. The only one that I found even remotely interesting is the original Soul Calibur will probably be on Xbox 360 next week. That’s just fantastic.
So we launched our Team Fortress 2 server last night. People kept joining while I was configuring it. It stayed full for a while, which I’m pretty proud of. We’re talking about what maps to have in the forums. If you’d like to join the game simply follow this link:
June 26, 2008
Normally I wouldn’t talk about pre-game hype like this, but I’ve got a soft spot for Denis Dyack and his antics. He’s made a bet with NeoGAF form users about the outcome of his game. If the game tanks, Dennis has to wear a sig that reads “Owned by GAF.” If the game does well NeoGAF will have to pretend the bet never happened, because I doubt they’ll wear the “Owned by Too Human” tag.
Other than that it’s been a slow news day. I might as well announce NHR’s first server will be going up soon. We’ll be running TF2 and Ventrilo. I’ll give you the address when I have it.
June 25, 2008
Ubisoft just opened it’s Sao Paulo, Br studio, and there’s already talks about opening a second in Rio de Janeiro. It’s tough to imagine a better place to live in work, unless ya’know.. you enjoy playing video games. Then you might want to go someplace that has protections on free speech that are enforced.
As the Hot Coffee Mod class action suit winds down it seems only 2,676 people have actually submitted a claim. The game sold over 21,500,000 units (according to Wikipedia) that’s .00125% of the people who bought the game that were either offended or wanted their money back for some other reason. I bet the lawyers made out like bandits though.
June 24, 2008
They’re up, perfectly useable, and easy to find. Come talk.
June 24, 2008
Sometimes I wonder how much money the console manufacturers spend to get their product into our homes. Joystiq has the answer: $3.23 billion dollars. That’s $3,230,000,000, or roughly the cost of 161,500,000 cars. That’s more than the gross national product of Moldova, Barbados, Fiji, Tajikistan, Kyrgzstan, Mongolia, Mauritania, Swaziland Rwanda, Montengro, Malawi, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Grenada, and the Marshall Islands to name a few. Sony seems slightly concerned that they won’t make this money back. Since we’re talking about the kind of debt that trumps 135 of the world’s nations I think I’d be a little concerned too.
I am still working on the forums. Turns out the options I went with weren’t as easy to implement as planned. I’ve got some nice people finding bugs. There are one or two show-stoppers, and a handful of features I need to get in there, but progress has been made. I’m actually going to spend a good chunk of today doing just that.
June 23, 2008
I’m not responsable for this one, but it’s awesome none-the-less:
Robin Walker of Valve dropped a tasty gem over at CS-Nation. It sounds like engineer is the next class to get an update. One thing they’re looking at? Upgradable teleporters. Sounds neat.
June 22, 2008
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a third person stealth game. You’re rewarded for making it through levels without being seen and for having as few kills as possible. This is the first MGS game I’ve played, and I’ll be talking about it as such.
The game itself is very solid, and apart from the cool down (which can be up to three minutes) you face after being spotted the core game mechanics are sound. There are no serious problems with camera or controls. I found myself thinking about different ways to play through levels even when I was doing something else. I don’t think a game like this can get higher praise.
What I really want to talk about is a philosophical question. MGS4 begs everyone who plays it to think about cut scenes.
The first two hours of MGS4 consists of about 90 minutes of video. They do put little bits of gameplay in there to break it up, but it was still pretty dull for me, a new comer to the series. The game gets in a loop pretty fast; ten to thirty minutes of gameplay followed by ten to sixty minutes of cut scenes.
This put me off quite a bit. It’s an Eastern vs Western game design issue, in it’s essence. Since Half-Life came out in 1998 Western developers have been working away from pulling the player from the game to explain the plot. This method puts some limitations on the writer, but enables the player to tell their own story and to bring it to life in the way they want to.
On the other hand the Eastern method is the more traditional story telling style. The writer, director, and choreographer control all of the story telling, the player needs only to sit back and enjoy the show. While this allows the creative team to tell their story with precision, it can detach the player from the experience.
When offered a choice between the two I side with the Western design. I feel if games are going to be taken seriously as an art the medium needs to develop it’s own voice, it’s own set of tools for expression. The Eastern method seems content to borrow from plays and movies to do it’s storytelling and then use gameplay for pacing and to create some emotional investment.
When I think long term about where video games are going I always remember Tad William’s Otherland. The idea is video games eventually evolve into actual, sustainable worlds where people live their lives. If you look around the landscape of the current video game industry you can see the foundations of such an application everywhere. MMOs provide persistent worlds, nearly every FPS provides the mechanics for death and war, and RPGs are striving for a working analogy for human statistics, etc.
But where do cut scenes fall into this grand vision of mine? They don’t, really. In a world populated by living, thinking people very little will happen that is predictable, which will make prerendering events impossible.
Am I cuckoo for having this dream and believing it’s something we could realize in the next few hundred years? Should I be content to sit down to play a game with a bag of popcorn at the ready? Does the “awesome factor” of CG scenes overcome any disconnection you might feel between the game and the story? Leave me your thoughts.
MGS4: Let’s face it, if you bought a PS3 you were probably looking forward to this game from the start. It’s as close to a system seller as the PS3 is likely to see until SquareEnix releases the next Final Fantasy. If you weren’t sure if this game is right for you, I think you should make an effort to play it; even if you’ve never played a Metal Gear game before.