July 31, 2008
It turns out less than 25% of Xbox Live users are European. Maybe I play at weird hours, but I always seem to bump in to a Brit or German. Still, Microsoft has the numbers, and they say XBL is largely American.
I’ve mentioned before that Richard Garriott is my personal hero. This video is, among other things, a plug of Tabula Rasa; it is also a great example of why he’s a great guy.
GP has the best article I’ve read in a long time. Since I have no faith in your ability to click the link I’m going to give you a taste:
Jim Adkisson, the man who carried out a horrific church shooting in Knoxville on Sunday, is apparently a fan of conservative pundits Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that investigators found books written by all three while searching Adkisson’s home. The 58-year-old killer told police that his rampage was sparked by feelings of outrage over liberalism.
So, did the conservative writings whip him into a killing frenzy?
July 30, 2008
No sooner do I get in to the Battlefield Heroes beta than they announce the release date for the game has slipped back to sometime late in ’08. Based on my initial impressions that is a good move.
Remarkably that is all. Soul Calibur IV came out yesterday; I’d be playing it but my entire living room has been crammed into my office while the carpet cleaners do their work. When that’s done I hope to do some rewiring to get my PS3 to record video. Might work, might not. Wish me luck.
July 29, 2008
Xbox Live Silver members can now play three games on Xbox Live. Your choices are Lost Planet: Colonies, Shadow Run, and Universe at War.
Kinda saw this coming: Warhammer Online’s release date is now “Sometime in September.” They’ve recently released a new version of the beta client (which has been leaked elsewhere), so I’ll reserve judgement until I get a chance to play it. News for Gamers has a quote from a dev who claims the game is finished and could be shipped now. To which I say “Scoff.”
July 28, 2008
Xbox Live multiplayer might be free now. Maybe. At the very least Shadow Run almost certainly is. Probably. I don’t know anyone personally with a silver account. If you have one check it out and let me know.
Since I’m talking rumors, Warhammer: Online is rumored to come out September 18th. As I have noted previously EA is not so good with keeping their dates straight. I’m in the WAR beta, and I’d like to wish Mythic good luck with that timetable. I don’t know a subtle way to say “Zero day patch for Warhammer: Online.” (If I weren’t bound by NDA you’d probably have a less negative impression of the game right now.)
There was a video of Vader and Yoda fighting in Soul Calibur IV floating around the net. Every place I look seems to have pulled it; but it seems pretty likely now. We just need to wait for the timed exclusivity to run out.
July 27, 2008
I’ve been in my share of beta tests. I’ve probably been in your share too. I’ve seen the ways different companies run things, and I’d like to outline some dos and don’ts for making your beta successful.
Do make it easy for people to get their friends in, especially if you’re making an MMO. If you need 100,000 testers invite 50,000 people and give each of them a friend pass. Betas are seldom long enough for most people to build a rich network of friends, and it is a lot easier when you have some people you know already in the game.
Don’t lock your game behind a NDA. I realize this isn’t a final build of the game and that a lot of things may be added/removed before launch, but you’re cutting yourself out from a lot of buzz. People want to talk about your game with their friends, and preventing them from doing so seems like it does more harm than good.
Do have in game bug-reporting and periodic surveys to determine the player’s experience during the game. If done correctly this will allow you to get more player feedback than you would get by having them post to a forum. Using a forum tends to produce more negative feedback than positive. A required survey system will help you determine what you’re doing right. Also, making it easy for beta testers to do their jobs will make it easier for you to tweak and patch your game.
Don’t end your beta abruptly, especially without cause. I was in a beta for a game called Wish that was supposed to last a month. The servers failed the first two days, and on the 5th day the developers announced the game was closing. The only explanation offered was “We hope this never happens to another studio.” That was over two years ago, and I still don’t know what happened to the game.
Do let your players know what features are on the verge of being cut. If possible offer a server where the feature is enabled and one where it isn’t. Of course this assumes the feature is only being removed for game balance reasons; if it bogs down the server or is too cpu intensive that call should be made by the developers.
Don’t lock players in to a few playable classes with promise of more to come later. Many gamers won’t stick around long enough for you to release those other classes, and I don’t blame them; this is a beta, not a demo. We’re willingly providing you a service in exchange for early access to the game.
On that note don’t charge for access to your beta. I’m not even a fan of buying another game as the primary way of getting access to your beta, as happened with Halo 3. I realize it’s important to explore new methods of generating income, but the beta arrangement has been long standing tradition built around a win-win situation. It’s one of the few places where the industry actually demonstrates good-will to it’s core audience. I can understand EA and Microsoft charging for their betas (half the time they’re being sold as final product), as they’re huge, faceless corporations that have the market penetration to get gamers either way. Smaller companies should be ashamed to even consider the notion. I understand the end of development often has fiscal issues, but charging for betas is not a viable solution. Sell t-shirts, toys, comics, whatever, just don’t charge people for a product that isn’t finished.
Do be relaxed enough in your requirements for beta testers to let them have some fun. We’re providing a free service, as are you; but we’re only going to do it if there’s something in it for us.
July 25, 2008
If you’re in New York you’ll probably want to check out Game Politics’ coverage of the New York video game law. In broad strokes: games sold in New York need to have ESRB ratings, and consoles need to have parental controls. The console revisions will need to be in place by 9/1/10. To my knowledge the 360 is the only console with those controls in place already, but I don’t have children so I don’t particularly pay attention to that feature.
I have to wonder if this sort of legislation prevents movements for the government to absorb the ESRB’s role; if they were to wouldn’t it amount to government censorship?
Hellgate: London was one of the first games I reviewed. It was originally written on my personal blog. There were two full reviews for it. The game has a special place in NHR’s heart. Which is why I’m thankful for the article over at Binge Gamer for bringing the following quote to my attention:
I know everyone is looking for an announcement, and we’d love to make one — but right now, many things are in flux and we don’t have all the information yet. As soon as we do, we’ll post here on the forums, on the website, and anywhere else we can find you.
In the short term, please do not worry. The game is up, the servers are not going away in the short term and any major changes to status will be communicated in advance.
I’d like to ask for your patience as we try to figure it all out and chart a new course. We value your community, your commitment, and your passion for Hellgate and we will make sure that any solution that we architect will support all of you as best as we are able.
Thanks again. We hope to have a real announcement shortly.
Zack “Ozuri” Karlsson
Sr. Director, Business Development
NAMCO BANDAI Games America, Inc.
Some of the NHR clan members are playing around with EvE Online; there’s a three week demo on Steam if you’re interested in joining them.
Edit: Just a note, there probably won’t be a feature article this weekend. Sorry for missing one.
July 24, 2008
I’m experiencing some complications to my minor surgery. Lots of pain. I’m off to see the doctor about it in a few minutes. I probably won’t make a news post proper today. I might throw some things up in the forums where things are a bit more casual this afternoon.
Just to answer some questions: This isn’t anything life threatening. It’s not a disease or anything like that. There is no cause for concern. I do appreciate the “Get Well” emails/ims/etc. The site should be functional again tomorrow, and I expect normality to return around August 15th.
July 23, 2008
Windows Live (as in the Xbox life counter-part) is now free. It’s amazing, you can connect to other gamers all over the world to play games, for free! It’s just like every other service on the Internet.
It’s not all bad news in MS world. Develop has the details on DirectX 11. It promises better multi-threading resource handling, among other things. In a world of Core 2 Duo gaming rigs optimized multi-threading is important. However it’s only good for Vista; sorry XP users.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata insists Nintendo isn’t abandoning core gamers. It’s all a big misunderstanding. I’d like to believe that, but I haven’t seen anything demonstrated.
July 22, 2008
Mythos has been shut down. Hellgate London isn’t taking new subscribers. It looks like Flagship Studios is getting ready to close it’s door.
Destructoid has a quote from Jack Tretton up. The quote pretty much confirms what we’ve known for a while: Sony has no interest in making backwards compatibility work with the new consoles, and I seriously doubt it’ll be improved on the older ones.
July 21, 2008
The Mrs. and I downloaded some movies on PSN over the weekend. The selection feels a bit deeper than Xbox Live’s did at launch, and they had a few movies Xbox didn’t have either. I know own a digital version of “Princess Bride,” and I’m pretty happy about it.