Monthly Archives: June 2013

Here’s How a PS4 is Born…

Guys and Girls,

We’re all excited about the new consoles coming out this fall.  Some of us make like certain ones more than others (cough Sony cough) but this is an exciting time nonetheless.  What is always interesting is why certain choices were made in development, why certain tech specs made the cut, or why features got thrown out.  Very rarely do we get a look into that side of the industry.  Luckily, thanks to Mark Cerny, we have that clarity in regards to Sony’s new system.  So, without further adieu, here is Mark Cerny’s Game Lab talk, about the birth of a next gen system.

 

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Do Boss Battle Still Matter

Gamasutra put up an article by Vincent Smith that really digs into the problems with modern day boss battles, and hopefully some solutions.  Check it out, its a good read.

 

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/VincentSmith/20130626/195094/Meet_The_New_Boss_Same_As_The_Old_Boss.php

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Predicting the Critics – E3 Edition

It’s that time of year again, and the Game Critics Awards nominations are out.  Therefore, we all are compelled to make predictions as to who will win. These are mine and that discussion is as follows.

Best of Show
– Destiny (Bungie/Activision) – Dark Horse
– Oculus Rift HD (Oculus VR)
– PlayStation 4(Sony Computer Entertainment)  – Should Win
– Titanfall (Respawn Games/Electronic Arts) – Will Win
– Watch Dogs (Ubisoft)

This is a pretty easy one to call. Titanfall enthralled all who saw it this year, and is shaping up to be the game to beat in most of these categories.  Yet, despite the love for a new take on shooters, you really can’t compete with a crowd chanting Sony’s name during their conference.  If that is not a “best in show” moment, I’m not too sure what is.  Nonetheless, I feel that the Critics may still lean towards a game rather than a piece of hardware.  Bungie may have a small chance with Destiny, but only on the merits of the world they are trying to build within the game universe.

 It reminded all of us that E3 can be fun and interesting again.  Yet, laying in wait is the Oculus.  By the end of the show, the line to check it out was rivaling some of the big games.  The guys who developed Eve Online created a demo that let the player fly a space fighter…in 3D…in first person.  Needless to say, people freaked out.

Best Action Game
– Battlefield 4 (DICE/Electronic Arts)
– Call of Duty Ghosts (Infinity Ward/Activision)
– Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
– Killzone: Shadow Fall (Guerilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) – Dark Horse
– Titanfall (Respawn/Electronic Arts) – Will Win/ Should Win

Titanfall will probably garner another well deserved win here; but Killzone may give it a run as an underdog vote.  It is easily one of the most gorgeous games that are coming out on the new hardware, and the usage of the Dualshock 4’s touch pad might give it an edge.  Still, as much as I like the Sony product, Respawn will take this one too.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAjJ8_u_lAw%5D

Best Action/Adventure Game
– Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
– Batman: Arkham Origins (WBIE Montreal/WBIE)
– Bayonetta 2 (Platinum Games/Nintendo)
 Infamous: Second Son (Sucker Punch/Sony Computer Entertainment) Will Win/ Should Win
– Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) – Dark Horse

This should be another one that is in the bag.  Infamous impressed all who saw it at the show, and the incredible amounts of detail in their motion capture will make this one to watch in the coming year.  The ease of traversal in the game, and how damn good it looks when you do it all lead to a win for Sucker Punch.  Now, Watch Dogs won awards last year, and it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch to see it take some home again; but it seems unlikely in the light of Second Son’s showing.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPYgXvgS6Ww%5D

Best RPG
– Dark Souls 2 (FromSoftware/Namco-Bandai) – Will Win
– The Elder Scrolls Online (Zenimax Online/Bethesda) – Dark Horse
– Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (AlphaDream/Nintendo)
– Shin Megami Tensei IV (Atlus/Atlus)
– South Park: The Stick of Truth (Obsidian/Ubisoft) – Should Win

People are excited about Dark Souls 2.  I’ll be honest, it’s not my type of game, but I can see the beauty in the madness.  Frankly, South Park should take this one again.  It is bringing back old-school RPG mechanics and melding them perfectly with the show’s sensibilities and humor.  Alas, that seems unlikely.  Keep an eye out for Elder Scrolls though, fans have been clamoring for this for years.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjMxB7w2qWE%5D

Best Racing Game
– Forza 5 (Turn 10 Studio/Microsoft Studios)
– Gran Turismo 6 (Polyphony Digital/Sony Computer Entertainment)
– Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo EAD/Nintendo) – Dark Horse
– Need for Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games/Electronic Arts) – Will Win/ Should Win
– The Crew ( Ivory Tower/Ubisoft)

Now, I’ll be honest. I haven’t done too much research on some of these yet; but from everything I’ve read, Rivals showed the best.  It’s running on Frostbite, like most of EA’s games, and looks gorgeous.  It also looks to be leaning more towards Hot Pursuit than Most Wanted and that cannot be a bad thing.  Never count out Nintendo though; Mario Kart in HD looks amazing, and now there are hovercraft! It’s Mario F-Zero…What?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKesv1pBpEg%5D

Best Sports Game
– FIFA 14 (EA Canada/EA Sports) – Will Win/ Should Win
– NHL 14 (EA Canada/EA Sports) – Dark Horse
– Madden NFL 25 (Tiburon/EA Sports)
– Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (PES Productions/Konami)

Look! EA Sports Games!

Best Strategy Game
– Command and Conquer (Victory Games/Electronic Arts)
– Company of Heroes 2 (Relic/Sega) – Will Win/ Should Win
– Pikmin 3 (Nintendo EAD/Nintendo) – Dark Horse
– Total War: Rome 2 (Creative Assembly/Sega)

This will most likely be a second win for Company of Heroes.  A solid strategy game, where you have to think through your every move.  Yet again, there is a deep level of strategy to a game of Pikmin, and a love for the creepy multi-colored little dudes.  I doubt Olimar will beat out WWII, but you never know; I wouldn’t cross Reggie.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_E7PZr6q44%5D

Best Social/Casual
– Disney Infinity (Avalanche/Disney Interactive) – Dark Horse
– Fantasia: Music Evolved (Harmonix/Disney Interactive)
 LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (TT Games/WBIE)
– Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time (Popcap/EA)
– Skylanders: Swap Force (Vicarious Visions/Activision)
– Project Spark (Team Daokta/Microsoft Studios) – Will Win/ Should Win

Project Spark looks damn cool.  The game is creation, and creation is the game.  This is definitely one for the Minecraft and Little Big Planet crowd.  Graphically, it is stunning, and there is a lot of potential there to look forward to.  Disney is the dark horse in this race, with their take on the Skylanders style of game.  With the portfolio they  have, this could topple Spyro.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12AkA_FRwqg%5D

Best Online Multiplayer
– Battlefield 4 (DICE/Electronic Arts)
– Destiny (Bungie/Activision) – Dark Horse
– Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts) – Will Win/ Should Win
– The Elder Scrolls Online (Zenimax Online/Bethesda)
– Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Titanfall is looking to reinvigorate the multiplayer shooter with its fast pace and giant robots.  Yet, Destiny is giving its players interesting PvE moments in its sprawling world.  Yet, the only thing holding it back is the fact that people are already comparing it to Halo and Borderlands. Respawn will most likely take this one home, but Bungie is putting up a good fight here as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTfhrONAp-c%5D

Best Downloadable
– Contrast (Compulsion Games)
– Octodad: Dadliest Catch (Young Horses Inc) – Dark Horse
– Outlast (Red Barrels)
– Rain (Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment)
– Transistor (Supergiant Games) – Will Win/ Should Win

It’s Supergiant vs. Octodad…Everyone wins.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D50vS-PqQ2g%5D

So what do you think? Discuss in the comments below, or message us on Twitter, or yell at your screen; your call.

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Modern Music – Brought to by…the WiiU?

I’ve always enjoyed music that uses real world sounds as its base.  It’s relatively new concept, musically speaking, but it can create some really interesting soundscapes.  Enter tonight’s musical selection.  Though it eventually takes some samples from New Super Mario Brothers U, initially it is all from the system itself. It’s pretty cool stuff. Coming up tomorrow will be our predictions on the Game Critics E3 Awards, so speculate away as to what you think will be taking the win.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZVVvTaD0dU4%5D
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An Explanation of the Cloud…From Someone Who Knows…

Microsoft has gotten a lot of hate in recent months from all their policies, flip-flopping, and lack of communication.  That’s why it is not surprising that it is one of the developers, making one of their top tier games, explains what is actually going on in “the cloud.”

 

John Shiring works at Respawn and is working on a little game called Titanfall.  So, this is the type of guy who probably knows what’s going on.  It’s a real interesting read and explains things far better than anything Microsoft has said…

 

http://www.respawn.com/news/lets-talk-about-the-xbox-live-cloud/

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When the Saints Come Marching In…

Saints Row: The Third is the epitome of a guilty pleasure game for me.  It is crass, over the top, crude, and narratively hollow.  Yet, despite all of that, I had a blast playing through it.  There is something to be said for flying a jet through a city, or a random zombie outbreak in the middle of a gang war, or even an immature joke about pony-play.  Now, the game isn’t for everybody.  There is definitely an argument to be made about whether you let a kid play a game that lets you kill hookers with a giant purple dildo bat; but that is neither here, nor there.  The point is; Saints Row is fun, and probably one of the better games to come out that year.

 

SaintsRow1

 

The interesting part about Saint’s Row is that it didn’t begin in the niche that it finds itself in now.  The easiest way to describe it all is to look at the Evil Dead movies.  Evil Dead was a horror movie that happened to be unintentionally funny at points.  Evil Dead II was a also a horror movie, but they purposely embraced some of the humorous aspects this go around.  By the time you hit Army of Darkness, the movie is full on comedy and completely nuts.  That, to me, is Saints Row. The first game was a well made GTA clone, that came out at the right time to garner some popularity. The second was a refinement, but ran with the humor a bit; and the third was spectacularly crazy.  Saints Row: The Third gave players a world to play with, one that was at their fingertips, to do whatever they wanted in.  They also gave you a story, one that was so ridiculous, you would believe every cliche they threw at you was genius.  Clones? Check. Zombies? Check. Racial Stereotypes? Check? Tron References? Check.  It was all in there, and though you could easily poke holes through it all; but why would you?

 

SaintsRow2

 

This fall, Saints Row IV is coming out and it seems like Volition is trying to recapture that magic again.  Now, they have put you in control of the country, as the President, and you must fight off the alien invasion…with your superpowers.  Yeah, that sounds like the logical extension of all of this.  It looks to be more of the same over the top humor we have come to expect from the series; but unlike last time, there are more obstacles in front of it.  The biggest is the fact that Grand Theft Auto V comes out a month later.  Though they are both thematically quite different, it is hard to argue that people won’t be comparing the two.  It is also coming out in the shadow of new consoles and people might just be saving their cash for a big launch day purchase.  Fact is, the fourth in this series seems to have its work cut out for it.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LYfCs5bfyI%5D

 

My bigger worry is whether or not this type of game has much of a future left in it.  The gameplay and the freedom that these games have always given has been extraordinary.  The depth of the customization, the size of the world, and how completely you can screw it all up have been amazing, but its hard to say if it will be enough this time.  The industry is leaning more and more towards a cinematic style and tone, and this type of goofy excursion doesn’t seem to fit the bill.  Look at the other games that are coming out this fall:

-Beyond: Two Souls – Ellen Paige stars and it’s a David Cage game – no further explanation required

-SplinterCell: Blacklist – The equivalent of the summer blockbuster – your espionage thriller

-Infamous: Second Son – Completely mo-capped and is about standing up to the system

-Watch Dogs – another espionage/spy tech thriller

and oh yeah

-Grand Theft Auto V – The video game equivalent of a Guy Richie film

 

SaintsRow4

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that Saints Row has its place in the industry, I just think that specific space may be shrinking.  The medium is maturing and growing, and with it comes growing pains.  I’ll be curious to see what the sales numbers are as they come out when it releases later this fall; because I fear that the expectations may be a bit too high.  Time will tell, as it always does.  “Stupid-fun” will never go away; it will always be a part of games in one way or another.  The question is, is there enough of a base to support a AAA development team’s vision of large scale “stupid fun.”  Now, that’s a “smart” question…Nonetheless, if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go back to playing The Last of Us.

 

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The Moon Level…You Know Which One

With how often this has become, this might become its own thing; but once again, here is some music to close out your evening to. Brought to you by Smooth McGroove, Capcom, and those rascals at Disney.   (As a sidenote: this is easily one of best pieces of game music ever.)

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Nhy2aNEPshw%5D
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Shining A Light Elsewhere

As I stumble upon other interesting and related blog posts, I try to highlight them here. Interesting commentary and dialogue brings new thought, so tonight I bring you some interesting thoughts from Emma Vossen. Enjoy!

 

http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/wheres-the-sex/

 

 

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Chiptunes – Not Crunchy; but Still Good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ4CaHqR4XI

 

 

From band Anamanaguchi

-Enjoy everyone, some big posts coming on the ‘morrow

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Gender In(E3)quality

Its unsettling to see that this type of thing still happens, but it does.  This is an interesting rundown of some of the “horror” stories that happened in and around E3 this year. Just as interesting is the continuing conversation in the comments section of the article; where some of the people involved in those stories speak out.  Please give it a read, and be a part of the change.

 

http://gamasutra.com/blogs/PatrickMiller/20130620/194763/5_Gender_Moments_from_E3_2013.php

 

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