Tag Archives: Assassin’s Creed

Simply “Symphonic” or The Future of Video Game Music

Little to most people know, but I was a music minor in college.  As such, music has always been an integral part of who I am.  It speaks to me like a canvas speaks to a painter, or stone to a sculptor.  I believe that it, like all art, can change lives and effect us to our core.


I think that is why game music has always been an interesting topic for me.  It combines two of the things that I love, and it is constantly evolving with the medium.  When you think of early games, names like Nobuo Uematsu and Koji Kondo come to mind.  More recently, Jesper Kyd, Jason Graves, and Martin O’Donnel have been instrumental in crafting some of the more memorable modern soundscapes.


Some how, David Valjalo managed to get the three of them together for an incredible interview; discussing modern game music, how it has developed and where it is going to go.  If you have any interest in either medium, please go give it a read.  It is one of the lesser thought of aspects of game development, and one of the most important. Enjoy



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Who’s Chasing Who? – Hollywood and Video Games

I saw Pacific Rim last weekend.  I loved it for a lot of reasons.  It was big, dumb fun.  It’s one of those movies that if you don’t buy the initial premise in the beginning, you might as well walk right out of the theater.  If you like big robots, monsters, or Top Gun, you should really check this one out.  Yet, out of few complaints I heard walking out of the cineplex, the one that stuck with me was this…


“…that was really video-gamey.”


Well, that wasn’t the first time I had heard that walking out of the movies.  I had even thought similar things myself walking out of films like 300, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Green Lantern, Star Trek Into Darkness, and even Man of Steel.  Never once had I considered this a bad thing; but I had never really considered the thought all that much.  Pop culture always has been a snake eating its own tail, constantly reflecting itself over and over again.  What it did get me to think about is how similar both these mediums have become; to a certain extent obviously…


Games as Hollywood Blockbusters


When you send the conversation this direction, the parallels are pretty clear.  Recently, we here at the site, posted a quote from Ubisoft saying that they won’t even move forward with a project unless it has franchise potential.  More and more the big developers are taking a page from Hollywood, and are creating gaming’s very own “tent-pole” release system.  We all know these titles; games like Madden, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Grand Theft Auto.  Studios are starting to rely heavily on the sales of these titles to help sustain the production of the following project.  Suffice it to say, if one project fails, the company has the possibility of going under.  That’s why more and more, you are seeing less and less of middle tier developers.  They can no longer survive in this type of ecosystem.  When this occurred in Hollywood, you saw the rise of the independent film maker; and lo and behold, we all love our “indie games.”  So now, much like their Hollywood brethren, you see a natural dichotomy between what is considered the “big-budget” game and the “indie” project.


There is also the fact that games are becoming much more cinematic in nature.  The medium is maturing and telling more mature stories; look at games like The Last of Us, Spec-Ops: The Line, and Bioshock: Infinite and you can see how much this interactive medium has, “grown up.”  Telling these types of stories, however, requires a more cinematic touch and that too is seen in the cut-scenes and less interactive moments in those titles.  One can even look to the games of David Cage, like Heavy Rain, and Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid, and see that they could be movies unto themselves.  Even in the digital “set-dressing,” one sees the detailed handiwork of the creators.  As games seek to tell more in-depth stories, inevitably we will continue to see them borrow ideas from Hollywood, some good and some bad; but only time will tell.


Hollywood as Mass Marketed Media


Everyone loves a good summer movie.  They’re fun, they’re (sometimes) mindless, and usually we all walk out happy for the little bit of escapism that comes along with it.  Yet, deep down we all know that these films were focus tested, pre-screened, and reshot to maximize that sort of potential.  They are designed to try to reach as many people as possible to recoup the cost of production.  In a society where gaming in becoming on the biggest entertainment mediums; you can expect that others will try to integrate certain concepts.  Spectacle and CGI are becoming more and more important; creating more impressive visuals and having better and more realistic “graphics,” are now in Hollywood’s vernacular.  Even some of the worse movies in Hollywood have taken on a “level” structure; look at Suckerpunch. [Disclaimer: Please don’t look at Suckerpunch it’s as bad as you’ve heard it is.]


Gaming’s drive to “realism,” has permeated into the Hollywood mindset as well.  More and more you are seeing “gritty” and “realistic” takes on source material that cannot be farther from.  The Amazing Spiderman or even Daredevil are classic examples of this.  Neither of these stories are dark, yet if you watch either of these films, you can’t help but think otherwise.  [Disclaimer: Daredevil is pretty bad too; unless you watch the Director’s Cut; then it’s okay.] Yet, this isn’t all bad, as I can only assume that most of us have fond memories of Nolan’s Batman movies, and Singer’s X-Men films; and both of those took a more serious and realistic approach.


The fact is; there are a myriad of examples of idea poaching from either side; and it is difficult to say who’s idea it was first.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter because this is the way things are currently, and as much as we may disagree with how this system may be run; we support it by pulling out our wallets.  If you have a problem, don’t go see the tent-pole movie, or go and support your local indie endeavor.  If you don’t, just keep doing what you’re doing.  As our favorite entertainment mediums continue to grow closer and closer together, it is going to be the consumer voice that has the greatest impact in effecting change.  As long as there’s no day one DLC for my movie; I think I’ll be fine…


….wait, that’s what my Special Edition is!!!


please feel free to comment below…

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The Critic Prediction Aftermath

Well, the E3 Critic Awards came and went; and so we now look back to the score card to see how we did this year…


Best of Show

– Titanfall (Respawn Games/Electronic Arts) – Will Win – Won

Best Original Game

– Titanfall (Respawn Games/Electronic Arts) – Will Win – Won

Best Console Game

– Titanfall (Respawn Games/Electronic Arts) – Will Win – Won

Best PC Game

– Company of Heroes 2 (Relic/Sega) – Will Win/ Should Win

– Titanfall (Respawn/Electronic Arts) – WON

Best Action Game

– Titanfall (Respawn/Electronic Arts) – Will Win – Won

Best Online Multiplayer

– Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts) – Will Win – Won


With the exception of Best PC Game; we called these spot-on.  Titanfall was a media darling this year, and frankly, put on an amazing show.  This is a big win for Respawn going forward, and it is good to see them rewarded for all their hard work so far. 


Best Handheld Game

– Tearaway (Media Molecule/Sony Computer Entertainment) – Should Win – Won

– The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds (Nintendo EAD/Nintendo) – Will Win


This win probably makes me the most happy. Tearaway is an incredible game, both narratively and conceptually.  I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t smile ear to ear when they watch footage from the game.  It is good to see that nostalgia didn’t win out this year.  Don’t get me wrong, Link Between Two Worlds is going to be a wonderful game; but this award was most deserved to be won by Media Molecule.


Best Hardware

– Oculus Rift (Oculus VR) – Dark Horse – WON

– PlayStation 4 (Sony Computer Entertainment) Will Win/ Should Win


This is the second most exciting win this year, for me personally.  Since its inception, The Occulus Rift has been an interesting piece of hardware.  So, despite my loss in this category, I will gladly give it over to the Rift.  More and more this is looking to be a piece of the puzzle of how we will be playing our games in the future; and that alone blows my mind…


Best Action/Adventure Game

 Infamous: Second Son (Sucker Punch/Sony Computer Entertainment) Will Win/ Should Win

– Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) – Dark Horse – Won


I honestly didn’t think that Watch Dogs would take it again.  Infamous seemed like the better choice, but alas, both games impressed, and only one can win.  Sad to see it wasn’t mine, but I feel I will move on…BEYOND!


Best RPG

– Dark Souls 2 (FromSoftware/Namco-Bandai) – Will Win

– The Elder Scrolls Online (Zenimax Online/Bethesda) – Dark Horse – WON

– South Park: The Stick of Truth (Obsidian/Ubisoft) – Should Win


Well, at least I picked the underdog.  Zenimax took home the crown in this category, and from the buzz that is out there, it is well deserved. If they can pull off the immersion that the original games are known for, while still creating a functioning MMO, we could have something very special on our hands….


Best Racing Game

– Need for Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games/Electronic Arts) – Will Win – Won


It’s good to see Need for Speed winning again.  It’s also a good show of faith in the new team.  Black Box and Criterion have been alternating who makes the game each year, but this is the first year that Black Box hasn’t had a hand in it.  In fact, this is a completely brand new studio working on this year’s title.  I can only assume how this type of an award on their first outing can feel.


Best Sports Game

– FIFA 14 (EA Canada/EA Sports) – Will Win/ Should Win

– NHL 14 (EA Canada/EA Sports) – Dark Horse – Won


To be honest, I didn’t care about this category…nonetheless….HOCKEY!


Best Strategy Game

– Company of Heroes 2 (Relic/Sega) – Will Win/ Should Win

– Total War: Rome 2 (Creative Assembly/Sega) – Won


I was way off base on this one. Congrats to Sega for beating out Relic…seriously…that’s a big deal.


Best Social/Casual

– Fantasia: Music Evolved (Harmonix/Disney Interactive) – WON

– Project Spark (Team Daokta/Microsoft Studios) – Will Win/ Should Win


I really thought Spark was going to impress more than it did, but evidently people love Harmonix.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Harmonix, I just thought I saw more going on in Spark than I did in Fantasia.  Maybe that was the problem; Spark was too gamer oriented and not casual enough for the win….or at least that is what I will tell myself.


Best Downloadable

– Transistor (Supergiant Games) – Will Win – Won


Like anyone is surprised by this.


So there you go folks.  Hope we all had fun this year, and we’ll do this again soon!

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“This new generation proves that we’re moving in the right direction. For each game you’ll see in the next two years, the tablet will connect with the social and new consoles to make one complete experience. You have a way for players to have experiences in the same universe in a different way.

-Nicholas Rioux of Ubisoft Quebec

Second Screens and the Future

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 “I said in my presentation that I’m part of the problem. I did the same games for 15 years. I did games about a character that jumps around with a sword. So it’s my fault, but we’re all getting a bit older, and it’s time to try something else. The reason we’re now thinking about it is that, technologically, we see we can do something more.

In the way you interact with the game world, it’s much easier to destroy than create. When you get into more subtle subject matter, which is about human interactions, it’s tough.”

-Patrice Desilets on Game Creation via GamesIndustry.biz

In Search of New Experiences

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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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