Monthly Archives: June 2010

Final Fantasy XIV Release Date Announced

September 30th. For the PC, at least. I didn’t want to hold you in suspense.

Of course, if you’re in suspense about Final Fantasy XIV, you’re probably one of three people in the world who care about this game. I mean, sure, XI (the previous massively multiplayer installment) had some cool ideas: it had a lot more narrative than other games at the time, and it had a fairly multifaceted job system that let you play unique character combinations.

On the other hand, it was grindier than North and South Korea put together. And supposedly FFXIV doesn’t reinvent the wheel, so I imagine it’ll be ridiculously grindy. Then again, it’s pretty! That counts for something! Oh, well, the Yoshitaka Amano art is pretty, at least.

My enthusiasm is overflowing, I’ll tell you what. You can apply to enter the beta phase here, which I’ll probably do out of curiosity. I’m sure you care a lot more than I do.


Gamer Confession: New IPs Saved Me From Abandoning Games Forever

I really did almost do it. About a year ago, around this time, I had given up. The games of yore, the new and exciting developments, from the mid 80s until sometime during the middle of the last gen…I began to lose interest. Sequel after sequel, shooter after shooter after shooter.

I realize it’s all about the business decision. New franchises get released all the time, sure, but how much are you really going to invest? A sequel that you know if it’s a decent game will generate X million number of copies, let you break even. The chances of some newfangled idea of even breaking even are slim to none. Once in a while something new breaks through….maybe.

But recently, the biggest games? Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. Battlefield 2. Gears of War 2. Killzone 2. God of War 3. Halo 3.

You tell me: why should I be interested?

Yeah I got a Wii. I was excited for the possibilities. When I found out the possibilities I was excited about were mostly lame sports or fitness related Nintendo games and most of them looked worse than games on my Gamecube, I dusted the thing off and got rid of it for a 360.

Two months after I got the 360 I wondered why I had wasted a few hundred bucks on a bunch of alright RPGs and another paperweight of a useless system.

….Until I was persuaded to get an XBL Arcade game, Shadow Complex. A dandy of a game, basically mixing Metroid with Metal Gear in a sidescrolling platformer, based largely around getting upgrades. It was pretty awesome. For such a cheap price, I was really amazed and I’ll be honest, knowing how good that game is and it’s replayability? I’d easily pay double whatever amount it was I first paid for it.

About a month later, another gem fell into my lap. Borderlands.

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Public Service Announcement: The Void for 5$

Those of you with computers and access to Steam should be amazed and astounded that *the* banner game for games as art is now on sale on Steam for a piddly 5$. That’s right. 5$.

What is The Void? Well, it was made by Ice Pick Lodge, a Russian developer, which tells you absolutely everything about it. It is, at heart, a resource management game, set in a world where you have to spend color to do things. Also, it’s very deliberate in that artistic way.

Really, fuck my description. Quinns from Rock Paper Shotgun said everything better than I ever could. What I’m saying is that, for 5$, you could have one of the most singular pieces of gaming as art ever created by human hands.

Oh, and if you want something decidedly not artful, the hilarious brick breaking governmental metaphor of Red Faction: Guerrilla is 5$ as well. Which is exactly how much I’d want to pay for it. Mass Effect 2 is also a shade under 25$, if you, for some reason, haven’t played it.

But those games suck compared to The Void.

Mass Effect Changed Everything in The Old Republic

The Old Republic wasn’t always a massive behemoth, reports CVG. At one point, The Old Republic pulled a Dragon Age, and “player characters were not going to be voiced” since “it’s a massively insane expenditure and hugely complicated to do. You have to cast 16 of the best actors ever and then hold them for eternity.”

And then, Mass Effect happened and everything changed. “”Mass Effect came out when we were very early into development. I remember walking up to James Ohlen – the lead designer on both Baldur’s Gate Games, Knights Of the Old Republic and both Dragon Age games.  We both saw Mass Effect and were like: ‘Okay. There is no choice here.’

Seeing a great opportunity before them, they approached LucasArts  with two versions of The Old Republic, “one with VO and one without and we attached a price tag to it.” Going in, they thought it was ensured that they’d get rejected. Full voice acting in an MMO? Admittedly, the thought seems ridiculous. It’s not just the sheer size of the undertaking, but also the inherent danger that comes with getting voice acting “right.” Still, LucasArts gave the okay and the rest is, as they say, history.

“We had to go back and rewrite everything. The story telling system is totally inked from Mass Effect. “

Diablo 2: Ten Years Later

Some things sneak up on you. The ten year anniversary of the release of Diablo II, a game I bought near launch and have lost and repurchased at least three times, is one of those things. It’s baffling to think such an important, vital game was released so long ago.

Hell, Blizzard’s still supporting it. That goes to show how healthy the game still is.

When you look at it, Diablo 2 is a game like Chrono Trigger: it did so much stuff so far before its time, that it’s a positively amazing experience. And like Chrono Trigger, you can still play it today, and it will feel like it is a brand new, fantastic game that you have never played before in your life.

That’s one powerful game.

Diablo II was one of the important games of my teenage years, rivaling only Starcraft and Everquest by comparison (excluding single player games, of course). Diablo II was the hot shit. Diablo 2 was rock and roll in the early 1950’s, when Great Balls of Fire and Elvis were the hottest cuts in the world. Diablo 2 was rock and roll, chocolate, and pixie dust rolled up into one hellish package.
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Shinji Mikami on Western Games, Vanquish, Influences

Talking about Western games vs Eastern games is all the rage right now. It will all reach critical mass once we start talking about east vs west RPGs using motion controls while viewed in 3D, as told by Peter Molyneux when speaking about how amazing Fable III will be. Then, we will kill all the infidels and this wretched monster will fade silently away into the moonlight. Yes, that is how it will be.

Not one to squander an opportunity to get yet another person’s opinion on the East VS West debate, Joystiq’s interview with Shinji Mikami dabbles briefly on the same tried and true territory. On the subject of why development focus seems to be moving toward the western market, Shinji states that “So, at the most basic level as a Japanese person it does make me kind of sad. Right now the Japanese market and the Western market in terms of games are very different. And on a personal level I enjoy Western games a lot more. And, so, even if I make a game that is closer in taste to the Western market, the Japanese audience doesn’t really appreciate it too much.” Shinji thinks that Capcom is one of the only companies out there that can create games which successfully appeal to both markets.”

On the subject of Vanquish, Shinji had a few interesting things to say. For example, why is Vanquish called Vanquish? Why, its elementary my dear, says Shinji: “Vanquish,” the word obviously has to do with conquest and destruction. In any war there’s always a winning side and a losing side, there’s winners and losers, but one of the themes in the story is, what makes a true victor in any conflict? And so that’s where the name ties in.” Makes a lot of sense to me! He also lets out that Vanquish places gameplay over story, which might explain

Yup, everything makes sense now. As for influences, “Maybe The Rock, Nicolas Cage.”

Lastly, Shinji reveals initial concerns regarding player’s ability to identify with the main character. “Actually, that is one of the largest concerns that I had early on in production where I was afraid that the players wouldn’t be able to identify with the character. That’s actually why the facemask comes off. So you can see the main character’s face from time to time. That’s why we did that, because we were afraid that people wouldn’t be able to identify with him.” Which is strange, because, we’ve already had a bunch of very iconic characters–like Samus and Master Chief–which we grew to love despite the inability to see what they looked like. In fact, not being able to see the face makes it easier to slip into the “blank slate” character, no?

So, since I’m assuming that you have to take off the mask to smoke…is the smoking “feature” included to help us “identify” with the character more closely, too?

Want Some SSF4 Stickers?

Well, you’re in luck. Stickermaker has a ton of SSF4 assets which you can use to make your own custom vinyl die-cut stickers sheets. Mix and match whoever you want, however you want, in whatever layout best pleases you. Each page costs 6.99, but, Capcom has given out a special 25% off code for us to use: 25OFFSSFIV.

Me? I’m going straight up real talk with this shit, and making a Ken VS Ken sticker. And if I could, I’d put a flowchart under that–but alas, that asset is not available! Eh, I like the Sagat flowchart better anyway.

Kid Icarus Developer Talks About Western Developers; So Do I

Actually, that’s kind of a misnomer. He talks about most developers, just signals out the west for sake of easy comparison. And sure, there’s a big interview here about Kid Icarus (which I’m increasingly excited for, since it sounds like a Treasure like re-imagining of the franchise) here, with lots of fun, exciting details like how the control scheme will work, and some neat tidbits about the process of game design. You can find it here, on Techland. Which I’d never heard of before today.

The bit of the interview I found most interesting was this one:
About the difference between Western and Japanese design, there’s really a lot of opinions on this and this is just one of those opinions. But, I feel that Japanese game design and game development really isn’t a good match for the big-budget Hollywood style game experience. There are lot of different factors such as things like the team size and the way development proceeds and is communicated within teams. I mean, there are instances where this trend is more dramatic than others, where teams are either more well-suited to a certain style or not.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m really impressed with Western game design and enjoy a lot of those games. But, personally–and this is something that Nintendo also follows the same philosophy–I trend towards focusing on a gameplay mechanic and working on that mechanic. I start with something that’s very, very simple but is perfected for its gameplay qualities and not try to force it into becoming a larger, more expensive big-budgeted experience. Unfortunately, a lot of developers get caught in trying to out do each other and what ends up becoming is a simple competition in graphics or in scale and whatnot. I think the most important thing–and maybe my overall message for this answer–is that developers just need to focus on what they’re good at. And, while some may be good at these big budget experiences, others are not, and that could be telling of different trends between Western and Japanese game companies.

Some thoughts after the jump.
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Next Pokemon To Feature 3 on 3 Battles, Sex Changes

This is garbage. 2 on 2 was a stretch, but it ended up working. I’d even say 2 on 2 battles are my favorite, they add a layer of challenge to the battles. 3 on 3, however,  screams ‘GIMMICK’ and ‘WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS.’ 3 on 3 just sounds…cumbersome. Also, someone please explain to me what in the world happens between the seconds 37-40? You can view all these ‘what the christs’ in the trailer below, but NOT Smugleaf, if that’s what you’re looking for:

I’m going to buy it anyway. Just like everyone else.

First two Tier 1 Interviews for Medal of Honor Released

This is the real shit. No level 2, no killstreaks. None of that. The Medal of Honor Blog has released the first two interviews with two real special forces operators, which you can view below.

“Within the U.S. Special Operations community is an elite group of handpicked warriors who are tasked with only the most dangerous and difficult missions. A small group of these men acted as consultants on the development of Medal of Honor, infusing the game with their experiences and contributing ideas that make it the most authentic and relevant combat experience to date. In the Tier 1 Interview Series you’ll hear their personal stories and find out what it takes to operate at the highest levels of the U.S Military.”

Selected quotes of interest/shock:

“There’s nothing that’s going to satiate this person, person wants to continue to push, to grow, to a warrior”

“You need to flip the switch, and that’s when the wolves are released”

“We’re at war, what are you willing to do?”