Category Archives: News

New Dragon Age 2 Images Tease Relation to Grey Wardens

Released on the Dragon Age Facebook page are images that, while not outright stated to be DLC or a sequel to Dragon Age 2….well, logic would dictate that it would not be presumptuous to assume that these are most likely DLC screenshots.

“We managed to land some high rez images that Mike Laidlaw claims he “found lying around.” Are those griffins?” teases the page.

The griffins, one might recall, are the emblem of the Grey Wardens.  Notice, too, well…the fact that these look like new locations. Thank god. The question, now, then: where shall the DLC take us!?

The other two images after the jump.

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Persona 2 Coming Fall 2011 To North America

It’s official, folks. Turns out that the email Atlus sent last week dated 1999 was hinting at a North American release for the PSP remake of Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Up until now, Persona 2 was the only title in the Persona franchise which had not made it to western shores.

Check out the official trailer, here:

This version of the game will host a bevy of new features and improvements. To list a few: the visuals and audio are remastered, the UI has been improved and there are new quests.

”In a world in which rumors are coming true, an unlikely team of citizens must discover and harness a hidden power dormant within each of them if they’re to have any chance of getting to the bottom of this dangerous phenomenon and stopping it before it gets out of control.

The official website can be found here.

Remastered PSP Games to Release on PS3

Sony Computer Entertainment announced the PSP Remaster series yesterday. Beginning in Japan, “blockbuster” PSP titles will see physical Blu-ray releases on the PS3. The games are being designed specifically for the PS3 and aren’t just straight ports of the PSP version. There are plans for other regions like the U.S. to get the games as well.

Throughout the system’s life, various PSP games have been ported to the PlayStation 2. Popular games like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow and Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters were later released for the PS2. Now that trend is evolving to the next generation.

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Are You Committed? Asks Atlus; Here is the Response

A while back Atlus asked fans to submit responses to the question ‘Do you Want To Get Married?’, and, well…this is the response. A good mix of yes, no and uuuuuh, with an awkward moment between a few couples to boot. Notice, too, snippets of the English voice acting–for Vincent, Catherine and Katherine alike. You can definitely hear the Kanji Tatsumi in Vincent and the Rise Kujikawa in Catherine (only creepier).

Chris Avellone Comments on Diplomatic Problem Solving In Games

Chris Avellone, senior designer of Fallout New Vegas and the older Fallout titles, had some interesting insight regarding diplomatic solutions in games in a very lengthy interview with Iron Tower Studio. On the subject, Avellone states the following;

“It caters to a small % of players, and those players find it meaningful if that’s the power fantasy they want. To cite the best example, in Fallout 1, I think it’s pretty ego-boosting to point out the flaws in your adversaries’ master plan so much that he suicides after talking to you. I really can’t be more of a talking badass than that. It is difficult to implement a speech/sneak path, and the main obstacles to it are many, so here’s my opinion on how to approach it:

The speech path should present more than a skill check challenge – there needs to be some other obstacle associated with it. I usually veer toward exploring conversations (asking about back history, reading lore, discovering evidence to a criminal case), exploring the environment (discovering an enemy encampment, learning a secret path into a fortress, discovering a rival caravan is already sending an emissary to scout a new trade route), or being able to draw logical connections between two topics…

Obsidian has a rule in quest design that any non-violent path has to have a reward that’s comparable to killing and looting everyone in the scenario, and has similar repercussions. Whether this is XP bonus greater than killing the opponent, alignment shifts, barter rewards, or whatever, speech-defeating someone can’t yield you less in the long run than it would if you killed everyone. Often, it can yield more if you’re patient… or if you decide to shoot the person in the face after you verbally crushed them. In some ways, it could be considered a speech bribe. I’ll be honest, KOTOR2 was a huge speech bribe as well – once people figured out that’s how you could make Jedi or Sith from characters by interacting with them, suddenly there’s a lot more incentive in getting to know your allies and playing the influence game. I will say this doesn’t always work (I’ve seen YouTube footage where people simply rapidfire through the FNV DLC1 Dead Money conversations just looking to mine the XP awards, which makes me die a little inside – but hey, it’s more than they would otherwise).”

So, Avellone notes a couple of key  problems with modern approaches to diplomacy in games. It’s mostly skill-check–do you have a high enough stat? rather an inference, and the structure of dialogue as a mechanic in games (XP rewards and all) devolves conversations into just another impersonal way to farm experience.

It’s interesting, too, that he calls it another form of ‘Power Fantasy’ especially within the context of Fallout , a franchise that has multiple instances where one can convince an adversary to suicide via dialogue. Normally I associate combat-heavy games to adhere to a power fantasy ideal, but he’s right, diplomatic solutions are no different. Silver tongues turn you into a sly trickster, capable of convincing people to downright eat their newborns if it came down to it.

Check Out Some of LA Noire’s Tunes

You don’t have to wait until Tuesday to start listening to some of the jazzy tracks in LA Noire, as Rockstar has posted some of the tunes over at Soundcloud. Artists include Louis Jordan, Gene Krupa, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Dinah Washington, Claudia Brucken and Andrew Hale.

A couple of samples (there are seven more over at Soundcloud):

“L.A. Noire Remixed is the fruit of a partnership with Verve Records that provides a modern take on the music found throughout the world of L.A. Noire. This unique EP is a collection of six jazz standards re-interpreted by some of today’s most acclaimed DJs, producers and remixers, including Dave Sitek, DJ Premier and Truth & Soul.”

The album, along with the game, will be available for purchase on May 17th.

Mass Effect 3 Aiming for Mass Appeal

Central to my criticism of Dragon Age 2 was that it was a game made by people who didn’t seem like they wanted to be making big Western RPGs. Rather, it felt like they would have been more comfortable making God of War with a flimsy conversation system attached.

At the time, it was disappointing, but we were confident, especially because of some early reports, that Mass Effect 3 wouldn’t suffer the same fate. It’s their “most ambitious title to date”! How could that possibly be disappointing, especially if they’re working in more RPG elements.

Well, leave it to EA to wipe away some good feelings. Eurogamer gave us the potentially bad news, with John Riccitiello saying they are “are purposefully shifting it to address a larger market opportunity.”

If that doesn’t sound like bad news, I don’t know what does.
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5th Cell’s Hybrid is “Marketable Innovation” at Work

The makers behind the quirky title Scribblenauts have revealed their philosophy behind balancing innovation and marketability. “We call it ‘marketable innovation’ here. Commercial viability is extremely important to us. When we do something, we don’t just throw it at a wall and hope it sticks. We look at market data, what people are interested in playing, and offer our own take on that” states Jeremiah Slaczka, creative director at 5th cell.

Take, for example, how Scribblenauts came to be. “When I was designing the base concept, I looked at Nintendogs,” he explains. “I asked, ‘Why is that a market leader?’ And I broke it down scientifically, looking at things — the art style, how the input works. The core theme is puppies, and you know, nobody hates puppies.” In an earlier interview with Game Informer, 5th Cell expounded on the rationale used to design Scribblenauts. “With the DS, we said, “what is the DS and who is the market?” Thus, using the same line of inquiry he came to decide that ‘surprise’ and ‘imagination’ fit the bill and Scribblenauts was born.

Hybrid, on the other hand, markets to a totally different audience than Scribblenauts did. After all, Hybrid is as cover based post-apocalyptic shooter that will release as an XBLA title. The market for the DS and the 360 are different enough that 5th Cell didn’t feel comfortable continuing their signature quirky/cutesy games on the platform.  “Porting over Drawn to Life to the Xbox is a bad idea because no one is going to buy it. That’s fine. We’re all hardcore gamers. So Hybrid has guns and its post apocalyptic.” Unsurprisingly, 5th cell is taking cues from games like Call of Duty and Gears of War. “To try to be successful, we look at the market leaders and say, ‘What are they doing right, and what should we take from that?’ Then we ask, ‘How should we be different than that?'”

Despite going in with surgical precision, Slaczka assures that they’re not in it for making a big hit. “If we fail, we fail. If we succeed, we succeed. We actually don’t care that much [about making it a big hit], but we want to be successful.”

Xenoblade Confirmed?

It’s been one of the great shames of the Wii that so many Japanese titles have languished as overseas only games while America gets Barbie Horse Adventures and Wii Play 2 instead. Titles like Mistwalker’s The Last Story and Fatal Frame 4 and Monolith’s Xenoblade have been stuck in Japan with Nintendo loathe to confirm or deny any effort is being made to bring these core titles to the States.

(Well, we all know Fatal Frame 4 is dead; just wanted some historical context.)

Things are looking good for Xenoblade, though; video games super sleuth Jim Sterling has unearthed an unlikely confirmation in the form of Peter Dickson (also known as “Some Guy”) saying he’ll be providing voice over work for the game. The game had already been confirmed, stealthily, for Europe, and this just adds credence to the idea that Nintendo is waiting to bust out Xenoblade and The Last Story at E3.

The only downside to this news is that it’s supposed to be a Fall release. Which means it’s going up against Skyrim, Skyward Sword, Deus Ex 3, Torchlight 2, Mass Effect 3, and potentially a new Nintendo console *and* Diablo 3. Which means it’s being sent out to die a slow, painful death, convincing Nintendo that there’s no market for third party hardcore games on the Wii. Which is bullshit: there’s very little market for non triple A releases when there are literally a half dozen 40+ hour adventures coming out in the span of three months.

But let’s not be too pessimistic. Xenoblade, everyone! Japan might be back!

News in Brief: Communist Day Edition

Welcome, welcome. If you’re here, you’re probably lamenting the fact that I am working on May Day. Either that or you’re probably thinking of that song by that guy. Whatever. It’s time for all the news that wasn’t quite fit to print.

Big news, of course, is that the Playstation Network might go up again soon. I’m kind of surprised it sparked less debate about digital content and online rights management, because with it down lots of people couldn’t play or download games they already owned. Well, I’m not really surprised: the whole thing’s been enough of a clusterfuck that I can’t really be surprised by anything about it.

In any case, the PSN will be back up. Will you use it? After two credit card scares in the space of a couple months? Do you think they’re good enough to stop a third? …Yeah, they probably aren’t.

More information about RPGs of all persuasions, the 3DS, and more after yon cut!
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