@StarFoxA: I agree. But PAX was 4 months ago already. And backers have said they have not received their promised prizes, nor the updated Alpha.
Edit: Wow, that musta went up just as I was writing this earlier today.
originally posted on www.knowngriefers.com
Stop me if you've heard this one before: There's something fishy going on with a game-related Kickstarter. It seems like Code Hero, a programming tool/game from Primer Labs, was funded nearly $170,000; and nothing has come of it. Time to lawyer up!
Launched nearly a year ago, on December 26th, 2011, Code Hero was to be a game/tool that also taught amateur programmers how to make a real actual videogame. The video presentation on the page was slick, and 7500 people bought into the premise of this unique project. The Kickstarter had a goal of $100,00, which was nearly doubled by the end of the drive, ending up at a total of $170,954. That's...a lot of money.
Physical rewards were due to be mailed out in February of 2012, and were never sent. That was also the month that Code Hero reached its goal. As you might be aware, it's highly unusual for a successful Kickstarter to send out rewards as soon as the funding goal is reached. Some pledges were as high as $1000: these tiers centered around delivering Code Hero to schools as an instructional tool. In total, 18 backers pledged over a grand towards Code Hero, with 2 backers donating...gulp...$10,000 or more.
Since the end of February, updates on Code Hero's Kickstarter page slowed to a crawl, with the last update posted on 09/03/2012. This update promised an Alpha launch of Code Hero, which missed its scheduled release window at PAX Prime. Before that, an update posted on July 4th reaffirmed backers that their rewards were coming, and not to worry.
It seems that in the past few months, creator Alex Peake has gone radio silent. And Code Hero's backers have been getting more and more hostile. The comments section of the Kickstarter page has exploded to over 400 comments, with some backers threatening to file a class-action lawsuit. Backer Dustin Deckard has set up an email address at email@example.com in hopes of gathering names for the lawsuit.
Social media pages set up for Code Hero have gone dark, as well. The last post on https://twitter.com/codeherogame is a retweet from early September and Alex Peake's personal twitter @lxpk has been dormant since the middle of November. The Code Hero Facebook has also, you guessed it, not been updated since late summer. Several posts have been made by users requesting feedback from the developer about Code Hero's current status, none of which have been replied to.
But, for what its worth, you can still buy access to the alpha. For $13.37. Get it?
As we all know, Kickstarter does not provide refunds for undelivered projects. How do you guys feel about this? When will people learn? After all, this isn't the first time this kinda thing has happened.
Can you smell what Christopher Linendoll is cookin? He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.
I originally posted this on www.knowngriefers.com. Check it out, if you enjoy this article!
After a years-long wait, Fire Pro Wrestling finally makes its triumphant return, this time on Xbox Live Aracade. How awesome is it? It's not. It sucks. Hard.
As longtime KGB fans might be aware, I am something of the resident wrestling fan. I grew up on the junk, and was recently drawn back to the WWE with the rising popularity of CM Punk. Throughout my gaming career, I've played more than my share of rasslin' videogames. From the crude button-mashers of the NES to the sublime N64 games, I've tried them all. So I was beyond excited when I heard that Spike would be bringing their legendary Fire Pro Wrestling series to XBLA.
That was two years ago.
From its inception in 1989, FPW has been one of the most beloved wrestling series in both its native Japan, and stateside, where the game have been hot on the import scene. The series has traditionally featured smooth 2D sprite animation, and massively large rosters. Due to the more lax copyright laws in the Far East, Fire Pro usually features the likenesses of nearly every pro wrestler they can think of, just under a fake name in order to avoid trademark issues.
Only a few Fire Pro games have been officially released in the US, most recently the amazing Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, on the PS2 in 2007. That game stuck with the 2D sprite work, and due to the advanced processing power of the PlayStation 2, featured over 500 wrestlers, death matches and UFC-styled shoot fighting. If all that could be done of the PS2, imagine what the Xbox 360 version of Fire Pro could do. I was blowing my load just thinking about it.
Instead, at PAX East 2011, I got my hands on the game. And was given this:
What. The. Fuck. Is. That.
This is not Fire Pro Wrestling. This is a Kinect-level wrestling game, starring shoddily animated versions of the Xbox Avatars. Moves sets are pitifully shallow, arenas are boring and undetailed, and everything feels...wrong. I have no idea, none at all, why in the blue hell they'd ship this as Fire Pro Wrestling.
The game was finally released this past week on XBLA, and I have no idea what took them so long to release it. It doesn't seem as if ANY additional time was spent on the game. It plays almost exactly as it did years ago, and that's not a good thing. Every match is reduced to stiff, button-mashy bouts with no tension, drama, or excitement. Everything about this game is sterile and unexciting. Nearly everything about this game is offensive to anyone who has played Fire Pro Wrestling in the past.
If this was called Avatar Wrestling SuperJam, it'd still suck, but at least it'd be ignorable. Now, this game is going to be what most people in the Western market think of as Fire Pro.
And that's a damn shame.
Christopher Linendoll is the Best in the World. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.
Originally posted at www.knowngriefers.com
Trials by Fire is a column from D. Bethel whereby two game demos are arbitrarily judged and one is declared the victor. In actuality, it's a veiled rant. This edition discusses animation in video games as exemplified by the demos for Dust: An Elysian Tail and Mark of the Ninja.
Video game animation was created as a means to show that a player was actually doing something. When games required twitchy precision––thinking especially of landmark platformers such as Super Mario Bros. or Mega Man––animation became a gauge for players, a tool to measure distance and timing. Some games over the years have shown considerable appreciation for animation; specifically, an attention to subtlety that helps define not only the characters but, by proxy, the world that exists around them. It’s there the first time a player sees Sonic wait impatiently for the player to act, watching the cloth of Ryu’s gi bounce heavily around his ankles in Street Fighter III, and when your customized Shepard cracks his or her neck and situates those wearied shoulders in Mass Effect 3.
More than that, it’s about world-building which (when done well) helps compel the player to continue playing. This is especially important in the world of 2D, sprite-based games. Modern platforms are powerful enough to display games with feature quality animation. But it’s a dangerous trade-off; games are, distinctly, not feature films (we’ve seen that attempted more than once and the world is still in a collective facepalm) and animation in video games should serve the game rather than the whims of animators (reference the abysmal retail performance of Rayman Origins, a gorgeous and brilliant game that was recently found loose on a clearance table at KMart for $20, just less than a year after its release). Knowing how much animation is required––and when to pull back––is exemplified by Humble Hearts’ Dust: An Elysian Tail and Klei Entertainments’ Mark of the Ninja.
One of the charter members of Microsoft’s “Summer of Arcade” event this year, what the demo for Dust: An Elysian Tail ends up being is an exercise in indulgence despite being one of the most earnest games ever presented to the public. As a result, the game presented in the demo––though thoughtful and vivid––feels more like a high-budget sticker book rather than a playable animated film. The sprites are highly animated and full of character, but that’s it.
|The most beautiful game ever made...in freeze frame.|
The protagonist and his enemies are big and crisp and move beautifully, but do so in front of a lifeless (though finely rendered) background. While the character animation is impressive, it’s unsituated and decontextualized, doing little to craft a sense of the world it inhabits. Compared to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Dust’s most obvious progenitor)––Dracula’s Escher-like castle is as much a character as Alucard (and this was two generations ago)––Dust’s setting echoes from its hollowness. Furthermore, most of the fine character animation cannot be appreciated because the action tends to end up in a gorgeous orgy of fluid, combo-based action and enemies. Dust’s creator is rightfully proud of his detailed animation and shows it, but the player is consequently forced to pay attention because the camera is so close to the action it’s impossible to just exist in the game, for there isn’t time to in the demo. Ultimately, Dust wants to be at least three things: a tightly-controlled action game, a beautifully animated sprite-based adventure, and an inviting exploratory world. Dust is all of these things, but the sum seems more likely to cause seizures than capture the awe of players because, with regards to animation, everything in Dust happens in the foreground.
|What Bambi needed was a ninja fox-wolf-thing.|
Blending in, however, is an important part of Mark of the Ninja, another 2D downloadable title that begs to be stared at since it asks the player to closely examine the screen. Klei Entertainment has a history of great-looking games––such as Eets and the Shank series––but those pale in comparison to Mark of the Ninja. Where Dust demands that the player pay attention to big, bold sprites upon which a lot of time was obviously spent, the Mark of the Ninja demo eschews any such limitations, and crafts an engaging and fun world of stealth and action.
Mark of the Ninja, another Microsoft exclusive, revels in animated subtlety which rewards the patient player at every turn. Like Dust, every sprite in Mark of the Ninja is beautifully animated with a post-Flash methodology (a high-tech cut-out animation method) but, instead, Klei pulls the camera away from the sprites. The protagonist is shadowed throughout most of the demo (not moodily a la LIMBO, but because he’s a ninja and that’s what ninja do––hide in the shadows), allowing the environment to become a tool in the player’s belt rather than just a backdrop to finely frame murderous actions. The player must hide from flashlight-toting guards behind flower pots, in doorways, under grates and wait for a guard to walk by so he can be deftly assassinated.
|Believe it or not, you play as the rain.|
Though the sprites are convincingly and subtly animated, it’s the environment through which the player traverses that makes Mark of the Ninja a much more convincing and successful demo. No choice seems arbitrarily made, especially in the animation. For example, instead of having a checkpoint marked with a blob of fluffy, glowing particles that stands out from everything else, a previously unseen portal opens in the building the character stands on (whether above or below) and a small murder of crows flies out into the night. When peeking up through a grate into a room, the grate slightly tilts up when the player pushes on the analog stick, showing that it is the character doing the looking and not just the player. This illustrates what video games as as whole are defined as being––an actual interactive experience.
|Disco balls are all the rage in Shanghai.|
For a world to be interactive, it unconsciously raises the stakes for the player if only because time was taken to make the character a part of the world instead of just a means to destroy it. With the technology available today, it has to be understood that video game animation is no longer simply a mechanic to show movement. Now more than ever it embodies the Latin root of the word: animare––to instill with life. A game is not just its character or its special effects, it is an entire being which needs to persuade in every aspect, a sum composed of its parts. It makes no sense to spend so much time making the arm the strongest part of the body when the whole thing needs to walk.
The Victor: Mark of the Ninja
D. Bethel never has time, but when he does, he makes
comics at www.eben07.com.
Follow him on Twitter @DBethel
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