Games for Windows Live = Fail

 http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/03/09/microsoft-games-for-windows-live-needs-great-games-to-take-advantage/

"...I think because it was designed originally as a partner to the console service more than the PC service, we had a rocky start.”

Ya think? Gee sounded like such a brilliant plan - "a partner to the console service instead of a PC service" - wow man, no idea where you guys went wrong there. I mean obviously PC gamers want to pretend like they have a console, along with all the restrictions and problems - finally the worst of both worlds!  And really - it's just a "rocky start"? How about it started a nightmare, and it's still a nightmare? And they think the biggest problem with it is not enough games? Hah! The less games on there the better, as far as I'm concerned! They know its a disaster, they just aren't going to full blown admit it.

It's sad how console-centric Microsoft's view of the gaming world is. I think they're quickly becoming a victim of their own success and I think we'll be seeing more of these "Sony-like" blunders in the future.

Speaking of Sony - it will be very interesting to see how the partnership with Steam goes for Portal 2.
Sony + Steam = Big Win
XBox + GFWL = Epic Fail

17 Comments

Maximum Traffic Jam Simulator 2011 - EXTREME


Breaking News!!!
From the makers of a game very similar to this one:  
Agri-obliterator 2011
comes this amazing new genre bending experience:  

Maximum Traffic Jam Simulator 2011 - EXTREME

 
 
 Will you own the traffic, or will the traffic own you?!?
 
You jump into the action as the driver, and you finally get to live the dream, and sit in traffic jams in various cities - for hours on end. You're trying to get somewhere or another, but you're gonna be late REALLY late, your goal is to get there as least late as possible. But guaranteed whenever you get there, you're gonna be screamed at.  You play in real time! Literally sitting through hours upon hours of real traffic in simulated cities, with accurate real-world modeled traffic patterns and chaos!  Watch in dismay as EVERY lane EXCEPT yours moves! Think changing lanes will change that? Think again! Finally you can enjoy all the full mind-bending traffic experience from the comfort of your own home!
 
 
 Just look at those dials!
 
90% of your gameplay will consist of playing with your radio/ipod (yes, you can even import your own MP3s into the game!), checking your GPS, messing with the AC/Heat, talking to yourself, staring into space, pounding your fists and head against the dashboard, watching other drivers (pick their noses and whatnot) and - flicking off and screaming at other drivers who can't hear you!! The game practically plays itself.....
 
 
This revolutionary new game will completely change the way you think about video games.
 

These images can't possibly capture all the fun you'll have. You will literally wet yourself waiting for something to happen.

  Obligatory but completely unnecessary DLC expansion packs will add: 
  • New international cities! Get trapped in traffic in India or even Mexico City!
  • New vehicles - Wallow in extreme traffic, in even smaller, crappier vehicles, with a broken radio, AC/Heat and/or window
  • Fender benders! Scream in dismay as you have to get out of your vehicle to deal with the situation, even though traffic is finally moving again!
  • Coop! Yes, finally! Now another player is a passenger, who literally just sits in the vehicle. They can also play with the music, monkey with the GPS - even give you bad directions and yell at you! Optionally other players can be in separate car
    - flipping you the bird and screaming at you - no worries, you won't notice them, and you can't hear them anyway!
  • The Extreme Bus Driver Experience - finally play as an actual bus driver stuck in traffic with a bus load of obnoxious kids bouncing around, screaming and singing classics like "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" or "100 Bottles of Bear on the Wall"! You can even choose the age range of your passengers from pre-school to high school. Even drive the short bus!!!

Coming soon: 
Jury Duty - The Sequestered Simulation

In development: 
Dentist Office - Bring the Pain!
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Dungeon Siege 3: painful reality

Just read through some early reviews of Dungeon Siege 3, and I've gone for very interested/optimistic to virtually zero interest.
 
 I was really hoping it would be an awesome next gen throw back to the original that I enjoyed for hours on end.....

But I am NOT at all digging where it sounds like they're going with Dungeon Siege 3. They're really going the console-ified route, and making it "action Party RPG" which seem to be the rage these days. You don't make your own characters - you are assigned a group of 4 characters that will always be the same. (weak!) And it's coop is a secondary add on. A friend hosts, you join their storyline as a henchman. This game, like the original, should have been designed to be coop from the start, not designed as a single player game, with a coop option thrown in for fun. Boooo:
   
http://www.joystiq.com/2011/02/23/dungeon-siege-3-preview/  
http://www.co-optimus.com/article/5428/dungeon-siege-3-co-op-details-release-date-screenshots-and-video.html

For one thing, your party is made up of characters, not classes. Unlike the first game's freewheeling experience system, the second game did introduce abilities and classes, though DS3 abandons that idea for four named characters (only two, Lucas and Anjali, have actually been revealed so far), each of which have ability lists that cross over the various fantasy archetypes.

In the full release, you'll be able to manage a party of up to four heroes, either in a single-player game where you control all four characters, or with a group of three other people in co-op mode. Two players may share the screen locally, and you can bring in two more players online. The other players will serve as assistants to one main player, and no progress will be carried over to their game.
  
And so it's obviously a console to PC port, I always look forward to how buggy and clunky those are. (looking at you, Borderlands!)
I feel like this consolification of all these games is just taking something good, and turning it into whatever is the latest Justin Bieber of the video game world, because that's what everyone else is doing, or at least what seems to sell for now, instead of just making a great game.
Oh well....I guess it's back to biding my time till Diablo 3.
 
How do you guys feel about this news? Excited or disappointed?

8 Comments

The Pre-Order Bonus Dichotomy

Now, it's starting to seem like the pre-order bonus dlc madness is just spiraling out of control the last couple years now. With each retailer (best buy, game stop, target), or online service (steam, gog) offering some twinkling pre-order digital bonus to everyone willing to hand over their cash in advance.
 
Now here's the problem:
If they make it something of real value in game creating a big advantage, people who get the game later will feel ripped off, and potentially not get the game. 
But if they make it a piece of garbage, the people who pre-ordered it will be pissed off. 

So they have to sorta walk this fine line.   But usually I find they lean towards making is something purely cosmetic, or relatively useless, like something that gives you a small initial advantage, but quickly becomes useless as you quickly and easily find better gear. Because I think the pre-ordering people are less likely to complain, as they really didn't have to pay anything extra for these "bonuses". But people who get the game later, might more likely feel jilted, especially if it is any sort of multiplayer advantage.
 
Sometimes in games like Burnout Paradise, it was so shameless as to just be a series of completely non-unique codes, that anyone could look up on a website. Although sometimes they're just something of money value, like free maps you could just buy otherwise, or like Steam often does, give you a copy of an older game for free.
 
What do you guys think? Are these bonuses usually worth it to you? Do you ever feel jipped by them? Do you ever regret NOT getting in on a pre-order bonus? Do you think bonuses make sense? Is there a better way?

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Taking into account Quality, Cost, and Game Length in Reviews

I've been listening to a lot of game review pod casts. It seems there's a reoccurring disconnect between game reviewers and game players. 
 
Game reviewers obviously focus on game quality as #1, and that's to be expected. 

Game reviewers often have to review a lot of games. They are looking to get the game finished, or mostly finished, get their game experience in and move on to the next thing quickly.  For better or worse, they almost always judge games based on quality and unless it horrifically short or painfully long, they ignore game length.  Long game length is a detriment for them, as it takes of more of their limited time they need to review other games.
 
But many gamers can't afford many games, and they've got to get a lot of mileage out of the few games they can afford. So game length can be a very valuable concept. Not to say game length reins supreme over all gamers, but for many of us, getting the most out of our money is a big factor. And although a 5 hour game that is a clean presentation, that is amazingly well conceived and almost perfect in every other way is going to be a failure in a gamer's eyes, because they're in need of a 40+ hour campaign and hopefully with some long hours of satisfying multiplayer action on top of that.
 
Another disconnect is price. Most reviewers don't have to pay for games, so they relationship of experience vs cost is a little bit lost on them. But as above, for many gamers cost is a very real and pressing concern. At the same time, I don't think reviewers hold downloadable $10 games to the same set of standards as a $60 AAA title, but at the same time, they reality of only affording a certain amount of games is lost on them. But also many games hit the $20 bin within a year. Is the game now 3X as good cause it dropped from $60 to $20? Probably not, cause the multiplayer crowd has probably moved on, and if you're getting the game over a year after everyone else, they've all moved on, and you're left out of the conversation, damaging your experience, if for you, part of the experience is discussing the game with other players. So I think it's fair that they have different assumptions for what the release day sticker price is, but ignore future deals and price drops. So I don't think you can judge a $60 game, a $40, and a $10-15 game by the same principles.
 
What do you guys think about how games are reviewed? Should game length and cost be a factor? If so, how important should they be?

29 Comments

The over-hyped importance of "the Story" in video games

 

I’ve noticed more and more over the years that gamers and some reviewers seem to judge the worth of a game based on “the story”. For some reason, I think the story because a simple thing for people to focus on. But I’m of the opinion that story is not what video games are about, they’re about the gameplay. Story is secondary. And it’s fair to say that different gamers play different games for different reasons. But – if you’re only playing a game for the story, I think you’re missing the point.

An example:

Game A has absolutely amazing gameplay, but the story is terrible. Game A is still enjoyable.

Game B has terrible gameplay, but an absolutely amazing story. Game B is a nightmare to play.

See? Story can “add” to the fun of gameplay, but it is no replacement, yet a game can still be fun in spite of a terrible story IF the gameplay is good enough. As games focus more and more on story, what seems to happen is that they’re competing with movies. Which to me, leaves video games horribly outgunned. Movies will always have much better stories, acting and cinematography, because they don’t have to be concerned with gameplay, and everything is pre-rendered. So to me, if a great story is what you’re looking for, you need to go see a great movie, actually much better yet, read a good book.

Here’s a good analogy: race cars. It is like saying your main thing you like about a good race car is how it looks. YES – many race cars are gorgeous looking, and that’s great and all. But they are designed to go fast and handle corners, looking pretty is secondary. If what you care about most is how it looks, there’s no point in spending hundreds of thousands or even millions on engineering to make it go insanely fast, and have great handling. You can just go get yourself a scale model of a prettier car. But saying that the focus of the race car should be it’s looks, will make it lose races. Everyone likes seeing a gorgeous race car win, but does anyone care about the amazingly gorgeous race care that game in 12?

One big factor for me about how fun a game is, is its replayability. And let’s be honest, if story is the main thing, how many times are you gonna want to go through the same story? I’m not saying it impossible, there’s certainly movies I’ve seen half a dozen times. But 40+ hour games? Not something I’d see myself doing multiple times to relive a story I already know what is gonna happen.

Look at classic games. The stories are non-existent or laughable. Pac man? Donkey Kong? Pit Fall? Any story for these games could be described in probably 2 sentences max. Did that make them bad games? Nope – they had great gameplay and were highly replayable.

And I think the problem is, that for video games, we need to not focus on “the story”, instead focus on “the experience”, which in fact, is the story that is unique to each gamer who plays the game. Video games are an interactive media, focusing on a linear story takes away from that. And this coming up with 20 different endings is a band aid measure, slapped on at the end when you realize, oh crap, everyone who plays this has the exact same experience, why in the hell would anyone play this more than once? Problem solved!!!: Multiple endings!!! (+100 to *weak*)

Something else besides gameplay I feel is more important than the story: environment. The actual game world you’re in. To me, if it is a pointless, boring, rehashed, cookie-cutter looking place, where I really don’t give a crap about what is around the next corner, it doesn’t matter how good the story is. But an amazing environment, which is exciting to explore, can really compensate for a bad/nonexistent story. This is where games prevail over movies. Movies don’t really have an environment, they have a set, which is recorded once, and never changes. Video games however, can have an interactive, exploreable, changing environment. The success of minecraft is a good example of this.

146 Comments

Dead Rising 2

Finally beat this damn game.
Finally beat the last boss after discovering the location of some stuff. Made all the difference. Level 29 now.
I'm glad 3clipse got me back into this one, I wasn't far from the end when I got a little burned out.

After beating it, I feel like I understand the complete Japanese vision now. Also having the DLC costumes makes the game a lot more enjoyable. But once I get high enough level, I think I'll stop using them, as they do kinda "twinkie" the game a bit. And I'm glad I didn't get to a certain point then restart the game. But I get it now, like the leveling up makes more sense. From a gameplay point of view. The game makes almost no sense from a realize perspective, but from a gameplay point of view, it makes more sense now. Like the whole thing is designed so future playthroughs are more fun. And ultimately, after getting yourself fully leveled up, it will just be fun to roam through the mall killing things.

The things I'd do differently:

1. Gear storage in the safehouse. Store up to 100 items in the safe house locker. They'd carry over to multiplayer and game restarts.
2. When you restart a game, carry over non-storyline survivors, so you don't have to re-save the same survivors. Kinda cheap getting PP for re-saving the same people, and it'd be nice to no have to re-save them. 
3. The game makes a little more sense with the DLC, I feel like it should be "earnable" and "purchaseable".
4. Inventory should transfer to game story restarts.
5. 4 player coop.  
6. Allow you to play as NPC skins.
7. Possibly for extra challenge on future playthroughs, game would start with uberzomies, and gear would randomly generated, except for store specific gear. (toy stuff in toy stores, etc)

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The "Death of the Rhythm Genre"

http://www.giantbomb.com/news/guitar-hero-and-dj-hero-dlc-to-end-in-march/2916/
 
So Activision is totally cutting Guitar Hero and DJ Hero by the end of this month.  Not a massive shock, except that it was done so abruptly and unceremoniously.
 
 But I think everyone is coming to some really quick and sloppy conclusions about what this means for the industry. I think the genre is definitely supersaturated. Way too much hardware, and way too many game, particularly guitar hero games. I think Rock Band's release schedule has always made sense, and your songs import from one game to the next. Given though that Rock Band 3 didn't sell very well.

Keep in mind, Guitar Hero set unprecedented sales records as people gobbled up all their game generations and new hardware. But Guitar Hero's model of buying a new 'game' every time to get more songs, never made any sense to me, and I was sick of it by GH3. So their death isn't big shock to me, their model is self defeating and unsustainable. Getting people to buy guitar after guitar after guitar, knowing next year there will be a newer better one to replace it makes everyone feel like tools, and ultimately everyone loses interest......for some time anyway.

But I think people are primarily burned out on hardware. No one wants to feel their living rooms with any more expensive plastic junk. So I think Rock Band could possible just ride the storm out by releasing good quality songs on a regular basis. So people are burned out.....for now. I see this genre getting revived in time. BUT - I think the solution for this hardware burnout, will be for future games to not focus on hardware so much. In fact, I think it would be key if future games would allow and encourage the use of real life, existing instruments, and just have a affordable conversion dongles, and have the game train people so they can use the instruments in real life, while having approachable casual modes that anyone can play.

So I think that like our economy, the music genre isn't dead, I just think it's going to go through a severe recession for a while.
9 Comments

Playstation Move Shortage

Has anyone else noticed a massive shortage of Playstation Move controllers? Amazon has been out of stock of them for months. Best Buy and Target  are also sold out of the controller by itself, but some still have the bundle. And it seems every time I go to a store with electronics, they are out of stock also. What is the deal? I know these things were not that popular, so what is Sony doing? Just short supplying the retailers, since this thing wasn't a raging success? Yet Sony themselves, said they didn't not expect large launch numbers, and that we're seeing it more as a slow performer that would do well over time.  Sony, ya can't sell something that no one has in stock!

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Sony's Xperia Play Super Bowl Commerical: Seriously Sony?

Check out the latest marketing miscalculation by Sony:
 
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcSiMc0Hxnw&feature=player_embedded
 
To break down the commercial, it comes down to about 50 seconds of disturbing android man getting thumb grafts, 10 seconds of logos and slogans, and 5 seconds of actually seeing the phone. Um why? 
Percentage of people who might be interested in this phone, but have thus far heard nothing about it: 10%
Percentage of people who got anything from the whopping 5 seconds of phone footage after 50 seconds of disturbing thumb grafting: 10%
 
And are a bunch of buzzed football fans gonna be paying any attention to this? This should have been revealed at E3, TGS, CES, or somewhere more relevant.
Why does Sony do this to themselves? I really want to talk to their marketing execs and ask them: "So, you guys are looking to fail, right? Cause that's the only way your marketing strategies make any sense." And is this thing even going to support the "next Gen" NGP games? If it doesn't, than Sony is basically competing with itself, as why is some one going to buy a phone that won't play the latest Sony portable games? But you know its though kind of vital details that Sony love to glaze over, and just assumes we'll all be too dazzled by the pretty lights to think about those things.

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