Is the videogame industry headed in the right direction?

22 05 2007

(Should it even be called the videogame industry? How about the interactive entertainment industry?)

Well, im a little drunk right now and I think it’s time to talk about my feelings on the industry of which this blog has primarily been focused on. The video game industry is currently approaching or in many cases surpassing the movie industry in revenue. It is at the present moment going through a period of -lets face it- mediocrity and a lack of innovative content. The truth is, there is a huge gap between what’s possible on an independent level and the level of game studios backed by huge publishers. What is the Napoleon Dynamite equivalant in the game industry?

Is there any way for independent development to flourish like it does in music and movies? Will videogames join those two art forms in the formulae of discovering great talent and games?

The game industry neeeds more companies like gamecock to thrive. It needs more creativity, more companies on the leading edge starting from nothing looking for a way to differentiate themself from the competition.

I believe that it is inevitable and neccesary for middleware and game creation tools to be developed to the point where technical skills is far less important for game development than artistic skill.

Currently, it’s as if the cinematographer, set developers and effects artists were what made movies win oscars. That’s the best comparison to describe the state of game development presently.

I believe tools must become standardized for games to progress much further. We need artists developing games. Who is the Steven Spielsburg in the videogame world? Where is the Charles Dickens of videogames? Why haven’t we seen a game that inspires a culture like scarface did? When you go to a school to learn about videogame development, you should learn about scene Composition, not programming. You should learn about game design. You should learn about videogame history, and the mindset if innovative game developers. You should learn about what differentiates the classics from the posers and just another shooter/platformer/rpg. What is the creative process involved in designing a game.Can you imagine a day where making interactive scenarios was like filming a scene in a movie? Where the creator can bring his vision to life on a high level?I’d love to get some input from developers on what is being done to take videogames to the point where development is standardized and “graphics” are all about the artists you hire, and the cinematic unfolding of action. I feel like in the future, every game should offer the kind of depth, freedom of choice, and high level design of a Deus Ex or a GTA.






So you wanna be a balla?

25 04 2007

Aright, it’s spring, time for you to get your game on. Lace up your jordans, put on some shorts, get out your bball and get out in the sun with that gameface on.

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Or you can sit behind your computer screen with your gameface on, and trash talk without fear of getting your face smashed in, while playing sierras Free Style Street Basketball.

Go to http://freestyle.sierraonline.com/ to download a public preview copy of the game. Do it now. Trust me, you’ll have some fun with this one. The game is expected to be released on 5/15/07 for a bargain $19.99, and you can reserve it and recieve:

  • An Exclusive in-game clothing item
  • $5 in-game credit and 15,000 game points to customize your character’s look and increase abilities
  • You’re probably wanting some details about the actual game. To briefly summarize, it’s a street basketball game in the same vein as NBA street. Except it takes place online and you select one character and play that character, relying on your other players to win the game. It also has an RPG element where you can gain levels, as well as as a customization element allowing you to purchase different clothing etc. The game has been out worldwide for a while now, with over 32 million people already registered. Watch the trailer to get a feel for the game.

    My favorite thing about the game is that the controls are very simple. It uses the same standard keys you’ve gotten used to using in first person shooters, WASD. The gameplay is focused too. It’s all about getting the ball in the hole. You have a 24 second shot clock, no fouls, and you must clear the ball. That’s it. The game becomes about timing and positioning instead of rules.

    Leveling also plays a big role. You’ll soon be addicted to leveling up. You gain experience by beating the other team, and the game also considers your own individual performance when awarding experience. The levels really do make a big difference. Even though it’s possible to beat people at a much higher level than you, it usually doesn’t happen for two reasons.

    1. They have played the game longer so they have better timing etc.

    2. They have more moves like alley oops etc, as well as better speed, blocking, and all that good shit.

    The matchmaking works like a charm, so you can get into plenty of matches and find one with the right challange. Create a team, select to be on a team, invite players and teams. Or just press start game and be automatically assigned to a team.

    Once your playing, you get the hang of the controls effortlessly, because they really are very simple. It takes quite a bit longer to actually become good at the game however, and it requires real teamwork to win. Admittedly, the graphics aren’t exceptional, although they are stylish and effective. The animation and smoothness of the game leave something to be desired also, sometimes it all feels less fluid than it could be compared to some of the console basketball games.

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    What Freestyle Street Basketball accomplishes perfectly though, is an addictive easy to get into online basketball experience. This has not yet been achieved previously to my knowledge, and for $19.99 it’s going to be a hell of a steal (basketballs puns are so fucking easy). Now go out and get the preview, and if I find you online i’ll bring you to school and show you what real game is all about.





    Rush Limbaugh Not Always Full of Shit: Doesn’t Believe Video Games Caused VA Shooting

    18 04 2007

    – [ Credit for this story goes to http://www.destructoid.com/prepare-to-agree-with-rush-limbaugh-31059.phtml#comments and http://gamepolitics.com/2007/04/18/rush-limbaugh-pooh-poohs-video-games-involvement-in-va-tech-rampage/ ]

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    Conservative pundit and pillpopper Rush Limbaugh, reacted differently than expected when a discussion began from someone calling in, saying:

    “I’ll bet my last dollar in my pocket, that this shooter will be found to have been a compulsive video gamer, and when people are living that kind of lifestyle – and college students do this a lot.”

     Rush responded:

    “RUSH:  Look.

    CALLER:  Yeah?

    RUSH:  (sigh) Let’s say you’re right.

    CALLER:  Okay.

    RUSH:  Not every video gamer goes out and murders 33 people on the college campus though.  There’s more to this than that.  We can find all kinds of societal problems and ills, but the fact of the matter is that whatever you would look at as a bad influence — video games as you mentioned — it may desensitize people, but it doesn’t turn everybody into mass murderers.

    CALLER:  You’re absolutely right, but the classic forms of brainwashing are involved with compulsive video gaming: sleep deprivation, food deprivation, isolation, and then, as I say, if you’re shooting people eight hours a day in a cyber-environment, then it just lowers the resistance to honoring human life.

    RUSH:  Well, look, there’s no question that some people probably are affected by that.  In this case, let’s not jump the gun on this guy and make him a video gamer.  We’ll find out soon enough everything we want to know about this guy, and I guarantee you that much of what we find out will be America’s fault.  Just be patient.  This stuff will all come out.  I want to ask you people a question.  I want you to be honest.  You don’t have to tell anybody else what you think.  You don’t.  You can answer this privately.  I’m going to ask you a question.  You do not have to tell anybody what you answered.  When you first heard the news yesterday, and the death toll kept rising and it finally got up to the 30, 32 number, the 33, how many of you were not really all that profoundly affected by it?  The reason I ask the question is, how many of you have become desensitized? The previous caller used the word. There is so much violence on television and in the movies, the video games, I guess, you want to throw those in, violence in newscasts, and we hear about 35 people dead in Iraq every day.  

    Some people just after awhile, you don’t have an emotional reservoir left.  Your emotion is all spent.  You can only care about 35 people shot so much because, here we had 30, 33 people killed, 30 injured in one incident, but the number of deaths on the highways — which, granted, are not murder, but there’s a pretty big murder rate in the country, various cities around the country. I just wonder how many people, when this first happened, were desensitized. It didn’t affect them the way it would have if it — and I have no answer for this, I’m just asking the question because… The reason I asked this is because this is so extraordinary. I would be surprised if a whole lot of people said that it didn’t affect them.  But within our generations, our two generations, the last 50 years, there have been a substantial number of these things.  Not every day, not every year, not every month, of course.  They do happen, but they are not symptomatic of something wrong in the country.  “

    He went on to explain his position that trying to control video games was similair to gun control.

    “Not every video gamer goes out and murders 33 people on the college campus though.  There’s more to this than that… it may desensitize people, but it doesn’t turn everybody into mass murderers…

    People have a tough time accepting a relatively simple explanation for something of this scale.  But how many people are playing video games out there? How many millions of people play video games, and how many millions of people have guns? 

    If you start blaming the video games, you may as well demand video game control because it’s the same thing when you start trying to blame guns for this.  You have here a sick individual, an evil individual who committed a random act.  But if you want to start blaming the video games, this guy was this or that, weeeeell, then you’ve gotta maybe talk about banning them because that’s the same tack that’s taken with guns. ”

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    I actually listen to Rush on a fairly regular basis, incidentally, and before you flame me it’s only because if im riding anywhere with my dad in the morning he listens to it. I missed this story, but having heard Rush make some good points before, im not completely surprised by it. The majority of what Rush talks about is a crazy rant against anything Not Conservative, but he is at least lucid and defends his points well. Im not a political pundit, but I have to give credit where credit is due.

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    If we want to stop violence in this country, let’s look at the actual motivations of those perpertrating it and what caused them, instead of blaming hobbies and things they do with their time.





    Halo 3 Screenshots, Video, and Information Galore!

    12 04 2007

    Well first of all, ladies and gentleman, get your ass in gear and watch this absolutely fantastic behind the scenes video.

    Now, after you dry your eyes from tears of utter joy, relief, and appreciation, (if you didn’t cry tears of joy either you don’t like Halo or you really need to watch that video again) consider what the information revealed translated to: hours upon hours of trash talking, slow motion video playback “SNIPED YOU FUCKIN BITCH” moments. Only now, you are officially going to have the chance to say “HEY ASSHEAD, COME AT ME WITH YOUR LITTLE WARTHOG” then as the enemy speeds toward you throw out a trip mine with the “mysterious x button” (action button?..) and cackle in glee as your enemies warthog flies into the air spectacularly and lands in pile of wreckage.

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    Moments like that are what you live to game for, when you can leave your enemy in a smoking wrecked pile while they vow silently in their heads that they will fucking p3wn you, or you hear them shout at you that how you killed them was cheap, because any time they get killed its cheap.

    Of course, in Halo 2, there actually were many moments that could be considered cheap.. or at least could be considered moments where you didn’t have any real options. For instance, have a guy with dualies close behind you surprise blast you in the back in Halo 2 and see if you survive. In halo 3 however, press your super mysterious and powerful x button, and drop a cool ass little bubble shield down to take those bullets for you while you throw a grenade at the sap who tried taking you out.

    Whats more is, not only will you be playing with vastly improved balance and the Halo 1 Assault Rifle, but you will be doing it on some very interesting maps. The maps in Halo 3 have been created to be asymmetrical. Meaning one side will be offensive, the other defensive, in many maps. In the beta we will get to see three of those maps -Valhalla, High Ground and Snowbound. I like the idea of playing games where there are crucial control points built into the environment of the map. I also think its a beautiful thing that they have a lot more unique places….as in areas in the environment which can be named, adding to the ability to describe where you are on live, making strategy and the social aspects of the game so much smoother.

    So enjoy all these great looking screens, and pray fervently that the Pistol will still be an equalizer but will no longer be overpowered or give any reason for noobs to complain.

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    Put in the disc and play, with Halo 2 for Vista

    9 04 2007

    Written by Johnny Blaze. 

    Credit goes to http://blogs.ign.com/MGS_HiredGun/2007/04/05/51370/ for this story. Go there for a great interview and piece about it. I’ll give a brief rundown of the gist of it, for the lazy, as well as some thoughts of my own about this.

    Halo 2 for Windows Vista uses a new technology they developed called tray and play. Put the game in, press play, and it installs in the background.  Quit the game, and it will finish installing the next time you put the disc in and choose to play. Once the game installed, you never have to put the disc in again because of the new product activation technology. They claim that this does not impact performance. Although it remains to be seen wether this is fully true, its not really of big concern, since you can install the game the old fashioned way, before playing, if you are really worried about this being an issue.

     If you ask me, this is a great development, and I hope it becomes the standard for PC games in the future. One thing that I would have liked them to ask would be wether this feature is made possible because of Vista, or if it would be possible in Windows XP also, or even other operating systems. Since Halo 2 PC is exclusive to Vista, it’s hard to know.

    Between this and the functionality revealed by screenshots of the new Live! for PC demo, it looks like a bright future for PC gamers is ahead. 





    Inside source reveals new features in Grand Theft Auto IV

    8 04 2007

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    I was fortunate enough to get the heads up from a source I can not divulge, about what kind of game play is shown in the second and third GTA IV trailers. Unfortunately, I have not been able to convince him to let me take a look at, or even upload these trailers because of fear of a lawsuit.

    However, what he told me is extremely exciting. In the new GTA, there is a much more lifelike game play element. Cops no longer, automatically know where you are if they are within a certain range of you. In one of the trailers, it shows the main character running into an alleyway away from police and then ducking down behind a car. You watch as the police pass by you. It is also possible in this iteration to literally crawl underneath a parked car and hide. In the trailer it shows your man leaning out from underneath a car with a rocket launcher and shooting a helicopter out of the sky.

    What this means is very significant. It means that their has to be a strong AI component to the police. Escaping them will become much more cat and mouse, than the one man army, finding a spray paint shop and the chase is off shtick of the previous games. It also means we can look forward to a lot more interaction with the environment.