November 21st, 2009

I don’t understand how EA can shut down a studio mere weeks before they ship a game. The Saboteur looks interesting, but its release is irreparably tainted by this news.

Hooray for that.

Stardock estimates that Impulse has 10% marketshare against Steam’s 70%, while Direct 2 Drive, GamersGate, and other services split the remaining 20%. 10% for Impulse feels generous, but assuming it’s accurate, I wonder how their marketshare will be fairing now that the Steam-exclusive Modern Warfare 2 has shipped. With MW2, Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, and Day of Defeat, Valve controls most of the PC’s multiplayer FPS market. Consider supporting the competition, people.

Speak of the devil…

…and his pal Judas.

Such as first-party dedicated servers?

I’ve spent over 50 hours playing Dragon Age, and frankly, I can’t wait to throw more money at more content.

This sounded really cool until I read that one of the cases from the DS version will be excluded. What gives?

I feel silly for discussing box art, but people have been pretty down on this new Mass Effect 2 cover. Although they still have a planet/moon in the background that seems inappropriately close, I prefer this new cover to the old one. It reminds me of the covers of cheesy Sci-Fi paperbacks — in a good way.

I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoyed Kane & Lynch. They’re on the right track with the movie by casting Bruce Willis as Kane, and I’m digging the style they’re establishing for Kane & Lynch 2 with these teasers.


November 14th, 2009

Such news as this is never easy to hear. Rumors have emerged which suggest that the layoffs affect about a dozen projects at Pandemic, Black Box, Redwood Shores, Tiburon, Mythic, and Maxis.

Wait, didn’t you just–

Oh. Carry on, then. Jerks.

Now, go forth and recreate Diablo. Hellfire edition — the one with the monk. This shouldn’t take as long as Baldur’s Gate to recreate, so I’ll check back in 2013.

It’s cool, just call a votekick or have the server admin ban him.

People losing their jobs is the worst, but this Fox video about the scene in Modern Warfare 2 is a close second for “worst thing that happened this week.” It handily beats the thing about Bobby Kotick getting richer that I (almost) omitted from this post. It’s too bad that the /Gamer guy choked, but I’m not sure it would have made a difference had he not.

November 12th, 2009

Resolve.Modern Warfare 2 is out. I’ve shared my criticisms of the game and its creators in my news posts, but I have other thoughts and perspectives that I have yet to share.

The Price

Console games have been $60 for four years now, but that’s only because the platforms are controlled by two companies who agreed on standards. Although the PC platform has no such governing entities, most of this year’s major releases have adhered to the normal $50 price for standard editions (including Prototype, an Activision game), and some games have been even cheaper. Burnout Paradise, Bionic Commando, Street Fighter IV, and Red Faction Guerrilla launched at $40 on PC. With the market being stable and skewing toward cheaper games, $60 for the standard edition of a game is uncalled for, except by greed.

The Multiplayer

I admit that PC gaming could stand to be simpler and more accessible, but we shouldn’t let Activision’s PR blow the issue out of proportion: it isn’t that hard to find and join a server in a server browser. Regardless, there is no technical reason to choose one over the other, and this is a point that I think many people have failed to acknowledge: matchmaking and dedicated servers can co-exist. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Unreal Tournament 3, Left 4 Dead, and World in Conflict are examples of this. Infinity Ward and Activision’s motivator isn’t accessibility, it’s money. The closed ecosystem will not only enable them to sell maps to PC players, but it could also allow them to sell dedicated servers to players directly — such a move would be anti-competitive toward the third-party dedicated hosting services. They haven’t done this yet, of course, but it’s the next logical step in their mission to monetize multiplayer. It’s what their numerous decisions against PC culture have led me to fear.

The Scene

I haven’t seen the scene, and unless some of the things I discussed above change, I will probably never play it, but I have observed and considered the criticisms of others. I’m fine with this scene existing. It has a right to. Video games are products of collaboration, but they’re also products of creative expression; they are art. There’s good art, bad art, and art that we just don’t care for, but art deserves to exist and shouldn’t be stifled, and from this is where my issue with it stems. As I understand it, before the scene begins, players are asked if they want to skip it. I don’t know why this choice exists — whether it’s pressure from Activision, a compromise with the ESRB, or simply Infinity Ward being courteous — but this choice indicates uncertainty on someone’s part. If they’re including the scene, I would rather they commit.

Were I to play it, I’m sure I would enjoy Modern Warfare 2 , but I can’t endorse Infinity Ward and Activision’s decisions with my money. I wish I could be playing Modern Warfare 2 rather than writing this post, but, such as it is, here I am.

November 7th, 2009

Now, go forth and recreate Baldur’s Gate. I’ll check back in 2015.

This doesn’t bother me because Rage isn’t an established franchise for which I have expectations. Besides that, in contrast with Modern Warfare 2, the multiplayer isn’t what interests me about Rage.

Cue warm fuzzies.

My contribution: *sigh*

That’s cool, I’m not overly concerned about buying their game.

As apprehensive as I am about the new focus on co-op, a whole new city sounds great. I still play Skate 2 almost every day, but San Vanelona is starting to feel a bit familiar.


October 31st, 2009

This is the most important piece of games journalism written all week. This, too, is good, and offers a different perspective on the issue.

I am glad at this; I only hope the chart will track more than just sales in the UK.

PseudoKnight: I hadn’t expected to be this thrilled by simple screenshots of NS2, a sequel to one of my most beloved multiplayer games, Natural Selection. The independent team has had a wild ride but are finally seeing the fruits in the form of $220,000 in pre-sales.

It’ll take a while to get used to the Windows key being useful after years of hating it and avoiding it at all costs (sometimes by removing it from my keyboard), but this list will help. A favorite of mine, and a boon for anyone with multiple displays, is Win + P.

The marketing for Dante’s Inferno is a work of art.

As I said last week, we’ve been playing a lot of League of Legends. This interview gives insights into Riot Games’ design process, ideas on game balance, plans for updates and making money on a free game, and their thoughts on the competition.

Although Shattered Horizon is a tragically generic name, the game itself looks and sounds like anything but generic. I might have pre-ordered it on an impulse if it weren’t launching the day after Dragon Age.

October 24th, 2009

First the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 gets a console price tag ($60), and now it’s getting the console multiplayer experience. Without player-controlled dedicated servers, there are no mods, no custom maps, and the competitive scene diminishes. Matchmaking is impersonal and unpredictable; it discourages community. I’ve never made a new friend in a game that uses matchmaking — there’s no such thing as “regulars” in Halo — but this very website probably owes its existence to dedicated servers. If we who still play multiplayer FPS games on PC wanted a console experience in MW2, we would simply play the console version. No one asked for this.

Being lied to is a bummer.

On the very day of my transition to 64-bit Windows, GameTap released their first big batch of 64-bit compatible games, and they’re free for the weekend. Notable among them are Unreal Tournament 2004, Overlord, Tomb Raider: Legend, Sacred Gold, and Hitman: Blood Money. Unreal Tournament 3 was also added this week.

Yes. Perfect. As I played through Kane & Lynch, Willis is exactly who I thought should play Kane if a movie were ever made. This makes up for the oversight that was not getting Jason Statham to play Agent 47.

PseudoKnight, Noct, and myself have been playing League of Legends with friends over the last week. It is great fun, and seems to be a worthy successor to Defend of The Ancients. Giant Bomb has a Quick Look (featuring the old UI) to watch while you download:


October 8th, 2009

Hype DMS LosAngeles Graffiti Art by Flickr user anarchosynWhen the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2 was pushed to 2010, I knew that my fall would not go as I had planned. And I was right — for the PC versions of multiplatform games, this fall has been, and will continue to be, an odd one. Borderlands’ PC release, for example, has been delayed one week for “optimization,” and since Gearbox has said in the past that PC is Borderlands’ lead platform, I think a more likely reason is that 2K wanted to give the console versions a week where they didn’t compete with .torrents of the PC version – a futile act. Still, the promise of add-ons would keep me from playing Borderlands on release day anyway, just as with Fallout 3. Similarly, the purported delay of Modern Warfare 2 PC (though it may only apply to the UK) doesn’t dissuade me from buying it on November 10th as much as its $60 price. There were also rumors leading up to Alpha Protocol’s delay; paying customers, including myself, were not sure of their validity until October 6th, the day it was meant to release. Even then, there was no formal announcement – the game simply didn’t launch, and Sega updated their store to say “Spring 2010.” Were I not confident in Obsidian’s ability to deliver, I’d ask for my money back.
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