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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437
I Don't Want to, but I Have To...
By oblivion437
Posted on 10/20/14
Well, Gamergate has spilled over into the mainstream media and the coverage appears to be nearly uniformly dreadful. Take " What is Gamergate, and What Does It Say About Gender In Video Games? " by David Konnow as an example.  It appears that the writer has done little to no...

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Geodole Geodole's Blog
PROFILE
Making Games for Me
Posted on Friday, March 14 2008 @ 15:40:18 Eastern

In all modesty, I am a mid-20something well-employed, educated male with a lot of disposable income and a proclivity for talking about gaming. From a publisher's perspective, I am a capital-A Audience. I'm likely to invest in quality, am extremely knowledgeable about the business' past and future and am equally likely to tell other people about it. It makes sense, then, to cater at least some of the empire towards pleasing People Like Me, and here, I assert, is how to do it:

Originality Trumps All
As a gamer hardened in the early PC-era and who made their bones on consoles working up from the NES, I've seen a lot, and the consequence of this is that I favour originality above all else. If a game succeeds in doing something new, it instantly has a better chance of capturing me and making the sale over peers that may even be technically better, but lacking in that extra something. A good example of this is the contrast of Company of Heroes and World in Conflict.

It came up when talking with a Relic employee that although Company of Heroes was indeed an exceptionally well-crafted and balanced game, I didn't buy it after playing the demo because I'm tired of World War II franchises. It's an old theatre and I've fought those battles many times before, despite unique supply-route based dynamics. Although World in Conflict is rougher around the edges, the realistic semi-modern fictional invasion setting is interesting and new , and that's what got me hooked. It might be because of that simple notion that in playing the World in Conflict demo, I had a lot more fun than I did working through a level or two of Company of Heroes, and I snapped up a copy as soon as I could.

In a classic example of the reviewer missing the point completely, GR's own review of WiC is more than a little stodgy, if not outright wrong in a few cases (I'd be happy to elaborate later), but in my own experience, the most basic assertion I can make towards making great games is to start with a great concept. Where war's concerned, "War Never Changes", but the theatre, and the way that experience is presented (my god was that game beautiful, and not just graphically) sure can.

Wait, He's Still On About Originality
A great example of where I can be coerced into fellating publishers into giving me copies a couple days in advance are where games do something entirely new and strange, but do it sufficiently well. Patapon isn't a terribly excellent game; the pacing's off, the inventory and item collection sucks and a lot of your success on any boss has to do with the luck of having their attacks correspond rhythmically with your defends. But the notion of a rhythm-action-strategy hybrid is completely new to me- encased in a cute, heavily-stylized (if sometimes overtly grating) and inexpensive package, I'm on my knees, mouth-gaping in front of SCEA's offices in an instant.

This goes back to where I can be milked of my gaming dollar: I'm guaranteed to be One of Those People who gets the big-name games as soon as possible: I'll of course be buying Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo. The competition, from my point of view, is in creating the niche games that fill in the void space between these titles and I reward companies that try honestly new franchises.

Consider the Years That Sony Made, where they not only foisted upon us a Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and Gran Turismo title (2001), but unleashed a torrent of (then) new and exciting stuff: Grand Theft Auto 3, Ico, Jak and Daxter, Rez and Shadow Hearts to name a few, then came out swinging in 2002 with Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, Kingdom Hearts and others in a year where both Nintendo and Microsoft were readying and delivering big, big guns (Metroid, Zelda, and their plumber-pimp Mario for the former, and some very heavyweight developers for the latter). No other company has got it quite as figured out as Sony in capitalizing on The Big Names, but getting interesting and fun stuff to People Like Me to spread around like wildfire in the interim. The result: before Smash Brothers, I didn't touch my Wii after I'd finished Mario Galaxy, a good three-month stretch of inactivity. My 360 got fired up to play Rez in HD glory, but I haven't invested much time there either this year. February was yet another Month of Sony: I spent more time on my PSP than all other systems combined, and this is traditionally a barren time of year for games before the Spring "We Couldn't Get These Ready for Christmas" releases.

To conclude, I have no real predisposition towards Sony, or any company. I've got everything (see above) and am a gamer that will shell out the cash to play what I think is new and fun. What I will say however is that Sony knows how to cater directly to me, and they might as well put a siphon on my credit: they understand the flow of major releases padded with fun and new concepts that may more may not become major franchises, and they do it better than anyone else right now.

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Now 10% More Absorbent than IGN
Posted on Wednesday, March 12 2008 @ 02:51:01 Eastern

It's a sad, sad state of affairs when Kotaku's RSS feed has more than double the number of items per day than the CBC news feed. Every day, Google Reader churns out hundreds of items for me to read, and nearly all of the gaming feeds suck. Kotaku and Joystiq lead this parade of ****, coming up with dozens of nearly unreadable, teeveenewz-style articles about the minutiae of gaming culture. Some guy (undoubtedly with a vast collection of ass hats) makes a Master Chief figurine out of paperclips at his desk? Post. Wild unconfirmed speculation about a game that might be shown next month and maybe will be released this decade? Post. Someone from any major studio so much as takes a leak in a public washroom (and the urinal cake was recovered)? Post.

Today, helpfully, Kotaku decided to tell me that Interplay has put up a graphic on their webpage to inform us that a webpage will be there soon, and then proceeded to list the games represented in this graphic. Not only that, but all Gawker media sites now proudly state in their header how many posts have been made in the past 24 hours. Were there really 50 newsworthy posts in the last day from Gizmodo? Weblogs, Inc. is rarely any better, with the same vast resources of terribly-written humourless false-journalistic crap.

As someone who consumes more information in a short time period than your mother does in a significantly longer amount of time, I couldn't stand to put up with reading this nonsense just to keep well-versed in video games. If gamers want to be taken more seriously and be better poised to react when the real teeveenewz guys come after us, we've got to stop letting sites like Kotaku and Joystiq (and anyone associated with IGN and G4) speak for us.

So, err...viva la revolucion!

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On Bizarre Product Placement
Posted on Tuesday, February 26 2008 @ 00:18:37 Eastern

Used well, I have no problem with product placement. Nikolai in GTA4 can get refreshment from as much Sprite as he wants, and I wouldn't balk at a Wendy's bag in an office in Syphon Filter. Heck, if product placement started reducing the cost of games, I'd be even more willing to bear actual Starbucks cafes popping up in Liberty City (though inevitably, they would get firebombed).

I should note this only applies when it is done right: in games based in present or recent past or near future, on Earth or some derivative thereof. If Master Chief found a can of Game Fuel on a Halo somewhere I'd scoff, much like I would if Mario karted past a billboard for Applebees. If it doesn't fit the style and time of the game, it shouldn't be in there.

Which brings me to Call of Duty 4. As much as I am perpetually 4 months behind in getting around to games, I've recently taken to CoD4 and loved every minute of its excellently crafted (if at times rapingly difficult) single player campaign. The 'Intelligence' concept seemed a little odd to me, however. Each of the enemies, be they of indeterminate Arabic or Russian terrorist cells, favour Voodoo as their laptop of choice. This confuses me for a couple of reasons:

I've owned a Voodoo Envy laptop, and they are anything but unassuming. In short, they make Macbooks look as sexy as a Gateway desktop. Mine was Lamborghini Yellow, blindingly lustrous and instant thief-fodder. If you want everyone to look at you in an airport, lecture hall, meeting, library, whatever, carry a pearl yellow laptop. It is impossible to be discreet holding one of these things, and it makes me wonder what terrorists would find attractive in a computer that is designed to garner attention.

Second is the price: Voodoo PC's, aside from being gorgeous and powerful (when they get around to updating the specs) are insanely expensive. B&O speakers expensive. The paint job alone costs $700 bucks and up. Doesn't seem practical to me that terrorists in the wartorn middle east would be importing luxury Canadian laptops and leaving them in rickety shacks for someone to pilfer.

Last is sheer recognition: I noticed these were Voodoo laptops because I'd owned one and know the brand well. Who of the regular joes (any of you?) actually took note of the brand of these things? They're not exactly well-known, and having your product obscured as the Terrorist Brand of Choice doesn't exactly inspire confidence. I've a feeling that the only people who had actually noted this product placement are already well aware of laptops that are clear out of their price range.

Then again, them terrarists need something to practice murder with, and Voodoo laptops can play that Coun'erstrike game.

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Pa-ta Pa-ta Pa-ta-pon
Posted on Friday, February 15 2008 @ 03:33:34 Eastern

Sony's Valentines Day gift to PSP owners is the Patapon demo, and if you haven't yet downloaded it, just stop reading now and do it. Once again, Sony's come up with an entertaining, charming, and brilliant new game, very reminiscent of LocoRoco, but ...   read more...

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The Crying of Lot 1337
Posted on Sunday, February 10 2008 @ 19:41:39 Eastern

Everyone\'s got an Xbox. That varsity jock you know uses an XPS. Your mom relaxes swinging a virtual racket (or making a virtual sammich) on your dad\'s massive plasma HDTV with a HD PVR and 7 point epic surround sound system. The latest, slimmest ph...   read more...

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A Dialogue in Crysis
Posted on Tuesday, February 5 2008 @ 05:00:35 Eastern

I\'ve just finished Crysis, and while it will take a while to get over the stupefyingly gorgeous visuals (I literally went through half the alien spaceship bit before I realized I was gaping, slack-jawed with awe), the writing was borderline comedy. ...   read more...

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Gaming: The Final Frontier
Posted on Wednesday, January 23 2008 @ 15:50:06 Eastern

Unless you're an Azerothian devotee, gaming on Apple computers is a lonely proposition. The switch to Intel hardware and the introduction of Boot Camp (and other virtualization software) has helped by allowing Mac users to do the unthinkable and run ...   read more...

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Winning Friends through Greater Control
Posted on Wednesday, January 16 2008 @ 17:32:07 Eastern

With the introduction of the Wii, Nintendo has finally broken the quintessential video game controller form. Over the years this beast has gone through a number of iterations, with a few major jumps from digital to analog control (D-pad to sticks, an...   read more...

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2008 Predictions from an Industry....something
Posted on Friday, January 11 2008 @ 16:01:45 Eastern

Some of the GR vets might remember that I used to own my very own independent game store, which makes me marginally more suited than a walnut to make some predictions for the upcoming year (after all, making predictions about what would be successful...   read more...

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Bioshock Nega-Review
Posted on Sunday, January 6 2008 @ 15:57:23 Eastern

For a fairly \'indie\' game, Bioshock has made quite a name for itself, garnering the top spot in nearly every Game of the Year listing so far. And this isn\'t without reason: Bioshock is a beautiful, wonderfully crafted game with a perfectly bizarre...   read more...

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