Zombienation pt.1: The History
Posted on Friday, July 9 2010 @ 15:27:44 Eastern
Since the rise of nerd culture some fifty years ago, we have all had a fascination with the undead. From George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” to Capcom's “Dead Rising,” zombies have been as big a staple in the lives of gamers as the D-Pad. It’s this fascination, in fact, that makes zombies appearing in games, even when they shouldn’t, very commonplace today, and very entertaining. From an entire playable class in Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft” called the Undead, to Treyarch’s Nazi Zombies mode in “Call of Duty: World at War,” people can’t get enough of these brain-dead, flesh-eating, pieces of wandering meat.
When my friends and I have conversations about what to do in the case of a zombie apocalypse, many people stare at us with odd looks on their faces, not sure whether we’re serious or not. The fact of the matter is that although we all know it’s very unlikely (but not completely out of the question) that a zombie uprising will occur, it’s a fun topic to talk about. What the best weapons would be, to where the best fortified defense area would be, our imaginations always make it a great time. Of course, zombies today have grown in scariness from their counterparts when previously mentioned filmmaker George A. Romero was creating the standard zombie. When before they could barely walk at a normal pace and simply let out a low moan, usually holding their arms outstretched trying to find the closest brains possible, now zombies can sniff out the faintest scent of a human, scream to let their comrades know about it, and run faster than the average human (but could probably be outrun by an Olympic sprinter) towards their target. They’ve learned how to open doors, climb stairs, and even work in groups to achieve their goal. And achieve it they do, multiple times over, eating any human that they come in contact with. Unless of course that human happens to have a chainsaw and shotgun handy.
These foul creatures have even made their way into the mainstream media, spawning multiple popular films and two New York Times Best Sellers, The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, both written by zombie enthusiast Max Brooks. In terms of film, multi-million dollar earning pictures have been made, movies such as “Shaun of the Dead,” a comedy starring Simon Pegg, “The Evil Dead,” the first in a cult series directed by Sam Raimi, any “Of the Dead” films, originally made by George A. Romero, and “28 Days Later,” a zombie movie made by Danny Boyle, who also directed the award winning movie adaptation of “Trainspotting.”
Yes, today zombies are everywhere, but that leads me to the question: how much is too much? When will the regular public and the gamer public tire of zombie this and zombie that? When zombies can be found in almost any media outlet when a person looks hard enough, how long will it be before zombies become yesterday’s news and people move on to a different undead threat? Hopefully it won’t be soon, I like my undead companions, especially since I know that all it takes to stop them is the classic method of severing the head or destroying the brain. I mean, the vampire craze is already here, definitely not eclipsing zombies in the least, but things that you need to go to some effort to kill – you pretty much need to put a stake through the heart of a vampire to kill it – just seem like too much work to get rid of, and to be honest, when you gain all that strength, immortality, and power with the only downside of not being able to ever go into the sun again and the whole Twilight Saga ruining your reputation, wouldn’t most people want to become one? Nobody wants to be a zombie, having their flesh rotting off their corpse while they constantly search for brains to eat, that life just sounds dull and sad. No, zombies don’t look like they’re leaving anytime soon, and that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Any creature that has spawned that many games, books, and movies is okay to keep around for as long as possible in my book.
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Used Games and Shoddy DRM
Posted on Friday, May 28 2010 @ 17:00:54 Eastern
DRM, the last acronym a gamer ever wants to hear. Its idea is evil and it has caused a lot of pain and suffering for gamers all over the world in recent years. The concept of Digital Rights Management launched quite a while ago, originally with music purchased online from stores like iTunes and the like, however not many people knew that that's what it was called, they simply knew they could only authorize x number of computers to play their purchased songs. In 2008, with the launch of EA Games' and Will Wright's "Spore," the concept was brought to the video game world, and has since been the main cause of outrage amongst gamers worldwide.
In the beginning for games DRM would give the user a select number of uses for the CD key they received when the game was initially purchased. I believe for "Spore" the number was five. That seems like a lot, but when you remember that back then a computer could never be unauthorized the number of uses became significantly less. Even if one was to reformat the computer the game was initially on they would have to use another one of their five CD key uses. This made gamers begin to ask the question "does paying $50-$60 for a game not mean that I have ownership over the intellectual property rights of this disc that is in my hands?"
Fast forward to present day. DRM is still in existence and going at full force to combat computer game piracy, but new ideas have been implemented. Ubisoft, for example, requires that the user maintain a constant internet connection on a PC in order to play the game you have shelled out your hard-earned cash for. It's not a perfect idea, in fact it's a far from perfect idea, causing many gamers who do not have constant access to the internet to miss out on some phenominal games, Assassin's Creed 2 being one of them. This is still all well and good, I mean let's face it, if a company goes through all the trouble to make a game and spends however many dollars ensuring it's as good as it can be (or in some cases spending the money on advertising for the game instead of ensuring its quality), then they deserve to not have their game downloaded for free off of some torrent site. It's not a good method, but it ensures that anyone playing the game has paid for it. Unfortunately companies have now decided that because they don't see a dime for the sale of a used game, they want to initialize a DRM system for console games as well.
Industry giant Electronic Arts has implemented a new method of doing this. When they release a game it comes with a one-time use code that the player puts in when they first connect to the game's online features (be it Xbox Live, PSN, or Wii Connect24, but who really uses that?). This code verifies that you have purchased said game first hand and it permanently links your online account to that code. This means that when you sell it back to a retailer such as GameStop whoever buys it next will not be able to access the online features without buying a new code from EA themselves for the "low, low cost for $10." Basically even though the company that makes the game doesn't buy it back from you when you are done with it they want to see more money on the resale of the same property they have already profited from. Seem fair? I didn't think so. The entire point of a used game is so that whoever buys it second hand saves money on the game as a whole. The original buyer gets some of their money back, and the new buyer is able to enjoy an almost new game. Because when you buy a copy of a game you are buying all ownership of that copy's features, the game should be yours to do with what you want when you are done with it, but now the industry (which is still one of the few to be posting profits quarter after quarter) wants to see more money.
This is not an issue for someone who has no plans of ever connecting to the online community in a game, but for those of us who want to save money on say, a shooter that came out four months ago, is still full price in the store, but we can find it used for 33% off, we can no longer play it online without buying a license to do so from the manufacturer, and honestly, who wants to play the story mode to a shooter coming out today? The entire purpose of the game is to play it online.
At this point in time it doesn't look like the idea of console DRM is going to go away anytime soon, only time will tell. What I can see happening however, is gamers deciding that they have had enough with a company trying to take the rights to a game that they have already paid for away, and possibly rallying together against the industry giants. Again, only time will tell.
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Sequels of the Year
Posted on Monday, November 30 2009 @ 10:01:01 Eastern
2009 will be remembered as a year the current generation of gaming took a turn; the all-arrogant Sony dropped their ridiculous $399 price tag for a system with 80 gigabytes of memory for a smaller $299 tag, and with it they increased the overall hard drive size to 120 gigabytes. Seeing a threat, Microsoft had to follow suit, getting rid of their Xbox 360 Pro console all together and dropping the price of their Elite console to also $299, meaning their Arcade model would drop to $199. Realizing people could now buy an Xbox cheaper than a Wii, Nintendo also dropped their system's price to $199. As well as the price drops, this year saw a slew of fantastic releases: games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dragon Age: Origins, Borderlands, InFamous, and Brutal Legend to name a few. With all the new IPs coming out this year you would expect an exciting Game of the Year lineup coming from any review site even if most of them haven't announced nominees yet. Spike TV has not followed suit.
Spike TV, which I know is not actually a game review station, has announced its nominees for Game of the Year, winner to be announced at their annual Videogame Awards in a few weeks. With the exception of Batman: Arkham Asylum, every single nominee is a sequel. Sure, games like Modern Warfare 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 are great games, but they have already had their shot at a Game of the Year title when their predecessors (Modern Warfare and Left 4 Dead) were released in 2007 and 2008 respectively. I am tired of seeing sequels be nominated for awards such as these simply because they are taking that chance away from a game that has taken a shot at doing something differently and starting a new storyline.
Now, I have no problem with sequels winning awards. They have taken the original and improved on it or added some new innovative ideas that make the game different and fun again, even if it is simply rehashed gameplay from the one that came before it. Sometimes a sequel can make the series fun to play (see: Saint's Row 2), sometimes it can take away from your fond memories of the series (see: Grand Theft Auto 4), but people always buy them and they are an easy way for a company to make money. This is why instead of taking Game of the Year slots, I propose that there be a new category in video game awards ceremonies called Sequel of the Year. People can vote on their favorite one still, but the only real rules to the category would be that A) the game must be a sequel, and B) if it is in this tier it is not allowed to compete for Game of the Year. On top of making an obvious rift between the two categories that is much needed, this may also encourage more companies to make new games instead of spicing up old ones and re-releasing them for full price instead of just adding downloadable content.
Sequels are great, they expand on the original game's story, introduce new characters, and even open up the universe the game finds its self in even more so that people learn more about the areas they are in. They are just not deserving of a Game of the Year title if they are not a new IP. This winter so many sequels are coming out that new games such as Heavy Rain have been pushed into January so they do not have to compete with the holiday market rushing to grab the newest iteration in their favorite ten-year series whose improvements could simply be thrown online and have the player pay $30 to download everything.
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Capitalism in a Nutshell
Posted on Monday, June 1 2009 @ 06:30:25 Eastern
This is not mine, it was taken from a site you can find right [url=http://www.interag.co.uk/jha03.htm]here[/url]. I just felt it was worth sharing
You have two cows. You sell one ... read more...
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How To Take a Picture of One's Self Today
Posted on Tuesday, May 26 2009 @ 11:48:15 Eastern
1: Point camera at self
2: Make sure to get the fact that you are the one holding the camera (i.e. show the arm holding the camera in the frame)
3: Do not, DO NOT look at the camera. For the love of God, look at ANYTHING else. Make yourse... read more...
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The Day The Website Died
Posted on Friday, May 15 2009 @ 21:39:35 Eastern
It has been a long, interesting, and sad past 24 hours. The site we've all known and loved has passed away, thirteen years young. This morning (or last night) when we visited her, she ceased to be the red and black communist-themed indepe... read more...
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Rock Band Goes Too Far
Posted on Wednesday, October 22 2008 @ 09:43:15 Eastern
I know a lot of you will remember my talking badly about both the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises because I play a real instrument, and although I admit I tend to be hard on those games, on occasion they are a lot of fun... to play.
N... read more...
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Posted on Tuesday, July 15 2008 @ 05:36:20 Eastern
In the Microsoft press conference yesterday they announced a major Xbox 360 update coming in the fall, with an all-new dashboard being showcased as one of the new features of the update. It looks like the biggest update the console has ever gotten, i... read more...
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