Peter Moore talks community, offline games

/* Posted June 16th, 2011 at 2:53pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

EA_Sports

EA Sports boss Peter Moore recently commented on the sense of community of today’s games, and the future of offline-only games.

 

“We are probably in year three of a very focused community management strategy that allows our consumers and our fans to provide us with feedback to give them platforms for their opinions as well as finding ways to be able to integrate that in a very public manner,” Moore said. “If there’s a piece of real estate in video games that’s prominent, it’s the cover of Madden. There were 32 players, one from each team, and it all came down to Peyton Hillis and the fans have spoken… it’s the first time we’ve ever had a player from a losing team the year before on the cover. I think the ability for us to be able to utilize the power of the community to listen, to learn and to improve as a result is very important in our industry.”

 

“(the games industry is) clearly becoming an industry that’s taking massive franchises and then spreading that experiences across multiple platforms and multiple geographies, anytime, anywhere. There will be no offline games, and it’s very pleasing to see how our industry has embraced connectivity, has changed our business models to react to consumer demands.”

 

See what EA has to say about consoles and innovation.

 

via Gamasutra

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Hands-On: Rise of Nightmares Is Gruesome Kinect Horror

/* Posted June 16th, 2011 at 2:53am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

Immediately after I played Rise of Nightmares, Sega’s upcoming first-person horror game for Kinect, I scribbled down a few quick notes to remind me of what I had just experienced. One week later, I opened my notebook back up and this is what it said.

  1. Chainsaw = push.
  2. Gruesome opener.
  3. Wilford Brimley.
  4. Bloody toilet.

In case this is not enough for you, I will expand upon these points. Rise of Nightmares is one of the mature-audience games for the Xbox 360 hands-free camera controller that Microsoft touted at last year’s Tokyo Game Show. Thus far, Kinect has been home only to family-friendly entertainment, and Sega is placing a bet that gruesome, gory zombie-slaying might also work with the revolutionary device.

The results might be a little bit on the janky side, but the game’s E3 demo was more fun than I imagined it would be.

Chainsaw = push. First things first. Rise of Nightmares is kind of like Sega’s on-rails zombie shooter The House of the Dead, except everything you do is controlled by your body. Want to walk forward? Put one of your legs out in front of you. Want to back up? Put the leg behind you.

Turn? Just twist your upper torso from side to side, at the shoulders. If you want to interact with items on-screen, like a weapon or a door, you hold your hand out in front of you until a small hand icon appears, then drag it to the thing you want to touch. The first thing you’ll find is a pipe (or a crowbar or something); you can swing your arm out in front of you to bash enemies with it.

Each weapon has a slightly different play style. Once you find a chainsaw, you don’t just swing your arms around. You pretend you’re holding a chainsaw and push your arms forward to shove the blade directly into enemies. I hate to say something as simple as “it makes you feel like you’re really holding a chainsaw,” but it’s clear there’s a certain amount of care being taken with the little details of this experience.

Gruesome opener. Rise of Nightmares depends on a severely overplayed concept in videogames (escape a zombie-filled dungeon!), but it’s clearly trying for something a little more urgent and unsettling than the average shlocky horror game. Things kick off with you opening your eyes, watching another guy strapped to a chair get killed by a mad-scientist type. It soon becomes clear you’re next, up until the moment you are rescued by …

Wilford Brimley. OK, it’s probably not him. But the old man who came in at this moment to bust me out of the joint looked like he was about to sell me some Quaker Oatmeal. Anyway, he guides you through a little bit of the dungeon, but is then chopped right in half by a guillotine.

Bloody toilet. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think when I see a toilet full of blood is, “I should definitely stick my hand in there and move it around and see what I can grab onto!” As it turns out, in this case I found a key to a nearby door. Why did the zombies put it there? There’s no reasoning with them.

Rise of Nightmares has to overcome one simple challenge: Does the added realism of playing it by moving your body around make up for the fact that you have to play it by moving your body around? I think Rise of Nightmares would be summarily dismissed as derivative and forgettable if it was played with a controller. As a Kinect game, it has at least a chance of making an impact.

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Iwata on console wars: We are not engaged in such limited competition

/* Posted June 15th, 2011 at 2:53pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

iwata

Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata has revealed the company’s view towards the “console wars.”

 

“Often times, we have heard such terms as console wars, but we are actually always pushing ourselves and we are not engaged in such limited competition,” Iwata told All Things Digital. “For example, have we really been battling against only Sony and Microsoft?”

 

“With the Wii, Nintendo has been trying to expand the game population. … In that sense, I have said in interviews in the past, that we have been fighting against the indifference from consumers,” he continued. “And also, as you know, videogames can be played many other ways today.”

 

“They are available on iPhone, iPad and Android, so today it does not make any sense to discuss console wars between the three platform holders. In fact, our thinking has always been in trying to grab the limited amount of spare time people have and always try to offer some unprecedented attraction to the consumer.”

 

As for the Wii U, Nintendo believes it will end the core vs casual debate.

 

via All Things Digital

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Nintendo: Wii U third party support ‘absolutely fundamental’

/* Posted June 14th, 2011 at 2:52pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

nintendo-wii-2-hd-project-cafe

Nintendo is sparing no expense to highlight how important third party developers are to them.

 

“It’s absolutely fundamental to the success of Wii U to have better third party support than we’ve had in the past for our previous consoles,” said Robert Lowe, Nintendo UK’s head of marketing. “I think Mr Iwata totally recognises that. That’s why we had a Ubisoft round table session [during E3], that’s why John Ricitiello was on stage at our conference.”

 

“And even at a local level we’re doing everything we can to support third parties much more than we have done in the past. It goes all the way through the company, from Nintendo Japan, to Nintendo Europe, to Nintendo UK,” Lowe continued. “It’s very different for us to act like that because traditionally we would invest our time and money more into first party. We have a sightly different business model to Microsoft and Sony, who will obviously invest more money or marketing support in third party titles. It’s almost the opposite for us but I think we realise now we have to invest in a much bigger way in third party partners because there are certain types of games that we’re just not specialists at.”

 

“If we want to create a console that will appeal across boundaries to all different types of gamers we’re going to need their support more than ever before. We’re hoping we’ll get a lot of exclusives as well because of the unique way the console is made. It is much easier for third parties to move their products across from Xbox 360 and PS3 to Wii U. However, the way that the controller has to make you think and make the developers think will hopefully mean that titles that are ported over will hopefully have individual features that aren’t on the other systems.”

 

Third party developers have already started to flock to Wii U, the latest being Crytek.

 

via Eurogamer

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Review: Duke Nukem Forever Shoulda Stayed Vaporware

/* Posted June 14th, 2011 at 2:52pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */


Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem is here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and he’s all out of ass.

After the most protracted development cycle in history, Duke Nukem Forever was finally released Tuesday for PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360 (reviewed). Work on Duke began back in 1997, and developer 3D Realms’ complete inability to just finish the damn thing turned Duke into the most infamous unreleased videogame ever. We probably don’t need to mention how many times Wired.com readers voted Duke Nukem Forever the biggest vaporware of the year by a landslide.

Could any videogame, no matter how good, ever live up to that eternity of expectations? Duke Nukem Forever would be an interesting test case for this question if it were a good game. Instead, it’s just a bland set of predictable first-person shooting levels, not much to look at and not engaging to play.

The series’ trademark over-the-top vulgarity and did-that-just-happen sex jokes certainly make it a unique and occasionally amusing experience, but for the most part, the thought that will run through your head is: “This is what they were working on all this time?”

(Spoiler alert: This review contains mild plot spoilers.)

It’s fascinating that Duke Nukem Forever is actually available in what we must assume is a roughly accurate version of 3D Realms’ original vision. Had the developer actually shipped this game a decade ago and begun working on more-refined sequels, Duke might be caught up to modern-day game designs by now. Instead, Duke Nukem Forever is a game out of time, a bloated relic from a past era that we left behind for good reason.

The first thing you need to know about Duke Nukem Forever is that it is a technical mess, and this makes everything the game does badly that much worse. The single-player campaign is divided into a great many brief levels, and every time you move from one to another, the game dumps you out to a loading screen where you wait for almost a full minute for the next chunk of game to load. This wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t also happen every time you die. At some particularly frustrating points during my playthrough, it felt like I was spending more time waiting on loading screens than actually playing.

All things considered, Duke doesn’t start off so bad. The opening scenes, in which you run Duke through his palatial Vegas penthouse and onto the set of a late-night talk show, are funny and different, the sort of frivolity that has been stripped away from serious-business shooters like Halo and Call of Duty. Throughout the game, you’re encouraged to do all sorts of silly things, like get drunk and piss in any available urinal, doodle on whiteboards, play pinball and billiards, etc. Not a minute after the game begins, you can remove a piece of human feces from the toilet and run around with it, splattering poop on the walls and people.

This sounds and is disgusting, but quite frankly I like this kind of no-holds-barred stupidity; at the very least it is something different from today’s generally by-the-numbers shooters. But the novelty only lasts for a little while. Eventually, not only does the shock wear off (save for a midgame scene in a bathroom strip club in which Duke finds and utilizes a glory hole, which will not fail to shock anyone), but these amusing bits become fewer and further between. By the time I was running through another bland underground (or worse, underwater) shooting stage with nary a chuckle in sight, I felt like Duke was no longer playing to what we might charitably consider to be his strengths.

Nothing seems to work very well in Duke Nukem Forever. The aforementioned billiards and pinball games are clunky. Duke’s dune buggy gets caught in the scenery. Something as simple as turning a water valve can be frustrating because sometimes pressing the B button to make Duke let go of it doesn’t work.

Combat is the strongest part of the game, but even this doesn’t leave a lasting impression. You’ll encounter only a handful of foes — you might actually have more guns than things to kill with them. The gameplay itself feels like a generic shooter; strip away the ridiculous sex-and-poop jokes and you’re left with a lot of bland, action-game cliches.

I spent a brief amount of time with the multiplayer; Duke was released in Europe over the weekend and consequently I played with what I am reasonably sure was a group of small French children. There are three different game types: deathmatch, king of the hill and a variant on capture the flag in which the flag is a scantily dressed lady.

The Parisian primary-schoolers and I got killed comme un fils de pute; each multiplayer mode seems to favor learning where the best weapons spawn and going on a rampage with them.

The World Needs Duke

Videogames represent infinite possibility, but too many of our best gamemakers get stuck making safe, samey products. If Duke’s indulgent strip-club scenes and nothing-is-forbidden-not-even-poop attitude inspire other games to unleash some creativity, then it will have been a good thing that 2K Games forged ahead with the project and actually brought it to fruition.

The Duke Nukem franchise is now owned by Gearbox Software, the development house behind celebrated game Borderlands. I think that in some sense, Gearbox studio head Randy Pitchford is right: The world needs Duke. But Duke deserves better than this.

WIRED Ridiculous, nothing-off-limits humor; more variety of gameplay than contemporary shooters; holy crap this game actually came out.

TIRED Extensive and frequent loading times; boring action; unpolished interaction; bland, dated graphics.

Rating:

$60, 2K Games

Read Game|Life’s game ratings guide.

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Hands On: 5 Ways Madden NFL 12 Changes the Game

/* Posted June 13th, 2011 at 2:52am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will have a custom set of personality traits in Madden NFL 12.
Image courtesy Electronic Arts

LOS ANGELES — Electronic Arts knows what you’re thinking: Its NFL-licensed Madden football series is just a cash cow, a cheap excuse to sell the same game every year with a new coat of paint. The developers of Madden NFL 12 want to change that perception.

Though Madden NFL 12 appears, on the surface, to be this year’s football game with updated rosters, there are some new features that could change the way people play the popular football franchise. At its E3 Expo booth Wednesday, EA Sports was happy to show Wired.com some of the ways Madden NFL 12 improves upon its predecessors. Here are five of them.

Collision Engine: EA has completely revamped the hit detection in Madden NFL 12, creating a new engine that recognizes key parts of defensive football like tackling momentum and the size/weight of players making contact with one another. EA says this will ensure that characters’ bodies react more realistically after collisions, forcing players to make smarter, more strategic decisions about where and when to pull off tackles.

Even the injuries are more realistic; EA has said concussions will finally be recognized in Madden NFL 12. If a player is concussed, he will immediately be carted off the field and kept out for the remainder of the game.

Lack of Suction: “Suction” is the term that EA Sports uses to refer to defensive players’ tendency to draw in the player they’re tackling, sometimes making contact from much further away than they should. For example, running backs might have gotten stuck between linemen during in past Madden games and defensive linemen might have been inadvertently “sucked in” by their offensive counterparts.

Madden NFL 12 changes that, using its new engine to create more accurate points of contact for defensive players. Your backs will be able to juke and swerve between defenders on the line just like Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson might in real life. And your defensive linemen will do their jobs much better (unless they’re the Bills).

Cinematic Angles: Thanks to the help of NFL Films, which worked with EA Sports during development, Madden NFL 12 recreates the type of footage you might actually see on your television. All 32 teams’ starting ceremonies are meticulously recaptured, as is every angle, from shaky handheld player introductions to overhead blimp shots of the stadium. EA says its goal is to make Madden feel as true to life as possible.

Dynamic Player Performance: Where older Madden games had statistics, Madden NFL 12 has actual traits. A player like Eli Manning won’t just be defined by his running and passing abilities anymore; rather, he might get really quick-footed after a sack or decide to pull off a tuck and roll. Meanwhile, someone like Ben Roethlisberger might dodge and swerve away from opposing pass rushers.

These new stats will be updated regularly based on players’ real life tendencies (assuming there’s actually a football season next year).

Veterans: In what’s perhaps the most interesting of its new features, Madden NFL 12 will actually capture the “intangible qualities” that ESPN analysts and pundits like to talk up all the time. Simply by hanging out on your roster in Franchise Mode, veteran players will improve the stats of your other guys. Sign an aging, experienced quarterback to hold the clipboard, for example, and your superstar rookie will start getting better — now that’s leadership in action.

These aren’t the only changes in the new Madden, which will be out for multiple platforms August 30. EA Sports says it has more up its sleeve as time goes on; despite uncertainty in the actual NFL, Madden will always be a constant.

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Carmack talks Wii U, PlayStation Vita

/* Posted June 12th, 2011 at 8:52am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

id Software founder John Carmack has said his piece about everything from current generation HD consoles to cloud gaming. Now that we’ve seen a pair of new platforms from Sony and Nintendo at E3 2011, Carmack is ready to give his opinions on them.

 

wii-u-controller

 

The Wii U, Carmack told gaming news site GameSpot, is a good thing for id since “the technology level on there brings it up to parity with the other consoles.” That opens the door for id to maybe bring Rage to the Wii U in the future, but Carmack says the decision could still be affected by whether or not they think there will be a market for the game on that particular console.

 

The Wii U’s controller got a lot more face time than the actual console during Nintendo’s press conference, and Carmack sees more potential in it that the motion controllers currently out in the market.

 

“I’m kind of excited about the touch-screen aspect on there,” he said. “I think that probably has broader general utility for games than most of the motion control stuff, where you really have to design a game around motion control and you can’t just tack it onto a finely crafted FPS. But I think the DS has really shown what the extra little touch screen can do–almost any game can do something useful with that.”

 

ngp-03

 

Speaking of touch screens, Carmack also spoke about Sony’s PlayStation Vita. While he admits he didn’t get to sample the new handheld, he says it’s a sign that Sony has learned a lot from the development barriers that clogged the PS3. “They’re going to have you program for it like a console,” he said, “so it’s going to seem twice as powerful as a smartphone with the exact same chips in there.”

 

The id founder thinks, however, that the new handheld may be in danger of being eclipsed by smartphones by the time it actually comes out. “By the time they actually ship, there may be smartphones or these tablets with twice as much power as what they’re shipping with on there,” he said. “And a year or two after that, it’s going to look pretty pokey.”

 

Carmack has said before that he believes the Vita, back when it was still known as the NGP, was a generation beyond most smartphones.

 

Via [GameSpot]

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Hands-On: Torchlight II Fires Up Addictive Multiplayer Dungeon Crawling

/* Posted June 11th, 2011 at 2:52pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */


tl1

LOS ANGELES — Not only is action RPG Torchlight II bigger and better than its predecessor, but you can play it with friends.

Developer Runic Games showed Wired.com a build of the new PC game at E3 Expo, and it looks great. Blending the gorgeous isometric art direction and click-click-click hack-n-slash combat of the first game with an array of new environments and features, Torchlight II could have that same oops-I-stayed-up-all-night-playing quality that entranced players back in 2009.

Runic promises a ton of new improvements for this sequel, which it will price somewhere between $20 and $30 and distribute both in retail stores and digitally via Steam. The game will be out at some point before the end of 2011, though it sounds like we might not see it until much later in the year — Runic is still playing around with both the user interface and multiplayer hub, among other features.

It’s impossible to talk about Torchlight II without bringing up Diablo II, Blizzard’s similarly absorbing dungeon crawler that has ensnared the lives of millions since its release in 2000. Torchlight II unabashedly takes almost all of its gameplay from the 2000 loot crawler — an understandable theft, since Runic Games was founded by the former Blizzard employees who created Diablo II. Still, the blatant lack of originality doesn’t make Runic’s take any less fun.

Playing the game is simple: Right-click to use special abilities; left-click to do everything else. You’ll hack apart baddies, beat up bosses and collect a very large variety of loot across what Runic says will be three full-fledged acts, each the size of the first game. Along the way, you’ll adventure across tundras, forests, icy plains and deserts. Whereas Torchlight had a single town, Torchlight II has many, along with a wide variety of randomly-generated dungeons to explore.

The highly touted new feature is cooperative multiplayer.The team has yet to decide how many people will be able to play at a time, but players can team up to take down the game’s myriad dungeons and bosses. Runic says people won’t have to worry about their friends stealing their loot, since each character will only be able to see his or her own set of drops. Ninja looters need not apply.

One of Diablo II’s biggest flaws was the rampant cheating on its online servers. Hackers and modders populated the game’s multiplayer like nerds populate E3. So how will Runic games fight the inevitable influx of cheaters? By not fighting them, it says.

Rather than maintaining draconian security measures or banning modders, Torchlight II will come with its own tools for changing pretty much everything — in fact, the game will ship with the very same level designer that Runic used. Players can mod their own characters and take them from single-player to multiplayer without a hitch. Runic hopes to foster an online community of players that will moderate themselves, allowing people to give ratings to other peoples’ characters based on whether or not they decide to play “clean.” The studio also hopes to create mod-free maps and sessions for those players who want unaltered experiences.

So is Runic Games worried about the eventual release of Diablo III? The team says no: As a low-budget cult title, Torchlight II could forge its own path. Still, Runic says, Diablo III might hurt them in other ways — like stealing all of their spare time for months after it’s released.

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PoV: Is anyone still safe online?

/* Posted June 11th, 2011 at 8:51am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

It’s alarming how hackers are getting bolder by the day. They’ve always been around, and where there is new technology, their existence is practically expected. 

 

 

 

But with a barrage of major hacks going on in the industry, it gives people little security going online. It becomes even more pivotal at this junction in the development of technology because more and more are leaning towards digital transactions. Sony’s PSN breach was a major red flag waived to the community. It was a message loud and clear: if a giant like Sony is not safe from these intrusions, no one else is.

 

 

guy-fawkes-masks

 

 

And the hackers seem hell-bent on proving exactly just that. Shortly after Sony, we have reports of Nintendo, Square Enix, Eidos, and only recently, Codemasters also falling prey to these malevolent characters. Their goal, obviously, is to make a quick buck through the use of consumers’ personal information. But could there more to their motives? 

 

 

In a certain ironic sense, it’s almost as if they’re making a commentary about the state of Internet security that we currently have today. In a world that is made smaller through the virtual connections, it should be expected that vulnerabilities will be there. It’s only a matter of finding that one loophole, and the effect is like opening up Pandora’s Box. 

 

 

At this time of virtual insecurity, what steps do you think should be taken not only by the companies, but also by the governments? For our part as consumers, it should do us well to be responsible as well with our transactions online, whether it be for game purchases or anything else. These hackers are out for money, but the scarier thought is that they’ll be after our identities next. That’s a serious intrusion on privacy, and one that should be addressed swiftly.

 

 

 

 

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On Shelves This Week: June 12

/* Posted June 10th, 2011 at 8:51am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

onshelvesbanner

 

 

E3 may be over, but that doesn’t mean the fun in games should stop right here. In fact, it’s looking to be a very exciting week for the industry shoppers, as we’ve got some long-awaited titles finally rolling in to store shelves.

 

 

There’s Child of Eden, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and of course, Outland. Yeah, that’s about it, I think. NOT. Duke Nukem Forever is coming out this coming week, at long last! Finally, after being canned for so many times, it’s landing on our sweet, sweet consoles. Check out what the rest of the week has in store for us. There’s a lot, that’s for sure.

 


Alice: Madness Returns
  • PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – June 14, 2011
  • ESRB Mature
  • Electronic Arts

Child of Eden

  • Xbox 360  - June 14, 2011
  • ESRB Everyone 10+
  • Ubisoft

Duke Nukem Forever

  • Xbox 360, PC, PS3 – June 14, 2011
  • ESRB Mature
  • 2K Games

Hidden Photo

  • DS – June 13, 2011

Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012

  • PC – June 15, 2011

Outland

  • PSN – June 14, 2011
  • Ubisoft

 

 

Panzer Corps

  • PC – June 15, 2011
  • Matrix Games

 

 

Record of Agarest War Zero

  • Xbox 360, PS3 – June 14, 2011
  • ESRB Teen
  • Aksys

 

 

Transformers Dark of the Moon

  • Xbox 360, PS3, Wii – June 14, 2011
  • ESRB Rating Pending
  • Activision

 

 

Wii Play: Motion

  • Wii – June 13, 2011
  • Nintendo

 

 

 

 

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