Archives for category: other peoples stuff

Phil Harrison is a visionary – someone whom I greatly admire. That admiration was taken to a new level last week when Phil, not content with just existing in the real world, invaded my dream. His latest vision? That in three years the PlayStation Vita would have an add-on that would cure baldness. Simply plug it in, run then app and rub the OLED screen over your head. Rejoice; hair growth!

If only he hadn’t left Sony…

It’s interesting to read the opinions of the Whale Trail developers with regards to their pricing strategy. I’m paraphrasing from an article on GamesIndustry.biz, but if I’m not mistaken they are losing faith in ‘premium pricing’ (aka – selling stuff for money) because the money they made off the App Store didn’t cover the cost of developing the game. They are also dissatisfied with the sales figures based on their marketing spend, question the validity of even charging for a game on a mobile device, and are using the performance of the title on Android to decide whether to go ‘freemium’ (aka – giving stuff away) in the future.

Some thoughts spring to mind…

Does marketing spend ever correlate with sales? Nope, and when it does it’s pure coincidence.

Should developers be giving stuff away because it doesn’t sell? Nope, they should question the product and their expectations instead of questioning people who didn’t buy. And besides, the game is selling – but given the cost of the game the money earned through sales seems less than great – but at 140,000 downloads to date and 700 subsequent downloads a day – that should actually be a pretty nice earner for an indie.

So what really went wrong here? Well, answer me this:

If the game cost $250,000 to develop – where did the other $240,000 go?

OnLive impressed me – a very slick interface and great way to quickly play any number of games or watch others play. Without a doubt the future of gaming is cloud based – the removal of hardware and other barriers to content gives complete freedom to gamers – you can buy a game anytime and play it on anything that supports the OnLive app. OnLive is a great name for the product and very marketable – without knowing anything about the product it would take a complete hermit no more than a few minutes to have a rough guess at what kind of service a product with that name would provide. In all fairness it’s probably piggy-backing off Microsoft’s Xbox Live too (not to mention the 360 controller) – but that’s a smart move. You’re giving people something completely new but with a touch of the familiar to help lure them in; it’s kind of like the big bad wolf dressing like Red Riding Hood’s granny to get her within eating distance.

Gaikai is actually slicker than OnLive as it doesn’t require any kind of app – everything you need to run a game is somewhere other than your device. The main advantage to this of course is that you can play your games on machines where you wouldn’t usually have access to install any kind of app – such university or work computers, The thing that bugs me about Gaikai however is the name – sure, it’s a better service but the second question on the website’s FAQ is ‘How do I pronounce Gaikai?’. So now you are giving people something completely new, and making them guess your brand name. That’s a tough sell in my opinion.

Of course the other thing to consider is that there’s nothing to stop OnLive from changing its service to be app free as well – they may even be working on this right now. So then Gaikai’s unique feature is no longer unique and it’s left with a name some people can’t say. Let’s also consider the arrival of the ‘big three’ console manufacturers – how are Gaikai and OnLive going to entice consumers to their services when they can’t host any of the first party titles, together with the fact that the games it can offer are also going to be offered by the ‘big three’? Assuming the ‘big three’ do shift into cloud gaming it’s finally going to lay to rest the console war – with no entry fee to their games, everyone will be able to ‘own’ the future ‘hardware’ of the ‘big three’ – that’s worth getting excited about; a future where there are no barriers and only those making the very best content will survive.

Like HL3 (or just plain ol’ Episode 3) a Half Life movie seems like it’s never going to happen. Well, the games probably will in due course – but the movie isn’t going to happen. There are three reasons for this –

1. Valve, as a games company, are untouchable – they have a Midas touch when it comes to producing quality software. They’d struggle to find a film production partner as good at making movies as they are at making games. So the end result would no doubt produce…unforseen consequences!

2. Gordon Freeman doesn’t talk – so how would you go about casting a character that has no voice – you’d probably piss off half the Half Life fans with the choice you make anyway. On the other hand – the movie could stick closely to game and have a main character that doesn’t talk…but for the movie’s producers – there’d be a certain amount of…apprehension!

3. My personal choice probably wouldn’t work anymore as he’s getting on a bit. But Charlie Sheen circa The Arrival would have been a great actor to play Gordon Freeman. Not only did Mr. Sheen actually look like Gordon in that movie – but it also had a sci-fi riff too. Age isn’t the only thing going against Charlie now though, casting him in light of his recent behaviour would be…questionable ethics!

Back when I was 10 years old Super Street Fighter 2 had been released for the Sega Mega Drive. To this day I can still remember the review it got in Sega Power Magazine. It scored 10 out of 10 and the usual review summary (which weighed up a game’s pros and cons quite sensibly) was scrubbed in favour of “Buy this game. Buy this game. Go on, treat yourself, buy this game”. I tried looking around on the Internet to find the actual review page in some kind of archive but couldn’t – but if that isn’t the exact wording I can tell you it is very close. I remember because I literally shouted the words out at my dad. Who then did indeed treat me (Asda, ¬£50 – ouch, sorry dad).

Back then numbers made sense. I can still remember the playground logic in game appraisals with my partner in crime – who was also an avid fan of Sega Power Magazine (we won’t talk about the matching Sega Power patches stitched onto our jeans). If a game didn’t get a 9 or a 10 (or 90% – 100% depending on what publication you were reading) then it was deemed to be not worthy. How completely immature that is. But that was fine because I was 10. That is a perfect excuse – what excuse can (pretty much) every review site and magazine give for still rating games by giving them numbers?¬† “This realistic driving game gets a 9, this FPS gets a 7, this old-school rehash gets a 10 just because”. What a load of old cobblers.

All you need to tell me is “go play” or “don’t play”.

 

I’ve been loosely following the progress of Double Bear’s Dead State for what seems like at least two years now. The idea behind Dead State is great – it’s a zombie RPG that focuses not only on the advancing hordes of zombies but on the relationships you have with fellow survivors. There isn’t too much in the way of stuff to gawk at on the main website but the forum is very active and has regular posts by the main people driving the project; Brian and Annie Mitsoda. What I love about this project is the openness of the design process – Brian and Annie share their ideas and the community is encouraged to share their own ideas and get involved. It’s great to see these guys taking on what appears to be quite an ambitious project – I genuinely hope it works out for them. I was tempted to call this post ‘You wait ages for one and then two appear’ – the second game I’m referring to is the video game adaptation of The Walking Dead by Telltale – but at this time it’s an unknown quantity because I have no idea how that game is going to play. It could be an RPG given the character-rich source material – but only time will tell. I’m looking forward to both games – but in my heart I’m rooting for Double Bear.

I’ve enjoyed all the games in the Resident Evil series with the exception of the spin-offs. One of the latest spin-offs is Resident Evil: Revelations. I can’t say I’m too excited about this game for the following reasons:

– 3DS Exclusive: I don’t own a 3DS and based on what I’ve seen (or not seen as the case may be) I probably won’t get one. I have a regular DS already and the only game I play on that (rarely) is Picross 3D. Besides, the 3D element of the new DS makes my eyes work overtime – 20 minutes on Resident Evil: Revelations would leave me with tears in my eyes – tears of blood that is!

– Boats: I don’t like games that are set on boats, or have boat levels. Boats don’t inspire the imagination in the same way a city or open landscape can. And boats tend to have boring interiors that are designed purely from a function point of view – so every corridor looks identikit. Resident Evil 5 had a boat chapter – sure it had its moments, but overall? Not a patch on villages, marshes, ancient ruins and secret underground labs. In fact this entire game reminds me of that chapter – so it doesn’t feel like something new.

– After 4, but before 5: I don’t see the value of taking half a step back in terms of story. As a fan of the series I have an interest in the story but I want to experience it in a linear style; and not have to buy a new console to experience it.

In summary¬† – it looks nice, but it’s not very exciting (with the possible exception of Hunk). I’ll wait for RE6.

However, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City on the other hand, is right up my street. Due for release at the end of this year (on real consoles) it’s a team-based shooter – not story-driven at all – and it’s set in the period and location of Resident Evil 2 and 3 so it will feature the zombies and mutants we all know and love. You’ll also have the opportunity to shoot Leon S. Kennedy in the face – which alone has got to be worth the price of the game. Can’t wait for this one…