Up, UP, Down, Down
The Washington Post is running an article
on cheats and walkthroughs in gaming. Recently Slashdotted "How Strategy Guides Affected Gaming"
argues that with all the online and print assistance developers have had to make their games much much harder.
The Tips and Tricks
section of MobyGames has always been a bit of an adopted step child. It's there, but it is not great. Do MobyGamers cheat? Is using a walkthrough considered cheating? As for myself I have been playing a lot of Dead Rising
. The game is amazingly hard and to make matters worse it is not entirely clear what the heck you are supposed to do. Without consulting a walkthrough I would of put the game down long ago. What would it take to make MobyGames Tips and Tricks top notch?
Herbs and spices
The well written and high production value online rag, The Escapist, is running a great little story
on the rise of the current MMOG
. Heavy on history and light on analysis the piece discusses much of Blizzards early days and the rise of RTS
. The title, "Secret Sauce: The Rise of Blizzard"
gave me expectations that were largely unfulfilled.
Like any reformed addict I refuse to touch the stuff and thus have never played WoW
. Yet, I am titillated by the subject. Why is the game so immensely popular when others are not? Is there really a secret sauce?
How fast are you?
PCWorld.com via Yahoo News! is running a little story
talking about the various broadband options available in other countries. The survey method is far from exhaustive or scientific. PC World has 60 some affiliates in many different countries. Editors from its various international rags wrote in describing broadband connectivity and pricing.
Given the international make up of MobyGames, what is your connection? How much does it cost? What's available? Are you satisfied with your options?
Stick with what you know
In the case of Sony it is racking up a string of negative press. GameIndustry.biz handed Sony a default loss
for its showing at GC Developer Conference
this year. Either Sony was too busy gearing up for the Tokyo Game Show
in a few weeks or felt it more prudent given its run of negative press to stay quiet.
GI justified the loss in the Sony column by saying, "There was no Sony conference in Leipzig this week, and the only announcement to emerge was a desultory ten pound price cut to the PlayStation 2, a console which was already being unofficially discounted by many retailers anyway."
Microsoft went on to claim, "Xbox 360 owns football"
. This of course means that for the next twelve months the Xbox 360 system will be the only next-gen platform with FIFA
or Pro Evolution Soccer
. I guess for those outside of the US this is kind of a big deal. In no way is this a reflection on Microsoft's prowess at locking up exclusive deals, rather developers will not have enough hands on time with the Nintendo and Sony next-gen systems to release a football game until sometime 2007. GI also tempers the Microsoft coup by saying, " Sports gamers by and large tend towards the casual end of the spectrum, and there is probably minimal cross-over between the demographic which wants a new FIFA game and the demographic which is prepared to pay over 400 pounds [for a new system]".
Not that any of this really means anything. People like myself will take out a second mortgage and buy all three systems. However the majority of gamers will buy the system that plays the games they like. The real contest will be convincing the developers. At E3 nearly every AAA next-gen title I was fortunate enough to get my hands on appeared to be running on a PS3esque machine. I couldn't REALLY
tell since I was chaperoned by some PR shill and the hardware was hidden from view. Sony has a lot of momentum and it is going to take a lot of bumbling to mess that up.
A Short History Of…ACTIVISION
Next-Gen is running a wonderful little story
on the history of Activision
. Much of the industry as we know it was started by Activision and the four former Atari employees that founded the company.
Two New Faces Among The Top 50
Aug 23, 2006
Submitted by YID YANG (162352)
from Canada and chirinea
from Brazil have both joined the All Time Top 50 MobyGames Contributors List. The Quest for Points enters yet another exciting phase!
Settlers of Catan on XBL
Ok this is already all over the web, heck even Tycho from PA
commented on it, but that speed demon of a website 1UP.com is reporting
that Microsoft announced that, "Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne and Alhambra would all be appearing on Xbox Live."
I love Settlers and was pretty pleased to see the game come to the Zone. However after playing for a little while it kinda sucked. Not a lot of players and too easy to drop a game. I much prefer the free, horribly buggy and amazingly frustrating Sea3D
. Sea3D is basically a free Windows client to play the game online. I am not sure how they get away with it, but for a period I was a complete Sea3D addict. The nice ( and not so nice ) thing was unless you were will to open the Kimono and punch mammoth sized holes in your firewall you couldn't host a game. The game tracked quits and drops and the few people who did host were reticent to allow quitters to join their games. Thus there was an incentive ... or ... disincentive not to quit and hang on to a losing game. My concern is that unless they really penalize people for quitting there will be precious few completed games and a lot of frustrated players.
I am going to buy the game anyway.
Bit Tech is reporting
game designer Peter Molyneux
has warned other designers developing games for the Wii's motion controller of potential pitfalls due to gamers inherent laziness. The speech was made during the GC Developer Conference
in Leipzig Germany this week. Basically gamers are too lazy move their arms around too much."I've realized I'm an incredibly lazy person when I play games, and actually slouching back on the sofa, playing on my beer belly, is my most comfortable position. When I have to get up, it's painful. I make noises and start grunting."
He goes on further to say that the idea of using the controller to fight with swords is cool, but the players looks quite stupid doing it. This of course flies in the face of successes like Dance Dance Revolution
and Guitar Hero
. Both games require you to stand up, be active and look ... well ... really stupid. I for one would not mind putting on my work out clothes and work up a nice sweat cutting the heads off ninjas for an hour or so. A fourteen hour marathon session may be out of the question
Girls4Games winners announced
The Comp Sci department at Chambana ( University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for non-Midwesterners ) runs ChicTek
(pronounced "sheek-tek") an effort to engage women in Computer Science. As part of this effort the department holds a week long retreat and Girls4Games competition. Teams of college girls design and write computer games for middle school and high school girls using GameMaker
. Winners receive $1000 per team member and their schools Women Computer Science club gets another $1000 to boot.
Cornell University’s 'Green Eggs and Pan,' a Mario-style game where two players must cooperate to win took first place. University of California - Irvine's 'Eterative Tale' and North Central College's 'DummerUnfall' took second and third respectively. Details and downloads of the games can be found on the G4G Competition website
There is a gender gap in both computer science and video games. Each industry is overwhelmingly male. Historically games are made by men for men. So of course men are the ones who gravitate towards the industry. I remember my freshman intro programming class way back when. It was something like 60 men and one or two women. This is gradually changing and efforts like G4G go a long way to closing the gap.
Software must haves ... or ... more carp to suck down cycles?
Computer and video game blog Joystiq is running a piece
on the essential tools of the trade for every PC ( and Mac ) game player. It covers things such as BitTorrent and RSS clients to Dos and Arcade emulators. Some suggestions seem more like paid product placements. I would hardly called Steam and the Xbox Live Dashboard widget must haves.
I am always leery of downloading free
software to my PC. There are so many insidious little apps that once installed are almost impossible to get rid of. What should of made the list that was left out? What shouldn't be there at all?
GME is no more… at least in 2006
Aug 18, 2006
Submitted by Stratege (15349)
Our buddies at Gamasutra are reporting
that Games Market Europe 2006 has been canceled. It is grim news indeed since, "Games Market Europe began in 2005, following the collapse of the traditional European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) event and the ELSPA-organized European Games Network (EGN) event."
The GME format was a more business friendly format with inexpensive standardized booths designed to facilitate networking between publishers and retailers. Does this sound familiar?
Will E3Expo be next?
Aug 18, 2006
Submitted by YID YANG (162352)
One of our MobyGames managers, the great business man behind the site, David Berk - also known as flipkin
- has reached a contribution score of 1000 points. While this doesn't seem much compared to the recent outburst of 10000 score-breakers, we shouldn't forget all the work Dave has been doing for MobyGames without receiving contribution points for it!
Videophile FUD coming from Microsoft?
Ok someone has to clue me in on what the hell this gibberish
coming out of Microsoft Exec, Andre Vrignaud, means. Our buddies at Gamasutra are running a more concise story
on it. From what I understand he is saying there is no difference between 1080i and 1080p for HD movie playback and games will all be 720p for cross platform reasons. The quote is, "1080p Meaningless this Generation"
Microsoft is notorious trying to changing the field of play when it does not suit them. FUD, or "fear, uncertainty and doubt"
, was first coined by Gene Amdahl to describe IBM's aggressive and somewhat shady marketing tactics. Fill the customers head with gobbelygook and they will not buy your competitors product. Mostly because they are too confused to buy anything. Microsoft in its various product wars has become a master of the art. Whether this little rant is some FUD is left to be seen. I for one am hopeful that 1080p is meaningless this generation. My HDTV can only display 480p and 1080i, making 720p and 1080p capabilities an expensive upgrade. Of course I do not know why Microsoft even cares. Sony is so far doing an excellent job of messing the playing field for themselves. Old habits die hard I guess.
People steal ... even on the Internet
The BBC is running a story
on how hackers may be targeting MMORPG
players and stealing their virtual stuff. The best thing about this article is the headline, " Microsoft warning on online games"
. Reading into the article one realizes the quote comes from this random engineer Dave Weinstein. Hardly an official warning from Microsoft. For some reason I have a feeling this hapless engineer flapped his gums and is now learning a harsh lesson in public relations.
There is a huge secondary market for online property, equipment and characters. It's been around for many years and it is hardly surprising that hackers, thieves and the various miscreants are stealing the stuff. Bad people will steal just about anything that is even remotely valuable. Heck, some poor schmo got killed
over a virtual sword. I am not saying the guy deserved it, but he did sell his buddies sword right out for under him. Friendly beat down, maybe?
Indy Games for Xbox?
all over the place, but I read it on that bastion of populist news USA Today, Microsoft announced plans to offer a hobbyist version of its XNA Game Studio development kit for the XBox 360. The software will be offered as part of a $90 a year subscription service that will allow hobbyist developers the ability to upload their creations and possibly even exchange games with others. The International Business Times has less moronic coverage
of the Microsoft announcement.
I personally love initiatives like this and Sony's Net Yaroze. Net Yaroze was a kit you could get for about $750 US, cheap at the time, that allowed you to develop PS One games on your PC and upload them via a parallel port to a special PS One console. Net Yaroze was pretty stripped down compare to the official PS One dev kit and it had a lot of restrictions. However, it did allow many people the ability to create PS One games that would have otherwise been locked out. Microsoft has a history of providing excellent, inexpensive ( comparatively ) tools for its PC operating systems. Allowing individuals assess to the console may be that spark of innovation that the games industry needs. However, things like Net Yaroze has had little determinable impact in the past.
It has always been in the interest of the console makers to keep the system pretty much closed up. Not only in attempt to keep the hackers out, but it allows the console makers to take a cut of every game sold. While there have been many hobbyist PC games that have gone on to great commercial success. There has not be a single hobbyist developer console game. Even if a person would be able to develop a good game the traditional distribution channels are far out of reach.
Does Xbox Live change all this? What is the likelihood that Microsoft is really going to open up?
Mogwai or Gremlin?
dramatic changes to its forums. In essences the forums are pretty much gone. The closing has been decried as an attempt to silence the Second Life
community and its criticism of the game. Linden Labs claims the forums in its current manifestation are unmanageable.
Forums are like Mogwai, with proper attention, care and feeding they are lovable, cuddly and amazingly rewarding. With even the slightest inattention, feed once after midnight, and the forums turn into an uncontrollable monster almost impossible to get back in the box. MobyGames for the longest time was without forums for this very reason. Brian always wanted them and I felt they would be too hard to manage. We ran forums for the approvers only for many years with quite a bit of success. We have them now and in hindsight I feel it was a great mistake not to have opened them up to the public sooner. That being said I feel Linden Labs pain. We get tons of random posts from people trying to abuse the system.
Did Linden step in the dogpile and are trying to honestly recover from a bad situation? Or is this some plot of modern day virtual censorship?
You are under arrest for the corruption of our youth
Matt Paprocki has an Op-Ed
piece running on Blog Critics about whether Rockstar
's upcoming game Bully should be given an ESRB Teen
rating or not. Gamepolitics speculates
that Bully will most likely get a Teen rating due to its "lack of blood and death"
. Paprocki feels that, "Given the state of the industry, the rampant (and horribly uninformed) critics, and the way the game has been billed in the media, it doesn't seem like a smart move on the ESRB's part to give the game a lenient rating"
. He argues that the game should get a Mature
rating even if the substance of the game does not warrant it.
Never one to shy away from controversy Rockstar's Bully will feature a 15-year-old boy named Jimmy Hopkins stuck in a bully infested boarding school subtlety named Bullworth. He has to defend himself and other students with weapons such as baseball bats, stink bombs and bags of marbles. Rockstar's philosophy of no press is bad press
has paid off wonderfully. The game has come under fire from any number of concerned people from the School Board in Florida to our buddy Jack Thompson himself.
The question is not whether or not the game deserves a Mature rating, but whether the rating process becomes politicized itself. Ratings in themselves I feel are pretty silly. Anyone with a half a brain should be able to tell the appropriateness of a game without even having to look at the rating. Compare the cover for Postal
with ... say ... Pokemon Channel
. Even if you missed the cultural double entendre of the word postal
it should be apparently obvious from the bullet holes in the cover that this is not a game for our younger and more sensitive gamers. I have never played Pokemon Channel, but I am willing to bet anyone in the room that the game in entirely devoid of beheadings or frontal nudity.
Should the ESRB consider the political climate when rating a game? Do ratings even matter?
What time does the train from Froboznia arrive?
Vintage Computing and Gaming is running a great piece
on Old-School PC Copy Protection Schemes. It goes into some detail on common copy protection methods such as code wheels and manual look ups. Often the developers would integrate the copy protection into the story. Infocom
's much loved feelies were often used to protect against copying. Of course if you misplaced the doohickey ... well you were out of luck.
There has been quite a backlash against some of the technical DRM implementations. The article mentions Sony's rootkit DRM and Starforce. In the age of high resolution scanners and the Internet are code wheels and the like even a viable alternative? Also services such as Valve
's Steam are as much for Digital Rights as it is for Electronic Software Distribution. Why no backlash?
The best part about getting something free, is when the free thing is actually pretty good. Case in point - Sierra has announced F.E.A.R Combat
which is the multiplayer end of F.E.A.R.
that will be free to everyone come Thursday, August 17th. While not amazing
and, in my opinion, not the main attraction in the F.E.A.R. package - being free often forgives many sins. I loved F.E.A.R. and the idea that more people will be online to play is pretty exciting. The game is pretty beefy though so you do need a kick ass system to play it. However, I will say that it kinda makes it hard for me to recommend anyone go out and search for F.E.A.R. in the bargain bin considering you'll be able to get the multiplayer for free soon. Make no mistake that F.E.A.R.'s single player is definitely worth the trip if your PC can handle it and if you can find it for under $20 - epically with the expansion on the horizon.
Makes me wonder if the expansion might work with F.E.A.R. combat or if the expansion will be standalone so that they don't need to rely on the penetration of the original game...
Either way, its definitely good news if you need to get your multiplayer FPS fix.
Atari Dead Pool
VNU Net is reporting Atari
is selling off Reflections Interactive
along with the Driver
IP to Ubisoft
. Due to a string of big budget flops like Mark Echo's Getting Up
and Matrix: Path of Neo
among others Atari has been on the financial ropes for a while. With consumers deferring game purchases until the next gen systems are out and the increased development costs Atari has been selling its assets in a last ditch attempt to stay solvent.
For Ubisoft this is a great team and IP asset relatively cheap. Ubisoft has a great record of being a well managed company able to deliver really, really good games. It can't compete with EA
for sports licenses so it doesn't try. Instead Ubisoft makes great, original IP games. It is a tough road to travel and I respect them for it. As for Atari, well good riddance to bad rubbish. I for one am pleased that there are consequences for making bad games.
Is this overly harsh? Have I turned into a Ubi fanboy?
Rusted more like
Ironically named Trusted Reviews is running a wonderful piece of either misinformation or really poor analysis. The story
titled "PS3 Needs Adaptor To Play PSOne/PS2 Titles"
seems on a first pass to be another case of Sony stepping in the dogpile. However after taking a closer look the title and the substance just don't add up. Quoting the Sony PS3 FAQ
,"To use saved data on a PlayStation 2 memory card, you must copy the data onto a virtual memory card within the hard disk. This requires a PS2/PSone memory card adaptor to copy the data to your PLAYSTATION 3. A memory card adaptor is designed to edit, up/download game saves to and from EMS flash card or smart media card"
Trusted Reviews comes to the strange conclusion that one would need to buy a doohickey to play PSone and PS2 games. Video Games Blogger has a more accurate take
on this little kernel of data. Basically that to read old memory cards you will need to buy an adapter. Seems reasonable. The lack of the extra doohickey does not exclude one from playing PSone or PS2 titles, just loading up old saves. Where Trusted Reviews got this chicken little story boggles my noodle.
Is this just more Sony bashing? How could someone take something so obvious and come up with such a headline?
Tom Hall & John Romero on the Widget Podcast
Aug 05, 2006
Submitted by WildKard (12186)
I do a lot of crazy things to break up the monotony of my day job. Among them is listening to the Widget Show Podcast
, released on a weekly basis every Sunday. The show itself is a non-serious chat between friends on "Games, Tech and Whatever". I've been a long time listener and I can honestly say that the show has recently hit it's stride. Obviously I'm not alone in this assessment as the past two weeks (July 22 & August 2) of show have featured guest the likes of Tom Hall
and John Romero
(who we also thank for contributing to Mobygames on a regular basis).
What's interesting about this? Well, they're fun guys. But ALSO... nearly the first thing John mentions is MobyGames. Since we got plugged, I thought it would be nice to plug them in return, especially since as I've mentioned, I'm a fan of the show and have that kind of (small) power to bring attention to them on our site. Plus Tim keeps selecting my e-mails to read on-air, so that's another good reason for a plug. Link
Disclaimer: The Widget is intended for mature audiences, which basically means immature jokes that your mom wouldn't like among the content.
Starcraft World Cyber Games 2006
It is almost that time of the year again, World Cyber Games
2006 @ Italy is at our doorstep. Every year the best Starcraft
players from all over the world battle it out to decide who will take the title of the world's best, and every year the tournament is dominated by Korea.
Why? Why is it that in the entire WCG history there was never a non-Korean winner? Why does it always seem so hopeless for for players not from the peninsula to even get close to the Korean gaming skill level?
Some believe the answer is simple: there are more Starcraft players in Korea than the rest of the world put together. While it is a game in western countries, its a sport in South Korea. The Korean players are called progamers and they are 'working' the game, they play 10-12 hours a day, it is the center of their lives.
In Korea Starcraft is a televised sport, all major league matches are broadcast on 5 different channels, and the best progamers are known by the public just as any other top sports athletes.
Korea has 3 major Starcraft leagues: The OSL
(OnGameNet StarLeague), the MSL
(MBCGame StarLeague) and the SKY ProLeague.
Top progamers make around 200,000 to 300,000 US$ a year, not including tournament cash prizes.
Winning a major Starcraft league in Korea is the honor of a life time, and is considered a much greater prestige than winning a WCG world title.
That's exactly the problem for us westerners; until there will be a proper high level European or North American league and until the Korean progamers will start considering the WCG World title above their own local titles; until all that happens I see no hope for a western world champion ... though one can always hope.
New look, new feel ... it must be a new release!!
We added a whole new functionality called MobyRank. MobyRank is a statistically accurate metric of critical success for a game using a weighted average of normalized rankings from individual critics. Simply, people submit rankings from game critics and MobyGames grinds it up and comes up a score. You can read all about it here
MobyGames has a whole new look. We moved around a lot of links so navigation and contributions are more obvious and made the whole site more visually appealing. Special thanks to Servo
who help design the new look. On a side note we will primarily be focusing on MobyClassic. The MobyDark theme will stay around, but it will become less and less of priority. For you MobyDark users try out new!
Classic and see what you think.
A lot of other stuff happened as well. You can check out the changelog here
Computer ... er ... Windows Gaming World
Ziff Davis' venerable gaming magazine Computer Gaming World
has been reborn Games for Windows
. Windows has for a long time been the
dominant computer platform and practically the only computer system to play games on. Sure there are a few Macintosh and Linux games here and there, but computer games have been and are developed solely for the Windows platform. Former Editorial Director of Computer Gaming World, Johnny Wilson, made some interesting comments
on The Escapist recently.
Wilson believes gaming on Windows is more of an adult market. Whether he is correct or not, increasingly gaming on Windows has had to take a backseat to its console brethren. It's just the numbers. Console games generate four times as many sales and as PC games. Handheld games have generated more sales than computer games since 2004. While the console and handheld markets are growing, PC game sales are shrinking. Does this mean gaming on the PC is dead? Hardly. People like Wilson and Manifesto Games founder, Greg Costikyan, believe there is a place for serious, fun, independent games for the PC. Microsoft has seen the handwriting and has claimed Vista will be a gaming platform. How that gels with its console endeavor is yet to be seen.
A rose by any other name would be indescribable, apparently...
Jump Button is running an article
where an Ubisoft PR guy, Owen Hughes
, talks candidly about why Beyond Good & Evil
didn’t perform like it should have. It appears that there so much effort is put into comparing new games with old ones, that when a new concept is developed, it may just get lost in the crowd of more recognizable faces. However, it may be just as likely that maybe the game tried to do to much different too quickly? BG&E, along with ICO
, is widely held to be one of the best underperforming games of recent history. ICO of course found commercial and critical success with its sequel Shadow of the Colossus
So why do you think Beyond Good & Evil failed? Did you take the plunge or did you pass?
10 systems you are now free to throw away
Angry Gamer, that grumpy video game curmudgeon, is running an Op-Ed
titled "Gaming Systems We Don't Have To Pretend We Like Any More"
. I am sure many MobyGamers will not necessarily agree with the piece, it still is a funny read."Atari 2600: I love my 2600 but Holy Bleeding Christ am I sick of talking to people about it. Wow, you used to play Frogger too? F**k me, what are the odds?"
I love all my old systems. I wouldn't call myself a great collector ( too careless ), yet I do have a shrine to all my long unplayed consoles under the TV. Any systems should be added to the list? Any system on the list unfairly?
Frets On Fire
Unreal Voodoo has released their opensource game, Frets On Fire
! Frets on Fire is a game where you play the keyboard as though it were a guitar. The team will be taking the game to the Assembly 2006 Gamedev compo
.Ed note: With cheap/free modern tools the indie game scene is alive and kicking. A lot of interesting and successful games have independent roots. Darwinia, Counter-Strike and Alien Hominid immediately come to mind, but there are many many others. I only hope as mainstream games become more and more expensive that indie games start to get a much wider audience.
Another sign that the world is coming to an end
Advertising supported cell phone games. Pocket Gamer is running a disturbing story
that German developer HandyGames will be offering 28 of its games free. What's the catch? Well the games will include Greystripe's AdWRAP ad serving technology. Instead of paying $4.99 to play a crummy game of bowling on your mobile phone ( Ed note: I have no idea if HandyGames offers a bowling game and if they do whether or not it is crummy. IMO most mobile games as of today are pretty bad so I am just playing the percentages.
) you can now play a crummy game of bowling for free and have to endure advertising.
Many of you may not be old enough to remember the last go around of crazy advertising ideas. I think it was called the Dot.com Bubble
. It was not fun when it popped. Most of the silly advertising supported ideas just did not work. There were free ISPs supported by advertising, free wireless supported by advertising, free PCs supported by advertising. MobyGames started in 1999 and when the bottom dropped out in 2001 we had to grind out some lean dark times. MobyGames has always wrestled with advertising. We need to pay for bandwidth and keep the lights on of course. We also know that every single game description, review, cover art, rating, etc etc etc is contributed
by ... well ... you. Understanding this MobyGames does not serve pop ups, pop unders, roadblocks, interstitials, eye blasters or any of the really annoying advertising. Trust me, we hate em as mush as you do. We also allow our contributors to turn off ads if they wish. All you need is to get 125 contribution points in a year. Go to your account preferences
and disable ads. Of course we would like it if you keep them on, but it is really up to you.E3 has come to an end
and now this. I think I am going to go into business giving away free fruit punch soda over the Internet ... advertising support of course.