I for one did not know the PS3 controller will not be able to rumble or vibrate. WTF?!? Immersion did end up suing Sony for patent violations around the Dual Shock controllers. Is this a bit of arrogant tit for tat on Sony's part? Or are they really that clueless to leave out such a crucial piece of functionality in a Next-Gen $600 console system?
Historically, most developing teams come from only an handfull of countries (USA, Canada, Japan, UK, France and Germany). Would a more varied roll call of developers increase the variety of games, or most of them are already conditioned by their previous experiences, and wouldn't do anything new or groundbreaking? Other thing that has to be questioned is if the market nowadays is too hard and expensive to break into when compared to the times most modern developers were established. Times when two people could develop top selling games all by themselves in a few sleepless nights are long gone, and remain only as a dream of indy developers. Could XNA bring a bit of those years back?
- In case you missed the post below - Doom is on XBox Live Arcade ... NOW for 800 ms points with online and split screen co-op and deathmatch!
- Bioshock and Splinter Cell 5 were announced as being console exclusives to the XBox 360.
- Halo Wars (an RTS spin off in the Halo universe set before Halo 1), Project Gotham Racing 4, Crossfire, and two games from Peter Jackson's new game studio (one of them being a game set in the Halo universe and the other based on a new IP).
- The Marvel Comics Massive Multiplayer Online game was announced today as being both cross platform with the PC and 360.
- GTA 4 is going to be getting exclusive new content on the XBox 360 after it's released in the form of two episodic packs that are supposedly going to be the size of the Liberty City Stories spin off that was released on the PSP.
- Last but not least, the HD-DVD drive add-on was priced at $200 in the US and about 200 euros in Europe and will be released in mid-November. It'll come with a XBox 360 Universal Media Remote and a copy of Peter Jackson's King Kong (the movie, not the game).
Overall some pretty good announcements, but is it bad that Doom with online multiplayer is the one I seem to be spending most of my time thinking about?
I also think the announcement about Peter Jackson's Halo game is interesting because it's has been described as more of a cinematic experience... so much so that I wonder what the game will be like.
The least inspired of the bunch is the Marvel announcement. It sounds like a terrible idea and its made by the City of Heroes guys, Cryptic studios. I don't even think another superhero MMO is needed... What about you guys? Is there a place for a Marvel inspired MMO in the market while City of Heroes is around? What would this Marvel game need to be to make it worth while?
This sounds like a great way to kick off X06 if its true. Just thinking about it makes me wonder how many people have never experienced the classic Episode 1, Level 1 music as they run through the fast paced pixelated dungeon of ultra violence that is doom. And at about $10 - its a steal.
This has me pretty excited and I can't wait for the official announcement. Even if this is complete BS, maybe it'll spur someone into thinking its a good idea. This also opens some interesting ideas into possibly seeing more old PC games make their way to XBL Arcade. What classic PC games would you guys like to see ported and maybe have additional features added to? What features added features would make a game worth buying again?
Since it's a PC game, no worries on region coding... so all may apply where ever you live.
After spending an interminable time on hold with Customer Care ( if there ever was an ironic name ) they transferred me to Collections. Collections basically told me I had to pay the remaining portion of our bill and refused to do anything. Fucker, I do not owe you anything!! See the bill details above. In fact XO has been deducting twice as much as they should from our account each month. Regular communication channels sucked and I ended up calling every single XO person I have ever received a business card from. Our sales rep didn't get back to us and neither did the facility manager. A contractor that was assigned to us to coordinate the move finally helped us. After over an hour of downtime in the middle of the day XO finally turned us back on. Of course the billing issue hasn't been fixed, so some XO jackass may end up disconnecting us again tomorrow. Brian summarized our feelings perfectly, "I would pay $50,000 right now to buy all new equipment to move out of the XO datacenter".
"We have yet to see any local/US box art for Red Steel. So, yup, it's a fake as far as I can tell."
Historically this has not been much of a problem for MobyGames. Our policy of only accepting scanned in cover art from the actual packaging has meant few accepted phonies. However this policy is changing. Official promotional cover art is now accepted and we will be accepting pre-releases shortly. Is this sort of tom foolery just going to be part of life? Is that such a bad thing?
The latest drama of late in the newest batch of launch wars is that Gamesindustry.biz has run a story with a quote stating that Sony has no intention of cutting the price of the base Playstation 3 system in the US like they have in Japan.
In the next breath I find it important to mention that Nintendo announced that 1 million units for the North American Wii launch as opposed to the 400,00 PS3 units that will hit North America.
Over two times the units at a far lower price. To be fair, I did a bit of research and it appears that Microsoft launched with somewhere between 300,000 - 400,000 units - but they didn't have any competition, unlike Sony.
The truth is, both Sony AND Nintendo will probably sell out. Come January, You'll see Microsoft with the most units in the home, followed by Nintendo, with Sony in last.
Consider that it costs more to develop a PS3/360 game than it does a Wii game because of the size of the team you need and the amount of work that needs to be done in terms of graphical assets. That being said - the profit margins are higher on games that are cheaper to develop - even with the price point on 360 and PS3 games being about $10 higher than the Wii games.
Finally, from everything I've herd, the Wii dev kits are souped up Gamecube development kits, the 360 is using G5s which are readily available and not that bad to develop for, and developing for the PS3 is as hard as writing funny jokes for Carrot Top.
The main thing going for Sony is the fanboy-dom that exists. As I said before, there is no doubt in my mind that there are at least 400,000 Sony fanboys who will buy whatever Sony sells at whatever price. But what about beyond those 400,000 - is $600 that attractive ?
As a Developer/Publisher - What system do you develop for ? Anyone going to wait overnight for a PS3? Think you'll even need to for a Wii ?
"If you make a zombie movie like House of the Dead, what are they expecting? Schindler's List?", Boll was quoted as saying.
By all accounts Boll won each of the four bouts. One of the reviewers did however get a few blows to Boll's face in, calling the attack "revenge for the travesty that was the BloodRayne film", according to Ferrago. A video of the Lowtax v Boll fight has been posted to YouTube.
I appreciate the weirdness that is Uwe Boll even if his movies are complete crap. Somewhere deep inside I feel that beating up Internet movie critics and making movies is somehow "Living the Dream".
So what does everyone think? Will this curtail the customers in Japan enough for the PS3 to stay in the game? Or is it too little too late? Most of even the most hardcore Sony fanboys have abandoned the PS3 for the Wii60 combo. And even so, this has only been reported for Japan, and the massive American gaming market is still left high and dry. So has Sony made a smart move or will the price drop only increase losses from the system?
Brian on the other hand is working on his fourth unit. He waited in line for hours at Wal-Mart on launch day and got one of the first systems available. However the unit would either freeze or get the "Three Red Lights of Death". After much yelling and screaming Microsoft fixed it for free. The second one worked for a little while. However when Microsoft pushed a software update, the machine couldn't handle it and croaked. Again after much screaming Microsoft sent out a replacement unit. This third unit was dead on arrival. This time Microsoft refused to fix it unless Brian paid $140. They said they should of charged for earlier "repairs" and he had to pay this time. To make matter worse Microsoft refused to sell him an extended warranty since his machine has had a history of problems. Again after much screaming they reduced it to $70 and agreed to sell him the warranty. Now he is waiting for his fourth unit to arrive.
One hand it is great that Microsoft is doing right by their customers. On the other hand if there wasn't this competition from Sony would they really of offered the refunds?
Examine a game like 50 Cent: Bulletproof. The game was pretty much universally panned, yet was one of the top seller of 2005. Why the disconnect? Are gamers stupid? The speculation was that the game included a lot of non-gaming 50 Cent content, like extra songs etc, that people really wanted and were willing to pay for.
A single financially successful game that sucks doesn't happen in a vacuum. Driv3r, Enter the Matrix and Marc Ecko's Getting Up were all heavily marketed, but ultimately sub par games. Look at the trouble Atari is in. You can fool people for a while, but eventually it catches up with you.
I guess this is what it feels like to live in Europe or Australia. This is the US damn it. I think somewhere in the constitution it says if I have the dough and I want it I should be able to buy it. It's right next to the part that says you can carry guns and shoot your neighbor if he pisses you off.
Either Microsoft is getting serious about competing with Sony on its home turf ... or ... there is a pretty severe supply problem with the HD-DVD drives. Microsoft has only managed on selling 150,000 Xbox 360s in Japan compared to the 5 million or so in Europe and North America. With such a small install base how many peripherals could they really sell?
According to Microsoft, your XBox 360 will be able to display 1080p game and movie content. That means Sony's ideal of 'True HD' is just a free minor software upgrade away for 360 owners. The update will upconvert DVDs and lower resolution games to 1080p if you want, but it will also be capable of displaying 1080p content like HD-DVD movies and games created for the higher resolution. Previously, the 360 was only capable of displaying up to 1080i.
Now, take this with a grain of salt as well because according to Kotaku, they've gone on record as saying there is no current plan to add HDMI support, so if movie studios begin restricting the output for purposes of copy protection, it won't mean much of anything. On the game side of things, Microsoft has said they believe 720p is 'the sweet spot' and Microsoft Game Studios won't be producing games for higher then 720p yet. However, this dosen't mean other developers can't.
While this is neat and exciting, I'd bet for the majority of us it probably dosen't matter a whole helluva lot. The level of HD market penetration isn't really that high... maybe around 10%, I think? Makes me wonder though what really changed here... seems like you'd know the capabilities of your own console. Either it can do 1080p well... or it can't. Maybe this was planned from day one? It seems more than likely the 360 has always been capable of 1080p and they just decided to enable it - but my guess is that we don't see too many games that natively support it either for the reason that the 360 isn't powerful enough for complex games good looking fast paced games or because of the cost involved in putting in the extra detail while making them.
At the end of the day we come back to fun games are fun no matter how they look. A terrible game at any resolution is still terrible. Do you care at what HD resolution your next gen console runs at?
"He has developed 35 games, working as lead programmer on 24 of them, that include popular titles like the Earthworm Jim series, MDK, Messiah and two based on the The Matrix movies."
2Moons is the rather odd concept of a free in-game advertising supported Fantasy MMO developed by the Korean developer GameHi and published by of all companies Acclaim. Yes you heard right. Acclaim is back from the dead. Or well at least the name and Dave Perry is working on their new title.
I have never real been a fan of Perry's work. Well ... OK ... I really liked MDK and I know Earthwork Jim was a huge financial success. Yet, Enter the Matrix and Path of Neo were terrible. For someone who is so influential his recent body of work is for the most part mediocre.
Does 2Moons feel a little too much like the dot com exuberance of the late 90s? Whether or not you like the idea of coke machines in the dungeon, do you think in-game advertising can support an entire online game?
The article is quite well written, and Mr. Berghammer has quite a detailed knowledge of Nintendo's history and console success (or lack thereof). His main point is the history always repeats itself. Many gamers were just as excited for the N64 and the GC as they are now for the Wii. Nintendo promised new and exciting first and third party titles, just as they are now. And of course, they failed to deliver on many of those promises such as the faulty N64DD and GC Online Adapter, both of which came too little, too late (or not at all). Nintendo's promised releases got delayed and both systems pretty much failed. Bill asks us to look at present times to make a comparison. Things are pretty much the same for the pre-N64 and GC release, with big promises, huge prospects, and a drooling fanboy base, yet in both cases the systems failed and Nintendo did not measure up to their hype. Will the same thing happen to the Wii? After all, history does repeat itself.
Another point Bill makes is the third party support, where history also repeats itself. For both systems, major third party support was promised by Nintendo for both systems. Yet many developers found that people rarely bought third party titles and stuck with first party ones. During the GC era, third party ports were ignored by the majority of developers, and actually third party games never being exclusive to the system. Bill argues the same seems to be happening for the DS, with third party games mainly being sub-par to first party games. He explains this is mainly due to the touch screen, where third parties did not use the unique control scheme and Nintendo primarily taking advantage of it. And as a result, he predicts the same for the Wii, with a major promise of huge third party support, and huge enthusiasm from developers, but the third party games falling out for Nintendo games after third party ones fail to deliver.
Bill also mentions similarities between the mass-praised "easiness to develop" which was present in the GC at the time of its launch, and ties up all his points in a convincing article. Its also a very good history of Nintendo's past two consoles for those interested.
This isn't good on Nintendo's part. Already Nintendo has faltered over one of their promises to release the Wii before the PS3, yet the most recent news post has confirmed the launch two days after PS3. Is this only the beginning of whats to come?
The fanboy inside me is having second thoughts...
Brian and I will most likely cover the festival this year, get some snowboarding in and pontificate on various panels should we be deemed worthy enough. If you get the opportunity try to attend the festival and if you are an independent game developer definitely throw your hat ... er ... game in the ring. Student developers are more than welcome. The big show stars January 17 and lasts for an entire week.
On top of the high cost, missing HDMI cable, cut number of units shipped on launch day, and delayed European release, Tony Hawk Project 8, the newest title in the pro skater franchise, will be shipping without online play on the Playstation 3. According to IGN in their newest article on the game, Nervesoft Entertainment, the game’s developer, has said that they are “confident the PS3 version of the game will ship at launch in November, but it still hasn't received all of the software libraries and has no indication of how the online components will work on PS3, so it's not offering them.”
This begs the question – Will anyone be supporting online play at launch on the PS3? The recently we’d learned that Xfire was going to be used for Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, but is the reasoning for this that the official PS3 network architecture / development libraries aren’t going to ready for launch titles?
Half the people who owned a 360 have used Xbox Live last time I checked the numbers. Can Sony really get away with having a launch that doesn’t have a strong online component?
Many gamers including myself rejoiced at the prospect of unfettered access to tons of weird, obscure Japanese imports featuring two dimensional singing animals and protagonists with over-sized weapons and pointy hair. However, Engadget is reporting that the Wii will be region locked after all. A Nintendo spokesperson finally put the rumor mongering to rest according to GamesIndustry.biz. In the same piece Nintendo stated the Wii will not feature DVD playback capabilities either. Nintendo told Gamespot, "Because the price of DVD players has dropped so much and they have become so commonplace, Nintendo saw no need to create extra hardware options that would drive up the cost for consumers".
Is it possible that region locking lends some legitimacy to console modders? Surely buying an import game is quite different than making a "backup" copy.
I used to hate buying games from Amazon. They used to rely on third party retailers like Gamestop, J&R and others to do fulfillment and who the heck knew when things shipped or when/if it would arrive. Now Amazon retails the games themselves and Amazon Prime is pretty cool with free two day shipping.
Who else is getting ... well ... trying to get a Wii on or around Nov 19?
Many assumed this to mean that VU had actively gone back and revisited these classics, reworking code to update them from DOS and allow them to run natively on Windows XP. However, buried in the legal text on any one of the collection pages linked above is the notice: "DosBox © 1989-2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc. for more information go to http://dosbox.sourceforge.net/news.php?show_news=1"
DosBox's site is down at the time of this writing, but it seems VU took advantage of the GPL/open-source license, having the difficult job of recoding these old titles done for them for free with an existing freeware emulator they need not even pay licensing fees for. Also, the newer "talkie" games in these collections have been left out, and it's probably no coincidence that they don't currently run in DosBox.
If you have been contributing for a while but haven't quite hit that 1000 point mark or would not consider yourself an "expert", but have the desire to help out drop us a line. Please make sure you are familiar with MobyRank and have read the MobyRank FAQ.
Yesterday, the big news was that Apple announced movies for their fancy portable player. But that wasn’t all. To a bit less of fanfare, Apple also announced games for the iPod downloadable from iTunes for 5g iPods for just $4.99 a piece.
I was excited at first until I thought about the fact the iPod uses a click wheel for control. Its hard to imagine most games being fun playing with the click wheel except for certain games designed with it in mind. Even bejeweled seems like it would be difficult to play given the circular click wheel and the square bejeweled playing field.
However, it always seems as if it takes apple one generation of iPod to introduce an idea and then one more to implement it well. Remember the photo iPod that came out before the video? Or the iPod minis before the nano came out? Or even the original iPod that was platform specific to the Mac? Allowing more complex downloadable games on the iPod could be one of the things that drives Apple towards the completely button-less touch screen iPod that has been long rumored.
Should we get started on the ‘iPod’ section now or is it something that’d just going to go nowhere fast?
"Aaron goes on to say he also ran into a woman who was apparently streaking Uno games."
Microsoft support was its usual helpful self ( more about that later ).
It has been my universal experience that Xbox Live is one of the most profanity laced experiences around. I downloaded Texas Hold 'em during the free period and I must say the depth and breadth of profanity is shocking even to me. Usually I plug in the headset just so I can turn the voice channel all the way down. During a game over the weekend I ended up playing at a table with a girl who was obviously and wildly drunk. The cross table banter was more entertaining than usual.
Is it really possible to rate online content? Should we care?
Ron and I attended the Austin Game Conference partly to promote MobyGames ( me ) and partly to cover the event ( Ron ). Between manning the booth and taking meetings we didn't manage on providing a huge amount of editorial coverage. Not so for MMORPG.com.
AGC is know for its MMO and Casual Games focus and the crew MMORPG.com seemed to be everywhere from, Moving Beyond Men in Tights, Raph Koster's "The Age of Dinosaurs" to Third Party Community Websites and Creating Characters for Games. I was especially disappointed to miss the Third Party Community Websites panel which was a discussion on how publishers and fan and news websites work and sometimes do not work together to cover the industry.
The MMORPG coverage was very blog like and laced with opinions, facts and some reasoned and ... well ... not so reasoned analysis. Even the relative inexperience and naiveté in some of the posts I found a bit refreshing.
"Well, it is all over. I can no longer say that I have never covered a video game conference."
I remember my first game conference in 1999. Should MobyGames continue to provide "editorial" content? What should we do differently?
Maybe Nintendo is hearing the cries of the more casual gamers. Kotaku is reporting another retailer that's pegged the Nintendo Wii's price at $150 nearly one half to a third the price of the entry level Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively.
I've spent many a Christmas in gaming stores during launch season with parents going in to get their kids a console, only to turn around and attempt to find a cheaper alternative at the last minute. Rather than jumping at the hardcore enthusiast by offering the latest in graphical technology - Nintendo appears to be positioning themselves at the casual market that's been getting so much attention in the PC world. They want to recapture those who've fallen out of the fold of gaming or capture the imaginations of those who wouldn't normally play a game because it's 'too complex' or 'has too many controls'. At the same time, hardcore gamers are intrigued by the idea of a new and innovative control system coupled with the love of the classic intellectual properties of Nintendo's past.
That all being said, Nintendo has repeatedly had a rough time in the home console market for the past two generations. They've gotten a reputation for producing 'kiddy games' and for pretty much abusing their IPs (Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix ).
It seems Nintendo has garnered a lot of positive attention from the 'hard-core' community ala Penny Arcade and others. Is Nintendo going to be able to attract mom and dad who don't normally play games anymore to come back while still getting Johnny who wants to play the latest hack and slash shoot'em up? Do they abandon Johnny altogether?
The Blu-Ray drive is about the only attractive aspect of the PS3. I bought a HDTV a couple of years back and have been chomping at the bit for HD movies. If Microsoft were to offer a relatively ( remember the PS3 is gonna be around $600 US ) inexpensive HD DVD option I for one would be very, very interested.
This brings to mind something I have been thinking for some time. Is Microsoft playing by the "rules"? It has been estimated that Gates and Co. have lost 2 billion so for on its games groups. That's a lot of money. Can any company really expect to compete when Microsoft can just spend and spend without having to worry whether it makes money this year or even decade or not? It may not have "won" the first round. Heck it may not win this round, but eventually this unrelenting pressure and unlimited war chest almost guarantees that Microsoft will win in the end.
Should we be concerned that Microsoft's personal computer tax ( Windows ) is subsidizing its battle with Sony? Do we the consumer benefit from getting a system well below what it costs to make? What happens when Microsoft dominates the space?
Games look better and Controllers are more comfortable.
While some arguments are reasonable others are plain juvenile. No mention of the near impossibility of MMOGs without a keyboard or the fact that RTS and FPS games are somehow lacking without a keyboard and mouse.
MobyGames has a really strong PC following. We are less strong on the console systems. Some of this is an artifact of MobyGames starting out as a PC only website. Partly if may be due to a policy decision to require screen shots taken from the actual contributor. Grabbing a screen shot from a console is much harder than a PC.
Is this a good thing? What would it take to improve the MobyGames console offering? Is GWR totally off base?
Telltale Game's sequel to Lucasart's classic Sam and Max adventure game is going in a slightly different direction than most common place sequels as it'll be a month episodic game. Setup like a TV series - it'll run till April of next year over the course of six episodes to make up the first season. While not ready to commit on a price point for each separate episode, Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale Games, said that focus groups felt that $5 was a reasonable amount for the roughly 5 hours they'd gotten out of the game.
The episodic model works because of the lower risks in terms of investments and time. Instead of 3 years and 15 million dollars, a company can spend far less time and money to test an idea in a type of pilot almost like a TV series to see how well it sells, then get feedback from the public nearly instantaneously then decide how to modify the design for the next episode or cancel the game all together if they don't think its profitable.
The design lends itself to over arching storylines and long term character development. The game can also reference itself and the accomplishments of the player later on and make it seem more like a living breathing world.
The biggest source of concern for me is that the content chain is going to stall at some point and that there either won't be enough content to keep me entertained or that the regular ship date for the next episode won't be regular. What is your biggest concern with the episodic model?
Having never herd of Sci-fi author Verner Vinge I was skeptical about as to why they'd bring a Sci-fi author who doesn't really have anything directly to do with video games to a developer conference. However, after hearing Mr. Vinge speak, it was easy to see why so many developers get excited about his work.
Turns out that his vision of the future that's supposedly conveyed in his books is that humanity will end up living in personal realities generated for each one of us through technology. Essentially these realities are MMO environments that could exist for each person however they want them to and they wouldn't be too far removed from the MMOGs we have today.
The technology he was speaking of seemed exceptionally far out there, still within the realm of possibility, but with a time frame much further out then Mr. Vinge made it seem. But even listening to the concepts and trying to grasp exactly what he was talking about I couldn't help but feel as if virtual worlds that people participated in as almost a substitute to reality is something that only could be in science fiction. It just seems unreal.
So... Would you rather try to improve the world you live in and spend part of your time in a virtual world or craft a virtual world for yourself and come out to do only the absolute necessary?
The only saving grace was that they decided to open up questions to the audience at the last minute. Supposedly, the Q&A section was in extreme jeopardy up until the last minute and saved the chat from being a complete waste of time.
It seemed like people were somewhat intimidated though because at one point with a crowd of nearly 60 or 70 people, no one wanted to ask a question. So filling the void, I actually got the opportunity to put a few questions out there and he danced around the questions with finesse of a ballet dancer.
The one point he was pretty rough about was how superior Dell's computers are to consoles and even took time to take a punch at the price point of the next generation systems. However, all I could think of was that it's easy to scoff at the $200 wii, $400 X-Box 360, and $600 PS3 - but not when your XPS system is $1,200 to start with. Also, considering how long the next generation consoles will last, you're probably getting a better value than you would with a gaming PC depending on what type of games you play. What do you guys think? Which is the better investment, the PC or the console?
Given how big of an issue this was an entire panel devoted to this subject called the 'West's place in Asian Online Gaming' and some very valid points where brought up as to why western games have such a hard time breaking into Asia.
Many people pointed to localization and translation of the games as a major issue, but in reality the culture and mentality of the players is actually much different in the east than it is in the west.
An example would be something as simple as the concept of 'content'. In the west an MMOs, content is essentially locations, weapons, objects, characters, and monsters. However, in the east, gamers places value on universe events, community, and persistent worlds.
According to the developers on the panel, eastern gamers don't want instanced areas and player versus environment - you've gotta have good Player versus Player action in a persistent world so that people can see the resulting carnage. Items in game also play a big deal and should really end up changing through players hands much faster as they attempt to kill each-other off for the best stuff. The ability to create guilds and communities as well as events run by the game's creators keep the game interesting long after shipping. Given these hurdles - it seems impossible for any western MMO makers to really break ground in Asia.
But there seems to be an exception to the rule: Blizzard. Blizzard has such good name recognition with how much people enjoyed Starcraft and Diablo in Asia that World of Warcraft was a no-brainer for their market - even if it does break a few of the rules.
While the panel seemed optimistic of the West's ability to further penetrate the Asian market, I'm skeptical on there being one 'right' way to launch a western game in Asia. It seems unlikely anyone to really penetrate the market in the way that WoW has - the only exception being Hellgate:London because of the influence from the Diablo team members that left Blizzard. Is there a formula for success here that can be followed to be successful in the Asian market or should you just do the best you can and handle it on a case by case basis?
Origin was a major force in computer gaming in the late 80s and early 90s and developed some of the best original intellectual property of the time including Wing Commander and Ultima. Ultima Online, the first commercially successful MMOG, is still alive and kicking.
There were two false starts in terms of producing a sequel MMOG. The first was a steampunk universe game called Ultima Worlds Online : Origin and the other, Ultima X: Odyssey, was meant to be a direct sequel to Ultima IX. Neither game saw the light of day.
Unknown before last night two failed attempts was not enough and there was even a third go at producing UO sequel. The third attempt was to use The Sims engine, however not long after that project was shelved as well.
EA is releasing a new expansion for UO that is to reinvigorate the game with major UI improvements to the client. According to my somewhat liquor induced anonymous source - this expansion is probably the best chance the public will have in seeing anything done with Ultima franchise for sometime so we might as well enjoy it.
It's also worth noting that EA is putting together a compilation of its classic computer games emulated on the PSP. The main attraction being that Wing Commander is to be part of this collection.
A common criticism of EA, well known for its sports titles, is that the publisher rarely innovates. The company has an incredible library of classic properties. Maybe it's time for EA to revisit these games. What do you think is holding EA back from producing either remakes or sequels to games with older IP? Is the world ready for another Dungeon Keeper game?
Jon talked about how Cameron's next film (probably Avatar) will be shot completely in 3d and how they've been working with various companies like WETA to develop a new type of performance capturing technology that allows them to capture an actor's performance and map it to a 3D character in a 3D world and let the director manipulate the character in real time.
Jon was also here to talk about how him and James Cameron have joined the board of advisors for Multiverse as well as build new technology to allow the assets for a movie to be contributed for development of game titles easily. He seemed pretty committed to the idea of MMOs allowing for the expansion of the universe created in movies and beyond that.
He kept hinting that this next movie of Cameron's project would somehow bridge the gab between interactive and non-interactive entertainment.
Given how Cameron is always pushing the edge of technology - it wouldn't surprise me if Avatar (if that is his next project) really provided as an engaging a story online as in the theater. Story was what really what Jon was pushing as a necessity in MMOGs, but when I think about it, it doesn't seem like players are really a huge part of the online story. The Matrix Online is the only one that really had attempted to do this in my opinion and it has pretty much fallen flat on it's face. Can a MMOG have a truly interactive story?
It was interesting hearing him talk because he didn't really say anything earth shattering but rather talked about how Blizzard develops games - specifically Worlds of Warcraft.
Things like putting fun ahead at the top of your list of things and not shipping the game till its done. However, there are some interesting ideas too, like this idea that you're core gamers and casual gamers aren't really two completely separate groups.
There seems to be a mentality that you should focus on hardcore content and then branch out to being accessible instead of the common route of doing it the other way around - the linch pin idea being that if your hardcore content is good, you'll draw people in with the casual content and mechanics and they'll grow into the hardcore content later. There is this idea that you don't build your game to the extreme player who is going to blaze through the game without sleep - no matter how long it takes him.
As Rob was speaking though, I did think about their philosophy of depth before accessibility and polishing everything at every stage of development and its easy to see why Starcraft:Ghost didn't really work as a game being farmed out to another developer.
Anyway, now I'm sitting in a meeting about developing for the Playstation 3... So far it just sounds difficult... Even funnier is that I just heard them use the words 'low cost' and 'PS3' in the same sentence.
The push back of the launch is related to the usual shortage of consoles available, via a "delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PlayStation 3." The diode is a key element of the Bluray drive used in the machine.
It's a big bummer for those of us who have been waiting patiently, but there are two slight advantages to this. 1) A larger software launch lineup once it comes our way and 2) Any problems discovered in its early life in Japan and the US will be fixed up (hopefully) by that time via software patches.
As mentioned, read up on the Changelog if you want more information. And you may want to visit there also if you've been a regular Mobygames user and have wondered why and what's been changing over the past couple of weeks, or months, or years (depending on how much you pay attention :D). Use this thread to discuss any bugs which may appeared.
And if you're in Austin, TX over the next few days, stop by and tell us what a good job we're doing (or anything else I suppose, but compliments are warm & fuzzy).
"Which first-person shooter/action title over the entire history of the FPS game do you think has made the biggest 'quantum leap' in the genre, and why?"
System Shock, Marathon and Deus Ex were all honorable mentions, but did not make the cut to be in the top five. Speaking of Marathon, we do not have any cover art or screen shots on file. Are there any Mac collectors out there? Completely out of the running were Halo, Far Cry and Dark Forces.
What do you think of the list? Are game developers a more enlightened bunch? Did they miss anything?