Friday, October 31, 2008

Two amazing dog simulators you must buy!

Fable 2 and Fallout 3 have more in common than just being amazing RPGs, they also both feature some nifty AI dogs! Isn't that strange...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sackboys and Islam

So apparently there's a music clip in Little Big Planet that quotes the Qua'ran, which is prohibited by their religion. The resulting controversy has caused Sony to recall the game before release in order to correct this perceived offense.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, but Colin Campbell of EDGE has up an interesting article comparing Sony's religious difficulties recently with Playstation 3 titles:

The difference here is in degrees. On the one hand, a game featuring some non-contextual direct quotes from a sacred text. On the other, a violent intrusion into a sacred place.

Sony’s decision to treat one with the utmost seriousness and the other with the utmost contempt is easily explained. The reaction to anti-Christian content in any media is usually measured in a slightly annoyed grey-head appearing on NPR or Radio 4. Content that is viewed as anti-Islamic often raises more visual protests.

Sony understands that extreme religious anger is something any sensible person or company will work diligently to avoid. It’s also something the media really loves to cover.

My point is not about the reaction of different religious people to perceived slights so much as the reaction by Sony to actual trouble.

Sony saw the possibility of bad press and angry scenes and made a very quick decision.

It ran.
Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

E3 Day 1

So we got some cool stuff from Microsoft's Press Conference including:

Fallout 3 exclusive DLC on 360
Resident Evil 5 coming with co-op play
Gears of War 2 having a 5 player co-op mode
Complete Xbox Dashboard overhaul
Xbox Live Avatars
Lips from iNiS, the makers of Elite Beat Agents
Portal: Still Alive exclusively on 360
A South Park XBLA game
Galaga on XBLA
Rock Band 2 to have songs from Chinese Democracy haha!
Netflix Streaming service on Xbox Live
Full Hard Drive installs and 16:10 monitor support for Xbox
Uno Rush and Geometry Wars 2
Fable 2 is done and coming in October
and of course Final Fantasy XIII coming to Xbox 360

And from the Electronic Arts conference we found that:

Spore looks amazing
Dragon Age will be a console franchise as well
Left 4 Dead looks amazing
NBA Live 2009 will feature daily updates
iD Software's Rage to be published by EA
Mirror's Edge looks like it could be good

Great start E3 2008!

Microsoft's got some style

You've got to hand it to them, the way they played the internet today was great.

Square Enix's Wada comes on stage to show up some of his games coming to the Xbox 360, which are great but seen before.

Then Microsoft's Don Mattrick comes back to thank Wada and close out the press conference.

But oh wait, says Wada, there's just one more thing.

Bam, Final Fantasy XIII on X360.

Chaos ensues on the internet.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The End

The greatest machinima ever made? Almost certainly.
The most insane production values ever found in a game? Ridiculously so.
The biggest gaming event of the year? Yes.
A great game? The best Metal Gear has ever been.

Sure we can complain about the gameplay to cutscene ratio or any number of other nitpicks, but in the end MGS4 is the epic send off Metal Gear Fans have been looking for. Congratulations Hideo.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What's wrong with PS3?

Well, looks like The Getaway and 8 Days just got the axe. And Sony adds some salt to the wound by announcing Qore, their new pay to play subscription video podcast, demo and beta service.

Which leaves me wondering, what the heck is Sony first party doing anyways?

Let me get the Sony first party story straight: God of War is nowhere to be seen, Gran Turismo 5 is still not out, despite what their pay to play demo might have you think, The Getaway and 8 Days are newly canned, there's no sign of Afrika, no sign of Trico, and SOCOM, Wipeout and Warhawk have been confined to PSN. Not even going to bother bringing up Home. What the heck is going on over there?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Itagaki Quits Tecmo, Sues President

Hot on the heels of the release of Ninja Gaiden 2, a true bombshell has hit the Japanese games industry:
"I, Tomonobu Itagaki, hereby announce that on the 14th of May 2008 I filed a complaint in the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo Co., Ltd. for unpaid completion bonuses, and against the President of Tecmo, Yoshimi Yasuda, for such unlawful acts as unreasonable and disingenuous statements made towards me, claiming damages in total of 148 million yen. I also announce that this complaint was delivered to the defendants on May 22nd of the same year. In addition, I hereby announce that I have today submitted a letter of resignation to Tecmo Co., Ltd. stating that I will resign as of the 1st of July, 2008.

"Before the start of development on Dead or Alive 4, Tecmo Co., Ltd. had agreed to pay a completion bonus to me for this Xbox 360 title, which I produced. However, when the time came for the actual payment, Tecmo Co., Ltd. went against its previous agreement and refused payment. President Yoshimi Yasuda chose not only to violate this agreement, but also turned defiant, telling me 'if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it.' In addition, he made demeaning remarks about me to my subordinates and colleagues, causing me significant emotional distress and worsening my personal relationships and work environment. Thus, I have no choice but to resign from Tecmo Co., Ltd.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Most Popular Videogame in the World reveals the secrets of the one game no one can stop playing. No, not Tetris, not Mario Brothers, but your all time favorite... Solitaire! Learn all about the sordid beginnings of computer solitaire and FreeCell over at Slate.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Grand Theft Auto 4 is not a 10.

Been playing through Rockstar's latest and while it's definitely another fine game in the Grand Theft Auto series, it's not a "10". But what makes a 10 these days? Is anything truly original these days? Well, no, pure originality is probably too high a standard to hold anything up to, and in my opinion not every "10" or Triple-A game need be a revolutionary advancement for our little slice of artistic pie (yes, games are art).

For me a game worthy of a "10" is one that compels the player to advance throughout, capturing their attention from the beginning. And a "10" doesn't let up, it keeps bringing new challenges to the gamer while maintaining their interest. It must feel fresh throughout, which is why Gears of War's "10"s were more justifiable to me than say a "10" given to Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. It must prove to be the gold standard of gameplay available at the moment, which is why to me Halo 3 is deserving of a "10" despite its identifiable shortcomings.

As for Grand Theft Auto? Granted I'm still early in the game, and certainly the gameplay and atmosphere has been refined to near perfection after several iterations last generation, but so far it doesn't feel like anything I haven't done before. The missions have been straightforward staples of the genre so far, assassinate this character, follow this character, drive around this character. The storytelling hasn't been particularly impressive either, with more cardboard cutout villains that we've all seen before.

So if it's not a "10" what is it then? And how did it get those "10"s anyways? Scoring and reviewing in the video game world has always been a very murky, yet necessary practice.

I personally prefer a whole different approach to scoring games... but that's another blog entry entirely.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Microsoft donates Xbox 360s to Children's Hospitals

A very cool initiative by Microsoft to donate Xbox 360 kiosks to Children's Hospitals and providing a private Xbox Live network for their patients to social in. One of my friends did some research into this area and found that it was a great way to provide varied and quality social interactions to children with their peers that they might not have otherwise been able to experience. Good work MSFT.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What's wrong with PSN?

Something's rotten in the Playstation Network.

The latest snafu to hit the Playstation Network is the cancellation delay of Konami's Metal Gear Solid Online beta test for US and European testers. After a long weekend of signup server frustrations and confusion as to why two separate Konami IDs were required to be created (outside of a user's PSN account) to be able to play the game, Konami threw in the towel temporarily and stopped the Beta from going live mere minutes before its US debut.

Add this to the list of disappointments rapidly accruing with the Playstation Network and one has to wonder, what's going on at Sony?

Why are major developers like Konami being allowed to require the use of their own network IDs?

How could Gran Turismo 5 Prologue USA be launched without private rooms, no voice comm and poor network code?

Why did Little Big Planet become a Blu-Ray only SKU?

Where is Home?

How is it that after over a year of being on the market there is still no in-game XMB and all the associated conveniences that come with that (invites, friends lists, cross game chat)?

Why do independent developers seem to be powerless against game sharing?

And most importantly of all, why is Soul Calibur a XBLA exclusive title?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Is A Travesty

Let's ignore for the moment that you're paying $40 for a demo. Wait, let's not. $40 for a demo?? You won't even get credit towards the full game should you choose to purchase this demo and to top it off it's incomplete too! Sixty cars, barely there tuning, minimal customization, and a kick in the privates is all Polyphony have deemed fit for their consumers to experience.

One of the big selling points Sony would have you believe is its online mulitplayer (free!), but guess what, that's broken too. Want to race with your buddies? Sorry, matchmaking is the only option available right now. Use that fancy Bluetooth headset? Nope, voice hasn't been implemented yet (this fall, uhh maybe... nevermind that the demo has been out in Japan for a number of months).

Sony's continued disrespected towards their consumer base is appalling to me. If you're going to devote the time and resources to making an early version of your game available, which takes away the same time and resources from working on your finished product, AND you make consumers pay for it, at least give us a compelling feature set as well.

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's a Waggle Future

With the news that Microsoft is developing its on Wii-like controller with Rare and the knowledge that Sony is determined to bring out its own as well, is it a one waggle future for video game controllers?

Although many long-time gamers might consider the Wiimote not much more than a gimmick, it is apparent to me that Wii-like controls are a compelling interactive interface for certain types of games. While not every game can be made to function well with the magic stick, games built around the Wii's controls have been very well done at times. It's my opinion that the industry needs to catch up as a whole and consider the way the Wii has changed the gaming landscape, especially if they want to take advantage the large marketshare of Nintendo's console. Sure, Nintendo's consoles have traditionally shown middling sales for third-party games, but in the case of the Wii (and the DS, it must be said), in my opinion a large part of the blame can squarely be put on developers not taking the time to craft games to the strengths of the platforms they are developing on. Now with Microsoft and Sony apparently entering the ring in the near future, with newer and better technology and precision, it's high time developers start thinking seriously about the future of games and motion controls.

So will the next generation of consoles even include traditional controllers in the box? I think that as of this moment they will (except for Nintendo's of course) since traditional games are still selling like hotcakes, but can definitely see a future where they are no longer the preferred control method. I hope developers are planning for this contingency...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

CGW/GFW Magazine Ends Run

The end of an era... Jeff Green announced on his blog that Ziff Davis will no longer be publishing Computer Gaming World / Games for Windows magazine.

So, here we are. The end of an era. The Internet age marches forward. And here?s where we get to the good part. Because there really is a good part, and I can say this to you honestly without having to feel I'm "spinning" it for you. First, all the editors that you have come to know at GFW are staying on here at Sean Molloy, Shawn Elliott, Ryan Scott, and myself have already, even before this closing, been working more and more over the past few months with the online team to beef up's PC gaming content, and now we'll be doing this full time. All the writers you've been familiar with, the columns and features you've come to love, will still be around. What's changing, of course, is that it's all online instead of in print, which means we now can bring it all to you in a quicker and more timely manner, and, hey--for free.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Digital Distribution march continues

Today Gas Powered Games and Stardock announced that their upcoming game Demigod will be released on Stardock's Impulse digital distribution platform. Here's what Brad Wardell of Stardock had to say at Gamasutra:
So it's sort of a Steam competitor, then, but more broad?

BW: Yeah, exactly. It's more broad. We like Steam, and I'm currently playing Team Fortress all the time, but we've talked to a lot of publishers and developers who do not want to replace Wal-Mart at retail with a digital front. They want there to be more avenues for them.

I know there's Direct2Drive and GamersGate and other things like that, but in terms of a consistent platform where you can just manage and run your games and be a part of the community and that sort of thing, that's what Impulse is bringing. We're starting to go out and get not just game content, but non-game content as well.

What kind of stuff?

BW: Well, for example, we just signed Gas Powered Games' Demigod. Stardock is going to be the worldwide exclusive publisher of that, at both retail and digitally next year. I believe we're going to have most of the game publishers on here as well, we hope, by the end of the year. Demigod will be coming out in February next year.

But when it comes to non-game related things?

BW: Oh, non-game? I can't talk about it yet.

Just broadly, I don't mean specifics. What kind of content?

BW: Like paint programs, antivirus, disk defragmenting...

My experience with Sins of a Solar Empire was very positive.. hopefully they will be adding some more neat features to the service.

Game Developers Magazine April 2008 for download

Check out the latest GDMag in online digital (and PDF) format featuring a postmortem article on Naughty Dog's Uncharted and more.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dawn of War 2 Announced!

In continuing Warhammer franchise news, one of my two favorite RTS's in the last few years, Relic Entertainment's Dawn of War (the other is Relic's Company of Heroes), is getting a sequel: Dawn of War 2!
THQ Inc. (NASDAQ:THQI - News) today announced that Warhammer® 40,000™: Dawn of War® II, the highly anticipated sequel from one of the industry’s premiere Real-Time Strategy (RTS) developers, Relic Entertainment, is scheduled to bring the 41st Millennium’s savage warfare to life like never before in spring 2009. Powered by an enhanced version of Relic’s proprietary Essence Engine 2.0™, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II will take players to the brutal frontlines of war where they’ll experience intense action and visceral combat through a non-linear single player experience and a fully co-operative multiplayer campaign. Set in Games Workshop’s (LSE: GAW - News) highly popular Warhammer 40,000 science fiction universe, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is being developed exclusively for Windows PC.

In addition, THQ is pleased to announce that gamers purchasing copies of the recently released Warhammer® 40,000™: Dawn of War® - Soulstorm™ will be able to participate in an invitation-only multiplayer beta program for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II set to take place at a future date.

“The original Dawn of War and its subsequent standalone expansions have established the series as one of the industry’s leading RTS franchises,” said Brad Carraway, vice president, global brand management, THQ. “Dawn of War II will re-define RTS gaming to gamers worldwide, delivering brutal frontline action and tactics, and allowing players to get straight to the action with unprecedented fast-paced RTS gameplay and a full co-op campaign, all in stunning cinematic detail.”
Check out the new screens and teaser video over at

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In depth Warhammer Online Presentation

Although I wasn't the biggest Dark Age of Camelot fan, I do hope that either Warhammer Online or Conan give me my MMORPG fix this year. TrailerWelten has up an hourlong preview from Paris of the recently delayed Warhammer Online. Check it out for an overview of what Mythic is doing with the Warhammer license.

Alpha Protocol Screenshots from Obsidian

Game Informer has put up screenshots from Obsidian's upcoming Spy-Action-RPG, Alpha Protocol. I can't wait to see the fruitions of their labor when not being harassed by a deadline centric licensee...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Random Game Related Picture

EverQuest Phase 4 Beta CD. Now where are my Beta 2 cds..

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Atari Comes to Steam

I expect more publishers to sign up in the future:

March 12, 2008 - Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR), one of the world's most recognized brands and a third-party video game publisher and distributor, and Valve today announced an agreement to bring a variety of PC games from the Atari catalog to Steam, a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC games and digital content with over 15 million accounts around the world.

Starting today, gamers in North America may add the following Atari titles to their Steam games library:

Act of War: Direct Action - a real-time strategy experience that puts players squarely in control of counterterrorist forces and delivers a first look at tomorrow's war.

Act of War: High Treason - an ultra-realistic modern military real-time strategy game.

ArmA: Combat Operations - a first person tactical military shooter with large elements of realism and simulation.

Atari 80 Classics in 1 - the ultimate collection of the original games that inspired generations of gamers.

Death to Spies - third-person stealth action game that immerses the player into the atmosphere of World War II military intelligence operations.

Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge - an RTS set in a thrilling Western atmosphere.

Indigo Prophecy - a thrilling supernatural mystery adventure game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum - combines the roller coaster theme park fun of the Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 with included expansion packs Soaked! and Wild!

Tycoon City: New York - a tycoon simulation game set in one of America's most exciting metropolises.

In the coming weeks, The Witcher, the award winning RPG of 2007, Neverwinter Nights 2 and the expansion pack NeverWinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer - the sequel to one of the best-selling and genre-defining role-playing games ever - will also be added to Atari's Steam lineup.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Alternative Programming

Tired of reading yet another article about polygons and shaders? Check these links out:

Donkey Kong and Me, multiplatform programming and licensing in the days of Atari-past.

Using Microsoft Excel as a 3D engine at Gamasutra... really!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spore ported to iPhone

Apple announced a slew of new features for the iPhone today including the release of their software development kit (SDK). One of the demonstrations applications shown was a quickie port of Spore from EA as well as a port of Sega's Super Monkey Ball, both hardware 3D accelerated with OpenGL ES. Will this usher in a new era of mobile gaming?

Applications will be distributed through iTunes, with the developer receiving a 70% share of revenue. Signing as a developer will cost $99 annually. Apple will also allow free applications to be distributed through iTunes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

D&D Story Manager answers /.

Slashdot has up answers to some of its users questions about the upcoming 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons including how the new ruleset relates to videogames. Head over and have a look.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

RIP Gary Gygax

Sad news came today as word spread that Gary Gygax, one of the creators of Dungeons & Dragons has passed away. His role in shaping not only pen and paper Role Playing Games but electronic ones as well will never be forgotten. RIP.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons Experience updates

Wizards of the Coast is currently hosting the Dungeons and Dragons Experience in Virginia and news about the upcoming Fourth Edition (4E) of the game is starting to leak out. Check out Wired for a scan of the 4th Edition Player Character sheet and also keep an eye on ENWorld and GleeMax for all the latest from the festival.

Update: Wizards has released the character sheets in PDF (ZIP).

Update: AICN's exclusive playtest review: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Update: Videos from the conference (thanks to Krypt0nian).

Friday, February 29, 2008

GG Awards 2007

So awards season has mostly come and past. Last Sunday I was watching the Oscars and thinking about how awards work in the gaming industry. The vast majority of awards given out are split into categories such as platform or genre, but for me, I think it would be a bit more interesting to give awards more in line with movies, where categories are based more on technical distinctions, such as the difference between a Documentary and an Animated movie or Costume design versus Set Design.

So without further ado here are GG's awards for 2007!

best script... Portal
best graphics... Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
best sound... Bioshock
best interaction.. Rock Band

best single player experience... Portal
best social experience... Rock Band
best competitve experience... Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
best mmo experience... World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade

game of the year... Mass Effect

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rigidity of Play

My memory has always sucked. I can't memorize anything-- names, faces, numbers, events, it all goes in a fog. I was never any good at memorizing Capcom's long moves lists for their fighters, nor memorizing boss attack patterns to ready my parries in the right order. Heck, I still can't always remember with accuracy which element defeats which in Lost Odyssey. Was it wind vs earth or water? Last week while playing a particular level of PixelJunk Monsters I was reminded of why I tend to dislike games that rely on memorization and trial and error.

For those who haven't played PixelJunk Monsters or any tower defense game, the gameplay primarily consists of placing defensive structures around a home-base and the game testing your defenses by sending wave after wave of pillaging monsters against you.

The level that soured me was one where only four defensive placements were available, each had to be correctly configured for the particular variety of monster that it would face at any given time, which is intended to be a hectic experience for the player. What pained me about this level is the fact that not only is it unforgiving of mistakes, defensive towers have to match the monsters they're fighting, but the game itself is not very forthcoming about the particular variety of monster you will face. You may know the next monster will be shielded, but what type of shield and the best counter to their defense is only discovered through trial and error. This wouldn't be too annoying except for the fact that the more difficult monsters only arrive after around a dozen minutes have passed in gameplay, making each failure and restart an annoying process of wading through monsters you've already determined the method to defeat until you finally reach the wave that bested you last (there are 20 waves).

After a few attempts at this level I finally threw up my hands in disgust. Although basic memorization and pattern recognition in games are staples of the industry, personally I wish the days of memorization as a gameplay challenge would be long gone. Where is the skill in an long and aggravating loop of trial and error? Shouldn't a game be more clever in challenging me than resorting to methods of play from years past? I'm all for a tactical challenge, and limiting your defensive options definitely made the level fresh from an initial perspective, but the game itself should strive to allow players to break from any specific rigid solution and instead allow them to use their skills and creativity to beat the level in their own way, making the experience truly interactive and personal.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Puzzle Quest Galactrix preview at IGN

One of my most played games last year is getting a sequel!
We've known for a while now that developer Infinite Interactive is working on another RPG/puzzle hybrid set in space called Galactrix. It turns out this is our next PQ fix and has added the brand name to its title so that it reads: Puzzle Quest -- Galactrix.

D3 was only showing off the new battle system at this point. Galactrix's puzzle mode is still a match three game, but now the gems are hexagonal. They can be swapped horizontally, vertically, and now diagonally. As the action has been moved from the countryside of Etheria to zero-gravity space, the direction from which new gems will fall into play changes based on which way you swap tiles. They can now replenish from any part of the playing field's circumference. D3 hopes this adds another level of strategy to gameplay as we plan our moves in anticipation of creating combos.
Read the rest at IGN.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to play XNA Creators Club content

So you want to try out The Dishwasher but can't figure out how to download it from XBL? Here's how:
Downloading the new XNA Games takes a few extra steps. You can watch a video (on Inside Xbox, or linked below) featuring Xbox LIVE's Michael Klucher to explain it, or use this handy-dandy crib sheet:

Xbox LIVE Community Games

Xbox LIVE Community Games
Find out how to download the new XNA games from Xbox LIVE and play them on your console. High | Low

1) Download XNA Creators Club Game Launcher (Marketplace/Game Store/All Games/XNA Creators Club). Ignore the others.

(Note: If you use "XNA Game Launcher" or "XNA Game Studio Connect", you'll be told you need a Creators Club membership linked to your profile.)

2) Browse to My Games (Games/Games Library/My Games) and twist to XNA Creators Club.

3) Press Y to Download Games

4) Choose a game to download like any other game.

These pre-release demos are available for a limited time only. Via Gamerscore Blog.

1UP Games Developer Conference podcasts

Four episodes each of 1UP Yours and Games For Windows podcasts this week!

1UP Yours:

1UP Yours: "Adventure"
Amy Hennig, Naughty Dog & Lorne Lanning, Oddworld

1UP Yours: "Shoot 'em Up"
Robert Bowling, Infinity Ward

1UP Yours: "A One Console Future"
Denis Dyack, Silicon Knights w/Mark MacDonald

FRIDAY, 2/22
1UP Yours: "Beat the Press"
N'Gai Croal, Newsweek & Stephen Totilo, MTV
w/John Davison

GFW Radio:

The Big Picture
with Warren Spector, Junction Point Studios & Paul Wedgwood, Splash Damage

Real Time
with Josh Mosqueira, Relic Entertainment & Chris Taylor, Gas Powered Games

The Icing
with Kim Swift and Erik Wolpaw, Valve Software

FRIDAY, 2/22
Some Clever Theme That's TBD
with Ken Levine, 2K Boston

All Points Bulletin breaks cover

A few previews have popped up for RealTime Worlds' (Crackdown) upcoming MMO, All Points Bulletin. What does this GTA-like MMO bring to the table?
Here is where APB is so clever. The servers automatically match a similarly skilled set of enforcement agents to deliver the APB to in a dynamic form of matchmaking. You'll never have a clue who you'll get matched up with. It's all done automatically based on stats.

After the APB was sent out to a clan of enforcement agents, we watched a chase scene unfold. Cop cars converged on the van. One gang member drove while two others hung out of the sides firing guns at the officers. A cop car tried to block off an alley at one point…another time one took a jump over a barrier to get closer to the criminals. The scene ended with the gang making it to the drop off point at the same time as the cops and a shootout began.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Random Game Related Picture

Top 10 selling PlayStation Network games

From Joystiq.

Sony Computer Entertainment America
  1. flOw
  2. Mortal Kombat II
  3. Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection
  4. PAIN
  5. Warhawk
  6. High Velocity Bowling
  7. Super Stardust HD
  8. Calling All Cars
  9. Aquatopia
  10. Everyday Shooter
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
  1. Tekken 5: Dark Ressurection
  2. Warhawk
  3. flOw
  4. LocoRoco Cocoreccho!
  5. Mortal Kombat II
  6. Super Rub a Dub
  7. Calling All Cars
  8. Gripshift
  9. Lemmings
  10. Super Stardust HD

Is PC Gaming dead yet?

Looks like there's yet another initiative to save PC gaming making the rounds.

While I don't think PC gaming is dying necessarily, I would definitely argue that something is rotten in Denmark. Here's a few of the things I think are working well and not working well with PC gaming:

(+) Steam. Steam rocks. Yes Steam used to suck, but lately they've been doing a bang up job of making their platform stable, reliable, accessible and useful. Steam Community and Steamworks already seem much better than Microsoft's half-assed Live for Windows implementation. I wish publishers would unite behind it (fat chance I know, but it seems more and more are coming aboard).

(-) Vista. It sucks. My 8800GTX still isn't stable in Vista, DX10 or not, and that's unacceptable for PC gaming's flagship videocard. I don't think I can even name a game with which I've had a pleasant experience in Vista with. I hope they get their act together, but at this point I'm kind of hoping someone (Valve?) might create a unified development platform that would be able to play games on Intel architecture, bridging the gap between Linux, OSX and Windows so that gamers will be able to enjoy games on the PC while choosing the OS that works best for them (once again, fat chance, I know).

(+) European developers. I think they've definitely found their groove... Crysis is a solid effort (although too much of the same for me) but really what stood out for me last year was The Witcher, a refreshing take on RPGs. Definitely looking for more PC hits from the Old World such as Alan Wake, Age of Conan, and more.

(-) Bugs. They seem more prevalent than ever. Is it the publishers' fault for rushing out games for the holiday season or developers for biting off more than they can chew? I don't know, but please, a little polish would be great (and not in the form of a post-release patch).

(+) And finally the games. I want to play Spore, I want to play Starcraft 2, I want PC gaming in my life! So come'on guys, pull it together!

Is the Xbox killing PC gaming? I would actually argue against that at the moment. Yes, there are fewer big titles aimed purely at the PC audience, but the Xbox has also allowed the PC to get many of the biggest console games in a timely manner-- something that did not happen in the past. Mass Effect, Gears of War, Halo, all have come over to the PC in solid iterations.

PC gaming isn't dead. 2007 wasn't the best of years for PC gaming, but it continues on. There are certainly alot of problems and issues that need resolving and I hope the industry works together to provide a better experience, from end to end.

Too Human flood at Gametrailers

Gametrailers has put up a bunch of videos from Silicon Knights' Too Human, and it looks like my Action RPG fix has arrived! The videos show off tons of character customization options, the quest system, and a bit of the story-- which is starting to seem rather twisted. Definitely check it out, Silicon Knights have seemingly made alot of progress since its disastrous showing at E3 2006.

Microsoft's GDC Keynote

Today at the Game Developer's Conference Microsoft showed off its latest and greatest including Lionhead's Fable 2, which looks like The Molynator might actually deliver what he's promising, as well as Ninja Gaiden 2 and the newly announced Gears of War 2.

The most exciting part of the conference for me however is Microsoft's XNA announcements - they're going to open up XNA downloads to the general public as well as provide XNA tools for free for college students. Hopefully this opens up a new flood of independent game development on console platforms and maybe even the Zune. You can already check out some of the games XNA has enabled including The Dishwasher on Xbox Live today, so "jump in" and take a look!


From MMOG Charts.

Fallout 3 Interview (E3 2007)

After the demo presentation, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Emil Pagliarulo (Lead Designer), Todd Howard and Pete Hines asking some more in-depth questions about their upcoming take on the Fallout franchise. Here are the answers they kindly provided (and the guys at NMA kindly called me a liar about... haha):

Will there be separate PC and Console UIs?
Yes, they learned their lesson from Oblivion and are making sure that the PC GUI will be suitable for keyboard+mouse users

PC/360/PS3 simultaneous release?

Will there be mod support like in Oblivion on PC or Console?
Hasn’t been decided yet.

Are there any more celebrity voice-overs to announce?
Besides Ron Perlman, they aren’t ready to make any further announcements at this stage. No Jean-Luc :(

Any returning characters from previous Fallouts?
Not saying at this moment.

How does dialogue work?
Branching dialogue tree, different choices/chances of success based on charisma and speaking skill.
Poor INT will NOT affect your dialogue choices.

Weather system?

How do you guys deal with those crazed Fallout fanbois?
They understand they’re passionate about the brand and want to live up to their expectations but they are definitely making a game that they themselves want to play

How far can camera zoom out?
Pretty much full control over camera and can get into an iso/top-down view.

How does combat / VATS work?
Pauses game and lets you queue up actions, according to how many Action Points you have.
Action Points regenerate in real time based on Agility.
AP cost is dependant on weapon, skill.
Can queue up actions on multiple enemies.
My impression.. the combat looks like alot of fun!

Will the game scale with the player?
Game areas are not scaled such as in Oblivion although there will be some minor scaling of creatures withing a predefined range of levels to maintain a fair bit of challenge.
Because XP and Levels are used, they are able to determine PC level/power better and be able to tailor quests/direct players to zones appropriate for their levels.

Will there be random encounters/easter eggs such as the Alien ship from Fallout?
FYI, on the Energy Weapons skill info pane, it affects these types of weapons:
Alien, Cyro, Laser, Plasma and one other I think I missed.

In the game, killable (directly)? Not yet decided.

Groin/Eye shots?
They figure that a crit on the eye will gib the head anyways so probably leaving that out. Groin shot is a maybe.

What about NPCs? Will we have our own Dogmeat?
Animal companions.. maybe. NPC followers are recruitable based on karma (good/evil/neutral) and controlled through dialogue.

Is the bloody mess perk in the game?

Does the game end? Is there a level cap?
Yes to both questions.

How much it ties into the previous games?
You’ll find out!


Weapons have decay. They are repaired using the repair skill which requires weapons of the same type to get parts from. Weapons decay has many effects such as Rate of Fire, Cone, Damage

Water is an important theme in Fallout, it’s one way you can heal.

The Super Mutant Behemoth… looked like something out of GeOW, but in GeOW you don’t actually get to fight the big monsters.

The Fat Man nuke effect is really cool.

Hacking minigame… hack into the BIOS for passwords to terminals. There will be alot of terminals.

XP mostly comes from quests.

Towns and Buildings are zoned like in Oblivion (load times between each, etc).

Other factions: one of the radio stations mentioned by in game dialogue is apparently run by The Enclave.

The faces are much better, especially the female ones.

Your in-game father (Liam Neeson) will physically reflect the choices you make on your own character’s appearance.

Overall… I want to play this game!

Fallout 3 Preview (E3 2007)

Here's a preview of Fallout 3 I did for DigitalMediaNet at E3 2007, which I don't think was ever published... so I'll throw it up here:

Do you have what it takes to survive in the wasteland, brother?
Fallout 3 is the newest entry in the critically acclaimed Fallout series. This time however, things are a bit different. Your quest still takes place in an irradiated Earth where you'll have to wrestle angry mutants and giant cockroaches for survival, but instead of taking place in the familiar blasted Californian landscape as its predecessors this new entry to the series now focuses on our country's capital, Washington D.C. One of the reasons behind this change is because Maryland based Bethesda Softworks has taken over the franchise's reins from now defunct developer Black Isle.

Another change longtime fans will immediately notice is that the camera perspective has been moved from its previous bird's eye perspective to a first person one. Bethesda believes that in a game world as large and immersive as the one they're building, the use of a first person perspective is the best way to draw the player into the game. The bleak desolation of a post-apocalyptic world has never been so viscerally portrayed. Powered by the might of next-generation graphics technologies found on the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Fallout 3 promises to be an experience you'll remember. Along with this change in perspective is a refocusing of the game's combat to a more action-oriented form instead of its previous strategy and turn-based board game roots. That isn't to say some of the old tricks you learned in previous Fallouts aren't still around however. Take out a mutant's legs and you will cripple his progress. Get a solid shot on his head and… well… there's going to be a bloody mess.

Fallout 3 is first and foremost a role-playing game however. Unlike Bethesda's previous RPG works, such as the highly acclaimed Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3 will be less of a sandbox world and will feature prominently a focused narrative. As all fans of Western role-playing games know however, it's all about choice. The opportunity will be there for players to define their own adventure, something Bethesda is well known for. Make these choices wisely however, because they will be reflected in the game world. Rig a dud nuclear bomb in the middle of a shantytown to explode for some greedy real estate developers? Don't expect to be able to visit the local dive bar for a quick fix anytime soon.

Bethesda has enlisted a top quality voice acting team to bring the experience to life including acclaimed actors Liam Neeson and Ron Perlman. The new focus on narrative and character interactions has led Bethesda to increase substantially the number of spoken lines and important characters in the game over their previous efforts. They are definitely keeping the tone of the Fallout series intact, with its tongue-in-cheek humor, dark comedy, and future-retro aesthetic evident throughout the game.

The demonstration Bethesda put on was impressive, with the game running smoothly and looking nearly feature complete. This will give Bethesda plenty of time to iron out the bugs and add endless things for us wasteland warriors to do in their post-apocalyptic future, set for release in the fall of 2008. Giant cockroaches never looked so fun to squish.

About the Golem

Here's a little about me. My first game machine was the Commodore 64. Although my dad claimed that computers had all sorts of useful purposes, I knew what it was really for. Soon after that I got a MS-DOS PC and we were really off to the races! It was also around then that I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons as well as Magic: The Gathering.

Of course, gaming could not be confined to a box in my room! By junior high, I'd started playing those crazy BBS door games such as TradeWars 2002 and Legend of Red Dragon. By high school I was MUDding and it was pretty much all over after that. Luckily I got in during the golden age of DikuMUDs with great places to explore such as Sojourn and Luminous Horizons.

Sometime in 1997 or so, I got the strange idea to start writing about games and started Golem's Computer Role Playing Games page, a fairly standard rip-off of Blue's News at the time, but still I think one of the earlier gaming blogs. Later on, I shuttered its doors when I went to be an editor for The Vault Network (later known as IGN Vault), one of the best CRPG sites ever established. When my focus started to shift towards consoles, I started up, which Dan "Shoe" Hsu (later of EGM fame) once told me was one of the sites he made sure to read everyday. That was pretty cool! More recently however, I mostly just spend my time trolling NeoGAF and hopefully this blog will prove to be a more productive outlet for my gaming thoughts. ;)

About the Blog

Hello and welcome to The Game Golem. Now you may be asking what justifies another random gaming blog on the internet? Well, nothing really! Nevertheless, here is where I'll post random gaming thoughts that don't quite fit on my normal blog at random.

Please leave a message if you found anything here at all enjoyable or interesting!