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