Archive for April 3rd, 2013

, | Games podcasts

Haley_Joel_Osment_I_am_either_your_father_or_a_ghost

Tom Chick, Nick Diamon, and Jason “It’s a-me, Luigi!” McMaster discuss whether the marketing for Bioshock Infinite hurt some of the sense of discovery. If you’ve seen the trailers and read the previews, don’t worry about spoilers. And if you haven’t, Tom Chick From the Future shows up to tell you how to skip past spoilers. We also talk about the death of LucasArts, the potential death of id, the ongoing life of Castle Crashers developer Behemoth, the multiplayer delights of Luigi’s Mansion, the non-delights of a new game about depression, and something vaguely French called Sang-Froid: A Tale of Werewolves.

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, | Games

take_me

One of the reasons I love GDC is that it’s a forum for the most valuable voices and the least heard voices in the conversation about videogames: the developers who make them, who struggle with how to make them better, and who see first-hand the violence when ideas meet execution. For instance, this important observation about Bioshock Infinite’s opening comes from someone who makes videogames:

When I reach the second floor of the lighthouse, I am supposed to have a moment there. A moment of shock, I assume. A tortured man, apparently dead, is sitting in a chair. But my first thought is…

“Oooh shiny!”

Because when you enter the room with the corpse, two big shiny coins are winking at you from the nearby table. The table right next to the corpse.

Adrian Chmielarz neatly dissects how Bioshock Infinite is a brilliant exercise in storytelling, but a disappointing world design, especially compared to its predecessors. And it’s particularly apt coming from Mr. Chmielarz, whose Painkiller is a brilliant exercise in good game design, and an absolute non-entity when it comes to world design. You can — and should — read his comments here.

“I beg you, game,” he asks, “please do not reward me for not doing the right thing and for doing the silly thing of playing the game instead of behaving like I am in a different world.” When this happens in God of War: Ascension — walk to places the camera doesn’t show to find treasure — it’s no great loss. But when this happens in a narrative powerhouse like Bioshock Infinite, or Deus Ex, or Mass Effect, the damage done is considerable. Eating cotton candy out of the trash is no big deal in a Mario game. Doing it in front of Elizabeth just feels weird.

I wish more people who made videogames also talked publicly and frankly about videogames other than the ones they’re making.

(Thanks, Edge!)

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, | Games

ME262_crash

Disney has closed LucasArts. Let that sink in for a minute. LucasArts, part of the old guard of videogaming is no more. Oh, it will live on in the same sad way Atari does. As a licensing enitity and copyright holder.

“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”

I could drop a smart one-liner here about the Force not being with them, or that they “did not choose wisely” but I’ll hold off and just say that at least I’ll always have my memories of flying for the Luftwaffe, stalking the walkways of Nar Shaddaa, and going to Atlantis.

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, | Games

UE4_hammertime

Digital Foundry always has the craziest tech-heavy breakdowns of in-game graphics and console hardware. Take a gander at some of the technobabble in their latest article that covers the differences between the PS4 Unreal Engine 4 tech demo and the one created for the PC:

While the lack of real-time GI is a bit of a blow, we get the impression that this really heavy tech proved too much for the new console hardware (and bearing in mind the power of the PS4, an array of lower/mid-range PC graphics cards too) because it’s been replaced with an enhanced solution of the “baked”, pre-computed lighting system used in Unreal Engine 3: Lightmass. This works in combination with a form of real-time global illumination on objects – not exactly a new approach, as the same basic principles were in place on Halo 3.

That’s a serious paragraph that means a lot to people that care about these kinds of things. All I know is that my PS4 version of Gears of War 4 is going to look great!

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, | Games

doomed

Doom 4 and Id software’s future may be in serious trouble according to sources that spoke to Kotaku. Tales of mismanagement, publisher conflict, and neverending project churn are not new in the gaming industry, but Id Software is the grandaddy developer of shooting things so it would be a shame to see them shuttered like any number of upstart companies we’ve seen over the years.

Two sources told me that earlier this year, frustrated with the lack of progress on Doom 4, ZeniMax came to Id with an ultimatum: make something happen, or else. The specifics of the threat are unclear, but there are plenty of rumors floating around Dallas, Texas, where Id is based.

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, | Games

he_ain't_heavy

An upcoming 1.08 update for Diablo III — there’s no ETA yet, but it’s available now on the pubic test servers — will recalculate the value of co-op sessions by providing an incentive to team up with other players: extra experience points! This will presumably make up for the inherent inefficiency of multiple players not being able to get their acts together. From technical designer Wyatt Cheng’s developer journal entry:

We’re still working on the details of what that buff is going to be, but at the moment we’re looking at 10% more XP per extra player in the game for a maximum bonus of 30% more XP in a 4-player game. This bonus will be multiplicative with MP bonuses. For example: suppose you are playing on MP10 with an XP bonus in Inferno of 510%. This means a monster is worth 610% of its normal XP (510% more). If you are playing in a 4-player game the monster will be worth 793% as much XP as normal. On top of this, you will also earn a flat 10% Gold Find and 10% Magic Find for each additional player in the game, and this bonus can exceed the 300% Gold Find and Magic Find caps.

Furthermore, when I’ve found something worth attacking, folks will know even though they’re back in town breaking down their blues with Haedrig.

Starting in 1.0.8, when a player deals damage to or takes damage from an Elite pack or Treasure Goblin for the first time, a notification will be sent out to the entire party to let your teammates know what you’ve found. This will be accompanied by a “combat” icon on the mini-map so other players in your group can locate those enemies. On top of that, we’re also going to put a combat icon over your banner in town. This way, players who are in town will know that you’re fighting an Elite pack or Treasure Goblin and be able to quickly determine whose banner to take to get right into the action.

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, | Games

settings_screen_defied

I’d love to check out Defiance, but until they let me invert my mouse, I can’t hit anything. That’s not a good problem to have in a shooter.

In what might be one of the oddest launch bugs I’ve ever seen, Defiance apparently won’t let you change any settings if you’re using a monitor that runs at a refresh rate higher than 100Mhz, even if you drop the refresh rate. As soon as I try to access the settings screen, the game drops to the desktop. I can’t rebind keys, change graphics settings, or invert my mouse as God intended. I mean, seriously, who pushes up to look up? What is this, a desktop cursor?

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