Archive for April 23rd, 2013

Why you didn’t get points for headshots in Painkiller

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Adrian Chmielarz is one of the founders of People Can Fly and the lead designer of Painkiller, one of the greatest shooters ever created because it’s also one of the smartest shooters ever created. He has since left People Can Fly, but he was involved in the early design process for Gears of War: Judgment. In a conversation with Eurogamer, he had this to say about what he would have done differently with Judgment’s star rating system for the level unlocks, which is a pretty smart thing to do to a Gears of War game:

They still changed a couple of things I do not agree with…I wouldn’t have any headshot bonuses counting towards the three-star ratings…The reward for the headshot was supposed to be intrinsic not extrinsic. The reward was supposed to be, because the ammo was scarce, [okay] I only used one bullet instead of three. That was your reward in my version.

What a great point, Mr. Chmielarz. In a game like Gears of War, where the enemies are all huge honkin’ bullet sponges, headshots are already perfectly incentivized. They do more damage, and therefore save your ammo, and therefore keep you alive longer. In fact, they’re pretty much mandatory on the harder difficulty levels, where ammo management is arguably as important as aiming. The stars I earn should ideally be for things above and beyond the basic gameplay. Chmielarz also disagreed with stars for things like the executions, but I feel that’s a perfect system for earning stars. I see little need to do executions beyond the fact that they look cool. Why not attach a gameplay system? Which is exactly what Judgment did. I found myself actually trying to set up executions, which is something I’d never done in a Gears game. But headshots? I was already doing those, because I knew I needed to.

Besides, years of videogaming will train a guy to aim for the head. It’s such self-perpetuating gameplay that I almost always assume it’s what I’m supposed to do. I’ve come to expect some reward for headshots, whether it’s intrinsic, extrensic, achievement, or whatever. In Black Ops II, where the lethality is plenty high without worrying about the difference between three bullets and one bullet, I have to constantly remind myself to quit trying for headshots. Just put bullets on the target in the fastest and most consistently reliable way, Tom. Leave the headshots, quickscoping, and bellyflops to the power gamers who are already way better than me anyway.

But Infinity Ward smartly tied a completely independent reward system into headshots: weapon skins. You only earn the various camo schemes by racking up headshots with a weapon. Lucky for me, I don’t care one whit about weapon skins! Unlike the star scheme in Gears of War: Judgment, the developers at Infinity Ward didn’t just pile overlapping reward structures onto the same system.

Ratchet & Clank and Heavenly Sword movies are coming

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Movie deals have been announced for both Ratchet & Clank and Heavenly Sword game properties. According to Variety the movies will be CG-animated films produced by Blockade Entertainment. The Ratchet & Clank movie will be animated by Rainmaker Entertainment which recently made the critically panned Escape from Planet Earth, while the Heavenly Sword animator has yet to be anounced.

“We’ve always thought ‘Ratchet and Clank’ would be a fantastic all-ages movie and are thrilled our intergalactic heroes will finally get their chance to shine on the big screen,” said Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games. “Insomniac is especially honored to play a hands-on role with the film’s production, including the screenplay, consulting on character development and animation, and adding support to the film’s marketing.”

While the Ratchet & Clank movie is intended for a general theater premiere, the Heavenly Sword production is slated for a direct-to-video release.

Pizza Hut and Kinect are together at last

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Have you ever stared at your TV and thought, “Man, I want a delicious Pizza Hut pan pizza right now,” but you just couldn’t get the gumption together to pull out your phone and call? Well, Microsoft and Pizza Hut finally have your answer. There’s a Pizza Hut Kinect app! You use the motion and voice controls to build your pizza and place the order, so you can carbo up and get back to gaining XP for prestige or whatever it is you do while digesting a lump of processed cheese and bread.

Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb told Polygon that the app has been in the pipeline for a long time.

We’re always looking at ways to give our audience more of what they’re interested in,” he said. “If you look at our audience, they love pizza.”

Users who download the app and use it to purchase a pizza before May 6th, will get 15% off their order, so you’ll have more money to spend on Mountain Dew and Doritos. And yes. That’s a hot dog stuffed pizza in the picture.

The SimCity tragedy of errors continues

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The only reason I’m not amazed that SimCity is still so broken is because of how broken it was when it was released. The latest patch, optimistically dubbed 2.0 as if to herald a rebirth, addresses plenty of issues. For instance, it’s nice to see the results of interaction with other cities in the region, even if it just shows how pointless they are. An occasional measly 100 simoleons to give up two ambulances for my neighbor’s city? I think I’d rather have the ambulances on call locally. But I do appreciate knowing that I’m earning money when I sell electricity to my layabout neighbors who can’t be bothered to shell out the cash for their own power plants. It’s nice to see more things finally working like they’re supposed to work.

But not all is well, after the jump Continue reading →

Splinter Cell is held back by complexity

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Jade Raymond, Managing Director of Ubisoft Toronto, spoke to Eurogamer about the Splinter Cell series and why it’s not more of a sales hit.

“One of the things that held it back is despite all of the changes that have happened over the years, it’s still one of the more complex and difficult games to play,” Raymond told Eurogamer.

“Even though we do have core fans who are like, ‘Oh, I want to have more of this experience,’ when you play any other game that has stealth elements, they’re all a lot more forgiving than Splinter Cell.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist, is scheduled to launch in August on PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360.