Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sony will share many secrets at the TGS 2008

From VG Chartz, here's the list of games presented by Sony:

  • Guitar Hero III (PS3) : playable
  • FIFA 09 (PS3) : playable
  • Street Fighter IV (PS3) : playable
  • Resident Evil 5 (PS3) : playable
  • Lumines Super Nova (PS3) : playable
  • Metal Gear Solid Online (PS3) : playable
  • Way of the Samurai 3 (PS3) : playable
  • Sonic Unleashed (PS3) : playable
  • Socom : Confrontation (PS3) : playable
  • PlayStation Home (PS3) : playable
  • Dokodemo Issho (PS3) : playable
  • MotorStorm Pacific Rift (PS3) : playable
  • LittleBigPlanet (PS3) : playable
  • Resistance 2 (PS3) : playable
  • WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 (PS3) : playable
  • Dynasty Warriors : Gun dam 2 (PS3) : playable
  • Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm (PS3) : playable
  • Devil Kings : Battle Heroes (PSP) : playable
  • Dynasty Warriors Multi Raid (PSP) : playable
  • Warriors Orochi 2 (PSP) : playable
  • Kingdom Hearts : Birth by Sleep (PSP) : playable
  • Dissidia : Final Fantasy (PSP) : playable
  • Secret Agent Clank (PSP) : playable
  • Ape Quest (PSP) : playable
  • Patapon 2 (PSP) : playable
  • Bleach : Soul Carnival (PSP) : playable
  • Dokodemo Issho (PSP) : playable
  • Yusha no Kuse ni Namaikida 2 (PSP) : playable
  • LocoRoco 2 (PSP) : playable
  • The Idolmaster SP (PSP) : playable
  • Mobile Suit Gun dam : Gun dam Vs. Gun dam (PSP) : playable
  • Tales of the World : Radiant Mythology 2 (PSP) : playable
  • 1 unannounced PS3 game from IREM
  • 1 unannounced PS3 game from Konami
  • 9 unannounced PS3 games + 3 unannounced PSP games from Sony Computer Entertainment

First of all, there's a good amount of playable games. In fact, all identified games will be playable. That's a good thing.
Secondly, there's that IREM game which I can't remember if it's that other R-Type game, not necessarily a pure shooter, or an adventure game. Well, it's not really the same IREM anymore, but hope doesn't hurt, right? Maybe it's that Hototogisu tactical card game.
Thirdly, and probably the most important part of all, Sony will present 9 first party games for the PS3, and 3 for the PSP, all kept secret for the moment.
It's only after most of this batch of new games will have been released that Sony will know how to proceed with the PS3's price.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

6 Pirates caught: CoD 3 sales rise by 8.4%

Let me see.

We have roughly several hundred millions consoles and PCs combined sold worldwide, all capable of playing current games. If we include the 95% piracy figures from Yerli, plus the 90% of piracy in China and think about averages, I suppose that there's around several hundred millions pirates left out there, waiting for a sentence.

Come on, I'm sure you can do better than catching six folks the hand in the jar, right?

How did this end?

  • a Washington man, apparently unrepresented by counsel, agreed to pay Activision $100,000 (CoD 3 Wii, CoD 3 Xbox 360) to settle the case.
  • a South Carolina man, also apparently unrepresented, agreed to pay Activision $25,000 to settle the case. (CoD3 Wii, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Xbox 360).
  • a New Jersey man, apparently the only defendant who had an attorney, agreed to pay Activision $100,000 (CoD 3 Xbox 360).
  • a Minnesota woman, apparently with no attorney, agreed to pay Activision $1,000.
  • a second South Carolina man agreed to pay Activision $100,000 (CoD 3 Wii, Cod 2 The Big Red One PS2, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Xbox 360). He too was apparently unrepresented.
  • a New York man's case is still active (CoD 3 Xbox 360).

A most interesting aspect of this affair has been the claimed use of scare tactics by Activision (acting like a RIAA of video games), pressuring defendants to reject representation by attorneys, otherwise facing massive judicial costs.
A practice which is unacceptable, especially if less or not even guilty people get sued and were to be threatened the same way.

Really, the more Activision tightens its grip, the more sales will slip through its fingers. If anything, they're not spending their resources in the right direction, and overly disproportionate sanctions will only encourage crackers to pursue their activities, and they'll surely take the piss even more, no doubt about that, while the message sent to the average Joe (steal one game and we destroy your life) will get a lukewarm welcome, considering those dark times of relentless inflation and looming worldwide economical crisis.

So what's next?
Again, without condoning piracy, there are degrees of justice to apply, and those examples will remain utterly futile if the sanction doesn't even look fair to begin with.

It's as ridiculous as thinking that it's the securities embedded within the Blu-ray technology that prevent piracy on the PS3.
What prevents piracy is that no one burns Blu-ray discs because burners and discs are damn expensive, notably because it's a new technology, which half the planet doesn't care about, while many industrials deem the format already dead. Which is a good thing in fact, since it won't get popular, so the situation won't change and logically keep the "household" piracy low. Actually, developers certainly DON'T want the format becoming too popular.
Finally, and thus far, it seems that launching pirated games from the HDD is still a good challenge, even when running Linux on the console.

Meanwhile, I continue to buy my used games at incredibly low prices for an overall great quality.

Amazing: Nintendo's latest Wario Trailer

Back in July I was drooling over the first trailer for Wario Land Shake Ur Butt Baby, but if you still have doubts about the quality of the game, then do not miss this fantastic trailer for Wario!
At least you will realize that Nintendo has not lost it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pipes, Demons and Mustaches

In may 2008, Youtube member Ultimortal unleashed the fruit of a most unholy fusion upon us:

5 stars stuff there.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Weird ...

Man, that's some crazy shit I tell you. We got western stuff, we got guns and smoken we got shades of Mad Max, we got some HK fu, plenty of bangs and booms, we got chicks, we got white pussy, black pussy, Spanish puss... err... shit, wait, no. We got a big black steamy train, we got plenty of sand and dust, and it's all in Korean, loud and dirty.
It just seems too cool to be true. I can't believe I missed that!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

DICE created a whole new genre!

So says Martin Frain, marketing director for DICE, as per a campaign to revolutionize video gaming with incoming Mirror's Edge.

As per his words, they have created the "first-person action-adventure".


Funny thing, I played that game called Cybercon III four hours on my STE. What I think could be called a FPAD.

Mirror's Edge, can't wait to play this new set of textures. Err... I mean this new game.

Zero Punctuation: Retro stuff sucks =] power'd

I said to myself, no, I'll never put a diveo of ZP on my blog.
That was before I attempted to put a diveo of ZP on my blog.
Before I'd fail to do so since all I could post was a link to the diveo of ZP on Escapist.

So there.

Now, if I get this right, by his own last comment, all the review has to be understood as an antiphrasis of some sort.
It's all about Stan's evil twin (Jsus).

Still, it reminded me of stuff I'd occasionally read on Internet, or what I could hear many years ago, and is quite a well condensed version of some of the most retarded garbage.

One is particularly interesting.
Talking about XBLA's Bionic Commando Rearmed, he said:

Strangely for a 2D platformer you can't jump (following a rant about how you cannot maneuver)... blah blah.

For any kiddo who has no idea about what the gameplay is, that's the point.
I truly hope no one above 12 would be stupid enough to bash a game just because you cannot jump.

Which brings me to the other point: double jumps.

2D, 3D, it doesn't care. The double jump propaganda is spreading. It's getting so furiously invasive that you wonder why we're still sticking with double jumps when we could have already moved to the even more exciting...

*drum roll*

triple jumps !!

I suppose they're keeping that for the Paystation 4 and Xbox Double Spin.

A nice other point comes earlier in the diveo when we're shown four tombstones, the first two sporting the following words:

RIP TWO BUTTON CONTROLLERS (note: that's not counting the stick or D-pad)

Miyamoto has not made a secret that he and Nintendo would gladly aim at games played with the less buttons possible. Good or bad, I think we need both.
Metal Gear Solid with two buttons would be a joke (unless we have access to some fantastic peripheral, but the functions would just be binded to other forms of input devices).
Pacman on an XBox 360 pad is an oxymoron.
The likes of Time Crisis and House of the Dead, for example, are enjoyable games which could be finished with essentially just one button.

Most puzzling is what follows though, as two new tombstones appear on the screen:

RIP QUICK TIME EVENTS (note: this one is in the background, with a hole being dug.)

This, amusingly, had me reconsider expanding a former big phat post of mine (one no one will read) which I put on hold some time ago.

No matter how you look at them, either taking them at face value, or believing that he actually meant the contrary of this, it's flawed.

Quick Time Events are indeed a design problem. But it does not mean they need to disappear as a whole, nor remain as they are today.
It's a false dilemma. They're just in need of an evolution.
Even as a gamer who enjoys his fair load of oldies (?), the whole QTE issue is a question of context. In modern games, the learning curve does not exist.

It's a freaking learning wall.

It's outdated if it pretends to find its path in games with a broadband and modern appeal.

As for Lives, see you later. ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Google Games?

The Google Empire might have plans to spread its influence across new uncharted territories, and as such, these lads could be thinking about game publishing, as per Forbes' Morris ponderings.

Can't wait for Google Soup and Google Toilet Roll.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Team Ico's blog: Kaido & Ueda speak

Despite the trail of sugary and brainwashed idolisation I'm leaving behind me, I still managed to forget pointing out the interview of Fumito Ueda and Kenji Kaido available at Team Ico's blog, a translation of an article published in French magazine Chronic'Art.

My Goodness, there's such a pressure put upon the shoulders of these people.

My favorite song or book writers and film makers can also create work which I may not fully enjoy, or first find hard to assimilate. Such work will still and certainly remain above a good chunk of most of the junk found around, but I may not find it equal to the most revered craft they've been known for. Like anyone, they have their ups and their downs.

Moreover, fans often scream in agony when their faves have the audacity of escaping the paths of inspiration which auteurs identified themselves with in their first years, and therefore produce a new form of content which would not be understood nor properly appreciated by all, still too obscure in a certain degree to strike a new audience, and yet too different to what the legions were used to.

All this to say that whatever they come with may be totally different. In a way, I hope it is.

Don't be afraid, and keep an open mind.

EDIT: One more thing. Ueda would have been glad if other games used the grip game mechanic put in place in Shadow. It's a fantastic function, properly balanced. This is what Assassin's Creed lacked. Climbing on walls was just too easy, without much risks at all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The delayed fate of retail stores

In that vast topic of what retailers are supposed to do to survive against the ever growing online distribution model, we first had Bob McKenzie, SVP of merchandising at Grapevine, Tex.-based GameStop, defending his business model over Edge Online.
Then David Perry reacted at Game Daily.

Perry makes good points, but we need to understand that people think of digital distribution here. Sometimes falsely named online distribution model, it deals with the system wherein you actually download the game you buy.
To this day, many transactions made online still end with physical supports being shipped to your mailbox.
It still works a lot for the moment.
That said, the attachment to physical supports, or more precisely, one independent physical support unit per purchased copy of a product (pff!) is probably just a hard habit to shake off.

Perry cites the numbers iTunes and App store, but that's rather absurd. We're speaking of small packages here, a few megabytes at best. Not multiGb heavy applications, and as long as peer bandwidth doesn't catch up with increasing application sizes, it's still going to be a problem for most people, especially in countries where internet is not so well accessible (yes, try to think globally for once).

Now, having a game on a disc means that its price will be higher than a packaging-free and shipping-free game. Perry is right on this, and there are many other aspects of this which pump prices up.

In situ retailers don't have many advantages left as far as first hand sales are concerned. A sort of "what you play is what you'll get" is achieved through demos which are easier to get on internet.
However, you have to download them.
The trouble is, there are not enough demo machines in shops. The staff in shops should be able to switch games according to the customer’s whims like it was done with arcades. There should be at least one machine for each hardware platform still scoring relevant sales, from the DS to the PS2, from the PC to the Xbox360, all mounted with the necessary peripherals.

The pseudo experience of local staff is nearly a myth. If anything, they'll only be useful to fool ignorant customers and be known to work for the good of sale numbers for many other players.
Many people think online reviews are more reliable and informative, which is not exactly true, but they still get the feeling that it’s the plebe’s voice reaching them through the web, so it’s better.

Retailers have also failed to treat games seriously, eventually shaping their stores according to genres or ratings (like the ESRB's).
I won't say it would be easier to change the way a website sells games than changing the layout of a store, since the former requires time and qualified people to achieve, and requires more database managing, while it's easier to apply on the terrain.

Retailers have both an advantage and disadvantage in terms of geography and the strategies to apply there.
If properly placed, notably next to stores where people will still go for the decades to come, people will walk before the game stores, and if the local manager isn't a twat, there will be enough teasing stuff, flashing screens and appetizing signs to have people think it's still worth getting a look inside.
Unfortunately, most stores just look like cleaned up geek hives.

The counterbalance to this being that you have to get there: if the shop is misplaced, it won't get enough notice, and people still have to know where it is and move there, while the internet doesn't care where the center of commercial activity is located, nor if customer live near it, as having a connection and a web browser is all enough to make monetary transactions.

There’s a very good reason why publishers and many studios keep advocating for the download business model, because they dislike the used game market as they still fail to exploit it in a way or another, especially when the law isn't helping them.

The absolute victory of the download business makes it conceptually useless to even attempt thinking about selling your copy.

Your copy is virtual, it doesn’t wear off. It’s just an amount of bits. A clone.

In theory, the used game market doesn’t concern the game, but all the physical elements related to it, from the support disc to the box, the guide and such other goodies (shipping and plastic wrapping are all irrelevant).
These elements become irrelevant with digital distribution.

Don’t even think about selling your downloaded copy back to Steam, because it’s a nonsense. You buy a copy, you (barely) own it. All you could hope for, eventually, is being reimbursed, by retracting within a week after buying your game.
But your game will never get used, so it won’t make sense to sell it to someone else, because it won’t be any different than the game you can get from Steam.
The only difference which could exist with your game is the content you created, from the save file to other more creatively elaborate elements, if the game permits it. But those elements have no value. How could they? Anytime a controversial content is created by an user, the studio or publisher bears the responsibility of its existence.

The digital core of a game is always pristine by definition. It’s a perfect copy of the original gold model.

So you’ll always buy them at full price, but the full price that seems right for a digital game. What should be investigated is if the purely digital copies, stripped off their physical burdens, are sold to a reasonable and right price.
Obviously, the prices found on online portals are somehow inferior, but are you sure they are that inferior according to what they could, or should be?

Don’t get your hopes too high though, because the system is not as honest as you thought it would be, and that’s quite logical, for 90% of the game remains within the publishers’ hands (this doesn’t include later sharing).
There have been unacceptable cases, notably on Steam, of software way more expensive on download than if you picked a physical copy of it at a retail store.

The thing is that the online publishers cannot lower their prices, without stirring trouble with global retailers, who could literally boycott legions of games without a second thought, or would sell them at such stupidly lower prices that they'd be beyond loss leaders, and represent no acceptable revenue for publishers. They still have that power at the moment, and we don't know how it's going to last.
Therefore, online publishers will either wait until the digital distribution model has become more important, which will take time, or eventually start to strike a deal by sharing revenues.

A most saddening aspect of this is how gullible people try to rationalize the high prices by telling those who complain that digital retail prices are still too high because the publisher frees you from the hassle of moving your butt to said stores to buy a disc.

  1. This "hand" publishers supposedly give you has a name, and it’s called shipping, and you know what? Shipping a game box to your home hardly costs the ludicrous price differences (or lack of thereof) reported across the internet.

  2. It’s a digital copy, son. There’s no more shipping going on, so there are even less excuses to warrant such high prices for downloading games. Oh but what about maintaining servers and getting the appropriate bandwidth? Not much of a problem, as you can see in the following point.

  3. The publisher is not doing you a favour as much as YOU are doing the publisher one. Actually two: First by preventing the retailers from gaining money from used games, which means that in a way or another, players will buy more full price games, and therefore, as a chain reaction, lead more players towards downloading portals, notably because they’ll believe that you get cheaper games on internet, and secondly because publishers gain faaaar more money on $30 spent to buy a game from their portal, than on the same game bought at the stores for the same price. You're saving some joules and publishers are saving a lot of money.

Yes, your gain weighs very little in comparison to their gain, and all it contributes to is keeping you isolated at home, fragmenting the society even more.

There’s also the problem of currency exchange rates playing us games there, making the system even more absurd and unstable at the moment.

The only response to this, as far as consumers who wish to sell their digital limited licenses are concerned, is selling out accounts, generally as a whole (would you make one account per game?), independently of the digital portals, via shitty systems like Paypal. A business practice which Steam does not tolerate.
From their point of view, forbidding account sales means players need to buy games at prices defined by Steam. But while doing so, they clearly loose money on the deals made in the backyard (account sales). The only thing they could do is allow these sales and tax them. However, the question is about balance. Do they make more money only selling games at full price, while knowing there are accounts sold outside of their sphere of influence… or would they get bigger revenues by allowing such transfers between customers, taxing them, and hoping to recover as many “used accounts” as possible, knowing that this means these customers won’t buy the games full price anyway. The question would be: would have they bought the game from Steam at all?
Which option is better?

That’s reminiscent of mechanic driving one of the aspects of piracy.

What we can safely guess is that in the end, it would seriously weaken the retailers who so rely on used game profitability.

I'm quite afraid that if anything remains of retail shops, they’ll be reduced to machines not bigger than dusty coin-ups, where you'll (re)charge your memory card with new games, which will also host videos, e-books and music.

Truth is, they are very well aware of this, and have already moved on to the digital distribution front, as shown with GameStop's downloadable Spore. (Viral marketing ahoy!)

The real debate is not if this is going to happen, because it has already started, but when the digital distribution model will outweigh the classical one. GameStop’s McKenzie doesn’t see downloadable games becoming a threat until 2020, as revealed here.

Somehow, I actually don’t find that figure over the top. For example, the digital music market was estimated to catch up the physical market by 2011-2012, and that’s for rather small packets of data (iSuppli, September 2006).

Making the decision to download a game a thousand times heavier requires more patience, and would logically work against compulsive behaviours. So the situation should evolve at a slower pace.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

@s#%§loz say Darkworks' Gouraud & Villette

I've been reading, or more precisely trying to read this article at GI, but geez, the pain. Say hello to the fantastic piece of eloquent Frenglish we have before our eyes.
Hey James, don't you check your interviews at least once before putting them online or what? :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Japan's CEDEC Awards

It may have been a long wait, but here it comes.
After ten years of meetings, the laurels have found their respective heads, as peers at the CEDEC development conference put out the final verdict, by going through three decades of gaming up to these days.

Prizes in respective categories were attributed thusly:

  • Programming award: Capcom, for its MT Framework engine.
  • Visual Arts award: Team ICO.
  • Game Design award: Nintendo, for the Super Mario Brothers series.
  • Sound Design award: Nintendo, for the Zelda series.
  • Special award: Shigeru Miyamoto, for the excellence of his work and vision.

Since this was the first time such an event took place, the must-be-awarded people got their well deserved prizes, therefore leaving more room for new nominees to get on the ring and pick up the challenge for the next years. Good stuff.

From such events may even rise a form of competition and emulation, which will only be good to fend off what some people identify as the Japanese industry going down, free fall style, which is nothing more than over the top exaggeration.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

iGame - New iPod Touch

Apple has unveiled a new website for the iPod Touch.
Steve Jobs said, during Apple's latest Let's Rock event at San Francisco, the following amusing bit:

It's the best portable device for playing games...

We're speaking of the same Jobs who never got into games, neither made a proper move to support them on Apple machines?

So what happened? Is it the real Jobs speaking there? Could there be a hint of genuine gaming interest behind this massive wall of glamorous PR?

On another note, check out Real Soccer 2009 and the transparent D-pad.
That's it. My main beef against touchscreens is that, in fact, I hate obscuring fractions of my screen with pens and fingers.
That's quite an irritating dilemma I'm into, there, because it's rather obvious that the touch interfaces also allow for new ways of play which aren't all about gimmicks.
I usually prefer keep my screen clear.

Other than that, we're really getting impressive games. There's no doubt that Apple is seriously tackling a relatively new market, and the opportunities for developers appear to be immense.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I like green and hate 800 x 600

Just in case you hate green and didn't make the jump to better screen resolutions yet... this blog is meant to be read with a resolution of 1024 x 768 at the very least. I regularly check the stats about the systems, and there are not many people still using a low resolution of 800 x 600.

Only 2% do, in fact.

The most succesful resolution is 1280 x 1024. As far as I'm concerned, I was used to 1024 x 768 on a quality CRT screen, until I bought a flat one and directly moved to a default desktop resolution of 1600 x 1200.

Just get a flat screen. They're ridiculously cheap now.