Now streaming: the archive of our Google Hangout On-Air with Jesse Vigil of Psychic Bunny, one of the designers of the new audio adventure game FREEQ (iOS/Android). I got a chance to play with FREEQ last night, and it’s quite engaging.
The crowdfunding scene has been so, um, active lately that I've let a few pieces of news in video game land slip past. After the jump: the big stuff in the past 24 hours that I expect to be losing sleep over in the next 48.
Earlier this morning Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games was faced with the inability to pay its employees, despite an IndieGoGo funding campaign that totaled $829,049. The problem stemmed from PayPal, the money-transfer service used for most of the backer contributions. PayPal froze Lab Zero's account because it feared a large number of chargebacks if backers didn't get their favorite characters in the final DLC roster.
The online wallet site has since unfrozen the account, but has held on to $35,000 as collateral.
I first encountered Sifteo Cubes back at IndieCade last October, and spent some time playing around with the little blocks which I first mistook for iPod Nanos.
The "little magic blocks" have garnered attention from some interesting game developers. For example, Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield–arguably the single most influential game designer of the past few decades–is working with the platform.
A lengthy write up in Kill Screen Daily asks if Sifteo is the new Nintendo, and while I wouldn't jump to that conclusion there is something about the potential trapped in this form that makes me think the developers may have something more than the next Tamagotchi on their hand.
This promo video goes a long way to illustrating this potential:
David Petraeus may be out of the military and Central Intelligence Agency but he’s found a new role elsewhere — in the game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” Well, his likeness, that is. Set in the year 2025, the first-person shooter features Petraeus as the Secretary of Defense serving under a female President resembling Hillary Clinton. Gamers first see Petraeus on board an aircraft carrier named the “USS Barack Obama” greeting an apprehended terrorist in an orange jumpsuit. While Petraeus was uninvolved in the game’s production, his “Call of Duty” cameo reveals the symbiotic relationship between video games and U.S. militarism.
The massively multiplayer game EVE Online is a siren song for sci-fi fans looking to lose themselves in a starfaring society. Those who grew up on Star Trek, Star Wars and the Wing Commander games can’t help but feel the pull of the 10-year-old game and community.
That decade, however, can act as a barrier. The EVE Universe is complex. Thick novels that detail the thousands of years of history. Massive factions made out of real players who have competed with each other for a decade. Layers of lore–that’s the gaming term for backstory–which is as daunting to some as the elaboarate continuties of comic books and Doctor Who are to others.
At least that’s how I feel about EVE.
[Read up on the transmedia strategy the game's makers are using to combat this after the jump.]
I’ve talked to too many people in this industry to wonder why so many of our games feel adolescent; many of the artists who make the games are given a job, they begin to live at the studio, the hours grow long, they cease to grow as human beings, and they’re stuck with the same influences, passions, and sense of humor they had as a teenager. This may not have happened at LucasArts, as the men and women in these images may have paid the cost gladly or had a richer home life than is hinted at in the euology, but it’s a problem in modern, AAA game development.
It is 11AM and thunderheads are gathering outside Austin, shadowing the hordes of conventioneers that stream in for South By Southwest. An old college friend, actor turned game developer Zeb L. West, has brought me miles away from the heart of SXSW to the nicest, if plainest, looking strip mall in the city.
Zeb is playing the role of fixer on my quest to understand the Austin independent game scene for an NPR piece. To that end he’s arraigned a meeting with a few of the guys from the indie studio Stoic. They, like Zeb, used to work for one of the largest studios in Austin: BioWare, makers of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The meet is set for the back of the flagship store for Game Over, a retro-game chain in Texas. More well organized than any GameStop, the store exists somewhere outside of linear time. Perfectly preserved Atari 2600 and ColecoVision consoles sit side-by-side with Nintendo GameCubes. Master Chief action figures and the fabled black Tengen NES carts rest on the shelves. The memory of a more innocent era of video games, all available for purchase.
I’m expecting the founders of Stoic to show up to talk about the history of video games in Austin, why they jumped ship from a “AAA” studio like BioWare, and what makes the city so agreeable to game developers. What I get is a lot more. The three founders bring with them two other members of the studio. (more…)