Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera takes a much circulated eulogy of the recently shuttered LucasArts game studio as a chance to reflect on the arrested development of gaming culture.
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.
Another great read by Kuchera.
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Neal Stephenson, the best selling author whose work is beloved by nerds of all stripes wants to make a video game about sword fighting. Years ago the writer became obsessed with sword fighting and has gathered other like-minded writers and artists round him. Together they’ve been working on a transmedia property known as “Foreworld” that released it’s first product in the form of a digitally serialized novel (“The Mongoloiad”) that is being collected by Amazon in print form.
You simply must watch the video. Then go check out the Kickstarter and check out the rewards to see if you want to contribute to the crusade.
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A new Star Trek game based on the J.J. Abrams reboot of the classic franchise is being shown off at E3 this week, and while I wish I could say that I’m as excited at the prospect as I am about the next movie, I just can’t. The main reason: it’s a First Person Shooter.
After being ushered into a demo theater on the show floor and given a pair of 3D glasses we were shown a section of the game where Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock meet the games villains: the reptilian Gorn from the classic TV series. Only these Gorn are on steroids, coming off as a little more Killer Croc/The Lizard and a little less recycled Creature From The Black Lagoon costumes. The trick here was that the developers– Digital Extremes– had set up two screens running simultaneous 3D feeds with the help of NVIDIA. A technical feat in and of itself to show off what will be the game’s signature feature: asynchronous co-op.
Players can take on the role of wither Kirk or Spock and find themselves working together to complete the missions. It’s a nice continuation of the “brothers in arms/unlikely friends” theme of the first movie. All the stylistic elements of the movie are there as well: the bridge looks dead on right, and our leads are voiced by the actors who play them in the movie. We’re a long way from the days when actors wouldn’t be caught dead slumming it as digital versions of themselves. Thank goodness for progress.
Too bad it’s all in the confines of a shooter.
The co-op is an interesting idea in and of itself, but do we really need another shooter in the world? I know it feels like this genre is all that the gaming public cares about, but I can’t help but think that as we close in on the end of this console generation we’re also getting right into the heart of genre fatigue. Besides, how can other dev houses compete with best-of-breed efforts like the Call of Duty and Halo franchises? Even with a unique take on co-op?
There are a few neat touches: the tri-corder can be used to investigate clues or reveal enemy weaknesses. Kirk and Spock keep up a banter that is totally in character. Also: it was kind of a hoot to see Spock give Kirk a boost as if they were two kids hopping the fence to go retrieve their baseball. Yet after every moment of personality from the game we were right back to blasting waves of enemies that at this point didn’t seem to be half as savvy as the A.I. opponents in our top-of-the line FPS games.
This could be just another case of watching not being as good as playing. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that what most Star Trek fans are going to want out of a game experience that has had the attention of Abrams’ Bad Robot isn’t a twist on Army of Two. The name of the game for Star Trek has always been adventure, not shoot-em-up. I suppose if this was 1992 and not 2012 we’d be getting a side-scrolling platformer instead. I honestly can’t say if this is an improvement or not.
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I think I just saw your productivity dip a little lower today, with the release of Super Bride and Groom. Thought your wedding day was tough? Super Bride and Groom is the story of one couple whose wedding was interrupted by a mysterious Mister X who takes the wedding party and scatters them around the world.
The game uses Super Nintendo graphics, and familiar game play mechanics (arrow buttons and space bar), to tell the story of one couple’s wedding day. One of the novelties in the game is the fact that it is supported by in-game advertising, large billboard like spaces inside the game world. As their ad-space hasn’t been filled, it has yet to be determined whether or not the ads will be distracting to the sweetness of play.
But how can I complain when the game is free! Super Bride and Groom isn’t anything terribly new in the world of online games, but the story and novelty are enough to hold the users attention, although watch the clock time tends to slip away as you try and save the wedding party.
Mean Jelly Bean, a start-up out of Charlotte, NC released Super Bride and Groom.
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Robyn Gee on Wednesday, Apr. 27th
World of Warcraft (WOW), the game creating online adventures and virtual relationships within the realm of “epic fantasy”, is not a stranger to real life matchmaking. A recent New York Times article features a couple that actually got married after first meeting as avatars in World of Warcraft.
Max, a long time WOW player – agrees that love is not out of the question when it comes to online gaming.
Max bought the game on the release date, after much anticipation. He played seriously for about six years, until recently, when he sold his account for $800.
Max often noticed that while he was in the middle of working with a “guild” (or team) of other characters to accomplish a goal or defeat a villain, a teammate would be called away to attend to something in real life (RL as the gamers call it). More often than not, it was a significant other who was interrupting the game – demanding their partner’s attention.
“When I met Mary, I really liked her. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who neglected their girlfriend for a video game, but I also didn’t want to be one of those guys who is always getting called away from important game missions,” said Max. “A lot of people don’t understand that the relationships you make during the game are as real as those you make in real life.”
The Times article explains how the game makes it possible to communicate and get to know one another. “When players aren’t battling monsters, their avatars are exploring fantastical landscapes (lush jungles, snowy forests, misty beaches), where they can meet and gab via the game’s instant message feature, or through voice communication software.” The article also cites many gamers who say they can be more honest in the game than in real life because typing how you feel can be easier than saying it.
Max decided to make Mary an account and teach her to play. Thus, their five year stint of World of Warcraft began.
“People say, ‘My boyfriend doesn’t want to do anything because he’s playing this stupid game all the time,’ but they don’t realize that you are getting that social interaction as well,” said Max. “Sure it raises the question – is it healthy to be so obsessed? But look at Facebook and online dating. People make connections all the time,” he said.
Max said playing the game together caused little moments of tension in their relationship, but also a lot of excitement. “There were times where I’d make a mistake or she’d make a mistake and it’s just like… ‘Ughhgh, what were you thinking?’ It hasn’t caused us to break up or anything,” he said.
Max absolutely understands how people can make meaningful connections and bonds while playing the game. He explained that people’s personalities are quickly revealed while playing within a guild – the communities within WOW that are comprised of different player’s avatars. “Running a guild is similar to running a team. How you relay criticism can say a lot. You can be blunt, but I try to make it more constructive. Your patience and impatience are visible. If you’re greedy, you might try to grab as much as you can without needing it. If you’re generous, you might give something away. Your personality can definitely come out,” he said.
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