Archives for October 2004

Linkage!

I’ve been fascinated by the blogging phenomenon. It has definitely garnered a lot of attention with all the political blogging going on. I’ve been doing it for a while with my personal blog but that became more of a place to post pictures of my daughter for our extended family to see. I don’t update there as much as I used to. On the otherhand, I’m committed to updating here as often as I can. I’m also keenly aware of the value of getting links to your blog. When someone links to your blog it’s like blogger crack. It’s the life-blood that keeps bloggers blogging. It gives a huge ego boost (I believe the correct term is ego-boo). So when I noticed I’ve been mentioned in a blog post at Gamer’s Adventure and I’ve been added to the links over at SmashBot.net I was pretty pumped. I appreciate the props. Makes me feel good.

Update 11/2 – render has also linked me up. Thanks for the link, 4tomsm4sher!

Blogs Recap

Here we are for another installment of the round up (shall I call it a carnival? Not yet). Anyway, aside from the legal Nintendo gaffe (no need to link that here) and the fact that many people seem to like some game called GTA, there were some other noteworthy items this week:

There was an interesting (albeit brief) review of censorship in games. Whether the blood is red or green never bothered me, but censorship (or lack thereof) still dogs video games. This article talks about Nintendo censorhip in particular.

Here’s the post I was looking for.

Here’s a game expected to sell 15 million copies and is expected to gross over $200 million in revenues over the first week, and Microplay has the brilliant foresight to get just enough copies to sell to the people that already paid for a part of it.

It caught my attention because it touches on the ridiculous nature of selling “pre-orders” for video games. My example is always Halo 2. I did preorder the game so I could get it at midnight at my local Game Crazy, but I still told the kid behind the counter that it’s ridiculous to think that Bungie is not going to press enough discs to satiate the masses. The fact that I have a little slip of paper proving I paid five dollars means nothing more than I am a moron who has bought into the pre-release hype and hoopla. There’s not going to be a shortage of copies of Halo 2. Each time the press a Halo 2 disc it’s like they’re printing two twenty dollar bills. There not going to press a million discs and then decide that’s enough. You didn’t pre-order? Sorry, we just ran out of copies and they’re never going to make another one for you. You should have pre-ordered. Sorry, but this presell crap just doesn’t float my boat.

That’s about it for now, not too much that stood out for me this week.

Guild Wars and the MMORPG

Well, as I said earlier, I was done with MMOGs for a while. I enjoy them but I just can’t justify the time I would want to put into them. But I saw a post on Tales of a Scorched Earth (great name for a gaming site, by the way) about Guild Wars, another fantasy entry into the MMORPG world. I had heard mention of GW among the EQ2 and WoW chatter but never paid much attention to it. But, since they are talking about zero subscription fees, I was interested. I downloaded the free client last night and gave it a test drive.

I took on the role of a ranger (character generation wasn’t very customizable, hopefully they’ll add more content there with the full game) and gave the game a go. I will say right off the graphics look fabuolous, run smoothly on my PC and everything looks great. It’s been compared to a Diablo 2 MMORPG. That’s a fair comparison, but a D2 MMORPG would have been a killer app. We played too much D2. I made money selling D2 items. We were D2 addicts. I would have paid for an MMORPG version, no questions asked. Building a house on the Outer Steppes for my Necromancer would have been sweet. Anyway, back to Guild Wars. It played okay, your basic point and click, but it wasn’t doing it for me. I was having conflicting responses. Part of me felt like it was a chore to click on yet another monster. The other part of me couldn’t stop thinking about the lure and curse of MMOGs – just one more level and I can do/use/be X. It’s video game smack. You think you can stop cold turkey, but you’re just deluding yourself. You’ll be back. So I decided to stop after an hour or so, preventing the needle from getting too close to the vein.

So I may not be the most reliable source for impressions of the game, but I’m not going back to have a second look. I’ll be content knowing I may be missing gaming excellence but I’ve staved off addiction for the time being.

Don’t Believe the Hype!!

When Gabe (I say that like I know him. I don’t, but he seems like a pretty cool guy) from Penny-Arcade was talking about the hype surrounding Fable, he said:

I realized a long time ago that the hype machine was ruining video games for me. I wanted to go back to the days when I was actually surprised by a game. I made a decision to stop reading previews and Iíve stuck with it.

I am following suit. I fell for all the Peter Molyneux hype about Fable. It was going to be the greatest RPG ever. It was going to make you cry for mommy. It was going to make your fricking bed. Right. To be honest, I was so sold on Fable that I bought an Xbox for the express purpose of playing Fable. Me, as Nintendo-Fan-Boy as they come, bought an Xbox. I awaited Fable with the anticipation of a eight-year-old on Christmas Eve. When it arrived, I watched with awe at the opening sequences (they were very nicely done) and I dove right in. I knew the game had potential. I had no idea how sorely disappointed I would be.

This is how I imagined Fable would be: A huge, expansive world populated with interactive NPCs, eager to task me with quests of the utmost importance, all the while an overarching story-line was taking place. What I got was three or four cities that were peopled by NPCs that were semi interactive and occasionaly impressed by my bony chest. Quests (outside of the main story line) are few and far-between and are not fun anyway. I envisioned a MMORPG like environment in a single player game. Not even close.

I thought there would be interactive environments, teeming with wildlife and monsters, where I could go anywhere and do anything. If I wanted to kill some Bambis and deforest acres of woods with my axe, I could. What I got was small, fragmented areas that were on rails, allowing for no exploration or interaction. Loading times were unacceptable.

I was expecting to flirt with girls and entice them with my handsome charms and quick wit. What I got was a lame, super chunky interface that pretty much renders the interaction with NPCs to button-mashing (hey, that’s an interesting concept. Actually, it should be D-pad mashing.)

I imagined fighting and magic controls that would make Diablo’s point and click look like checkers in comparison. In actuality, there is a mediocre fighting control scheme that was fun for a little bit but is just a console version of point and click. Almost no skill is required (or acquired). If you have enough health potions you can easily beat the game having never tested death. The magic system is okay but my character concentrated on melee, so I can’t comment too much on that.

In fine: Fable was built on a shaky foundation of hype and hyperbole (is that redundant?). It promised filet mignon and delivered cube steak. I enjoyed the game, but it pains me that I paid fifty smackers for this one. I definitely will be trading this one in soon.

I am disappointed and hesistate now to read previews again. It serves two purposes – it shields me from disappointment and it allows me to be pleasantly surprised. Oh, and I’m still getting Halo 2.

Update: After writing this post, I came across this apology(?) from Peter Molyneux (not confirmed as him, but they seem to think so, I didn’t troll through the 37 pages of posts):

All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.

Right.

Acclaim just ran out of hits.

Here’s a good read about the downfall of Acclaim, who recently field for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.:

“Acclaim’s obituary will show the cause of death as running out of money. But of the factors that may have led to Acclaim’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing Sept. 1 – wary lenders, litigious shareholders, questionable management – one cause stands out most: It ran out of hits.”

I’ve played a lot of Acclaim games. Most recently has been Turok: Evolution. Before anyone owned Halo we played Turok. We played the heck out of Turok: Evolution multiplayer. We recognized the game’s graphics looked dated, the models were laughable and the attention to detail was sparse, but we couldn’t get enough of the axe battles in Regnereb’s Arena. We couldn’t get enough of the head bashing. But Turok wasn’t enough. It was probably the first step onto the slippery slope. This article is a look into how the trip to that slope accelerated to breakneck speed. It seems like what went wrong at Acclaim could happen anywhere. (link via RedAssedBaboon)