Archives for March 2005

Halo 2 Expands

I posted this submitted this earlier today to Evil Avatar but I haven’t posted here since I’ve been watching March Madness all evening. So I’ll just quote myself from EA’s site:

Bungie.net’s weekly update gives us the lowdown on the upcoming “expansion” pack. From the update:

  • We’re releasing a total of nine new multiplayer maps.
  • All nine maps will eventually be available as Live downloads and as a normal boxed game disc – available at retail for $19.99 (US).
  • The release on Live will be staggered, some paid, some free!
    The first two maps are free and coming in a few short weeks. (late April)
  • The same day the 2 free maps are released, 2 additional maps will be available for purchase.
  • The remaining 5 maps will be made available as a paid download on the same day the retail package goes on sale.
  • The retail disc will contain extras, including a documentary, a cool project from our cinematic and animation team, every Halo 2 update released so far and possily one or two other little treats.
  • By late summer, ALL the maps will be available for free.

It goes on to describe some of the new maps and includes a FAQ for all your questions. I was a tad disappointed that there won’t be a Hang ’em High translation but the new stuff definitely looks spiffy. I’m holding judgement on the whole “purchase the new maps now” vs. “wait until late summer”. I think it’s gonna cause major headaches for match making. Get used to playing with the same people who will pay for the new maps.

I said originally I was holding judgement. The more I’ve thought about this, the less I like it. Halo 2 sold millions of copies of Halo 2. Let’s just say 5 million copies. At 50 bucks a pop, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars. Now, from my previous findings, the publisher and developer get about 20 bucks a pop. (MS and Bungie in this case). That works out 100 million dollars. Wrap your brain around that number a little bit before we move on. Good. Now, let’s pretend it cost Bungie and Microsoft 30 million dollars to develop, test, market, and produce Halo 2. Let’s say it has cost Bungie a million bucks to keep Bungie.net (and all the terrific stats they maintain) up and running. That leaves sixty-nine million dollars in their collective coffers. That is a lot of scratch. I would think they could dip into those reserves and throw us a bone with new maps. Do they really have to charge for this? I also see this as giving game developers a “safety net” for delivering games missing vital elements, knowing they can always go back and patch them, but that’s a different topic all together. What I’m trying to say is Halo 2 earned Bungie and Microsoft a HEALTHY little profit. Isn’t 19.99 a little steep to ask for an update that will eventually be freely available? And what about buying the maps on Live? How much will they cost us? I don’t want to have to pay to get things I initially thought would be free.

“But,” you might counter, “if you’re patient, all the maps will eventually be available for free.” Ahh, but there’s an interesting tid-bit in the FAQ for the upcoming expansion:

By late Summer, with the support of Mountain Dew, all the maps will be completely free.

So it’s not even Bungie fronting this offering, it’s Mountain Dew. One of the maps not highlighted, but was mentioned in the update, is named “Backwash”. Will this map contain some form of a Moutain, covered with a Dew? Some Mountain Dew ads, perhaps? We’ll have to wait and see.

A stroll around the gaming blog-o-sphere

I’ve been light on the blogging lately (having a new baby in the house has been keeping me a little busy). But I’ve been keeping up on my reading and I wanted to highlight a couple things that have tickled my fancy. So on to the stroll…

Gamers come in many flavors (which is a topic for another day) but game girl advance has a great post about how EA has appaled to the gamers that aren’t “hard core”. Call them what you like (sports gamers, frat gamers, whatever) but they are a force t0 be reckoned with. I would wager that the non-hard cores outnumber us more “committed” gamers 10 to 1. I love my sports games as much as the next sports gamer but I would wager they could care less about the beauty that is found in TLoZ:Wind Waker. People can say EA is doing a lot of things wrong but they sell games. When it’s all said and done, that’s what this business is really about. People can rail against the commercialization and “Hollywood way of doing things” but it’s all about making money.

I’m still torn on the PSP/DS debate. I will more than likely end up with a DS but I am so very tempted by the beauty that is the PSP. I followed Brian’s live blogging of his experiences with his “honey”. Good stuff. Looks like Mike at Pixel du Juor likes it, too.

I am rather jealous that render is going to E3. That would be such a mind job to attend that gaming mecca.

There have been complaints galore about the spotty (that’s being fair) reliability of WoW’s servers. But Foton puts it rather eloquently:

My point is this: you would not accept this kind of treatment with your car, or your cell phone service, or your cable service. If every time you went to a particular movie theater the soundtrack was mismatched, that would be entirely unacceptable, wouldn’t it?

Yes, it would. So the complaints are getting louder and Blizzard better start paying attention. But then again, I imagine complaints to your crack dealer would fall on deaf ears. He knows you’ll be back, whether your rocks are good or not.

I was impressed with Nintendo’s GDC Zelda trailer, but nowak brings up some good points. I, too, miss the cel shading. While the new Zelda looks amazing (and yes, I will be buying it) I wonder what beauty and art we’ll miss by not having the cel shaded look. At least there’s a chance for the next generation to have a cel shaded Zelda. Here’s to hoping.

So our stroll comes to an end. It’s a great time to be a gamer. So many possibilities. And so many things to complain about!

New Halo 2 Live content coming!?

Bungie.net : Top Story

Next week, we’re going to have a major announcement about the details of our new maps.

Picked this one up from Kotaku. Very intriguing. There was the story last week about a Korean web-site referring to a Halo 2 X-Pack but now the powers-that-be at Bungie have spoken and given us a glimpse at what’s coming, in addition to the cheat/glitch/bugs that currently plague Xbox Live matches. Glad to see they are being proactive about kicking the a-holes that cheat right in the nads.

Now, on to the speculation (This was posted on the 18th, so hopefully they’ll be available by the weekend?) …

My wish list for maps from the first Halo are Hang ’em High, Prisoner, and Boarding Action (which is great for sniper battles). I personally think they’ll release at least 6 maps, with 3 of them from the original game and 3 brand-spanking-new ones. We’ll see.

I don’t think they’ll be adding any additional content (i.e. a REAL ending) but I would have no problem if they did. I think with all the glitch/bug/cheat fixes they had to do and the new maps that are in the works, I would imagine that’s a lot of work. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Either way, I’m pretty excited about all this!

Newest button-masher is here!

Mason, chilling

The newest buttonMasher, my son Mason, was born Friday morning. Dad couldn’t be prouder and can’t wait to get him a little controller in his hand.

(Update: I appreciate all the congrats I’ve received, Mason is doing great and is loving watching Dad play video games. He’s already on his way to be a great gamer)

All that shimmers is sure to fade

Iced Out PSPPSP for the well-heeled – Saw this over at Kotaku the other day. Gaudy as all get-out, but I still wonder – do people actually buy this stuff, or are these handed out with the hopes someone will see someone famous with their kit. I don’t get it. With the release of the DS, PSP and the upcoming new generation, it seems that gamers have quite a bit of disposable income.

Or at least Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft think we do.

Blogging will be light…

At least for the next few days. The buttonWife is ready to deliver the newest buttonMasher to the world any day now, so I won’t be blogging much until then. When he/she arrives I will actually have more time to blog and game since I’ll be taking a week or so off, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay on top of all the cool gaming items as the occur.

Until then!

The periBorg OreCommander: Vibrate your way to gamer nirvana

The periBorg OreCommander: Vibrate your way to gamer nirvana

At last! Now I will finally be able to beat the computer at Track and Field!

Post-GDC Rant

Games * Design * Art * Culture – This is getting lots of linkage around the game-o-sphere but it’s worth repeating yet again.

How many of you were at the Microsoft keynote?

I don’t know about you, but it made MY FLESH CRAWL. The HD Era. Bigger. Louder. More photorealistic 3D. Teams of hundreds. And big bux to be made.

While it didn’t make MY FLESH CRAWL, when I read the Microsoft speech, I thought the same thing echoed here. I don’t want to have to buy a new TV just so I can enjoy the next generation of consoles. I still think there’s a lot of life left in the current generation of machines. The PS2 might be on its last leg but it’s still getting quality games this late in its life (see: Katamari Damacy). After playing Resident Evil 4, it is evident that there’s A LOT of muscle left in that little cube. But that’s not the point of Greg’s rant.

We really don’t need whiz-bang graphics and Dolby 92.3 sound. We need games that are fun and engaging. Game developers, under the current video game publishing conditions, aren’t free to develop such innovation. Instead we get rehash after rehash. As a Nintendophile, I can’t say Nintendo is exempt from this criticism. It remains to be seen if Mario 128 can bring new innovation. But the points made here valid and somewhat hard to swallow. Even though he backs off his inital Iwata spanking, it was still pretty harsh.

Go read the whole thing. While it does seem like a lot of talk and not as much in the way forward, it may be the catalyst that gets the ball rolling.

Nintendo and the Revolution

Hopefully everyone’s already seen, read, and digested RFA’s interview over at 1up.com. Definitely some good stuff, but the most important quote I gleaned was:

RFA: … The whole Internet gaming piece, we missed the boat on GameCube. We won’t miss the boat in the future.

1UP: So is this an admission that you should have supported it more heavily?

RFA: (laughs) You know what? This is Reggie Fils-Aime, a year with the company, who wasn’t around when those decisions were made. I can tell you, as a consumer, I miss it on GameCube.

At first I toed the company line, thinking online console gaming wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Then I played Halo 2 on Live and my eyes were opened. It was love at first sight. But that love slowly became a mild infatuation because of game after game playing with immature (yeah, I said it) gamers, kids, trash-clowns, whatever you want to call them, playing Halo 2. In principle, I am converted to online gaming. I think Microsoft has done a wonderful job in bringing the vision to the masses. Unfortunately, online gaming still has a way to go. For one thing, it needs to grow up. I agree, for the most part, with fenegi at Video Fenky:

One thing Nintendo does have right this generation: Online gaming really is pointless. Since everyone is a shithead, you only play with people you know, and can’t you (usually) do that around the couch in real life anyway?

– fenegi (Video-fenky)

The interview at 1up is great, but like thousands of others, I was looking forward to Iwata’s keynote speech at GDC. Everyone knew he was going to drop a bombs on all gamers (and it turns out, non-gamers, too).

As soon as I saw Kotaku (I’m listening to the podcast as I type this. This guy is a genius.) had any tidbit about Iwata’s speech I read it right away. Brian summed up what he had recounted:

I’ve got to go breath in a paper bag for a minute before I pass out.

I, too, was swooning. Revolution was going to be backwards compatible with my beloved Gamecube collection? DS and Revolution online? I wanted to rush home and blog all about it. I decided to let my mind mull it over for a while. Thoughts of online Animal Crossing or NCAA 2006 were daydreams. But are they? I’m not ready to make any predictions or rash judgements. I’m going to sit back and watch this develop. For now, just go and download the podcast.

Bloglines and my feed

(Update:Following the advice from Mike in the comments, I’ve tried to fix my files so the original RSS feed is operable. So far I can’t get bloglines to recognize my change, but hopefully you’ll have better luck

Okay, it turns out I didn’t save the appropriate files I had changed, but now they are all working and everything seems to be better. Thanks for the help, Mike!)

If you use Bloglines (or another RSS feeding machine) you have probably noticed that my Blogger feeds are no longer active. You can subscribe to my feed using:

http://buttonmashing.com/wp-rss2.php

I was previously having issues with WP and the feed, but that adress seems to work. I also updated the feed links in the footer of the first page. If you use Bloglines, you can always use the handy subscribe with Bloglines button:

Subscribe with Bloglines

Seriously, if you’re not using Bloglines, you’re missing out.