hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Serious Time

 photo

Serious Sam 3: BFE has 'crazy ass split screen'


Aug 09
// Jordan Devore
The hot news to come out of Croatia today is that Serious Sam 3: BFE will feature "crazy ass split screen." Translated, that roughly means the PC version does up to four-person split screen in the cooperative campaign and mul...

Farewell, Mega Man

Jul 20 // Tony Ponce
What happened to Legends 3 is an unfortunate shame, but you can't really lay all the blame on Capcom. You might be tempted to point fingers at market uncertainty surrounding the 3DS, but it's not that either. Mega Man games just don't attract much of an audience anymore. The biggest success for the franchise in recent memory was Battle Network 4 on the Game Boy Advance, but that success was quickly followed by decline. Remember Powered Up and Maverick Hunter X on the PlayStation Portable? Those were supposed to lead a string of remakes that spanned the entirety of the Classic and X series, respectively, but inadequate sales halted those plans. Star Force, the DS follow-up to Battle Network, only lasted half as long as its predecessor before being placed on indefinite hiatus. The other DS sub-series, ZX, managed all of two entries before flatlining. In hindsight, Mega Man 9 and 10 seemed like tests to gauge the franchise's viability going forward. Inti Creates worked hard to emulate the NES style faithfully in the hopes of recapturing the essence of Mega Man in its prime. From what I gather, Capcom was apparently pleased by 9's sales and slightly less pleased by 10's. The 8-bit throwback design might have worked to bring lapsed players back initially, but it's obviously not a technique that could be used repeatedly without generating brand fatigue again. Despite Capcom's insistence otherwise, it's clear that Keiji Inafune was the only senior staff member with enough pull to get these various Mega Man projects green-lit. After he stepped down from his position as global head of production, there was no else with the same level of influence to fill his shoes. Mega Man Universe was already on the chopping block the minute Inafune cleaned out his desk, and it's only by some grand miracle that Legends 3 lasted as long as it did. Capcom has essentially closed the gate on every possible path the Mega Man franchise could go down -- retro sequels, remakes, user-generated content, spin-offs, and revivals. Maybe we'll see some kind of return in the future, but again, its current state doesn't fill me with much confidence. Game development these days is too risky, unfortunately, and Capcom is one of many big dev houses trying to consolidate their properties. Here is a franchise that was once famous (or infamous) for its umpteen annual releases. In its later years, each game was an anomaly, straddling the fine line between existence and vaporware. Critical mass had to be reached at some point, sure, but it's nonetheless a mind-blowing turn of events. It definitely was for someone like myself, who actually didn't mind the constant influx of software. Ironically, the entire franchise was almost dead on arrival. The story goes that the original Mega Man sold under expectations, but Capcom granted the development team permission to work on a sequel in their spare time. Truly, it was a labor of love that payed off in spades. By the will of a few, a gaming icon earned a second chance at glory and succeeded. Come to think of it, there are no more fitting themes for the series than "will and perseverance" -- you have a relentless madman, an indefatigable robot, and their immortal legacy across the centuries. Each game was a chapter in a grand saga, not unlike an anime serial in which viewers would anxiously await the following week's episode. It was that combination of the familiar and the exotic that inspired fans and helped them to endure. More so than nearly any other major franchise, Mega Man owes a great deal of its legacy to direct fan input. We've witnessed this collaboration first hand in the Mega Man Legends 3 devroom, but this partnership extends back all the way to Mega Man 2. Starting with the second game, Japanese children would submit Robot Master ideas, and the best would become Mega's new rogue's gallery. North American kids even got a crack at glory when Nintendo Power hosted a design contest for Mega Man 6, resulting in Knight Man and Wind Man. How cool were you if you could tell your friends that you designed a boss in a videogame? Those little nods are what made Mega Man such an endearing icon. His games were so chock-full of personality, made more amazing when considering how fast the franchise roster would expand. Whenever you'd think all ideas have been exhausted, there came a Sheep Man or an army of adorable yellow henchmen looking all the world like LEGO minifigs. Then there's the gameplay itself, which surprisingly changed very little throughout Mega's history. Taking on enemies in any order you choose, obtaining new weapons and techniques, then using those acquisitions to conquer other foes was such a simple concept, yet it opened up so many avenues for customizing the experience to suit the individual. Even when the series spun in wild new directions, as with Legends, Battle Network, and Star Force, that freeform spirit remained. I was on board with the series right from the very beginning. I might not have been able to articulate why I was so enamored with it at the time, but I knew almost instantly that I would be in this for the long haul. Every new adventure was a pure joy, every death a humbling frustration. There were memorable battles around every corner, like the Mecha Dragon in Mega Man 2 or the invincible Vile at the end of the intro stage in Mega Man X. This is what videogames were all about to me. My parents knew how passionate I was for these games and used that knowledge to surprise me many times. They threw me a Mega Man-themed birthday party one year, complete with hand-made invitations of my own design and a Mega Man and Rush-adorned cake. Since I owned a Famicom from our years in Yokohama, my dad would keep an eye for titles I might enjoy every time he embarked on a business trip back to Japan. I couldn't be more excited the morning I woke up to find both Rockman 5 and 6 at my bedside, deposited there the previous night by my late-arriving father. My favorite story came years later while I was a sophomore in high school. I had fallen off the wagon for a bit, thanks to my decision to get a Nintendo 64 rather than a PlayStation. I envied those players who were enjoying the latest Classic and X installments, not to mention that new Legends game I'd heard good things about. One day, I caught wind that Legends was coming to the N64. Even though the sequel would be out by the time the port dropped, I didn't mind! Also around this time, I had signed up to take part in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K run for breast cancer awareness. Normally, 5K wouldn't be a big deal, but I had recently joined my school's track team and endured conditioning the week of the race. By the time Saturday rolled around, I could barely stand, much less jog. I was regretting ever slapping on a pair of cross trainers. Thankfully, my friend Chris was in the same boat as me. It was perhaps the most physically demanding event in my entire life, but we encouraged one another to not give up and to push through the searing pain. That evening, my parents had a surprise for me -- a copy of Mega Man 64. I was overjoyed! After the morning's challenge, this was the greatest reward I could have hoped for. Those themes of "will and perseverance" were resounding in my head, and I felt pride well up inside. This was one of those personal achievements that makes a person look inward and give thanks to the great influences along the way. I was thankful for having parents who instilled strong values in me and for having a friend with whom I could share the good and the bad. And yeah, I suppose a little robot boy in blue deserved some credit as well. We may never see another original Mega Man game again, but that's not to say that the Blue Bomber is gone! There has been an amazing upsurge in the availability of Mega Man merch these past few years, a lot even finding its way out West. UDON has done a wonderful job localizing manga, particularly Hitoshi Ariga's spectacular Megamix and Gigamix series, and releasing art books, like the upcoming Mega Man Tribute. There are figurines, model kits, and even new CDs straight from the Inti Creates sound team. Just a couple months ago, Archie Comics launched a new Mega Man series, which is already being praised for its art and writing. These ancillary materials may not take the place of full games, but they do demonstrate that Mega will be with us for many, many years to come. It's been a fun ride, Mega Man! Thanks for the adventure!
 photo

Normally, the cancellation of an anticipated game would send me off on a furious Internet rampage with no grasp on logic or coherency. The cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3, however, triggered an entirely different set of&nb...

 photo

Fleshy new Serious Sam 3: BFE screenshots


May 18
// Jordan Devore
The Headless Kamikaze from the Serious Sam series have got to be up there with the Medusa heads and Fleamen of the gaming world. They're obnoxious in seemingly every way possible, and there is no greater shame than when one o...
 photo

Steam sale: Serious Sam HD titles, Kalypso Strategy Pack


May 12
// Jordan Devore
A bunch of smaller sales are taking place on Steam right now. First, there's the Kalypso Strategy Pack -- purchasable as a bundle or individually -- which ends later today. Given the company in question, we're talking stuff l...
 photo

Serious Sam 3 screenshots are ready to rock


Apr 20
// Jordan Devore
New screenshots for Serious Sam 3: BFE, everybody! As far as I can tell, they still haven't told us what BFE stands for. "Beyond First Encounter" makes the most sense, since Serious Sam 3 is a prequel, but I'm hoping Croteam ...

Stardock's CEO on the Impulse/GameStop deal

Apr 09 // Maurice Tan
For starters, Stardock will be actively involved with the transition of Impulse to GameStop and run much of it from a day to day basis, with the whole Impulse team transferring to GameStop in its entirety. Wardell himself, a key driving force behind the service, will stay involved with Impulse for the next year to advise and consult on the platform's future. So worries about the lack of his leadership being a detrimental factor in the digital distribution service's future would appear to be mostly unfounded. For the time being, at least. When asked about how he thinks Impulse will affect PC sales in the future -- and indie game exposure in particular -- after GameStop takes over, Wardell was keen to point out the shelf-space issue that brick and mortar retailers traditionally have. Having worked in a retail bookstore as a youngster, and later at Software Etc. and Babbage's (which later merged into GameStop), he experienced first-hand how only the highest selling products get shelf-space in these mall stores. Wardell elaborated that "there's never really been a time, even going back to the CompUSA days, where indies were getting their titles in a store. That time never happened. It's not like I went in there and I was getting Space Empires III at Best Buy, even though it's one of the best games ever." But the emergence of digital distribution is where indies have gotten their chance to shine. One could argue that looking back on the past five years or so, the acceptance of digital distribution by consumers has gone hand in hand with the rise in indie games development. Of course, the emergence of easy and cheap (or free) tools has had a hand in that as well. But without a way to sell your game without being drowned out, those tools by themselves aren't all that useful for keeping you off a ramen-only diet. Naturally, Wardell was happy to explain that Stardock's Impulse infrastructure makes it really easy for developers to release multiple titles per day. The tech behind Impulse, in particular Impulse::Reactor (basically a Steamworks platform variant) and its GOO DRM solution (which combines an executable with Impulse::Reactor into a single encrypted file) are meant to facilitate indie game publishing rather than obstruct it. "When we say that Impulse is very technologically advanced, this is one of the areas I'm talking about. [...] I think most developers and publishers -- especially smaller ones -- who've had to update their game can attest that getting something updated on Impulse is very quick versus other platforms. And that's because our system has been designed over the years and years, when we were doing just our own stuff with Object Desktop where we might do multiple updates per day, to make it very inexpensive and easy to update things. "And that's really important to indies, because if you're making a small game and you want to get it up, let's face it, all these digital distributors are businesses, they're in it to generate profit. So by having a system where it's very inexpensive to release updates and get new titles up is one of the reasons why I have no fear of indies going by the wayside with Impulse." Of course while Impulse itself might be a fine digital distribution service for developers, the concern of indies in particular, and the vocal online community in general, is not with the service itself, but with GameStop. Wardell doesn't blame users for being anxious about the impending takeover: "[With] Any sort of change you don't know what's going to happen. I worry about stuff all the time [and] I spent a lot of time when I was younger worrying about OS/2 vs. Windows so I can relate. I guess the best thing I can say is just wait and see. Give them a chance to prove themselves, or to fail to prove themselves. "But either way, no matter how you slice it, having more than one option for PC gamers is just so critical. It doesn't require any leap of faith to look at the pricing of PC games and compare it to console games over the past 10 years. And there's a reason why PC games have come down in price and the reason is competition. There's so much there to keep prices from going out of control. And that's why you want to have as many places as you can to buy these things and as many developers as possible to get their stuff out there." Since I'm a cheap Dutch bastard I pointed out to Brad Wardell that some games, like Crysis 2, were recently launched as $60 PC games, the same price of the console versions. Being the eternal debater he is, Wardell countered this by reminding me that PC games were even more expensive in the past. "I remember paying $59,95 for some of the later Ultima games, and add in inflation and you get about a $90 game by today's standards. [...] I believe that if you have enough consumers out there making decisions, that they'll vote with their buying dollars and that's what is making the prices go down. It's not because of any benevolence by any company, it's because the consumers are making conscious choices. "That's one of the reasons I'm happy to see Android games and iPhone games, because the more channels that we game developers have to get our stuff out there, and the more places that gamers have to be able to buy our stuff, the better off we both are to keep anyone from becoming too entrenched." But how does Impulse factor into that, and how will it factor into increased opportunities for consumers? In other words, will the GameStop takeover of Impulse turn it into a stronger competitor to Steam? Wardell thinks it does stand a good chance, and that while Stardock has been working on a lot of technology like Impulse::Reactor over the years, the company just doesn't have the resources to continue down that road by itself. "I mean let's face it, you're running major publisher XYZ and in front of you, you have three platforms. You have Steamworks, Games for Windows Live, and you have Impulse::Reactor. One's made by Microsoft, one's made by Valve, and one's made by... what are they, Stardock? Starrocks or something? Which are you going to pick? "The technology isn't what determines the winner. Building the best mousetrap on its own isn't enough. You have to [be] on the cloud and [have] the sales force and the support infrastructure to really go out and make it successful. And that's something that GameStop really takes to the table on that." The new Impulse might be more competitive through the support GameStop can provide, which is what is required to drive it forward in the future. But it also raises the question of whether that future will have fewer, more dominant digital distribution channels for developers and consumers, which would actually lead to less competition. Being able to support a digital distribution platform is what appears to be most important in securing its future, as Wardell explains when I asked him where he sees the current five largest digital distribution services in two years time. "Oh I think they'll all still be there. One of the things is that [concerning digital distribution services] I think there could even be more than that. I think it could even be more fractured, if anything. So it'll be interesting to see how that goes, because it's so lucrative. I can't speak for GamersGate or Direct2Drive, but I imagine that all of them are running very high margins. Because running a digital distribution service is a lot like a casino, except that you don't have to hand out free margaritas. "I mean, you're dealing with virtual goods. There's no shipping, there's no manufacturing involved, there's no sales people, it's all handled by machines. And the cost [...] is really on the back end of having account managers and having developers to keep extending the platform. "But if you'd ask me where I see things going in 5 years, the next big battle is going to be the Platform War. And that is, on the one side you have essentially the web stores, which I don't know what's going to happen to them. I don't think they're going to go away, because the margins are so high. "But if you're just a web store, that's going to put you at a disadvantage to someone who has a platform like a Steamworks or an Impulse::Reactor or Games for Windows Live. Because when you have those things, then there's a mechanism for developers to integrate features into their games that can build communities and that sort of thing. Whereas if you're just a web store you're gonna ultimately have to bundle a third-party platform [...] onto your store." The concept of an impending Platform War is interesting enough and given the current integration of services into digital platforms, like we see on things like Steam, Xbox Live or even Facebook, it doesn't seem all that far-fetched. Which is probably one of the reasons GameStop is jumping on Facebook as well. But that's the future, and this is the present. Or this is. Or this is. What's more important right now is how the sale of Impulse to GameStop will affect Stardock as a company, and how GameStop is approaching the platform's future. "We're a relatively small company. And I really like digital distribution, but that's not what I want to wake up to in the morning and do as my job all day. I like making tech, and I mean if you look at Stardock's homepage, people are always shocked at how many products we have. We're around 50 people and we have dozens of products. It was never my intent for one particular product or service to dominate the company. "And in the past year, our company's had more and more resources put into Impulse because, frankly, it was generating so much money that it was really hard not to put in that kind of focus. But that meant our Object Desktop programs (the kind of software that gets packed-in with HP and Dell pre-built computers - Ed.) were not getting any attention they would get, our gaming products were starting to not get the attention they should get, and there's been some effect on that that's been reported in the past year on our other non Impulse-related endeavors. "And you know, I like making tech. Stardock is a technology company, and we have a lot of really cool things that are in the pipeline that we want to be able to focus on. And in order for Impulse to remain competitive, for 2011, 2012, Impulse is in good shape. But to take it to the next step, you really need to have account managers, sales people, lots of sales staff, account engineers, and on and on and on. Those are things that we were just not prepared to do. "But on the other hand, GameStop already has these kinds of people. And they've assembled an amazing team of people from our industry. A lot of people don't realize this, but besides the fact that the Impulse team is going over as an intact team, GameStop has assembled some amazing people with it, I mean they have Steve Nix from id over there, he's my successor! "I'd like to think that people would feel that it's in pretty good hands. Just because a company is a public company doesn't mean, I mean, one should always remain skeptical but at the same time there's a line between being skeptical and cynical." And does that mean that now that Stardock has sold Impulse, it can focus on more fun things like developing games? Wardell says: "Yeah exactly! I've been having a lot of fun doing heap fragmentation coding! Here's something people talked about, [and] I wouldn't be surprised if you'll feel similar to how I do, people always say that money isn't the only goal in life. But it's amazing how skeptical they are when they see someone actually choose. I mean obviously we were well compensated too, but my goal in life is to do cool interesting things. I'm not looking to run a multi-billion dollar company. So if I can go and spend time doing cool stuff, that's what makes me happy and that's what makes our team happy." So, Stardock has sold the profitable Impulse digital distribution service -- for quite a large amount of cash one would imagine -- to a company that was better suited and more willing to grow it and remain competitive, with all the sales and support infrastructure that requires, in order to focus on the core products like it did before Impulse started to eat into their time. Rather than choosing to try and become another Valve, Stardock chose to sell Impulse and focus on what they used to work on instead. Which probably also means that something like a future 'third episode' of a game franchise shouldn't take a huge amount of time to release. Hell, it it means I'm getting Galactic Civilizations III faster, I'm all for it. Brad Wardell also had some interesting things to say about Stardock's future in gaming in particular, and his vision on the future of gaming technology, but you'll have to check back tomorrow for that.
 photo

Earlier this week, one indie studio had to make a snap decision (based on a lot of factors) and decided to stop selling its game on Impulse, Stardock's digital distribution service, after GameStop officially takes over. When ...

 photo

Serious Sam 3 made official, first screens shown!


Feb 28
// Jim Sterling
You can forget about your Bulletstorm, your Killzone, and even your Duke Nukem. Everybody knows that Serious Sam 3 is going to be the pinnacle of FPS gaming this year! Well ... it'll probably be cheaper, in any case.  Se...
 photo

Sony releases PS3 hack statement, promises mass banning


Feb 16
// Jim Sterling
Sony has today released an official statement concerning "unauthorized circumvention" of the PlayStation 3, and promised repercussions of genocidal proportions. According to Sony, you have only a very brief period o...
 photo

GTA veteran Navid Khonsari talks about '1979 Iran' game


Feb 16
// Maurice Tan
Iranian-born Navid Khonsari -- voice actor, co-director and writer for PS2-era GTAs -- is working on a new game centered around the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Specifically, the happenings surrounding the U.S. embassy hostage c...
 photo

Croteam: Serious Sam 3 coming out this summer


Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
Croteam has posted a small -- but not insignificant -- message about the state of Serious Sam 3 on its website. CEO Roman Ribaric says, quite simply, that the long-awaiting game will be arriving this summer. He also says that...
 photo

Vogel: Game developers shouldn't read their own forums


Jan 06
// Jim Sterling
Spiderweb Software founder Jeff Vogel has written an interesting little article imploring fellow game developers not to spend too much time in the trenches with the fans.  Vogel provides three sound reasons for not readi...
 photo

Jonathan Blow, CVG, and the sh*tstorm I caused


Dec 22
// Jim Sterling
Earlier today, we posted a story about Jonathan Blow, who stated in an interview that Sony was prone to put more adventurous indie games on the PlayStation Network when compared to Microsoft. A fair comment, I thought. Howeve...
 photo

One Chance: consequences in gaming


Dec 07
// Colette Bennett
As we see games evolve, we find that our experiences within them become more realistic. And yet, there are basic tenets of gaming that still are determined to defy reality: monsters that drop money, treasure chests in the mid...
 photo

Videogames now cause relationship breakdowns


Nov 16
// Jim Sterling
Relationships end all the time. Sometimes it's the man's fault, sometimes it's the woman's fault, sometimes it's nobody's fault at -- VIDEOGAMES! VIDEOGAMES DID IT! EVERYBODY LOOK AT THE VIDEOGAAAAAAMES! According to a survey...
 photo

TGS: Hidden cam of sticking it in Dream Club Zero


Sep 16
// Jonathan Holmes
TGS takes a lot of getting used to. Unlike at PAX and E3, you can't just shoot video of any old game on the TGS show floor. First you have to get a special "Press" sticker from the given game's developer. It doesn't matter t...
 photo

XBLA gets Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter next month


Aug 24
// Jordan Devore
Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter is finally getting a release on Xbox LIVE Arcade, after months of availability through the usual PC channels. According to Devolver Digital, Serious Time is coming on September 22. I read ...
 photo

Free Steam weekend and sale for Serious Sam HD: TSE


Jul 07
// Jordan Devore
Starting tomorrow, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter is getting a free weekend of multiplayer on Steam. From then through Sunday, you'll be able to play co-op Survival and Campaign, deathmatch, and other modes in which you...
 photo

Nintendo wants us to take the 3DS seriously


Jul 04
// Matthew Razak
If you were going to levy a complaint at the DS it might be that the games on it aren't that in depth, mature or serious. Yes, the fantastic little handheld has games that fit that description, but it's fair to say that they ...
 photo

Creative Director of Ubisoft Montreal says au revoir


Jun 14
// Ben Perlee
As the creative director of Ubisoft Montreal, and Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Patrice Désilets is a big deal for the company. Or, he at least was a big deal, as announcing today, courtesy ...
 photo

The House of Sam is very... wow


May 06
// Jim Sterling
This rather astounding trailer may very well be one of the best I've ever seen. It's to promote Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter and it scores points for originality, if nothing else. Quite a few people didn't get the jo...
 photo

Serious Sam for Palm OS may induce vomiting


Apr 23
// Jordan Devore
Why yes, that's the unboxing of Serious Sam for Palm OS. And no, I'm not entirely sure what's going on here either or why Velcro is undeniably cooler when circular in form rather than rectangular. The lovable marketing muscl...
 photo

LAWL: I made some Pokemon trainers


Apr 16
// Dale North
The folks at The Kartel make a good point. Why can't we customize our Pokemon trainers? It's not like it would be that difficult of a thing to code in, as just about all the humans in Pokemon games look exactly the same. Hapu...
 photo

Serious Sam HD on PC gets Deathmatch, Steam achievements


Mar 23
// Jordan Devore
It's come to our attention that Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter was recently given a loving update from Croteam, and we wanted to return the favor. The main draw here is the new 16-person Deathmatch mode with 7 maps, 22 S...
 photo

21 billion hours of gaming every week will save the world


Mar 21
// Matthew Razak
Want to save the world? Play videogames more. That's what director of game R&D at the Institute for the Future Jane McGonigal is saying you need to do. In a speech given at TED 2010, a conference where smart people spread...
 photo

GDC 10: Theme is Not Meaning


Mar 09
// Anthony Burch
Soren Johnson spent five years working on the Civilization series for Firaxis, eventually landing the job of lead designer for Civilization IV. He also did work on Spore, amongst many other things. He also gave the keynote ad...
 photo

Serious Sam HD hits XBLA next week! [Update]


Jan 03
// Jim Sterling
Last time we heard about the XBLA version of Serious Sam HD: First Encounter, a release date of January 13 had been announced. Impatient fans of mindless running n' gunning, however, will be thrilled to learn that Croteam's r...
 photo

HD remakes are all the rage these days, and Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter was but one of them. Since the groundwork for a remake has already been laid out, one could be forgiven for thinking that they're easy to develop...

 photo

Serious Sam is hard. We all know that. But one thing it's never been considered is complex. You have a gun, you run around, and you shoot waves upon waves of slobbering monstrosities. However, if you call Serious Sam simplist...

 photo

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter reminded me of the simple joys of wave-based shooting mayhem, and news of Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter only made me happier. However, the news we all want to know is this: Is Seriou...

 photo

Why do we use review scores?


Dec 09
// Jim Sterling
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or ho...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...