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2:57 PM on 12.11.2012

Casuals Are Killing Devs Creativity

Disclaimer: No images for this blog due to the ranting nature.

Casuals. Oh yes, casuals. Jim Sterling recently covered casuals in his recent Jimquisition and i'm here to bring in another argument into the mix of things because while the whole difficulty curve argument works a little bit, there's much worse consequences out of letting the everyday gamer choose what will succeed and what will fail. This is why my main point isn't about the difficulty curve that most developers are leaning towards but the fact that most developers are not changing the formula of their trademark series which is in the end giving us the same bland game year after year.

Why am I fearing the lack of change in a games formula? It means creative games go to the wayside and bland boring rehashes get tons of sequels. There's a certain dilemma in the industry which has allowed Indie devs to pick up where the AAA developers are only developing to get most of the casuals and not trying their best to change the experience up. That effects everyone because i'm sure alot of different series can change up alot if the developers really tried to do that without trying to make it overly accessible.

My prime example of this most definitely has to be the wide array of SpunkGargleWeeWee games or First Person Shooters which is a genre which is heavily saturated with more or less the same thing. This excludes Metro 2033 and Borderlands due to their unique gameplay nature and the fact that it doesn't follow the few billion dollar franchises like Call of Duty which has become the best example of something that should never continue to keep selling or we risk a stagnation in creativity.

Why is a stagnation in new ideas bad? This means that developers will not try to reinvent something which is old to become new. The Indie scene has definitely gotten the AAA devs to really try a tiny bit more but it's not enough to make a major impact on the game development scene as a whole. The stagnation will eventually rot up the industry to the point where one or two games will definitely dominate said genre for a majority of people and those few who play an odd game will become rare and harder to find than a casual.

The worst part of all of this is that the best companies are starting to fall. The ones with the most creative dev teams is falling and my best example of that is THQ. Without THQ, we wouldn't have some of the best gaming series which are not typical than any other game in said genre. They are a company which while trying to do something new, is also failing to make a profit. Casuals have effected the market so much that it's risking handing over our favorite IPs to the worst companies in existence such as EA, Ubisoft, or Activision-Blizzard. If we start to lose the good games for the bland then we all deserve what is coming if we don't question if the developers are really going for something new or not.

My question to the readers is what can be done to keep developers on their feet who contribute more to the industry than let the least creative ones thrive? Is there a way we can fix our problem or is another crash inevitable where even more of the gaming market could potentially be eaten up by foreign competitors? Would it eventually give a monopoly to one or two companies? Those are my questions. I ask you to answer them.   read

7:10 PM on 12.04.2012

2012: My Gaming Moments Rock, Yours Need Work

2012 was a pretty eventful year for me as a gamer. I got a nice new rig which is pretty mid range for what it is but it can handle the different things that I throw at it. This has allowed me to get back into my back log and get rid of a few games that I have never truly have had an opportunity to play or experience. Some are in Alphas still and others are full blown AAA releases but each has been a good moment in time. So, shall we begin? I say we do.

The first gaming moment of this year would definitely have to be me barging through Skyrim with my character who oddly has had problems here and there. My journey through the beautiful world started due to me being in the wrong place at the wrong time which got me caught with Ulfric Stormcloak. I was on enemy lines and I probably shouldn't have been there but I didn't care. I got caught by my fellow Imperials. I promise that I didn't mean to be caught in the Empires way. My clone did it. I mean it.

My best moment even after being taken prisoner had in Skyrim definitely had to be that joyous moment when I beat Alduin. It's not that he was a hard person to beat but because he was an antagonist who has tried really hard to remain immortal for as long as he possibly can being that he's a dragon. You know, dragons, the things that breathe fire and sing songs to children. It's not to say that they don't do that when they're attacking places like Whiterun. It's safe to say that I have fought many a-dragons and that i'm the Dovahkiin. Got it, home boy/girl/it/thing?

My other gaming moment has to be going through Most Wanted and Carbon again. Both games bring back some pretty good memories of a time when Electronic Arts actually made fairly good games that whilst being yearly iterations, they also improved each time. Most Wanted brought back those moments of really stressful pursuits where no one man is the best at dodging cops because even if you know the routine, it's never that easy. It's always hard to see the future when it comes to racing games and I still fail at recovering from my screw ups a majority of the time.

Most Wanted has the blacklist to be thankful for as the original game has that ability to make you irritated at the main antagonist because you have a beautifully fast ride and then it gets taken right from under you because someone doesn't understand fair play. Carbon just had that moment where I understood that i'm doing someone elses work and i'm not going to do that because i'm more qualified to run the city than Darius is. I'm also not some super rich punk like he is either which adds onto my undying hatred for him.

My third gaming moment is an indie game which isn't even near release but it still has kept my attention due to the developer. I'm a big Wolfire Games fan due to their unique style of games that they make that aren't traditional. I'm listing Overgrowth Alpha as that interesting game that isn't really a game yet due to how it's still an Alpha plus the fact there isn't no actual story just yet. It's still runs like a charm in high 1080p and allows me to be a beast beast while I try to take out other animals which are out to get me. The uniqueness of the game and how it plays is why it is well deserved as my top gaming moment as I have never enjoyed something that much which has no HUD.

My last gaming moment has to be Metro 2033. I'm late to the game and I understand that but it's one of those games I can't put down. The feeling of the Dark Ones constantly around the corner, feeling like I might die any moment, and that every last bit of ammo counts as you can't just spray in pray as that is about as useful as hitting the enemy with a pencil. Pencils aren't super effective against mutants. I'd know. I tried it once. I don't recommend you do or else you're going to be chased through a post apocalyptic Moscow and it'll feel like you're doing your own version of the Olympics.

The above is all my gaming moments that I feel is really worthy of writing about. Each moment within' itself is unique because they all offer unique experiences in one way or another. None of these moments are similar at all as I always want something that isn't what a traditional AAA publisher feels like milking to death. They'll always be unique moments and will expand into next year as alot of these games still need to be completed or the developer needs to get the game physically complete. I'll give them time though. Now let me go back to my games...   read

10:05 AM on 11.22.2012

A Need For Speed Retrospective: Underground to Carbon (Part 2)

Most Wanted and Carbon. Two games that are polar opposites in terms of gameplay. One has you do milestone, and the other has you do just enough to conquer territories before you face a boss. They all are unique in that respect but each are also very fun in their own right too. Most Wanted with its use of the police to accrue a bounty so you can face your next Blacklist member and the other with its ability to stress when you're in a canyon as every screw up will make your opponent one step closer to overtaking you.

Lets begin with Most Wanted.

Most Wanted has to be one of the most unique games that came out of the 2nd generation of Need For Speed games. You are a driver who has just arrived into Rockport with a sexy BMW M3 which can beat pretty much any car on the street. This car alone makes you think you can challenge Razor who is Blacklist #15 and he thinks he's the toughest guy on the block despite being #15. You know...the lowest on the Blacklist...

You get to race him after doing some races to earn respect. He finale allows you to but when you do it doesn't end too well. Halfway through the race Mia alerts you that your car is leaking gasoline and that it's best to end the race fast but it's too late as your engine seizes up and you're done. Done. What happened? Razor played unfairly and Rockport PD comes in to take you to jail. Razor uses your BMW M3 to rise up through the rankings to #1 while you're stuck in jail making sure not to drop the soap.

You finale get out with small change and one new friend named Mia. She helps you out to get a new ride and a safehouse. She alerts you of what lays ahead and that you must take on the first Blacklister before you're able to get going at your attempt to get back Razor for playing unfairly by sabotaging your ride, stealing it in a sense, and going up to the top of the Blacklist because of the loser that he is.

My favorite things about those paragraphs alone is that it describes your journey from the start of the game. You're the coolest guy who has the sexiest car which then just taken right from under you. It's amazing because it's not like Underground 2 where you test drive Samanthas ride for a small portion of the tutorial of the game. It's not to say that it wasn't fun but it really didn't make you feel like you knew what you were doing.

I have to admit that the milestones and bounty has to be the best part. It's requirements like getting 3 infractions in a pursuit or ending it within' 4 minutes. Something that tests your ability to get the cops off your tail whilst also trying to gain enough of a bounty which allows you to progress through the game. This means that certain pursuits will just have to be as long as you can make them so that you can attain enough of a bounty to get the requirement for the next Blacklist member which you're going to take down.

The game looks good too. Compared to Carbon, Most Wanted does definitely have a much brighter environment. The rain is much more obvious when it is raining, the roads look beautiful no matter what, and the lighting changes like if you're under a tunnel and come out then you have to deal with the glare from the sun thus adding some unique style to the game. It's really fun to play because of that and surely makes for some interesting views from around the local Rockport area.

There's alot I could say about Most Wanted with its music being as good as any other game in the series. I have to move on though and cover Carbon or else this could go on forever as my biggest blog to date.

Carbon picks up where you left off in Rockport where Cross is after you. You got that sexy car of yours back but it turns out that you only got far enough to make it to Palmont where he causes you to wreck your car in a part of the road where it is under construction. Bye bye, my lovely BMW M3. Cross comes up to say hi to you but your old "friend" Darius shows up. He greets you for coming back in town but he himself has a plan for you.

My personal opinion is that Darius has to be the most methodical of enemies in the Need For Speed series. Underground has some of these guys who think they're really fast and tough when really they're not(Razor as an example) but Darius is this charismatic rich guy who plays you like a fiddle. You don't excatly know what is in store since you begin again as the guy who has to start from scratch and get a new car before being able to conquer all three districts of Palmont before taking the fourth from Darius due to him setting you up to fall.

The gameplay in the game isn't too bad either. I mentioned at the start that Carbon adds this stressful element in the gameplay. This comes out mostly in canyon races when you're going against a boss as you for sure never know the true outcome. Yes, you'll get enough points on your trek down the canyon but never really overtake unless you have the power to but that's a challenge. It's once your opponent is behind you is when you get this feeling that every screw up will cost you time going down the canyon when you have to deal with points going down every second of the journey.

That's not as bad as the pursuits which most of the time happen the same as in Most Wanted when you're in races that aren't taking place in canyons. These cops are aggressive depending on the heat level of your car like in Most Wanted and make it a little hard to do a circuit or sprint when they're trying to get you to pull over. It's that element of you have to deal with the other racers as you hold your top position as well as the cops who are making it rather difficult to get to the finish line in one piece without a screw up.

These are just some of the things I remember about both games and I feel they're really fun in their own way. Most Wanted will always be a fantastic game due to how everything plays out and Carbon will always have a better antagonist than Razor ever was but they're still fun. It's best I finish here so that I can eat some Thanksgiving food and possibly play some Most Wanted again. It may be an older game but it doesn't need to be released in 2012 for me to love it.   read

1:47 PM on 11.18.2012

My Top 5 Favorite Machinimas

Machinima has to be my favorite piece of visual media. It's that feeling that you're seeing a film be made not in real life but in the gaming world. Machinima is not simply written out like a film as it can be a music video or a bunch of random stuff put together in a week. It's just an idea that is formulated in a game that you love. A game you play but get to see in a different light. Machinima is a form of expression for those gamers at heart and that's why i'm showing you my top 5.

So we shall begin with top 5th favorite Machinima.

10. 100 Ways To Kill Yourself In GMOD by Djy1991

This was one of the earliest Machinimas that I watched back in the good ol' days of Youtube. Having heard of GMOD at that time and I think I also might have signed up for Steam back when it was 2 years old and getting most of its issues sorted out. I didn't play it but I did dream of playing it. This video kept me amused as a young child when i'd watch this a good few times just to get a chuckle outa my day. Who wouldn't with this video?

5. Civil Protection by Ross Scott

Ross Scott. Yes, that Ross Scott. The man who has created Inside Freemans Mind which is the funniest interpretation of what Gordon is thinking. Civil Protection has to be the second Machinima that I have ever stumbled upon. It got me inspired as well to learn about it. I thank you for that, Mr. Scott.

4. Red Vs. Blue: Caboose by Roosterteeth

Red Vs. Blue is a series I watched from when they were in Blood Gulch in Halo all the way up to Halo 3. These guys had me rolling when I watched them with Caboose becoming my all time favorite Roosterteeth creation from that series. I'm partial to Caboose and that is what i'll admit because he says some of most out of the ball park comments which are really funny. He's a lovable moron and that's a character which i'll always remember.

3. Inside Freemans Mind by Ross Scott

I wouldn't link Civil Protection without linking Inside Freemans Mind. Just hearing the voice of Ross Scott brings me giggles. I think that also may be why i'm so blunt is because I have watched this series too damn much. That I am sorry for but I am not seriously sorry. I haven't excatly kept up with this series but I probably should again. It's funny, right?

2. Idiots Of GMOD 2 by Djy1991

This video deserves one of the top spots because it is one of the greatest GMOD Machinimas I ever laid my eyes one with pure randomness. There is well over 20 different GMOD actors which makes this an ambitious project. This also is really fantastic because it's by one of my favorite GMOD directors. Well, he's like my #1 director for GMOD. Just watch the video.

1. War Of The Servers by Lite Fuse Films

Old school GMOD. One of those earlier films which I actually watched. This really got me to make my Steam account at the time because this filmed caused me to become so so obsessed. Yes, I had mentioned earlier that I had made it also earlier with a push by Ross Scott but this really pushed me to become obsessed. This is a deep reinterpretation of H.G Wells War Of The Worlds and damn is it good.

So, that is it. All my top favorites that I feel like the world should see. They all are somewhat organized or random depending on the director with it mostly being dominated by Djy1991 and Ross Scott but that should be expected. I gave Lite Fuse Films the top spot because it was more ambitious than Djy1991s video and it was a much lengthier project in terms of Machinima.

I still hope you enjoy watching these videos. Each one of them deserves a watch. I hope you enjoy losing around 3 to 4 hours of your life. It's worth it. I promise. <3   read

7:48 PM on 11.13.2012

A Little About Me: The Narcissistic Gamer

Disclaimer: I am a very blunt person. If that wasn't obvious enough.

This is one of my all time favorite games. I'll never forget it.

I'm the new guy on the block. I know. There's not too much known about me atm but i'm here to fix that by enlightening you on who I am and why games matter the most to me. For starters, i'm an 18 year old adult male who lives in a state that swings. I hope you enjoy figuring out what state i'm in but it shouldn't be too hard. It really isn't. My name is also Matt so you can call me it if you wish. I'd prefer it over my username.

Let me just say that I have been a gamer since I was young. I would say that it has had a major impact on my life as I didn't exactly have a social life when I was younger due to how people treated me when I was younger. Games helped me get through the rougher parts and always have been there for me in one for or another. I'd also list movies in that category as well. Both major influences on how I grew up. I wasn't normal after all and i'm still quirky in some ways which has made me unique in some aspects and worse in others.

I should really begin now with why games were influential to me. Back in 1st grade, I didn't have really any friends to name. I was one of those kids who was alone for a majority of my free time in the playground. I understood that I wasn't liked it any form but I survived. I survived because at the time games were around me. Games let me leave the reality that everyone hated me. It rewarded me when others would taunt me or take away something I loved. It allowed me to understand the benefits of trying to get something and being able to get it. I might not have had much to strive for but I was still in my adolescent then.

You wonder what I played? My Nintendo 64. That thing became my best friend because at the time I didn't have someone to talk to who was like minded as me. I didn't talk to my N64 if you were wondering but you could have been that way. I played lots of different games. Some of the games I played was Rocket: Robot On Wheels which made me love games that were puzzles and had me always on my feet. The other games I played was traditional platformers like Mario 64 which was the most played game. I smiled whenever I hit that menu with Marios face which I could manipulate. I think I fell in love with Mario alot then as well as the actor himself, Charles Martinet, who I am a big fan of.

I own these books still. They haven't been touched since Jr. High but I still have them.

Being someone who plays games, I didn't get much respect from any or much of my peers. I had always been the type who enjoyed the lore of games and the gameplay was an added bonus in most cases. Being in 5-6th grade at the time, I only had a small group of friends who would ever acknowledge me as a person. A person and a gamer. We talked games. We only ever talked games. I don't believe we ever diverged off games except on a few occasions. That was my life then and only one friend ever came out as the one who i'd still talk to now and quite honestly in the future if life allows it.

Jr. High hit and I was as big of a gamer as ever. I was just obsessed. I didn't really know too many games at the time but I played quite a few games. The games that were on my play list was San Andreas, Vice City, Halo, Halo 2, CoD3, and many more. I had my own table with a group of friends but that eventually diverged to just me and my friend being the odd ones out. At that lunch, i'd always bring in my Halo book and we'd discuss the lore of the game. We'd discuss Master Chiefs successes and some of the best tactical ship strategy that i've ever read. This was a majority of my year but I read those books just so we could discuss the lore. Lore is my favorite and Halo made me love it.

High School thereafter hit. My freshmen year. My first two years of my high school career were questionable. I played games alot then as well but I didn't have my best friend by my side to talk to. I had friends that I was starting to like and we were Nintendo nerds at heart. We brought our DSs in and played Pokemon. We discussed movies and games and whatever we could find relevant. This was another questionable moment in time as what was said at our little table is for another day. Or another dimension.

This was my life for a year. My computer. It allowed me to understand who I am as a person while dealing with the real world.

My Junior year hit and I hit the time where I lacked actual access to my favorite past time for over a year. I still had access but not in the form I wanted to. I was stuck strictly to 3DS games at the time as I bought one around Christmas time when 3D Land released. Internet? I only had the 3DS. That year I spent my time browsing the interwebz on a 3DS. Beast right? Destructoid and RPS became two of the sites I frequented during that period where I couldn't play many games. I was limited. I didn't dislike it though as it allowed me to understand myself and get back with Nintendo for another go.

I didn't regain access as a PC gamer until I had the chance to work to the bone for it. I had to raise the money over the summer by working for roughly a month and a half at a job which had me on overtime a good 1/3 of the time I worked. I worked 2nd shift so I got paid slightly more on top of my typical hourly rate. This allowed me to save up money in my checking till I could afford a rig worthy of my favorite past time. Gaming and some other stuff you won't find out about till in the future. I returned back as a PC gamer and was finale able to say that I could do what I had longed to do for a year. Play games.

I had a backlog which mostly consisted of Saints Row: The Third and Skyrim. There was a few others but those were my main two. I still haven't beaten The Third though i'm roughly 80-85% complete with that and have completed a full run through Skyrim. One of the smaller titles i'm still playing is an older Ubisoft release which I played alot when I played my 360 which was Rainbow Six Vegas 2. This could be accounted for me loving tactical gameplay and Tom Clancy. I read his books. That might have influenced me too.

There's alot more about me I could say but i'll make top 10-15 things about me that I didn't list here. There's alot and I don't feel I have the energy to type it all out in one go especially since Youtube is up and I have yet to finish watching a video by my favorite gaming commentator. So I shall end it here and hope you enjoyed the read about me.   read

4:43 PM on 11.07.2012

A Need For Speed Retrospective: Underground to Carbon (Part 1)

Need For Speed. One of those series that has had an identity crisis for the last few years and has has an iteration every year for the past 10 or more years. I, however, have only stuck with the 2nd generation NFS games as I grew up playing it. I haven't played anything past Carbon and anything before Underground. I've just been strictly stuck on those games from Underground, to Most Wanted, and all the way to Carbon. A fantastic set of games that shows the experience has evolved to the point of perfect execution followed thereafter Carbon when the game series takes a turn for the worst.

I have to say that I am totally biased towards all these games as they all made my childhood. I honestly have to say that each one has been played more than once in my life. That's how dedicated I am to this older series of games. This also has to be the only time i've ever loved EA which we all know nowadays just has problems producing quality in a timely manner.

Underground is where we are starting. The first Need For Speed that I have ever played. I remember as a child playing this game with the most determination I have ever had for a racing game. Underground brought out that love of speed and that feeling of making my own car in my own design. The car that would boast performance but also cosmetic design that would fit my personality. That's where I loved the game the most.

I think I enjoyed the fact where I could select races and rise from the ranks. I started out purely as an underdog who would slowly rise up from the ranks even though I just got out of the airport in Bayview trying to make a name for myself. I understood my goal was to make Bayview my turf as well as show that I was a match to be messed with as I progressed. I really got that. That's perhaps why I was so interested in the series. The feeling of accomplishment.

This was made, of course, through the fact that each mode brought upon a challenge that I remember clearly. That feeling of having to control some high tier cars and get them through drifting competitions by making sure that I had enough understeer to perform my turns and not lose it too much that i'd lose my streak. Drifting was probably my second least favorite event then but was mostly followed by the drag racing mode which took first. Drag racing takes first because you have to clutch correctly or else you risked being passed by your opponent. This on top of launching off the line at the correct speed without jeopardizing your start. This irritated me because I had to do it over so many times at certain points in the game.

Circuits and sprints would become my favorite because of the AI. The AI in the series has been questionable at certain points and mostly my gripe sticks with Carbon and not Underground on the evil rubber banding AI. Underground still had some seriously fun AI to raise against as they always brought to me that challenge which made sure that if I wrecked, it's best I get going or else i'll be passed before I can even get past 100. Those modes brought me some stress due to the races but have endlessly amused me when I was a child.

I know I should talk more about the music and the sort but we all know it was great music for such a game. However, I have to move on though to Underground 2 as it blew my mind away the moment I got it. I don't know about you but I never really thought free roam would be so awesome but it was. It was really awesome. My favorite part about it was finding the shops in all of the city. The specific neon glow coming from each building that I could enter always had me going happy. That along with freely going around the area without any strict limitations except when I had to race. That's understandable though as being boxed in onto where to go is needed or else you risk screwing up by going off course.

The added bonuses I can remember about Underground 2 was car customization. I know it was a factor in the game as it required excessive style by pimping out your ride so that it's worthy enough to get the undying attention of your opponents. This was on top of the fact that after a certain point in time you would have to do magazine shoots with your sexy ride. The best part? Showing off that sexy interior with a model on the foreground. Models? Psst. My ride was the star of every magazine from the the point of where I was just a rookie to a street legend. My cars WERE style.

It's time I end the nostalgic ride with some moments of me going back on some of the moments or specific things I remember from Underground to Underground 2. I know it's sad that such golden days have been forgotten by such a series that at a time defined Need For Speed but those times are long past. We all can however remember the series by playing them over and over again and just let those good times roll.   read

8:03 PM on 10.25.2012

Journalist Integrity: The PR Nightmare

That's obviously not product placement. Not one bit.

This is an image which has caused a massive storm of chaos following the firing of Robert Florence from Eurogamer(CinemaBlend) showing Geoff Keighly sitting beside a table with Doritos and Mountain Dew as well as a poster with Halo with both of those brands plastered right on it. That image begs to the question of where the line of advertising a brand as a journalist by blatantly showing the association with the company and not questioning the fact that you have some sort of influence on the consumer due to that.

This whole ordeal has Robert Florence exposing that certain journalists feel that it's fine by quoting two people who feel as though it is perfectly reasonable for you to accept gifts from companies that make the games you are going to review in the not so distant future. Lauren Wainwright has exposed herself to gamers everywhere by simply saying this on her Twitter.

""Urm... Trion were giving away PS3s to journalists at the GMAs. Not sure why that's a bad thing?" (NeoGAF)

"Lara header, two TR pix in the gallery and a very subtle TR background. #obsessed @tombraider"

Having to say that this is what got him fired. Two direct quotes from her Twitter account due as he was trying to prove a point. Her response was not only to go to EuroGamer and threaten libel against him for something which Lauren publicly stated on the thing we call the internet. This has brought into question her integrity as she has also listed Square-Enix as one of her employers being that she is freelance. And freelance doesn't mean that you are allowed to mindlessly praise an unreleased game just because you work for the company. That's a bias by association and therefore is worthy of being called out. And every bet if flack is well deserved.

(Picture posted below of the original page prior to the edit).

Look at that integrity. Heavily praising a game that isn't even released and you list the company as your employer. Gold!

The thing that concerns me the most is that his article was amended due to MCV(Who employs Wainwright) in which her boss, Micheal French,had some fantastic words to say(Twitter) such as "You're a bad guy now if you defend your team. Video games!" Yep, you're a bad person alright if you defend another bad person and then randomly spout the two words that define what you should be impartial to when writing about but nope.

This is one of those times when you wonder what site you should trust for your impartial news and what people within' that site to believe who has some of the greatest integrity. I know Destructoid has a past history with Lauren Wainwright and I hope that those whom have been around her in the past have some decency to admit that she might have proven that game journalism needs alot of work before gamers can take most journalists seriously. Product placement doesn't help and neither does associations with other companies due to your status. You need to be impartial at all times and say what you as a game and not as a fan should be saying to your audience.

What you say will always have an influence whether it is directly or indirectly. It could be as simple as a phrase to wearing a Call of Duty shirt. Everything you say, wear, and do will always have an impact. It doesn't matter what medium. Journalism is journalism. It's best you get it right.


5:31 PM on 10.22.2012

Review: Rollercoaster Tycoon 3D

Disclaimer: I am late for my review due to Atari shipping on the day of release to all retailers. Y U NO SHIP AHEAD OF TIME, ATARI?

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3D (3DS)

Developer: n-space

Publisher: Atari

Released: October 16th, 2012

MSRP: $30.00

The Rollercoaster Tycoon series has a big place in my heart. It's probably because I grew up playing the series and every time I played it I was always amused for hours on end trying to make my park as fantastic as humanly possible. I don't think i've ever hated any RCT game and all of them have made me want to see more and play more. I don't know if I will ever hate such a good franchise but this can always change.

This is the newest iteration following Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and is also the first handheld release for this series. A handheld release for this franchise isn't bad as everyone has always wanted a handheld sandbox game for their consoles. It was only a matter of time before it became reality. It's just trying to figure out what had to be simplified for such a release and what elements stay true to the series as a whole. Will this latest iteration live up to the sandbox expectations of such a creative franchise or forever be forgotten?

"You have to walk before you can crawl."-Chappy, the old guy who your father puts on you who gives the worst advice ever.

So where to begin? Lets start with the gameplay in contrast to the last release RCT3 and see where we head. Gameplay in RCT 3D has the options of allowing you to place rides all the way from junior rides to coasters with your placement of the rides being the only limit and the fact that everything has to make some sort of sense. Even if the ride physics don't exactly make that much sense. Which I am probably going to cover now.

Ride physics are a joke. A joke in contrast to any of the previous installments. Coaster going up a hill where you think it should lose some of the momentum it already has? Haha. Who's kidding? No coasters seem to lose the momentum especially on a straight up incline where it should lose most if not all as the speed should have drastically decreased but it didn't. It just kept barging through and i'm not talking like a real life coaster like Top Thrill Dragster. No, this thing could go on more than forever.

I should probably mention the main story about how it guides you through the basics of a running a park. It shows you how to place paths, build an crappy coaster, and quite honestly hire people because you don't know how to do that on your own. Chappy, your dads go-to-guy-for-all-things-coasters has found it in his best interest to teach you how to run a park. Chappy finds it best to give you advice on things he should probably never give advise on. If holes in your shoes letting your feet breathe is any sign of him being homeless then we have a problem.

Coaster Creator is the Thrillville but not Thrillville side of RCT. Being that Thrillville was a Frontier creation, you think Atari would learn to at least do some element of it right. You can create coasters but you cannot actually save the coaster in any single form. Not that I could tell and not that it would let me. Not like you can name any single thing anyway. So why should I save this ungodly Inverted Coaster? Not like anyone with a brain would ride it anyway.

Graphics of this game are fairly average for a 3DS title. The 3D is pretty well fine but it doesn't add to much in terms of game play. I mean you can obviously see that rendering is not exactly one of the things this game has going for it. Specifically mentioning peeps and how if you go even a little bit away into the sky from the peeps then they suddenly disappear. People in your park? Not anymore! Best you zoom back into even see if your ride even has any riders. The peeps are probably the most highly detailed part of this game and that is saying something.

The menu on the other hand looked like someone went onto Adobe Illustrator, made a rectangular box, put a gradient inside the fill layer, and added some text inside of it to make it look like a menu. Seriously, it looks like the menu took all of 5 minutes to do. The budget seemed to consist of no actual aesthetic navigation as it alone is abyssal. I'd say more but that's enough.

Sound is the next one and this is probably the only soothing part because the music is pretty good and the ambient sound of ride goers might be the only redeeming quality of this title. It's, of all things, no Kid Icarus if we're playing Compare Nintendo To Atari with Atari thinking 12 months of development is good enough for such a well known title. But the sound quality is fine and I might just launch it to hear peeps just for the fun of it.

My final judgment: Oh lawd. You think Atari wouldn't let us gamers down but with them leaving the console market due to their "Lets try and crash the market mentality" with crappy games then they sure keep producing them even if n-space was the developer. Who seriously thought a year of development time was enough? Why? This title deserves like 3. It might have been polished enough to the point where it might actually seem enjoyable. But it just seems tedious and has so many problems. Outright, I give this game a 1 out of 5. The music/ambient scenery sounds might be all it has going for it.

I, as a gamer who has played the RCT series since RCT 1, feels like my favorite game has been shamed. I should not have expected much from Atari. However, expecting anything good from them could have honestly been a stretch.   read

4:07 PM on 10.12.2012

Indie Games: The New "New" Innovation

Disclaimer: Rosters don't count as innovative. Nor does a minor engine update. An overhaul is innovation and so is a completely new gaming experience altogether.

Indie games have hit the market hard by picking up where major developers/publishers like Activision with their Call of Duty series and EA with their sports brands have constantly lacked the time to innovate the market. Where has the actual innovation come from? Studios with bigger risks but also smaller in size. Indies. Indies are picking up where the big behemoth has forgotten its place. Why innovate when people buy the same thing over and over again? That's how big companies compare to small ones that struggle for cash and are lucky at times to make enough to survive.

I would say that major AAA publishers are bad for not taking risks but it just means they're too comfortable. I understand there's some publishers who take risk such as games like Sleeping Dogs and Dishonored proving that there exists a market for innovative new games. No one likes to have the same experience multiple times unless you play a series that hasn't tried hard enough to innovate whilst perpetuating that we need more.

Now if we compare AAAs to a smaller studio like Wolfire Games who i'm biased to say I love. They're a studio who has been helping other smaller studios like themselves get recognition for their games easier by their Humble Bundles. David Rosen and his team has proven that they can make unique games with specific engines for their titles and take all the development time to make it well worth playing. Receiver is a gun game where once you're dead then you're dead. Lagaru and its soon to be sequel proves that animal combat is awesome while having a deep and interesting story to make us love some of their characters.

What did Rosen innovate? Trying to be different with his studios games by making their own engines like for Overgrowth which while it may still be in the Alpha stages is proving to have a better engine than most AAA games and Receiver which shows that people care about realism in gun games other than simply pressing the reload button and dealing with recoil. He is one of the many example of unique innovation in the indie game industry. Mojang has proven that you don't need a story to sell a game, just the experience. The same could be said for Dear Esther. It's that you don't need extreme HD graphics to make a game sell. You also need that experience.

If we were to compare a vast majority of bajillion dollar development releases to a smaller Indie who has spent sweat and tears on their game while a bigger studio spends the work force of over 200-300 making the game as streamlined as possible without much regard for the experience. Who innovates the most? The bigger or smaller studio? Is a smaller studio release more emotional due to it being developed by a less than 100 team? Are big teams really necessary to make a game get complete within a 2-4 year deadline? You tell me. We're all gamers but i'm only ever just one.   read

6:50 PM on 10.11.2012

Free 2 Play: EA Is One Guilty Party Wrecker

Disclaimer: Jim Sterling didn't endorse this article. Yet.

Free 2 Play gaming has become such a massive trend in the game industry for the past couple of years. Being defined by games such as Company of Heroes Online, All Points Bulletin, and many others. You can play any game without any financial risk but be stopped in your tracks if you don't cough up enough money to allow your level cap to rise and keep enough stat bonuses so that you can sustain your characters. But is it really worth paying $50 for a brand new character or a piece of clothing?

I can understand that certain games do not find ways to cap your level at a certain point nor actually add stuff that imbalances the game thus OPing paid weapons. Major publishers/developers are starting to get into the market with a vast majority of those games failing to be able to compete. A prime example would be the debacle that was The Old Republic by our favorite company Electronic Arts whom is a shining example of Free 2 Play gone wrong. That isn't there first incident though of trying to ruin the Free 2 Play market.

EA has been pushing Free 2 Play as Ubisoft has been pushing Free 2 Play with the idea being that they'll be able to make a fair profit but the former has been proven to not understand Free 2 Play while the latter hasn't exactly shown any proof that is incompetent. Though we shouldn't give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt as they don't exactly have a track record that has proven to be clean as a whistle when it comes to consumer relations.

Games like Battlefield: Heroes, Play 4 Free, Need For Speed: World, SW: TOR and soon to be Command & Conquer are some of the few games that are examples of bad Free 2 Play. I know i'm specifically naming Electronic Arts games but you have to agree that there happens to exist many problems with their F2P model. The items they charge you for are overpriced and really OPed to the point that you might as well just hand over your wallet because advancement in any single game requires alot of money before you might actually be able to enjoy it as you'll constantly be dealing with paid players using really powerful stuff compared to what a free player has.

I'm not directly saying they are the only guilty party but they aren't the most innocent either. Gamers are also guilty for failing to try to stop what failed model has existed on the front and encouraging developers like EA to shortcut the development of games and micro transaction everything and anything in their games. It gives reasons for smaller companies to do the same and not try the best to produce a quality release in order to cash in on a brand. And we keep allowing it. When is it that we will finale give money to people who strive for quality to make money and not money in order to sacrifice quality? Why is it that EA is the best example of the worst in the F2P market? Are they perhaps to blame for our problems? Why is it that we let it continue to persist? And will the market eventually equalize to a point where EA itself has extended too far and tried too little?   read

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