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The name is David and I've been a lifelong gamer since the Commodore 64 days. I've been to school for video game design and am Adobe certified. Currently I maintain a blog called Ultra Mega Death Ray which caters to all forms of geek media (games, movies, TV shows, comics, etc). Check us out!
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I’ve been thinking lately. With the departure of such prominent figures in the gaming industry lately, are we the consumers partly to blame? The news of BioWare founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka stepping down was shocking alone. Just recently, however, Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games has also announced his exit from an industry that has been very profitable for him. What is causing these great minds in gaming to just walk away? Is it simply fatigue from consistently keeping up with huge deadlines or are we, the gamers, to blame?


BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk


Not long after announcing his retirement from the gaming industry, Zeschuk was said to have been visibly exhausted according to fellow co-worker Trent Oster. He had this to say in regards to the co-founder dealing with the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco.

"You have to love games and you put your heart into them to create them. To have the fans creating petitions against the work is pretty hard to take, especially when you've spent the last few years crunching overtime to try and ship a game. It can be hard to shut off the overwhelming negativity the internet spews forth, especially when it has your name or the name of your company in it."

Muzyka quickly followed with an announcement that he desired to tackle a whole new industry altogether. Both men gave their 6 months notice in April, one month after the release of Mass Effect 3. This would coincide with what Oster stated that the fan negativity was overwhelming and hit a breaking point which drove their decision.

We now take a look at Cliff Bleszinski, the mastermind behind such games as Unreal Tournament and the Gears of War franchise. If any current developer looked like they were going to be a “lifer” in this industry, my money would have been on this guy. You can imagine my surprise then when word of him stepping down broke out.


Former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski


The man who also goes by the name “Cliffy B” stated that his reason for leaving is just so as to “take a break”. He states how fortunate he was being a part of the industry since his teenage years and that this departure will now allow him to grow up.

It is unclear whether or not Cliff will return to Epic or the gaming industry in the foreseeable future. He is married and almost in his forties so one has to wonder if this decision was so as to, in the words of Street Fighter II’s Guile, ”go home and be a family man”. There are also the pressures of a demanding fan base such as when he was supposedly done with Gears of War after the third title then announcing a fourth entry in the series anyway. Perhaps he feels stifled by a lack of creativity. He still loves talking about games which is apparent from his recent appearances on GameTrailer's Bonus Round show.

Dedicated fans can be both a blessing and a curse for any game designer. As much as a great game can bring in a sea of praise, the slightest fault can just as strongly rush in a storm of vitriol. Something personal and creative like art, writing, or game design in this case can be tough to stay dedicated to when negativity fuels the vocal majority. Striking a balance between the love of your craft and good business sense, I believe, is the best way to stay sane in this environment that can too often be ruled by the “bottom dollar”. Perhaps Cliff Bleszinski understood that and got out before it could consume him.








Word broke out that Ubisoft's historical hitman title Assassin's Creed III will be getting a Season Pass for upcoming DLC (or downloadable content). This is reportedly going to be priced at $30 by itself or bundled with the PS3 Gold Edition for $90. The practice of having a Season Pass upon release of a big title is nothing new these days. One has to wonder though if it's really raking in enough of a profit to be justifiable or if the publishers are "nickel and diming" their fans. Does the end justify the means or does it simply come down to who is willing to pony up the dough?



As a way to recoup lost revenue from used game sales, publishers have turned to downloadable content. These extras have ranged from anywhere between gun skins for Gears of War 3 to the Catwoman missions in Batman: Arkham City. Now this idea has been expanded upon with the Season Pass; a collection of DLC bundled together at a discount price.

This move has been received with mixed results. Gamers questioned on if this was a way to fish more money out of a consumer for content that should already be in the game in the first place. The "Rockstar Pass" for L.A. Noire was the first time this sort of business practice was implemented for a console title which included 4 extra cases along with extra costumes and a badge scavenger hunt. Individually, all that content would have run you up an extra $20 while the bundle cost half that when originally sold.


Discount or swindle?


Since then, we have seen a number of titles use something similar such as Mortal Kombat with their bundle of extra characters and Max Payne 3's own "Rockstar Pass" which included a bevy of multiplayer content. Certain games, like Telltale's The Walking Dead series, have made a twist on this type of offer by having you pay for all the episodes up front for a discounted price.

Whether or not this extra content is worth it ultimately comes down to the buyer. I'm personally not one who finds value in things like Super Street Fighter IV bonus costumes. The previously mentioned Walking Dead game, on the other hand, is absolutely worth picking up since you will likely want to get the full story anyway. It has to be something significant like extra missions for single player experiences, maps for the Call of Duty folks, and downloadable songs for Rock Band in order to open my wallet.

Does the mention of a Season Pass encourage or repulse you away from a game? Is there a particular Season Pass you bought that was worth coughing up the dough for? Share your thoughts below!








Having been born in the 80's, I've been fortunate to grow up with some awesome television shows like He-Man, Ghostbusters, and Transformers. Even the likes of Thundercats and Ducktales hold a special place in my younger days. I was also a huge fan of video games growing up with such classics like Battletoads (that badass pause music!) and Super Mario Bros. 3. Knowing that a lot of kids shared these similar interests, television executives jumped at every opportunity to capitalize. This is a look back at the shows I specifically remember and how they hold up today.



Captain N: The Game Master


When first thinking back on this topic, I knew Captain N: The Game Master had to be mentioned. This show introduced Kevin, an average young kid, who gets sucked into the world of video games where he gets to meet heroes like Simon Belmont and Kid Icarus. The idea alone was a dream come true for any kid with an escapist fantasy. Admit it. While playing Super Mario Bros. 3, you wished you could stomp on goombas and fly in the air wearing a Tanooki Suit all day.

As awesome as this idea sounded like on paper, there were some serious off-putting elements that any gamer will spot out immediately. These blatant changes were confusing at best and just plain ignorant at worst. Probably the worst offence was Mega Man sporting a puke green color and sounding like he has lung cancer. He's not nicknamed the "Blue Bomber" for nothing. His constant use of the word "mega" may have been endearing as a disillusioned kid at first but that got real old real fast.


"Don't ask me why they mega-screwed up my character."


Kevin, Captain N himself, was an obvious attempt to relate to the viewer. While his character was a stereotypical white suburbanite, at least he had the Nintendo Zapper gun. His constant squabbles with the cocky and arrogant Simon Belmont made for some chuckle-worthy moments.



Super Mario Bros. Super Show


This show holds a lot of fun memories for me as a kid. You know you "did the Mario" back then. In a lot of ways, this was one of the first sitcoms I ever watched because of the way it was formatted. I'll use an old VHS tape I owned as an example. Famed wrestler/actor "Rowdy" Roddy Piper brings in his bagpipes to get fixed despite the fact that the Mario Bros. are plumbers. He comes to visit and check on them when it's revealed that Mario mistakenly turned his bagpipes into a vacuum cleaner. The show cuts to the cartoon then returns after the brothers "fix" the problem by modifying the vacuum cleaner to play bagpipe music automatically. It's probably best not to ask how that works exactly.




The humor, acting, and production value is straight-up Disney Channel level. Seeing Mario and Roddy Piper together on TV was pure gold for me back in 1989. Now? Oh, the pain! Nostalgia aside, this is a show that has aged like milk. I'll give Lou Albano some props for playing as a more accurate Mario than Bob Hoskins in the Mario Bros. movie but that's not really saying much.

There was a Legend of Zelda cartoon that would usually play on the same block. Thankfully, there was no washed-up wrestler in green tights to introduce it but the show itself wasn't any better. Let's just get the "Excuuuuuuuse me, princess!" line out there and call it a day.



Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog & Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series


Not to be outdone by Nintendo, Sega's own mascot Sonic the Hedgehog had a couple of shows of his own. One was the more kid-friendly Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog while the other, which I most remember liking, was Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series.



I remember watching a bit of the Adventures series but grew tired of the overly "kiddy" nature of it. This was the 90's now and being at an older age made me crave for something that wouldn't talk down to me.

Around the same time, the Animated Series came out which still had a cartoon-ish flavor but with some darker themes. Robotnik was more of an evil badass as opposed to the bumbling version in Adventures. There was also the concept of Sonic and Tails being part of a group of "freedom fighters" who would try to save their animal brethren from a soulless robotic fate.

Despite the cooler concept and a much better theme song than the previous series, Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series also suffers from aging poorly. I'm not sure if it's the voice of Jaleel "Steve Urkel" White or just the way he portrays the character but Sonic comes off extremely one dimensional trying to be the cool kid on screen at all times. This may still be entertaining for kids now if they can bypass some of the 90's lingo and mannerisms.


"Hey! I'm still cool!"




Mega Man


We now start getting into shows of a higher quality starting with the mid-90's Mega Man animated series. Badass intro and song? Check. Slick animation? Check. No annoying voices or side characters? Checkmate!


"Super fighting robot... MEGA MAN!"


Oh yeah! Anyone who has seen at least one episode from this show had that intro song stuck in their head at one time or another. The entire intro alone was simply awesome and got you pumped for whatever episode was coming up next.

Okay, so maybe Mega Man wasn't the best role model with his misogynistic views towards his sister Roll and a tendency to litter energy cans (3:14 - 3:51). He was still badass though thanks to the direction of the show making him look and act older. Having his "brother" Proto Man as a personal rival made for some excellent fights between the two that always seemed to mess up Dr. Wily's plans. The episodes have a very formulaic way of fleshing out characters and moving the plot that's reminiscent to a lot of anime shows. Mega Man does justice to the source material and still holds up pretty well to this day.



Pokemon


Just like every young gamer in the 90's, I was a fan of Pokemon. The show started shortly after the original games were released and a phenomenon was born that hooked Japanese and American kids alike.


(from left to right) Brock, Misty, Meowth, Jessie, Pikachu, James, and Ash


The basic concept of the games had you fighting and collecting monsters echoing the famed catchphrase "Gotta catch 'em all!" This made for an easy to translate story of a young Pokemon trainer named Ash going on a journey to be the best. As addicting as this idea for the show was, I want to say the characters are what really made Pokemon the show popular. You have everyone's favorite cute yellow conductor Pikachu of course along with the "oh so cool" Brock. The absolute "show-stealers", however, have to be the bumbling baddies of Team Rocket comprised of Jesse, James, and Meowth.

I absolutely loved these guys. I call this the "Dick Dastardly complex" where the villain (or villains in this case) of a show is just so awesome and/or hilarious that they become the main reason to tune in. There was a time in the series where Jessie and James were replaced by a more successful duo named Butch and Cassidy (I see what you did there). It was that change which had me move on from the show entirely.



There were some other notable shows that also come to mind that I'd like to briefly mention. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? was an excellent kids game show that aired on public television. There were a lot of notable villains like RoboCrook and Vic the Slick along with the Chief (played by Lynne Thigpen) who would brief you on your case. That final round where you had to place 8 markers on different countries of a map within 45 seconds was brutal!

Another show I have to bring up is Battletoads. You may be asking yourself, "Really? There was a show based on Battletoads?" Well... sort of. Only the pilot episode aired and the concept took some liberties with the source material such as having the main characters as teenage kids who can change into the anthropomorphic amphibians at will. It mainly served as a prequel to the game but that didn't prevent it from looking like an obvious knockoff from the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon which was hot at that time.

I hope you enjoyed this look back down memory lane! Please share some of your favorite video game inspired television shows in the comments below.








I’m sure Jaimie Alexander wishes she had the same strength and durability as her Thor: The Dark World character, the Asgardian warrior Lady Sif. The actress suffered a pretty scary-sounding injury on the rainy London set after slipping and falling.



Details of the injury were scarce until Alexander’s publicist Craig Schneider revealed the nature of it. Word initially broke out via Twitter which put the health of the actress at question. Thankfully, she seems to be doing okay and recovering quickly.



This will not delay the Thor sequel since shooting had to work around the inclement weather anyway. It’s unclear whether or not director Alan Taylor will continue using real world sets going forward after this mishap but it will certainly be in the back of his mind.

Comic book fans are breathing a sigh of relief also since Lady Sif will likely play a bigger role in future movies. She is known as being a tough warrior and lover of Thor which may put her at odds with Jane Foster who’s played by Natalie Portman. Thor: The Dark World is scheduled for a November 8th, 2013 release.








Did you miss out on the adventures of Command Shepard and his crew saving the galaxy the first time around? No need to worry because BioWare has announced the release of the Mass Effect Trilogy box set.


"I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite box set in the Citadel!"


As you can guess, this fancy collection includes all three Mass Effect titles along with some neat packaging and artwork thrown in. There was no word on if this will also include previously released DLC such as ME2's "Lair of the Shadow Broker" or ME3's "From Ashes". Considering how it wasn't explicitly mentioned upon announcements, I wouldn't get your hopes up.

This set will be released on November 6th, a day before N7 Day (eh? eh?), for Xbox 360 and PC. A PlayStation 3 version will be released at a later date not yet revealed. This will mark the first time PS3 owners will get to play the original title.

What say you? Is this something you plan to pick up? Is it even worth it without any of the DLC included? Sound off below with your thoughts!








CONTEST: "Like" Ultra Mega Death Ray on Facebook and comment on the picture of Thanos about how you think he will be used for a chance to win $15 in Facebook credits!

I'm sure a lot of you out there have already picked up a copy of The Avengers. Those of you who have already seen the hugely successful superhero romp are also aware of Thanos making a surprise appearance during the mid-credits scene. With more information recently surfacing on the Mad Titan's inclusion in both The Avengers 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy, we can start to speculate how Marvel plans to lay out phase two of their movie lineup.



The mid-credits scene mentioned reveals Thanos turning his head and smiling upon hearing about the attack on Earth and how challenging the Avengers would be to "court death". Of course the Avatar of Death himself would embrace this challenge being madly in love with the very embodiment of Death herself. It was this love that drove him to seek out the six Infinity Gems and become a god during the Infinity Gauntlet comic book story arc.

We know that the Infinity Gauntlet will come into play after a revealing of it at San Diego Comic Con two years ago. In the movie Thor, it was briefly shown in the Asgardian vault. My theory is that Thanos will use Loki, being the cunning mastermind that he is, in order to obtain this weapon.


The Infinity Gauntlet at SDCC 2010


Guardians of the Galaxy will likely have Thanos on the hunt for the Tesseract (the movie version of the Cosmic Cube). Star-Lord and his crew will be unsure what he is up to but know they must keep that kind of power out of the Titan's hands. I can see the movie ending with Thanos meeting with Loki, Tesseract in hand, and making a trade for the Gauntlet. Thor's mischievous brother will gladly give it away since no one is aware of its true power.

Now with the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is free to do whatever he may please in the name of his Mistress Death. There will obviously need to be some major changes in order to make this work on-screen. Namely, we can't have Thanos as powerful as he becomes in the comics. There would literally be no way anyone, never mind the Avengers, could stop him. He will likely come to Earth and make his presence known in a big way. We could see him wipe out half of the planet's population (similar to how he kills half of the universe's population in the comics) then set up fort out in space with the thrones and statues of Mistress Death. An Avenger will likely die during the final battle as well just to raise the stakes. Defeating Thanos and taking control of the Gauntlet, our heroes bring back half of Earth's population as well as their fallen comrade.

In terms of the role itself, I'm rather excited to see how Damion Poitier portrays the Mad Titan. While it's not officially announced, he was the one under all that makeup during The Avengers mid-credits scene. It's hard not to believe that this is his role to play.


"There are many actors in this grand drama and I, Thanos, appear to be the only participant with a full grasp on the situation."


Of course, this is all speculation until Marvel unveils more on Thanos and its upcoming films. I'm sure fans will have a few bones thrown on what to expect in the Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man sequels much like how the original films lead to The Avengers. What are your thoughts on what we can expect? Share with us in the comments below!
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