Delays suck. You get so excited for a product, then all of the sudden, "Woop, sorry guys! Gonna have to wait a bit longer plzundrstndkthxbai!"
Delays can happen for many reasons. Quality issues, conflicts within the development team, floods, alien abduction, mo-cap actors being deported to Ireland. Regardless of the reason, there are ways to properly handle delays, both after the fact and beforehand in case such a thing were to happen down the road.
Ubisoft is a master class of how not to do and handle delays.
Yeah, like we couldn't figure that out the first three times.
As you probably noticed, people weren't as burned about Black Flag's delay as much as ACIII's. Why is that? Well just like Black Flag, we expected ACIII to be delayed. But Ubisoft kept saying, "Nonononono, we promise, we triple promise that this won't happen." And then it did. No one likes it when promises are broken, so when Black Flag came around, Ubisoft promised nothing. Lesson learned, right?
Nope! Time for Rayman Legends!
We all know this story, so I'll just tell it in a nutshell. Rayman Legends was originally a Wii U exclusive that got delayed a little over a week before its February release all the way to September so that it could be ported to other systems.
Why did Legends get delayed? Was Ubisoft fearful of the Wii U's low install base? No, otherwise they wouldn't have bothered bringing it to the Vita. Were they just greedy bastards who just wanted every cent they could get out of every gamer? Maybe.
We don't know why Legends got delayed, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that this delay killed what hope the game had in growing legs. See, many people argue whether or not it would have sold more if it remained a Wii U exclusive. Would it?
Yes it would. See, we live in an industry where every developer and publisher is dependent on launch sales. After the first month, the game usually falls off the radar, and if it didn't maximize profits at that point, then it was a failure. Nintendo games are a different story. Their games continue to sell long after release. Just look at Mario Kart Wii. That game came out five years ago, and it sold one million units last year.
Let me reiterate: Mario Kart Wii came out in 2008. It sold one million units... in 2013.
How many developers can say that for their games?
Let's look at a more recent example: Super Mario 3D World.
The internet world was in chaos when Media Create's Top 20 Chart for 11/18-11/24 was released, as it revealed that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (released on 11/21) was at #1 with 277,082 units sold, while Super Mario 3D World (released on the same day) was at #2 with 99,588 units sold.
Huh? A 3D Mario (a game that historically sells less than 2D Marios) on a system with a low install base sold less than a game on a system with a much larger install base? Sound the alarm! Nintendo is doomed! It's over!
So what does this all have to do with Rayman Legends? Well, by February 2013, the Wii U had been around for nearly three months. People began wanting something new. This was the perfect opportunity for Ubisoft to plant a seed through Legends. Sure, it wasn't going to sell millions right out the gate, but its status as an upcoming quality Wii U exclusive would have pretty much guaranteed that when someone did buy a Wii U that it would one of the games included in that person's purchase, and it would have kept going long after release.
When Ubisoft delayed Legends and made it multiplatform, the game went from 'awesome exclusive' to 'just another game.' And it didn't help that it released on the same month as Grand Theft Auto V.
But Ubisoft was determined that this was the right decision. And how did it work out?
It didn't. In November 2013, Ubisoft announced that Legends (as well as Splinter Cell: Blacklist) failed to meet sales expectations, surprising absolutely no one. And I don't just mean that out of spite. By the time Legends was released, there were already so many better games out already and on the horizon, so it's no surprise that people chose them over this.
There are conflicting reports about which version of Legends sold the most, but I see more saying the Wii U version. Wouldn't be surprised. Nintendo gamers love them some 2D platformers.
And a 3DS port made perfect sense. After all, to my understanding, Origins did relatively well on the Wii and 3DS, and the 3DS is the best-selling gaming device right now, so why not? Well, right after it was announced that Legends was a financial failure, Ubisoft said that they were indeed porting the game...
This is going to bomb even harder than it did the first time. Let me tell you why.
First, and let's not kid ourselves here, the reason people are buying these two consoles is so that they can play games that are nigh photo-realistic. Legends is the antonym of the 'next-gen promise.'
Second, the vast majority of the people who buy consoles at launch are not 'new' consumers, but rather people upgrading from previous systems, people who have played the crap out of these systems and are ready for more, so if people were interested in this game, then they would have played it by now. There's something to be said about selling the same games to the same people.
Third, there's release date and price. Tomb Raider had only been out for 10 months, and Square Enix expects us to pay 60 dollars for minor graphical tweaks and DLC for the game type that nobody likes or asked for. Legends hasn't even been around for six months, and Ubisoft expects us to pay 60 dollars for 'sharper textures,' new character skins, and no loading times within levels.
If this doesn't spell "Disaster," I don't know what does.
Finally, we have Watch Dogs.
Let me tell you about my experience in anticipating this game.
When Ubisoft first introduced it at E3 2012, I, like many others, was blown away. And they followed it up with more amazing trailers and screenshots, and they even did another awesome demo during the Playstation 4 reveal.
Then E3 2013 came around, and I was very excited to see what Ubisoft would show this time. During their own press conference, they showed a CG trailer, which kinda bummed me out, but I figured they would show gameplay at Sony's show. And they did...
...It was an escort mission. And it was all downhill from there.
A few months after E3, we were shown another gameplay demo of Watch Dogs, this time showing Aiden infiltrating a building to install a virus into a control center so he can control electronic devices in that area. That's when I realized:
This is Assassin's Creed. Instead of hidden blades, we have iPhones. Instead of horses and pirate ships, we have Lamborghini's and Corolla's. Instead of viewpoints, we have control centers. It's the same. Damn. Game. After you get past the novelty of 'hacking' stuff, which is essentially "PRESS BUTON TO WIN GAEM," it's really nothing different from what we've played before.
And just when I thought my interest couldn't get any lower, Ubisoft delayed the game in October 2013, just a month before release. It was a damn shame for Sony, as they were promoting this game out the yin-yang. And what has been shown about the game since? Pretty much nothing.
I'm gonna say this right now: Watch DogsWILL fail to meet sales expectations. Here's why.
To reiterate, the budget was over 68 million dollars BEFORE the delay. How much is it now? Originally, Ubisoft expected the game to sell 6.2 million units at launch. How much does it need to sell now?
This is why I believe these rumors of the Wii U version's cancellation to be ridiculous. At this point, Ubisoft needs all the sales they can get, and cutting off a platform will not help them.
The other reason is the change in Watch Dogs' status as a game. At first, it was to be our first step into true next-gen gaming. But now that the next-gen console hype is starting to wear down, it's become just another game, just like how Rayman Legends lost its star status when it was delayed and became multiplatform. By the time it actually releases, we will have had plenty of 'next-gen' games to satisfy the hunger we had in the beginning. And it doesn't help that Ubisoft has done pretty much nothing so far to assure us that it will still be amazing.
Now before anyone tells me "But Trogdor! Everyone at IGN, Kotaku, and NeoGAF are very excited about it!" Let me tell you something: These are the same people who were begging Ubisoft to bring Rayman Legends to other platforms,and Square Enix to do the same with Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut. If those keyboard zealots actually represented the mass market, none of those games would have sold as poorly as they did.
The internet gaming community is a minority. An annoyingly vocal minority, but nonetheless... a minority.
So there you have it, folks. Three lessons to take from this:
First: Do not promise a release date. Use the word 'expect.' By using 'expect,' you let consumers know that anything can happen, and they'll be less upset if something does happen.
Second: If you're releasing a game on one system, go with your gut and keep it that way. Do not listen to people from internet forums telling you otherwise. It will be worth it in the long run, when all is said and done. And if you do delay it and make it multiplatform, you only have yourself to blame if doesn't work out.
Third: Do not blow your load about your game until you are 200% certain that the release date is golden and you know there will be absolutely no problems. You can only hold people's interest for so long in the event something happens.
Expect to hear from me if the Wii U version of Watch Dogs does get canceled and the game doesn't meet sales expectations.
Hi. My name is Stephen. It's been my dream since the age of eight to be somehow involved in making video games. I am currently in university majoring in Computer Game Design, with the aspiration of one day becoming a music composer for games. Today, I would like to share some knowledge, both to aspiring musicians and people who just want a good read.
As far as video game music goes, my absolute favorite composer is Grant Kirkhope. For those who don't know, Grant Kirkhope is a composer who has written music for quite a few games, most notably the two Banjo-Kazooie games for the Nintendo 64, as well as Donkey Kong 64.
It is pretty much an established fact that Kirkhope is a total badass. You can't really have a discussion about Banjo-Kazooie without mentioning his name and how awesome he and his music is.
But how does he do it? How did he make such memorable and amazing tunes? Well, this is where the title of this blog comes in. 'The Grant Kirkhope Formula' is a term I made up for the songwriting process of the N64 games Kirkhope worked on, namely the ones listed above. What I mean is, from what I've gathered, Kirkhope seemed to have had various catalogs of instrument combinations for the levels he would write for (For instance, he had one for snow levels, one for haunted levels, etc.) And I think that was they key. If you limit the amount of instruments to use, you'll be more likely to give each part as much TLC as possible if you want people to like your song. And that's how Kirkhope's songs became so memorable. You can tell that no one part in a song was given priority over another.
And that's not to say that his style is overly complex. On the contrary, it is actually quite simple. Today, I am going to show you how to write a Banjo-Kazooie song in a way that will totally not come off as self-promotion... *cough*
For aspiring musicians who want to become composers for games, replicating Kirkhope's style is a great place to start, mainly due to it's simplicity. First, you need three things:
1. A music writing program of some sort. Personally, I use Sibelius when I write songs. Sibelius is a program that allows you to write music just as the composers of old did, but in this digital age, you have an advantage: When you put notes down on the sheet, your computer will emulate that sound, and you can play back your whole piece to see how it sounds, making it easier for you to know where to make changes. Some of you may be overwhelmed by traditional notation and are more comfortable with blocks (like FL Studio does), and there's absolutely no problem with that. However...
2. A knowledge of writing music. This is why I prefer Sibelius. If you don't know how to write music, then Sibelius can help you by teaching you how to read it first. As far as quarter notes, half notes, rests, and the like go, you can learn that by just plopping notes down and seeing what comes out. But it is crucial to know the intricacies of time signatures, key signatures, and tempos, and I'm not too sure if other programs make it as simple as Sibelius does (I could be wrong, though. But in my opinion, transitioning from traditional notation to blocks is much smoother than vice versa). It may sound like a lot of work, but trust me; Once you can read music, you can easily write it.
3. A desire to write music. If you're an aspiring musician, this shouldn't be a problem.
Got all that? Of course you do. Let's get started!
First, I want you to listen to this. This is the very first song I ever wrote over a year ago.
Doesn't sound very Kirkhope-ish, does it? Well that's because I didn't intend it to be at the time. When I wrote this piece, I wanted to sound like you were visiting a fortune teller in an old school RPG. Hence, the title of this song, 'Madame.' So why did I show this song, then? Well, in time, I would turn this into a Banjo-Kazooie style piece, simply by changing and adding instruments.
And that, my friends, is the secret of 'The Grant Kirkhope Formula.' You can literally take anymelody you come up with and make it sound like a Grant Kirkhope piece. It all depends on the instrumentation.
So for today, we are going to write a song in the style of Clanker's Cavern from Banjo-Kazooie, and we're gonna keep it simple.Please take a moment and watch the linked video. Once you're done with that, we'll move on with creating a melody.
Now, since we're writing a Clanker's Cavern-styled piece, the best key to use for this dank and messy kind of level is B Flat, and we'll keep the tempo at about 100 BPM (beats per minute).
Once you have that in mind, just go about your day and make up some melodies in your head (or do it aloud). You can do this in the shower, on a walk, whatever. Once you come up with something you like, WRITE. IT. DOWN. Trust me, if you don't get it down on something before you go to sleep, you willforget about it.
And remember to take the melody's length into account. Clanker's Cavern lasts about two minutes before repeating, and it has several segments that sound different from each other, as well as a key change in the middle. My original song I showed you, 'Madame,' was only about 30 seconds before it goes into repeat because there was only one 'segment,' unlike Clanker's several. However many 'segments' you want in your melody, try to keep it under two minutes, so that when it repeats, it will still feel fresh.
Another thing you should keep in mind when coming up with a Grant Kirkhope style melody: The range. If you notice, the ranges of his melodies are never extreme; they never go all over the place. If you need assistance, use a piano as reference. Pick a small section of keys and work with them. To put this in simpler terms: Dream Theater likes to use every note in existence. You are not Dream Theater.
So, now that we have a melody, what instrument should we use for it? Well, one of the more prominent instruments in Kirkhope's catalogs is the clarinet, which is the instrument that provides the melody for the latter part of Clanker's Cavern before it repeats. Let's use that.
So with the melody taken care of, we need a bass line, percussion, and off-beat brass (I'll explain that one last). Now for the bass line, just do the same as you did with the melody. It will be much easier now that you have a melody to go by. This may sound like me being a lazy instructor, but trust me: Your imagination is the most important tool of songwriting. You can take all the music theory classes in the world, but, as useful as they are, they ain't gonna help you if you have a weak imagination.
But one thing to keep in mind when making a bass line: Keep it simple. You can just do quarter notes if you must. Just don't make it more complex than the melody.
Now there are a few instruments Kirkhope uses for his bass lines. For a Clanker's Cavern style piece, a tuba works best.
Unless you're a percussionist, writing percussion parts in Sibelius will be a pain in the ass. This is one the advantages of programs that use blocks instead of actual notation. If you're using Sibelius, this video is a godsend. It's actually really easy once you know what you're doing. Since you hopefully have a melody and bass line down, coming up with a percussion part should not be difficult.
The off-beat brass, in my opinion, is the most defining feature of a Grant Kirkhope song. Now, what do I mean by 'off-beat brass?' Well, let's refer back to Clanker's Cavern. During the four-count, you'll hear a pair of brass instruments making very brief sounds in between one and two, two and three, and three and four (aka the off-beat). For the off-beat brass, take two brass instruments, have one play a note, then have the other play a third below that note. When I say a third below, I mean the third note in the sequence starting with the note already placed. To make it simpler, you have the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. If you're playing A, then F would be the third below it (A, G, F). In sheet notation, if you have a note placed on a space (as opposed to a line), the lower third would be the space right below it.
Sometimes thirds won't work with the song you're doing. It may sound better in fourths or fifths. Experiment!
As for instruments, I'm not sure if Kirkhope uses two of the same instrument, but I use a trumpet for the high third, and a French horn for the lower third, just to add a little extra flavor.
Once you've gotten all that down, congrats! You've written a song!
That is much better. See what I mean? It's all in the instruments.
Now, are we done? Of course not! This is Grant Kirkhope we're talking about here! We're just getting started!
Usually, each level in the Banjo-Kazooie games has about one song with multiple variations, each one sounding like their own song. In this blog, we're going to cover three variations, starting with the most common one:
I'm not too sure what instrument Kirkhope uses for his underwater songs, but the closest thing Sibelius has is a harp.
When you place a harp in Sibelius, it will create two lines of music: one with a bass clef (to cover the lower notes), and one with a treble clef (which is worth 20 Notes *ba dum, tsh!*). Just copy and paste the melody on the treble clef line, and the bass line on the bass clef one. Done and done.
See how different it sounds? And it doesn't even require that much effort. It's freakin' awesome!
There are a couple of ways to handle this. Usually, Kirkhope just uses a marimba and calls it a day, but sometimes he gets fancy and adds a theremin. For my piece, I just used a marimba and called it a day.
The marimba, like the harp, has a great range and also uses a bass and treble line when put into Sibelius. The beauty of Sibelius is that it allows you to change the instruments without messing with the notes you've put down, which is very convenient for emulating Grant Kirkhope's style. So you can really just change the harp to a marimba and you'd be done. However, in a deep cave, you want to build suspense, so if your original melody or bass line has sixteenth notes or higher, make them quarter or eighth notes, like I did for the song below.
Aww yeah. Grant Kirkhope goes to town when it comes to the boss fights. And now you have the opportunity to go absolutely nuts with your music.
The most important part of a boss fight song is the intro. The intro is its own little thing that serves to let the player know just how screwed they are for picking a fight with the boss. Take, for example, the first two seconds of 'Weldar' from Banjo-Tooie.
Be creative with your intro. Brass, strings, whatever. Don't hold back. Just make sure that the intro is no longer than two seconds.
Now, unlike the other variations, you're going to have to make some changes for the boss fight, namely two things:
One: Increase the tempo. Experiment as much as you need to, but it has to be faster than it was originally.
Two: Whatever instrument provided the melody originally, change it to brass. For extra flavor, use a trumpet to play the melody, then have a French horn do the same, but an octave lower.
Another minor change that would help is to keep the tuba for the bass line, but restrict it to quarter and half notes. It fits better, trust me. Oh, and adding a timpani can also help. And cymbals. You need those clashes.
Now there is one last thing to add on to the song: Strings.
With strings for boss fight songs, Kirkhope does one of two things: Either he has them do eighth notes the whole time (like in Chilly Willy and Chilli Billi), or he has them do blistering fast arpeggios (like in Weldar and Mr. Patch).
I have not experimented with arpeggios yet, but it would seem that they are 32nd notes. Pretty damn fast. Kirkhope's arpeggios are usually eight notes long. Start with one note, then build up to the fifth note, which should be the same as the first, but an octave higher, then notes six through eight will be going down. Then you just repeat.
Doing eighth notes is a lot easier, as it's just one note the whole time. Either way, make sure you have two string parts. I find it easy to just have them be violins. If you're doing arpeggios, have them play the same thing to add extra oomph. But if you're doing eighth notes, have one play a note, and have the other play a third or so below it. I say 'or so' because, as I said, there will be times when writing in thirds just sounds weird. For example, in my finished piece, the strings played a fourth apart instead of a third.
And there you have it folks! You have completed what is necessary for a Banjo-Kazooie level. Give yourself a pat on the back.
So remember when I said that this totally wouldn't be self-promotion? Well, I apologize if you couldn't detect the sarcasm. As many people, including Kirkhope, will tell you, it's hard to get into the industry as a musician. And I'm witnessing this firsthand. There are so many internship opportunities I see at my university, yet none of them are looking for musicians. They all want programmers and animators, things I'm not good at.
What's a composer to do, huh? Well, as those same people will tell you, the answer is persistence. Do everything you can and more to get your name out. At some point, someone will listen.
You know, I had this blog on my mind for a while, but didn't really get the chance to get it down until now. I think I should make a series of this, maybe have the next one cover a snow level or something. Don't know when that will be, since the semester's about to begin, and I'm doing Advanced 3D Modeling and Animation... joy.
Well, once again, I hope you enjoyed reading this! Until next time!
The Dualshock pretty much set the standard for what a controller needed, and Sony knew it. So when they made the Playstation 2, they hardly made any changes to the controller. They just made it lighter and made most of the buttons pressure-sensitive, and they called it the Dualshock 2. And it was great.
Then when the Playstation 3 was announced, things started getting weird...
And no, I'm not talking about that abomination that was the boomerang design.
No, I am referring to one of gaming's most infamous moments in recent memory: Sony's E3 2006 presentation.
Yes yes, I know, 599 US dollars, Giant Enemy Crab, Riiiiiidge Racer! Did I get everything? OK, moving on.
Near the end of the presentation, Phil Harrison and Ken Kutaragi got on stage to introduce a "brand-new" feature of the Playstation 3 controller: Motion controls!!!!
The controller's name was based around this feature: SixAxis, short for 'Six Axes/Degrees' (the official term is 'Six Degrees of Freedom'). On stage, Harrison showed that however he moved the controller, the object on screen followed. Then he made splashes in a bathtub with a rubber duck.
This demonstration was... weird, to say the least. It was mainly because it felt like it went too long without showing actual games that would use SixAxis, which gave everyone the impression that the feature was just a knee-jerk reaction to the Wii (Spoiler: It was).
Near the end of the demo, people began wondering, "OK... but how would it work in an actual game?" And then, as if Sony read their minds, they showed off Warhawk, a game about driving a flying vehicle and blowing stuff up.
How did this game differ from the rest? Well Sony was determined to show Warhawk's superiority by showing off SixAxis, ditching the sticks and using the controller itself as a means to maneuver the ship.
It was quite clear that it would have been easier to just use sticks. And that's what I mean by 'sacrificing convenience for novelty.' And the only thing that could possibly make that situation worse is when the novelty in question doesn't work.
It took one game to make people believe this.
Lair was a game that had everything going for it, namely two things.
One: What better developer to make this kind of game than Factor 5? Their Star Wars: Rouge Squadron games proved they were more than capable of something like this.
Two: YOU'RE RIDING A FREAKING DRAGON!!! How could this possibly go wrong!?
One word: SixAxis. That feature single-handedly ruined Lair. It just. Didn't. Work.
Now they didpatch in control stick functionality, but it was far too late. Rest in peace, Factor 5.
Speaking of SixAxis being the name for the controller, what did this mean for rumble? It wasn't called 'Dualshock 3,' but they wouldn't just throw it away, right?
Well, they did. The reason? Well Phil Harrison called it a 'last-gen feature' and motion controls would make us forget about it.
Yeah, that lasted about a year.
So what's next? No, not the Dualshock 4. It's the Playstation Move! This was Sony's attempt to steal the Wii's audience, with two remotes (as opposed to the Wii's Remote + Nunchuk layout), both of with had more fluid response than the WiiMote, and buttons.
As evidenced by the Kevin Butler ad, one of the biggest selling points of Move was having much more buttons than the WiiMote, allowing you to do more things in your games. Ironically, that was the exactreason why it failed to capture mainstream attention (apart from the piss-poor games built around it, and the half-assed implementation of it in AAA games). The appeal of the WiiMote was its lack of buttons, allowing users to just pick it up and play games easily. It was convenient for them.
Next, we move on to the Vita.
The DS is very successful. The DS has touchscreens. Smartphones have touchscreens, and they are successful as well. Therefore, touch screens = success. Thus, if we put twotouch inputs on our new handheld, it will be twice as successful.
Finally, there's the Dualshock 4.
When Sony announced the Playstation 4 this past February, they showed off the Dualshock 4, as well as their latest knee-jerk reaction to Nintendo: a touch pad. Not a screen, but a pad.
Now, let's talk about the games that utilize the SixAxis, the Vita's touch inputs, and the Dualshock 4's touch pad. I will go by system, and give my take on how each game (that I know of) utilizes the system's feature.
Playstation 3 (SixAxis)
In Heavenly Sword, you use SixAxis to control arrows in slow motion to direct them to your enemies. While neat, it gets repetitive and boring after the first two shots... and you'll be doing this quite a bit.
In inFAMOUS, you use SixAxis to control your Thunder power, which you earn at the very end of the game. It feels like Sucker Punch completely forgot about SixAxis until the game was nearly finished, then decided to slap it on just so they can say the game takes advantage of the feature. Does the second game even use it? I never played it.
In Killzone 3, you use SixAxis to turn some wheel thing to set up a bomb. That's it, as far as I remember.
In Flower, you use SixAxis to control the movement of the wind. While awesome, it can be hard on the wrists, especially in the second to last level where you carefully avoiding getting shocked.
In Journey, you can use SixAxis to control the camera. I use the right stick.
In Heavy Rain, you use SixAxis as an input in the game's many quicktime events. The one in the very beginning when you shake the controller to simulate Ethan shaking a carton of orange juice actually felt natural and better than conventional inputs. You know something's wrong when the only game that actually makes good use of a feature is a game by David fucking Cage.
And that's about all I remember. If there are other games that use SixAxis, nobody ever talks about them. Shows how everyone truly feels about it, huh?
Playstation Vita (Touch Screen and Rear Touch Pad)
In Gravity Rush, you use the touch screen to slide around and dodge attacks. The tilt controls feel much less tacked on.
Persona 4 Golden, the most successful Vita game, doesn't use the touch features.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss, thanks to the touch screen, proved that quicktime events CAN be worse.
In Dynasty Warriors Next, you can tap on the rear touch pad to cause shockwaves, which is actually kind of neat, as rolling your fingers is a natural motion humans make. It's much better than repeatedly mashing a button. Oh, and you use the touch screen for duels. Fuck that.
Tearaway... Tearaway is a special case, as it's the only Vita game made by a developer that actually wanted to create something unique, and not the same shit, but with a twist! Seriously, if you have a Vita and you don't have Tearaway, you're a terrible human being.
Playstation 4 (Touch Pad)
In Killzone: Shadow Fall, you use the touch pad to select what you want your OWL to do. 'Cause, you know, it's much more convenient than using buttons and sticks where your fingers are naturally placed.
Knack doesn't use the touch pad.
In Blacklight Retribution, you use the touch pad to taunt, check the score, and to spin your customized weapon and character when you're viewing them. Wow.
In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, you use the touch pad to zoom the map. Wow.
In Injustice: Gods Among Us, you use the touch pad for minigames, which is what you do when you can't think of a way to implement a feature in the actual game.
In inFAMOUS: Second Son, you use the touch pad to gouge out your enemies' eyes. I'll admit, that's kinda awesome, but is that all it's gonna be used for?
The reason I did this was to show that there are hardly any Playstation games that would feel like lesser experiences if these controller features didn't exist (Hell, most of them would be better). Now, this isn't to fault the developers who use these features. I mean, it's there, so you might as well do something with it, right?
And that's exactly the problem. Sony is not giving these developers any incentive to go out of their comfort zone to create unique experiences. Hell, Sony admitted that the Dualshock 4 was designed to appease FPS developers, 'cause we don't have enough of those, right? So when these developers make their games, they approach these new features with the mindset of "We might as well," making the use of the feature as half-hearted as Sony's implementation of it into the controller. And it doesn't help that most of the successful Playstation games are multiplatform, and the developers want to make each version identical to the other.
I'm not saying these features are bad for business, far from it. But it's clear that Sony doesn't think in the long term when implementing these features. They don't approach them with a long term vision. They implement them because they're trendy, they're cool, they're what other successful companies are doing right now. Ever since the Playstation 3 was announced, they have repeatedly gone through this cycle of boasting about these great features and then not even acknowledging them.
SixAxis was a joke from the beginning, the Move is merely a memory, and the Vita had only been around for a year before Sony decided that it would find better success as a peripheral.
How long is it going to be before the Dualshock 4's touch pad is given the same treatment?
So there's a Nintendo Direct tomorrow. Exciting, isn't it? Always a pleasure to see trailers for soon-to-be-released games. But what you may not know (or have just forgotten) is that Nintendo once took this 'direct' approach to advertising 11 years ago.
In 2002, retailers handed out free DVDs (Officially called the 'Nintendo Preview 2002 DVD') to consumers that contained promotional footage of upcoming Gamecube titles. And I believe there were some DVDs in Nintendo Power issues (I think that's how I got mine). I'm not going to cover everything shown in the DVD because there is a LOT. In fact, for your convenience, here's a YouTube playlist of all the videos.
For this blog, I'm going to cover the trailers that caught my eye when I was a kid. And each game title will have a link to their respective trailer.
I never had the chance to play Vexx, but I remember watching this trailer countless times. It was just amazing. The CG was cool to look at, the gameplay looked really fun (seems like God of War with a touch of Nintendo), and the music... the freaking music, man.
It's a shame. It didn't seem like Vexx got any attention when it was released. From the playthrough I saw on YouTube, it is criminally underrated.
'A real-time game that's happening every second of every day.'
Those are the first words spoken in this trailer. And then they just bombard you with activities to do: Furnish your home, run errands, go fishing, do this, do that. Or don't. Things are always happening whether you're playing or not.
It's like reality away from reality. And who doesn't want to live in a village of cute, talking animals? I mean, come on.
I don't know about you, but I had a lot of fun with this game. Sure, it wasn't the Star Fox we had hoped for, but it was a good game nonetheless.
Except for that Test of Strength that had you mashing 'A' like a madman. Fuck that part.
Anyway, this was one of my favorite trailers. It does get points off for using royalty-free music (the song's called 'The Conquest 60') instead of original music, but if nothing else, it was a really good choice of song. Fit perfectly with the visuals.
Now how can you talk about the Gamecube without giving a mention to...
This was the trailer I watched the most. All because of that music. Just listen to it. It's beautiful. And you can listen to it in its entirety here.
Now what do these trailers have in common? And not just with themselves, but with Nintendo trailers of today?
They show gameplay.
We live in an age where companies are afraid to show what their games are actually going to be like when we're actually going to play them. And what do you do when you're not confident in your gameplay? Announce the game at least a year before release with a CG trailer or target render (or beefed up PC footage), and then promise that the final product will look exactly like that.
And that's what they all are: Promises. Promises just waiting to be broken.
Nintendo doesn't do that with their trailers. They show gameplay running on their hardware and their hardware only, so you can expect one of two things: either the game is going to be exactly like the trailers show, or it's going to be even better.
For that, I am grateful for Nintendo. You should be too.
Infinity Ward hyped up the Campaign Mode for Call of Duty: Ghosts because its story was being written by a guy named Stephen Gaghan, who apparently won an Emmy for something.
If I didn't know better, I would've thought it was written by a member of Call of Duty's majority demographic.
Here's the premise of Ghosts: Remember that mission in the original Modern Warfare where you're trying to stop some nukes from hitting the East Coast? Imagine if that mission failed, and there were missiles aimed all over the US. There's your premise.
Now the game begins with a middle aged man telling a story about these few soldiers who managed to fend off hundreds of enemies by hiding in the bodies of their fallen comrades. Though not exactly original, it was pretty well told, and the visuals complemented it quite nicely.
While this story was being told, I imagined that this man was telling it to his kids who haven't graduated high school yet and have expressed interest in joining the military. I also thought it was being told at night in the living room, before the kids went to bed.
Nope. It was being told outside, in broad daylight, to two grown-ass men.
Because of this, I immediately knew two things: One, the dad was/is one of the Ghosts. And two, he's preparing his kids to become Ghosts too.
Oh, and Hesh? Logan's (you) older brother? I dunno who did his voice, but I hope he never lands a gig again. He cannot act for shit.
Anyway, America blows up. Fast forward ten years.
Now the boys are in the military, and daddy sends them to No Man's Land, where nobody ever goes.... ooooooohhhh.
If you're not a complete moron, you can already tell that they're being sent for one last test, and if they pass, they join the Ghosts. Hesh even gives it away during the briefing, pretty much!
Now before I continue, I have a question about Riley, the dog: Why?
Here's what you can do with him: you can make him attack people, or you can control him yourself to attack people. That's it. So why hype him up so much? Well, judging from what I've experienced, it's because the game brings nothing else new to the table.
But that's for another time. For now, let's talk about Riley's contribution to the story...
...or lack thereof. He seriously does nothing in the game that humans cannot. It's obvious that Infinity Ward put him in there because everyone knows that people are suckers for cute animals in danger. When they said they didn't know what to do with Riley (meaning, to kill him or not), I predicted that someone would wound him, 'shocking' the player, but he'll turn out to be alright. Spoiler alert: I was right
Anyway, Logan and Hesh meet up with Keegan and Merrick, who turn out to be Ghosts, much to Hesh's surprise... at least I think he was surprised. You know what? Fuck it. I'm calling him 'Keanu' from now on.
The four men set out to find a captured Ghost named 'Ajax' before he gets killed.
SURPRISE!!!! He doesn't make it.
Before Ajax dies, he points to a kill list on a wall and mentions a name: Rorke. Keanu asks who Rorke is, to which one of the Ghosts responds with 'There's no time to explain.'
Seriously? How long does it take to say, "He was one of us, but now he's killing us?" It was obvious right from the moment the name was mentioned. Ghosts are supposed to be these anonymous badasses, yet someone has a list of them? But of course, Infinity Ward felt the need to save the 'surprise' for the end of the next mission.
Oh, and it's coupled with another 'surprise:' Daddy's a Ghost too!
If you don't plan on playing the game, go on YouTube and just watch Keanu's reaction to Daddy unmasking himself. I laughed harder than I ever did playing Saints Row IV.
Daddy 'reveals' that Rorke (I'm not sure if I'm spelling this right, so do forgive me if I'm wrong) was a Ghost, and recalls the day Rorke 'died' through a flashback mission.
Rorke was exactly what I expected him to be: bad-tempered, growly voice. That's about all there is to his character.
After the Ghosts kill this South American dude, the bus you're on goes vertical due to the bridge collapsing. You hang on to Rorke and the game prompts you to 'let go,' as if you're supposed to feel guilty or something.
The flashback ends, and your team is sent to capture another South American dude. You do so, and after Keanu pushes him into a room with a large TV and the team starts asking him where Rorke is, I thought "OK, it's a setup, Rorke's gonna appear on the TV to taunt us, then the building will start to collapse."
It was a setup, Rorke appeared on the TV to taunt the team, and the building started to collapse. You escape.
Afterward, explosions happen, and you capture Rorke.
It's revealed through a long-winded briefing that shortly after Rorke was separated from the Ghosts, the Federation captured him and tortured him. Oh wait, I mean they broke his body, his mind, and his soul. Ugh.
Anyway, Rorke is taken to a plane, Daddy tries to use Talk no Jutsu on him, and Rorke summons his army to rip off the opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises.
Afterward, explosions happen, and Rorke's army enters your base and ties you, Keanu, and Daddy to chairs. I pity you if you don't know the outcome of this.
That's right, Daddy dies. And here is where I realized the biggest problem with Rorke. He is so predictable. At one point, you break out of your chair and try to grab Rorke's gun. Of course, you fail, and Rorke goes, 'Huh. I like you, kid. *turns to Daddy* You could learn something from him.'
Here's a lesson for aspiring movie/TV/game writers: Show, don't tell. If you need to tell something, do it once. Show it the rest of the time.
After Daddy dies, Keanu finally shows a hint of emotion, and Riley gets shot (but don't worry. He's fine).
Afterward, explosions happen, and you use Special Beam Cannon on Rorke and Keanu (but don't worry. He's fine).
The two of you sit on a beach and revel in your victory. Here I thought, 'Well, it's not the most original ending, but oh well. It was decent.'
Then they just had to fucking ruin it.
SURPRISE!!! Rorke's still alive! Yes, he survived a .44 Magnum shot through the chest, and drowning in a train car that got thrown underwater. To make things worse, as he drags you away... the credits roll.
That's right. They ended a four-hour long campaign... with a cliffhanger.
And that's how you don't tell a story in a video game. Lesson for aspiring game developers: There's a difference between a famous writer and a good writer.