Archive for March, 2013

Welcome to “All the news that’s Futt to print” for Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Can’t spend your entire day on Twitter or bouncing from news outlet to news outlet? Fine, I suppose you’re entitled to your “real life” and your “job.” Here’s what you missed today.

News!

It’s a quiet news day, so I’ll make this brief.

One of the most annoying things about posting trailers for M-rated games (and viewing them, for that matter) are age gates. It’s so easy to circumvent them that they can’t be considered a legitimate measure to prevent under-age viewers from gaining access. This week, the ESRB has given publishers their permission to create general audience trailers for adult-oriented titles. The concept is similar to green-band movie trailers that have been a staple of the film industry for years.

Additionally, the ESRB loosened rules on cross-promoting mature titles with those that have received ratings for broader audiences. This practice dates back to at least the PlayStation 2 era, when Konami bundled a playable demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 with Zone of the EndersTraditionally, the ESRB has allowed demos for M-rated games (or those likely to receive that rating) to be included only with other mature audience products. Under the new guidelines, the ratings board has given itself the authority to allow more diverse pairings, on a case-by-case basis. Don’t worry, though. It’s unlikely that Skylanders Swap Force will include a sample of the latest Call of Duty.

CD Projekt Red has told Eurogamer that the studio’s next title, Cyberpunk 2077, will include “multiplayer features.” Before you start having SimCity nightmares, the specific nature of how you’ll play with friends (or foes) has yet to be detailed. The developer also hasn’t ruled out multiplayer for The Witcher 3.

Nintendo is finally ready to talk about their plans for the Wii U Gamepad’s near-field communication capabilities. The latest installment in the Pokémon Rumble series will be a downloadable title, with seven toys available for purchase at launch. According to the latest issue of CoroCoro magazine (translation available at Serebii.net), the figures will store battle data. I await the inevitable Skylanders X Pokémon title.

Entertainment!

The island of Yamatai is haunted, and Lara Croft is up against her most terrifying foe: floating flashlights. This happened to me today, and I thought I was losing my mind. Thankfully, an intrepid YouTuber caught it on film (and in the process confirmed my sanity… at least in this regard). All this needs is a monochrome filter and those wonderful actors from Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.

Welcome to “All the news that’s Futt to print” for Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Can’t spend your entire day on Twitter or bouncing from news outlet to news outlet? Fine, I suppose you’re entitled to your “real life” and your “job.” Here’s what you missed today.

Where have I been? Tomb Raider’s island of Yamatai and the SimCity of Neo Futteria. I’m back though, and I’m rarin’ to go.

News!

Ron Gilbert, the genius behind the Monkey Island series and, most recently, The Cavehas parted ways with Tim Schafer’s Double Fine. The complete post (along with a neat map of the titular cave is available on Gilbert’s blog). Fear not, though. He’s currently working on an iOS game entitled Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG. He’ll also be the keynote speaker at the inaugural PAX Australia.

Once upon a time, gamers were excited about a film based on Irrational GamesBioshock. It was canceled two years ago, but now (thanks to Edge), we finally know why. The short version is that the budget for the R-rated, blood-soaked film was scaled back because of tepid response to The Watchmen. Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean), who was slated to direct wasn’t thrilled about the reduction in resources, and the new director wasn’t a great fit. Rather than face a flop, Ken Levine (creative director and co-founder of Irrational) wisely decided to pull the plug.  

Speaking with The Verge at SXSW, Ouya founder Julie Uhrman has shared that the Android-based console will not support the promised social features when it launches in June. Chat, friends lists and achievements will not be operational when the tiny box arrives at retail. Ouya will be ready support online multiplayer, though.

Rock Paper Shotgun is reporting that, according to their Maxis insider, SimCity doesn’t require the servers to compute anything. This is in stark contrast to what we’ve been hearing from EA and Maxis about the Glassbox engine since E3 of last year (and even as recently as this past week). I would expect EA to comment quickly on this rumor, as even right now their new server status page is unreliable and features (like Cheetah Speed and leaderboards) have yet to be reactivated.

You might think that disabling the fastest speed at which the game can move wouldn’t make an enormous difference in game play, but in the five or six hours I’ve managed to put in, I sorely felt its absence. There are many times, especially early on, where funds are required in order to progress. Staring at a city that doesn’t require much attention isn’t terribly interesting. There’s been no word from Maxis as to when the excised elements might make a return.

Entertainment!

I don’t know you, DarthDaddy42, but in a period that has seen the cancellation (rumored or otherwise) of Star Wars properties (Star Wars 1313the animated Clone Wars series and an Xbox Live Arcade title called Star Wars First Assault), you are a reminder that these things can live on in our dreams. Check out this Father of Year’s handiwork (entire gallery here). Yes, the S-Foils do lock into attack position.

StarWarsBed2

StarWarsBed

Welcome to “All the news that’s Futt to print” for Monday, March 4, 2013. Can’t spend your entire day on Twitter or bouncing from news outlet to news outlet? Fine, I suppose you’re entitled to your “real life” and your “job.” Here’s what you missed today.

News!

Kotaku is reporting that Jason West, co-creator of Call of Duty, co-founder of Infinity Ward and, most recently, co-founder of Respawn Entertainment, has not been with the studio since last May. Respawn isn’t talking, and declined Kotaku’s request for comment. Interestingly, Game Informer conducted an interview last May with West and his partner at Respawn, Vince Zampella. At that time, there was no mention of West’s departure.  Respawn popped back into the news recently, as Zampella tweeted that the studio would finally be at E3 to show off what they’ve been working on.

On the PlayStation Europe blog, Sony has indicated that PlayStation Plus will have a prominent role on the PlayStation 4. Sounds like there’s reason to rejoice… right? Before you uncork the champagne, let’s examine exactly what was said.

How do you see the PlayStation Plus service evolving over the next couple of years as PlayStation 4 enters the ecosystem?

Jim Ryan [Sony Computer Entertainment Europe President and CEO]: We’re very happy with the service that we’ve been able to offer with PS Plus. It’s been really well received – the value is quite extraordinary and the take-up has trebled over the course of the past year. We definitely see that as a core part of the way forward. We’re not yet in a position to disclose our plans for the future of PlayStation Plus, but there will definitely be a prominent role to play for it in the PlayStation 4 landscape.

It is entirely possible that Sony will stay the course with the service and continue the Instant Game Collection program on PS4. I think it’s more likely that PlayStation Plus was a trojan horse to build a base of paying customers. Microsoft approached this by telling customers to open their wallets in order to play online. Sony needed to take a different approach since they promised free online play. Instead of putting social features behind a paywall mid-generation, they slowly ramped up the level of incentives. Discounts, cloud saves and free games lured in many. Sony even managed to capitalize on one of the platform’s greatest weaknesses, obtrusively long patch times, giving Plus members the option of automatically checking for updates during off hours.

The hardest part is getting customers to open their wallets for a subscription that first time. That is doubly true with PlayStation Plus, because free games downloaded using the service cease to work if a user’s subscription lapses (making renewals and easier selling proposition). Using this approach, Sony has created and reinforced a consumer habit of paying for a PlayStation service. It would be very easy for them to keep the Plus name (especially now that it has an attached perception of being a good value) and alter the service greatly on the PlayStation 4. Online play behind the Plus paywall? Sure. Access to Gaikai streaming when (if?) that ever becomes a reality? Definitely. Streaming and sharing? It wouldn’t surprise me. Continued early access to demos and betas? Absolutely. Instant game collection? Maybe… but with the service so tightly integrated into the PS4’s bullet point selling features (especially if streaming and sharing are premium offerings), I wouldn’t count on it.

According to a report on Polygon, TimeGate Studios, one piece of the infamous development quartet responsible for Aliens: Colonial Marines has laid off approximately 25 employees. You might recall that Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford attributed approximately half the work on the critically-annihilated Aliens game to TimeGate, in a conversation with IGN. According to TimeGate’s president, Adel Chaveleh, ongoing projects at the studio have not been impacted by the staffing cuts. My thoughts are with those affected by the layoffs.

inXile Entertainment is returning to Kickstarter with a pitch for a new game in the Planescape universe entitled Torment: Tides of NumeneraRight off the bat, CEO Brian Fargo and company are working to allay any fears, stating that the artists and writers have completed work on Wasteland 2, the studio’s $2.9 million Kickstarter success. They are ready for their next project. By the time art and story are finished, developers will have wrapped up their piece of Wasteland 2, leaving them able to jump right into the TormentWasteland 2 is on track for an October 2013 release. If funded at the $1 million goal level or greater, Torment: Tides of Numenera will be targeted for a 2014 launch.

The Kickstarter campaign for Torment: Tides of Numenera will kick off on March 6, 2013, at 6 AM PST.

Entertainment!

I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of days. I am a big fan of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block, and I have a particular fondness for The Venture Brothers. Check out one of my favorite scenes recreated in Source Filmmaker. Henchmen gonna hench.