Posts Tagged ‘SimCity’

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

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Following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, video games have been front of mind for many Americans. Unfortunately, the focus has been almost exclusively on violence (even those titles are only minimally focused on firearms). EA put a smile on my face yesterday when they announced that the upcoming SimCity, one of my favorite titles from E3 2012, would be utilized for more than a solid entertainment experience. Specifically, Maxis and EA will be using the ambitious urban planning game to support STEM education initiatives. 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is designed to ensure that America’s students have the tools to compete and lead in innovation-focused fields in the 21st century. Traditional education funding is focused largely on classroom learning, but STEM advocates believe that extracurricular activities are crucial, providing a different setting and tone for learning and applying concepts. The United States Government is on board with the program, as it aligns with much of what President Obama and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been saying for years.

In 2009, the Administration launched the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grant program, placing emphasis on those proposals that included planned improvements in STEM education. Later that year, the “Educate to Innovate” campaign added $260 million to the effort to improve student learning in these areas. Of note, was the following initiative:

Five public-private partnerships that harness the power of media, interactive games, hands-on learning, and 100,000 volunteers to reach more than 10 million students over the next four years, inspiring them to be the next generation of makers, discoverers, and innovators.  These partnerships represent a combined commitment of over $260 million in financial and in-kind support.

One of the private “Educate to Innovate” partners, the MacArthur Foundation, has put its support behind GlassLab (The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab), located at EA’s Redwood Shores campus and also funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The program was announced in June 2012 as a partnership between those organizations, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Institute of Play, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed by a number of Gamelab game designers.  It is not easy to secure funding from either the MacArthur Foundation or the Gates Foundation. Both have rigorous review processes, and the fact that both have shown confidence in use of interactive gaming as a mechanism to further education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is significant.

EA will be participating in two events that will demonstrate how interactive entertainment can play a role in furthering STEM education and, specifically, how SimCity will be used to promote civic engagement. EA’s Senior Director for Government Affairs, Craig Hagan, will be participating on a panel with the MacArthur Foundation’s Director of Education Connie Yowell and Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy Roberto Rodriguez. The session, entitled “Learn. Build. Create.: Connected Learning Over the Next 4 Years” will be moderated by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Later on, EA will be conducting demos and explaining more about the GlassLab partnership.

Opportunities to evidence the broad diversity and impact of interactive entertainment are crucial, especially right now. Video games have more to offer than a soundbite for 24-hour news networks, and partnerships like GlassLab should be held up as shining examples of the good that comes from the industry. I look forward to the expansion of this conversation and the day that SimCity, Civilization and others like them are required playing in schools.