2008 Game Predictions part 1

2008 promises to be an excellent year for gaming. The 360’s software lineup should remain strong and the Wii and PS3 are coming into their own. From Spore to Metal Gear Solid 4, there will be some huge titles coming out soon, but will they actually live up to the hype?

Based on released information, knowledge of development history and gut feeling, we have chosen some of the games we most look forward to this year and predicted how they will turn out. These should be about as likely to be accurate as any analysts predictions and we charge less.

Golden Jew’s predictions

Civilization Revolution
I’ve written about this already, so this feels cheap and easy (like your… sister?). I stand by my prediction that this will be a good, if not great game. →  PaReader the Reader

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 10.26.07

Skies 2 on Wii?
This may be old, but it’s too amazing to not mention. EGM reported a rumor that Skies of Arcadia 2 is in development for the Wii.

An interview with Will Wright
Will Wright may be a genius. His games are all brilliant, despite always leaving me feeling empty and suicidal. When he speaks, people listen. And then complain if he offended their company loyalties.

Will thinks the Wii is the only next gen console. It’s noble of him to defend ingenuity but I think the higher ground is to simply dismiss next gen chest thumping entirely. In my experience, generations are measured in time and progeny, not progress. My father does not consider me to be in his generation simply because I am as slow, weak and annoying as he. →  Read more? No, I’ll read it all.

Expansion Packs, Add-ons, Sequels, and Other Crap the World Doesn’t Need

I love the Sims. I am hopelessly addicted to the nutty little people that live in their own world on my computer. I am so hooked to this virtual crank that each time EA kicks out another goofy expansion pack for it, I bite and grab myself a few new locales or items for my little demented Sims to play with. The Sims is a completely genius game while at the same time, a totally evil one. It is a game that is groundbreaking in a multitude of ways, but for me, one specific trait stands out: The Sims franchise, for better or worse, made expansion packs and add-ons a norm of gaming. Sure, there were games before that did it and had success but no game boasts the breadth of expansion-y goodness that the Sims has on the market. →  Densha de Read! Shinkansen

Ruining A Beautiful and Complicated World: Simcity Societies and How It Will Take a Dump on a Perfectly Good Franchise

When I was twelve, my life changed. I was a chubby little kid who was obsessed with the Super Nintendo and for my birthday party my parents let me rent a few games to keep all of my little friends occupied and from ruining their house. One of the games I picked that day was something of a strange choice. Instead of running around killing things, you built a city and watched it grow. That’s it.

No mass multiplying mushrooms to eat, no princess to save, no Triforce to assemble. You simply sat down, plopped some buildings in, some roads to connect them, and then watched the whole thing grow. The game never really ended and you could devote hours to one city. When you got sick of the city, you brought down the wrath of God on it and many Sims died in a fiery…or watery death. →  Now bear my arctic post.

Some thoughts on “presentation”

I don’t want to brag, but when I’m not writing fantastic and thought-provoking articles on vl, I spend the rest of my time as a game designer at a video game company (which is awesome, btw). And as such, I try to expand my knowledge on the subject of game design as much as I can. And today, a surge of information flooded my cerebrum after giving the Assassin’s Creed Sampler OST a listen.

Composed by Jesper Kyd, Assassin’s Creed is steeped in Persian aural stylings. If anyone has ever listened to or played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, you can understand what Assassin’s Creed will sound like. It’s a little more orchestrated, and keeps the hummable melodies to a minimum, but it’s essentially the same thing.

The music really got me in the mood to play the game, to experience what Ubisoft is going to do with expressing the Middle East during the Crusades. →  The Read Star

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 4.20.07

Sony’s Q2 release schedule
Between the PS3 and Wii’s upcoming releases, I wish I had a 360. Though some (Matt) would disagree, it looks like adopting a next gen system early is a bad move. After Paper Mario there’s nothing I want to play on the Wii, at least nothing at the current going rates of titles. Maybe I’d pick up Metal Slug for $30, Excite Truck for $25 and only ask to be paid $20 to take Wii Play.

At least my stupid investment only cost $250 and there are plenty of good Virtual Console games to play. If you’re one of the few rich people with a PS3, look on the bright side — you’ll be able to download Joust soon.

New Wii/DS studio CEO speaks
I like what co-founder of Jet Black Games has to say:

“With game team sizes at the time already easily exceeding 100 or even 200 people, it seemed like this might be the last opportunity to work in a smaller, more creative environment… given our company’s values and goals, it was natural that we align ourselves with Nintendo.” →  Guitar Hero III: Legends of Read

Two Gamecubes duct taped together

Chris Hecker angered a lot of people by calling the Wii a piece of shit at this years Game Developer’s Conference. The thrust of his “argument” seems to be that games are art and Nintendo is focusing solely on making entertainment, not art, and therefore Nintendo is bad. It’s worth noting that on his website Chris says he is the Editor at large of Game Developer magazine, yet their website and the february issue I hold in my hands neglect to mention he holds any position there. But back to the issue at hand – some of the videolamer staff have been kind enough to tell us their thoughts on the situation.

Pat says:
This speech took place during a “rant” session, which seems to encourage hyperbolic, polarizing comments. So while my first reaction was “Who cares?” →  Sonic the Readhog

Review – Metropolismania

Some games are hard to put down. Often this is because a game is great fun, but entertainment isn’t always the force that drives us to keep playing. Sometimes we continue gaming because of a lack of clearly defined beginnings and endings; we don’t know when or where to stop so we just keep on going. Oddly enough, games that break play into nearly infinite tiny rounds deliver the same psychological effect as games that have no levels nor turns.

Will Wright and Sid Meier are experts at creating addictive gameplay through this method. Both Pirates! and Sims lack any clear level progression, while Civilization cuts up play time into such minute turns that each feel too short to be considered optimal stopping points. “Just one more turn!” is a cry familiar to anyone who has fallen victim to Meier’s brilliant design. →  Mrs. Article, you’re trying to seduce me.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 1.18.07

Breaking news: Bill Gates likes the 360
When asked how the system’s strategy is working out, Gates replied, “It’s working perfectly.” So they DID mean to launch with nothing worth buying, have fewer than a 10 million lead on their year delayed competition, and fail in Japan a second time. That’s a relief. Other comedic tidbits — Gates says Sony is their biggest competition, despite last week saying Nintendo was their biggest competition, and then goes on to brag about owning Rare, which was largely a waste of millions of dollars.

Gates is a bright guy, sure, but he is also a bullshit artist. Other gaming sites have said that he is a man who doesn’t mince words; he says what he means and means what he says. These sites are wrong and possibly deluded. →  Final Post VII

What is a hardcore gamer?

Holy crap the Serious Games Summit looks like fun!

So E3 has come and gone. I missed out on most of the news and hoopla, in favor of catching up after the dust settled. I did, however, read more than a few articles that popped up in the month prior to E3, specifically those that dealt with the marketing aspect of the games industry. I’ve seen articles discussing mobile games, non-roleplaying MMO’s, and a mysterious new thing called “Serious games.”

Most of this meant very little to me in the long run, but one debate that has been brought up as of late has piqued my interest: “Who is a hardcore gamer, how do and why should we cater to them?” This has to be one of the worst questions they could possibly ask, and even worse, they can’t even get the answer right. →  Read more, before it’s too late!

Untapped Talent

First a confession. Last night I watched Project Runway. Girlfriends often force you into doing things you wouldn’t normally do (like shower) and this was no exception. I don’t like fashion and it doesn’t like me so we stay 50 yards apart at all times. I could go on and on about the lush tapestries and… nevermind, I’ve already run out of words to describe fashion, but I do have a point in all of this. A designer was dismissed because he didn’t do a great job sewing the garment he designed.

Who cares if he can’t sew, if his designs are good then he will have a team or sewers, or better yet, a sweat shop. To penalize and dismiss him from the field for something as trivial as sewing ability is to only deprive the fashion world of his talent. →  How many games must a gamer play before you call him a gamer?

Idol Worship: Bo and Ippo

An extension of the Best Game Ever column, this new space allows me to not just love and gush over my favorite games, but caress and manhandle some of the people who made my favorite games. An obvious first choice would be someone like Shigeru Miyamoto, Yuji Naka, Sid Meier, or Will Wright, but that wouldn’t be very exciting and where’s the elitism and snobbery in picking someone everyone already knows? Their days may still yet come in the pages of Idol Worship, but for now we will examine two little known composers who worked for Sega in their golden age, Tokuhiko Uwabo and Izuho Takeuchi, better known as Bo and Ippo (well, to me at least).

Sega, like Atari, refused to give credit to their staff well into the 90’s. →  SaGa Frontier Readmastered

Shortcomings of the Emerging Plot

Will Wright
Will Wright bores an audience at the Game Developers Conference.

We have probably all heard the complaint that a game felt like a movie instead of a video game. Echoing this sentiment, a handful of successful developers (Will Wright, for example) has criticized traditional linear story telling in games. Randy Smith, in an interview in “Game Creation and Careers,” describes the difference between embedded narrative and emergent narrative. In the first Thief game, for example, Looking Glass wrote an overarching plot that was presented to the player by cut scenes. This immutable narrative is the embedded part of the story. The emergent narrative is the low level plot, the specifics of what happens throughout each individual mission. By presenting the player with game mechanics that allow him to overcome challenges in multiple ways, Smith argues he is allowing the player to, on some level, write his own story. →  When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a game.