Sunday, December 30, 2012


They said it couldn’t be done. They said the 360 wouldn’t be around long enough. They said it would take a decade. They said… a lot of things. It has been a tumultuous last year, but BioWare and Mass Effect 3 have done what couldn’t be done. Thus there is no other choice, no game that meant more, or will be remembered as much as Mass Effect 3, this years Game of the Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future." - Sonmi-451, 2144

Just saw Cloud Atlas, it was amazing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Because really how can you have Christmas without It's a Wonderful Life.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Rise of CSR Racing

I’ve been ignoring mobile gaming for a while now. After testing it out last year when I first got my IPhone I had dismissed it out of hand. With the exception of a few games, mostly made by traditional game makers like Epic and SquareEnix; everything I played felt derivative. I dismissed mobile gaming because I felt that it would never rise to the level of quality that we see in console and pc gaming; that we’ve longed for and only rarely saw in handheld games like The World Ends with You for the DS. With the barest of exceptions mobile games have always felt like businesses first with a secondary, far smaller concern that they be fun. Enter CSR Racing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


This is the big 1 0 0. I’ve been pondering where to go from here. When I started this blog, I started it with the intent of merely marking time, to force myself to write and see if I had the goods. I’m at 100 now, I haven’t been tarred and feathered, and I’m still here.

I look at the industry and I see turmoil. Developers are losing their jobs, the print journalist is a becoming  extinct with magazines going the way of newspapers and dodo birds, and gamers get a lot of their information from the internet as opposed to just a decade ago when most everything was print. Things are changing in this industry we love and no one is quite sure how the dice will fall.

The Newsroom is one of my favorite new shows. The characters are always talking and putting it all on the line, even when things don’t always come out as they might have hoped. I asked myself, how can I do any less than fictional characters. So here’s my promise to you dear reader:

I will never pander to your fears, nor let the fear of an adverse reaction, change what I believe to be true.
I will always ask questions, and give strong, sound, well thought-out answers.
I will always be civil.
I will never give you anything other than my best.
I will always respect the reader and the material; if I’m writing about it, it will be excellent.
I will never use lies or allow the obfuscation of others to win an argument.
I will never pander to the loudest denominator.
This is my promise to you, I will never break it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Digital Game Monetization Summit has an article about the business side of gaming, especially as it relates to the mobile market. Here are some excerpts I thought were quite interesting:

“If you look at what people successfully did on Facebook or the early days of mobile, a lot of it was about cheap user acquisition through the spammy virality that Facebook allowed for a while, or manipulations of the terms of service from Apple or Google on the mobile side. That's gone away,” said Greg Richardson, CEO of Rumble Entertainment. “Of the $50 billion that was spent worldwide last year on games, less than 10 percent was spent on casual content. These companies were really smart around analytics and monetization and very light in terms of product and content creation. I'm not sure any of those things are particularly sustainable. The future lies in going into the larger part of the market which is people that self-identify as gamers, and where the user acquisition and long-term value creation comes from making great games.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Old Is New Again

I’ve been really enjoying the videos of FFXIV: ARR’s alpha testing. I enjoy the old school feel to the game. It’s pretty like only a Final Fantasy game can be, it’s also enormous and I can’t wait to explore the world that SquareEnix is building. All they need to do is tap into the joy I had playing FFXI and they'd be golden, as least for me. I loved the old Everquest vibe FFXI and FFXIV had. More than anything what I'd really want is a slightly, very slightly modernized take on FFXI. Eleven did so many things well; I hope they stick to their guns on how they wish to make a game. So many times I see games with mashups of the "best" feature of other games, but in trying to collect the best of the best, the game lost its soul; I don't want FFXIV to do that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Great Game, Wouldn’t Play

You ever have a game that impresses you; a game that surprises you with how it does things. You sit down and take a look at the game and you are impressed, but when you get up from you’re seat you think to yourself ‘too bad, great game, wouldn’t play’.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Tank’s Life

I love playing a tank character in MMO’s. I loved playing Guild Wars 2 but there is something positively seductive about playing a tank. It was one of the reasons I went back to The Old Republic. Everybody always goes for the damage dealers when they play. I understand that, after all my first 50 in TOR was a Juggernaut. I always like to say a Juggernaut in Ravage is the most beautiful sight in The Old Republic. I love the fact that my Juggernaut giggles when she procs a Ravage, it always makes me smile. But I’ve been on a tanking kick the last few weeks. In The Old Republic, none of the three tanking specs play alike.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Best of the Best IV [Modern Movies]

The best romances in modern movies. Yes romances and not romantic, I loathe most romantic movies; blissfully ignorant of reality. You ever notice how most romance movies never tell anything about the happily ever after; it’s just assumed? Life is the afterwards and yet somehow they always manage to ignore it. I just finished Halo 4; the Master Chief and Cortana. One a genetically modified human who is seeing for the first time cracks in what defines him as the other an artificial intelligence is faced with an all too human mortality. Halo 4 dared to say that War had welded Cortana and The Chief into something even they couldn’t fully understand, something that they knew had meaning beyond all hope. For Cortana, the best romances in modern movies.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Raise Your Freak Flag

I was reading an article the other today espousing the dangers of having too much story or putting too many resources toward story. I read this article a little disappointed. I’ve always loved story and the idea that there can ever be too much story is such a foreign thought to me. As I contemplated the article I began to realize that it wasn’t the article that disappointed me, or the quality of the writing, the me-too feeling of bashing The Old Republic; what I had issue with was far more basic, the idea that story doesn’t matter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What's The Matter Charlie Brown?

What’s wrong with gear progression? It’s a big topic these days, the so called ‘endgame treadmill’. Gamers are up in arms over the idea that Guild Wars 2 has a ‘vertical treadmill’. I chuckled when I saw the uproar, three months is just about time for the new paint to be off a MMO, but as I delved deeper into the meaning behind the brouhaha, I was puzzled. My question is who cares? I don’t know what RPG anyone else was playing over the last two decades but gear progression is the name of the game. Cool sets of armors, that sweet sword that can only be gotten by trading a really nice sword halfway through the game. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Dragon Age, Diablo, you name it they all had it. I understand gamers want progress or innovation with regards to the structures of MMO’s, or at least they say they do, but why with regards to gear progression? It’s a time tested method of proving that all that time and hard work is paying off.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's that day again, a day we all love. Eating turkey, hanging out with family and friends; its the best time of the year. As a gamer, especially one who lives in America, I am often thankful for the time and place where I've been born. This year has been an especially great year for gaming and for all the ups and downs it has been a great year for me as well. So I am thankful, I get to do what I love and it's the greatest feeling in the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cash Shop: The Old Republic

The Old Republic went F2P last week and brought with it cash shop. Here is what I've gleaned about what works and what you should avoid (Special Thanks to Darthhater and Dulfy for research purposes). First of all, there are tiers of packs to buy Cartel Coins; the cash shop currency in TOR, each one is bigger than the last. Buy the largest pack, the $39.99 pack; it’s the only one that makes sense. Look some things are cheap in the cash shop and some things are not, but getting the biggest bang for your buck is ideal when looking at any cash shop. Essentially the $5 pack comes out to 90 coins per dollar and the $39.99 pack is 137 coins per dollar. That’s a nearly 50% increase in spending power. What you use those coins on depends on your playing style and how much time you have.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love Me Tender

Video games have changed in recent years. It appears as video games have become bigger business, gamers are less inclined to love a company. Previously the breadth of a companies work would be the weights in the scale of greatness, now it’s their words against their deeds. We see this with the recent public denouncement of BioWare, Blizzard, and now ArenaNet. It’s an interesting phenomenon, more often than not these companies haven’t changed at all; they make top quality product for money and love of the industry. I sometimes wonder if it is gamers who have changed or at least their perceptions. Maybe it’s the explosion of the news now cycle and smaller attention spans, or maybe the widespread use of the internet to disseminate information and closer examination of detail. I can’t quite make heads or tails about where it comes from though. All of these companies are still making top shelf product, so how did they fall from grace?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do as I say, Not as I do

‘Why don’t people just say what they mean’? A few weeks ago I was watching The Good Wife and I heard those words. The character, an accountant turned glorified debt collector, was talking to a woman who had tried to use him and his position to hurt the firm whose debt he was trying to collect; she reacted badly when he turned her ruse back on herself. It’s been ping-ponging in the back of my mind that phrase. Three things happened this week to bring it back to the forefront of my mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Best of the Best III

The Most Visually Impressive Movies ever made, the awesome, the awe-inspiring (in no particular order):

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Way of Customer Service (For the scholarly gamer and developer alike)

The Customer is not always right. There I said it. Lately I’ve seen a shocking and disappointing trend in video games. Some very vocal and less then well-mannered section of fans seems to think that what they want or think matters. Now let me start by saying that video game companies are not allowed to work in a vacuum, there has to be some back and forth between themselves and their customers. However, and this is the big part, customers do not always tell the truth. This can arise from many reasons. Sometimes customers don’t know what they want, sometimes what they think they want has no bearing on what they actually enjoy and look forward to having, sometimes they just plain tell untruths, but mostly customers can be swayed by the mob mentality. For example, when World of Warcraft first launched a very vocal section of the MMO-sphere was aghast at the idea that most of the experience gained would be from quests, the idea that a person wouldn’t spend hours upon hours in ‘camping spots’ grinding out experience was anathema to them. Think that’s too long ago to be relevant? When World of Warcraft came out with its dungeon finder, a small but vocal minority of gamers were aghast that Blizzard was committing heresy by having a dungeon finder, tales of badly made PUG’s, with loot hungry fiends abounded. In the last year every MMO that has launched but especially The Old Republic, The Secret World, and Guild Wars 2 has been criticized roundly for not having a Dungeon Finder at launch. The Customer is not always right.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trust Falls

Author’s Note: This is third and final part of a three part series in a look at the rise of F2P in the West. I will take a hard look at the path to a F2P MMO market and what it means for gamers and developers alike.

Part III: Trust

What is the purpose of a video game company? Is it to make money, develop games, or is it something greater? I believe that video game companies are Trusts between those that make games and those that play games. Saying that video game companies are just a business or just a company that makes games ignores the very real bond between gamer and developer. I remember going to camp and having to do the ‘trust fall’. Anyone who has ever gone on a work retreat probably knows what I’m talking about. A small group of people go up a platform and fall backwards to each be caught by the group. Each person has their hands tied in front of them before attempting the fall. If there is trust, then everything works smoothly, but if one is hesitant or afraid there is the wild swinging of arms and elbows; it usually means more is injured then just pride.

To Stand Alone

I’ve been watching the final season of Fringe, I love it by the way, but I noticed especially early on that some reviewers had no idea how to take it. Fringe’s final season was cut into three Acts. Much like a story or play it’s as if the final thirteen episodes are being written out like a novel. Rather than have the monster of the week concept, each week’s episode is merely a continuation of the lasts’. It’s perhaps common on channels like HBO, Showtime, and the like, to have short season shows run this way but on the Big Four it’s pretty rare. I still remember watching Deadwood and being amazed how the show was run and then seeing shades of that show-running on The Good Wife. Network heads famously hate shows that don’t have the so called standalone episodes that frequent most shows, audiences can be notoriously fickle and the thinking is that if you don’t have standalone episodes, people who haven’t seen a show will be hesitant to come on board midway through a season. Because Fringe is in its final and shortened season they’re playing around with a different setup and for me at least, its working smashingly. It’s sometimes difficult to do things differently. The video games industry is going through upheaval after upheaval, from how companies get funding, to how they make games, to how we pay for games. Change is difficult enough when you’ve got everything riding on success, let alone when you’re not certain it will be viewed positively by your audience. So here’s a shout out to those who take chances, those who take the brave first steps, those who Stand Alone.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Importance of Being Innovative

Author’s Note: This is Part II of a III part series in a look at the rise of F2P in the West. I will take a hard look at the path to a F2P MMO market and what it means for gamers and developers alike.

Part II: Innovation

What is Innovation? Is Innovation fun? Does Innovation lead to greater sales and profit? What is Innovation? When things are going badly developers will do anything to stop the hemorrhaging; they’ll throw everything and the kitchen sink at the problem. They say ‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’, which is why Innovation is often defined as 'it’s when things are worst that you’ll do the previously unthinkable'.

Turbine Studios

Turbine Studios was hit with layoffs last week. It follows the high profile layoffs at Bigpoints’ LA studio and Zyngas' Austin studio this week. The makers of Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine is seen by many in the gaming world as one of the best examples of a F2P conversion from subscription-only based payment structure. Turbine just released its forth expansion, Riders of Rohan. After a game goes gold there are routine layoffs, as companies will often hire temp workers in the crunch time before launch. If these round of layoffs are merely that then there is little to be concerned about with the regards to the overall health of the company, but if the layoffs are more dire than the gaming world must step back and try to understand if F2P is working in its current iteration.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Good for the Goose, Good for the Gander

Author’s Note: This is Part I of a III part series in a look at the rise of F2P in the West. I will take a hard look at the path to a F2P MMO market and what it means for gamers and developers alike.

Part I: Money

There is a fundamental dichotomy in the way developers and gamers view F2P. From a business standpoint the only real reason for a developer to take a game F2P is to make more money than they are currently making. Certainly offering choice is a nice aside, but the point of the switch from subscription to F2P in whatever form, is to make more money than they are currently making. Gamers on the other hand view the F2P switch as a way to play a game without spending money, or more accurately they wish to control the way and the when of the money being spent. Here in then lies the Dichotomy, while gamers might have a thought in the back of their minds about the idea of business driving decision-making for developers, they aren’t inherently moved by the argument. So too developers might also acknowledge that gamers want everything for free, while putting that aside to make money. The games that make the best compromise between those two schools of thought are the ones that are likely to be the most successful.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Reboot. It’s a popular term these days. Everyone from Hollywood to video games is using the word. It is most commonly used in reference to computers, the act of restarting a computer in case of a system crash or operating system upgrade. There are times though when I wish the word was never used. The Tomb Raider franchise has decided to ‘reboot’ the story; start over from scratch. At the time when I first heard it I felt some confusion, I had liked the previous two games, infact they had won awards and received critical praise and commercial success. The idea that the franchise needed a reboot was slightly annoying to me. As time went on, the studio made great pains to publicly distance themselves from past efforts. I acknowledge that no story can go on forever but where does that leave those of us who enjoyed the experience when we’re told that was a lesser product. 

I remember when Michael Bay, Hollywood’s perennial loud mouth cast aspirations on his own movie, the second Transformers. He was quoted as saying "We made some mistakes…The real fault with ["Transformers 2"] is that it ran into a mystical world. When I look back at it, that was crap. The writers' strike was coming hard and fast. It was just terrible to do a movie where you've got to have a story in three weeks." I remember when I read this thinking, so if I liked the movie what exactly does that make me? In the end, where there is money to be made there will be Reboots, but I for one am sorry to see them stay and will be happy to see them go. By the way, did you hear they’re rebooting Batman?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do Not Pass Go

I was scanning over an article last week about the visibility of the Wii U. I didn’t pay much attention to it but I noted it as interesting enough to remember. Then a few days later my younger sister asked me what the Wii U was ‘is it a Gameboy’ she queried me. I remembered the article and so I asked her what she thought it was. She went back and forth from a Gameboy to something to do with the Wii. Then she said ‘I went to the website but I couldn’t tell what it was’. I know why Nintendo picked the Wii U as a name. They wanted continued brand recognition as their Wii was the bestselling console in the last six years. The thing is I’m not sure they’re getting their money’s worth. My younger sister is more attuned to gaming than 90% of the people who bought the original Wii and she didn’t have a clue. My sister is one person, one among many and yet is she the norm? Tomorrow Nintendo might have the best advertising stint since the 80’s. They might get the word out and people will know exactly what the Wii U is trying to do, but how many of us really believe that’s going happen?