Sunday, March 31, 2013

Musings II...

I’ve re-subbed to The Old Republic again. I suppose it’s in preparation for the new expansion/DLC Hutt Cartel. I seem to come back every three or four months, like a habit I can’t kick. Though things are looking up for TOR, the next six to twelve months will likely determine how it is remembered. When World of Warcraft first launched, people said it was too quest heavy and didn't have enough party-based grinding. Then they fell in love and out of love with it; in the end though WoW stands at the top of the summit in the MMO world. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Avabel Rising

There’s a game I’m playing this past week. It’s a fairly standard MMO dungeon crawler; six classes, a starting town and a dungeon to climb floor by floor. There’s one thing though that separates this game from the pack; Avabel Online is a mobile game for the iOS and the Android. Avabel Online, the latest game from Japanese developers Asobimo, launched open beta last week and it is incredible. This game would be impressive if it came out on a console, but on the mobile market it is a breath of fresh air. Gone are the binding ‘energy’ restraints and ugly Facebook era wannabe mobile MMO’s, and gone are the squarish PlayStation One era graphics of the Everquest-lite mobile MMO’s; Avabel is visually impressive, structurally sound, and a joy to play.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

O Captain, My Captain

John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, resigned yesterday. Effective March 30th, he will no longer be working for the company he steered through tough economic waters. I don’t often say good things about the business side of the industry. Faceless suits, golden parachutes, too many well-published grievances to keep track of; however these are hard times make no mistake. It’s doesn’t take a genius to see the studio’s closing up in droves, to take heed of storms ahead. Riccitiello entered the job trying to develop new IP but the downward trend in the economy worldwide left him with few options. The fact that EA is still doing well economically means that when, if, the economy gets better EA is in a good place to try new things. EA is stronger now than it was then, and after all, isn’t that the best marker for success? Let’s hope the next guy (or gal) does as well.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Faceless Developer

Developers should never be faceless, I've said this before and I'll say it again. Bungie isn't faceless, and because they're not, there is a connection between themselves and the players. Case in point:

Bungie does it better than just about any developer, and they have reaped the benefits.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cloud Atlas Sextet

This is my last Cloud Atlas post. It’s too good of a movie to be as underrated as it is, however I believe this will have to do.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Voice Activated Excitement

I was playing Closed Beta’s last weekend, specifically Marvel Heroes, Neverwinter Online, and Warframe; there is such a contrast between the three games and how they use voice to tell story. Marvel Heroes is your basic dungeon crawler, and I do mean basic; the combat is a step back from the popular Marvel Ultimate Alliance games of yesteryears. The game is better than your average movie license game, but considering the company that’s hardly more than a backhanded compliment. Neverwinter Online is perfectly serviceable and I’m sure in a year the Foundry will be the chief point in its favor, but the lack of quality voice is telling. Warframe is a game that can easily suck hundreds of hours of your time. It’s fast, dependable, and guaranteed to give you small bite-sized gaming; but it’s unlikely to ever be your primary MMO. It doesn’t give you enough story to be more memorable than LAN parties with your friends; fun while it lasts but not notable for anything other than the camaraderie of Co-Op.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Best of the Best VI

What is a great movie without a great villain, a good movie? With apologies to the heroes of the story, no great movie can withstand the absence of a great villain. Without further ado, the greatest villains in modern movies (in no particular order):

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Short and Sweet Intro

Every gamer knows the feeling. You’ve just bought that shiny new game. You start the game and what occupies your next hour, shiny graphics and fantastic gameplay? No, the long and tedious introduction, which is all you have to look forward to seeing. In many ways, it’s one of the things Final Fantasy has always done so well. The first five, ten, fifteen minutes were train heists, airship escapes, or some other high-octane event guaranteed to get your blood pumping. Nothing kills the new game high like spending the first hour of gameplay constantly interrupted by one tedious how-to after another. The majority of gamers don’t finish games, I am not saying the intro is entirely to blame, but developers put time and sweat into a product that most gamers never finish. It is imperative then what gamers do play, is as finely tuned as possible.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Frame of War III

Where are all the good men dead, in the heart or in the head? – Grosse Pointe Blank

I’m not often surprised by developers, which says more than a few things about developers and me, to be honest. Lucas Arts by way of Disney, for instance, is ‘putting on hold’ Star Wars 1313. While you may not have heard of it, 1313 was creating the kind of buzz that companies pay millions of dollars to generate; a Star Wars game worthy of the name people were hoping. Disney it seems wants to collect on the new trilogy it’s putting out and make games based on 7, 8, and 9 in the Star Wars saga. To put it kindly, games based on movies have a history based solely on mediocrity; all this from a company that decided to market John Carter to twelve year old boys. Needless to say the internet was decidedly unimpressed with the move. All of this came as little surprise to informed gamers; Disney has long since abandoned most gaming outside of the casual market. One need only take note of the demise of Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios to see case in point. So I especially cherish when a developer surprises me in a good way. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Eve of a New Dawn

Eve Online reached half a million subscribers recently. Nearly a decade since it launched, Eve has survived many a controversy. From developer shenanigans both in and out of the game, to player revolt, to the normal everyday backstabbing that has made Eve Online the sandbox of choice for many gamers world wide; Eve has withstood them all and remained as strong as ever. While critics can and will point to the inevitable jump post China launch, it’s hard to point to a game that has done so well for so long besides the behemoth in the room. Certainly though other games have run longer and other games have done better; Eve Online has kept its basic values of letting the player decide the game even while the sandbox genre has neared extinction a time or two. A new wave of sandbox titles are on the horizon and with them come the hopes of a new generation of gamers who love to lie in wait for the inattentive, its hard to imagine that the new crop would be as impressive without the trailblazing that Eve has done. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Eve Online has impacted the MMO world; here’s to the new decade.