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Double Fine Adventure

Published on 09/02/2012 by in gamedev, games

A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me to check out Kickstarter. I loved the idea but was disappointed by the selection of video game projects on there. My impression was that they were all just a bit amateurish, simply not strong enough to secure funding by more conventional means. If only more credible developers would give this a shot, I thought, it could be a really big deal.

And so it has come to pass. Tim Schafer and his chums at Double Fine – a company whose existence I am glad of, even though I rarely buy their games – put up their own Kickstarter fundraiser for a new point-and-click adventure game. Less than eight hours later, they had their money. A day later, they had doubled the original funding goal. I know it doesn’t work like that for everyone, and not everyone gets to be Tim Schafer, but it is hard not to be impressed. No doubt a big part of this success is down to the fact that there are many gamers “of a certain age” who regard the works of guys like Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert with infinite amounts of fondness and goodwill, are now all grown up  with disposable incomes etc. For me, the bottom line is that I really do like so-called point and click adventure games. Their absence from the modern video gaming landscape is a constant source of disappointment for me.

So I stumped up some cash like everyone else. Really looking forward to seeing how it all turns out. I bet a lot of independent studios are watching this with great interest too.

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Who Killed Rare?

Published on 09/02/2012 by in gamedev, games

Who killed Rare? It wasn’t me. But do check out this interesting article by Eurogamer’s ever-reliable Simon Parkin for some clues.

Includes a nice interview with ex-Rare (and ex Zoonami, RIP) man Martin “Goldeneye” Hollis.

Man, Rare used to be such a big deal. During the N64 golden era I used to gaze at their double-page recruitment ads in Edge magazine and dream of that little slice of Nintendo heaven across the Irish sea. I later went and interviewed with them (and got offered a job) but as a young guy at the time I just couldn’t see myself living in the Twycross area without killing myself. True story!

FWIW I don’t think Rare are quite as dead as the provocative title suggests. I really liked Viva Pinata and Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts. Even Kameo was pretty decent (for a launch title) and so was Starfox Adventures.

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Max Payne 3 website launch

Published on 02/02/2012 by in games, rockstar

New site launched today right here.

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Disney acquires UTV Ignition majority stake

Published on 02/02/2012 by in gamedev, layoffs

Confirming what has been widely predicted for some time now, Disney has acquired a majority stake in El Shaddai and Quarrel publisher UTV Ignition.

This comes less than a year after massive layoffs across much of Disney’s video games related interests, in that depressingly stupid pattern of layoffs, rehires and acquisition familiar to anyone who follows games industry news. Come to think of it, didn’t the 2011 layoffs at Disney include some social games and digital-distribution-oriented studios, supposedly the very area that Disney is now targeting?

Maybe I just don’t understand business.

Source: GameInformer

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THQ Layoffs

Published on 02/02/2012 by in gamedev, layoffs

Sorry to read of THQ’s recent bad news.

If anyone fancies a change of scene, you could do worse than consider a move to Scotland

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Retail therapy

Published on 01/02/2012 by in games

Okay, I’ll try to be topical for once:

Spelling in all caps

Specialising in old tat

No, I don’t want a guidebook

Or a third party nun-chuck

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Plagiarism vs Inspiration

Published on 01/02/2012 by in gamedev

Over on Facebook today, the hardest working man in showbiz Brian Baglow kicked off an interesting debate with the following post. I don’t think he’ll mind if I re-post it here:

Cloning is fine. If it wasn’t allowed, the industry as we know it wouldn’t exist. Zynga is simply following in the great traditions of all the major games publishers who ‘draw inspiration’ from each other with almost every game… Discuss.

I admit to being conflicted on the matter myself.

It is true to say for that as long as there have been game devs, there have been game devs happy to play fast and loose with the notion of intellectual property. It has always been a murky area. After all, a clone may begin life as a sincere tribute from an enthusiastic bedroom coder. A clone may surpass and improve upon its inspiration, bringing new ideas to the table and thereby establishes its own identity. And yes, there are times when a clone is precisely what it looks like – theft.

Just spotting a clone can be tricky. On the surface, the (rather wonderful) Trials HD might be mistaken for being a lot like Kikstart or Elastomania. That’s unfair of course: they are very different games that merely share a common theme.

The free market approach is to say:

If you feel you can make a better one, go right ahead; we will let market forces decide who wins.

I agree with this view, although it causes me occasional pangs of conscience. Sometimes the better game doesn’t win out. Sometimes a small dev goes under because they didn’t have the resources to fight in the courts for ownership of their work. Sometimes I just have this nagging desire to point out that, ACTUALLY, Pixelus is blatantly Guru Logi Champ, and Zuma is obviously Puzz Loop.

I suppose the bottom line is that even if is basically “fine”, I don’t have to like it.
RIP Compile.
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Demo time! (second try)

Published on 31/01/2012 by in gamedev, games

Just tried the Asura’s Wrath demo. Um. How should I… Yes. Okay.

Certainly spectacular, in the most literal sense. If only I could remove those pesky mash-button-now prompts, I’d love to pay more attention to those dramatic events playing out in the background. That’s alright, I’m enough of a Capcom fan to be interested in it regardless. I can’t help but adore the spectacle of it, the wonderful character design and the fact that it is all so pleasingly daft.

On the other hand, it seems a terrible shame to reduce the player’s interaction to such an extent, relying on the occasional button mash to drive things forward.  By contrast, a game like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! offers cathartic fun in tapping out catchy tunes while the narrative plays out – the core activity of play was enjoyable on its own terms.

It’s something of a hot potato among the more dogmatic game dev theorists out there; the question of whether video games are to be judged primarily as an interactive medium. My own view is that games can be anything really – that’s what makes them interesting. I’ve read some criticism of Dear Esther for its lack of game-ness, but I must admit to being very curious to check it out.

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Demo time!

Published on 31/01/2012 by in games

Hey everyone! There’s a Syndicate demo out! Seriously!

Man, Starbreeze are one of my favourite developers, have you ever played the Riddick games? Anyway the demo will probably take a while to download but I’m still really excited about.. oh wait, it’s multiplayer only. Never mind.

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Playing now: it’s-a-me

Published on 30/01/2012 by in games

Finally, a 2D Mario game I can enjoy!

So, I admit that towards the tail-end (tee hee) of 2011 I was feeling some gruffness-fatigue. I was sick of the annual editions of “Man-Shooter 12 – The Deadening” and “Stabby Man 5” – I really just wanted something well-crafted, cheery and fun.

And I must admit also, that I was never very good at the old 2D Mario games. I appreciate them, but don’t enjoy them as much as I know I might, if only I had the reflexes.

Then along came Super Mario 3D Land to restore my faith in gaming. I love the simplicity of the old fashioned “keep going right” objective. I love that there is just the right amount of exploration (e.g. hunting for secrets) but not too much. Lastly, I love the fact that I can actually get through it, there are enough little helps and leg-ups to keep me going.

From reading the enjoyable Iwata Asks articles, it sounds like the game was made in a bit of a hurry, but that really doesn’t come across at all. Possibly the best Mario in years?


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