The Exciting Prospect of a J.J. Abrams-Valve Collaboration
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 February 2013, 6:31 pm

JJ Abrams Valve

The prospect of a keynote discussion at the DICE Summit between Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams seemed intriguing enough. After all, the two are some of the biggest names in their respective fields, Newell being the co-founder of Valve and Abrams being one of the most prolific producers and directors in Hollywood over the past decade. The conversation the two had on stage today was interesting enough, but the most noteworthy bit came in the form of a revelation that the two sides could collaborate on a game, as well as a movie based on Portal or Half-Life.

Newell explained that the talk was a rehash of conversations the two have had previously, Gamasutra reports. It centered around the strengths and weaknesses of storytelling in film and games. Because of the linear nature of film and TV, Abrams said that "games in many cases are far better than movies in telling story," although he did later note the problem with game characters who are "empty vessels." Newell, meanwhile, took issue with the lack of agency in movies; he showed a clip of the Abrams-produced film Cloverfield and quipped about how he'd like to be able to put down the camera "and f***ing run." Abrams countered by pointing to the problems that can arise with telling a story when players are free to run around, doing whatever they want.


The Odyssey of Skulls of the Shogun
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 January 2013, 1:00 pm

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The Odyssey of Skulls of the Shogun

Developer 17-bit gives us a look behind the scenes at their darling turn-based strategy game.

By: Jose Otero January 31, 2012

It's a sunny and brisk winter morning in Seattle on January 14, 2013 as Jake Kazdal arrives at his independent game studio, 17-bit. I find a few of his employees huddled around a small TV as they start their workday with an impromptu session of Steel Battalion for the original Xbox. Another person sits at his desk designing an invite for their game's launch party at the end of the month.

To most bystanders, the lack of activity in the office might signal an uneventful day for these developers -- a work environment known for its mix of deadlines and play time, as the team slowly churns their concept into a video game. But today's an exciting day for everyone in the company: After a grueling three and a half years of development, their game, Skulls of the Shogun, is almost ready for download on Xbox Live Arcade -- one of three Microsoft-exclusive digital storefronts where people can purchase it at launch.




An (Admittedly Futile) Cry for Less Annualization And More Breathing Room
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 January 2013, 8:16 pm

Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands

It is something we see far more often than many of us would like: A game hits it big and the publisher responsible for it proceeds to annualize it or, at the very least, provide each subsequent release with little breathing room before yet another follow-up is released. The short-term rewards for doing so promote a temptation to exploit series in a way that can be harmful to the quality of the games in question and the series as a whole. Not only that, the interest in backing games with this sort of potential can make it more difficult for certain games to be released -- just look at the way Activision dumped games like Brutal Legend and Ghostbusters because they didn't "have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises."

Ignoring sports games, the franchises that likely come to mind first when thinking of this sort of thing include Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed. The last time we went a year without a Call of Duty game was 2004, and the last year we didn't see a new Assassin's Creed game on consoles was 2008. (It's no coincidence that, in both cases, that year was the gap in between the first and second entries of the series.) Although it probably doesn't jump to the top of your list, Prince of Persia is another series to fall victim to this sort of treatment. Though not as extreme an example as CoD or AC, the Sands of Time reboot for Prince of Persia began a six-and-a-half-year stretch that saw five games released, not counting those released for handhelds or the remake of the original. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of games for one series to see in a relatively short span of time.


Making Sense of Warren Spector's Junction Point Being Shut Down
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 January 2013, 4:05 pm

Epic Mickey Junction Point closure

Following rumors that began to circulate yesterday, the news was made official today: Junction Point Studios is the latest game development studio to be shut down. While far from outright shocking, considering the moves its parent company had made in recent years, this does call attention to how quickly things can go south for a developer, even one with a name like Warren Spector at the helm.

Spector, who is best known for his earlier work on games like System Shock and Deus Ex, founded the studio in 2005. It was acquired in 2007, joining the likes of Propaganda Games under the Disney Interactive Studios label. It was responsible for the release of two games: Epic Mickey in 2010 and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two just last year. The former was a fairly well-received game that sold 1.3 million units in the U.S. during its first month of availability, according to NPD Group numbers reported by the L.A. Times. That was a solid figure for a third-party Wii game released at that point in time. Its flawed sequel, despite being available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U, in addition to Wii, sold a small fraction of that, moving only 270,000 units in a similar window.


Respawn game

This spring will mark three years since Respawn Entertainment was established by Jason West and Vince Zampella, the founders of Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward. While you wouldn't expect development to have begun immediately at a brand-new studio, enough time has now passed that it seems reasonable to assume Respawn is fairly deep in development on -- well, whatever it is they're making. Over the past few years, we've gotten almost zero indication of what the studio is at work on. Besides some teaser images, early indications that the game would be on the scale of a "huge, summer blockbuster," and EA's statements that it will be a sci-fi-oriented shooter, there has been nothing of substance to go on. Knowing it's a sci-fi shooter limits the scope of possibilities to a degree, but let's be honest -- neither of those details is specific enough to tell us much beyond the fact that it won't be a historically accurate World War II RPG.

There are a limited number of conclusions we can safely jump to. Given this is an EA-published game and multiplayer is what made Call of Duty into the phenomenon it has become, it's OK to assume Respawn's mystery project will not be a single-player-only affair. Presuming it will be a first-person shooter, considering West and Zampella's past with Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor before it, might be a stretch, though. For all we know, they, along with the many former Infinity Ward employees that followed them to Respawn, are interested in getting away from what they're used to and, as a result, would prefer to make a third-person game. Gears of War might not be as big as Call of Duty or Halo, but it's done very well for itself with that perspective.


South Park Goes to Ubisoft, Vigil And Darksiders Abandoned in Messy THQ Breakup
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 January 2013, 6:19 pm

South Park The Stick of Truth

Four years ago, Ubisoft was heavily advertising its games around episodes of South Park. In the next few months, it'll likely be doing that once again, only this time it will be doing this as the publishers of the newest South Park game, The Stick of Truth. Ubisoft was among the companies today to acquire assets that formerly belonged to THQ, a company that is now all but dead following an auction that kicked off yesterday and concluded today.

THQ has been in a very poor position for some time now. Even with Jason Rubin being named president, its eventual collapse was, in many people's eyes, an inevitability following the uDraw disaster, Homefront's failure, and a number of other factors. Yet it's difficult not to be reeling today when accounting for the human factor; many former THQ employees are finding themselves out of work today, and those numbers may continue to grow as the new owners of the companies acquired through the auction evaluate their needs.


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Digital and Nontraditional: Breaking Down Ouya, Steam Box, And Other New Wave Systems

What makes each of these systems unique, and what factors will result in their failure or success?

By: Chris Pereira January 15, 2013

If 2012 was the year of crowdfunding, it's looking more and more as if 2013 will be the year of the nontraditional games console. Apparent one-offs like Ouya attracting $8.5 million on Kickstarter and the notion of a Steam Box have given way to numerous others trying their hand at developing some sort of gaming system. There has been talk in the past of a one console future; whether or not that's where we're ultimately headed, in the short term it seems abundantly clear that there is no lack of interest in being a company that puts hardware in gamers' homes.

For years it's been said that companies like Microsoft and Sony wanted to take over the living room. They've attempted to do this by expanding upon the functionality offered in the boxes they already have in place. As we are quickly approaching the point at which both of those companies will again be competing to sell new pieces of multi-use hardware, we're seeing quite a few other companies line up to get into the living room, but with much more gaming-oriented systems: There's Ouya, the various Steam Boxes, Shield, GameStick, and Razer Edge, to say nothing of lesser-known ones such as eSfere.




False Advertising? The War Z's Launch Raises Questions
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 December 2012, 4:30 pm

The War Z

Update: As of this writing, The War Z is no longer available for purchase through Steam. Valve told Kotaku a mistake "was made by prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam. We apologize for this and have temporary removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build." Players wanting a refund can submit a ticket to request one, while those who do not are free to continue playing in the meantime. And, just to make things juicier, Kotaku reports the game's title screen has images ripped from elsewhere. It's feeling more and more to me like the game was rushed out in order to be available before people were able to invest their money in the standalone DayZ.

Original Story: The War Z is a game that, long before launch, attracted some criticism for how much it resembled the super-popular ArmA II mod DayZ, which is on its way to becoming a standalone game thanks to its success. Similarities in title aside, the two are open-world zombie games where permadeath can play a critical role. As DayZ was the first to market, War Z developers Hammerpoint Interactive have been accused of simply ripping off Dean Hall's mod. A "foundation release" of DayZ was expected to be out before the end of the year, though Hall has expressed a willingness to let that deadline slip in order to deliver a better game. Hammerpoint, following a similar strategy of getting out a base game that can then be built upon, had its own foundation release land on Steam this past Monday. However, the lack of any way to discern that certain features promised on its Steam were not available at launch has resulted in a lot of angry gamers, and a developer with an apparent reluctance to fully accept the blame for the situation.


Despite a Messy Campaign, Molyneux's Godus Kickstarter Still Has a Chance
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 December 2012, 7:13 pm

Project Godus

After a month-long campaign, 22 Cans' Project Godus Kickstarter will come to an end later this week. It still has a ways to go to ensure it receives anything at all through the crowdfunding site. However it turns out, it will serve as a fascinating example of the dos and don'ts of the service. From a vague initial pitch to any number of things hanging over the head of 22 Cans and its founder, Peter Molyneux, in particular, there are any number of factors that may prevent us from getting what now more than ever looks like a game I'd personally love to see get made.

With less than three days to go, it's far from a given that Molyneux's latest project -- the self-described reinvention of Populous -- will receive the funding it needs. The Kickstarter is seeking 450,000 GBP, the equivalent of about $731,000. As of this writing, it's raised roughly $647,092. Per Kickstarter rules, 22 Cans won't see any of the money that's been pledged unless its goal is reached by the deadline. It's a substantial sum that needs to be raised in the next few days, but it's not impossible; many Kickstarters see a rush of pledges as they approach their final hours. According to Kicktraq, a website that tracks Kickstarter pledges, the past few days have been some of Godus' best since it launched in November. Whether things pick up enough to hit the target by Friday is anyone's guess.


Contemplating Company of Heroes' Future
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 December 2012, 4:35 pm

Company of Heroes 2

With Company of Heroes 2, Relic Entertainment is exploring fairly familiar territory. Certainly the Eastern Front was distinct as compared with other World War II theaters -- especially those I would imagine most people, at least those in the United States, picture when thinking of WWII, due to this country's involvement elsewhere during the war. CoH2's focus on this aspect of the war affords Relic the opportunity to introduce features like a dynamic weather system that emphasizes the snowy conditions the Eastern Front was home to. It's an addition that has the potential to impact gameplay in a significant way, and it could even cause two matches on the same map to play out much differently because of the way snow and cold weather changes things. This is all well and good, but it doesn't change the fact that the game is not dramatically unlike its predecessor, part of which is due to it still being set in World War II. CoH2 is the series' first numbered sequel, but it's set during the same war as the first game and its two expansions. What does that say about the limitations on where Relic is willing to go with the series?

Not much, as it turns out. In an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, game director Quinn Duffy expressed a willingness to expand beyond the deadliest war in human history. "We could look at setting this game anywhere," Duffy said. "We know what we want to deliver in a Company of Heroes game. We know what we want it to feel like. So the setting becomes another piece of military history to tell -- or another set of stories. But the game should feel like a Company of Heroes product." He went on to reaffirm that CoH is not explicitly about World War II, but that, given the Eastern Front's significance, it demanded to be covered before Relic moved on from WWII.


How Mega Man Got Into a Brawl with Chun-Li
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 December 2012, 7:25 pm

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How Mega Man Got Into a Brawl with Chun-Li

We chat with two of the people responsible for next week's unexpected new Mega Man game.

By: Jeremy Parish December 12, 2012

Yes, 1UP has already run its coverage of Mega Man's 25 anniversary, and we've tackled the topic in fairly exhaustive detail at that. But then Capcom had to go and announce a brand-new Mega Man game launching next week as a free PC release. Obviously, we had no choice but to pick Capcom USA President Christian Svensson and Community Manager Brett Elston's brains on the game -- along with a few other related matters to boot.

1UP: I guess the most obvious question to start with would be, how have you ended up with Street Fighter X Mega Man as the sort of launching point for marking Mega Man's 25th anniversary?

Christian Svensson: Dumb luck. I couldn't put it any more succinctly than that. Seow Zong Hui sought out a number of Capcom employees at EVO this year, and I happened to be sitting at our booth at random when he came up with a laptop and showed us an early build of the game. It brought an instant smile to our faces. It just happened that, over the last couple of months, we had started our planning meetings for the Mega Man 25th anniversary, and we still didn't have a really good opener. Here was something that fell into our lap that was the perfect close to the Street Fighter 25th and the perfect open to the Mega Man 25th, given that they're butting up against one another. I asked Zong Hui for a build, which he gave me on the spot. I brought it back to the office and I gave it to Brett and Greg, our two resident Mega Man experts.




Steam's Community Market Opens the Door to Making Some Money Playing Games
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 December 2012, 7:47 pm

Steam Community Market

Steam has been the recipient of a great deal of updates recently. While the service has had long stretches in the past without any new features being added, in a relatively short span of time we've seen the launch of the Steam Mobile app, Steam Greenlight, and Big Picture mode, as well as the addition of non-gaming software and an expansion of the Steam Community. As it explores launching its own hardware, Valve is continuing to move ahead with new Steam features, the latest of which provides its users with another opportunity to make money.

Before now, users could trade items from certain games and giftable copies of games with others through Steam. It's now possible, with today's launch of the Steam Community Market, to sell select items to other users for real-world money. With the feature currently in beta, support for this is limited: Only one-time consumable items from Team Fortress 2 -- always Valve's guinea pig -- may be sold right now. That greatly limits the possibilities of what's for sale, as the bulk of TF2's items are cosmetic items (primarily hats) and weapons. It does sound as if these constraints will be loosened in the future and they are only in place for the purpose of the beta, but it remains to be seen if things will be opened up completely.


Valve Faces a Tall Task in Trying to Take Over the Living Room
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 December 2012, 6:05 pm

Steam Big Picture

At one point, Steam's Big Picture didn't seem particularly significant. When it was first announced early last year, its appeal seemed limited, albeit very useful for some: among other things, it would make using Steam on a television set much more convenient. But with that not being an enormous demographic, it was no shock when the seemingly simple feature took so long to be released -- it probably was just a low priority. In fact, it's becoming increasingly clear that the carefully crafted Big Picture mode is one of the most significant additions Steam has ever seen, and its official launch earlier this month has paved the way for Valve to more fully focus on the broader goal of bringing computer gaming into the living room.

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are all attempting to enhance the non-gaming functionality of their respective consoles in order to turn those systems into more central components of people's living rooms. Valve, meanwhile, has its eyes set on entering the living room, but it has the tall task of getting a box there in the first place. Back in March, rumors circulated that Valve planned to deliver a so-called Steam Box, complete with controller, that would amount to a gaming-capable PC meant to be connected to the television. The announcement of such a device seemed imminent at the time, when in fact plans to create such a thing are much longer-term and less rigid than believed at the time. Valve is continuing to pursue hardware, but it's hardly seeking to be the only option on the market.


Kickstarter Pitches Need to Become More Open, Honest, and Detailed
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 December 2012, 6:33 pm

Kickstarter

2012 might very well end up being the Year of the Kickstarter. Particularly since Double Fine managed to raise in excess of $3.3 million earlier this year, many developers have turned to the crowdfunding site to get the money needed to create their videogame projects. It's because of Kickstarter that Double Fine Adventure is happening, that a sequel to Wasteland will be a reality, and that the guys responsible for Space Quest are making a new adventure game. But with people being asked to put their money up, typically for a game that is far from done, what level of detail is reasonable for them to expect from those behind the projects?

Certainly, no one is ever obligated to back a Kickstarter project. A frequent point made in comments on 1UP's previous Kickstarter-related stories and elsewhere around the web is that some people refuse to support Kickstarter for one reason or another. It's difficult to blame them. The threat of a successfully backed project not turning out well or outright not being completed continues to loom; we've seen how close a project has come to falling apart and, odds are, it will happen sooner or later. There's also the matter of handing over money, oftentimes in exchange for a copy of the final product, for something that might not be completed for months or years.


Interview: Lara Begins
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 December 2012, 9:04 am

After spending some time with a huge demo of the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, I had an equally massive conversation with the game's producer, Crystal Dynamics' Karl Stewart. Beside discussing the studio's inspirations for Lara Croft's latest adventure, we also explored some of the more advanced game mechanics -- things that the first few hours of the game only hint at. Below is the entirety of our conversation... just be aware that it includes some minor spoilers for the game's first few hours, if you're sensitive to that sort of thing. Be sure to check out our new impressions of the game as well!




Inevitability Rears Its Head as Call of Duty Sales May Be Lower Than Usual
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 December 2012, 8:55 pm

Call of Duty

The videogame industry lacks any single, reliable sales tracker, particularly when accounting for digital sales, which is absolutely crucial for getting a full picture of the industry. Despite this, Call of Duty is widely accepted as the dominant franchise, at least as far as traditional videogame releases go. Year after year, the series tops sales charts and sets various records that publisher Activision is happy to tout in press releases and in front of investors. This year after year growth can't continue forever, and so it becomes a matter of when that sales peak is reached. Some indications suggest we may have finally hit that point, though even if that is the case, those who can't wait for the series' demise likely still have a long wait ahead before seeing what it is that they want.

It's important to make clear the sort of drop we're potentially talking about here. It's likewise important to realize we're talking about potential here -- Black Ops II has not even been out for a full month, and so plenty of time remains for it to blow past lifetime sales figures for previous Call of Duty iterations. But, videogame sales are more highly concentrated in the period immediately following launch. And with Black Ops II's launch coming just as the holiday shopping season kicked off, this game's biggest days are without a doubt behind it.


Humble Bundle Loses What Makes Itself Special With THQ Bundle
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 November 2012, 4:09 pm

Company of Heroes Tales of Valor

The launch of the latest Humble Indie Bundle yesterday was an unusual one. Rather than being met with the usual reaction -- people spreading the word, maybe some praise being bestowed for a strong selection of games -- this particular one instead prompted complaints that the Humble Bundle has lost its way. That's because it consists of games published by THQ, a company which, despite its ongoing financial troubles, is far larger than those we normally see featured in these bundles. While I don't find the situation quite as egregious as others do, I do think this is a step in the wrong direction.

The first Humble Indie Bundle was launched in early 2010, and it's still easy to see why it was so appealing: Buyers could get five great indie games for Windows, Mac, or Linux without any DRM, and at any price they deemed appropriate, be it hundreds of dollars, a few pennies, or, in the case of that particular bundle, nothing at all. To sweeten the deal, purchasers could freely decide how their money was divided up between the developers of these games, the organizers of the bundle, and a pair of charitable organizations, the latter of which made it so five games could be had in return for nothing more than a donation to charity.


Dishonored Proves Gambling on Original IP Can Still Pay Off
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 November 2012, 5:06 pm

Dishonored

Listen to what many industry executives have to say, and you'd be led to believe original intellectual property doesn't sell well late in a console cycle. The time to introduce a new IP supposedly comes when new consoles are launched; once those systems have been around for years, that's when the focus shifts to existing properties. This is something that has never made a lot of sense to many people, and the performance of Dishonored isn't about to do anything to convince those people that executives have it right.

Despite being an original IP -- just the sort of game that supposedly shouldn't be excelling at this point in time -- Dishonored is doing very well. After receiving a strong critical reception prior to its release in early October, the game has gone on to sell better than publisher Bethesda anticipated.


Black Friday Videogame Deals - 2012 Edition
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 November 2012, 1:57 pm

Black Friday deals

Thanksgiving is now just a day away here in the United States, but what many people are looking forward to is the crazy shopping day that ensues the following day. Videogames are, as always, a hot Black Friday item, and there is no shortage of deals on our favorite hobby at a variety of retailers, both of the brick-and-mortar and online variety. As is becoming a more and more common occurrence, many of these deals will actually kick off on Thanksgiving day, if they haven't already.

Below is a look at many of the deals you'll find at some of the nation's biggest retailers. It's by no means a comprehensive list, but it does consist of the vast majority of the advertised deals from the retailers we've covered. GameStop, annoyingly enough, hasn't released its Black Friday ad yet; fortunately, an anonymous employee has done us the service of sharing the deals with Cheap Ass Gamer anyway so we can plan ahead.


The Problem With NPD Numbers and the Incomplete Picture They Draw
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 November 2012, 7:34 pm

NPD Group

The NPD Group's monthly games industry reports continue to be widely covered in the media, and it's easy to understand why. With game publishers hesitant to make a habit of sharing sales figures, the NPDs, as they're often called, supposedly give us somewhat of a glimpse as to which games are succeeding and which are failing. Criticisms of the NPD Group's numbers have becoming increasingly common over time, to the point where the question is now being asked whether the media ought to ignore the numbers outright.

That's the position taken in a new piece by the Penny Arcade Report, and it's one I find myself agreeing with. Regular readers of 1UP's news section may have noticed a distinct lack of coverage of the NPDs as of late, dating back to before the change in how news was handled. I personally don't give a second thought to the numbers anymore -- a far cry from the days when I would be highly anticipating them every month. Rather than having multiple pieces per month analyzing and dissecting whatever could be deduced from the numbers, the NPDs are something that rarely cross my mind at this point. And there are a variety of reasons for that.


Disney's Lucasfilm Acquisition Makes the Future of Star Wars Games Unclear
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 October 2012, 7:48 pm

Star Wars Disney

The Walt Disney Company made a major acquisition this week, purchasing Lucasfilm from George Lucas in a $4.05 billion deal. Along with Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, this puts the Star Wars brand in the control of Disney, which has already announced its intention to release a new Star Wars film trilogy, the first entry of which is scheduled to arrive in 2015. LucasArts, Lucasfilm's videogame subsidiary best known these days for its Star Wars games, also now finds itself under the Disney banner, a move which could turn out to have a profound effect on the videogames we see coming out of it in the future.

As far as Star Wars itself goes, I find it difficult not to be at least somewhat optimistic. Most people would agree the series' high points have come when creator George Lucas has been less hands-on -- just look at The Empire Strikes Back as compared with the prequel trilogy. This new deal reduces Lucas' role in the new films to that of a "creative consultant," which reminds me of the honorary chairman role that the 'Father of PlayStation,' Ken Kutaragi, once filled. Without knowing what the new movies will be about or who will direct them, it's impossible to say with any degree of certainty how they will turn out. It's been noted that Disney's acquisition of Marvel resulted in this year's excellent Joss Whedon film The Avengers, which bodes well for the future of the Star Wars films. And, as the Penny Arcade Report points out, "We have nothing to lose by Disney making more Star Wars films, and it's not like they can get any worse." The prequels really put the film series in a position where things can only get better from here.


More Obscure Game Re-Releases Could Result From ESRB's Free Digital Ratings
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 October 2012, 8:08 pm

ESRB

The Entertainment Software Rating Board faces a difficult task in assigning ratings to digital games, one not about to be made any easier on it by game makers. Setting aside the matter of increasing complexity of these titles, the number of digital releases continues to grow at a strong pace. In order to keep up, the ESRB last year announced it would begin making use of an automated system for assigning ratings to downloadable games. This week it took things a step further by making this service available to developers for free, a move that could have more of an effect than simply reducing development costs.

Downloadable games released for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network (including Vita), the 3DS eShop, the Wii Shop Channel, Windows 8, and PlayStation Certified devices are among those covered by this initially. Others will be added in the future, including streaming services (and the new ratings provide additional information on things like the presence of location sharing and player interaction). The idea is to ensure ESRB ratings, which are the most recognizable ratings for videogames in the United States and Canada, are more widely adopted as digital games are delivered more and more often on platforms that otherwise might not use them.


Kickstarter's First Near-Failure Shows How Honesty and Transparency Are Key
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 October 2012, 5:40 pm

Haunts

It was inevitable that, sooner or later, we would see a game funded through Kickstarter fail to see the light of day. It's a fate suffered by countless games funded through the traditional, publisher-backed model, and there's no reason games made possible through successful crowd-funding campaigns would be any different. If anything, Kickstarter games are more likely to fall apart prior to completion because most of the independent developers turning to fans for money do not have the deep pockets of a big publisher capable of keeping a project alive through adversity. Late last week, the developer of Haunts: The Manse Macabre delivered some alarming news to its Kickstarter backers, immediately causing some to assume it would become the first Kickstarter game project to die before being released.

Mob Rules Games, the indie developer behind this turn-based horror game, was seeking $25,000 through Kickstarter earlier this year. On July 6, it was fully funded, having received a total of $28,739 in pledges. Updates from the developers were delivered over the next months, including an outline of the anticipated budget and schedule on August 8. Things then went quiet following September 11, with an update not being posted until last week, on October 18. This one made it clear the lack of updates was due to problems being encountered in development and that the exact future of the project was now uncertain.


Call of Duty Elite Simplifies Itself By Going Free For All
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 October 2012, 6:46 pm

Call of Duty Black Ops II Season Pass

The way Call of Duty Elite -- the subscription service for the massively popular FPS series -- worked never really seemed like the most sensible way to go. By having free and premium tiers, there was always a great deal of confusion among gamers, and this led to some unfair criticisms about how the money-hungry Activision was charging for stat-tracking services other games offered for free when, in reality, that was not the case. As Elite approaches the beginning of its second year in existence with the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops II next month, Activision is doing the sensible thing: it's making Elite (sans downloadable content) free for everyone to access.

When it was originally launched last year, the $50-per-year version of Elite offered a year's worth of downloadable content, extra storage for replay videos, the ability for clans to level up, tournaments with real-world prizes, and Elite TV. The DLC was obviously the big attraction, as on its own that same content would cost $60. But the manner in which DLC was handled was not immediately apparent: If I purchase an Elite membership this past June, do I get all of the previously released content? Do I get Black Ops II DLC released prior to next June? It was needlessly confusing.


Steam Big Picture Mode Accomplishes Its Goal, But Just How Impactful Is It?
Posted by 1UP PC RSS feed [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 September 2012, 4:43 pm

Steam Big Picture

More than a year and a half after it was first announced (Valve Time, remember?), Steam's Big Picture mode has been released in beta. The primary purpose of it is to enable Steam users to easily navigate the program with a controller when it's plugged into a television, and in that regard it is extremely successful. The question, however, is whether this is really all that impactful.

Big Picture mode is certainly useful, provided you have a workable setup. After opting into the beta (head to Steam's Settings page to do so) and restarting Steam, a button in the upper-right corner appears. By clicking this or tapping the Guide button on an Xbox 360 controller, Big Picture mode launches and provides a controller-friendly way of navigating Steam's core features: the store, game library, and community sections. Also included is a surprisingly decent browser, giving you quick and easy access to a browser on your TV screen that can be accessed even while playing a game.


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