Gamers Look For Hand Lotion And Tissue As New Xbox Is Revealed [FaN Extra] May21

Gamers Look For Hand Lotion And Tissue As New Xbox Is Revealed [FaN Extra]...

The only video game I’ve played in ten years is Madden [Seahawks!] so the new Xbox reveal means very little to me. However, I know I’m in the minority on this one so the LA Times is thankfully picking up the slack: 10:02 a.m.: Microsoft launched its event with a video full of grand pronouncements from A-listers such as Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, as the company promised that “for the first time you and your TV are going to have a relationship.” The new Xbox will set “your imagination free,” Spielberg said. After the video, Microsoft exec Don Mattrick took the stage and said a few words that will likely disappoint all gamers tuning in today, noting that at E3 the company will reveal what’s next for Xbox 360 when it comes to games. People already have more intimate relationships with their televisions than most of their friends but I digress. You can follow the action here. Feature Image Credit: LA...

343 Industries Just Saved Halo [Gamer On]

I realize that title’s begging to get torn apart but bear with me. Halo as a franchise has long been synonymous with outstanding multiplayer and a solid (if sometimes contrived) sci-fi story that garnered consistent praise from reviewers. First, Some History However, later entries in the series were beginning to teeter on the edge of shark-jumping territory with the critically ‘meh’ Halo Wars and the appreciated though in ways underwhelming Halo 3: ODST. Halo Reach was a welcome course correction with stellar Live play that satisfied, but the absence of Master Chief and graphics that were tolerable only in the silent light of a stable frame rate were like blood in the water for harsher critics. Then the bomb dropped- longtime developer and fan favorite developer, Bungie, would no longer be attached to the Halo franchise and the latest entry, nay trilogy would be helmed by Microsoft newcomer, 343 Industries. So were they able to fill the very large shoes of Bungie? Yes, and not only did they do the Halo series justice, but they managed to take an established, nigh-religiously revered, franchise and made it their own. Let’s start with graphics. There’s an old adage in video that says to make sure you’ve got the best possible audio recorded because audio is 50% of your video. Similarly, while almost every critic in the world has snobbishly sworn that ‘gameplay’ is the most important element of a game (the word’s right there at the beginning, you see), graphics and presentation are leaps and bounds more important than they’re often given credit for. Saying a game’s ‘feel’, for example is really a description of how well your actions on the controller translate visually on the screen. Technically speaking every game from Mario Kart to Doom...

A Cup of Coffee Vs. An iPhone App: The New Pricing Model of Console Games [Game By Design]...

I always make the joke that people are so price-sensitive on iPhone games, that they think 2.99 is UBER expensive for a game, yet they buy cups of coffee for 6 dollars. Since I first started making that joke, we developers have been empowered with much better ways to make money, like in-app purchases. And in-app purchases have taken off. In fact, at the time of writing this, they comprise more money on the app store than actual game purchases! The app store has gotten to the point where volume sales, free to play, and ads have allowed developers to make money while the consumer doesn’t feel cheated. So how is all this innovation going to affect your old pal, the console game, otherwise known as “the stalwart of the 60 dollar price point.” Play-through time on games is always a focus at a game studio during the production process. Obviously it varies between genres, but for something like a First Person Shooter, the standard acceptable length is around 10 hours (at least in the last few years). For something mission-based, where areas of the game are reused over and over, like Borderlands, Grand Theft Auto, or Red Dead Redemption, it can be 30 hours to beat the game, and that’s not counting all the little bonus missions that they usually include. From an industry standpoint, it really comes down to art. There are a limited amount of locales the artists can create during the production time, so that’s why FPS games can tend to be shorter; the player generally runs through scenes quickly and doesn’t revisit the same locations. I like games of all shapes and sizes, but I really like short games. This is a personal preference thing. Even when I have...

Immersion: The rule of Opposites [Gamer By Design]

The word “immersion” is thrown about every single day at video game companies and schools. In the industry, it basically means the idea of making a player feel as if they’re part of the experience (or simulation). In layman’s terms, it means they forget that they’re playing a game and “become” the character. They forget they are sitting in a living room. This is similar to watching a good film or play; you are entertained enough to be transported to another place. So here, in the mini-rant of the month, I’m gonna talk about two very broken techniques of immersion and why they don’t work. Number One, The Mute Lead I’ve worked on a few games in which it was decided that we would have a mute lead. The intent: This is intended to avoid forcing the voice upon the character you control, thus allowing you to be immersed as the character. The result: The result of this is that it’s jarring. Humans are accustomed to interactions, and to have the star of the show not talking makes them seem passive and strange. We’ll talk about the famous Holodeck from Star Trek fame below, but here’s the point. Unless you are actually walking around, touching things, and talking to people, you aren’t gonna somehow identify with that character because he doesn’t talk. This underestimates humans and all the complexities of their ability to communicate. It underestimates our emotional sensitivity to the ideas of identity and character. On the other hand, if you create a really interesting, well-wrought character as the lead, the player may identify with them because they share personality traits, because they want to be heroic or brash like that person, or because they think they’re funny. See what I mean? People...

Review: Gears of War 3 [Game On]

While Xbox Live might’ve termed it ‘The Most Anticipated Game of 2011’, that might be a bit of a stretch, I’d certainly been looking forward to it.  I very much enjoyed the first Gears of War and the follow up with the introduction of ‘Horde Mode’. The insistence on not straying too far from what worked kept the series close to my heart.  So how does the 3rd and ‘final’ entry in the series fair?  Read on. *Warning: Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers for Gears of War 1, 2, and 3* Tons of trilogies in history have been a crap shoot. You’ve usually got a solid first entry and the 2nd and 3rd are anyone’s guess. So where does Gears 3 fall?  Is it Matrix Revolutions or Return of the Jedi? Honestly, it’s somewhere in between. Gears 1 was all about eradicating the locust horde in their home after detonating a light mass bomb and the sequel continued that competently with the locust retaliation through the sinking of human cities.  Gears 3 begins with a throwback dream sequence wherein Marcus is once again trying to save his father. While it certainly bridges the gap with its nostalgia, it also felt a bit tacked on somehow.  It’s one thing to tastefully reference a past battle for the fans to connect with and another to ask them to play through the same thing AGAIN. Thankfully it’s a brief sequence and the rest of the story progresses at a solid pace, as Marcus and Dom (noticeably more grizzled than their last outing) begin the battle once more, trying to unify the remaining and disparate colonies humanity has left. While the story might dip in a few spots, the action is still as solid as ever.  Inclusion...