Monday, February 20, 2006

The State of the PS3

Sony better start doing some damage control, and soon. The problem with this thing we call the Internet is that news spreads faster than wildfire. With Merrill Lynch releasing a report that the PS3 is going to cost Sony around $900 to produce and that there is all likely-hood that the console will be delayed until 2007 for technical reasons is concerning. As someone who loves all consoles (I'm more about the games than the hardware) my concern is that certain titles that are slated for release on the XBox 360 and PS3 for say the fall or upcoming holiday season will get delayed until the PS3 is ready, leaving gamers in the cold. Is Sony really going to release an online system that will rival XBox Live? While it's possible, they have a lot of catching up to do and spent a lot of time during the life of the PS2 claiming that Microsoft has the whole business model wrong. Though I'm not a big Microsoft fan, XBox Live is something they have done right and they have proved (as they usually do) that they keep banging away at something until they get it right. The first XBox Live was 'ok' but the current setup is pretty awesome and I've found myself in the 'Marketplace' more than I ever dreamed I would. The year ahead is going to be interesting. I keep thinking about this 360 vs. PS3 talk that goes on, the Revolution quietly sneaking around in the background for the Nintendo fanboys (yeah, I'll be getting one!) but does any of this result in 'next generation games'? So far, I haven't seen anything to prove that. As usual, time will tell.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

When did games make the big change?

For anyone that's played the classics like Asteroids and Space Invaders and Pac-Man, you know the drill. You keep playing until you die. The scores go up, maybe the game gets harder and faster but really there is no 'end'.

Games continued like this well into the early 80's with the Atari 2600 and I don't think there really were any games back then that had the progession today's games have.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I think it was more born out of the commerce of it all. See in the arcade, they didn't want the thing to end because that meant more quarters from you. At home, where you own the game, they want it to end after 5-20 hours of gameplay (for most titles) so that you will now turn around and buy the next game.

So that is, I believe, when the change happened. When the arcade made it's decline and the home computers rivalved their capability, a shift occurred in how games were made. And yet, there's a whole generation (or two) of gamers that can't even fathom a game you just simply can't beat. I wonder what I'll think of this article 20 years from now. :)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Guitar Hero Rocks....literally

If you haven't heard of this game .... and it's controller, you really should. Guitar Hero for the PS2 has been taking up a lot of my precious free time lately. For all of those out there who wish they have the talent to be in a rock band, now's your chance! This thing is just amazing. I am rocking out some pretty good tunes and for the most part, not doing too bad. Sometimes, those chords mess me up! All in all, a great gaming experience I would recommend to anyone. I can't wait for the sequel and my next game party is going to feature this game for sure!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My great videogame idea

OK all the big video game developers and publishers out there, here's a great idea for you. Take a great fighting engine (hey even a not so great one).....something along the lines of Super Smash Bros. Populate it with all the great marketing icons you can get your hands on. Heck, they should be paying YOU to put their characters in game. I'm talking about The Jolly Green Giant and the Pillsbury Dough Boy and even someone like the Marlboro Man. The Green Giant can shoot peas and carrots and the Pillsbury Dough Boy (after making tons of those 'tee hee' sounds when he's getting his ass kicked) can lob stale pieces of crescent rolls at his enemies. The Marlboro Man can let out a huge puff of smoke, distracting the enemy while he goes in for the kill.

Could you imagine? I can. In fact it's one of the greatest runs my imagination has had in a while. Now I can see Tony the Tiger putting the moves on the Energizer Bunny........yep, my mind keeps going and going and going and going........

Friday, February 03, 2006

My Thoughts on Game Cinematics

God of War game director David Jaffe's recent comments about cinematics in games being unnecessary ( and the 'fireback' article by Alexander L. Fernandez ( Jaffe's new PSP effort will NOT include cinematics, because they (paraphrased) 'take the player out of the immersive experience'....

My solution is somewhere in between. I think cinematics can move a story forward, connect separate pieces that might not come together through usual gameplay, and so on. The concern that I have actual comes from a different angle.

Although (ironically enough) the cinematics in 'God of War' are incredible looking (and sounding!), it is somewhat of a disappointment to go from those to actual gameplay. This has always been the case since cinematics became big on the PC and Playstation. In addition, the extra modelling and development of these cinematics has to contribute to the overall project cost fairly significantly.

Why not do what 'The Legend of Zelda' series has done? (at least in the past). Use the in-game engine for the cinematics. Talk about immersion--if you cut down a tree during gameplay, that tree does not appear in the cinematics. You don't get that 'let-down' feeling coming out of the cinematics into the gameplay. And please, keep them interesting and short! I've seen too many kids just skip past them anyways.

Both of these guys have usual, the best answer, I think, lies somewhere in the middle. What do you think?