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  • Lex 9:42 pm on October 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Rogue   

    Death As a Bullet Point 

    Doesn't seem very fair, does it?

    The resilience to take a right-proper beating can mean the difference between surviving harsh living conditions or succumbing to the elements. Most folks would rather avoid surly activities such as crucifixion and live skinning. Yet, there exists a subset of games enthusiasts among us who thrive on self-inflicted grief. Some would even go so far as to pay sixty dollars to be kicked in the crotch, have their flesh set ablaze, followed by impalement with a rusty implement and finished off with the twisting of the diseased blade buried in a fresh slit.

    This generation has seen the divide between hardcore and casual become a blatant sight. Dark Souls and its predecessor Demons Souls have galavanted to the front of the crowded games market championing the notion that games should be a challenge. In doing so they’ve found an audience steadfast enough to surmount these gauntlets of masochistic euphoria. Players resilient enough hold on to their wits during the insane, sudden spikes in the challenge have recounted tales of bosses who dispense nothing but one hit kills and hours-upon-hours of progress lost to the ether of time. The Souls owe much of their design credo to the Rogue-like genre.

    The corporate thinking behind modern video game design mandates that a complete product should ship in a state in which it can be feasibly and reasonably completed by the majority of its audience at the standard difficulty setting. An industry, currently in the midst of sequelitis and lead by sales figures must stand by the status quo. As it turns out, letting people play through a sixty dollar roller-coaster ride, then charging them another sixty the following year for another such jaunt is quite profitable.

    The web URL for Dark Souls, “preparetodie.com,” reaffirms to fans of the masochistic romp that everything they loved about Demons Souls is intact.

    To compound the difficulty both entries eschew another convention the difficulty setting. The Souls games’ use a single soul-crushing setting.

    Dark Souls wears its predecessor’s infamy on its face much akin to the way it flaunts the soft skin torn from the tender hides of its victims. Terrorists and fictional home front wars are replaced by protagonists with charred epidermises and giant, fire-spewing monstrosities who kill you in half a heartbeat.

    World myths are teeming with examples of heroes surmounting unspeakable pain and horror. Many such personae are exalted to unenviable state of martyrdom. One need only riffle through The Bible for the most famous of examples. Wording such as stout masochist, unwavering martyr and firm punching bag are selling points the likes of which may never find their way onto the resume of average employment seeker. Still, a person who can take a hefty, swift strike to the nether regions without so much as showing a crack in their composure. It is perhaps for the best that I leave the ordeal of delineating the line between torment and elation to a man with a higher testicular constitution for self-inflicted flailing.

  • Lex 2:10 pm on August 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Age of Empires Online, Diablo 2, Diablo III, Dungeons and Dragons Online, League of Legends, Spiral Knights, Team Fortress 2,   

    The Devil’s Wealth 

    Large corporations are managed with a great deal of forethought. The strategies which the highest echelons of management set into motion are considered and mulled over for long stretches of time and over many meetings. This is how businesses succeed and grow. The oft overzealous knee-jerky conservative reaction from a passionate fan base to an unprecedented announcement usually comes from people not willing to understand why something has been added to or omitted from the latest version of a given product.

    Blizzard didn’t become Blizzard by making mistakes with its beloved franchises. Many are regarding the addition of real-money auction houses to Diablo III as a miscalculated move on the celebrated developer’s part. The biggest fear the most vocal critics share is the affect such exchanges would have on the value of loot players acquire from drops. The most die hard players spend tens or hundreds of hours griding the same dungeons to obtain top tier weapons, armor and trinkets. From the outside micro-transactions may seem damaging to the gameplay of an multi-player online battle arena (MOBA) or any other online experience focused on competitive play. While this once held true for shooters such as the Modern Warfare series, these practices are most beneficial to games being developed on the industry fringe.

    DDO was one of the first Massively-Multiplayer Online RPGs to embrace the free-to-play model which supports micro-transactions.

    Free-to-play games like the dungeon crawler Spiral Knights and the MMORPG Dungeons and Dragons Online need such micro transaction systems in place to assure survival in a crowded, competitive market. Their business models are based on small dollar purchases made by the community of players surrounding them. Developers such as Spiral Knights’ Three Rings Design take huge risks releasing their games to the public with an entry-level cost of nil on the part of the consumer. All they ask of the player is the occasionally micropayments toward the purchase of in-game items. Such items provide character buffs or serve as simple aesthetic diversions from what is typically found in the game world.

    Multi-player centric indie titles for which micropayment auction houses are advantageous include the much lauded MMO Mythos, the DOTA inspired League of Legends and the MMO-RTS hybrid Age of Empires Online. All of these are games from the outlying sectors of the videogame industry. All were made by indie developers who ask little or no upfront monetary investment from new players. They need the capital provided by free-to-play revenue streams to sustain operations and keep the game alive.

    MANN Co.’s Aussie CEO Saxton Hale is the cartoonishly musclebound mascot of TF2’s in game store.

    Of all the games applying the micro transaction business model the majority are MMOs, MOBAs and an abundance of Diablo 2 derivatives. However, full-sized tent pole shooters have adopted the real-money transactions paradigm. Valve’s Team Fortress 2 integrated real money transactions for weapons and hats which has not been detrimental to the game. Quite the opposite effect has transpired as the TF2 community has grown steadily since the introduction of the trade and craft systems. With the recent free-to-play changeover the player population for the objective-based first-person shooter has exploded. Team Fortress 2 even dethroned Valve’s own Counter-Strike as the most played game on Steam.

    To bring this discourse back to Diablo III, specifically its auction houses, the idea that a game which recoups its production costs upfront from software sales and then asks its user base to fork over more money is a rather shifty proposition. Especially given that D3’s price point will probably be in the sixty dollar range for the standard edition. However, given World of Warcraft’s problems with gold farmers depreciating the in-game currency, one can easily recognize why Blizzard would seek to minimize any damage done to their new game by using what they’ve learned about player-run economies in conjunction with what they know about gold farming processes.

    Even with dominant artistic and technical prowess, Blizzard Entertainment is still a business.

    What do we know about Diablo III’s real-money auction houses?

    • Players will be able to trade money for in-game items via a player-to-player transaction system.
    • Blizzard gets a set cut from every trade.
    • A third-party provider will also receive a cut of the sale from any player who chooses to cash out.
    • Blizzard will receive yet another cut from a player who cashes out on their sale.
    • Anonymous transactions both ways. Neither player is aware of the other player’s identity.
    • Upon death, hardcore branded characters become barred from real-money exchanges.
    Why is Blizzard implementing real-money auction houses?
    • The alternative to micro transactions is a subscription based model ala WoW. In order to fund the maintenance and further development of Diablo III multiplayer servers Blizzard necessitates some sort of financial influx.
    • Cut into the revenue stream of gold farmers

    It’s easy to allow our grievances to cloud better judgement when the things we love dearly change. Stopping to consider the reasons for an amendment goes against our nature to preserve the things we love and the memories we have of them; especially when that change is unexpected. Servers, server maintenance and security overhead are costly even for a company as financially fortified as Blizzard. In the end we should all rejoice and celebrate the arrival of a new Diablo game. Blizzard has carefully cultivated its franchises over the years and it would behoove them to continue in their game design tradition. This tradition of meticulous testing and iteration, along with the mantra “It’s ready when it’s ready” has garnered them endless praise and an ever expanding fan base.

    Perhaps this aggravated fellow can best summarize the well-meaning but over-zealous fervor felt by the hardcore.

    • CmdrEdem 4:54 pm on August 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think the problem is really the AH itself. The problem is: because of security concerns regarding item duplication and other cheating related to powerful item aquisition the game will have to be played online at all times. People that is afraid of the AH for any reason besides that one is a fool. Like Blizzard said: RMTs exist in D2 and it’s not like it destroyed the game. More people will use RMTs now that there’s a safe way to do it? Sure as hell they will. But I don’t think this will break the game and Blizzard will watch very closelly so it’s new gem is not shattered by this hammer.

    • JenicEm 10:30 pm on August 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Good Point, Lex!
      It is so amazing how this game isn’t even out yet and these ‘fanboys’ are already thinking it is ruined!! Thought he video at the end is a fake reaction (over exaggerated) it illustrates exactly some of the off handle emotions brewing out there.

  • Thais 3:56 pm on May 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gameplay, level design, Sebastian Möring, Swing Swing Submarine, Ttuper tario tros   

    Games and Blending 

    photo by loadblog.

    Videogames are, in their core, a hybrid media. So, it’s no surprise when some games use other games features, such as Call of Duty using Brothers in Arms features or that Gears of Wars takes advantage of Resident Evil 4 camera aspects or even Everquest using World of Warcraft’s yellow ponctuation marks. Those appropriation are so common that most of them goes unnoticed after sometimes, becoming a standard feature in most games of its genre.

    However, some of those mixing are deliberately more obvious, keeping evident the source of the features. Mario meets Portal, for instance, show in a humours way how Super Mario Bros could be played if Mario had a portal gun. In this way, Mario can easily jump high on flag poles or make enemies disappear through a portal. Sebastian Möring (in press) discuss how this mixing in two or more videogame’s gameplay can result in a new kind of gameplay. He uses as example Tuper Tario Tros, a browser game that mix together Super Mario Bros and Tetris, but creating a gameplay that could be solved by only one game methodology.

  • Thais 3:53 pm on January 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 8-bits, 8bit, 8bits, Kings of 4 billion, megamen, Paul Robertson, Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle, pixel, pixelart, pixelation, Street Fight   

    PixelArt Rebirth in Digital Animations 

    photo by brokentrinkets

    Have you guys noticed how 8bit/pixelated style have been getting really popular lately? And I don’t mean only in good retro games, as Contra Rebirth and Megaman 8 and 9 to name just a few, but even non related to videogames materal, like all rappers/hypsers and even the Black Eyed Peas videoclips, are taking advantage of this hype. Despite those lousy mash ups, the 8bit fad had also presented us with good outcomes. We present here a selection of some of the coolest 8bit inspired videos.

    • Arthur Protasio 4:45 pm on January 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Don’t forge the “8-BIT Waterslide in REAL LIFE” video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkYVazguJCY )! It serves as a great example of how the “Pixel Culture” can also be used in actual recreation through paper and other physical objects.

      Generally speaking, there is a very overrated retro-pixel-hype going on (check out the huge quantity of “8-bit remakes”), most likely due to the fact of video game dissipation through mainstream media.

      However, as you also noted, there have been a few outcomes. My compliments go to Junior Senior for making one of the coolest music video clips ever and “back in” 2003 when the pixel hype was yet to be born.

  • Thais 11:30 am on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , learn, TIGA, to make   

    Star up as a Game Dev 

    So, you want to make games, right? Should you go to college or something or just learn the video game ways yourself? That’s a interesting question since most of people on industry today started up by themselves, but most of hired people in the filed has some kind of academic degree. Nevertheless, The Independent Games Developers Association (TIGA) made this cool brochure to help noobs make up their minds or beginners to chooser their path. Also, if you live in UK, TIGA has all sorts of info about courses and exchanges in their site. After reading these and you think you are ready for action, you can try it out on TIGSource forum, which is a great place to meet other developers, discuss with them technical issues, have your work/ideas rated or just have some fun. Good luck to all who want to get in game industry and may the force be with you!

  • Thais 10:43 am on September 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , indie games, maketing   

    The Big Fat Indie Games Lists 

    The Pixel Prospector guys made some great compilations of links to help both gamers and [wanna-bes] indie game devs.

    The first of all was The Big List Of Indie Game Sites, with sites and forums about indie games.

    Them, there was The Big List Of Game Development Resources, which has great links of tools/tips/tutorials for game design, music, graphics and programming. Is useful both for noobs that need to learn from scratch and for semi-pros devs that just need to polish up their skills or solve a crazy last minute bug.

    The last list released was The Big List Of Indie Marketing And Business Tips, consisting of a great bunch of links with both ideas and tools for marketing and business management to low costs indie games.

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