Thursday, 20 November 2008

Wii fun or Wii lame

Nintendo is as far as I am concerned one of the best games companies that has ever existed. It has released some of the most groundbreaking characters in gaming history. Majority of the mascots we now see today are loosely based off of characters like Mario, DK, Samus (Metroid), Link and many others from Nintendo. Most of the mascots created by legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto (yes we should all know of him)………

but since the release of the Wii, the targeted audience for new games is now set to the casual market. Most gamers are finding that there aren’t many games aimed at them. Just look at Red Steel. I know Nintendo are making a load of money just by advertising for the casual market but it would be nice if they remember who their real fans are. I was looking forward to playing the Wii before it came out. I remember researching everything about the console and games. The moment I had my first go on it I was amazed the Wii mote. I remember playing Warioware Smooth moves and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Zelda was amazing, had a lot of fun playing it. It was entertaining, storyline worked well, game play was thrilling and well its Zelda. Wario however was fun for about two hours. It followed a repetitive pattern, which only got harder because the time limits decreased and each task had to be repeated more often. I found that the same principle followed through with Wii Sports as well. The games are good for a casual player who would spend a few hours a week playing rather than a gamer who would play for more that ten hours a week. Nintendo need to make more games for gamers, we need a new Golden Eye and Perfect Dark. The Wii needs new games that don’t just monopolise the Wii mote.
Anyways, here’s a good video of Shigeru.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Gears Of War 2
I must confess, I was bored during the weekend and decided to go round to Flat-19 (the flat above mine). We usually hang around up there seeing as it’s a bigger flat and the three who live there (Ben, Steve and Chris) are really good friends of mine. As many of you probably know, Gears of War 2 came out last Friday on the 7th of November. A friend of mine, Matt Thomas bought the game on the day. He spent most of the weekend playing it at Flat-19. So when I was bored I went there and found the copy lying there, seeing as we all share games anyway I decided to start a new game on a different file and see how far I could go. I love Gears and finished the first game on insane mode, so I started on hardcore (insane wasn’t unlocked). Eight hours later I completed it and felt so bad seeing as Matt hadn’t finished it, so I do apologize.

I do have to say that Gears lived up to its hype. I had bought Fable 2 two weeks before and thought it was a bit of a let down. What I felt was promised was not fulfilled. A new, larger range of weapons and clothing was supposed to have been included but I have only found the generic weapons and four full sets of clothing. I also found that there weren’t any new bosses in this version compared to the enemies in the last. I am hoping that the new fable will be better and have more to do in terms of fighting, I am fed up of fighting Hobbes all the time. Coming back to Gears of War, the storyline to the game has carried through well and is very engaging. The second game has fully matured and reached a new level that borders realism. The characters have individual story lines that make you care and Dom is finally a better AI companion, although he still runs straight into your line of fire.

Looking at the way the game ended, I am hoping that the film is going to go through and be as good as the games. I know there’s a large debate on game movies and movie to games. So far there hasn’t been a good transition between the two. Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butchers Bay has been the only successful movie to game so far and I suppose some would say that the Lara Croft movies were successful as well, but generally the two don’t seem to work. Look at Doom if you really want to compare. Gears of War looks like it will be the game that will break the transition between film and games. Seeing as Cliff Bleszenski is the executive producer for the film as well as being game designer for Gears, I think this time the film will take the game in consideration and follow the game path. Resident Evil is a good example of a movie franchise that does not follow the game franchise and although it was ok, it ruined the story. All in all I hope that the future Gears film brings as much success as the games. I will now leave saying play Gears of War it is amazing. I will now finally eat and play Horde on Gears of War 2.

Saturday, 1 November 2008



Well the final part to gaming history is the present and future. The largest change in the gaming industry today is the advancement of technology. During the mid 80’s up until today, the industry has become a global consumer market filled with all the possible ways to play video games. Considering that games first came out on arcade machines, today we can play video games on a range of different devices from the internet, consoles, PC’s and laptops, handheld devices and mobile phones. The industry is now at a level at which it can compete against other entertainment industries such as movie, music and magazine.

Looking at gaming today, the advances today have changed the way in which we play games. Remember how ten years ago when we wanted to play games with our friends, we had to see if they were available to come round. Today however with Internet and online communities we are able to play with our friends and other people around the world while sitting comfortably at home. As far as gaming goes we are now able to work in big teams formulating tactical ideas to overcome the challenges we face, all that instead of simple point and shoot.

Back in 1994, I remember playing on my friends’ NES fascinated by the square controller with a D-pad and four buttons. It was different to the keyboard and mouse used for PC’s. Looking at it now we have controllers that are ergonomically designed (excluding the original Xbox controller, it was far too big) with analogue sticks rather than a four way D-pad. The Wii provides a new way of input using the motion sensor allowing for a totally different experience. We also make use of microphones and cameras and other devices such as musical instruments (Rock Band) and dance mats.
With the new advances in technology comes a heavy price to pay. Looking back twenty years, a development company could finance a game on its on budget using one programmer or a very small team to make the game in a few months. Today it requires a large team of around fifty to well over a hundred to produce a game in more than a year’s time on a large budget of around £20 million. Developers have to outsource for staff and now need a publisher to fund the development of the game. Technology such as High Definition has made it harder for developers since games now have to be highly detailed which requires more time and resources. All in all it is becoming very expensive to make a game and publishers have to take a big risk when faced with a totally new game idea. Majority of publishers today are settling with sequel games and games based on movies, comics and other licensed property. Originality is being thrown out the window in many cases.

For me personally, I think the technology used today is at its prime. Graphics can get better and processors can run faster, but with the cost of having to make a game to meet the standards of the hardware, I think its going to become very expensive and companies will not see it as viable. I would like for the industry to go back to its roots and find better, more interesting ways to play and make games. Originality is the key to success and although it is a big risk, publishers should spend more time investing in new ideas rather than make a quick buck with spin offs. Braid was a game released this year for Xbox Live Arcade. It was designed by an independent software developer and was highly recognized for its simplicity and game play. The game is like any other Platform game but differs due to the environment and time control system. It really has to be played to understand its brilliance. It’s a good example of how an original idea can be developed using a small budget and team. I would love to play more games like this in the future. Games that are mentally stimulating and intuitively designed are more appealing than a generic FPS. I would love to have a system by which we were able to enter the digital world as a character and play a game as if it were real however I know they are considerable negative outcomes of a system like this. I think with games, they don’t allow a player to use what he already knows from reality and put it into a game. Majority of the time a game simply teaches you through practice only. Anyway before I get too deep into future technology I best leave it here and get a subway and play some guitar hero….

Middle Ages for Video Games

Homeward Bound

Well we know where games originated from my last post, but what happened next? What would define the “Middle Ages” for video games? It seems that before the mid seventies, most of the games created were made for arcade machines. If you wanted play video games, chances were that you would have to find a place with arcade machines. The games designed were mainly multiplayer games or games that didn’t really have a storyline. In 1972 the first video games console “The Odyssey” was created, which could be played at home. It was designed by Ralph Baer and released by Magnavox. At about this time, during the mid seventies the Personal Computer was also introduced. The concept of home gaming spun off and changed the gaming industry. People were now able to take gaming slightly more seriously and were also able to game more often. Single player games were becoming more popular and genres such as First Person Shoot’ em’ up, 3D shooters and Strategy games were being introduced. From 1977 to 1993, the games industry was dominated by single player games. ID software released Doom in 1993; it was the first FPS (First Person Shoot’ em’ up) to include a multiplayer system that allowed for several PC’s to link up over LAN. It was about the same time that the Internet became available outside of academic circles. Together with LAN gaming and the Internet, games were more versatile since the single player experience was present along with the multiplayer aspect. In my opinion I would have to say that the “Middle Ages“ for video games would have to be the period in which games moved to a single player experience up until the time at which they were combined with a multiplayer environment.

I remember the first time I played Doom, I was eight years old and it scared the living daylights out of me. It wasn’t the creatures that scared me but more the fact that they appeared from hidden areas and were able to sneak up on you. It wasn’t until Half-Life that I became extremely interested in games. I loved the way the game made you think in a logical manner. You would be stuck on a small part in the game for a while until you figured out a logical manner in which to solve the problem, which made the end result even more satisfying. Half-Life also had a good storyline that was easy to grasp and had interesting characters. What was up with G-man. The guy was everywhere but you couldn’t kill him or talk to him. Console gaming for me only really began with the Game Cube since my parents thought gaming was just a distraction and that it would not benefit my future career. I managed to get them to get me a Game Cube after playing on it at my friends’ house. The first games I got for it were Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros Melee and Timesplitters 2. I loved Metroid due to its graphics and game play. It made you constantly move around while fighting and forced you to change weapons as fast as possible during a fight. Timesplitters was just a fun game and the challenges kept me playing. I nearly completed all challenges and still have only completed 72% of that game. A few of my close friends also had the game so we constantly challenged each other to see who could accomplish the most. Super Smash was more of a multiplayer game for us so we would play it when we all got together. I loved the way the game brought all of Nintendo’s best characters together. I loved being Link, Captain Falcon or Kirby. Anyway I think I’ve rambled on for ages now so I best leave it here and eat some junk and play some Fable 2...