This Week in Games: February 11, 2012

Tim Schafer raised $1 million, David Jaffe quit his job, Diablo III was delayed, Sony changed the name of PSN, and the Skyrim team thanked their cook.

It has been an unusually eventful week, so you'd be forgiven if you missed any of the craziness. If you want to sound smart with your gamer buddies, chew on the following and excrete at will…

Man of the Moment: Tim Schafer

First things first, and the one that got everyone all a-twitter at the end of the week, was the news that Tim Schafer and his crew at Double Fine raised over $1 million from Kickstarter patrons to fund a new (as yet unnamed and undefined) "old-school" point-and-click adventure. It set Kickstarter records for the largest number of backers and the most money raised, and sparked speculation about whether this could change the way games are made in the future. If you want to watch some slightly uncomfortable-looking game developers provide some very cautious and carefully worded reactions to the news, you can watch that here. Earlier this week, Schafer and Minecraft dev Markus "Notch" Persson also managed to whip us all into a nerdgasmic frenzy after Persson declared on Twitter that he was "serious" about helping Schafer put together a sequel to Psychonauts.

Skyrim Skyrim Skyrim

Schafer wasn't the center of every news story this week though; Skyrim surprised exactly no one when it won a bunch of trophies at the 15th annual Interactive Achievement Awards in Vegas. The Bethesda crew took to the stage so many times that they eventually ran out of people to thank and resorted to giving props to their cook.

Sony rebranded the PlayStation Network as the Sony Entertainment Network, which is now a division of Sony Network Entertainment. Nope, we're not kidding.

This, of course, was just a couple of days after the much-anticipated Skyrim creation kit hit Steam and got us all thinking about the crazy stuff we could try to build for the game if only we had enough free time. Perhaps if we had a cook on staff to save valuable hours each day we'd be able to bust out some awesome stuff like the mods studio head Todd Howard showed during his keynote speech at D.I.C.E. this week? If you're wondering what the professionals came up with, here's a list: seasonal foliage, spears, dramatic camera angles for magic and ranged combat kills, hanging structures and moving platforms in dungeons, dragon mounts, mounted combat, goblins, spell combinations, the ability to build a home, and even Kinect speech recognition for spells. Unfortunately, Howard was vague about how these new features could be added to Skyrim, saying they might be part of downloadable content packs, or possibly free downloads.

Jaffe, Blackley, and Some Other Awesome Dudes

Back to some names you might be familiar with; Twisted Metal and God of War creator David Jaffe declared that games should stop trying to tell stories. This was right after he quit his gig at his studio Eat, Sleep, Play, which will now be turning its attention to mobile games in the future. Jaffe has yet to confirm what he will be working on next.

Elsewhere, Seamus Blackley (from the original Xbox team) announced that he had rounded up Ed Logg (Asteroids, Centipede, Gauntlet), Rich Adam (Missile Command, Gravitar), Ed Rotberg (Battlezone, S.T.U.N. Runner), and Owen Rubin (Major Havoc, Space Duel) to form a new studio called Innovative Leisure that would take advantage of the parallels between the coin-op scene of the early '80s and the social/mobile scene of today. You can watch a video of all of these guys discussing their new endeavor right here.

Sony FAIL

Sony announced Tuesday that it's overpriced and inconsistent UMD to PS Vita transfer service would not be coming to the US after all. While it was busy pissing people off, it also rebranded the PlayStation Network as the Sony Entertainment Network, which is now a division of Sony Network Entertainment. Nope, we're not kidding. It then went on to announce that its brand-spanking-new Terms of Service would prevent people from canceling any preordered digital content. If you're clicking on stuff, you better mean it in Sony's world.

A character "outgrows" autism, the series' only gay male character turns straight and is then killed off, key characters' ages are inconsistent with the timeline of the novel, and figures long established as being dead miraculously reappear

iPad 3 Coming Soon, News of Cool iOS Games

The Wall Street Journal confidently stuck its neck out this week and stated that Apple would reveal the iPad 3 next month, Team Meat said it was looking into "a reenvisioning of Super Meat Boy made from scratch for touch[screen]," and a new Mass Effect game was announced for iOS dubbed Infiltrator. The game will be a cover-based shooter and is being developed by IronMonkey Studios, the guys behind the excellent Dead Space iOS game.

A Patch for a Novel?

Sticking with Mass Effect, BioWare amused us all this week when it announced that it would be essentially patching the latest Mass Effect novelization by William C. Dietz. A full log of the canonical errors in his book Deception can be found and sniggered at here, but here are some of the most egregious affronts to the lore: a character "outgrows" autism, the series' only gay male character turns straight and is then killed off, key characters' ages are inconsistent with the timeline of the novel, and figures long established as being dead miraculously reappear as part of the storyline.

Diablo III, Skylanders, and Some Money Stuff

Activision revealed that it posted a staggering $1 billion profit in 2011, some of which is no doubt due to the success of Skylanders, which is one of our guilty pleasures (and perhaps yours too?). Unsurprisingly, they took the opportunity to announce a sequel, called Skylanders Giants, which will feature bigger toys that light up.

In related news, Diablo III was delayed again.

Closing things out on a sobering note, the US retail game industry has taken its first step into 2012, and it fell on its ass. This week, the NPD Group reported dismal January retail sales, with total consumer spend in the US falling 34 percent. Yikes. New software sales for console, portable, and PC games fell 37 percent during the month to $379.6 million, and hardware took an equally hard hit in January, falling 38 percent to $199.5 million.

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Discussion

13 comments
SteelPenguin90
SteelPenguin90

@jwhdavison It's not D3 I'm sore about, it's the Skyrim creation kit.. If D3 doesn't run well on my Macbook I'll move heaven and earth until it does!.... or buy a PC, but... errr.... I'd rather not

jwhdavison
jwhdavison staff

@stabby_mcgee there seem to be lots of factors that help elevate these guys - but with Tim, a lot of it is to do with his humility, humor, and the respect that people have for his legacy. He's worked on games for a very long time, and is responsible for some titles that people feel very, very strongly about. That's true of the others you mention too, but some of them are much more controlled by the PR and marketing entities through which they have to communicate.

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

I wonder why (and how) some developers like Tim Schafer get so famous and develop such a loyal following but other equally talented developers like Tim Cain, Amy Hennig, Jon Van Caneghem, Linda Currie, etc. remain mostly unknown.

Cobra5
Cobra5

is the 34% fall in sales a 34% drop form december, or a 34% drop compared to last January? Because I would expect spending would be much higher in December then January...

Godendag
Godendag

I would like to know if Tim Schafer knows about a tv show from Argentina named CHA CHA CHA, was a cult classic during the 90's with sketchs, improvisation, an a bizarre sense of humor. A few months ago, the creator, after all the people requesting for a comeback, he came up with the idea of making a movie trilogy, completely financed by the fans, buying the tickets or just donating, obviously will have a low budget, but was that low budget that made that show so cool.

jwhdavison
jwhdavison staff

What model Mac do you have @SteelPenguin90? So far, D3 seems to run OK on a fairly recent MacBook Pro

SteelPenguin90
SteelPenguin90

I understand the pain Diablo fans are going through, waiting all that time and then teasing you with it and then taking it away, over and over again. Remember: good things come to those that wait, and we've waited a long time. So this game is. going. to. be. awesome. Skyrim gave me hope that games can be as good as my expectations. Still sore I have a Mac and not a PC though..

EndRhyme
EndRhyme

Wow, Sony. It's only been 2 months into the new year and I already hate your guts more than just about anything right now.

BuBsay
BuBsay

Diablo 3 delayed? Surprise surprise there. At this rate the game should be released sometime in 2022

MaxGentleman
MaxGentleman

Max Gentleman believes that Sony could use a bit of a rethink of its policies. Let's hope Kaz Hirai gives everything the kick in the arse that it so readily needs

Grovilis
Grovilis

"It then went on to announce that its brand-spanking-new Terms of Service would prevent people from canceling any pre-ordered digital content" That's utter bull crap.

cyberslik
cyberslik

@hurvl lmao,epic fail.they think every gamer is a ten year old huh?

Hurvl
Hurvl

"Sony rebranded the PlayStation Network as the Sony Entertainment Network which is now a division of Sony Network Entertainment" Sony Entertainment Network/Sony Network Entertainment - damn, they're getting real creative with renaming stuff. I hope their next move is to rename the Playstation Portable into the Portable Playstation.