Video: Swinging with Spidey 3's Chris Archer

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Making a game based on one of the most anticipated movies of the year and one of the most iconic superheroes of all time can build a lot of pressure. Activision tasked developer Treyarch (Call of Duty 3) to make the upcoming Spider-Man 3 game for multiple platforms. Add to the mix the fact that Spider-Man 3 will be the first next-gen game for the webslinger, and you're looking at a lot of pressure.

GameSpot News talked with Chris Archer of Treyarch about the upcoming game at the Spider-Man 3 preview event in San Francisco.

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Video: Talking Shadowrun with Mitch Gitelman

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Microsoft invited GameSpot News down to the fancy Clift Hotel to get a hands-on look at the upcoming PC and Xbox 360 game Shadowrun. Here, Tim Surette sits down with the general manager of FASA Studios, Mitch Gitelman, to talk about the game and its unique features. Mitch loves to make games and he loves to talk about Shadowrun.

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Chris Taylor stops by GameSpot

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It took some doing, but we squeezed in this conversation with Supreme Commander designer Chris Taylor. Thanks, Chris, for stopping by. Best of luck with the game.  - Curt Feldman

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Miyamoto on violent games

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Having created franchises like Donkey Kong, Mario, and Zelda, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto has been a big name in the industry for a long time. And if you've read one interview with the man in the last 20 years, you've pretty much read them all.

He likes new challenges. He likes innovating. He likes to make games that anyone can play. If the interview is from 2001 or later, it might mention how he got the idea for Pikmin while he was gardening.

CNN today posted a transcript of Miyamoto's recent appearance on Talk Asia, and while much of it reads like a "greatest hits" of the developer's previous Q&As, there are some interesting passages where he might be doing more than reciting the same answer he's given 100 times before.

When asked about why Nintendo hasn't jumped headfirst into the profitable world of violent games like Grand Theft Auto, Miyamoto replied, "My personal thought is, and I think it is the same with Nintendo, that before thinking about how to handle violence in video games, I think it is important to think about pain people feel. For example, you would not laugh at people with disabilities. There are bullying problems in Japan. Looking at the overall picture, it is important to understand and feel the pain that people might have. We make our games based on that philosophy, using means other than violence."

Talk Asia host Anjali Rao also asked Miyamoto about how he deals with fan feedback, noting that gamers are rarely restrained in offering their opinions.

"This is a difficult subject," Miyamoto confessed. "If a fan makes a suggestion, I will often put it in my mind, and I will take in whatever comment I feel is useful. But I make my own predictions of how a user might react to the games I create, and I would say I am sensitive to whether those reactions are in line with what I predicted. People generally have different views and opinions about anything. So I would only listen to whatever information is useful for me. It is interesting to hear what other people say. But instead of reading the blogs, I would rather stand behind a person playing the games and sense how the player is reacting to the game--whether he is unhappy with the games, or if he is having fun. I can feel all of that directly. It is more useful for me to do that than to read what he thinks of it."

Keep checking the GameSpot News Blog for more stories from every corner of the gaming world.

--Brendan Sinclair

Lowenstein's last words

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As Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein said farewell to the gaming industry at his D.I.C.E. presentation last week, he admonished pretty much everyone involved with the industry. He slammed publishers who made violent games and then didn't go public to defend them. He slammed the gaming press for sloppy reporting and giving Jack Thompson too much coverage. And to make sure he didn't miss anyone, he slammed was pretty much everyone in attendance at D.I.C.E. (and by implication, gamers at large) for not being more involved in the politics of gaming by joining the ESA's Video Game Voters Network.

On the first count, I agree with him. If Take-Two wants to make a fortune off Grand Theft Auto and rattle cages with controversial content, it should be willing to stand up and explain what possible artistic value their games have when overprotective and out-of-touch legislators come knocking. It shouldn't just make a mess and expect the ESA to deal with the entire cleanup.

As for the media, Lowenstein was half-right. Generally speaking, it is sloppy. It needs cleaning up. It needs more maturity. It needs people more willing to actually do the job right.

But in regards to Thompson, the gaming media could ignore the man entirely, and I'm convinced he'd still be plenty happy with the attention he received from the mainstream press, concerned parents, and legislators. Thompson constantly resurfaces in opposition to the industry and is taken seriously (at least for a time) by parent watchdog groups and politicians. That makes him a threat to the industry's interests, and as a result, that makes some of his actions newsworthy.

I'm also incredibly uncomfortable with a field of mature, thorough, competent reporters (like the sort Lowenstein implored us to become) coming to a mutual conclusion as to the newsworthiness of a story or an individual, and quietly imposing a group ban on coverage of Thompson. I'm doubly uncomfortable with it happening at the behest of the ESA, an organization we are supposed to cover impartially. Even if an agreed ban on coverage of Thompson would be effective (which I doubt), the collusion of media outlets in determining a subject's newsworthiness would set a filthy precedent.

Finally, there's the admonishment of people who sit on the sidelines and don't lend their voice to the industry. This is where I have a big problem with Lowenstein's speech. If you're inspired to do so, taking political action to defend the gaming industry is indeed admirable. But it's not mandatory.

I understand that it must have been frustrating for Lowenstein to see message boards light up with outraged comments from gamers every time a new state ponders gaming legislation, and then see that the outrage dies as soon as the poster's half-formed diatribe is submitted. But don't put me on a guilt trip for not signing on to the Video Game Voters Network, and don't tell me I'm a bad gamer for not forfeiting my own voice to whatever the ESA's grassroots political organization wants to do with it.

The ESA has a wealth of fine deeds in its history, and serves some absolutely crucial purposes in the industry. However, it isn't real big on transparency (see the cloudiness of an ESRB ratings process that gives Oblivion a T for Teen before launch and an M for Mature months later, why it spends money to influence online gambling laws), and it's not interested in the betterment of gaming; it's interested in the betterment of its publisher membership.

In many cases, the two goals are one and the same. Any sort of legal restriction on the sale of M-rated games would be bad for publishers' business, so the ESA comes down hard against it. So in the biggest picture, anything that's clearly catastrophic for gaming is likely to be really bad for publishers' profit, and you can count on the ESA to fight it tooth and nail.

However, there are a lot of gray areas in which the ESA's interests don't necessarily fall in line with yours or mine. Laws requiring retailers to post signs educating parents about the ESRB are a hassle for retailers given another requirement to follow, but if they don't directly affect the publishers' interests, the ESA takes a neutral on those matters.

And then there are the labor laws in California. The ESA said it spent over $100,000 over the course of three months just to get "interpretive guidance" from the state's labor department about overtime laws. Given the lawsuits sizeable California-based publishers like EA and Activision have faced over allegations of mandatory excessive overtime for their employees, the ESA likely isn't lobbying for these publishers' employees to get better treatment. Even if they aren't lobbying for specific laws, spending that much on interpretive guidance is like asking "So just how badly can we bend these suckers over a barrel before it becomes illegal?"

Yes, being politically active and letting legislators know how you as a gamer and a voter feel about restrictions on the medium is a great thing. Yes, gamers should be more active politically. Yes, the VGVN is one way to do that. However, if you're going to turn your voice over to a third party (and whether or not you should even do that is debatable), you may as well make it one that's looking out for your interests on the surface. If you're EA, Activision, Sony, or Microsoft, then yes, the ESA is definitely the group for you. But if you're just a gamer, look into the Entertainment Consumer's Association. If you're a developer, hit up the International Game Developers Association.

Whatever you decide to join, make sure they know what you want them to lobby for; otherwise you're just a name and an address that they'll use to get whatever they want done.

--Brendan Sinclair

D.I.C.E. newbie Rand Miller

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LAS VEGAS--Later in the day on Thursday, I caught up Rand Miller, one of the legends of game design (currently focused on the imminent release of Myst Online: Uru Live, playable on GameTap). I noticed Rand slipping in and out of almost every session and wanted to know what he thought of the presentations. I was shocked to hear this was his first D.I.C.E., and even more shocked to realize that meant Rand had never been asked to present at the event--a significant opportunity for the D.I.C.E. producers to tap as they think about the 2008 speaker lineup (...hint, hint).

I've always enjoyed speaking with Rand. Being based in Spokane, he's far enough away from the various epicenters of game design (the Austins and San Franciscos and Seattles) that his references and metaphors are broader, less predictable than your average game developer. A conversation with Rand reveals ideas and creative approaches to games that are individual and unique. 

--Curt Feldman

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Running into ... Richard Garriott

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LAS VEGAS--One of the pleasures of attending the D.I.C.E. Summit is the opportunity it gives one to bump into the very best creative minds in the game industry. Before the first session began on Thursday, I spotted Ultima creator Richard Garriott (though he prefers to talk about Tabula Rasa these days...no surprise there). I asked Tim Surette to grab the camcorder, then I got Richard's attention and asked him to step outside for a brief interview.   --Curt Feldman

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Sony Online's Vanguard launch party

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Sony Online Entertainment held their launch party for the MMO Vanguard: Saga of Heroes on Wednesday in San Francisco, so I decided it best to snap a few pictures and let you see them. Perhaps you blow them up to life-size and pretend you were there.

Unlike most industry events, this party wasn't catering to the press like they were a collection of extreme thrill-seekers, hip-hoppin' clubbers, or complete nerds to the Nth degree. Held at the very versatile open space Terra near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, SOE took the opportunity to combine the launch of the game with the onset of an art tour, featuring the work of late Keith Parkinson, fantasy artist extraordinaire (okay, so maybe it had some geekiness). If you've ever seen D&D books or bought an EverQuest game, then you've almost certainly seen his work.

But the real question is: What was the food like? There was a strong Mediterranean theme, but there was also sushi, tri-tip, and some surprisingly delicious chocolate cake that Craig Beers pushed on us.

--Tim Surette

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