Can't help but get a laugh out of childish 'developer vs. fanboy' slapfights

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"We are disinterested in making mini-celebrities out of douche-bags" - Says a particularly pissy Treyarch designer who has droves of obnoxious CoD enthusiasts rather unceremoniously showcasing the obvious fact that he already has a broken MP on his hands, even before the latest grey glob descending from the Activison conveyor belt was officially released.

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Another November, another large mass of youths and middle-aged malcontents waiting hours in lines (or even commiting armed robbery) to obtain the newest Call of Duty and be able to jump head first into its swiss cheese multiplayer and the cesspool of modern gaming culture that inhabit it.

The ensuing countdown towards numerous petty fanboy-driven forum wars and showboating oriented Youtube uploads courtesy of shameless attention whores teamed coinciding with plenty of half-assed developer apologies and patches in time for the holidays has now become an accepted inevitability this time of year when it comes to the FPS genre.

A personal inevitability of my own then commences, the bombardment of questions as to why I only sparingly play the major shooter clones of a given year at their respective releases before an extended break away from it. I simply answer that I am kind of like a driver slowing down to gawk at the commotion around a wreck for bit, one who may come back around when the road is eventually clear (or as cleared up as it realistically can be). With a game like Black Ops the foul mouthed middle schoolers and endlessly persistant boosters / cheaters need some alone time first.

In the end I suppose my real annoyance is not the shooter itself, merely the brand of insufferable a-holes they tend to attract. All I can say is the corporate shills at Activison, EA, Bungie, Epic, and the goons that pollute the online communities of modern online shooters.. you truly, truly deserve each other.

Manufactured flame bait and the supposed threat towards the used game industry

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I must admit that I find a degree of a humor in the various ways game sites try and siphon some cheap hits by spinning the context of story and its title in a more controversial and dire light or resorting to cliche flame bait topics. Examples of the latter are sites like Kombo becoming increasingly known for their inane lists that usualy revolve around what supposedly is or isn't overrated while peddling their painfully narrow views.

They repeatedly hit the same old targets in usually blatant efforts to get a rise out of notoriously rabid fanbases of the proverbial sacred cows of gaming like Zelda: O.o.T either in individual posts or among their little lists. Yet another group of petty antagonizers that fail to acknowledge that no one would waste time debating a game's merit over a decade after the fact if it wasn't actually worth debating.. all the while conveniently forgetting to ever even raise a voice in the direction of today's popular shooters.

Essentially they are trying to obtain both the added views that flame wars inevitably bring while still trying to avoid alienation of their intended core audience. Too bad that amidst these stunts sites like Kombo lose any and all credibility, if there was actually any to begin with that is.

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Anyways my main focus is actually more towards the sensationalism that more and more games sites are falling back on with increased regularity. All it takes is one site to overhype a story and it spreads like wildfire throughout the rest of the internet's gaming news sites trying to grab hits. One prime example is the recent story about new court rulings in the Vernor v. Autodesk case and how it apparently is a sign of the apocalypse for used game sales.. and to the surprise of no one, GS was among those that took it and ran.

Where they the worst offender? Certainly not. But when a mainstream game news site posts a headline reading "Court ruling could affect pre-owned game sales" for an article that is really making a stretch of the possibilities and is quite slim on providing a truly balanced account of the story overall, you know damn well what they are aiming for.. to create a stir amongst the easily agitated, impressionable and uninformed to generate those precious hits.

Don't get me wrong, I know that business is business, but I can't help but think these stories are only dropping the already lowly bar of online game journalism. The article was pretty typical of what to expect nowadays, a slightly sensationalistic title followed by either a biased or generic explanation that usually misses the overall point.

Yeah, they 'tried' to explain the connecting of the dots of why the various rulings from the Vernor v. Autodesk case involving the secondhand sale of software 'could' affect the used videogame industry in efforts to justify the article's existence on the front page, but they really don't take the time to clarify that it is a case that is years in the making.. one that has had (and will continue to have) multiple appeals.

They among many others failed to convey the various boader details and just how long the legal process for a case like this can be, not to mention the fact that not only was this a ruling from the 9th district court(one that is infamous for having its decisions overturned), but there are numerous other similar court cases that refute Autodesk's type of EULA related claims.

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Whether you support the ideal of used game sales or not let me make something very clear.. if our court system erodes to the point of allowing corporate EULAs(End-User License Agreements) to circumvent our country's various fair trade and copyright laws, used games will be the absolute least of our problems.

Here are a few case rulings that I like to place focus on:

Applied Info. Mgmt., Inc, v. Icart (1997) held that the sale of software is the sale of a good.

Novell, Inc. v. CPU Distrib., Inc. (2000) The first-sale doctrine applies to software.

Softman v. Adobe (2001) The first-sale doctrine applies to software and can not be waived or taken away through an EULA.

Whether the game publishers/developers and the opponents of businesses like Gamestop like it or not(you can still believe in the ideal while hating the store as I do), the gaming industry is not special. They are not exempt from following the same laws and legal precendents that the rest of the US's economic industries have to adhere to.

Unless an individual is illegally replicating the disc(digitally / creating multiple physical copies) OR trying to illegally profit off of intellectual properties contained on the disc, the industry needs to stop pouting because their entitlement ends at the checkout line. After they recieved their deserved initial profit in full off of an individual copy of a game, they have no place in future private transactions.

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I realize that the eternal lust for continued money and power is a natural part of business, but perhaps for once they should spend more time and money at the planning table to try and get a more creative profit out of individual copies of a game than simply trying to pick gamer's pockets through the legal system.

Yes, we get it. The economy is rough and it's certainly wise try to and maximize earning power to survive, but it's a tough environment right now for everyone. Showing favoritism for a whining entertainment industry trying to further pad their own growing wallets is not going to help anyone.. and if enough policies are not changed to keep more people in their homes, and more jobs + manufacturing within the country why should any focus be placed on going above and beyond to further enrich game makers?

I think an ironic angle is while these developers b*tch and moan about the Gamestop and eBays of the world taking away from their added profit, they are thinking that if laws were magically rewritten for them to recoup any supposed lost profits from the sale of a used game that any significant amount would actually get to them personally.. and would somehow not be quickly pocketed by publishers and other higher on the corporate food chain (most of the money would probably still not make it to those who actually created the game as most payouts are fixed amounts not conditional on sales).

Do they not realize that if the courts actually 'did' crack and allowed special arrangements for continued profit off of secondhand sales that it would only lead to increased piracy.. as well as snowball into even worse problems if everyone got in on the EULA game? It would only create a circle of bullsh*t with loopholes within loopholes inevitably disrupting the entire process thanks to the anarchy allowed by little EULAs bypassing fair and established law.

Anyways, my overall sentiment is this game industry: get over it. I'm all for cracking down on the likes of piracy, because thats were they are truly being robbed of deserved profit, but giving you special rights to invade people's private transactions to shut you up is not on the agenda.

In a fair trade market you got to take the good with the bad, you can't selectively play the capitalism card only when convenient. While used game sales may seem like all bad for developers initially, in the grand scheme of things it is a necessary and legal "evil" that keeps the industry's wheels turning.

Interesting JRPG / Western RPG article

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Much like when late 2009 saw the release of two successful RPGs like Demon's Souls and Dragon Age: Origins from opposite ends of the genre's spectrum (in which console vs. PC rpg oriented rhetoric ensued), early 2010's western-made Mass Effect 2 and Japanese-made Final Fantasy XIII showcased the other growing division within the genre. Even several months after both have released, fanboyish mudslinging from both gamer and developer alike have persisted.. pretty much the typical egotistical, selective memoried rambling of blowhards throwing stones in glass houses that those familiar with the undesirables of the genre would expect.

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The success of western RPG developers like Bioware and Bethesda coniciding with the noticeable drop in the amount of JRPGs this hardware cycle led many to rant about how the likes of Mass Effect and Fallout have managed to kill off it's eastern developed bretheren.. which led to the inevitable backlash from fans using Final Fantasy XIII's immense sales numbers in both markets to begin flaming counter attacks of their own. I recently came upon a good article that discusses the topic.. and since it for the most part covers some of my own thoughts and feelings on the matter I figured I'd save myself some time and post the link.

Much like the last time around, I feel the current debate is nothing more than another pointless squable churned along by narrow minded fanboys who deem their preference as worthy of being the one and only necessary take on an entire genre. Being a major fan of both Square and Bethesda I am a longtime RPG gamer who has observed and appreciated the positives of both st*les to understand that both are indeed necessary.. and also have seen enough of the negatives of both to understand that relying on just one of their takes alone would be costly to the genre as a whole.

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It also certainly doesn't help when the developers themselves tag along with the ignorant goons of the fanbase, making petty jabs that end up painting more of a negative light on their own games than of those they are targeting(I'm looking at you Dan Erickson of Mass Effect calling out Final Fantasy). Like I have already said, you got alot of folks in glass houses throwing stones here.. even though I was quite down on Final Fantasy XIII and very much enjoyed Mass Effect 2 I am not prepared to turn a completely blind eye on Bioware's own formulaic approach that is in danger of becoming stale itself.

Bioware should indeed be smart enough to not let some success cloud their common sense and allow themselves to be fooled into thinking that all aspects of their games are running as good as they could be, or that anything they have been doing since the first KOTOR can even remotely be considered new and original.. exaggerating the extent of the illusion of freedom their games try to create is not going to fool anyone for long either. They also shouldn't ignore the fact that many of their game's flaws have been rather overlooked due to them pandering to the action/shooter cravings of their western audience with increased regularity.

Also, I think it needs to be said.. Japanese devs have as much, if not more, to do with the decreasing market share of their RPGs than simply just the success of western made RPGs. Most seem to be stuck in one of two predictable gears.. they either play it safe and stick with the same old basics to a very stubborn degree, or they make a misguided attempt at emulating the current western RPG formulas. I mean.. once upon a time there was "plenty" of creativity within the genre coming from the east, but more recently they have forgotten how to maintain a steady path of growth while staying within their own bounds.

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Like I have mentioned before, certain JRPG makers(especially Square) seem to be having trouble keeping proper perspective of why people like their games and RPGs in general when they are amidst those prolonged development cycles that bringing their artistic and technical visions to life on more powerful hardware demand(Square spent so long on the presentation and graphics of FF XIII that they seemed to forget to make the rest of the game..).

While that more powerful hardware has improved other genres in leaps and bounds, I think it might have been a temporary detriment to the length and creativity that made appealing JRPGs.. longer developments cycles, more money needing to be spent, current gamers placing a higher focus on flashy presentations and twitch gameplay.. nothing showcases the pitfalls of those trends like the current JRPG genre. On the flipside.. the current leaders of the WRPG genre were essentially born into early stages of those aforementioned industry trends, so maybe thats one reason why they have had a better time adjusting right now.

Anyways, the JRPG genre is indeed down, but it is by no means dead or even on life support.. much like PC gaming its a genre that quite simply will never die regardless of how far away from the spotlight it may appear to be at a given time. All these devs need to do is keep a steady balance of innovation and reminders to its fans of why they love those kind of games.. they do that and the fans will always come.

The success of those western RPGs should not be interpreted as a level of success that leaves no room for other parts of the genre to maintain relevancy.. from Dragon Age to Demon's Souls, Final Fantasy to Fallout, and Fable to an MMORPG.. the genre has proven itself strong and diverse enough to have several major series moving alot of units so long as they hone their appeal with innovation and quality.

Got any more room for irrelevant E3 opinions?

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Although 2010's E3 was not as eventful as 2009's.. it still provided plenty of excitement for the upcoming year. I know there are many gamers who debate "who won and who lost E3", but I feel there are far too many pieces of the puzzle to place a broad label on any specific conference.

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The first example that comes to mind is Microsoft's.. there seem to be many that have displayed rather strong feelings on the supposed levels of success(or lack there of) of their presentation. I personally found myself riding the fence.. on one hand I felt MS did a great job with the value of the XBOX360 redesign(250gb HDD, 45nm GPU/CPU and built-in Wi-Fi for $299 has officially shut me the hell up), but on the other I felt the Kinect presentation was undeniably disappointing. Not to mention the bizarre theatrics and robotic presentations Microsoft felt it necessary to stage leading up to the conference didn't do them any favors in terms of crowd opinion.. as they seem to play it overly safe this year around and often came off stale(or as the saying goes.. "Not playing to win, but instead playing not to lose.").

Yet again, a high level of hype is proving to be a double-edged sword.. the enthusiasm last year's E3 created for Kinect has slowly become it's most glaring magnifying glass. As most Natal hypesters are finally starting to understand(and like I tried to hammer home last year).. there is a HUGE difference between tech demos and what finally hits the living room. Simply put.. when tech makes it the consumers the buffer zone is gone.. no more pre-recorded gameplay presentations, inflated numbers and large amounts of propaganda to help mask any deficiencies.

Was Kinect a complete bomb? Ofcourse not. The hype is still there, but it "did" lose a few coats of sheen.. funny how choppy/underwhelming gameplay demos can do that to something even with as much potential as Kinect. Throw in the lack of price details, minimal coverage of Kinect-compatible blockbuster games like Fable III, and ofcourse the questionable renaming of Project Natal and you can kinda see why some gamers where rather putoff.

While I may not be "as" firm on my "all or nothing" stance in regards to Kinect as I was last year.. a potentially hefty price tag mixed with a subpar E3 showing and rather bad track record for pricey add-ons is really putting the heat on MS to clean up the Kinect's messier points and follow through on at least some of the initial hype(if not, things could get ugly). Like I alluded to earlier.. it's difficult to lump all aspects of a presentation under one winner/loser designation. Soley based on the ideal that the direction of public opinion afterwards is the true judge of these E3 events.. it is in my opinion that the 360 itself thanks to the likes of the redesign, games like Gears of War 3/Castlevania: Harmony of Despair and securing timed exclusivity for Call of Duty DLC was a mild winner while Kinect was a mild loser.

(On a side note.. what was up with the MGS Rising portion? Great graphics and all, but I take it that stealth is officially dead and gone from that series? Instead we get Kojima announcing for the 47th time that he's passing the torch on the MGS series as well as a Ninja Gaiden-esque watermelon slicing demo..)

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Like Kinect, another piece of tech is seemingly trying to run before it first learns to walk. While Microsoft decided to skip setting any platform foundation via controller based motion gaming and instead go straight for body motion tech ripped right out of Minority Report.. Nintendo decided to also skip ahead by passing up glasses-based 3D altogether with the Nintendo 3DS. While they were bold decisions that were rightfully made to set their platforms apart.. they may prove to be costly false starts for both companies.

Luckily for Nintendo.. Sony is not posing the same threat to the 3DS as it will be to the Kinect. By virtue of the PSP2 no-show itself, the 3DS is probably already the winner despite some serious questions regarding the range of view of the 3D gameplay. Regardless.. unless it was earth shattering a PSP2 would have had more than enough work cut out for it to catch up with Nintendo at this point in time. While new games like another PSP God of War and Parasite Eve 3 err.. "The 3rd Birthday" are definitely nice.. Sony is STILL not doing enough to showcase the PSP like it deserves.

The gimmick enslaved fanbase of Nintendo's handhelds is simply too large to keep up with.. and Nintendo throwing in non-glasses based 3D gameplay(even for as flawed as it may turn out to be), multiple 3D enabled camera's, even more hardcore focused franchises like a new Resident Evil & Metal Gear Solid, and an added joystick(I'm surprised they also haven't added scratch and sniff features for the hell of it yet) on top of everything else the DS platform already had makes both this and the next-gen handheld battle pretty much a foregone conclusion sadly.

While I am annoyed that Sony didn't bring more to handheld gaming table, I'm not exactly heartbroken either seeing as how despite owning multiple DS's, PSP's, and even iPod Touch's.. the gaming hours I put into the handheld front is only a mere fraction of my overall playtime(basically, me proclaiming that I play my PSP the most isn't exactly saying much). I will say though that the Ocarina of Time remake will single handedly get me to pick up a 3DS.. I'm not even going to bother pretending otherwise :lol:

Anyways, Nintendo's conference overall wasn't bad at all(certainly better than last year).. though not exactly groundbreaking by any stretch. I thought the lack of release dates and pricing for the 3DS was another bizarre gaffe made this year. It was nice to see Goldeneye and Donkey Kong Country making a long awaited comeback and more of the new Metroid, but I will admit that the Zelda presentation left me a bit frustrated.

I mean.. I'm happy there is a new Zelda on it's way and will pick it up day one regardless, but I simply can't shake the bitterness I have towards the Wii for caging the Zelda franchise this generation. Having one of my favorite franchises being forced to resort to cheap motion tricks using inferior hardware and motion tech is not exactly a way to get on my good side.. just saying. Oh, BTW Miyamoto.. clean up Skyward Sword's god damn HUD.. it looked absolutely atrocious in that demo. Other than that, not too shabby Nintendo.

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All BS fanboyism aside and based on the positive shift of overall dev & consumer opinion(despite not being the complete homerun their fans were hoping for).. I think Sony had the strongest showing from top to bottom. They had the most games, the biggest surprises, and ran in direct opposition to Kinect struggling to maintain momentum.. Playstation's Move seems to be gaining momentum despite it's rather muddled beginnings as essentially a Natal/Wii afterthought last year.

Yet again, referring to my rants last E3.. while not as flashy as it's competition, Move's "functionality" is what will keep it relevant long enough to make it's mark. While certainly not awe inspiring, the Move's tech demo's and dev chatter this year is showing it's potential as a reliable workhorse in the future. "If" the Move can take advantage of the September headstart it will have over Kinect's November release.. "if" the Move can prove itself to be a reliable control option in more hardcore oriented titles like Killzone 3 in February.. things may get interesting.

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Although I was a bit disappointed they didn't highlight The Last Guardian.. titles like Killzone 3(looked amazing), inFamous 2, LBP 2 (as well as Gran Turismo 5 FINALLY getting a release date) was good. Obviously being the big Twisted Metal fan that I am I was more than psyched to see David Jaffe finally whip out a new Twisted Metal for the PS3 at the end of the conference. Exclusive special editions of Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2 along with a PS3 Move port of Dead Space Extraction was also a pleasant surprise.

The strong support of EA and Valve of all developers bodes well for Playstation.. I along with many others thought hell would freeze over before any of us ever seeing Gabe Newell's roly poly a** parading on PS3 conference stage. I don't know if Microsoft pissed Valve off.. if Sony paid them off.. or if Valve finally grew a pair and learned the PS3's architecture, but a company like Valve touting the PS3 version of games like Portal 2 to be the "best" console version is VERY troubling for MS. For a few years now we've been seeing traditionally Playstation-only devs making the switch over to the XBOX, but it seems like the pendulum is starting to swing the other way(which longtime industry observers already knew was inevitable).

Like I already stated, the main focus of an E3 is to promote new tech but more importantly to improve brand viability. All three console makers had hits and misses.. and depending on one's preference, the mantle of "best showing" can change from gamer to gamer, but strictly considering which "brand" had the biggest upswing.. it is no doubt Sony. While they took a step back in the handheld front.. the Move and the PS3 platform itself has seen an increased level of developer and public opinion over the last few months capped off by the 2010 E3 conference(Valve's about-face by itself can attest to that).

Overall a decent show.. it's apparent that both the motion control and 3D craze are not going away anytime soon, but hey.. at least all three companies will be churning out some good games while they annoy us right?

My Top 10 Games of E3 2010 -

Fallout: New Vegas (PS3/XBOX360/PC)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Killzone 3 (PS3)

Twisted Metal (PS3)

Rage (PS3/XBOX360/PC)

Crysis 2 (PS3/XBOX360/PC)

Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

Silent Hill 8 (PS3/XBOX360)

Gears of War 3 (XBOX360)

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3/XBOX360)

Favorite Conference -

Sony

Worst Conference -

Konami - Def Jam Rap Stars, Awkward Developers/Dance Masters, and Luchador Slap Fights.. how could it go wrong? :roll:

Favorite Moment -

Kevin Butler had a memorable routine during Sony's conference, but was surprisingly upstaged by Shrek 4 himself Gabe Newell.. where IMO he made pretty important announcements revolving around Steam coming to the PS3.

Worst Moment -

Note to Microsoft: A multitude of French male circus dancers is not the best way to launch hardware. Also, E3 needs to enforce a permanent ban on circus acts and dancing nerds for the sake of all that is holy.

Labors of videogame love (and possibly lunacy)

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Blurry is the line between sanity and insanity.. more often than not it is almost impossible to foretell which side of said line one will ultimately end up on when pursuing acts of greatness, but it can be argued that some of the most interesting things in life result from such a risk regardless. So needless to say I along with many other old school NES fans were thrilled with the recent web browser game Super Mario Crossover that featured the likes of Mega Man, Link, and Samus as playable characters in the original Super Mario Bros. game.. a project over a year in the making.

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(click for game link)

I am certain that those who question the sanity of SMC's creator will no doubt support sending the creator of the next web browser game straight to the loony bin. A fellow Legend of Zelda fan took it upon himself to rebuild the original 2D NES Zelda II into a 3D FPS.

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(click for 3D web browserfication)

A lunatic fan who threw away a year of his life he'll never get back? Probably. Cool as hell though? YES.

Apples and Oranges: Comparing the Wii to Move/Natal

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I'm far from ever being considered a fan of the current motion sensor arms race that the big three have embroiled themselves in. I personally find the benefits of motion controls to be marginal at best for many of today's games especially with the current technology being used, but I guess there are certain sentiments surrounding it that I disagree with to such an extent that I feel it necessary to give certain aspects of the race a slight measure of defense.

While I'm not a 'fan' of motion controlled gaming right now, I should make it clear that I am more so against the current methods of execution than the ideal itself. The first obvious example is the Wii, a system that I have owned for quite some time now, but have yet been able to maintain any sustained level of interest. It has less to do with any supposed lack of mature or quality titles but more to do with the fact that I find so many of it's games to be broken from a control standpoint.

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The games that have actually kept my attention for any significant amount of time I either prefer to use a Wavebird for(Smash Brothers, Mario Kart), have a minimal amount of actual motion control and simply uses slight gestures more akin to QTE's(Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess), or really have no motion control at all(Muramasa). Simply put.. I'm not against a pro-casual approach, but I am against unresponsive hardware that is either of questionable value to some of it's best games or cripples the enjoyment of the vast majority of it's 3rd party titles.

As it stands now it would be quite naive to think that since the Wii and it's own motion control scheme has been on the shelves for the past few years that they have magically cornered all aspects of the market. Should Nintendo be afraid? No, of course not, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't take note of several inevitable developments that will transpire when it's more mature gamer-focused competition wheel out their own motion hardware. It's been stated time and again that the Wii and the PS3/XBOX360 are not direct competition due to such a different intended demographic, which is true. All I'm saying is why act as if they are all of a sudden when discussing motion controlled gaming?

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Now, what annoys me are the armchair industry analysts that sit back and basically pigeon hole motion controlled gaming as only being apart of the casual gaming demographic by virtue of writing off Move and Natal as inevitable failures, simply due to the casual gamer focused Wii being on the market for several years now. I feel the likes of motion controlled Halo, Fable, Burnout & SOCOM is an entirely different ballgame than that of motion controlled Mario, armless Mii's and a mountain of shovelware. I don't feel there can be credible opinion on the supposed acceptance levels of motion controlled gaming from a hardcore gamer's perspective until more mature focused content withsome semblance of motion controls has actually hit the market.

Am I saying that Move and Natal will reach the levels of success that the Wii has? No. All I'm saying is that you can't compare such different dynamics with the same scope. Different demographics, hardware capabilities, franchises, and most importantly of all, different market entry method, one that has motion controls built in while the others are add-ons.

I for one cannot definitively say how the market will sway once alternatives make it to stores, some may say that consumers will act with indifference due to what they already have, others would have equal right to say that there will be a number of those craving fresh approaches to a type of gaming they have become disenchanted with due to unfulfilled expectations and lack of desirable titles from the current solution. When all is said and done I firmly believe the level of quality of Microsoft and Sony's new hardware(and not the Wii's) will decide it's level of success. Only time and consumer's wallets will tell.

My other annoyance is with how quickly many gamer's levy the copy cat label and why their intended target's relevance should be downplayed due to it being one. For those who are not already aware of this, 'no' company is innocent. The mere existence of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo's own versions of the game console is itself an example of supposed 'copying'. Few actions of a modern company are either completely original or unoriginal, deciding the perfect balance between the two is simply part of running a good business. The funny thing is though, the better job a company does copying, the easier time consumers have forgiving it.

This is all obviously alluding to the critics of the final design of Sony's Playstation Move controllers. I'm in no way trying to excuse Sony's methods, the shameless copy/paste job of the Wii's remote/nunchuk design is rather comical, all I'm trying to say is I would rather have Sony draw close inspirations from their competitors while designing something they can get to work right instead of trying to get too cute and pump out another mess. IMO, get a working version of the hardware and the games on the market and then take some time to put your own mark on the design.

In the end, the consumers and most notably the hardcore gaming sect will decide how "casual" motion controlled gaming is(and how viable it will continue to be in the future). It is a mistake to judge the viablilty of the Move and Natal soley on what the Wii has or has not accomplished.

The industry is large and healthy enough to sustain three major consoles there is absolutely no reason why it should not also be able to maintain three different takes on motion controlled gaming.. IF each is designed properly and has a diverse library. Like I have stated before, the Wii is the flawed yet novel trailblazer(as well as the best marketed), Natal has the most ambition(highest ceiling, yet the biggest risk), and the Playstation Move will probably be the least flashy yet most reliable and responsive.

Simply refocused saturation

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Critics of music gaming are reveling in the news that, in the wake of continued divisional losses, not only will Activision be shutting down Guitar Hero creator Red Octane.. they will also lighten their release schedule to only include one new Guitar Hero and DJ Hero this year. Market saturation apocalypse averted and balance restored? Nope, sorry folks.

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Those familiar with my writing will probably recall my recent struggle with understanding one particular part of the modern hypocritical gamer's psyche. I have always wondered what exactly causes one of their kind to get off their a** after a round of pressing a plastic button to simulate virtual gunplay against imaginary zombies/nazis/aliens and hunch over their keyboard to repeatedly reiterate how those who instead press a plastic button to simulate a musical note is.. "stupid".

I've yet to understand why so many gamers today continue to target one specific genre for offenses that most other genres are equally, if not "more" guilty of. I'm no maniacal music gaming fan.. but the constant nonsense spewing out of it's critics mouths have forced me to call bullsh*t in its defense. I understand not being a fan of a given genre or type of gameplay, but to simply brush it off as a fad and not being worthy of existing because you yourself don't like it having success is ridiculous.

Am I fan of the growing amount of games that rely on online interaction with a community that mostly consists of foul mouthed adolescents and supercilious mouth breathers as the primary way to get a satisyfing experience and replay value out of a full priced game? No. Do you see me waging a full on crusade against such games(*cough* 99% of modern FPS's *cough*)? No. Just because I'm no fan does not mean I should waste my breath denouncing it as beneath the right of existence. The way I see it we need as many viable genres as ever.. I suppose even those that reak of developer laziness.

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Anyways, my point that I have made before and will make yet again now is that the music/rhythm genre itself is not the enemy.. a situation where there is a genre whose only two major players include a Kotick-led Activision "is". Soon enough more gamers will realize the sad fact that Activision will not be content with sitting back and twiddling their thumbs, this scale down will only lead to them sinking their teeth deeper into other areas of gaming.. they have made it very apparent that annual exploitation is their main goal regardless of how they do it.

The way I see it is that the gaming public's acceptance of paying full price for Microsoft and Activision's cute little 3-5 hour expansion packs err.. Halo 3: ODST and Modern Warfare 2.. will fuel Activision's strategy of reorganizing funds and attention towards fully implementing the release model that they probably wanted all along. Multiple 3-5 hour long(barely) Call of Duty games/spinoffs running concurrently.. bridging one release to another in 8-12 month intervals padded by constant flow of overpriced map packs with a newly installed COD MP subscription service overseeing them all.

You think the neverending amount of Guitar Hero/Rock Band content was nauseating? Wait until we see around that many COD games topped off with other franchises like Battlefield, Ghost Recon, Frontlines, Operation Flashpoint and Medal of Honor(among a multitude of others)taking the non-sensical narratived and creatively bankrupt "modern combat" route. But hey.. oversaturation was only a Guitar Hero problem. At least there won't be as many of those pesky plastic instrument bundles.. maybe more obscenely priced CE's that include Halo spartan helmets and crappy night vision goggles instead(because thats not certainly as ridiculous)? It's not like we've seen generic war oriented shooters before right? ugh..

Yearly awards time, let's overvalue our opinions together shall we?

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I figured that I'd sneak in my last entry for a while in time for Christmas.. and what better way to go out than contributing to growing number of amateur and "professional" best of 2009 award lists?

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For me, it's not the average gamer's lists that I find irritating, but the growing level of game sites and magazines that go out of their way to try and artificially elevate the esteem of the awards they pedel in hopes of gaining favor or landing a blurb or two on a popular title's gaudy box art or magazine ads in.

I personally find the lists from regular gamers and specifically fellow fans of my favored genres more entertaining and insightful. These award lists are typically more interesting to sift through for the simple fact that they are more varied in perspective and are without the thinly veiled critical / corporate agendas that pollute many of the professional lists.

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2009

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GOTY nominess: Uncharted 2 (PS3), Assassin's Creed II (multi), Demon's Souls (PS3), Batman: Arkham Asylum (multi)

My Game Of The Year - [spoiler] Demon's Souls (PS3) [/spoiler]

Platform Awards

Multi-Platform Game Of The Year - Assassin's Creed II

Best PS3 Game - Demon's Souls

Best XBOX360 Game - Forza Motorsport 3

Best Wii Game - New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Best PSP Game - LittleBigPlanet

Best DS Game - Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Best PC Game - Dragon Age: Origins

Genre Awards

Best Action/Adventure Game - Uncharted 2 (PS3)

Best Shooter - Killzone 2 (PS3)

Best RPG - Demon's Souls (PS3)

Best Platformer - Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time (PS3)

Best Fighting Game - Street Fighter IV (multi.)

Best Racing Game - Forza Motorsport 3 (XBOX360)

Best Sports Game - NHL 10 (multi.)

Best Puzzle Game - Scribblenauts (DS)

Best Rhythm/Music Game - The Beatles: Rock Band (multi.)

Best Strategy game - Little King's Story (Wii)

Best Original Downloadable Console Game - Shadow Complex (XBOX360)

Best Downloadable Content/Expansions - Fallout 3 (multi.)

Special Achievement Awards

Best Story - Cryostasis (PC)

Best Graphics, Technical - Uncharted 2 (PS3)

Best Graphics, Artistic - Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

Best Atmosphere - Demon's Souls (PS3)

*Dark medieval fantasy at its best

Best Sound Design - Batman: Arkham Aslyum (multi.)

Best Original Music - Killzone 2 (PS3)

Best Licensed Music - Guitar Hero: Metallica (multi.)

Best Voice Acting - Batman: Arkham Asylum (multi.)

*Longtime fan favorites Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy simply stole the show with their performances

Best Writing & Dialogue - Dragon Age: Origins (multi.)

Best Competitive Multiplayer - Killzone 2 (PS3)

Best Cooperative Multiplayer - Left 4 Dead 2 (multi.)

Best Use of a Control Scheme - Flower (PS3)

Best Original Game Mechanic - Demon's Souls MP & integrated help system (PS3)

Best Boss Fights - Demon's Souls (PS3)

Best New Character - Alistair/Morrigan, Dragon Age: Origins (multi.)

Best Use Of A Creative License - Batman: Arkham Asylum (multi.)

Best Original IP - Demon's Souls (PS3)

Most Improved Sequel - Assassin's Creed II (multi.)

Most Surprisingly Good Game - Ghostbusters (multi.)

*Stay Puft Marshmallow Man FTW

Most Memorable Moment - Assassin's Creed II Ending (multi.)

*All the arguments of whether it was bad/good aside, it certainly had a memorably high wtf factor

Best UK Developed Game - Batman: Arkham Asylum (multi.)

Dubious Honors

Most Surprising Game to Make It Past Aussie Censors - Madworld (Wii)

Most Disappointing Game - Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (Wii)

*This one was a heartbreaker for me. Between the extremely unbalanced difficulty, uninspired story and it being chopped up into various DLC packs.. this was a hard pill to swallow.

Least Improved Sequel - Resident Evil 5 (multi.)

*Certainly not the worst sequel of the year or even a bad game.. its just that the fall from 4 to 5 was a bit more dramatic than most(and as a longtime survival horror fan I absolutely loathe the direction the series has taken).

Flat-Out Worst Game - Rogue Warrior (multi.)

Worst Game Everyone Played - Terminator Salvation (multi.)

*The definitive achievement/trophy whore bait of the year

Best Game No One Played - Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

Worst Use of a Great License- The Godfather II (multi.)

Worst Box Art - Guitar Hero 5 (multi.)

*Someone needs to send a memo to the folks at Activision.. it's one thing to have box art so bad its memorable and something entirely different to have box art so lazy its pathetic.

Most Despicable Use of In-Game Advertising - Tony Hawk: Ride, Mobile Phone Interface & Sponsored Achievements (multi.)

Character Most Likely To Fail A Performance-Enhancing Drug Test - Chris Redfield, Resident Evil 5

*Watching him transform from the first RE to RE5 was like seeing Stallone hulk up from the first Rocky to Rocky IV.. it was absurd.

Two RPGs that personify the divide in both the genre and its PC/Console fanbases

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Hit points, finding various quest items, upgrading characters and equipment, battling "monsters".. all of these characteristics bind the various games within the RPG genre through the years, but it's the "execution" that often bitterly divides it's fans.

Few other feuds in gaming are as heated or as drawn out as the various squabbles within the RPG realm.. a conflict that has been raging across gaming platforms since the 80's. I believe the debates on which game should be considered the best RPG of 2009 will once again tempt the varying fan bases into raising arms yet again.

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Despite both of these games being quality additions to the genre as a whole the more action oriented console RPG Demon's Souls and the more traditional PC oriented Dragon Age: Origins are more often than not on complete opposite ends of the genre's spectrum. These differences may invoke varying degrees of rhetoric from opposite fanbases as to why "their" RPG is better.. melodrama that has been occuring for quite a while now.

Through the years the face of the RPG genre has taken many forms, but since the early 90's especially the console and PC sects have only continued to divide. This divide has often been nurtured by varying degrees of success for some of the genres iconic titles and the mentalities of the fan bases on either side of the fence.

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The genre had its on modest beginnings in the mid-70's with text-based adventures on tremendously bulky mainframe computers.. and had various Dungeon's & Dragons influenced home PC titles during the early 80's like Ultima and Xanadu that began integrating rules of combat, graphics and stories (albeit on a very modest scale). Although small the genre's fan base was a dedicated bunch.

The small fan base then began to have it's loyalties tested as the increasingly Japanese dominated videogame industry of the mid to late 80's began spawning Ultima influenced RPG's of their own within the home console market with games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.. which led to a wider mainstream appeal for the genre. With hardware being rather limited on both ends at that particular time.. the RPG's were not too radically different. Many popular PC RPGs were ported to consoles so fans on both sides pretty much had similar experiences and tastes.

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It wasn't until console RPGs changes to the genre's status quo in the early part of the 90's that the genre's fan base began to fracture. Japanese games like the more action oriented dungeon crawler RPG, the original Legend of Zelda on the NES, and the first FF on the SNES Final Fantasy IV(II in North America), that introduced the ATB(active time battle) system as well as more involved storyline began shifting the console RPG fans preferences. On the other side of the fence the success of the more text and strategy focused PC RPGs such as the Gold Box engine games developed by SSI further solidified the course taken by PC developers.

Over the next decade after that the escalating differences in not only preferences, but also the hardware it was played on further branched out the genre's audience. But it's lingering niche status overall regardless of platform allowed the conflict to be rather civil because despite the golden age of RPGs in the 16-bit era of consoles which included titles like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV & VI, Secret of Mana, Lufia II and Breath of Fire II(among many others).. it's mainstream success was not too far off from its PC brethren. That all changed at the dawn of the 32-bit era though.

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The true splintering point was the massive mainstream success of Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation in 1997. While it's success was welcomed by many fans.. the fact that a "Japanese console RPG" the likes of a Final Fantasy was the one that made the mainstream breakthrough infuriated a good amount of others.. especially among the PC sect. The proceeding years deepened the resentment as console RPGs further enjoyed success while many quality PC games such as Fallout, Planescape, Icewind and Baldur's Gate did not manage to reach the same heights of appeal.

Which leads us to the modern day where both sides have their fair share of quality "and" douche bag fans. The undesirables on both ends attempt to instigate against the other with pointless debates and shameless bias/hypocrisy. Both are so quick to dismiss the other.. blindly ignoring the fact that regardless of preference BOTH platforms have greatly contributed to the genre's legacy. Gamers that are actually familiar with the genre's history will realize that the PC iterations helped create the structure and intellectual elements that the genre needed and the console iterations added the artistic and progressive gameplay elements that uped the ante for the rest of the genre, which was neccessary for it's evolution through the years. But apparently recognizing those facts is simply not an option for the willfully ignorant on both ends.

Thanks in large part to the fact that they are both a PC gamer and a fan of a niche genre the antagonizers within the 'hardcore' PC crowd are the quickest to succumb to spewing out the cliché rhetoric that results from basically the videogame game equivalent of a Napoleon complex. They feel the need to make up for their smaller numbers and appeal by not only overly inflating the stature of a number of quality PC RPGs, but also their own personal ego. They resort to both minimizing the impact and looking down upon notable console RPG sacred cows and even insulting the intelligence of its fans.

It's rather sad and redundant at this point.. antagonistic gamers really need to stop using platform bashing as a means to makeup for some of their insecurities. Simply because a popular game does not meet ones preference is not enough reason to waste everyone's time amidst trying to constantly force beliefs revolving around why fans should just stop being a fan because any of the game's various critics all of a sudden deem it "unworthy".

So many of them are every bit as cliché as what they are actually 'accusing' of being cliché. They'll attack known favorites just to get a rise out of its fans and then proceed to cling onto various obscure PC games in an effort to go into forums and claim that those "simple console gamers" could never possibly have the intellectual/ emotional depth that only they and a select few have to properly comprehend these games :roll: .

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Basically, they go out of their way to target anything that is successful in the genre.. even games within their own ranks like the traditionally PC focused developer Bethesda. As soon as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series has some mainstream success and all of a sudden they are not "real" RPGs anymore either. Uh huh.. who could have possibly predicted that kind of nonsense from these people?

Anyways, the console fan base is guilty of PLENTY of their own problems.. the fact that its hardware is more accessible thus giving them a wider range of ignorant followers does not help their cause. So many of them are so painfully shortsighted that they refuse to keep proper perspective when it pertains to the legacy of great games that led up to what they are currently enjoying. They just need to accept the fact that all of those old games with ugly sprites are what paved the way for everything modern gamers enjoy.

The fact of the matter is that both sides need to get over themselves.. broader success does not make all console RPGs better just as being more obscure and unnecessarily sophisticated do not make all PC RPGs worth mentioning. One side suffers from having a number of watered down and cliché iterations while the other suffers from having many convoluted games that suffer from clumsy gameplay and constant glitches. What all RPG fans need to keep in mind is that when at their best.. each side has plenty to offer and should not be dismissed due to lack of preference. Great games on both ends of the spectrum have the same amount of quality and intelligence.. they are just displayed through a different scope.

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That sentiment holds true with both Demon's Souls and Dragon Age.. two great RPGs that just happened to be done from a different take. There is no wrong choice when picking among them. Personally.. despite enjoying Dragon Age I would pick Demon's Souls. Not that its anything that Dragon Age did wrong, but moreso what Demon's Souls did right. Despite some shortcomings it was closer to what I have always wanted an RPG to be.. the perfect blend of skill and strategy.

Despite enjoying plenty of PC games from companies like Bioware or Blizzard I more often than not felt like I was just point and clicking something to death. When battling enemies or other players it seemed more a contest of who customized a character better than actual skill.. stat numbers battling other stat numbers via the same repeated battle animation. I dont know.. while the mouse and keyboard setup is ideal for aiming purposes it can can feel impersonal at times in a more action oriented title. Using a keyboard for character movement has always felt so unnatural to me.. which is exactly why using a Playstation gamepad instead is perfect for me in an action heavy RPG.

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With an RPG like DS I'm starting to get that balanced gameplay. I'm not just pointing and clicking an enemy OR just choosing the fight or magic command against it like in a Final Fantasy.. I get a more visceral and natural feel. Battles have a high skill AND intelligence factor.. you need to be smart enough to properly strategize + customize your character, but you also still need the skill to put that characters abilities to good use. Then thanks to the gameplay system there is always that X factor.. whether its the environment or timing of the battle there is always something unforeseen that can have major implications. All in all its neither extreme.. its not slowed down to the point of being just an elaborate session of a D&D boardgame OR a mindless hack and slash.. it is moving the genre closer to that happy medium.

L4D 2 petitions sparking debate over modern gamer's rising sense of entitlement

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Ever since Valve announced at the 2009 E3 that a sequel to it's 2008 multiplayer focused X360/PC hit "Left 4 Dead" would see store shelves only a year after the first title's release a growing number of L4D fans have begun voicing their displeasure over the developer trying to get fans to "purchase" another game so soon as well as what they percieve as "broken promises" relating to previous statements made by Valve that they would continue to add on to the original title.

Predictably though, there has been an equal amount of backlash towards the gamers participating in these petitions, with various game site/show flapping heads and even other fellow gamers blasting the L4D fanbase for not only being "whiners", but also as being the prime example of how much the modern gamer's ego and supposed sense of entitlement have grown out of whack.

Click here for perhaps the most prominant example of the growing list of petitions circulating the internet.

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I personally sit on the fence in regards to this issue as I am unable to completely agree with either side of the debate. On one hand, the collective ego and perspective of many modern gamers have indeed become distorted beyond were they should be, and more often than not have become increasingly unreasonable in what they expect out of devs and game platforms.

As I have stated previously the growth of the industry has seen a growth in negative trends among gamers primarily revolving around instances were many of them seem to desire a maximum amount of features and games while paying paying the absolute minimum. Also, like many of those opposing these petitions have already alluded to, gaming is a business, at the end of the day developers are making games to "make money", but as with most things in life, there is far more to this situation that may initially be perceived.

My other thoughts revolve around my belief that besides how annoying this "whining" may often be. It should not be cast aside as an irrelevant cause. Let's face it, 'every' industry needs it's various forms of quality control. While making money may be the first rule of business, customer satisfaction is the first rule of conducting good business.

Developers should not subject themselves to the whims of every gamer, but they should take some notice if this amount of its fanbase feels alienated and lied to. Whether the haters of these petitions like it or not, they need them around to support quality control efforts. Keeping these developers in check and doing everything neccessary to come to reasonable halfway points is indeed important for keeping the industry going in the right direction.

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A similar debate has been raging among the Halo crowd concerning Halo 3 ODST.. an originally announced 3-5 hour expansion to Halo 3 that was just recently announced at a full $60 price point. Fanboys have cried foul towards the backlash involving its price and that people shouldn't bash the game as it might "possibly be longer".

I have argued that the backlash is more than deserved due to it being rather odd that Microsoft and Bungie has found time to announce pricepoints, collector edtions, and even store exclusive content.. but have NOT found the time to address comments they themselves have made about the possible short length of the game. Regardless.. the arguments usually ends with a "If your not a fan.. whats it to you anyways? Just dont buy it."

Even if there is anyone reading that has never heard of Left 4 Dead or Halo let alone like them or play them, the principal arguments of L4D 2/Halo3 ODST debates should be taken into consideration. IMO it would not be wise to avert your gaze simply because one may feel that it has nothing to do with what "they" play. The fact of the matter is that negative devlopers trends need to be addressed before they spread like a plague.

Anyways, even though I personally feel that releasing a second L4D is a questionable and greedy business move that risks fracturing the community and watering down the franchise, I in no way feel that they should concede and sell a product at a reduced price(or even free like some have clamored for) or dissect it into DLC if they feel they have sinked enough time and money into it to justify full price.

Hopefully the risk is worth the reward for Valve, because at best the game may expand both the scope and fanbase of the series, but at worst it may indeed alienate its fans and plant seeds of doubt that are extremely difficult to undo. Not to mention also running the risk of instilling hesitation within potential buyers in regards to them questioning whether or not a game in the series is worth an immediate purchase due to a newer version probably popping along sooner than later anyways(check the Guitar hero and Rock band franchises..). At the end of the day though.. the quality of the game at release and its sales will be the judge.

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