Forum Posts Following Followers
1656 117 102

MasterMarcus Blog

2nd Gig://prise 46:// Gaming Geeks Have a Queen

Entry 124: Female developer tops sexy geeks

A very popular magazine now holds a reader contest regarding the sexiest geeks of 2007, and so far Jade Raymond ( Ubisoft Montreal ) remains the only renowed video game producer to figure extremely well on top. Click here, then go to life$tyle, and click ''vote for sexiest geeks of 2007'', and finally ''top rated''.


2nd Gig://prise 45:// Wanting Wishes

Entry 123: A little glimpse of things developers should work out

If there's only one resolution any decent video game developer should keep ( at least try to ) with a resolute attitude in 2008, it still relies upon the rewarding factor a modern game should provide to its dedicated fan base in order to push forward an otherwise short life expectancy of said product. In fact, a better reward system would exponentially raise the stakes for a much wider long term value that 99% of games miss nowadays, just like previous generations. It's time to prepare the next gen ( the REAL next gen is 2010 for that matter ), and here's come the time I think for the studios to use more efficiently the artistic & feature budget to propel it much further than what we've experienced since the 80s: c'est-à dire games keeping our interest only for a short time - a matter of weeks. This trend has to end, beginning with cliffhanger endings yet there are other features that could also entice players to stay longer.

For now, let's just say the next gen should not only pretend te reach prettier graphics and photo realism; a next step of evolution should include innovative mechanics as well. And by that, I mean not only gameplay wise but feature wise: ranking systems offline and online; prizes and contests several months after the release; free official add-ons over the months ( not just additional maps ). Stardock, developer of TBS games such the Galactic Civilizations series understood that a long time ago and still remains one of the very few to enhance the same game over more than a full year, by adding twists to the entire construct of the game. GalCiv II rewards the player with two distinct ranking systems now, one online ( the Metaverse ) and a local Hall of Fame offline. Epic's UT2004 offered it also, alas akin the $ One Million Unreal Contest tenure these statistical conveyors remained incredibly scarce in 2007. What can developers do to launch similar features with a brighter appeal? Attract additional sponsors first to allocate the required budgets thereafter? If Epic and Stardock can do it at least the way they did in the past few years, then a huge number of their peers can also - yet the vast majority didn't so far. It' time to change the way games should reward the players.

Perhaps like the way writing is slowly, very slowly evolving in this industry, then so do the implementation of any rewarding system we would like to see. The trend could take years; yet developers must draw the premises NOW if we don't want to spectate an experiment going awry. Why some legendary board games last decades and video games don't? I don't have the answer to that question, though one can wonder their inherent dependence upon a technological construct becoming obsolete so rapidly. Still, chess survived centuries and Tetris - considered quasi unanimously as one of the two-three best video games of all time - didn't survive a decade in its original release ( circa 1986 ).

Well, these little thoughts purely academic lead us nowhere unless some serious steps are taken as to eschew ways to pave future rewards also reinforcing the replay value I want to experience elsewhere than in MMOs. We must be patient but for 2008 here's the first easy step: make better endings. Make rewarding endings. I'm tired of botched cliffhanger endings. If a particular developer can't help to pursue the trend, you know like professional champions of cliffhanging that are Valve and Epic, well at least allocate an extra time of development instead of a dreaded art cut to meet a deadline already delayed anyway. The little song at the end of Portal is a start, leading to the challenges. If you can do it there, Valve, you can do it for your other offerings as well. Studios should open the valves in their official forums and ask fans first what THEY would like to see enhanced ( or cut ) in their favorite games.

2nd Gig://prise 44:// My Best of 2007 (PC)

Entry 122: The Magnificent Nine of the Year

9- Unreal Tournament III: Epic stayed true to the gameplay roots of the franchise, to save an otherwise aging formula lost in a year full of innovative games released. Though UTIII shipped with much fewer maps and gameplay types than its prequel 2004, at least they are of top notch quality, incredibly polished, with fun vehicles and a Warfare mode better than Onslaught. The user interface and single player storyline have been hugely criticized, yet I can live with them since the game appeal to both casual ( with a strong AI bot offline ) and the hardcore online.

8- Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare: don't get me wrong, Infinity Ward's offering deliver some intense cinematic moments and a multiplayer blast yet just like UTIII, it doesn't really bring any innovative features. The gameplay core remains an exact copy of all the previous WWII CoDs, which is a good thing indeed but just can't stand against the BioShock/Crysis/Portal innovative bandwagon. A bit overhyped and over rated in broad daylight, CoD 4 becomes in my mind a fluid dinosaur in a world of transition = great and perhaps could have been a 2006 GOTY - not in 2007.

7- Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor Beta: THE only remaining TBS 4x star filling the shoes of Master of Orion's legacy this year by Stardock, a publisher so dedicated to their hardcore fans. A nich sub genre game for niche hardcore nerds that still can be played by any strategy addict. Endless customization options.

6- Gears of War PC: In no way should it have garnered any major award on most major gaming sites one year after the 360 release, despite being upgraded both graphically ( higher res ) and five new single chapters including a Brumak fight. Still, GoW PC looks like what a REAL high definition game should be on the PC: At 1920x1200 4x, it totally blows away the competition. To the scrupulous eyes af any videophile gamer, this action masterpiece coupled with Crysis just testify the PC as the superior technological platform should the user has the means to afford a high end one. GoW is a mouse killer ( had to change mine after two campaigns ), and still remains a man's game for talented gamers. Harder than any other shooter released this year.

5- World in Conflict: simply the best RTS of the year. Staggering battlefields and very high end explosions; fluid mechanics; simplified gameplay and unit types yet still deep strategically.

4- BioShock: what can I add to what's already been said about this intuitive art deco experience set in underwater Rapture filled with rage anf finesse? Could have been top crowned in a normal year; but this is 2007. The game would have been near perfect with the inclusion of a wider enemy variety and a better late game pathing, not to mention the unrewarding ending. BioShock sweep across the genre and should influence any future hybrid actioner nonetheless.

3- Half Life 2 Episode Two: permit me to split the Orange Box please ( Gamespot and most of the majors didn't unfortunately ). After all, the box in itself isn't a game. And Episode Two just enhance the saga the way only Valve can envision it. It may be overlooked, but Episode Two deliver the goods so flawlessly: fluid gameplay; no apparent bugs; a striking story filled with climactic moments; the best innovative action sequence ( final fight involving Striders and Hunters ); and the ONLY decent cliffhanger ending. Now what will come next? One can't wait to see Portal's GLaDos and Aperture's ship in Episode Three.....

2- Crysis: the shooter of the year. Technically, CryTek delivered a game for the future. Gameplay wise, Crysis just display what any modern shooter should offer: a barrage of high tech gear you constantly use within an unprecedented tri-dimensional construct. The late game alien portions may become increasingly linear, but still unleash some climactic scenery combining the best mechanics a hybrid modern/sci fi shooter can provide nowadays.

1- Portal: PC Game of the Year. Everyone should play the latest step in the evolution of 3D puzzle actioners, also rewarding the player with the best non-cliffhanger ending of the year. 'Nuff said.

2nd Gig://prise 43:// Adult Photonique

Entry 121: Platform Crossings

A three pronged assault at life then:

A dedicated change of career monitoring;

A dreaded experience in love faring;

A flee from one platform to a next gen;

He experienced the decay of the arcades;

He jumped to the Nintendo bandwagon at home;

He collected what we call now old school consoles;

Then he touched a personal computer for the first time.

2nd Gig://prise 42:// Holding The Fort

Entry 120: An obligatory letter to GS from a loyal user

Since we don't ( and can't ) know the real reasons of Jeff's departure, I think we can now skip the speculative era that plagued this site last week up until now. We can always sympathize about one of our favorite editors that gave 10 years of his life to joyfully grace the pages that made Gamespot even more specific; and now here's the time to hold the fort before a future ascension. I fully understand the frustrations of many users having chosen to cancel their paid memberships; yet I stick to the ground right now and trustfully hold the fort BUT GS remaining talented people must absolutely build a plan ahead that will ensure this site's future within a gaming media becoming quite competitive over the Internet.

In the meantime, admins must consolidate things and I'm willing to be patient. Still, one wonder - and ponder - the way three big stars left the boat within a single year for entirely different reasons: Greg Kasavin; Rich Gallup; and now Jeff. I sincerely hope they find a happy niche in their future endeavors. I also hope CNet/GS work out better incentives to keep happy their REMAINING gurus because we need them more than ever. Gamespot can't afford to lose three main pillars a year. The head honchos must find ways ASAP to cement the situation, and plan ahead to thrive. Otherwise, it's going to be difficult to enhance the site above what we should reasonably expect. And a lot of enhancements can embellish the experience furthermore, should enough personnel work as a team to implement them.

As of late, in fact through Fall, I didn't notice any major overhaul around the site as if people were ALREADY on a ''holding the fort'' mode. Obviously, they shall stay that way in the very short term in order to fix things as I said, hopefully within a better support from their employer. However they must design the premises of a NEW Gamespot, including a major facelift, and that should begin NOW. Hire additional talents, make incentives for users to contribute better stuff, nominate additional mods and - why not - international correspondents, and so on. Because I want this semi-directionless boat to float fiercly again. It's not too late.......unless the internal mood in your offices we, users, can't know about, doesn't allow you such a luxury right now.

So here comes the holidays closing 2007 to an injured Gamespot having previously covered great events like E3 07, TGS, and an insane amount of quality games in November. Let us heal, play at heart's content, and pray for a dynamic comeback starting no later than January. That should be a New Year's resolution for any GameStaffer wanting to level up the site, also along a better feedback to users wanting a brighter future here. Let's hope it's not too late.

2nd Gig://prise 41://miscellaneous grenouillage p.10

Entry 119: a melting pot of pre-Best 2007 and some finicky tie-ins

You know, I believe I can be quite an objective gamer when comes the time to think about a Game of the Year - specifically what really makes a massively acclaimed game standing a notch above the rest. It must be near perfect in every compound, of course, but narrowing down to the most important at all: a game for all ages, all audiences boasting an immediate fun factor. Here's come the objective part: I'm a PC nut, in fact now an action junky dummy playing this gen's shooters: UTIII, Crysis, CoD4, Gears of War, TimeShift, Orange Box, and so on. A sort of break I needed to offset some brainstorming that tore my head apart after very long sessions at civ-like games in the past. I needed a break from strategy titles. And no great shooter on the PC will ever win the GOTY spot - for targeting a specific audience, that is. And their extreme violence we adore. So let me predict one I didn't play but should garner the awards by our own Gamespot admins = Super mario Galaxy.

Now bringing fancy lights to the rest of the flock:

  • i) Will GS takes the Orange Box as a whole or games separately when comes the award season? I think Portal, Episode 2, and Team Fortress should be allowed to be the PC GOTY candidates are, for me, BioShock, World in Conflict, Portal, Episode Two, and Crysis.
  • ii) Sorry CoD 4 addicts, but your game although great doesn't belong higher than Unreal Tournament III, i.e a fluid gameplay a bit rehashed for specific gamers. 8.5. I like them both equally, but more innovations are expected to top the likes of Portal, Crysis or BioShock so to speak.
  • iii) The most memorable gameplay sequence in a shooter wasn't in Crysis in fact, but the last big open fight against Striders & Hunters in HL2: Episode Two.
  • iv) The ONLY decent ending I experienced when completing a game recently = Portal. I fully concur with one IGN reviewer ( UT III ) complaining about the way developers botch the ending of their games: this trend has to stop, and Epic should lead the way ( though GoW's ending not so bad after all if part of a trilogy à la Half Life or Crysis, yet storytellers up to the task like Valve are pretty scarce).
  • v) Best explosions of 2007: Crysis and World in Conflict.
  • vi) Best heat haze effects around weapon muzzles after firing/overheating!!! = Crysis and Gears of War dx10.
  • vii) The Crysis' aliens are a nasty batch whose designers were profoundly influenced by various sci-fi icons, mainly: Matrix' sentinels; Independance Day; Aliens and Predator. At first sight, the clichés could have been incredibly lousy but the results have to be seen to be admired.
  • viii) Quotes of the Year= all from our favorite Vortigaunt! ''No pit would be complete without a Freeman CLIMBING out of it''; ''Grim Pinàta''; ''Pity the generator that requires a Vortigaunt to operate it''; ''Ahhh....a puzzle predicament of the sort of which the Freeman is famed for swiftly solving. I will observe with great anticipation!''; '' The scent of ripe perfection beckons''.

Latest review: Crysis.

2nd Gig://prise 40:// Maximum Rush

Entry 118: More than maximum speed.

That's it: we're in the midst of the November rush which actually deliver the maximum goods at our doorsteps. Since we can't stop time, the situation can become quite unmanageable without a thorough planning - and, needless to say, excruciating choices to make unless morphing into an insomniac hermit. It's shooter season on the PC; and this batch of truly immersive HD games bring a new golden age. I've chosen:

  • BioShock
  • World in Conflict
  • TimeShift
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Fear Perseus Mandate
  • Orange Box
  • Gears of War PC
  • Crysis
  • Unreal Tournament III

P.S. A la video game credits, I heartily thank all my family, friends and pets for their eternal support and comprehension towards an avid gamer tasting a maximum rush not seen for years.

2nd Gig://prise 39://Vista = Millenium 2?

Entry 117: The crucible of geeky pigs

Windows 98 updated and XP sevice pack 2 were admittedly solid operating systems, and the almighty Microsoft offered measly versions in between - namely the dreaded Millenium iteration. The actual Vista version may very well somber to the same fate if MS respect the deadline of its major strategic plan through 2009-2010 ( though we can surely anticipate delays ). It's routine, but here's the plot:

1) A considerable number of older PC games still remain incompatible/barely playable under Vista, after several months of penetration.

2) Following that, MS announced in August a '' new Vista '' already in the works for a hypothetical 2009 release ( 2010-2011 ? ), supporting another offspring: DirectX 10.1 with a forced 4x anti aliasing.

3) Here's the hitch: the 10.1 ticket won't be retro compatible on previous hardware - including 10.0/ 8800 video cards. The bare minimal requirement will be a Vista service pack 1 ( though it's still unclear if there is going to be one for sure ), which will allow to only use such an existing hardware with the new Vista yet without the 10.1 functionalities proper, i.e. staying with dx9/10.0 solutions. Ahhh, we all know how they know how to coerce addicted consumers to upgrade at a ludicrous basis, don't we?

It seems the master plan doesn't let enough room for Vista to grow I think, at least according to these little inputs we have. The ball's in the camp of the gaming studios: if the developers (blindly?) follow the (obligatory?) path set by thedominating mogul, then Vista could almost fell the way Millenium/W2000 did. We PC nuts still joyfully accept to be prisoners of this technological conspiracy swirl. In our doped paradises, we remain trusty guinea pigs, the geeky testers always gaming on temporary solutions. Again, we're all microsofted...

Furthermore, high end users almost become entangled right now within an inextricable trap when considering the sad fact that many recent highlighted games seem to run a bit more smoothly under dx9/XP than Vista/dx10. Alright, the biggies à la Crysis/UTIII/Call of Duty4 should eventually get a faster support from their respective creators. Yet waiting for patches to fix the eternal compatibility problems on the PC shall always be a hefty price to pay in order to get access at higher resolutions that meet the eye. A price I willingly pay, but most of my entourage won't - some being console fanboys who shall deploy tenfold their sarcasms. Admittedly, we're happy elitist geeky niches driving unto well fortified ghettos. A gaming apartheid. For the PC, it's a prison awaiting to expand again in the advent of a large scale 64 bit gaming promised years ago, now delayed.

In the meantime, and though I fully embrace it, what's the fuzz all about gaming under Vista, in fact, if to only experience barely noticeable visual gimmicks coming with a drop in the frame rates compared to similar settings on dx9/XP??? For one, the Gamespot's Crysis benchmark fully demonstrates some advantages to stay on XP ( scroll down the page ).

We're the cobayes willingly embracing a monopolistic gaming conveyor, as if we PC nuts were the flightless cormorans stuck in the Galapagos. The crucible of the swirling conundrum continues to engulf the addicted wanting to grasp nearer photo realistic resolutions, being the most powerful drug to ever capture videophiles. It's like a long time hostage falling in love with an endlessly moving captor.

2nd Gig://prise 38://DirectX10 Impressions://Part 4://Crysis demo

Entry 116: A technical quagmire from CryTek ( not a review )

We were all anticipating a true HD game we could barely handle unless owning a high end machine; instead we get an unoptimized monster killer under Vista - even for Nvidia 8800 adopters like me. If you lurked the most dedicated Crysis forums this week end, well, most of the community is whining. No high end user can run the demo smoothly on higher resolutions ( 1920x1200 only playable with medium settings ). The most commonly used resolutions by even high end geeks are in the 1440x900 - 1280x1024 range with no Anti Aliasing, below what they ( and I ) are playing the other recent games.

The Crysis demo is the most sensible piece of tech ever released so dependant about AA and resolution scaling, especially under Vista 32 bit. It shouldn't supposed to be this way. Most ironically, the demo runs better under a fast single core CPU + Windows XP. It isn't optimized to fully use multi threading, dual cores which could partially explain the laggy experience compared of ( what we hope ) the full game.

Even with a mix of high and medium video options, the construct still look amazing - just a bit better than the best competitors. Yet without the optimization needed to fully experience the DX10 effects under a HD res &Vista ( how in Earth we can't run the Very High settings under a 8800 Ultra 768 Mb ?), I'm guessing both the CryTek personel and video card gurus are already working on tweaks this very week. Otherwise, I'm predicting either an additional delay before the full game is released, or most likely a commercial semi-failure if the November deadline remains.

The situation reminisces a lot Far Cry in 2004 before it was fully patched. Now the room is wide open for a better technical polish ( like Epic's UTIII ?), but don't get me wrong, I'm beginning to wonder if the Vista/DX10 solution exists only to be used as a temporary white elephant before the true 64 bit gaming we could embrace at large in the long term.

2nd Gig://prise 37:// Minerva:// Metastasis

Entry 115: The ideal companion to the official HL2 saga

Thanks to a rightly timed ad on Steam, I just recently discovered the excellent HL2 mod Minerva:Metastasis which contains four single player episodes/sections spanning a parallel story. The author uses Valve's engine with great care, including many well placed HDR for a professional result at least on par with most of the scenery found in the original HL2+ Ep One. Yet any mod though awesome it can be - like this one - may not offer the same level of climactic events involving big vehicles as we found in polished retail, Minerva still delivers lots of Combine soldiers coming at you. At the ''same'' difficulty setting, meaning Normal, the overall challenge becomes much harder than Valve's games. Talk about a hardcore mod the community constantly ask for. The Pegasus episode level up things to very interesting stuff any HL2 fan should appreciate as if it was delivered by Valve itself.

Perhaps the author wants to remain freelancer instead of working under deadlines, as he promised further episodes in the future. I can't wait.