In the past, I've clambered to the top of my soapbox tower in order to wax ludological about why games should be fun. While riding back down the escalator from atop my exceedingly ritzy box, I gazed upon my audience, hoping that I'd at least imparted one tiny nugget of info: I don't care about difficulty -- I'll even turn a game's masculinity meter down to "Very Easy" -- if it means having a good time. Lucky for me, many of today's game developers seem to agree with my sentiment. They hold our hands like an overprotective mother herding her child across the street. They give us failsafes for our failsafes. They design their games to be "fair."
But therein lies the problem. Personally, I think games should flip us a double-sided coin every once in a while. If the scales never tip, then what impact do our choices have? Take, for instance, BioShock. Whether you saved the Little Sisters or ended them, you still gained roughly the same amount of Eve, and bonus powers were negligible. BioShock was supposed to have us wracking our brains every time we made a choice. Your life versus the Little Sisters' -- power because of necessity versus mercy. Instead, though, the whole thing was a sham.
More recently, Mercenaries 2 made a similar mistake -- essentially replicating its weapon set across the game's different factions, making your choice of gun-toting employer basically meaningless.
And guess what? The onus for this trend rests on our shoulders. If the aliens have nicer weapons than the humans, we hop on message boards and join in a chorus of variously pitched whining. Single-player or multiplayer, if a game isn't perfectly "balanced," we get uppity.
So maybe we should just ease off our "!" key and let developers flex their creative muscles from time-to-time. A few failed attempts would be well worth the successes other games might reap.
But what say you, MPC readers? Should games continue down the sterile road toward same-same fairness, or would you prefer developers give some meaning to our choices, even if it means ruffling some feathers in the process?
Either way, this installment of the Roundup is just what you're looking for -- mostly because you're already reading it. Today, you'll find news about a wicked-cheap font from which X-COM now springs, a good reason to nab an Xbox 360, and episodic gaming's great failing.
"Episodic content has proven to be great, but it just didn't get the press," he says. "People talk about the quality of writing in Oblivion, how it's a little schizophrenic. But if you read the reviews of Shivering Isles, the expansion, people rave about the quality of the writing. It's a tremendous step up. But nobody thinks about that -- it's in the expansion."
"You've got companies like Valve and Blizzard who say, 'PC gaming is great!' I think that's a little misleading," he says. "It's great for them, because they're Valve and Blizzard. Valve has Steam, the most important PC distribution network in the world. It's fantastic."
"I don't think a lot of games have that opportunity. That's why I think [Xbox] Live [Arcade] is great. [For] smaller games like Braid, it's a great avenue."
Lordy, this guy has some interesting stuff to say. I'll be printing off copies of the full interview for all of my friends.
“In our company’s source of revenue, as a result of a guarantee with our capable workers, a guarantee of steady game development and the preservation of our brand, there is a high possibility of improvement… Thus, our Managing Board declines the offer,” said Tecmo in a statement.
But Koei, maker of such hits as Dynasty Warriors 1-6, as well as the Dynasty Warriors Swimsuit Issue, may soon be getting some love from Tecmo.
"Under these circumstances, [Koei and Tecmo] have excellent financial positions, strengths and the ability to take advantage of each other in order to improve profitability and solidified the foundation of a worldwide leader," read Tecmo's statement.
But don't fret about a possible face-off between Dead or Alive's cast of voluptuous vixens and Chinese Warlord Lu Bu atop a snake monster; both companies aim to respect each other's individuality.
Yes, it's finally official, but it's probably going to put a dent or two in Microsoft's wallet.
“Microsoft wants to drum up demand for the holiday,” analyst Toan Tran said. “Microsoft’s long-term vision for the Xbox is not to turn a profit today.
“It’s a way to get a foothold into people’s living rooms.”
But, if you enjoy making progress in your games, you'll probably want to plunk down $80 for a proprietary Xbox 360 hard drive to go along with the cheapest Xbox SKU. So let's not start a pity-party for Sony and Nintendo just yet.
“It’s right over there,” he said of Ubisoft's Endwar while at PAX. “I really want to go play it. I’m anxious to see it. I’ve got to admit it’s a pretty unique idea and we didn’t think of that.”
But, he added, traditional controllers are still better than voice control in the RTS arena, as esteemed titles like Command & Conquer and Universe at War have proven. This, he clamored, after admitting that he hadn't even played the voice controlled RTS in the first place. Hmmmm.
*Nathan was too busy taking advantage of this excellent deal to actually write anything about how you can now purchase X-COM: UFO Defense, X-COM: Apocalypse, X-COM: Interceptor, X-COM: Enforcer and X-COM: Terror From The Deep on Steam, bundled together for the low, low price of $13.49.