Yesterday evening, I had the indistinct pleasure of viewing G4's GPhoria gaming awards. GPhoria is odd in that it doesn't take place at the end of a year; rather, it highlighted, in this case, the best games from the second half of 2007 and first half of 2008. Even so, I was fairly surprised when Halo 3 took home GOTSHO07AFHO08 honors. I mean, Halo? Seriously?
But GPhoria is voted for by the fans, which got me to thinking about how different audiences have different expectations, and about how those expectations can shift with time.
See, in my experience, Halo is typically met with derision and utterances of "Moar liek Fail-O" when mentioned in the presence of PC gamers. It is, after all, just a dumbed-down, slow-moving console shooter, right? The first domino in a long, weaving line that wrecked the FPS genre as we know it. Well, except for maybe Half-Life 2. Oh, and TF2. And Call of Duty 4. Also Bioshock. Portal, too. Hey, maybe Halo didn't bring the genre crashing down after all! Actually, I'd say the expanded audience led developers to try new things.
These days, though, gamers are fretting about a new scourge: casual gaming. Where am I going with this? Simple. I believe casual gaming is nothing to worry about. As with the FPS genre, an expanded audience, lured in from casual titles, will inspire great devs to try new things, as well as provide them with more cash to back their games.
So, what's your opinion on so-called "casual" gaming? Whether it be the Wii, Diner Dash, or fan-fave Peggle, how do you think these games and the audiences they attract will affect gaming? Good? Bad? Both? Neither?
At the very least, today's Roundup is dedicated to the hardcore gamer. Past the break, you'll find stories about BioWare's handheld ambitions, John Carmack's stance on PC gaming, and Star Trek Online's upcoming reveal. And more, of course.
Gamers have enough trouble trying to come up with a game plan to beat pesky end bosses and single-handedly defeat armies of mutant soldiers. Saving often gives gamers an endless advantage and cheat codes can help in a pinch, but neither of these tactics will do any good against an increasing amount of real-life threats the online gaming scene.
More than just an annoyance, time spend in virtual worlds like Second Life can translate into real currency and it's attracted the attention of organized criminal gangs. According to security software vendor ESET (best known for its NOD32 Antivirus products), "high volumes of malware intended to steal passwords for online gaming and virtual worlds" have been detected since 2007, resulting in a "dramatic upsurge."
The alarming news comes courtesy of ESET's mid-yearly Global Threat Report, which focuses on broad trends in malware over the past six months. In addition to an upsurge in attacks against gamers, ESET notes that malicious software that tries to use the Windows Autorun facility to self-install from removable media continues to flourish.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the company reports email bound malware is in "dramatic decline," at least when it comes to dirty attachments. Malicious URLs passed through email messages have taken the place of attachments.
Further reading to keep yourself (and your virtual self) protected:
I find television show depictions of people playing games absolutely ridiculous. Actors, directed by people with no grasp of how gaming actually works, lean and rock like they're atop a mechanical bull. Those of us who actually game can vouch for how utterly false such depictions are. But while some of us may sit hunched over in our cushy chairs, mouths agape, displaying only the basest signs of life, a good many of us do express emotion while we play. Thing is, when the actor asks, "What's my motivation?" The director should fire back with a single word: "Pissed."
Without a doubt, most of us play games for fun, but when I'm winding languidly through Uncannily-Accurate-Sniper-Alley for the tenth time, you'd have to be Stephen Colbert to turn my frown upside-down. We're all human, so when things don't go our way, we get frustrated. We shout, we curse, we frighten small children. However, gaming is unique as a medium in that, unlike television, film, or music, it manages to evoke such fiery emotions. Good or bad, you have to admit that's kind of cool.
So, when you play games, do you let your emotions take control? Have you ever embedded a controller into your wall? A mouse? Have any stories you'd like to share?
Today's Roundup isn't intended to make you angry -- or even a little hot under the collar -- so take a load off and give it a read. Inside, you'll find an EA cash-grabbing scheme that's a tad different from the norm, Ubisoft taking piracy by the horns, hope for Crackdown 2, and much, much* more. Jump past the break and let the catharsis begin.
During my many years of Taekwondo training (no, really) I've seen a fair share of faux-martial artists come and go. Not all of them were masters of the ol' chop-socky, but that doesn't mean they weren't good company. One of those long-since retired combatants was big into games, so naturally, we hit it off. In between feasting on one another's punches and kicks, we talked about all of the latest releases -- mostly on the PC. But, in one major way, we were different: I purchased; he pirated.
Of course, he had a reason. PC games can sometimes be buggy and unreliable -- even going so far as to not run on certain PCs. He raked in torrents as "extended demos," and presumably purchased the games he liked. Even so, I'm not sure if I agreed with his methods. After all, isn't that what regular demos are for? Plus, I never really got the impression that he actually followed through with step two of his little plan.
So, question of the day: Do you pirate games?If so, what's your justification? Do you even call it "pirating"? Don't worry, I'm merely asking as a discussion question -- not to judge anyone.
Today's Roundup contains a few possible methods of diverting cash back into the pockets of those who create games, though I'd wager none of the wannabe saviors really have a concrete idea of how they're going to end the Yarr-ing menace once and for all. On one had, Microsoft sees downloads usurping retail's throne in the near future, which could create an iTunes-like situation for the gaming industry. On the other hand, Turner has decided to toss GameTap to the curb like a box of unwanted kittens (an $18 million box of kittens), so obviously not all is well in the realm of downloadable games. Read about all of that and more after the break.
Yesterday, I briefly heaped praise on the "new" Electronic Arts for its recent push towards creativity and employee practices that are actually legal. However, I know that many people chuck verbal darts at EA's target simply because they don't like big, "soulless" corporations. After all, each of us is the punchy underdog in our own lives, so rooting for the little guy only seems natural -- especially when the Man seems to be breathing down his neck.
But, as I'm sure you've all noticed, we're kind of running out of little guys to root for. "Consolidation" is one of those mean words we're not supposed to like, but in an industry that's expanding rapidly -- one where development costs regularly zip past $10 million -- consolidation is natural.
So, are you ready for our little hobby to become more like the big, bad movie industry, or are you of the opinion that we don't need "E" and "A" to spell BioWare?
This edition of the Roundup is gaming's "The Empire Strikes Back." Large independent devs are dropping like flies, and stalwart supporters are turning to the dark side. No Ewoks, though, so the Roundup isn't jumping the shark just yet. Jumping past the break, however, is highly encouraged.
As gamers, we love our hobby; and as people, we love company. QuakeCon, of course, made that fact ridiculously obvious. Sure, the convention's glitz and glamour were nice, but gamers trekked out into Dallas' sweltering heat for one real purpose: to hang-out with other like-minded people.
But I saw plenty of that over the frag-tacular weekend. So now I'm curious: how do you guys deal with non-gamers? I imagine you interact with them on a regular basis, but do you surround yourself with them? Would you describe yourself as a normal, average-Joe who just happens to enjoy playing games, but generally falls in with most any crowd? Or do you proudly sport an "I Pwn Noobs" T-Shirt and expect your buddies to do the same? Sound off in the comments section.
Today's Roundup takes a look at how the industry's pulse-pounding pursuit of the elusive non-gamer is changing our beloved hobby. From the fall of the current five-year console cycle to Steve Jobs' apparent failure to "get" gaming, the industry is in for a wild ride. The twist? The ride has already begun. You'd best click "Read More" to continue.
Gamers are pasty, white nerds who pop and sizzle when exposed to the sun's rays, say the old stereotypes. We're socially inept and maladjusted -- unable to carry on a normal human existence. Of course, that's an uninformed viewpoint at best, but neither would I say that all gamers are social butterflies.
As I write this, I'm sitting in QuakeCon's cavernous, dimly-lit BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) area, where gamers from all walks of life gather to, well, do what they always do: play games. But even though the BYOC is populated by hundreds of people, the air is abuzz with a light hum of voices. The ear-annihilating roar that one would expect from such a colossal crowd is absent. Obviously, not all QuakeCon goers are into the talky-talky.
So, what kind of gamer are you? Do you live for events like QuakeCon? Do you thrive when jostling against the shoulders of others? Or do you mute your headset every time you hop online, preferring instead the subtle company of your own mind? Single-player? Multiplayer? Pick your poison.
Either way, today's Roundup has stories that pertain to your experience -- from some colorful language about Diablo III to Flagship Studios' stunning conclusion (for real this time!). Oh, and another Doom movie, but that story is for me.
I hate it when people, speaking of a game review, say, "Well, they wouldn't have scored it so high if it weren't for the graphics." Like it or not, humans interpret the world around them predominately through sight, so graphics are an integral part of any gaming experience -- just as special effects, lighting, and set pieces are to film.
That does not, however, mean I'll contemptuously scoff at any game without eye-popping bump maps or heroes lacking meticulously detailed stubble, however. In fact, with the advent of gaming's current generation, I have to wonder: is game development so focused on pleasuring our eyes that it's neglecting our gray matter?
What ever happened to promises of emergent worlds and truly life-like A.I.? Sure, games like Rainbow Six: Vegas draw us into their worlds like never before, but the moment we see an A.I. partner attempt to take cover on the wrong side of a bullet-ridden pillar, the illusion is blown into bloody chunks. For once, I'd like to see a dev team throw themselves headlong into crafting a believable world -- even if that means serving up graphical sloppy seconds. Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear what you think.
Today's Roundup features one title that gives me some hope for a more balanced, less graphics-intensive future, yet by virtue of its existence, in a way, proves my earlier point. Speaking of hope, Nintendo fans might have reason to strip out of their mourning garb, although it's kind of a long shot. And we also have Aerosmith! See it all after the break.
What are you playing right now? FPS? RTS? Peggle? Who developed it? Do you even care?
I imagine you do; as a presumably-hardcore gamer, you've likely cultivated a few brand alliances here and there. But what happens when we change the question up a little? Do you think your favorite developer cares about you?
No, I don't mean on an individual, person-to-person basis. What I'm asking is: do you think those oh-so-dreamy devs slave over games for their fans, or for themselves? Yes, yes, gaming is a business, and there's certainly money involved. But at the end of the day, do you think the aforementioned designers look at themselves in the mirror and nod in satisfaction because they created a game for you, or because they calmed the cries of their wild inner artist? Sound off in the comments section. Let's start a discussion that doesn't involve sarcasm and commas (though both are certainly allowed)!
Anyway, today's Roundup shines the spotlight on developers of both breeds, though some trumpet their allegiance louder than others. If you'd like to find out who's who, what's what, and which of them might soon end up in the pit of Microsoft's belly, read on.
Why are you a PC gamer? Why did you choose to support a less convenient, less unified machine even in the face of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo's pickup-and-play offerings? Do you like the customizability the PC affords? The constantly evolving technology -- to gaze down from a heap of cast-aside PC parts and proclaim the superiority of your uber-machine? Or is the community? Do you relish being a member of a tightly-knit underdog pack, a group that's not afraid to bellow "We'll prove you wrong" to the gaming community at large?
How would you react if everyone suddenly acknowledged PC gaming's strength? If people turned around and realized that PC gaming isn't dying, would you still be so gung-ho about it?
Well, today, we have -- among other things -- one more outlet prostrating itself before the PC. How long before the unwashed masses follow suit?
Additionally, we have a treat for Trekkies, EA's Riccitiello admitting to another one of his company's screw-ups, and the longest hypothetical game title evar. Please insert disc titled "Read more" to continue.