For every Core i7, GTX 295, and other technological marvels, there's a piece of hardware sitting on the other end of the technological spectrum that, for one reason or another, just didn't make it. Maybe the design was flawed, or in the case of HD-DVD, it simply lost the marketing battle to a competing format.
Whatever the reasons might be, CNet has composed a list of what it believes are the 25 biggest tech flops of the past decade. Ranking No. 1 on the list is the Sega Dreamcast console simply because after staying on the market for just three years after it was originally released in 1998, "it didn't make it."
Other items on the list include DVD Audio, Sirius satellite radio, the two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle known as the Segway, UMDs, and more than a few handheld devices.
Spy the full list here, then hit the jump and tell us what you think are the biggest tech flops of the past decade.
In a way, Alpha Protocol reminded me of fellow E3 sleeper hit Scribblenauts. See, both games stumped me – Scribblenauts through a clever, mind-bogglingly detailed word entry system, and Alpha Protocol because no matter where I tried to poke holes in its concept and execution, developer Obsidian Software was always one step ahead. Of all the games I saw at the show, Alpha Protocol was the only one that really had me silently mumbling, “They thought of everything.”
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking Alpha Protocol and Mass Effect were separated at birth. After all, both are chock full of smooth-talking macho main characters, third-person gun-centric dead-making, and a cast of mouthy side characters who serve as a peanut gallery to your morally motivated actions. Thing is, Alpha Protocol takes many of those shared fundamentals and does them up in suave spy style, resulting in an RPG that’s both streamlined and familiar. The bottom line: if you generally like BioWare RPGs but think they could use a few tweaks here and there, keep reading.
After a quick look at the character customization screen, our presenter tossed main character Michael Thorton straight into a mission. The objective: infiltrate a Russian Mafia compound and make life difficult for the Russians primarily by shooting them. However, seconds into the mission, a gun-toting mercenary named Sie, whose tank top was wholly unsuited to the snowy weather, bounded onto the scene. Working with an organization called the VCI, she was also out to spill some Mafia blood. Thus, our silver-tongued spy did his thing.
Here, we saw the game’s conversation system in action. Like Mass Effect, Alpha Protocol presents you with a series of phrases that get at the gist of your character’s response without actually blabbing the whole thing. There’s a twist, though: chit-chat in Alpha Protocol is on a timer. Nope – students of the Captain Shepard “stare blankly ahead for fifteen minutes while trying to untie your tongue” school of conversation etiquette aren’t welcome here. As a result, conversation never skips a beat, making speech an involving, straight-to-the-point action – not unlike that of the spy movies that inspired the game.
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Today, I finally got around to checking out the latest Futurama movie, "Beast with a Billion Backs." It was great, but aside from Pac-Man chess, had nothing to do with gaming. However, an awesome little bonus feature -- cut-together scenes from the disappointingly awful Futurama videogame -- did.
What really struck me about the "game," though, was its meticulous (and oftentimes hilarious) need to explain every gaming cliche in the book. See, the game itself was a trite licensed platformer, but its story went the extra mile toward making that a-okay. Additional lives, level restarts, and other gaming tropes made perfect sense within Futurama's twisted logic. But while I applaud Groening, Cohen, and co. for their creativity, I think story in gaming can do so much more.
Right now, we're sort of in an awkward teenage phase -- just beginning to shrug off the shackles of other media forms. Only now are we collectively realizing that our medium is unique, so our stories have shifted to convey that fact. Whether it's Futurama's wacky antics, Bioshock's "Would you kindly?" or other games taking sly digs at each cliche they so willfully employ, we've come to realize what our medium is, but we haven't even begun to break ground on gaming's well of potential.
So, my question to you: What topics would you like to see gaming explore? What stories need to be told? Are there any games out there that you think could very well be the next step forward for story in gaming?
This edition of the Roundup features, among other things, details on a story that could be one of this year's greatest. Additionally, you'll find an article about casuals becoming hardcores, and another about why I'm stupid for using the terms "casuals" and "hardcores." Jump past the break for more.
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.
Pro: E3 was tons of fun. Con: It served little-to-no purpose. Sure, the California-based trade show presented journalists with a relaxed pace and a civil atmosphere, but the only thing it served up for lay-gamers was a heaping plate of disappointment. No big announcements, no mind-blowing demos, and only one or two cases of easy fodder for the Internet's flames. We can only hope the show will see a drastic revamp soon, because it's quickly circling the drain.
But let's not dwell on the recent past; today has provided us with plenty of interesting stories, including Peter Molyneux's MMO aspirations, another new Sonic game, and, er, Michael Pachter's damning comments towards E3. Ok, so maybe the past deserves one more quick peek into the rearview mirror.