"PC is where I'm going to wind up. That's where the community is."
Former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski has expressed the possibility of developing games again. In an interview with Gamasutra, Bleszinski revealed that he was thinking of starting a new studio with its focus being on the PC platform.
It wasn't too terribly long ago that Epic president Mike Capps pretty much told PC gamers to take a hike – or at least trek to the back of the line, behind everyone else. Happily, however, a bit over a year later, he's singing an entirely different tune. PC, he says, is done playing second fiddle.
Sorry, folks. If you're at a loss about what your college major should be, how best to finally approach that cute girl who works over in human resources, or which Star Wars prequel is the absolute worst, playing a couple rounds of TF2 probably won't bequeath unto you some sort of life-altering revelation. But we make hundreds of tiny decisions – usually based on visual or aural cues – each day, and according to a study from the University of Rochester, fast-paced first-person shooters can rewire our brains to get the lead out before we, among other things, die horrifically gruesome deaths.
"Decisions are never black and white," said researcher Daphne Bavelier. "The brain is always computing probabilities. As you drive, for instance, you may see a movement on your right, estimate whether you are on a collision course, and based on that probability make a binary decision: brake or don't brake."
In a test of 18-to-25-year-olds who didn't typically play videogames, Bavelier and co. found that those in their Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty 2 group made such split-second decisions up to 25 percent faster than those in their Sims 2 group. Too much speed, though, makes us sloppy, right? Wrong, surprisingly enough.
"It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster," Bavelier said. "Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference."
So then, surgeons, soldiers, and race car drivers of the world, look out, because gamers are gunning for your jobs. And here's the kicker: they're probably better at them than you.
“Why consoles?” It’s a question that plenty of formerly PC-exclusive developers have been asked, but few have tackled head-on. Instead, they’ve preferred to sidestep it in fear of stumbling right into a PR minefield. Epic President Mike Capps, however, has decided that honesty is the best policy – no matter how brutal that honesty might be.
“If you walked into [Epic's Offices] six years ago,” said Capps, “Epic was a PC company. We did one PS2 launch title, and everything else was PC. And now, people are saying ‘Why do you hate the PC? You’re a console-only company.’”
“And guess what? It’s because the money’s on console.”
“We still do PC, we still love the PC, but we already saw the impact of piracy: it killed a lot of great independent developers and completely changed our business model.”
There is a silver lining, however. Or maybe it’s the darkest part of all, depending on how you look at things. The Unreal Tournament and Gears of War developer concluded, after discussing – what else? -- FarmVille:
“So, maybe Facebook will save PC gaming, but it’s not going to look like Gears of War.”
Darn. And we were looking so forward to chainsawing our friends’ pigs in half after they asked us to fertilize their crops for the 346723th time.
For Unreal Tournament, the third time wasn’t quite a charm. So after the less-than-amazing Unreal Tournament 3, Epic has decided to give its old dog a break, instead hoping to teach some new tricks to its more youthful franchises. So said Epic Games co-founder Tim Sweeney, speaking with G4.
“Unreal Tournament is certainly a major long-term priority but we’re planning not to release a major retail game in the series for several years. So we have that effort somewhat on hold while we work on a few other initiatives,” he explained.
He also added, however, that the Unreal Tournament community produces so much content on its own that “we almost solve the Unreal Tournament 4 and 5 problem ourselves by just making this toolset available.”
Don’t let the series gather space dust for too long, though, Epic. In “several years,” intergalactic battles fought over respawn machines that are somehow powered by flags won’t seem so far-fetched.
Actually, no. That plot will always be ridiculous. Forever. Take all the time you need, Epic.
And you thought the majority of today’s first-person shooters were only easy on the eyes. As it turns out, playing a fast-moving, state-of-the-art action game might be less like a warm glass of milk for your poor peepers, and more like a monolithic can of Monster.
According to a study conducted by Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York, a few rounds of games like Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament may be enough to improve your eyes’ contrast sensitivity. Translated into the hip vernacular you kids have grown so accustomed to: Capping fools, punks, or whatever these are could save you from dying in a fire.
“People who used a video-game training program saw significant improvements in their ability to notice subtle differences in shades of gray, a finding that may help people who have trouble with night driving,” noted the study.
While undoubtedly cool, the study’s results were far from expected. Apparently, contrast sensitivity doesn’t typically undergo significant change without an alteration to the optics of the eye -- glasses or surgery, for example.
The games played by each group, for those interested, were Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004 for the “action” group, and The Sims 2 for the non-action group. The first group saw a 43 percent improvement in contrast sensitivity, while the second saw none – possibly due to blindness or some other malady that our cruel universe has chosen to afflict upon those who are not truly hardcore.
Don’t sit too close to the screen, huh? Oh how the tides have turned.
Since the last Unreal Tournament game was released four years ago,
no worthy contender has managed to dethrone the now-classic shooter as
the best game for online deathmatches. With the much-delayed Unreal
Tournament 3, we get the uneasy feeling that Epic Games has grown a bit
complacent with its multiplayer crown. The game’s brand-new graphics
engine and glut of maps mask some very familiar weapons and gameplay
mechanics. And while we appreciate that the developers haven’t broken
from a proven design formula, we’re disappointed by the lack of
innovation in this long-awaited sequel.