Years from now, when future geeks muse over the history of PC tech, what will they remember about 2008? That’s the question we sought to answer when we compiled this comprehensive technology retrospective of the last year. Make no mistake, identifying and sorting the year’s most significant tech events was no easy task. We locked ourselves in a room where we mentally relived the last 12 months, pondering hundreds of items of note and debating the importance of each to find its appropriate rank on our list. Behold the result: our countdown of the 250 items representing the most noteworthy events and product releases that shaped the PC computing landscape in 2008.
Well, looks like EA finally came to its senses. After waving away the issue by, uh, talking about it, the mega-publisher finally popped a wedding ring on Tim Schafer and co.'s baby. Schafer, naturally, is super stoked.
“This is awesome news!” he said. “The quality and creativity of the games EA Partners has been involved with make it a perfect home for our baby, Brütal Legend. Some people were starting to wonder if the saga of Eddie Riggs would ever see the light of day, but now I think it’s clear that this game, like Metal itself, cannot be killed!”
Bit of an odd match, if you ask us -- but then, we're talking Tim Schafer here; only a publisher owned and operated by hundreds of other Tim Schafers would fit his curves.
Really though, we just hope EA doesn't pull a Microsoft before things are all said and done. Our poor hearts are still retching from the last rollercoaster ride.
With pirates closing in on all sides, many publishers abandoned PC gaming's ship as though it were already a potential set for Little Mermaid 9: I Don't Want to Be A Mermaid; I Want to Be A Boat. PC Gaming Alliance president Randy Stude obviously wasn't one of those naysayers, but he does have a few choice words for them.
"If someone wants to leave the PC market [because of piracy], we’ll miss you," he told Gamepolitics. "We’ll watch with admiration as your titles ship in a diluted fashion without a whole lot of game play innovation, at least until you copy the innovation that occurs on the PC. We'll find the great games on PC and we’ll play those."
On top of that, Stude believes PCs and consoles aren't so different from each another, and thinks the two walks of life will end up meeting somewhere down the road.
"The guts of every console should tell you that the capability is there for the PC to act as the central point for all the consoles," he said. "If you bought a PC and as part of that equation you said, Okay, when you’re on the phone with Dell, 'Hey, Dell, on this PC, this new notebook I’m buying, can you make sure it has the PlayStation 4 option built into it?'"
"Well, why not? Why shouldn’t that be the case? [Sony is] certainly not making any money on the hardware. I mean, can’t they create a stable enough environment to specify that if Dell’s going to sell that notebook and say that it’s PlayStation 4 [compatible] that it must have certain ingredients and it must meet certain criteria? Absolutely they could do that."
According to a new study by the psychology department at the University of Illinois-Urbana, senior citizens should trade in their Bingo nights and fire up an RTS game instead. By doing so, over-60 seniors have a good chance of improving their cognitive functions.
The test consisted of 40 seniors playing Rise of Nations, a turn-based real-time strategy game with a heavy focus on building cities. Half of the test group received 23.5 hours of training in the game, while the other half did not. Each participant was assessed before and after playing on a variety of tests designed to "measure executive control functions," such as the ability to switch tasks, short-term memory, and other cognitive functions.
Senior gamers who underwent a training session were found to be "significantly better -- and faster -- at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group" with no training. Working memory, short-term memory of visual cues, reasoning abilities, and the ability to identify rotated objects was also improved after playing Rise of Nations.
Now you know what to buy your grandparents for Christmas if you're having trouble coming up with a gift idea.
Call of Duty: World at War, Spore, and Fallout 3 definitely got in a few chomps before getting turned to paste under the weight of WoW's millions, though. Left 4 Dead also made the "November Top Ten" page of 2008's gaming yearbook, though in a somewhat unspectacular fashion -- probably because NPD figures only cover retail sales.
Check out the full list below:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $36 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Ed. / Blizzard / $50 (Average)
Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50 (Average)
Spore / EA Maxis / $48 (Average)
Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $34 (Average)
The Sims 2 Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Left 4 Dead / Valve / $48 (Average)
The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $21(Average)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $18 (Average)
The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff Exp. / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy / Her Interactive / $20 (Avearge)
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey / Sony Online Ent. / $40 (Average)(Average)
Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft Montreal / $50 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29 (Average)
BioShock / 2K Boston, Australia / $14 (Average)
Spore Creepty & Cute Parts Pack / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
IGT Slots: Little Green Men / Masque / $20 (Average)
Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft Montreal / $11 (Average)
So, did you pre-pay your respects to a game retailer's barely breathing form last month? And if so, what'd you buy?
Think Bethesda shouldn't have spilled so much Oblivion into the good ol' Fallout formula? Think you can do a better job? Well, here's your chance. After heralding its arrival a couple weeks ago, it's our pleasure to inform you that the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) is here! Break out the irradiated champagne bottles!
On top of that, Bethesda has also blown the cover off its G.E.C.K. wiki, a "community-run site where you'll find everything you need to use the The Garden of Eden Creation Kit and make mods for Fallout 3." Or, if you only have text-reading eyes for Maximum PC, you can ride the Internet over to Bethesda's blog, where you'll find a number of handy video tutorials.
Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to craft the Fallout 3 equivalent of a child's first macaroni drawing. We sure hope our mom likes it enough to tape the computer to the refrigerator door. That'd just be tops!
Yesterday, Logitech announced that they’ll be releasing the G13, a gameboard keypad peripheral designed to streamline PC gaming by allowing one-handed access to dozens of programmable keys. It’s akin to niche controller products like the Belkin Nostromo Speedpad or Zboard Fang. Well, it just so happens that today we got a shiny new G13 delivered to our office, which we were more than happy to playtest. Read on to find out what we thought of the device.
It may not be able to brag about escaping from the labs of Valve or Crytek, but that's no reason to discount Simutronics' HeroEngine. After all, BioWare, in its never-ending quest to unite as many seemingly made-up words as possible (Simutronics?), is using it for its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. And, no offense, but we think they know better than you. Probably.
“Our goal was to partner with a platform developer that knows online gaming and virtual world development, and the team at Simutronics has an excellent track record in that respect,” said Gordon Walton, Co-Studio Director at BioWare. “Their HeroEngine was specifically created for building MMOGs and it allows for a great amount of flexibility in the way our entire team collaborates.”
The HeroEngine allows developers to construct a game while playing on a server, meaning that a swing of the nerf bat will no longer take a couple weeks. Additionally, the engine eliminates "the need for nightly builds and code crunching, which significantly reduces the notoriously long MMOG development cycle." In short, this means that The Old Republic may actually escape from BioWare's tractor beam before the LHC comes back online and destroys us all.
Yeah, we're pretty determined to see this game end the world. What of it?
Update: *Waves hand in front of your face* This is apparently just a big misunderstanding. EA told Shacknews that "no statements have been made about the Star Wars business model," and that Ricitiello's statement was misunderstood. Thus, we can't really know how EA will sink its hooks into your wallet until February rolls around. So yeah, these droids? Totally not the one's you've been searching for.
Subscription fees, as we've discussed at length, are the beginning of a slippery slope down Blizzard's single, mega-games' throats, but microtransactions might be a different a story. Most titles that take up the little big label offer their services for free (or a small nominal fee), hoping that you'll drop a few coins into their cup at some point in the future. And if EA has its way, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be one such game.
"We are continuing to stick to the plan relative to building out our direct-to-consumer models which include microtransactions and subscriptions," said EA CEO John Riccitiello in a recent conference call. "The recent launch of Warhammer [Online] is a great example of that."
"Other initiatives we've announced, for example [the] Star Wars online MMO, are mid-session games which are microtransaction-based," he continued. "You'll be hearing more about those in the February [conference] call."
This announcement certainly seems to suggest that BioWare's galaxy far, far away won't take subscription fees as a viable method of payment, though Riccitiello didn't go so far as to completely rule them out.
Regardless, the potential accessibility of a "free" MMO combined with the production values and gameplay of a Scrooge McDuck-level big-budget game could very well melt the Lich King right off his frozen (and likely very uncomfortable) throne -- probably ending all productivity as we know it.
tl;dr: Looks like the Mayan Apocalypse might be coming early this existence. Neat!
Yuck. It's one thing to give the spotlight over to piracy and other dirty deeds on a bi-daily basis, but after seeing it all culminate, well, we're going to need to lie down for a little while.
Torrent-tracking blog TorrentFreak recently scoured the undersides of gaming's most illicit tables, putting together a list of piracy's greatest hits. The bottom line: Spore, as expected, took home the golden failboat ticket, while three of EA's other titles made the top five.
Meanwhile, big names like Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2 also felt significant disturbances in their sales. Check out the full list below:
Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008
Remember kids, only you can prevent PC game piracy. Otherwise, we'll light you on fire. Don't mess with us. We're crazy.