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June 23, 2013

Weekly Gaming Thread: The Temp Agency Edition [David]

Howdy Morons and Moronettes, it's time for your (mostly) weekly gaming thread. It has been awhile since I have done one, because I have been on a long-term, deep-cover mission for the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy, and I couldn't break my cover. OK, the truth is I am a lazy bastard and since Zakn and Dude were doing so well, I let them take the brunt, but while they are away, I will do my meager part to keep things running. Go ahead and click through to find out the wild and wonderful goings-on in the world of games.


Following an online outcry of several weeks, Microsoft reversed itself on the DRM requirements for its next generation console, the Xbox One. Apparently, Microsoft misjudged the tolerance the public has for being required to have their consoles online, even to play single player games. Also, people don't like the idea of "buying" a disc, but not really owning the product. All in all, it appears to have been a sobering experience for the boys at MS. Personally, I am happy they are reversing themselves. I refuse to play a single-player game that requires me to be online (I'm looking at you, Diablo 3). So, I was going to skip the next generation of consoles entirely, at least for awhile. Now, I can tell myself I will get one, if and when I get a job again.

In the meantime, Microsoft's arch-rival, Sony has been making hay touting the fact that their console, the PS4, doesn't have the onerous DRM requirements and it is going to be $100 cheaper than the Xbox One. The interesting thing is how this is a repeat of ancient history. When the PS3 shipped, it was $599, significantly more expensive than its rival, the Xbox 360. Sony assumed the consumers would be glad to lay out the extra cash for the ability to watch Blu-Ray discs as well as play games. Sony was wrong, and Microsoft beat them like a red-headed stepchild in terms of sales because Sony lost sight of the fact that the vast majority of people who buy game consoles are buying GAME consoles, not multimedia devices. Now, we have exactly the same scenario playing out, but the roles are reversed. Will history repeat itself again with the individual actors switching places? It will be interesting to watch and see.

In other gaming news, Developer has halted sale of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition due to contractual disputes with some of their IP partners. No one is sure what the problem is, but apparently Beamdog and Overhaul, the folks behind the new iOS, PC and Mac ports of the classic isometric RPG from BioWare, have irritated their partners so much that the partners have forced them to stop selling the product until the contractual issues are settled. Furthermore, this has put the fate of the Android version of the game in jeopardy. Finally, this has halted work on a port of Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition which is said to be well underway. This is unfortunate, as I have always loved the BG series, and it would be a shame if they could not sell the version they have worked so hard on and all new development was killed. Just on the strength of their efforts, the mobile platforms have become a much more compelling gaming platform.

Speaking of old BioWare games on iOS, we mentioned the port of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to the iPad a couple of weeks ago, but I have been playing quite a bit of it recently, and it really is pretty amazing how well the game has been translated to the touch interface. Except for movement, which is really lame. However, just about everything else is really smooth, and the touch interface is actually superior to the original interface in many respects. In particular, when you are targeting enemies, it is much more natural just to tap the enemy you want to attack, rather than having to press buttons or tab to cycle among the available foes. If you own a recent iPad, I encourage you to check the game out.

The Australian government has decided to invest $200000 in game developer Team Bondi. The money is going to help finance "Whore of the Orient," a game set in 1936 Shanghai, the "most corrupt and decadent city on the planet" according to a now-deleted page on Team Bondi's web site. The move by Australia to finance a video game company is, no doubt, the first of many government investments we are likely to see in the near future, inspired by Rhode Island's wildly successful bankrolling of Curt Schilling's 38 Studios in 2010.

Guillermo del Toro, at a pre-screening of his new giant monsters vs. giant robots movie "Pacific Rim," discussed the possibility of a game add-on to the movie. He views a game based on the movie not as an "ancillary product," but as a first-class entry on its own, a way to expand the world beyond the realm of the movie. In the event that he could make such a product, he estimated it would take about three years, and he expected it to be "hand-made" and that he would be active in "every stage of it." This is actually a really interesting idea. The format of video games gives the creator a much larger and flexible canvas with which to tell a story, and a brilliant storyteller like del Toro would be in a good position to take maximum advantage of the medium. Marrying the long-form storytelling potential of video games with the talents of a del Toro could give us a game like we have never seen before. I hope he goes forward with it.

I have been playing a lot of Marvel Heroes lately, and I am enjoying it. If any morons are playing it, we should try and get a supergroup up and running. Call it "The Brotherhood of Evil Morons" or something. Discuss further in the comments. If you have anything you want to see in the gaming thread, drop me a line at imapsuedonym@gmail.com.

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posted by Gang of Gaming Morons! at 01:00 PM

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