Friday, June 28, 2013
Games: Thanks so much to everyone for the strong interest in the letters series on Alpha Protocol. It was really heartening to see how many fans the game has out there, and how many of you were expressing interest in checking it out. Sparky and I are both currently playing the second sections of the game, so look for the next installment of our discussion sometime this weekend.
In other games news, I finally got around to playing Hotline Miami yesterday. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, but I knew it was coming to the Vita, so I held out. I'm glad I waited, but to be honest, it’s been a very hot/cold experience.
When things are going well, it really pops. The feeling of sneaking around a corner and taking out guards is great, and walking out of a building after a “job well done” is quite satisfying. However, things only go well a small fraction of the time, and only after many, many retries.
I don’t know how it handles on PC, but on the Vita it controls like a greased-up squirrel tweaking on meth. The unit’s sticks have never been my favorite, and those combined with the general control layout, the super sensitive/specific shooting mechanics and the lightning-fast reaction of the enemies make for a fairly high level of frustration. It’s great that the developers allow retries almost instantaneously, but I’d rather see some polish applied to making it handle just a little more calmly.
The AI can also be fairly maddening – the game randomizes certain things including weapon drops and enemy behavior, so just when you start to get into a good pattern for clearing out the floor, things change up and your best-laid plans go out the window. I guess it makes sense in a way since it can be seen as a vaguely equivalent to the random behavior of the people that would ostensibly be hunted, but it drives me crazy to see stuff like an enemy acting totally oblivious in one run, only to have super-sharp hearing in the next.
I have to say that I really didn’t care for the game very much in the first few levels, but I’ve heard so many people praise it that I was compelled to push on. Now that I’m much further in, I can see the appeal – there’s definitely something about the way the various elements of the experience come together and like I said earlier, when things come together it really pops. A slightly lower level of aggravation would be appreciated, but I’m hanging in there.
Just a random tidbit here, but I’ve heard a few developers lately talking about why they are in favor of DRM and getting rid of used games. I know this is a huge discussion and I don’t really want to get into every aspect of it right here, but there are few things I need to get off my chest:
1> If there are no used games, then sales of new games are going to go down, period.
I don’t have hard numbers, but my gut feeling is that the very large percentage of the game-playing audience won’t be able to drop $60 as often as the industry thinks they will, and when they do, it will likely only be for titles that they see as “can’t miss” projects. For those developers who are taking risks or who are an unknown quantity, don’t expect to sell a million at full price.
2> If there are no ways to buy and sell used games, developers are going to go out of business even faster than they are now.
Why do I say this? It’s simple – if I buy Gears of War digitally, then Epic made their money. Hurray for them. The buck stops there.
However, if I had bought it on a disk (or resellable digital) then I could trade that in and kick in a few bucks to buy Batman. I wouldn’t have been able to buy it outright, but with my used game defraying the cost, I can. Oh look, Rocksteady just got paid. And if I can trade that in after I’m done, I can knock down the price of my next new game, and pick up The Last of Us. Hey, check it out… Naughty Dog just got paid.
By my count, that’s three developers who got paid with a consumer like me taking part in a used game ecosystem.
In a scenario where used games don’t exist and all sales are final, Epic would’ve been the only one to make a buck and those other two studios would be left with a big fat zero.
3> I’ve heard some developers say that used games need to go away so that the increasingly-large budgets needed to create games can be sustained.
As we are currently seeing (and have been seeing for a while now) there are very few blockbuster-sized games that are able to make a return on the investment needed to craft them. I’m not sure what kind of business thinking has led to this “go big or go home” mentality, but it’s incredibly poor business practice to put so many eggs into so few baskets and then hope and pray that an unreal number of copies will be sold in order to turn a profit.
I’m not a developer but I do know about business, and the way I see it, if there’s no realistic way to make a profit on a huge game, then you need to make a smaller game. Additionally, I eagerly look forward to the day when this fallacious stigma about releasing games for less than $60 at retail will go away.
I don’t know about you, but I’m way more inclined to pick up three games for $20 or two games for $30 than I am to pick up just one for $60. And I’m not sure where this idea that anything less than full price is guaranteed to be a crappy game, but it’s ridiculous and I believe there are lessons to be learned from other media – in most other businesses, lower price leads to selling higher volumes, and when managed properly, higher volumes equal higher profits.
I’ve got a lot more to say on these topics, but that’ll do me for now.
The Guacamelee! Costume Pack is available now in North America for $1.99 and will be available in Europe and the rest of the world tomorrow for €1.59/£1.25.
POLLO LUCHADOR: Players will love the soothing caress of an always-regenerating health meter just as much as the soothing caress of their full-body chicken suit. Is that velvet? Just try to ignore the fact that stamina doesn’t regenerate as quickly.
SKELETON: Undead luchador not undead enough for combatants? Become even MORE undead! Gamers can tear through enemies with the implacable stamina of an angry, brittle bone-person, but don’t expect much help from health pickups.
IDENTITY SWAP: Cats are barking and dogs meowing! Tostada is dressed as a brawny wrestler! Juan is spooky and bandage-wrapped! These alternate forms of the main characters have tougher punches, but can’t throw for beans.
The Costume Pack offers luchadores new challenges and trophies that make getting platinum look like child’s play. Put on the Skeleton-suit in the terrifying Caverna del Pollo, explore the countryside looking for the Chicken brothers or showdown against Calaca while wearing only bandages to earn even more trophies.
Hotline Miami, the award winning, brutal, top down indie action game from Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital is available today on the PlayStation®3 (PS3®) computer entertainment system and the PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) portable entertainment system for $9.99.
Hotline Miami is a high-octane action game demanding sharp reactions and a creative approach to navigate a gauntlet of 20 multi-screen missions. Players can wield any of the 35 different weapons or slip on one of the dozens of unlockable animal masks to conceal their identity and tweak the gameplay in their favor. A punishing—yet addictive—experience, the game features a gritty, retro visual style, a driving soundtrack, and a surreal chain of events that will have players questioning their thirst for blood.
Hotline Miami for PS3 and PS Vita introduces trophies and leaderboards for each level, ranking friends and players worldwide based on score, with a note on which mask was used to achieve it. Exclusive to PS3 and PS Vita, the new Russell Mask gives the game a whole new flavor as it changes the visuals to black and white with only the red from the blood and the neon from the UI coloring the screen. The PlayStation Vita version also features touch lock-on aiming; players can tap the screen to lock-on to a target as they stalk enemies from room to room.
Hotline Miami is available today on PS3 and PS Vita, and now available on PC, Mac, and Linux from Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital for $9.99. Hotline Miami is rated M for Mature. Please visit the ESRB website for more information about ratings: http://www.esrb.org. For more information, please visit www.devolverdigital.com or follow @HotlineMiami on Twitter.
Following on from the recent release of Remember Me, Capcom has teamed up with British author Scott Harrison and Orb Entertainment to bring a brand new eBook adventure to market. Remember Me: The Pandora Archive is available to purchase across a range of vendors, including Kindle, Kobo and Google Play.
Set several months before the events of the game, this eBook story takes readers on an action packed adventure with Nilin, a former elite memory hunter who has the unique ability to break into people’s minds and memories.
The Remember Me: The Pandora Archive eBook is available to download now across Europe and North America. Remember Me is available to purchase now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. For more information on the game please visit the Capcom Press Siteand for additional information on the eBook contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esteemed indie developer NeocoreGames today announced that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing’s second DLC, Blue Blood, is now available worldwide for $1.99 on Windows® PC via Steam.
Blue Blood enables players to turn their female ghost companion Lady Katarina into a more efficient monster hunter by introducing a new accessory that opens up a new skill tree. Eight brand new skills are now available to Katarina including Wraith Frenzy that boosts her attack rate and Chillwave, which creates an aura that will decrease enemy movement, attack, and casting speeds. She also has new abilities such as summoning two ghost mirages of herself to fight alongside Van Helsing and the chance for Katarina to earn hit points for each Rage point spent. Please note that Blue Blood requires a Steam version of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.
In the meantime, the development team rolled out new expansions to Scenario Mode as well, including a new system of rewards for killing monsters and two new scenarios within the Croakwood and The Rookery. The new reward system allows players to gain Glory points for killing monsters, which then can be spent on bonuses in several areas among all in-game characters a player has created.
The revolution has begun! Sanctum 2: Road to Elysion, the first of four DLC expansion packs for the tower-defense/FPS hybrid Sanctum 2, launches today on Steam. From Swedish indie developers Coffee Stain Studios, Road to Elysion is centered around a new shadowy playable character, TSYGAN, as she reveals the sinister origins of the conflict on LOEK III. Delivering intricate maps, advanced new weapons, uniquely cool perks and sadistically enhanced enemies, Road To Elysion delivers a thrilling, intense chapter to theSanctum universe.
Watch the new live-action launch trailer HERE
Watch the new live-action launch trailer HERE
Sanctum 2: Road To Elysion Expansion Pack Key Features:
• New Playable Character - TSYGAN, the “Rogue Insurgent”, reveals the sinister origins to the colonization of LOEK III.
• Diverse Maps – Four new maps with exciting gameplay elements adding refreshing new tactics and replayability.
• Two Mega Powered Weapons – Take hold of the Rapid-firing Gatling Laser & TSYGAN’s own handheld Ballista!
• Two Distinct Towers – The Range Spire dramatically increases the reach of nearby offensive towers and the Slow Field Dispenser dramatically hinders the speed of enemies to make choke points more effective.
• Enhanced Enemies - With new support monsters that heal and mutate the attacking horde and a vicious new aerial enemy boss, players must be prepared for this heightened challenge.
• Additional Perks – Customize your character even more with six new perks, including a perk that gives you an in-game pet robot that will fight for you.
Combining key gameplay elements of both tower-defense and first-person shooter genres, Sanctum 2 players take on the role of an elite soldier whose mission is to protect the oxygen-producing Cores from hordes of deadly aliens who are threatened by their very existence. The new Road to Elysion expansion pack delves deeper into the main storyline revealing a sinister secret behind the colonization of Loek III. Players set up defensive towers to take out the waves of attacking enemies and then jump head-on into the fray, either alone or as part of a squad in four-player co-op multiplayer.
Sanctum 2: Road To Elysion DLC expansion pack is now available on Steam for $3.99. With more massive DLC updates coming in the near future, fans should take advantage of the Sanctum 2 Season Pass which includes all four planned expansion packs for $11.99.
Sanctum 2 is now available for $14.99 on PC and the suggested price point of 1200 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live. For the latest news and updates on Sanctum 2, please visit http://www.coffeestainstudios.com, ‘Like’ the game on Facebook and follow the development team @Coffee_Stain.
The AbleGamers Charity is thrilled to announce the Summer of Fun program, which includes the latest round of grants now open for submissions. All gamers with disabilities who are in need of assistive technology to aid gaming are eligible to receive equipment regardless of age.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic over our Summer of Fun initiative,” said Mark Barlet, President and Founder of the AbleGamers Charity. “These grants are the main reason we do our Pachinko for Charity and other fundraising events. We expect to receive thousands of requests and we will fill as many of them as funding allows.”
“It’s an honor to be able to give back,” said John Warren, Founder of Minicore Studios. “Minicore is a huge supporter of the AbleGamers Charity. We love what they do for the gaming community and those with disabilities. This was a perfect opportunity to get involved and help gamers with disabilities play.”
“Giving these grants is the most wonderful part of what we do,” said Steve Spohn, Editor-In-Chief and Outreach Chair for AbleGamers. “With over 60 million gamers with disabilities, we have a lot of giving to do. And this year we’re going to give more equipment than ever before thanks to our industry partners.”
Minicore Studios provided additional funding to support the initiative. The Summer of Fun grant program will be accepting requests for equipment until July 31, 2013. Grant applications will then be reviewed by the AbleGamers board and given out to those who need the equipment the most until funding for the program is depleted. To submit a request for equipment, please visit the grant application, here.