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I thought we'd never make it back, Morty. For a second there I thought we were gonna be splattered under the heel of a terrible god and be nothing but a shit-stain on the bottom of its foot. Oh wait, we're supposed to play a game this week aren't we? Alright well grab all your guns and make sure Beth is there. And that's how we ended up playing this game.Read more ...
One would like to think major publishers do a little research before getting into deals with shady key-sellers but you'd be wrong to believe that. We're covering the G2A-Gearbox partnership news, talking a bit about the Scorpio specs, letting you know what Nintendo's latest silliness smells like, and bringing you an update on The Fatherland. This, some new game debuts, and a listing of the upcoming game releases rounds-out this podcast like it's a real boy.Read more ...
We have now arrived in April. As some game companies try to trick us into thinking they're funny for others it's business as usual. MadCatz declares bankruptcy, Valve is calling in the big guns for some advice, and Blizzard is remastering StarCraft. A ton of games were announced and we'll tell you about them too. We've got that, the usual release schedule round-up and an update on our fantasy draft now that Mass Effect: Andromeda is out. Did I mention we talk about that for half an hour? Well, now I did. Listen to the show for all the info you could ever want. Sort of.Read more ...
Ballistic Impact's first official operation has begun and takes us to Chernarus. A former Soviet Bloc state with a recent history plagued by the communist insurgency of the "Chernarussian Movement of the Red Star", known as the Chedakis by the locals. This problem became compounded when the Chedaki insurgents seized a small Chernarussian base, gaining access to heavy military equipment and becoming much more than a simple thorn in the Chernarussian Governments side. The Russian government, seeing this as potential weakness and being emboldened by their seizure of Crimea and unchallenged interventions in the middle east, took this opportunity to launch a lightning quick offensive. Having crushed the Chernarussian military their more advanced equipment, the Russian military occupied the nation and seemingly began preparations for proceeding further into Europe, forcing a response from NATO.
Read more ...
Blizzard's Jay Wilson Admits Diablo 3'S RMAH Was Bad
Diablo III By Jeff Buckland, 3/30/2013 3:45 AM
Joystiq has an interesting highlight of a talk by Blizzard's Jay Wilson at GDC. In it, he says that Diablo III's auction house system was a mistake - of course, he's not in charge of that game any more, so who knows whether it'll get changed? But if you were tasked with fixing the game, short of redesigning the whole thing, how would you do it?
My biggest problem with D3's auction house didn't come up until players got into the late game on the final difficulty mode. It was a combination of things: loot was often very class-specific, it was rare enough that you had to resort to combing the auction house to find what you wanted, the gold and real-money auction houses created two entirely separate markets (at least one of which probably shouldn't have any place in a game like this), and the entire process pulled you out of the core Diablo experience of killing and looting.
But the biggest one was this: the real money auction house's price limit was set at $250.00.
Two hundred and fifty dollars.
That's a huge amount of money for a video game item, and it's just ridiculous. That's a chunk of your rent. That's most of a car payment. It is my opinion that that kind of money should not also be a sword in a video game. What's worse is that we all know that if Blizzard had made it $500, then items would go up for that amount of cash - and they might even get bought. But why stop there? Why not a thousand? Ten thousand? To me, setting the limit at $250 isn't much different than any of these other numbers, because either way it's so far outside of the realm of what people should be buying and selling video game items for that there's little difference between any of those amounts to me. Maybe your mileage would vary, but I just wouldn't feel right either buying or selling a virtual item for that much.
I'm sure that the developers spent a lot of time thinking about this magical limit, and while I don't necessarily think that the RMAH should go away forever - maybe have a separate realm where there is no RMAH (or no auction houses at all), and adjusted drop rates to make up the difference - at the very least the dollar limit should have been very low. Five bucks... ten bucks. Something like that.
Diablo III gets bagged on from all sides for a bunch of issues, but I think this is the biggest one. The way that people started seeing dollar signs when a really good item dropped is not what should happen in video games.
Square Enix confirms lay-offs at Los Angeles office
Square Enix has made an unspecified number of job cuts at its Los Angeles office.
“We can confirm that Square Enix’s Los Angeles office has eliminated a number of positions as part of the corporate restructuring announced last week,” a representative told Joystiq .
“This is an unfortunate situation and we are offering assistance and severance packages to any employees affected by this, we want to thank them for their hard work and sincerely wish them well in the future.”
There’s now word yet on how many staff were affected and what role they had; the Los Angeles office mainly handles administration for MMOs in North America, and suffered cuts in late 2012, too.
Square Enix president Yoichi Wada resigned last month after the publisher once more failed to make projections, thanks to the under-performance of western developed titles Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution, and even the best-selling Tomb Raider.
Square Enix’s new president plans ‘fundamental review’ of publisher’s business
Square Enix’s new president takes up his duties in June, and his first order of business will be to take a good, long look at the publisher to find out why it’s not making money – despite holding some of the most celebrated brands in the industry.
At a financial briefing, as translated by Siliconera, the newly-appointed Yosuke Matsuda told investors he’s keen to assess Square Enix in light of the changing face of the industry.
“After having succeeded the important role as the president, I plan on reviewing all Square Enix duties, business and assets on a zero-based budgeting standpoint. Due to the radical change of environment, I’d like to fundamentally review what works and what doesn’t work for our company, then cast all of our resources towards extending what makes us successful and thoroughly squeezing out what doesn’t,” he said.
“As far as a concrete plan on what to expect from us, I will further explain it on another briefing session in the near future, so I kindly ask for your patience. Thank you for your support.”
This is a little nerve-wracking for traditional triple-A game fans as it has become apparent that Square Enix’s big-budget western games – Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution – have not met expectations, despite warm critical receptions and strong sales. What does make money, according to financial disclosures over the last few years, are domestic-only titles on smartphones and web, something most western fans have little access to or interest in.
Matsuda’s comments suggest square may double down on these new business and let its traditional development plans slide. It’s a very different message from that delivered by former president Yoichi Wada in a 2011 Tokyo Game Show keynote; at the time, the veteran executive said that new businesses were not squeezing out old ones, just expanding opportunities.
But capitalism is dominant and investors no doubt want a slice or six of the enormous new business pie, plus an actual return rather than “extraordinary losses”. Wada, who announced his resignation as president last month, said he’d stay on at Square Enix in an unspecified role, almost as a kind of penance.
“As an employee, I believe it is my duty to help the company and give proper results from it. I will be retiring from the line of management, but I plan to work on site as a way to pay my debt to the company,” he said.
Square Enix has said it doesn’t expect to make money on console games for at least two years, partially due to the generation shift and its heavy investment in next-gen tech such as the Luminous engine.
The publisher is believed to have a large number of unannounced console titles in the works, including a brand new Final Fantasy for PlayStation 4, which will be revealed at E3 2013.
Bethesda confirms work on a "new version" of Doom 4, plans for Rage 2 ditched
By Wesley Yin-Poole Published Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Bethesda has confirmed development of a "new version" of Doom 4, apparently planned for the next-generation of consoles - but the game appears to be a long way off.
Sources speaking with Kotaku claim the release date is up in the air after a reboot in late 2011. Development is "not going well" according to one source, although Bethesda, publisher of id Software, claims the game is still in the works.
"An earlier version of Doom 4 did not exhibit the quality and excitement that id and Bethesda intend to deliver and that Doom fans worldwide expect," Bethesda's marketing boss Pete Hines said in a new statement.
"As a result, id refocused its efforts on a new version of Doom 4 that promises to meet the very high expectations everyone has for this game and this franchise. When we're ready to talk about the Doom 4 id is making, we will let folks know."
Apparently, after Rage didn't meet sales expectations, ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda and id Software, cancelled Rage 2 and "downsized" plans for Rage DLC.
Now, all id staff are working on Doom 4.
In October 2011, a month before this development reboot, a report emerged that claimed development on Doom 4 had been "indefinitely" postponed.
At the time Pete Hines called the rumour "complete bollocks". "Re: Doom 4 rumour, games are done when they are done and no title under development at id has been postponed - indefinitely or otherwise," he said.
Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Cancels Star Wars 1313 And Star Wars: First Assault
Disney has laid off the staff of LucasArts and cancelled all current projects.
Staff were informed of the shutdown this morning, according to a reliable Kotaku source. Some 150 people were laid off, and both of the studio's current projects—Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313—were cancelled. Disney will still use the LucasArts name to license games, but the studio is no more.
Publicly, Disney is saying their current games could be licensed out to a different publisher or developer, but according to our source, that's unlikely. Our source says Lucas has pursued the option for "one or both games," but nothing happened. "With the teams now basically being dispersed I think both games are effectively dead forever," our source said.
“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games," LucasArts parent company LucasFilm said in a statement. "As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
This comes after weeks and months of rumors involving the studio, which was acquired by Disney last fall. In September, LucasArts put a freeze on all hiring and product announcements, which many staff saw as the beginning of the end. In February, we started hearing rumors that the studio might be shuttered. Today, it's official: the iconic development house is gone.
The company was acquired as part of a mega-merger last year where Disney acquired LucasFilm and its sibling company from Lucas. Maniac Mansion, one of LucasArts' first self-published titles, introduced the "SCUMM" game engine driving several well known point-and-click adventure titles the company published throughout the 1990s. The Secret of Monkey Island, created by Ron Gilbert and co-written by Double Fine's Tim Schafer, is one of the publisher's best-known graphical adventures using the engine.
The publisher's apogee was certainly in the 1990s, when a wave of Star Wars-themed titles for the PC—such as Dark Forces, X-Wing and Rebel Assault—were supplemented by games like the strategy title Afterlife, the Sam & Max series, and Schafer's Full Throttle.
In the 2000s, the company became more reliant on its Star Wars products and licenses sold to other developers as new efforts like Fracture failed to take hold. The decade's most notable successes—Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Battlefront—were both externally developed, by BioWare and Pandemic Studios, respectively. LucasArts' last title to see mainstream success was 2008's Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. A 2010 sequel didn't live up to expectations. The last game published by LucasArts was Kinect Star Wars for the Xbox 360 last year, a game widely panned by critics.
The Next Xbox Will Require an Internet Connection To Start Games, Sources Say
Two Kotaku sources have added more credence to the rumor that the next Xbox, expected to battle the PlayStation 4 in late 2013 or early 2014, will be an always-online system, though it will be able to tolerate dropped connections.
"Unless something has changed recently," one of the sources told us over email, "Durango consumer units must have an active internet connection to be used."
Durango is the codename for the next-gen Xbox.
"If there isn't a connection, no games or apps can be started," the source continued. "If the connection is interrupted then after a period of time--currently three minutes, if I remember correctly--the game/app is suspended and the network troubleshooter started."
The PS4 will not require an online connection to start or run games, Sony has confirmed. No gaming console ever has.
Reporting about the next-gen Xbox is still mostly a matter of checking rumors and leaks. No one in or out of Microsoft is authorized to discuss the console publicly. But there are a growing number of people tied to the gaming industry, including our sources for this story, who have had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Microsoft's plans for the machine. Development of games for the console is intensifying. Microsoft has sent beta development kits, sporting a new controller and Kinect motion/voice sensor array to game creators. Our main sources for this story have a perfect track record in getting these kinds of things right.
That said, a caution and a caveat: other sources familiar with the codenamed Durango console have told us that they are still unaware of any Microsoft plans regarding an online requirement. No one has been able to say it's not true and some have speculated that this is required at the operating system level and therefore isn't something Microsoft has to tell all developers or retail partners. Microsoft also has the ability to change this type of requirement seemingly at a moment's notice through changes in firmware or networking infrastructure.
Microsoft doesn't comment at all about its next-gen system, so the best we have from them on the matter is as follows: "We do not comment on rumors or speculation. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform, but we don't have anything further to share at this time." That's from a Microsoft spokesperson after we asked, today, about this always-online rumor and told them this story was planned.
But if Microsoft is about to walk this back, they probably haven't done so yet. One of our sources says that the always-online plan was in effect as recently as two weeks ago.
The always-online rumor has been swirling for about a year. We'd been hearing it but couldn't nail it down with the specificity we have today. We raised it as a possibility, tied to a good source, but were unclear how dropped connections would be handled. We also weren't clear if this was something like Microsoft's anti-used-game system, a plan the company briefed partners on in 2012 but that we had heard so little of since that it may well have gone away--or if this was like the plans for the new Kinect, which, it has become increasingly clear, is an essential element of the Durango.
An always-online requirement would obviously be a big deal. It raises many questions about how the system would perform in places that don't have reliable Internet and about the extent that the connection would be used to authenticate ownership of games. This is something every gamer would want to know about. So, since we first heard about it, we have tried to confirm whether the requirement was real and in the cards. Sources in development, publishing and retail mostly responded with shrugs.
In January, the hacker SuperDaE began sharing official development documents for the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox. Many of the dozens of pages of the Xbox/Durango documentation were full of programming code but the parts in plain English--the parts that, honestly, we could understand--said nothing about an online requirement. They were, however, crystal clear about the new system needing the new Kinect to operate: "Every Durango console ships with a Kinect sensor. A Kinect sensor must be attached and configured for the console to function."
Some sources told us that they believed that the Durango development kit required an online connection so that Microsoft could keep tabs on them and update them with new, ever-evolving firmware. Others weren't sure.
A few weeks ago, we heard from one reliable industry source who told us about a Durango developer making a game that would use an always-online connection for gameplay purposes, to constantly be able to share game data back and forth. It wasn't clear, though, if this indicated the Durango's capacity to be always online--Nintendo's Wii had its own optional 24/7 always-online mode--or if the online connection was a must.
Meanwhile, the site VGLeaks, which appeared to have access to many of the same Durango documents shared with Kotaku by SuperDaE posted a new document that appeared to indicate an online connection was required for the console. It referred to an "Always Online, Always Connected" console, the better to give users current content and quick access to their entertainment, without waiting for updates or for the machine to boot up. We were unable to confirm this document's authenticity, but the major gaming website IGN reported that they confirmed that it is real. The gaming magazine Edge has also reported that their sources say the next Xbox will require an online connection.
The new confirmation we've heard from sources, including the specifics about how the Durango would handle a dropped connection, bolster our confidence that all this smoke is a sign of some fiery facts.
But why would they do this?
Every person we've talked to about the always-online connection, internally and externally, has been incredulous. They predict a fiasco. They detect hubris in a Microsoft riding high off of the Xbox 360's incredible post-Kinect sales performance. But they also detect, as I have, an intensified interest in Microsoft's part to position the next Xbox as an entertainment device, to not emphasize games as significantly as they had with past Microsoft consoles. Add that to far shakier rumors of the next Xbox working as a cable box or DVR or some other TV-viewing enabler--something not a single source of mine could confirm--and you might wonder: if my cable box always has to be connected, why not my next Xbox?
There are reasons for Microsoft to not do this, of course. They merely need to see the disastrous launch of EA's always-online SimCity and decide whether the negative backlash of selling people a product that can't work when the servers go down is worth it--especially if the earlier version of that product didn't require that kind of Internet connection.
They could also look at the competition and imagine a consumer standing at a store, deciding whether to buy a PS4 or the next Xbox. One wouldn't require online; the other, if our best sources are right, would. Surely, some would prefer the system without the online requirement.
As mentioned above, things can change. Microsoft may reveal its next Xbox this month, in May or, at the latest, at E3 in June. We'll know more then. We'll hopefully know what they've decided.
|Sun Apr 30 @ 7:00PM - |
Podcast - Podcast #89
|Mon May 01 @ 9:00PM - 10:00PM|
Meeting - Officer Meeting
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