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Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.28.06

posted on July 29th, 2006 by jay

It works.

Victor Ireland starts a new company
The guy behind the now closed Working Designs is back in business. Woo? I’m not really sure. The new company is called GaijinWorks, which is probably not a great name. It’s a little similar to a Japanese company trying to do business in America with the name Ignorant Foreigner Enterprises.

Critics are already saying his new company is doomed to failure unless he has learned from his past mistakes, which include having enough principle to ruin a business. Can’t say I blame him for how he handled WD, but then I can’t say I disagree with his critics, either.

Another criticism Vic is facing is that he is no longer needed because companies like Atlus have filled his shoes. This is a stupid position to take. Some gamers will only be satisfied when all good Japanese games come to our shores. I, on the other hand, will only be satisfied when ALL Japanese games come to our shores. Hentai Dating Sims, Racing Dating Sims, SRPG Dating Sims, Japanese Baseball Coach Dating Sims, I want it all.

New Free Radical game too hardware intensive for the Wii
These guys made Time Splitters and had a part in the legendary Goldeneye so this is disheartening news. Nintendo may be in trouble if this is only one of a multitude of games that are “better” than the Wii.

Games desensitize us
A new study explains why I killed that bum the other day. It turns out games, like other media, make people less sensitive to violence. This is a truth we must accept as a cost of freedom — as opposed to making attempts to limit freedom in light of this truth.

Ow, my neck.

Games are pretty violent, though. I wonder what it is that drives us to play games like Manhunt. I personally enjoyed Resident Evil 4 despite the gross amounts of blood that spurted from the game. The role of humor in some violence shouldn’t be ignored, though politicians have done so since the first Mortal Kombat. Surely Evil Dead 2 was less violent than Silence of the Lambs even though the former included a freshly removed eye ball being swallowed.

Bu then most violent games aren’t tongue in cheek. There is at least another reason people choose to do violent things in games — to see what happens. Curiosity of how the game deals with evil is strong in most players. I can’t say I didn’t murder a few dozen guards in Fable just to see what would happen.

Is killing a non-human as violent as killing a human? Perhaps I’m simply trying to excuse myself for playing bloody games, but RE4 and many other games work by dehumanizing the enemy. Killing a monster on the side of evil may be bloody but it is much easier for us to do. Killing a cop in a GTA clone should at least in theory, be a little harder for us to stomach. I guess we’ll see how well Bully does and that may be a sign. How many people want to play a game where you’re not in any physical danger but still must hurt people?

PSP greatest hits line
Lumines…

Should games tell a story?
First things first. Some designers have been arguing that games are all about the “play” (interactivity to the literate) since the 70’s. David Jaffe is a talented guy, but is no on some sort of philosophical breakthrough. But then it’s not his fault his comments have been circulated as news, it’s the fault of sites that ask the same ten questions every other year (How important are stories? How important are graphics? Are there too many sequels? Are games too long? Etc.). Of course, I ask these questions, too, but then I also go into long rants about how the questions aren’t anything new.

Wait, wait, wait. What’s my MOTIVATION?

When asked about the role of stories in games, the guys from Bioware said, “We believe that stories are becoming more, not less, pivotal in making great games.” Warren Spector responded with:

“Games are all about the player experience — about DOING things, not about watching things or hearing about things. And that means that a narrative game has to put the player experience first and the narrative second. However, left to their own devices, most players aren’t very GOOD at crafting compelling experiences — just as most readers aren’t good writers, and most moviegoers aren’t great directors. And that’s where story comes in.”

So are stories important? It is sort of a stupid question. Are photorealistic graphics important? Is innovation important? Is having a large variety of weapons in a game important? It all depends on who’s answering. Even questions like, “Is good control important? Is good gameplay important?” aren’t that easy to answer when you are aware of how many terrible games are on the top sellers list.

Stories are important to people who like story driven games. Stories are important in story driven games. This is sort of a non-answer, but the fact is that genres like shooters and puzzle games will never need good stories. And there are plenty of action and war games with paper thing stories that play well and have fans. A story is not something every game needs, like graphics and sound. A story is a feature, like “multijointed bosses,” or “600 on 600 team play.”

Interview with Sony PSP guy
The following nuggets can be mined from the interview:

The PSP has met Sony’s expectations.
There are no plans yet to bring the white PSP to the states.
The PSP isn’t the only system that has load times.
UMD movie support falling has inspired Sony to focus on downloadable content.
PSP2, PSP3, and PSP 15 will all look like the PSP.
DS Lite sales have no impact on PSP sales.
The PSP has outsold the DS in North America by about 900,000 units.
Nintendo has made their career by offering relatively shorter and shallower games.
Nintendo sells over a million copies of some games because of Nintendo loyalists.
Sony has a very firm no ports policy for the PSP.

I’ll leave you to decide which of these points the Sony guy made are true, false, and stupid.

Nintendo may be sending free Wii Dev kits to small developers

Jay Scottowitz
1231 East West Highway #139
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Thanks!

1 Comments

  1. Christian said on July 31, 2006:

    Jay your story diatribe is stealing thunder from my future article.  Good points though.I want Sony’s PSP sales calculator.  Probably fail every math course ever with that thing. 

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