Sunday, February 28, 2010
Recently, after a few months of checking out the Angry Video Game Nerd videos, I ended up taking a look at Cinemassacre web site. You would think that James Rolfe is a nerd in a white shirt, but he's really more than meets the eye. Cinemassacre is a full-fledged production company and research field about vintage culture. As a kid of the eighties myself, I feel compelled to offer you every new video made by James and his friend Mike Matei.
Cinemassacre gains to be known and Dead End Follies is proud to spread the word. Some of you might have minutes(hours) to spare, so don't wait, check them out:
...too much to do, too much to think about, not enough time to figure out where to start. Yesterday I went to see a shitty MMA show. I know I should write today, fiction, reviews or anything, but it's all static in my head.
As much as I like mixed martial arts, training, fighting and watching, I hate the damn crowd at these shows. In Montreal, everybody wants to be Georges St-Pierre. Inflatable muscles, oversized jewelry and dippity-doo are all over the place. Maybe that's why I can't write today.
Maybe I need to relax, but all these things need to be written...All these things, so little time...
Friday, February 26, 2010
Living a fulfilling life is incompatible with weird 5 AM work shifts. Especially on Fridays. Been working, working on Dead End Follies, working on my reviews of Heavy Rain and Sonic...and now about to go walk the dog and maybe train at night. It's an amazing day of work, but right now I'd kill for an hour with a pillow.
Taken from here
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding a site throughout the week. If you were one of the curious people who visited rockstargames.com/v earlier, then you might have been welcomed with a file download. The site does not seem to be active anymore though. The contents of the file seemed too random to connect to the GTA series, but someone on the gtaforums believes the video is connected to the fictional film shown below.
If you recall there was a message on page 13 of the Episodes From Liberty City saying “Liberty City, it’s over!” which was followed by “Next Stop.” Next to those words was a small torn piece revealing the word “Seagull”. Fans of the series might remember that you were able to snipe seagulls in Vice City and San Andreas. Since the plane ticket that surfaced for Niko Bellic a while back showing his destination as San Andreas let’s assume that is the location. Anyone who has played Episodes From Liberty City may have also noticed that the pigeons Niko had to shoot have been replaced by seagulls for Johnny and Luis.
Another important item to point out is that the message in the manual said it would be opening in March. We are almost entering March and the hints towards GTA V’s announcement keep piling up. It seems we won’t have to wait much longer for our answer. Check back frequently for updates as we receive them and leave comments below if you have your own interpretation of this information.
Running for his life, Brandon had an epiphany. He should lose weight. But for real this time. He had just found that obesity could challenge his life in many ways he hadn't envisionned before. First, it denied him the confidence and the gusto to approach a fifteen years old girl without creeping her out. As briefed by Dale, he would play the amicale junky in order to get close to her. Inexplicably, when he finally found a way up to the appartment where she was secluded, the girl was a lot more hostile that he would've imagined. She immediatly grabbed ahold of the kitchen knife which she was slicing a patch of fresh bread with. The smell immediatly got him hungry.
¨Get out of my appartment¨ immediatly said the girl.
He knew very well this wasn't her appartment. He also knew she had been secluded there by Salvatore D'Ambrosio. He didn't know what to answer though, given the task at hand.
¨Please¨, he croaked weakly ¨I haven't eaten in three...days.¨
That didn't convinced her, she dashed across the room, holding to her knife still and reached to an object Brandon would learn to be a cell phone. She picked it up, pressed a button, ¨Speed dial¨, Brandon told himself and yelled something like: ¨Le Shon¨. Right there, all Brandon found to do was to sock the poor girl in the face as hard as he could with all the might of his three hundred pounds. She fell face first on the couch, prey to what seemed to be a very nasty concussion. It took mere seconds before footsteps could be heard from the main staircase. Brandon tumbled the girl over his shoulder like a sack of potato and made a run for the emergency staircase. The trash chute could have been envisionned for the girl, but it was out of the question for him. Plus, he didn't know how to reach it once downstairs and with gangbangers on his trail, he wouldn't even try it. The girl, Allison, Jill, Abigail or whatever her name is,would be driven to the dump, which wasn't good for business.
Brandon went down the flight of broken, beat up emergency stairs with a speed and an energy he didn't know he had. He busted throught the back door, feeling a little restistance. He looked all over to see the potential danger in the backstreet, but it was down on the floor that he found a kid, probably not more than twelve years old lying on the ground, snarling, visibly having a bad case of concussion. Brandon told himself he probably smashed through him and sent him flying against the concrete when he opened the door. He felt bad for a micro-second but ended up telling himself the kid got what he disearved for playing sentry.
It's in the backstreet, making a run for Dale's car that Brandon realized he was extremely tired. He could stabilize his breath, his knees were buckling from the effort of running with over a hundred pounds over his shoulder and his vision became somewhat blurry. Dale's car, magically parked itself at the end of the alley to see Dale get out of it with a high level rifle gun. The man wasn't kidding about the extraction and Brandon thanked all heavens he hadn't left yet and prepared for unforeseen circumstances, like the ones that were happening at the moment. Brandon reached the car and let the girl spawl over the trunk so he could regain his breath. By the time Dale could say: ¨Put her in the back numbskull¨, a gangbanger got out of the emergency exit and Dale had to shoot him. The big caliber caught the guy in the face, immediatly killing him in a gruesome fashion, but the kid had the time to fire, catching Dale right in the throat.
Brandon felt panick engulphing his mind, but Dale, before taking his last breath signified him to get in the car and leave. On survival mode, Brandon obeyed, put the girl on the back seat as soon as he could and took the driver seat. The keys were still on contact. He took off, just to notice someone immediatly chasing him down. Brandon kicked down the accelerator, kicking himself for not picking up Dale's gun and telling himself he'd ask questions later.
Driven by the stress, extenuated and yearning for the nearest resting spot he could find, Brandon couldn't help but to realize that the car that was chasing him was a Honda Prelude. Not exactly the kind of car that you would expect gangbangers to have in this kind of projects neighborhood. He tried to look in the rear view mirror at the face of his pursuer, but he couldn't see because of the bright shiny sun hammering on the windshield.
Brandon took a quarter-turn right and skid left through and open door. He didn't really wanted to go there, but the Prelude had temporarily lost him and the uncontrolled drift had played well in the balance and made him enter this immense garage door. The place was dark and most likely empty, the perfect fit for a temporary hideout. Now Brandon just wished that his anonymous pursuer wouldn't be clever enough to find him in that dark spot. He parked himself at the very end of what seemed to be an empty, abandonned garage.
He girl moaned and snarled on the back seat. The concussion seemed really important. By the time Brandon started to feel bad about it, another car rolled almost quietly in the garage. He just had a quick glance at it, but he recognized it immediatly. The weird green Honda Prelude had found him. Now he had cornered himself like a mouse in a maze and would have to face the consequences. Brandon sat down, not totally calmed down and wished he had some pop-corn to witness the film of his life he expected to start.
The man got out of his car. He was wearing a grey three-pieces suit. His hair was pepper & salt and he had a thick mustache that made his face older of many years. Brandon had the conviction that he had never seen him before, but since the start of this crazy story, plenty of people he had never seen were trying to kill him or do other funky stuff with his life. The man calmly walked towards his car and yelled out an echoing: ¨You let some pretty nice skid marks fatso¨.
He was speaking the truth, Brandon remembered clearly the sound of burning rubber he made when he turned ino the garage. The sound probably attracted the man and the skid marks were the physical witness to his hideout. It was like someone pointing ¨Hey, he turned in there.¨ Plus, the place was so tight there was no way there would have been other skid marks he could have mistook for his own. He was the only fresh offender.
The man knocked on Brandon's side window with a hand gun. A .357 magnum. Among the few things Brandon learned while working security over the years was that you could tell if a guy was a pushover or not by the brand of his hand gun. Guy having a .38 or 9mm were street thugs and wannabees, but the people walking around with magnums meant business. Magnum was a sceal of quality. The Dirty Harry .44 was something rare , but the .357 or the Desert Eagle .50 were stuff the real killers were wielding. They were made for heavy duty. Strong, destructive and reliable.
¨Sorry fatso, I'm looking for my baby girl, she seems to be unconscious on your back seat. I don't want to hurt your sorry ass, but I might have to if you don't give her back to me right fucking now.¨
¨Huh, yeah, sure¨.
Before the man could instruct him to calmly step out, Brandon launched the door in his side. The gun fired one shot while being dropped on the ground. Brandon lunged forward and used all his weight to pin the man down. He eructed a ¨ghuh¨ of surprise and weight as three hundred pounds crashed on him. What Brandon didn't expected though was the pair of knees that were still extended and crashed right into his testicles. His breath left him all over again and he tumbled to his back. Right there, in pain, contemplating his own death, he heard: ¨Dad?¨
The girl had awaken.
¨Before you do anything, I should brief you on the situation, things got very complicated you know?¨ she said, sounding like she just woke up from a long sleep.
¨Ali, baby, don't say anything, daddy is going to fix everything up and we're going to resume our lives pretty darn quick...as soon as I'm done with fat boy.¨
¨Piss off dad, I know your name is Mike Penske and that my real name is Jill. I really don't want to resume all these lives and these make-belives. What's happening here is important.¨
¨Honey, you make no sense, you've been hit pretty hard.¨
¨Just listen, you're not dealing with Jerome here....you're dealing with people that will kill me, you, Lizzy and mom if they have a chance....for once, just listen...¨
Thursday, February 25, 2010
It's official, February is Dead End Follies's first month where the attendance passed the 1000 people a month cap. I am aware this has a lot to do with the God Of War 3 Demo Hands-On (Stats talk), but still. Thank you all, thanks for taking the time to check out the site and to read my stuff. Not much people out of the 3300 visitors did (maybe 200 of them) but still, this is appreciated and this encourages me to post more. Dead End Follies is on the rise
To the future!
Very Heavy. I've just past mid-point in the game and so far the tension is unlike everything I've ever known in a video game. I recognize feelings I've had while watching movies, but it's unique. There is no way I can fully describe the experience without you playing it. Big ups to Pascal Langdale, the real life Ethan Mars who put some memorable acting in there. The tale is gripping and you want to help Ethan however you can. Stay tuned, Manly Video Game Review will follow in a few days...
Get used to these personal-life-memo-blurbs. I want to put more of them in the future. It's part of this whole 'telling you more about myself' thing.
Yep, I'm going to see Henry Rollins on March 22nd. Amazing Christmas gift from my kick-ass girlfriend. For those who don't know the man, he's the most successful of the self-reliant artists. He built success with his bare hands and works 110% hard at it every day. For that he is a constant subject of fascination to me.
Some of you might think of him as a washed up punk rock/hard rock signer, but where Rollins really shines is not in the music, it's with literature & spoken word performances. The man can talk, be interesting, even enthralling for 4 or 5 hours in a row. I never had much use for a model, but I guess he's a model to me. It's not going to change my life or anything, but I'm hoping to get a good boost of inspiration out of it.
I discovered him after looking up some performance by Kevin Smith. I liked the guy, when I joined his forum (that has a F*CKING FEE ON IT), no one would really talk of anything but try to reach out to Kevin and tell him how great he was. I tried to be a fun and enjoyable participant and was told:¨You're not funny, leave that to Kevin¨. Dude seemed to enjoy it. I didn't, so I looked elsewhere and found this weird, intense and fascinating man that is Henry Rollins.
Youtube ¨Henry Rollins¨ for live performances or check out his ¨Provoked¨ DVD if you have the chance. His books are even more amazing and reveal a big part of him not show on stage. Try out ¨Get In The Van¨ or his latest one ¨A preferred Blur¨. It's worth your time.
Despite the failure of the Nintendo CD project, the direction of Phillips Intl. is proud to announce that we've secured the rights to two of Nintendo's biggest franchises: Mario and Zelda. Stay tuned, in the next week, we're going to announce the big plans we've got for this huge acquisition. Congratulations to everyone for their efforts on the Nintendo project, the future of Phillips Intl. never looked so bright!
Production Meeting Transcript
PRODUCER: What the hell are we going to do with these franchises? The Nintendo CD project failed because Nintendo was highly unsatisfied of our prototype.
PRESIDENT: I believe in our prototype and we're going to launch in on our own.
LEAD DESIGNER: You're kidding right? When are we going to do that?
PRESIDENT: Next months, I want games to go with the release, so start working now.
PRODUCER: Games, like Mario & Zelda games?
PRESIDENT: Yes, as much as you can produce. The head office put up some money so we can hire the needed staff.
LEAD DESIGNER: I don't want to contradict you sir, but in order to create a game, you need to have an idea, develop it, do a few tries...the console is heavy and cumbersome as it is, we need some time, at least a year to produce a playable game.
PRESIDENT: Son, I've introduced the walkman to your mom. You're telling me I can't produce a video game in six weeks? If I don't have my Zelda games by launch day, well your ass is grass.
PRODUCER: Sir, with all due respect,the prototype console needs some work and...
PRESIDENT: You're fired.
PRESIDENT: The Phillips CD-i will be to video games what the walkman is to real people now piss off and leave. Go work for Activision or another small time punk. Phillips has no times to waste on you anymore.
Message on Lead Designer's answering machine...
...SIX WEEKS? ARE YOU INSANE? WE CANNOT MAKE A GAME WITH FUNCTIONNAL CONTROLS YET! THE FIRST ZELDA PROTOTYPES ARE A COMPLETE DISASTER. WE CANNOT FIGURE FUCKING CONTROLS THAT WILL MAKE THE GAME SMOOTH. HOW ABOUT YOU GUYS REDESIGN THAT PIECE OF SHIT CONTROLLER IN THE FIRST PLACE HUH? MY QA TEAM GAVE UP ON LIFE.
Interview for Lead Artist for Zelda: Wand Of Gamelon & The Faces Of Evil...
LEAD DESIGNER: So, Zoltan...tell me more about yourself.
ZOLTAN: I studied modern art and cinematography for the last five years at UCLA. I really dig the works of David Lynch, especially Blue Velvet...oh man, what a great postmodernist take on nuclear family. Don't you think so?
NEW PRODUCER: Zoltan, can you draw?
NEW PRODUCER: What can you do? What is your take on what a Link Adventure should be?
ZOLTAN: See, my goal with Link is to turn him into a representation of angst during the dark ages. This is medieval stuff right? I want to give a Lynchian tone to the Arturean complex right? I want to turn the legend inside out so Phillips can reappropriate the tale to themselves.
LEAD DESIGNER: With all due respect, we would prefer more of a Herzogian tale where the symbolism is not lost in the iconoclast temper of the artistic direction and follows a somewhat linear path that the user can manage to follow.
LEAD DESIGNER: Herzogian...you know, like Werner Herzog?
LEAD DESIGNER: Nevermind, Zoltan, have you ever played Zelda games before?
ZOLTAN: Of course not, video games are for idiot kids. I'm an artist.
-producer & lead designer turn around to discuss at low voice-
NEW PRODUCER: What do you think?
LEAD DESIGNER: I think he's a pompous idiot.
NEW PRODUCER: I think so too but he's the only one that showed up.
LEADER DESIGNER: Let's give him a shot then...
Six weeks later...
PRESIDENT: What's exactly wrong with the product?
NEW PRODUCER: Like, everything?
PRESIDENT: Everything what?
ZOLTAN:I think the game is revolutionnary, it breaks the infantile shackles of prehistoric gaming.
PRESIDENT: Yeah, what this guy said.
LEAD DESIGNER: It's barely playable...the door controls and the inventory screen controls are the same....so everytime you want to get to inventory screen...you enter a door.
ZOLTAN: It's concept! I explained to you, you dumb idiots, the inventory is a metaphor for the inner self, entering the door and the inventory screen are like double metaphors....
NEW PRODUCER: Yeah but Zoltan, it doesn't work, it's confusing.
ZOLTAN: DAVID LYNCH WAS CONFUSING TOO! HAVE SOME COURAGE.
PRESIDENT: I like this guy. Where did you find him?
LEAD DESIGNER: He kind of found us.
PRESIDENT: So it's a wrap? I have to go work on this new portable CD player thing.
NEW PRODUCER: NO IT'S NOT A WRAP, IT'S FUCKING HORRIBLE,.
PRESIDENT: All right negative Nancy, you're fired. Phillips don't need this kind of attitude. Zoltan, you're our new producer, we just signed a contract with Born Again America...
PRESIDENT: We got this Mario game to do also...any concept idea...
ZOLTAN: Yeah, how about a hotel? Where the goal of the game would be to close all the door, so it would reflect Mario's inherant homosexuality problem.
PRESIDENT: Mario's a fag?
PRESIDENT: I love it!
What a surprise this morning I found! A video with the...CHICKS of Red Dead Redemption. Usually a saucage fest, Rockstar Game seems to have adapted to a girls-with-attitude stuff. I'm happy they all look like mean bitches and we don't see boobs or leather cat suits. Amazing. I hope they have a huge place in the storyline.Enjoy the video!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Sega had a little chat with IGN this week and here is what we've learned...
With the release of Yakuza 3 just two weeks away (March 9th in the States and March 12th in the U.K.), fans are beginning to go off the deep end about the beat'em up/RPG-like/Grand Theft Auto-like game that has you wandering the streets of Japan and wailing on bad guys silly enough to get in your way. However, one of the biggest questions on the minds of readers like you is did everything that made the game a hit in Japan make it into the U.S./U.K. versions?
The short answer is "no," but it's not as bad as you might think, according to a SEGA representative.
"The content between Yakuza 3 US/UK and Yakuza JP is a little different in that we took out certain bits in order to bring the game to the west in the time alloted for us to do so. The parts we ended up taking out were parts that we felt wouldn't make sense (like a Japanese history quiz game) or wouldn't resonate as much (such as the concept of a hostess club)," the rep told IGN. "We didn't replace the parts we took out, but we made absolutely sure that the story continuity stayed intact so that the story experience was the same as the Japanese version and that it didn't take away the human drama so inherent to the Yakuza series."
The good news? Even though the hostess clubs are out, you can still go on dates with the girls. Better news? The strip clubs are still in Yakuza 3, so plan on dropping some Yen there.
We drove back to the old neighborhood and a handful of surprises. Whatever happened in the asylum seems to have an effect on the outside reality, or whatever was left of it. I didn't trust myself to understand or believe whatever was in front of my eyes anymore. As if the outside world was reading what was carved in the back of my mind, we passed by the old grocery store where Uncle Leibrandt used to work and a big ¨POWER TO THE MIND¨ was tagged in green on the side wall. This was exactly what was going on. The body, the physical fabric of things that was the face of the universe for a million years and more was tagging in the mind to take its place. What we see wasn't so important anymore, it's what we wanted to see. Tony Robbins would have been happy if he wasn't laying dead, gassed somewhere in Los Angeles.
What seemed very real in the bucket seat behind me was Mary Magdelene on a quest to kill her Jesus. I'd find that pretty satanic if I had any blief in the old bearded man himself. At the moment I'd kill Jesus's cartographing ass myself if it could lead us to that damn map of the pure water streams. That notion was kind of unclear itself. I was no expert on the matter, but I was dying to ask The Jesus how could there be ¨pure streams¨ if there were some tainted ones. The newscast explained that if one river was tainted, the poison would travel so fast that it would be caught by the connecting rivers up until the ocean. And no one wanted of that unknown filth in the ocean. Since New York was on the broad side of the Atlantic, we didn't have much of a choice though. We had to realize that whatever had poisoned the US was probably streaming its way to the five continents by now. That's why I couldn't understand how there could be rivers free of this shit.
Another surprise that hit us was that the state of the air seemed a lot better. Wind swept the toxins away or something, but we seen two or three survivors on the street. One little girl among them, she was wearing a mask unlike the two others, who seemed to be her parents. They looked, green, weak and sick. I signaled Marcus to stop by them, maybe we could've help the poor bastards. If the toxins were partially removed from the air it was a good thing, but one thing remained, the poisonned water. As long as we haven't found the pure streams, if there was even such a thing left, we'd be struggling for survival. Something also told me that if we had found it, we'd have to fight to get to it and fight to keep it nice and pure. Easy and comfortable life was most defenitively a thing of the past. Long and prosperous could be barred from the same adjective book. The quarantine changed everything, it would never be the same again.
Marcus parked the jeep on the sidewalk, next to the family's home. They lived a block away from where Evie and me were living before, but I had never seen them of my life. I found it curious, but with the number of things I found curious in the last few weeks, it didn't stop me, even for a mere moment. The father (or what seem to be the father) didn't look as confident though, he picked up his little girl who was playing hop scotch in the driveway (it was strange with a gas mask) and pointed at us with a 9 milimeter hand gun:
¨Fuck off you St. Cuthbert leave my square foot to me¨
I raised my hands and try to reason with the guy:
¨We're no loonies sir, survivors, just like you¨.
¨Swear to god sir, my brother even killed some of these bastards, that's why we stole their weapons and their gear. My name is Clifford Whitmore, I've been living in the hood my whole life, this is my broter Marcus and this is Maria we've picked her along for the ride. She's a survivor too.¨
The man looked at us with fear and defiance:
¨Why the fuck is she wearing an uniform from that Durango crazy place? I don't want any of these creeps near my daughter.¨
¨We're coming back from there...long story¨ said Marcus.
¨Remove your masks¨ the man said.
¨No way it's full of toxic particles and shit here, I don't want to choke to death here.¨
¨Do I look like I'm choking? Is my wife looking like she's choking? The level of danger has went down. I'm a chemist, I know this shit. I put a mask on my daughter because her lung don't need any toxins at all, she's very fragile.¨
Marcus wouldn't move. The man seemed pretty restless and agitated. I took a deep, filtered breath and yanked the mask away from my face. I was first hesitant to take a breath, but I did. No foul smell, no breathing difficulty. Fortunatelty, Marcus took the cue from me and removed his mask also. The man looked genuinely terrified, so I was scared he'd shoot us anyway. He didn't. He lowered his weapon and said : ¨You look like two brave hard working man to me¨.
¨That's what we are sir.¨ said Marcus.
¨I'm Jay McClure, this is my wife Cindy and my daughter Kendra. Let's go inside, St. Fucking Cuthbert patrol will pass by any minute now.¨
We all went into his house, which was quite a sight, even for a pre-quarantine Queens. There was none of these quintessential suburban housings in the neighborhood as far as I could remember. I'm passionnate about buildings and architechture, so if somebody should have remembered such a thing, it would've been me. This house was very neat, but a screaming anomaly in the sight of Queens. I tried to remain poker faced about it.
¨So your thing is chemistry right?¨
¨Yep¨ he said ¨You probably wonder why we can breathe normally now?¨
¨We're wondering plenty of things Jay. Amongst all things, what the hell is that poison killing everybody in mere seconds?¨
¨I set up a lab downstairs and took some samples when the quarantine begun. It's very basic, but I couldn't stand to stay there, watch people die and do nothing about it. It was my way of trying to do something about this whole mess.¨
¨Yeah, we're all trying to pitch in on the possible solutions.¨ said Marcus.
Maria Magdelena had yet to say something. He was ogling the house like she was walking into a bad nightmare. I kept an eye on her, I didn't want her to go all Cape Fear on the McClures like she did on me in Durango's parking lot.
¨You OK Maria?¨ I asked. She didn't answer.
¨So yeah about the gas...¨ said McClure.¨You guys might want to know what is it¨
¨You bet¨ I said, still watching Maria.
¨It sure looks like potassium cyanide. It has almost an identical molecular structure up to a certain point. I can't identify the substance, but it's a hybrid in between cyanide potassium and something else. Most probably something from the metalloid branch, which gives it a lot of weight. That's why the particles slowly go down on the ground and wash away with the wind. That's why we're not wearing gas masks and our daughter is. When we walk in the particles, they go up to our knees, but for her, they go near her mouth enough to breathe in¨.
I nodded. For a scientist, he knew how to vulgarize and make things easy to understand. He talked like a teacher. I had one question in the back of my mind from him.
¨So with the weight and with the wind, where does it all wash away? It cannot disappear like that?¨
¨It all goes in the water my friend.¨
¨Is it heavier than water too?¨ asked Marcus, who had picked up on the explanations also.
¨Yeah, it's very very heavy¨.
¨Who would have access to the materials so create such a gas?¨ asked Maria Magdelena.
¨I don't know¨ answered Jay ¨To my knowledge, it's impossible to compound these elements, but science is all about that. Making the impossible, possible.¨
We all pondered on the deep words of professor McClure when a weird sound broke our concentration. It's a sound I hadn't heard in weeks, but if felt to me like years. Construction trucks. Who would drive a construction truck through the wasteland in such a time?
¨Here they are again¨ said McClure.
We went to the living room window to see what was going on. A huge trucks was going down the street with two people armed in the back. These guys were wearing the same uniforms than the ones we stole. St. Cuthbert's Guard.
¨What do they want?¨ Marcus asked.
¨You ever wondered where all these bodies in the street went?¨
¨Hum...yeah...it's true, the streets are clean. What do they do with the bods?¨
No one really wanted an answer to that.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
After busting your balls for a whole year about the subject, today I will finally get to play Heavy Rain. The real game this time, not the demo. So stay alert, keep checking...I'll be all over the place to post my impressions:
The Gamer Studio
Will it live up to my high expectations? Stay tuned...
BEN:Check out that cool interview I found at G4TV sometimes even failures bound you to greatness. Very inspiring!
Sometimes you have to learn "hey, it's okay to kill your babies." That's what Insomniac Games president and CEO Ted Price told me during an interview at DICE last week in Las Vegas.
Our conversation came about while discussing big topics at DICE 2010, including Remedy Entertainment's decision to axe months of development time spent making Alan Wake open world and Gearbox Software completely revamping their art style for Borderlands durring development. Price encountered a similar choice while developing the game that would become Ratchet & Clank.
"It [Ratchet & Clank] started out as as a game about a girl with a stick running around this Mayan-influenced environment and was probably going to be rated M [mature] if it had ever been released," said Price, laughing. "Not because of the girl but because it was a fairly dark game."
The "girl with a stick" project spent about six months in pre-production before Price began to realize the team at Insomniac Games just wasn't feeling it. He rationalized it would eventually make sense. It wasn't until a meeting with Sony, however, Price realized the real issue: himself.
"I kept pushing it because I felt at the time 'hey, you have to finish what you started' and I hadn't really learned that lesson that 'hey, it's okay to kill your babies.'" he said.
"I hadn't really learned that lesson that 'hey, it's okay to kill your babies."
"When we showed it to Sony, who was our publisher, they said 'look, we'll support you with this, if you wanna release it, it's cool, but we don't think it's gonna do well in the market.'" said Price. "And that was a real wakeup call for me and I had to admit that we needed to kill this one and start over."
The project died on the operating table, but just two weeks later, chief creative officer Brian Hastings came up with the original pitch that would quickly become today's Ratchet & Clank.
"[He] came up with the idea of this this little alien who has cool guns and flies around in spaceships," explained Price, "and when he said that everybody [at Insomniac] said 'that's what we need' and we also at that time realized that we had been straying from our expertise, which at the time was platformers, having done Spyro [the Dragon]."
To succeed, Price argued, Insomniac Games needed to fail. The first Ratchet & Clank was released on PlayStation 2 in November 2002. The series lives on today. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time was released on PlayStation 3 last year and the series has seen several spin-offs on PSP.
"It was a really great experience to bounce back from that initial failure and to come up with something that was much better," he concluded.
Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip?
Writer's Guild Of America has given to Uncharted 2 it's award for best video game writing this year. Is something passing me by? Is there something in this game I haven't seen? Is the Guild led by Jerry Bruckheimer? The weak spot of Uncharted 2 in my opinion was writing. Especially character development. Compared to Assassin's Creed 2 (my GOTY in 2009), it can't keep the road. AC2 is a bit convoluted, I give you that, but it's historical conspiracy works better than the recycled Indiana Jones plot than Nathan Drake's game gives to gamers.
Not that it's a bad game though...Uncharted 2 is one of the most entertaining games I've played this year...just not THAT well written...
BEN: Thanks to Kotaku an their intensive follow up on Australian government's insanity, I got my hands on this. They are planning to censor the internet...Censor...The...Internet...What kind of borderline schizophrenic idea is that? Whose idea was it in the first place? Kevin Rudd's? I mean George W. Bush is a war criminal...but this is straight up George Orwell's alley.
While the lack of an adults-only rating for video games hogs all the headlines when it comes to gaming and Australia, there's a far more sinister threat lurking on the horizon: internet censorship. But how does this affect gaming?
Proposals currently working their way through the system (it's important to note these aren't law yet, and may well be shot down before becoming so) would require that all internet service providers in Australia sign up to the federal government's filtering program, which would compile a list of banned content and block that content from appearing on a user's computer.
The filter would not just include the really nasty stuff, like child porn and terrorist activity, but expand to include anything that was "refused classification" under the nation's content ratings laws. While this would mostly concern things like films (stuff like snuff flicks...pornography rated "X" is OK, as it's been rated) or comics (like some of Japan's more...extreme offerings), because of the country's classification laws, it would also expand to cover gaming material.
This means that if a game is refused classification (RC) in Australia - like, say, NFL Blitz, or Getting Up - content related to these games would be added to the ISP filter. Throwing up a range of questions, foremost of those being, what happens when an otherwise harmless website - like, say, this one - hosts material from those games (screenshots, trailers, etc) that is totally fine in the US or Japan or Europe, but that has been refused classification in Australia?
The "good" news is, not much. The Australian Department of Broadband Communication has told Kotaku that when RC content is flagged and added to the filter - and remember, it has to be reported in a complaint first to be flagged, the government won't be actively on the look-out for stuff - it won't block the entire website. Only the URL of an actual image or video clip would be filtered. So if Kotaku or IGN or any other media outlet based in the US was displaying material that had been refused classification, you wouldn't lose access to the entire site, just the parts displaying the RC content.
Things are even less stringent when it comes to online games. Because the wheels are in motion to address the nation's lack of an adults-only rating in Australia, the "government's approach to filtering online games will be developed drawing on this consultation process". In other words, it's a wait and see approach, the results of the discussion papers (or even a clear indication gleaned from them of the public's wishes) into expanding Australia's game ratings to determine whether things like massively-multiplayer online titles or online shooters deemed RC are included in the filter or not.
Until this time, games will be entirely excluded from the filter. So if an MMO title is refused classification in Australia, and you manage to import it from overseas (which is technically illegal), you'll be good to go, as it won't be blocked.
This is all, of course, absurd. You can't fully censor the internet any more than you can control the rising and setting of the sun. All the federal government is doing here is displaying how remarkably out of touch they are on contemporary issues of censorship, and how ignorant the federal minister responsible for the filter proposal - Stephen Conroy - is in regards to how easy it is to bypass such measures.
But it's not all bad news. Like I said above, this isn't yet law. It's a proposal, one that's been dragging on for a few years now and has been constantly beset by issues, from findings that the filter doesn't work (some harmless sites are blocked, while targeted ones get through) to the fact it can't monitor peer-to-peer networks (so, BitTorrent) to a large body of dissent amongst Australia's internet service providers.
Because of all this, I can't personally see it becoming law, even if it has gained a lot of media attention over the past six months. It's just got too many hurdles to clear, both politically and technically.
But just in case it does, that's all you need to know about how it will affect gaming, and the coverage of games. And hey, even if it does pass into law, remember; a change in Australia's ratings guidelines would make it irrelevant, as stuff rated R18+ would no longer be "refused classification", and as such wouldn't be filtered in the first place.
After a week off due to one of its members illness, the Underground Write Club is back. So are my contributions. The theme this week, love.
WORLD TRADE CENTER
Words are weak. Say ”I love you” a thousand times and it will fade away. Mean ”I love you” a dozen times and the people you love will grow stronger. Teaching this to kids is a job that only a father can do. Mother talk, they talk judiciously, with more care and empathy than any dad can. When you’re stuck at the end of the world, you can’t call your daughter to tell her she’ll miss dancing lesson because you’re trapped in a nightmare with the car. You can’t ask your wife to explain for you. A father has to make it on time, no matter what.
When I woke up, I had a splitting headache, a taste of blood in my mouth and I knew I was late to pick up Molly.
”Geeze” I said, shook up by whatever happened to my work booth.
Television set was on the floor, monitoring equiment also and the room was pitch black. No light was coming in from the outside of the parking and the interior lights were all dead. The end of the world must be quite similar to that. Occasionnal sparks coming from a naked wired hinted to the fact I was in deep shit. I saw piled up materials: concrete, iron pillars, wires, scrap metal from a car. My car. No way I was getting out of there without help. Inner logic told me to stay there and wait for ambulance, the army, the fireman or whoever would be looking for me, but I was late to pick up Molly for dancing lessons, so fuck the whole fire department, I had to find a way out of there.
I walked into the parking with my footsteps barely echoing from all the rumble that was going on. I heard people talk very loud, fire truck sirens (when I was young I played guessing with sirens all the time, I became good at this) but nothing explaining the natural disaster that just struck the building where I worked. Terrorists again? I had no time to lose thinking about that, I didn’t want Molly to be upset. She had to prepare for her big spectacle in two weeks. I went to work right away, I climbed up on the obstruated wall and grabbed a steel rod with my hands. I pulled on the enormous piece of concrete which moved around so little.
In front of the lack of efficiency, I planted my feet in the rubble and pulled on the piece as hard as I could, using my whole body as a lever. I could feel the skin of my hands tearing apart, but that could be fixed, not the heart of a seven years old. No one before Molly ever referred to me as being ‘’super-duper-amazing”. This is a cool title to bear, but super-duper-amazingness has it’s responsibilities. Among them, never be late for Molly’s dancing class, if not I’d be the loser. I had no trouble being a loser for everyone so far in my life, but I dare you all to be a loser for the person who loves you more than anything else in the world. It’s fucking hard.
There, hanging from a pile of rubble, in front of an unmoving block of concrete, I thought of Molly. The absurd of this situation hit me in the face. I’d probably die in there. I was under the earth, after I don’t know what kind of catastrophe, there might not be that much oxygen left for me. I brushed it off. I didn’t gave a damn. If I had to die, I’d die trying to get out of there for Molly. That would be a ¨super-duper-amazing¨ death. The kind of death I wouldn’t be ashamed to have as my own. Then, as I felt blood dripping down my hands, it moved. The block moved. The monster started sliding down the pile of rubble to fast that I barely had time to duck before being hit.
Then, a german shepherd licked my face. I was saved, but Molly wasn’t in her dance class. I hopped back to my feet and wiggled myself into the hole that was just created. The helper said:
¨Man, you look in a shit shape, I’ll get you a doc”.
”Fuck the doctor, I’m late, this are just bruises”.
”HEY!” I yelled to a journalist van, having the greatest idea.
They must’ve though I was in a shit shape too because they came right away.
”Sir, you have just emerged from the ruins or the World Trade Center, any statement”?
”Cut the crap off, do you want a good story? How about you drive me back home and I make it on time for my daughter’s dance class? There, you’ll be able to film all you want.”
Of course they loved the idea. I’m an unsung genius. The doctors and the police accepted as long as a paramedic would get in the car with me. The journalists were really nice, they lent me a phone so I could call home. My wife answered, she was crying.
”Baby, I had some car trouble at work, but i’ll be in time for the dance lesson. I hitched a ride with Peter Jennings. Tell me, did the office really blow up?
Monday, February 22, 2010
I woke up with the loaded smell of the deep frier. And an intense headache. The scenery didn't make any sense right away, because it wasn't place in the correct angle. My neck was hurting me also, a strange, but familiar soreness. All in all, it took me maybe ten or twelve seconds to realize that I was passed out, tied up to a chair. A little more than that to realize where I was: Reggie's Deli. It's the blue rubber handles on the deep friers and the pans that tipped me off. I had been in this kitchen a few times in the past and that's a detail that I had remarked, everything over there had a blue rubber handle. Some would say it was for security purpose. I knew better. When a restaurent is paid up for with dirty money, the owner tend to shop as in little places as he can, because the place has to open fast. Reggie bought the same kitchenware collection for everything, at the same place. And this had been his ktichenware for the last ten years.
I was in a place owned by Tony Cullen, bound to a chair, something wasn't right. I was extracted from my trail of thoughts by a bucket of water that met my face over the course of its ejection. Cold, icy...and probably dirty water if I rely on the smell that immediatly invaded my nostrils like it was Poland. Yeah, mop water to be more precise. Lemon flavored detergent and the distinctive smell of shoe-bottom didn't leave any doubt. In front of me were two hooded strangers. One I could tell being Ralph. He had removed his police shirt, but I could recognize the pants and even more the shoes he was wearing. Every cop in the city had these. Plus, with a characteristic raspy voice like his, it's foolish to think a hood will conceal your identity.
¨Wake up punk¨ he said.
I resisted an urge to call him by his name. I didn't know yet if my life was in danger, and worse, I didn't know who was the other guy standing next to him. Obviously caucasian, rather strong build, but not as built as Ralph. He seemed a lot more serious and less tempted to talk this than his counterpart. He looked at me in the eyes, not saying anything. I had seen this look a thousand time when I was over at the Academy. Mr. Serious-Stranger was evaluating me. Could he be a cop? That would make all the sense in the world. I stopped looking at him, scared that he'd think I'd recognize him. Ralphie and his big paws helped me doing this anyway.
¨Look at me punk! How d'you feel?¨
¨Will vomiting on your shoes be enough explanation?¨
¨Huh?¨he grunted loudly.
I let go what I had on my stomach, which was not much since I hadn't eaten since the morning. Too stressed out for that. The grease stench and the mop smell I had violating me for the last two minutes were sufficient to give me a state of the art nausea that I happily let go on Ralph's shoes. I do not take kindly to traitors. Even more so if I didn't like the guy that much in the first place.
¨Ah shit man, my shoes!¨ Ralph complained.
The room started to stink even more, but strangely, I felt free from the whatever was weighting down my stomach. Under his hood, the unidentified caucasian man gave me a smile with all the beauty his thin lips could. He appreciated the retaliation.
¨You had it coming man, next time you wake up a prisonner you keep in a grease joint, try clean water, maybe it'll save your shoes.¨
¨Aaaw man, fuck you, I should shoot you right here.¨
Ralph was not making any efforts to hide his voice anymore, he was upset.
¨Shut up¨ said the unidentified man. It was quick and nervous. The man interrogated before. A cop, or maybe a militarty.
¨Wait for me in the front¨.
The mysterious man walked towards my chair and sat in fron of me, looking straight into my eyes. Blue steel stare, if he had a slavic accent I would have been swimming in a bad cinema cliché. I couldn't get past the impression of familiarity, but his voice didn't tell me anything, but his eyes, his manners, everything else was.
¨I heard through the grapevine that you're investigating the Greenwell family.¨
¨You have a very good grapevine sir¨ I answered.
¨I'll be brief, what do you know?¨
Since he served me a perfect fastball right on the plate, I took his lead and lied to him as hard as I could.
¨Not much, except for the fact that they have been veiling in secrecy for a few generations now.¨
¨Exactly, and you know why is this?¨
¨No sir, but I can fell you will share this fact with me soon¨.
¨They need secrecy Parker. They are a very well known and respected family, the spotlight in constantly on them, wherever they go. Do you have kids?¨
¨Not yet sir¨
¨When you're in the spotlight and you have kids, you will need secrecy, for them. You don't want your children to suffer from whatever decision you take.¨
I could've sworn this guy was referring to himself as much as he referred to the Greenwells. He liked the sound of his own voice. Suddenly, two things appeared very clearly to me. First, he bored me to tears and second, this guy was protecting the Greenwells out of personnal gain. He needed the Greenwell family for something. His type wasn't prone to highly violent activities. This guys was an attention seeker. I probably seen him on television or something.
¨You want me off the Winchester case, don't you?¨
His eyes widened. He stared at me like he just saw the Loch Ness monster or something. My heart started pounding as he reached for his inner pocket, but a loud rumble in the dining room had him leaving the place sooner than it took to say ¨Winchester¨ three times. Another proof that the man wasn't a mobster or a dangerous criminal of any kind. He couldn't afford being caught in that sort of situation.
I could hear Ralph yell ¨Back off, back off motherfucker or I shoot you¨.
Then gunfire, then nothing for a little while. Without a single word being said, Tony Cullen of all people walked into the kitchen with a severe look on his face.
¨Hey Tony¨ I articulated through the aggravating headache that was getting worse from the lemony smell.
He gave me his fatherly smile and said:
As one of his unknown henchman cut up the zip cuffs I was bound with, Tony briefed me on the situation.
¨I don't know how the fuck you do this kid, but you get yourself in all kinds of fucked up situations. Thank heavens your brother had a gut feeling and asked me to go check out for you.¨
¨Tony, how d'you know I was going to be at Reggie's?¨
¨It was only logical.¨
¨Tony?¨ I said, suddenly scared of what he'd tell me.
¨Kid, I bought this place so the police and I could have some middle grounds to discuss in open public. Some kind of safe haven if you will. That includes sacrificing privacy. Reggie's is one of the rare spots where everybody can do whatever they like. Everyone does interrogation, beat ups and wackings here because nobody will ask questions. It's the kind of place I wanted it to be.¨
I nodded. It made sense. I thought I knew everything of Seattle, but there seemed to be a level of underground activities I didn't even suspected.
¨Thanks Tony. D'you know who was it?¨
¨I have my doubts, what did they tell you exactly?¨
¨The dude that just fled told me about the Greenwells and their taste for secrecy.¨
¨There was another dude? He fled? Man, that must've been someone who didn't want to be caught red handed.¨
¨You got that right¨
¨What did he look like?¨
¨Hooded, blue steel eyes.¨
Tony had hit the nail on the head. It all came back to me. The man with the hood was none other than the favorite candidate to the position of chief of police. Was he the mole that got the Greenwells to Winchester's head? If so, what would that make Trevor? Why would he be sacrificed by his family in order to get another man in place? The more I know about this case, the more it seemed to me like Trevor Greenwell had been a scapegoat. Everyone was on it, Karen, his old man, Shea Thornburg....was Tony on it? I trusted the man with my own life, but I had to make sure of it.
¨Tony, who do you think killed Glen Winchester¨?
He looked at me with total surprise and they started cracking up:
¨Not sure kid, not sure. It's a very good question. What I can tell you though is that it makes shit very complex for me. Winchester and I had this non-written rule of non-agression. It made life good for me, but it made me lazy. I have to be back on the grind and find this guy know. What do you know kid?¨
That was his polite way of doing the same thing than Shea Thornburg. The only difference was that this time, I was ready to answer.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
That's it, i'll state it, AVGN is the most underrated video games historian. Here is an episode where he busts one of the biggest scam in the history of the medium. The disappearance of the Swordquest contest. Check it out it's very interesting.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Check it out guys! A five minutes Making Of... Heavy Rain. I was a little scared that some of the characters would be a little useless to the story, but this is looking promising. Surprisingly.The guy interpreting Norman Jayden seems to bomb at the job!
BEN: The greatest asset of an actor is to become somebody else. In Fight Club for example, there are moments where Brad Pitt really erases himself behind Tyler Durden, which makes the movie amazing.
But that...is just Jake Gyllenhall...this is not the good Prince. This is as convincing at Brokeback Mountain. Booh casting people!
I would've loved it if things could have been simple for a moment. I'm not even talking please-bring-me-back-to-the-pre-quarantine-era kind of simple. No, I was passed that. I was only wishing for a pre-Durango kind of simple. When Cliff and I only had each other left. We were swimming in gloom and doom, but we were rediscovering each other. Now we were fighting to escape that place with our life and our sanity back. All of that because Uncle Leibrandt stabbed us in the back and lead us to Durango, that old fuck. Anything simpler than that situation we were in would have been a welcomed improvement.
I had started to feel suddently very tired about all this. I was glad Cliff was there though. His intervention saved my ass again. He always saved me when the stakes were really high. He was the strong one in the family. As we grew older and grew back closer, I couldn't do anything but be confronted to this fact. I was exhausted. My clothes were smelly, I would've given anything to go back home and have a long night of sleep. Cliff didn't think this way though. He saw the end of the road in Hugo Durango and put the pedal to the metal:
¨Yo, old man, now you're goin' to tell us what's going on.¨ he said.
Suddenly, the dome shaped room disappeared around us. The monks that lead me to Hugo Durango Did too. It was so dark around suddenly that I had trouble seeing my own body in the dark. The only thing that I could see clear as day was the old Durango and his throne. Something red started dripping from the dark skies. I would've said it was lava, but it was going through him and not over us. Behind him, the darkness opened up on a gigantic eye. It was as if the darkness we were in were the darkness the eye saw when it was closed.
For a little moment, I've seen it all. I've seen the clouds emanating from the earth itself. I've seen the metros being flooded with death. I've seen the thick concentration stocking up in the air. But I've seen more than that. I've seen more than New York being affected. The whole U.S of fucking A were decimated by the invisible death. I've seen families being decimated, children being left alone. A lot of children, I've seen pack of them wearing gas masks and breaking into empty houses in search for food. That was some heavy shit. Rivers were poisonned. I've seen a map of the country with all the courses affected by the now mysterious poisonnous gas being marked in red. What I've also seen were rivers marked in green. There were rivers and lakes unaffected.
Since the quarantine struck, there had been no rain, so it made sense that rivers and lakes woul've stayed unscathed by the poison. This map existed, somehow I knew it. Cliff and I needed to find it, it was the key to our survival. Last thing I saw was government officials going from city to city, telling them they were now kept in quarantine, in order to protect the rest of the country from them during the spread of the poisonnous gas. The president wasn't the last guy we had left in office. Not the vice-president either. Not a guy I had ever seen during the Iraq war broadcasts. Were they all dead? Were they cleansed by the superior power? Was it what it was really about?A cleansing? Then who was deemed strong or pure or whatever enough to survive. Why would Cliff and I have been left alive when both of our wives and my kids have been decimated. That whole situation seemed arbitrary to a superior power to me.
The little slide show lasted maybe for two or three minutes. First, the images seemed to slide over the back wall, there the eye was. But gradually, without even me noticing it, they started to burn themselves inside my mind. When everything stopped, I felt like I was just waking up from a very bad dream.
¨Is anything of this true?¨ I asked my brother, purely for a rhetoric purpose.
¨Yup. Whoever of that old man or that creepy ass giant eye showed us this highlight reel, it wants to keep us alive¨.
When we turned back to the throne where Durango was sitting, it was empty. The throne itself was replaced by a normal wooden chair there would normally be plenty of in any asylum. The room looked a lot smaller too. Kind of like an anti-nuclear bunk. Seeing nothing else to really do, Cliff and I turned around and back tracked to the corridor, which, of course was a lot smaller than it really seemed at the first place. What seemed like one kilometer long was now maybe what? Twenty meters? Twenty fucking meters to a staircase and a door leading to the backyard of the institution. Destiny didn't ask me twice, I leaped outside with great pleasure to rediscover the now comforting thick dark sky waitng for us.
To say the truth, I almost started to run back to the jeep, thinking Cliff would follow me. A few steps outside though and I heard him scoff out loud like he was socked in the stomach by a very big dude. I turned around and a chick, a very small chick had his back and a surgical scalpel against his throat. I almost laughted in surprise. She looked so inoffensive and...beautiful. She was a magnificent petite, dark skinned girl. Her green eyes and her long hair gave her almost the look of a supernatural beast.
¨WOAH¨ I yelled a little harder than I would have loved to. ¨Who are you¨
¨Why the fuck do you care puto? Who are YOU!¨
¨My name is Marcus Whitmore...and the throat you want to slash here belongs to my brother Cliff.¨
¨It's not the first time I'd kill a man you know. You are all pig.¨
¨I wouldn't doubt it. Can you tell me your name.¨
¨Shut the fuck up or I kill your brother.¨
I shouldn't have told her that Cliff was my brother. I made myself vulnerable to this young lady. The physical resemblance could've talked for us, but to say the truth, there wasn't any direct resemblance in between us. A little something family related, but that's all. We could've been distant cousins from what I've known.
¨So, what of both of you sorry asses doing here?¨
¨Leaving, please don't mind us, you'll never see us again.¨ I risked.
Cliff still looked freaked out as all hell by the point of the scalpel. I had seen enough hostages situations on TV and read enough on the subject to know it wasnt her first time. She was putting her scalpel directly against Cliff's throat. One false movement and my brother was dead. Amateurs would've wrapped the arm around the throat, hoping for a better control.
¨Can I leave with you?¨ she asked.
¨Only if you let go of my brother.¨
She let go and pushed Cliff forward with a surprising strenght. I defy anyone to understand anything about women. Especially women that are in a mental institution jacket. I didn't know as much as Cliff about the mentally ill, but that woman's stare left me no confusion about her mental state.
¨So, what's your name?¨ I risked again.
¨Maria Magdelena¨ she said.
Cliff and I looked at each other. We knew we had no choice but to take her onboard. Those were the new rules. To say the truth, as long as we stayed out of this crazy hospital, I was fine with taking her along. Anything to get away from this creepy place. She walked with us to the car in an uncomfortable silence. In the parking lot, I could see Uncle Leibrandt's absence of eyes looking at us by the third floor window. I had a shiver. Maria Magdelena gave him a middle finger: ¨Old Puto¨
¨Wait you know this guy?¨ Cliff asked.
¨You're sexy¨ she gave as an only answer.
We left this place with joy in our hearts. Well, at least in mine. For a few minutes, I drove up on the empty road in another awkward silence. Maria Magdelena decided to sit in the back and I think Cliff and I were both scared she'd slit our throats and leave with the car. If that would've been the case, both of us were somewhat ready. Those were the new rules.
¨So, Maria, can I call you Maria?¨ asked Cliff.
¨Yeah, whatever.¨ she said.
¨What are you after huh? Maybe we can help each other out.¨
¨I'm going to kill my boyfriend.¨
¨He stopped calling me when I got interned. He's probably banging another chica. What are you after?¨
¨There is a map we're looking for with the unspoiled rivers on it.¨
¨My boyfriend is a cartographer. You can kill two birds with one stone.¨
¨What's the name of this two-timing fuck?¨
¨Wait, don't tell me...¨ I said.
¨Jesus. Jesus Narvaez¨ she added.
For the first time in a while, I smiled.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
....sometimes you just need...Frank West!Check him out owning zombies. Good old Frankie is way ahead in video games characters manliness contest. He's to video games what Clint Eastwood is to cinema. Enjoy!
Have you ever done this before? Have you ever walked in your favorite game retailer with no precise idea in mind only to find that the games on the shelves all looked the same? Fight monster in space, fight invading aliens in space, fight invading aliens on earth, try this unique adventure...fight invading alien zombie monsters! Have you ever found frustrating that the video game industry is trying to sell you the same game not once, not twice, but over and over again? Let's face the fact once and for all, originality has developed to be a complex problem in the industry.
The first offenders in that case are the ¨me too¨ people. Who are they? They are developers who try to cash in on the success of others. Surprisingly, it's not the small, struggling studios that are guilty of that crime against gamers. Usually, these companies try to work on a new, solid IP, in order to distance themselves from the pack. Original titles such as: Little Big Planet, Shadow Of The Colossus, Indigo Prophecy and Manhunt (come on, it was very original) all originated from small companies that has nothing to do but concentrate on making a good game. The ¨me too¨ complex is a phenomenon that is affecting big companies.
For example, Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty have been concurrencing each other for almost seven years now. They are the babies of respectively the two biggest video game publishers: Electronic Arts and Activision. They are both quality games (MoH has suffered a few hiccups, but most of it is interesting), but both of them are offering the same thing. World War 2 shooting action. So these two behemoths compete each other in hope to swallow the market completely without really caring about the gamer's needs. ¨We sell World War 2 games, so you buy World War 2 games.¨ Here I'm not even counting the weird, malformed spawns it's giving birth too. The dying days of Midway, another former publishing giant have seen atrocious games like ¨Hour Of Victory¨ come to life, in a desperate attempt to cash in on the World War 2 shooter market. Let's rewind the clock two or three years ago...you got the three major publishers working on what? Three World War 2 shooters. So you, the gamer, will have to chose between World War 2 shooter, World War 2 shooter and World War 2 shooter. Exciting in perspective if you hate shooting games.
This is just one of many exemples. Another is sports games. Since 2KGames got into sports licensing, all I see in the used games section is a wall of undifferenciable sports games. There are racing games, space marine games...I can go on and on. The problem is being adressed though. Some companies are working on the issue. For exemple, ¨Lost Planet¨ the biggest (and fairly original) ¨Gears Of War¨ me-too is featuring a cameo of Marcus and his hetero life mate Dom. Suddenly, a rip off becomes a distant cousin, both worlds are reconciled. It's refreshing to see Capcom and Epic not fighting like pitbulls for your dollars and trying to find common grounds to accomodate the gamers. This is also due to the fact that both designers dig each other's work and are motivated by something else than money. Call me far sighted if you want, but I think the only effect it will have on game sales of both franchise is a boost. GoW fans will pick up Lost Planet in order to check out the cameo of their favorites and Lost Planet fans, well, have a new game to toy with.
Which brings me to the second point of my argument. The other plague to originality in video games is that survivalist money-oriented attitude. Despite having been shaken up by the economic troubles in 2009, the industry is in a rather good shape. Gamers are a loyal bunch and we keep buying through tough times. We had some casualties though. Electronic Arts sacked 1500 people, closing down the always interesting Pandemic Studio in its demise. When a developper gets bigger, money becomes the prior preoccupation and that's when things can turn ugly. The franchise is another trap that can doom originality on a long term.
Nothing is as invigorating as a good new IP. I still remember the first time I played Silent Hill, I was sixteenish and blown away. I had never seen something like this before, a video game that genuinely wanted to scare the piss out of me. I was seduced. Fast forward the clock to 2009, a few months before Shattered Memories, the franchise is on life support after two abysmal titles (Origins & Homecoming) and a laughable movie. What almost killed Silent Hill? It fell victim to its popularity. Konami sold the franchise to people who didn't understand the game and made it another zombie dwelling game that is polluting the shelves.
To a certain extent, one of my favorite developer, Ubisoft Montreal is about to fall victim of this. Two of their main franchises, Assassin's Creed and Prince Of Persia are almost swappable. Both are historical adventures with overly athletic protagonists that have to accomplish platforming feats and fight hordes of bad guys. With such concentrations on these thematics they can only get that far. Having enjoyed the hell out of Assassin's Creed 2 (a lot more than I thought I would), I am having high expectations for the last title of the trilogy. I'm expecting less platforming action and more diverse action, based on the needs of the complex storyline they created.
What can save originality in video games? There can be many answers to this. I said it many times before, but part of the answer lies on Heavy Rain. What is perceived by the majority of people as a Quick Time Event based control is in fact contextualized to the situation. The game is so heavily (huh!) story driven that the controls change with the given situation. I don't expect the game to be perfect as it's mainly an experiment with narrativity, but it proves a point, originality and to a certain point challenge, lies is pattern making. Heavy Rain plays on these patterns and asks something new to its users in every damn scene. To a certain extent, it makes the experience richer and more immersive as in real life you're always asked to perform something new. I am well aware that gameplay makes or breaks your game, but I think the days of the space marine are almost over. Shooting-only games are bound to disappear as they will mesh with other genres or offer something way much more original than a ¨shoot a bad guy and save the chick¨ kind of story.
That brings me to another franchise that shown itself resourceful enough to beat time. Metal Gear Solid. Due to its entangling storyline and its emphasis on telling the tale, the decade old franchise is still sailing with high winds and doesn't seem to want to stop. Why? Because Hideo Kojima doesn't think gamers are morons and offers them all they can handle in terms of storyline. Solid Snake would only be one of these pseudo-militaries with a testosterone complex if it wasn't for Hideo Kojima's touch.
My point here is that video games are a form of art. When you make it disappear with swappable items from another piece of art or for franchised repetition, you're losing what made it great in the first place. The elements are all there...tough financial times, repetition in publishing, gamers growing older and seeking new, exciting stuff...gaming creativity will soon undergo its first crisis. With titles like Heavy Rain, The Last Guardian and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, soon arriving on the market, the next months will be defining in the future of the medium we all love.