Shiver me timbers, potential Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag players! For the upcoming pirate-themed sequel, you will be able to rate missions on a five-star scale, helping Ubisoft build better content going forward.
This is a neat move by the company, and one that open-world games in general can greatly benefit from. While this system (like anything you give to gamers at large) is open to abuse, the fact that you can directly give developers feedback on what you thought about a given mission is an exciting prospect. This feature is entirely optional and at the end of a given mission a small box will pop up on the lower right of the stats screen, allowing you to assign a one-to-five star rating.
Open-world game mission design has gotten a lot better since the start of this generation, but for some reason we still have follow missions, or escort quests. Also, I would appreciate the ability to go back and give all of Assassin’s Creed 3 one out of five stars.
What do you guys think about this? Is it a good move for Ubisoft? Does it seem like we’re beta-testing mission design? Go!
The white whale has landed: Grand Theft Auto V has been in our hot little hands for over a week now and with the white whale comes the white lies: people making up all manner of tall tales, the kind that spread through message boards and social media like a digital Ebola virus. In the old days, outrageous claims were difficult to confirm. You had to try it yourself, usually several thousand times while wondering if you were following that jerk on the playground’s instructions exactly or if he was just a being a tool.
Thankfully, in this age of Youtube, we can test out some of these myths and legends for ourselves. And that’s just what DefendTheHouse has done on its Youtube channel: they’ve rounded up some of the biggest GTA myths out there and set about to prove them true or false. From towing a pursuing police car to stabbing a shark while underwater, these myths get put to the test. My personal favorite is the one about a car’s backfire igniting a gasoline trail. Little details like that really make the game stand out.
So take a look at the video below and tell us about your favorite video game myths, from GTA and from other games. Remember: busting makes you feel good. Go!
Even though I’m usually the last person to get excited about another shooter, Superhot looks like an awesome Steam Greenlight project that I could get behind. Not content to follow the Call of Duty formula, Superhot adds an element of time manipulation to all the shooty bits.
Much like some of the mechanics in games like Braid, the action in Superhot only moves forward when you move. Stopping freezes time instantly and allows you to plan your next action, like weaving in and out of frozen bullets.
While the game is clearly incomplete, it’s definitely got a cool look to it. Thoughts? Any other Steam Greenlight projects we should keep an eye out for?
Do you ever miss the old days, when it seemed like every kid had tons of unwanted games, ready for some no-strings-attached swapping? Growing up, I remember having tons of friends in our neighborhood who were always looking for something new to play, and would gladly trade their games for some of my old, unwanted ones. As I’ve gotten older, that community trading aspect gradually faded, except with close friends.
And we’re back. Over the next week or so, you’ll see us returning to our old form and regular posting schedule. So let’s get to chatting about cool video game stuff.
Many of you know of my love for the Final Fantasy series. Although it’s not quite as intense as a certain other GamerSushi contributor, I do consider the series formational as a part of my youth, and really helped me explore my love of story, characters and all things fantastic.
That’s why I was excited to see a new documentary focusing entirely on the beginning of the Final Fantasy series, and Square’s roots as a company. It’s a really interesting look at gaming as it was a few decades back, and how RPGs first entered the scene. Even if you don’t love FF, I’d definitely recommend a look at some of its founders.
My hatred of Grand Theft Auto IV has not been exaggerated or underreported in the slightest over the last few years. While Liberty City was gorgeous to look at through Niko’s eyes, I found it to be a dull, tedious place that I hardly cared about, or cared to be a part of.
But dang, does Grand Theft Auto V look different. In addition to a campaign that looks to mix up the formula with three protagonists, Rockstar’s newest iteration of the popular series is taking the multiplayer in a different direction than ever before by way of Grand Theft Auto Online, a persistent world where you and up to 15 others can heist, race, deathmatch, build and generally unleash havoc together. I’ll let the video do the rest of the gushing.
Grand Theft Auto Online releases on October 1, and is free with every retail version of GTA V. What do you guys think? Am I jumping too far into the hype train? Have I been burned too many times to take another chance?
Anyone that’s played Mark of the Ninja or Don’t Starve by Klei knows that these guys are some talented developers with a knack for creating some crazy fun games. Mark of the Ninja, a 2D stealth game, is one of the more creative titles I’ve played in years — and probably some of the best stealth gameplay in this generation. And while I haven’t played Don’t Starve, I’ve heard the alpha access, community building and the fun take on survival gameplay made the title an interesting experiment that’s worth taking part in.
Klei’s newest game, Incognita, announced yesterday, sounds just as ambitious as their previous titles — with a brand new take on stealth. Taking inspiration from XCOM, a game that I fell in love with, Klei is aiming to make Incognita a turn-based tactical espionage game, where information is power. Continue reading Klei Introduces its Tactical Espionage Game, Incognita
Hello, fine GamerSushi friends. In continuing with our summer schedule, today is “Did You See This”. Naturally, with another E3 come and gone, the industry is still buzzing and writing some fantastic pieces on the things they saw last week, so that’s where we’re headed — and more specifically, to Ryse.
For those that are unaware, Ryse is one of the games that was highlighted by Microsoft at the XBox One press event. Developed by Crytek, Ryse looks like God of War had a baby with Gladiator and Dynasty Warriors, offering historical-looking action and dozens of quick-time events.
If you’ve played many games on an iPhone or iPad, you’ve probably spent a little time in Game Center, Apple’s achievement and score tracking app. If you did, you may have noticed that the public leaderboards for most iOS games are almost entirely full of impossibly fake scores at the very top. I’d always hoped that there weren’t actually people with enough free time to make it to level 10,000 in Infinity Blade II, and this article at Edge confirms my suspicion. Apparently leaderboard hacking is incredibly common in iOS games, and it’s oftentimes perpetrated by teenagers playing around with programming.
If you think about it, it makes sense. A lot of iOS games were created by very small developers who don’t have much time to spend policing bogus scores on the global leaderboard. I’m occasionally interested in seeing where I stand on a big leaderboard, but most of the time I only really care how I’m doing in relation to people I actually know. In the big scheme of things, bogus scores on the global leaderboards don’t have much impact on my use of the app. They’re just an oddity I’ve always been curious about.
My favorite quote in the article comes from Terry Cavanaugh, developer of the punishingly difficult Super Hexagon:
“If it was really quite difficult to hack, then I could understand it,” says Cavanagh. “But it is so easy that a kid could do it. Maybe [the person] wants to pose as an elite hacker, saying, ‘Oh look what I was able to do,’ but even to hackers that must look pretty pathetic, because there is no protection in the game… If somebody wants to set a fake score on the leaderboard, it’s just kind of an embarrassing thing for them, really. It’s just so shameful; I feel like by deleting it I’m covering up just how awful they are.”
When it comes down to it, iOS games will probably never be a big deal in the world of eSports, where leaderboard scores actually matter, so for now the hackers seem to be doing it just for the hell of it. It’s fascinating the things you learn about people on the internet.
We’re going to be hit hard with Xbox One news in the coming weeks so today I wanted to offer a momentary respite from that with something that fascinates us all: EVE Online.
EVE Online is the most interesting, intimidating, exciting and possibly most mundane game that most of us have never played. Many of us will never play it, but the awe-inspiring stories that are generated from the MMO are the stuff of legends. The tales of epic battles, years-long subterfuge and stunning betrayals have left us all stunned at one time or another. It’s kind of amazing that such amazing things are happening practically under our noses. The density of the game prevents many from playing it, but those who do find themselves part of a unique community. And the hallmark event of that community is Fanfest.
For a game I haven’t even played yet, I’m a bit obsessed with Monaco. My backlog is preventing me from springing into a new game just yet, but soon I hope to be plunging the depths of Monaco’s heist-based, co-op driven goodness. With friends, of course.
One of the more fascinating things I’ve read about the game recently has to do with its community design. The creator of the game, Andy Schatz, faced an interesting challenge — how do you promote good behavior from your online community? While most online games do excel with a bit of proper teamwork, co-op based multiplayer always has a bit of a risk. Once players stop working together, the game breaks down. That’s why most games offer a bit of a chance for players to become a lone wolf, running and gunning as they see fit, with no care of what their team is doing. So how did Schatz address this issue in a way that few have accomplished before? Continue reading Monaco: Cutting Down the Trolls
Usually we don’t give a lot of attention to Steam Greenlight titles around here, but this one is worth talking about. Papers, Please, a “Dystopian Document Thriller” has been accepted via the Greenlight process and will become a real game in the next while. For those unfimiliar with the game, you play a border guard in the fictional nation of Arstotzka in the early 1980s.
Arstotzka has just finished a war with its neighboring country Kolechia and has recently reopened its borders and it’s up to you to keep up with an increasingly complex series of security checks as hundreds of people try to cross the border. The mechanics of the game are fairly simple: a person hands you documents and you need to check them against certain things to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. You need to be conscious of the issuing date, whether or not the picture matches, if the issuing city actually exists in the issuing country, that kind of thing.
There are things that will trip you up, like a girl who warns you that the man behind her in line is plotting on selling her into slavery, but his papers are in order, so do you let him in or turn him away? You get two notices before the Ministry of Admission starts docking your pay, and you need all the money to keep your extended family warm, fed and healthy.
If you want to try out the Papers, Please Beta, you can check it out on the creator’s website by clicking the highlighted words. I highly recommend it. Have any Sushians played this game?
You’re probably familiar with the Humble Bundle and its regular offerings of pay-what-you-want games bundles, but they’re not the only bundle in town. Most of the well-known bundle deals are focused on software or games, but there’s also a site called StoryBundle that sells collections of DRM-free ebooks from indie authors. Previous bundles have all been fiction offerings, but the newest bundle focuses entirely on the games industry, including criticism, game history and a scifi novel about alien games. Pay at least $10 to get all ten books, including two from Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia and Karateka. You can also choose to donate part of the proceeds to charity.
If you’re at all interested in the history of the industry or game development, this seems like a pretty fantastic deal. I’ve never purchased any of the previous bundles, which were full of indie authors that didn’t appeal to me, but I might pick up this bundle just because it sounds like a pretty wide-ranging collection. For example, one of the books, Killing is Harmless, consists entirely of a long-form critique of Spec Ops: The Line. I’m also really curious to read more about the history of the industry going back to the very beginning. Anyone else thinking about picking up this bundle?
In a perhaps unsurprising move for our litigation-happy society, a disgruntled owner of Aliens: Colonial Marines has joined forces with a lawyer to start a class-action lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega. According to the article over at Polygon, his argument is that “Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised Aliens by showing demos at trade shows like PAX and E3 which didn’t end up being accurate representations of the final product”. Combine that with a review embargo that didn’t lift until the game was released, and anyone who preordered the game or purchased it before reviews were released got burned by what was universally rated a hugely inferior game.
Now, a $60 game purchase hardly seems worth clogging up our legal system with yet another lawsuit, but I do see the logic behind the complaint. Extensive game previews far in advance of the release are standard practice in the industry, as are pre-rendered cinematic trailers that avoid showing any gameplay. Even though the film industry has a reputation for spoiling nearly everything in its trailers, I’d argue that the games industry goes much further and tends to release an even bigger barrage of promotional materials far in advance of game releases. However, what does it mean if we can’t even trust their spoilers? I have a feeling that this isn’t the first time the industry has pulled a bait-and-switch on consumers with faked game footage or exciting cinematic trailers that fail to capture the actual game. Dead Island’s buzz-worthy cinematic trailer comes to mind.
Can you think of any other examples of a major bait-and-switch where a game was hugely different from its previews? Have you ever been burned by a demo or trailer that made a game seem more exciting than the reality? I’m wondering how long it’ll take before we hear about a SimCity class-action lawsuit…
As someone who likes to put on his imaginary pretend writer cap from time to time, I’m always interested in the subject of writing when it comes to video games. On the whole, the practice seems so different than what I’m used to that I find it fascinating. In a recent article on Polygon, author Austin Grossman talks about what video games taught him about writing — lessons that he took to pen the bestselling supervillain novel Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Grossman has some interesting things to say about the writing process for video games, which he witnessed firsthand when working on titles like System Shock, Deus Ex and most recently, Dishonored. The biggest lessons that video game writing taught were that stories don’t have to go in a straight line, nobody necessarily wants to read your prose and that people won’t respect what you do. One of my favorite bits:
You learn to be inventive. After all, players are using everything on the screen to form an idea of what they’re doing and why. You learn to sneak story in at the margins. Leave it lying in dusty corners and layered into other parts of the world, embedded into combat mechanics and level geometry and audio cues, or leave half-cues for players to fill in. To this day, I can’t tell a story straight through — Soon I Will Be Invincible and You zoom back and forth from the past and the present.
If you’re interested at all in how video game writing works, or if you just like reading smart things by good writers in general, I’d suggest checking it out.
BioShock Infinite was announced a long time ago in gamer terms: 2010 was the first time we heard about the world of Columbia in any official sense (Irrational had been referring to the game as Project: Icarus before that). Even though we’ve known about it for three years, we can assume it’s been in development for much longer than that. Naturally, any game with a long gestation cycle will undergo a lot of changes, and BioShock Infinite is no exception. The folks over at Outside Xbox have a short video detailing the ways that Infinite has progressed ever since we first laid eyes on it, and I thought I’d share it with you for this week’s “Did You See This” Wednesday.
Even though we at GamerSushi are extremely happy with the end product, it’s crazy to think what could have been. BioShock Infinite isn’t wildly different in its final form, but Elizabeth’s powers were more broad in scope and the combat arenas were much more open and dynamic than they were in the final game. What do you guys think? Happy with how Infinite turned out? What features from 2010 would you like to have seen stay in the game?
As you may know, Naughty Dog’s upcoming post-apocalyptic tale The Last of Us stars a pair of main characters: a grizzly, bearded man named Joel, and a teenage girl named Ellie who bears a passing resemblance to Ellen Page. However, as the developers do publicity and interviews in preparation for the game’s upcoming release, it’s becoming more and more clear that Naughty Dog had to fight to keep Ellie in the spotlight. I find that particularly interesting because Ellie is by far the more memorable and striking of the two characters.
For example, in a recent interview with The Escapist, Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann explained that “the research group wasn’t planning on focus-testing female gamers – it’s something we had to specifically request”. This paired with the fact that they also had to insist that Ellie be included on the cover of the game paints the state of game marketing in a particularly dispiriting light. Apparently the going wisdom is that women don’t play videogames, so they shouldn’t focus test them, and men won’t buy games with women on the cover.
One of the many complaints I have with video game journalism is there is no follow-through. A game is announced, followed by rumors, speculation, then a hands-on preview and finally, the long-awaited review. Maybe, just maybe, there will be an interview with the developers or some type of feature written after the game has been released, but rarely does anyone delve deeply into the inner workings of the actual game.
However, there are a few who do and one of them is Jeremy Parish, sole survivor of the many layoffs and closings at 1Up. Jeremy, like many of us, keeps his own blog, Telebunny (http://telebunny.net/toastyblog/) formerly known as Gamespite. In addition to a hefty archive of great game writings, there is a section that I want to shine our spotlight on today: Anatomy of a Game. Anatomy of a game is a careful look at game mechanics and how they relate to the player as given by the designer. I will let Jeremy explain himself: Continue reading Anatomy of a Game
One of the next big releases on the gaming calendar happens to be the release of The Last of Us in May. Developed by Naughty Dog, this game is set to be a new IP for the PlayStation 3, just in time for the end of this console cycle.
The release of the newest Red Band trailer for The Last of Us shows off even more of the story and the world than ever before. In this trailer we see more than just Joel and Ellie, we see communities, other survivors, some of the infected and different locales as well. Early trailers just showed off bits of the overgrown city, so it’s cool to see that the game opens up in a bigger way, with what looks to be a crosscountry trip of sorts.
What do you guys think of the new trailer? While I’m not completely sold on the actual game yet, I do have to say that Naughty Dog’s storytelling abilities are almost unmatched in the industry at the moment, so I’m excited to see what kind of journey they have in store for us. Some of the thematic stuff looks like what the Walking Dead show tries to tackle but constantly fails. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
Remember Milo and Kate, the infamous tech demo from the original Kinect announcement? You can be sure that everyone who worked at Lionhead under Peter Molyneux does. Over at Polygon, Matt Leone has a fascinating in-depth article about the long development history and DNA of the project. It turns out that Milo has roots in a failed project called Dmitri that began all the way back in 2001. Milo is still a sore subject at Lionhead, so a lot of the quotes are off the record, but the article is definitely still worth a read if you’re interested in some of the behind-the-scenes goings on at a game developer.
Molyneux definitely has a long, strange history in game development; in the early years, before Lionhead and Microsoft, it seemed like he could do no wrong. I never played Black and White or any of his early games like Populous, but I remember people raving about them at the time. At Lionhead, Molyneux became known for games like Fable, which over-promised and under-delivered but still sold well enough to produce sequels. That tendency towards over-promising weird, ambitious gameplay mechanics eventually became the inspiration for parody. However, I do think there is something admirable in Molyneux’s desire to find new ways to approach games; I just get the impression that never meshed very well with the business concerns of a large corporation like Microsoft or with the realities of the modern-day console development cycle.
Have any of you ever played Molyneux’s early work? Are you looking forward to whatever crazy idea he comes up with next? Let us know in the comments!