Game Design Gets Taken to Court

game design lawsuits

In the wake of the recent Mass Effect controversy and all of the other game-design related outcries, I sometimes wonder if gamers would take games to court if they could. 1up recently put up a feature about six game design choices that should be punishable by law, and it’s a pretty good read.

Sure, it’s humorous in nature, but there’s no denying that I feel like I need compensation for the pain and suffering caused by some of their examples. The slow-moving text in Skyward Sword is a great one, and it’s something that a lot of Nintendo games, from Pokemon to Mario, are guilty of. Sure, you can hold down the A button or whatever to speed up the text, but it still crawls pretty slowly. Ninty seems set on doing this and a lawsuit just might be the only way to get them to change their ways.

Personally, I’d like to sue someone over the Journal design in Mass Effect 3. I can get around bad quest logs, but the one in ME3 is just plain unhelpful. Main quests, side-quests and fetch-quests are all lumped together and the damn thing doesn’t even update when you’ve gathered one of the items necessary for your eavesdropping side-business on the Citadel.

I could probably also make a case against some of the things in Battlefield 3, and maybe for the extreme time-loss caused by Skyrim, but I’m pretty sure I have Stockholm Syndrome where that game is concerned. What did you guys think about the article? Are these choices worth going to court over? What games would you get litigious against?

Source – 1up

Today’s WTF: The Petition to Change Mass Effect 3’s Ending

mass effect 3 endingWell, here it is people. The point where I begin my slow descent into quitting video games. I’ve moaned about the entitled attitudes of gamers before, but this absolutely takes the cake. Mass Effect 3 hasn’t even been out a damned week and there’s already a petition to get BioWare to change the ending of the game.

I haven’t beat the game yet (I’m holding out until my Galactic Readiness is 100% in every sector) but I have heard some grumblings about the less than satisfactory way the Mass Effect trilogy wraps up. Sure, not every trilogy has a perfect ending, but demanding that the developers change their vision is a new one.

So far I’m really enjoying Mass Effect 3, even if I have problems with it. The game doesn’t exactly put its best foot forward but the further you get into the game the better it gets and some of the missions are really fun. True, some of the side missions are pretty boring “horde” scenarios but it’s not that big a deal.

I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers which is why I’m linking to the Kotaku post instead of the actual poll on BioWare’s social site. I looked at the poll and almost spoiled myself, so I’m mad at these Gandalfs for more than one reason. I mean, how would BioWare change the ending? It wouldn’t be in a free patch, that’s for sure. What do you guys think about this? Do you have a (spoiler-free) opinion on the ending?

Source – Kotaku

Project KARA Demo Shows Off the Uncanny Valley

Have we reached the Uncanny Valley yet, gentlemen? The place where robots or animation start to get creepy, because of the way they mimic life but happen to be just off? Who knows, but some of the results on the way there are interesting to watch.

Quantic Dream, creators of Heavy Rain, just debuted a new tech demo at GDC this week known as Project KARA, the story of a robot/AI that accidentally becomes self aware during production. Unlike their last project, KARA was created by use of full performance motion capture, rather than separate body/facial animation capture. The quality of the performance is rather impressive (even if the writing always isn’t) in this piece – and what’s more impressive is that all of this is being handled in real time through the PS3.

Cage has noted that this isn’t tied to a specific project at all, but rather a demonstration of where they’d like to go with their next project. What do you guys think of this short? Uncanny Valley territory? Impressive? Lame? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: Mass Effect 3 Roll Call?

Mass Effect 3

Huh. Things were super quiet on the GamerSushi front yesterday. I wonder why that could be… Who knows, but I do hear that this science fiction role-playing game called Mass Effect had its trilogy-ending release drop yesterday. I’m not sure, but I think it was kind of a big deal – although none of us were playing it.

OK, you got me. I totally know what Mass Effect 3 is. I’m sure I had you guys fooled, but you are much too cunning. Anyway, Mass Effect 3 arrived yesterday to much rejoicing from gamers all over the world, and this one in particular. To say that I love the Mass Effect series is nowhere near the proper amount of statement required for a set of games that I feel has defined my console-playing experience this generation. Say what you will about the choices Bioware has made, but I adore this series, its atmosphere and its well-crafted universe.

My guess is that plenty of you do, too – if my friends list was any indication. When I signed on nearly everybody on it was partaking in Mass Effect 3 in some way, shape or form, and I couldn’t help but get that twinge of release-day giddiness. There’s nothing quite like all sharing in the same experience collectively. While I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted yesterday, I managed to get past the intro and subsequent first mission, and I have to say that I’m a fan of the gameplay changes so far. I didn’t have the weird bug that some are having involving the migration of their old Shepard, so that was all fine for me. Can’t wait to jump back in tonight.

So it’s time for a roll call, fellas and ladies. Who got Mass Effect 3? How much did you play yesterday? Did any of you deal with that save file character issue? What are your spoiler-free thoughts?

Assassin’s Creed 3 Reveal Trailer Shows Tree Running

Get it, because it’s called “free-running” but it’s in trees? Ah, never mind. UbiSoft just released the official reveal trailer for Assassin’s Creed 3 showing our new hero Connor (nee RatohnhakĂ©:ton) tearing apart a British patrol then watching a battle between the Redcoats and the Continental Army. This trailer is supposedly all in-engine, making it even more impressive. The fluidity of motion promised for the hand-to-hand combat also comes through in this video with Conner recreating the forest scene from The Patriot to some extent.

Well, I’m sold. It’s kind of funny how life works in regards to what I write on this site and what things happen in the games industry. At any rate, what do you guys think about the Assassin’s Creed 3 trailer? Does it give you more hope for the newest entry? Any secrets that you noticed?

Assassin’s Creed 3 Will Revolutionize America

assassins creed 3 box art

The video game industry is as sound as a sinking ship, it seems, as every big title gets broken before its official announcement date. We’ve known about the existence of Assassin’s Creed 3 for a long time, but now we’ve got the official image of the new Assassin and a time period.

Assassin’s Creed 3, coming out this fall, will take place during the American Revolution UbiSoft revealed today on the heels of various websites leaking art assets for the upcoming threequel. While our new protagonist doesn’t have a name, the rumor is that he is Native American, a theory that is supported by his chosen weapons of bow and arrows and a tomahawk. The box art shows the Assassin wearing a time-period white military jacket pinning a British soldier to the ground, so we can make a pretty good guess as to what his allegiance will be.

The current release date for Assassin’s Creed 3 is October 30, 2012 with more information about the title coming March 5. What do you guys think of this announcement? Are you down for a new time period? Are you a little pissed that Desmond will spend yet another game spinning his wheels?

Source – Game Informer

GamerSushi Asks: Are 100 Hour Games Necessary?

Dark Souls

With the price of games on the rise, so too have a series of complaints risen around the idea that longer games generally mean better games. In particular, RPGs are expected to be bloated to colossal lengths, from the Elder Scroll series to Mass Effect and even Fallout 3. Gamers want more game for their money, more world to explore, more weapons to collect, more foes to conquer and more time to invest. But is this always a good thing?

In a rather interesting (if somewhat controversial) review of the game Dark Souls, Slate writer Michael Thomsen wonders if 100 hour games are a waste of time for gamers instead of a boon to their hobby. Even though I haven’t played the game, and always hear the opposite of his assessment of it, I do have to say that I find his prodding question to be thought-provoking. Honestly, there’s so much that people can accomplish in the amount of time it would take someone to clamber through all of Skyrim – but does that mean that it’s pointless for the person that enjoys it?

It seems that Thomsen would argue that yes, it is. In his view, it’s never necessary for a game to take 100 hours to tell its tale, and that many games have done better with far less time. When put that way, I do have to agree: some of my most favorite games have accomplished what they did in around 20 hours or so, without ever overstaying their welcome.

So, while I’m not sure I’m on board with everything this article states, I did want to kick the question to you guys: are 100 hour games just a waste of time? Go!

Slate

Killzone 3 Multiplayer Goes Free to Play

Killzone 3 Multiplayer

Well played, Sony.

While there are a number of troublesome trends in the video game industry (as many of you have noted in the Mass Effect 3 DLC discussion), every now and then someone just gets it right. I think because of the anti-consumer nature of the industry at times, it becomes that much more potent when a company does something on our behalf, or something that goes against the grain.

Today, Sony launched a totally free version of Killzone 3’s multiplayer mode for download on PSN. Yes, Killzone, one of their staple franchises. You can play the game with friends, kill random strangers, and even rank up – although past a certain point you’ll need to pay money for continued experience and trophies. Again, that’s hours of entertainment for the grand total of free ninety-nine.

To me, this is a bold and brilliant move by the company that just a few years back tried to tell us their Heavenly Sword player was worth a staggering fee of $599 with a straight face. This is basically the equivalent of Microsoft announcing that Halo: Reach’s multiplayer was going free to play. Obviously, the business side of this is that Sony hopes that it will encourage gamers to buy DLC packs, maps and so forth, but I think the results will be interesting to watch. A number of MMOs didn’t become profitable until they went free-to-play, so I can only guess that this will have a positive effect for Killzone 3 as well.

What do you guys think of this decision? Would you like to see other companies pull something similar with their big franchises? Go!

Source – CVG

The GamerSushi Show, Episode 42: My Videogame Girlfriend

Welcome back to the GamerSushi Show, ladies and gents. Due to some scheduling and life stuff, we’ve gotten a tad behind on releases, so this episode was recorded a few weeks back – on Anthony’s birthday, no less. Because of that, Mr. Taylor skipped out to go celebrate getting a year closer to death, while the rest of us drank things and talked about video games.

The main topics we discussed were the Mass Effect 3 demo, fixing the Zelda franchise and great endings. Beyond that, we play a game of Buy/Sell about topics like Team Ninja, Apple gaming and more – all of which result in my inevitable and recurring victory, as always.

Listen up! Rate! Be merry! Continue reading The GamerSushi Show, Episode 42: My Videogame Girlfriend

Mass Effect 3: From Ashes and Why We’re To Blame for DLC

mass effect 3 from ashesI was on the fence about posting an article about the whole Mass Effect 3: From Ashes brouhaha, but an article I read over on Forbes’ website changed my mind. The article is called “Why the Exploitation of Gamers is Our Own Damn Fault” and in it author Paul Tassi examines the recent trend in DLC which, instead of being an expansion pack model, seems more like content cut from the complete game and dolled out piecemeal after launch.

While he makes a couple of statements I don’t particularly agree with, he is right in saying that we’re to blame for current DLC. As he points out, everything that’s happening with post-launch content is an economic experiment. As much as we complain about being “exploited” people are still buying products, so once again money is trumping our outcry.

The title of the article is more than a little sensationalist, but the message underneath it is sound. EA only cares about money and they’re testing us to see how far they can go. For every person who buys From Ashes on day one, that’s another chink in the armor of the old-school method of selling games.

For those of you who are interested, Total Biscuit offers an opposing viewpoint to Mr. Tassi in a video where he explains why he thinks BioWare has gone too far with Mass Effect 3.

I think pinning the blame on BioWare is unfair, but there you have it. Two different opinions regarding this whole debacle. Personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is about From Ashes. It’s extra content for people who have paid an extra 30 dollars to get the Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3, and it’s available for people who didn’t, or couldn’t given the rarity of the CE, pick one up.

So what do you guys think about From Ashes? Who’s right, Paul Tassi or Total Biscut? Are you boycotting Mass Effect 3, or is this whole thing being blown out of proportion?

Source – Forbes Online, Total Biscuit

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

Metal Gear Solid HD

Been a while since we had one of these discussions, so I thought it was time for a good old-fashioned “What Are You Playing” from the folks at GamerSushi.

This time of year is always a strange one. It’s about the time that you start clearing out the backlog from the end of the previous year, and you’re moving on to a number of random games that you couldn’t quite find time for before. Sure, there might be the random release like Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Twisted Metal to keep you busy, but for the most part, you’re waiting for one of the big releases from March or perhaps even as far away as the summer.

At least, that’s my story right now. Having just come off of Final Fantasy XIII-2, I’ve been dabbling in a few games that I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I do. For one, I’ve been totally up to my knees in the Mass Effect 3 demo. That one in particular was one that I had mostly written off, only expecting just a few evenings of fun – but it’s had the opposite effect on me. I’m totally suckered into it at this point, and I can’t get enough of the leveling system and the store purchases.

In addition to that, I’ve jumped into the MGS HD Collection, and I can’t believe how much I’ve liked playing Metal Gear Solid 2 again. Sure, I’m still at the early stage of the game (the Tanker), but I had forgotten just how tightly designed that section of the game actually is. I never considered that I would enjoy playing MGS 2, but here I am. And the restoration is great. In addition to that, I’ve been hopping in and out of Battlefield 3 multiplayer sessions with Mitch, and I’m right on the verge of being completely addicted to that as well.

So yeah, that’s what I’m playing these days. What about you gents? What are you playing?

Borderlands 2 Trailer is 96.5 Percent More WUBWUB

Borderlands was a really interesting game when it came out, a hybrid of RPG, FPS and open-world game with a good bit of loot-craziness thrown in. Even with bajillions of guns, there were a few issues with the game, most notably the somewhat stale environments (would you like desert, garbage dump, or garbage dump in the desert?) and the most nonsensical ending in the history of video games. Secret robot assassins aside, Borderlands did well enough to warrant a sequel and the release date trailer dropped today, revealing the four main characters and adding a bit of the old dubstep.

Borderlands 2 is looking really fun, and if you put WUB WUB over anything there’s a good chance I’ll buy it. The new characters look pretty neat, and the enemy variety looks like it has expanded beyond skags and bandits. Color me excited, which I believe in loot parlance is purple. What say you? Does this trailer catch your fancy? Borderlands 2 launches September 18 in the US and the 21 in the rest of the world.

The GamerSushi Show, Ep 41: ‘I’ for I Don’t Care

Welcome, friends, to Episode 41 of the GamerSushi Show, in which we say silly things about video games. As opposed to the rest of our podcasts, which are only super srs in nature. This thing was actually recorded all the way back on February 9, so you can listen to it with amusement and think about how wrong and naive we were all those weeks ago. Oh, the things we’ve learned since then. The places we’ve been. The games we’ve played. It was a different time.

Anyway, you’ll hear a couple of the technical difficulties that we had throughout this cast. Namely, that our Internet connections were goofing with the Skype call, making us sounds like robots every now and then. In addition, I had nearly a whole bottle of wine throughout the recording, so I just gradually transform into a troll over the course of it.

When we’re not robots, however, you’ll notice a number of sweet gaming topics, which range from Kingdoms of Amalur to the Double Fine Kickstarter to Final Fantasy XIII-2 and more. After all that, we play a game of grades in which we act all high and mighty about the whole industry. True story.

So yeah, check it out, everyone. And don’t forget to rate! Continue reading The GamerSushi Show, Ep 41: ‘I’ for I Don’t Care

Is Mass Effect the Best Sci-Fi Franchise of Our Time?

pop bioethics mass effect

With Mass Effect 3 on hot approach, it seems that related articles are crawling out of the woodwork. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that’s we’re prone to sensationalism here at GamerSushi, there’s no denying that we’re jonesing pretty hard for that game.

Much like the Zelda article I posted a couple days ago, this essay on Mass Effect has been making its rounds today. It’s not about fixing the series, though, but rather examining why Mass Effect is the greatest science-fiction universe of our generation. It’s a very long read, but just like the Zelda article, it’s worth it. The author, Kyle Munkittrick, picks apart the many facets of Mass Effect and analyzes everything from the medium it’s presented on to its messages and philosophies.

One of my favorite parts of the article is where the writer touches on my favorite conversation from Mass Effect one, and maybe the whole series: the point of Virmire where you encounter Sovereign and realize that Saren is merely a pawn in this living, almost god-like, ship’s plan to destroy all sentient life in the universe. That’s part of what the philosophy of Mass Effect is, according to the author: the universe is large and uncaring, and what place does humanity have in it. By extension, what place do you as Shepard have in humanity?

I really like the recent surge in quality video game essays recently, ones that take a look at our hobby through a more refined lens. It proves that there’s more to video games than just explosions and scantily-clad women, so I hope this pace keeps up. What did you guys think of the article?

Source – Pop Bioethics

GamerSushi Asks: Multiplayer Solo?

BF3 Multiplayer

When I first started playing multiplayer games, the realm of online gaming felt like a vast, unexplored world — one that needed conquering by my mighty hands. As the intrepid explorer, I imagined I would venture out into the far reaches of that vast pasture of frags and k/d ratios, seeing everything there was to see. It didn’t matter if I was alone, I could do this for hours on end, slaying the multitudes of faceless, anonymous players that populated each server.

Somewhere along the way, things changed. At some point, I began to need a buddy to help me tackle the vile denizens of multiplayer. This became especially apparent to me over the last week, as I played through the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer demo and Battlefield 3 (for the first time) with fellow GamerSushi writer, Mitch. You see, with early access to the Mass Effect 3 demo, I could have very well jumped into a multiplayer match with total strangers, fighting alongside them against waves of Cerberus bots. But that prospect just didn’t excite me. The same thing was the case with Battlefield 3, a game I’ve owned for over a month but didn’t want to play until I had someone to enjoy it with.

Honestly, I can’t even say why or when this change took place. I’m not sure if it’s because this whole “life” thing forced my gaming time to be more precious or because there are more social gaming options now than ever before, but at some point my tastes shifted. The main point of this was to ask you guys whether or not you tackle multiplayer games by yourself, or if you need a friend with you to truly enjoy it? Maybe you guys can help illuminate some of the reasons why we game the way we do in that regard. Go!

Renegade/Paragon

Renegade and Paragon

In preparation for the glorious release of Mass Effect 3, gamers everywhere are enjoying a taste of the game’s demo tonight and throughout the rest of the week. With an offering of both single player and multiplayer, it’s giving everyone a chance to see what all the hype (and in some cases, the fuss) is about. To join the Shepard spirit, we thought we’d debut a new feature, a brainchild of the good sir Anthony Taylor. Because he’s cool like that.

This feature, titled Renegade/Paragon, is a look at the video games industry through the brutal cut-and-dry scope of the Mass Effect universe. Here, we grade certain entities and rate them as either Paragons — bastions of light and purveyors of all that is good and true — or Renegades — bringers of gloom, doom and every corridor of evil in between those two. Afterwards, you get to make your own calls on the situations.

Let’s get started. Who are the current Paragons and Renegades in the industry? Continue reading Renegade/Paragon

Today’s WTF: Black Ops Voted to Have Best Ending Ever

guinness world records black ops

I’m going to try and type this post without going into full-on editorial rage mode, but it’s going to be difficult. Guinness World Records recently held a vote to determine which video game had the best ending of all time. A number of “gamers” (13,519 to be exact) cast their ballots and came up with the Top 50 Video Game Endings of all time.

There are some pretty decent choices on the list like Shadow of the Colossus, Portal and Red Dead Redemption but the game that tops the list is last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops. That game had a decent ending, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of any list, much less a list of the supposed best endings in the history of gaming. This isn’t the only puzzler either as Sonic Adventure 2, The Force Unleashed II and Super Mario Bros all make an appearance. I could rant forever about why the Force Unleashed doesn’t even deserve anything but a quick trip to the incinerator, and Super Mario Bros doesn’t even have an ending.

The whole list is after the jump. Continue reading Today’s WTF: Black Ops Voted to Have Best Ending Ever

Mass Effect 3: To Demo or not to Demo?

ME 3 Demo

I’ve got mixed feelings on demos these days. On the one hand, the impatient, spoiler-hunting, flip-to-the-end-of-the-book part of me (I’ve done that a couple of times, yes) loves getting a glimpse at a game that I’ve been anticipating. It’s like getting just a bit of cool refreshment in the middle of a ridiculous Texas summer. And if you know what that feels like, it is damn heavenly – at least until the oppressive heat crushes and suffocates you again. On the other hand, the more sensible part of me knows that demos only rile me up and leave me wanting more. And then there’s the mutant third hand, which likes trying out games that I’m on the fence about – but we’re going to ignore him for now.

While tomorrow might be Valentine’s Day for many lucky gamers out there, it’s a monumental day for yet another reason — the Mass Effect 3 demo hits. Now, while I normally try to avoid demos for games that I’ve already pre-ordered and am sure to enjoy, I just stinking love Mass Effect and have been dying to experience 3. Even though the game comes out in just a short month, I still want to get my hands on it as much as possible right now, particularly to experience some of the multiplayer. I also happened to receive a demo code to download it early, so it might be queued up on XBox Live, even as I type this…

My question to you dudes, is this: how do you feel about demos for games you’ve already pre-ordered? Do you not wish to spoil the experience at all, waiting until the moment the game is out to truly play it for the first time? Or do you want a taste as soon as possible? Go!

And by the way, if you haven’t seen the incredible FemShep trailer yet – go do that, too. I’ll wait.

The GamerSushi Show, Ep 40: A Pile of Lies and Shadows

This podcast is just a tad late this week, but I figured we’re doing good if we managed to get it up early in the weekend. Hey, at least it’s better than leaving you guys podcast-less for almost half a year, right? That’s what I thought. Also, Mitch and Anthony start things off with an extra special intro they worked up for all of you. It’s fairly entertaining.

In this edition of the GamerSushi Show, we chat about the Mass Effect 3 Co-op trailer, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Saint’s Row 3. On top of that we play a game of Fill in the Blank, where we grade a variety of topics like Miyamoto taking a backseat at Nintendo, no next gen consoles in the near future and Zynga’s supposed shady dealings (on which this podcast derives its name). All in all, it’s a pretty decent show, and hey, we even fit in 6 more minutes of Resident Evil 6 talk – because why the heck not?

In next week’s podcast (which we recorded last night), I drink through most of a bottle of wine while we talk even more about Final Fantasy XIII-2, Double Fine and Kingdoms of Amalur. Stay tuned, gents and ladies.

Listen. Rate. Enjoy. Continue reading The GamerSushi Show, Ep 40: A Pile of Lies and Shadows

GamerSushi Asks: Jamming with Skyrim?

Apparently this is the week where all of our wildest gaming dreams come true. OK, that might be stretching it a bit, but at least a few of our gaming wishes seem to be coming to light. Between Battlefield 3 rumors, Double Fine’s Kickstarter Adventure and Notch talking Psychonauts 2, we’ve got kind of a lot of things worth salivating over. But that’s not all!

You see, DICE 2012 is underway right now, featuring a number of sessions from well known people in the field of interactive entertainment, including none other than Skyrim boss Todd Howard himself. Last night, Todd Howard gave Skyrim fans the world over a bit of a tease, something to get their heads spinning as we look forward to future DLC.

The Skyrim Game Jam is a week-long project where developers at Bethesda were challenged to come up with and implement one feature that they’d love to see in the enormous open-world RPG. While Howard cautioned that some of these things are just tests and might not ever see an actual release, the possibilities are enough to keep people excited about where the game could possibly go. Howard showed a reel which boasted all the things that the developers came up with in just one week’s time, ranging from mounted dragons (!) to seasonally changing foliage. Go ahead, see for yourself.

Although this power gets abused quite a bit, it’s still pretty cool that we live in a time where developers can retroactively incorporate fresh new additions to gameplay that might need some polishing. So my question to you guys is this: which of these features would you actually want to see in the final game? Also, if you could add a reel of features like this to any other game, what would you do? Go!