2010 May

May 31, 2010

Back from vacation!

Happily and sadly I am back from vacation.  I went to Florida for a week and got some good R&R.  I must say it was nice to get away for awhile but I am now back and will start getting some more content up for you guys!

May 21, 2010

Draconian DRM: Are Consoles Next?

Anyone who has spent time on gaming forums has probably listened to PC gamers complain about Intrusive DRM.  The DRM can do anything from installing a root kit behind the scenes to prevent you from copying or installing more then a certian number times to requiring you to have a constant internet connection to play even the single player component of the game.

Xbox, PS3 and Wii owners have traditionally not had to deal with DRM.  Console titles rarely even make you enter anything to play the game you just put the disc in and play.  This, however, appears to be changing.  Publishers have always been displeased with the used game market.  When you purchase a used game 100% of the profit goes to the seller (Gamestop, Gamers, Ebgames, etc) whereas if you are to buy the game new the profits go to the publisher.  With so many consoles games being multiplayer specific publishers are finding new ways to make consumers pay for their games new.  EA is now stating that their will be no multiplayer for who buy games used.  If you purchase the game used then you will need to buy a $10 – $15 multiplayer key from EA to get access to the online content.   You’re average two year old game costs around 19.99 used.  If the consumer now has to buy a $15 dollar key to play it that could really hamper the used game market.

Consoles at their start were relatively piracy free.  This has changed dramatically over the last 5 years.  Microsoft recently banned over 1 million users from Xbox live  in an attempt to thrawt using pirated games and running modded consoles.  Console piracy has been on the rise and now publishers are starting to claim that it is eating into their profits.  One of the first ways that they tried to combat this on the PC was CD/DVD serial keys.  This is already starting to happen with EA in their attempt to prevent people from buying used games.   It’s not a far stretch for them to incorporate it for every game.   Furthermore it’s likely that they could also ask you to keep your console connected to the internet to play the games as well just to make sure you are not playing with a pirated copy.  Consoles gamers don’t have the luxury at the moment of getting cracked executables so if they add DRM consoles gamers will be stuck with it.  At least for the foreseeable  future.

While DRM is not common on consoles yet it sure could be in the near future as publishers attempt to combat piracy and maximize profits.  It will be interesting to what schemes developers come up with.

On a personal note I’m all for having a CD key that you need to enter somewhere to prove that you paid for the game.  This really isn’t that intrusive to me. I am so used to entering CD keys that I can do it in my sleep.  I do however have serious qualms about the DRM that has been released for current PC games such as ACII and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.  Any DRM that makes you keep a constant internet connection is just uncalled for.  When your DRM is a bigger hassle to the consumer then it is to the pirate then you need to remove it from your software.  Same goes for rootkit style DRM like SecureRom.  The software could cause your computer to BSOD randomly.  This kind of software behavior is not acceptable.

May 18, 2010

BFG Exiting Graphics Card Market

After 8 years of producing graphics cards BFG announced today that it will be exiting the graphics card market.   The company stated that it will continue selling it’s line of power supplies, notebooks and gaming computers. 

“After eight years of providing innovative, high-quality graphics cards to the market, we regret to say that this category is no longer profitable for us, although we will continue to evaluate it going forward”, said John Slevin, chairman of BFG Technologies. “We will continue to provide our award-winning power supplies and gaming systems, and are working on a few new products as well. I’d like to stress that we will continue to provide RMA support for our current graphics card warranty holders, as well as for all of our other products such as power supplies, PCs and notebooks.”

UPDATE: BFG has said that they will continue to honor the warranties of all of it’s exisiting graphics card customers.  So if you are current owner of a BFG graphics card you can rest easy knowing you are still under warranty. 

Feel free to discuss this on our forums here!

May 17, 2010

MW2 Resurgence DLC $15… Again…

You would think after the whole ordeal involving Activision’s last mappack that they would of have learned to at least try to not to want to scam their customers out of a ton of money.   You, however, would be wrong.  Activision’s latest DLC will not only be $15 dollars but it will follow the exact same deal as the last one.  It will have three new maps and two old ones.

The new map pack will contain the following new maps:

Vacant: Which is a Russian Office Complex from CoD4

Strike:  Is a urban town surrounded by hotels.  Another map from COD4

Carnival: Which is an abandoned carnival area.  It has a ferris wheel, funhouse and other random attractions.

Fuel: A “sniper haven” based in and around an oil refinery.

Trailer Park: Close combat

The DLC is slated to be released on June 3, and like the previous map pack it will be released for the Xbox for some time before it is released for it’s PS3 and PC counterparts.  We’re sure that many will flock to this obvious money grab and shell out another 1200 Microsoft Points or $15.

On a personal note it’s obvious that Activision is going to milk the cash cow on this game until it has milked dry.  With the release of just one more map pack at this price Activision will have effectively charged consumers for 2 full games with none of the developments costs on the second.

May 14, 2010

Dead Space 2 Reconfirmed for PC

There has been a lot of controversy involving Dead Space 2.  Earlier in the year it was announced that Dead Space 2 would not be coming to PC.  Then on May 12th on the offical Dead Space 2 twitter it was announced that Dead Space 2 would again be coming to the PC.

While it isn’t terribly shocking that EA has decided to go back on it’s decision to publish the game to PC it is surprising to find out that they are working on a Mobile/Handheld version of the game.  While this doesn’t tell us what platform it’s going to it is interesting none the less.  Perhaps PSP Go, Iphone, Ipad, Droid?  We will keep you updated as we get more info.

EA has promised that Dead Space 2 will be among the lineup of games they show off at E3 this year.  They did not specify however what platform they would be show casing it on.  Knowing EA it will most likely be the Xbox 360 version of the game.

May 13, 2010

The Longest Journey

I’ve played a good number of adventure games.  I’ve played through all of the Myst, Syberia and Schizm series just to name a few.  I managed however to never play this jemo of a game called “The Longest Journey”.  To give you all a heads up this game is old by all standards.  Released in 2000 the game sports a max resolution of 800 x 600 and that is not changeable.  This isn’t to say the game looks bad because it doesn’t for the most part but you will noticed it on the 3d rendered characters.  I am currently playing on a 28″ monitor so when I first started the game I about gagged but after playing awhile I tended not to notice the bad graphics.  I did look around the net for a graphics mod for the game and I could not find one.  If I ever do find one I will be sure to post something about it. 

I’ve always said I’m a sucker for a good story and from start to finish TLJ does not disappoint.  You could call this game “The Longest Story” and you would be right on the mark.  That being said if you are one of those people that doesn’t like long dialogue scenes then I will tell you up front that this game will bore you to death.  The story picks up in April Ryans apartment.  The game starts off in what seems like a normal world but things quickly start developing and you’ll find yourself traveling to many exotic locations ranging jungles to space stations this game literally takes you everywhere.  

The graphics in the game looked great, 10 years ago, now not so much.  This being said this should NOT stop you from playing the game.  The scenes within the game are all pre rendered and animations put within them to liven the world.  Your game character and all NPC’s within the game are rendered in real-time 3d.  While the pre rendered scenes actually look pretty good for being 10 years old you will notice the pixelated characters.  I did find however that after playing the game for an hour I tended not to notice this.  When playing a game as old as this, especially one I’ve never played, I try to keep of the mindset of “what would I have thought of this had I got it at release”. 

The sound in the game is top notch.  The biggest piece that stood out to me while playing this game was the voice acting.  It was extremely well done.  With the exception of the Myst titles I’ve never heard such good voice acting.  I found the dialogue very interesting and enthralling.  There are times when it is very serious and also very light hearted.  There were few points within the game where I felt the wording used during the scenes was a little over done or even a little explicit compared to the rest of the game.  The scenes involving Flipper were the most obscene.  The game overall was really well done. 

This title may turn off a lot of gamers because of it’s inherant gameplay type.  This is NOT an action game.  This is a puzzle solving and story game through and through.  If you are into this type of game you will love it however if you are expecting an explosion packed, gun running, twitch based game you are going to be sorely disappointed.  TLJ is a very well paced game starting you off with some simple puzzles to get the story moving and then progressing to more complex one.  The puzzles were unfortunately one of my biggest gripes with this game.  At times during the game if you don’t do things in a certain order then you can’t progress further in the game.  This can leave you confused and stuck at several spots during the game because you have no idea of what you need to do.   Some of the puzzles within the game are extremely  complex and I found myself thinking “I would never of thought of this” in several cases.  I am glad to say however the majority of puzzles within the game can be figured out without any outside help. 

Overall I would have to give this game a 90/100 the intriguing story, believable characters and amazing sound really make for a one of a kind experience.  Those of you who have played through games such as Syberia, Schizm, Beyond Atlantis and Myst will love this game.  There is a lot for you here including a great story and a ton of puzzles to solve.  Aside from the small gripes I listed above with crazy hard puzzles, some questionable dialogue and some overly complex puzzles this game is a blast.  I recommend everyone get this game for their collection.  It can be had at steam with it’s expansion for 25 dollars.  You can get it here.

May 11, 2010

Anonymous donated $3333.33 pushing Humble Indie Over $1,000,000

Wolffire is currently holding a charity fundraiser where you can get any 5 indie games for whatever you want to pay.  The fundraiser was a seven day event where the developer Wolffire would allow you to get any 5 games for any price you want to pay.  The games included World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, and Penumbra.  The Humble Indie fundraiser is scheduled to end in just over 3 days from now. 

Today an anonymous donor donated over $3000 dollars to the Humble Indie fundraising campaign.  This is an extreme act of kindness and we at TheGamersBlog would like to thank whoever that individual is for their generosity.  We think this really goes to show how compassionate gamers can be when they are given a good cause. 

One interesting thing to note is the donor donated 3333.33 dollars which could be taken as a reference to Mario Brothers where if you completed at level at 333 you would get the most fireworks.

If you could like to contribute to this charity even please head over to WolfFire here.

May 11, 2010

Project Natal Confirmed for October Release

Microsoft confirmed this week that Project Natal is coming in October.  While they did not give an exact date they did say that it will be launching “sometime during October”.  It will be interesting to see how this device pans out as it’s expected to use 20% of the Xbox’s processing power and on a system that is already outdated and being pushed to the max on most major titles it will be interesting to see if there are lag or game slowdown issues associated with the device.  We will keep you informed as we get more details. 

TheGamersBlog’s staff wants to know how many of you plan to purchase this device and what you guys think will come of it.

May 10, 2010

Adventure Games: A Dying Breed?

Yesterday I had the joy to sit down and play The Longest Journey by funcom games.  While the game is dated and old by almost every standard I find myself unable to step away form the game.  I started the game early in the morning and before I knew it the sun was setting.  Why would a game that’s over 10 years old with dated graphics hold our attention so much?  Adventure, story and amazing voice acting all help contribute to the amazing world which is “The Longest Journey”.  This got me to thinking however, when was the last time the gaming world saw a good adventure game?  Are adventure games a thing of the past?

The last time the world saw an adventure game of any importance was Myst 5: End Of Ages.  Since then there hasn’t been a single well made adventure game released to date and that was almost 5 years ago.   While there have been other adventure games made, they are generally underfunded, poorly produced with little effort put into the puzzles, visuals and characters behind them.  Why have their been  no adventure games over the past 5 years?

It  could be said that peoples interests have changed quite a bit from the mid 90’s to the new millennium where most of the great adventure games were made.  With games such as Bad Company II and MW2 people want to get into quick action, kill kill kill, rinse and repeat.   People, today, as a vast majority probably would not have the patience to sit down, and play an adventure game.  Adventure games, unlike their FPS, RTS, and RPG counter parts are quite slow and require thinking, puzzle solving and in some cases like Myst require note taking.  Yes this means and Pen and Paper.  If you have played Riven, and played through, you would remember quite clearly having to learn part of the D’ni alphabet. 

One big thing that has changed over the last 10 years  is the change from PC to console gaming.  During the mid 90’s to even as close as 5 years ago the majority of gaming was predominantly on the PC.  Due to the requirements of adventure game that are mostly point and click.  It’s extremely hard to develop one that hasn’t been dumbed down for a console.  Developing a title, as such, would be extremely hard and near impossible.  Similar attempts have been made with titles such as Syberia but were fairly unsuccessful.  That all taken into account would it make sense to develop a title for a platform that has been harmed with poor sales, piracy and changing consumer interests?

Adventure games bring something to the table like no other game does… curiosity.  Whats behind that door?  What happens when I flip this lever?  What happens if I light this lamp?  All these things help drive the player to progress the game and move deeper into the story.  Another thing that adventure games have generally brought to the table is amazing graphics.  It could be argued, that pre rendered images are a thing of the past they are nothing to be scoffed at.  Pre Rendered games can be just as beautiful if not more so then true 3d games.  However, with the recent advancement in graphics technologies and Direct X 11 an adventure game in full 3d might be possible.  The last game to try using a full 3d environment was Myst 5: End Of Ages.  While the game did look pretty at the time it felt as if the game was lacking.  While it was nice to be able to “freely” explore the world in full 3d it lacked a lot of the detail and living beauty that the previous titles such as Myst III: Exile and Myst IV: Revelation did. 

While an adventure title will most likely never have the same impact that Myst did.  We believe that a good one could definitely be successful on the PC platform baring some fiasco involving DRM.  What would it take to make it successful?  First and foremost it has to have a good story.  One of the things that Myst games have done so well over the years is have a compelling story to drive the game.  Secondly the game has to have believable characters.  This is one thing that the good adventure games have typically had down.  Whether they you live actors or just compelling voice acting.  Finally but just as important is well engineered puzzles.  This is something that a lot of games fail at.  In some cases they want you to look for some so obscure that you would only find it on accident or it is so blatantly easy that it wasn’t worth the time to solve the puzzle.  With the recent “revival” of PC gaming we may see some new titles in the adventure genre.  Microbes Syberia III is expected to be released this year.  If this title is a success we could see a small revival in the adventure genre.

May 6, 2010

Steam Deal: Civ IV Complete Collection $10

Our friends at steam have yet another amazing deal where you can get the entire Civilization IV collection for 10 dollars.  This include the full version of Civilization IV and all of it’s expansions which include Colonization, Warlords and Beyond the Sword.  Head on over to steam to participate in this great deal!

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