2010 November

November 25, 2010

Elder Scrolls V A Sequel?

Oblivion was one of the most anticipated games in 2006 on all platforms.  It combined quality story lines with top notch graphics to provide one of the best open ended RPG’s to date. 

It was confirmed by Eurogamer that Bethesda game studios is currently working on the Elder Scrolls 5.  However, unlike the previous installments, Elder Scrolls V will be direct sequel to Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. 

Bethesda Game Studios admitted back in August that its 90 plus staff  had been working on an Elder Scrolls title over two years. It was believed that Bethesda would follow the same pattern by releasing stand-alone chapters, however now it seems that the studio has decided to break the tradition.

I’m excited for the new Elder Scrolls title but there are a few things that need to change to make it a truly great game.  I felt there were several issues that really held Oblivion back from truly being a master piece.  First and foremost was the models system.  I’ve seen titles 5 years older then itself with better character animations and facial expressions.  When the NPCs are moving within the game they look static, almost doll like.  Upgrading the graphics engine behind the scene and changing how the world looks I think would go a long way to helping the title being a success.  The second, more personal gripe I have, is the emptiness that I felt when I was playing.  I would stroll into a town with massive cathedrals, houses, massive temples and barracks yet when I walked around I would hardley see anyone.  In a town that should have thousands you would see maybe 20 throughout the entire town.  This emptiness began to wear on me as I progressed through the game.  Both Oblivion and Fallout 3 suffered from this problem.  The final issue that Oblivion suffered from was the short and ungratifying story.  The story ended on a rather unclimactic note and when I reached it i was extremely disappointed. 

Overall Oblivion was a great game and it was one of the most gorgeous titles to look at at the time.  However, these issues kept it from being a masterpiece.  If they are able to address these issues I think Elder Scrolls V will be a major success within the RPG community.

November 15, 2010

Video Games and Addiction

I thought today I would provide my readers with a bit of entertainment along with some words for thought.  We all play games and while we play them from time to time they or someone else playing them has done something to make us mad.  Most of us quit but some of us get angry at others, yell at others, yell at the computer, break the computer or one of many other anger infused reactions.  I’ve collected a group of videos that really go to show how bad some people are addicted to their video games. 

So what constitutes addiction?  Is it the amount of time spent?  I used to spend 12 hours a day playing whatever video game I wanted to at the time but I would still get all the things in real life I needed to get done, done.  I paid my bills, spent time with my girlfriend and made it to work on time every day?  Was I addicted?  Is it when you start ignoring your family?  When are you actually addicted to a game?

What does the community think?  Is video game addiction real?  Can it ruin someones life?  Is it possible for someone to become so involved in game that they loose sight of the real world before them?  Guys passing up sex to play games?  Where does it end? 


November 10, 2010

Are Custom Maps and Modding A Dying Art?

What do Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, Medal of Honor, Gears of War 1 and 2, and Bad Company 2 all have in common besides the fact that they were some of the biggest releases to come out in the last 5 years?  None of them support or even provide tools for custom content?  It appears that the world of modding has met it’s match with the new pay DLC/micro transaction pricing model that major companies such as Activision and EA are pushing.  It makes sense for these providers to block custom content so they can limit users to their custom content.

This really is sad in the sense that some of the most popular multiplayer games out there today were based off of modded and custom content.  Some prime examples of this are Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic and Day of Defeat.  All of these games spawned off of a user created mod.  The modders created the game play, sounds, maps and overall content of their mods.  These mods took off at such an alarming rate that Valve took notice of them and purchased them from their developers. 

Not all developers block custom content, in fact some encourage it.  The ever popular Valve software provides the SDK packages to create custom content.  They also provide a map editior to create custom maps.  Valve is quite unique from a great number of other companies out there today in the fact that they don’t push pay DLC in fact they tend to shy away from it.  They also have an entire section of their website dedicated to modding and to help people who are interested in it to do so.  The creators of X3, Egosoft,  are another prime example of a company that encourages it’s users to create custom content.  Egosoft built in a script editor within the game that allows you to modify almost every aspect of the game and even add in new content.

With the rise of consoles over the last 5 years the overall modding community has defiantly died down.  With the slower release of PC titles and even fewer that allow for modding in the first place it’s definitely put a hamper on the community.  Consoles for the most part do not allow any custom content.  There is one title however that does try to let users make their own content and that game is Halo.  Halo, to my knowledge, is the only console game that really makes an attempt at letting users create custom maps and game play types.   Halo’s forge does a fairly good job of letting the player create a custom map based on a preset number of items he/she can deploy in the world.  Halo also provides you with the tools you need to create custom game play types as well to go along with your custom map.

While not all custom content is good and in fact some of it is just plain terrible I think it is a real tragedy that developers as a whole are shoving it off in some dark corner so they can bolster their profits with multiple DLC content packs.  Custom maps can be a lot of fun to play and in some cases they are far more fun then the standard content that comes with the main game.  Modding also helps increase the lifetime of any particular game.  People are still playing games like Half Life, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and Deus Ex many years after their release because of the substantial amount of user created content there is. 

So what do you guys think?  Do you think the modding community is really all that important?  Is it beneficial to companies to allow users to create and publish their own content or does it hurt their bottom line?  Does custom content take away or add to the game?  Which is better?  DLC or user created content?  What does the TGB community think?

November 3, 2010

Supreme Court Split on California Video Game Law

The Supreme Court appears to be split on the California Videogame law that forbids the sale of game to children under 18 that depict scenes of gratuitous violence, sex and torture. 

“”Why isn’t it common sense,” said Justice Stephen G. Breyer, that if the law can forbid selling pictures of a “naked woman” to a young teen, it can also forbid the sale of scenes “of gratuitous torture of children” in a video game?

 Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. agreed, citing scenes from the game Postal 2 in which girls are smashed in the face with a shovel and their bodies set on fire.

“We don’t have a tradition in this country” of exposing children to that kind of graphic violence, he said. But in a case that seemed to break the usual liberal-conservative alliances, Justice Antonin Scaliaclashed with Roberts and Breyer and argued that the 1st Amendment’s protection for freedom of speech has never been applied to restrict violence in the media. 

“The same argument could have been made when movies came out that exposing children to violence would harm them”, he told a lawyer for California.”

This case has been circling around Washington for some time now.  This case, in my opinion, represents a huge land mark in free speech.  I should state that I think it is very important to shelter our children from this type of material.  I don’t think 0 -16 year old should be exposed to extreme amounts of gore, sex and violence.  However, I believe that it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure their children are protected from this NOT the governments.   This case most likely won’t be decided for another couple of months. 

What do you guys think?  Do you think it is the governments responsibility to step in where parents are obviously failing?  Is it the governments right? 

Quotes taken from LA Times.

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