Crying in Games, Need for Speed headed for the scrap heap & the Used Games debate – Welcome to the column that can be bought new, used or in a junkyard underneath the blue cowboy boots that your mom gave you known as Dare to Play the Game.
My 120gb hard drive for my 360 has been working quite well. I had the opportunity to test it on Fable 2 quite a bit over the past week. The Xbox no longer sounds like a tractor train ready to explode at any moment. As reported, loading is much faster. Any of the major areas in Fable load much faster giving me more actual playtime. So far, the investment seems worth it which was something I was quite worried about at one point.
Fable II has been going very well, basically I am at the point right before I go back to the third hero, Reaver in Bloodstone. I already did the deed I needed to for him and supposedly he will now join my band of merry men and women to go kill Lucien. So the game gave me a big warning that I need to go finish up whatever because I won’t be able to turn back until the game is finished. So, I’m working on my real estate and buying everything that isn’t nailed down. I also want my good maxed out and my renown up to 50000 to nab those achievements as well. Then I will be ready to finish the story portion of the game. In my honest opinion, I still think it is the best 360 game I have played all year.
The obvious joke coming in 1..2..3: She can raid my tomb anytime. This is Karima Adebibe. She is one of those girls that is a look a like and inspiration for the Tomb Raider games. She’s looking sporting here in full typical exploring gear that I’m sure is up to regulation for archelogical purposes only. I think I’m in the wrong line of business.
Chris Bateman of Only a Game has a thought provoking article on his new, games only blog on whether or not a game has ever made you cry.
The contention here isn’t that people have never cried while playing games, but either that it’s an irrelevant question or that it wasn’t the actual game part that made you cry; it was the narrative elements, which are not exclusive to games. I’m not at all convinced I agree with his argument entirely, but it’s an interesting proposition:
This is the nub of the issue here: a story can make you cry by empathizing with the protagonist (or another character), but a game (when viewed as a formal system) cannot do this. It follows that the only way that a videogame can make you cry is by using narrative tools that have nothing to do with games as formal systems whatsoever. So even though, for instance, many people report that they cried when they played Final Fantasy VII at the fateful scene (and indeed, several other cRPGs also show up in player studies as having provoked tears) the moment that actually brought the player to tears was a non-interactive cut scene. It wasn’t the game (in the systems view) that made them cry – it was the story – and there never was a question as to whether stories could make you cry.
As usual with these types of articles, the comments are just as interesting as the article. As Bateman notes in the comments section, he intentionally pushed the ‘games as play’ and ‘games as systems’ arguments to their most extreme ends, hoping it ‘would make for more lively debate.’
There is no crying in video games. Okay, so some video games are emotion filled enough to make even the most tough as nails gamer shed a single *tear*. However, the real issue here is that the game itself doesn’t make you cry, but usually the art of the story does make you weep like a simple schoolchild. But there are other things in games that could make you cry. I mean Bully could make me cry and wet my pants since I was the victim of schoolyard pranks from 5-15. Not, that I cryed or wet my pants growing up. I had a functional bladder and was king of the school thank you. *caugh caugh*
Maybe the game is as tough as nails and you are a weeping sissy, so when Naruto kicks your ass, you must cry. Or perhaps in Animal Crossing, you can’t bust out a RPG and set fire to the whole bloody town because it is only a kids game. And because you are emo for playing the game in the first place (oh yeah I said it), you cry. Like a little bitch. But I think that games can make you cry, especially if you have ever been hit in the head with a NES or SNES cartridge. Man, do those suckers hurt. Don’t even get me started when you catch a cd or dvd in your eye. I think I got off topic somewhere.
The Electric Playground’s show on Friday reported that Electronic Arts has cancelled development of new titles in its Need for Speed franchise. An EA spokesman gave a generic response that did not dispel the rumor.
Electronic Playground did not name its source. Reached for comment, EA said: “We’re working through a process on people, products, and facilities at EA and don’t have any announcements today.” That’s no defense for a franchise that goes back to 1994, so, it sounds like something’s up.
Need for Speed: Undercover released to very unenthusiastic reviews, to put it charitably. It was one of the titles named by analysts in this week’s news that holiday sales would be sharply lower than expected, news that sent the publisher’s stock into a dive. EA CEO John Riccitello said the company would cut titles from its “bottom levels of profitability,” which exempts EA’s sports catalogue.
EA-owned Black Box Studios is the home of NFS. But it also develops FIFA, NBA Live, NHL and others for EA. Correction, that is EA Canada. EA Black Box makes Need for Speed and Skate. Killing NFS would be a serious blow.
I remember playing Need for Speed in the Playstation one days. It was a decent speed game but the overall game was kinda bland. You drove around a track, you got new cars, etc. Safe to say 15 years later, the game hasn’t changed all that much. Customization exists as well as realistic body damage but the game is still a glorified car sim. There are only three decent car game franchises in my opinion. Burnout (which is flat-out awesome), Midnight Club and Gran Turismo (which I can’t stand but it certainly brings in the big money). Need for Speed would be a decent 4th, but sadly feels too much like Club or Turismo.
They need something different. Fast cars and a giant selection of vehicles. But like the modes where they have police cars and hot pursuit, they need something different. They need an adventure and a goal. I’m not talking about winning a race cup or unlocking new cars either. A goal could be like saving a city from genocide because you were able to bring in the goods with time to spare. Maybe a multi-stage race where you have Burt Reynolds sit next to you, okay I’ve been watching Cannonball Run a little too much. Or perhaps some minor elements of car combat. The thing is that Need for Speed has to have an identity and despite the game doing very well in the 90’s, it still has never had a true identity. It needs to find it.
Gamasutra’s Paul Hyman has a gloom and doom look at the used games market and why publishers are very unhappy with the situation; the comments section is surprisingly lively, and it’s worth a look.
While GameStop (the main player in the used game market) management declined to comment, but several industry types (like David Braben of Frontier) put in their two cents. On how the used game market is bad!!!!!! for the industry at large, Braben had this to say:
“… [We] don’t see anything from the used-game sales, which is one reason why the price of new games throughout the industry remains artificially high,” he says. “I mean, the industry has to make all its money from the first sale since we don’t get a penny from the subsequent dozen or so sales of that same game.”
The used-game market may also be negatively affecting the quality of games, he notes. “Five years ago, a great game would have sold for a longer period of time than for a bad game which was essentially our incentive to make great games.”
“But no longer. Now publishers and developers just see revenue the initial few weeks regardless of the game’s quality and then gamers start buying used copies which generates money that goes into GameStop’s pocket, nobody else’s.”
It does sound pretty whiny (as one analyst notes, “… publishers want their cake and eat it too. They want the used games business.”), and as many people note, the used car that gets trotted out isn’t particularly apt. Being a fan of good used bookstores, I wonder what book publishers think about that particular resale market (since this is hardly exclusive to the game industry).
Whine, whine, whine. Bitch, bitch, bitch. Cry me a river. You live in a capitalist society, people have a right to resell merchandise. Books, cds, washers, dryers, and of course games. However, here is the difference you don’t see cd manufacturers crying all that much and you don’t see Maytag putting up a stink because somebody resold their dryer with magnificent dependability. However, everybody in the game business thinks that their game is some kinda piece of art and unless they are selling it and reaping the profits; all the rest just suck. It’s a piece of merchandise. It gets bought and sold just like anything else. (I would make a mom joke, but you can do those on your own time)
Another point to this is that a lot of games can only be bought used or like new. Last time I checked, I didn’t see Walmart stocking Super Nintendo and Sega Saturn games. Heck, they only stock key DS games, maybe what 50-100 titles tops? Do you have any idea how many games are in the DS library? Over 600, and probably a lot closer to 1,000. On Saturday, I walked into a small time Game shop, not a Gamestop or EB. He had dvds, games and game systems for sale. All used. After about half an hour, I picked up a couple of dvds and three games. Those three games were Armed & Dangerous for the Xbox, Dragon Warrior & Heavy Barrel for the NES. Where could I go to purchase those games new? Nowhere. This doesn’t stop with old titles either.
Many new titles are not stocked in mainstream stores so we are forced to wait until we can find them used somewhere else. Games aren’t artificially high because of used-game sales, games are artificially high because of overhead and greed. If we start sending messages to those games that aren’t worth retail (which is arguably 90% of the games out there), then those developers might try a little harder at making a quality game we want to buy on release day.
Developed by Ninjabee and fueled with corn goodness, Doritos Dash of Destruction comes to your XBLA marketplace for the price of free. Yes like Yaris and Aegis Wing. Hopefully more like Aegis Wing and less like Yaris. The concept was originated by Mike Borland who had won the Doritos contest not so long ago. His idea? To make a racing game where you control one of two characters, a hungry T-Rex chasing after a Doritos tortilla truck or the truck driver trying to get away from the T-Rex. Basically a game of cat and mouse where you can play either side. The city is completely destructible and it is being developed by the same people who brought you Outpost Kaloki X and Band of Bugs. It can’t be that bad right? Okay, we’ll hold judgment until I download it later this week.
Another Strongbad game? Geez Louise, I’d like to talk to who exactly is still buying these games. Especially at $10 or 1,000 points a piece. The story behind this one? There is a draconic menance who has broke free of his original game and other 8 bit classics have leak into the real world to cause havoc. Strongbad is the only one who can help. Personally one would think that if the bad guys of 8-bit games leaked, so did the good ones. Where the heck is Mario, Samus, Link or the Belmont Clan? Mega Man, Karnov, or perhaps Little Mac from Punch-Out? Somebody, anybody…actually I might have just described a better game if it wouldn’t involve a licensing nightmare.
Big Kahuna Party is an addictive family game where players match up sea themed objects. They have to find and discover new and exotic fish among the 99 levels of “action”. There are 20 different sea creatures and when 5 or more are matched, it causes an explosion. This could be sticks of dynamite to nuclear bombs. Dynamite, Nuclear Bombs? This game isn’t exactly very friendly to the sea creatures you are finding. It seems to me that those exotic fish wouldn’t exist anymore if you were making them explode. Perhaps they will include oil spills as DLC, /facepalm.
One of the titles launched with the Sega Master System, Enduro Racer was one of the first motorcycle games. There were five stages where you had to avoid other racers as well as on the road objects like rocks and trees. You could also make your bike jump to avoid obstacles. Points are accumulated by passing other vehicles. These points can be used to buy new parts or repairs. At 500 points, it’s a simple but decent game and certainly better than games where you blow up sea creatures.
Rise of the Argonauts
Rise of the Argonauts
Mystery P.I. Portrait of a Thief
Cate West: The Vanishing Files
Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled
Neopets Puzzle Adventure
It’s the week before Christmas, were you expecting a blockbuster? The only notables this week is Rockband 2 for Wii/PS2 and Rise of the Argonauts for 360/PS3 (sorry Deer Drive and Burger Island). We all know about Rockband 2, but perhaps some of you don’t know about Rise of the Argonauts. It follows the legendary story of Jason the Greek King. There are multiple characters including Jason, Hercules, Atalanta, Achilles and Pan who I assume will be playable. It is being released at full retail but unless there is something really good here, don’t expect it to stay at that piece. Hey, if the publisher or developer sees this, feel free to prove me wrong by sending me a copy. Heck I found Beowulf for 360 for $5 at Best Buy brand new not too long ago. I wish I was kidding.
WoW time. 58/58/43/30/18. My rogue has caught back up with my Death Knight and can technically go into Outlands. Winterspring/Felwood was the combination that made me appreciate my character again. I know a lot of people prefer Plaguelands but I just never got into that area. The only thing that is keeping me from Outlands is my blacksmithing and my lockpicking. My blacksmithing is in the 260’s and I was hoping it would be a lot closer to 300. The problem is I’ve had to give a lot of the bars I would normally use up to the Thorium Brotherhood quests. My lockpicking is also kinda stuck at 248. This is 2 points shy of 250 which is the level 50 junkboxes. The problem is I’m picking level 50+ mobs which give me the higher boxes. So where are those boxes going? Right to my guild bank. I have over a dozen sitting in a tab ready to be picked. I really need to find an area with mid to high 40’s humanoid mobs so I can get the two points to get over the hump. In other characters, my death knight is leveling his skinning/herbalism quite nicely and my dwarf priest worked on his first aid and cooking. Remember, the next couple of weeks are Winter Veil. There are some good profession recipes to get and gifts under the tree. Just be sure to watch who you are kissing under the mistletoe. Dem Dwarfs have mustaches and Trolls have tusks. And that’s the women. Have fun kiddoes.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)