NXE Dashboard commercials, Ghostbusters busting budgets and Microsoft not Gay or Proud? – Welcome to the column that is straight but scared to know where his sensitive side has been known as Dare to Play the Game.
Once upon a time, I gamed on my Xbox 360. Then, the people of Blizzard put subjective thoughts into my head about getting to level 70 and becoming addicted to a thing called rep. The rest is history. *sigh*. This week in World of Warcraft, I did finally get my Ambassador’s title and then you would think I would put down my Warcraft and start up something else. Anything else. No…I worked on rep with Timbermaw Hold. Timbermaw…yeah the wooly things in the tunnel at Winterspring/Felwood. Got to within 8k of Exalted. Burnt myself out bad. The most I could do from that point was to go and group up for a couple of Auchindon dungeons.
So, as mentioned this is the first week where I’m changing that. I already have a 4000 point card entered in Xbox Live and I am waiting for Marvel vs Capcom 2 next week. In addition, on Tuesday I went looking for Rock Band Country Track Pack. Fry’s didn’t have them in stock yet, so I’ll check back on Wednesday sometime. I haven’t heard of any delay, it’s probably a late shipment. As long as I get my Track Pack in the next day or so, I’ll put out a review by Sunday. MvsC2 will follow but I’ll probably take a little longer to put that out. Then, on August 19th comes Shadow Complex, I’m thinking that one could possibly be the digital download of the year. You heard it here first.
Some recent studies suggest that male gamers such as myself should no longer glorify the girl gamer (or in this case, one who likes to dress up like a Warcraft night elf) because they are all too common and not unique enough anymore. Hrmmm. It’s still awesome to me. Most of my life and my relationships have involved somebody who thinks gaming is something for a child and that I should just grow up. Only recently have I found a girl that I love completely that shares my love for gaming. So you know what, it’s unique to me…actually it’s darn special. That and I still think girls like my fiancee and the one up above are just that much hotter with that gamer appeal. Motion denied.
As many of you have no doubt probably seen by now if you’ve been
connected to Xbox Live, Microsoft’s new dashboard advertisements have begun appearing for Xbox 360 owners.
Rather than the standard, static advertisements you’re used to seeing,
these bring running commercials to your 360, in some cases complete
with video and, more annoyingly, sound. You can see an example of one running in this video here.
Josh Lovison, of digital media experts the Emerging Media Lab, tells us
that these new Silverlight ads won’t as intrusive as you may have first
feared, as they’ve been designed to “fit with the rest of the
interface”. So you won’t be seeing pop-up ads, or replacement banners, or watermarks, or news tickers, or anything like that. You’ll just be seeing ads running in the same NXE “windows” as you find everything else on the console’s user interface.
Interestingly, Lovison also says that Microsoft’s entire move to the
New Xbox Experience may have been partly influenced by the desire/need for advertising, as the “windows” that all NXE content is displayed in, from videos to demos to Xbox Live Arcade titles, “just so happen to be IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) standard sizes”. Meaning a Flash/Silverlight ad from a website can be dropped directly onto the 360 dashboard.
I haven’t seen one of these myself yet; I’m presuming you can just navigate away from them, and aren’t forced to watch them?
Know what is the most annoying part of any DVD or Blu-Ray movie? Besides the digital copy that they charged you $5 extra dollars for. The forced advertisements or trailers that you can’t go past no matter how many times you hit a chapter skip or the menu button. Do I really need a Blu-Ray commercial on a Blu-Ray disc? Obviously I’ve bought the Blu-Ray player, or I wouldn’t be playing Blu-Ray discs. No guys, I’ve jerry-rigged my dvd/vhs player so that the vhs tape deck takes my disc and then down-converts it into standard definition. Wow, if I had only spent $250-$300 on a Blu-Ray player, I could use my vhs player for what it was intended for. Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches.
What a way to get totally off topic and start a rant. Seriously, this has the potential to be highly annoying. Imagine your 360 is on and you want to check out to see how much space you have because you want to download the new Point Lookout DLC for Fallout 3. The problem is you have like several hundred songs in Rock Band downloaded and you aren’t sure. So you go to System Settings…but first here is a commercial about new Axe Shower Gel.
WTF…sure you can probably go past it but that’s like those web pages that put ads before you can read your article. It’s annoying and it wastes time. Furthermore, I really don’t want to buy Axe Shower Gel after watching it. The only thing I want to do is urinate on an Axe Shower Gel display because that’s what it smells like. Actually, I would love to take a paper mache sculpture, set it on fire..then douse it in Axe Shower Gel and set it on the ad people who came up with this idea’s front lawn. That would make me smile. Suffice to say, I just hope this isn’t a major hindrance but it could easily become a problem. Maybe I should just stop connecting to Xbox Live unless I need to.
Here is a screenshot from one of the proposed ads. It starts with some furry prairie dog and goes to a bunch of Telus phones. I see, they start all cuddly and then next thing you know you get some creepy dude covered in chocolate being eaten by girls cause apparently he sprayed himself with some Axe thing. Yeah…I’m watching you NXE…I’m watching!
It’s not often that the public gets word of what it costs to make a specific game. But a multi-million-dollar range was given for the latest Ghostbusters game in a Texas newspaper.
The Fort Worth Star Telegram fingered the cost of development for the game at $15 million to $20 million.
The budget figure ran in a profile of lead Ghostbusters development studio Terminal Reality, which earned the opportunity to make a Ghostbusters game after one of its military-shooter prototypes impressed Vivendi Universal in 2006.
Ghostbusters film and game actor and co-writer Dan Aykroyd has also talked about the budget to the press, estimating in a June interview with the magazine If that the game’s publishers spent “like $12 or $15 million” to make the game.
Last month, the CEO of Ubisoft said he expected the average video game budget to swell to $60 million in the next gaming hardware generation.
Vivendi, which merged with Activision, did not publish the game when it was released in June. In the U.S., Atari did. But a representative from the publisher did not respond to a request about these budget figures by press time. Kotaku has also inquired directly with Terminal Reality and will let readers know if they can shed any more light on the cost to make the game.
Is anybody surprised that the game cost that much to make? 1, it’s a movie game and 2, it involved the actual actors who made the darn thing. And 3, they put a lot of work into the game and tried to make it very special as it coincided with the Blu-Ray release of the movie. Games, for lack of better description, are like small films. Some films out there today take $200 million to make and barely make half of it back before video sales. Heck, it sometimes takes years to recoup costs if at all.
The same can be true with video games. Depending on who is involved, the costs can swell. The more time spent on the game, the more time is required of the major players. Then, $12-$15 million is gone before you can blink an eye. Of course, you can always run into a situation where millions of dollars are spent and the product vanishes into thin air. (See Duke Nukem Forever) But budgets like this shouldn’t bother too many people unless the game completely bombs. Plus Ghostbusters had to deal with the Activision Blizzard merger which probably only gave way to more costs. But they produced a good game that got a lot of above average grades from the harshest of critics.
At least we know the money was well spent. I heard for $20, they will let you take a look at their “proton packs”. (and who says I can’t fit in 2 gamer girl pictures in a week)
This weekend the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is hosting a talk about homophobia online and in games and Xbox Live’s head of policy and enforcement will be on hand to hear what they have to say.
Stephen Toulouse is going top the talk at Electronic Arts as his team works to find a solution to Microsoft’s current position on mentioning one’s sexual orientation in a Gamertag or profile on Live. Right now it’s not allowed, but Toulouse says that will change once they figure out the best way to implement that change.
“The overall policy we have today is that the expression of sexual orientation in a Gamertag or text field is not allowed,” he told Kotaku today. “That doesn’t matter what the orientation is.”
Toulouse said the team felt that the policy was even handed in its treatment of the issue, but have since learned that some consider it unfair.
“We recognize that the policy is not just, that some communities feel like they are being targeted,” he said. “Our challenge is how do that. We are working on that now.”
When looking into the issue Toulouse’s team found that 98 percent of the uses of the word “gay” on Live was pejorative.
The team is working now with GLAAD to best figure out how to resolve the issue in a way that allows people to identify themselves without allowing for something that could amount to hate speech.
“I don’t know what shape or form it will take,” Toulouse said, “but yes we will go back and figure out how to make it work.”
All of this looks like one bigoted joke when you take into consideration that GTA IV has DLC called the Ballad of Gay Tony. But if Gay Tony was your id, then you would be asked to change it. Now, I have no desire to call myself anything but Kedrix (which is not double code for anything, it’s a handle people) but there should be some sort of freedom to express yourself as long as it is kept clean. Gay can mean sexual orientation, but it can also be happy and free. Of course, nobody recognizes that definition anymore.
Theoretically, you could make up if, ands and buts all day long. It’s probably perfectly acceptable to have your name be Ballin’ but you probably can’t put FreeBallin’. In addition, they bring up that no sexual orientation is okay…so if somebody was named Straight Tony, they would be asked to change their name? I doubt it. Straight could mean like a tall dude instead of being ole heterosexual Tony. Hetero you probably wouldn’t get away with (cause Live would do it to make a point) but Straight? Bet that wouldn’t trip too many censors.
It mainly comes down to Live trying to prevent a situation before it starts. Sure, it’s perfectly acceptable to be “Gay Tony”. However, by announcing yourself as Gay Tony, all of the “Redneck Joes” and “Religious Right Karen’s” of the world might write you mocking messages and denounce your sexual orientation. This leads to people getting ticked off, lawsuits and a lot of slinging hate speech. It’s the old military idea of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. But then again, freedom of speech is an issue. We’ll see how Xbox plays it in the next 6 months or so.
The Arcade of Summer continues. Splosion man is next and he is a man who..wait for it…explodes. That’s his power. This power is used to naturally kill enemies but also jump his way out of sticky situations. It’s back dropped in a 2.5d world and includes a story mode as well as 4-player co-op sploding action. Could be a lot of fun, I’d say download the demo first.
Another Crystal Chronicles episode, this one has you in the role of the Darklord’s daughter. She has traps and monsters at her disposal to fight back wave after wave of rpg hero wannabes. This is the only way to keep them from getting the Dark Crystal. There are a variety of levels and you will be able to fly your tower across the land to accomplish this. This sounds an awful lot like the Deception PS1 series, but surely styled differently. Might be worth the pickup.
You and three friends must work against the clock to make the best five-card handle available. This will have multiple rounds and points are scored based on your hand. Basically, a standard deck of cards are on the screen, then a card is flipped over. At this point it can be grabbed by somebody else. It sounds like a game of Speed with the rules set up a bit differently. But unlike the real speed game, people hands won’t get slapped around trying to pick up the cards. (Just an occasional wiimote upside the head perhaps)
Ever see those puzzles in the paper that have two pictures where you have to spot differences between them? I suck at those. Well, they made a Wii Game for it. Spot 5 differences in the pictures shown and you can compete with friends in a party mode or by yourself in a timed single player mode. It’s simple, mindless and chances are I probably couldn’t play this one either.
Rock Band: Country Track Pack
Watchmen: The End is Nigh The Complete Experience
Rock Band: Country Track Pack
Rock Band: Country Track Pack
Watchmen: The End is Nigh – Part 1 & 2
Wii Sports Resort
Little King’s Story
Rock Band: Country Track Pack
50 Classic Games DS
Lots of people are excited about Wii Sports Resort as they hope it is as good as the original. New to this edition include Golf, Cycling, Bowling, and my favorite Sword Play. Isn’t this just asking for it at this point? Let’s just hope nobody thinks about manufacturing any realistic swords for this exercise. As mentioned above, the Country Track Pack comes out this week but I have not been able to secure a copy. Hopefully, all of the country folk down here in the Bible belt haven’t scooped up every copy. Of course, they are probably still dealing with being broke, their pickup breaking down, getting run over by a train and their momma getting released from prison.
Finally, the Watchmen game that appeared on Xbox Arcade makes its way to disc based releases. The Xbox version will simply contain the two episodes for about $30 (saw it in Fry’s for $26.74). The PS3 version will include the movie and the game. In otherwords, the complete experience. It will retail for $50. For people who want to play a crappy movie game, there is also G-Force this week. Unless you like playing with hamsters. Then we seriously need to have a talk. That’s about it for this week, we’ll see what happens next week.
So, I thought I would share with you a special upcoming moment in my work here as a columnist and a reviewer. Later this week, I will be receiving my first Blu-Ray for review, Green Lantern: First Flight. If you have followed my other reviews, then you know that this one is right up my alley. Since I already own copies of Ultimate Avengers, Justice League (The New Frontier) and Batman: Gotham Knight on Blu-Ray, I should have a good basis to accurately judge Green Lantern. Green Lantern was one of my dad’s favorite heroes growing up and just maybe after this review, I’ll get him to finally read one of my reviews. The only problem is if he does that, he’ll want to borrow it. But then he’ll figure out I have only the Blu-ray and want to come over instead. Okay, so maybe getting him to read it isn’t such a great idea. So, the moral for this week kiddoes is to go out and read something you don’t normally read. Perhaps a different type of book or a printed copy of a newspaper since you might be an online reader. Just experience the world a little differently and who knows what you will find. Take care.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)