Liz & J.A. play the Sims: Episode 1: Couch Potato Millionaire finds a job


Liz Poisonkiss and J.A. Laraque are playing the Sims 3 and the Sims 4. Why, we are not sure, but they are recording it like a reality show and seem to be having fun doing so and so here are some of their adventures in their respective games.

In episode one in the Vicariously household the self proclaimed couch potatoes decide that their luxurious home and millions of dollars is all well and good, but at least one of them needs to find a job. Strangely enough we find in the world of the Sims certain job professions just don’t match up to the real world.

You don’t get the show 1: We’re like school on Saturday…no class


Brand new show we open by finding out just how long it takes for Ignacio to use the bathroom before our recordings and it’s all downhill from there.

J.A. talks about the lady in League of Legends who was totally down with a three-way with him and his girlfriend sight unseen because “Love don’t got no eyes.”

We also learn that you can find real legitimate gameplay video on sexy sites which not only confused J.A. but wait till you hear why he was on those sexy sites to begin with.

Now the show isn’t complete without “normal” gaming news so the guys talked about Blizzards meeting with Nostalrius the group behind the WOW legacy servers.

You can check out their official website.

We also answered questions from our Facebook Group page.

So not bad for a first show of what is pretty much the anti-Obsolete Gamer Show and if you like it please comment, upvote and visit all our links and stuff including following us on our Twitter page.

And if you really like us we are on Patreon so you can send us your hard earned dollars so we can finally get Ignacio a bedroom organizer.

And if you didn’t like it or got offended, you don’t get the show.

Siege Breakers Sessions #1: Star Citizen 2.0 & More

star citizen

Many moons ago we decided to create a podcast where everyone who contributed to Obsolete Gamer could come on and talk about what we loved, gaming. We got together at a local radio Miami station and began recording shows. Overtime, we started interviewing guests and then moved to our offices and changed to our Skype and YouTube format, but we always kept a podcast format as well because that’s where we started.

We wanted a podcast only show that was more gaming focused and so Siege Breaker Sessions was created based off of a group of gamers we play a variety of games with. These podcasts will cover mainly PC games, but we may talk some console games as well, however it mainly be about what we have played, what we are playing and what we are looking forward to in the world of video games.

In our very first episode we began talking about the game that all of us have been intrigued with since the beginning, Star Citizen and with 2.0 we were all dying to see what would be coming next. We went over some of the hopes and our concerns we had for the upcoming game.

We then moved on to Fallout 4 which took the attention of much of the Obsolete Gamer staff when it was released, so much so it affected the guest booking of the Obsolete Gamer Show. There was some discussion about how for one person it was not all they expected, but it turned out it was their own fault for the choices they made in the game.

Next, we talked briefly about the final StarCraft 2 campaign and the end of that series before talking a bit about mobile games and the strange celebrities that have showed up in commercials for them. There was a little EA bashing and disappointment over Star Wars Battlefront as well and with good reason as you will hear.

Finally, many of us got wrapped up when Blizzards, Heroes of the Storm was released. We played it a lot, but soon found ourselves returning to Riot games League of Legends, so we did a little comparison and discussed the differences and why we made the switch.

All in all it was a good first podcast and we think you will enjoy it so give it a listen and leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Warning: The Siege Breakers Sessions Podcast is NSFW and and contains adult language, seriously if you get easily offended stay out.

You can find our podcasts at the following locations:

ITunes

Stitcher (May currently be having issues)

iPodder

Player FM

Digital Podcast

Pod Directory

Darkspore

[youtube id=”Gj_YOgi9nkA” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Originally, I picked Darkspore up because I wanted to see what Maxis would do with an action RPG built on Spore’s creature creator.  Spore was a mediocre sandbox game in which you guided a species through its entire evolutionary process.  The highlight was the creator, which offered the player a deep level of customization.  How does this system carry over to an action RPG?  It’s not quite what I expected, but the game does a bunch of things well.

Darkspore - Gameplay

If you’re like me, you thought you’d be making your own genetic heroes from the ground up for this game.  Wrong.  While this is disappointing, what they’ve done instead is fairly robust.  Customization of your heroes is driven by what gear you pick up, which is then integrated into their bodies.  You can mount dropped items almost anywhere on the hero’s body, with a couple exceptions like boots and weapons.  There’s a wide palette of colors and color schemes, for even more tweaking.

Darkspore - Gameplay

I didn’t spend too much time playing dress up, but there were definitely a lot of options for crafting a unique appearance.  In addition to making cosmetic changes, the gear solely determines your level.  That is to say, there are no skill or stat leveling trees for individual heroes.  Instead, you gain “Crogenitor” levels as you play, allowing you to do things like unlock additional squad slots, heroes, and the option to chain-finish levels in succession for better loot.

Darkspore - Gameplay

Not everyone will like it, but I feel it’s a fresh twist on the classic RPG formula.  Probably a consequence of this leveling system, there is no way to trade with other players.  I suspect the devs don’t want people getting power-geared too much, which would definitely happen if trading was a feature.  I’ve been told that they’re implementing a way to drop items on the ground, which will allow friends to trade but doesn’t help much for trading with untrustworthy strangers.

Darkspore - Gameplay

You start the game on your ship, which is your hub for genetic hero customization, multiplayer chat channels and anything else that isn’t standard gameplay.  To prepare for actual combat, you make squads of 3 heroes each.  You select one of your squads for each deployment and you can swap between squad members at will, albeit on a short cooldown.  Each hero has a unique standard attack, 2 core skills, one or more passive abilities/auras and a squad ability.

Darkspore - Gameplay

The squad ability is interesting because it is shared amongst all 3 heroes.  Since there are upwards of 40 heroes in the game, there are many combinations of squad abilities to mix and match.  At higher difficulty levels, you will need to find the right balance of survivability, damage and crowd control to avoid becoming dead.  The possible combinations only increase as you add more buddies to your squad in multiplayer, which capped out at 4 in beta.  There are two other considerations for squad composition.

Darkspore - Gameplay

There are 5 genetic types that your champions and enemies alike share: Necro, Plasma, Bio, Quantum and Cyber.  Enemies of the same type as your hero will deal double damage, so you’re not going to want to bring a bunch of Cyber heroes to a planet that’s all Cyber monsters.  Additionally, heroes are separated into Tempest (Mage), Ravager (Rogue) and Sentinel (Tank) classes.  You’ll want to mix and match appropriately for different situations.

Darkspore - Gameplay

My overall impression of the game is mixed.  On one hand, the combat is crisp and fun, especially when you’re cooperating with friends.  The abilities are satisfyingly destructive and the heroes that I played all felt unique.  It’s like playing league of legends in action RPG flavor, in that you only have a handful of spells available at one time, but a ton of different characters to choose from.  There’s a good mix of enemy types with various special abilities you’ll need to adjust to.  On the other hand, there are aspects of the game that worry me.

Darkspore - Gameplay

The level design is boring.  All the missions unlocked for the beta had simplistic layouts, making you feel like you’re on rails.  There’s only the bare minimum of exploration.  The game rewards you with loot for finding badly hidden obelisks, which is hugely disappointing to me.  Level randomization is almost nonexistent.  Zones layouts do not randomize AT ALL when you replay them, other than obelisk placement and location/composition of monster packs.

Darkspore - Gameplay

This has the potential to get incredibly stale, especially since the game follows the Diablo format where you play it 3 times over on different difficulties.  Additionally, the game offers arena style PvP which may prove impossible to balance given the sheer number of heroes.  The hero customization, while not a failure, is mostly cosmetic, which is basically a cop-out.  I would rather they left out any attempt at PvP balance and gave the player some manner of ability customization outside of items.  Lastly, the hero editor interface is somewhat clunky.  If there is a way to view all a character’s equipped gear at once, I haven’t found it.  You have to assess it one slot at a time.

Darkspore - Gameplay

That said, I will be playing this game.  The core gameplay is solid enough to provide action RPG fans with hours upon hours of casual fun with friends.  But Diablo III this ain’t.

John Madden Football

John Madden Football SNES
While Madden Football is an easy favorite for many gamers, I would bet many of those fans were never around for the early releases. I hear the Sega Genesis version was pretty sweet, but I wanted to give the SNES version a try first.
John Madden Football SNES
This is also back when EA cared about promoting John Madden in the football video games. I think the newest releases don’t even feature his voice anymore. Sad really…….
John Madden Football SNES
Well anyway, John Madden Football on SNES isn’t totally bad. Compared to the older NES football games, this game is pure gold. It’s got all your favorite teams (well the ones around at the time of course), a big playbook, extra modes, and a lot of stuff the series still uses.
John Madden Football SNES
There is one fatal flaw with the game, and that’s the technical limitations of the SNES. The framer ate does not run smooth which really effects gameplay when you’re in a heated moment. Also when you pass you get a zoomed-in view of the players around you. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it kills your view on defense. It’s a shame really, because it seems like EA put a lot of effort in trying to make this the best football game ever in the early 90’s.

Score: 5 out of 10

Medal of Honor

I originally reviewed this game on the PSP and PS3, and at that point there was a bug that would stop you from continuing, if you A. Died, B. completed a mission, or C. looked at your console funny. Now on the Vita, it seems like those problems are behind us, so I managed to complete the game and here it is, another review.

Medal of Honor - PSOne

Original release date: November 11th, 1999

Release date on PSN: June 2nd, 2009

Price : 5.99

Story

Medal of Honor - PSOne

For the uninitiated Medal of Honor is a World War 2 game, you take control of agent Patterson a member of the OSS, the “Office of Strategic Services” which was a honest to god military intelligence service that was the pre-cursor to the CIA. You and Mr. Patterson go behind enemy lines and kill lots of Germans, and stop a lot of secret Nazi weapons programs too, that are also based in history.

Character wise you’re not going to get a lot out of it. Even though the story was written by the great Stephen Spielberg, there is no real story other than see Nazi, shoot Nazi. There’s no dialogue with other characters, as you’re a single operator through-out the game. Any narration you hear is in the cut-scenes between missions, they’re really interesting actually because they’re historical films of real WW2 weapons. But don’t expect to see you character grow or there be any twists in the story.

Gameplay

Medal of Honor - PSOne

This was built to be a Goldeneye like experience, and gameplay wise I agree, it plays a lot like it. You get many different weapons, the standards, hand guns, shot guns, etc. The accuracy of the weapons are a little off it seems though, making some weapons way overpowered. If you have a rifle, you’ll headshot everyone you see, being stuck with a shotgun and a machine gun in later levels though can be a pain. While playing on the Vita touching the back pad (where R2 would be) you get the cross hairs just like you remember on Goldeneye. This was a lot tougher on the PSP,  the dual analog sticks on the Vita make this game much easier to control

The missions are objective based, but there isn’t a lot of variety. You collect this list here, then plant a bomb here, sometimes you have to show a passport for a little stealth action, but that’s a very small portion of the game. There aren’t any escort missions which might be a godsend, but it probably would have given you someone to talk to at least. It gets to be a bit of a grind without a story.

The difficulty ramps up like crazy by the end of the game as well, (someone decided to give the Nazi’s rocket launchers at some point). That can get a little frustrating, but it’s not too bad.

There’s a multiplayer mode as well, but I didn’t test that out, but I heard you can get cheats to challenge a Velociraptor as William Shakespeare.

Shooting nazi’s pretty simple concept.

Graphics

Medal of Honor - PSOne

Medal of Honor is not a looker. It’s strength comes though animations. It was one of the first games where enemies would react depending where you shot them. They catch a bullet in the foot they hop around, the arm, they cover it and etc. They will even follow you by crawling into vents something I haven’t seen in games in the latest generation, which sort of surprised me. The music is excellent though, orchestral score by Michael Giacchino the Academy Award winning composer of films like Mission Impossible 3, Up, the Incredibles etc.

The levels are a bit like mazes, and you do get caught in a lot of corridor shooting. This is mostly due to the draw distance in Medal of Honor, it is really short. It’s even tough to use a Sniper rifle, because most of the time you can’t see the soldiers shooting at you due to the distance problem. This is obviously due to the PSX limitations at the time, but it’s still frustrating getting shot at by someone you can’t see, so you have to fire wildly into the night hoping you hit the source of lead.

Is Medal of Honor worth playing?

Medal of Honor - PSOne

I had fun with it, but going through the review has really made me a bit more negative on the whole thing. It’s an interesting game that’s for sure, but the little annoyances really nip at your heels. The end of the game does sort of end abruptly as well. You would have thought with a game backed by Spielberg you would get something, instead you get a 15 second clip announcing victory. The gameplay is decent in Medal of Honor, but the total lack of story doesn’t really drive you forward to complete it.

Medal of Honor is a functional shooter, but with nothing to really get you invested other than shooting Nazis.

7/10

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

knights-of-the-old-republic
The 2000’s were a disappointing decade for Star Wars fans. The old movies were just getting more old, the books were doing a little good, but the prequel movies failed to impress many fans of the older movies. However there was one shining light that might have been as good as the first time you got to see Empire Strikes Back. That game was Knights of the Old Republic.
knights-of-the-old-republic

The combat was probably the weakest thing about KOTOR, which isn’t probably a bad thing when the quest was so long, the characters so memorable, and a story that dragged on you for the ride. Republic solider Carth, Jedi Bastila, alien teenager Mission, her wookie Zaalbar, weird cat lady Juhani, and the evil droid HK-47 all have their deep but interesting back-stories, and provide memorable parts to the main plot. The Sith Lord Dark Malak made the first really great Star Wars villain since Darth Vader.

Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic - xbox - gameplay screenshot - 2
You’re looking at a game they could easily give you 30-50 hours of gameplay without boredom or parts that you have to stomach so you can get to the goodness. That alone warrants itself a place on my list. However not only that, it helped revive the quality in the Star Wars franchise, put Bioware in the spotlight, and was so good that we couldn’t stand much of the 2nd game developed by Obsidian Entertainment even though it was a good game in itself but not compared to the original.

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath

 Oddworld - Stranger's Wrath
I never got into the Oddworld series on PS1 (friend had one of them and I thought it was awful), and the first Xbox game looked kinda dumb, so Stranger’s Wrath was actually the first and only entry I truly gave a shot. You play some kind of weird monster bounty hunter who can run like a leopard, and shoot like a marine.
 Oddworld - Stranger's Wrath

Except marines never had weapons as cool as this game’s arsenal. Each ammo type providing a different way to kill an enemy. Some worked better on others, some were traps, etc. You had plenty to play with so you never felt bored when it came right down to it.

Oddworld - Stranger's Wrath

I think one of my favorite things is the different approaches to defeating a level or boss. This level right here I believe is from the earlier parts of the game where you have to sneak past guards near this fort, so you can sneak up on your bounty kill. Took me many tries, but finally found a strategy that worked for me.
Oddworld - Stranger's Wrath
I think the game’s only big fault is that the difficulty is a bit bi-polar. It doesn’t gradually goes up, one moment its okay, and then bam you get hit with an almost impossible challenge. I would probably rank OSW higher, but I got stuck on a boss that you couldn’t hurt unless you knocked him off a platform, and you had a whole bunch of shit thrown at you before you could capture him or kill him. A bit of a fuck up I think on their part. Heard it’s coming to PSN though, which gives PS3 owners a chance to play one of the best Xbox games ever crafted.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur - Reckoning - gameplay - screenshot -1

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an expansive action RPG. It was released as the first of a trilogy by the now-defunct Big Huge Games studio, and feels like a Fable/Elder Scrolls lovechild. KoA sports excellent game-feel, seemingly endless side quests… and a terribly generic and un-inspiring main story-line.

Kingdoms of Amalur

If this had been a JRPG or a turn-based  game, I would not have played it solely for the story. There are plenty of other games to choose from if that is what you’re looking for. Though glitchy in minor areas, KoA is an excellent choice for lovers of action RPGs who have a difficult time finding games that don’t have wonky combat controls. You begin by choosing one of 5 races, each with a couple of unique bonuses. Character models are very customizable, so long as you are only concerned about the face. The beginning features a good tutorial that gets you familiar with the basics, but make sure to manually turn tutorials off in the main menu once you get out into the main game. Amalur is pretty damn easy on Normal mode, so unless you really just want to enjoy the landscape and make a 10 hour speed-run through the main quest, play on Hard.

Kingdoms of Amalur

Primary and secondary weapon slots do not have any requirements. This means you can equip two axes, a scepter and longbow, or any possible combination of the several weapon classes to tailor to your play style. A unique “Fate” system allows you to personalize your skills even further. You are allotted points at each level-up  to apply towards any of 3 ability trees; Might, Sorcery, and Finesse. After a certain amount of points have been invested in the trees, new fates open up which grant special bonuses that correlate with your most buffed abilities.

Kingdoms of Amalur

You can gain some pretty sweet gear through various quests. You can also invest in Blacksmithing and Sagecraft abilities to forge your own unique weapons, armor, and augments. The vibrant landscape is full of herbs and plants you can harvest for Alchemical use, though I preferred just buying potions from vendors.

Overall I would definitely recommend this to friends who were fans of the original Fable, though Elder Scrolls players might find it a bit too  simplistic. If you’re looking to kill 20-60 hours, pick this up used somewhere and really enjoy the smooth controls and pretty atmosphere. 

Shadow of the Beast

Shadow_of_the_Beast_turbo-grafx-16

Developed by Psygnosis and published by Electronic Arts, Shadow of the Beast tells the story of a child kidnapped by mages. This child was transformed into a powerful creature to be used at their will. Years later you learn the truth of your past and set out to kill everyone involved and ultimately your master.

Star Wars the Old Republic: Free to Play Details

Star-Wars-The-Old-Republic

Sadly we all saw Old Republic barreling head first toward free-to-play a long time ago especially when we heard of the downsizing. Never a good sign. Now we have better details on what you will and will not have access to if you opt for F2P.

So for those who loved the storyline of the game and the single player aspects you are in luck because you get that for free. As far as other parts of the game they decided to put you on a three times a week program (kind of like how your wife might do you). This means things like Flashpoints, Warzone battles and Space Missions will only be accessible three times in a week.

Now no F2P worth its salt is without add on items you have to purchase and in SWTOR’s case you can purchase Weekly Passes to give you unlimited access to all the above restricted instances. The same goes for Operations, there is no 3-day pass for that so you will need to purchase a weekly one. The problem here is that most purple loot cannot be equipped so what is the point of running an Operation if you cannot wear the loot. I guess that is the point.

Star Wars the old republic - free to play - features list

Like other MMO’s before it namely Everquest and EQ2, you are have less Cargo Bay and Inventory space which can become an issue, but fear not because you can use Cartel Coins to purchase additional slots. Other things to make the F2P version a little less attractive and give subscribers a reason to keep paying includes priority login as far as the queues, a faster cool-down on Quick Travel and the ability to use the Emergency Fleet Pass. Finally you only get one Crew Skill slot with F2P, as well as a limited number of Field Revivals to use when you die.

So we all know why this is happening. Old Republic subscriptions has been dropping like zombies in The Walking Dead. The question is will this bring in new players or give subscribers a reason to go free-2-play instead. Only time will tell and speaking of which we still do not have a date when F2P will go live. The original word was “sometime this fall” and yet here we are. When SWTOR goes F2P will you start playing?

The Secret World: Free 2 Play Weekend

The Secret World

The supernatural MMO, The Secret World will be free to play this weekend. The offer is to celebrate the first full month of the game and will including a special in game t-shirt and bonus points for solving missions. Players will also receive 15 fireworks that they can fire off during the event. The offer is available from August 3rd at 4pm GMT to August 6th at 7am GMT.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwQx9Ffhbhw[/youtube]

Star Wars: The Old Republic going free to play

star wars the old republic

I remember looking into our official Obsolete Gamer crystal ball and seeing that DC Superheroes Online was destined for the free 2 play route and it came true. After playing Star Wars, The Old Republic for a weeks, sadly, I knew it was headed that way as well. When we reported that SWTOR were downsizing and then offering free 2 play for up to level 15, it was inevitable.

EA sent word via a press release that The Old Republic will indeed go free to play this November. In addition, the game will cost only $15 starting next week and will come with a free month of gametime. Now as expected, there will still be a subscription service for SWTOR that grants you access to additional content and features of the game. For the free to play model you can level all the way up to 50 and enjoy most of the features of the game.

Here is a breakdown of the two options for Star Wars:

Subscription – A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customizable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.

Free-To-Play – The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be “unlocked” with Cartel Coins.

Check out the chart as well:

star wars the old republic subscription vs free features

We will spare you the PR spin on the upcoming change. We all know the game had flaws and in today’s market gamers are not going to continue paying for something they feel should be free. Just like with DC heroes, the people left in mass droves after the first month and the spin began, but in the end it went free to play and SWTOR has followed suit.

Is this a failure for Bioware and EA, will you find yourself playing the game once it goes free to play?

The Old Republic Now Free Until Level 15

StarWars_TheOldRepublic

Sure one could say that adding a free-to-play till 15 component to an MMO is a good move. By doing this you get people to try the game and the changes you made and maybe people will subscribe. In the real world of MMO’s this means the first (or second) steps towards free-2-play.

BioWare’s , The Old Republic was to be the World of Warcraft-killer, but the only dying we have seen has been its own. We first saw the signs when people reached max level quickly and complained about endgame content. We saw more signs with bugs not fixed and features not implemented a true sign the game was rushed even more than other rushed MMO’s. There was the promise of patches that would fix everything, but as each patch came, more people became upset and left.

Subscription rates dropped faster than a greasy Huttball and the PR spin was in full force, but it was clear what was happening.  The game lost over 400,000 subscriptions, many leaving after the free month and now the EA backed company is following World of Warcraft in offering players to play for free until level 15.

We have seen the free trials and now the up to level 15 free play. With the release of coming titles like Tera Online, Guild Wars 2 and the Secret World, this is a march to free-2-play just like DC Universe Online and many before it.

Now with all that said I think Old Republic is worth a play through. The game has a good story and fun gameplay, just not really an MMO, at least not a monthly subscription MMO. You can try out Old Republic for yourself by signing up and downloading the game client at SW: TOR’s free trial page.

From Russia With Love

Most of the Bond-related games over the past 20+ years have been either 1st or 3rd-person shooters, with a couple of 80′s text-based computer games being the exceptions. But, one game jumped out at me, and it’s something I was looking forward to firing up.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
In 2005, EA put out a game called From Russia, With Love, based on the 1963 movie. This is a spoiler-heavy walkthrough/review of a magical day for me:

Opening mission has Bond, who looks exactly like Sean Connery, and is VOICED by him, looking cool at a party. A Prime Minister’s daughter gets kidnapped by OCTOPUS (no SPECTRE license). Fight my way to the roof, where they’re escaping via helicopter.

Many ways to dispatch the thugs. There are a lot of weapons and gadgets that I accumulate throughout the game, even if I just have a Walther PPK to start the game. When I’m too close to shoot, I automatically perform some Bond-ish hand-to-hand move to take them out. Looks cool, and saves ammo. I found a lot of ammo/armor throughout the game, but there are multiple difficulties if you’re looking for a higher challenge.

When I reach the roof, I beat a guy up for his jet-pack, now I’m flying around shooting missiles at the helicopter. After destroying it, a cool cut-scene has me flying through it, saving the girl. I tell her, “My name’s Bond…James Bond”, then fly away.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
Opening ‘movie’ credits start, with actual scenes from the film! This was just 20 minutes or so into the game, and I’m hooked!
Next, I fight more OCTOPUS thugs through a hedge-maze, then I’m KILLED by Red Grant, played by the awesome Robert Shaw in the film. A cut-scene shows “Bond” to be an OCTOPUS training exercise for Red (the game’s main bad guy, working for Rosa Klebb) to practice killing Bond. I also find out that their mission is to trick Bond into stealing something called Lektor (some decoding device), then stealing it from Bond after killing him, which is payback for Bond killing Dr. No. Ridiculously convuluted, but very Bondish.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
After flirting with Moneypenny and getting briefed by M (I’ll be off to Instanbul to meet Russian-hottie Tatiana), I have a training-session with Q and pick up gadgets like the Q-copter (spies through vents and self-destructs) and the rappel-device (you’ll use both a lot).
Kerim Bey is your contact in Istanbul, and brings you your Aston Martin. This chase level is action-packed with guns/missiles/tire spikes as weapons against the evil Russians. Bonus coolness for taking out a tank.
Next level has me rescuing hostages and disarming bombs, capping off with the first appearance of the bazooka, to destroy another helicopter. Time to spy on the Russians.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
More Aston Martin action, then cut through some Russians to steal a boat. I need to get under the Russian consulate to use a periscope to spy.
My eavesdropping learns the Lektor is in a vault, and that the Russians are going to kill people in a Gypsy camp. Karim heads to the camp to warn ‘his” people. After kicking more Russian ass, I escape through the underground tunnels via jetpack. Some awesome jetpack-on-jetpack action!

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
The gypsy-camp was more hostage-rescuing, and I get the sniper rifle for the first time.
Next mission has me saving Karim’s ass again with a lot of sniping. Feels good killing Russians.
I meet Tatiana for the first time. She’s in my bed, of course, and I show her my 007…she’s now in love with me.
We, along with Karim, have to break into the Russian Consulate to steal the Lektor. I think this was probably the longest level.
Another car chase on the way to the train, Orient Express, which is our escape.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
Red is on the train, kills Karim, and tries to kill me. I fight him off, but he escapes with the Lektor while I’m occupied with some ‘roided Russian flunkie. I fight my way to Red, and kill him, his body taken away by a speeding train. I have to inform Karim’s son that his father is dead…now I’m pissed. Red’s assisstant, Eva Adara, has escaped with the Lektor.
I infiltrate an OCTOPUS complex looking for the Lektor. More jetpacks and car chases. Some robot tank comes after me, as well. I take back the Lektor. Blow the base for the fun of it.
Another Aston Martin chase on the way to the docks to steal a boat. have to get out of the country.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
Long boat ride with Tatiana driving and me turretting people/boats/helicopters.
Rosa sneaks into my hotel room and tries to kill me with a huge-ass blade in her shoe. I keep her at bay, and Tatiana help me kill her…good girl.
Last mission is pretty long. OCTOPUS is pissed, so they’ve threatened to nuke. I break into their secret base, and kill a lot of henchmen. Eva tries to kill me with a jet, but I jetpack-missile her dead. After disarming the nuke and setting bombs to blow the base…….I run in to Red. I should have looked for the body.
He’s the final boss, as he’s taken residence inside a 4-tentaculed mechanical robot that shoots lasers, bullets, and grenades. After destroying the mech, I put a bullet in Red for my friend Karim.
Game ends with Bond in bed with Tatiana, of course. Well done, sir.
From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
This game is overwhelmingly awesome, but I’ll start with the few bad points:
It’s really easy, even with the hardest difficulty-setting. There’s not much need for duck-and-cover stealth fighting because it’s heavy on extra ammo/armor health. You can do a lot of run-and-gunning, but I found myself having more fun being sneaky.
Also, as a lot of these 3rd-person games can do, the camera can get “stuck” and get you turned around.
There’s probably 8-10 hours of gameplay, not counting multiplayer, which I never got into.
It looks beautiful. Character recreations are spot-on, and the backgrounds/locations/animations are great.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
A lot of cut-scenes. Well done, and a lot re-created from the original film.
The music is perfect. Again, taken from the Bond films and gets your blood pumping throughout the game.
Controls, especially with the auto-lock, are done well.
The fun-factor is off the charts, a Bond fan or just one of the action-adventure genre.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tl-FtpJ0fQ[/youtube]

The replayability is there, with multiplayer. But there is scoring in the campaign. A lot of secrets to find buy going back through it. Also, bonus story-levels to unlock.
A ton of gadgets, including sonic cufflinks to stun baddies, and the attache case that has auto-machine gun.
Different outfits for Bond. If you’d rather not get blood on your white tuxedo, go with the black stealth look.
There’s a crazy amount of fun to this game, so if you want to fire up the original Xbox, this is a fantastic game with which to start.

The Downsizing of Star Wars: The Old Republic

We all know from the Sony Online Entertainment spin of the mass exodus of DC Online Universe that the statement above translates into; we took a major hit and have to start cutting our losses. ~J.A. Laraque

The Downsizing of Star Wars: The Old Republic

Unfortunately, most of us who played and followed the latest Star Wars MMO knew that with the issues with the game and lack of positive changes that subscriptions would drop drastically after the first month. Regardless of the PR spin about an “active community” and how there were “millions of subscribers” we all knew that STOR would take a massive hit.

Star-Wars-The-Old-Republic-Trooper

Now word out of Austin is that there were mass layoffs at the studio that developed the game.  Some of the people from the studio were let go while a few others were moved to other projects, but the message was clear.

“We are bidding farewell to some talented, passionate and exceptionally hard-working people who helped make SWTOR a reality,” said Bioware co-founder, Greg Zeschuk. “We still have a very substantial development team working on supporting and growing the game,  and we feel we are in a strong position, with your continued involvement and feedback, to continue to build Star Wars: The Old Republic as one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today.”

We all know from the Sony Online Entertainment spin of the mass exodus of DC Online Universe that the statement above translates into; we took a major hit and have to start cutting our losses.  EA itself in a statement just reinforced the rapid decline of The Old Republic.

“These are very difficult decisions, but it allows us to focus our staff to maintain and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic,”

I think almost everyone has been “refocused”, or know someone that has been and understands exactly what that means. With subscription rates dropping over 23%, most of us can see the coming storyline that will eventually lead to a free-2-play announcement.

Battle Squadron ONE

Battle Squadron - Gameplay Screenshot - Cover

Mobile gaming has not only added new gamers to our world, but also allowed classic games to have yet another platform to be played one. When I first began playing mobile games, I always thought it would be the perfect place for retro games to be played since it would not require much in the way of system resources. Battle Squadron ONE is one of those games that translates well onto the mobile platform giving gamers a great classic game to enjoy on their Apple or Android device.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v22jB0l1osY[/youtube]

Battle Squadron was a top down shooter developed by Cope-Com and published by Innerprise and EA for the Amiga computer and later for the Sega Genesis. This version stays true to the retro feel of the game with its classic sound and graphics, but it looks very good and clean on a mobile phone, which is important since you have so much going on and various attacks being flung at you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v22jB0l1osY

The plot and gameplay is classic greatness, your commanders were kidnapped and you have to rescue them by going into the enemy’s base and destroying everything. Oh, did I mention the base is the size of a planet?  The game starts off by tossing you right into the fray and you soon realize you need more than your standard gun to take out the hordes of enemies on the screen. You can upgrade your weapon by collecting the cubes dropped by defeated enemies which makes the game much easier especially with the spread shot and if all else fails you have your bombs which creates an area effect pulse of destruction that takes all enemies near you out.

Battle Squadron - Gameplay Screenshot - 2

Level design stays true to its retro roots where instead of having a stage and a boss and then a new level you instead have a “master stage” where you take out the enemy and then come upon a large crater in the planet. It is at this point you can enter the next stage, or you can continue on. Now if you did not purchase all the levels you will not be able to continue, but you can play the master level over and over. There are also bosses in the game and some levels have two bosses.

Battle Squadron - Gameplay Screenshot

The graphics as said feel like the classic version of the game and the sound is direct from the Amiga version. The controls are easy to use and can be switched between the standard touch and drag controls with onscreen buttons or an analog slider, you can even use motion controls, but I liked those the least. In multiplayer mode, you play using a split screen, which on smaller phones can be a bit difficult, but on a larger device, like the iPad, it works very well.

Overall, Battle Squadron One brings true classic gaming to smart phones and should be in any retro gamers collection. We give this game a 9 out of 10. You can find the App Store and Android version of the game here.

Legacy: Star Wars Update 1.2

star wars legacy patch notes 1.2

We finally get word that the legacy system will be launched in April and some new flashpoints and warzones. The funny thing is the talk about the free friend trial. Sure, every big MMO has it, but it is telling with the latest news about subscriptions to Star Wars TOR. Will these changes keep you playing or bring you back?

Here is the official press release:

Build your legacy in the Star Wars™ galaxy! Continuing to deliver compelling new content for eager Star Wars™: The Old Republic players, EA, BioWare and LucasArts today revealed Game Update 1.2 — Legacy. Going live in April 2012, Legacy will introduce new high level group content and community-requested features including PvP Warzone Rankings and Guild Banks, along with enhancements to the game’s innovative Legacy system. This update also provides improved UI customization as well as gameplay fixes and the latest optimizations to combat balance. Also today, BioWare announced Star Wars: The Old Republic’s “Friends Trial*” program, allowing subscribers to invite as many as three of their friends for a seven-day free game trial.

“Prior to release, our main priority for Star Wars: The Old Republic was to deliver a high quality game and service, right from day one,” said Dr. Greg Zeschuk, General Manager of the BioWare Label’s MMO Business Unit and Co-Founder of BioWare. “Now that we’ve achieved that, we have shifted our focus to adding more content to the game and improving and refining the experience for our fans. Legacy is our biggest update yet and a great example of the kind of content players can expect for the months and years ahead.”

Game Update 1.2 presents the next evolution of the Legacy system. Players can now link their different characters together into a single family tree, giving them the power to unlock and share special Legacy-only abilities. Players can further customize new characters by unlocking different species from any class in their family tree. The Legacy system also provides fun new convenience items for player ships, including an on-board mailbox and Galactic Trade Network terminal. Companion Character affection and moral alignment will also benefit from Legacy bonuses, giving players even more control over their crew mates.

Beyond the much-anticipated game features like improved UI customization, PvP Warzone Rankings, Guild Banks and valuable new in-game items, the Legacy update will introduce challenging new high-level content for both experienced and new players to enjoy: 

Game Update 1.2: New Content:

  • Flashpoint: Lost Island continues the Kaon Under Siege Flashpoint from Game Update 1.1 – Rise of the Rakghouls. Players must survive a menacing island of mystery on Ord Mantell as they hunt for clues to the Rakghoul virus outbreak that ravaged the Tion Hegemony. But the answers to this riddle may prove fatal!
  • Operation: Explosive Conflict sends groups of eight or sixteen Imperial or Republic players to a new zone on the planet of Denova, where traitors and mercenaries are selling the rare explosive mineral baradium to the highest bidder. Players will battle through hordes of Droids, mercenaries and deadly creatures all fighting for control of the planet and its valuable resources.
  • Warzone:  Novare Coast pits two teams in an epic battle to control multiple mortar locations and use them to bombard vulnerable enemy bases. Like the Huttball Warzone, Novare Coast can be played Republic vs. Empire or with players of the same faction fighting each other in a thrilling contest of wills to determine each side’s greatest champions.

Beginning tomorrow, March 6, current subscribers can start inviting their friends to join the galactic conflict as part of the Friends Trial* program for Star Wars: The Old Republic. For a limited time, current subscribers will have the opportunity to send an invitation to friends who have not played the game and who do not have an active, inactive or former Star Wars: The Old Republic game account. This trial experience will give new players seven days of free access to reach level 15 across all eight classes and experience the thrilling stories that make Star Wars: The Old Republic a unique MMO experience (some gameplay restrictions will apply). Trial members will also receive a limited time offer to purchase the digital version of Star Wars: The Old Republic on Origin.com at a special promotional price.

For more information on Game Update 1.2: Legacy and the Friends of Star Wars: The Old Republic Trial program please visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com.

American McGee’s Alice

American McGee’s Alice

In the aftermath of Doom and Doom II‘s critical and financial success, many software companies sought to duplicate id Software’s successes.  Some chose to attempt to out-Doom Doom, bringing forth various first-person shooters in an attempt to capture the same market.  Some chose the classic business maneuver of poaching talent, seeking to duplicate the successes of id Software by tempting their brightest minds away with a van full of candy.  American James McGee (yes, that’s his name; no, it’s not a nickname), whose resume included everything from being a tester onWolfenstein 3D, to a level designer for Doom II, to a co-producer for Hexen: Beyond Heretic, was one of those targets.  At the tender age of 28, McGee jumped ship to Electronic Arts in 1998, and was given free rein to direct, write, and design the game of his own choosing.  That game, of course, was American McGee’s Alice.

American McGee’s Alice

Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass had long since passed into the public domain, and several new visions of the setting had already come to pass in cinema, literature, and gaming (such as Wonderland).  However, McGee’s take on the Alice mythos pushed its darkness further into the open.  The game begins with a tragic house fire claiming the lives of young Alice’s family, sending her spiralling into despair and catatonia.  For years she remains within a sanitarium, until one day the White Rabbit returns – not the delightful White Rabbit of her youth, but a somewhat bedraggled White Rabbit, its absent-mindedness no longer charming, but eerie.  Once again Alice follows it into Wonderland, where all is not as it was: the Cheshire Cat is mangy and underfed (but still smiling); the Duchess and the Mad Hatter want to kill her; and the Red Queen rules with a bloody, iron fist.

The level design was absolutely stunning in its 3-D dark surrealism. Alice follows the White Rabbit into the Village of the Damned, where she is reintroduced to the Cheshire Cat, and can locate the Vorpal Blade so she can go all snicker-snack on her opponents.  Next comes the Vale of Tears, a foggy realm that is home to the ravenous Duchess and the poor Mock Turtle who needs his shell back.  Other areas include finding the wise Caterpillar in the Cave of the Oracle; experiencing the chessboard realm of the White Queen; the twisted version of Rutledge Asylum that houses Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as well as the Mad Hatter; the volcanic lair of the Jabberwocky; and the final castle level of the Queen of Hearts. Each level shows the strength of American McGee’s talent for level design as well as the versatility of theQuake III Arena game engine it uses to bring it all to life.

Another element important to the atmosphere of American McGee’s Alice is its aural component, including the voice acting, sound effects, and musical score.  On this front, the game excels.  The voice acting was performed by professional voice actors, with experience in film, television and gaming projects, such as Roger Jackson (who voiced the Cheshire Cat, the Jabberwocky, and the Dormouse…as well as the telephone voice for the Scream movies), Susie Brann (who was the voice of Alice), Andrew Chaikin (who voiced the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare), Anni Long (who voiced the Red Queen and The Duchess), and Jarion Monroe (who voiced the Caterpiller).  As for the game’s soundtrack,  Chris Vrenna (who drummed for Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails for 8 years), approached the challenge of composing the music for the game by looking for instrumentation that sounded like they could be from the Alice’s era, but also having a “creepy” or “bizarre” sound that “created a mood”.   To this end he used toy pianos, penny whistles, toy accordions, wind-up musical boxes, zippers, grandfather clocks, and more.  Ultimately, between the eerie music and the wonderful voice acting, the game fulfills all its audio expectations.

American McGee’s Alice - PC

Of course, American McGee’s Alice is not a perfect game. The level design is brilliant, but the gameplay has its pedestrian moments. For instance, if you are a fan of games that require platform-style jumping to avoid enemies, locate items and switches, and to find level exits, this is the game for you. For those that find all this leaping about a tad annoying…not so much. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the controls for jumping quickly in this game, as you will be doing a lot of it. However, if you can get past that, the rest of the gameplay has enough variation to keep the player wanting more.

American McGee’s Alice - PC

American McGee’s Alice proved popular enough to inspire a toy line from Milo’s Workshop.  These limited movement action figures featured Alice with the Cheshire Cat, the Card Guards, the Jabberwocky, the Caterpillar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit.  The quality is similar to Todd McFarlane’s toy line, and were released from 2000 through 2004, and continue to have some value on the collector market.

It’s been over 10 years since Electronic Arts released the game that gave us all a disturbing insight into the mind of former id Software level designer American McGee.  That’s right, American McGee’s Alice was released in October, 2000, so those who remember buying it on its release date, should take a moment to realize time is marching on.  For those who never played this classic PC game, pay your respects to those of us who did.  After all, we’re probably Elders of the gaming community at this point.  With the sequel finally being released, do yourself a favor and play the original.  Your Elders demand it.

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Rakghouls

Rise of the Rakghouls

Well, some said it would be six months or more before we saw new content from Bioware, but it looks as if that is not the case. Today EA and Bioware announced the upcoming game update, here is the press release info:

Just one month after launching the fastest growing subscription MMO in history, EA, BioWare and LucasArts are prepared to release the first game update for the critically-acclaimed Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. . Launching next week on Tuesday, January 17, Rise of the Rakghouls will introduce new, higher level group content, game feature additions and continued balancing and bug fixes. As part of the commitment to the community, BioWare will continue to release game updates to subscribers throughout the year on a regular cadence. The next update is planned for March 2012 and will include new Flashpoints, Operations, WarZones and new game systems.

“A month ago when we launched the Early Game Access program for Star Wars: The Old Republic, we promised our fans that this would just be the beginning of our journey together,” said Dr. Greg Zeschuk, General Manager of the BioWare Label’s MMO Business Unit and Co-Founder of BioWare. “Rise of the Rakghouls adds a lot of the things our community has been asking for – additional higher level group content, features like anti-aliasing, PvP bracketing and more. In the future, game updates will be even more substantial, as we promise to continue to not only add to The Old Republic, but to also improve and refine the experience with the full Legacy System and new Guild features.”

Rise of the Rakghouls features a new Flashpoint and a new Operation as well as a number of changes made throughout the entire game, including level 50 bracketing for PvP WarZones, the addition of anti-aliasing and changes to Open World PvP on Ilum.

  • Flashpoint: Kaon Under Siege is a completely new and unique group combat experience located on Kaon, a planet in the Tion Hegemony, a strategically important sector of the galaxy that has remained neutral, Groups of up to four Republic or Imperial players must race to Kaon to eliminate the Rakghouls outbreak, securing the allegiance of the Tion Hegemony for their respective sides. This Flashpoint will be available for level 50 characters only and will feature Normal and Heroic modes.
  • Operation: Karagga’s Palace, is a continuation of the game’s second launch Operation. In the Operation, teams of 8 or 16 players will face off against Karagga and the Hutt Cartel after the Hutts abandon their famous neutrality and breach agreements with both the Republic and Empire. Concerned by the threat of another combatant in the war for galactic control, both factions send teams of their most powerful heroes to confront Karagga and determine his intentions. This Operation will feature Normal, Heroic and Nightmare difficulty modes.

For more information on Game Update 1.1: Rise of the Rakghouls, please visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com for the full details.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is set thousands of years before the classic Star Wars movies, with the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire locked in the middle of an epic, galactic war. Players choose one of eight iconic Star Wars characters, including the Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, Trooper, Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent, becoming the hero or villain of their own personal Star Wars saga. Players team up with friends online, fighting in heroic battles reminiscent of the films, immersing themselves in a galaxy full of vibrant characters and planets, while experiencing visceral Star Wars combat.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – 1.0.2 Patch Notes

wallpaper_star_wars_the_old_republic_

This week I am a happy player because Bioware fixed a number of bugs dealing with the cover system for Agents and Snipers and they fixed the annoying bug where if you select for “Show Sith Corruption” to be off it used to not stay that way. It also looks as if they made a number of other fixed to the game which should make it even more polished.

Here are the full notes:

 

General

  • Guilds that are currently leaderless will have an Officer chosen and promoted to Guild Leader.

Classes and Combat

 

Sith Inquisitor

      • The Darth title is now properly granted to Sith Inquisitors.

       

      Bug Fixes

        • Corrected an issue that could prevent players from taking cover when targeting large NPCs.
        • Fixed a bug that caused some abilities with activation times to be interrupted when used from cover.

        Crew Skills

         

        Gathering

          • Removed some high-level harvesting nodes from Tatooine, Corellia, and Ilum.

          Flashpoints and Operations

           

          Flashpoints

           

          Cademimu

                • General Ortol can no longer be pulled out of his room.

                 

                Maelstrom Prison

                      • Corrected an issue that could cause Kilran to behave incorrectly when defeated in cover.

                       

                      Taral V

                            • General Edikar now has the correct loot in Hard Mode and no longer enrages in Normal Mode.

                             

                            Operations

                             

                            Eternity Vault

                                  • Gharj can no longer be pulled out of his encounter room.

                                   

                                  Bug Fixes

                                    • Fixed an issue that could cause choosing Nightmare Mode to not set enemies to Nightmare difficulty.

                                    Items

                                     

                                    General

                                        • PvP lockboxes now cost 70 commendations, contain more consumables, and always contain an item.

                                         

                                        Bug Fixes

                                          • Corrected several PvP items that were Bind on Equip. They are now Bind on Pickup.
                                          • PvP vendors on Capital Planets now offer the correct PvP items.
                                          • Commendations received via in-game mail are now correctly added to the Currency tab.

                                          Missions and NPCs

                                           

                                          Missions

                                           

                                          Imperial

                                                • Number One with a Bullet: Players who choose dark side options now correctly receive the mission First Strike after completing this mission.
                                                • First Strike: Players who did not receive this mission will now receive it upon entering their personal starships.

                                                 

                                                Republic

                                                      • Death Cloud: Players can now complete the “Toxic Waste” bonus objective regardless of how quickly they complete this mission.

                                                       

                                                      Bug Fixes

                                                          • Corrected mission steps on several planets that could cause client instability.
                                                          • Fixed issues with some missions that could prevent pending rewards from being accepted.

                                                          Space Combat

                                                           

                                                          Bug Fixes

                                                            • Fixed an issue that caused a client crash if a space station was destroyed in Space Combat.

                                                            UI

                                                             

                                                            Maps

                                                                • Group members no longer appear on all planets on the Galaxy Map.
                                                                • Corrected an issue that could cause map notes to disappear after logging out and back into the game.
                                                                • Corrected some map notes that referenced the incorrect map.
                                                                • Updated map notes for “travel to planet” steps in class missions on Nar Shaddaa, Hoth, and Belsavis to indicate the planet’s space station.

                                                                 

                                                                Bug Fixes

                                                                  • Group members outside of a player’s phase are no longer prompted to roll on items.
                                                                  • The In-Game Customer Service Portal no longer appears to hang while the “updating” message is displayed.
                                                                  • The Guild interface now properly displays the guild member list when it is sorted.
                                                                  • The “Show Sith Corruption” option no longer toggles off when transitioning between areas.

                                                                   

                                                                  Miscellaneous Bug Fixes

                                                                  • Taxi rides are no longer occasionally interrupted, causing the player to be dropped from the taxi.
                                                                  • Using the /dismiss command now correctly dismisses a vanity pet.
                                                                  • Corrected some issues that could cause players to become stuck on the loading screen when logging into a character.
                                                                  • Players can now use emotes while riding a vehicle.
                                                                  • Fixed a bug that prevented some text-only mail messages from being received.
                                                                  • Graphics preferences in settings files are now consistent with actual settings in use.
                                                                  • Being in Do Not Disturb mode no longer prevents characters from being logged out for being away.
                                                                  • Corrected an issue that caused poor performance on some machines in indoor areas with shadows enabled.
                                                                  • Fixed an issue that could prevent players from being logged out for inactivity.

                                                                  Games: Most let down, Most hopeful

                                                                  The game should be ninety-nine cents on the App Store. The graphics are nothing special and the gameplay is all about jump kicking zombies and driving around an island never really feeling like you are in any danger. They also had to do what all zombie games do which is make all the zombies re-spawn which just kills the feel of the game.~J.A. Laraque

                                                                  Games: Most let down, Most hopeful

                                                                  The New Year is a time to look forward with all kinds of resolutions, most of them that you will not keep and it is also a time to look back on the year. When it comes to gaming there is always room for reflection and regret. There is also always that hope that the next game that’s coming is the one that will keep you enthralled for months or more.

                                                                  A post like this could be long, but for me it’s simple. There are two games that I thought about the most in 2011. One let me down worse a blind date setup by your grandmother and the other brings me hope like a wink from that girl across the room.

                                                                  Most let down: Dead Island

                                                                  Less we forget, let’s take a look at this video.

                                                                  [youtube id=”lZqrG1bdGtg&ob” width=”633″ height=”356″]

                                                                  Seriously, how did we get from that to the game that was launched? I guess we should have known the game would be bad when a beta copy was released to Stream instead of the real version. I remember wanting this game thinking it would be a great experience. In the end I only loved the intro and only because of that stupid song.

                                                                  The game should be ninety-nine cents on the App Store. The graphics are nothing special and the gameplay is all about jump kicking zombies and driving around an island never really feeling like you are in any danger. They also had to do what all zombie games do which is make all the zombies re-spawn which just kills the feel of the game.

                                                                  The voice acting was nothing great and you never cared about the characters or yourself. I also hate games where they put up barriers to keep you from places you want to go, but it’s something stupid like wooden planks in the water or the world’s largest and steepest hill.

                                                                  Totally let down by this game, I tried to do the boring missing and I even tried using weaker weapons for a challenge. However, in the end the game is just bad and it makes we wish I was that little girl.

                                                                  Most Hopeful: Star Wars: The Old Republic

                                                                  starwars-the old republic

                                                                  Sure, the game sold a lot and with backing from Bioware and EA I am sure it will do better than the last Star Wars MMO. I still had my doubts and did not read too much because I did not want to spoil the game one way or another and then I played it.

                                                                  First off, complete voice acting, good voice acting including multiple choices and side quests make a great RPG. For the first time in a long time I care about the story and can’t wait to see it unfold. I think about my decisions, how I act, what I do. I love the companion system that helps you solo or is great in a group and they talk and interact in the story as well.

                                                                  [youtube id=”6zTRZZefmvM” width=”633″ height=”356″]

                                                                  Old Republic even has great PVP within warzones and open world. Sure, there are bugs and if you read the forums you will see just as many complaints and whining as any other MMO, but if Bioware stays strong and adds more content, improves little by little and fixes bugs quickly this could be a game you will play for years to come.

                                                                  Your list

                                                                  So if you have one game to pick for biggest let down and most hopeful which would they be?

                                                                  Old Republic 1.0.1 Patch Notes

                                                                  Star wars the old republic mmo

                                                                  Since a ton of us at Obsolete Gamer are playing Star Wars and the MMO section is a little thin we will be bringing you updates and patch notes on The Old Republic. This is the first official patch notes and it looks to correct a lot of bugs and nerf slicing which I loved so much. I did notice they did not address a bug where it resets showing your Sith corruption whenever you zone. Another major change is making the rewards for losing a PVP Warzone much less, that should bring out some whiners.

                                                                  Here are the direct patch notes:

                                                                   

                                                                  Hello everyone!

                                                                  With this update, the first of many for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, we have addressed several high-priority bugs. We’ve implemented fixes for those players affected by performance issues on Taris and have corrected the problem preventing some pending mission rewards from being accepted. Additionally, the issue that could cause some gathering nodes to appear unharvestable has been addressed, and you’ll notice several bug fixes relating to Flashpoint and Operation content.

                                                                  We’re committed providing the best possible MMO experience, and will continue releasing fixes and updates on a regular basis.

                                                                  Thank you for playing Star Wars: The Old Republic!

                                                                  1.0.1 Patch Notes 12/27/2011

                                                                   

                                                                  Classes and Combat

                                                                   

                                                                  Combat Bug Fixes

                                                                      • Fixed a bug that could cause the global cooldown to display incorrectly in the UI.
                                                                      • Abilities that require Companion Characters now always correctly require a companion.
                                                                      • NPCs no longer attempt to engage vanity pets in combat.

                                                                       

                                                                      Imperial Agent

                                                                       

                                                                      Operative

                                                                          • The tooltip for Acid Blade now displays the correct information.

                                                                          Companion Characters

                                                                           

                                                                          Companions

                                                                           

                                                                          Kira Carson

                                                                                • Fixed an issue that could cause Kira’s affection progression to become blocked.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Bug Fixes

                                                                                  • Companion Character dialogue now plays at the correct volume.

                                                                                  Crew Skills

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Gathering Skills

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Slicing

                                                                                        • Rewards from Slicing have been reduced to bring them into balance with other skills.
                                                                                        • Adjusted incorrect values for medium slicing boxes.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Bug Fixes

                                                                                          • Corrected an issue that could cause some gathering nodes to appear as unharvestable.

                                                                                          Flashpoints and Operations

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Flashpoints

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Mandalorian Raiders

                                                                                                • Crowd control immunity has been removed from several members of the Enemy Boarding Party.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Colicoid War Game

                                                                                                      • An issue that prevented some players from mounting turrets in this Flashpoint has been corrected.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      The Red Reaper

                                                                                                            • Darth Ikoral now uses his abilities correctly.

                                                                                                             

                                                                                                            Directive 7

                                                                                                                  • Mentor now resets correctly if he defeats the player group.

                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                  Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                        • All players in a group who have a daily Flashpoint mission now get credit for completing that Flashpoint.

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                        Operations

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                        Eternity Vault

                                                                                                                              • Fixed an issue that could cause players to instantly die when affected by Soa’s knockback.
                                                                                                                              • Turrets in Normal Mode no longer behave as turrets from Hard Mode.
                                                                                                                              • Players are now able to properly obtain loot from chests.
                                                                                                                              • The Ancient Pylons now spawn enemies at the correct intervals.

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                              Karagga’s Palace

                                                                                                                                  • Players no longer need to reset this Operation if they do not defeat Bonethrasher.
                                                                                                                                  • Corrected an issue that caused some players to become stuck at the throne room door.

                                                                                                                                  Items

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                                    • PvP lockboxes can no longer be sold for credits.
                                                                                                                                    • Fixed incorrect item rewards from PvP leveling lockboxes.

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                    Missions and NPCs

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                    Missions

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                    Imperial

                                                                                                                                          • A New Master: Defeating Teeno no longer causes him to surrender on top of Phyne, making him difficult to interact with.
                                                                                                                                          • General Faraire: All of Khourlet’s Elite Guards are now accessible by the player.

                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                          Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                                                • Fixed a mission-related issue that could cause poor performance and client crashes on Taris for some players.

                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                NPCs

                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                                                    • Corrected several instances of non-interactive NPCs appearing and disappearing from the player’s view.

                                                                                                                                                    PvP

                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                    Warzones

                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                    General

                                                                                                                                                          • Rewards for winning Warzones have been increased.
                                                                                                                                                          • Warzone completion rewards have been decreased.

                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                          Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                          Voidstar

                                                                                                                                                              • Corrected an issue that could prevent some players from entering the Voidstar.
                                                                                                                                                              • Made adjustments to prevent attacking players from reaching the doors in the reactor core before bridges are extended.

                                                                                                                                                              UI

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                                                                • Fixed a bug that could prevent players from accepting pending mission rewards.
                                                                                                                                                                • Targeting a friendly player no longer occasionally displays incorrect text for the character’s name.
                                                                                                                                                                • Corrected an issue that could cause some auction expirations to behave incorrectly.
                                                                                                                                                                • The splash screen no longer displays longer than the “accept changes” dialogue when changing resolutions on some computers.
                                                                                                                                                                • Master Looter now works correctly for items being looted from chests.
                                                                                                                                                                • The server select screen no longer displays over the character select after being disconnected for being away.
                                                                                                                                                                • Corrected an issue that could cause mission mapnotes to disappear when a new mission is obtained.

                                                                                                                                                                Miscellaneous Bug Fixes

                                                                                                                                                                • Special characters no longer display incorrectly in the French credits.
                                                                                                                                                                • Remaining baby names have been added to the credits.
                                                                                                                                                                • Corrected a link that displayed in French and German versions when the servers are unavailable.

                                                                                                                                                                The beauty of their dreams

                                                                                                                                                                attollos technology logo

                                                                                                                                                                Hello, my name is Thomas Whitaker and I am the co-founder and director of Attollos Technology Ltd.  During the summer of 2011, myself and my business partner James Robinson worked on taking our first baby steps into game development. Both students at Universities in the United Kingdom, we wanted to stray away from the well trod path of attempting to gain internships and try and gain some industry experience first hand.

                                                                                                                                                                As a talented programmer, James took over the main coding responsibilities, whilst I was attempting to take on the most daunting task of all: making a small indie game have a voice in a market that is so quickly becoming overshadowed by multinational companies, who can afford to throw thousands of pounds into generating a download surge.  With this in mind, we decided we wanted to create a simple, addictive game, that would be a good time filler for the casual gaming community.  The concept of a fast paced tapping game emerged at the fore-front of our thoughts and our game – Screen Invaders began to take shape.

                                                                                                                                                                Invader

                                                                                                                                                                The concept:

                                                                                                                                                                With this challenge in mind and a notebook on my desk, I started to doodle out the characters and the storyline that would become the foundation behind our game. We wanted a simple, user-friendly interface that would allow the user to simply pick up and play. For me, there was nothing more aggravating with an iOS game than having to trawl through what seems like an eternity of menus in order to get to the actual gameplay.

                                                                                                                                                                This meant that the idea behind our game revolved around the notion of attempting to defend earth against hordes of alien invaders within a given time limit. As the levels progressed, the aliens became more and more numerous and difficult to destroy. James created a few prototype games without any of the graphics introduced and I soon became hooked on the concept.

                                                                                                                                                                I could barely stop playing my own game and decided that this pick-up and play concept was one that we should try and stick to at all costs.  Taking inspiration from the dynamic art in games such as TinyWings, we decided that we would have a set background for only a few levels and try and keep changing everything round so that the gaming experience was not as monotonous as simply tapping away in a frenzy to try and destroy the last alien before time ran out.

                                                                                                                                                                stick sports

                                                                                                                                                                The launch:

                                                                                                                                                                After months of hard work and hours spent designing characters and icons, Screen Invaders version 1 was finally ready to be submitted to the AppStore.  As newbie developers, this was a proud moment for both of us and where our advanced planning and research became critical.  After recently completing an internship at Stick Sports ltd, the creators of the famous Stick Cricket series, I was able to gain advertising space on their website, a domain that attracts millions of hits a day.

                                                                                                                                                                Independent marketing schemes such as those created by Innovatty on twitter, involving all of the indie developers retweeting about each other’s ideas were also invaluable as well as the forums on sites such as TouchArcade.  The challenge was intimidating, attempting to do battle with companies such as EA, in an arena that they were swiftly trying to dominate.   Adverts such as the one above, were circulated across the globe in an attempt to build up a buzz before the game was released.  Finally, towards the end of August, we gained permission from Apple for the game to go live and after hours spent blogging, tweeting, face booking and you-tubing, all we could do was hope.  We averaged a respectable 50 downloads every few days and with the introduction of bonuses and power-ups, we hope the game can spread.

                                                                                                                                                                [youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEFfkDfA1r0[/youtube]

                                                                                                                                                                Ultimately, we released our game at a very similar time to the day Contre-Jour was published by Chillingo.  Without the advertising power and established consumer base dying to download anything with a company stamp on it, we were never going to emerge as real contenders to top the Arcade genre.

                                                                                                                                                                However, we have lots of great ideas and with our base of existing customers all around the world, we are hopeful that our next release can really cause a stir and ruffle some angry feathers. Our company motto “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, a famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote really sums up what we envisage we will one day accomplish.  We have taken our first baby steps and although we did not exceptionally flourish, you must first learn to walk before you can attempt to run.

                                                                                                                                                                Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes Beta Impressions


                                                                                                                                                                It was announced yesterday that I could ultimately take my hands away from my blabbering mouth and finally get my chance to talk about EA-Mythic’s take on the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre with Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes.

                                                                                                                                                                Wait? Warhammer Online? The MMO? Is this an expansion?

                                                                                                                                                                Nope. This is its own separate game and it seems that Mythic is trying their hand at the growing popularity of online battle arenas. From what I have seen from interviews and differing blogs, this game will be free and will partake in the microtransactions economy many games are adopting.

                                                                                                                                                                Oh, I hated everything about Warhammer Online aside from the PvP. What is this like?

                                                                                                                                                                Wrath of Heroes is almost a copy and paste of Age of Reckoning’s PvP. As of right now, there are two maps. I’m not sure if I can pick either one but it always randomly places me into one of the two. For the most part, I get the regurgitated version of Mourkain Temple. For those that remember Mourkain Temple, you fought for a relic at the center of the map and ran away with it hoping your team would protect you. Wrath of Heroes’ version of Mourkain Temple has differing objectives though. There are three flag points that must be capped by your team. Once your team owns one of these key points, you may take the center cap point and gain significant points for your team. First team to hit 250 points wins.

                                                                                                                                                                That sounds interesting, Mr. Khan. I have one problem. What if the opposing team is dominating you? That doesn’t give you much hope in reclaiming the game.

                                                                                                                                                                Well if the opposing team is dominating you and they become focused on slaying you, who is going to stop the other team from claiming points?

                                                                                                                                                                Wait… did you say other team?

                                                                                                                                                                Oh, did I forget to mention this game is 6v6v6? That’s right. Three teams brawling against each other. People have been clamoring for a game that finally went for that third team perspective in PvP and Mythic decided “Hey, it worked in Dark Age of Camelot. Let’s do it again!” And guess what, reader? It does work! Having three teams constantly vying for control of the map’s objectives keeps everyone on their toes for the entirety of the game. No more spawn camping. No more sense of security that your team has a lead. Anything can change at any time.

                                                                                                                                                                The other map that is available in Wrath of Heroes, which I was unfortunate enough to get only once during the beta phases, is the Arena. This map is a ton of fun. Why? The only objective is to completely decimate the enemy in this three-way team death match. There is plenty of terrain to use as an amazing vantage point for your casters and also to use as a form of abuse with line of sight. There is nothing but complete and utter mayhem in this map and the fact that there is no real objective, no one team can get sneaky and capture a point while people are preoccupied fighting. Everyone has to be involved all the time.

                                                                                                                                                                Yes! There is a Skaven champion.

                                                                                                                                                                As for the classes, there aren’t any. You just play as a champion that resembles a simplified version of their Age of Reckoning counterpart. There is a marauder champion who drags people in, there is a Witch Elf that pops out of nowhere and stabs you in the butt, and there is a tiny little gobbo shaman who is using the Waaagh to heal. What are the differences in this game that set it apart from Age of Reckoning? Champions like the Bright Wizard and Sorceror don’t receive any backlash as they cast their spells but they also don’t get ridiculously more powerful as they weave their magicks.

                                                                                                                                                                Why don’t they receive any downside to spamming their abilities? It probably has to do with the way combat works. The entire game is about spamming all your abilities. Everything is just facerolling your keyboard because almost every ability does damage or buffs you so you do more damage. Cooldowns are short and every champion has one ability that does minimal damage but can be spammed while everything else is on cooldown. It doesn’t lead to a very unique gameplay. Some champions have something special that adds to their combat but why bother when you can just spam abilities? The only champion that felt added any depth of game changing because of their abilities, aside from heal spamming duo goblin shamans, is the Marauder champion. Why? Because he can pull people in, negate healing on them for x amount of seconds, and can root enemies in place. He has the most combat utility out of any other champion. His ability to pick a target and bring them into a bukkake of death is amazing. Unfortunately or fortunately, he isn’t as popular as other champions so you’ll barely see him roaming around.

                                                                                                                                                                One of the things in this game that bothers me are the champion skins. Age of Reckoning has some amazing armor sets that made a ton of the champions look quite simply amazing. There were artistically some of the best armors in any game. Wrath of Heroes merely takes the newbie armor you get in the MMO and pasted it on the champions. Pretty lackluster stuff going on. I know that there are multiple skins they will be putting into the game but I feel as though they should’ve made each champion look awesome from the get-go like other MOBA type of games such as League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients, and Heroes of Newerth. Instead, I feel they are going to make the newbie looking skins the free ones and charge for the cool armors, whereas they could have had one cool armor set for each champion and have the additional skins be the other armor set tiers from Age of Reckoning.

                                                                                                                                                                As of right now, those are my overall impressions of Wrath of Heroes. I will be reporting on it more often as the beta continues but I do feel that with each play test they are adding more and more to this project. Hopefully, it will be a good game for a ton of players to enjoy as a free to play alternative to Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and not become another hit it and quit it project by Mythic.

                                                                                                                                                                My Experiences: EA Sports Tester

                                                                                                                                                                easports

                                                                                                                                                                It was early 2004, I had just finished graduate school at UCF and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  Typical.  My savings was starting to dry up and I needed money fast.  I went around filling out job applications.  I actually got hired at Lowe’s first off.  I was sent to push shopping carts on the second day instead of going through the typical orientation session.  By the third day I was left alone in the lumber section all by myself.  I quit that afternoon.  Days later while wallowing in shame and fear, I saw an advertisement on careerbuilder.com for a video game tester.  I knew that was something I could do.  When I found out it was for EA Sports Tiburon I got excited.  I filled out the application and days later I got a call from one of their screeners who gave me the phone interview.  This consisted of some basic experience questions, and some sports specific questions like:

                                                                                                                                                                What is the difference between overtime in college football and the NFL?”

                                                                                                                                                                Name the major BCS bowls

                                                                                                                                                                Name as many NASCAR drivers and their sponsors as you can

                                                                                                                                                                I was able to pass that pretty easily so I was invited in for another interview at their office.  Here I had to answer a ten page multiple choice test where we shown pictures of controllers and match them to their consoles.  It was video game and sports stuff.  I did good there too so then we were given a console and told to follow a procedure where we would get a video game to crash.  Then a panel interview where I chatted with three people.  I remember being asked if I could remember what the interviewers names were and I only could remember the chick’s name.  Again, typical.  I was told I had the job and I had to come in Monday morning for a week of training which consisted of learning the bug database and learning from the previous year’s titles.  At the end of the week we got our assignments and I was on the NCAA team for PS2.  We all felt sorry for the guy who was given Madden for Game Boy Advance.

                                                                                                                                                                The work started out good.  We worked 10AM-630pm, there was a fridge and a soda machine there.  In the break room there were arcade cabinet machines such as Q-Bert, Mortal Kombat 2, and Golden Tee.  We had some good competitions there.  Soon our days went from 10am to 10pm.  Beta got closer and we split into different shifts.  Some worked 10am to midnight, some worked 12pm to 2am.  It was a grind.  No days off, not when you are putting out one of the best selling video games of the year.  The people at the 7-11 store got to know us rather well for coffee and energy drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                It was an interesting job.  There were barely any women around.  For a group of guys who barely got to see women outside the office, work life brought out the caveman in everyone.  Think of that boobs episode of South Park if it helps.  Also, I found that the people in charge took what they did waaaay to seriously.  They’d pump us up as if we were on the mission to kill Bin Laden.  And they were the kind of bosses who used the old “We work hard but we play hard” catchphrase.  I always thought anybody who used that should be locked in a closet with bees.  There was a divide too among the full time programmers and staff and the seasonal Quality Assurance testers like me.  The “people upstairs” got better snack machines, benefits, and we got to read some messages which revealed that they pretty much thought we were peons.   But we weren’t, at least not all of us.  We had lawyers, cops, college graduates, parents, all guys just trying to make a living and pay the bills.  I know they had their struggles too.  There was a controversy awhile back about the wife of an EA Employee there who didn’t like the long hours and lack of overtime her husband had to deal with.  Google “EASpouse” and you’ll see the story.

                                                                                                                                                                Eventually I moved on but every year I would check the credits of all the football games and see who was still there from my day.  Some testers actually got promoted to game producer.  That was something good about the job, if you showed dedication, you were rewarded.  I often wonder where I would have gone had I stayed there.  I surely would have made a better Superman Returns game, that’s for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                Origin vs. Origin

                                                                                                                                                                Origin vs Origin PC

                                                                                                                                                                Name and brand recognition is extremely important in business so what happens when your companies name gets confused with another large company? First reported on Kotaku, there has been some mixing up of companies between the South Florida based custom builder of gaming computers, Origin PC and the Electronic Arts digital delivery service Origin.

                                                                                                                                                                What was the result of this, well, with games like Battlefield 3 and The Old Republic coming out you can imagine some people ended up contacting Origin PC about their Origin game.

                                                                                                                                                                “We receive numerous phone calls and emails every week with people asking billing questions about the games that they ordered on Origin”, Matt Fisher, Origin PC’s marketing specialist said. “We have to point out that they are calling ORIGIN PC, custom PC builder, and not EA Origin.”

                                                                                                                                                                This might sound like a good thing, more customers calling in, and more chances for a sale. However, for anyone that has ever dealt with the gaming community you know there is a wide array of people you will deal with and those chomping at the bit for a game may be a little less than pleasant when they find out you cannot help them.

                                                                                                                                                                Not only does this mix-up use company resources, but it can lead to misunderstandings between other companies as well.  Companies looking to work with EA have contacted Origin PC and even employees just wearing the Origin PC t-shirts have been stopped by people looking for EA related answers.

                                                                                                                                                                “Someone contacted us before Quakecon and asked for a meeting,” explained Matt. “We asked them to confirm the subject matter prior to the meeting but they never did. We had time to meet with them so we scheduled the meeting and when they showed up they started asking a bunch of EA Origin questions.”

                                                                                                                                                                Could we see some sort of collaboration between Origin PC and Origin? Right now, we know of nothing on the table, but the gaming business just like all business is about connections and expansion. Perhaps in the end a little confusion can turn into a big opportunity.

                                                                                                                                                                Dark Age Of Camelot: The Second Coming


                                                                                                                                                                Hell yeah, I choose this deceptive title to make you think we had sort of insider information to a sequel for Mythic’s MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. You must be pretty upset with me for that and disappointed in the world knowing that a second chance at an upgraded DAOC isn’t coming any time soon. Grim days I tell you, reader.

                                                                                                                                                                Hopefully you haven’t left yet so I can tell you about what I really wanted your attention for. Yes, it does involve Dark Age of Camelot.

                                                                                                                                                                We’re listening, you fat piece of shit.

                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for staying tuned. How long has it been since you’ve enjoyed the glory of RvR? No, I don’t mean the abortion of RvR that was present in Mythic’s failed Warhammer Online game. I mean real RvR. The kind where three realms go head to head on a battlefield, sieging keeps, slaying epic beasts, forming alliances, and claiming the rights to the world’s most powerful relics.

                                                                                                                                                                I know your mind is fluttering with thoughts of a time long ago where PvP in an MMO was actually interesting and purposeful to your entire faction. What would you do if you had a chance to revisit the past? Would you take the reins of life and steer them into the right direction?

                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, Umar. Cool story, bro. We can always resub to DAOC and its dwindling population, new rule sets, or play on classic servers for a nominal monthly fee.

                                                                                                                                                                Yes, that’s true. You could do that or…

                                                                                                                                                                You could play the sonuvabitch for free on the Uthgard Free Shard server. Yes, I said free. It is a DAOC emulated server with all the classic rule sets and additional content added from the staff.

                                                                                                                                                                The population is healthy and the community is active. All the instructions to download the game and get it working takes no longer than 5-10mins once the game has been installed. Enjoy your crusade as a proud member of Albion, mystify the world with your fairy magics in Hibernia, or bathe in the blood of the mighty as a Midgardian. That’s it. I have nothing else to say. Go play, haters.

                                                                                                                                                                The Obsolete Gamer Show: Fan Q and A

                                                                                                                                                                Q and A session

                                                                                                                                                                This week on the Obsolete Gamer Show we turned to our fans to answer their questions from our Facebook Fan page. We had our good friend Tom in the studio and was able to get though most of the questions.

                                                                                                                                                                Here is a list of the questions we answered.

                                                                                                                                                                Why did bloody EA have to buy Criterion Software and shag up the Burnout series?

                                                                                                                                                                What is the most unusual game console you ever had the opportunity to play?

                                                                                                                                                                How long before sony gets serious about their portables?

                                                                                                                                                                What are your favorites quotes taken from games and why?

                                                                                                                                                                Which chips challenge do you prefer and why?

                                                                                                                                                                What is Batman’s stance on legalizing marijuana?

                                                                                                                                                                Who would win out of Sonic and Mario in a Hell in the Cell match?

                                                                                                                                                                For those questions we did not get to don’t worry, we will add a question of the day part to our show to answer your questions.

                                                                                                                                                                In the meantime, have a listen and leave us some feedback.

                                                                                                                                                                The Obsolete Gamer Show: Q and A

                                                                                                                                                                Or have a listen on our official OGS page and let us know what you think.

                                                                                                                                                                Or download our podcast from Itunes

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                The Whine List

                                                                                                                                                                whine motivational poster

                                                                                                                                                                Gaming forums are not a good place for the faint-hearted, but just recently there seems to have been a lot of whining and misplaced angst. While there are easy targets – Sony’s poor handling of the PSP Go – there have been some misguided campaigns of hate that deserve to be shot down in flames, ridiculed and dispatched to the darkest corners of the Internet.

                                                                                                                                                                Nintendo have regularly been updating the system firmware of the Wii, most notably to include SD card support (a feature the gaming community was calling for, no less). But when the most recent update was found to “brick” a small number of consoles, even rabid Nintendo fans were up in arms. “How can they do this to us?” came the protests, as the update designed to prevent homebrew and such esoteric mods as the USB loader working took hold. While I applaud the ingenuity of the hackers, the fact remains – modifying a console like this is illegal and opens up the possibility of piracy. Obviously Nintendo cannot allow that, and are well within their rights to stop modified machines working in a way they were never intended to. This was a cheap whine.

                                                                                                                                                                Similarly, I read a plea to get rid of software licensing agreements and to stop people having to click/push buttons to get past them “because no-one ever reads them”. Again, the companies would be within their rights to prosecute someone modifying their software or making illegal copies. More fool you if you fail to read the small print. (It does remind of a bizarre paragraph in a standardised licensing agreement that told me not to use graphics editing software for the Commodore 64 in the running of a nuclear power station, but I digress…)  This is a low-quality whine, blended from different varieties of gamer.

                                                                                                                                                                When Valve announced a sequel to the best-selling Left 4 Dead, you would imagine that the fans would be ecstatic. But no, a developer once renowned for being slow was putting out a sequel too quickly, and worst of all was the perception it would be “abandoning” the original and plans to release new content for it. Signing a virtual petition against Left 4 Dead 2 was a daft idea. But the campaign hit new lows when two leading objectors were given the chance to see the game at Valve’s headquarters – suddenly the two in question were “traitors” and Valve was brainwashing them into liking the game. This is vintage whine, distilled from the finest sour grapes and labelled fact-free.

                                                                                                                                                                For those who do not keep up with gaming forums, for a long time EA were the baddies. Now it seems the focus has switched to Activision, thanks in no small measure to the press statements of Bobby Kotich. After the rumoured pull-out from PS3 development (which never happened, given the recent PS3 price cut, and was unlikely anyway), further statements about what fans would buy and the future for the company after its merger with Blizzard did little to quell the online flames. Another bizarre boycott, asking fans to only buy Activision’s games second-hand, would seem to do more harm to the gamers themselves than to the company.

                                                                                                                                                                Sure, the price point for certain peripheral-based titles may seem high. The bizarre Modern Warfare 2 bundle with night vision goggles comes across as a company expecting fans to buy anything because of the name on the box (and the game it contains… hopefully). But, like EA before them, Activision are a company that have given a lot more than they take. Few could argue that the Guitar Hero games do not give hours and hours of gameplay for the money. And while it may seem strange to launch more expensive games in the midst of a recession, that money is going back to a company that works well with developers. So, this is another vintage whine, one that should be put on the shelf and left until there is genuinely something to complain about.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                Games coming out in March 2011 for Consoles

                                                                                                                                                                Crysis 2 wallpaper

                                                                                                                                                                It is March Madness and I am not just talking the NCAA. There are a number of good games coming out this March so I hope you have paid off all of your x-mas debt because it is time to open that wallet or purse.

                                                                                                                                                                Dragon Age II – Mar 8th


                                                                                                                                                                BioWare is back for the next full chapter in the Dragon Age series. This RPG will feature updated graphics and gameplay and a continuing storyline.

                                                                                                                                                                Major League Baseball 2K11 – Mar 8th


                                                                                                                                                                I got some feedback for not mentioning sports games so here It is. We know 2K sports does it well and even if you are an EA fan you know 2K will make a good game and it looks as if MLB 2K11 will live up to the legacy.

                                                                                                                                                                Homefront – Mar 15th


                                                                                                                                                                PS3 fans rejoice because now you have a chance to play this story-driven first-person shooter set in the year 2027.

                                                                                                                                                                Top Spin 4 – Mar 15th


                                                                                                                                                                I was always a fan of the Top Spin tennis series and it is good to see it back for the next gen consoles. You can select over 25 pros and play in a ton of stadiums around the world and even create your own tennis star. Another hit from 2K Sports.

                                                                                                                                                                Crysis 2 – Mar 22nd


                                                                                                                                                                Remember the benchmarking game called Crysis? Okay, it was not a benchmarking game, but it did make a ton of people upgrade their computers. For us console owners this first-person shooter returns powered by the CryEngine 3 and looks as incredible as ever.

                                                                                                                                                                LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars – March 22nd


                                                                                                                                                                You have to give it up to the Lego series, even if you were not a fan of the Indian Jones and Batman Lego games the Star Wars series has always been fun to play. This time we enter the clone wars with overhauled visuals and new gameplay including cooperative action.

                                                                                                                                                                Shift 2 Unleashed: Need for Speed – Mar 29th


                                                                                                                                                                The unleashed series combines what we love the most about racing, fast cars and crashes. It is this mix of racing and violence that made Burnout fun and looks like it works for the Need for Speed series as well.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                WWE All Stars – Mar 29th


                                                                                                                                                                One large complaint from the Smackdown versus Raw series was the fact that you could not play many of the classic stars from the WWE’s past. With WWE All Star the entire game is dedicated to the legends of the wrestling world and you can pit them against todays superstars.

                                                                                                                                                                Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday – Mar 29th


                                                                                                                                                                Yes, this is a PSP game and yes it takes the Parasite Eve series and makes it more like a shooter than an RPG, but there are some redeeming elements including story that makes this game worth the buy if you already own a PSP.

                                                                                                                                                                The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Mar 29th


                                                                                                                                                                The Witcher 2 is a direct sequel to developer CD Projekt’s mature-themed fantasy role-playing game based on the works of author Andrzej Sap.

                                                                                                                                                                Back in Debt

                                                                                                                                                                There you have it, our list of worthwhile games to check out and perhaps buy. We will be back next month with a brand new list and trailers on games to buy, obsolete gamer style.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                The Daily Vid: Battlefield 3 Teaser Trailer

                                                                                                                                                                Battlefield 3 Teaser Trailer Billboard and Logo

                                                                                                                                                                Battlefield 3 is the true successor to Battlefield 2. Beyond our signature multiplayer, EA has also included a full single-player campaign and a co-op campaign — all straight out of the box. As for fan favorite features, how does the return of jets, prone, and 64-player multiplayer (on PC) sound? All this built with our powerful new game engine Frostbite 2, which you’ll hear and see a lot of in the months leading up to launch.

                                                                                                                                                                Free to Play. If You’re Going to Fail, Get Better At Failing.

                                                                                                                                                                Everquest 2 F2P lol
                                                                                                                                                                Everquest 2 F2P lol

                                                                                                                                                                For the past six years, MMORPGs have been failing. Be it because the companies believe releasing beta quality games, far-fetched mechanics, or releasing a game that has the savory indulgence of a stale piece of bread, the genre has seen some gloomy days. World of Warcraft has created a boom for many money hungry companies and jaded developers that think releasing a game in this genre will garner them fame and money. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case and nothing has been able to compete at the level that Blizzard is currently at.

                                                                                                                                                                Let’s face it. Very few MMORPGs have had amazing launches and it is because of this lack luster grand opening that a lot of people just get turned away. How can these companies salvage their investment? How can they bring in money to a sinking ship? How can they increase their gaming audience?

                                                                                                                                                                The answer lies to the Far East. It is in this land of Zerg obsessed gamers and mob-grinding gurus that holds the key to America’s salvation in the MMO Market. Asia has been using a model known to many as Free to Play for a very long time. Players are allowed to download the game from a website and jump right in. Sure, there are some restrictions that hold them back from unlocking the full potential of the game but it is a better option than a 14 day free trial.

                                                                                                                                                                “But Umar”, you may find yourself pondering, “I know Asia is known for crazy people but this sounds insane! How do the Crazians make their money?!”

                                                                                                                                                                Very simple, Little Billy. Crazian MMO Developers make their money from an in-game market place where players can unlock classes, races, potions, cosmetics, and content for real life money. While not every player’s going to feed cash to companies for a game they play for free, they do garner in more money than $15 a month. Some players are so into power gaming and/or cosmetics that they’ll easily throw down more than $15 a month in purchases via this market place without even thinking it through.

                                                                                                                                                                Why adopt this model though? The answer is simply because it seems to actually work.

                                                                                                                                                                Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online was far from being considered a true MMORPG by many of today’s standards and it was on the brink of extinction. However, unlike the dodo bird, DnD Online was not ready to leave this world. In one last hurrah, it released a Free to Play model and quickly flourished. The game’s income reportedly jumped by double and it felt a chance to thrive. Life began to ebb back into this would be abortion and deliver it salvation.

                                                                                                                                                                To follow suit, many MMORPGs began to jump onto the bandwagon. Lord of the Rings Online, while not a failure by many aspects, saw a chance to increase its player base with this new subscription model. It held back many features to free players but the market place allowed them to expand further into the world.

                                                                                                                                                                Around the same time LOTRO adopted the model, Everquest 2 wet its feet in the F2P world with Everquest 2 Extended, which included 8 classes, 4 races, 80 levels, and 5 expansions for free.

                                                                                                                                                                Now, companies like Cryptic, probably persuaded by Atari, are hitting the F2P model to save their abortion known as Champions Online and also the acclaimed Star Trek Online. Some may know my dislike for Cryptic in general and I don’t want to bore anyone with my vendetta but these games were Free to Play quality on release and never should have been Pay to Play, but I digress. They are now hitting the high road and going F2P.

                                                                                                                                                                Those seem to be some of the bigger MMOs released in the past couple of years that really need this chance to boost their communities. One MMO that I am waiting to take the dive into this model is Warhammer Online. The game has been a downward spiral since release and while I doubt EA even cares about the game still (they have been systematically dismembering Mythic) a F2P model for WAR might be able to save it from its dying breath.

                                                                                                                                                                Sadly, though, some MMORPGs that haven’t even had a year to fix their abominations are already looking to hit the F2P market as well. Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIV. It has been reported that they are currently seeking a chance to hit into this model to save their plummeting shares and overall consumer backlash.

                                                                                                                                                                I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about this model and some find it “greedy” that companies are willing to push out virtual stores but I don’t find a problem with this at all. Most of these games offer a chance to unlock the full game for the standard $15 a month and no one is forcing you to purchase anything from the marketplace to begin with. Most of the items these games offer aren’t game changing and aren’t required to excel in the game so there is no reason for some of the criticism. However, regardless of whether it is a good model or not there will always be people who will complain.

                                                                                                                                                                The Free to Play opportunity that has raged through the past two years seems to be giving players many chances to see more of what is out there than WoW. While it is good for companies to regain their money and enlarge their player base, it also gives players a chance to expand their horizons onto what is out there without feeling guilty for dropping 40-50 dollars on a game that could be releasing in beta quality.

                                                                                                                                                                How do you feel about the Free to Play model many MMORPG’s seem to be taking? Would you like to see future games continuing with this setup and if not, why?

                                                                                                                                                                Marcus Hswe: Tandem Learning

                                                                                                                                                                Tandem Learning logo
                                                                                                                                                                Tandem Learning logo

                                                                                                                                                                Name: Marcus Hswe

                                                                                                                                                                Company: Tandem Learning

                                                                                                                                                                Profession: Director of Client Services

                                                                                                                                                                Favorite Classic Game: SEGA Genesis Electronic Arts FIFA Soccer 1993

                                                                                                                                                                Quote: Once you reached a level of mastery (i.e. cheats), you could be Cameroon and win the World Cup. Plus, it was cheap entertainment until we broke the game. The graphics at the time were average but the functionality and flexibility in play was fairly unusual for the time.

                                                                                                                                                                Bio/Current Event:
                                                                                                                                                                Tandem Learning designs learning solutions that are infused with strategic and creative instructional and game design. Our focus on the learner experience, along with our expertise and passion for immersive learning and serious games, can help you shift the training you have to the learning that will inspire your organization.

                                                                                                                                                                Tandem Learning recently launched its Looking Glass® Game Engine. The Looking Glass® Engine is a customizable gaming engine that integrates scoring, leaderboards, team creation, live chat, polls, assessments, discussion boards, and more with a full back-end tracking and reporting tool. The engine has the ability to be customized with additional features and graphics based on the need of each uniquely designed game experience. Tandem Learning licenses the engine and develops customized gaming experiences that utilize the engine.

                                                                                                                                                                The competitive game engine was recently used for an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) called Dr. Strangelearn’s Learning Laboratory, which was played in conjunction with the eLearning Guild’s DevLearn 2010 conference in San Francisco.

                                                                                                                                                                GAMES COMING OUT FOR CONSOLES: NOV 16TH 2010

                                                                                                                                                                EbGames rack
                                                                                                                                                                EbGames rack

                                                                                                                                                                Ah, turkey time is almost upon us and though we are still playing our way through Black Ops there are a few good games being released next week that are ready to suck the cash right from us. This week we are looking at three games that are worthy of a purchase, but let’s take a look at them first and then decide.

                                                                                                                                                                Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – PS3

                                                                                                                                                                What is better than an assassin, a team of assassin’s.  In Brotherhood we continue where ACII left off with Ezio Auditore da Firenze and a new villain who is the son of the villain from part 2. There have been a number of changes to combat and added horse-riding moves and abilities. In addition the Desmond storyline continues with promises of real answers and some conclusions being given. The graphics look even better this time around and the city is like three times as large. If you liked any of the other Assassin’s Creed’s you should definitely pick this one up.

                                                                                                                                                                Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

                                                                                                                                                                EA and the development team wanted to bring the NFS franchise back from the dead. They admitted that the last game was just not what it should be and blamed it on a number of things including how long they were allowed to work on it. Now with more time the team has put together a game they hope will restore NFS to its former glory.

                                                                                                                                                                First off, they didn’t go the open world route which so many racing games are doing these days. Instead the team focused on making sure the tracks were designed to the max from the ground up to look stunning and have the fun factor that racers want.  The game is about chases and it goes both ways. Play as the cops and the racers and level up on both ends in single player and pick your side in multiplayer. With a ton of awesome cars and incredible locations to race em this game might just put Need for Speed back on top.

                                                                                                                                                                NBA Jam

                                                                                                                                                                Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing and that is the motto used in creating this new NBA jam. If you played the old arcade versions the only differences you will notice is new NBA players and updates to the visuals. The thing is that is a good thing. NBA Jam was fine the way it was and now you can continue the legacy of over the top dunks and full court jump shots. Put together your perfect duo by choosing from 30 NBA teams all licensed and trademarked. Sure, it is not 2K11, but it isn’t supposed to be. This is NBA Jam, home of the BOOM SHAKA LAKA.

                                                                                                                                                                Insufficient funds

                                                                                                                                                                Those are the top picks this week and we are sorry you will yet again be inviting your girlfriend over for chicken hotdogs and a bittorrent movie. However, with all these great games who needs a girlfriend, that’s why they invented X-Tube.

                                                                                                                                                                Tyler Chester: Appular

                                                                                                                                                                Appular logo
                                                                                                                                                                Appular logo

                                                                                                                                                                Name: Tyler Chester

                                                                                                                                                                Company: Appular

                                                                                                                                                                Profession: Public Relations

                                                                                                                                                                Favorite Classic Game: The Sims

                                                                                                                                                                Quote: I’ve always been into simulation games for a while now and it keeps me pretty busy. The Sims 1 for PS2 was really the first game that started my gaming habits. I had an original PS2, the “fatty” of them all. I think I actually got it right on release, not sure. I’m sure you can consider The Sims as a classic, right? At times it can be frustrating, and I still remember you didn’t have the ability to create multiple floors which was a draw back. Now today, The Sims series is huge like really huge. You can build like four floors today, that’s just completly insane. With all the add-ons today their is no limits with The Sims. That’s why I keep coming back to it now and then. I’ve had my fair share of house building with The Sims 3, so many tools, so little time!


                                                                                                                                                                The Interview: Steve Gray

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray
                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray

                                                                                                                                                                When you have a gaming resume with names like Electronic Arts, Squaresoft and THQ there is little doubt that you know gaming. Obsolete Gamer was given the opportunity to talk with Steve Gray about his gaming career that started with EA Canada his time at Squaresoft and his work on Parasite eve. From there he created his own studio (Heavy Iron) which he sold to THQ in 1999. From there he returned to EA where he worked on many games including The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Third Age and Tactics. Currently Steve Gray is the executive in charge of production at Tencent who is China’s largest developer and publisher and operator of online games.

                                                                                                                                                                We wanted to get a behind the scenes look at his time in the gaming industry and his many accomplishments from his work in Video FX to building the first Motion Capture Lab at EA Canada.

                                                                                                                                                                EA Canada logo
                                                                                                                                                                EA Canada logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: When did you know you would want to work in the video game industry?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I originally wanted to be a Rock Star (just like Tremmel) and I played the clubs a lot in LA and up and down the California coast.  At that time I also worked in the feature film special effects business.  Which I continued to do until the early 90’s when I was VP Technology at Digital Domain (that’s when we made True Lies, Interview with the Vampire, Apollo 13, …).  When the PS1 came out I decided I really wanted to get into video games instead.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was your first exposure to games?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Asteroids in the arcades.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that hooked you?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Asteroids in the arcades!!

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Now before beginning work in the gaming industry you had quite the career in Visual Effects and working in television and movies can you tell us about that time?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I worked at Robert Abel & Associates when I first moved to LA (to be a Rock Star).  Entry Level Rock Star doesn’t pay very well, actually… not at all.  RA&A worked on Tron, Star Trek 1, and a ton of really cool CG TV commercials.  Also with Omnibus and Digital Pictures we were really the first big CG effects house.  It was a great place to work, everyone was really young and crazy… we worked super hard, partied super hard.  It was a good time… late 80’s in LA was a fun time and place.  Guns and Roses was playing the clubs, the Sunset Strip was rockin’.  Then I went on to work at Rhythm & Hues as head of the Software department.  We wrote all our own CG tools then, because there really weren’t any commercially available packages yet.  I mostly wrote partical systems and rendering code, along with managing the team.  After R&H I moved over to Digital Domain, which was a lot of crazy house.  But we worked on really great movies… and working with Stan Winston and Jim Cameron was pretty amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: So you began the video game part of your career at Electronic Arts Canada, how did that job come to be?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Digital Domain wanted to get into the video games business… so me and Chris McKibbin (then CFO of DD – different Chris than Chris Tremmel) went around to all the big game companies in the US and Japan trying to get someone to do a project with us… no one really wanted to do that because they (rightly) said we had no idea what we were doing.  Don Mattrick offered me and McKibbin both jobs at EAC.  So we thought about that and both took his offer.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was it like working at EA Canada?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: It was really interesting. I learned a lot there.  A lot of really talented guys.  But unfortunately I discovered that making sports games wasn’t really my thing.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What did you think of the changing in video game technology at the time with the PlayStation One and the use of full motion video in games?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: We all though FMVs in games were super cool.  And actually I eventually built a game at my own company Heavy Iron that used FMV backgrounds in a “Resident Evil” type of game… except our backgrounds were pre-rendered videos instead of pre-rendered stills.  But that was on PS2.  It was the first Evil Dead game that THQ released.  But fundamentally I now think that FMVs kind of suck.  Or at least over use of FMVs kind of suck.  I like what we did in “Lord of the Rings The Third Age” with the transitions from FMV to In-Game Cinematic to Game Play.  And I’m definitely more of a fan of in-game cinematics now, especially if the player can customize his or her avatar, and that customized avatar shows up in the In-Game Cinematic.  But in general, I’m not a huge fan of linear content in games anymore.  Of course, working at Square we made tons of FMVs… but Square’s console RPGs are almost more of a big movie with some game play bits squeezed in there.   Which I still like.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What were the day to day activities of running the software tools group at EA Canada?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Not really that interesting.  Just managed the tools group, tried to make sure that we really built things that were useful for the projects right now… no “ivory tower research” allowed.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about building the first Motion Capture Lab at EAC?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: In the beginning the EAC guys didn’t believe in it so we had basically no budget and had to rent out the auto-repair stall to use as our capture studio.  The guys in the auto repair shops around us all through we must be shooting porno movies because we brought in all this high-end camera gear… they kept wanting to know when the girls were going to be there.  Unfortunately it was just a bunch of geeky game developers.  Later we got a bigger a much nicer warehouse to work in…

                                                                                                                                                                Squaresoft logo
                                                                                                                                                                Squaresoft logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: How did the transition from EAC to Squaresoft take place?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I knew some Square guys from various places in the past, plus I’ve always been a fan of their games.  When Sakaguchi-san asked me to join the company I couldn’t say yes fast enough.   Some of the other guys at Square invited me to Tokyo to meet Sakaguchi and we were in a private booth overlooking the massive dance club called “Welfare”, he asked me to join square and put out his hand… I shook it and the other Japanese guys asked me “do you know you just signed the deal”, to which I answered “yes”!!

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a story or memory you’d like to share about your time at EAC?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I think the day we installed the flying-faders audio mixing board in the sound lab was the best day.  Back then those things were super crazy expensive, and as a musician I’d always wanted to have one to play with.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was it like working at Squaresoft?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Working at Square was the best of times and in some ways the worst of times.  Working with Sakaguchi-san was extremely challenging because his standards are insanely high.  Which is a good thing, but it can be tough.  Also the cultural and language differences between the Japanese and Western teams we not really understood or managed very well.  I’m sure we were one of the first projects to be developed by a “mixed” team.  Of course now this is happening more and more, and people have gotten much better at managing those situations, but we were really on the bleeding edge, so to speak.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What were some of the challenges in directing Parasite Eve?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: The biggest issues were really finding consensus and understanding between the Japanese crew, many of whom had been at Square for many years and were used to their style of working… which was actually very “agile” though they didn’t call it that.  The Western team was much more into what’s now referred to as Waterfall project management… which we didn’t call it that either.  We didn’t really think about this sort of thing, and didn’t understand the differences, and basically made a big mess.  But the game did quite well when it came out, so that’s great!

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Now the game was a sequel to the book correct?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: The game wasn’t a sequel really, it was based on a Japanese novel.  There is also a Japanese movie based on the same book… with some cool VFX from Toyo Links (Japanese VFX company).

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: There are many fans who loved that game, but some felt it did not get the attention it deserved, do you feel that way as well?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: It sold over 2.5 million units world wide I think, and sold something like 1.6 million units in like a week in Japan or something crazy like that.  Not quite Final Fantasy numbers, but pretty good.  I’m happy with it.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What did you think of Parasite Eve 2?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I think the graphics and FMVs are probably better… I haven’t really played it all the way through, so I don’t have a lot to say about the game.  I was a little bitter with the way things ended up at Square, so I cop’ed an attitude and only played it a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: There were rumors of making a Parasite Eve 3 but it did not happen would you want to see a part 3 made?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Only if I make it!!!  I don’t know.  Don’t really care.  I don’t think the franchise really took off enough to warrent a whole long series of games.

                                                                                                                                                                Parasite Eve box
                                                                                                                                                                Parasite Eve box

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: You also contributed to Final Fantasy 7 while at Square, can you tell us about that?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Mostly I just helped another team at Square LA work on some maps.   Square LA did a bunch of maps for FF VII.  I don’t remember how many or what percentage of the total maps were done there.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a story or memory you’d like to share about your time at Square?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: Ha.  The stories I have to share involve other Square employees, cute Japanese girls at various locations in Tokyo at night.  They are not fit for public consumption… so I’ll let you guys imagine some of the trouble we got into.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What made you want to open your own game development company?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: After we finished PE1 at Square, a core group of us thought we were super badass game developers and that publishing companies would fall over themselves to give us projects and money.  That was not entirely true.  We worked on a bunch of games that never saw the light of day, and then finally landed the gig with THQ building Evil Dead 1.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about Heavy Iron Studios?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: It was originally called Chemistry Entertainment.  For a while we partnered with the Canadian VFX Company called Rainmaker.  Heavy Iron didn’t really 100% work out as we hoped.  But a bunch of really great people worked there, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in the game industry… for example my partner Marcel Samek went on to be CTO at EALA for many years.  Shiraz Akmal ran the central outsourcing group at THQ… Matt Coohill continued to work at Heavy Iron for a long time, and is now up in Seattle at Microsoft working cool stuff there.  And many others…

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: How did it differ from running your own company than working at EAC and SS?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: We had no money.  I didn’t really like running my own company that much… I thought it would give me the freedom to work on the kinds of projects I really like.  But instead I got to be an administrator and was always managing cash flow and trying to make payroll.  Not cool.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: When did you make the decision to sell to THQ?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: When we were starting on Evil Dead 1, it was going to be one of the biggest projects THQ had ever done… and they really wanted to have us be part of THQ so that they would be building equity in the team.  And honestly, Marcel and I were a bit tired of managing the company instead of making games, so we decided to join THQ.  Of course, we also got paid some money (stock).  When I left THQ, their stock was at an all-time high… this was a good thing.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a story or memory you’d like to share about your time with Heavy Iron Studios?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: When we were finalizing Evil Dead, I was basically living at the office.  We had a group of THQ QA guys in the first floor, and they would find bugs, we’d fix them… I’d burn new test disks… they bang away at them.  It was a crazy project.  But then many things I’ve worked on have been crazy and hard… but that’s what makes it fun.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Then it was a return to EA what was that like?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I came back to EA to join my original Digital Domain friend, Chris McKibbin, to help run what was called the “Worlds Channel” in EA.com.  We were all the entertainment products, meaning all the MMOs.  I guess younger readers may not know about EA.com – EA.com was EA’s first big jump into online games, and think we were a bit ahead of the times… EA.com didn’t work out, and got closed down, and many of the people merged back into the other EA Studios.  That was pretty rough because many people were also laid off, and as one of the senior guys there it fell to me to do a lot of layoffs.  But it’s lame to feel bad for yourself in that situation because it’s 100x worse for the people getting laid off.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the development process with creating the Lord of the Rings games?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: We kicked some serious ass on Lord of the Rings.  First out at Stormfront, then internally at EA Redwood Shores.  Those were great games, beautiful games, built on very tight schedules under difficult circumstances and they were really good.  I credit my time and Square and my experiences working with Sakaguchi for my ability to really focus on quality… and of course, Neil Young was a great EP on the first two, I learned a lot working with him as well.  I have very happy memories of that time… though I did get diss’ed pretty hard in the infamous “EA Wife” blog.  I think our FMV->game play transition stuff which I mentioned earlier was a first for the industry, and we really set the standard for quality in movie games… a standard that has rarely been met since, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                Heavy Iron logo
                                                                                                                                                                Heavy Iron logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: How did your experience with EAC, Square and owning Heavy Iron Studios factor into your return to EA and working on those games?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I really credit Sakaguchi-san for helping me understand how to build great games.  I have to say that at the time, when I was at Square, I didn’t really agree 100% with how he wanted to do things… but in the following years I came to really appreciate how his approach to game development is able to consistently create such high quality product.  Now I’ve rarely (never) had the freedom he has as a developer, but his ideas fit into development even if you have to pay more attention to the schedule.  Heavy Iron gave me a lot of respect for how hard it is to run a business… and at EA I learned a lot about why publishers work the way they do, and why publishers make what seem to the developers like evil and unwarranted decisions.  That changed my understanding of the game business a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about your work on Neverwinter Nights 2?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: This is a mistake in some profiles on me… I never worked on Neverwinter Nights 2.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: With all your time in the gaming industry which prior of your career did you enjoy the most?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I really really enjoyed working on the Lord of the Rings games.  The team was so fantastic.  Everyone was great to work with and super talented.  We may have had our struggles and moments of anger with each other, but I wouldn’t trade that time with those people for anything.  I am also really enjoying working at Tencent…

                                                                                                                                                                Tencent logo
                                                                                                                                                                Tencent logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about what you are working on currently?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I am currently Executive in Charge of Prodution at Tencent in China.  Tencent is China’s largest developer, publisher and operator of on-line games, we have a huge IM client (over 1 billion accounts), we run China’s largest portals, etc…  I work with all of our Studios, of which we have 9… with about 3500 employees across all of them.  But there are some projects I’m particularly focused on.

                                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately I can’t really tell you about them, because most are unannounced.  However one I can mention is NBA 2K Online, which is a co-development project with 2K Sports in the US.  It’s a bit weird because I didn’t really like working on Sports games at EAC… but this is really more of a Sports RPG or something like that.  It’s really cool… it’s going to be a monster hit here in China.  Working with Visual Concepts (the 2K Games Studio that builds NBA2K) is really great, working with 2K China is great… our team in Shanghai is great.

                                                                                                                                                                It’s really fun.  It’s amazing how Tencent builds online games and how big we are (we have 4 games that have more than 1 million people playing simultaneously every day).  We get to work so closely with our customers… in a way you can never do on a console game.  Also the scale we operate at is just stunning… QQ IM (our IM client) routinely has over 100,000,000 people logged into it every day.  Yes – that’s the right number of zeros… 100,000,000.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: With all that you do you must have little free time, but when you do if you play any games what are they?

                                                                                                                                                                Steve Gray: I rarely play any games other than the games I’m working on, or directly competing product… which I can’t say what they are, because that would be a dead giveaway of what we’re building.  I don’t really play games for “fun” in my free time… well, what free time, for one thing.  But I have a lot of fun playing the games I’m building or those few other games I play to understand what the competition is up to.

                                                                                                                                                                Games Coming out for Consoles: Oct 17th 2010

                                                                                                                                                                people buying nintendo wii
                                                                                                                                                                people buying nintendo wii

                                                                                                                                                                As you get ready for all the Halloween parties and Saw 13 you might want to set aside some money for console games. Sure, you could buy winter clothes or get that root canal you’ve needed for some time, but that won’t add to your collection of games now will it. It doesn’t matter if you have a Playstation 3, X-Box 360 or that awful Wii there is something for everyone this week.

                                                                                                                                                                Fallout: New Vegas


                                                                                                                                                                What goes better with nuclear waste than a $2.99 steak buffet. Fallout New Vegas features the Fallout 3 engine and was developed with members of the Fallout 1 and 2 team. It’s time to shine up your Pip-boy and load your weapons for some post-apocalyptic mutant hunting.

                                                                                                                                                                We got to see this in action at E3 and it looks really good. The art direction and style of Old Vegas mixed in with the lore of Fallout. You know the story and side quests are going to be fun and when you blast a mutant from miles away with the hunters riffle you will feel right at home.

                                                                                                                                                                Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2


                                                                                                                                                                Now if you haven’t heard of Naruto it started as a Manga character from the Shonen Jump magazine. From there it ventured out into Anime and video games and more. Naruto follows the story of a boy ninja who was ostracized as a kid and because of that acted out and got into lots of trouble, but in time he became a great ninja, or and he has a demon sealed inside of him.

                                                                                                                                                                Many of the previous games followed the story from the Anime with extra missions and side quests thrown in. In Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 the story picks up at the beginning of the Shippuden run with Naruto returning to the village about three years older after training with his master. From there he takes on new missions with his team and reconnects with friends from the village,

                                                                                                                                                                We played this game at E3 and it was really fun and looked just like the Anime. The fighting styles are great and you can pull off a ton of special moves that look awesome. In addition to the mission levels you can fight against each other in versus matches and there are over 42 characters to choose from. Honestly even if you aren’t into Naruto specifically, if you like a good story adventure game with great fighting mixed in then this is worth a look.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                EA Sports MMA


                                                                                                                                                                Forget the WWE it’s all about MMA now and that means real fights, real blood and that EA will make a game for it. Mixed Marital arts is big and this game showcases some of the best fighters in MMA.

                                                                                                                                                                The game looks real good and it has a cool career feature where you can customize you fighter from his looks to his gear. From there you have starting skill points but must train in them all to be the best. Over time by winning fights you earn money to improve your training as well as gear and then move up to be fights from all around the world.

                                                                                                                                                                It has a ton of names from the world of MMA and a well-designed and fun to play versus system. Hey, if you bought Fight Night might as well give this a try too.

                                                                                                                                                                Next Time

                                                                                                                                                                There are a few more games coming out next week, but if I had the time and the cash I would pick these up. Next week the wallet onslaught continues with a new list of upcoming games worth buying. Until then claim your weeks and start taking under the table jobs.

                                                                                                                                                                The Interview: William D. Volk

                                                                                                                                                                William D Volk

                                                                                                                                                                To say that William D. Volk has had an interesting career in gaming would be an understatement. From playing video games in high school to having his first gaming related job in college, to creating a number of great games. Volk began working with Avalon Hill starting off in quality assurance. In time he began working on his own titles including Conflict 2500, Voyage 1 and Controller.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer was able to get insight into his career working with various companies including Activision where he was VP of Technology has his technical direction over Return to Zork. We were also able to get his opinion on some of the events in his life including the video game crash, the Philips CD-I and mobile gaming.

                                                                                                                                                                Avalon Hill logo
                                                                                                                                                                Avalon Hill logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Would it be fair to say you did not grow up playing games but once you were into your college years you found your love of gaming?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: I was playing games at the arcade in High School.  Pong showed up in the early ’70’s.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that you were exposed to?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Probabily Pong.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that hooked you?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Wars On a PDP-8 at University of Penn … original Startrek  and the Classic Adventure.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: How does the process for transferring a strategic board game to computer software work and what was it like testing these games?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Very few of Avalon Hills Computer Games were based on the board games in 79-82.  I wanted to tackle “Iron Men and Wooden Ships” but by then I had taken a position with Rising Star.  I also proposed an online version of Squad Leader.

                                                                                                                                                                Conflict 2500
                                                                                                                                                                Conflict 2500

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Any gamers today have never seen much less played a text game, can you give us a little insight into how text base games were at that time?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Everyone was hooked on the Infocom games.  You can still play them today.  Lords of Karma was Avalon Hill’s best text adventure IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: During your work with Avalon Hill you began to create your own titles, can you tell us about the thought process of coming up with a game and then trying to create it?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Conflict 2500: I was renting a place in Baltimore during the summer of 1980 and was a huge fan of Star Raiders (Spaceship Yamato).  I had played the Startrek game and wanted a more complex version of that.

                                                                                                                                                                Voyager I: Saw a maze program on an Apple II.  At UNH in 1981 I did a class project using a random maze generator that displayed a solid wall 3D maze on some incredibly expensive Textronix terminal.  The game was kinda based on the end of the original Alien film.  The getting off the ship because you set self-destruct part.

                                                                                                                                                                Controller: Was working at a video game store in Portsmouth NH and the owner (Frank D Kelley) had been an air-boss in the navy (controller).  He wanted a simple game to land aircraft.  Reagan fired the air-traffic controllers and Avalon Hill picked up the game.  I KICK MYSELF for not porting that to the iPhone on day one, given the success of Flight Control.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was the atmosphere at Avalon Hill like?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Very congenial.  There were people who had started there in the 1950’s!  The board game people were absolute experts on military history.  I would have conversations with a WWII vet who worked there and had witnessed a ME262 attack on a B17.

                                                                                                                                                                PlayScreen logo
                                                                                                                                                                PlayScreen logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to see the work done at Avalon hill released to the public?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Funny, I was in Baltimore for a meeting last week.  Had dinner in the harbor area about 200 ft from the location of a shop (probably not there) where I saw Conflict on a shelf for the first time.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: You were able to avoid what is called the great video game crash when you moved to Epson and was offered a great position, what were those years like moving forward as many other companies and the industry as a whole suffered?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: I felt compelled to take a ‘real’ job in 1982 because I had been in college and grad school for almost 8 years by that point.  So when I showed some folks at Epson my little 3D rendering system on the Atari 800 they referred me to Rising Star in California.  I was hired at the COMDEX show in Vegas in Nov. 1982.

                                                                                                                                                                Rising Star was great but leaving independent game development was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  It did teach me about technical management and the Val Draw program I wrote was probably my greatest technical achievement.  A full 2D drafting system in 58 kilobytes of FORTH.  Lines, arcs, splines, associative dimensions, virtual memory, zoom, snap, automatic parallel lines … the stroke font was packed into a byte per stroke.  I don’t even know how I pulled it off.  In real dollars I made more $$$ in 1984 than I may have since, but I really should have just continued building games as an independent.  I didn’t realize that I was doing pretty good and I had some nice stuff I wanted to do.

                                                                                                                                                                Controller
                                                                                                                                                                Controller

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: The Pyramid of Peril was a 3D adventure inspired by some of your previous work and Raiders of the Lost Ark, can you tell us about the creative process when developing that game?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Obviously based on Voyager 1.  Pyramid shaped puzzle.  David Barrett helped with the writing.  The Mac was new and exciting.  The entire game from concept to heat shrinking the boxes – 30 days.  Coded on a 128kb Mac.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Completing a project of the scope of “Pyramid” in 30 days was impressive, how was it done so quickly?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: I had the maze generating and display algorithms from Voyager and people to help on the artwork.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Most people know of the fate of the Philips CD-I, but can you tell us your thoughts on why in the end the company failed?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Delayed launch to add MPEG Video.  AIM (American Interactive Media) decided that they didn’t need the video game industry to back the system.  EA and others, who had spent serious money building development systems, abandoned it because of the delays.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: When you became director of technology and began pushing for Activision to publish “The Manhole” how did you know this would be the right move?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: I could see true greatness in the creativity of Rand and Robyn Miller (Cyan).  The User Interface was just breakthrough.  I was also a bit pissed at the delay of CD-I and wanted to send a message about that.  Activision was recovering from the video game crash and wanted something that was ground breaking.  Finally Stewart Alsop suggested that the Manhole would be an ideal CD-ROM title.  He was right.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What were the main challenges in moving away from the Midi format to actual recordings?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: We didn’t want to use CD-Audio tracks on the Mac (first) version, because we wanted to be able to pull data from the CD, we had to … because of Hypercard.  So we had to come up with a way of paging in 8 bit, 22khz audio chunks.  The CD-Emulator said it wouldn’t work, so we burned a test CD ($500 at that time!) and it worked.  Using live musicians was very cool.  I believe $20k of the budget was just for the music.  Russell Lieblich composed most of the music.

                                                                                                                                                                When we did the PC CD-ROM title we had our own engine …. MADE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_Applications_Development_Environment) so we could force a cache of data in a scene and use CD-Audio (redbook) tracks.

                                                                                                                                                                Return to Zork
                                                                                                                                                                Return to Zork

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was it like behind the scenes at Activision during its troubled time of the late 80’s?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Fall of 1989 was one of Activison’s good years: Mech Warrior I, Death Track, Ghostbusters II, The Manhole, etc… The financial mess started in 1990 with the judgement on the Magnavox patent case.  Funny thing in 1990 is we coped with massive Nerf Gun wars and RC car ‘racing’ (consisting of running RC10’s into each other at 40mph+ … each car … in the parking lot).  In a strange way the coping made the place very fun to be at.  I still have a scar on my head from playing that game from “Sam and Max” where you hit full beer cans with some sort of post-nuclear-apocolyptic club.  Yeah, Fizzball http://samandmax.wikia.com/wiki/Fizzball Other local companies would come and watch us play this at lunchtime.

                                                                                                                                                                It wasn’t fun to see everyone go though.  Down to about 13 when we made the move to LA.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was your feeling of using full motion video in games?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: It was clever but got overused eventually.  I do think we were heading in the right direction with RTZ’s emotional response system and intricate conversation interfaces.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the interface you created for Return to Zork?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: The Diamond Reverse Parser was inspired by an article Eddie Dombrower had seen from MIT.  I just used Taxicab Geometry with diamonds because it made the hit-detect faster.  We had used this sort of hit detect trick on “Tongue of the Fatman”.   So the idea you could use any object on any object and have the reverse parser show you what the action was came out of the disappointing reception we got with LGOP2.    We wanted INSANELY DIFFICULT and UNFAIR puzzles.  Yes, there really was a “Chris Lombardi Memorial Puzzle” in the game (internal object name), dedicated to a writer at CGW who had panned LGOP2.  I believe it was the sliding stone – sentences puzzle.

                                                                                                                                                                It’s not clear how we came up with it all the character interactions, but we were trying to make the video more than just “Interruptible Media”.  So the idea of being able to ask characters about objects, pictures, and even what other characters had to say … that was the goal.

                                                                                                                                                                The Manhole box art
                                                                                                                                                                The Manhole box art

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to save a company with the release of a great game?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Great, but frustrating that we couldn’t get the studio to just let us run with that UI and style.  Everyone wanted to copy Myst.  Ironic, when you consider I helped to get Cyan their first publishing gig.  I am very proud of RTZ.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What are the differences in your feelings about mobile gaming from then to today?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Well, Mobile Gaming from 2001 to 2007 was very much like games of the early 1980’s.  Very small games.  Then the iPhone shows up and we now have one of the most innovative sectors in gaming.  Just playing Match 3D (Sherri Cuono’s design) game is Sci-Fi like with the multitouch interfaces.

                                                                                                                                                                We haven’t even begun to exploit augmented reality, social interactions and other possibilities.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Of all your time in the industry do you have a favorite story about that time?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Yeah.  Producer (John Skeel) goes to comic show in NYC in 1989 or so.  Likes a new comic book so he negotiates a deal to get the video game rights for $20k.   Activision does a weekend focus group on the concept with kids, soda and pizza.  The result?

                                                                                                                                                                TEENAGE BOYS SHOW LITTLE INTEREST IN  ANTHROPOMORPHIC  TURTLES.

                                                                                                                                                                Activision logo
                                                                                                                                                                Activision logo

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Overall what was your favorite computer or game system?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: The FM Towns.  Really.   The Amiga a close second.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: What was your favorite classic game?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Choplifter.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: Was there a game you had in your head that you wanted to release, but never did/could?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: I seriously wanted to release a Wing Commander type game … where after hours of play, many missions and incredible skill you would end up crashed on some planet (otherwise you would be killed) … and then end up in an elaborate adventure involving learning how to interact with native people … and have us DENY THAT THE ADVENTURE GAME EXISTED.  Like only 1 in 10,000 players would stumble upon that game within a game.  Yeah, that sounds crazy, but it’s what I wanted to do in the early 1990’s.

                                                                                                                                                                Obsolete Gamer: If you could rerelease any game you’ve worked on using today’s technology what would it be?

                                                                                                                                                                William Volk: Return to Zork in a “Grand Theft Auto” type engine and fairer puzzles.

                                                                                                                                                                Currently William Volk is the co-founder and CEO of PlayScreen and an avid cyclist.

                                                                                                                                                                Games coming out Oct 10th for Consoles

                                                                                                                                                                Video Games funny poster
                                                                                                                                                                Video Games funny poster

                                                                                                                                                                I hope you either have rich parents, a good job or the unemployment check can be diverted from being used for Ramen noodles to video games because the week of October 10th has some great cash draining games.

                                                                                                                                                                Medal of Honor

                                                                                                                                                                War is hell; war in Medal of Honor is beautiful. When you have the perfect mix of exciting gameplay and incredible graphics then you have a winner. MOH has come back in 2010 with engaging missions, intense firefights and state of the art sound and graphics that puts you right in the game. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true. Check out the video from the helicopter mission.

                                                                                                                                                                Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode

                                                                                                                                                                There is not much more I can say that wasn’t covered in our preview of the game, but while this is a download title, for Sonic fans it’s a slice of heaven. True enough this is not breaking new stuff and some even feel it is nothing more than a Sonic Rush rehash, but the gameplay is fun, the visuals are a prefect mix of classic and modern and the music… well the music needs work, but hey its only fifteen bucks.

                                                                                                                                                                Lucha Libre AAA Heroes of the Ring

                                                                                                                                                                We got to look at this game while at E3 and if you are a wrestling fan in the very least then this title is worth taking a look at. Lucha Libre is Mexican style wrestling and that means high-flying stunts and crazy insane costumes. Pretty much it’s like playing a highlight reel of the WWE or TNA, on crack. The gameplay is solid and the graphics are stunning so if you need a break from the normal step into the ring with the Lucha Libre’s

                                                                                                                                                                So there you are three titles worth checking out next week and since one is a download it shouldn’t break your bank too much. I’ll be back next with a look at the games coming out for consoles the week of Oct 17th. Until then go make some extra cash.

                                                                                                                                                                New Console Releases: October 3rd Report

                                                                                                                                                                Video Games on shelf
                                                                                                                                                                Video Games on shelf

                                                                                                                                                                October is a great time, you have Oktoberfest, Halloween and… well that’s about it, but you also have new releases for your favorite consoles. Unfortunately, November is normally a big month for games and because of this October seems to get the shaft, let’s see what we can dig up that might be worth you hard earned (or not) cash.

                                                                                                                                                                Just a disclaimer, these are not all the games that are coming out nor are they top picks based on their score from other sites. This is Obsolete Gamers or more correctly, J.A.’s picks for games coming out this month.

                                                                                                                                                                October 3rd

                                                                                                                                                                It seems as if I misspoke because this week of the month has a pretty hard hitting release line-up. I hope you have some extra cash on hand.

                                                                                                                                                                Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

                                                                                                                                                                It’s all about team work and in this case that truthisum is taken to the extreme. This action adventure games pits two main characters against, well against everything. You have to fight, run and transverse the landscape to make your way to freedom and if one of you dies its game over.

                                                                                                                                                                NBA 2K11

                                                                                                                                                                Ah, the war of the NBA games is back and just like the HEAT, 2K has stacked the deck by bringing in Michael Jordan to be on their team. Now the question is will the mix of MJ and the playstyle of 2K win out over Elite.

                                                                                                                                                                NBA Elite 11

                                                                                                                                                                EA Sports it’s in the name change. NBA Elite takes a different approach by redesigning key features of its game in hopes of bringing a different experience to basketball game fans. There is no doubt the game will be well done, but in the war of the court who will come out on top? Oh did I mention you get NBA Jam with this game and only if you purchase this game?

                                                                                                                                                                Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

                                                                                                                                                                If the world was coming to an end Alucard is the guy I would want bashing heads with me in those final days. However, I will take a Belmont as well and in this 3D version of the classic Castlevania series we step into a new world that brings a cool and new dynamic to the game. Don’t worry all the classic whipping and Dracula bashing is still there and the environments are beautiful and well done. If you loved any of the Castlevania series this is a must have.

                                                                                                                                                                Def Jam Rapstar

                                                                                                                                                                It was only a matter of time before we got a Rap version of the karaoke-style games. With the release of DJ hero I knew it would be forthcoming and if there is one company to release a “band” game its Def Jam. Rapstar lets you rap long with a long list of Def Jam superstars including Redman, Method Man and Salt n Pepper. I got to see this game at E3 2010 and it looks like a load of fun partially with two people rapping together. I can’t wait for the YouTube videos.

                                                                                                                                                                So we are changing things up and will be bringing you a week by week breakdown of new releases so look out for next week’s review of games being released for consoles. The week of October 10th looks good as well; I hope you get your homework done.

                                                                                                                                                                The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 7

                                                                                                                                                                PVP vs non-pvp PVE
                                                                                                                                                                PVP vs non-pvp PVE

                                                                                                                                                                Player versus Player and Player versus Environment was the topic for this week’s show. We were happy to have our good friend Edwin in the studio with us and had a great conversation via Skype with longtime Obsolete Gamer fan, Liz Poisonkiss.

                                                                                                                                                                We started off with a recap of last week’s show which featured MMO’s and then moved into our Facebook fanpage question of the week which asked which our fans preferred to play PVE or PVP type games. From there we talked about our Insider Discussion question of the week which asked our panel which had a bigger impact on PC gaming RTS or FPS games.

                                                                                                                                                                From there we dove right into the main topic discussing the differences between a FPS mindset playing games such as Quake 2 and the strategy side of RTS games such as the original Warcraft game. Edwin also talked about his online Street Fighter games and said that he preferred to play again a human which we all agreed.

                                                                                                                                                                We premiered a new feature on OGS called Skype with a fan where we talk with people who have participated on our Facebook page and Forums and our first guest was longtime fan Liz. Who shared her thoughts on being a gamer girl, fps versus rts and pvp versus pve.

                                                                                                                                                                In our final segment Ignacio, Edwin and I discussed our various experiences in PVP from MMO’s to X-box live to arcades. Overall we had a good discussion about an important subject in the world of gaming. So give us a listen and we will be back next week with a brand new show.

                                                                                                                                                                The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 7

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl
                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl

                                                                                                                                                                It may not have had the correct team logo’s or jerseys, but at the time Tecmo Bowl was the best football game out there and to this day still attracts fans of the series. It was easy to learn fun to play and even the music got you into it. Just recently Tecmo Bowl throwback was launched for XBL and PS3. There is no doubt this game was a classic.

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl was released to the arcades in 1987 where it had moderate success, but when it was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System it became a huge hit. While it was not the first football game for a console it was considered to be the best because it used the real rosters from twelve top NFL teams. However, Tecmo Bowl was not able to get NFL consent to use real tram names which is why it uses the home city or state instead.

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl
                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl

                                                                                                                                                                You could play as the following teams, the Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins, the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Raiders, the Washington Redskins, the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, and the Minnesota Vikings. Each team had its specialty for instance Miami was known for passing and so instead of the normal two running, two passing plays they had three passing and one running. If you were unlucky enough to pick Minnesota you would find yourself at a great disadvantage because at the time they did not have the best talent or playbook.

                                                                                                                                                                The key to the gameplay was speed. What mattered most was avoiding defenders because while the mechanics to break tackles were there the best thing to do was to avoid them altogether. If you were passing the key was to look for the route that went toward the out of bounds line or the route that would hook back toward you. Doing this allowed you to almost always complete a pass. On the other hand if you tried to “thread the needle” and pass to someone covered nine times out of ten your pass would be intercepted.

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl box
                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl box

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl wasn’t perfect and the fact was that if you picked San Francisco or Chicago versus Minnesota you pretty much was guaranteed a win. Also there were many cheap plays you could select that almost never failed. Another funny thing was you could pick a running play, run backwards and bunch together the defense and then run around them for a touchdown. This worked with better players like Walter Payton, but could be done with almost everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                I lived in Chicago at the time which was great because they rocked in Tecmo and I was actually good at this game and could best almost anyone. Tecmo Bowl is one of those great games that was designed so well that even in the days of 2K and EA it is still fun to play.

                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl title screen
                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl title screen
                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl screenshot
                                                                                                                                                                Tecmo Bowl screenshot

                                                                                                                                                                GAMES COMING OUT JULY 2010 FOR CONSOLES

                                                                                                                                                                Ah July, the time for weddings, bbq, fireworks and general outdoor fun or you can skip all that and just play some video games because a number of good ones are being released for consoles for the upcoming month.

                                                                                                                                                                Crackdown 2 – July 6th

                                                                                                                                                                Crackdown 2 Xbox box
                                                                                                                                                                Crackdown 2 Xbox box

                                                                                                                                                                There’s nothing better that powers and a badge except being able to mow down zombies all night long. In Crackdown 2 one of the coolest new features is the “Night mode” where the zombies or “freaks” come out and bring a whole new challenge to our super cop.

                                                                                                                                                                Need for Speed World – July 20th

                                                                                                                                                                Need For Speed World box
                                                                                                                                                                Need For Speed World box

                                                                                                                                                                If you haven’t already check out Obsolete Gamers interview with Jean-Charles Gaudechon from EA Blackbox on Need for Speed World. In NFSW you will be able to race online with your friends and build your collection of cars all for free up until level 10. Combining online play with a social structure that connects you to sites like Facebook and Twitter all in the world of Need for Speed is defiantly a winning combination.

                                                                                                                                                                Arc Rise Fantasia – July 20th

                                                                                                                                                                Arc Rise Fantasia Wii box cover
                                                                                                                                                                Arc Rise Fantasia Wii box cover

                                                                                                                                                                For fans of Japaneese-style role-playing games Arc Rise Fantasia coming to the Wii might just make your summer. Arc was released about a year ago in Japan and is now coming to the U.S. The game looks pretty good on the Wii and offers two CG cut-scenes and tons of voice acted dialog. The turn-based fighting is also well done with vibrant colors and animation.

                                                                                                                                                                Chuck E. Cheese’s Party Games

                                                                                                                                                                Chuck E. Cheese’s Party Games Wii box cover
                                                                                                                                                                Chuck E. Cheese’s Party Games Wii box cover

                                                                                                                                                                Look honey, you can have all the fun of Chuck E. Cheese in your own home on the Wii! Now all you have to do is order some pizza and you can relive your thirteenth birthday. What do you mean you want to go live with your father?

                                                                                                                                                                Alright so console wise July is a little weak. Perhaps it is because they want you to get outside and do some exercises or something. Maybe Honorabili will have something better to offer with his review on PC games coming out in July, if not there’s always the new seasons of Futurama and Entourage.

                                                                                                                                                                Jean-Charles Gaudechon: EA Black Box

                                                                                                                                                                EA Black Box logo
                                                                                                                                                                EA Black Box logo

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                Name: Jean-Charles Gaudechon

                                                                                                                                                                Title: Producer

                                                                                                                                                                Company: EA Black Box

                                                                                                                                                                Favorite Classic Game: M.U.D’s, StarCraft, Need for Speed

                                                                                                                                                                Quote: Check out the audio profile below

                                                                                                                                                                PlayPlay

                                                                                                                                                                PlayPlay

                                                                                                                                                                The Obsolete Gamer Show #1

                                                                                                                                                                J.A. Laraque from Obsoletegamer.com
                                                                                                                                                                J.A. Laraque from Obsoletegamer.com

                                                                                                                                                                After an exciting week at E3 Obsolete Gamer is back and we brought a podcast with us! It was a wild week in L.A. starting with a late arrival to E3, a Hummer rent-a-car, getting caught in the post Laker win riot and tons and tons of games. We learned a lot being our first time at E3 and yes, we made some mistakes too, but all in all it turned out great.

                                                                                                                                                                We’ve already posted a ton of pictures from E3 on our Facebook page and you can find a series of E3 related videos on our YouTube channel. Our first podcast brings you interviews recorded at E3 from various companies including; Alienware, EA,Square Enix, Origin, Bigfoot Networks, Indicade, En Masse Entertainment and a special one and one interview with Arthur Lewis, president of Alienware.

                                                                                                                                                                In the future we plan to bring you more podcasts with interviews, videos and more but for now have a listen and tell us what you think.

                                                                                                                                                                P.S. We have a bunch of swag to giveaway so stay turned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for information.

                                                                                                                                                                NBA Showdown

                                                                                                                                                                [youtube id=”9QIFwYlaw84″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

                                                                                                                                                                NBA Showdown

                                                                                                                                                                The playoffs are in full swing, but the next showdown is already upon us. With EA renaming its basketball franchise to NBA Elite and 2K getting Michael Jordan as a playable character in their game, the question is, which one will you be playing?

                                                                                                                                                                NBA 2K 2011

                                                                                                                                                                Now EA is coming out with some interesting changes to their game including their “total control” feature where you control the legs of your player with one analog stick and the hands with the other, add to that their “always on” physics and it looks as if they might have a pretty awesome game on their hands.


                                                                                                                                                                2K will also be improving on their game with updated graphics, controls, presentation and music, but that’s not what most people are talking about.


                                                                                                                                                                It’s all about number 23. We haven’t seen MJ in a NBA game in forever and now he will be in 2K11, will that be the difference maker or will the revamp of EA’s franchise win gamers over?

                                                                                                                                                                Need for Speed World Beta

                                                                                                                                                                Need For Speed World girl
                                                                                                                                                                Need For Speed World girl

                                                                                                                                                                So you’ve seen the pictures and watched the trailer for NFS World, now is your chance to get in on the beta. Head on over to File Planet and get your keys while they last.

                                                                                                                                                                FilePlanet has keys available for its users residing in North America and Europe.

                                                                                                                                                                Need for Speed™ World is a massively multiplayer online action driving game where you can race with your friends or compete against thousands of other players in a seamless open world. You have two ways to get into this exclusive gameplay event!

                                                                                                                                                                Battlefield Bad Company 2 Onslaught

                                                                                                                                                                Battlefield Bad Company 2 tank
                                                                                                                                                                Battlefield Bad Company 2 tank

                                                                                                                                                                If you’ve experienced BBC2 you already know the fun you can have gunning down the enemy in lush fully destructible environments. Now with the Onslaught download content patch you get four all new multiplayer maps.

                                                                                                                                                                The 4-man cooperative mode includes the maps: Nelson Bay, Attacam Desert, Valparaiso and Isla Innocentes. It is currently available for download on the Xbox 360 via XBL and the Playstation 3 via PSN. Bjorn Johnsson from DICE spoke to IncGamers explaining the difference in the new maps and Coop play:

                                                                                                                                                                “Basically they are the same maps but we have enhanced them in many different ways,” he said.

                                                                                                                                                                “We have different effects like the sandstorm in Attacama Desert, you play one of the night maps in daytime and one of the daytime maps in night mode, basically.”

                                                                                                                                                                “Also we added a load of other weather effects and different lighting,” he added.

                                                                                                                                                                “We have tweaked it quite a bit to make it feel different.”

                                                                                                                                                                As for the question of when it will come to PC;

                                                                                                                                                                “The problem we have on PC is that all our servers are dedicated with providers. Changing a server from Conquest 32 players to Onslaught 4 players cuts out 28 player slots from the total ammount available. This could have a dramatic affect on the PC online environment if enough servers changed to Onslaught,” DICE associate producer Barrie Tingle explained.