Assessment

 

Death of console gaming

Preface: I feel this entry was good as I discussed a very current trend in gaming. This post managed had pictures and a good slideshow, and a poll to increase interactivity. I also gave my personal opinion on the future of game consoles, and I felt I did so very strongly and provided a solid argument.

https://513178netcoms2012.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/death-of-console-gaming/

YouTube and Games

Preface: This entry is replete with videos and most of them are highly entertaining and meaningful. I managed to divide my entry to clear points and provided sufficient elaboration.

https://513178netcoms2012.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/youtube-games/

Assassin’s Creed: Too Controversial?

Preface: This entry’s strength is due to it tackling a controversial issue such as religion. I drew on several blogs and websites for content and then put in my personal opinion on the matter. Once again, this entry has pictures and video to make it more interesting.

https://513178netcoms2012.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/assassins-creed/

Death of Console Gaming

The days of console gaming are numbered, according to Angry Birds creator Peter Vestabacka. The Rovio CEO says…

“It really doesn’t matter if a whole bunch of hardcore gamers want to play games on consoles,” he says. “What matters is whether enough console gamers migrate to Facebook, or the browser, or the smartphone, or the tablet.

Of course, this is coming from a man whose sells a game that is wildly popular on mobile platforms and social networks. Certainly, he can be biased. But some facts are facts.

The casual gaming business on social networks and mobile gaming are experiencing meteoric growth and may be more profitable than any other sector in the future. Let me put things in perspective:  Zygna, the publisher of silly games such as Farmville, Cityville, Whateverville is worth more than Electronic Arts, that owns the Command and Conquer, Medal of Honor, FIFA and a large heap of popular franchises.

I agree with him with a few things. Gaming on a console is well, a little dated. For me, the PC has always done everything for me. Sure, its a little more complicated with drivers and installations, but a PC is so much more realistic in this age of social media and web 2.0 – it more powerful, more versatile and it disguises the fact that I am a hardcore gamer – yes, there’s a certain stigma attached to being known as one.

Let’s get one thing clear. Game consoles are dying (first with the handhelds, then with the big ones), but the game that are played on them aren’t – and will survive on other platforms – namely the PC. Smartphones and Tablets may be getting more powerful, but until Cloud Gaming takes off, it is doubtful we will have console quality games on iPhones for awhile.  Console quality graphics, perhaps, but console or PC level experience? No. That needs to get figured out.

However, if the man believes that fans playing AAA games such Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored, are going to join the pile of people playing ONLY casual games, he is sorely mistaken.

In the words of one game designer,

“It’s like McDonald’s saying nobody will ever eat at a steakhouse again because McDonald’s cheeseburgers are so successful. McDonald’s and Rovio provide phenomenal value for the money, but fast food is fast food, whether real food or a video game.”

Exactly! There will always be people that want more out from a game than just hurling birds, slicing fruits and raising livestock. And, there will inevitably be people that go from these activities to a higher calling. To play a game with a strong narratives, to be wowed by amazing 3D graphics accompanied by magical soundtracks.

AAA games will not die. The history of technological human development has always been upwards – better graphics, faster speed, more features – that’s why its called advancement. The core gamer market will coexist with casual gamers. For all the gaming industry to backpedal and go downwards in the direction of Angry Birds is highly unlikely.

Peter, you are wrong.

The Great Leap To Film Part 2 : What Makes a Film Successful

Before there was L4D, there was Resident Evil. This and Silent Hill were the premiere Zombie Survival games in the market. What’s unique about Resident Evil and all other video games though, is this: It is the only video game franchise to spawn 4 successful films, which according to the Guinness World Records, had made over $675 million. What is even more amazing is that each film is more successful than the last. 

To be honest, I am not a great fan of Resident Evil. I like, the guys at Cracked.com, find the games to have weak story lines, ridiculous looking creatures and uncharismatic protagonists (and antagonists.).

Though “resident Evil 2 is regarded as the best of the early games, and a breakthrough in survival horror, and the main villain’s only powers are giant weak points and impregnating his own daughter.

Harsh, but true. What makes the film series so appealing though? As the cliche says, pictures speak louder than words.

Two words. Mila Jovovich, or Alice, as she is named in the series. That is right. Skimpily dressed female models dishing out violence works at the box office. Don’t believe me? Okay, how about Tomb Raider? Its a video game based on a movie. Check. It has a lousy plot (Hey, I’m not harsh, the guys are Rotten Tomato give it a mere 19%.) Check. You might not believe it, but the first Tomb Raider film was a box office hit. Why is that so?

Angelina Jolie, of course. So, beautiful women sell video game films, even if they have poor story lines. Then, is the reverse same for men? Do suave male leads sell tickets? I am inclined to say yes. Presenting…

Jake Gyllenhaal. Prince of Persia toppled Tomb Raider for the most profitable film ever in the US in 2010.

So far, we’ve the three most successful films based on video games have a one things in common.  Big names, or good-looking, sexy female models. (Angelina Jolie is a little in between then.) Does this mean that without this, the movie would be any less successful?

Let’s see. Here’s my source. Hitman (2007), starring a relative nobody Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47 raked in $39,687,694. BUT Max Payne (2008), with someone  Mark Wahlberg raked in just $40,689,393. 

This is more complicated than I thought. One thing is for sure though, it is immensely difficult to please both the mass market and game fans. If you ask me, the mass market is more important because that’s where the money is. I’m realistic like that. Fan service, while admirable, isn’t going to bring in that much money.

What do you feel needs to be in a video game film to make it a hit and the box office? Let me know the in comments section, or take part in .. the poll.

Favourite RTS Games: Starcraft I

Real Time Strategy has always been one of my favourite genres of games. You start with nothing, race to build up your troops, and then proceed to roll-over, stomp and trample your opponent. Then you taunt them over game chat and watch them leave the game. Yes, things get intense over these games of sophisticated chess.

While I have not played ALL the titles of RTS available, I consider myself a relatively decent player. Decent. Not expert. (The highest I got on Starcraft 2 was on the Platinum league, so that’s pretty alright I guess.) Here are my picks on the best RTS games around.

Starcraft (1998)

En Taro Tassadar! Blizzard really out did themselves with Starcraft way back in 1998. Sure, playing it today is like watching a bunch of pixels cannibalise each other, but for its time it was very sophisticated and engaging. The Terrans, Protoss and Zerg were remarkable. Very balanced gameplay with a wide array of units, each with their own special ability and quirks. You were not limited a single way of winning, which made things even more interesting. Favourite unit of all time? The Terran Siege Tank. Hands down. Long range and high splash damage made short work of Hydralisks (always loved how they instantly turned into red piles of mush) and Protoss ground troops. Of course, you could not get away with just building one unit – the Siege Tank had weaknesses – whether it was the Zerg Guardian that attacked from the air with impunity,

Multiplayer

If you ask me, Starcraft set the standard for RTS gaming. Great storyline, excellent merchandising (there’s a whole bunch of books and comics and videos that make the Starcraft universe so much more interesting).

But multiplayer was its most outstanding feature. Each race had its own strategy. If you played Zerg for example, the key was to mass a huge amount of cheap, weak, but quickly produced troops to overwhelm an opponent. The word ‘Zerg’ actually transcended the game. From internetslang.com

Gameplay was so good that the Koreans even made it a national pastime out of watching dudes beat each other on on television over Starcraft. If that’s not good, I dont’ know what good is.

And you will be hard-pressed to find anyone that disagrees. Most blogs list it among their top. Evidence. Proof. Gamespy said so. Evidence. Proof. Enough said.

Storyline:

Yes. Its hard to write a storyline based on a RTS. To me, it was never intriguing to watch cinematics in between campaigns. It was disruptive and distractive. But Starcraft had a decent storyline, spanning 3 whole campaigns. It featured almost everything. Love between Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan. Betrayal. Revenge. And, there were some interesting twists at the end. Brood War, the expansion, only made it better.

Oh yes, Fenix was a real stand up guy. His death always left me in tears.

(Note, this isn’t Fenix’s real death. Just the part where he becomes a Dragoon. Which is the human equivalent of a disabled guy in a badass cybernetic wheelchair.)

YouTube & Games

Youtube. Done to death by others. What is there to know? It streams videos to make content accessible to almost everyone in the world (Haha, China!) and it is an excellent way of going viral. But how else are video games impacted by this new-age media giant?

Fostering online communities 

First of all, Youtube connects gamers of similar interest through its channels. Want to find other people that love Call Of Duty and share your excitement for zombies in the game? (I am not amused) Youtube’s the place to go. Youtube provides a platform for gamers to interact, discuss and communicate out the gaming world in a manner that is more stimulating than your usual forum – which is, arguably Youtube’s most recent predecessor when it comes game discussions.

Of course, this also means that you can get useful tips for games online, such as modding guides or walkthroughs. Many put up online tutorials to guide other players. Much better than text. Want proof? Okay, consider this walkthrough of Assassin’s Creed

To this Net 1.0 Pokemon Red Version walkthrough

If pictures speak a thousand words. Videos do millions.

Co-producers of content (Produsers) & Crowdsourcing

Somewhat related, gamers can now become co-producers of content.  For example, Youtube is an  Outlet for machinima (movies making use of video games). Check out this very cool Team Fortress 2 version of Band Of Brothers. Original first, then parody.

If you are a Halo fan, there is a mind-numbing, brain cell destroying video series on youtube of the Adventures of Master Chief and the Arbiter. WARNING: It provides hours of meaningless laughter and has no educational value whatsoever.

Others, like Tobuscus, make parodies of game trailers .. by singing along with them LITERALLY describing everything that happens. Presenting…

As such, the material that one game is associated with is no longer associated with its original creator. Video games have the potential to become so much more, and take on other roles as you might not expect. Here’s an example: After Michael John Mamaril, a Borderlands fan passed away because of cancer, his friends requested to have his image forever immortalised in its sequel, Borderlands 2. 

The developers also released this tear jerking eulogy.

“He may be gone. But he will forever live on in the Borderlands. “

Marketing and advertising

 This goes without saying. With Youtube’s unavoidable advertising these days (The unskippable ones that we are forced to watch), the marketing of games is significantly improved via YouTube. For one, it is undoubtedly the most appropriate medium to reach gamers. In addition, game companies can keep the interest of games up … here comes… Inside Assassin’s Creed 3

Help games become more mainstream 

Finally, YouTube is such a great part of our everyday life, like Facebook. Whereas once gaming interest groups were confined to obscure forums and the far reaches of the internet, gaming magazines, they are today so much more accessible through Youtube.

The Great Leap To Film – Part 1

So, Assassin’s Creed is going to have a movie. Excited? Well? I am. But at the same time I remain slightly skeptical. After all, Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia (2010) didn’t turn out that well. Neither did another of my favourites, Hitman (2007). Oh wait, that was plain horrible. Who thought it would be an good idea to cast Mr Olyphant? Let’s see the two side by side.

Disgusting.

Video game movies suck. Yes, they do. 60% of them suck because of one guy: Uwe Boll. Because, I quote, sinfully, from Wikipedia.

He finances his own films through his Boll KG production company. Many of his films are based on video game franchises, produced on a low budget and are direct-to-video which has caused derision from the gaming community.[2][3][4]

We could blame Mr Boll for the majority of sucky video game films out there. But this would be just denial. Apart from a poor director and low budgets, there are several restrictions that video game film face. 

First and foremost, we must recognise that they are niche films. Yes. Call Of Duty? Niche. Assassin’s Creed. Also niche. Let’s face it. Video games have not reached the popularity of their cousins – Comic books. While Thor and Ironman rocking it out there in theatres in the Avengers, Jim Raynor and Masterchief are sucking it up and stuck in our computer screens. Why? For starters a film being based on a video game generally of eliminates females from the equation, since most of us who play games are…men. Or boys. Whatever. That’s 50% of the audience gone! Sure, you might get a few dedicated girlfriends (not wives) willing to sit through a film that they have no idea about, but thats about it.

Stay true to the story? Lose the mainstream audience. Cater to the masses? Yeah, sure. They haven’t heard about your storyline before. And yes, lose the fanboys. Let’s however, look to Halo to provide the answers:

Forward onto dawn. Live action Halo. And yes, Master Chief is in it. Coming this October. From the looks of it, it seems pretty good.

I know I am bordering on being a Fanboy. But Assassin’s Creed: Embers is pretty good. Tearjerker.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmpwyl_assassins-creed-embers-full_videogames

To negate my Fanboyness, the series’ short film: Assassin’s Creed: Lineage with its poor CGI and casting, is terrible.

Secondly. there is the storylines inherently bad? Well… this is debatable. What perhaps is a more valid argument is that video game storylines are difficult to translate to cinema. Not bad, just difficult. Firstly, video games are a lot more interactive than films. It has higher engagement than and requires a more involvement – therefore a gamer has greater incentive to take note of the storyline. As compared to the casual cinema goer, this is clearly not the case.

Well, think about that for now. The next time in this series, we will explore some video game films that have performed relatively well at the box office. And examine why.

Hyperreality and improvised weapons (Part 2)

Last week, we looked at the tomahawk and the machete. This week, we will be examining another other tool often used in games to dispense mayhem: the Kukri.

The Kukri

Best known fromThe blade of choice for several game characters, most notably the Sniper from Team Fortress 2, Emile-A239 from Halo: Reach and Alice in Resident Evil. Oh yeah, you get one if you play Dead Island as well.

In Game purpose: The Kukri looks badass and lives up to its reputation. This aggressive looking blade hacks spies, zombies and humanoid aliens into nice chunks.

Origins: Before it was cutting off heads and limbs, the Kukri was doing the same for crops in Nepal. Chopping, carving and slicing were its main fortes, and no group of warriors demonstrate this better than the Gurkhas. In the sweltering jungles of Southeast Asia, many a Japanese soldier met their end with a kukri in their flesh – World War 2 was the conflict that immortalised the Kukri.

What you did not know about them:  Near the hilt of most traditional kukhri is a notch, which true purpose is constantly debated til this day. Some say it is to symbolise the hooves or udders of a buffalo, an animal sacred to the Nepalese. Others claim that the notch is used to prevent blood or tree sap from soiling the hilt. Perhaps we will never know. But since there is a video of a buffalo having its head lopped off by a kukhri here (WARNING VERY GRAPHIC) , I’m going to put my money on the latter.

Capability as a weapon:  The convex edge of the blade makes it an excellent weapon for slashing and hacking, whilst the tip can still be used to stab like a dagger. Plus, it does look very intimidating. Not convinced? Watch that buffalo video, go, I dare you.