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05/20/2007 - 05/26/2007

Dungeon Demolition and Deep Thoughts

May 24, 2007


I has a flavor. Today NCsoft unveiled Dungeon Runners, its new free-to-play action-MMO. It's worth checking out! Dungeon Runners is a dungeon-crawler with the feel of classics like Diablo or Dungeon Siege. Except it's all online. And it has a goofy sense of humor, simultaneously parodying dungeon games while delivering the same monster-smashing goodness. To help kick off the new game, for a limited time FilePlanet is offering one week of the premium gameplay for all users:

Check out Dungeon Runners on FilePlanet!

Dungeon-y Goodness!Earlier this week I was yapping with a game industry buddy who worked in marketing and sales. She and I were talking about the success of mainstream online games like Club Penguin, a topic I've been blogging about on and off for a couple of weeks now. Are we at the cusp of some sort of industry shift? Maybe so! Her thinking went like this:

It used to be that kids would ask their parents for game consoles, whereas PC gaming was strictly for adults with lots of cash to spend on hardware. A whole generation grew up primarily gaming on Nintendo. But wait! Somewhere along the line, game consoles (with the exception of the beautifully affordable Wii) became serious pieces of consumer hardware with appropriately huge price tags. Look at the PS3. Imagine Sammy the ten-year old trying to weasel one for his birthday:

Sammy: Dad I want a PS3!
His Dad: Sure, son. How much are they?
Sammy: $600 bucks.
His Dad: WHOA.
Sammy: And a $50 HD cable.
His Dad: Son-
Sammy: That doesn't include games. $60 bucks each.
His Dad: Son I'm about to utter some four-letter words I'd like for you to never repeat.

But guess what -- Sammy probably already has a PC. There are hundreds of millions of second-tier PCs floating around households all over the world. Parents don't throw out old computers when they upgrade -- they give them to their kids for "schoolwork." I used to have a Commodore 64 for "schoolwork," and I got straight A's in both Archon and Last Ninja. But I digress.

Her point was, are we about to raise a whole generation of fresh PC gamers? Games like Dungeon Runners or Pirates of the Caribbean Online are hella cheap compared to buying a new console. Just a few bucks a month gets kids into Toontown or Club Penguin, and most parents are cool with that. Will the next decade see a resurgence in online PC games?

It's too early to tell, but say it with me now: Hmmmmmmmmm....!

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 4:48 PM PDT
Edited on: May 24, 2007 4:55 PM PDT
Permalink

Jackass: The Game: The Blog

May 23, 2007


I has a flavor. I'm certain that you, like me, have been roused awake in the wee hours covered in sweat, worried about the fate of the Jackass game. Rest easier my friends: IGN reports that Jackass: The Game is finally a reality.

Worst job in the videogame industry?
Being the motion-capture guy for the Jackass game.

"Hey Jim, we're gonna crack you in the nuts with a toilet plunger. Okay, ready? 3, 2, 1, Go! No, no you need to act more surprised. Let's try that again. 3, 2 -- oh no we did it too early. Sorry. Reset the plunger guys. Okay, this time I really need to see the pain Jim, right? You ready? 3, 2, 1 -- hold on, I wasn't recording that time. Ah screw it, let's move on to the part with the taser..."

I don't even want to know what the voice chat would be like in multiplayer. The game probably rewards you for blasting out someone eardrums with an air horn.

Quote of the Day:

"If you look at a lot of the guys doing casual games today, there's some great stuff going on out there. It's a golden age to be a player, because the variety of games is just tremendous. There's a countless amount of titles. Anybody can throw up a website and have a downloadable game. It's amazing, man! I wish I didn't have a job! I'd get to spend more time playing games."
        -Eugene Jarvis, creator of Robotron, Defender, etc. Gamasutra Interview
      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 6:16 PM PDT
Permalink

Five Must-Read Links

May 22, 2007


I has a flavor. One of my goals with this blog is to make you guys into better people. More intelligent people. Yeah, me make extra smart-like. Next time you're standing around at the lunch line or the water cooler and your gaming friend (or potential romantic interest) asks you "what's going on?" you'll be armed with the five thought-provoking links below. You'll fire off a poignant conversation and look like one of those connected people who have it together. And you won't even have to give me credit. Unless you want to.

Kevin Bachus Talks About the Design of the Xbox:
This blog post from one of the original Microsoft Xbox masterminds talks about the goals (and legacy) of Microsoft's big black beast of a game console. One of the things that sticks with me: how Microsoft put the developers first. The Xbox 360 continues this tradition, and it's one of the easiest and most accessible platforms to build games on -- for professional developers all the way down to students and hobbyists. That's probably changed the industry more than graphics or hard drives.

Little Big Planet Interview:
I'm constantly harping on how user-generated content is the future, which is no surprise, given that I run a site dedicated to user-created game downloads. This interview with the Little Big Planet developers in The Guardian goes into the nitty gritty of how to get your typical gamer to create cool things, how you can share it effectively with other players, and what the result is. Hopefully. Great stuff!

"We Need More Boring Games."
The title of this Gamasutra piece alone probably already has you clicking. Why on earth would anyone call out for more boring games? Actually, the logic works something like this: Film or TV are respected mediums in part because they can do so much more than entertain. Documentaries, educational programs, how-to videos, even safety videos ... People are used to seeing film or television in all sorts of context. But, with the exception of a relatively small Serious Games Movement, games are viewed just as entertainment. They try to outdo one another with special effects and ad campaigns. What the author is really calling for is building games that do more, so that they can reach out to new people -- in the same way that Brain Age got hundreds of thousands more people playing with the DS. COINCIDENCE! Literally while I'm typing this up I was just sent a reminder about The Games for Change Festival next month in New York. Spooky.

It's Time to Clean Up Thunderbluff!
This editorial by Colleen Hannon on Gamers With Jobs bemoans the way people talk and act online, particularly from a female gaming perspective. The complaints are nothing new, but her essay is mostly focused on "What do we DO about this?" As Hannon points out, we don't expect the Department of Motor Vehicles to ticket every rude gesture someone makes on the highway, so why are we waiting for game developers to solve this? How can we bring some social consequences into games before they're completely overrun with Smacktards? Hannon doesn't have all the answers but it's a good essay with a lot of links to reference.

That's Gold in Them Thar Penguins!
All last week I talked about how companies are developing more mainstream MMOs and how big media is getting into casual MMOs in a big way. This link from Terranova has some specific numbers about Club Penguin, a simple browser-based kid-friendly MMO that's pulling in an estimated $60 million bucks a year. The game is so popular that the company that creates it is turning away buyout offers, including a briefcase full of $200 million offered by our own parent company NewsCorp. Them's some powerful penguins!

Those links oughta keep you busy while you Download the big World of Warcraft Black Temple Patch.

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 5:08 PM PDT
Edited on: May 22, 2007 5:10 PM PDT
Permalink

Blizzard Reaches for the Stars

May 21, 2007


I has a flavor. The rampant speculation is over and Blizzard has announced its next big title: StarCraft II! Coverage from the scene abounds:
Want to see it in action? Yes, yes you do. You can download a high-res trailer and other goodies here on FilePlanet:
StarCraft II: Oh yes.What surprises me is that Blizzard didn't talk more about the online service. The company hinted that it's going to revise the Battle.net system to keep up with StarCraft II, but according to GameSpy, Blizzard kept mum about whether or not there would be any online fees. Here's the story: While StarCraft was a cultural sensation in Korea, Blizzard didn't see a lot of revenue from people playing the game. Millions of players overseas either pirated it or (more likely) played it legitimately in a LAN center without ever buying the game. My impression is that sales were high but most of the revenue from ongoing play went to the LAN centers and tournament organizers.

This leads me to believe that Blizzard is probably toying with the idea of a massive high-end online tournament system, a place where serious competitive players can pay a small subscription fee to play in ranked games and tournaments. We'll see if the company moves in that direction or not; in the time being, they've left the door open.

My life for Aiur!

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 4:49 PM PDT
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