Hello once more NAGitites, and I hope you’re all having a fantastic long weekend. To keep you warm over these three long days of gaming in your underwear, I’ve compiled some of the more interesting news from the week. Things like Microsoft’s new reward system for being nice, a new PS4 feature, Molyneux’s thoughts on the world’s least-loved console, a thought-provoking speech by one of gaming’s top designers, a mobile game I’m actually excited about, a possible next-gen indie that’ll have you cowering in fear and more news from around the web, NAG Online and the usual crop of fine video content for your perusal. So lean back, take off your pants and hit the jump.
Getting gamers not to be assholes online is difficult. I know, I am one. But one lesson which human psychology has consistently taught again and again it’s this: reward works a helluva lot better than punishment.
That is why Microsoft is currently considering giving out some kind of reward to players who conduct themselves well online.
Using the already in place Xbox One reputation system, Microsoft would give actual gifts to players who have excellent reputations. This could be anything from some kind of badge showing off just what a swell gamer you are to a free game download. Who knows?
It’s definitely something that could work though.
Did Infamous studio Sucker Punch accidentally reveal a new PS4 feature? Maybe.
When asked if there was a way to pre-download Infamous Second Son earlier this week, the studio said on Twittter, “no preload on PS4 until April”. They then confirmed the feature in a follow-up question.
It’s not all that surprising that this is something the PS4 will be getting, but I do have to wonder if Sucker Punch kind of took the wind out of Sony’s sails here. I can’t imagine this is the way in which it was supposed to be announced.
My other concern is leaks. We’ve seen plenty of times now when a game accidentally gets posted somewhere it shouldn’t for a brief period and everyone is combing the game files to uncover what they can. I’m not exactly an IT security expert, but I can envision a world in which some hacker can get inside those preloaded game files and find out things he/she shouldn’t.
Oculus Rift looks like it may be set to be the new hot thing, but Ubisoft exec Lionel Raynaud says virtual reality will have to show some serious sales figures before it can hope for third party support.
“VR would need to sell at least one million units to be viable for development,” Raynaud said.
It does kind of help to have someone like John Carmack working at Oculus who can create some snazzy first person stuff to show off the hardware; just as long as he doesn’t give us Rift-RAGE, I think that experience doesn’t need to be any more real.
A lot of people have written off the Wii U as one for the history books rather than the living room, but eternal optimist and egotist Peter Molyneux has faith.
When asked for his thoughts on the struggling console, Molyneux had this to say:
“The problem with Nintendo is they did a fantastic job of finding these new players with the Wii,” he replied, “and the Wii U kind of does that but also tries to bring in the existing gamers as well, so they may have lost their way a bit.
“But they’re super-smart people. Never underestimate Nintendo. They’re probably one hardware release away from something that utterly convinces us that they know exactly what the future of games should be.
“So I wouldn’t deign to give them advice. I do find the Wii U big, I find it clunky, certainly it’s not a sexy piece of hardware and I’m used to sexy pieces of hardware.”
What do you all think? Is the Wii U going to bounce back eventually?
While the movie industry has been plagued with gender and ethnic stereotypes for a long time, games are a much worse offender.
This week gameplay designer at Bioware Manveer Heir tackled the issue head on, highlighting the need for better representation in games.
“If we want to start making games that tackle race, gender and sexual orientation and everything else in positive ways, instead of falling into stereotypical and problematic ways, then we have to step our collective games up,” Heir said.
As for the idea that us as gamers and consumers can’t deal with more diverse characters, Hanveir dismisses that out of hand.
“I find it very cynical to think that our audience is not smart enough to be able to accept and handle and embrace a gay protagonist or more exclusive women protagonists in games that aren’t glorified sex objects and actually have personalities beyond supporting the men in the game. There are plenty of examples of this being accepted in other media.
“Why should we reject stereotypes? Not only is it lazy, but it’s fairly boring. We play so many games that use the same stereotypes. I get fed up with the same old story and characters in every game. I know there are others like me, I talk to them all the time.
“For me, these stereotypes are contributing to the creative stagnation in our industry. But I also believe we need to reject stereotypes as a social responsibility to mankind.”
Hanveir goes on to challenge developers to stop playing it safe, saying, “I want us as an industry to stop being so scared. Let’s not be scared to ruffle feathers and let’s be open and honest about our intentions.”
I’d like to believe that gamers can be accepting of protagonists who are gay or strong females, but honestly I can’t be sure. There is still a lot of immaturity out there, and a lot of people who hold strong personal beliefs and attitudes.
What I do think, however, is that if the gameplay is good enough, if the game is truly great, the protagonist just won’t matter all that much.
So here’s some bad news – there won’t be any Unreal Tournament titles anytime soon, if ever.
Speaking at GDC, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney said that they currently have nothing in development, or planned, for the Unreal universe.
I have extremely fond memories of Unreal Tournament, and we haven’t seen anything from that franchise since 2007. I am disappoint.
Oh man, here we go again. Dark Souls 2 has now fallen under the graphics microscope as gamers are once again outraged that the final game looks a lot less pretty than previous demo versions.
From Software responded to the subsequent social media campaign with this: “Throughout the game development process, a game is constantly being balanced not only in game playability, but also in the realm of resource management.
“A developer is always challenged with creating the most rewarding gaming experience while delivering continuity in graphical quality, gameplay dynamics, and balance within the game.
“The final version of Dark Souls 2 displays the culmination of this delicate balance and we’re very proud of the positive media and fan reception for the game.”
So there you have it, everyone. It doesn’t look worse, it looks more BALANCED. Okay?
Now I’m not usually too bothered about mobile games, except when it’s a mobile game that’s been in development for over a year at the studio which gave us The Witcher.
Yup, CD Projeckt Red is gearing up to announce a new mobile game they’ve been working on, in collaboration with an external partner.
Studio co-founder Adam Kicinski said, “Smartphones and tablets are truly powerful platforms these days and are finally giving us the ability to develop mobile games we would like to play ourselves; games that are taking full advantage of newest smartphone and tablet technologies, and offer the quality level that we, as a studio, are always aiming to achieve.”
Unless you’re still rocking Snake 2 on your 3310, this is pretty exciting news.
I’m a big platformer fan, so I’ll admit I’m pretty stoked for Ubisoft’s Child of Light. It’s awesome to see a genre which is today often restricted to indies get the big studio treatment. This new dev diary lets us get a closer look at some of the gameplay. Sweet.
So you’re thinking of buying Infamous Second Son, but you’re just not sure. Well then, why not watch the entire first 45 minutes of the game?
Have you all forgotten there’s a new Wolfenstein game coming out? The franchise that birthed the FPS genre is getting the Bethesda treatment, and this week we have a new gameplay video. The game comes out on pretty much every platform (except Nintendo) this May.
Hey, remember that creepy horror title on Kickstarter, Among the Sleep? Basically you played a toddler in the first person, exploring a creepy house. Well it managed to hit (and pass) it’s 200,000 dollar goal, and now developer Krillbite Studio is hoping to bring the game to next-gen platforms as well (it was originally just intended for the mouse and keyboard folk). Check out this new teaser trailer, but keep the lights on.
Best of NAG
Being the good gaming journalists we are here at NAG Online (present company excluded), the massive well of information that is the GDC has been presented to you in easily digestible chunks. Go on, dig in.
Hey, you like free stuff, right? Well as is custom here on NAG Online, every now and then Dane clears out the office and finds something behind the couch worth turning into a competition. This week you can win three DVDs of awesome movies. Except that Ashton Kutcher with a beard one, I think that might be bad. But everyone needs a coaster, right? Head over here to enter.
So I wrote a column this week, and as such I need to force it down your throat. If I don’t farm a few hundred more clicks it’ll be on office-cleaning duty next week and no one wants that (because I do it naked). So just click this and read about the lessons games of today can learn from games of yesterday.
Matthew Fick took the Project Spark beta for a spin this week, something not many of us could do since it requires Windows 8. Personally, I’d rather set my computer on fire than put Windows 8 on it, but if one of you happened to make that terrible, terrible mistake, you should check this game out.