Greetings NAGahoons, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have Kojima, Silent Hills and his new game. We have good news for Assassin’s Creed fans, and game fans in general. We have good news for mobile game fans (do you exist?), good news for Ubisoft fans (do you exist?), good news for people suffering from depression and Star Citizen makes a questionable development decision. All that, videos, highlights from the week and my own unsolicited input, after the jump.
Del Toro is still salty about Silent Hills
And so am I, to be honest. Of all the things Konami took from us, this might be the worst. At the DICE summit this week the two were on stage together to talk about what might have been. An interesting detail they shared was that PT was meant to be a kind of decoy – to look worse than it should in order to disguise how big a project it is.
“When we were looking at PT,” explains De Toro, “[Kojima] said ‘we’re going to do this low tech. We’re going to do this so people don’t know it’s us until the ending. It’s going to be kinda a bit crappy…’ PT itself was meant to be a decoy. We were thinking people would take 10 days, two weeks to solve it and they solved it in two days.”
Now for the sad bit: “We had great plans. We had great ideas I think that would have done fantastic stuff,” Del Toro said, adding, “It was fantastic, the results were amazing, and that was [Kojima] not putting his foot full on the pedal.”
Sigh. Damn you Konami.
Assassin’s Creed may not be an annual release at all anymore
Last week I praised Ubisoft’s decision to take a year off from the annual Assassin’s Creed release in order to get the franchise in order, and this week my respect grows as Ubi CEO Yves Guillemot said they weren’t planning on returning to it either.
“The goal is not to automatically come back to an annual cycle, but to come back on a regular basis,” he said. “We can’t say every year.”
This doesn’t mean an annual release is out of the question, but what it does imply is that the publisher is prioritising the quality of the game over shoehorning development into a rigid schedule. Which is better for customers and hopefully better for Ubi’s bottom line as well – I’d prefer if more ethical business practices were rewarded in the long-term.
Fallout Shelter nudges Bethesda into the mobile market
What originally began as a sort of hype-generating tie-in to a hotly anticipated AAA title has since became an enormously popular game in its own right.
The game was no doubt created with care and passion – it’s success is testament to that – but Fallout director Todd Howard says they never expected it to gain that much momentum.
“I think if you expect, ‘Yeah, it’ll be number one and out-gross Candy Crush for a while,’ you’re generally going to be set up for failure and disappointment,” he said.
“Out-grossing Candy Crush” is no small potatoes – we’re talking about the mobile juggernaut that raked in over a billion dollars in microtransactions in 2014. This is especially true when you consider that the point of Fallout Shelter wasn’t really to rake in heaps of cash anyway.
“Mostly we were concerned with it being appropriate for who we are [as Bethesda Game Studios]–meaning it’s got a bit more meat on the bone than other things like it,” Howard said. “But its overall popularity? We were not ready for that, which is a good problem.”
With the success of the mobile offering, Bethesda is looking at some serious money to be made on the mobile platform. I’d be interested to see what they can put together outside of the Fallout universe.
Star Citizen splits into two parts
The little Kickstarter that could, Star Citizen is a juggernaut that seems unstoppable at this point. What started out as an indie project has raised so many tens of millions that it seems to be expanding too fast for its own good.
Certainly the developer has come under criticism in the past for allegations of not knowing what the hell he’s doing, and I have a feeling people may be none too happy about this decision either. Essentially, the game is going to split into separate titles for the campaign and the MMO components.
Each section will cost $45, which sounds steep but apparently if you own one you can get the other for $15. The pre-order folk are smiling of course, having access to everything already. The studio insists this split was the plan all along, but I can’t help but wonder if the ambition hasn’t exceeded the capability.
VR used to treat depression
Researchers from London and Barcelona have been experimenting with something called “immersive virtual reality therapy”, with promising results.
Proving for the first time that the best use of the Oculus Rift may not be porn after all, fifteen patients suffering from depression were given eight minutes of the VR treatment, three times a week, for a month.
Nine of the fifteen reported reduced symptoms, with four showing a “clinically significant” drop in depression. It’s a single study so this obviously isn’t conclusive, but it certainly points not only to the treatment’s potential, but it opens a lot of doors for what we may be able to use VR for in the future.
Kojima enjoying his new-found freedom
More Kojima news! The Metal Gear Solid creator took to the DICE Summit stage in Las Vegas this week to talk about his new game, and to not-so-subtly imply how much he likes having the leash taken off since leaving Konami.
“I feel extremely free right now. I am trying to make a big game with a very small team. I am doing exactly what I want to do,” Kojima said through a translator about his new Kojima Studios company.
“I have no intention of changing anything in order make it sell more. I want to create something that I want to play.”
He’s been downright chatty this week, giving several interviews at various video game websites as well. Here he is talking about his new game again:
“I want to make something that has a very strong, dramatic story. That’s what people want from me and that’s what I want to do. It would be so much easier if I could give priority to one or the other, but people expect both from me. At this point, it would be easier to make a linear game, but that’s not…
“It’s risky, because we’re just starting up, so it probably would be better to go with something smaller-scale, maybe linear, but Sony is supporting us to make a big game that’s edgy with a strong story that gives the player a lot of freedom, with new elements, and I don’t know if that’s possible. But we’ll see.”
Screw all that Kojima, make Silent Hills.
Ubisoft’s new IP is all about the multiplayer
A little while back this month Ubisoft made a barely-an-announcement of a new AAA IP. In an Investor Day briefing this week (whatever the hell that is), CEO Yves Guillemot avoided giving any more info on the game, saying, “We prefer you to wait a little bit”.
CFO Alain Martinez decided to throw a bone, however, saying, “It is multiplayer-centric, so clearly, it is following the path of For Honor, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six. So it is going to be strongly multiplayer-centric, with a strong solo side also.”
We don’t know what studio is working on it yet, but we’ll be finding out at an earnings briefing in May, apparently. Which sets things up nicely for an E3 showcase. There’s not much to be excited about just yet, but AAA new IP is always intriguing.
Did you ever want to be an astronaut, but were unfit and bad at maths? Me too brother, me too. Bring those dreams to life with Adr1ft.
Have you heard of Strafe? Me neither, but it got $200,000 on Kickstarter a year ago and the latest trailer looks insanely weird (and unexpectedly hilarious).
It’s hard to get bored of Super Mario Maker videos, especially ones like this.
That level is courtesy of Mario mastermind O’Hara, who considers this his second-most difficult level. Second. His most difficult level took 20 hours to design, and 108 hours for him to beat it – Mario Maker requires that you beat your own level before you upload it, to make sure it’s actually possible. Check that one out:
Elite: Dangerous is a game I know nothing about. But this video makes me want to get to know it better.
Best of NAG
Want to get fit, but want to game more? Why not both? Why not Zoidberg? Let personal trainer Matthew Fick show you how it’s done.
Street Fighter V is an atrocious mess of a game. Let Rick de Klerk tell you why.
Next up is my column for the week, a look at the problems that surround writing reviews, and what needs to change.
We finish strong with Miklos’ look at the beautiful indie, Unravel.