Hello once more NAGhuts, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This week we’re taking a look at some Kickstarter news, good and bad, some Xbox news, all bad, as well as Portal, Watch Dogs, Hideo Kojima and Pillars of Eternity. That was a somewhat brief summary, wasn’t it? Am I being enticing, or just lazy? Hit the jump and decide for yourself. Also, there’s videos.
What? What the hell is that heading? Console/Kickstarter? How are these things related?
I’ll tell you how – they’re not, whatsoever. But I can’t have my different sections being too lopsided, so I make my headings as I damned well please. It’s my party, and I can cry if I want to.
So, Kickstarter. Is losing ground, apparently. Compared to 2013, Kickstarter games this year generating less than half of the income. Ouch.
This is almost certainly in large part due to the amount of high-profile Kickstarter flops we’ve seen, including games such as Yogventures and Clang.
We’ve also seen a fair few failed early access projects as well, which certainly could result in the same mindset – don’t pay early, wait for the real thing. Not to mention that others may prefer to funnel their cash into early access rather than Kickstarter anyway – it’s more of an instant return, after all.
Kickstarter seemed like a revelation for gaming, allowing indie developers with great ideas to get the resources they need to deliver something spectacular. While we have seen some of that, we’ve also seen a lot of out-of-their-depth individuals squander money and fail to deliver, with the backers being left holding the bag.
Is this the beginning of the end for crowdfunded games? Probably not, but I don’t expect we’ll ever see the same kinds of numbers we saw last year.
Keeping on theme, we have more Kickstarter news – this time from the other side, that of the developers. Legendary gamemaker and Megaman creator Keiji Inafune spoke out this week about the difficulties of working on a crowdfunded project; specifically, Mega Man successor Mighty No. 9.
“Traditionally, if we were to make this game on a normal development cycle, we’d work on it for a year to the point where it’s polished, announce the title, and six months later we’d release it.
“With Kickstarter, we hadn’t even started production. It was pre-production. We had the whole development to do.”
Inafune laments the unrealistic expectations fans have – in less than a year, backers were already asking why they weren’t playing it. However, according to the dev, it’s worth it.
“You have to deal with that stress on you all the time as a developer, but it’s really good. When you finally get the beta out, like we did, and you got to see that almost all of them got it, that we were going for the retro old-school flavor, but with the new gameplay, it really reiterated that the direction we were going for was not only correct, but it was what the fans really wanted.”
A short bit of console news, nobody in Japan is buying the Xbox One.
In its launch month of September, Microsoft managed to move a paltry 31,116 consoles off the shelves, presumably all gifts from parents and grandparents who didn’t know any better.
For comparison, back in 2005 the Xbox 360 managed to sell 62,000 units in the first two DAYS.
So why is nobody buying it? I have no idea, and neither does Xbox Japan. Their boss had this very generic comment on the matter:
“We hope to continue through taking user feedback and improving [the Xbox One] and offering content that everyone can enjoy. We are also aware that reaching out to let more people know about the Xbox One is vital.”
Honestly, I find it kind of hard to believe that any gamer doesn’t know about an Xbox One – most potential customers will know enough to know if they want one or not, anyway. And it seems like the Japanese have spoken – they do not want.
Here’s one for the nagging parents of the world – a recent study at Florida State University found that Portal 2 actually trains your brain.
Even more awesome, it trains your brain better than software that’s specifically designed to train your brain (and that game is almost certainly 80% less fun and 100% less sarcastic).
After a few rounds of Portal 2, test subjects showed improvements in problem solving, spatial skill and persistence. So naggy parents, put that in your pipe and smoke it.Hey, remember Watch Dogs? No, me neither. But I checked it out, and it was that big AAA game that came out with all the hacking and profiling and whatnot that everybody forgot about roughly three days after purchasing it.
Anyways, creative director Jonathan Morin is already talking about a sequel, and how he thinks the Profiler system can be more of a “thing”.
Basically, the Profiler gave you random bits of information about the various people you encounter throughout the game, attempting to give somewhat of an identity to the random throngs of people crossing the street and/or getting murdered.
“You can humanise the people around you. That I definitely see as the beginning of something that is quite unique and could push the industry forward.”
Funny, I didn’t think Watch Dogs had anything unique whatsoever – perhaps the sequel can try some actual innovation, rather than layering a new interface over tired, stereotypical gameplay.
Hideo Kojima loves to praise others – not quite as much as he likes to praise himself, but still. This week the game designer went so far as to say Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is one of Japan’s only “real creators”.
I should probably mention at this point that the two were interviewed together, and spent most of that time talking about how awesome the other person was. More interesting, perhaps, is Mikami’s feelings on the current state of horror games:
“Looking at current survival horror games as entertainment, I feel they lean too heavily on action.”
Referring to his own game, The Evil Within, Mikami continued, “I thought that I wanted to make a game that would stand up on both the fear as horror and on the enjoyment as a game.”
I’m not sure how I feel about the state of current horror titles as a whole, but I do agree in that I’d like to see more titles where the focus is less on action, and more on actual horror.
I think this is something that Alien Isolation looks like it may do well, as long as the developers can temper the anxiety and horror with a release valve here and there along the way.
A sad piece of news to end this segment, Obsidian Entertainment has announced that they’ll be delaying the crowd-funded title Pillars of Eternity.
According to the developer, this is “to make sure we don’t ship a buggy game”. I have to say, I admire their honesty and lack of rhetoric on that one – short, simple and sincere. Can’t argue with that.
“We are going to use the extra time to make Eternity shine for our backers, and a game that we were proud to call our own and would live up to your expectations.”
We’ll kick things off with an easy crowd pleaser – Far Cry 4 weapons. If you’re a leopard-crawl through the tall grass kind of a guy or a superman jump off a roof with an assault rifle in each hand kind of guy, there’s something here for you.
Dying Light drops soon, and Techland have done something pretty damned cool for pre-order customers – they can jump into other gamer’s simgle-player games and take on the role of a zombie. Sound awesome? It is, check out the video:
Next up is a gameplay walkthrough video for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, recorded at PAX Prime and featuring everyone’s favourite annoying robot, Claptrap.
Last up we have the final installment in the Alien Isolation “How Will You Survive” series. If you’re still on the fence about whether to pick it up or not, maybe this can swing your vote.
Best of NAG
Let’s get this out of the way – I wrote a column this week. I’m linking it here more out of duty than anything else, because frankly it’s terrible and you shouldn’t even bother reading it.
Then we have the decidedly less terrible NAG Online Podcast, Episode 11, this time with 80% more Wesley rants, 90% more seductive pigeons and 100% more strong independent black women who don’t need no man.
Keeping the theme going, Rick de Klerk also completed his podcast challenge this week, playing through Tropico 3 and being a most benevolent dictator. Did he succeed? The jury’s still out on that one.
Now for a double dose of Mr de Klerk, you can check out his review on Munin. What is Munin you ask? I have no idea, which is why I’ll be clicking this green text as well.