Greetings NAGixians, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have some more gamers-being-assholes news, a robot that taught itself to be better at games than any of us and a US survey shows what REALLY matters for consumers buying consoles. Depending on which one you own, the answer may excite or upset you. Then we have a mobile MOBA that’s actually worth a look, a big announcement from Telltale Games, an awesome throwback feature is added to MK X and I spotlight a great feature on indie game pricing. All that, a ton of videos and some highlights from the week, after the jump.
Well let’s start the weekend off with a disappointed head-shake; gamers (and internet lurkers in general) have once again proven themselves to be incapable of resisting a good old-fashioned baseless hysteria.
A Hearthstone player by the name of MagicAmy was accused by a random redditor of seducing male Hearthstone players into playing her matches for her. Seriously.
According to this dude, Eric Lee (who, by the way, has ironically been banned from the game by Blizzard before for win-trading), the very much real South Korean woman Hyerim Lee is actually a Canadian guy who’s really good at cybersex.
Predictably, the thread exploded, despite there being literally zero evidence offered to support the claims. But, as they say, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Due to pressure from the online masses, MagicAmy’s team TempoStorm launched an internal investigation lasting three days. Which, as you can imagine, turned up nothing whatsoever.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, MagicAmy quit the team and “retired” as a professional player. Popular Hearthstone community member and professional player Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk, who works for TempoStorm, had this to say:
“I’ve never been embarrassed to be a Hearthstone player, before last week,” Yanyuk said. “All of you should be f**king ashamed of yourselves. It’s probably the biggest setback to getting women in eSports that I can recall happening in the past year or two.”
Delving deeper into the issue, there is still a lot that is unaccounted for. Many still maintain that the player is not as innocent as she appears, and there are more concrete pieces of “evidence” showing various scams.
I’m not even going to attempt to sift through it. What I can say is that whatever the story is, it’s safe to assume that a hysterical internet witch-hunt is probably not the best way of attending to the problem.
Right, after that mess let’s lift the mood with something awesome, courtesy of Google. A company called DeepMind, bought by Google last year, has developed a computer program that can teach itself to do stuff – most importantly, play retro videogames.
Left to its own devices, the computer was able to figure out how to play 49 classic Atari games; using visual inputs to determine appropriate reactions to frames of the game. Company founder Demis Hassabis explains:
“It’s a bit like a baby opening their eyes and seeing the world for the first time. We’ve built algorithms that learn from the ground up.”
After two weeks of playing Breakout, the program not only was able to complete all the levels, but to do so in the fastest possible times. For this playing along at home, apparently you should be aiming the ball up to the top of each level.
The gist of all this is that SkyNet is real and owned by Google; I’ll be allowing all NAG Online readers to share my bunker as we wait for the robot apocalypse. Bring canned food. No asparagus.
So you all may remember “resolutiongate”, the battle between the PS4’s 1080p output vs Xbox One’s 900p output. I say “remember”, but really this is kind of still going on.
There’ve been numerous reports that the resolution discrepancy “doesn’t matter”, with multiple publishers and Xbox bosses saying that really, you can’t see the difference.
However, it would appear that it matters to consumers as a US Nielsen survey shows that the number one people buy PS4 over Xbox One is, in fact, the resolution [dramatic pause].
As for Xbox One, their number reason for getting picked was “brand” – the dominance in the US of the Xbox 360 has not easily been forgotten, apparently.
The difference between 900 and 1080p may indeed not be significant, but what this study does show is that more than anything, public perception matters. Even me, a person educated in these kinds of things, can’t help but feel more of a pull towards the PS4 as a high resolution means more power, which means devs can simply squeeze more out of it.
That kind of thing matters, particularly when you’re looking towards the future. I’m sure someone could (correctly) point out that I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but that’s exactly the point – my perception will skew my purchase behaviour; the minor details don’t matter if only a select few people take the time to understand them.
The MOBA market is pretty saturated at this point, and I honestly believe with the complexity of the genre in general it’s a pretty tough field to break into.
With that in mind, I generally don’t pay much attention to new MOBA releases or announcements, but something caught my eye this week – the unoriginally titled Call of Champions, a mobile-only MOBA that has games which last only five minutes.
According to developer Spacetime Studios, the game will be free-to-play for iOS and Android. CEO Gary Gattis talks about their approach to the gameplay:
“We’ve distilled the MOBA to its core components by removing things like item shops, minions, and jungles and adding powerups, a five-minute clock, and a full suite of crazy abilities at your fingertips.”
Sound cool? I think so, actually. Mobile games tend to bore me quickly with their linear, non-interactive gameplay, but this appears to be quick and competitive – I like it.
There’ll be over twenty champions and five classes to battle with; a decent starting roster. Check out this announcement trailer:
Telltale Games have partnered with Lionsgate, in a bid to make content that is a kind of bastard child of a television show and a video game.
CEO Kevin Bruner prefers the term “Super Shows”, which combines interactive content with scripted, television-esque stuff in between. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out whether this is a game or a TV show. I’m pretty sure it’s the former though.
One such Super Show is currently in development, and Bruner has stated that this will be a brand new IP.
A partnership with Lionsgate also opens up the possibility of some of the film and television studio’s IPs getting the Telltale treatment – would you like to see an episodic Hunger Games title perhaps? Or maybe Mad Men?
Bruner acknowledges it’s possible, but also adds that they “have a ton of respect for the IP they own and control” and “there’s nothing to announce right now”. Fair enough. [Ninja edit – I see Rick has beaten me to the punch on this Lionsgate business. Oh well. news so nice, you read it twice!]
Time for a short intermission – Brutalities are BACK in Mortal Kombat X. It’s like a fatality, just with two to three times as much gratuitious violence.
There’s over 100 of them, apparently, so get those button mashing skills primed and ready. In the meantime, check out this video:
Lastly I want to highlight a pretty interesting article I discovered on Gamasutra this week – a look at how indie games are priced, and the challenges faced in trying to price them correctly.
It covers everything from competition (there’s a lot) to gamers being trained to wait for discounts (master race checking in).
It obviously has a lot of value for anyone in game design, but really I think it’s a pretty illuminating look at why some games price themselves at $20 and others are happy with $5. You can find it right here.
What’s that you say? Moar Mortal Kombat? Check out this story video, which reveals some new characters for the game.
Contrast developer Compulsion Games has revealed a zany new psychedelic sci-fi adventure called We Happy Few, and you can see the announcement trailer below.
Now for something a little different – Final Fantasy 15 has it’s own wildlife trailer. Yeah… they’re really proud of their wildlife. Check it out:
Lastly, one of the guys over at Eurogamer put together somewhat of a highlight reel of his experiences playing Resident Evil Revelations 2. Worth a look if you’re on the fence, or purely for the entertainment value, really.
Best of NAG
Let’s kick things off with Mr Fick’s Laptop Buyer’s Guide, this week focusing on the big spenders – the R20K – R30K range.