Monday, August 31, 2009
So have you pre-ordered Halo: ODST yet? I am so hesitant to do so and I don't know why. One thing helping me in that decision is the amount of promotion being done for ODST. Including the team from Red vs Blue who always seems to give me a nice chuckle. (Caboose, I'm looking in your direction) It reminds me of the good 'ol days with Combat Evolved and in Halo 2. I miss those days.
What I am looking forward to the most with ODST though has definitely got to be the new Firefight mode. The best part to Gears 2, in my opinion, was Horde mode. That's really the only reason I kept it in my library. Didn't care for the campaign, nor the repetitive and unrewarding multiplayer. Horde mode was always a challenge and very rewarding for me. I believe that is what Firefight will be like, except more Bungielized. Yes, Bungielized. Of course that's not a word! I know that! But for fans of the Halo series, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Either way, I know I am going to buy it just because it has the word Halo on the package, so I might as well pre-order it already.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Ahhhh.. Technology. Isn't technology great? It is. Though technology would be a lot better if we as humans, were not limited by our own capacity to use and understand that technology. Still, we are getting there. Slowly but surely, video games and the technology for video game development are improving and the costs are lowering. But what is improving even more is, the amount of talented individuals who are coming from game education programs who take with them new skill sets and creatively innovative ideas to help usher in a new age for the video game industry.
A perfect example of course would be the game Flower. It's not your typical game. No guns. No swords. No blood. Not even human characters we have become so accustomed to seeing on screen. Literally, it's just a bunch of flowers. Of course there is more to it than that, but the way this game was developed, the core idea behind it, has helped touch many gamers, and game developers in a way that makes us say, "there is so much yet to be explored." Game innovators such as Jenova Chen, as well as future game developers who are influenced by him and the innovative "out of the box" thinking are just some of the reasons this industry is so great.
From a recent article on Gamasutra, James Portnow of Divide by Zero discusses game education and the role it plays in the sea of change the game industry is currently experiencing. I couldn't agree with him more.
For the first time in history "game creation" is being taught as a focus of higher education. From the bachelor's degree given out by DigiPen to the masters degrees offered by more traditional universities such as USC or CMU, today people are getting rigorous formal training in game crafting before entering the industry.
But, perhaps more importantly, these institutions are providing the next generation of game developers with a safe space to innovate and create, outside of a corporate environment.
Game schools will do for us what film schools did for film. They are a place for wild experimentation and valuable, if not immediately profitable, research. These schools focus a community of dedicated, energetic young people and give that community the critical mass it needs to allow these young people to learn from each other and formulate new ideas as a group. Our Lucas, Coppola, and Scorsese will come from these schools.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I'll admit that there was something about WET that intrigued me. Yes, besides the name of this new title. And for you adolescent pervs out there, just because the main character of the game is female does not mean you will see her get WET. It has a completely different meaning and Artifical Mind and Movement makes sure to explain it in the very beginning. The screenshots that were teased early on in their marketing campaign, had me very hopeful that I would see a new artistic take on the 3rd person shooter genre. In the end, I think I got what I wanted. Though I am a bit skeptical that WET will be something that I, and other gamers like myself, will actually end up purchasing. Because let's face it, if a new IP comes out, you automatically want to know if the game is worth "buying" or if it's "just a rental." No sense on buying a game that doesn't accomplish its overall goal of establishing itself with the must have games that are currently out and competing for the number one spot. Let's just jump right in and get WET shall we?
First off, I found the old fashioned western film "screen flicker" to be extremely annoying. I get what the developers were trying to do, but it's not necessary. There is so much movement on the screen when the action begins, I don't need the screen to be constantly flickering as it makes it too chaotic for my taste. I felt like it was going to cause someone to have a seizure or something. Even when the action stopped, that damn flicker was still there. Which was an automatic turn off for me though I soldiered on and tried to ignore it.
The game starts off like a mix of the movie Kill Bill, blending into a Lara Croft Tomb Raider-ish action sequence with a large dose of John Woo's Stranglehold. Sounds like a decent mix right? With the wild and weird music to put it all together, it took a while to get used to. Though the gameplay controls were instantly intuitive. The gameplay itself was a bit too much for me as each time you jump, slide, or wall run to shoot your enemies in slow motion, it left me feeling like the Max Payne "bullet time" limitations could have been enforced to cease the endless fast pace-slow pace of taking out your opponents. Moving on.
As you quickly progress into the next stage, you can tell how films have heavily influenced this game. Even including, I'm sorry but really not a fan, Eliza Dushku as the main characters voice. I couldn't help but think the demo could have been better without the cheesy and typical movie dialogue. Do you ever watch a movie with big name stars and think to yourself, "y'know, this movie would have been a lot better if there was a different actor or actress playing that part." No? Well I do. I'd much rather hear a unknown talented voice behind the main character of a game or movie as I couldn't help but think of Dushku's previous movie roles. So it seemed to take the immersiveness out of it for me. Using an unknown voice, ends up establishing that exact voice as the main character. Makes it more believable. Think, Cortana from the Halo trilogy. Could you imagine Cortana's voice as, say.. Angelina Jolie? No. It would totally kill it and would no longer be Cortana. It would be Angelina playing Cortana, and that's how I felt with the main character, Rubi.
One last note on the bad before the good begins, the actual enemy characters you face, just so happen to be twins. Around every corner, the same guy. Sometimes even triplets. I don't know how so many of these clones got there but it's as if game engine limitations and technology have not been increased over the last 10 years. I don't want to be fighting 2-4 guys at the same time and have them all look the same. Game studios need to manage this more efficiently in my opinion. Cut a couple of texture resolutions down to free up memory. Take out some irrelevant geometry taking up ridiculous amounts of space. Do whatever you have to do to not show the same character on the screen at the same time. I hate it. If the enemies are not a bunch of underground species of Locust's from Gears, there is no need to look exactly the same. I don't want to see it. Especially when they perform the same robotic actions when you're fighting them.
The Good, and the Surprisingly Awesome:
I was fully prepared to rip this demo a part with all my heart and soul. If that were actually possible of course. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was going to try it though. But then the WET demo kicked into a gear I did not see coming.
Once I got past the beginning stage of diving, wall running and sliding all over the place in bullet time to take out repetitive enemies, something bad happened. Something bad ass is more like it. The main character, Rubi? Well, you see, she ended up getting blood on her face. She got WET. Which set off a chain of events that at first looked over the top to me when I saw prior footage of this on YouTube, but this WET mode actually ended up being so warranted. I found it to be unsettlingly satisfying. Way more than my old conservative soul would like to admit.
You still get to perform the overdone, yet somehow still relevant bullet time to kill off the massive amount of enemies, but all of this is in a simple color palette of plain black, red and hints of white. That's it, and this is where the stylized art from Artificial Mind and Movement really jumps out and screams at you, "Hey you! Kid!? Look at this shit! aaaaahahaha!" Awesome. That's what it feels like going through this WET sequence of events, bullet time, shooting and even slashing away at your enemies. Slashing you say? Yes, she does have a sword and using it is probably one of the most rewarding parts of this games action. That part, was spot on.
Finally, the developers switched gears yet again which made me sit more up-right as laying down was not the ideal position to be in when going into the final act. There seemed like there were three whole parts to this demo and each one made me pay more attention. Almost like I was experiencing multiple different games as I progressed. This time, you go through a series of Quick Time Events (QTE) which immediately reminded me of Indigo Prophecy. But the way this part was pulled off, may have been better executed.
You finish the demo by riding on top of a car driving down the freeway while shooting at enemies in vehicles driving next to you. The car you're riding on just happens to crash (duh, this sequence of events is planned out in advance) but don't worry, if you press A or X just in time, you can perform the amazing aeriel stunts to make your way onto other vehicles passing by. I had to do this a couple of times as I uncontrollably gawked at the action taking place instead of paying attention to what button I needed to press to keep that action going. But I didn't mind. I did not get frustrated restarting the whole thing over again. Watching Rubi leap from one vehicle, wall run onto the side of a swerving truck and then onto an enemy vehicle to see her slash the poor dude's hand off was more than enough reason to purposely not hit the next button, just to see her do it all again. Well done, well done indeed.
In the end.. the demo did not start off well in my opinion. But what Artificial Mind and Movement did to make up for it, sure beats the hell out of any single player demo I have played this year on Xbox Live. With WET being only a single player game, and the fact that the game releases around the same time as HALO: ODST, I doubt sales will do as well as the developers and Bethesda would expect. However, if the demo is any indication as to what to expect of the full retail version, I can see gamers returning to play this game later on in the year once they're done getting their Halo fix. Even if it's just a rental.
Did you play the demo yet? If so, let me know what you think in the comments!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Being one of the few, if not many by now, people who decided to get an education in video game art & design, I sit back and wonder if my decision was worth the time, money and effort. Are you in the same mindset? Honestly, I don't think I have the answer yet whether the schooling was worth it as I sit here, still not hired at any of the dozens of game studios I have applied to. Had I known that the world economy, and even the "recession proof" video game industry would have taken such a nose dive, along with studio closures and acquisitions, I might not have decided to put all my life savings into a video game related education. But how could I have known? I can't live in regret, and if you're in a similar situation as I am, neither can you.
I refuse to give up. I've come too far, and changed my life too much to stop now. Breaking into the game industry is 10 times tougher than I had thought. However, helpful resources on how to finally "get your foot in the door" (which could possibly be a 5 foot thick steel door that can survive multiple nuclear explosions) are being produced and updated all the time. There are so many ways of learning the tools you need to succeed in gaining a great job in the video game industry. So many websites, tutorials, articles, schools, training sessions with industry professionals, personal industry contacts.. all there for you to take advantage of. You just have to know where to find them, and once you do, you have to figure out how to take the knowledge you gain, and apply it to your own experience.
Like I have mentioned many times in past articles, GameCareerGuide.com and Gamasutra.com are two such sites that I visit on a regular basis. I haven't posted anything regarding those sites in a while but I found one article today that I wanted to share with you all. It's written by an experienced industry professional, Matthew Baxter. In the article, he discusses taking coursework that is heavy in game theory and compares it to other coursework that leans more towards industry related skills. Which is what I always thought was the way to go. Go to a school with game industry links, learn the technical programs needed and you're well on your way. Maybe too hopeful on getting by with just the basics? However, the skills Matthew takes on at his University in the U.K. provided him with a whole other skill set that many art and tech schools don't really provide. I found it pretty interesting, especially since he refers to Flow as one of the more unique games that were created because of a different way of thinking taught by the theory courses:
Game Career Guide excerpt:
"Games such as Flow come from the mindsets that theory-heavy courses sometimes create. These courses push students to move away from creating generic games, such as shooters, and consider new ideas focused on real human aspirations and feelings. So, more games that make you think about politics, and less where all you need to think about is your ammo levels."
That is something I'd like to see more of. I love me some shooters, don't get me wrong. Firt Person Shooters provided the gateway to taking this path I am currently on but as time goes by, my creative side has surpassed my love for shooting up the bad guys. There are more to video games than that and well, I guess I'm just growing up. The game industry, although shooters will always be around, is growing up as well. Games lilke Flow and Portal are perfect examples of this.
Check out the article for a good read: Coursework vs The Real World
Friday, August 21, 2009
Alright Avatar fans, I finally found an Avatar trailer I can embed onto my blog. It might not last long due to copyright issues but hopefully it doesn't get removed from YouTube. I don't know about you, but I know absolutely nothing about Avatar. Other than seeing a few minutes of the anime series when I spent some time in Vancouver, I really didn't pay any attention to it. But after watching this trailer, I am definitely paying attention now. Wish I had done so years ago.
While watching G4 last night, the host and person being interviewed mentioned that some people weren't really impressed with the trailer that came out. I am assuming these are the die hard fans that didn't like what they saw, because it wasn't as good as what they imagined. (Is anything ever as good as we imagine it?) They may have had a point that the trailer doesn't really tell us anything about the story, but if you dig deeper, it's actually telling us a lot.
Personally, I dig trailers that make you guess at what the hell it is you're seeing. It's a tease, and it works for me. It made me go online and research Avatar to find out what it's really all about.
I hate it when movie trailers come out and show you way too much from the movie. It's like, why do I need to pay to see the movie now? I just saw every funny part... I just saw every crazy explosion... I basically already figured out the predictable ending, so what's the point? I don't want to see too much of a movie in a trailer. If a movie gets promoted by a long and highly detailed trailer or behind the scenes footage, chances are, the movie is going to suck. That's why they're trying to sell you the movie so hard.
I'd much rather go into a movie, not knowing a thing about it or at least thinking the movie is going to be awful. That way, I won't be disappointed. I'll walk out of the theater thinking, "hey, that was a pretty damn good movie." Or at least walk out saying, "it totally didn't suck as much as I thought it would. Huh.. go figure." See my strategy? Write it down, try it. It works. Thank me later.
Oh, and if your friend is telling you, "Duuude! You have got to see this movie bro! It's the best movie I've ever seen. So bad ass, you don't even know." Tell him to do you a favor and shut up. Giving out high expectations to someone before seeing a movie, really kills it for them. I've done it to people in the past and they were disappointed in the end. I've learned my lesson as they questioned me on my taste in movie entertainment. It's happened to me countless times and it must cease immediately. If anything, downplay the movie expectations. Just say, "Was it good? Yea, I guess. Just go see it and tell me what you think." And then you can go on and on afterwards about how good or how bad the movie was.
So not only is there a movie trailer for Avatar but a video game trailer as well thanks to That VideoGame Blog. Man, those guys always pull through with the best videos. Definitely follow their site if you enjoy their content as much as I do. Enjoy the videos and have a great weekend my friends!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
First off, I love the whole mini theme IO Interactive has going here. That's what attracted me to this game in the first place. (Micro machines anyone? C'mon, you know you played with them growing up.) When you start the demo, it allows you to magically switch from character to character depending on what you encounter in the level. You start off with main character Hiro (why is the Japanese hero always called Hiro?) and you have the option of switching to Futo, who is the bigger guy that allows you to take on larger foes and destroy caged up forest animals you're trying to save in the game, or you could also switch to Suzume, the girl ninja who rocks a killer flute. But I don't know why she was in this demo, as I did not find any use for her.
The fighting is nothing complex. Pressing the X button over and over again to use your sword is all you really do to destroy your enemies. Pressing and holding down Y launches and freezes you into the air Matrix-style and allows you to aim at a couple of Samurai's to perform a quick strike to defeat them faster. Equipping yourself with some Shuriken ninja stars, you can throw them at your enemy using the right trigger, which doesn't seem to kill them.. it just stuns them a bit so you can finish them off with the sword. Nothing too difficult with this game. Straightforward and easy.. maybe too easy. I guess I'm not the type of gamer IO and Eidos are marketing too.
The textures are definitely nothing to brag about. Which is why I keep wondering why this doesn't go straight to XBLA? That's what this game looks and feels like. Don't get me wrong, the art direction is pretty solid and I'm sure there is a lot to the game that might have me saying, "oohhhh... and ahhhh". But really, there is nothing new in this game that would make it stand apart from a typical game you'd see on the original Xbox and Playstation over 10 years ago.
You have an inventory of items you find and pick up throughout the level, like healing potions, special flowers, other weapons you can equip yourself with. But it's a tired old gaming recipe I refuse to pay for in this next generation of games. IO Interactive have made a decent game, I'm sure of it. But it is completely by the book. Gaming 101. You're a ninja, you have to save some animals from the evil Samurai's and you go from point A to point B. Nothing innovative about this. It kind of reminded me of the Kung-Fu Ninja game, but not as good. I don't know, maybe some of you like this sort of game that offers "more of the same".
There are some cute moments that make you smile but it is few in far between. For example, Hiro's mini ninja run is quite funny. Since they're all mini, their feet look like little mice scurrying to find some cheese. Play it, you'll know what I'm talking about. That, and when the Samurai's are marching up and down the forest chanting whatever it is samurai's chant as they make their way to conquer poor innocent animals, I had a quick giggle. The dialogue is what you would expect in a stereotypical ninja game. Think Bruce Lee, but in miniature voices. IO Interactive threw in some much needed humor and that's what I was looking for. But it's not enough. I wanted to see a bit more depth in this demo to warrant a purchase. I didn't get it. I'm bummed. Now I'm off to try out the Lost Planet 2 demo and hopefully that cheers me up.
Try it out yourself and let me know what you think in the comments. Am I being too critical?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
After about a year of rumors, pixelated magazine scans, and absolute forgeries, the mythical PS3 Slim that many said did not even exist, officially now exists. Exhibit A: the video above brought to you by GamesRadar.
This my friends, is a wonderful day indeed for the world of gaming. The most major gripe I held about the PS3 was not that it was necessarily big (hello, remember the original Xbox behemoth?) it was really the price that just killed it for me. There was no way I was going to spend $400+ on another gaming console, especially when there weren't very many must have games that I wanted. My gaming machine of choice was obviously the Xbox 360 for many different reasons. That being said, this may alter things a bit for me.
I said once the price of the PS3 goes down by $100, I would go out and buy one. I will stick to my words and will do just that. When? I don't know. But I'm sure it will be some time this year. There are so many games in the Sony PS3 library now I have been wanting to play. Sony really stepped it up in the games department and the future, although bleak in its current state, is looking brighter with this new price point. Not to mention the added bonus of a smaller console to fit next to my Xbox 360.
For now, I'll watch the retail release date come and go. Wait for the drama to die down and any kinks in the hardware or firmware to be updated and resolved so I can start my PS3 gaming nirvana on a clear and hassle free path. If I'm going to jump to the dark side, I better damn well be doing it right.
To see the official SPECS of the PS3 Slim, head on over to the PS3 Blog...
Monday, August 17, 2009
... and so it begins. Finally some news about the Earthworm Jim game. Gameloft has announced some more information about the new Earthworm Jim game I've been so curious about. I don't know if this is a brand new EWJ, or just a remake of the first. But at least we have some people talking about it again and the silence behind one of my favorite video game characters is no more.
Gameloft has signed a multi-year deal with Interplay to develop and publish Earthworm Jim on the Wii, PSN and on XBLA. Well it's about time! And the best part is, we might not have to wait much longer. The game is scheduled to be released by the end of this year. I wonder if the Genesis Poll had anything to do with this timely announcement? Did they see the mass support behind this poll in favor of Earthworm Jim over all the other SEGA game options? Hmmm... the poll seems to be closed now. Did they finish their market research? I think so.
Here is what Gameloft had to say:
"We are delighted to partner with Interplay to bring Earthworm Jim to multiple downloadable platforms," saidGonzague de Vallois, senior vice president, Gameloft. "The game, with its humorous and edgy style, is a great fit for today's gamer who craves a fully immersive experience that is fun and easily accessible. We look forward to delivering a fantastic game."
"Earthworm Jim resonates with millions of people worldwide and we are excited to have one of the best developers in the industry create this game for a new audience," said Herve Caen, CEO, Interplay. "Gameloft's creativity coupled with its innate knack for innovative games, makes us 100% confident that the result will be nothing short of stellar."
You can check out TeamXbox.com to read more on this announcement and if you are on Twitter, you can follow Gameloft at www.twitter.com/Gameloft. If you're not on Twitter, I ask you... why not?
Until the end of the final quarter of 2009, start getting excited for this long overdue release of one kick-ass worm.
Update 08/19: New Earthworm Jim is just a remake, not Earthworm Jim 4 as I was hoping
Saturday, August 15, 2009
If you head on over to the SEGA Genisis Poll, you can be part of the solution to bring Earthworm Jim to the Xbox Live Arcade. Finally! You have a few titles to choose from but, really... there is only one choice in the bunch and it is quite clear. As of this posting, the majority of gamers favorite earthworm is leading the poll by a wide margin.
The whole reason why I wanted to talk about Earthworm Jim in the first place was because in April of 2008 many of the top game sites reported there was an announcement from Interplay that Earthworm Jim 4 would become a reality. But when? How? On what platforms? Interplay mentioned they would support the Wii for Earthworm Jim and other games, but could a next gen Earthworm Jim ever see the light on the 360 and PS3? It's interesting that this poll would be released now and I'm wondering if Interplay is testing the waters to see if Earthworm Jim is something gamers definitely want. It would make total sense to tease gamers with Earthworm Jim on XBLA in anticipation of hyping up the Earthworm Jim 4 release. That seems like common sense to me if that is indeed what is planned. I could be wrong, but I sure as hell hope I am right. I was right when I said Bubble Bobble should be on Xbox Live Arcade, and I got my wish. (Except it's still only available in Japan! WTF Microsoft? Such a tease.)
If Interplay, Doug TenNapel or whoever is behind this, needs any indication that their desire to pursue the reemergence of the Earthworm Jim franchise as a game, or cartoon series is a smart decision and fully backed by their loyal fans, I have no doubts that the answer is yes. Bring it! That would totally be Groovy!
What say you? It's been well over a year since we've heard any details on Earthworm Jim 4. Is it still being developed? Is it dead? When will TenNapel give us some details on the long awaited sequel? I'll keep an eye on his blog for now and keep guessing until more details are announced.
Friday, August 14, 2009
So the rumor was indeed true. What I assumed would be announced at E3 2009 a few months ago, has officially been announced now. Or at least, I'm just finding out about it now thanks to Leo Laporte mentioning it on the radio this morning. The release of the new Zune HD is right around the corner. Possibly in October. That would certainly seem possible since Microsoft plans on opening it's first retail stores as well as releasing Windows 7 in October. But will it sell? Can it compete with Apple? That will be for you and the rest of the gadget-whores to decide. For me? If it doesn't have some type of gaming application, it's a no buy for me. I could care less about putting pictures on a small portable device and to see the picture turn at the same time I rotate it. Who cares? That's not a reason to buy this thing. However, what I do like is this... the capability to take video from your Zune HD, and hook it up to a TV and get up to 720p HD resolution. That's pretty impressive.
I was hoping to be blown away by whatever Microsoft had planned for the Zune HD, but at this point, I remain a skeptic. Until I can actually get my hands on it and test it out for myself, I will be in no rush to purchase this. We still have plenty more details we need to learn before any of us can make that kind of a decision. Does it have Wi-Fi? What is the Internet browser like and I can I browse when hooked up to the tele? Will it have game apps you can download like the iPhone or PSPGo? If so, how in the hell do you play it with just a touch screen? And if this isn't a portable gaming device now and won't be in the future, I have one question I'd like to ask to Microsoft: Where in the hell is the Xbox handheld!? Build it Microsoft.. build it, and they will come.
Read more on the new Zune HD at Gizmodo...
New Zune undercuts Apple's iPod Prices -WSJ
Update: 16GB Zune to cost $219 and the 32GB is to sell for $289. Supposed to come out in Sept. Please feel free to comment on why you will or will not buy this.
Can you say, O.. M.. G? Man, what an awesome trailer this is from id Software. This is the new RAGE trailer out of QuakeCon 2009 and I'm struggling once again to contain my heartbeat. The id Tech 5 engine seems to do that to me on a regular basis. What else could a gamer want in from a talented developer? A wicked FPS mixed with vehicle racing? C'mon! It's over. The competition is toast. Well, that remains to be seen.. but I sure as hell have a lot of hope for this title.
I noticed one thing from looking at these upcoming games recently. I don't mean to keep doing this but I keep getting RAGE and Borderlands confused. Sometimes, even though the games are made by two completely different developers and two completely different game engines, the whole "post-apocalyptic", "not of this world" type environments are really starting to throw me off and blend all together. ie. Fallout 3. I hope that doesn't turn some gamers off as we once again, start to see games that have a similar look and feel. (ie. almost every game that uses Unreal 3) Despite my confusion, I think both RAGE and Borderlands will be a must have for me and my trusty (sometimes) Xbox 360 console.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Kevin Smith attended the highly regarded Vancouver Film School back in 1990 when I was just 8 years old. (Damn, I didn't realize how old he was!) He ended up dropping out of VFS and somehow, it didn't even matter. He still went on to be successful in film, with or without a diploma or degree from VFS. I considered VFS during my search for possible schools to attend for game design and went to tour the campus back in 2006, but just didn't get the right 'video game vibe' while I was there. It really is more of a film school in my opinion. Not saying they don't have an awesome game design program, it just didn't fit with what I was looking for at the time. If I had the money and time, I would love to attend VFS.
Anyway, to get to the point, whenever someone mentioned VFS to me, I would always associate VFS with, "Oh, did you know Kevin Smith went to school there?' Y'know, Kevin Smith. The Clerks guy? Remember that movie Dogma? Jay and Silent Bob? Yeeeaaa.. yea, that guy!'
Now I won't be saying that for much longer. Once District 9 comes out and blows every summer blockbuster out of the water, and Neill Blomkamp becomes more of a household name all around the world, I will now say, 'VFS? That's where District 9 director Neill Blomkamp went to school... and graduated.' And it's not just VFS graduate Neill Blomkamp that was involved in this soon to be epic movie. There were over 25 other VFS graduates who worked on the visual effects on District 9. I have seen some of the student work coming out of VFS first hand during my studies at VanArts, and it is top notch. Really, really impressive visual effects coming out of that school. I can't wait for this movie!
Say what you want about Hollywood, say what you will about Vancouver. Vancouver is officially on the blockbuster map of cities to turn to when producing a major motion picture. The visual effects resources, the video game studios, all the multi-media pool of talent up there is just outstanding. And not as expensive as California! Why spend $200 million to make 'Terminator Salvation' and flop at the box office when you can make an even more impressive film for $30 million, and be the #1 movie in America? I know, I know.. District 9 isn't even out yet but, I feel pretty confident that the hype behind this movie, the fact that this film was originally going to be the 'Halo' movie, the fact that Peter Jackson's weight is behind this, and the fact that this film has some of the best Vancouverite talent there is to offer... is all I need to know about its forthcoming success. It's not hard to imagine this film being bigger than Independence Day. Yea, I said it! What?
Vancouver has been an extremely popular destination for filmmakers for years but I don't think everyone is aware of that. (Can Hollywood stop filming in Vancouver and faking like it's New York City or Seattle already? Please.) Maybe now, Vancouver, BC will get the credit and recognition it truly deserves. Without the fake NYC Taxi Cabs in the street scenes. Without covering up Vancouver street signs and landmarks. Move over Hollywood! Your glory days are over.
Congrats to VFS! Congrats to Neill Blomkamp! Congrats to Vancouver, BC! Well done my friends. The celebration has already begun. I look forward to seeing District 9 this weekend.
Credit: CGSociety - From its director to the visual effects, this acclaimed sci-fi film has close ties to Vancouver and deep roots at VFS.
Here it is. Your new Xbox Live Arcade addiction. From the makers of Alien Hominid (which I still need to complete) and Castle Crashers, The Behemoth has finally released some video of their next game. Their 3rd game in fact, and just so you know it's their 3rd game, they have included that in the game title, hence Game #3. Whether that stays or not, I don't know. Though I wouldn't be surprised if they kept it because, well, that's just how The Behemoth rolls.
I like how you can customize your character more this time around and even customize your weapons. However, the A.I. featured in this video looks like it needs some help. It didn't look very hard to beat your enemies as you can see at the end. Currently they have called this featured mode, Soul Mode. That may or may not stick as well as their development continues.
If you're in the Seattle or Vancouver, BC area, they will be at PAX this year so make sure to stop by and check the game out for yourself.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Most of us have probably seen the CryEngine3 in some form or another. It's very impressive, and it's obviously getting better and better. Case in point: these two videos recently shown at Siggraph 2009 in New Orleans.
I still remember the first time seeing the CryEngine being demoed back in 2006 and being totally blown away at what they could do in real time. To a point, I still am, although I admit I have not had a chance to play Crysis on the PC to see it first hand (like many others who do not have the top of the line hardware needed to play it). The lighting and shadows of their outdoor environments are definitely the best in the industry. Closest to realism I have seen to date. So I was surprised to see indoor environments shown off instead of the normal shots we're so used to seeing of large jungles with plenty of vegetation, atmospheric lighting and destructible environments.
With their indoor environments, it's not as impressive in my opinion. I don't really see much difference when compared to other top notch game engines. But hey, who am I to judge? It still looks pretty good and like I said, it will only get better. Plus, these videos are very interesting to look at if you're into game design and you have done mods yourself in the past with similar game engines. Good stuff! I hope you enjoy, even with the typically-dizzying "demo reel" camera moves. Now if we could only see what Crysis 2 will look like on the 360 already... Crytek? EA? We're waiting. Patiently I might add.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I admit I was not a big fan of the first Army of Two. After seeing it hyped up for so long, and knowing that I wanted to play it very badly, once I actually got my hands on it, I was extremely disappointed. Even with a buddy playing with me side by side, it felt underwhelming. The aiming was odd, the lighting made everything look washed out and the enemy AI was so weak it's not even worth talking about. What was I looking for in this game? I was looking for a co-op experience better than Gears of War. I guess that's harder to accomplish than I thought. Maybe it will the second time around?
With that said, I can't deny EA's promotion skills when hyping up their games. They really are some of the best in this industry and I give them credit for that. This promotional video featuring the characters of Army of Two interacting with real life people is by far one of the best edited video game promotions I have ever seen. This video connects with the "regular guy" on so many levels. Because let's face it, how many of us know exactly how that dude feels when he shot the copy machine? I know if I was a bad ass and carried weapons on me 24/7, I would not hesitate to put a cap in the copy machine at my day job. In fact, I dream about it on a nightly basis. Man, to be a video game character for a day...
Credit: That VideoGame Blog
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Fall 2009 is right around the corner and along with Fall comes Microsoft's Windows 7 release date, due to release to the public on October 22. So what else is due? How about the first of two brand new Microsoft Stores to coincide with the scheduled release of its newest operating system? Sounds like the perfect plan, doesn't it? One of Microsoft's new stores will be opened soon at The Shops at Mission Viejo in Mission Viejo, California and the other at Scottsdale Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona. I happen to live in Mission Viejo so lucky me, I get to see the store, a.k.a. this giant white box with stickers, firsthand. (I tried to peak inside, but the door was locked.) But I did notice something I'd like to point out. One of the things I noticed was its curiously close proximity to another consumer electronics store inside The Shops at Mission Viejo.
Now this might not be a big deal to some, but I couldn't help but notice, not only is there an Apple Store in this same exact mall, but the location of these two competitors are only 8 stores away from each other. Yes, I counted. But that may not even be the most interesting part about what I noticed when comparing the two stores tonight. You see, I have a little "Mall Spy", a.k.a. my fashionista girlfriend who works as a visual merchandiser and is at the mall almost 24/7, and she mentioned to me that most mall employees have been curiously guessing at what was behind these white boarded barriers before the stickers went up today. The store that occupied this space prior to Microsoft's construction was a large clothing store called "The Limited". And from what I have been told, the rumors around the mall was that the retail store taking its place had to be an H & M, Anthropology or another Hollister store due to its size and layout. Because let's face it, all a Southern California Mall needs is another Hollister store, right? But to everyone's surprise today, it ended up being none other than the first Microsoft Store itself, leaving everyone stunned since no one really knew these stores were coming. Except for maybe the most informed Microsoft fans and media of course. I mean, personally, I read about these stores being planned, but I didn't know when and where. Now I do.
So as you can tell from the map at The Shops at Mission Viejo, (this might not be to scale but you can get a general idea in the pictures I'm posting), the size difference when you compare the Microsoft Store to the Apple store is quite drastic. The Apple Store might as well be a GameStop and the Microsoft Store might as well be a Best Buy. It's ridiculous! And I am curious to know if Apple is going to decide to upgrade its current location. Maybe take over the baby store next door and double its showroom floor? It might have to if the Microsoft Store steals some of its traffic. Because let's face it, Microsoft obviously has some big plans for Fall and if we all know Microsoft as well as we think we do, they always have big surprises up their sleeves. (If they aren't already leaked beforehand) Say what you will about them. Love or Hate, they can definitely start a buzz. And that buzz has just begun in Mission Viejo, California.
I'll try and keep updating my blog with the construction progress and I'll take any new photos worth looking at. As for now, there really isn't much to see other than this. All we can do is speculate on Microsoft's big plans. But if you want to see what the design plans are, they have been leaked already. (of course they have, what doesn't get leaked now days?) You can find 54 slides leaked onto Gizmodo and read a lot more details on what to expect when you walk into this Microsoft Oasis.
Huge flat screens wrapping the entire store, planned demos of new XBOX 360 Games, Project Natal, maybe even, dare I say, a release party for the often rumored but never confirmed portable gaming system to compete with PSP, iPhone and DSi!? Ahhh man, I can dream can't I? But questions still remain. Will this new store have any effect on the Apple Store just steps away? Are Mac, iPhone and iPod users the type of people that would switch sides? I don't think they are. Apple fans seem to be a loyally hardcore group. Can Microsoft compete with the amount of items in an Apple Store? Will consumers want to shop in a store full of software that they can get just about anywhere else? A portable gaming system, cell phone and Microsoft built PC's would certainly help. But those don't exist as of yet. What will draw in these consumers? It will be very interesting to see Microsoft's overall plan of action once these stores are open.
What do you think about all this? Please let me know in the comments.
For those not aware of how awesome thing building is, it's probably the most famous building in British Columbia. That's my opinion of course, there are obviously other grand architecture on display through downtown and in Victoria, but the library in downtown Vancouver? It's definitely special. And a lot of film producer's think so as well. I think the last time I saw this library in a move was Arnold Schwarzengger's movie "The 6th Day". Although I am sure it has been in others.
The trailer itself looks amazing. I kept trying to figure out how they were going to finish off this movie without the ultra-talented Ledger, and I have my answer. There was talk that Johnny Depp, Colin Farrel and Jude Law were going to somehow fill his shoes for the finalization of the film and well.. it looks like that's exactly what happened. I wasn't too sure about this film in the beginning, but after watching this trailer, I am totally stoked to see this film!
Oh and for you Vancouverites out there, part of the film was filmed in Gastown as well. So make sure to check it out!
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus comes out October 16, 2009.
Friday, August 7, 2009
This is what gamers have been waiting for! This is what they meant when they said: Next Gen. Truly next gen. These screens from Siggraph 2009 showing off id Tech 5's impressive engine shows just how real the unreal can be. What makes me more impressed with these shots is the actual environments (similar to environments I have tried to model and sculpt in ZBrush myself) and the lighting are just so perfectly pleasing to the eyes, it's like visual candy heroin. If that makes sense at all. What I am really trying to say is, let's fricken' Rage!!
I was going through this PDF from Siggraph and was hoping to explain some of the "jargon" to you but this is so far over my artistically-minded brain, there is just no point. I'll provide a link so you can check it out but it's far and away programmers techy-geek speak, which is hard for me to follow. (Hard for a lot of people I'm sure) My mind just doesn't work that way and well, this engine is definitely the most advanced I have seen in my opinion, more so than Unreal 3 (which I am not a big fan of). There are probably few people that even understand what id Software Senior Programmer JMP van Waveren explains here, but it's still cool to look at and try to figure out, how the hell did they do this?
As an aspiring Environment Artist, this is some great inspiration for me and others interested in the same career path and that's my main reason for posting this today. So very much impressed with these shots and the way id Software goes about their Virtual Texturing pipeline. If you don't get impressed by this, you probably don't get impressed by anything.
id Tech 5 Challenges: From Texture Virtualization to Massive Parallelization
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is set to release today. I don't know what it is about TMNT, but every game, every movie that comes out.. I must buy or see! Whether it's bad or not, it's the nostalgia that really matters most to me. I love the memories.
There were a few cartoons in my early childhood that I was obsessed with. It probably started out with He-Man and GI JOE. ThunderCats definitely got me to sit in front of the tele for endless hours, and maybe even Rainbow Brite. Wait! Uhhh... I didn't say that. I meant to say Rambo. Yeah, that's what I said. Rambo! But when the Ninja Turtles and my boy Michelangelo came around.. that was it. That was me. I was the pizza loving, humorous ninja dude himself, Michelangelo. Obsession took over.. until Beavis and Butthead came along of course, but that's another article for another day.
I'm sure most of us can look back and remember which ninja turtle we compared ourselves with. I still remember my best friend was Donatello, and I remember acting out our ninja turtle antics along with our endless amount of action figures and even the Turtle Blimp itself. Good times my friends.. good times indeed.
What Ninja Turtle were you growing up? What childhood memories do you have of TMNT?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Was the Wii just a fad whose popularity has come and gone? If so, it was a lot faster than anyone expected. When the Wii first came out, personally, I was not that excited about it. Then I got a chance to play it. I admit I found Wii Sports to be quite entertaining. But only when played with a bunch of friends. Playing by yourself? Not so much. The motion control system was very creative and worked like a charm (However charms work). But I kept thinking to myself, what else is there? What else can Nintendo do to stop me from saying: This is just a gimmick.
They can stop me from saying that by making more quality titles to utilize their motion control technology of course! To some extent, they did. But was it enough? Were these games fun? Funner than Wii Sports at least? In my opinion, no. Not at all. Especially the third party titles.
Being a huge fan of the original Mario Kart growing up, then playing it again on the DS (which was an absolute blast), I finally gave in and got Mario Kart for the Wii to play with my little nephew during his summer break. I thought it would be fun to relive some of the great Mario Kart memories and make new ones. Unfortunately, I only played it once with the Wii's motion controls and never played it again. In fact, I've put it up for sale on Glyde.com in order to get some of that money back to put towards Wii Sports Resort instead. (Wii Sports seems to be the only games worthy of the motion controls) For me, playing the Mario Kart on Wii would have been a better experience if I used the D-pad controller most experienced gamers are so used to.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said recently in this Wired.com article:
“Consistently, big time titles will be released in the marketplace for this hardware,” he said. “When that stops, to reinvigorate the console, or to put it another way, I think the current decline in hardware sales is due to the fact that there aren’t many big titles (at the moment).”
I am not about to argue with Mr. Iwata here, but I do think there are bigger issues with the Nintendo Wii that is the direct result of the drastic drop in sales, other than the lack of big titles. And no, we can't blame the economy for everything.
For one, I think the whole motion control frenzy of the Wii, has lost its luster. The gimmick is wearing off and it shows with the newest hyped up title for the Wii, 'The Conduit'. Wasn't that game supposed to bring the FPS genre to the hardcore Wii gamers? The hype was definitely there. But it seems The Conduit didn't sell as much as it should have, even with decent reviews. Why is that? It was a big title, right? So was it due to the motion controls? Are gamers over it already? If so, should Microsoft and Sony re-think their future motion control ventures?
Many gamers are used to using the D-pad controllers and aren't all caught up in the motion control craze the game industry has just begun getting into. If Nintendo increases it's processing power of its console, brings back the awesome Mario platform games of the past and truly creates a next generation entertainment system without the gimmicky motion controls, I can see it being more successful. Indeed, it can be argued that the Wii is already a success. It blew the competition out of the water for many months. But for how much longer? Sales are hurting now and Nintendo is finally feeling the pain. And ask yourself this question. Ask your friends as well. Are you playing the Wii as much as you used to? I am not.
My last point about the Wii is this, and it's probably the most important for me. The Wii can be fun to play... sometimes. But it's not a console that I like to play by myself. The Wii is at its greatest when played with a bunch of friends and/or family. And how often do you get the chance to do that? More often than having the opportunity to play it by yourself? Probably not. If you have Wii parties all the time, then I assume you are happy with your Nintendo Wii investment. For other gamers like myself, who do not have 3 or more people to play with at any given time, the Wii just can't compare to an Xbox 360 or PS3 entertainment investment. Besides, can we really afford all these Wii injuries?
So what is it? Why is Nintendo hurting so bad right now with sales? Is it the lack of big name titles? Or are gamers getting over the initial buzz of the Wii motion control controls?
Please express your opinion, as I have done in this article, in the comment section.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I want to touch base on a topic I have discussed in the past concerning videogames and their release dates. Specifically, the amount of videogames that are released at the end of the year, just in time for the holiday rush. I read an article recently published on GOONL!NE, by Jonathan Cullen, and is titled "Congratulations, Activision, You've scared Everyone Off." I found this article and Jonathan's theory quite interesting. Interesting enough to post a comment, reluctantly in defense of Activision. Don't get me wrong, the people talking about Activision as if they are turning into the EA of old, have a point. I agree with them to a certain extent but not regarding their Q4 2009 game releases. To blame Activision for making Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 one of the most wanted games of the year, and in turn scaring off other publishers from releasing their games around the same time is just not a theory I choose to believe. One game scaring off more than half the competition into 2010? C'mon! There are gamers out there who do play other games besides Call of Duty, y'know?
First off, all a publisher needs to do is look at the saturation of game releases of Q4 in 2008. (You can read my gripe about this in a post I wrote back in February titled "Too many games, not enough time.") There were a lot of games released last year during a short period of time. A lot of excellent quality games. A couple of the good ones that didn't get as much attention as it should have at the time, came from EA. Dead Space and Mirror's Edge. They didn't really sell as much as they had hoped. All publishers have to do is look back at 2008, and learn from EA with concern to their release dates. I think that's what a lot of them are doing. It's not necessarily all Activision's fault for "scaring everyone off," but more of a learning experience from years prior by all who plan to release their games into a sea of established titles. Not just Modern Warfare 2. EA has publicly discussed their release date mistakes in the past with GamesIndustry.biz: "EA: We've learned out lesson on release dates" and it's about time others learned from them.
Here is the comment I posted on Jonathan's article:
"More games getting pushed into 2010 the better in my opinion. Last year during the holiday was ridiculous with the amount of games released. Even if these delayed games were released holiday 09 as planned, we still wouldn’t get a chance to play them until 2010 anyway. We would be busy playing ODST, Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted 2 etc. So many games, not enough time to play them."
"I’m not a huge fan of Activision, but to blame them for making one hell of a game and marketing it properly, just doesn’t make sense. It’s a smart business decision for other publishers to delay most of their triple A games ’til 2010, Warfare 2 or not."
"I agree, Activision has become the EA of old though."Jonathan made some other arguments to back up his theory, regarding the MW2 price increase in the U.K. but I won't touch on that topic. He makes some decent points. Especially after hearing Activision is suing Double Fine to stop Brutal Legend from being released. Indeed, Activision needs to be careful they don't alienate the huge fan base they have created over the years with Call of Duty, and the Guitar Hero franchises. Don't get greedy now guys! But to imply that the reason the game industry is seeing a large amount of games being delayed into Q1 2010, (except for Halo 3: ODST, Assassin's Creed II, Forza 3, Uncharted 2 and others), is specifically due to Activision's must have title releasing at the same time, just doesn't make sense to me. Indeed, publishers probably did take into account the mass popularity of MW2, but there has got to be other factors involved.
Publishers are changing tactics and I think they are looking at 2008 as a prime example. We, as gamers, should not expect the holiday season to be saturated with all these "must have titles" like it has been the case in years past. The economy has changed, publishers and developers have changed and well.. in the end, they're running a business. So I think it's a smart move on their part to delay their games, and spread out the release dates more evenly throughout the year. Whether Modern Warfare is released during Q4 of 2009 or not. But imagine this... imagine having 1 to 3 "must have titles" coming out each month throughout the year. How cool would that be? I'd much rather have that then for all of the big name games to be released in the same quarter. I just don't have enough time to play them all. I can't speak for you though, maybe you do?
Besides what I've written above, if Jonathan's opinion is true, Activision's Modern Warfare 2 is scaring everyone off into 2010, what does that say about those games being delayed? Doesn't look like the developers and publishers are too confident in their games. Maybe the delay is a good thing? Lots of people get Christmas money and they'll need to spend it on something right? I don't know about you, but after spending money on gifts for my family and friends, the last thing I have is more money to buy games for myself before Christmas. I think it's a smart move on the publishers part to delay some of these games until after Christmas. Spreading them throughout the year ever more would be the best case scenario. If it's a good quality game, I will buy it no matter what time of year.
What say you? I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments.
I know I don't post a lot of Nintendo related articles and video's, and I guess that's because I no longer have my DS. However, since getting my hands on the Wii more often than ever before, I felt it was necessary to talk more about the awesome world of Nintendo, and specifically Mario & Luigi. I still love Nintendo and I mean, who doesn't really? Although Nintendo is struggling with sales now, the Wii in my opinion isn't all that great of a console and I'm still a die-hard Xbox 360 fan, there is just something about Mario & Luigi that just feels right. Like the new Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for the Nintendo DS.
For all I care, Nintendo could make Mario & Luigi games and nothing else, and I would still buy and play their products. In fact, those are the only games I like for Nintendo anyway. The games with the famous plumbers always feels more polished than other games. I don't know what it is. Maybe Super Mario Bros. nostalgia that just keeps coming back every time another game is developed with those two characters. I'm not sure they will ever die. Will never get old. Y'know what I mean? I just wish I could say the same about Sonic the Hedgehog. Sorry Sonic, you're old. And I think you may have died a long time ago. *sigh* Oh well, like I said, there will always be Mario & Luigi.