Gameinsight Weekend Short-Takes: 8/10/12

Whoa! What’s this all about? It’s the first in our new series: the Weekend Short-takes. So what is that? It’s a round-up of a couple interesting news articles from throughout the week, and we’ll apply a bit of our insight into them.

We started this in response to a number of Com-cast listeners who would send us private emails asking about our take on a story they just read. Also, it’s far easier to type up a comment when the prompt is in front of you, rather than when a podcast is playing while you’re, say, driving. (But keep those podcast comments and emails coming!)

Since we are branching out, calling it part of the Com-cast didn’t quite work. So we came up with a new name that includes this, the podcast, and any future endeavors: gameinsight, since that’s kind of what we do here.

Finally, help support us! Our website (wggcomcast.blogspot.com), which right now kind of just serves to aggregate a feed for iTunes, got approved for Google Ads. Now, Google strictly forbids us from encouraging you to click on those ads. So we’re informing you strictly factually that performing certain actions on this website will generate pecuniary remunerations which might completely coincidentally compensate for the creation of a new website for us.

Thanks for sticking with us so far with the podcast, and we can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this new idea!

PS: Don’t forget that you too can contribute here, as a community member already has! Email us ahead of time, and we’ll see what we can do.

Assassin’s Creed III getting episodic DLC?

Simon:
Looks like someone heard about Spartan Ops in Halo 4, it seems. However, what we will need to see later, and what might make it different from Halo, is that the article appears to suggest that it will be paid DLC, not free. This pass model is something that’s growing in popularity, a small subset of the even bigger subscription model so far only implemented by Activision for CoD. Since this is the end of the AC trilogy, it looks like this dedicated add-on team is going to be what handles everything regarding the franchise from here on.

John Fenix:
As someone who is a fan of the Assassin's Creed series, I am excited. Still, I am not a fan of some of these "Season Pass" models that have become so popular in games recently. While not the debilitating passes such as in Battlefield 3 that prevents anyone without a code to access the Multiplayer, this Elite-style access does sit with me much better because price doesn't bug me. The problem comes from denying players access to exclusive maps, storylines, and traits. It's why I like the Halo series so much, because, for the most part, the series made sure that everyone can get access to the same matches and one would have a level playing field, gameplay wise, when it comes to weapons and vehicles; even you had Armor Lock or a Jetpack.

Alex:
Assassin’s Creed is a great Franchise, and, as loathe as I am to see the end of this fantastic series fast approaching I have nothing but respect for Ubisoft if they keep their promise and end the series after Assassin’s Creed 3. As great as the series is and as much as I want more running, jumping, climbing (to steal a line from Eddie Izzard) action out of some Assassin somewhere in history, I would rather the series go out with a fantastic climactic end, one it deserves, than see it plod along and turn into a yearly release cycle of mediocre content, grinding the series into the dust. By instead ending the series on a high Ubisoft would build goodwill and trusts with their fans, something seriously lacking in recent days been fans and game developers. Yet, to try and cash in on this golden cow just a little bit more they will apparently release paid DLC. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with this. If it is a few more missions, maybe some post finale content that adds to the game without depriving the player of a solid experience by its absence, then I think it is all well and good, a perfect way to tide over my Ubisoft crowd mechanics appetite at least until Watchdogs hits the shelves.

Windows 8 built-in games now called Xbox Windows, Microsoft's naming synergy continues

Simon:
We’ve been calling this for some time now, but these are the nitty-gritty details laid out for us. As John so succinctly laid out in his tweet: Minesweeper. Has. Achievements. But beyond the old classics, hopefully we’ll be seeing a more comprehensive effort than Games for Windows Live as far as Achievements and Live inclusion goes. Perhaps in the Games Hub you could use your PC’s mic and speakers to join an Xbox Live party and chat with your friends busy in Halo while you’re stuck with Solitaire at work. Or even better, video chat with Kinect using another Microsoft product: Skype.

John Fenix:
I can just see all the productive hours that will be lost now to Solitaire and Minesweeper.

Alex:
This is a topic that we already speculated on, but it’s nice to see some of the things we say get proven right. Microsoft relies on an old favorite in the Xbox name in their launching of this new gaming collectivization in Windows 8. Hopefully the new service is able to live up to the good name Xbox has developed over its more than a decade of existence as a brand, properly integrating gaming, achievements, social connection, etc. on the PC in the same way it has for the console.

Valve reportedly preparing second-generation Source engine, kinda explains the Episode Three delay

Simon:
Talk about a loaded rumor. Engadget sarcastic headline aside, you can only wonder how this fits into the rumors of a new Valve console (with or without Apple). Also, it will be interesting to see how Valve’s newly found disappointment with Windows 8 and equally recent enthusiasm for Linux factors into the new engine. But the biggest question of all remains: Can Valve in fact count past 3?

John Fenix:
I am afraid I have not dived deep into Valve's wacky world beyond the fantastic world of Portal; however, I agree with the article with the timing of the near end of this console generation, it would not be surprising to see it debut. As for the last part of the article, I would bet more on the Cubs winning the World Series in the next five years.

Alex:
I agree with Simon in that this is a little bit of an extrapolation, but oh, oh how wonderful it will be if it is true. The timing could potentially fit right into preparing launch games for a new generation of consoles and, as Simon and the article say, this would give a strong case for a new Half-Life game to be released, showcasing the new engine in all its glory. However, before just assessing Valve’s abilities with preschool tasks, as Simon’s big question seems to be, I am more curious about what a new source engine means as a whole for gaming. When we consider all the amazing games that have come out of the source engine (Half Life 2 obviously, both Portals, L4D, etc.) it makes me giddy to think what may be coming next.

Day Z Becoming A Standalone Game

Simon:
Big, big, stuff. And how quickly has the rise been. It’s also following the now increasingly popular Minecraft model (which I’ve found even cross-applied to books these days). Moreover, since it’ll be standalone, it can have an engine (and an inventory system) that is optimally customized for the game, so probably even more realistic and somehow if they can make it kill you faster, you can probably bet it will.

John Fenix:
As a friend of mine from college once told me, Team Fortress was a mod in the '90's game Quake (where some of the first groups to creating movies in video games, or machinima, were created), until the team was hired by Valve and created the hugely-popular Team Fortress 2. In this era of Kickstarter and Crowd-sourcing projects, this comes as no surprise. With opportunity to now clean things up, especially the inventory system, who knows, I may just buy this game.

Alex:
I’ve been a fan of DayZ for a few months now, seen a couple of its iterations and how thing have changed over time. Throughout all of that I have loved it (though when they took away your starting pistol I was slightly miffed, mostly cause it meant I was even more fucked more of the time) yet it was still very clear to me that as good as it was, as refined as the mechanics and setup of the game were, it was still very much a mod. From the roundabout way of logging into the servers, to the terrible frustrating inventory setup, it was quite clear that this was a brilliant idea slightly confined by the space within which it operated. This little bit of news gives me great hope, hope that we will see many things stay the same with only a few key though vital changes, such as a new inventory system, an easier ability to distinguish which buildings are enterable, better matchmaking, etc. As much as Rocket has done to make DayZ what it is today, these tasks look to be well within his grasp and I look forward to these standalone DayZ with great anticipation.

Graphics 'indistinguishable from reality' in 10 years - Star Wars dev

Simon:
Well, we already know that Arthur C. Clarke has told us that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So I guess it’s fitting then that ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) has told us this. Certainly the graphics from Crysis and Watchdogs looks quite incredible, and we’ll see what it looks like 10 years from now, but my main concern comes from the uncanny valley. Something that’s close to human, very close, but just slightly off-putting. I wonder what happens when we hit that, and how long it takes to get past it. Because it will be disturbing to play a 60 hour RPG with a character that is very realistic, but a bit too far on the side of Stepford Wives.

John Fenix:
Little history lesson, kids: There was a Final Fantasy movie that was related to any of the games. It also starred Alec Baldwin. The 2001 film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was technological achievement at the time, most notable being the lead, a "virtual actress" called Aki Ross. The model was created to be one of the most human-looking models ever created, even today, it still pretty impressive. She was planned to be used in multiple films, some not FF-related. Once again, the "uncanny valley" (and a lackluster box office return) killed that possibility. Flash-forward 11 years, and the Real time tech demo Square Enix showed at E3 shows that idea has shifted back to its video game roots. While that demo was absolutely gorgeous, they are teetering near the rim. So, we should keep our eyes open. As for the note on emotion, movies have shown us time and again that are other ways to show emotions besides through the face.

Alex:
Simon and I have recently been doing a legendary run through of Halo: CE anniversary, as I believe we mentioned on the podcast. During it I had a lot of fun just switching back and forth between the original graphics and the “HD” graphics of the Reach engine. The difference was startling, as the difference between the two was “only” Ten years yet the difference in the visuals seemed so much more. To me this process will not only continue, as we get better and better graphics more quickly. As far as the comments by Kim Libreri go, when it comes to graphics and visual developments, there are few higher authorities than ILM, so when a visual effects supervisor speaks on the matter, I’m bound to listen, and when he says that we will have graphics indistinguishable from real life in ten years’ time, I’m certain to consider this as a definite possibility. Hopefully they can use this as the boss of 2K boss wants, because making game characters more emotive will only increase a game’s immersive qualities.

Scumbagb3n's picture

Much faster than digging through pages to find info on games coming out this year.

Minesweeper will have achievements? Holy shit!

Great post with interesting discussion, keep it coming :)

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