Weekend Short-Takes: 5/17/13

Watch Dogs developers consult with internet security firm for more realistic hacking

Simon Wu:
This is a good development. The audience of this game is most likely going to be pretty knowledgeable about these things, and making sure that the hacking doesn’t fall into Hollywood levels of ridiculous and nonsensical is pretty darn important for a game whose entire premise is based on the action. There is no limit to the amount of stupid hacking in movies and TV,  and it’s pretty much become a joke at this point. This isn’t the first time developers have consulted with experts; Sledgehammer worked closely with Navy SEALs for MW3, and Treyarch brought in heavyweights such as Oliver North. It should be simple and straightforward; flashy and intricate might make trailers pop, but definitely won’t cut it if you’re using it for the 15 thousandth time and have to play the same minigame.

Max Gruber:
I really love the commitment and dedication Ubisoft has on making this as realistically appealing as possible. Funny thing about all this: I learned about the HackerTyper site from the Natural Double D20s broadcast, and it’s so absurd and deplorable, yet so amazingly hilarious that I really wanted to see how the hacking would work out in a game like Watch_Dogs, where hacking is the entire premise. And it isn’t just going as far as how hacking is done; it’s also what you can hack, which is really amazing. Combine that with the touted—and potentially groundbreaking—multiplayer experience, and we have a contender for Game of the Year, or even Game of the Decade.

Jonathan Tung:
I like how they’re attempting to at least make their hacking look realistic, despite the fact that it’s next to impossible to ACTUALLY control an entire city using your own smartphone. Regardless, I might look into playing this game, perhaps after a few months of playing GTA V, which is probably NEVER.

Alex Miller:
As hilariously terrible as video game hacking has been for basically forever, a new way of doing things will probably be welcomed by most. I like the idea of mixing a little bit of reality with my fiction since it makes the fiction so much more real. However, real as this future Chicago may be I still have my concerns about the streamlined nature of the process. The one nice thing about a minigame is that it takes place in its own little world. If I am having to hack and shoot and run all at once, while potentially more realistic, this might make for a rather clumsy experience. Hopefully those fears are unfounded and they have found a way to make everything flow together nicely. If so, strap in everyone cause it sounds like one heck of a ride.
joystiq.com
 

Gran Turismo 6 Unveiled, Out This Holiday on PS3

Simon Wu:
GT5 was marred by an unfortunate blemish as I believe our reader and commenter OmegaZero pointed out in an email for a podcast some time ago: at launch, many of the menus pointed you to content that was still in development as DLC or even worse, on disc DLC that had to be bought to be unlocked. In addition, it’s interesting that the PS4 was not mentioned in this article at all, and has only been a suggestion so far. Of course, the announcement could simply drop at E3, but this game would be perfect on the PS4 for two reasons. The first is to showcase the graphics capabilities of the new console, which racing simulators do very well, and the second is to demonstrate a real application of the new share and stream functions built into the PS4.

Jonathan Tung:
I’m going into this game slightly concerned, especially since I was mildly disappointed with the last iteration, especially when compared to the much-superior Forza 4 on Xbox 360. Here’s hoping GT6 comes with something that is desperately needed in the franchise: a livery editor.

Alex Miller:
I also think its interesting that the Playstation 4 was never mentioned. On the official Gran Turismo site it mentions the launch of both mobile and web based versions of the game to be released at the same time as the main game, yet no mention of any other console releases. This suggests that the lack of mentions for the Playstation 4 might be less than accidental. One thing about the Playstation this generation is that it has had consistently better graphics, a trend I’m sure Sony hope to continue into the next generation. A game like Gran Turismo is a perfect way to show off all that fancy processing power under the hood, yet Gran Turismo famously takes a long time to develop and with the most recent version having been released just three years ago, I wonder if this game will be more than just a refresh of the last one with a few more tracks and cars while they work on the next showing for the new console. I hope this isn’t the case, but the lack of mention of the Playstation 4 leaves me wondering.


 

Google Announces Play games services, Android's cross-platform answer to Game Center

Simon Wu:
The name of Google’s game is fragmentation. There’s simply no way around it. I was at the movies yesterday and I saw someone using a phone that was running Android 2.3. For reference, we’re on 4.2 now, and rumors of 5 aren’t far off. Of course, it’s this complete shotgun and laissez-faire approach that has now allowed them to swallow a gargantuan portion of the smartphone market, nearly 79% as of this most recent quarter. Because of that, their app ecosystem is a gigantic pit of malware and random apps that don’t do much more than inflate the overall total. That’s why the app number game is a red herring; most people only download the top several dozen apps they find, and curation, support, and consistency around those top titles is essential for a good experience.

Jonathan Tung:
The fact that Google is actively pursuing a Game Center-like environment this late in the generation shows how inept they are at keeping up with the times, unlike Apple of course. Still, I like the presentation of the new service, and despite the fact that I do not own an Android device of any kind (since my dad seems to hog all the new tech), I still might look into this, especially if Play is compatible with Ouya and the NVIDIA Shield.

Alex Miller:
It is interesting that google is trying to institute a type of cross-platform given the nature of their own OS. As Simon said, two phones running Android can be vastly different to the point of being almost unrecognizable as being the same thing. But this is how Google likes it, spread out to cater to as many people (and budgets) as possible. Yet now they are trying to unify not only their own system but others as well. Ambitious move by Google, though I’m not sure it will amount to much more than the Android version of Game Center. Achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer, check check check and phone the rest in. But who knows.


theverge.com
 

DICE to open new studio in LA to focus on Star Wars titles

Simon Wu:
That didn’t take long. EA is definitely looking forward to getting their money’s worth out of the Star Wars partnership. It’s been said about a thousand times and a half already, but this is another possible step towards the now messianic Battlefront 3. It’s worth noting that EA most recently posted a lackluster quarter and fired over 900 employees to try and cut costs, in addition to closing several studios. So the fact that they are now opening up a brand new studio that is solely devoted to one thing is pretty big, and they expect big things. The only part left in this equation is seeing if they deliver big things.

Max Gruber:
No surprise that EA would create a separate studio for DICE to develop Star Wars titles, since Battlefield is their biggest cash cow among all of EA’s other IPs. Given what we know about this partnership with Disney, and EA’s steller and picturesque reputation for completely treadmilling franchises into the ground, this is more than likely going to be yet another devious plot by the malevolent and conniving mastermind EA to destroy one more franchise for the sake of squeezing as much money out of it as possible. I think this is just EA continuing to spite and condemn their pitiful reputation with their customers, and it’s even worse that they’re doing the same thing for the Star Wars fans now.

Alex Miller:
This is certainly a big deal, but for more than just the obvious reasons. Like I said last week, I look forward to a DICE made Star Wars game. The fact that they seem to be jumping to the task is all the better. Also, its always great to hear about new jobs, especially when EA recently cut so many as Simon pointed out. However, the fact that this new Studio is located in Southern California, on the figurative doorstep of its main Battlefield rivals Infinity Ward and Treyarch, suggests that DICE might be trying to hurt their competition while simultaneously adding talent to their Studio. The core of this new office is supposedly made up of developers who worked on the Medal of Honor games, who I am sure will be looking to redeem themselves after the poor ratings their previous efforts got.

Jonathan Tung:
Not going to say much, but here’s an addition: seems the studio will also have some social and/or mobile duties.


nerdreactor.com
 

EA kills its controversial Online Pass program

Simon Wu:
Another DRM strategy bites the dust.

Max Gruber:
It may be a first step on the long road to recovery for EA, but there are still a lot of inconvenient and blatant problems that still have to be addressed. Firstly, they have to stop with the whole Day 1 DLC scam. It didn’t work with Mass Effect 3, it doesn’t work with any game in general, and it certainly won’t win back your customers if they intend on playing the game for a very long time after the fact. Second, they have to make sure that they have some faith—and some pride—in actually developing a game that doesn’t seem rushed straight from the get go. They were originally planning on having Mass Effect 3 released a year after ME2 came out. That has to stop. Third, shutdown Origin. Plain and simple. No one uses it, and it’s crushed by Steam on so many levels.

Jonathan Tung:
With the Online Pass now reduced to nothing more than a terrible memory, this could perhaps be a sign that Electronic Arts might be turning around in order to appeal to their many customers who gave up on their products. However, I am quite worried that EA would replace this system with something even worse, such as Always-online DRM, which, last I checked, didn’t go over too well with some people (actually, it didn’t go well with just about EVERYONE ALTOGETHER). While the rest of the gaming community cheers that one more evil in gaming is now extinct, we all now have to focus on getting rid of the rest, be it pre-order Day-1 DLC or Season Passes for content that may or may not improve the player experience. Now if only EA shut down Origin and put their titles back up on Steam...

Alex Miller:
This is certainly good news for gamers everywhere, especially those who like to borrow or buy games used. The one time use code was incredibly annoying and I for one and happy to see it go. I genuinely think this is EA trying to correct itself. While obviously it still has a long way to go, and being a corporation it obviously won’t do everything exactly how we the consumer want it, this step is a good start. Hopefully Jonathan’s fear of an even greater terror are unfounded, and with the backlash they got from Simcity I have a hard time seeing them instituting as draconian a DRM policy as that anytime soon. Its clear they still have a very long way to go, but hopefully we are seeing the beginning of EA’s turnaround.

gameinformer.com
 

darthskeletor's picture

I'm so glad the Online Pass idea is scrapped; and I'm starting to think it might be because of the next Xbox's potential anti-used game hardware. With that, EA might feel like their games are then secure and they are the ones back in the driver's seat of pricing. So in this good news, there may yet be ominous portents. We'll see on the 21st.

disgruntledavians's picture

Hacking minigames have frequently been some of the most unrealistic and immersion breaking experiences in video games, whether it's memory connect the dots in Mass Effect or pipe dream in Bioshock. Having a legitimately realistic hacking scheme be at the heart of Watchdgos is a positive step, and it shows in my mind Ubisoft's commitment to realistic gameplay and research ahead of time to show that they know what they're doing. Despite the erosion of substance in Assassin's Creed, you can't fault their historical accuracy and research.

Solifluktion's picture

Hacking Minigames suckt...at least making them more realistic might at least justify their existence.

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