Weekend Short-Takes: 8/8/14

Mass Effect lead Casey Hudson leaves BioWare

 

Max Gruber: 

This caught me totally off guard. I didn't even expect him to leave so suddenly like this, but it does make you wonder if the negative reception of Mass Effect 3 influenced his decision to leave. On one hand, it is possible he left to escape from the slave pits of EA and move on to something that he can control without having to swallow every order from the higher ups—something EA has been known to do for a very long time. But on the other hand, perhaps he genuinely left to do something new, like what happened with Bungie's Joseph Staten. Whatever title he's working on is obviously going to be very ambitious, but we won't know of anything until that time comes. 

Jackson Sinnenberg: 

I am not buying the "peaceful and amicable" split that BioWare and Hudson are trying to push. I do have my distrust of project leads leaving BioWare, due to Drew Karpyshyn leaving so he wouldn't have to deal with EA, so I am biased. BUT, I do wonder whether there is a similar influence at work here. Perhaps EA was prying or changing things a bit too much for Hudson to handle and - as Mr. Gruber points out above - he did not want to receive waves of [butthurt] fan wrath if Mass Effect 4 goes belly up as well. It is a shame that only a few years ago BioWare was one of the more visionary developers in the gaming world, now it's just becoming an anemic mess. 

Alex Miller: 

When I first heard the news of Mr. Hudson's departure, I must say I was shocked. The man has been one of the main faces of BioWare and has been in charge of making some of the best stories told in games. If such a figure were to leave, the natural point might be after the completion of the Mass Effect series, his greatest creation to date and one of the premier series in gaming. Finishing such a project is an obvious endpoint, and on top of that the negativity thrown his way by fans and journalists alike could easily have made that chapter the final one. But it wasn't. He hung around, setting up the basis for the new direction Mass Effect will take before randomly leaving. I feel like, as many of my colleagues believe, had he become fed up with EA's meddling then the time to have left would have been at the end of Mass Effect 3. His departure now, instead of then, leaves me wondering if the 16 year gaming vet doesn't just need some time away from the highly stressful process of making games. 

gamesindustry.biz

Google makes changes to Twitch.tv

 

Simon Wu: 

First, I have returned from my four week hiatus as I have returned to the land of being able to access everything on the internet. And in regards to the article, everyone knew that this was coming when the acquisition was first announced. One might say that this is essentially the price of being successful in the tech industry. Cool, open start-ups will invariably get snatched up by the much larger (and more evil, admit it) corporations. The most direct change I can imagine is for John when he streams, because he always has a stream of popular music going. Yes, he will be able to stream it just fine, but when it gets posted up to view later, the entire video will be muted. We need to see two things: firstly, what other restrictions they decide to impose, and second, how this gets implemented. Will Google have learned how from YouTube, or are we going to see an outpouring of hate from false positives? 

Max Gruber: 

One of the biggest and arguably the most controversial of these changes has been the content ID of music. While we can argue about this all day, it's understandable from a business perspective: Google doesn't want to be sued up the butt for copyrighted material on a service they own, and neither does the uploader of said content. But we all have to remember what happened late last year with the content ID massacre, where hundreds of millions of videos were being taken down because of one little fuck up in the system. It is possible that Twitch fully understands this and will know when reports are being abused. 

Alex Miller: 

Hopefully, as the others have said, Twitch can learn from YouTube's mistakes. The 30 minute blocks, where one violation renders a half hour of content muted, seems somewhat draconian to me though I understand it has more to do with millions of videos having to be monitored and not some spiteful vendetta against viewers. The tricky bit comes, beyond how the system is implemented, when we introduce gaming music, or music in games. As the post mentions, "This includes in-game and ambient music". What happens if I'm streaming GTA V to my many fans and want to listen to the radio as I drive to my next mission. Or if the radio is on when I get in a car and before I can even turn it off a little bit of Radio Gaga plays (what a song) and thus renders 30 minutes of my stream mute for my poor fans who weren't able to watch it live. There seems to be a lot of grey area here, and that is concerning.

techraptor.net

Activision Blizzard leans heavily on digital

 

Jackson Sinnenberg: 

It is not surprising at all for Activison to shift their focus on digital downloading and digital sales. E3 only showed that more and more of the hardware developers - i.e., Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo - are integrating digital stores and purchasing methods into their systems. We saw this with the anticipated rise in game rentals and the new rental system that Microsoft is pushing for the One. Furthermore, since most of Blizzard's titles are PC based, the ease of digital purchasing on the PC would be a much more efficient and lucrative system. As a last note, our culture is only becoming increasingly digital as both electronic media (Video Games, Television, etc.) and print (Books, magazines) gain further digital-based ground. And honestly, who wants to walk into a store to buy the new World of Warcraft expansion? 

Alex Miller: 

I have to say this makes me pretty happy. While admittedly a large portion of revenue is coming from Blizzard's two mega PC titles, WoW and Diablo III, the fact that Digital sales are up on consoles as well is something to smile about. I'm a huge fan of the convenience of digital downloads (when they work) and increased revenue from them means an increased focus and from there a better system for digital sales to take advantage of the market. With such a big player involved, I hope this helps push the digital market to the next level. 

Two Naughty Dog leads jump to Infinity Ward

 

Simon Wu: 

I read this not so much as "Infinity Ward gets two more talented people", but rather, as "Naughty Dog loses yet another two important team members." The exodus from Naughty Dog has been truly amazing to witness. Here are just a few of the key team members they've lost: Uncharted's director, Last of Us' lead character artist, creative director, and art director. To my knowledge, they haven't brought anyone in, or at the very least, if they have, they are being extremely secretive about it. But taking this news story on the whole: Infinity Ward doesn't need help. They're doing just fine, sharing the Call of Duty burden with two entire other studios. Naughty Dog, on the other hand, needs a great deal of creative help, because the brain drain will be hitting hard soon, if not already. 

Jackson Sinnenberg: 

So does this mean that the next Call of Duty game Infinity Ward puts out will star Nathan Drake? Kidding aside, hopefully Minkoff and Kurosaki can bring some of Naughty Dog's inventiveness and storytelling to the at times lackluster productions of Infinity Ward. These two could bring a lot to the table of their new team, beyond trying to improve the Call of Duty series. As creators of story-driven games, it will be interesting to see what new directions they lead the studio - maybe even leading them away from the franchises they're used to developing. On the other hand, my heart goes out to Naughty Dog for losing two of their best team members; hopefully they can survive the loss.  

itfgaming.com

Solifluktion's picture

Sic transit gloria Bioware. I guess it was to be expected after everyone else had already left Bioware.

Still.... I was kinda hoping for my favorite gamestudio to survive.

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