Monday, June 4, 2012

In The News: It's the most, wonderful, time of year...

E3 is upon us once again, and it's ways a fascinating time of one-up announcements, absurd claims and bad press presentation. While the main event hasn't even kicked off yet, Konami has already shown of a bunch of stuff, along with Nintendo's first hardware showing of the Wii U from their Nintendo Direct video. And, within the next 48 hours, everyone's going to go through their conference too! So, let's get a quick rundown of what has passed.

While I maintain that this blog is all about a "game designer's" look into how things are, it's always fun to indulge into the gamer view of the industry.  Frankly, I find it absurd for any game designer who don't look the next few days and be in a giddy, excited mood.

First thing first though, GTTV did a pre-e3 show with a few random announcements right before Konami's showing, and I feel like I want to ask for my money back.  Star Wars 1313 is basically a sign of "oh we like the Star Wars license, but let's make a shooter, with nothing that uses the Star Wars license"; Dishonored looked interesting, but I can't shake the feeling of Bioshock away from that game (and jumping into October as a non-traditional FPS game seems to be asking for problems); Unchar Tomb Raider looks good, and I still want the first half of what they showed, but the second half seems to be clips spliced out of Uncharted: the QTE scenes, the dramatic set-pieces (running away from breaking up plane = running away from runaway truck), cover and shooting mechanics.  I hate the idea that the Tomb Raider -> Uncharted -> Tomb Raider circle is actually complete.

As for Konami's showing: Sadly, after the disaster of 2010, Konami no longer does a live conference. In it's place is a pre-recorded video of just as questionable quality.  Sure, they went through the typical list of a diverse third party publisher (like claiming their Social space, PES), but really, most people were tuning in for Metal Gear Rising and Castlevania 2.  Both game looks interesting, but it's really interesting to observe that at least from what is shown, both games are taking more from their relative cousins than their core brand (Rising seems distinctly feeling like Bayonetta 2, also developed by Platinum games; Castlevania seems to inherit the one vs many style game that Konami dabbled in with Ninety-Nine Nights).

Nintendo, on the other hand, surprised us with a randomly announced last minute presentation.  Their claim was that it's a hardware announcement to get things out of the way for software announcements for third party (and themselves).  On the actual hardware front, nothing really groundbreaking was announced outside of a slightly modified Wii U Gamepad, the ability to turn on the TV/Cable directly from the gamepad, the Skype like video functionality, and a "Pro Controller" (I'm not even going to indulge in the whole "it's the 360 controller thing", not worth my time)

What's actually exciting for them is the announcement of their integrated network, Miiverse, and how much it's going to connect to other systems and games.  The idea of a competent online infrastructure from Nintendo is already foreign, but the announced ideas and features takes it in a different direction from Microsoft and Sony's current implementation, and it'll be interesting to see how developers will take advantage of it: A game that lets me set scores and challenges, and live feed these new results to all my friends?  This isn't new, a few games are doing it now (EA's SSX and NFS are the ones that pop into my head), but the fact that this kind of feature will now be native to the system means that we should see more ideas and more chances of this kind of idea happening.


Up in the next 24 hours: MS, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony.  This should be fun.

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