Marvel/Square-Enix Project Speculation (Industry Talk)

What’s that, you want two weeks late speculation? I gotcha covered. Sorry about the lateness, but I had personal problems come up this last week, but I just wanted to get this out there, since I’m obviously a big superhero fan.

Marvel and Square-Enix are partnering up for a number of video game projects, and the first thing “announced”, if you could call it that, is something Avengers-related, marketed with the hashtag #Reassemble, developed by Crystal Dynamics, the developers of the most-recent Tomb Raider reboot games, and Eidos Montreal, developers of the new Deus Ex and Thief games. The brief video features the destroyed or abandoned equipment of the Avengers, well the MCU-relevant ones, and a woman (who I’m guessing is Maria Hill, even if she sounds more like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Hill and less like Cobie Smulders) narrating about a lack of heroes, and the need to reassemble.

Marvel are billing the game as the beginning of “a universe gamers can play in for years to come.” So it’s either the beginning of a Marvel video game universe (the MVGU? Yeah… doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) or maybe an MMO. IGN theorises that is could be set in the MCU, but I really doubt that. But the MMO idea seems sort-of likely, given the need for “more heroes”, and it reminds me of the premise for DC Universe Online. Personally, I’m all for an MMO. I like the idea of creating your own superhero in an already familiar universe and interacting with all — except maybe not the X-Men and Fantastic Four, because license bullshit — of your favourite superheroes and villains. However, given that Square-Enix is the publisher and is still supporting Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, it would be strange of them to release a  competing MMO (as if that would actually be a contest; Marvel MMO wins, hands down).

I think the more likely answer is that the game features an original universe where the Avengers are already well-known, but have disbanded, and your original character will put the team back together for whatever reason. Superhero games are usually aimed at a much more mainstream or casual audience, so I expect the game to be a sandbox, akin to the more recent Spider-Man games, which feature a plethora of guest characters. Though if it is indeed a sandbox game, it kind of lends credence to my theory that the PS4 Spider-Man game is indeed basically a tie-in to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Though sandbox games aren’t exactly meant to be releases that are hugely supported post-launch, so maybe the Avengers project will just be released in 2018, to avoid having to battle Spider-Man while also tying into the release of the Infinity War movies.

The other option I’m thinking of is that the game is more like X-Men: Destiny, and is linear but features choices you can make (at least I think you could make choices in that game?) regarding who you work with. With the Avengers being central and the general lack of compelling or interesting Marvel villains that the mainstream casual gamer is aware of, I doubt you will be siding with villains. Maybe you just pick what Avengers to work with, and maybe a mentor for your new character. Actually, just typing that out brought back memories of Infamous, and I guess your original character could be like Delsin Rowe in Infamous: Second Son and just be a discount Rogue, which would work well with the different Avengers while not feeling too restrictive in the character creation aspect.

Anyway, those are the types of games I think will be the first game to come out of this partnership. Maybe I’m wrong and we’ll get something more varied; Crystal Dynamics has been messing with stealth just that bit more, and Eidos Montreal is definitely experienced in that regard, so maybe you play as Hawkeye or Black Widow and you’re reassembling the Avengers or something. Whatever the game turns out to be, with the pedigree of both Square-Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal, as well as my general love of superhero comics and superhero video games, I’m excited to hear more.

Side note: Please put the game on PC, Square-Enix. Just… please do it. And don’t make the port crap. You usually don’t, and your PC ports are actually pretty good, but don’t slip because you think the license will let you get away with it. Arkham Knight showed that’s just not the case. It feels bad that I even felt it necessary to mention this.

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RIP Good Game, the Show Made by Gamers for Gamers… And Everyone Else as Well (Industry Talk)

On January 31st, it was officially announced that Australia’s longest running video game TV show, ABC’s Good Game, was cancelled. Their show targeted at younger viewers, Good Game: Spawn Point, will be continuing with Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell and new host Angharad “Rad” Yeo. Meanwhile,  Kotaku is confirming that exiting Good Game hosts Nich “Nichboy” Richardson and Stephanie “Hex” Bendixsen will be starting a new video game related show on Channel 7, and hopefully this new show is just as good as Good Game was.

While I had largely stopped watching Good Game, I was a big fan of their internet content, namely Good Game Pocket, and it’s sad that a mainstream video game show that ran for 10 years is ending. While Spawn Point will continue under a new brand and format, due to its channel it just can’t approach gaming like Good Game and Pocket could. So here’s four paragraphs of me lamenting the show’s loss; a show that made gaming just that little bit more mainstream in Australia, embraced its status as an Australian show, and approached gaming with maturity.

Good Game provided mainstream audiences with easy access to video game culture. And its expansion with Good Game Pocket, which birthed an amazing community, showed that it was adaptable to modern trends while remaining accessible. Good Game was a gaming show that was truly made by gamers for gamers, but was still able to bring average people into the medium and subculture. There were reviews and previews, but there were also history pieces, and segments that delved into issues such as hacking. Good Game was approachable, but didn’t talk down to you. It was fun, but still credible. It embraced gamer culture without wallowing in it. Good Game, like its catchphrase said, was a game by gamers for gamers — but it accepted everyone.

Beyond just being a good gaming show, Good Game was a good Australian gaming show. It promoted Australian video game development, something that is already difficult and often overlooked. But Good Game showcased these games and their creators anyway. Good Game approached gaming as Australians and gave us insight into Australian gaming issues and history, while also just representing Australian developers and promoting software development in Australia. Good game was unique in how it embraced being an Australian video games show.

But what made Good Game truly standout was its maturity. Good Game treated gaming as an adult hobby when it was still seen as childish. With video games as prominent as they are, being the biggest entertainment industry in the world, it’s important that there was a show that brought a degree of credibility to the hobby, at least for Australians. While Spawn Point will undoubtedly continue to entertain and help bring people into gaming, its channel and target demographic severely limit what it can do and how it presents gaming. It was never a replacement for Good Game — and indeed it never could be; it was a companion piece. Good Game approached gaming with an adult mindset. It discussed relevant issues such as gender representation, LGBTQI representation, industry trends and even foreign politics. Spawn Point can’t do this, because Spawn Point‘s entire reason for existing is to be targeted at children (there’s even a hilariously cringe-worthy robot!). But Good Game could and did. In a world where SVU demonises gamer culture, that’s important. Good Game helped elevate gaming just that little bit by saying, “hey, it’s not “just a game”.”

The cancellation of Good Game was short-sighted. Gaming is one of, if not the biggest entertainment industry in the world. And Good Game approached gamer culture with an adult mindset and exposed others to it. I hope the new gaming show by Nich and Hex does everything Good Game did and more. Because the audience for a mature gaming show is there. And if you build a show relevant to them, if you build a show that doesn’t talk down to them, if you build a show that discusses relevant issues and is allowed to do so, they will come. Up until now, they’ve had a little show called Good Game. Let’s hope whatever follows can stack up.

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Industry Talk – Video Games, Their Constant Evolution, Their Critique and What Separates Them from Other Media

YouTuber Nerd Cubed received an e-mail from Australian indie developer ODD Games last week that just… astounds me with its sheer stupidity, but also made me realise that some people just plain don’t understand how video game reviews work (or at least pretend not to), and made me want to clear up what separates video games from other art forms.

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Why exactly did it take ODD Games a year to send that email?

Continue reading “Industry Talk – Video Games, Their Constant Evolution, Their Critique and What Separates Them from Other Media”

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Corporate Greed — Industry Talk

So the trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare came out last week, and the general consensus (and my that, I mean over one million dislikes) seems to be that the game looks crap. It seems to mainly be the futuristic setting. I’m not a CoD player at all, so I couldn’t care less. My contribution to that is that I think the name is hilarious. No, what I’m here to talk about is the other thing people hate about the trailer, which is linked to how much people seem to not like Infinite Warfare — you have to buy a collector’s edition of Infinite Warfare to get a remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. You can’t get it anywhere else. Yes, really. Continue reading “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Corporate Greed — Industry Talk”

Target Australia Are Saving Our Children!

Target Australia have decided to replace the covers for R18+ games with plain covers. They’re free to do what they want, but I gotta say, this is embarrassing. It’s so over-the-top that it just feels like a parody of itself. Guys, what does this really do? If the game was R18+, kids shouldn’t have been able to buy it anyway, at least if people were doing their jobs.

I guess it makes the games look unappealing, but I for one don’t know anyone who impulse buys a game. I mean, ones that aren’t on sale an incredibly cheap. Generally, console gamers know what games are coming out and when, or at least look up reviews and the like for things they aren’t looking forward to enough to buy Day 1. So… huh. I guess those really young kids would be dissuaded by this, but you shouldn’t have been selling it to them to begin with! Unless their parent bought it for them, in which case parent better!

Whatever, I’m sure it’s because we need to “think of the children.” This doesn’t really affect much, and really, who goes to Target for games? Years from now, we’ll look back at this and laugh, like any time this sort of thing happens. But it’s just sad that gaming still cops a double-standard, and is still treated like it’s for children. Maybe I should go to a Target and replace the cover of every copy of Fifty Shades of Grey with paper! Hey, it’s just about the children, right? I’m a freakin’ hero!

The Shanghai Major and eSports Professionalism

For those who don’t know, caster James “2GD” Harding was fired from the Shanghai Major for unprofessionalism, with Gabe Newell himself calling Harding “an ass”. Now, there’s a whole load of controversy around who was right and who was wrong in the whole affair, but I’m firmly in the camp that both parties should have been more professional. eSports is still young, and really, I hope we can all learn from this. eSports is always seen as a bit more casual than other sports, and that seems to be what 2GD was best at. Of course, he brought his more relaxed style to the Shanghai Major… Which is a pretty dumb move.

I get it, eSports casting is very casual as opposed to other sports casting. But really, should it be? Don’t we want eSports to be recognised as a legitimate sport by everyone? You can still have your guy casting in his dorm room in boxer shorts, but when it’s a big tournament, shouldn’t it be more formal? Like every other sport? Maybe it’s just me, but I want more formal eSports casting in the big leagues. I want eSports to have a professionalism to it at higher levels. I want my casters to not tell racist jokes about their masturbation habits.

Why Hitman’s Episodic Release Worries Me

Square-Enix recently announced that Hitman will be releasing in instalments over 2016, and the general reaction seems to be outrage that the iconic franchise is now being delivered in a format usually reserved for lower budget, story-based titles. Some have decreed that Square-Enix is just hopping on the bandwagon of episodic releases after their successful first attempt with Life Is Strange. But I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with this release method, or any reason why an episodic Hitman title can’t work… if done right. But it doesn’t seem like that’s the case here, and I can absolutely see why people are upset. It just doesn’t seem like Square-Enix are considering what an episodic release entails. Continue reading “Why Hitman’s Episodic Release Worries Me”