Monthly Archives: February 2014

Persona 5 Teaser Trailer – Freedom isn’t free, but you don’t have to pay the price of new gen

“Freedom ain’t free, fellas.”

I see a spiky-haired teen with a bandana, his arms folded, a pistol in his hand, uttering those words between chews of tobacco.  I don’t know if they chew in Japan, but that’s the first image that comes to mind when watching the Persona 5 teaser trailer.

5 school chairs, each with a ball & chain, then a whole classroom of chairs.  That’s the main image of the 60s retro trailer from Atlus.  It’s an excellent teaser in that it doesn’t show you much but says quite a bit.  Just the chairs, some credits.  The message is loud and simple: school is a prison.  The education system is prison.  The teachers are guards.  You will be brainwashed.  You must fight this oppression of the mind.  Okay, maybe I’m going a little too far, but it conjures up a lot of questions, which teaser are supposed to do.

Another implication: freedom from the bondage of capitalistic marketing and profiteering.  The game is out in 2015 on PS3.  That’s over a year after the launch of PS4.  They also launched Persona 4 on PS2 two years after the launch of PS3.  Say no to the corporate machine that tells you to buy, buy, buy and keep up with the Jones’s!  Yes, I’m stretching it.  But that’s what teasers are for….  Can’t wait!

The Old City vs Goat Simulator: Existence Precedes Gameplay

Does a goat ever wonder, “What is the meaning of life?”

Gaming is exciting these days.  Not only is there the new tech of new gen, and the reimagining of old titles, but there’s the increasing role of independent developers such as Coffee Stain Studios and PostMod Softworks.  The latter’s game, “The Old City,” is a philosophical proof-of-concept that attempts to challenge assumptions about what a game is.  Coffee Stain Studios’s “Goat Simulator” is a “small, broken and stupid game” about all the fun to be had as a goat.  Two completely different games that are also very similar.

Like Dear Esther, The Old City is a walk, explore and talk-to-yourself game that dabbles in existentialism.  The player chooses the path through the city, and each path sparks a new voice.  Monologues reveal a piece of the “truth” every time the game is played and guide the player a little closer to enlightenment.  According to the game’s site, information is “not presented to you in a linear and digestible format,” and the objective of the game is essentially “to understand.”  In other words, much of the gameplay happens inside your noggin, and if you’re not as smart as I suppose the developers are, then you lose.


The Old City – Trailer – Indie DB

Goat Simulator does indeed look like the stupid game that it says it is.  It’s $9.99 but the site advises players to spend it elsewhere.  I’ll take Coffee Stain’s word for it and won’t stretch it.  It is what it is, but…is it?  I can’t stop wondering how this game came to existence…so I’m delving into existentialist themes, right?  Just the idea is absurd.  A goat!  And simple, but possibly complex.  Samuel Beckett has said his existentialist play, “Waiting for Godot,” is a simple ridiculous play.  But college students are still reading it is because it is open to interpretation.  It’s got layers.

Does Goat Simulator have layers?  Probably not.  It’s a game about a goat, after all.  But it does make me question what a “game” is…more so than The Old City, which is starting to reek of the dreaded P-word in art and elsewhere: pretension.

Nevertheless, I’m very excited with the work of both Coffee Stain Studios and PostMod Softworks.  The fact alone that these games are in existence is challenging the status quo.  Yes, I want to believe that even a garbage-eating goat can change the world (or at least the gaming industry).

Top Ten Animal Simulation Video Game Ideas

Ever wanted to be a goat? Now you can! For just $9.99 – say again, $9.99 – that’s under $10, folks! You can be a goat and do some very cool things like disrupting frat parties! You don’t believe me? Check out Goat Simulator.

Say, you don’t want to be a goat, but a wolf that eats the goat? Go to WolfQuest and be a wolf! For free!

“If you could be any animal, what would you be”? Chicks dig this ice-breaker at parties. Try it, and then ask them, “If you could play any animal simulation, what would you play”? Chicks will dig this discussion even more. And if they ask, what’s out there besides goat and wolf, then say you have no clue, but here are some ideas you might enjoy. Do it and you’ll go home with her for sure.

10) SPIDER: Spin the ultimate web and wait for yummies. Or be a jumping spider and jump out from nowhere (boo – got you!). Or best of all, be a black widow and eat your spouse!

9) CHIMPANZEE: All-you-can-eat salad bar. Hunt monkeys. Hang out with Jane Goodall (she’s a hottie, even now!).

8) SQUIRREL (CITY): Harass, steal, destroy things. Weave between cars and annoy drivers. It’s like Grand Theft Auto with cute furry tails.

7) BEAVER: Cut down trees, and design and make dams. Avoid trappers and hunters. Flood farmlands, damage roads and tick off humans any way you can.

6) SLOTH: The art of moving slow. Enjoy life for what it is. Seek jungle nirvana.

5) BAT: Blind and in the dark. See only in sound. Hunt bugs by sonar. That’s a killer experience.

4) EAGLE: Fly high, check out the awesome landscape, death from above.

3) DRAGON: Hoard gold, kill knights, pillage castles, kidnap princesses. Now, that’s the high life.

2) WHALE: Explore the deep oceans. Avoid the Russians and Japanese whalers. Be a killer or a docile plankton-eater. Love man or turn over their ships. Jump up and down, send balls through hoops, and then extract revenge on those who exploit your athleticism for profit. (I’m referring to SeaWorld, not the NCAA.)

1) ANT: To be an ant would make the best simulation ever. Especially, a warring species or a slaver ant that ruthlessly abducts babies and makes slaves of them, at the risk of a slave insurrection later on. Part of the game will be warfare. But most of it will be exploration. Oh, to wander the scorching deserts or thick forests for hours and hours, and then to be rewarded with a half-eaten jelly sandwich! Call the buddies! Call them now to loot the spoils of our labor before we are discovered by the evil giant gods who burn us with acid rain!

Wolfenstein: The New Order Gameplay Trailer – Ain’t your Grandpa’s Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein is old.  Three generations old.  The first developer was a baby boomer.  It goes back to the beginning of gaming.  One of the first stealth games, and then the first FPS.  So what keeps the series so popular?  One word: Nazis.  Lots and lots of Nazis to blast away, blow up, chain-saw in half, and stab in the mouth with a kabar.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Check out the Wolfenstein: The New Order Gameplay Trailer.

As if there aren’t already enough reasons to hate them Nazis – for example, Auschwitz alone – the trailer delivers several more reasons to hate them even more.  They’re killing patients in a hospital, they’re doing weird human experiments again, and they blow up the symbol of American power: Mount Rushmore.

It’s the 1960s in bizarro America where the Nazis have taken over.  BJ is back to lead the resistance against those crazy Nazis, which of course includes our favorite crazy Nazi, General Deathshead, and a crazy middle-aged sadist named Frau Engel who reminds me of the crazy henchwoman from Austin Powers who I believe had a one-night stand with Dr. Evil.

The Nazis, in addition to being the evil haters we have come to love to hate over the past 30 years, also are technologically super-advanced.  They’ve got huge robotic walking things.  More fun to blow-up and mangle.  This ain’t your grandpa’s Wolfenstein.  More crazy, more fun, more Wolfenstein please!

WildStar DevSpeak: Adventures – The Coffee Must Flow

Replayability is the main sell in Carbine Studios’s Wildstar DevSpeak. A new mode, “Adventures”, lets players make new of already-visited places. The three-minute video shows five-player simulations in various games including MOBA-like action, tower defenses, and my favorite, caravan escort.

There’s nothing more important than keeping supply lines open so that rich merchants get richer, and the peasants employed. How else would we get coffee at Starbucks at less than $2? The coffee farmer gets that penny per cup and is able to provide his family with one full meal a day. Imagine if wild creatures or pirates attacked our coffee caravans? What would happen to the price of coffee? What would happen to that farmer and his twelve kids? Starbucks would go out of business! Where the heck am I going to write my blog? If Wildstar’s caravans are delivering coffee, I’ll be the first to preorder so I can proudly defend them lines.

Back to the DevSpeak: different actions result in different outcomes and a mission can be completed in various ways. For example, there are multiple routes to choose from in the caravan escort campaigns. I can’t help but to wonder if there are different types of coffee depending on the route taken. For example, the southern route protects Arabica, and the northern, Robusta. Will the Starbuck’s caravan be attacked by Coffee Bean’s?

“Adventures” looks like it will definitely add to the replayable factor though I’m sure there will be one or two strategies for each game that will dominate others. The game looks cool overall and I’m sure I’ll be chugging a ton of joe playing it late night. So keep them coffee lines open!

The Order: 1886 Trailer – Victorian Eye Candy or Black Lung?

Little boys scrubbing chimneys is the first thing that comes to mind when Victorian England is mentioned.  And then Sherlock Holmes.  And then the Zulu massacring the best of the British Empire.  Not really King Arthur and the Round Table as in The Order: 1886, but it is an intriguing concept and the game looks Dickens-hot!  Check out the trailers below.

It’s bizarro London where an order of knights protects society from bloodthirsty mutants that crawl on walls and jump out of the dark and kill people.  Crazy fun.

What also is interesting is that it’s another game at 2.40:1 1920×800.  Black lines at the top and bottom, more horizontal plane, less vertical.  I actually have not played a game like this, but my theory is that it really doesn’t make a difference.  Perhaps more on the peripheral?  More cinematic?  More artistic?  I’m in the camp that believes games at 720p and up are pretty much the same and your eyes really don’t care if the candy is a little sweeter.  1080p is a gimmick to sell more, and make new gen feel more like new gen.  That’s it.

Having said that, some movies are not worth the high admission price unless it’s 3D (e.g. Avatar, Gravity).  But at the end of the day, a good movie beats a gimmicky average movie any day.  And a good game will be a good game regardless of aspect ratio or resolution.  So does The Order: 1886 need the gimmick?  Well, if the game’s alternate universe doesn’t include little kids getting black lung, then it’s good enough for me.

StarCrawlers on KickStarter – Freelancing in Procedural Space

Freelancers are commonplace in 2014 and becoming more and more the norm as the Millennials flood the labor market.  So no doubt mercenaries will be prevalent several hundred years from now or whenever Juggernaut Games’s StarCrawlers takes place.  The game is in development and currently passing the hat on Kickstarter (currently at $27K of $65K goal with 24 days remaining).

The game is about a group of Crawlers, freelancers hired to do questionable jobs.  These are guys you won’t find on Elance, but in the dark corners of a city’s armpit or at the sleaziest bars on galactic mining planets.  The basic concept is to assemble a team, each member with his/her own unique skill, and get the job done, survive and get paid.  I’m sure there are some twists here and there, but it’s not a concept that’s completely original.  Jagged Alliance and the original Fallout are the first games that come to mind, especially since StarCrawlers has a similar RPG battle play.  Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven, Ocean’s Eleven, et al, in movies.

starcrawlers_01

I’m most curious about the procedural element.  The levels are procedurally generated based on the story and game you’ve decided to play.  This could result in very interesting replayability or changing boring.  In a game like No Man’s Sky, procedurally-generated planets seem extremely intriguing.  Even if a planet turns out to have nothing of value, there’s still the thrill of exploring it.  Procedurally-generated dungeons and levels couldn’t offer more than a new trap or a different placement of a door, right?  There’s no exploration factor, just a different same….

I hope StarCrawlers hits its goal on Kickstarter because I hope procedural games are as prevalent in the future as freelancers are now.

starcrawlers_03

starcrawlers_02

World of Speed Announcement Trailer – Free to Race, but Pay for Speed?

A racing game has to be an online multi-player.  Competitors all over the world vying for a cup, that’s the way it has to be.  Everything about World of Speed looks amazing.  The announcement trailer shows sleek graphics, not only the rides but the scenery as well.  It’s also free-to-play, which raises concerns about pay-to-win.  At the end of the race, who will be drinking the champagne?  The guys with the most disposable income?  The developers say it’s not pay-to-win but pay-to-speed-things-up: not only your car, but your progress.  Which means, a cheapie like me will spend several weeks with a clunker before giving in or giving up.  Probably the latter.

Instead of microtransactions and upgrade purchases, do it like the real deal.  Sell tourney entrance fees or subscription and reward prize money.  Sell and place ads on the cars.  Broadcast the races on Twitch and elsewhere.  Make celebrities of the best drivers.  Racing games aren’t FPSs or MMORPGs.  It’ll get boring.  It’ll get repetitive.  So disrupt the FTP model, and then disrupt it again.

Velocity 2X Trailer – Keep Moving, Keep Blasting

I need a crazy, wild, old-school arcade-style, top-down, side-up-down scrolling, madness of a game.  I need some high-octane velocity and Velocity 2X looks like it will hit that fix.  The gameplay video for FuturLab’s PS4/Vita exclusive is out and its fast-paced action includes two modes of play: teleporting spaceship and on-foot as cy-blondie Kai Tana.  It’s a combination shooter and puzzle game, requiring fast thumbs and a fast brain.  There’s a ton of ammunition and many wonderful things to obliterate into oblivion.  Check it out!