Tuesday, June 16, 2009

E3 Games I Forgot To List

Wow, there were a couple omissions of games on that E3 list I threw together that I wanted to mention. No idea how I just missed mentioning these games, but I'm a little ashamed, I'll admit!

Mass Effect 2 - I really enjoyed the story and feel of the original Mass Effect. The cookie-cutter secondary missions I could have lived without. Mass Effect did a good job at times at making me consider what type of player I was trying to be and make choices wisely. The combat was decent, but not great. If they can fix that stuff, and keep the great epic feel (and get rid of the atrocious load-time elevators) the game will be a big win. It's "Looking Good".

The Last Guardian - Fumito Ueda is quickly becoming one of the best game director's in the business. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are two of the most beautiful, emotionally impactful, and fun games I've ever played. The Last Guardian looks to keep it up, with the same feeling of isolation and probable redemption. I've still never cried while playing a game, but I feel like this game could do me in with its beautiful looking gryphon-like creature. This is an absolute, must-have game. I don't know how I left this game off the original list - it is literally the game I am probably looking forward too the most.

No More Heroes 2 - This game was amazingly subversive on the Wii and I enjoyed it a great deal, for the most part. I loved the style, the humor, the commentary on games and America's fascination on Japanese culture. I did not enjoy the poorly implemented sandbox elements of the game, however. I've read some interpretations as that being part of the subversion of the game, standing the genre on its head and making people take a look at it - but the game was genuinely poor at these moments, so I think maybe the message was either overstated or a poor choice if that's the case. In any event, I think No More Heroes 2 will be fantastic and it's definitely also "Looking Good".

I think those were my only major omissions. Not sure how I feel about Splinter Cell: Conviction yet - though it does have potential.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

E3 Is The Place To Be

Two weeks ago, E3 returned (with a vengeance) after two years of being a much smaller and more intimate event (or, as many dubbed it, "teh suck"). I didn't attend the expo itself (In fact, I've never been to E3), but as I'm sure all of you did, I followed coverage of E3 all over the place. I just wanted to throw together some thoughts on things I'm excited about or surprised me at E3 that I am looking forward to (and some things I'm not looking forward to).

Surprises
Project Natal - Possibly the biggest news that came out of E3 was Microsoft's full-body motion sensor Project Natal. The possibilities for this thing are huge! I had heard rumors about Microsoft doing a motion controller, but I never imagined it would be something this ambitious. At the same time, the developer in me is not excited to use this as a platform to make games on... yet. I need to see and try it with my own hands before I can become super excited about this product.

Tales of Monkey Island - Yes! Yes! Yes! Monkey Island is one of the greatest adventure series of all time, and having Telltale work on new episodic games in the series is really exciting. I had no idea anyone was considering re-launching the Monkey Island series, so this came out of left field. Thank you LucasArts and Telltale!

Metroid: Other M - I expected another Metroid game, but not from Team Ninja at Tecmo. I wondered what they would do next with Tomonobu Itagaki leaving the company after Ninja Gaiden 2. The game looks very cool. Confession time: I haven't played a single Metroid Prime game, but I plan on it when the re-releases hit Wii later this year.

Must-Have Games
Modern Warfare 2 - Yeah, Infinity Ward is pretty much the king of FPS games. The climbing the ice wall, the snowmobile section, the explosions, the custom animations and unique breaks in combat. Sign me up. Game is so awesome looking, no wonder it doesn't need the Call of Duty franchise tag on it.

God of War III - The massive scale, Kratos looking like even more of a bad-ass than before, the over-the-top violence. There's not much not to love about this game. Really crazy how the series has had three different Creative Directors and seemed to keep the same feel and core gameplay that make it special.

BrĂ¼tal Legend - I heart Tim Schafer and Double Fine. Could this game look any cooler? Awesome visual style, looks to be hilarious, tons of metal. I want this game now.

Alan Wake - This game has been on vaporware lists for a while now, but it really blew the socks off me. I love the concept and creep factor that it seems to have. Using light as a signficant weapon and part of the game is interesting and puts a slight twist on the horror genre. It looks to be worth the long wait.

Wolfenstein - Yeah that's right, I'm whoring myself out. August 4th people - pick it up for the 360, PS3, or PC. Nazis, Particle Cannons, occult, sci-fi, upgrade systems, tons of gameplay. Pretty much guaranteed to be the best game of 2009 (named Wolfenstein).

Looking Good
BioShock 2 - Not sure about the multiplayer side, but the single player looks to be right on-track for what I expect (and really I don't want BioShock for multiplayer anyway). I like the idea of being the original Big Daddy. Wish I saw more coverage and new stuff from the single player portion of the game, but I either missed the coverage or there wasn't much new shown that wasn't multiplayer.

Scribblenauts - This may be the game that actually forces me to get a DS. It pretty much lets you input any word and drops it into the world. The possibilities are endless and I love the cute style and look of it.

Assassin's Creed 2 - For all of its flaws (repetition, weak combat system, poor assassination system), I really enjoyed the first Assassin's Creed game. This game looks like it's fixing a lot of the core problems that existed and may fully realize the potential of the game. I love the new setting and the fact that your character is apparently friends with DaVinci in the game, who builds you gadgets like the flying machine. Awesome.

Mafia II - Before GTA3 hit, there was Mafia and it really did a lot for the open-world genre. The original Mafia is one of the most memorable games I have ever played (At least on PC - ignore the poor console ports of the game). The sequel looks like it's updating everything into a time-period that is really interesting when you start talking about organized crime.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Classic 2D with co-op. Sold! Way more interesting than Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - I need to actually play the original (only played the demo, but I enjoyed it). This game got huge buzz at the show and looks very cool and stylish. Really like the variety of locations it looks like you play in. Naughty Dog has really shown they get how to do more mature stories, which is surprising if you only knew them from their Jax & Daxter and Crash Bandicoot days.

Cautiously Optimistic
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine - Relic has done a fantastic job with the RTS genre, and the idea for a 3rd person action game in the Warhammer universe is great. A little concerned that they won't live up to expectations, but I'm keeping an eye out.

Aliens vs. Predator - Rebellion is back at the helm, which could be a good or bad thing (They haven't done anything spectacular since their did AvP a number of years ago). Still, I like where they are going with it and I think it has got a shot of being a really fun game. Hopefully this time you can save the game more than 3 times.

Heavy Rain - This game is starting to look like a Dragon's Lair QTE fest. I think there is more to the game than that, but I'm starting to become skeptical. The storytelling, acting, and narrative look to be top-notch. Hopefully the gameplay matches all the hype that the story has been getting.

Let-Downs

PSP Go - Yawn. Expensive, no touchscreen... not a surprising move, but it doesn't excite me at all (and I own a PSP).

Halo: Reach - Mostly just because I tire of game announcements that tease and show nothing. We all knew Bungie wasn't done with Halo after ODST. Good for the hardcore fans of the series, but I just want more when you deliver "earth-shattering" news like this.

No Console Price Cuts - I suppose I should expect price-cuts in August, but part of me thought Sony may try to get an early start and price-cut now. Guess not.

No Shows
Blizzard - I didn't see anything on Diablo 3 or Starcraft 2. Surprising that Blizzard just skipped the event all together, but maybe they are saving everything for their own con. Still skeptical on if Starcraft 2 comes out this year.

Beyond Good & Evil 2 - The teaser from a while back got me really excited and I was hoping to get some more on this game. Instead I get nothing. Sigh - come on UbiSoft don't you know some of us are crazy to know the details of this game?

Half-Life 2: Episode 3 - It's been said a million times, but it bears repeating. These are not episodes.

Anyway that's enough random commentary on games. What games did I miss on this list that got you excited (or really let you down)?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Designing Ethical Dilemmas - Slides and Audio Available

Update: The audio should be all fixed up on the slides - sorry for any inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any issues with the presentation. Here is a download of the slides directly too if anyone is interested.

Well, I'm back from the conference (Actually, I never left since the conference was in Madison, but I'm back mentally). My talk at GLS 5.0 went very well, I thought. The talk was on "Designing Ethical Dilemmas" and I've embedded the slides below as well as included synced up audio so you can listen and get the full experience of the talk (The slides are idiotic out-of-context, and probably just plain stupid in-context).

The talk is about 6 minutes and 40 seconds (20 slides for 20 seconds each) and is fast paced. I've also uploaded my notes I used for the talk if you prefer to read those notes instead of listen to me speak. The actual talk starts with the second slide, as the first slide is just a title slide.

I have to apologize for the sub-standard audio quality - the only microphone I own is attached to a rather crappy Logitech headset I use for gaming, so the quality isn't all that fantastic. The conference will also be making their video and audio of me speaking available in the near future.

Next, I'm going to work on expanding this talk to be about 20 minutes for the Madison Chapter IGDA Meeting next month. So, if you have comments or criticisms concerning this talk, please let me know. I obviously want to improve and start expanding upon the ideas that I included and I welcome any input.

Thanks to everyone at GLS and everyone who showed up.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quick Update - Twitter, GLS, E3 and Release Dates

Haven't updated in a while so I wanted to throw a few quick notes out. First, I've joined the Twitter revolution, so those of you who are on Twitter please feel free to follow me @manveerheir. I'm going to try to keep the vast majority of my tweets to do with video gaming in some way. For those of you not on Twitter, why aren't you?

Second, I'm giving a talk on Designing Ethical Dilemmas at GLS 5.0 tomorrow. It's a fast-paced 6 minute 40 second Pecha Kucha style presentation. It's my first full game design talk and I'm really excited to be giving it. If everything goes well, I'll get a version of the talk up online. I'm also going to be expanding the talk a little and giving it at the Madison Chapter IGDA Meeting next month.

Third, I have some thoughts on E3 that I'm going to throw your way in the next couple days so stay tuned. You should hopefully start seeing a lot more blog posting from me very soon in general (I feel like I said that before). Why?

That brings me to my fourth and final point. Wolfenstein has an announced release date of August 4th, 2009. I'm really excited to let you play the game I've been working on the past four years with the guys and gals at Raven. We're finishing everything up now and soon it'll be in your hands for you to enjoy and criticize. Obviously, Wolfenstein is what's been taking up most my time lately, so almost being done is going to free up a lot of time.