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First Annual GameHuddle Tournament and Lan Party Extravaganza
Thursday, April 4th 2013 at 6-10:30pm
1712 E Carson St
Sign of the Times: Square Enix President Yoichi Wada Resigns
Square Enix President and Representative Director, Yoichi Wada, announced today, March 26, that he will resign after being presented with the company’s revised financial forecast.
Yosuke Matsuda, who joined Square Enix in 2001, will replace Wada in June when his resignation is expected to take effect. Wada joined Square in April of 2000 and became chief executive officer in December of that same year. After the merger of Square with Enix, Wada took the helm of president and representative director of the new company and additionally was in charge of the Taito and Eidos Interactive takeovers.
Much like the recent resignation of Electronic Arts’ CEO, Wada’s decision to step down shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The company’s latest financial revision states that Square Enix’s actual business results “fall below its plan primarily due to slow sales of major console game titles in North American and European markets” and that they “expect to incur extraordinary loss in the settlement of the accounts for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.”
That loss is indeed quite drastic, as original predictions expected a net income loss of ¥3.5 billion are now projected to be closer to ¥13 billion. Those slow console sales are directly referencing the poor performance of Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider, and Hitman: Absolution, despite their positive critical response. All three titles failed to meet their expected sales targets upon release and in the subsequent months. In addition to their slow console sales, it appears that Square Enix is also struggling with its arcade machine business.
Trophies: Playstation's Treasure Cove Expanding
Every gamer loves the feeling of grinding through every mission, finding every collectible, and finally completing a new game. Sony found a way to make it even more fulfilling in the form of a familiar little ping of unlocking a shiny new trophy for a gamer’s collection.
Trophies have been a huge success for PlayStation and add extended life to a game. Gamers can delve deeper into that $60 purchase and explore every aspect of a game in their hunt for that elusive Platinum.
Sony has recently filed for a patent on a formula that would allow them to add trophies into all of their older titles from the PS One and PS2. This breathes new life into a library of thousands of games. Gamers now have new reason to revisit their favorite titles from the past two generations.
Titles from the early launch of the PS3 that do not have trophy support could benefit from this update. Gamers can grow their trophy collection by playing a game they have been putting off. Plus, imagine the amount of vintage titles getting a fresh coat of attention due to trophies; a gift that keeps on giving with this patent.
There is no timetable for when this patent could be passed and it’s possible this won’t kick in until the PS4 hits this winter. Offering an updated game library could be the swing vote in the battle of which console to purchase as Sony tries to convert Xbox supporters to the PS side.
Regardless when the update comes; Sony is appealing to the hardcore gamer with this move and quelling fears that the next generation could focus too much on casual gaming. Sony keeps raising the bar and showing that the PlayStation is still a force to be reckoned with.
FTL: Enjoyable Jaunt Through Space
As a kid, I always wanted to scream, “Full power to shields!” I dreamt of a crew scuttling about following my commands as I hailed my opponent to demand his surrender. But that’s when I was watching too much Star Trek. As most of you know, there is no chance I’ll ever be a starship captain.
FTL: Faster Than Light, an indie hybrid RTS/RPG from Justin Ma and Matthew Davis at Subset Games, tries hard to fulfill this dream. Inspired by the rogue-like RPGs of the late ‘70s, a long lost genre famed for its difficulty and level randomization, FTL follows a spaceship racing against time. Chased by a rebel fleet, the player must decide the path to the home fleet while avoiding enemy capture.
The core gameplay mechanic in FTL centers on ship-to-ship combat. The player’s ship is a grid-based series of rooms. Each room has some sort of system in it, be it shields, weapons, engines or life support. The player decides how to assign his or her finite number of crewmembers to each system; if the system is manned, the ship receives a buff. Likewise, the ship’s generator can only allocate a fixed set of power, which the player must decide how to distribute to the various ship systems.
The ship’s weapons are also modular. Different weapon systems have different strengths and weaknesses, and the proper combination of weapons can prove deadly to your enemies.
Combat in FTL is fast-paced and strategic....http://gamehuddle.com/blog.aspx?b=52
Far Cry 3 and the Thematic Landscape of Sandbox Games
For the first twenty percent of Far Cry 3, the game seems like an above-average sandbox shooter, fun and exciting without bringing anything new to the table. But suddenly, with no warning, the game did something special, surprising, and maybe even important.
Far Cry 3 casts the player as Jason Brody, a young, rich American tourist, who is kidnapped along with his friends while vacationing in the tropical paradise Rook Island. After the initial escape mission, Far Cry 3 mostly consists of slowly learning to be a killer in order to rescue his friends. Brody kills animals and skins them to make crafts. He kills pirates, he kills slavers, he kills paramilitary. These kills give him experience, with which he can tattoo onto his arm, giving him fun new ways to kill people. For the first few hours, Far Cry 3 is one of the most satisfying sandbox games of its generation, offering constant distraction. The killing is fast and bloody, whether Jason’s sneaking up on people and stabbing them through the heart, or setting entire encampments, and everyone in them, on fire. The kills get increasingly more fun.
There’s nothing quite as rewarding as murdering an entire camp without being seen.
Even with seemingly limited diversions, Far Cry 3’s main plot is so engrossing it’s difficult to avoid. The mission to rescue Jason’s girlfriend from the slavers is the game’s first big, scripted set piece, spanning a shootout along underground tunnels, a race to the top of a burning temple, and an epic car chase involving unlimited chain-guns and rocket launchers. It’s exactly the kind of high-octane action sequence that seems to define modern shooters. It’s well-made, but generic fun.
Until things slow down. In the cave Jason uses as a safe haven for his friends, hidden high on an isolated mountain, the action finally stops and Jason Brody’s girlfriend takes him aside.
“I’m worried about who you’re becoming,” she tells you, “You’re carrying all these weapons, you killed so effortlessly, and you have all these strange tattoos. I’m worried about you.”
I realized immediately that Jason’s girl was right, and that her very real, very human concern was one of the most important moments in modern gaming. It was undeniable; Jason Brody had become lost in the jungle, and by extension so have we, the people controlling his every move. The open-world sandbox shooter has long been a refuge for the most violent excesses of gaming ever since Grand Theft Auto’s first casual mass slaughter of civilians. The genre has always existed in a vacuum, free from even the limited morality and consequences of most games. For the first time, our tendency to use open-world games as blank slate, an excuse for mindless and impulsive violence, was being challenged in-game. The game suggests that maybe something’s deeply, terribly wrong at a psychological level, if killing comes this easy to an average young man.
This dissonance forms the heart of the rest of Far Cry 3’s narrative, as Jason is torn between his old life of privilege; with his friends, his family, and his girlfriend; and his new life, as an already-legendary warrior on Rook Island, stalking from one massacre to the next. Each time the story tries to bend in favor of the former, the gameplay twists to tempt Jason further towards the latter. Jason is presented with an opportunity to leave the island, but is also given access to new and better weapons, takedowns, and explosions. It’s a game that tempts Jason with the same cathartic violence it simultaneously chastises him for indulging in. And by never leaving Jason’s first-person perspective, not even in cut scenes, it also chastises us.
What’s interesting is that Far Cry 3 is just one of many shooters that question the morality of their own mechanics. Just last year, Spec-Ops: The Line became a parable for everything wrong with the repetitive, jingoistic modern military shooter, while indie hit Hotline Miami examined the function of violence in gaming. Even the new Tomb Raider takes a thematic approach to violence, where Laura Croft’s first few kills are presented as horrifying rather than fun. But these games have never been big successes. They’re critically acclaimed, but for the most part financial disappointments, while games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, and Ninja Gaiden 3 build stories about redemption that feel completely separated from the games’ eagerness for players to kill as often as possible.
Hopefully Far Cry 3 and these other games refusal to follow suit and ignore the consequences of their own violence is the beginning of a trend towards more mature, emotional storytelling in a genre that’s been too long dominated by nameless soldiers and faceless space marines. Characters disturbed by killing are more interesting and more sympathetic, the kind of characters with real, internal lives. These characters are more exciting to play because we care if they succeed or fail, live or die. Just maybe, Far Cry 3 can be the game to finally change a genre that’s of late been lost in the woods.
World of Warcraft is Going Back to its Roots
Blizzard is pumping out new content right now with their recent release of StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm expansion and World of Warcraft’sPatch 5.2: The Thunder King. Plus, rumor has it, a Diablo 3 expansion is in the works. All of these Blizzard releases are mouthwatering, but Patch 5.2 came out last week and it’s worth taking note of some of its features. It might be time to dust off my warlock and test out The Thunder King expansion.
I’ve been playing WoW off and on for the past eight years and Patch 5.2 has sucked me back into the world. According to IGN, the newly added Isle of Thunder includes a bunch of of daily quests, raids, world bosses, world PvP events, more rare elites, and much more.
The Mists of Pandaria expansion was a great addition to the WoW series, but it was immediately overwhelming for players. Between all the dailies players had to complete, unlocking more dailies, and waiting in queue, when was there even time to play WoW? It seemed like once I finished one string of dailies, more were unlocked. It was a never-ending cycle of dailies, upon dailies, upon dailies. Once a player hit level cap, every single quest in MoP was added to the daily to-do list. I don’t know how others feel, but I burned out of MoP much faster than I did with previous expansions. Dailies became tedious, getting gear was too easy, and there was barely any world PvP. With this patch, Blizzard only added a few more dailies to complete, that way players won’t quit as quickly as I did. Plus. the quests are connected to the added world PvP aspect of the patch, where finishing quests unlocks PvP quests.
Obviously there will be a new tier set and new dungeons, but the one feature I love is that both islands require players to use their ground mounts. No flying allowed! Blizzard is bringing old WoW back and reminding players that the world is actually a dangerous place to run around in. Noobs take caution; monsters can (and most likely will) kill you again. The dreadful dismount effect is coming back! There is also another island to explore, but it’s much harder to find. The Isle of Giants transports players back to old WoW, where players can only get to the island by swimming. This island will contain a world boss, Oondasta, that only the best groups and guilds will be able to conquer. Plus, the boss is surrounded by tons of level 90 elite dinosaurs, so an alt can’t stand out in the open and alert their guild that the boss spawned.
My favorite part is that players are going back to Orgimmar, away from Pandaria. In Orgimmar, the new warchief, Garros Hellscream, has taken over. Blizzard aims to answer some of the questions the plot of MoP has raised, while getting players back to the traditional areas they’ve known and loved since the beginning of WoW’s release in 2004.
Patch 5.2 adds a bunch of new features, while bringing back traditions for all of us WoW veterans. Blizzard aims to keep this MMO going. Granted, MoP wasn’t the best, but The Thunder King surely has improved on a bunch of its flaws. Now if only Blizzard will bring back talent trees. A warlock can dream.