Can 3D Reinvigorate the Arcade Scene?

in Blog, Business, Game Design, In the News, Observation, Trends by LAS on February 24th, 20101 Comment

Can 3D Reinvigorate the Arcade Scene?Arcades were once great gaming meccas. Kids from across the neighborhood would converge to spend many quarters and hours on their favorite hobby. Back then, videogames were a social hobby, as you would encounter countless kids with whom you had a common interest while waiting for the next game.

While the home console changed the face of gaming forever in primarily positive ways, one negative side effect was the death of the arcade and the emergence of the fat loner slob videogame stereotype. Can new 3D games reinvigorate the arcade scene? read more

Graphics Don’t Matter? A Ridiculous Concept

in Blog, Game Design, Observation, Rant by LAS on February 22nd, 20101 Comment

Graphics Don't Matter? A Ridiculous ConceptSelf-described videogame connoisseurs have long claimed that graphics don’t matter. ‘It’s all about the gameplay, obsession with graphics is for immature plebeians who can’t recognize real quality!’

This is a ridiculous notion. Videogames aren’t merely about the story or the gameplay; they’re about the total experience. A big budget film like Avatar can offer a different and equally valuable experience as a small art house film, and a graphically stunning videogame can offer the same.  read more

Downloadable Content Offers Terrible Value

in Blog, Business, Game Design, Trends by LAS on February 17th, 2010No Comments

Downloadable Content Offers Terrible ValueDevelopers have sold the idea to gamers that if they continually support a game long after release, it offers greater value. As long as a CoD: World at War map pack comes out every few months, that $5 charge to access it is more than justified.

This is a fallacy that takes advantage of consumer inability to judge value at the very low end of the price scale. Relative to the price of a game, DLC offers terrible value, and gamers who want more from a franchise would be better served by encouraging developers to start on a sequel rather than by paying for subpar DLC.  read more

Are there Really Niche Products?

in Blog, Business, Game Design, Observation, Trends by LAS on February 11th, 2010No Comments

Are there Really Niche Products?Dragon Age had many skeptics pre-release. It was seen as a throwback niche product, attuned to hardcore RPG fanatics that were hidden in some dungeon somewhere, rolling dice for the last decade. An antiquated, hardcore RPG couldn’t really be successful in today’s sophisticated and streamlined market, could it?

Now that we know Dragon Age sold 3.2mm copies since its release date, putting it on pace for over 5 million, we have to ask whether there are any niche products anymore. I believe there’s no good product that won’t find an audience. If your game doesn’t sell well, it’s probably because it was crap, not because there’s some missing audience for your phenomenal game.     read more

Does Choice Allow for Sequels?

in Blog, Game Design, Observation, Rant, Trends by LAS on February 10th, 2010No Comments

Does Choice Allow for Sequels?Bioware has announced that only Mass Effect 2 saves in which Shepard survives the ending can be imported into Mass Effect 3. Considering the trilogy is Shepard’s story, this is understandable. 

Will restrictions like these eventually cripple the breadth of choice available in a game like Mass Effect 2? Choose your own adventure novels are frequently crap because it’s hard to develop a compelling multi-thread storyline, after all. read more

Forget About Mascots

in Blog, Business, Game Design, Observation, Trends by LAS on February 9th, 2010No Comments

Forget About MascotsGame consoles have historically had representative mascots: Nintendo has Mario, Sega had Sonic and Sony has uh … Crash Bandicoot? Ok, forget Sony.

Game designers have tried to manufacture mascots, and forgotten mascots are continually brought back to life, such as the recently announced Sonic 4 in a desperate attempt to take advantage of a preexisting fan base. This is foolish; game mascots don’t become or remain popular because of some easily identifiable character design, that’s a thing of the past. All it takes today is a high quality game. read more

Is a Global Market Limiting Creativity?

in Blog, Game Design, Trends by LAS on February 2nd, 20102 Comments

Is a Global Market Limiting Creativity?The games industry is growing faster than almost all other consumer entertainment products. Players are united globally across the internet, and the future looks bright for game sales and publisher profits through digital distribution. Why, then, am I expecting creativity to be constrained by the expansion of a global market?

Innovation flows primarily from smaller developers to the Activisions and Electronic Arts of the world. Can an independent developer with limited resources afford to ignore the opportunities presented by a global audience by failing to cater to all tastes? Mainstream appeal here we come. read more

Dragon Age Revisited

in Blog, Game Design, Observation by LAS on January 25th, 20104 Comments

Dragon Age RevisitedAs you know, Dragon Age was my game of the year for 2009. It should come as no surprise, then, that I went back and replayed it despite knowing that there is an impending expansion. I played as a Dwarven rogue this time compared to my first game when I was an Elvish mage, but the differences in gameplay went far beyond Racial identity and NPC reactions.

Bioware has done an incredible job making Dragon Age a highly persoanl experience. Although the broad strokes of the game were the same, making different choices led to a significantly different game experience that left me even more impressed with Bioware’s RPG epic. read more

Prepare Yourselves for Mass Effect 2

in Blog, Game Design, Games I Want by LAS on January 21st, 2010No Comments

I have a lot of opinions on this site. Namely: videogames are the finest form of entertainment, and storytelling in games has become increasingly compelling.

Dragon Age had a story to rival the best books or movies, and it’s even more engrossing because you get to experience it first-hand and guide the action (it’s almost as cool as a choose your own adventure book … I mean … wait, was that out loud?).

Bioware has proven time and again that they understand drama and more importantly they have learned and improved with every game. I thought today we might just take a look at the final launch trailer for Mass Effect 2, a game that I believe will be one of the finest of the year. If Dragon Age or the original Mass Effect is anything to go by, we’re in for something special.

Besides, it has Martin Sheen. How bad can it be?

Game Music is Underrated

in Blog, Game Design, Observation by LAS on January 19th, 20105 Comments

Game Music is UnderratedEverybody knows the components of a great videogame: interesting storyline, impressive graphics and smooth gameplay mechanics. People rarely include music, despite it seemingly resonating with fans.

Videogame music, especially epic Japanese soundtracks such as Final Fantasy, and 8-bit classics, are well loved by fans. Orchestras have started to make their entire living touring the world playing covers of game music. Much like Hans Zimmer has become a household name from his film soundtracks, so is Nobuo Uematsu revered in gaming circles.

Some of my favorite games are bolstered by their soundtracks, and following are my ten favorite video game songs. I’m not going to pick out ‘must include classics’ such as the Mario Theme or the Tetris music. These are merely my personal top picks. read more