Coffee Talk #14: Professional Gaming and You

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the Yankees totally sucking last night, Hulk Hogan signing with TNA Wrestling, or the joys of Burmese food, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Yesterday, a bunch of friends were telling me how they think professional gaming is set for a huge spike in North America. I was surprised by their position. While pro gaming has a following, I think it’s niche and I don’t see how it can achieve rapid growth in this economic climate.

Like any self-absorbed person, I started thinking about my issues with pro gaming. I just don’t find it very interesting. Watching a few people play a first-person shooter on a big screen bores me. In most cases, I rather be playing games than watching people play them.

Street Fighter IV

That said, there are a few exceptions. I love watching two highly skilled Street Fighter IV players go at it. I love watching Korean fans watch professional StarCraft players. At Korean StarCraft tournaments, the crowd is totally tuned into the game, gasps at sudden turnarounds, and goes nuts when their man wins. There are DVD box sets of tournaments and professional players have their own baseball cards. It’s a cool and unique thing.

Anyway, I want to know what you think about professional gaming. Does it interest you? Do you think it has a bright future in America? What kind of games do you like to watch in tournaments? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!

Coffee Talk #13: Should Price Be a Factor in Review Scores?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, your pick for the World Series, D&D nerds using Google Wave, or electric scooters, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

So many of my friends in the gaming business are raving about DJ Hero. During several casual chats this week, I heard superlative after superlative thrown at the game. Most of the time, I just nodded and grinned (or in some cases did the IM equivalent of nodding and grinning). To the friends I was comfortable with — the ones close enough to engage in a healthy debate with, that is — I responded with one simple question, “Yeah, but is it worth $120?”

DJ Hero Renegade Edition

Price is a factor when you’re buying a game, but for some reviewers it’s a non-issue. Some outlets take the stance of “we judge each game on its own merits”. I don’t really buy that. I have different expectations from a full-budget $60 game than a $20 value title or a $10 download. Although some reviewers are taking DJ Hero’s price into consideration, I don’t think they’re weighing it into the equation as heavily as they ought to.

Part of the problem is that some longtime reviewers get too used to being able to play every game that’s released for free. They forget about being a kid that desperately wanted three games, but had to deliberate for days because they could only afford one. To me, a game like DJ Hero or Rock Band or Guitar Hero should be looked at differently than a $60 game because they’re frickin’ expensive.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. I want to know what you think America. Should a game’s price be considered in its review score?

Coffee Talk #12: Grieving 2.0

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the brilliance of Chris Jericho, Mark McGwire’s return to baseball, or how important it is to cherish your loved ones while you still have time, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Twitter logo boxToday’s Coffee Talk is going to be a little different — it’s not going to be on gaming and it’s going to be a little more personal than usual. You see, on Sunday, I lost a dear friend to cancer. This is one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life. I’m so sad that I won’t be able to talk to her, hear her laugh, travel with her, go to the boxing gym with her, or share a drink at our favorite coffeehouse. I’m trying to focus on all the wonderful things she brought to my life and remember all the excellent times we had. Two of the things that are helping me do this are Facebook and Twitter.

I know a lot of you hate one or both of these social networking services. That just seems silly to me. They’re tools. They’re as useful (or not) as you let them be. Facebook and Twitter have been amazing for helping me deal with the loss of Rannie. I’m happy to read people’s stories about her, see photos they’ve snapped of her over the years, and see people celebrating her life. Friends from all over America, Japan, Thailand, and several other countries have shared their thoughts on Rannie. These people have been using Facebook and Twitter in a beautiful way.

Facebook logo boxSure, a lot of everyday tweets and status updates consist of people telling you what they had for lunch, someone claiming they have a brilliant article to share with you when it’s really a Rick roll, and other nonsense. That’s just people using these tools for frivolity, which is totally fine, but they can also be used for much more. You can use the same hammer to hilariously stub your friend’s toe or help build a house for a homeless family. Like Eric Clapton said, “It’s in the way that you use it.”

So I guess I’m asking and telling you a few things today. What are some useful ways that you use Facebook and Twitter? What do you think is missing from today’s social networking services? Most importantly, try to remember who and what is important to you, and cherish all of it, because life is short.

Coffee Talk #11: Achievements vs. Trophies — Fight!!!

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, if Lyoto Machida deserved that decision over Shogun Rua, T-Mobile’s new pricing plans, or how awesome it is to have the Yankees in the World Series, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

First off, kindly vote in the Saved by the Bell poll. It’s important…like very. Now getting back to the topic at hand….

RPad TV Achievement

Achievements and trophies. Trophies and achievements. They’re essentially the same thing — a little pat on the back for doing something in a game. In some cases, the reward is for something you would have done anyway. In others, you’re coerced to play more of a game and/or play it in a different way just to get some meaningless points or symbols. Don’t get me wrong, I love these things. I want them. (Even if I don’t know why.) What I find curious is that some gamers greatly prefer one over the other.

Familiarity might have something to do with it. Microsoft wisely incorporated achievements during the early planning stages of the Xbox 360. By introducing the system on day one, it was able to establish achievements as the norm and get gamers hooked on the whole idea. Sony’s trophies came much later and support hasn’t been consistent. This has changed, but there are some early releases that don’t support trophies. All that aside, some people prefer trophies because they rather have a symbol than a number. Personally, I don’t care either way — I want them all!!! (Unfortunately, I’ve played so many games on debug units and/or under shared accounts that my personal scores suck *sniff*)

On this fine Monday Monday (so good to me), I want to know which system you prefer and why. Are trophies your bag? Or do you dig achievements?

Continue reading “Coffee Talk #11: Achievements vs. Trophies — Fight!!!”

Coffee Talk #10: What’s Your Favorite Gaming Franchise?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Judas-like betrayal of Isiah Thomas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s latest “oops” moment, or The Rock vs. The Miz, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I love Fridays…except for those following a NY Yankees ALCS loss in a perfectly winnable game. In order to stay positive, I’m going to think about a few of my favorite things. I’m not talking about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. I’m talking about the games that make up my favorite gaming franchise.

Final Fantasy Tactics

While I’ve enjoyed hundreds (thousands?) of games over the years, no series has entertained me as much as Final Fantasy Tactics. The games just work for me on so many levels. I’m addicted to the strategic gameplay. I love the art style. The world of Ivalice just fascinates me. The music, particularly from the first game, entrances me. And for some reason (that I’m still not sure of), I think Viera are sexy. Whether it was on my PSone, GBA, or PSP, the Final Fantasy Tactics titles works for me on every level.

To help you stay happy this Friday, I want to hear about your favorite gaming franchises. What’s your favorite series of all time? Why?

Coffee Talk #9: Is Peter Molyneux Hurting Project Natal?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Manny Ramirez taking a shower while his team is still playing, Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader, or Google’s upcoming iTunes competitor, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Peter Molyneux is one of the most polarizing figures in game development. He talks big and dreams big, but a lot of gamers believe that his games do not live up to the hype. Whether it’s deserved or not, he has a reputation for over-promising and under-delivering. With that in mind, is he really the best person to be pushing Microsoft’s motion controller, Project Natal?

Fable III

Molyneux recently revealed that Fable 3 will have support for Natal. He mesmerized the crowd at E3 2009 with his Milo virtual indentured servant boy demo for Natal. Microsoft seems happy with having him be one of the project’s faces, but I question if he’s the best man for the job. There’s no doubt that he’s one of the most ambitious and creative people in game development, so it’s easy to argue that he’s a good choice for an ambitious and creative endeavor like Natal. However, he has that pesky reputation. A lot of hardcore gamers already have issues with Natal, so maybe using the “over-promising under-delivering” guy to push it isn’t the smartest thing to do.

What do you think? Does Molyneux’s heavy involvement with hurt or help Project Natal? Is it better to have a dreamer like Molyneux pushing the project? Or would it be wiser to use a high profile developer that delivers results that are much closer to their hype?

Coffee Talk #8: Why You Should Support Borderlands

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, A-Rod discovering how to play in the post-season, Apple’s $999 unibody MacBook, or T-Mobile’s mysterious Project Dark, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Borderlands is one of those games that I hope sells likes crazy, but probably won’t. While I won’t go as far as to say the game has been “sent to die”, like Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter did, I acknowledge that it has several things going against it. Even though it’s an action-RPG, a lot of people view it as a shooter based on screenshots and Gearbox Software’s history. This is an extraordinarily crappy time to release a shooter — especially a new franchise. Halo 3: ODST recently came out and Modern Warfare 2 is a few weeks away. While all three games are different enough, there’s definitely a lot of audience overlap and a limited amount of dollars that can be spent. Most people are going to go with the sequels to established franchises instead of the new game with the funky art.

Borderlands

I hope I’m wrong — I really do. Borderlands is the kind of game we should all be supporting. The developer has a strong track record, the reviews have been great, the game is unique, and the art style rocks (well, it rocks me anyway). A lot of people complain that the gaming business is too sequel happy and not enough effort has been made to generate new IPs. Well here’s your chance to stand up for originality and against sequel-itis!

Of course it’s your money and you should do what you want with it. You should buy whatever game you think will entertain you the most. It’s just upsetting that a good, original game from a quality developer is likely to get brushed aside in favor of sequels. Again, I hope I’m wrong and Borderlands sells millions of copies.

With all of that in mind, here are my questions for you this morning. Does supporting originality or developers come into play when you buy games? Or is it all about entertainment for you?

Coffee Talk #7: PS3 vs. Xbox 360 — The Race to #2

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Joe Girardi’s interesting bullpen management, the sexy Motorola Droid for Verizon, or what games you’ll be buying this week, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

By now, most of you will have had time to think about the September 2009 NPD Group console sales figures. Sony did very well for itself, selling loads of systems thanks to the PS3 price cut and the introduction of the PlayStation 3 Slim. While the Nintendo Wii will end up being the sales winner this console generation (barring some catastrophe like Romulans attacking Earth to steal every Wii on the planet), some feel that second place is up for grabs.

PS3 vs Xbox 360

Xbots will argue that the 360 has way too big a lead in North America. The company will continue to sell its exclusives and sell more third-party games thanks to a larger installed base. Improvements to Xbox Live will cement the console’s position of having the best online console-gaming experience.

Members of the Sony Defense Force will point out that this is a marathon, not a sprint. This console generation is far from over and Sony has superior first-party games lined up for 2010. With the console’s price cut, the PS3’s capabilities — Blu-ray playback, built-in Wifi, etc. — clearly make it a better value than the 360. With better games and better hardware that’s now at a competitive price, it’s only a matter of time until the PS3 surpasses the Xbox 360.

Certainly there are still too many variables, too many years, and too many unannounced games that will shape the remaining years of this generation, but it’s still fun to play analyst. So pretend for a few minutes that you’re Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter or EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich. I want to know which console you think will end up grabbing the silver medal this console generation. Do you think it’ll be Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Sony’s PlayStation 3? Pick a side and state your case (please!).

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Coffee Talk #6: What’s Your Dream Game?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the Anaheim Angels forgetting how to play baseball, fun with Google Wave, or how you’re going to utterly conquer this week, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Drizzt 2Is there a movie, comic book, or novel that you think would make a fantastic game? I’m sure there is. All of us have “dream games” that have yet to be made. Some of our visions are outlandish and unrealistic. Others seem so obvious that it’s dumbfounding as to why they haven’t been made.

One of my dream games has been teased, but never fully delivered. I want to play an action-adventure as Drizzt Do’Urden from R.A. Salvatore’s novels. Drizzt has made cameos in Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, and Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. You could play as him in the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance series, but he was merely a bonus character set in an adventure that had nothing to do with his storied exploits.

I want the full-on Drizzt treatment. I want an adventure that takes advantage of his history in Menzoberranzan and his adventures with the Companions of the Hall. I want cameos by Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri. I want dynamic action that’s full of twirling scimitars and impossible acrobatics. Just for the hell of it, I want a “dog button” like the one in Dead to Rights, but instead of some lame-ass canine, Drizzt’s magical panther, Guenhwyvar, appears.

RPad.tv reader Ieyke recently wrote about one of the games he wishes for, saying, “Assassin’s Creed+MGS4-guns-white robes=awesome stealthy ninja.” Let’s use his formula to talk about our dream games. I guess mine would be:

Drizzt Do’Urden + Prince of Persia – Gimmicky Time Shifting = Awesome Drow Ranger Action-Adventure.

Using the Ieyke formula, tell me about your dream game. (Hit the break for some inspirational music that will help you write about your dreams.)

Continue reading “Coffee Talk #6: What’s Your Dream Game?”

Coffee Talk #5: What’s Up With All the Wii Hate?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, balloon boy, the new info on that FFXIII chick, or advanced sock-organization techniques, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

For many enthusiast gamers, Nintendo has gone from a lovable loser to a disdained winner. Longtime gamers professed their love for the company while it was struggling during the Nintendo 64 and GameCube eras. Now that the Wii has Nintendo enjoying record success, a lot of the same people have turned their backs on it. Why is that? Is it an abandonment thing? Sure, the company has had tremendous success with the mainstream audience, but it’s still serving up Marios and Zeldas and Metroids for enthusiasts.

Wind Waker

As someone that follows the business, I’m all for the Nintendo Renaissance. It was unexpected and made the market really interesting. As a gamer, I’m happy that the company is enjoying great success. The millions of casual gamers that bought Wii consoles will help make sure that I get new Pokemons, Zeldas, etc. I seem to be in the minority though. A lot of the comments I read at TheFeed (and a few that I’ve seen here) were full of anti-Wii and anti-Nintendo venom. Perhaps it’s entirely fueled by nostalgia, but I don’t see how anyone can hate Nintendo. All I have to do is think about a game like The Wind Waker to get warm fuzzies (of the gaming variety).

On this wonderful Friday, I want to know why you feel that way you to about the Wii. Has the console changed you opinion of Nintendo? Do you feel like the company abandoned you? Or did you just outgrow it?

Continue reading “Coffee Talk #5: What’s Up With All the Wii Hate?”