Coffee Talk #2: Fantasy Games vs. SciFi Games

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 Toy Story 3 trailer, the upcoming “Super 6” middleweight tournament, or Rob Schneider’s birthday, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Fantasy vs. SciFi — it’s a debate that will last an eternity. Most gamers I know enjoy both settings, but strongly lean towards one or the other. Some folks dig games with swords and sorcery, others prefer laser rifles and warp drives. Personally, I’m way more of a fantasy guy than a sci-fi guy. Space battles are cool and all, but I rather jump into an adventure filled with mystical spells, magic weapons, and cool frickin’ dragons. I liked Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but I loved Baldur’s Gate.

Dragon Age Origins chicky

My reasoning is simple; fantasy settings are more ridiculous, ergo more imaginative. Science fiction — good science fiction anyway — is often based on…(get this) science. Sure, it might be theoretical, but in many cases it’s plausible and not a huge leap from reality. Even though a lot of sci-fi features alien races and futuristic weaponry, it’s just too “real” for me. At the end of the day I see science as cold and clinical (I’m sure a psychiatrist would tell me that I’m just afraid of death).

Fantasy is more fun for me. A sword of sharpness? Ludicrous. A bag of holding? Preposterous. A race of miniature creatures that live inside trees and bake cookies? Waitaminute…those actually exist. So many elements in fantasy games, books, etc. are just impossible. Call me a romantic, but I enjoy dreaming about the impossible.

I’d love to hear about your preference. Are you SciFi or fantasy? Pick a side and explain your choice (please)!

Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford Equates Game Design With Magic

Borderlands

I have the utmost respect for game developers. They work so hard to craft the fantastic experiences that we all enjoy. The art of making games, to use some of Queen’s lyrics, “It’s a kind of magic.” According to Gearbox Software co-founder Randy Pitchford (Borderlands), game making and magic have a lot in common. The former professional magician (as opposed to the amateurs that cast spells in the Olympics) told Gamasutra:

A magician can create wonder by creating a set of logic, and then proving that the logic is impossible and false. Now if I repeat the same trick over and over again, as long as it’s still surprising, it’s fine. I’ve got you. But as soon as you start understanding how the trick works, you get bored and you lose interest. So, I’ve got to create a new trick. I’ve got to hit you with new magic.

I’ve always pegged Pitchford as some sort of sorcerer. I’m pretty sure he just admitted it in the quote above. I wonder what house he belonged to. Gryffindor? Hufflepuff maybe?

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Dragon Age Origins Launch Trailer — Sacred Ashes

Okay, I’m pretty much a BioWare fanboy, so when the company says anything or releases new media — like a new Dragon Age: Origins trailer — I pay attention. Here are some official lines from the press release, followed by the video.

This trailer takes a look into a quest in search of the Sacred Ashes, where danger awaits the band of warriors in the glacial, jagged edges of a treacherous mountainside. Darkspawn assault the group, and pressed into action, the soldiers leap into battle. Using world-class skill, magic, might and outright brute force, the Darkspawn are being eviscerated; just when the situation appears to be under control, a massive Dragon – stunning in its size and might – swoops in and crushes everything in its path, threatening the very survival of the heroes. Check it out and let me know what you think (please)!

China Hates Foreign Game Investors

Chinese Flag

According to Katie Melua, there are nine-million bicycles in Beijing…and soon there will be zero money from foreign game investors. Reuters has reported:

China’s video game industry regulator the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and copyright watchdog issued a circular on Saturday prohibiting foreign investment in domestic online gaming operations through joint ventures, wholly owned enterprises and cooperatives.

The new directive also disallows foreign firms from indirectly influencing Chinese gaming firms through agreements or technology support.

Hundreds of game companies have been trying to take advantage of the billions of people (millions of gamers?) in China. It looks like the government has put a stop to that, at least in the online gaming space.

I have a few friends in Shanghai attending GDC China. Hopefully they’ll be able to dig up some more info on this development.

Source via Game Politics

Jordan Mechner Talks Prince of Persia at GDC China

Prince of Persia The Sands of Time

Gamasutra has an excellent write up of Jordan Mechner’s keynote from GDC China. The Prince of Persia creator covers a wide range of topics. One of the tidbits I found interesting was him talking about his mindset going into Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Mechner said:

You really couldn’t find a better example of what not do than the first 10 years of Prince of Persia. The franchise was like a garden that I was neglecting. By 2001 Prince of Persia was really a dead franchise — completely and totally dead.

We really felt we were underdogs, because it was a dead franchise. We really felt we had to make an original game, as if nobody had heard of it.

And take a look at the franchise now, with Jake Gyllenhaal flashing his pecs as the prince. My, we’ve come a long way.

Seriously though, The Sands of Time was an excellent game and really brought the franchise back to life. While some of its sequels were not quite as good, the whole reboot is a fine of example of how to modernize a classic franchise. Hopefully someone will reboot a franchise so that Jake’s sister will bare her chest in a movie (again).

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Coffee Talk #1: Does Replay Value Impact Your Gaming Purchases?

Welcome to the first edition of 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 return of Barry Allen, Chris Jericho carrying the WWE for two years running, or how awesome the NY Yankees are, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Today I want to talk about replay value. It’s mentioned in practically every videogame review you see and many critics use it as a scoring factor, but does it really have a role in your purchasing decisions? For me, it’s not really an issue when it comes time to plop down cash on a new game. It’s more of an added bonus that I enjoy after I’ve beaten a game.

Final Fantasy Tactics

Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate games that have extraordinary replay value, but that’s not why I buy (or pass) on a title. I’ll pick up every game in the Final Fantasy Tactics series because I love the world of Ivalice and the gameplay style. The fact that I’ll play it for dozens of hours after I’ve beaten it isn’t the point. That said, I completely understand that I’m not a normal customer since I get to play a ton of games for free and can be picky with the ones I buy.

My question for you on this fine Monday is whether replay value impacts your purchases. Are you more likely to buy games that you can play over and over again? Will you skip on a game because it’s not really worth playing after the initial 10 to 15 hours? Or is it a case-by-case basis? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!

Sony Online Entertainment’s John Smedley Talks Planetside Next

Planetside Logo

The sequel to Planetside is coming and it’s called…(wait for it)…Planetside Next! Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley wrote about the game on his LiveJournal. Smed said:

To me, Planetside Next means we get a chance to take the essence of everything that was fun in Planetside and make it a lot better. Massive battles on a scale no other FPS will touch. None of this 64 player stuff. REALLY MASSIVE. With much better organization, and a tight focus on making sure the action is always going on, with awesome graphics.

Damn I love Planetside. I really do.

I was never into the game, but I have a bunch of friends that swear by it. Any of you psyched for this one? Do you think Planetside Next will make an impact? Or is it an old(er) franchise that has no place in today’s gaming world? Maybe a game like MAG is the future and Planetside is the past? Or perhaps being a sequel is enough to help it succeed. So many questions! Someone answer one or more (please!).

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