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I haven’t done one of these for a while! Here’s some interesting gaming, game design and other random crap that I find interesting related links!

Games We Play

This video is a tad annoying in its approach (I don’t know why I just find it annoying) but it is some interesting food for thought about how we can make a game out of pretty much anything. Even the most mundane tasks or huge amounts of bordom can drive people to create a game to help pass the time.

Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse Kickstarter

What’s this? A new Broken Sword game that looks like it will be really good? And it has Charles Cecil on board too? Am I dreaming? I will be backing this if I can scramble the money together for a pledge before the deadline.

Voting Open For The Golden Joystick Awards 2012

A surprising amount of top quality games have made the cut this year but it is your votes that will stop Call of Duty from sweeping the boards! Any guesses as to how many awards Skyrim will win on the night?

The Making Of: Final Fantasy VII – Edge

One of the many look backs at Final Fantasy VII that have popped up since the PC Port Re-release came out a week or so ago. It goes into some detail about the production of the game and the advancements it made at the time but then like all look backs at FFVII it ends up focusing heavily on the characters and story.

So, Tell Me About Yourself, Video Game – Kotaku

A piece championing the underused story telling device of having a narrator (both first and third person) in video games. I find it can go a long way to helping create a connection between the player and the game. Making the experience a lot more personal.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Hearthfire – Official Trailer

The second piece of Skyrim DLC is all about building a home and leaving your mark on the world of the game with it and your family. Basically it takes all the family and home mechanics from the Fable games and gives them a nice in-depth Elder Scrolls twist. YAY for rewarding time sinks!

The Video Game As Game Changer – Gail Simone

Comic book writer Gale Simone muses on the story and narrative structure of games and in particular their tendency to have protracted or indefinite second acts which make up the meat of the player’s experience with the game. She also points out that this is pretty much the opposite of what is happening in the rest of fictional media such as TV and Film where the second act is becoming shorter and shorter.

SPEC OPS: THE LINE!!!!

You may not be aware that I recently played through Spec Ops: The Line and fell in love with its dark, disturbing, mind bending and gut wrenching story and gameplay. So while I am still currently obsessed with it here are some interesting links about it:

Extra Credits – Spec Ops: The Line Part 1 & Part 2

The Extra Credits team take a brilliant two part look at the game. With the first part glossing over things and drawing your attention to key themes, concepts and moments while enticing you to try the game out with the minimum of spoilers. The second part goes into detail about everything basically and is spoiler central as it explores how every facet of the game works together to create the whole experience.

Spec Ops multiplayer is “tacked-on bullshit” – Edge

Interestingly this piece has been making the rounds about the game’s lead designer, Cory Davis speaking out about the game’s multiplayer and how the publisher 2K forced it into the game. Made by a separate team the multiplayer is a big departure from the main game and is one of the reasons why many reviewers scored the game at 7 or 8’s out of 10. Hopefully other publishers will take this onboard and stop trying to shoehorn multiplayer into every game they publish.

Spec Ops: The Line – Zero Punctuation

Yahtzee gives a rare mostly positive review for the game highlighting the story and character/player connection.

No Good Deed – Narrative Design in Spec Ops: The Line – Gamasutra

Finally, Gamasutra provides an in-depth look at the narrative design for Spec Ops which is well worth reading. A great behind the scenes look and good example how ideas can grow and change over time.

Extra Credits – Mass Effect 3 DLC

Link: Extra Credits – Mass Effect 3 DLC

Another week another episode of Extra Credits. This week sees a welcome return to the done in one format of the show as it tackles the issue of Day One DLC and in particular the Day One DLC attached to Mass Effect 3.

While I have already expressed my opinion on the arguments for and against, the Extra Credits team comes up with some more valid arguments for it in particular the diminishing number of players who will actually buy it, shown by this handy graph:

This argument is made along with the; it keeps the team working and gives you more content points that are equally as valid in my opinion. Mostly they highlight the positives of the practise and very much come to the conclusion that it is becoming a necessary evil. They do however show the worrying side of DLC which is the attachment of it to merchandise.

It is very much a grey area at the moment and something I have actually had to look into recently for the Franchise Development Doc for one of my projects. Currently this merchandise DLC is almost throwaway content like the Collector Rifle that comes with Mass Effect 3 Razor products but it is becoming more and more popular. It urges consumers to buy both the game and the merchandise for the game. It is something I caught myself doing with the Mass Effect 3 merchandise. While the DLC is very minor part of me on a very small level equates it to improving my Mass Effect 3 experience. It is a reward for buying the T-Shirt, bag, controller, etc. and that is the worrying thing. Because as Extra Credits points out this could easily turn from small inconsequential bonuses to the equivalent of the From Ashes day one DLC. So if you think paying an extra £7 for day one DLC is expensive imagine having to pay £60 to buy a bag that comes with that DLC instead. 

It is unlikely to happen but it is still a worrying thought.

Mass Effect 3 “Day 1 DLC” Controversy

While this could be worded a lot better and not in the “Shut the hell up with your complaining!” way of talking about this issue it still proves its point.

The argument is that day one premium DLC keeps a lot of the main production team in a job and working on the game for longer. It also allows them to continually generate new DLC content as a persistent production cycle for the support time for the game. Which is all good in my book. It give me more Mass Effect to play at the end of the day.

The only problem I have with the From Ashes DLC is the price. 800 Microsoft Points is £6.85 according to XboxPointsConverter and the DLC is also included in the Collector’s Edition package for the game, which is the one I bought. Not a bad price when you look at it but I think it should be cheaper for a number of reasons:

  1. This is day one content. The people who have bought the standard edition which this DLC targets have already paid up to £49.99 depending on where they got it from and if they are crazy enough pay full RRP for the games they buy. This is an additional cost that many feel they will have to buy (rightly or wrongly) to get the whole Mass Effect 3 experience.
  2. EA/BioWare can not argue that the price allows them to quickly re-coup the production costs for the DLC. This is because of the game’s use of booster packs in the multiplayer. The booster packs can be bought with in game earned currency or with Microsoft points at 80MSP (69p) or 160MSP (£1.37). The cost of producing the From Ashes DLC have already been quickly recouped by people buying 2-3 booster packs. The booster packs are also pretty much pure profit for EA because they were produced alongside development of the game’s multiplayer as an integral system. This isn’t an extra addition that adds more content to the game this is a main aspect of the multiplayer for ME3.
  3. Scarifying a week’s worth of profit from the booster packs to make the From Ashes DLC cheaper and in the 400MSP (£3.43) range would have gone a long way to avoiding all these people shouting at EA and BioWare for making the game they wanted to make. Player’s would be more likely to buy the content if they were told, “We made this but we have purposely kept the price down so you can all buy it with your copy of the game.” EA would still get their money because there would still be profit in the 400MSP price point along with all the money made from the booster packs.

Like the above image says modern game development is complex but it still does not mean that EA are allowed to charge as much as they want for the privilege of playing the game and all of its content wether it is on the disk or not. Also behaving like a child and throwing your toys out of the pram over it is not the way people should be dealing with or complaining about this issue. It doesn’t help anyone when you reduce an issue to base name calling and slurring. Just saying!