Top Games of This Gen

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Over on the NowGamer Forums, one of my regular gaming haunts, one of the forum members decided to pose the difficult question of asking what everyone’s top games of the current gen are. This was brought about by the looming spectre that is Next-Gen and the impending PlayStation metting on the 20th of this month. Unlike most discussions I’ve seen about best games for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii era there was a limit imposed, you could only pick three games! So while I cheated a tad and included a long list of Honourable Mentions at the end I agonised over my chosen three games for days. DAYS! I tell you!

So here are my top three games of this generation and my nice list of honourable mentions taken from my response to the forum thread. Also if you are interested in joining a small but very passionate and very friendly community head on over to NowGamer and the NowGamer Forums!

So in no particular order:

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Link Storm

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What’s that? You like links? WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO???

Introducing your new PlayStation Store

The PlayStation Store over on the PS3 has received a major facelift and despite some early teething problem sluggishness it is actually half decent and well…modern! There have been a lot of changes and tweaks along with a host of new functionality added to the digital store. Luckily the PlayStation Blog has all the details to avoid any major confusion.

Aesthetics of Play – Extra Credits

This week’s extra credits is well worth checking out if your a game designer or interested in game design theory. It basically lays out why we are applying genres to games incorrectly and what can be done to change it for the better. You should also check out the MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research paper that forms the basis of the episode. It is very illuminating reading.

Why Quick-Time Events Work 

Game Informer’s Kimberley Wallace argues why Quick-Time Events are a good thing and I’m inclined to agree with her. The reason why they get such a bad rap is because so many developers miss use them or oversaturate their games with them. They are a great narrative/mechanics tool when used correctly.

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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!

Why A Video Game Blockbuster Will Finally Allow You To Be A Gay Man

Link: Why A Video Game Blockbuster Will Finally Allow You To Be A Gay Man

BioWare and sex seem to go together like bread and butter. This surprisingly interesting Kotaku article about how the male Shepard in Mass Effect 3 can now get it on with his fellow male crew mates is worth a read. It details the history of the relationship functionality present in BioWare’s games and why they have finally included the option in latest Mass Effect game. 

It is a topic that has popped up several times over the past few weeks with BioWare usually being at the heart of the discussion due to their more progressive stance on player/character sexuality. The online response has been mixed at best and sickening at its worst. But at the end of the day it all boils down to giving the player a better experience by giving them more choice to experience the game how they want and on their own terms. Which is something a lot of games could learn from, not just RPGs. If you don’t like the idea of man on man space action you don’t have to experience it but for those who do I’m sure it is a breath of fresh air.

Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation

Link: Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation

Not strictly about game design but very good reading!

It basically lays out why Mass Effect is perhaps the most well rounded and realistic (to a degree) science fiction franchise out there. One of the key arguments for its superiority is that because it is a game where player has the freedom of control to shape the game by making their own Shepard and defining their choices, it causes a deeper level of connection than your Star Treks, Star Wars and Battlestar Galacticas of the world.

It is more of an outside looking in type piece but there are a few interesting bits and bobs throughout it. Particularly about the story philosophy, diversity in the cast and the character of Shepard his/her self. This kind of story/setting detail isn’t a requirement to all games but with Mass Effect it is an integral part of the game the story is part of the design. Go check it out!