The Vita Finally Has A Library As Good As The 3DS, But Will It Matter?

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Looking over Colin’s Top 30 Playstation Vita Games of 2014 list, I was struck by just how many of them I actually want to play.

I’ve always thought the Vita looked sleek and provided a great value proposition given the capabilities of hardware, but the limited game library held me back from ever actually taking the plunge and purchasing one. Instead of ordering a Vita last fall, I bid on Ebay for a used 3DS, not because it handles better or has comparable computing power, but because it had two killer titles lined up: Pokemon X/Y and Link Between Worlds.

Now, with Sony preparing to roll out Playstation Now, and with the desire to take as full advantage of a year’s subscription to Playstation Plus as possible, my eyes inevitably keep wandering back to Sony’s beleaguered little handheld.

New Video Game Documentary Series Seeks Funding on Kickstarter

The guys from “Co-op” and “The 1up Show” have pitched a new documentary project that would produce six episodes on various segments of the gaming culture,

WHAT IS OUTERLANDS?

  • A DOCUMENTARY “TV SERIES” … Even though this isn’t for a TV network, we’re calling it a “TV series” because of the format. It’ll be a minimum of six one-hour episodes. A TV “one hour” can mean anything from 42 to 60 minutes.
  • IN SIX EPISODES … We could potentially do more than six if we reach some of our stretch goals!
  • ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF VIDEOGAMES … Videogames are art. Art is culture. Within any culture are beautiful traditions, heartfelt passions, and incredible, unbelievable stories to be told. That’s where Outerlands comes in.
  • THAT CAN’T BE MADE ANY OTHER WAY. Traditional media outlets, broadcast networks, and even the new wave of original content from online distribution aren’t going to take a “risk” on videogame content. We don’t think it is a risk. We think videogames are a global cultural revolution that’s sweeping in whole new ways of looking at the world, inspiring countless people into new lives, and that untold numbers are aching for this kind of content. Help us prove it!

You can watch the video pitch on their Kickstarter page. It looks both extremely ambitious and also totally awesome, and I wish them the best of luck.

Double Fine Wants The Advantages of Kickstarter Without Any of Its Burdens

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Double Fine, perhaps the most famous developer to fund a game on Kickstarter, has made a bizarre move with the release of Broken age to its Kickstarter backers,

“We’re also preparing to send out review codes to press, who will be under review embargo until January 27. This embargo also applies to any of you backers who are in the press or have blogs—we are requiring all formal reviews be held until January 27 at 10am Pacific time (6pm GMT). The same time limit applies to the press as to backers; everyone is in the same boat! We’re trying to be as fair as possible given that backers will have access to the game before everyone else.”

The overall impact of the request is limited, as well as somewhat confusing. (How does Double Fine plan on enforcing the embargo with its customers?)

Double Fine also plans on releasing Act 1, the “beta" version will be in the hands of backers shortly, on Steam later (possibly January 28th, the Tuesday following when the embargo lifts).

What’s most interesting about all of this, to my mind at least, is how well it demonstrates the a lack of clear norms or best practices when it comes to the rapidly evolving way in which games are produced and distributed using non-traditional modes.

Differences Between Talking About a Game and Playing One

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In a brief feature at Edge, Steven Poole makes the case for people who talk about games they’ve never actually played.

Did I mention that I haven’t played GTAV? Well, I haven’t. I mean, not for a second. I’ve read what other people have written about it and watched YouTube clips. Does this render my opinion about the torture scene invalid? Not a bit. We should all talk more, and more confidently, about videogames we haven’t played.”

I’m not sure that his analogy to the work of Pierre Bayard is particularly clear or useful, but I think there’s a general, more basic point in what he writes that’s worth teasing out.

Namely, all arguments should be judged on their individual merits. That mostly goes without saying, but often times we get distracted by ancillary information. A politician might make a good argument that we nevertheless disagree with or dismiss outright because they hail from an opposing political party, or someone might raise a worthwhile point about a book or movie, but because they haven’t “experienced” it as it was meant to in its entirety, we ignore them and anything inconvenient they might have to say about it.

Will Infamous: Second Son Be More Than Just Fun?

While I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into Don’t Stave this weekend, I haven’t had much reason to turn on my PS4 as of late. After the initial rush of playing Resogun and Contrast, and experiencing the visually stunning, if somewhat flawed, Killzone: Shadowfall, there wasn’t much left for me personally to explore on the new console. I have a feeling I’m not alone.

As a result, Infamous: Second Son has a lot riding on it. I, and other players like me, need a big, next-gen (a phrase that will have its place until Sony and Microsoft stop publishing current-gen titles) hit. And the title could be the perfect cure for these current, wintery doldrums. It’s a third-person, open-world action game that comes from a critically acclaimed and well established series. As someone who was a fan of the first two Infamous games, Second Son has been the biggest blip on my console radar since Sony originally showed it off.

And yet with each new preview or piece of gameplay footage, I become little more disenchanted with the idea of the game.

Asserting the Greatness of Titanfall’s 6v6 Cap

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Pushing back against some readers’ ire over the announcement that Titanfall will only feature twelve person matches, Ben Kuchera writes at Polygon,

"The game already feels busy, well-balanced and hectic. You get the sense of being in a much larger conflict. The sense of scope that you’re worried about losing is more effective in Titanfall than it is in games with twice the player count.” 

While Ben makes some good points throughout the piece, his overall case relies a bit too much on “take me at my word.” Rather than get down into the weeds and try to parse out why Titanfall matches benefit from their intimate scale, he notes instead that, “I’ve played Titanfall for a number of rounds at a number of events, and the game is amazing.”

Even the excerpt above is less an argument or explanation than an assertion, one that merely contradicts the claim that a low player cap will unnecessarily limit the game rather than trying to dismantle it.

<em>BioShock Infinite</em>‘s DLC Will Let You Play as Elizabeth. In Rapture.

This feels at once both awesome and stunningly disappointing. What does it say about Bioshock Infinite that its creators think that after all this time, players would rather return to Rapture than Columbia?

Yes, Clash in the Clouds will let player whiz around the flying city to do what exactly? Oh, that’s right, kill waves of enemies as quickly as possible—because that was the best part of Infinite, right?

I’d rather spend another $60 on a pack of fanfic made from mods by players than unload several hundred more rounds from the chamber of my carbine.

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According to Nintendo creative director Shigeru Miyamoto it’s because,

“When it comes to the scale of software development, Wii U with HD graphics requires about twice the human resources than before. Please allow me to explain that we may have underestimated the scale of this change and, as a result, the overall software development took more time than originally anticipated just as we tried to polish the software at the completion phase of development.”

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At Paste, Maddy Myers has an interesting article about the rise of the cinematic in video games.

What’s interesting isn’t so much the trend itself (which has been apparent for some time now), as the secondary development of narratives which are more divorced from the gameplay which accompanies them.

It seems that at the very moment when more developers are trying to create games which allow narratives to emerge “organically” out of the game’s rules and how players interact with them (FTL, Proteus, Dark Souls), there’s been a mirror movement focused on making games that are movies with little games and puzzles sprinkled throughout (Last of Us, Heavy Rain, Injustice). These are the games in which watching a Youtube compilation of cutscenes and dialogue can more or less act as a substitute for the experience of actually playing through the game.

As Myers explains, this has somewhat redefined the problem away from “too much watching vs. too little playing” and toward a more fundamental question of whether the player feels involved in what’s happening on-screen.

"I question why “watching” and “doing” must be always at odds in games, though, since Remember Me managed to find a workaround. I am always watching a game as I play, so the question becomes one of participation. Do I feel involved? Including a “skill component” seems less important to me than ensuring my involvement in some form. Some “skill components” in games have the effect of making me feel less involved—especially when I am asked to repeat tasks to the point of absurdity.”

<em>Final Fantasy VII</em>&#39;s Train Graveyard Has Never Looked So Beautiful

This is awesome. I’d love to see more of these and for more 2D games.