Archive for the ‘Blizzard’ Tag

The future of Dota 2?   Leave a comment

The issues surrounding Dota 2 are news to few and Valve have done something very unusual in creating this game. While it is the case that Valve have taken what were essentially mods and created full-blown games in the past, a practice now often seen in the indie movement, in this case they have taken a mod so deeply entrentched in a specific game and its world that controversy was bound to follow.

And, to an extent, I can understand the backlash by Blizzard, original DotA fans, Riot Games and others over this. It does seem a bit strange for Valve to take Dota 2 like this without getting a more workable response from the community as well as Blizzard. They only ever recruited the lead developer from the past 7 years, there were two developers before IceFrog, one of whom was the creator of what is the almost exclusively played version of the map. That creates a pretty strong case against Valve’s claim that they can register Dota 2 as a trademark.

Valve have a problem as it seems Blizzard are very willing to take them to task over the Dota 2 trademark claim and I think, as much as I dislike anything part of the great beast that is Activision, Blizzard are in the right about this one. The disappointing thing is that I have played the Dota 2 beta and Valve have a great products on their hands but I can’t help and wonder whether Valve’s aggressive push forward in developing and trademarking this while these issues remain was a bit more shrewd and manipulative that it might appear to some. Valve don’t normally have a reputation for developing something so polished, so quickly.

Certainly, Valve’s Dota 2 will come out in some form even if Blizzard wins its case and I have lost all ability to see Valve as the little guy fighting the big bad beast here because, as small as they are compared to what they now go against, they aren’t little and they should have forseen these problems. I just don’t trust Valve to throw straight dice in this. The questions I wonder are, if Valve wins this upcoming battle, will it affect Blizzard’s own DotA efforts or any continued development of the original Defense of the Ancients? With Team Fortress, Valve hired anyone and everyone who was part of the modding team and it wasn’t tied into one game’s world or mythology so deeply. IceFrog’s claim to the DotA trademark is suspect at best and the game is so bound up with Warcraft III that I can’t see Valve winning this one. At the end of it all, though, I am cheering for Blizzard on this one and I think it’ll be a good thing if Valve don’t get that trademark.

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm teaser trailer   Leave a comment

Sorry about the lack of a weekly summary last week, it’s been a busy week again.

I don’t like this whole “Kerrigan redemption” line they’ve seemed to have pulled. I think I preferred her portrayal as a wilful malevolence to what will inevitably be a much more sentimentally-portrayed and ultimately forgettable character.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

The quick cap news

* Introversion say that it’s unlikely they’ll work with Microsoft again after porting Darwinia and Multiwinia to XBLA.

* Microsoft admits that the mimicry of the console model in Games For Windows was flawed, but promises future improvement.

* A new GTA game is in the works under the codename of “RUSH.”

* Blizzard’s next MMO is already playable; at least, according to the company’s co-founder, Frank Pearce.

* Bungie is now claiming that its MMO reveal at GDC was a joke in response to rumours. Of course, it could simply be damage control.

* Valve’s new security technology, Steam Guard, is showcased with Gabe Newell revealing his Steam password as a show of confidence. The consensus is that this will turn out to be a silly move.

* On the Valve note, PC gamers may have to endure the pain of playing co-op Portal 2 with someone who doesn’t use a keyboard and mouse in FPS games.

* EA announce that they may focus more on the PC gaming market as increased PC revenue via digital distribution and the free-to-play model makes the platform more and more attractive.

* Call of Duty: Black Ops has become the best-selling game in US history, selling over 13.7 million units according to retail tracking firm NPD.

* A huge dichotomy has occurred between reviewer and user scores on Metacritic for Dragon Age II. Users have been complaining about a dumbing down of the game and the game has, at the time of writing, 278 negative reviews to 18 neutral and 84 positive.

Main news

So, great news for indie gaming fans. Serious Sam is being outsourced to create a series of indie titles set around the character. While I am no huge fan of the Serious Sam games, it’s always interesting to see what indie developers and fresh minds can make of larger IP. Warner Bros. is picking up action-RPG Bastion, the first game from indie studio Supergiant and one that features a dynamic narrative. Finally, there’s Hawken, a mech-based FPS indie title with extremely impressive graphics that will surely help ease the pain of Mechwarrior 5’s slip into vapourware. It will most likely be a downloadable title, according to developers.

Besides that, it seems indie smash hit, Angry Birds might be coming to Facebook in a “Collaborative” form, according to developers. This comes alongside news that the game made a profit in excess of $70m from a small budget of $140k. The move to Facebook is not unusual given other news that Rebellion have started a new social games division after the success of Facebook-based Evil Genius.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

The quick cap news

* PCGA continues to oppose naysayers with news that the PC market has grown 20% to $16.2bn in 2010 with no decline in any region.

* Gaijin Games founder Chris Osbourne has left the company behind the Bit.Trip games to found a new indie games company, Tracer. Fortunately, he chose a company name that doesn’t use the word for foreigners in the language of a deeply xenophobic culture.

* No surprises in that Australia has banned the latest Mortal Kombat game. I do wonder where this slack, laid-back stereotype of them came about because all I ever see is near-fascistic levels of censorship and state interference.

* Ubisoft has pleaded with the fans of the first game to “keep the faith” for Beyond Good and Evil 2.

* THQ Australia has announced job cuts. Fourteen members of staff were let go after THQ axed two projects and re-evaluated its kids license business.

* Harmonix pleased that Dance Central has managed to outsell Rock Band 3. This comes after a glut of problems for the musical game genre.

* Minecraft developer Mojang have announced a smaller-scale project, Scrolls. So all those fans annoyed at so little has been done with the Minecraft Beta can now get hating all over again.

* Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions has announced a new game, Trenched. The setting seems a fairly standard mech affair so far so it’ll be interesting to see what Schafer does to make the setting his own.

* Blizzard celebrate their twentieth anniversary yesterday and sent fans a thank you message for all the support over the years.

* Stardock’s Brad Wardell explains why Elemental failed and how they are making it up to fans. Personally, I think a little more polish could make Elemental a good game and Stardock have been great designers in the past, bringing us classics.

Main news

MMO fans get a lot of good news this week, first of all there is the fact that Bungie confirmed its new MMO game at GDC. Sphira: Warrior’s Dawn, a promising-looking browser-based MMO, will be coming up in 2011 and is already looking good. Frogster Interactive, who brought Runes of Magic to European audiences, also announced an ambitious new fantasy MMO for 2012 being developed. On the other hand, Panasonic cancelled their recent attempt to get into the gaming market and so we won’t be seeing an MMO-based handheld any time soon. Also, here’s a link to the documentary Gamers, which is available on Hulu and concentrates of the history of MMOs.

Social games were the targets of criticism in GDC 2011. Reports came back of the debates and both sides of the argument and the responses from both sides got a little heated and possibly even irrational. I was particularly impressed by Brenda Braithwaite’s rant and find those, like Jonathan Blow of Braid fame, who rally against the so-called manipulative nature of social games similar to those on the political right who talk as if the working class cannot really be trusted with their own resources. Still, social games must be doing something right as developer Kabam announced 150 new this week.

A good weekend to all. See you next week.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

The quick cap news

* Richard Garriott returns with his latest offering Portalarium and talks about the costs and distribution model of social games. On the other side, Braid designer, Jonathen Blow, criticised social games for the way they treat consumers.

* Civilization IV became the first game to win a Grammy award for the song Baba Yetu. It took the “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)” in the 53rd annual award (incidentally, both it and the sequel, Civilization V are in the Steam deals as of the time of writing).

* Dragon Age II has gone gold, with a demo coming out in the next few days (the 22nd, to be exact). The completion of this demo unlocks a special dwarven weapon for use in the full version of this game upon release.

* Microsoft have been teasing people about a potential new Halo game, in a demonstration of the Kinect, they briefly displayed an image showing “Halo 5” for a second or so. What happened to Halo 4, anyway?

* Magicka, the new indie hit with its innovative magic system, has hit 200K in sales. Certainly, with a lot of the bugs patched, it is a much more solid, enjoyable game and with only a few more minor tweaks, proper online play is viable. DLC is forthcoming.

* Activision Blizzard has been in the news a lot recently, with Blizzard announcing that its upcoming Starcraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm, will likely not see a 2011 release.

* On the same front and despite its recent redundancies and the closing of a studio, rumours abound that Activision are interested in acquiring Take-Two Interactive. The rumour comes from British gaming magazine MCV and, for those not in the know about European media, the tendency to be as vague as possible about your sources here leads me to take this rumour with a pinch of salt.

* The open beta of the F2P MMO APB: Reloaded has attracted over 100k sign-ups. With a beta program set to begin on the 28th of this month, there is hope to revive what was one of the biggest flops in video gaming history.

* In other F2P news, Champions Online’s switch to a F2P model seems to have propped up Atari’s failing boxed retail sales and there is more news on Paradox Interactive’s Salem popping up, confirming perma-death.

* Finally, it seems Bungie are working on a new MMO FPS, possibly titled Destiny. Rumours abound about this ambitious project, which will be Bungie’s first post-Halo offering.

Main news

The big story today is that Crysis 2 and Killzone 3 have both been leaked onto the internet by pirates. The PS3 Killzone 3 leak comes after the Sony’s failed attempts to subpoena Google and Twitter in relation to PS3 hacks. In a joint statement, EA and Crytek lamented the leak of Crysis 2 and encouraged players to buy the game.

What this has lead to is two rather undesirable groups emerging: on the one hand we have the pirates themselves who use all sorts of justifications for their illegal activity and on the other PC gamers who run to levels of self-depreciation that would make Opus Dei members pause. What is needed, in my opinion, is a middle ground between these ultimately unhelpful extremes.

As an example of a better middle ground, l would present the reactions of people like Ice-Pick Lodge in response to the piracy of The Void and that of Gratuitous Space Battles creator Cliff Harris. They spoke with and tried to understand why pirates pirated games, Ice Pick even made a torrent of bonus content available. They were not sympathetic to pirates, as Cliff Harris wrote in his summary of events, but they tried to tackle the problem without useless recourse to DRM or talking about pirates while using the noun “fuck” or the adjective “fucking” every five seconds. As to The Void and GSB, I encourage everyone to look at and buy those excellent games.

Our second story is about the fate of Mirror’s Edge 2. EA rejected the pitch given by Swedish developer DICE after what was acknowledged to be less than expected sales of the first game. Despite excellent reviews, the game only entered UK charts at 20. While people at DICE have moved on to Battlefield 3, EA commented to 1UP claiming that the game was still in the background, refusing to confirm the game’s cancellation, and that it was “an important franchise” to EA. Further news on the future of the game as it comes. I personally find it telling that EA thinks of it as “IP” and a franchise rather than as a game, but that is inevitable given they are a large publisher who think in terms of what sells or does not rather than the innovation, beauty and grace of a game.

That’s all for the second week in gaming. Have a good weekend.