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Smoke and Mirrors

I have a confession to make: I have not played Viva Piñata.

I hear tell it's a great game, I dunno if that's true or not, but I'll take my friends at their word when they say it. None-the-less, it is that ignorance of the game that brought me to the topic I want to discuss, so bear with me.

You see, two people who I have a great deal of respect for have extolled the virtues of the game to me. They say its emergent and explain the gameplay in breathless tones that tell me just as much about how compelling the game is as their stories... But, here's what I found interesting: They both told the same stories... Read more»

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Apple, The New Microsoft?

Apple, The New Microsoft? - VE3OGG writes "Apple, the penultimate source of cool. The marketers of slick. The next 'evil empire'? While it might sound goofy at first, Rolling Stone magazine is running an article that summarizes some very interesting points that detail how Apple could become the next technology bad guy. Among the reasons given: Apple's call to be rid of DRM (while continuing to use it in iTunes); Apple's perceived arrogance when they warned consumers not to upgrade to Vista, while not rushing to fix the problem themselves; and Apple's seemingly unstoppable market dominance in the form of the iPod. The iPhone featured heavily as well, aproduct that is months from release but steals the press from more competitive products. What do you think, could Apple eventually take the place of Microsoft?"
[Slashdot Updates]

Eventually? Eventually? Come on... They've been selling you a lie since Ridley Scott made that kick ass commercial back in... 1984 They've been the evil empire the whole time. Don't you people get it? There are no good guys in the platform war. Microsoft, Apple, Sony... ALL THE SAME.
(continued...) Read more»

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NCsoft profits drop by more than 40 per cent

NCsoft profits drop by more than 40 per cent - Korean games company NCsoft has posted a 41 per
cent decrease in pre-tax profits, blaming the fall on
increased costs relating to product
development.
[GamesIndustry.biz news]

Boom, and there it is. That report right there, is why they wrote off Auto Assault, last year. Not that I'm saying that AA is a success, but neither is it a total failure. However, by declaring it so and writing it off, they get to use it as the reason costs are so high and they're losing money.

Now, I know *nothing* about NCSoft's business, so understand this is pure speculation here, nothing more. Still, one wonders why there's no mention of Tabula Rasa's being years late, at this point. Surely the costs on a project that late must be spinning out of control, right? But, since AA launched and it launched to a smaller audience than they intended, they don't need to air that piece of laundry, do they? They have a ready made scape-goat, right there. Read more»

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Ahh, it's good to be back...

As many of you know, for the last few months I've been out of the MMO dev game and working on Dirty Harry for the Xbox 360. Well, I am pleased as can be to say that I'm back into the MMO space, once again.

Now, I'm gonna be a bit secretive about what I'm working on, or for who, but that's not really important to this blog anyway (The project is unannounced and years away from shipping). Instead, I want to talk about making games for the next gen consoles.

On the surface, making games for the 360 doesn't seem all that different from making an Xbox game (the last console I dev'd for before the 360). As a designer, my tasks were very similar. However once you scratch the surface, there's a ton more work that has to be done.

For example, I've worked on some Xbox games where we had a *total* of maybe 1500 animations in the whole game. On DHX? Our main character had that many and more. All in all the level of detail allowed by the new hardware (Both PS3 and 360) creates a sort of "burden of responsibility" to include as much detail as possible. The result can be thousands upon thousands of animations. The thing is, how much of this detail is going to actually be noticed by players? As developers, we hope they see all of it, but honestly, I don't think most of it will be noticed at all. This lead me to the first lesson I learned while working on the 360: Read more»

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Auto Assault users are awesome

I got a PM from an AA user this morning pointing me to this thread. I laughed my ass off!

Why you ask?

I won't give anything important away, but the last post which I read just a moment ago is awesome. You see, the Tierra Roja Dam is the Hoover Dam, as it existed when it was first built, but on a much smaller scale.

It's not the Hoover Dam in the lore, but we used old black and white photos of the Hoover dam as reference material when we built it. Highway 80 on the other hand, is entirely fictional; no such place exists in the real world.

I'll leave it up to you players of the game to conclude what our intent was when Homie (and the original Human lead, Death Pig), MaRaider (and the original Biomek lead, Benefice) and I determined what regions we'd include in the game. As a hint, I'll just say that it's working, admirably.

- Snipehunter

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