Friday, 23 December 2011

2011 Year End Review

Even though I haven't been posting for the entirety of 2011 I've still been paying attention to the gaming trends throughout the year, so I figured that there's really no better way to end this year than with a look at what ultimately happened throughout it.

Perhaps the most pertinent thing that comes to mind when I think of the year as a whole is the first time (at least that I can remember) that Nintendo released a portable console that showed even minor signs of struggling. The somewhat lukewarm response that the 3DS invoked and the subsequent price cut was something that stuck out in my mind as a sign of the way that gaming is changing. People have iPads and smartphones now that are just as ready and able to play games as the traditional handheld devices are. The scope of said games might not be the same, but when Angry Birds is all you really need to kill some time on a bus ride or on a lunch break, then why do you need a 3DS or PSP taking up more space on your body and demanding more concentrated bouts of playtime.

The other bit of news from Nintendo was of course the announcement of the Wii U which will launch next year. Of what I've seen so far I'm decidedly unimpressed, and the other coverage shows that I'm not alone in being so. The Wii was a sort of perfect storm of factors that helped Nintendo back into the spotlight when most people would have assumed they'd be laughed off the stage. The price point and the marketing to everyone, not just gamers but everyone, propelled the system to the top spot of consoles sold this generation. The question is: will such a feat be repeatable? It seems that for the most part the honeymoon is over, and the lack of AAA third party games, the less powerful hardware, and the overall awkwardness of motion controls means that people might be less willing to give Nintendo's next console a chance as they were with this one. Perhaps I'm wrong, in fact it might be quite likely, but only time will ultimately tell.

This was also mostly a year of sequels. Series like Battlefield, Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, The Elder Scrolls, Saint's Row, Batman, Zelda, Gears of War,   and likely many more I'm missing all made a big mark on the industry this year. As I've said there's nothing wrong with sequels, it gives developers a chance to refine what was already good and also get enough gains to perhaps take on riskier ventures. This year though also saw the implosion of the Final Fantasy series, and a lot of people have criticized the market as beginning to stagnate on the whole under a sea of 2 and 3's. That's not to say that there weren't original games though: games from big studios like L.A. Noire and independent offerings like The Binding of Isaac proved that there is still room for creativity in gaming. It's a fine line to tread I believe.

All in all, I'd say that this was a pretty stable year. There have been rumblings that we might see the new Xbox by the end of 2012, but if those prove to be the rumour mill spinning out of control then we are not likely to see anything from Microsoft or Sony until at least 2013. In the meantime the same issues of digital rights, content distribution, and the oft times tumultuous relationship between game makers and game players will likely continue to be the focus of debate and issue for the coming future.

That said who's to say what highs, lows and other general surprises 2012 might have. It's just a matter of taking it as it comes. I look forward to being back in the new year, so until we meet again: Merry Christmas (or whatever else you happen to celebrate or not celebrate) and a Happy New Year.

This is Grahf, signing off until 2012.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Gamer Week 4 - Building a Better Morality System

 Believe it or not despite all my rantings, there are a couple (if only just) of games that for the most part are actually doing the morality thing right.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Gamer Week 3 - Experience Machine as Endgame?

 There will come a day when a game will place a perfect simulation of the entire world at your fingertips. The question is, do we really want that to happen?

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Gamer Week 1 - Morality Meters

 It's keeping a list, it's checking it twice. It'll determine whether you're naughty or nice. But most are less than thrilled when the morality meter comes to town.

Friday, 16 December 2011

OnePlayS - "The publisher will also generate revenue on the used sale"

 Since the industry continues to think that used game and game rental revenue is a problem, one European company has a simple solution: share the profit off these sales.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Of Penguins, Exploits, and Meatsinks - How KoL Dealt with Crisis

 After talking about The Kingdom of Loathing a little yesterday I couldn't help but be reminded of how the game dealt with disaster. So here's how they rose to the occasion.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Freemium Isn't a Dirty Word

 Sure, I don't like Farmville. But that doesn't mean I think freemium games are the devil incarnate (although I still strongly dislike the word itself...)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The False Retirement of A Giant Makes Waves

 There was a recent panic over the speculation that Shigeru Miyamoto -- the man behind Mario, Link, and others -- was retiring. My question is: why?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Guest Article - "Nostalgia is Gross"

I'm happy to play host to something a little different today: the first guest article written for the site, penned by my friend radixius. It ties in to the topic from last week a little, but also works nicely as a stand alone article. Enjoy! If you would like to read more of rad's writing then you can stop by his blog, or if podcasts are more your style he does those too. He's also musically inclined if you wish to give him a listen.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

"Do Games Need to Tell A Story?" Week 4 - More Control, More Impact

 By keeping the player in control it's possible to still give the moments of the game the proper impact. In fact, it can actually be easier.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

"Do Games Need to Tell A Story?" Week 3 - Showing vs. Playing

 Cutscenes are probably the most popular current way to deliver story or other things deemed necessary. The thing is though, isn't too much of a good thing no longer good?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011