Rage: The Dawn Trailer

Oh look, Rage has a story. There’s an asteroid and um, dune buggies and mutants. It’s like Hemingway, but with a shotgun. I don’t remember any of the Hemingway I read while in school and it’s possible it already has a shotgun, so if so, please excuse the joke as the ramblings of an illiterate buffoon. In any case, enjoy the trailer.

Sunday Time Waster: Gaming is Dead


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Being a gamer of “my age” is significant. Gamers of my age, if you’ve been a gamer for most of those years, are part of a club, of sorts. A weird, AV Club type of club but a club nonetheless.

We have been here from the beginning. (Remember The Gaming Tree: http://nohighscores.com/node/378) It’s pretty cool when you think about it. Every generation can say this about something: radio, television, telegraph, telemundo, whatever. Every generation isn’t limited of course to one thing, but for my generation it was videogames and MTV.

Says a lot about us, no?

Being here from the get go, though, should give us some perspective on things. Being a PC gamer I have been reading and hearing about how PC gaming is next to dead for about 20 years now. The PlayStation was going to kill it. The PS2 was going to kill it. The mass market appeal of videogames and the finicky nature of the PC were going to kill it. The Xbox was basically a PC so it was definitely going to kill it. Of course none of that happened – the PC marketplace simply adapted. In fact the PC gaming scene is alive, well, and perfectly dandy thank you very much. I’d like to play more sports games on my PC but oh well.

The current bogeyman, to not only PC games but for big screen TV console games, lurks on social networks and inside your telephone. Soon, the only games you’ll be able to play involve some type of ‘Ville or will cost 3.99 to download. I understand the nature of the reaction to a lot of these games. No one likes to “lose” a great developer like Brian Reynolds to Facebook. But one thing about our industry: it’s constantly adapting, evolving, and feeding the needs of the consumer in one way or the other. In other words, the tent is plenty big enough for iPhone Apps and Facebook games…and PC games, and console games, and other handheld games.

Human nature doesn’t change all that much though. PC gamers were saying the exact same thing about console games that console gamers are saying about Facebook games today. The parallel is striking. You kids and your crazy cassette tapes and Walkmans.

When John Carmack said recently that in two years cell phones will be more powerful than current gen consoles it raised eyebrows. Does this mean big consoles are soon to go the way of the Vectrex? It’s as if people truly think that in five years there will be no more videogames – just games inside a browser or on the App Store. It’s like progress has shifted in reverse!

Our industry may very well look different in five years. Think back ten years ago – to 2001 – and remember how different our industry was then. It moves so fast (and yet at times remains so shockingly stale) that technology is going to consistently keep things moving. There are positive trends too, though. Yves Jacquier of UbiSoft said recently that “AI” was the next battleground in videogames. Think about how stunning that statement is in an industry that continues to get so wrapped up in aesthetics and gloss. AI will be the next battleground?

Folks we can only hope.

There is fear, though. Some developers and publishers (more so developers) are downright scared of the current trend toward Facebook and tablets and cell phones. Some seem downright mad at “real gamers” for playing them. It’s like a parent yelling, “You’re just encouraging them!”

History tells them not to be worried. For every company, like Disney, that hints at abandoning consoles to focus on Social Games, it opens the door for another publisher to step in. Or not. Regardless, videogames aren’t going anywhere…they are simply changing. Likely to more downloadable games and far less need for stores like GameStop to even exist, at least in its current format.

Gamers of may age remember glory days of games like Ultima, Bard’s Tale, DOOM, Pole Position, hell even Space Invaders. You think that Angry Birds will be remembered that way by this generation?

Should it be?

***
Hey we have a game to give away!

The winner of Dungeon Siege III on the 360 according to the magic spinning wheel that is Random/Org is…

themanmonkey

Email has been sent, thanks for entering, we’ll do another one soon! Likely a download so all you cool people in Brazil can enter, too.

Disney to Leave Consoles?


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There is an article on Eurogamer today about why Disney closed the doors on Black Rock, developer of Split/Second and Pure. In it, analyst Nicholas Lovell of GAMESbrief said:

“I’m completely unsurprised that they shut down the studio, when they are no longer focused on console. The new management of Disney Interactive is under a lot of pressure to become profitable, and they are looking for any way to cut costs. I can’t say that closing Black Rock is the most expedient way to cut costs, but the leadership of Disney Interactive comes from internet backgrounds, and they seem pretty focused on social games rather than on packaged products. Accordingly, it appears to me that they are more inclined to cut costs on the packaged goods side than on the social games side, and I think this is evidence of that inclination.”

You can read the rest of the piece here.

You have to wonder if this is a less violent version of the Domino Theory, as more and more companies begin to abandon packaged games and continue to head down the App and Facebook route which is the current trend.

But like anything else , just how saturated can the Facebook and app markets become before it, too, spills on the floor and makes a mess?

Planetside 2 Announced


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Sony Online may be reducing prices and merging servers left and right but the company is still cranking out MMOs. The next one in line is Planetside 2, sequel to the shooter sci-fi MMO.

You can go to the game’s home page (http://www.planetside2.com/) to read a short FAQ and view a few screens.

What is PlanetSide 2?

PlanetSide 2 is a Massively Multiplayer first person shooter. Battles take place not between dozens of troops, but thousands; with air and ground vehicles slugging it out alongside squads of troops. Whether in open fields, tightly-packed urban centers or enormous structures, winning requires strategic teamwork and a quick trigger finger.

More Battlefield 3 Details Revealed


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The Battlefield 3 blog has been updated with tons of new info. Here’s a snip:

As mentioned, the four classes available in Battlefield 3 are Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. All classes include familiar elements, but this time around, we’re tweaking things a bit, bringing something new to our online multiplayer. Our Assault class is still the frontline run and gun class, and considering the havoc and fallen team members someone will see while on the frontlines, the Assault soldier now has medic abilities. That’s right, all the abilities such as medkits and defibrillators typically found on the Medic class are now incorporated into Assault. It makes sense that the class on the frontline will be able to revive fallen team mates, right? Right! Remember, you can play it your way, so if you want to customize your Assault soldier more towards medic abilities or towards serious gunplay, it’s totally up to you.

There’s a mess of new info on the blog going into detail about each of the classes available so mosey over and take a look.

Barnes' Guide to Dealing with The Devil- or, Gamestop Trading Tips

I am an enemy of the video games industry. You see, I regularly buy, sell and trade used games and I do so without a lick of concern for how it affects the corporate bottom line. I have yet to see penniless game developers on the street, carrying placards that read “Out of work due to used games sales- will code for food”. Likely, the cut of sales that the little guys in the equation gets is exponentially smaller than what their corporate overlords bank anyway. For all of the paywalls, preorder bonuses, single-use save files and other tactics publishers are using to combat the dreaded specter of used games sales, I don’t see that the $70 billion+ industry is strapped for cash all that much or in its death throes so I engage in the aftermarket with a clear conscience. At least until digital downloads completely decimate the used market.

Apart from absolute favorite, top-shelf games and those that have endless replay value, I trade almost everything that comes through my door. I rarely play through story-driven games more than once and after that they gather dust on a shelf if I don’t move them out and keep my “games economy” fluid. I’m at the point now where, between the occasional review copy and trading, I rarely have to pay full price for any game- or console- that I want.

It may come as a surprise, but my primary trading partner is Gamestop. Yes, that hated, maligned name that causes gamers to gnash their teeth and wince in agony. But here’s the deal. If you know how to work with them and their trade-in policies, you can do pretty well there despite what others might tell you. The problem is that everyone has gone into a Gamestop at some point in their life with a game and come out shocked at how little trade value was offered for it, leading to “ripoff” complaints in internet forums leading up to and including allegations of Nazism and diabolism. Here are my exclusive tips on how to conduct congress with the devil and not get taken to the cleaners on your trade-ins.

1) Have realistic expectations. This is the number one piece of trading advice I can give in dealing with not only Gamestop, but any trade-in venue. Don’t be an idiot and walk into a trading/resale environment expecting to get full retail value for what you’re bringing in and don’t expect to turn a profit whatever you do. If you ever watch Pawn Stars, this happens all the time- someone brings something in, gets it appraised, and when they’re asked by Rick or the Old Man what they want for it they give back the full retail or “at auction” price. Which, of course, causes the pawnbrokers to kind of nod and grimace because it’s clear that they’re dealing with a moron at that point that does not understand how retail operates- buy low, sell high. With this in mind, don’t expect to get $30 trade-in for a copy of Madden ’09 and don’t think for a minute that you’re going to get your $59.99 back for a game you bought last week. Gamestop and other traders are in it to make money, and they’re going to give you a price based on a number of factors including quantity on hand, relative demand, and the current retail price of a game. It’s a corporate formula, and it’s not at the discretion of the employee. A good rule of thumb I’ve found is to expect to get no more than 30-40% of the used value of what you’re bringing in. Check their Web site for what their prices look like before you go.

2) Trade in bulk. Don’t take in one or two games at a time, because you want to be able to mitigate the lower value stuff in aggregate with the things you get more for. This is especially important when Gamestop is doing their tiered trades, where you get extra credit for bringing in certain numbers of games. Earlier this week I took in seven games and got an extra 40% credit. Since I had $100 base value, that was an additional $40 of trade. So that copy of Resistance: Fall of Man that normally nets $3 in trade actually contributed to that extra $40. I usually keep a couple of cheap games around that I’ve found at thrift stores, clearance endcaps at Target, or whatever to help me get into those upper trading tiers- a $2 game can wind up giving you an extra $10, easily. Trading new games in these tiered deals is great too- back when I flipped Just Cause 2, I wound up trading it in for $55 after bonuses in a big trade. Just $5 less than I paid for it. Can’t beat that on Glyde, Goozex, Half.com, or whatever.

3) Get their stupid Power Up Rewards card. It’s $15 a year, but if you trade a lot there it more than makes up for the cost because you get an extra 10% on every trade. That’s ten bucks on every hundred, and it’s on top of any other percentage bonus they’re offering. So when they do a rare 50% trade bonus, you wind up getting 60%, which is pretty much the maximum you’ll get out of these guys. They also have a rewards program tied to the card now so you accumulate points which can be redeemed for store coupons. I just turned in a $50 coupon this week to pick up Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon for free and had ten bucks left so I rebought Deadly Premonition, which was also at a 10% discount ($2) since it was used and that’s another benefit of the card.

4) Watch for deals. They’re doing a thing right now where you can get a 40% bonus (50 if you have the card, remember) on preordering the big E3 games. They’ll frequently run deals where you can trade two games off of a list to get a new title for $10 or less, bit I’ve found that this kind of sucks because you’re looking at a flat $25 value versus tiered trades with bonuses which will generally net you a better take. They’ll also do big bonuses from time to time on console trade-ins, particularly around the time a new one is coming out. I traded in a DS Lite (that I got in a board game trade) and got $75 toward my 3DS- not bad at all, considering the most I could have Ebayed it for at the time would have been about that much, not accounting for listing and Paypal fees. When I traded my Wii in, they had an advertised $25 bonus on it so it wound up selling for $90. Signed, sealed, delivered with no shipping or finding a buyer online. I’ll take it.

5) Realize that games are a fluid commodity. This is a tougher one because it’s ideological and it doesn’t have anything to do with Gamestop or any other retailer. It has to do with you. The point here is to understand that any game you trade in can be bought or traded for again- and by the time you’re ready to do that, at likely a lower price. Games are not collectibles, except in very isolated circumstances. They make many thousands and even millions of these things, and with the internet it’s possible to get just about anything you want within three days shipping time. Realizing this makes it a lot easier to keep your “games economy” flowing when you’re not holding on to a game for posterity’s sake or whatever. There’s always something new coming out too, so it’s not like you’ll suddenly be at a loss for something to play. Remember, a game sitting on your shelf is worth zero dollars- less than whatever Gamestop will offer you in trade. It won’t be long before you can download anything you want anyway. You wouldn’t keep 8-Tracks lying around would you?

6) Understand that you are accepting a lower value in exchange for convenience and immediacy. You will not get the same trade-in value for a game as you would get selling it on Half.com, but you’re also not tasked with finding a buyer, paying fees, packaging, and going to the post office- all while your money sits in escrow with them. Gamestop doesn’t have Paypal or listing fees, either. I’d just as soon accept $32 for my copy of Little Big Planet 2 as I would to sell it on Half.com for $38 and deal with the process and time involved.

7) For god’s sake, don’t sell to them. Their cash prices for games are abysmal. You’re looking at 15-20% of the used value, and at that point online marketplaces are the better option. Go in strictly to get store credit or you’re going to lose out big time. It’s how they operate, and inevitably they get thousands of people in every year that just kind of shrug and take the dollars, complaining later to the Internet that they got ripped off. Don’t be that guy. Be smarter than him.

The bottom line is that trading at Gamestop is only a ripoff if you go in there with unrealistic expectations and don’t know how to work their system to maximize trade values. They have a system that includes certain customer incentives and bonuses, and understanding how to best take advantage of them means that you’ll walk out with quite a bit more value and much less disappointment than someone that just walks in off the street with two old games expecting that they’ll trade up two-for-one for something that just came out. It’s a hustle, but if you know how to run “thangs” you can come out on top.

Oh, and my copy of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries? $30 total trade value on it. So much for “not accepting trades” on that one due to the single save file.

Abner Household Rejoices! The Sims Medieval Pirates and Nobles Announced


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Oh happy day. Did you know that The Sims Medieval is one of the best games released so far in 2011? It’s true. And I’m not even much of a Sims fan, although my daughter is what you might call an addict for the virtual dollhouse game.

Sims Medieval, though, is a whole ‘nother game. And a great one to boot. Now we get an expansion with pirates and nobles this August. Woo hoo.

* A New Kingdom Ambition – Can you end the war between Tredony and Aarbyville?
* New Quests that follow a story arc
* New Signature Objects – The Interrogation Chair and pet falcons and parrots
* New Traits
* Over 140 Pirate and Nobility themed objects
* New pirate and noble outfits and hats
* Treasure Hunting, complete with maps, shovels, rare treasure and some surprising dangers

PR Ahead:

First Adventure Pack for The Sims Medieval to Ship August 2011

The EA Play Label of Electronic Arts Inc. announced today that The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles is currently in development and will ship in August 2011. The Sims Medieval: Pirates & Nobles adventure pack introduces players to new quests, treasure hunting, and hundreds of new objects for their medieval kingdom.

“This first adventure pack to The Sims Medieval gives players more freedom to play as they want, which is the earmark of the Sims brand,” said Scott Evans, General Manager of The Sims Studio. “For our players that want more guided gameplay, they will find new quests and one new Kingdom Ambition, and for those who prefer the sandbox world of The Sims, they will find more time to explore life in the Middle Ages.”

The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles provides players with more variety and new choices in every aspect of the game. A player’s heroic story begins when the Pirates of Aarbyville and the Nobles of Tredony arrive in the kingdom, followed quickly by sword fights, love affairs, grand adventures and mysteries. For those who enjoy the rush of heroic missions, new quests expand upon the original adventures like finding the fountain of youth or protecting the kingdom from an evil sorcerer. The war between Tredony and Aarbyville creates a new ambition and opportunity for players to suit up their kingdoms. Players can choose to be anyone from a king or queen to a knight or blacksmith, and with that, prepare for voyage accordingly. Treasure hunting is a exciting new gameplay feature in the pack with maps, shovels, rare treasures and surprising dangers, while challenging players to find hidden objects and search for desirable rewards that will benefit their Hero Sims. Other new items include birds that you can name and train, and interrogation chairs.

The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles has a range of pirate and nobility-themed items that players can use to revamp their creation of legendary swords or embellish their customized royal weddings with new fashion pieces. Bold new signature items can be used as rewards or punishments. As a treat, Hero Sims can now be accompanied by companions such as pet falcons or parrots. If Sims have been more naughty than nice, players can subject them to extreme punishments such as the interrogation chair. (my daughter will use this, frequently)

Developed by The Sims Studio, The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles for PC/Mac will hit shelves in August 2011. To download artwork, please visit www.info.ea.com. For more information about The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles, please visit www.info.ea.com or the official website at www.piratesandnobles.com.

Demo for Pirates of Black Cove Released


Paradox has released a demo for Pirates of Black Cove. Not quite sure what to think of this one and I am normally not one to download demos, but I might give this a look because I simply have no clue what to expect other than tongue in cheek pirate stuff.

You can grab the demo here:

Driver San Francisco Car Reveal Trailer


I had a grand old time with this game at E3.

Here’s the full car list…complete with 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass and Bentley.

Abarth 500 (2008)
Abarth Fiat 695 ss Assetto Corse (1970)
Alfa Romeo 159 Ti (2009)
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione (2007)
Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ2 (1965)
Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2010)
Alfa Romeo Mito (2009)
Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto (1966)
AMC Pacer (1980)
Aston Martin Cygnet (2011)
Aston Martin DB5 (1963)
Aston Martin DB9 Volante (2010)
Aston Martin Rapide (2010)
Aston Martin V12 Vantage (2010)
Audi A4 2.0 TFSI (2010)
Audi Q7 4.2 FSI quattro (2010)
Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro (2010)
Audi RS 6 Avant (2008)
Audi S5 Coupe (2010)
Audi Sport quattro S1 – Rally (1985)
Audi TT RS Coupe (2010)
Bentley Arnage T (2005)
Bentley Continental Supersports (2010)
Cadillac CTS-V (2010)
Cadillac DTS (2010)
Cadillac Eldorado (1959)
Cadillac Escalade (2007)
Cadillac Escalade – Cop (2007)
Cadillac XLR-V (2009)
Chevrolet Bel Air (1957)
Chevrolet Blazer (2001)
Chevrolet C10 (1965)
Chevrolet C10 – Tow-Truck (1965)
Chevrolet Camaro SS (1968)
Chevrolet Camaro SS – Jones’ car (2010)
Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (1986)
Chevrolet Chevelle SS (1970)
Chevrolet Corvette (1960)
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – Drift (2009)
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (2010)
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – Cop (2010)
Chevrolet El Camino (1973)
Chevrolet Impala (2006)
Chevrolet Impala – Taxi (2006)
Chevrolet Volt (2011)
DeLorean DMC-12 (1983)
Dodge Challenger R/T – Tanner’s car (1970)
Dodge Challenger SRT8 (2009)
Dodge Charger R/T (1969)
Dodge Charger SRT8 (2009)
Dodge Charger SRT8 – Cop (2009)
Dodge Grand Caravan (2009)
Dodge Grand Caravan – Taxi (2009)
Dodge Monaco (1974)
Dodge Monaco – Cop (1974)
Dodge Neon (2002)
Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie (2010)
Dodge Ram SRT10 – Jericho’s car (2006)
Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR (2009)
Ford Crown Victoria (1999)
Ford Crown Victoria – Cop (1999)
Ford Crown Victoria – Taxi (1999)
Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew (2010)
Ford F-350 Super Duty (2008)
Ford Gran Torino (1974)
Ford GT (2006)
Ford Mustang Convertible (2008)
Ford Mustang GT Fastback (1968)
Ford Mustang Mach 1 (1973)
Ford RS200 – Rally (1985)
Ford Shelby GT500 (2010)
Ford Taurus SHO (2010)
GMC C5500 (2008)
GMC C5500 – Ambulance (2008)
GMC Savana – News Van (2005)
GMC Sierra (1998)
GMC Sierra – Monster Truck (1998)
GMC Vandura (1983)
Hudson Hornet (1951)
Hummer H3X (2009)
Jaguar E-Type (1966)
Jaguar XFR (2010)
Jaguar XKR (2010)
Jeep Wrangler (1988)
Lamborghini Countach LP400S (1978)
Lamborghini Diablo VT (1994)
Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (2009)
Lamborghini Jalpa (1986)
Lamborghini Miura (1972)
Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (2007)
Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV (2009)
Lancia Stratos – Rally (1974)
Lincoln Town Car (2010)
Maserati GranTurismo S (2008)
McLaren F1 (1997)
McLaren MP4-12C (2011)
McLaren SLR (2008)
Nissan 370Z (2009)
Nissan 370Z – Drift (2009)
Nissan GT-R (2010)
Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33) – Drift (1998)
Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 (1970)
Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (1972)
Pagani Zonda Cinque (2009)
Pontiac GTO The Judge (1970)
Pontiac Lemans (1971)
Pontiac Solstice GXP (2009)
Pontiac Solstice GXP – Drift (2009)
Pontiac Trans Am (1975)
Pontiac Trans Am (1977)
Pontiac Trans Am (1980)
Range Rover Sport Supercharged (2010)
Ruf CTR 3 (2010)
Ruf CTR Yellow Bird (1987)
Ruf RK Coupe (2010)
Ruf RK Spyder (2009)
Ruf Rt 12 (2010)
Shelby Cobra 427 (1966)
Shelby GT500 (1967)
Volkswagen Camper (1965)
Volkswagen Scirocco R (2009)
Volkswagen Scirocco R – Rally (2009)
Volkswagen Baja Buggy (1963)
Volkswagen Beetle (1963)
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible (2009)

Don't Shoot the Food – Insect Armageddon Edition

No High Scores

That lovable mug you see up there is me, several years ago, enjoying a tasty plate of fried crickets. There was an exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens on bugs, complete with giant bug sculptures, hissing cockroaches and classes on how to cook with bugs. Now, when I say classes on cooking with bugs, I don't mean that you and your good buddy Donny Dragonfly whip up a pie, but I mean that you cook bugs. You cook them and then you eat them...

Not one to pass up such a culinary treat, I decided to partake of the cricket stir fry. No one else in our party did and my wife refused to kiss me until I got home and had given my teeth a thorough scrubbing. Crickets don’t taste like much of anything and with all of the vegetables and rice in the stir fry you wouldn’t have been able to taste them any way. They do break apart in your mouth like a bunch of tiny sticks though, so the dish isn’t a big winner on the mouth feel department.

Seeing how I’ve been playing a ton of Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, I thought it would be nice to bust out a bug filled recipe. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not made this recipe, nor do I plan on it so I apologize in advance for putting forth something I haven’t made. The temptation was too great though and the only food I’ve seen in Avadon are mushrooms and beef jerky and frankly, I’d rather eat bugs.

This recipe for chocolate chip cricket cookies popped up quite a bit when I did my research on cooking with insects. I can’t imagine that there are a lot of insect based recipes floating around out there so if something ends up being good, I can see it floating to the top. For your cricket needs, you can buy live crickets at either bait stores or pet stores. When you get them home, place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes and that should take care of them. Rinse them off, pat them dry, place them on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 200 degree oven for about two hours. If you want to get rid of the mouth o’ sticks feeling, take the legs off of the bugs before baking with them.

Chocolate Chip Cricket Cookies

Ingredients
1. 2 1/4 cup flour
2. 1 tsp. baking soda
3. 1 tsp. salt
4. 1 cup butter, softened
5. 3/4 cup sugar
6. 3/4 cup brown sugar
7. 1 tsp. vanilla
8. 2 eggs
9. 1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
10. 1 cup chopped nuts
11. 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Cooking Steps
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a small bowl combine the first three ingredients.
3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy.
4. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
5. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix well.
6. Fold in the crickets, chocolate chips and nuts and mix until fully incoporated.
7. Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, one rounded teaspoon at a time.
8. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

Serve with a cold glass of milk and enjoy. While you’re enjoying your crunchy treat, think of the brave men and women of the EDF that laid down their lives fighting the insect menace. They probably deserve better than bug cookies, but they’re not real so I’m not going to sweat it.

Still hungry? Check out the Don’t Shoot the Food archive.