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by Ethos

Hey! Look! Listen! #52

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

It’s TUESDAY, everyone! And you know what that means; or, you should.

That’s right, it’s time for a big, beautiful new edition of Hey! Look! Listen! I’m your host Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and just two days ago, I managed to delete my ENTIRE music collection off my computer. And off my external. Case in point: it was all completely, 100 percent gone.

Well, I actually managed to recover some of it with recovery software. And Charlie, being a music man, has quite a collection for me to sample from. So, it wasn’t as awful as it could have been. Even as we speak, I’m enjoying psychedelic tones of The Flaming Lips. (Soft Bulletin, to be specific.)

But nobody cares about that. It’s time to talk about VIDJA GAMEZ

Courtesy of Kotaku's latest Shop Contest.

26 Employees Have Left Infinity Ward

Ahhh. Karma’s a bitch, eh Mr. Kotick?

Last Friday, five more people packed their bags and left Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward. During the subsequent weekend, three more people left. And, just yesterday, five more parted ways with the sinking development studio.

The total number of IW employees who have jumped ship is now at 26. Of those 26, 12 have been confirmed to now be employed by upstart development studio Respawn, which is headed up by ex-Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella.

There’s nothing quite like a good quitting story. And this is one of the best I’ve heard in a while. I really hope Activision recognizes the fact that they’re reaping what they’ve sown here. As far as I’m concerned, Modern Warfare is dead – I’m ready to see what Respawn Entertainment as in store for us. (Kotaku, VG247)

California’s Violent Game Bill Being Re-Heated

Mmmm, microwaved Violent Game Legislation leftovers.  So gewd, so gewd.

Well, not really. But it makes for some good Game Journalism fodder, I guess. Remember California Senator Leland Yee? He actually used to be in gaming headlines fairly often, mostly because of the bill he wrote stipulating the restriction of violent game sales to minors. The bill was actually signed into law by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but then subsequently blocked by the state courts.

And now, for god-knows-what-reason, the damn thing is going to the supreme court.

As you can imagine, certain people are happy about this, and certain other people are not. Mike Gallagher, head of the Entertainment Software Association, is not. Speaking to Kotaku, he said the bill “…could have a distinct chilling effect on the types of games that are made, the types of games that are marketed, and certainly the types of games that are sold, and how widely available they are.”

Yes, well, any law that essentially defines the demographic of certain products could have that effect.

Leland Yee, on the other hand, is more optimistic on the matter. Makes sense, I suppose, seeing that he wrote the bill and whatnot. Here’s what he had to say to Kotaku:

This is not about Leland Yee trying to destroy the industry. This is not about Leland Yee trying to prevent any of you game [developers] from developing any more atrocious kinds of games. This is a free society. If you have the imagination to do something even more horrible with the technology, then god bless you. That’s part of our freedom of expression here in America, but you just have to figure out when it’s appropriate and when it’s not appropriate. For me, as a child psychologist you ought not be doing it for kids.

He just couldn’t resist those smug, holier-than-thou comments that tend to characterize game-hating politicians, could he? Perhaps you’re wondering what Mr. Yee considers an “atrocious” kind of game. This excerpt from his bill shines a little light on the matter:

(A) Comes within all of the following descriptions:
(i) A reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors.
(ii) It is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors.
(iii) It causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
(B) Enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel, or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.

Lots of vague language in there, like “reasonable person,” and “prevailing standards in the community.” Also, (and I know I’m just being difficult here, but still) by my eyes, Link from The Wind Waker inflicts some pretty “serious injury” on “characters with substantially human characteristics.” Maybe not in a “heinous or cruel” fashion, per se, but being bludgeoned with a Master’s Sword certainly involves “serious physical abuse to the victim,” wouldn’t you say?

The silver lining in this scenario is that once the Supreme Court rules on this, it’ll likely put a pretty decisive end to any and all similar litigation. Or… so we can hope, I suppose. (Kotaku)

Dunno who did this, but thanks.

WTF: Square Enix Announces New “Extreme Edges” Label

God. Square Enix continues to display their ignorance of what appeals to Western gamers. Whether it’s releasing a watered-down mockery of Final Fantasy or making an announcement like this, the result is the same: a collective “WTF” from the audience they’re trying so hard to garner.

In the latest Famitsu, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada announced that Western-developed games bearing the CERO D and CERO Z ratings will be published under the new Square Enix Extreme Edges” label. (CERO D is equivalent to an M rating, while CERO Z is similar to the dreaded AO rating.)

Supposedly, the intent of this is to inform consumers of what to expect from the games they buy. My translation: Japanese Square Enix fanbots who buy anything with their logo on it will be spared the pain of purchasing a game like Kane and Lynch: Dog Days.

Yeah… I kinda hope we don’t see that label make its way to the states. It’d be slightly embarassing. (Siliconera)

Kotaku Pisses Off Famitsu

Kotaku recently gave Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu the beatdown it’s deserved for years. Hit the link for the full article, it’s a good read. In a nutshell: Famitsu, and its publisher Enterbrain, are being used to advertise Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PSP. Hell, one ad campaign prominently features the mug of Enterbrain’s president Hirokazu Hamamura. The entire campaign is a pun on his last name.

What a happy-looking man.

As you’ve likely heard, Peace Walker received a perfect score from Famitsu. 40/40. Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft rightfully called this out as a conflict of interest. Famitsu Magazine appears in Peace Walker. Famitsu magazine and Enterbrain are actively promoting the game, and thus, have a vested interest in its success. Any review would be a conflict of interest. And a perfect score? Well, that just looks downright dirty.

Kotaku Japan – which is an entirely different entity from the Kotaku we know – translated and published the article. Ballsy of them, eh? Well, they paid for it. Famitsu quickly contacted them with complaints. Metal Gear publisher Konami contacted them on the same day, and uninvited them to a Peace Walker launch event.

Fishy, fishy, fishy. Remember when receiving a 40/40 from Famitsu was a big deal? Those days are long gone. It’s bad enough how Famitsu is acting, but frankly, the fact that Konami took issue and snubbed Kotaku Japan in such a way is the most damning evidence.

Who knows what really happened. Maybe Konami didn’t buy that 40/40. Maybe it’s a coincidence that they both decided to bitchslap Kotaku on the same day. But no matter what the actual facts are, it’s an entirely inappropriate thing. It is, at the end of the day, a blatant conflict of interest – and that’s a fact. (Kotaku)

Comcast Named Worst Company of 2010 by Consumerist.com

This one will only interest our American readers, probably – but, speaking of, how many of you guys have Comcast? Most of you? Maybe all of you? Yeah, they kinda have a stranglehold on the cable internet market. As a result, they’ve never really had to care about those things called “customers” Oh, and that 250 GB per-month limit? What’s up with that? And that FCC ruling they pushed through? Come on, now.

Anyway. Through the very internets they supply, they’ve finally gotten theirs. Kinda. People over at Consumerist.com voted them 2010’s Worst Company in America, beating out titans such as Ticketmaster, Cash4Gold, and Apple. Mikel Fahey of Kotaku had this to say:

Congratulations, Comcast! I’d send you an e-card or something, but I need to watch my bandwidth, jerks.

I really should stop wanking off Kotaku. Maybe it’ll happen one day. (Kotaku)

When I’m working for them. HA!

Erm, well anyway, that’s all she wrote for today, folks. Look for my decision as to what backlog game I’ll be tackling later tonight!

Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

HLLfinal

Just to echo the sentiments of my current Facebook status, there really aren’t enough hours in a day.  So very much to do, and so little time to do it all. But, if I accomplish nothing else today, at least I can take pleasure in this Tuesday edition of Hey! Look! Listen!

Welcome to Hey! Look! Listen! everyone! I’m your host Oliver Motok, and I think I’m developing carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. Makes typing this a bit painful, but I’m doing my best to ignore it. After all, the show must go on… am I right?

That’s enough directionless musing from me. Let’s move on to the meat of things.

vgmusicBoston Music College Training Videogame Composers

Berklee Music College in Boston is offering five different classes this semester that will teach students the many nuances of composing music specifically for videogames. By my knowledge, this is the first time an accredited university has offered something like this. From a Boston Globe report:

Berklee is offering five classes this semester in video game audio or game scoring. Sweet says his typical student is not only knowledgeable about state-of-the-art video games like Modern Warfare and BioShock but also has classroom experience in disciplines like sound production, voice acting, music technology, and film scoring.

Versatility and familiarity are important. In writing for games, composers must anticipate and create cues for the various layers and levels a player passes through. Story lines and scenes change rapidly and unpredictably. As technology improves and memory space expands, moreover, these games have grown more sophisticated, visually and sonically. Players’ expectations rise accordingly, creating a demand for such elements as a full orchestral score.

Interesting. I have absolutely no musical talent or inclinations, so I can’t offer any meaningful commentary – but, if nothing else, this is an intriguing concept. Is it useful or necessary? That I don’t know. Perhaps some of our more musically-inclined readers can comment below. (Kotaku).

Mass Effect 2BioWare Announces “Cerberus Pipeline” Service for Mass Effect 2

In a recent press release, BioWare announced that in order to access DLC for Mass Effect 2, players will use an in-game portal known as the Cerberus Pipeline. This portal is activated by a single-use code that comes packed with the game. Players who purchase the game used will be offered to purchase a new single-use code in-game.

The Cerberus Pipeline will give players access to “bonus content as well as daily messages and news on upcoming releases for Mass Effect 2 for no extra charge.” The first DLC pack will be released concurrently with the game (January 26) and will be given to players free of charge. Included in this pack is “a mission that introduces Zaeed, a rugged and deadly gun-for-hire who is recruited to join Commander Shepard’s mission to save mankind.” In short, you get a new mission and a new party member.

Well, that’s just neato! Mass Effect 2 hits stores in exactly one week. We plan on devoting an entire theme week to it here at Riddlethos, so stay tuned.

GoW3God of War III is Not the End

This hardly comes as a surprise, but I suppose it’s worth reporting.  Sony Santa Monica has stated that God of War III might be the end of the trilogy, but it’s not the end of the franchise. “This is not the end of God of War,” said John Hight, Sony Santa Monica’s director of product development ”This is definitely the end of the trilogy, but we’re going to continue to do God of War games.”

“We’re going to be very careful about what we do; we’re the keepers of the franchise and we don’t want to see it ruined or polluted.”

Well good, because neither do we. God of War III will hit Japan on March 25. A North American release is expected soon afterwards. (GamerVision via VG247).

Jordan ThomasGood Read: Kotaku Talks to BioShock 2’s Creative Director

The original BioShock remains my favorite game of this console generation, and it’s because I adore it so much that I’ve been skeptical about the relevance or necessity of a BioShock 2.

But I have to admit, in spite of my endless bitterness and negativity, I’ve been slowly warming up to BioShock 2 for a variety of reasons. This interview with Jordan Thomas, the game’s creative director, is one of those reasons. It honestly sounds like the guy is in this project for all the right reasons – and, as a fan, I can’t really ask for much more.

Hit the link below to read the full article; I’ll just spoil the ending for you here: “We genuinely believe Bioshock is more about asking questions than sending a message,” Thomas says. “We want to know your answers.” (Kotaku).

evil_bobbyBecause it Made Me Laugh: Bobby Kotick Admits that Activision’s Spider-Man Games Have “Sucked”

Bobby Kotick may be a greedy fat asshead, but at least he’s an honest greedy fat asshead. In the most recent Game Informer, this is what he had to say about his company’s Spider-Man games:

“Our Spider-Man games have sucked for the last five years. They are bad games. They were poorly rated because they were bad games.

“We went away from what is Spider-Man. It’s about web-slinging. If you don’t do web-slinging, what is the fantasy of Spider-Man?”

So. Does this mean we can now look forward to Spider-Man games that, y’know… don’t suck? Or does Mr. Kotick just have a penchant for stating the obvious? (Destructoid via Game Informer).

And that’s a wrap for today, folks. There is much else that requires my attention. Look for my first post concerning JRPG Relapse Week soon, in which I’ll announce what four games I’ll be playing.

‘Till then!