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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

A Series of Gaming Confessions from Riddles

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I’ve never completed a Mario game of any variety. I played maybe four or five hours of Mario 64 DS and called it quits.

I’ve never played a Metal Gear game. I own the first three. I watched bits and pieces of my brother’s playthroughs back in the day. That’s it.

My first gaming console ever was a GameCube. If you’ve paid VERY close attention over the years, you’ll know this already. For those who haven’t, here it is in all its blatancy.

I’ve played Call of Duty online maybe three or four times while not intoxicated.

On that note, Black Ops seems to be calling my name. Goodnight, everyone.

~Riddles

Hey! Look! Listen! #67

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

I wrote this entire article before writing an introduction. Why? I don’t know. But now it’s 1:27 PM CST, on Saturday, which is 33 minutes before I have to be at work. And I just got out of bed 27 minutes ago. And I need a shower. And I really don’t want to go to work.

But anyway, yeah, here’s my gift to you for the week. Unfortunately I’m a little too poor to buy Epic Mickey at the moment, although I sure would love to.

But that’s enough. Good day to you all, and please to enjoy below.

Dead Space 2 “Scarier” According to EA Boss

Worried that Dead Space 2 will be sacrificing scares and atmosphere for the sake of bigger guns, bigger action, and multiplayer modes? Yeah, so am I. But hey, John Riccitiello’s played through Dead Space 2 already – and he says that the game is, in fact, “scarier” than the original.

Now, seeing that John is the CEO of EA Games, I can’t help but think that his opinion’s a little biased. Or maybe “biased” isn’t the right word; maybe he’s just lying, because even if it was less scary than the original, it’s not like, y’know, he’d ever say that.

Or maybe he’s telling the truth, and Dead Space 2 will be even scarier than the original game. Maybes, endless maybes.

Speaking personally, I’m excited for Dead Space 2, but I’m fully prepared for an experience akin to BioShock 2. I mean, at least the setting is fresh, but I still get the feeling that there may be a lot of “been there, done that” involved. And there’s a multiplayer mode.

While we’re on the subject of EA Games…

EA Is So Stupid

EA has polished its image quite a bit in the last few years. I’m not entirely sure how they did it – fresh franchises like Dead Space certainly helped, as did undeniably strong, if familiar products such as Battlefield 2. But, at the end of the day, they’re still a money-hungry mega-publisher, and their most audible figures tend to be… well, ignorant businessmen. Like Frank Gibeau, president of the EA Games label. Recently, Mr. Gibeau had some things to say about a few of EA’s more financially disappointing franchises: Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space.

About Mirror’s Edge, he had this to say:

“There were issues with the learning curve, the difficulty, the narrative, and then there was no multiplayer either.

“The key learning from us was that if you’re going to be bold with that kind of concept, you need to take it as far as it can go in development.”

Hm, well, most of that sounds legit, except… no multiplayer? Listed as a con? Outside of money-speak, I’m not sure you can list the lack of a game mode as a detriment to its quality.

He also mentioned Dead Space, which, while profitable for EA, didn’t meet expectations. Why didn’t it? Well, much of the same reasons, it seems:

“It made money for us, but didn’t hit expectations. We felt like we had an IP that struck a chord, and one that hit quality, but again it missed multiplayer modes.

“So when we re-worked Dead Space [for the upcoming sequel], we looked at how to make it a better idea, how do we make the story more engrossing, how do we build [protagonist] Isaac as a character, how do we make this game a success online.”

Hm. This rubs me the wrong way. For several reasons.

First off, I know this guy is speaking in terms of cash, and I shouldn’t expect anything else. The truth of the matter is that a game without a multiplayer mode doesn’t hold the same wide appeal as a game that does, particularly in this day and age of social gaming. I get that, I really do.

However, being an individual who appreciates videogames as an art form, it pains me to see them broken down into individual money-making components. A multiplayer mode does not make a game better. A multiplayer mode, in fact, can cloud a game’s focus and make it worse.

What these quotes display, though, is an obvious but painful truth: more so, perhaps, than any other entertainment industry, the game industry is hopelessly intertwined with commercialism. You do not, for example, hear Paramount Pictures’ CEO Brad Grey spouting off about how the latest Transformers movie failed because it didn’t have enough explosions and boobs. Now, I’m sure statements like that are made behind closed doors in Hollywood all the time, but they’re smart enough not to say them publicly.

Frank Gibeau saying that Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space fell short due to a lack of multiplayer modes is essentially the same thing. And it was publicized. And nobody (except me) thinks anything of it, because that’s the way this industry works.

Perhaps, though, I’m overreacting.

Hey, Guess What: Comcast Sucks

It’s sad, but true. And… well known amongst the residents of the states. Comcast, quite simply, has a monopoly over broadband internet in the United States. And they abuse their monopoly well. And I’m only saying this for the sake of you non-American readers who might need a little context before I jump into this story.

Recently, it was made known that Comcast is squeezing a certain networking company – Level 3 Communications – for extra cash. Why? Level 3 recently signed a deal with none other than Netflix to become their primary provider for streaming video.

At this point, you might be wondering what, exactly, Level 3 Communications is. An excerpt from a New York Times article offers a simplistic explanation: Level 3 is a “highway” through which internet traffic travels; Comcast represents the on/off ramps of said highway. Make sense? At least a little? Good.

Now. As you can probably gather, since their deal with Netflix, Level 3 has been pumping quite a bit more data through their pipes. So. Comcast forced them to pay for it.

Mind you, now: Comcast forced one of its partners to pay a toll in order to deliver content that Comcast’s own customers requested. Seems a little fishy, eh?

“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet,” said Thomas C. Stortz, chief legal officer for Level 3. “Where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. Very timely, this is, because it cuts to the heart of a big issue in the United States right now: Net Neutrality. And, since Comcast is our tyrannical internet king, they’re intrinsically related to it.

However, not ones to take insults lying down, Comcast retaliated with this vague nonsense:

“We are happy to maintain a balanced, no-cost traffic exchange with Level 3. However, when one provider exploits this type of relationship by pushing the burden of massive traffic growth onto the other provider and its customers, we believe this is not fair.”

Yes… but… the customers requested this “massive traffic growth.” Level 3 was meeting a demand. Which is exactly what Comcast should be doing. If Comcast is going to turn around and gouge a partnering company every time I stream a Netflix movie, then what the hell am I paying them $80/month for?

I’m trying to see how this possibly makes sense, and I’ve arrived at the conclusion that it just doesn’t, and Comcast is evil. These are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be in the process of merging with NBC Universal. I get the weird feeling that NBC.com’s download speeds might getting a lot faster in the near future. Unless the FCC actually does the right thing, and sets proper ground rules for this sort of thing.

The internet belongs to the people, goddammit.

This is like Mapco charging the local Hummer dealership every time one of those gas-guzzling monsters rolls through and fills up.

An Inception Video Game is (probably) Happening

Skeptical as we all (rightly) tend to be about licensed videogames, you can’t deny that the surrealistic world of Inception provides a wealth of potential for a videogame. If done right, that shit could be, for lack of a less depraved term, off the chain.

So, we can all be tentatively happy and wary of the fact that Christopher Nolan is, in fact, working on an Inception game. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the director of last summer’s biggest film had this to say: “I always imagined Inception to be a world where a lot of other stories could take place. At the moment, the only direction we’re channeling that is by developing a videogame set in the world.”

The article goes on to say that Nolan is working with a “team of collaborators,” and that any Inception game is a “longer-term proposition” at the moment.

A “team of collaborators,” eh? I like the sound of that. It makes me imagine a table surrounded by game geniuses, hashing out a way to bring Inception to the interactive world with bravado and style.

On that note, if you were to choose a dream-team of collaborators to work with Nolan on such a project, who would they be? I happen to have a few ideas:

1. Ken Levine. The man who behind BioShock, one of the single most atmospheric games ever created, surely, could work wonders with a concept like Inception.

2. Patrice Desilets. Creative director behind Assassin’s Creed II, which remains the greatest sandbox game I’ve ever played. An Inception game, in my opinion, would absolutely require an open, non-linear world.

3. Amy Hennig. The creative mind behind Uncharted. A brilliant writer, and clearly knowledgeable of how to construct some of the greatest videogame setpieces of all time. Something an Inception game would need a lot of.

If I thought long and hard enough, I could come up with a longer list. Those are just from the top of my head. Now it’s YOUR turn!

Aren't they cute?

Life as we Know It Redefined

Before we begin, let me warn you that this is probably the most out-there story to ever grace Hey! Look! Listen! It’s not about videogames in any way, really. Regardless, I feel like its something that people of our kind might appreciate.

The definition for life itself has been changed. That’s right.

In Lake Mono, California, there’s a certain microbacteria known as GFAJ-1. This bacterium has long been known to breathe Arsenic, a compound that is poisonous to every living creature on the planet, save a few microbes.

Well. NASA announced last Thursday that GFAJ-1 wasn’t only breathing Arsenic. It was substituting Arsenic for Phosphorous, one of the essential building blocks of life as we currently define it. That is to say: this particular microbe is using a poison to build DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes.

Now. Obviously. This changes everything. Life exists outside of the pre-existing requirements we’d identified over the centuries. Extra terrestrial life just became that much more of a possibility.

Think about it: if a life form here on earth can formulate its very DNA through means poisonous to every other living creature, then what sort of bizarrely unconventional life must there be out there?

I’m no scientist, so I’m not going to bore you with further discussion; go to Gizmodo for a more in-depth discussion. But, truth be told, this something I find extremely interesting, and honestly, quite exciting. And I hope you can as well.

EA’s Awesome Plan to Dethrone Call of Duty

Call of Duty is a massive brand name. It’s picked up a lot of momentum over the last four years or so, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Competitors, such as EA’s recent Medal of Honor reboot, have very pointedly tried – and failed – to take it down. At this point, the world is forced to wonder when and if a suitable competitor will ever give the franchise a run for its money.

Well, the boss of EA (who’s now made *two* appearances in this very column) has a plan. Oh yes.

His plan?

“Make a better game,” Riccitiello told Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo during an interview. “And make a better game again.”

Alright, well, perhaps there’s more. Later in the article, Riccitiello went on to say:

“What I’ve witnessed a couple of times in the games industry is the way you unseat a market leader is you make a better game a couple of times in a row. ”

The mind behind EA Games, everyone.

Well, to be fair, I’m unsure if I should be more baffled at John for saying that, or at Totilo for writing an article entitled “The Plan to Dethrone Call of Duty.”

Thoughts?

Wii Speak Peripheral to be Phased Out (In All Likelihood)

“The Wii Speak microphone is still available at limited retail locations,”  Nintendo told IGN. “Additional shipments can be made if consumer demand increases.”

HA

HAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ahem. That’s enough. I’m over 2000 words. Let’s hear it for the longest HLL OF ALL TIME.

Yeah. Alright, well it’s Friday night. Time to uh, DO STUFF.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

HLLfinal

It looks like we’re back on a sort of regular-ish schedule here at Riddlethos.com. Aside from the part where the new theme week didn’t start until today.

But hey, at least HLL is here! Right? Everyone loves HLL, right? It’s better than Scatter Storming, right?

RIGHT?

EH?

Before I single-handedly destroy my own ego, we shall get started.

infinity-ward-logoActivision and Infinity Ward Are No Longer Friends

Well, I suppose I should rephrase that: Vince Zampella and Jason West, to two heads of Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward, are no longer friends with Activision. And, because of that, they’re no longer employees of Infinity Ward. Even more interesting than that, however, is that Activision has filed an SEC suite against Infinity Ward, investigating “breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward.”

You’ll notice that the above paragraph is rather short on details. This is because there aren’t many details to be had at the moment. What we know for sure is that neither Zampella or West are employed at Infinity Ward any longer (according to their respective Linked In profiles) and that Activision indeed filed the SEC suit. What happened to prompt such a lawsuit, and why did IW’s two big cheeses leave? Nobody knows. Kotaku is currently doing its best to stay abroad of the situation.

ps3fatSay What…? Apparently the PS3 Fat Was Having some Issues, All Better Now

This one kinda went under the radar for me, mostly because it didn’t affect me, because I have a PS3 Slim.

But apparently, owners of the PS3 Fat fell victim to what Sony is calling an “internal clock bug” yesterday, and because of this, many trophy-enabled PS3 games did not function correctly. Or… something.

Here’s the gist of it: the internal clock on many PS3 Fats reset themselves to January 1, 2000. Supposedly, this was because the PS3 fat was programmed to recognize 2010 as a leap year.

Well, after this automatic reset occurred, whenever owners of the Fat attempted to go online, they were greeted with the dreaded “8001050F Error Message.” And, on top of that, certain trophy-enabled games couldn’t even be played offline  - players were given the same error code, along with a message that said “Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will quit.”

Anyway. As much as I’m sure that sucked for many people, it’s over now. Sony posted on the official PlayStation blog that it has been “resolved,” and if your time still isn’t right, feel free to adjust it.

Sounds so deliciously exciting. I’m sorry I missed out on it. (Kotaku)

wpid-Verizon-DROID-Eris_PhotoApple Sues HTC For Infringing on iPhone Patents

Perhaps by now, you’ve heard of HTC. They are, after all, the ones manufacturing phones utilizing the relatively new Android Operating System, such as the Droid Eris (the slightly watered-down version of Motorola’s Droid) and the upcoming Nexus One from Google.

Anyway. They’re one of the few players who are challenging Apple’s iPhone right now, so it hardly comes as a surprise that Apple is trying to sue them. Apparently HTC has infringed on over 20 of Apple’s patents, including multi-touch technology and other such nonsense. If you wanna know more of the specifics, check out this article on PC Magazine.com.

For drama’s sake, here’s a quote from Apple’s Chief Executive, Steve Jobs:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

PREACH IT, MR JOBS!

Nah, actually, this kinda stinks of a dominant player in the smartphone market trying to stamp out competition before it becomes competition. And I say that with little to no evidence supporting me. It’s just my gut reaction.

space-invadersPeople are Trying to Make a Space Invaders Movie

No, really. They are. Or, Warner Bros. is, to be exact. They are currently in talks with Taito to purchase film rights for everyone’s favorite arcade classic.

This is so ridiculous that I’m not even going to exert the effort necessary to say that it’s ridiculous.

Except I already did. Fuck. Oh well. If the movie ever does happen, then it will (reportedly) be produced by Mark Gordon, Jason Blum and Guymon Casady. Gordon was involved with Saving Private Ryan. Blum produced Paranormal Activity. I don’t care what Guymon Casady did. His name is sketchy. (Kotaku)

500x_codActivision Has Plans for Call of Duty

Rather than commenting on the juicy Infinity Ward rumors, Activision has taken the sneaky way out, and outlined their grand new business model for their immensely popular Call of Duty franchise.

Activision intends to form a Call of Duty “Business Unit,” which will “bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world.” The focus will be on “high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.”

Sounds pretty heavy. But they didn’t talk all business jargon – they confirmed that a Call of Duty game developed by Treyarch (responsible for Call of Duty 3, and 2008’s World at War) will be released in 2010. In 2011, another CoD game from an unnamed developer will be released. And, furthermore, another CoD title will be developed by the upstart Sledgehammer Games, a studio headed by Dead Space creative leads Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. Reportedly, Sledgehammer’s take on CoD will “extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre.”

Wait… really? I mean, uh. That could be cool? Iunno. All I can think about is the fact that one of my (newly) favorite franchises is well on its way to being transformed into an Activision cash-whore.

I mean, I guess that’s what it was before. In a way. But you know what I mean. Right?

New Metroid: Other M Cinematic Trailer Looks Dumb

I’m sorry, but it does. I mean, I guess I can sorta get behind this dramatic, story-driven new direction that Nintendo is taking with the Metroid franchise. Really, I can, because it would be great to get to know Samus a little more intimately. (Not that way.)

But if that’s what they’re gonna do, then the writing had better be good. Like, really damn good. Better than it is in this ridiculous, melodramatic, gameplay-devoid trailer.

Anyway. Now that I’ve torn the trailer to pieces. Enjoy it!

And that, as they say, is that. I’m off to play more Heavy Rain. ‘Till next time!

Hey! Look! Listen!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

HeyLookListenLogo

God, do I love The Office. The American version I mean, not that British knockoff.

Yeah I know the British Office came first, but I dislike it strongly, and belittle it whenever I can.

That aside, welcome to Hey! Look! Listen! I’m your host Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I STILL have not finished Dead Space: Extraction. I plan to do that, and then move on to Modern Warfare, which is my chosen backlog game to finish this week. The campaign is supposed to be super-short, so it shouldn’t take long; especially since I’ve already put a few hours into it.

On to the main event! Bit of an offbeat setlist of news today, actually.

FTC Ruling Might Affect Video Game Reviews?
The Federal Trade Commission has recently issued a ruling that may affect the way news outlets review video games.

The ruling states that “material connections” between “advertisers and endorsers” must be disclosed. Material connections being money or free products, presumably.

Speaking frankly, I really doubt this will have any effect on the way video games are reviewed. Why? Because I’m pretty sure a critical review isn’t considered an “endorsement.” I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

But let’s say reviews were endorsements. In that case, “material connections” might refer to free review copies of games, and perhaps even money earned from advertising.

But again, I don’t think it will have an effect. I just figured I should report it, since every other news outlet is jumping all over the story. (GamePolitics).

Citizen Samus.

Citizen Samus.

Metroid Prime Compared to Citizen Kane

ABC recently aired a segment that featured IGN’s Michael Thomsen comparing the classic film Citizen Kane to the critically acclaimed Metroid Prime series.

Yeah, no, I’m serious.

A bit strange, to say the least. I mean, as much as I like seeing video games given mainstream coverage, comparing Metroid Prime to Citizen Kane seems a bit over-the-top, to say nothing of… entirely superfluous. It was hard enough for me to take the report seriously; I can only wonder how non-gamers reacted to it. Check out the video yourself here

I'm failing at captions today.

I'm failing at captions today.

Interesting Note: Activision Didn’t Want Modern Warfare
It’s true! Activision was convinced that Infinity Ward’s concept for a modernized FPS was not financially viable. This is according to Vince Zampella, head of Infinity Ward, in a recent interview with PlayStation Magazine.

“Activision also did not want Modern Warfare.” Zampella said. “They thought working on a modern game was risky and ‘Oh my God you can’t do that, it’s crazy!’ They were doing market research to show us we were wrong the whole time.”

Well there ya go. 14 million copies later, I’m pretty sure the big shots at Activision have experienced a collective change of heart. (Kotaku).

On That Note: Apparently a Call of Duty Movie is Happening
This isn’t officially official, as it’s all based off of a few Tweets from Robert Bowling, Infinity Ward’s creative strategist. He mentions having lunch with the Hitman movie director, Xavier Gens. Presumably during said lunch, he tweeted “talking game films.”

Bah, bah, and bah. I’ll concede that Hitman was actually a notch above most game-to-film adpatations. But it wasn’t good enough to make me think that Call of Duty would be anything more than a generic war film shamelessly hoping to profit from its name alone. (1UP).

Yes, This is for Real

And it's awesome.

And it's awesome.

As seen on Wine.Woot

That’s all I got. By the way, do you like the big shiny banner/logo up top? I think it looks pretty nice, myself.