The Explorer: Gamer's Scoop

Gamer's Scoop

Wednesday 10/08/2014
Gamer's Scoop - Blizzard cancels to the mysterious MMO project
Posted: October 08, 2014

Blizzard Entertainment announced last week that they have canceled their seven year in the making MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) project called “Titan”. For years now, the project has remained a mystery to all but those in-the-know on Blizzard’s development team. With the game in the can, the mystery remains. What was Titan?

Speculation regarding the game began in 2007 when Blizzard announced that they would begin development of a new game, something that fans of the developer had never seen before. The biggest part of this announcement was that this game would not be based on one of the three long running franchises that Blizzard has become so well known for: Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft.

Everything began with a simple job posting. The company posted a wanted ad on their website looking for character and environmental artists to join their development team for a “Next-Gen MMO” that was going to remain top secret. By 2008 it was verified by multiple higher ups in Blizzard and parent company Activision that it would be a new game franchise entirely. The name Titan was given to the project in a leaked development schedule in 2010, finally giving a name to the unknown. After years of working on the most popular MMO of all time, World of Warcraft, Blizzard was taking its senior development staff and reassigning them to the Titan project.

The game was originally set to be released in the fourth quarter of 2013 but as the date came closer and closer, there was nothing to be heard. In May 2013, it was announced that the project was going through a reboot, with over half of the development team being assigned to other projects and the release date for the game being pushed back. Later in the same year, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime said the company was looking for a new direction to take the game, reevaluating the project in its entirety.

All of the time and money dumped into the project has been flushed down the drain, though. When asked what had happened to the game, he had this to say:

“We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs,” Morhaime said. “So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn’t come together. We didn’t find the fun. We didn’t find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that’s the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no.”

With the news that Titan was never coming home with us there is the same question on everyone’s mind, what was Titan? Kotaju was able to put some answers to the long standing question.

The game was to be based on a near future Earth after the Human race was able to repel an alien invasion. In the post war world, factions had developed in a cold war for control of the planet. Players chose their class, each with its own combat abilities, and joined the faction of their choice.

There were two aspects to Titan: the normal world, and the fighting. During the day, player’s characters would hold down a normal job, a profession of some kind, but at night combat would break out.

Blizzard has always been a company that prides itself on the quality of product that it puts out. Titan is not the first project cancelled by Blizzard; the company has always stated that they will never release a game that they are not fully confident in. This concept has allowed Blizzard to produce some of the best games of our generation. With a new expansion coming to the wildly popular World of Warcraft, which is celebrating its 10year anniversary this year, don’t expect Blizzard to be hiding in the shadows.

Posted in Gamers scoop, Livenup on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 4:00 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 09/03/2014
Gamer's Scoop - Electronic Arts announces new “Access” program on Xbox One. Is it enough to dethrone Sony?
Posted: September 03, 2014

A recently announced the implementation of its EA Access program; a service that will be exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox One and will allow players access to EA’s “Vault” of video games. This service will cost $5 a month, $30 a year and will allow members unlimited access to a host of EA’s gaming catalogue, a 10% discount to other EA games and downloadable content, as well as the ability to start playing new games a week before they are released to the public. These are just the features that are being released with the Access service, EA intends to add even more benefits for subscribers in the future.

The service is still in its testing phase, so the available catalogue is still small. The games initially offered include: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. More titles will, of course, be added soon.

Membership to EA Access will be available through both Xbox Live as well as through retail stores and online vendors, like Amazon.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is this service exclusive to the Xbox One? With Sony’s Playstation 4 leading sales figures since the consoles’ release, wouldn’t it make sense for them to pick up such an attractive service in order to prevent Microsoft from evening out the competition? There are a few reasons Sony passed up on this new service for its own console.

In an interview with Game Informer, a Sony spokesperson opened up about the company’s decision to exclude EA:

“We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect…PlayStation Plus memberships are up more than 200 percent since the launch of PlayStation 4, which shows that gamers are looking for memberships that offer a multitude of services, across various devices, for one low price. We don’t think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer.”

While this may seem like a harsh judgment of EA’s Access service, Sony does boast the sales figures to back this kind of response. The first quarter numbers have recently been released related to the sales of both Sony’s Playstation 3 and 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Sony has sold 3.5 million units of its two consoles, up from 1.1 million sold in the same quarter of last year. While this increase in sales may seem impressive in its own right, it is also important to note that Microsoft has only sold 1.1 million of its two consoles in the first quarter of this year. This means Sony is outselling Microsoft 3:1 in the home console market, stretching out the already impressive gap between the newer consoles’ lifetime sales figures.

Sony hasn’t backed out of EA Access just because of impressive sales figures and an issue of value, however. Sony has recently announced and implemented a subscription service of its own. Sony’s Playstation Now is currently in its beta operation phase and allows players to pay a small fee to rent games on the Now catalogue for as little as $2.99 for a four hour rental. Rental agreements can span from 4 hours to 90 days, with a price change at each of the four pre-established time durations.

While having its own onboard program to allow players access to a catalogue of games is a great idea, claims of the system being overpriced have already been leveled at Sony. Many of the 90 day game rental prices cost more than the gamer might pay for a used or an on sale copy of the game. This combined with individual and variable prices for each of the games on the catalogue has brought about a host of complaints from beta testers. Hopefully, Sony will be wise enough to reformat its own service to a payment plan more akin to EA Access.

EA, as a company, is the target of criticism, as well. For example, EA’s game formatting has resulted in nearly every game being accompanied by a host of micro-transactions, which require gamers to cough up a few extra dollars for each piece additional in game access. Many gamers believe these micro-transactions should be included as part of the original purchase. With EA offering its Access service for a measly $30.00 a year, there has to be a catch with the program. While no evil hang-ups have been revealed yet, a company that is so well known for strangling all the money it can out of customers, releasing a new system to access games for a small fee seems too good to be true. As we draw closer to the holiday season, it will be interesting to see if EA access gives Microsoft the ability to close the gap in console sales.

Posted in Gamers scoop, Northwest chatter, Columns on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 11:14 am. | Tags: Access Program For Xbox , Video Game Reviews , Ea's Vault Video Games Comments (0)

Friday 08/15/2014
Gamer's Scoop - Electronic Arts announces new “Access” program on Xbox One. Is it enough to dethrone Sony?
Updated: August 20, 2014 - 8:39 am

EA recently announced the implementation of its EA Access program; a service that will be exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox One and will allow players access to EA’s “Vault” of video games. This service will cost $5.00 a month, $30.00 a year and will allow members unlimited access to a host of EA’s gaming catalogue, a 10% discount to other EA games and downloadable content, as well as the ability to start playing new games a week before they are released to the public. These are just the features that are being released with the Access service, EA intends to add even more benefits for subscribers in the future.

The service is still in its testing phase, so the available catalogue is still small. The games initially offered include: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. More titles will, of course, be added soon.

Membership to EA Access will be available through both Xbox Live as well as through retail stores and online vendors, like Amazon.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is this service exclusive to the Xbox One? With Sony’s Playstation 4 leading sales figures since the consoles’ release, wouldn’t it make sense for them to pick up such an attractive service in order to prevent Microsoft from evening out the competition? There are a few reasons Sony passed up on this new service for its own console.

In an interview with Game Informer, a Sony spokesperson opened up about the company’s decision to exclude EA:

“We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect…PlayStation Plus memberships are up more than 200 percent since the launch of PlayStation 4, which shows that gamers are looking for memberships that offer a multitude of services, across various devices, for one low price. We don’t think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer.”

While this may seem like a harsh judgment of EA’s Access service, Sony does boast the sales figures to back this kind of response. The first quarter numbers have recently been released related to the sales of both Sony’s Playstation 3 and 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Sony has sold 3.5 million units of its two consoles, up from 1.1 million sold in the same quarter of last year. While this increase in sales may seem impressive in its own right, it is also important to note that Microsoft has only sold 1.1 million of its two consoles in the first quarter of this year. This means Sony is outselling Microsoft 3:1 in the home console market, stretching out the already impressive gap between the newer consoles’ lifetime sales figures.

Sony hasn’t backed out of EA Access just because of impressive sales figures and an issue of value, however. Sony has recently announced and implemented a subscription service of its own. Sony’s Playstation Now is currently in its beta operation phase and allows players to pay a small fee to rent games on the Now catalogue for as little as $2.99 for a four hour rental. Rental agreements can span from 4 hours to 90 days, with a price change at each of the four pre-established time durations.

While having its own onboard program to allow players access to a catalogue of games is a great idea, claims of the system being overpriced have already been leveled at Sony. Many of the 90 day game rental prices cost more than the gamer might pay for a used or an on sale copy of the game. This combined with individual and variable prices for each of the games on the catalogue has brought about a host of complaints from beta testers. Hopefully, Sony will be wise enough to reformat its own service to a payment plan more akin to EA Access.

EA, as a company, is the target of criticism, as well. For example, EA’s game formatting has resulted in nearly every game being accompanied by a host of micro-transactions, which require gamers to cough up a few extra dollars for each piece additional in game access. Many gamers believe these micro-transactions should be included as part of the original purchase. With EA offering its Access service for a measly $30.00 a year, there has to be a catch with the program. While no evil hang-ups have been revealed yet, a company that is so well known for strangling all the money it can out of customers, releasing a new system to access games for a small fee seems too good to be true. As we draw closer to the holiday season, it will be interesting to see if EA access gives Microsoft the ability to close the gap in console sales.

Posted in Gamers scoop, Northwest chatter, Columns on Friday, August 15, 2014 12:31 pm. Updated: 8:39 am. Comments (0)

Sunday 06/22/2014
Gamer's Scoop: Sony’s Playstation 4 being called too popular
Posted: June 22, 2014

It’s hard to imagine a situation in which a videogame console is deemed “too popular”, but it seems as though the Playstation 4 may just have found itself in that situation. North American video gamers may have access to an abundance of consoles, but this doesn’t seem to be true for people across Europe. Sony has announced that they are continuing to struggle with producing enough units to fill the demand for the Playstation 4 all across Europe.

Despite the fact that the console wars ended eight months ago, there continues to be an issue. “We haven’t yet caught up with the initial demand across Europe.” explained Fergal Gara, Managing Director of Sony Computer Entertainment UK in an interview with TrustedReviews. “We are still dealing with the day one market.” This lack of supply has resulted in some sales losses, the company admits. Gera went on to say that there are many countries across Europe in which PS4 units are selling out on a weekly basis, clearing through supplies before they even hit the shelves.

The stock of PS4’s in the U.K. have been adequate, Gera commented, but consumers in countries like Germany and the Netherlands have been unable to procure consoles because of the extremely high sales, Sony just can’t seem to keep shelves stocked. While Sony has yet to reveal exactly how many units of the console they have sold since the November release last year, many guess the number to be close to a staggering 10 million.

Sales losses aren’t just coming from a lack of stock, however. Microsoft recently announced that they will be offering a new version of the Xbox One without the Kinect apparatus at a price cut. This, coupled with Sony’s inability to consistently put out enough units of their own console has hurt the continued sales of the PS4. Despite this interesting news, Sony is extremely confident in their ability to make up lost ground, "We have spent a lot of time at E3 talking about the plan for Christmas and I think we've got enough exciting content to be able to rekindle that interest."

The PS4’s success can be attributed to a few different factors. The Xbox One suffered a lot of negative attention for some of the initial features and requirements of the console including a required webcam which would potentially give Microsoft an unabated view into the users living room. This controversial feature was eventually removed before launch, as was the required internet connection to use the Xbox One. The controversy seemed enough to draw a lot of gamers away from Microsoft and right into the waiting arms of the Playstation 4.

While no recent sales figures have been given concerning this newest generation of home gaming consoles, we do have the numbers from March to prove the PS4’s dominance. The last official worldwide numbers put the PS4 at 7 million units as of March 31, Xbox One at 5 million shipped , and Wii U at 6.17 million units. It is also important to note that the Wii U was released earlier than the other two consoles, coming out in November of 2012. These numbers also mean that the PS4 was the highest selling video game console for a fifth month in a row.

It will be interesting to see just how long it takes Sony to make up lost ground in Europe and fill the need for consoles. While there is not definitive timeline given by the company, they said they are close to being able to fill day one needs. With a host of fantastic looking titles having been shown at the recently ended Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, there will definitely be a renewed interest in the PS4 this holiday season.

Posted in Gamers scoop, Northwest chatter on Sunday, June 22, 2014 9:25 am. | Tags: Videogame Console , Fergal Gara , Logan Burtch-buus , Video Game Blogs , Sony Computer Entertainment Uk , Playstation 4 Comments (0)

Friday 04/11/2014
Gamer's Scoop - Borderlands: The pre-sequel to bring another round of fun
Posted: April 11, 2014

Fans of the Borderlands series will finally have another chance to sate their never ending desire for more as Gearbox Software and 2K Games have announced that there will be a third installment into the shoot-and-loot phenomenon that is Borderlands. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has been in development for over a year by the two companies and is slated to be released sometime before the end of this year.

This newest installment into the award-winning series will give players a chance to fight through the events that took place between the first two games. Four new playable characters will be introduced as we find out how the super-evil, egocentric Handsome Jack came to be the antagonist in the second game. Playing on Jack’s side during his more humble beginnings, players will watch the man’s rise to fame and power, often on the backs of other’s. This change in perspective will be extremely interesting as we will get to contrast the villain of Borderlands 2 with the quiet computer programmer that Jack once was. The game is set on the moon looming over Pandora, and the giant satellite that shot at players in the second game.

Those who have played the games before will be somewhat familiar with the four playable classes, and die-hard fans will be ecstatic. These new classes include Athena, a former Atlas Assassin and former member of the Crimson Lance who first made an appearance in downloadable content for the first game. Wilhelm, a man turned cyborg that was the first boss in Borderlands 2 and Jack’s personal bodyguard. Nisha, the lawbreaker who later becomes the Sheriff of Lynchwood and Jack’s lover. The greatest inclusion will be the ability to play as the fan favorite, bad-mouthed robot, Clap Trap.

Rumors had initially leaked on the internet concerning the game’s production, sparking a fervent search for more information as fans of the series desperately sought for anything they could find.. After much questioning, Gearbox and 2K Games released a developer’s video that laid out the specifics of the game as well as a look into some of the new features.

The game will be operating on the Borderlands 2 engine, giving it a huge edge over the first game and allowing this new installment to be a perfect transition for those who have played through the series. None of the major game mechanics have been changed, attesting to the quality of Borderlands 2.

There will be at least one new mechanic added to the game, oxygen. As players will be traversing an atmosphere-free moon, there will be no air to breathe. To combat this environmental danger, developers have introduced an oxygen tank system that allows players to traverse a low gravity environment, adding a whole new aspect to the game’s already intense firefights. While there will be plenty of interior locals in the game, the moon and the Hyperion moon base are connected by large, open air maps that require players to traverse open space.

Your air supply will be tracked in a new gauge located on the player’s display and will become a constant concern when you’re wandering around outside. The tank will be upgradable using new “Oz Kits”, giving the tank more versatility and different bonuses. This new piece of equipment will come with its own slot in the player inventory screen, similar to class modifications. New and upgraded Oz Kits will be added to enemy loot tables as well, giving players a chance to reap even more benefits from killing foes. The new Oxygen tank feature will not only affect the player’s ability to breathe in the open-space environments. You will be able to use your tank as a sort of jet-pack, giving you an extra boost in your jumps and increased mobility on the battlefield.

The new installment will also continue to expand the immense arsenal that the Borderlands Series is known for. Millions of different guns can be dropped in the game, each slightly different than the last. There will be the classic, elementally-powered weapons that utilize fire, electricity, and other sources, but the pre-sequel will also be adding cryogenic freezing weapons as well as powerful, laser based firearms.

2K Games was wise in not trying to change anything foundational to the recipe, instead opting to only add interesting and innovative features. Anyone who has played previous installments will more than likely find the same pleasure in this newest addition. Look for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel before the end of the year for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.

Posted in Gamers scoop, Northwest chatter on Friday, April 11, 2014 2:03 pm. | Tags: Gamer's Sccop , Logan Burtch Buus , Video Game Reviews , Borderlands Pre-sequal , Borderlands Video Game Comments (0)

Monday 03/31/2014
Gamer's Scoop - Facebook purchase of oculus rift virtual reality met with backlashLogan
Posted: March 31, 2014

Facebook Purchase of Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Met With BacklashLogan Burtch-Buus

loganburtchbuus@gmail.com

Facebook empire may have finally found a much-needed breath of fresh air. Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking giant has announced that they will be spending $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR, a hardware company that has captured the hopes and dreams of many in the gaming community and the tech community as a whole with their development of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The $2 billion dollar bill amounts to $400 million in cash and the remaining $1.4 million in Facebook stock. The ink is supposed to be dry on this purchase by the closing of the second fiscal quarter later this year.

If you are unaware of what the Oculus Rift is, there is some serious catching up to do. The Oculus Rift project began on the Kickstarter website in 2012. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding organization that allows people to donate funds and support to new and innovative ideas and projects of all kinds, with donors often getting signed merchandise, exclusive access to products, and a whole host of other fun things. The service is responsible for numerous startup companies, funding people’s life-long dreams, and a host of other accomplishments. After raising an impressive $91 million for their virtual reality headset, the development team at Oculus Rift was off and running.

Quickly becoming one of the most anticipated projects in the videogame market, supporters of the project only grew more and more excited as test versions of the headset were released for both developers and the general populace. The implementation of a well made virtual reality headset could and probably would change the entire gaming industry. As Oculus VR has touted the first ever viable virtual reality headset, this project has been on the minds of many, even those outside of the gaming community. The developer and test kits of the Rift supported impressive 1080 HD displays and the ability to track the user’s movements without any additional device. Even looking past the box strapped to your face, this is something we have never seen outside of sci-fi movies.

An announcement early last week came as quite a surprise to all following the development of the Rift, a buyout from Facebook. In a statement released concerning the buyout, Zuckerberg stated that his company needed to "start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences".

This acquisition caused an immediate outpour of criticism from sites and forums from various internet communities, Reddit users in particular have reacted unfavorably. Concerns have been raised over Facebook’s shady history with data-mining, incessant ads, and information sharing. Many critics of the business move are nervous to see such an innovative technology passed over into the hands of a company with the reputation like Facebook’s.

Palmer Luckey, the 21 year-old behind the Oculus Rift, was quick to defend his product’s continued viability and support. Luckey defended himself on Reddit on the various concerns that users have raised in alarm to his decision. He stated that the decision was in the best interest of both the company and future virtual reality users because it will speed up innovation and implementation because of the deep coffers over at Facebook. This move also links Oculus VR to a lot more development teams through the giant web of Facebook games, though this isn’t a benefit in terms of quality.

Backlash did not just come in the form of complaints, however. Markus “Notch” Persson, the video game designer responsible for the wildly popular sandbox construction game Minecraft, says he has no intentions of doing business with Zuckerberg’s company. Minecraft was in the works for a virtual reality port, but Notch finds Facebook too “creepy”, to put it in his own words. Losing Minecraft won’t kill the technology’s future by any means, but this is the level of discontent and mistrust that many around the world feel towards the once dominant social media giant. While Facebook still remains at the top, key groups, younger people in particular, have been leaving the service in droves.

Minecraft was not the only interesting partnership in development with Oculus VR. Earlier this year, Oculus and Valve announced that they were partnering to bring a new project out through the combined efforts of the two companies. This virtual reality match made in heaven now seems in jeopardy. Valve has a venerable treasure trove of funding and titles available through their Steam service, losing that partnership could mean a lot. Will they follow “Notch” in breaking ties with Oculus post-Facebook?

The finger has already been pointed in the direction of conspiracy at Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, but there is a much simpler explanation. With Both Sony and Microsoft recently having released their own intentions and plans for similar virtual reality devices, the competition is already building. Google already has Google Glass and announced intentions to further develop the product so the idea of a next generation headset isn’t anything too new.

Mark Zuckerberg is just doing what he does best, being a shrewd business man and trying to hone in on what is obviously going to be a huge game-changer not only in the world of videogames, but in technology as a whole. The technology in the works at Oculus VR would not just produce a gaming peripheral, but a new entertainment device like no other, capable of connecting users to whole new worlds.

From streaming ads to playing video games, virtual reality is not just for Star Trek anymore.

Posted in Northwest chatter, Gamers scoop on Monday, March 31, 2014 9:50 am. | Tags: Gadget Magnet , Facebook , Virtual Reality Oculus , Facebook Purchases Oculus Comments (0)

Wednesday 03/19/2014
Gamer's Scoop - South Park: The Stick of Truth – Filthy, but true to the show
Posted: March 19, 2014

Video games based on television shows tend to have a pretty low expectations, anticipation founded on hordes of poor video game adaptations of TV programs. Luckily, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a gem of a game in a field of absolute failed potential.

After it went gold last month, fans were quite excited to finally get their hands on the game that had faced delay after delay. Originally in the hands of the now closed THQ Studios and the most exciting game in their future line-up, Trey Parker and Matt Stone went through an arduous process of finding a new home for their game.

This is not South Park’s first venture into video games. The show has had previous titles across multiple systems for the better part of two decades. Showing that they also understand the gaming community, the show did a spoof on the ever popular World of Warcraft. The “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode was quickly swept up as a fan favorite. The show has used these fantasy inspired characters in other episodes more recently, poking fun at J.R.R. Martin and Black Friday.

Obsidian Studios had their work cut out for them in redrafting and finishing this game. The South Park library of characters is massive, and the amount of jokes that come up throughout the show over its nearly 20 year run could fill hundreds of hours of game-time. The drawback to the game sadly is it’s relatively short length for an RPG (role playing game).

The game is built as a Japanese Role Playing Game, designed around a turn based fighting system in which each side of the battle takes turns attacking, healing, and defending. Obsidian did what they do best and made a fantastic RPG. Holding true to nearly every RPG trope and standard, the game itself seems to be making fun of its own genre. The steady game play and the raucous hilarity that South Park is known for are what truly make this game shine.

The game does well drawing from the plethora of characters and jokes that the show has cemented in comedic history. This does mean there is one necessary warning for anyone looking to play this game; it is completely intended for South Park fans. Anyone offended by the show is guaranteed to be more offended by the video game, as the video game adaptation faces none of the cencorship of cable television. With that being said, any gamer and/or fan of the show will find it hard to stop playing at times. The game handles like an extended episode of the show. Except for the occasional inventory screen or message, it is hard to tell the difference between the show and the game. All the hard work in development truly paid off.

With the impressive list of what the game does well, there are a few let downs on the other side of things. The game’s turn-based system is handled perfectly, but there is a thrown in timing sensitive aspect added to the fighting that doesn’t always feel like it responds to your input accurately. While this doesn’t do much to take away from the spot-on performance of the game, it can get a little annoying in the heat of a big fight.

Not so much a performance issue but a design choice, female gamers will be disappointed to find out that they can’t fight through the epic battle for The Stick of Truth as a little girl alongside the cast of the show. While the world of Dungeons and Dragons is not one often traveled in the company of a fair lady, girl gamers are a real thing. There were also some memorable characters from the show’s history that were disappointingly left out. While the exclusion of some of these characters, such as Michael Jackson, may not be too surprising, many of these inclusions may have just been cut over the course of the game’s development. After changing hands so many times, different creative minds along the way may have felt differently about certain characters. The other theory is that some of these characters may be introduced through downloadable content later on.

Now that the game is out, the quest for The Stick of Truth comes calling, will you answer?

Posted in Gamers scoop, Northwest chatter on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 4:00 am. | Tags: South Park Video Game Review , Stick Of Truth Video Game , South Park , Logan Burtch-buus , Video Games , Game Reviews Comments (0)

Wednesday 02/26/2014
Gamer's Scoop - South Park: The Stick of Truth Coming goes gold
Updated: February 26, 2014 - 11:41 am

What hasn’t been said about South Park? Known for their twisted humor and dark satire, the story of four potty-mouthed boys in South Park, Colorado has entertained millions of viewers and angered just as many others since the show began in 1997. Originally thought up as two animated shorts in the early 90’s by the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show has come a long way since its cardboard cutout origins and VHS viral video days. Now the show holds some of the most consistently high viewership numbers of any basic cable program and remains one of Comedy Central’s most successful programs of all time.

Slated to stay on the air until at least 2016, the show has found its way back to video gaming with South Park: The Stick of Truth.

Developed as a role-playing game in which the user gets to create their own character in the extremely expansive South Park universe and fight alongside all of the famous characters from the show, all while dressed up as characters from the realms of fantasy. South Park is centered on poking fun at politics, socials norms, and other aspects of life, and has more than once made fun of both World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings. Decked out in make shift armor, silly hats, and crude weapons, the game in designed to be as much of a parody of role-playing games as the show mocks everything.

Do not think this game is some cheap attempt to make money, though. There is some serious power behind the games development. Obsidian Entertainment, developer of the game, is responsible for the development of impressive role-playing games in the past such as Fallout: New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic II. The completion of The Stick of Truth has finally been announced to be finished after a long and tumultuous road filled with setbacks and even a studio closure.

The road has been tough. The Stick of Truth was originally being developed and published by the now defunct THQ studios. Originally slated for release in 2012, THQ pushed the game’s release to the end of April, 2013. Sadly, THQ never had a chance to finish the product. At the end of 2012, THQ announced that they had defaulted on $50 mil from banks and were facing bankruptcy, and the studio was shortly thereafter liquidated. Publishing rights to the game were purchased by Ubisoft, who then said they would be delaying the release to an unspecified date to re-develop. After a release date was set for the holiday season last year, it came as no surprise that another set-back stalled development further. A new date was been set by the development team at Obsidian Entertainment. It was announced last week that the game has officially gone gold, the master CD has been completed and sent off. The master CD is the CD in which all of the other copies of the game will be pressed from.

South Park: The Stick of Truth will be released March 4, 2014. Much like the TV show, Stone and Parker have been working at a hands-on level throughout the development of the game. Writing the script, overseeing the project, and lending their voice-acting, the shows two creators have nourished this project since day one. Since South Park’s beginnings, the two friends from college have managed to pick up multiple Emmy Awards for their show, as well as seven Tony Awards for their 2011 musical, The Book of Mormon. These guys know what they’re doing. The game will feature characters familiar to anyone who is a fan of the show as well as the 2-D cutout animation style that South Park is so well known for. Knowing that the game is designed in the same manner as the show, consumers should be expecting a lot of swearing and crude jokes. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone though, after all it is South Park.

The one major downside, however, is the release platforms. Those of you who went out and purchased a next generation consoles will not be able to play The Stick of Truth as it is planned to be released on the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. Hopefully you have a platform to play it on. Despite the most tangible release date yet, fans should be skeptical until they have a copy in their hands. That being said, this release is exciting news.

Will you be the one to recover the lost Stick of Truth and join the infamous boys of South Park?

Posted in Gamers scoop, Northwest chatter on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:37 am. Updated: 11:41 am. | Tags: South Park Video Game , Video Game Review , South Park , The Stick Of Truth Coming Comments (1)

Wednesday 02/05/2014
Gamer's Scoop: The trials and tribulations of Nintendo: But what is the problem?
Updated: February 05, 2014 - 9:30 am

The end of 2013 was marked by a much needed wrench in the cogs of the video game industry, a console war. After the long lives of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, the gaming world needed a breath of fresh air. Sadly, we didn’t really get that. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 are both impressive consoles in their own right, but neither has brought truly innovative positive changes to the gaming world. Both Microsoft and Sony plagued social media networks with unending ads, Microsoft tried to bribe YouTube users to endorse the Xbox One, and a stream of negative media ruled supreme as the two companies seemed to be arch rivals.  During all of the news storm, redesigning of consoles, and removing controversial features (Microsoft), one company was surprisingly out of the spotlight.

Nintendo, the videogame powerhouse from Japan and the world’s largest videogame producer, suffered a pretty tough year in 2013. Its next generation console, the Wii U, had been released well before the other two company’s entries. One would think that this would have given Nintendo a huge edge on the market. Sadly, this was not the case.  Wii U sales pretty much doubled over the course of the year, from 3.06 million to 5.86 million units but this number pales in comparison to the sales of the Xbox One and PS4 in the first few months. Microsoft sold 3 million consoles while Sony managed 4.2 million. These numbers are extremely impressive, but even these statistics don’t come anywhere close to the 100 million units that the Wii sold during its lifespan. 

After announcing these poor numbers, Nintendo shares fell more than 3 percent on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 30. The struggling company said that, despite poor sales of their home console, they would continue to fully back its continued development. After a slight jump during the middle of the day, shares tumbled again by the end of the day.  

After the company forecasted such surprising losses, an announcement was made that execs at Nintendo are considering a new business model.  Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s President, has announced that he will be halving his pay for the next coming months and the rest of the executives at Nintendo will be receiving 20-30 percent pay reductions. This is not the first time Iwata and executives have taken pay cuts, a similar strategy was implemented after the 3DS was unable to find initial footing in the market after release. This pay cut in the upper echelons of the company is also allowing them to prevent any layoffs or company closures, a move that Sony and Microsoft should well look into. Many gaming studios based in the U.S. and Canada closed their doors over the course of 2013.

Nintendo will also spend approximately $1.2 billion to buy back shares after the poor sales last year. This lump sum will allow them to acquire about 8 percent of their outstanding shares. After the ridiculous amounts of shunning that the Wii U saw over the holiday season, nothing else could really be expected at this point. 

Now, after looking at all of the issues that the company has faced over the past year, it becomes an interesting task to name the problem with Nintendo. This is most likely because it is an unlucky combination of a few factors. 

The Wii U was an innovative and interesting console that grabbed a lot of people’s attention early in its marketing because of the two screen capabilities that allowed gamers a whole new way to play games. But this new console also brought with it a lot of questions. Many people initially thought the Wii U was an updated controller for the Wii, a new touch pad device form Nintendo, or many other odd things. With so many fundamental questions swirling through the air, many people took the easy way out and just stuck with what they had or waited until Microsoft and Sony put out their new consoles.

One would think that Nintendo would have responded quickly with answers and a strong marketing campaign, but this was not the case. Nintendo has often suffered from poor marketing and development conditions, under-marketed ideas are often pushed back and filled with issues upon release. Countless online issues plagued the Wii U for users in the U.K. as well as here in the U.S. Destined to fail, the Wii U really had nowhere to find firm footing. To rub salt on the wound, many of the games on the Wii U have received nearly perfect reviews. Failure by the gaming media to report on Wii U titles and slander writing put the company in a tough spot.

On the back of an iffy new console, the nearly $100 billion dollar a year casual gaming market that skyrocketed the Wii into astronomical sales figures had since migrated to the simple to use, easy to buy mobile gaming market. All of the horrible issues with mobile gaming aside, the market has seen tremendous growth recently. Casual gamers abandoned the Wii U for Angry Birds on their phones and iPads.

Nintendo has been quiet in the mobile gaming market, sticking to their guns and their time honored franchises on the home and handheld markets. Iwata did state that the company is studying new ways to revive sales after having ruled out the possibility of licensing out their beloved character roster. A jump into the mobile gaming market might not be a terrible business decision, after all. With that move would come the more than likely degradation of some of the most fantastic and perfect gaming franchises of all time. Mario, Zelda, Super Smash, Donkey Kong and many others have held the Nintendo flag high for decades now, there has to be something that Nintendo can use to help revitalize the company. 

While previously blaming low earnings on the high cost of the development of the Wii U, there are obviously bigger issues. One interesting fact, however, is that Nintendo is the only company of the three, Sony and Microsoft being the other two, that is not in tremendous debt. Sony has posted operating cost losses in the billions in almost every division and the huge financial burden of creating the Xbox One has left Microsoft in a deep dark pit.

With some great content being overburdened by a poorly designed console, Nintendo needs to cut their losses and get back to what they do best, making good Nintendo games. They must properly market some of the great games on the Wii U, or try to wrangle the casual gamers back in. Whatever Nintendo does, they may want to figure out a solution sooner, rather than later.

Posted in Gamers scoop, Livenup on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 4:00 am. Updated: 9:30 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 01/16/2014
Kids part of Arizona Comic Con event in Phoenix
Posted: January 16, 2014

Hey kids, comics! The upcoming Amazing Arizona Comic Con has events planned that will appeal to kids of all ages – like a plethora of Walking Dead activities, a screening of “The Image Revolution” film, and attempts by comic creators to break Guinness world records – but all day Sunday, Jan. 26, they will have special focus on the junior set of the comic-fan demographic.

In addition to all the usual comic con conviviality, Sunday’s “Kids Day” will include many family friendly activities like:

Adventure TimeMorning cartoon session: Family favorites will play on the big screen.

Adventure Time Fan Meet-up: Enjoy the hit cartoon with other fans of Finn & Jake.

Free sketches by Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb artist, Mat Nastos, and the design and concept artists behind the “Skylanders” video game. (For kids 10 and under only.)

My Little Pony – Hour of Power: Artist Tony Fleecs will sketch your favorite Pony – from Rainbow Dash to Twilight Sparkle and more (from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. — AACC suggests that you line-up early as this offer is extremely limited, for kids 10 and under.)

Costume parade: Showcase your superhero spirit (with special prize for all participants.)

Video game arena with favorites including Call of Duty and Mario Cart. Arcade style competition, utilizing the newest game systems.

Kids 10 and under are free with paid adult admission to Amazing Arizona Comic Con (offer good for any single day session, or full weekend passes.) You can get more information on up-to-date details, ticket prices and event times at AmazingArizonaComicCon.com; or follow AACC on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Posted in Gamers scoop on Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:18 pm. | Tags: Amazing Arizona Comic Con , Comic Con , Kids Comic Con Comments (0)

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