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Malik (4/3/06)  

I Wow. Just wow. It's hard to fathom the trends in games. Usually we see nothing but a bunch of sequels and well established franchises (that's read: overplayed and no longer interesting). However, every once in a while, something that should be no more than an online mini-game on a gaming site comes along as a full game from the most unlikely development team. Case in point, the Rumble Roses developer of Yuke is now making a The View game. I don't even understand how this is a game or how it would be justified as one. Then again, The Godfather became a game, despite how the movie/book is not in the least bit an action packed crime-fest, but rather an amazing story of characters and intrigue in the seedy Mafia underworld. 

So, do you gain levels? Do you get to be a better example of why I don't watch daytime TV when I'm home sick from work? Do you have special guest stars? Do you actually get an opportunity to steer the show into a respectable direction? Why am I even thinking about this? Probably because when it's coming from Yuke, I have to think about if any of the Rumble Roses influence will make it to The View. For example, can I play as a bikini clad vixen who gets the ability to body slam Barbara Walters? 

Ok. It's Monday morning, and I feel the weekend owes me an extra hour of sleep after the annoyance of daylight savings. Maybe that one hour of sleep is what helps me to steer away from non-news. Or it could always be that there is some amazing stupidity out there... the concept of Nintendo's Revolution coming out on top in 2010. At least this is what analyst Thomas Runte thinks about this. It's a nice idea. Really. I like the thought of Nintendo coming out on top, especially since, as Iwata and Miyamoto have often said, they are all about making a gaming machine and not some damned box that's meant to be an all in one device to conquer the living rooms of the world. I really do like the affordable, convenient, innovation, and economical ideals behind the Revolution. 

However, reality is also another thing I'm a fan of. While reality usually will bite me in the ass as often as it will help me out, I still support it. For example, reality says a few simple things. 

Nintendo is trying to regain some third party support. The Revolution will serve as a chance for Nintendo to renew old alliances. It will basically be a machine that will induce healing of the broken Nintendo promises and dreams of the past. Until this healing is done, we will not see a major shift in importance from Sony to Nintendo. 

Secondly, with the increased pressure on HD-TVs (and I sure know they are f$#@in nice), the lack of HD support from just one console will hurt that console. That console is coming from Nintendo. Since the 360 and PS3 both place such a high emphasis on HD displays, it's already rooted in the minds of gamers that the only real way to go is the direction of higher resolution and better images. While Nintendo can promise some nice visuals without HD, we've seen already from the 360 that nice visuals only go so far in the SD/ED range. It's not until the visuals are allowed to freely roam in the HD world that they really look all that different than they did in the last generation. 

Most importantly, however, is that in the US, Nintendo stands for "kiddy". It's not necessarily a truth, but it's a commonly held misconception. Because of this, many American (and European) gamers will stick with what they know to be hardcore; Microsoft and Sony. Just like with the third party developers, the Revolution will serve as a chance for Nintendo to heal some old wounds with gamers. Until those wounds are healed, a real winning generation cannot be found for Nintendo. 

Don't get me wrong...Nintendo will be far better in this generation than they did in the last. The Revolution will stand for many things that the GCN just couldn't bring in. It will stand, once again, for the economical solution. It will also stand for innovation, gaming, and games that will bring the forgotten and neglected gamers (and ex-gamers) back together with the mainstream gamers. 

However, Nintendo will still end on the bottom of the ladder. They will make headway against the XBox, but the 360 is making headway on the original XBox. With the exception of Japan, the stats (both worldwide and according to region) will remain what we all know; Sony on top (but with less of a lead than in the last generation), Microsoft making a strong second (as opposed to the XBox's weak second), and the Revolution will make a very good attempt with third (but doing far better than in the GCN generation). The one exception is Japan, where the 360 and the Revolution will easily be swapped in position. 

With the Revolution and the PS3 both hitting the US around the same time, it doesn't matter what price or quantity of supply Nintendo offers. This fall we will see Nintendo have a horrible start, since most gamers already take Nintendo as "kiddy". However, things will pick up from there, but this lull in sales will cause problems. The only way Nintendo could hope to establish a good foundation to build upon is if they either send the Revolution to stores in the summer, or if the PS3 is once again delayed. Competing launches will create a hurdle that will ultimately limit the Revolution in it's first year or two. 


Malik (4/4/06)  

Bethesda has finally started it's first bit of content packages for Oblivion. Normally, this is the type of news to get excited about. Afterall, the best part of a The Elder Scrolls game is the mods and content upgrades. Who could forget having their own house in Morrowind, via a PC mod. Or there's the graphical fixes for Morrowind that fixed any clipping issues between the character and equipment graphics. Plus, it's awesome to see that the 360 will be included in content upgrades this time around. 

However, it all comes with a price...literally. 360 users will have to pay 200 GP (~$2.50), and PC gamers will pay $1.99. If we're expected to pay an extra $2.50 for horse armor, and all it doesn't really offer, that's a sad thing. Afterall, this will be a good precedent of what's to come. Small little worthless bits of content, which as a whole could be fun, but are worthless in their minor parts, can run up some massive bills. Horse armor? $2. Mage tower? $2. Orrery? $2. That's $6-$7.50 (360 user price) right there. However, it could go on even further... 

A new type of blade? $2. A new armor? $2. A new material for equipment? $2. A new non-quest dungeon? $5. A new quest? $5. A country? $15. Expansion pack (which would be the only reasonable thing to buy, and it should include all of this crap)? $35-$45. Add it all up? You have a potential of $130 or more that could end up being paid for for this one $50 game. 

What is to come, you ask? Well, Bethesda will give more content. It will be great. However, they will nickel and dime us for the small things. I don't mind the Mage Tower that's in the works, but something as trivial as horse armor? No. So, unless the content starts to come in big packages, we will be nickel and dimed in the name of helping a company make more money when they have the probable game of the year already going for (MSRP) $50-$70 a pop. 

However, as a Live Gold user, I feel especially cheated since Oblivion is too good of a game. I mean Oblivion is dominating all of my gaming time. So, while Oblivion is without any Gold functionality (online gaming...and I definitely don't mind the lack of it since this is Oblivion and not some lame MMO), and while I obsess over it, I am wasting my Gold service. However, I'm still expected to pay for downloads, while I blow $10-$20 for Gold. Sorry, that little bit was just me bitching. 

It also doesn't help that the horse armor is worthless. It comes in two flavors, and they both won't serve you too much as you crawl through dungeons. On top of that, if the horse dies, in game, you will have to buy (in game) new horse armor for your next steed. So, between two lame looking armors, how useless it is in game, and how it costs money (in the real world) to buy...well, I think I'll skip this one. 

I just hope that Bethesda will end their policy of charging for all content downloads. Especially, I hope they will end this if the game is cross-platform and another platform gets the content for a different price. At least set that part in stone. 

On that same line of thought, when (and we know it will happen) the Oblivion expansion hits the market, I hope Bethesda does something different than they did with Morrowind...have an installable download (that requires the 360 HDD) so an entire new copy of the game is not needed. I also hope that they remember to make saves from Oblivion compatible with the expansion, so we are not expected to start over on the game, while PC users will definitely get this perk. 

Anyway, I'm completely addicted to Oblivion. I have played about 16 hours of it in the last two days. I would've played more, but my day job requires some time or else I can't afford 

I also still have not touched the main quest of the game. I want to. I really do. However, I also want to be the master of all guilds, and to be famous and well known before I go on to save the world. Oblivion, no matter how much I try to focus on the main quest, just keeps offering too many fun diversions. Playing Oblivion is a lot like browsing for a new video game in the fall...sensory overload. Everytime I try to focus on any quest, something amazing happens that will start a new quest. It's like when I was trying to do the Mage Guild quests, and I stumbled upon a Daedric Shrine (which I just happened to pick up the offering for a second earlier). Next thing I know, I started my personal quest to do all the Deadric Shrine missions. Then I decided to finish the Thief Guild quests...and I accidentally started the next leg of my Mage Guild quests, so I left the Thieves for the Mages. It's just how this game works. 

Sigh...My name is Malik, and I'm addicted to Oblivion. 


Malik (4/5/06)  

There's a bit more about the downloadable content for Oblivion. The two soon to be released items that I mentioned yesterday are detailed over at Gamespot. Basically, the Orrery will involve a quest to restore this room (which many have probably seen in the Arcane University, and thought that you should get the key for it once you've become Arch Mage), which serves as a Dwarven planetarium of sorts. The end product will allow the player to get powers based off of lunar cycles. 

If you're assuming "werewolf" may soon join "vampire" as a nice character bonus, I would personally doubt it. Werewolves are more of an expansion type of content. The purchase of the Orrery at $2.50 will not include anything that revolutionary. I wouldn't mind seeing myself being proven wrong, but when werewolves are not included, don't be surprised. 

The other bit of content will be the Mage Tower. There still doesn't seen to be any info on this, besides it will serve as a home, and you will be able to grow herbs and do other minor mage-like things. Still, it would be a cool use of $2.50, since it will give a whole new location, and possibly a quest, and not just horse armor in two flavors. 

Speaking of that, the article went on to state Bethesda's take on the response to people not wanting to pay $2.50 for two lame looking sets of horse armor. They sounded a little surprised. They also made it sound like since other people were charging for lame content (like the Kameo Christmas pack), that they should do it too. 

That is the same f#@$ing retarded logic that we find from certain lawyers, who claim that certain games cause kids to do certain homicidal rampages. "Well, I saw CJ, in GTA, kill a bunch of people, so I figured I could do so too!" "I saw a bunch of worthless crap like gamer icons and Christmas packs going for real money, so I figured two really bad looking suits of horse armor should go for even more money!!111!!" Idiots. 

A simple lesson in microtransactions, like those found on the Live Marketplace. Just because someone else does something, it doesn't make it right. Wait, that's a lesson for all times in life. The lesson just for the Marketplace is this; if you're not really offering anything worthwhile, give it for free, call it a perk for loyal customers, and offer the real stuff for money (if you choose). What better way to boost your image than to give some worthless (but interesting to look at) crap for free, call it awesome, and wait for the good vibes to come your way? I can tell you it's not to say, "well Kameo Christmas pack was for 200GP and it was useless, so why not sell our even less interesting horse armor for more?!". 

I have no problem with paying a bit to get some cool new features in a game, but when it's entirely cosmetic and useless, a developer needs to give it away for free, or it will only inspire rage in us geeks. 

Forgive me, but after looking at many message boards on this horse armor price, Malik has a little bitching to do... 

Basically, while many people may want to say that "it's only $2.50", I think it's safe to say that these people are "only just out of their parents' home". There's a glorious time in a geeks life when you just get out of high school or college, and you have your first real job. You make so much money...or it feels that way to you. However, despite having so little in bills each month, after a few years, you start to see that you have no savings. Why? You had no problem dropping $2.50 for this content, $3 for a latte, $1 for an extra burger, $1 because you WOULD like fries with that, $5 more for premium gas because you have to treat you ugly-as-sin-nearly-broken-down Camero to only the goes on and on. I don't mean to get too based in reality, but I'll just say that my household makes plenty of money (enough to make most of these "it's only $2.50" geeks shit their pants), and I can tell you that these little charges hurt. I am the inventory regulator ("ordering bitch") for my work group, and I get to see each day how ordering a $2 item adds up. 

So, my basic message in this; don't be a tool. If you're about 18-22, fresh out of college or high school, with a new job that pays you a whole $11/hr and you think your shit no longer stinks...if you think that anyone who would complain about $2.50 for worthless content that should be free (both from a business model and because it is tiny enough that it should have been included in the actual game) is a little kid who needs to "grow up", "get a real job" and "face it" that "$2.50 is nothing"...well, if this is you, you need to pull your head out of your ass. You are in a nice place, that I like to think of as the "eye of the storm", in life. Things feel nice and calm when you get your first real job. You have income, you have few expenditures, and things are great. However, real life will kick you in your balls in a couple of years, and the more you go off about how a few bucks means nothing, the more likely you are to be a tool of debt in the coming years, and thus the harder your balls will be kicked. I was smart about it, and avoided being a tool, but even so, life still gave a swift kick in the balls. 

By the way, no post tomorrow.  I will be reserving all of my attention to having pain inflicted upon me by my dentist.


Malik (4/7/06)  

For the most part, unless I travel about 5-7 years into the past, I couldn't give less of a shit about Square Enix games. I know...Dragon Quest 8. It was a surprise for me, and I almost skipped it. However, when I heard that the 360 was going to get some mysterious Square Enix game, I was excited. 

Mainly, this would be the type of help that Microsoft would need to be a good competitor in Japan. Imagine the sales boost of the 360 in Japan (and the following surge in products caused by more direct competition) if they got some new Square Enix RPG. It would be awesome. It would be the perfect thing to keep the 360 from being completely ignored in Japan, and thus we may see some better Japanese support coming to our shores. 

It would have been awesome...assuming Square Enix wasn't intending this mystery game to be Project Sylph. Not only is this not the type of thing I'd expect to see, or hope to see, it even brings Game Arts (the people who know how to energize RPGs like few others can) into this fray. So, basically, Project Sylph is along the same lines as Sylpheed. 

While I would love to say that a shooter could be "fun" and "nostalgic", I just can't anymore. If there is anything we've learned in recent years, it's that the shooter genre is a truly doomed thing. Gradius, R-Type, Ikaruga...they were all attempts to use modern gaming abilities to bring anew life into shooters, and they all faired the same...they are were barely worth a rental. 

Along the lines of mysterious, hyped, and rumored things, Lionhead has been purchased by Microsoft. I only mention this because it's been the subject of a bit too much speculation lately. If anyone thinks this will help Molyneaux become more focused, it won't. If anyone means this will make Fable 2 live up to expectations better than Fable 1 did, it won't. All it means is that Lionhead will have a stable source of funding now. 

Well, it's almost the weekend, and I aim to try to do something other than Oblivion. I will play some, but seeing how my game clock is reading over 65 hours, I need a break. 65 hours in less than three weeks! That just boggles the least it boggles my mind. 


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