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Old 06-24-2013, 04:05 AM   #926
Le Saboteur
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
So, anyway, thoughts?

Yes.

I thought a rather softball question would elicit more discussion, but not much you can do with a dead scene.

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Originally Posted by Finn
Your comprehension is off. So I guess I'll clarify.

No, my comprehension is crystal. Marketing costs are a separate line item on any budget, so when you announce that x cost $100-million to produce/create/make then you're announcing that, in this case, that's what you spent for the code monkeys to pound away at their keyboards. Other above-the-line expenses, like marketing, are not included. Had Square indicated that the $100-million figure* was their total cost to bring Tomb Raider to homes, I'd be more inclined to put marketing costs in that total figure. Which is what you're saying.

*-- The argument's weak because that $100-million figure was acquired through a third-party analyst. Square-Enix/Crystal Dynamics have never mentioned a figure. It was seized upon in the trades along with the reports of Bioshock Infinite topping $200-million.

To extrapolate this out: Disney is on the hook for a reported $250-million on The Lone Ranger. That's the actual cost to bring the image to the screen; i.e., sets, costumes, equipment, extras, post-production, etc. It doesn't include marketing expenses (easily north of $100-million), the principle actors, the director, and the script. Depending upon how the deals are structured, Disney could be on the hook for a very, very cool $600-million on up-front expenses. The important take away though, is that those production costs are fixed. Want to blow up that bridge? It's going to cost x. Everything else is a variable expense.

From an investor standpoint, would you be happy with a capital expense of $600-million for a movie that didn't make a profit? Or, as a gamer, you're now forced to subsidize the industry by giving up your rights as a consumer, because they can't control their costs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
You mention the useless MP component, which probably could (and should) have been cut to reduce costs. But then again, Uncharted has MP too, and it didn't apparently overly bloat Naughty Dog's budgets.

The original Uncharted, Drake's Fortune, did not have a multi-player component. It was only after Sony had proof of concept (read: sales figures), did they think about how to boost sales. Obvious answer: Include a multi-player component. Dudebros love shooting each other in the face. Square would have been wise to take a similar tack for aforementioned reasons:
  1. Five year gap between titles.
  2. Ballooning production costs.
  3. Lack of ancillary markets.
  4. Franchise sales figures.

Had internal sales figures been met, they could have released a free multi-player client post-release to boost those numbers. If not, monetize the expense across a pair of games. Instead, they jumped in feet first and got burned.

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Originally Posted by Finn
First of all, Tomb Raider is a game that is more advanced than any of Nate Drake's outings. It's clearly got more of what Cliffy B calls "visual fidelity", which do crank up the costs - as he says.

The tessellation and TressFX are quite lovely on the PC, but, even being completely objective, Tomb Raider does not look significantly better than Drake's Deception. On a PS3 side-by-side comparison, Tomb Raider manages to look noticeably worse in parts. It's important to note that Crystal Dynamics used the PS3 as their lead platform before porting it to the other platforms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
There is one more thing where Uncharted (and Heavy Rain too) and Tomb Raider differ, though. See, one of them is a PS3 exclusive. The other is a multiplatform release. Which means one dev only needs to hone up a working game for single kind of setup. But do you have any idea how much more QA it takes when you've got to take multiple kinds of hardware combinations into account? I'll put it in single syllables: A lot. There's plenty more work to be done when one has to make sure that the product is stable across a wide range of setups. And this I have from the horse's mouth: A person working in the industry directly stating to a roomful of people that striking an exclusivity deal lightens the workload quite a bit.

I am deeply worried about your social calendar, Finn, if you spend your free time listening to speakers discuss the financials of QA-testing. Everything else you've otherwise stated is obvious; of course QA across multiple setups is a significant investment of time and resources, but you are aware that the Bay Area is chock full of those jobs? Most of them are temporary gigs that might pay twelve bucks an hour, with all the pizza and soda you can handle. I've been a part of a couple of those that lasted the course of a weekend and didn't even get my name in the credits. I suspect that the likes of SCEA and Electronic Arts have a permanent staff they filter amongst the various titles, but even if a specific studio had a permanent team of 100 QA testers (they don't) making a reasonable $40-grand, you've added a total of $4-million to your bottom line.

Skryrim on the PS3 says hello.

Full disclosure: I've done QA testing for a large gaming studio since '09. My compensation: A copy of the specific title in question, and the related expansion packs.

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Originally Posted by Finn
You'll have to quote it out to me, as I don't see it.

Besides, it makes no sense for the publisher to exclude certain figures. A sold copy is a sold copy, whether it's off the shelf or down the tube.

It's a superscript on the same slide as the sales figures. "2. - Does not include downloads." No, it doesn't make much sense. The explicit calling out though is what makes it suspicious; are they masking something else? The scuttlebutt from various message boards and comment sections is that Square-Enix is hemorrhaging money from their Japanese studios, and are using the "weak" sales to cover that fact. The various iterations of Final Fantasy haven't sold as well over the years, and other titles have been in development since '08 without being canceled. Kingdom Hearts III was specifically mentioned.

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Originally Posted by Finn
Given how we have a pair of high-profile AAA titles and there's been substantial time from release, I'd be hard pressed to believe that the figures I referred to are off by millions.

I'm inclined to think they're off because we have top end data from Square-Enix that does not include digital sales to account for the missing millions in sales, and because they're a collection of amateurs. Not in the sense that they're bad, but they're not doing this fulltime. Do they really have the staffing to track the hypthetical four or five copies of Sleeping Dogs sold last week with The Last of Us dominating the news? Or do the major titles consume all that focus?

Fun fact: I was curious to see what kind of sales The Testament of Sherlock Holmes had when the next game was announced, and it looks like the PS3 had sales of 100,000 compared to 10,000 on the 360 and 30,000 on PC. That's a staggering difference.

An interesting infographic on the breakdown of the average videogame budget from Game Informer. Seems I'm not so far off on my $4-million QA number.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
However, at the same time I'm vehemently against any and every development that threatens the diversity of gaming. If the result is that the industry decides that there's no point in making a Witcher if the peasants are quite happy with their yearly Call of Duty, I'll go happily back to the basement.

Despite focusing on financials this entire conversation harkens back to diversity. Sleeping Dogs was dumped because Activision couldn’t see it doing GTA-like numbers. Why? Dudebros like guns, and ain’t wanna play no Asian guy. If gaming continues to become mainstream, then the kind of returns publishers want to see will only be brought about through very, very specific AAA-titles like CoD, FIFA, and Assassin’s Creed. You can probably attribute the fact that this entire generation seemed to revolve around shooting each other to that very concept – violence sells. The industry may not like it, but they might need to adopt a Hollyood-style release schedule; a scant few “tent pole” games get released throughout the year, and smaller, less expensive titles get released around them. These are your proverbial “artistic” releases that get massaged for awards season.

Devs are going to be a significant problem too – you don’t deserve a six figure salary for designing trees. Well, at least not right off the bat. Robert Downey, Jr. wasn’t pulling in $50-million in Chaplin. You need to work your way up to that kind of payday. That doesn’t happen, then budgets are only going to go up and up.

I have no sympathy for tech workers. Their outsized salaries have destroyed an entire American city. If a few dozen tech firms go out of business a year, nobody is going to lose any sleep. That includes Double Fine.

Last edited by Le Saboteur : 06-24-2013 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:14 AM   #927
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
I thought a rather softball question would elicit more discussion, but not much you can do with a dead scene.
We're keeping the doors open, but can't force anyone in at gunpoint. Sorry about that.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
No, my comprehension is crystal. Marketing costs are a separate line item on any budget, so when you announce that x cost $100-million to produce/create/make then you're announcing that, in this case, that's what you spent for the code monkeys to pound away at their keyboards. Other above-the-line expenses, like marketing, are not included. Had Square indicated that the $100-million figure* was their total cost to bring Tomb Raider to homes, I'd be more inclined to put marketing costs in that total figure. Which is what you're saying.

*-- The argument's weak because that $100-million figure was acquired through a third-party analyst. Square-Enix/Crystal Dynamics have never mentioned a figure. It was seized upon in the trades along with the reports of Bioshock Infinite topping $200-million.
Okay, I went digging a little deeper, and there indeed is no first-party statement of the costs of Tomb Raider, all I found was a single throwaway line from a third-party analyst.

Still, I don't really see why we need to argue over this. We both agree that $100m to the code monkeys alone for game like Tomb Raider is preposterous. It is actually that no matter the game.

But if you include marketing, the sum becomes more plausible. And when Square calls its title a financial disappointment, I'm quite certain it includes every possible cost to that statement. The marketing costs do add to the bottom line. Unless, of course, there is some magical way they can be covered in some other way, than, you know, selling copies...


Better clarify something though. You're not thinking I'm trying to justify these costs, are you? If you do, then your comprehension IS off. If you go back and reread, I've never said that developing games should be this expensive.

So, rephrasing, again... can a game like Tomb Raider cost $100m, all expenses covered? Knowing mankind's ability to waste away money, yes, it really can. Should it cost that much? No, it really shouldn't.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Had internal sales figures been met, they could have released a free multi-player client post-release to boost those numbers. If not, monetize the expense across a pair of games. Instead, they jumped in feet first and got burned.
Yeah. No argument. Yet again, like I said, I can see why they're calling it a financial disappointment. However, I never claimed that it was one they could not have avoided.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
The tessellation and TressFX are quite lovely on the PC, but, even being completely objective, Tomb Raider does not look significantly better than Drake's Deception. On a PS3 side-by-side comparison, Tomb Raider manages to look noticeably worse in parts. It's important to note that Crystal Dynamics used the PS3 as their lead platform before porting it to the other platforms.
Great. This is what, like the third time you've practically argued that "because it is like this on PS3, I can use the same figures to cover every other platform out there as well". For crying out loud... there is a scene outside the PS3-land, in case you were not aware. One that has differing variables that also happen to affect the result. So please, stop behaving like PS3 is the gold standard. I'm almost getting worried, because that borders on insane troll logic, my friend.

Tomb Raider, everything jacked up to max on a top-end PC looks absolutely gorgeous, and can blow anything any Uncharted title can present on PS3 completely off the water. Ergo, it is a more advanced game than any of the three Uncharted titles. Which is going to ramp up costs. But once again, I'm not saying it should be like that. It couldn't be any worse of a game if every platform followed the PS3 standards. But they don't, so stop behaving as if they did.

Regardless, the bottom line: Tomb Raider has obviously cost more than any of the three Uncharted titles, and it shows when you know where to look for it. Another fact is that Square execs are obviously not happy with the returns versus their investments. Somebody might say it gives them a valid reason to complain. But we both agree that you don't have to spend $100m to make a game like this. So why are we arguing about the subject? Because we're having fun arguing, or because there's a comprehension problem somewhere?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
I am deeply worried about your social calendar, Finn, if you spend your free time listening to speakers discuss the financials of QA-testing.
My free time is spent at wasting my life away at following the ongoings of various online communities, playing video games, reading books and taking hikes in the great northern outdoors.

My professional life, however, occasionally takes me to lectures that cover a wide range of technical topics. Such is the field these days when ones education is in information science.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Fun fact: I was curious to see what kind of sales The Testament of Sherlock Holmes had when the next game was announced, and it looks like the PS3 had sales of 100,000 compared to 10,000 on the 360 and 30,000 on PC. That's a staggering difference.
I'd be hard pressed to call Sherlock Holmes an AAA title. While it's a quality product, it's a game in a niche genre made by what is not exactly a major developer.

So yeah, more obscure the title, less accurate their numbers appear to be. Which is something I readily admitted.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
An interesting infographic on the breakdown of the average videogame budget from Game Informer. Seems I'm not so far off on my $4-million QA number.
Again, I have to question your comprehension if you're not aware that said graphic is obviously full of hyperboles. It does tell us what is wrong with the industry these days, but it does by no means tell us every dev out there is following the same formula. What comes to debug, all that graphic is really telling us is that one developer - Bethesda - is cutting corners with it. Which is not exactly news to anybody who's played any of their titles straight out of the box.

However, there're also people who are willing to do it right. The guy I was referring to said that if you put your heart into QA, the difference in costs between an exclusive and a multiplatform title can be as staggering as 30% of the budget.

When Alan Wake was first announced, it was touted as an advanced PC title. Then, all of a sudden, it became an X360 exclusive. Apparently the reason was that it allowed Remedy to cut 20% off the dev costs... and receive a big extra wad of cash from Microsoft in return.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
The industry may not like it, but they might need to adopt a Hollyood-style release schedule; a scant few “tent pole” games get released throughout the year, and smaller, less expensive titles get released around them. These are your proverbial “artistic” releases that get massaged for awards season.
The funny thing is, more people get into games, more diverse should the base become. Make gaming truly mainstream, an acceptable pastime in every social niche imaginable, and you can release relative obscurity and still find wide enough audience to pull a profit. The dudebros should be happier too, given their girlfriends have no longer the moral high ground to nag about it.

But as of now, the peasants respond to their lords, all the more willing to do their bidding. But the beauty of preferring a non-closed platform? We want diversity, in the extreme end we can make our diversity. And that is the true secret of the "master race". Freedom. It's a pretty coveted ideal, as I hear it.

Last edited by Finn : 06-24-2013 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 06-26-2013, 04:51 AM   #928
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Originally Posted by Finn
Still, I don't really see why we need to argue over this. We both agree that $100m to the code monkeys alone for game like Tomb Raider is preposterous. It is actually that no matter the game.

It's worth talking about because it goes towards the health of the overall industry. Both Ubisoft and Electronic Arts reported spending a billion plus dollars on game development in FY2012 and posted the shockingly low profit of $48 and $79-million respectively. That's an appallingly bad rate of return for even the most casually business oriented person. They should be in the $100-million plus range to be considered healthy.

Speaking of which, it's only a matter of time before Zygna vanishes. They're working on a billion dollars in debt!

So, the obvious happens: Developers are shuttered, and people get fired. Assassin's Creed becomes an annualized series (III generated ~$650-million in revenue alone), and Cliffy B. shoots off his mouth demanding corporate welfare. And then Tweets some more once Microsoft does an about face on their nanny service.

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Originally Posted by Cliffy B.
More studios WILL close and you'll see more PC and mobile games.

Of course you will. With an install base of several billion users who don't mind drooping a couple of quid on a diversion, that rate of return is going to be very nice. Rovio made a very nice $71-million in profit on about $200-million in revenue in 2012. I don't care who you are, a nearly fifty percent ROR is hella nice.

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Originally Posted by Cliffy B.
I want developers who worked their asses off to see money on every copy of their game that is sold instead of Gamestop. F*** me, right?

He is aware that developers are contracted employees, right? Cliffy B. may have seen a cut of sales given his position, but devs get their paychecks regardless of the game's success. Shareholders see the dividends. So, yes, 'eff you.

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Originally Posted by Cliffy B.
Brace yourselves. More tacked on multiplayer and DLC are coming. You're also about to see available micro transactions skyrocket. HATS FOR EVERYONE.

Like it was going to go away? No, the amortization of gaming is here to stay. That genie is out of the bottle, and no way publishers stop charging you for something now that gamers have proven time and again that they'll pay through the nose for it.

Wasn't there an audio clip of some executive indicating that at some point they'll start charging you for ammunition in on-line games?


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Originally Posted by Finn
But if you include marketing, the sum becomes more plausible. And when Square calls its title a financial disappointment, I'm quite certain it includes every possible cost to that statement. The marketing costs do add to the bottom line. Unless, of course, there is some magical way they can be covered in some other way, than, you know, selling copies...

Sure, the complete cost is plausible. Especially here in the States. I can't remember the amount of billboards I saw just around here, but the ads on public transit were just as abundant. I believe one BART station was blanketed with nothing but Tomb Raider banners. Oh, and television commercials. My god, but were there television commercials. At least one during every commercial break on certain channels.

A magical way to reduce expenses that don't require actually selling anything? I would like to introduce you to the concept of the write down. Depending on how they do their budgeting, there are other ways to reduce debt as well.


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Originally Posted by Finn
Better clarify something though. You're not thinking I'm trying to justify these costs, are you? If you do, then your comprehension IS off. If you go back and reread, I've never said that developing games should be this expensive.

No, not justify. This has been an off the cuff analysis of the fundamental problem facing the industry today. You can amortize an engine's cost across several different titles or sequels, but core costs continue to drive the industry towards insolvency. I wouldn't be surprised to see another massive crash in the near future.

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Originally Posted by Finn
So, rephrasing, again... can a game like Tomb Raider cost $100m, all expenses covered? Knowing mankind's ability to waste away money, yes, it really can. Should it cost that much? No, it really shouldn't.

Nobody wastes money like Hollywood, but they have the ancillary markets to, at the very least, recoup their money. The gaming industry doesn't have that ability.

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Originally Posted by Finn
Great. This is what, like the third time you've practically argued that "because it is like this on PS3, I can use the same figures to cover every other platform out there as well". For crying out loud... there is a scene outside the PS3-land, in case you were not aware. One that has differing variables that also happen to affect the result. So please, stop behaving like PS3 is the gold standard. I'm almost getting worried, because that borders on insane troll logic, my friend.

See: Tomb Raider (PC) & Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception screen captures. Courtesy of NeoGAF.

I haven't been clear.

The PS3 has been notoriously difficult to develop for given its architecture, and as such it should have been the most to expensive to achieve the desired results; those results being comparable visual fidelity to Uncharted: Drake's Deception. So, assuming both games were in the neighborhood of ~$25-million to develop on the PS3 that leaves us ~$35-million off your $60-million figure. Let's assign another $10-million for optimizing the game on the X-Box. And with the final $25-million in hand, Crystal Dynamics went about making the whiz bang PC-edition.

Now, looking at those screen captures I can objectively say that Tomb Raider on a tricked out PC looks better. There's a greater draw distance, the image looks cleaner, crisper, and Lara is noticeably... uh, smoother. From that screen grab of Lara holding the torch, it looks like the light reflects far more naturally off her skin, but I would have to see it moving to say for certain. All things that, as you say, would add to the overall development cost. The aforementioned TressFX and tessellation too.

Is it worth an additional $25-million in fixed costs? No. It doesn't look that good. If I'm the money man, PC is the first platform to get axed during the budgeting process. Especially looking at the sales figures from the Master Race. If Square truly is discounting digital sales, then they lost an ass load of money on the assumed $25-million.

This, right here, is why Rockstar doesn't develop their titles for the PC concurrently. Allow the peasants and their consoles to the pay the freight, then maybe develop for the PC down the line.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
Regardless, the bottom line: Tomb Raider has obviously cost more than any of the three Uncharted titles, and it shows when you know where to look for it.

Yes, it certainly cost more. It didn't have to cost as nearly as much as it did, though. A sober eyed forecast would have turned the game into a monster hit, and Square-Enix could have blown their wad on the sequel.

It also sounds like Naughty Dog is very conscious of their budgets, too.

Since Sleeping Dogs came up again, it was one of my favourite games of last year. Found this review yesterday. It's chock full of spoilers, but a very cogent look at the game. There's also a nice look at how United Front came to realize their version of Hong Kong.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:48 AM   #929
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
It's worth talking about because it goes towards the health of the overall industry. Both Ubisoft and Electronic Arts reported spending a billion plus dollars on game development in FY2012 and posted the shockingly low profit of $48 and $79-million respectively. That's an appallingly bad rate of return for even the most casually business oriented person. They should be in the $100-million plus range to be considered healthy.
This is indeed a worthy topic to talk about. I was just surprised about how much vitriol we managed to generate despite wholeheartedly agreeing on the core principle: The dev costs are too high and the industry shouldn't try to get a pass on it by taking the check to the consumers.

All we disagree on is how the math goes. That is not the key issue here.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Speaking of which, it's only a matter of time before Zygna vanishes. They're working on a billion dollars in debt!
Given this particular company's reputation, I bet many people are saying nothing but good riddance.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Rovio made a very nice $71-million in profit on about $200-million in revenue in 2012. I don't care who you are, a nearly fifty percent ROR is hella nice.
As a sidenote, I wonder how much of Rovio's income comes from selling games and how much comes from licensing their franchise to market other products. I don't know what the situation is in the US, but on this side of the pond they've gone absolutely nuts with that. Apart from having some of your regular plushies, I can't walk past a single shelf in my local grocery store without running into a bird. There's Angry Birds sweets, Angry Birds soda, Angry Birds juice... and even friggin' Angry Birds beans of ground coffee. The thing I find myself constantly asking is if people really buy 'em. I know I don't.

Let's hope the rest of the industry don't get a whiff. I don't want to run into Ezio or Lara when I'm buying a pack of salami.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
The PS3 has been notoriously difficult to develop for given its architecture, and as such it should have been the most to expensive to achieve the desired results; those results being comparable visual fidelity to Uncharted: Drake's Deception. So, assuming both games were in the neighborhood of ~$25-million to develop on the PS3 that leaves us ~$35-million off your $60-million figure. Let's assign another $10-million for optimizing the game on the X-Box. And with the final $25-million in hand, Crystal Dynamics went about making the whiz bang PC-edition.
Given how technology has marched on, I'd say a better dividement of the costs between the three platforms would be: Core development (which gives us the PS3 version) $35m, X360 version $5m on top of that (because it's still nothing but the simple process of porting the game to another stable-hardware platform of roughly equal computing power), and finally concurrent development of a PC version for roughly $20m.

But again, this is the maths sideshow. Yours is still off, but there's no point in getting into this dance again, given we're in agreement over the fact that no matter where the money goes, there must be means to avoid at least some of those pitfalls.

I wonder what the dev costs for The Last of Us were. Those figures would likely make a better point of comparison than Uncharted.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Is it worth an additional $25-million in fixed costs? No. It doesn't look that good. If I'm the money man, PC is the first platform to get axed during the budgeting process.
You know, I agree. One way to cut the costs is to compartmentalize. I wouldn't mind one bit if all plans to develop PC versions of all the so-called action adventure titles were dropped. PC gamers are whining of bad ports and other shtick as it is. If they wanna play those, make 'em buy a console. Pretty much the only reason I don't own one now is that there's enough of them going around on my preferred platform. But if there weren't, I'd have no issue with acquiring one if I felt they were a required dish on my platter. I'd be quite happy with that, as long as PC remains as the main platform for all FPS, RTS and (most) RPG. Because frankly, it is the go-to setup for those genres.

So Rockstar and Naughty Dog actually have the right idea. Don't develop concurrently for too too many platforms and the result is very likely a better product - and the costs should stay at check at the same time. For the master race, CD Projekt is the gold example. Honestly, I don't even know anymore which I love more, their products or their business practices.


Though it'll be interesting to see what kind of an effect the next-gen consoles will have to this aspect of development, since they'll be closer to PC architecture than ever before. By all means it should mean lowered budgets, since those QA costs I keep alluding to? I'm not actually referring to software QA, bug squashing and such, which can indeed take only a fraction of the costs. It's the hardware QA that's demanding, making sure that the game is stable on a variety of platforms (and of course, finding out means to utilize that extra power when applicable).

On the other hand, I've also heard people say that the very reason keeping the current dev costs at check are the limitations in the current-gen hardware. With those removed, the devs can truly go off the deep end, which means that while the costs of cross-platform development go down, the core development costs skyrocket. And the one left holding the check will again be the consumer.


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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Especially looking at the sales figures from the Master Race. If Square truly is discounting digital sales, then they lost an ass load of money on the assumed $25-million.
Square is actually not "discounting" the PC sales, but simply keeping them in line with the competition. There is a reason why PC games have been traditionally cheaper. Even more so in the age of digital download, which by conservative estimates makes up around 80-90 percent of PC game sales these days. Which definitely makes it odd that Square would just happily exclude such a hefty chunk of income.

But anyway, the reason why PC games go even cheaper these days is the fact that there are practically no distribution costs whatsoever. No need to print discs or cases, or make sure they find the retailer. All it takes is a couple of hours of a single employee's time to make sure that the software package reaches the server.


And yes, some people say that illegal downloads* also affect the PC game prices, because you have to discount in order to compete with "free". But I'm not saying one thing or the other for those claims, given how some other folks say that they indeed have to jack the prices up to make up the lost income.

What I have heard though, is that many publishers have been saving a pretty penny after the industry-wide decision to drop the most draconian DRM schemes...

*For the uninitiated, please don't call it "piracy". That stands for a) stealing stuff on the high seas, and b) copyright infringement with profit in mind. The geek squad spreading stuff won't get a single dime from anyone when they up the torrent to the Pirate Bay.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:23 AM   #930
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I couldn't tell you who Mark Cerny was before February, but Sony is certainly winning the messaging race be trotting him out as the public face of the PS4.

He's incredibly confident about the system he's designed, and about the type of experience the Sony ecosystem wants to deliver with the forthcoming generation. If you have 47-minutes of free time, take a gander. If not, watch the second half where he gets into the system's details.



I would have never pegged him as being basically fifty.
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:03 AM   #931
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I've finished The LAst of US last week, pretty nice.
Way to go, Naughty Dog!
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:26 AM   #932
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Originally Posted by Finn
Then, Tomb Raider. Surprisingly enough, I didn't really enjoy this much as I thought I should have. I mean, it was a good game and all, but it lacked something... a soul. It became quite clear pretty early on that while the devs were out to make a good game, they were not out to make to an unique game. There was practically no features whatsoever that would have made it memorable. It simply recycled the most reliable tricks in the book with an extra layer of polish.

Criticism or observation? Given your fondness for Clive Cussler, I'm inclined to believe that it's the latter. I've finally popped it in, and given it a fair workout. I just made it... ah, Shipwreck Beach. Anonymous White Hipster needs my assistance. While I largely agree with your salient points thus far, I am enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Rhianna Pratchett is no Amy Hennig, but she's at least given Ms. Croft a personality.

Tomb Raider does do two things I've wanted to see from Uncharted: a gunfight in a driving rain storm and a bit of detail from the collectible relics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
I wonder what the dev costs for The Last of Us were. Those figures would likely make a better point of comparison than Uncharted.

I suspect that they would end up being less. Naughty Dog has used the same engine throughout this entire generation, and that's a nice chunk of change saved right there. I mention it primarily because Sony just announced that The Last of Us sold 3.4-million units in its first three weeks. Not only did it do the same exact numbers as Tomb Raider, but Sony considers it a success.

Interesting aside: It took Max Payne 3 about a year to do four-million copies, and was one of Take Two's largest contributors to its net revenue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin VanOrd
It was at sea that the visuals impressed me most. Weather will be a fearsome element, forcing you to work harder for victory at sea during heavy bursts of wind, and filling the screen with chilling sights like water spouts. A fort liberation mission entailed barraging a heavily fortified installation with cannon fire. As the Jackdaw pelted the fort's artillery, a blaze erupted and billows of smoke rose into the air, not just making a frightful sight, but also affecting visibility during battle. But dominating a fort with your ship isn't enough to make it yours: you must also infiltrate it on foot, going head to head with your foes, sword in hand, before liberating the fort and gaining access to the new missions it might harbor.

Why, yes, Kevin VanOrd they are quite impressive. It's about damn time too. The 17th Century Caribbean is a wonderful setting. I'm glad that Ubisoft is, at the very least, putting a lot of work into the setting. Enjoy the snippet of Edward doing his very best Queequeg impression!






Oh, and more footage of this game was released too. I think some of the assembled faces are looking forward to it.

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Old 07-11-2013, 06:56 PM   #933
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Criticism or observation? Given your fondness for Clive Cussler, I'm inclined to believe that it's the latter. I've finally popped it in, and given it a fair workout. I just made it... ah, Shipwreck Beach. Anonymous White Hipster needs my assistance. While I largely agree with your salient points thus far, I am enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Rhianna Pratchett is no Amy Hennig, but she's at least given Ms. Croft a personality.
When I pick up a Cussler novel as a paperback for meager few bucks or with not a cent at all from the local library, I don't think they're too obliged to criticism. Especially when I know exactly what I'm getting from the start. A video game I've paid something ranging from 30 to 50€ instead...

Though you're right. I never called it a bad game. Just a little bland one. I had fun with it for as long as a playthrough lasted, but somehow it failed to leave any kind of lasting impression onto me.

It's a good notion though that Lara does have more personality here than all her previous iterations combined. So maybe I was being a bit unfair when comparing it to wider standards of storytelling rather than its predecessors, which were similarly fun and mindless action platforms with little to no story to hold them together. Still, it's hard to ignore all the shortcomings in it, when it constantly and consciously attempts to draw ones attention to the "great drama" going on, while it's obviously having some obvious difficulties to execute itself properly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Oh, and more footage of this game was released too. I think some of the assembled faces are looking forward to it.
In a sense, I'm happy it's not getting a simultaneous PC release. (Well... I think there's no word yet if there's going to be a PC release at all). Because I could see it becoming yet another massive backlog jammer.

---

Speaking of those, I keep having a grand time with Skyrim. I've taken the slow approach this far, actually more taking in all the quaint sights and sounds than anything else. Being a Bethesda RPG, you can see the occasional stuff cracking through the seams, especially for someone who constantly stops and smells the roses (and I wonder how bad it would be without all the fan-made fixes), but damn, the world they've crafted here is just so full of scenery porn giving a true man of the north like yours truly constant mental hard-ons. I could probably lose hours in this land even if it didn't have any quests for me to do.

Speaking of the quests, I have kinda mixed feelings about the so-called "radiant" story mechanic. On the other hand I like the spice and variety it brings, but I also find myself constantly checking the wiki that the random location I just received isn't used as a backdrop for a more unique quest later on. It would just feel silly to go back to a place I already visited a while back in order to slay some bandit chief. My compulsion to keep my comings and goings and the story provided as synergized as possible is pretty bad with more linear RPGs as it is, so one can only imagine how it is here where talking to some guy standing in the corner can just randomly send me anywhere from the house nearby to the other side of the province.

Oh well, at least I can take in some majestic sights while I traverse.
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Old 08-09-2013, 01:32 AM   #934
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League of Fighters

I don't know how many of you guys play League of Legends... pretty sure it's for frat boys only. :]
But still.

I got accepted as an animator for a new game called "League of Fighters" based off League of Legends. It's a Street Fighter style fighting game where players play as champions from League. Thought someone would be interested.

I'll definitely be playing that when it comes out.
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Old 08-21-2013, 07:56 PM   #935
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The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC versions of FIFA 14 are scheduled to hit stores on Tuesday, 9/24/13, with the demo to be released on Tuesday, 9/10/13.





The PlayStation 4 version is scheduled for stores alongside the launch of the console system itself on Friday, 11/15/13. The Xbox One version is scheduled for stores alongside the Xbox One's launch, whose launch date has yet to be announced as of this posting.






Which team(s) are you planning to play as in this game?


-G
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:21 AM   #936
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It seems that the PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC FIFA 14 YouTube gameplay trailer in the previous post is no longer available, so here's an earlier version:






-G
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Old 09-04-2013, 06:07 PM   #937
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Quote:
The Xbox One version is scheduled for stores alongside the Xbox One's launch, whose launch date has yet to be announced as of this posting.
It's just been announced that the Xbox One will launch on Friday, 11/22/13, so I suppose that's when that console's version of FIFA 14 will hit stores as well.


-G
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:35 PM   #938
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Thumbs up

The FIFA 14 demo is now available for the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 and the PC, with Camp Nou as the included stadium and with the following teams included:






-G
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Old 09-17-2013, 12:24 PM   #939
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I'm not much of a gamer... In fact the only games I own for my Play Station 3 are Mortal Kombat and Red Dead Redemption... but I'm gonna be headed out in about an hour to my local best buy to pick up this Grand Theft Auto V

...that is unless folks that are more in the know than me (you guys), tell me other wise before then...

I just feel like I'm doing my PS3 a disservice. And Hell, the game looks ridiculously fun to my eyes.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:37 PM   #940
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Originally Posted by Dr. Gonzo
I'm not much of a gamer...


You and me both. I have a Wii, a 360, and a PS2 all collecting Dust. Even the jr. running around doesn't get on 'em much.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:30 AM   #941
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Gonzo
I'm not much of a gamer... In fact the only games I own for my Play Station 3 are Mortal Kombat and Red Dead Redemption... but I'm gonna be headed out in about an hour to my local best buy to pick up this Grand Theft Auto V...

I can't say anything negative about Grand Theft Auto V. For all intents and purposes, it's Rockstar's coda to this generation. Everything they've developed and created has been shoved into it -- the map was swiped from L.A. Noire; the shooting from Max Payne 3; hunting and the wilderness exploration/activities from Red Dead Redemption; and, they've buffed it up to a fine sheen. The collateral loss following a heist gone wrong (or not perfectly) certainly looks intriguing.

I haven't played a GTA game since Vice City, but I might pick up this one eventually. There's a specific part I'm interested in.

The one bit of advice I will offer is this: If you just want a shooter pick up Max Payne 3. It's the best shooter* of the past couple of years. Pick up GTAV if you're into the whole package.

*- Finn will try to convince you that it's Far Cry 3, but he's fooling himself. It does a lot of fun things, but fails at so many others.

Anyway.

I still have one foot currently planted on this generation of consoles, but I am most looking forward to this little number on my PS4. It'll be sucking up a lot of my free time unless it really, really sucks.

Check out these swell looking weather effects!



Far Cry 3 doesn't have this groovy of a soundtrack either.
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Old 09-18-2013, 01:56 PM   #942
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
The one bit of advice I will offer is this: If you just want a shooter pick up Max Payne 3. It's the best shooter* of the past couple of years. Pick up GTAV if you're into the whole package.

*- Finn will try to convince you that it's Far Cry 3, but he's fooling himself. It does a lot of fun things, but fails at so many others.
Far Cry 3 is probably the best shooter of the generation what comes to gameplay mechanics. Given how that's extended to actual storytelling on a meta level makes it such a delicious package.

But yeah, it does have its shortcomings, mostly related to world design and pacing. I'm wholly willing to admit that Max Payne 3 is a far more athmospheric game and offers better predetermined action setpieces - save for a few special occasions, FC3 is mostly all about setting up your own. Though I wouldn't compare them head-to-head anyway. After all, they follow two wholly different design mechanics. Max3 is a linear 3rd person action package, whereas FC3 is an open world FPS sandbox. They both offer a wildly differing experience - and there're plenty of ambient details, such as player preferences and the chosen platform, that would affect greatly whether I'd be recommending one or the other (or some completely other title).

Also, to truly appreciate FC3 one probably needs to have plenty of experience with shooters and their mechanics all the way from the days of Doom - and given it's an FPS, it really needs to be played on PC. Bottom line, the brilliance only comes out in the right context. I'd only be fooling myself if I claimed it's a predominant experience no matter what.

And in case somebody thinks this is another "PC is superior" drawl - I best say that there are probably plenty of games out there that may feel a bit underwhelming on PC but really shine in a more casual console environment. I'm just not the right man to point out what those might be.


So yeah, if one likes the GTA V mold of shooty shooty bang bang, Max Payne 3 is the way to go. Though given its rather short length, linear nature and therefore relatively low replay value - I'd say GTA probably does contain more bang for the buck if one is just willing to bear with all the other activities the sandbox is littered with.

---

I'll be checking out GTA V eventually, but as usual, I'll just wait for the eventual PC version. Luckily I'm in no rush, since Skyrim is keeping me well occupied - and given my playstyle, probably will for quite a while longer. I've traipsed around its Nordic fantasy land for roughly 150 hours now, and feel like I've seen only perhaps a third of what it has to offer.

Like Far Cry 3, it's another game that really needs to be experienced on PC. With all the mods and a robust in-game console available (for those moments when even the fan fixes won't cut it) the control is extended not only to your character, but partially to the surrounding world as well. Out of the box, the game has plenty of cracks and seams visible - and being able to apply the putty yourself instead of just doing your best to ignore them turns it into a worthwhile DIY experience. Rip this control away and I can see how it could get old sooner rather than later.

Okay, one might wonder how it really is a good thing to make the end-user patch all the holes - shouldn't that really be something the dev team should do? Well, yes and no. While all the time spent on tweaking is away from actually playing the game - there's also the aspect of personalization. To me, it's extremely intriguing to think that there is probably no other player on this Earth who is experiencing the exact same iteration of the game than I do.

Last edited by Finn : 09-18-2013 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:37 AM   #943
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
Far Cry 3 is probably the best shooter of the generation what comes to gameplay mechanics. Given how that's extended to actual storytelling on a meta level makes it such a delicious package.

See? I told you he couldn't help himself. Your mileage may vary, but I've played through Max Payne's third downward spiral twice so far. I can confidently say that I will never play Far Cry 3 again.

While I have largely been ignoring my backlog, I have been intermittently working through L.A. Noire again. I've enjoyed picking up new details and trying to decipher the psychological geography during the interrogations.

We're about 1.5 months out from the launch of the next generation of home consoles. So far, only ACIV: Black Flag is piquing my interest. The 4K capabilities are nice, of course, but the investment in movies and equipment is still a ways off. For example, I'll be interested to see if any upscaling on my Lawrence of Arabia Blu-ray is upscaled at all since it was remastered in both 4k & 8k.

Still, harpooning whales in my best Queequeg outfit could prove enjoyable. This despite the fact that hunting in Far Cry 3 was dreadful.



Fun read from Ubisoft's in-house blogger on his three hour demo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubisoft Blog
Here’s why. For starters, the sea never lacks for excitement. Sure, there are serene moments of travel, as you glide toward the setting sun on a remarkably clear day. But even those rare moments of calm are magnificent, offering up a breathtaking vista that delivers on the promise of next-gen graphics. For the most part, however, the sea is teeming with activities, including the refined (and thrilling) naval combat. Sometimes it’s the Jackdaw against a flotilla of smaller foes, playing the bruising bully to the man-made minnows flittering about. Other times, Edward faces far bigger fish, and that requires every ounce of the player’s concentration and strategy, using the Jackdaw’s greater mobility to barely keep afloat in the face of overwhelming firepower. Even the waves can play a role in combat, with high crests providing visual cover during stormy weather.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:36 AM   #944
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
See? I told you he couldn't help himself. Your mileage may vary, but I've played through Max Payne's third downward spiral twice so far. I can confidently say that I will never play Far Cry 3 again.
Erm, Sab... I did NOT say in my last post that Far Cry 3 is the best shooter of the generation. I said it probably has the best gameplay mechanics, but that's about it. To call it the best overall definitely goes into the YMMV territory. And to truly enjoy those mechanics you need to play with Mouse+KB interface, which means it may not be enjoyable across the board. So yeah, I can truly understand why some folks might prefer Max Payne 3 over Jason Brody's adventures in the desolate paradise, and certainly won't hold that preference against them. Thank you for your revised comprehension. Words of one syllable next time?

Another thing I said is that I wouldn't even bother comparing Far Cry 3 and Max Payne 3 anyway. Yes, both have guns and you can use those guns to kill virtual foreigners, but that's where the similarities between 'em end. So by hinting that I might walk in and sing praises to FC3 when Gonzo asked for shooty action like GTAV, you were actually building a pretty candid straw man. Which you kept assaulting even after I put up my best effort to take it down. So thank you for that too. Me much sor-ree. Me use moar ezy words next time, ok?
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:00 AM   #945
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Quote:
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Erm, Sab... I...




Moving on.

I was doing some further reading on why 4K gaming is impossible with the forthcoming generation of consoles. While I am far more interested in the video playback capabilities from the inevitable quality upgrade, several gamers were disappointed that they wouldn't be able to shoot each other in the face in Ultra HD 4K resolution. Here's what I found out:

The current max output in the current HDMI spec is 3,840x2,160/30. It doesn't matter if you could crank up the pixels to 10,000x10,000, your teevee couldn't accept the signal; its receiving HDMI chip can obviously only accept the current maximum specifications. Since... oh, 99% of next generation console owners won't be able afford a 4K teevee any time soon, it makes perfect business sense to leave out a feature nobody would be able benefit from for at least, in my estimation, five more years.

What's particularly funny is that during Microsoft's X-Box One unboxing video, the 50-year old hypeman made a special point to note that Microsoft is including a 4K ready HDMI cable in the box.

Short reply: So, any off the shelf HDMI cable? Since, according to the current 1.4 HDMI specifications, a cable must be able to pass 3,840x2,160 pixels at up to 30 frames per second (and 4,096x2,160 at 24 frames per second) to be considered high-speed. HDMI 2.0 ups these standards, but current Category 2 cables are more than capable of handling the increased speeds.

Sony shot down the idea of gaming in native 4k resolution early in the PS4 announcement period, but Microsoft has left the thought dangling with Corporate Vice President Marketing, Strategy and Interactive Entertainment Business* Yusuf Mehdi’s comment "There's no hardware restriction there at all." Which seems rather odd given how decidedly underpowered the One is. Unless, of course, this is another instance where the Power of the Cloud!! is going to save Microsoft's bacon.

* -Bullsh!t job.

The fine folk over at AnandTech went into some depth regarding the power requirements to pump out 4k resolution at a steady 60 frames per second. Check out their analysis over here.

To paraphrase, the GTX TITAN GPU is the current bleeding edge of cool when it comes to graphics cards. It's such a beast that it'll set you back a cool ~$1000. It took four of these monsters to achieve a steady 60fps on Metro 2033 running on maximum settings at 3840x2160! Dirt 3 ran at a very impressive 200-plus frames per second, but Sleeping Dogs (with full SSAA) topped out at 57.78fps!

Think about that a moment. That's a ~$4,000 investment. I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot of things I would rather spend four grand on. Still, having recently had the opportunity to play with Sony's 4k teevee demo, it's going to be spectacular when it arrives. Watching a 4k feature in native 4k resolution is really, really impressive. I would say the difference is like jumping from VHS to DVD. It's that good.



One caveat, though. Screen resolution isn't the most important part of image quality; no, that's probably the contrast ratio. Depth perception, punch, and 'that sense of being there' all come from moving from the lightest to the darkest part of the image. Blu-ray is an excellent format for this. Just check out the 50th Anniversary release of Lawrence of Arabia. It's been scaled down from 4k resolution, but the detail on display are astounding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu-ray.com
Sony's meticulous 4K restoration is not just a treat, it's a revelation and perhaps the definitive Blu-ray catalogue release, if not the format's finest presentation. It's a beautiful picture, to say the least, every frame lovingly cared for and displayed on Blu-ray with the sort of attention to detail and, indeed, flawlessness that a film of this magnitude commands. Sony's picture dazzles from the opening shots of Lawrence speeding down very well-defined pavement and past sharp and accurate foliage. Detail remains exacting throughout the film; whether fine grains of sand, sweeping desert vistas, intricate clothing lines, or complex facial textures, there's never a frame in which the picture doesn't dazzle with its perfect film-like elements. Light grain remains over the image, and there's a natural sharpness, unsurpassed clarity, and startling accuracy that will impress even the most demanding viewer. The image is absolutely clean, showing no signs of wear and succumbing to no unwanted artifacts or digital tinkering. Colors are equally resplendent. There are many instances of the sandy earthen terrains contrasting with the bright blue sky overhead; both are picturesque in hue and the balance is beyond words. The image handles everything from white flowing robes to black costumes with equal precision. Gold trim, bright reds, lush natural greens, and all variety of colors simply dazzle in every scene. Black levels are perfect, as is shadow detail. Flesh tones never betray natural appearances. In short, this is everything the transfer needed to be. It's the sort of timeless image that transfixes and immerses, one that is so precise that viewers will become absolutely lost in the beauty of the film. Many will want to watch twice in succession, once for the transfer and once for the movie.

With Sony & Panasonic announcing the arrival of 300gb (current max: 50gb) Blu-ray discs by 2015, I have no doubt that we'll be seeing true 4k resolution in home video very soon. Hopefully they'll be compatible with current players. Of tertiary concern, are the video sizes. With Sony explicitly stating that their 4k streaming service will be coming to the PS4, it'll be interesting to see how many people take advantage of it. Why? With downloads possibly in excess of 100gbs per film, I don't see your friendly neighborhood service provider considering that fair usage. I can see prices for 'net access quickly becoming tiered. Especially in Europe where they seem to be routinely throttled.

Time will tell, though. 4k certainly isn't as intriguing as Blu-ray adoption, but the possibility is exciting.

And finally, the last game I'll probably ever buy for the PS3 finally has a release date. I don't know what it is, but I really, really like platformers.

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Old 10-04-2013, 06:30 AM   #946
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Lately been rocking slightly older school regular X-Box games on the 360. Namely, Sid Meier's "Pirates", and Soul Calibur II. I don't game often, but every now and then.... Disappointed to see that my regular X-box "From Russia With Love" will not play on the 360. Gonna, have to dig the old X-Box out. Not that I mind.
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:13 PM   #947
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I finally got around to playing the new Tomb Raider game. It was fantastic and I managed to finish the single-player campaign with 100% completion, something I almost never do.
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:58 PM   #948
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Angry Birds; Origins

The original 1988 free range fledgling adventure. Available for Droid devices on MAME.



It absolutely retro rocks - and not a Star Wars spin off in sight! Yay!
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:54 PM   #949
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Thumbs up

Just pre-ordered both Battlefield 4 (for the PC) and its official strategy guide.

I also just upgraded my video card. I was planning to for a while anyway, but checking this site to see if my system could handle BF4 was what finally prompted me to upgrade now: though the rest of my rig comfortably passed both the Minimum and Recommended tabs, my previous video card barely passed the Minimum tab but failed to pass the Recommended tab. My new video card passes both tabs and has also made a huge graphical improvement for my other PC games as well.

I briefly considered getting this game for the upcoming PlayStation 4 instead, but I could never play first-person shooters well on a controller - I need a keyboard & mouse for those.

So I now better finish BF3's single-player campaign, as BF4's single-player campaign begins about six years later.


-G
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Old 10-14-2013, 03:33 AM   #950
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Some good news for Finn & I hit the 'net last week. Hopefully some of you will now take a spin 'round Hong Kong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by United Front Games
"We're super-excited that it's another game based in the Sleeping Dogs universe, it's something we've wanted to do for ages, and we're very happy to be working with Square Enix again... but that's all we can give you for the time being," said UFG.

Yes, it looks like Sleeping Dogs is getting a sequel... well, maybe. Addressing a trademark filing for something called Triad Wars, United Front Games confirmed that they were indeed working on a next generation sequel to their open-world sleeper hit. While the idea of a sequel is greatly appealing the title is currently uninspiring. Triad Wars sounds like a crappy iOS game and/or a generic MMO.

Fingers crossed that it's simply a bad sub-title and they're added an unneeded multi-player component.

Also of note: Dark Horse Comics has picked up the rights to The Witcher!



This might drum up more interest in having Geralt of Rivia's tale translated into a language that doesn't resemble gibberish on a good day. Stop in at Newsarama for the interview with the series' writer, Paul Toobin. There's a couple of art samples, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Toobin
The story is almost entirely mine. Projekt RED and I decided on a direction during a meeting, but it was more of a feel... a story type... that they were asking for, rather than establishing any plot points. With that in mind, I came up with a couple possibilities, and then they stepped back and let me do my thing. They've been fabulous to work with, trusting us with Geralt and his world, letting Dark Horse and I do what we do best.

I don't do a lot of gaming. I used to. My gaming interests these days are generally predicated on long standing hobbies/interests/whatever. Towards that end is Ready at Dawn's The Order: 1886. Of everything announced since February, it looks the most intriguing.



Recently announced details flesh out the world and give it a slight Victorian-era Space Marine vibe.

Quote:
  • The narritive is a mixture of history, fantasy, sci-fi and mythology and particular emphasis has been placed on creating a rich world
  • Hundreds of years ago humanity splits and a small group of people become "genetically different", taking on bestial traits and being dubbed "half-breeds"
  • The half-breeds are given names after mythological creatures and folk-tale characters, but are actually a new species of sentient Earth creatures
  • The differing breeds engage in conflicts which eventually spark a war changing the course of history

Check out the full article in your current issue of Game Informer or check out this article over at Computer & Video Games.

And in a final bit of news, a gameplay trailer for Thief has been released. I have my fingers crossed on this one, but will probably wait for the reviews.

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