In the bizzarre world of video games there are very, very different kinds of developers. If you are lucky you end up dealing with a product made by someone that doesn’t fuck with you with over-discounted prices, or with an independent team that worked passionately and hopes to at least recover the money spent on development. If you are not so lucky, you are forced to waste money, time and mental energies on some obscene shit like the latest manifestation of Godus - the most recent digital dung defecated by Peter Molyneux which doesn’t spare new bad surprises every now and then. Luckily we have the indies, the honest ones at least.
John Romero recently published the video of a demo for Super Mario Bros. 3 for PC, a port created by id Software in 1990 to secure the official rights for the conversion of Nintendo’s platform game. The engine created by id (and later used for Commander Keen) clearly shows that the PC hardware of the era could achieve scrolling performances on par with those of a console, and it suggests the existence of a potential parallel universe where Nintendo accepted the American company’s proposal and the entire history of video games went on in a completely different way. Like, Half-Life 3 never existed…
In short, how much is the performance improvement coming from DirectX 12 really worth? The graphics libraries exclusive to Windows 10 (the worst tragedy ever happened to computers since Microsoft Bob, but we will talk about that later…) promise to greatly increase the fps counter thanks to the optimized use of the GPU, and benchmarks seem to confirm the qualities of the new technology. On the other hand the “closer to the metal” approach in using the graphics co-processor isn’t just for Microsoft, while reality seems more complicated than a simple benchmark and the PC hardware around the world is full of crap. My PC, conversely, is even worse than that.
2013 in gaming is finished and the new year promises to be as much full of ideas, decent games and maybe some unforgettable gem here and there. 2014 will surely bring a great number of titles worthy of being taken into consideration, indie games capable of selling millions of copies or collecting millions of dollars in funds, mega hits of tens of millions of copies sold and extremely interesting graphic technologies (AMD’s Mantle). The list of what I personally would like to see never again includes the silliness of “cloud” games that must be reprogrammed to work off-line afterward, the rubbish (or the downright frauds) on the Kickstarter slot machine and the fucking remakes of everything.
The past December edition of the Spike Video Game Awards assigned the game of the decade title to Half-Life 2, and I couldn’t agree more: the sci-fi world created by Valve continues to be one of the utmost peaks of video games now as in 2004, even if it has been a long time and the new gaming experiences worth mentioning aren’t that rare after all. The industry wouldn’t be the same without Half-Life 2, and neither without Hideo Kojima and his gaming amusements suited for a troll.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, everything changes in the video gaming world. In the last months in particular a change occurred in the way independent developers and old lions decided to fund their projects, with a true Cambrian explosion of crowdfunding through the Kickstarter platform: Tim Schafer began with Double Fine Adventure (more than three million dollars donated on trust for an old-style adventure game!), then Al Lowe and Larry Laffer, Shadowrun Returns, novelist Jane Jensen and many others followed. Just a warning: one always has to watch over against the risk of a scam or EA’s morbid caresses - EA is evil, always.