This is a period when Valve Corp. seems to be everywhere: the software house which gave birth to the best game of the decade is seemingly busy in every sort of secondary project bound to video games and the PC architecture, from the infamous Steam Box to biometric sensors and mobile consoles. What Valve clearly isn’t interested in is to give a worthy conclusion to the Half-Life saga, so much that the appearance of old projects - now aborted - about the series is the only novelty in this regard of the latest… years? Bah.
Sir Arthur returns on these pages after a vacation that lasted for too long, and he’s back (as usual) trying to make up for the time lost on the ruthless flowing of news in the computer world. Let’s talk about video games, to begin, and in particular about the many titles shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2012 held during the first days of June. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony showed their novelties for a generation of gaming machines next to retirement, while the PC continues to represent the only platform capable of surviving and adapting to the technological changes of the industry. And of foretelling them.
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.
Finally the videogames highlights (pain and delight but mostly pain of this blog) return to their ordinary format, hoping that in the future I won’t have to torture my nights swimming in an amount of links and trailers well beyond the verge of tolerable. Before starting here is just a quick note about the Interactive Achievement Awards, given by the non-profit USA organization Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences during this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit: Skyrim, as predictable, ruled the show.
UPDATE: After a few months the CPU upgrade turned to be a remarkable failure. I advise anyone against this kind of practice and I invite you to read the post regarding my useless troubleshooting efforts.
I purchased my latest computer in absolute emergency conditions, and except for an annoying, sound-related issue when I extensively use the network (a fact for which I would be inclined to blame and damn Vista SP1) I’m satisfied with it until now. But being obliged to spend a limited budget obviously didn’t hinder me to upgrade the system main component, the CPU, overlapping to satisfaction the pleasure of having a fairly recent setup to let me use it in scenarios that are a little less retrograde than the ones I’m usually accustomed to.
Welcome to a new installment in the Videogames Highlights series. It is, considering the long period of time passed since the August one, a “remedial” post covering no less than the last four months of year 2009. These were intense months, from a video gaming standpoint, still the following contents collection is personal and variously assorted as usual. And seeing that there is so much to talk about I cut short with the intro and just report, after Stardock’s CEO opinion of the last time, the statements from UK accountable people for the three main gaming consoles (Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo) regarding the misleading theory according to which digital downloads should replace optical disks during the upcoming years.
In this period there is a lot of talking about the new ways of interaction with entertainment devices and about the fact that things like Microsoft’s Project Natal would be destined, on the long run, to replace traditional controllers be they joypads, keyboards or mice. To me this seems more of an advertising nonsense than any other thing, the mouse lasted 40 years and there surely will be a valid reason to justify such a longevity. Of course, we’re all open to the future and tech evolution, but seeing myself playing to a remote descendant of one of the titles included in this videogaming compilation without a physical controller in my hands seems an unlikely perspective to say the least.
This is a recession period and the videogaming industry suffers too, with a sales drop of 23% during May (for USA), a thump unseen since 2007. And yet the executives from the major companies in the field talk about sustained growth for a business that, in 2012, will be 55 billion dollars worth overall. Meanwhile market researches describe a “new golden age for entertainment software” and videogames permanently reside in two third of the American households. That’s an ideal condition, I say, to gather some relevant contents in what should be the last installment of videogames highlights’ old cycle before the new, more minimalistic setup.
It’s pretty interesting, from the perspective of someone steadily busy in revisiting old videogaming myths and old computer stuff in general, to immerse once a mouth in a stream of promotional stuff from the upcoming or recently published games. You can get a rather effective idea of how much time have passed since you secretly believed to be one of the few “chosen” people to know about this thing called “videogame”, and how much historical consciousness is precious to fully enjoy the wonders the market offers nowadays.
Established in 1979 as Japan Capsule Computers in Osaka, Capcom has always been one of the leading companies in videogames market with the arcades first and on domestic systems then. Starting from Vulgus, the first arcade title released in 1984 and going up to now, the Japanese developer and publisher created some of the most beloved and successful franchises ever made as the same data revealed by the company demonstrate.
Are videogames art? Personally I’m not convinced at all, and after 20 years of this hobby now become mainstream I think that the medium need different categories, and that in any case it is too much young to be defined with standards layered through the centuries. Besides this, what is sure is that the amount of promotional videogame contents released by software houses hasn’t lacked even in March, so I end the introduction right now and get on to dealing with the aforementioned contents.
If it’s true that the publishers’ preferred period to launch videogame blockbusters is the month of December, the last remnants of this winter are no less for triple-A releases and delivery of interesting stuff taken from games in development. Be it viral videos, screenshots, trailers or making-of, the nice thing of a videogaming industry that surpassed Hollywood in size is that there is always something to talk about and the hype machine works at full blast without any halt.
2009 will be a year of deep economic crisis, but if the videogame industry hasn’t proved to be exempt as expected and the news about layoffs among developers are increasingly alarming, the true thing is that the enthusiasts will unlikely stop being in front of the screen only because they have less money in their pockets. Also because of the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show happening, therefore, January too hasn’t lacked the usual flow of multimedia stuff on the hits as like as on the flops of videogaming to come.
With the complicity of the software houses parade during the Japanese expo Tokyo Game Show, October has been a particularly prolific month for the release of fresh videogaming stuff. After the first round of monthly highlights, hence, this new series is even richer and visually luxuriant covering consoles exclusives, multi-platform games, certainly interesting sequels and so on.
The Christmas holiday season, surely the most important occasion for consumer electronics and particularly videogames, is near. The industry enjoys a very good health, and while waiting for the marketing of some among the most promising titles of the year it’s worth looking at the substantial amount of multimedia, video clips and images, released by the software houses during the last days.
Looking at the last news coming out from the interactive entertainment market, the title couldn’t be more suitable: according to unconfirmed rumors Sony would have delayed the PS3 debut of a renowned futuristic racing saga for speeding and too much light effects, while Capcom executives have stated the strong will to not to skimp on blood gushes and assorted guts availability in the next chapter of the survival horror par excellence. At the cost of being unable to sell it to teenagers.