Sunday, January 27, 2013

Random Shots: Thought For The Day

  • The best thing about the internet is that is gives a voice to people who feel they have no voice in their real life.

  • The worst thing about the internet is that many people use that power to stifle and shout down the voices of others.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Random Shots: Farewell To Scott Hartsman

  • How is it that I have to find out from Green Armadillo that Scott Hartsman is leaving Rift and Trion Worlds? "But Anjin," you say, "you could have found from Massively, just like GA did." Of course, but then I would have to be reading Massively and that's a deal breaker.

  • Scott Hartsman is a hell of a developer. He helped put Everquest II on the right path and he helped Rift become the best WoW-alike that we've seen. He's leaving some amazingly big shoes to fill at Trion, but I'm sure he's left the game in great shape.

  • Can't wait to see where he ends up next. And the rest of you have to make sure I don't miss big news like this again.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

News Filter: THQ Down For The Count

  • And like that, a company dies.

  • Kotatu obtained a letter from Jason Rubin and Brian Farrell to THQ's employees that confirms these rumors.

  • THQ has some great properties, like Saints Row and Dawn of War, that I want to see continue. It would be a shame to lose to some great games in all of this mess.

  • Here is hoping that everyone lands on their feet.

  • UPDATE: The THQ letter, for those who don't want to go to Kotaku:
    To All THQ Employees:

    We now have the answers we've been seeking through our financial restructuring and Chapter 11 case. While much will be written, here are the facts of the bids and auction that occurred:

    Yesterday morning, we received a competing bid for the operating business, along with Clearlake's offer, and numerous offers for separate assets. During an auction process that lasted over 22 hours, the final conclusion was that the separate-asset bids would net more than a single buyer for the majority of the company. Shortly, we will, present the results to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which must concur with our assessment. The proposed sales of multiple assets is as follows:

    Sega agreed to purchase Relic

    Koch Media agreed to purchase Volition and Metro

    Crytek agreed to purchase Homefront

    Take 2 agreed purchase Evolve and

    Ubisoft agreed to purchase Montreal and South Park

    We expect these sales to close this week.

    Some assets, including our publishing businesses and Vigil, along with some other intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. They will remain part of the Chapter 11 case. We will make every effort to find appropriate buyers, if possible.

    What this means for employees

    We expect that most employees of the entities included in the sale will be offered employment by the new owners. However, we cannot say what these owners may intend, and there will likely be some positions that will not be needed under the new ownership. You should receive notice this week or early next week if the new owners intend to extend employment to you. Please note that the terms of your new employment, including pay and benefits, may be different from the current terms of your employment with THQ.

    If you are an employee of an entity that is not included in the sale, we regret that your position will end. A small number of our headquarters staff will continue to be employed by THQ beyond January 25 to assist with the transition. THQ has sufficient resources to pay these employees for work going forward, and we will be contacting these employees immediately to ensure their continued employment during this transition period. We are requesting the ability to offer certain severance pay to minimize disruption for employees of non-included entities as they determine the next steps in their careers.

    We know you will have many questions about this news. We'll be meeting tomorrow when we return to talk through this announcement and to answer any questions you have. You will receive a benefits fact sheet and FAQs with answers to some questions that may be on your mind. Please review these materials closely.

    A personal note

    The work that you all have done as part of the THQ family is imaginative, creative, artistic and highly valued by our loyal gamers. We are proud of what we have accomplished despite today's outcome.

    It has been our privilege to work alongside the entire THQ team. While the company will cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership. We were hoping that the entire company would remain intact, but we expect to hear good news from each of the separate entities that will be operating as part of new organizations.

    For those THQ employees who are part of entities that are not included in the sale, we are confident that the talent you have displayed as part of THQ will be recognized as you take the next steps in your career.

    Thank you all for your dedication and for sharing your talent with the THQ team. We wish you the best of luck and hope you will keep in touch.


    Brian Farrell
    Chief Executive Officer

    Jason Rubin

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Played Lately: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

  • The one game that I absolutely wanted for Christmas (and got, thanks to my beautiful wife,) was XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It was a special torture to receive the game when I was out of town, several hundred miles away from my Xbox.

  • After everything I've read and seen about the game, the one thing I wasn't prepared for is how narrative driving XCOM is. There are cutscenes and voiceovers for everything, from combat to scientific discoveries to various plot points. Considering how stripped down the first game was, it's weird that the story is overt. I often play the game listening to a podcast, only barely paying attention to anything that is not gameplay. Maybe I'll pay better attention the next time through.

  • The strategic game is feels vaguely similar, though so stripped down and streamlined as to be almost unrecognizable. You still research technologies and engineer new gear and equipment. Satellites have supplanted setting up radar bases around the globe. Managing tension in member countries is much more explicit. None of this is bad, per se, but it feels slight. I think the on-rails nature of the campaign with its discrete choices means that there is never that much important to do between missions.

  • However the heart of XCOM, the tactical battles, is tense and terrifying. At one point, my rookie sniper had to pull off a low percentage shot and do enough damage to kill the final alien so that my veteran wouldn't bleed out the next turn. It was so tense I couldn't even watch. I lined up the shot, turned around, and pushed the A button. Luckily, it worked and my major survived. It is supremely satisfying when when a plan works and your unit pulls off their shots.

  • XCOM reminds me why I love turn-based combat. Even since I sliced and Sleeped kobolds in Pool Of Radiance, through Fallout and beyond, I prefer to my tactical games to feel tactical. I get that real time supposedly simulates the chaos of battle better, but try telling that to XCOM. For as much time as I have to think about my moves, I never feel like I'm really in control. Everything could fall apart anytime.

  • At the moment, I'm on the verge of launching a mission to invade the alien base. I'm so freaked about the prospect that I turned off my console and haven't gone back. It's too tense! Soon, though. Soon.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Random Shots: The MMOs of 2013

  • One would think that, due to the poor performance of new MMOs over the last five years, MMO launches would be in decline. Not so, says PC Gamer. Their list of the Best PC Games of 2013 includes twenty-three (TWENTY THREE!!!!) games that either are MMOs or are only tangentially related. Some sounds interesting, some sound terrible, and some I could not care less about.

  • The Elder Scrolls: Online - The biggest game on the list is obviously TESO. It looks an awful lot like a bog-standard reaction to The One True Game. All signs point toward it crashing and burning just like SWTOR, but we'll have to wait and see. It'll probably be really good for 30 days.

  • Shadowrun Online - I know that, as a card-carrying nerd, I'm supposed to like Shadowrun. But the cyber-fantasy setting never did anything for me. I hope it's all everyone wants out of a game, but I'm not sure it is for me.

    UPDATE: Blue Kae reminds us that Shadowrun was just Kickstarted in 2012 and so is nowhere near release. So cross another one off the 2013 list.

  • Neverwinter - Finally, the MMO-like RPG becomes and MMORPG-like game. I'm reserving judgment, but Cryptic has a decent track record for their previous releases. Note that I said decent.

  • Firefall - The first time I wrote this, I was actually writing about WildStar, because damn these names are dumb. When I looked up what Firefall really is, it seems to fit the name. I hope you like shooting dudes a lot!

  • Everquest Next - Here is a big question mark. I like what SOE is saying about it. Hopefully they really are rethinking the MMO in a serious way.

    UPDATE: The Ancient Gaming Noob reminds us that EQ Next is nowhere near release. So this is a topic for a different year.

  • Marvel Heroes - No one really believes that this will be any good, right?It's probably not even an MMO. I'm sure it will linger in free-to-play hell for some time.

  • Survarium - STALKER the MMO? Okay. Releasing this year? Not in a playable state if it does.

  • Age Of Wulin/Wushu - A Chinese MMO coming to the west. I can't see how that could ever go wrong. (Um, can someone remind me the correct HTML code to sarcasm tag something?)

  • Project V13 - LOL

  • WildStar - This is the one game that I'm most curious about. WildStar seems to want to be all things to all people. About this I am skeptical. But it looks like a lot of fun and I'm really interested to see if they pull it off.

  • Wizardry Online - Tipa and Wilhelm have already said everything that needs to be said. Next...

  • World Of Darkness - Is anyone else curious if CCP can pull it off again? If the players can take control of the game the same way they have with EVE Online, it will be a thing to behold. I'm not convinced it released in 2013, though.

  • Otherland - Won't release ever. Don't even worry about it.

  • Infinity - Won't launch in 2013. Not worth thinking about.

  • City Of Steam - I know people are very positive about this game. But if it does Darkfall numbers, I'll be impressed.

  • World Of Warplanes - NOT AN MMO!

  • Heroes And Generals - Oh, for eff's sake.

  • The Castle Doctrine - Look, Jason Rohrer is a singular game developer. But, come on. This is barely an MMO. Good luck to him, though.

  • Transformers Universe - HA HA HA HA HA!


    UPDATE: For Vagabond, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! HA!

  • Defiance - Closed in six months. At it will outlast the show at that.

  • The Missing Ink - I didn't play this back when it was called Metaplace. Why would I play it now?

  • Cartoon Universe - Closed in six months because even kids aren't that dumb.

  • World Of Warships - See World Of Warplanes.

  • And that's it. What MMOs are you looking forward to this year?

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Random Shots: Things To Look Forward To In 2013

  • Kotaku and PC Gamer have released lists of all of the games we are expecting in 2013. Let's look at a few that I'm curious about and predict how I'll react to them. (I'm saving MMOs for a separate post since this is ostensibly an MMO blog.)

  • South Park: The Stick of Truth - I really don't know what to expect from this game. I know that I like South Park. I like RPGs. And I like Obsidian from an intellectual point of view. The problem is that this will probably be a huge failure and I will be super sad about the whole thing. But maybe it will be good.

    Prediction: I will forget to buy this until it's been out a week, but I'll finish it (because it's short) and like the story and humor quite a bit. Also, I'll play a female character just because I can. If I can.

  • Grand Theft Auto V - I have a weird relationship with the GTA games. I like them up to a point, then I run aground on some terrible mission and can finish. I'm hoping someone at Rockstar saw what Volition did with Saints Row The Third because that game was amazing.

    Prediction: GTA V will be a week one purchase, though I'll look long and hard at the special edition before passing on it. I will play it a lot, but I fear I'll hang it up before finishing. Again.

  • Tomb Raider - I don't even know what to think about this! I like Tomb Raider. At least, I've liked a couple of Tomb Raiders. This looks like it could be really good. And it looks like it could be completely gross. How am I supposed to know? Oh right, this is the Internet. Nevermind.

    Prediction: After reading reviews and hearing about it on the Bombcast, I won't even pick it up.

  • BioShock Infinite - I've started to come around on this game for one reason only: Elizabeth. I actually interested to see whether this AI character is as impressive as they want us to believe. If she is, I think I could be hooked.

    Prediction: I won't pick up Infinite until there is a price drop. I'll play it for a little while before getting bored and moving on to the next shiny thing.

  • Gone Home - Not sure what Gone Home is? Look. LOOK! I'm super excited to see how this game ends up. An indie suburban exploration game? Sign me up.

    Prediction: Will preorder and play for a few nights before beating it. Expect one blog post and a place in my Top Five this year.

  • Next Xbox - This is the big one. And a bit of a cheat since it's not really a game. But if I want to make a prediction, this is the place. There is no way that Microsoft holds off for another year before releasing their next console. The signs and portents are there. The stars are aligned. It has been several years since the last generation kicked off and I'm excited that there will be something to be excited about again. One way or the other, it will be fun to talk about.

    Prediction: I'm currently planning to preorder and pick it up at launch. I'll probably only get a single game at first, but then own three or four by the end of the first month. My launch date predication: November 14, 2013!

  • What games are you looking forward to in the new year?

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.