Morning Caffeinated! -- Spec Ops 'cancer,' Dawnguard flap, and Zynga'd

Another morning, Shack, and only one more day until Friday. I'll start the day off with a hearty congratulations to the folks at Uber for getting Planetary Annihilation Kickstarted, and they are closing in on a cool million dollars. I hope they make their stretch goals because the funding stream has slowed a bit from the initial run of pledges, but the good news is they still have 15 days left. If you want to know why I'm excited, look no further than the massive interview we did on the project earlier this week. And off we go, hitting on a subject that has always frustrated me: forced multiplayer. focalbox Why is it some publishers see multiplayer as an absolute necessity in games? I admit that I am not part of the multiplayer demographic. I have never been afraid to state publicly that I suck at player vs.player and will never be comfortable in a game that continually shows me just how much I'm lacking in dexterity and quick reflexes. But I do acknowledge that, done right as in Battlefield 3 or the Halo series, multiplayer brings friends together for some intense action and some enjoyable and memorable experiences. But, in the case of Spec Ops: The Line, I find myself wondering if some publishers say a game must have multiplayer without fully researching if the concept is a viable option for the game they are envisioning. When you have a lead designer lamenting his game's multiplayer is a "cancerous growth" forced to be added by the publisher as an afterthought, I can only ask "why?" Great games can stand on their own without multiplayer, even first-person shooters. It isn't something you can shoehorn in, throw it on a server and see who sticks with it. Games like Halo are the exception, not the rule. I challenge developers and publishers to do their homework and find out what modes would work well with the game they are making and not just use multiplayer as a catch-phrase to stick in a game description. The only way you can build the next great PvP success is to know your audience, examine what works and why, and learn from your competition. Until that becomes an accepted practice, we will continue to have shoddy efforts that detract from the true nature of the experience and perpetuate a myth that multiplayer is necessary for a successful product.
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Zynga continues to hemorrhage executive talent, now losing Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu, who will be starting his own venture. Add in the losses of COO John Schappert and Cityville GM Alan Patmore, as well as a few other mid-range execs, and the news for Zynga just continues to get worse. Lawsuits are already coming against the company over it's IPO, and EA wants a its pound of flesh over infringement issues. Morale at the company has to be dropping faster than the company's stock price.
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Xbox 360 users 2, PS3 users 0

Bethesda opened itself up for some justified criticism when it announced Hearthfire DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox 360 before the Dawnguard DLC was even available to PS3 users. The company explained that multiple products are in the pipeline from the team and that Hearthfire did not cause the delay of Dawnguard on the PS3. While I applaud a constant stream of new content for such high-profile games as Skyrim, I find it a bit odd that Bethesda would move forward with Hearthfire before satisfying all its previous DLC obligations first. I guess I can understand that Bethesda must keep to a production schedule, but I can certainly empathize with PS3 users for feeling like a red-headed step-child. It wasn't long ago that Sony gave PS3 users a backhand by not initially approving multiplayer weekends in Mass Effect 3.
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Random bits & Quick hits: BioWare is not developing Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U, at least not alone any way. Developer Straight Right has announced it is doing the port of the game, with BioWare's assistance ... As OnLive continues to struggle, Square Enix has jumped into the cloud with CoreOnline service. I still think Cloud Strife is their best cloud offering, however ... Guild Wars 2 continues to get a good early response, especially from our Ozzie. Be sure to read his twice-weekly diary on the game. Flashback: My little rant on multiplayer and the reminder of my limitations brought back the one good experience I had with a multiplayer FPS. Duke Nukem 3D was the first game I actually connected up with some friends for a home LAN party before I knew how bad I really was. While Quake and Unreal were also options, I couldn't resist the allure of the Duke and his "come get some." What was you first MP game? Play well, gang, and see you tomorrow. Keef
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