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Chris Taylor Interview

The 21st episode of the Played gaming podcast is now available, offering an interview with Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games. Taylor talks about his design philosophies, the Games for Windows initiative, Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation and more.

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"Good interview. I would have loved to hear him give a play by play about his development of ..."
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Shadowrun Update

Related Topics – Games for Windows

Last September, I visited FASA Studio to get some hands on time with the upcoming team-based shooter Shadowrun. This week, I had the chance to check out a much more recent build, once again with FASA studio manager Mitch Gitelman on hand, and examine some aspects of the game at greater length. As FASA deliberately worked on nailing down gameplay and balacing before putting on the polish, the main differences to the game since I last played it were cosmetic; from a gameplay perspective it was essentially the same. Thus, for a full rundown of the game as well as how it is being framed within the Shadowrun universe, I will humbly redirect you to that original piece. In a very small nutshell, a game of Shadowrun consists of two opposing teams, each made up of players across four character types with the ability to purchase spells and tech granting abilities such as teleportation, resurrection, penetrating vision, and more. Beyond that summary, here I will mainly deal with filling in gaps and providing more in-depth information on certain features previously mentioned. Controller versus mouse & keyboard

One of the most hotly discussed aspects of Shadowrun--along with its very genre--is its cross-platform multiplayer, which will pit controller-wielding Xbox 360 users connecting through Xbox Live up against mouse & keyboard-equipped (or controller-equipped, if they so desire) Windows Vista users connecting through the upcoming Live Anywhere service. When creating or joining online games, there is no way to tell whether other gamers are playing on PC or Xbox 360, meaning you won't constantly be kicked by opposing platform partisans. With such a setup, gameplay balance between platforms is of course of crucial importance. Shadowrun played with an Xbox 360 controller uses essentially the same aiming system used in Bungie's Halo games, with the same programmers handling the task on both franchises. Contrary to frequent casual internet remarks, Halo (and by extension Shadowrun) does not feature "auto-aim," per se; rather, its reticle has slight traction applied as it passes over a target, causing it to slow very slightly and make precise movements more manageable. Hitboxes are also slightly exaggerated. FASA maintains that the system allows for an equal playing field, and indeed during both of my extensive play sessions I failed to perceive any particular imbalance. Gitelman recounted a recent event during which staffers from Official Xbox Magazine went up in Shadowrun against staffers from PC Gamer, with each side using its magazine's respective platform. Editors from both publications grudgingly admitted that the system works. To ensure the game is tweaked as best as possible, FASA enlisted among its testers equal numbers of Counter-Strike league players and Halo 2 league players. Despite putting a great deal of effort into creating a balanced game, FASA seems intent on keeping Shadowrun from becoming unduly competitive. Money, used to buy tech, magic, and weapons, is awarded based
on damage caused, not numbers of kills. "There's no kill stealing. We hate that stuff," said Gitelman. "We learned that back with MechAssault 1." Unusually for an Xbox Live game, though performance statistics are kept from round to round within a given game, there is no persistent stat tracking and no leaderboards ranking the world's best Shadowrun players. FASA hopes that this will discourage some of the exploitative techniques that frequently accompany Live games in which players strive to continually improve their ranking. Live Anywhere Shadowrun is a Live Anywhere launch title for Windows Vista, meaning it will help inaugurate Microsoft's first major step in taking the seamless Xbox Live experience to PC. Though the machines on which I played Shadowrun this week were not hooked up to the internet, I was still able to bring up the Live Anywhere menu and get a sense of its basic functionality. It is styled much like the Guide menu on Xbox 360, and features a gamer profile similar to those seen on Xbox 360 or Xbox.com. The profile lists the gamer's screen name, number of games owned (presumably referring to Live-enabled games), total Gamerscore, and number of Achievements earned. It seems likely that Microsoft will encourage Games for Windows developers to take a similar approach with Live integration to that required on the part of Xbox 360 developers. There are various menu options, including Messages, Friends, Players, Private Chat, and Personal Settings. Only the last of these was accessible without internet connectivity, though the first four are fairly self-explanatory. Personal Settings allows the player to adjust settings for in-game voice chat. Turn the page for details on training mode and closing thoughts. _PAGE_BREAK_ Training
Though Shadowrun is essentially a multiplayer-only game, there is some single-player content by way of eight chapters of training missions. Each chapter is themed around particular spells, tech items, or races, progressing from the most basic and essential abilities and working up to those requiring the most finesse. The first chapter deals with the glider, teleport, and enhanced vision, which are essentially the workhorse abilities of mobility and awareness in Shadowrun. The latter three chapters deal with the three non-human classes--dwarves, trolls, and elves--each of which has its own unique racial abilities. Each training mission has the player completing a number of tasks illustrating how to use a particular ability or character. At the end of each chapter there is a bot battle designed to allow the player to effectively use the techniques taught in that chapter. Bookending the chapters will be contextual fiction presentations. Though there is no narrative progression in this game, progressing through the training missions will give the player a more concrete sense of the Shadowrun world and the events that led to the game. One reason for some of the breaks between this Shadowrun and previous incarnations is that the shooter is set some twenty five years before the events of prior Shadowrun products. Upon being told by an event attendee that this means the setting is not true Shadowrun, Gitelman returned, "If this isn't a Shadowrun setting 25 years before, then Knights of the Old Republic isn't a Star Wars game 5000 years before." Still fun
Despite its various controversial aspects among certain groups of gamers, based on my experience with the game so far, Shadowrun remains a creative and well crafted multiplayer shooter. Abilities such as teleportation, which at first seem to make gameplay overly haphazard, are actually very well integrated and quickly become a crucial part of movement. Other more minor skills have their own less obvious uses, and it is likely that a frequent topic of internet forums will be how to combine them in new ways to strategic effect. For example, one developer pointed out two combinations involving the gust skill, which is fairly unassuming when used on its own. A player might cast a group of strangle crystals, which damage players who come in contact with them, then gust an opponent directly into the patch. Skilled players can also practice throwing a grenade and gusting it, greatly increasing its potential distance. Shadowrun's cross-platform multiplayer may prove to be a great boon in the modern gaming era, which has seen many formerly PC-heavy gamers migrate to consoles--most commonly to the Xbox platform in the case of PC gamers. Gaming communities such as that of this site may benefit from the ability to keep from being splintered with multiple versions of the game. All in all, my outlook on Shadowrun remains essentially unchanged from that of last September. The game's appropriateness to its source material is an open debate, and one I am ill-equipped to address, but as its own game it is refreshingly inventive and seemingly quite well executed. FASA Studio expects to ship Shadowrun for Windows Vista and Xbox 360 in the first half of 2007.

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"Yeah, that's the lame thing with Live Anywhere titles (it sounds like). You're probably stuck ..."
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Lord of the Rings Online Previews

Stratics Central, Kotaku and Games for Windows editor Jeff Green's blog all have new Lord of the Rings Online writeups, offering hands-on impressions of this new Turbine MMORPG.

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Games For Windows Event Coverage

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

BFME2 Heaven is the latest site with coverage of the recent San Francisco Games for Windows launch event. There is an interview with Microsoft's Chee Chew about Games for Windows Live, and there are also brief interviews on Supreme Commander and Age of Conan.

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Games For Windows Article

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

Evil Avatar has a Games for Windows Launch Event Report writeup, offering, among other things, brief impressions of Shadowrun, Age of Conan, Crysis, World in Conflict and Supreme Commander.

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Games For Windows Article

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

There's a Games for Windows event article on Team Xbox of all places, offering a brief writeup on Microsoft's most recent press event where they talked about their PC gaming initiative and Windows Vista.

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"Just more proof that Computer Gaming World sold out becoming Games for Windows. They say it over ..."
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Warren Spector Q&A

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

Also on Computer & Video Games is this Q&A with Warren Spector. The game designer is asked about his new project, industry highlights of 2006, Microsoft's Games for Windows initiative and a few other topics.

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"Speaking of too much credit, he gets way too much credit for Thief. He didn't have much to do ..."
- jccalhoun    See all 13 comments


Vista Gaming Article

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

Vista and Games for Windows Update is an IGN article, taking a look at gaming specific features in Microsoft's new Vista OS, as well as the Games for Windows initiative and Live! Anywhere.

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"Dang, another article about "vista gaming" that answers very few of my questions. Maybe it's ..."
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Vista Gaming Q&A

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

New at Action Trip today is this Q&A with Rich Wickham, director of Games for Windows at Microsoft. Wickham is asked about Windows Vista as a gaming platform.

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"So....is Live for Windows kinda like Steam? If it has a good server browser, friends finder, ..."
- flasher 907    See all 10 comments


Mark Rein Q&A

The Computer & Video Games Mark Rein interview continues, with this part focusing on Unreal Engine 3, the PC market, Windows Vista and the Games for Windows push and the Wii.

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Microsoft Officially Launches Games for Windows Line

Microsoft today announced that it has officially begun its unified Games for Windows program at the retail level with the release of two titles, Traveller's Tales' LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, and Relic Entertainment's Company of Heroes. All games participating in Games for Windows will feature a distinctive branding bar similar to those used on console game boxes. Games for Windows titles are required to meet a number of criteria, including widescreen support, various reliability standards, 64-bit Windows support, Xbox 360 controller support for games with gamepad control options, streamlined game installation, the ability to be launched from within Windows Media Center, as well as Windows Vista-specific features such as compatibility with the upcoming operating system's integrated Games Explorer. In addition to the release of these first two games, September will also see 7500 retail stores across the United States begin to display Games for Windows branding. Ziff Davis will also launch its Official Games for Windows magazine, a rebranding of its long running publication Computer Gaming World. See our Games for Windows overview for more about the company's initiatives.

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"I have no idea, I've only seen one picture of it, and it looked like a flip-open cardboard deal. ..."
- badman    See all 250 comments


Microsoft Gamefest 2006: Microsoft's Games for Windows Plans

During its Gamefest event currently occurring in Seattle, Microsoft announced its intention to bring console development to the masses. At the same time, however, the company is making a big push for PC gaming, mainly driven by and in support of the new Windows Vista operating system shipping next year. Microsoft, aware that PC gaming has seen continually dwindling development support and retail sales from the core gaming segment even as casual gaming is on the rise, has a number of plans for how to reinstate Windows as a premier gaming platform on par with fixed gaming platforms. Today, Microsoft's Skip McIlvaine gave a presentation outlining the steps Microsoft will be taking as well as what will be expected out of developers to increase the accessibility and marketability of Windows gaming. Retail and Marketing As longtime PC gamers know, retail treatment of PC games, even in specialty video game retailers, is less than appealing. According to McIlvaine, Microsoft is currently working with all major game retailers to revamp their display and marketing practices for PC games and putting them more on the level of games for a dedicated console gaming platform. This includes things like official Games for Windows branding, well maintained displays, and actual in store Windows game demo kiosks. Gamers will frequently be able to try out a game in a store, then take that same demo home on a DVD. Microsoft will be launching a revamped dedicated Windows gaming site, analogous to the comprehensive Xbox.com site it maintains for its console platforms. "It's been a little corporate," admitted McIlvaine. "The Microsoft Windows gaming sites have been more business, like Windows itself, [instead of] like Xbox." The Game Advisor, which allows gamers to check if their systems are capable of playing specific games, will also be updated. Showcases and Essentials Though many of the technical and marketing issues related to the platform as a whole will be tackled by Microsoft, Windows is still an open development platform and so it is a bit trickier to fully standardize actual game features. To encourage developers to take advantage of Vista-specific features and make their games compliant with the overall Games for Windows initiative, there will be a set of recommended and strongly recommended features called Showcases and Essentials. Essentials are checklist features that Microsoft will stringently require for developers who want to take advantage of the marketing support being placed behind Games for Windows. Again, there is no way to actually require a feature in Windows games since the nature of PC development means there is no mandatory licensing program, but only developers that adhere to the Essentials will get the substantial marketing muscle being placed behind the platform. Assuming the support Microsoft gives to Games for Windows is attractive and effective enough to entice developers to want to participate, the overall accessibility and compatibility of Windows games should theoretically increase as those developers implement Essentials. McIlvaine went through several examples of Essentials. One is support for Windows Media Center (a default component of Vista) for gamers who use their PCs in the living room. This includes features such as support for a wide array of aspect ratios and resolution and the integration of games with the Media Center browser so they can be launched with a remote control. An Essential for games that have general controller support will be natively supporting the Xbox 360 wired controller; support for other Xbox 360 peripherals should be straightforward as well, as Microsoft is requiring all of its hardware licensees to make their peripherals compatible with both Windows and Xbox 360. Though OpenGL will work in Vista, another Essential is using Direct3D as the default game renderer. Easy installation is another thing Microsoft will be pushing as an Essential, meaning developers should reduce the amount of time users spend between putting a disc in the drive and experiencing gameplay, making it closer to the "it just works" console experience. As much as possible should be done behind the scenes; ie, the entire game doesn't have to be copied to the hard disk before the user starts playing, rather much of it can be streamed in the background during gameplay. There are also a number of technical security and compatibility specs that must be adhered to. Finally, developers should make their games fully compliant with the Windows Vista Game Explorer. The Game Explorer centralizes and streamlines game organization. Everything related to a particular game that a user might need to access--the launcher, configuration files, save games, the uninstaller, and so on--can be found in the Game Explorer as long as developers support it. The Game Explorer will include information about a given game, such as release date, developer, publisher, links to the developer's and publisher's websites, and content rating from the ESRB or other regional ratings organization. Parents will be able to limit access by their children to games bearing a certain rating or specific content descriptors. Showcases are extra steps developers can take that showcase the features of Vista and XP and thus make Microsoft more likely to engage in heavier co-marketing with a game's publisher and push the game as a prime example of Windows gaming. These include things such as native support for 64-bit editions of Windows, support for multi-core processors, and taking advantage of the more advanced rendering and performance features of Direct3D 10. Microsoft will also encourage developers to make use of the Windows Error Reporting utility, which allows users to send feedback to Microsoft after a program has crashed. Developers will be able to evaluate common crash symptoms sent using the WER and, once diagnosed, can return applicable messages to end users. For example, having determined that a given crash is due to a particular out of date driver, the developer can send that information back to users to ensure that the users are able to correct the problem on their own. Microsoft is also strongly encouraging developers to not advertise game support for legacy operating systems such as Windows 9x or 2000, even if they do testing for compatibility with those systems. Other Showcases include less defined features, such as simply crafting gameplay that is unique to Windows, or best played on Windows. This might include dual monitor support in genres such as strategy or racing. In the near future, Microsoft will also be putting a heavier emphasis on its Live Anywhere service, which will attempt to bring an Xbox Live-like streamlined online gaming experience to other platforms including Windows. It will include features such as the TruSkill matching system used in Xbox Live, built in voice chat for all compatible titles, an all-inclusive cross-platform Gamertag, support for microtransactions and other paid content, Xbox 360-like Achievements, and so on. Live Anywhere will be receiving a first party "launch" when Vista is released, consisting of the Vista showcase titles Shadowrun and Halo 2. At that point, major features such as account management, matchmaking, a player feedback system, achievements, and the cross-platform identity will be in place. However, Microsoft also plans a second launch around the 2007 holiday season consisting of 8-10 major AAA titles to show off the system. That is the release timeframe developers currently working on Live Anywhere PC titles should be targeting. Other features such as Live Arcade for Windows, the Marketplace, integration with MSN Messenger, and so on, will be more fully implemented at that point. The SDK will be made available to developers this fall. Why? According to Microsoft, the actual total Windows gaming market is growing, in large part due to the rise of online casual gaming. Currently, Microsoft estimates that there are 16 million hardcore online PC gamers, 39 million moderate online PC gamers, and a staggering 143 million casual online PC gamers. The overall market is expected to hit 336 million online gamers in 2009. In addition to attracting existing (or former) hardcore gamers both on the console and PC side, Microsoft hopes that the console-like approach to PC gaming will attract more casual gamers that may not be interested in a dedicating gaming console. For gamers, this would have the benefit of increasing support for Windows gaming and making the experience more stable and consistent. From Microsoft's perspective, it strengthens the Windows brand and drives Vista sales and upgrades, as well as likely increasing support for Xbox 360 due to the cross-platform XNA tools. Microsoft has a big task ahead of it with its Games for Windows plans; this kind of unified platform approach to PC gaming has never been attempted to this degree. If the company succeeds, however, it could have an extremely positive effect on the PC gaming development and gamer community, which has seen slowly declining support in recent years as publishers place more of their budget allocations on console development. Microsoft's Peter Moore stated that, in its negligence, Microsoft has allowed PC gaming to suffer. Hopefully now it can have the opposite effect.

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"he did say mostly - can't hit home runs every time insert juicing jokes here"
- Holesinswiss    See all 98 comments


IEMA Updates PC Packaging, Merges with VSDA

Related Topics – Games: PC, Games for Windows

Last month, the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association and the Video Software Dealers Association announced that the two industry trade organizations would be merging. That has taken effect with the resulting Entertainment Merchants Association, which supports over 1,000 retail companies comprising 20,000 outlets in North America which deal in PC games, console games, and DVDs. VSDA president Bo Anderson will head up the new EMA, and IEMA founder and president Hal Halpin will be instrumental in the organization's launch. Last week, the IEMA also announced a new updated packaging standard for PC game retail boxes. It removes the "SOFTWARE" from the current "PC CD-ROM SOFTWARE" label, but more importantly standardizes its placement on the box. The appropriate logo, indicating whether the game is on CD or DVD as well as whether it is an online game, is now placed in the upper right of the box, over a black and gray pinstriped bar that spans the top 3/4" of the packaging. I spoke a bit to IEMA's Hal Halpin about the changes and the motivations behind them. PC games at retail have faced tough times for the past several years. "Back in 1999 most of our members were giving serious thought to dropping the [PC] line in favor of expanded console space," recalled Halpin, "and since retail square footage is so expensive we had to come up with a solution." Thus the genesis of the current mini-box standard for PC games, which allowed retailers more flexibility in PC game storage and "gave PC gaming a much-needed lifeline." Then came the familiar aforementioned logos. "The icon came as a result of consumer confusion and there being no one consistent platform identification mark, again as a fact of not being 'owned' by anyone," said Halpin. To further remedy that situation, the new bar keeps PC games consistant at a glance on store shelves, similar to the platform identification standard across all console games. "It truly was a cumulative and collaborative process in that a lot of people from various companies hand hands involved," he said. Halpin also expects many PC game manufacturers to switch from cardboard boxes to plastic cases, though that is not an IEMA initiative. Microsoft has been quite vocal recently about its self-professed failure to serve the PC gaming market in the last several years. Microsoft's Peter Moore notoriously remarked, "We have neglected the PC business." To atone for that negligence, Microsoft has demonstrated a renewed focus on attending to the gaming platform that nobody really owns--but if somebody has to, it's Microsoft. The "Games for Windows" line has taken on more prominence in Microsoft press events and showcases, the upcoming Windows Vista has a bevy of built in systems to make installing and managing PC games easier, and a recent conversation I had at E3 with a company representative suggested that Microsoft hopes to eventually start dealing with retailers to clean up their PC sections from the admittedly shameful state many currently hold. "We applaud Microsoft for wanting to focus more of their marketing efforts on supporting the PC platform," Halpin said. "It's a difficult situation, as unlike console products where each manufacturer effectively owns the platform, with computer games that is not the situation." While the two organizations do not currently appear to be working together on the matter in any significant capacity, dealings will be inevitable if Microsoft indeed directly approaches the retail space in its efforts to promote PC gaming.

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"in Europe game publishers are using DVD boxes for several years already, and there was kind of ..."
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Peter Moore on Games for Windows

Related Topics – Bungie, Sony, Games: PC, Games for Windows

Microsoft's Peter Moore, formerly of the Xbox division and now in charge of both Xbox and the Games for Windows group, has reiterated Microsoft's commitment to the PC as a gaming platform. If this sounds familiar, it's because last year Microsoft offered an apology for not only neglecting PC gaming but actually having a role in its retail sales decline. At the D.I.C.E. Summit on Friday, Moore echoed that sentiment, saying, "I want to apologize for the dereliction of duty to our company's number-one platform, the PC, in terms of gaming. We've been a little distracted for the past few years." Since he was already in a contrite sort of mood, he also went ahead and apologized for the slow restocking of Xbox 360 units to store shelves. From Microsoft's end, the big push for PC gaming seems to be coming in the form of Windows Vista. Microsoft announced last week that Bungie's Halo 2 would be a Vista exclusive, but Moore's speech had more to do with the unifying game-related features of the operating system. The company is trying to approach a console-like system for the installation and organization of games on the user's computer; that is, the goal is to make it as easy as possible. From GameSpot's longer coverage:

First, "Games" will be an option embedded into the Windows start menu, just as the "My Documents" and "My Pictures" folders are in Windows XP. Vista will have its own dedicated "games explorer," which shows all games installed on the computer in one place. It will also have an option to display basic game information, such as publisher, developer, ratings, and Web sites, via a metadata system.
... Unlike most current parental control methods, the system doesn't block games based on their overall rating; rather, it will allow parents to disallow play based on specific game content descriptors, like "blood and gore" or "strong sexual content." Parents will also be able to regulate how much time their children can play games, with an Outlook-like schedule that lets them restrict gaming to certain hours of the day.
Another Vista feature not mentioned in either summary is the integrated system through which developers can make games playable as soon as the game disc is inserted into the machine, much like a console; data for the full install can be streamed to the hard drive over time, or the user can choose to simply do a traditionally full install right off the bat. Of course, Moore also addressed the growing trend of digital distribution and subscription-based revenue, something that has been slowly coming to the consoles but which clearly has its roots (and dollars) in the PC gaming market. He didn't go into great detail of how Microsoft would be taking advantage of it, but the company is apparently working on a content delivery system that "is seamless, efficient, and it goes across all platforms." Finally, Moore mentioned the retail space, noting that PC game packaging is unstandardized. The PC gaming section of gaming retailers, if it's even visible, is not nearly as welcoming as its console counterparts. "Quite frankly, it's a mess," he admitted. While huge business in the PC gaming market is done online, it remains important for games with mass-market appeal to be easily obtainable at physical locations. As a former game retailer employee, I can also stress how much of a disadvantage PC gaming has that it doesn't really have an official warden, as do the offerings from the big three console manufacturers. While Sony, Nintendo, and (ironically) Microsoft hold retailers to strict guidelines as to how they display their consoles' titles, nobody is doing that for PC gaming. That means there's less PC gaming marketing material in stores, store staff has not been required to know key details about current PC games, and nobody is lobbying for an appealing presentation of PC games. In fact, many stores keep all their PC games behind the counter, out of sight. Microsoft has displayed a renewed investment in PC gaming recently, contacting individual publishers and showing up at trade shows with a Games for Windows booth in addition to an Xbox booth, but it seems the company feels there is more ground to cover. If Moore's address is anything to go by, there are some interesting initiatives in the works. Well, as long as you upgrade to Vista.

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"I didn't say it would automatically lead to be better games. All I said was making PC games move ..."
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Late Night Consoling

You know, I'm actually really glad the new game releases are slowing down so much. I already don't have time to play all the games coming out that I've been interested in, plus it seems that, sadly, retailers don't give them away for free. I've got a neglected stack here, so time to start catching up!

  • HD-DVD in Xbox? No Idea Whatsoever

    [xbox360]
    After extremely mixed signals regarding whether or not Microsoft ever plans to outfit its Xbox 360 with an HD-DVD drive for high definition movie playback, the company has taken a more solid stance. It's still rather inconclusive, though. "There are currently no plans to release an Xbox 360 equipped with a next generation DVD player," said a Microsoft representative. This statement comes after suggestions from various Japanese and American executives--including Bill Gates himself--that later revisions of the system may very well include support for HD-DVD, the next-gen optical media format opposing Sony's Blu-ray standard. It's worth noting that there's nothing actually limiting the Xbox 360 from playing high definition movie content; an HD movie trailer is available through Xbox Live Marketplace and HD video content can presumably be streamed from a PC using a compatible version of Windows. This issue is entirely related to the use of a specific storage medium, one which could never be used for actual games since it would break compatibility with current model consoles. One thing is for sure, though: they won't be using Blu-ray.
  • Sega Inexplicably Courts Huge Talent for Small Game

    Sega apparently managed to get some pretty big names together to collaborate on an upcoming title. Design was handled by Masahiro Sakurai, the ex-HAL Labs designer responsible for the Kirby and Smash Bros. franchises and currently doing a stint at Nintendo on Super Smash. Bros for Revolution. Hideo Kojima called him "one of the few great game designers left in Japan." On sound there's Tomoko Sasaki, who did composition, arrangement, and lyric writing for NiGHTS Into Dreams (SAT), Sonic Team's hallowed-by-some 3D flying platformer...thing. Programming it is Ken Naito of Climax's Genesis action/RPG Landstalker. And what did these guys get together to do? Some kind of insect-centric handheld LCD Tamagotchi-esque thing. It goes on sale in Japan in February. It better be a pretty amazing Tamagotchi.
  • Microsoft Shuffles Execs Around

    [xbox360]
    Microsoft's entertainment divisions, home of the Xbox and Xbox 360, are undergoing some reorganizations, according to a leaked internal email. Xbox has reportedly lost upwards of $4 billion for Microsoft since its inception due to a focus on gaining market share and credibility in a tough industry rather than profits. Now, it seems that Microsoft has been pleased enough with the performance of Xbox executives that they're putting them in charge of some newly formed subdivisions of the entertainment group. Xbox CFO Bryan Lee will head up Entertainment Business, focusing on music, TV, and video. Xbox co-founder Robbie Bach has already taken the reigns of the new Entertainment and Devices division, and will be overseeing more than just Xbox. Of course, that wacky Xbox PR duo of J "Extreme" Allard and Peter "Human Energy" Moore have some new assignments in store as well. Allard will be head of "design and user experience" for Xbox and Xbox Live but also for all of Microsoft's entertainment products. Peter Moore will preside over the business of gaming at Microsoft, in charge of both Xbox as well as Games for Windows, an initiative Microsoft has been pushing harder recently after admitting it has done damage to PC gaming in recent years.
  • Get Wik, it's Wicked

    [xbox360]
    Xbox Live Arcade continues to be my favorite part of the Xbox 360. In addition to hosting classic arcade games and casual puzzle games, it is living up to the expectation of providing an alternative platform for independent developers. Reflexive Entertainment's tongue-swinging Wik: Fable of Souls is now for sale over Xbox Live Arcade for 800 marketplace points ($10) with a demo available for free download. At this year's Independent Games Festival, the game picked up three awards, including the Seamas McNally Award for Downloadable Game of the Year. Wik: Fable of Souls is also available for PC at its official site.
  • SimTower Coming to GBA, Sort Of

    [gba]
    Ever play SimTower, back before The Sims when they were making SimEverything? Well, despite being branded with the Maxis name, that one was actually developed by Vivarium, the company headed up by rather eccentric designer Yoot Saito. Saito is possibly best known for the odd marine life simulator Seaman (DC) and is currently working on military pinball/strategy/hamburger game Yoot Saito's Odama (GCN). Anyway, SimTower is coming to Game Boy Advance under its Japanese name The Tower. It will be out by March in North America.
  • Another Battle in the Homebrew War

    [psp]
    Another shot was fired this week in the ongoing conflict between Sony and the PSP homebrew community. An exploit was found in the save file of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories which allows unsigned code to be run on PSPs with firmware version 2.00. It was demonstrated with a mere Hello World demo, but further progress will no doubt be made.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    1UP chats with Xbox head J Allard and SCEA president Kaz Hirai about the upcoming generation for Xbox 360 and PS3. Sadly, the two do not actually talk to each other. Mac software developer Panic is the only company approved by Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi to sell official Katamari merchandise, and the company now has a line of shirts on sale (as well as commentary from Takahashi and merchandise co-designer Ryo Kimura). Remember, these are the only officially sanctioned products besides the games themselves and the soundtrack, which goes to explain why they're so weird. Gamerscore Blog, part of Microsoft Developer Network Blogs, has posted answers to several questions from the Xbox 360 community regarding the most recently backwards compatibility patch. GameSpot has a developer interview on Reflections' Driver: Parallel Lines (PS2, Xbox).

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2
1UP takes a look at Tri-Ace's Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria (PS2).
Xbox/X360
1UP checks out Naked Sky's RoboBlitz (X360). Screenshots: Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII (X360).
Portable
Screenshots: The Tower SP (GBA). Rainbow Islands Revolution (DS).
Multi
GameSpy previews EA Chicago's Fight Night Round 3 (PS2, Xbox, PS2, X360, PSP). Game Informer checks out Codemasters' TOCA Race Driver 3 (PS2, Xbox, PC). Movies: Black (PS2, Xbox).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Tomb Raider for the PS1. "We just bought a new BIG tv and wanted to revisit the game that brought me back to gaming." (submitted by Scurvatious)

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" Psychonauts works great on my PC. I just plug in my gamepads and they work (WinXP). I ..."
- samduhman    See all 103 comments




Top Games

  1. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
  2. Resistance 3
  3. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  4. Space Pirates and Zombies 2
  5. DayZ
  6. MX vs. ATV Supercross
  7. Hearts of Iron IV
  8. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
  9. Frozen Synapse
  10. Trials Fusion

Most Anticipated

  1. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
  2. Space Pirates and Zombies 2
  3. DayZ
  4. MX vs. ATV Supercross
  5. Hearts of Iron IV
  6. Batman: Arkham Knight
  7. Survarium
  8. Kerbal Space Program
  9. The Walking Dead: Season Two
  10. Frozen Endzone

Top Rentals

  1. Grand Theft Auto V
  2. Beyond: Two Souls
  3. Batman: Arkham Origins
  4. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  5. Call of Duty: Ghosts
  6. Battlefield 4
  7. NBA 2K14
  8. Diablo III
  9. Madden NFL 25
  10. The Last of Us