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Gaming:The WTF World of Wikipedia - 15 unbelievable "tr in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
You. Your friends and family. Your classmates and coworkers. In thebrave new world of the internet, everybody has power. Information isinteractive, knowledge is collaborative and history is open source. Thenerdy kid next door has just as much influence as a high schoolteacher; the dorky dude at the comic book shop has just as much voiceas a college professor.
Problem is, the nerds and dorks tend to have a lot morefree time - and passion - than the teachers and professors. The endresult? A hilariously skewed, terrifyingly twisted view of the world inwhich all the wrong things are deemed "important" and worthy of seriousacademic discussion.
Here are 15 mind-boggling examples.

See what we mean? When the deadliest, costliest war in the history of mankind has been trumped by a videogame franchise about that war,you know something's off. One involved over 50 countries and took over70 million lives; the other involves button mashing and tea bagging.
On an encouraging note, we did have to add all the Call of Dutygames' individual pages together to reach the crazy number above. On adiscouraging note, we didn't have to add Call of Duty 4 and itsnon-WWII setting, which would have brought the total word count to aneven crazier 18,927.
Oh, and on a simply ridiculous note? Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare beats "modern warfare"... 5,858 to 2,873.
Also less important than Call of Duty!
American Revolutionary War = 8,078
American Civil War = 11,729
English Civil War = 8,030
Napoleonic Wars = 7,951
Hundred Years' War = 7,992
War on Terrorism = 10,674
War on Drugs = 7,628
Cold War = 10,117
• "War" = 9,233
While the magic menagerie of super-powered, frilly-maned, sparkly-eyed, rosy-cheeked wonder beasts might make for slightly more exciting cards than a Three of Spades, the emphasis here is still extremely wonky.
Poker has been around for longer than anyone can remember... the Pokemon Trading Card Game was invented in 1996. Poker has created millionaires and forced bankruptcy... the Pokemon Trading Card Game might have resulted in some lost lunch money and a temper tantrum or two.
Also less important than Pokemon Trading Cards!
Baseball cards = 4,686
Blackjack = 5,228
Roulette = 5,492
Checkers = 2,326
Pool (Billiards) = 621
Bowling = 407
Wheel of Fortune = 4,521
• "Trade" = 3,038
• "Games" = 2,830

Before you get the wrong impression, no, the Master Chief does not win in a Wikipedia matchup against George W. Bush... though his approval ratings are undoubtedly higher.
The truly astounding thing, however, is that he does emerge victorious against not one, not two, but TENof this country's past commanders in chief. Yes, 23% of the men whohelped make the United States the strongest nation on Earth are easilydefeated by a fictional and faceless videogame character who barelyknows how to speak and takes orders from a naked hologram. Go America!
The orange word count above is an average taken from the USPresidents beaten by the Master Chief. Here's the full, patheticbreakdown:
Leaders of the Free World less important than Master Chief!
James Monroe = 2,820
(5th President)
John Quincy Adams = 3,457
(6th President)
John Tyler = 3,431
(10th President)
Zachary Taylor = 2,235
(12th President)
Millard Fillmore = 3,631
(13th President)
Franklin Pierce = 4,203
(14th President)
James Buchanan = 3,888
(15th President)
Rutherford B. Hayes = 2,686
(19th President)
James A. Garfield = 3,915
(20th President)
Chester A. Arthur = 3,078
(21st President)
          
                   
     


In the future, when Captain Kirk is battling tribbles and Data islearning how to love, this lopsided comparison will make completesense. Why wouldn't the entries for the glorious Starship Enterprise dwarf that for a dusty museum piece like the automobile? We expect the pages for hoverboards, robot maids, personal time machines and giant laser death rays to do the same.

For the present, though, why does a make-believe spaceship deserve more words than the planet's principal mode oftransportation? Also, why does that make-believe space ship deserve noless than nine separate pages, including unique entries for six different models of the NCC-1701? Seriously?!

Also less important than the Starship Enterprise!

Planes = 5,132
Trains = 2,850
Boats = 1,884
Bicycles = 5,112
Motorcycles = 5,446
Shoes = 3,241
Lunar rovers = 1,844
Space shuttles = 6,217
Space stations = 1,830
Outer space = 3,000







You think Hideo Kojima's cut scenes are long? Try reading Leo Tolstoy's epic tome. War and Peace waspublished in four books over five years, covers nearly a decade ofhistory and includes more than 1,400 pages, more than 560,000 words andmore than 3 million characters. It's generally considered one of thelongest novels - hell, one of the longest things - of all time.

Somehow, though, the writers on Wikipedia managed to summarize thewhole plot in 1,922 words. Well done! Now we'd be really impressed ifyou guys could squeeze the plot of a single damn videogame - even therambling old man that is Metal Gear Solid 4 - into less than 2,548 words.

The top numbers (in orange) are for the entire entries.The numbers in the preceding paragraph, as well as the list below, arefor the subsections entitled "plot," "story," or "synopsis."

Also less important than Metal Gear Solid 4!
(by plot, story or synopsis)


Romeo and Juliet = 770
Hamlet = 780
Moby Dick = 845
Of Mice and Men = 288
A Tale of Two Cities = 1,341
Atlas Shrugged = 673
The Hobbit = 465
Citizen Kane = 430
Casablanca = 834
Chinatown = 854







We won't get jealous and play the competition card here. EGM isimportant, a veritable titan of the industry with a massive and devotedfollowing. Many of us here at GamesRadar include ourselves in that camp.

But come on... do the latest screenshots of Chun-Li'sthighs really carry more weight than the 2008 election? Do you reallyneed to know the review score for Turok more than you need to know thereasons for the recession? Is the dropping price of the PS3 morecritical than the rising price of gasoline?

Yes, Electronic Gaming Monthly - and any videogame publication - is totally worthy of 4,429 words. We just wish that Time and other vital news sources received the same attention.

Also less important than EGM!

Newsweek = 1,393
USA Today = 2,685
National Geographic = 1,949
The New Yorker = 3,874
The Washington Post = 2,449
CNN = 4,281
Fox News = 3,758
• "Magazines" = 842
• "Newspapers" = 3,537
GamesRadar = 201







We love, love, love the soundtracks to Final Fantasy... but someone put way, way, way too much effort into this Wikipedia page. The intro alone is nearly 700 words, lengthier than the entries for many singers, bands and genres. Rock and roll, the biggest genre of them all, doesn't stand a chance.

Of course, the vastness of the web was made to hold such exceedinglyniche minutiae, but even the fan who owns all of these compilationalbums probably agrees that they could have fit onto the page forgeneral Final Fantasy music. Unless that fan is the one who wrote this obsessive love letter to begin with...

Also less important than obscure Final Fantasy music!

Beethoven = 6,268
Mozart = 6,331
Frank Sinatra = 5,743
Kelly Clarkson = 5,849
Amy Winehouse = 7,269
Rihanna = 2,977
Kanye West = 4,713
Jay-Z = 6,658
Nirvana = 4,157
Radiohead = 6,495



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Jeffrey Dahmer was a cannibal, Charles Manson was a deranged cultleader and John Wayne Gacy, worst of all, dressed up like a friggin'clown. Yet the complete list of these horrible, horrible murderers -together with dozens of depraved others - is apparently about 3,000words less significant than the list of Maverick boss characters in the Mega Man X series.

And that's compared to the list of serial killers by country. Look up the list of serial killers by number of victims andthe difference grows to 6,000. Go ahead and add the two lists togetherif you want - at 8,000 words total, they still fall short of the sheerterror and infamy inspired by Cyber Peacock, Blizzard Buffalo,Overdrive Ostrich and Armored Armadillo. Ooh, we're getting chills justthinking about them!


Above: The true face of evil







Let's be honest. Who doesn't love Gardulla the Hut? Who didn't havea poster of Cole Fardreamer or Elan Sleazebaggano hanging on theirbedroom wall as a kid? Who wouldn't beg their parents to buy them thatKlaatu action figure for the holidays?

Qwi Xux, Plo Koon, 2-1B, Chief Chirpa, Yarna D'al Gargan, BaronSoontir Fel, Meewalh, Oola, Commander Cody, Baron Soontir Fel, TraskUlgo, Gartogg, Wam "Blam" Lufba and, of course, little Windy... all ofthem are forever entwined in our dreams and imaginations.

Clearly, the list of minor characters in the Star Wars universe should be seven times as large as the page on the Founding Fathers of the United States. Clearly.

Also more important than the Founding Fathers!

Minor Star Wars droids = 10,105
Minor Star Wars villains = 9,648
Minor Star Wars bounty hunters = 5,236
Minor Sonic the Hedgehog characters = 12,595
Minor Mortal Kombat characters = 6,286
Minor StarCraft characters = 5,640
Minor One Piece characters = 17,446
Minor Sailor Moon characters = 7,251
Minor Gundam Wing mobile suits = 3,584
Minor recurring characters in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine = 5,097

Heed our warning - Wikipedia is only the beginning. Soon, textbookswill have entire chapters devoted to fairies and fishmen. Languagestudents will learn Goron instead of Greek. History class will forgothe Romans for the Rito, while anthropology discards the Spanish andSwedish for the Subrosians and Skull Kids.

Nonsense, you say? Tell that to the 730 million residents of Europe, whose deep and diverse ethnic backgrounds just got pwned by a bunch of elves, gnomes, talking twigs, golden frogs and mutant chickens.
Oh yeah, and Tingle.

Also more important than the population of Europe!

Elder Scroll races = 8,489
Pokemon types = 4,362
Final Fantasy monsters = 6,637
Halo aliens = 5,478
Middle-earth orcs = 4,845
Fictional cats = 10,248
Fictional dragons = 8,651
(there are non-fictional dragons?)





No surprises here. After all, Superman (10,641 words) has been known to survive a nuclear explosion... inside his own ass. And Batman (10,818 words) invented his own damn brand of shark repellent Bat spray!

Obviously, these guys are far superior to the rest of us. End of discussion.



Above: Holy sardine!






Both the fictional Umbrella Corporation and the real world National Human Genome Research Institute studythe mysteries of genetics. Both engage in the cutting edge field ofbiomedical engineering. Both are located in small towns. Both haveseemingly harmless, yet somehow creepy names. Both have seeminglyvague, yet somehow menacing logos.

Wait a second - are these two organizations actuallyone and the same?! Has Umbrella been a front all along, a clever ployto distract us from the true zombie overlords? We knew that tiny word count seemed suspicious...


Above: Oh shit.






According to Wikipedia, Kirby is "a small, pink, spherical creature with large red feet."

Exactly. Done. Enough said. Oh, if only that were the case...instead, that is merely the first sentence of a 1,512 word subsectionentitled Characteristics, which goes on to describe - in disturbinglydetailed sub-subsections - the Personality, Abilities and Species of Kirby. Yes, species.

The dog hasan overall longer page, sure, but the fact that Kirby's"characteristics" actually overcome those of man's best friend isabsolutely insane. They shouldn't even be close.








                              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
                    
               
          
          
          
                   
            


As expected, Jesus whoops Mario byquite a large margin in total Wikipedia word count. In a miraculousturn of events, however, Mario's Legacy section is actually longer thanJesus' Legacy. Yes, you heard right - a pixelated plumber is consideredto have had a bigger impact on the world than the central figure ofChristianity and, to some, the physical embodiment of God. Wow.

Then again... Jesus can walk on water and heal the sick,but Mario can shoot fireballs out of his hands and turn into a raccoon.Jesus has an awesome beard, but Mario's got a super sweet mustache.Jesus ushered in much of modern religion, but Mario ushered in much ofmodern gaming. Both can come back from the dead, though to be fair,Jesus only did that once.

Dunno, seems like a tie to us





Also less important than Mario's legacy!


Albert Einstein's legacy = 153• John F. Kennedy's legacy = 436• Susan B. Anthony's legacy = 252• Princess Diana's legacy = 196• The Wright brothers' legacy = 175• Mother Teresa's influence in the world = 117






At last, we reach the ultimate showdown. In this corner, we have God, who Wikipedia describes as:

"... the principal or sole deity in religion..."
"...the creator and overseer of the universe..."
"... omnipotent and eternal..."
"... the source of all moral obligation, and the greatest conceivable being existent..."

His opponent? Knuckles of Sonic the Hedgehog fame, who Wikipedia describes as:

"... a red, teenage, anthropomorphic echidna..."
"... the fourth most popular character in the series..."
"... shy around girls..."

And, uh, yeah. How did this guy beat God by more than 4,000 words again? Well, to reach Knuckles' number, we did have to add two pages together, one for his game character and one for his comic character. To level the playing field, we should probably give God the Bible or something, right? Of course, we'll also have to give Knuckles his comic books and two videogames (Knuckles Chaotix and Sonic & Knuckles) to keep things even...




Damn! Sorry God - you lose again. Looks like we have a new omnipotentoverseer in the universe... or at least in the strange, silly, scaryand seriously skewed universe that is Wikipedia.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:21 pm
'The Internet Hates Diablo III' in Gaming
When Blizzard unveiled Diablo III earlier this week, it didn't comeas much of a surprise to anyone. Well, there was one guy who thoughtStarcraft 3 was being developed alongside Starcraft 2 with a projectedrelease date of one week prior to the release of the game it wasfollowing, but no one has taken Cliffy B. seriously since he predictedthat Mario would never appear in another video game after Super MarioSunshine.
         
Sure, it didn't blow any minds, but theannouncement came as welcome news. Diablo II is still the first thing Iinstall on my computer after a trojan-laden lolita incest hentai comicforces me to reformat. It's hard to believe that in the last eightyears no one has been able to step in and create a better action-rpg.It's even harder to believe that a ten year old girl can lubricate herentire body with egg yolks then squirm into the urethra of her mother'spenis and follow it until she returns to the womb, but I saw thedrawings. It can happen, people.

         
After watching theDiablo III gameplay footage, I was really excited. The visuals werefantastic, a lot of small improvements had been added without seemingto get in the way of what makes the series great, and by the end of thevideo I found myself moving my mouse around the screen as if I wasplaying. That's sad, but what's even sadder is that I'm not a big-timegame journalist so I can't come up with a term like "gamesturbation" todescribe the lonely and desparate act while making myself cool andquotable.
         
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that mypositive impressions were irrational and baseless, while most of theinternet saw the game for what it truly was: A personal insult to themand a serious threat to all they hold dear. If you find that you'vemistakenly become mildly optimistic about the game, read on to find outwhere I went wrong so you can adjust accordingly.

         


         
My Initial (Wrong) Opinion:Wow, it's the world from Diablo in 3D, rendered like a painting toretain the 2D flavor of the previous games. The dark and ominous themesare still there, only now we don't have to use our imaginations to fillin the details suggested by blocky sprites.
         
The Internet's (Correct) Opinion: Wow, it's a shitty cartoon! This is NOT the same world that Diablo I and II took place in. No way.
         
DoI see a rainbow? I'm sorry, but rainbows don't exist in the Diablouniverse. I have read all the lore, and there is not a single mentionof rainbows in there. Big surprise that Blizzard retconned rainbowsinto Diablo. Vapid morons. Who do they think they are? I've beenplaying this series they created for years, and they fuck everything uplike they own it.
         
Here's the dark and gritty Diablo II, which Diablo III should look like:
         


         
Here's a cartoon:
         


         
Or is that Diablo III? I honestly can't tell.
         
Blizzardshould give the game a dark atmosphere by literally making the game toodark to see anything and then maybe add some film grain on top ofeverything. If the technology is available, the black silhouette of athumb could get in the way of the player's view to obscure the gamefrom time to time and add to the game's overall darkness.

         
My Initial (Wrong) Opinion:In addition to gold and loot, monsters will occasionally drop globesthat heal your character when picked up. You'll be able to focus moreon the gameworld instead of micromanaging a potion inventory. Thisfrees up the hotbar for your character's abilities.

         
The Internet's (Correct) Opinion: Globes of health. That float. Riiiight.

         
Itmade so much more sense when glass bottles full of healing syrup fellout of monsters onto rocky dungeon floors without breaking. You know,when your character had thirty bottles strapped onto his belt and noone thought twice about chugging something that had been stuffed into apoisonous mummy for the last thousand years. This magical orb shit isgoing to ruin my sense of immersion big time.

         

         
My Initial (Wrong) Opinion:The Witch Doctor looks like a variation of the Necromancer that focuseson infectious diseases and fire instead of death and the art of lookinglike J. Mascis. Being able to cast your offensive spells on pets sotheir attacks are buffed with those spells' abilities seems like itcould be a lot of fun. I can imagine buffing one pet with a spell thatslows enemies, another pet with some form of Weaken, and a third with adamage-dealing plague to mop up.

         
The Internet's (Correct) Opinion:WHERE DID THE NECROMANCER GO??? I'm not buying this game. Even if allof the unannounced classes are Necromancers, it's too late. Blizzardhas abandoned its true fans.

         

         
My Initial (Wrong) Opinion:Did that thing just flatten one player under its foot, then pick up abarbarian and bite his head off? Okay, that's awesome. Hardcore modejust got hilarious.

         
The Internet's (Correct) Opinion: So the player characters only come up to this thing's ankles? That's stretching it way too far.

         I'msorry, but this terribly designed throwaway boss does not fit into thecompendium of realistic monsters that we've all become accustomed tosuch as skeletons that hide in barrels, pygmies that stand on eachother's shoulders to create larger pygmies, and enormous Satanic grubs.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:53 am
Rethinking Traditional Advertising Methods in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
You see, for all the talk of monthly periodicals' demise, SEO'simpending reign, the downfall of FM stations and television'sinevitable implosion, we, err, sort of forgot to mention one thing:essentially that, despite posting up ratings far from the halcyon daysof the pre-TMZ.com era, mass media outlets such as ABC, CBS, CNN andNBC; Time, Newsweek and USA Today;and even regional Cineplex chains still generate the kind of audiencenumbers most interactive entertainment execs would give their last USBcable to connect with. Tactics may be changing, with custom tradeshows,advertorials, movie-type trailers and cover wraps replacing simple pageads and product giveaways. But as an industry, we're far from preparedto divorce ourselves completely from traditional advertisingplacements, or shift marketing dollars exclusively onto the Internet.

"Something most gamemarketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keep messagingpointed and simple" - Steven Roberts, DIRECTV

To wit, column after news brief after investigative report may continueto bemoan the death of old-world media. However, as any marketingdirector can attest, its core vehicles still remain one of the bestways to rapidly generate mass awareness amongst PC- or console-owningaudiences. Hence, although blogs and video aggregators deliver greatbang for the buck and generate tremendous street-level buzz, theycontinue to be promotional outlets that most core publishers have yetto wholly embrace, let alone fully commit to. Thus the reign ofhigh-profile primetime spots for titles like Grand Theft Auto, Madden and Halo rolls on.
And so, just as I humble myself before my new daughter, who hasn't meta pair of slacks she hasn't enjoyed redecorating yet, I willinglyprostrate myself before the industry-at-large and beg forgiveness. Asthe following executives – representing the television, motion pictureand direct marketing industries, respectively – are quick to remind, weshould all think twice before acting so rashly and completely writingthese businesses off.
Suffice it to say that they may not generate the same kind of headlinesin 2008 as rich media providers, online networks or widget creators,but thanks to new technology, changing tastes and increasing audiencefragmentation, let's just say they're far from out of the game.
Steven Roberts
Vice President & General Manager, Games and StrategicInitiatives for DIRECTV, overseeing broadcast ventures like 24/7interactive games channel Game Lounge and the internationally televisedChampionship Gaming Series professional league.
"Broadcast TV is absolutely not dead – just changing. Popular as gamingis, you can't look at entertainment in a vacuum... you have to considerthe overall mass-market. There are 120 million television homes outthere, with millions of people who just want to be entertained in thesame way they have for the last 50 years. NFL football still puts uphuge ratings every Sunday, and millions still tune in to watch livemusic and sports – you don't see that on an Xbox 360 console.
"True, television has to evolve, and will become more interactive toengage subscribers... if that's what users want. But what we're reallylooking at here in the immediate is developers/publishers grapplingwith a question of increasing audience segmentation. Something mostgame marketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keepmessaging pointed and simple. That doesn't mean downplaying keyelements or features that you want understood: Just presenting them ina straightforward, easily comprehensible way that speaks to a specificaudience. Implementing better virtual cameras into games would be awelcome start... For broadcasters, it's very difficult to showdifferent elements of a title in ways instantly conducive to helpingpeople understand what it's all about.
"It's also important to look beyond the 30-second spot. There's plentyof room for advertisers to tap into broadcast vehicles, whether throughtelevised competitions, interactive online program extensions orproduct integration. Placing games front and center by showing ahalf-hour of screens, video footage and people playing these titlesmakes sense. But what you really need for effective campaigns here isto build elements of user interaction into your advertising and pair itwith programming that's consistent with the demographics of the gameitself.
"It all comes back to basics. People won't skip an ad on a DVR or turnaway to get a glass of milk if it's compelling, the message is clearand it's telling you something that you want to hear. Creative doesn'tjust have to wow either: It also has to make sense for the audiencesegment. While marketing can be fun and have an edge to it, ultimately,for on-air placements, it's vital to make sure the message is verytargeted, specific and simple."
"For all the uproar surrounding the movie business lately, gamemarketers shouldn't underestimate in-cinema advertising's power. Mostmedia features a device (remote control, mouse click, radio dial, etc.)that lets audiences tune unwanted messaging out. But at the theater,you've paid to be there, are a captive audience and want to beentertained. This receptivity begets results if the creative is good:Recall scores average around 60%, with categories like gaming actuallysoaring into the 80-90% range.
"Definitely, the big screen's sexy. Via streaming media, you canliterally send ads for M-rated games to all R-rated movie screenings inany given city; appear alongside only specific types of films; ordeliver different messages to different geographic markets on-demand.But publishers need to look beyond the most obvious opportunities –lobbies can also be a marketing wonderland. Standees, banners,concession items... From 20-minute pre-shows packed with original,exclusive and entertaining content to game posters disguised to looklike cinematic counterparts, options for building brand equity areendless.
"Hollywood is far from dead. Are gamers going to see Shrek, The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean?Of course... it's common sense. Research also shows emotions aremagnified at the theater – and the same holds for audience reactions tocommercials as well as films. It's hard to argue with a dark room, agiant screen and a group of people who've willingly paid to be thereand want to see what's in store.
"Also note – 80% of tickets are sold on weekends, a time when peoplewant to go shopping, and theaters are generally located in shoppingdistricts. Stick a retail discount on a box office handout, and youdon't just achieve grassroots interaction, or present a clear call toaction. It's also conceivably the last message a consumer sees beforehaving to drive home past a Best Buy or Wal-Mart where your game'sconveniently stocked."

"People are more distracted than ever – advertisers need to cut throughthe clutter. You have to find ways to surprise and entertainaudiences... It's important to design options that let you really spendtime with consumers in a meaningful way.
"Consider core gamers. You can look at where they're hanging out – atfraternity houses, sports bars, military bases, wherever – thendiscover ways to be there. It's even possible to reach players atschool and weave gaming properties into an educational message. Theseinstitutions appreciate it when game companies can provide them withbranded book covers, locker calendars or workshops that incorporatethese titles to teach lessons, just to name a few possible choices.
"Basically, you have to create options that make sense for the contentand target demographic, then craft a vehicle that fits. This could be abranded video game tournament, for example, or involve catching fans ata sporting event and giving them things they can wear to the game.There are alternative ways to reach virtually any shopper.
"It's crucial for publishers to connect with fans on a one-on-onelevel, because as excited as TV/film imagery can make them, people wantto go hands-on and try your games. To do so, you have to interface withthem on the street. Demos at malls, movie theaters, health clubs, etc.are essential to building buzz: There's a direct link between samplersconverting into purchasers. Experience is everything, and consumers aregoing to be the strongest ambassadors for your brand – word-of-mouth isincredibly powerful in the enthusiast gaming community.
"A holistic strategy is important, though: Alternative marketing shouldjust be one part of a diversified tactical plan. If I can see an ad foryour game during Lost or American Idol, then it happens to be at a barwhere I can try it, it'll pique my interest... Suddenly, brand andbuyer are making a meaningful connection. Remember though, that theseplacements have to be unobtrusive. You can't invade someone's space –you have to make kiosks, stands, booths, etc. – something that adds to,not takes away from, the entertainment value of any activity or event."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:40 am
The multiplayer future of The Sims, MMO Style? in Gaming
Weeks after the closing of EA-land, formerly known as The Sims Online (TSO), the head of the Sims Division at EA is hinting at a multiplayer future for this popular life-simulating strategy game. Isn’t she, like Merlin, getting the timeline backwards?
Surely the bestselling computer game of all time would haveexperienced a smoother transition from single- to multiplayer,especially a game with a social needs bar; friendless Sims end upmoping around on the couch and experiencing Social Bunny hallucinations. Yet TSO was poorly received.

The fact that EA had nixed user-createdcontent and turned a multitude of flexible worlds into one persistentworld did not help. Most disappointingly, the necessities of eating,sleeping, and acquiring career skills ended up overshadowing whatshould have been the central aspect of TSO: socialization. After fiveyears of stagnation, TSO was demoted to EA-land in February, then closed down altogether last month.
Mere emoticons and asterisk-enclosed actions don’t cut it for everyone. Fellow conversationalists seem more real if their avatars can visibly laugh, shrug, weep, grin, or even just sit there.
At the same time, there’s a necessary element of unreality invirtual worlds. Although the real world doesn’t allow you to walk up tosomeone and click “flirt” over and over, reach the “propose” optionhalf an hour later, and start a new family over the course of anevening that strikes me as a little too close to home for many players.The life-simulating MMORPG presents a paradox of the real and theunreal.

Why does World of Warcraft have 10 million active playerswhile Second Life has only about thirty thousand? My guess: peopleprefer to visualize themselves as powerful conjurers rather than ashuman beings. When we interact in human form, the corresponding humanfantasies pushing themselves out into the open—the sudden significanceof sexual preference, the out-of-the-blue professions of love—might beharder to deal with than any challenge a WoW raid could present.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:19 am
DEBATE: Xbox 360 gamers read books more than PS3 owners in The Great Debates!
Seriously?  People are actually researching something THIS pointless?  Its one thing to research if girls are more competitive than guys (another article here, but I don't find it complainable) but to see who reads more?  Wow, I'm not blaming iVirtua for anything because I really like this site and Sam is just doing his job but this is annoyingly pathetic.  There are more important things to research on if you're to do tech or gaming stuff.  I'd like to know who conducted this.
Posted by schmidtbag Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:09 pm
Playboy girl pwns original Wii girl in new official videos in General Discussion, including Off Topic, Current Affairs
When Wii Fit girl did her 3 million hits thang, somehow I knew this was coming down the pike.

Everybody has seen the Wii Fit Girl video by now. The video went viraland 3 million viewers were hitting that …. Well, you could havepredicted that Playboy's Jo Garcia wasn't going to let that go withouta challenge. She's the Cyber Girl of the Year for 2008, after all.She's got a reputation to maintain. So she did her own Wii Fit video.



Because Playboy is the home of Jo Garcia, the Cyber Girl of the Year for 2008 and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gamer herself.And not only does she have noooo problem wearing much less than naughtylibrarian glasses and panties, Playboy also has muuuuuch better videoequipment and editing.


The link is to a version that, while probably NSFW, is non-nude andwon't get you arrested. I can vouch for the fact there is a toplessversion out there too, and let's just say she sticks the landing in theski jump. I'm sure the intrepid amongst you can find that, I won't beproviding it here, aside from the screen shot above.
The Perfect Fit

http://videoarticles.playboy.com/?fr_story=ec49c46aa27df3061f2978
a400845021b089030a&rf=bm

2008 Cyber Girl of the Year Jo Garcia test-drives the Wii Fit in this sexy yoga workout video.          
          See Jo nude in the Cyber Club >>

Jo Garcia is an American adult model. She was Playboy's Cyber Girl of the Year for 2008. It was revealed to the public from an interview with Kotaku that she is also an avid gamer listing favorites such as the Radiata Stories, Xenosaga trilogy and up to "100 hours into FFXII"

Jo Garcia said she has a DS and a PSP, wow nice! She also said shelikes to bring those with her around just like ipod, and when peopleask her why she is still playing games, "whats wrong with playinggames?" was her answer. Nice! tell them about games girl!
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:05 pm
Gaming World of Warcraft graphics hacks - a prettier WoW in Gaming
Unlike most games, World of Warcraftprovides a wide range of options for reducing the graphical complexityof the game to make sure that it runs on pretty much any system. Thisis undoubtedly one of the reasons for its phenomenal success, but italso means that those of us with powerful rigs are left wanting more.The good news is that there are a number of hidden settings that allowyou to go beyond what you can do using the regular WoW interface.
Toaccess these hidden settings you simply need to type commands (listedbelow, right in 'Get hidden settings') one at a time into your chat boxand hit [Enter] - the moment you hit a '/' you'll start typing them in.Some people have found that reloading the UI (type / 'consolereloadui') makes things prettier, although we haven't noticed thisourselves. Either way, it gives you control over rendering values thatisn't possible using the slider systems alone.
You can enterthese settings manually just to see what difference they make, but it'sprobably wiser to create a couple of macros that can change thesettings on the fly. There are times when you'll need performance (in araid, for example), and others when you just need the game to look asgood as humanly possible (soloing). Once you have the settings asmacros you can tailor them easily to suit your own needs, and just hitthe buttons when needed. Beautiful.
How to make WoW gorgeous
Youhave plenty of control over WoW using the default video settings, whichcan be accessed from the main menu, but the limits of these sliders arelower than what the game is actually capable of (1). For instance, theGround Clutter Density slider has an in-game maximum setting of 160,but the corresponding console command lets you push this all the way upto 256. The difference is pretty breathtaking too - with not only morevegetation, but higher and more lush plants at that (2). It also makesmore stones, but that doesn't excite us quite so much.

       
We've actually set up two macros toenable us to stand anywhere and see how the rendering engine handlesthe highest and lowest details. In order to create a macro, simply hitthe Macro button from the main menu (hit [Esc] a few times until itpops up). Give your macro a name and a suitable icon and then type inthe commands below. Repeat the process for the second macro, then dragboth to a free spot on your action bar (3). Stand in Terokkar Forest orNagrand and hit one and then the other and grin like a loon.
Onceyou use these settings, there are times when you'll be particularlyaware of the draw distance of the local objects. UnfortunatelygroundEffectDist is limited to 140, so there's nothing you can do toimprove this value (4).
Get hidden settings
Create a macro inputted with the following to see WoW in a new light:
/console groundEffectDensity 256
/console groundEffectDist 140
/console detailDoodadAlpha 100
/console horizonfarclip 2112
/console farclip 777
/console characterAmbient 0
/console smallcull 0
/console skycloudlod 3
If your framerate takes a dive, then this macro will sort you out:
/console groundEffectDensity 16
/console groundEffectDist 1
/console horizonfarclip 1305
/console farclip 177
/console characterAmbient 1
/console smallcull 1
/console skycloudlod 1
/console detailDoodadAlpha 1
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:54 pm
Age of Conan: iVirtua Review, Analysis and Videos in Gaming
Based on the books rather than the Schwarzenegger films, Age of Conanis a violent, massively multiplayer online game (MMO). Think World ofWarcraft with sharper swords and bigger breasts. The game leads yougently into the action and even allows you to learn the ropes in asingle-player environment before braving the multiplayer wilds. Andexperienced players get to build, or conquer, opponents' castles andkeeps. But the real innovation is the combat which, unlike most MMOs,involves reflexes and timing. The game looks mightily pretty; prepareto gawp at a sunset or distant mountain. But this graphical opulencecomes at a price, with loading screens a far-too-common annoyance.Worse, these breaks in play make the world feel less like a coherentwhole, lessening the feeling of immersion that games like WoW and Lordof the Rings Online engender so effectively. But assuming you have apowerful PC - which is essential for this game - Age of Conan is worthvisiting.

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by the Norwegian computer, video game developer company Funcom for PC and the Xbox 360. The game launched at 9 p.m. (GMT) on May 17, 2008in a limited way, being available to those who had pre-ordered the gameand registered for early access. The full release of the game for NorthAmerica was May 20, 2008 and for Europe May 23, 2008 for the PC version.The Xbox 360 version is scheduled to be released a year after the PC release.

After a long build up, including an eight-week delay to apply the finalpolish, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (AoC) has been launched.



is it finally a game that takes on WoW?

iVirtua Full coverage
Also
Guild Wars hits 2 million sales worldwide

DreamWorld Engine
The DreamWorld graphics engine was developed by Funcom circa 2000. Other computer games powered by DreamWorld technology include Anarchy Online and its various expansion packs. When Funcom began developing Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures,the company reviewed its existing technology base and decided to focuson the further evolution of their proprietary DreamWorld engine asopposed to licensing a third-party engine like many online RPGcompanies do. As such, Funcom began to retool their engine with theoverall design, pipeline and implementation process was taken intoaccount. In light of these changes, the DreamWorld engine has beenrebuilt for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures with new features, special effects and optimizations.[30]

"Real Combat"
"Real Combat" is being touted by Funcom as a revolutionary approachto combat in online RPGs where the player is in direct control of thecharacter's weapon strikes in real time. This multi-point melee andranged combat system is purportedly easy-to-learn and is one of theprime attractions of the title. Allegedly, the "Real Combat" systemwill take the ritualized combat experience previously found in onlineRPGs in a new direction. For this system, Funcom has also added aspectssuch as formation combat, mounted combat, siege combat and hive combat.[31]

Cheetah
Cheetah is a shader-oriented proprietary render engine re-written from scratch by Funcom featuring a phong per pixel lighting system. This engine allows for improved graphics and ambience. This is coupled with a trapezoidal shadow system, an in-house system developed by Funcom that allows all objects to cast shadows onto everything.[32]

Perlin noise-based cloud generating system
Perlin noise-based cloud generating system is a five-layered procedural system that enables multiple layers of dynamic clouds; thus, visually-realistic cloud behavior.[33]

SpeedTree
SpeedTree is a programming package produced by Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV) that aims to produce high-quality virtual foliage in real time, suitable especially for video gamesbut also aimed to a lesser extent at some other kinds of simulations.It has so far been licensed to a substantial number of video gamedevelopers, including developers of the Unreal engine series. SpeedTree is currently being used in several games, including (but not limited to) the MMO action game World War II Online and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.[34]

DirectX 10
"Funcom is proud to be one of the few developers who is tapping intothis technology, and we look forward to showing you even more of DirectX 10. Some of the improvements visible in the videos and the screenshots are improved parallax mapping, better lighting and more advanced shadows technology."[35]The game did not include support for DirectX 10 at the time of launch.DirectX 10 features are now slated to be premiered at the GamesConvention in Leipzig in August 2008.
Pre-Launch acclaim
During the past several years, Funcom has twice previewed Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3,and the product has received various critic awards for thesedemonstrations. The following information is a partial listing of thoseawards.
E3 2005

  1. GameSpot Editors' Choice Winner
  2. IGN.com Runner-Up Best of E3
  3. GamersInfo.Net Editors' Choice
  4. Gamezone Best of E3 Award


E3 2006

  1. GameSpot Editors' Choice Winner
  2. IGN.com Best of E3 Winner
  3. GameSpy: MMO Game of Show
  4. Yahoo! Games Best MMOG


E3 2007

  1. IGN.com Best of E3 Winner
  2. GameTrailers Best RPG Nominee
  3. WarCry MMO of the Show Nominee
  4. GC 2007: Best online game


2008

  1. MMORPG.com Most anticipated game of 2007

Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:22 pm
Playing WoW is worse than looking at porn in Gaming
It may be the most famous MMORPG inthe world, with over 10 million subscribers to the game, but accordingto a leading psychiatrist in the treatment of online game addiction,some World Of Warcraft users are more ashamed of being addicted to it than online porn.
In a revealing interview printed in Sunday’s Boston Globe,Dr Jerald Block spoke about the rise in internet addiction and some ofthe cases he has had to deal with. In it, he states: “The computergamers tend to be harder to treat. People feel a lot of shame aroundcomputer games. Whereas, it's socially acceptable to have a pornproblem.”
This gameplay world
According to the Boston Globe, Block had recently published an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry arguing that ‘Internet Addiction’ should become a new diagnostic term.
Furtheron in the interview, Block explains that: “As a society we understandthat porn is something people do, and you can see a psychiatrist andget treated for it. But gaming is hard to describe to anyone else.
“Sothese people can't explain their situation to friends. In fact, it'shard to give you an example of what my clients talk about, becausegaming is enormously complicated.”
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:11 pm
Age of Conan hits 1 million in Gaming
Funcom have announced that recently launched MMO Age of Conan has already shipped 1 million units.
"Sales data shows that Age of Conan is the biggest MMO launch sinceWorld of Warcraft," says Funcom Vice President of Sales and Marketing,Morten Larssen. "The numbers are very promising, and we are very proudto be one of the fastest selling PC games ever in a launch month andthe biggest simultaneous Europe/US MMO launch in history."
I always mention WoW when interviewing MMO developers. In reply theyinvariably spin the PR line that Blizzard's classic game is amarket-opening opportunity rather than a competitive threat. Thesefigures prove they may have been right. Would Conan have done so wellin the pre-WoW days of say 2003? How many of these 1 million - orthereabouts - players are high level WoW players taking a break fromAzeroth?

Of course, shipping a million units is one thing, gettingplayers to subscribe for more than a month or two is the real successmetric. I've been playing Conan for a couple of weeks now and while themore involved combat and character physicality are welcome MMOinnovations I won't be subscribing just yet. For a start my laptop - adecent ram-packed high-end one bought about a year ago - may havefinally met its match with Conan. Unlike WoW, which could probably runon an Atari ST* Age of Conan demands the latest hardware to playsmoothly at any kind of decent resolution. More importantly Conan isfull of zoning. These loading screens between areas, buildings andcities are hugely annoying immersion-breakers. WoW, and theincreasingly impressive Lord of the Rings Online, restrict zoning to aminimum, and so create the feeling of being in a coherent world.Despite this Conan has a stack of promise. It looks great - assumingyou have a sexy PC - and has had a relatively smooth launch. I willdefinitely be back. Anyone here playing?
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:46 am
Top 10 Video Games that Should Be Made into Movies in Gaming
Wow this would make a cool movie’, a thought that, at somepoint in time must have flitted across many a gamers’ mind. The worldsand characters of our beloved video games are an assortment of thecrazy, mysterious, fantastical, obscure and unforgettable. They havebeen rendered with such adulation and conscientiousness by theircreators that they sometimes transcend interactive entertainment andevolve into pieces of art.
A movie like a video game is a form of art. Wanting a movie based onone’s favourite video game is just the inherent desire to see thatpiece of art in a different form, from a different perspective. A videogame with a good concept is always ripe for cinematic treatment. Whythen has that great videogame movie eluded us so many years? We maynever know the answer to that, but we can hope and imagine that some ofour gems are some day given the directorial treatment they deserve.

1. Mafia
There has been a real draught of good mafia movies of late. AmericanGangster is the only decent mafia movie I remember having seenrecently. A movie based on the Mafia game would really help fill thisvoid. Mafia is one of those action games’ that is quite popular among alot of Indian gamers. Besides its superlative game play, one of thethings that really stood out about the game was its sharp script andincredibly well presented story element.
In fact I would go as far to say that the depth in itscharacterization was better than most movies of our time. The game alsohad some truly memorable action pieces set including one unforgettablesequence set in a church and one set in a pizza parlour. Seeing thesesequences translated to the big screen would truly be a Mafia fan’sgreatest desire except of course a second Mafia game. This one ideallywould be helmed by someone like Martin Scorsese.

2. Half-Life
The creators at Valve have over the span of the original Half Life,its sequel and the recent episodes created a rich sci-fi universe.What’s unique about this sci-fi world is that it’s not all-timetravelling and laser guns. All the games in the Half-Life series havesomething of a spiritual side to them. Also we have some trulymemorable characters in Alyx, Eli, Barney and naturally the main manGordan Freeman himself.
Of course the movie rendition might pose some serious problems butwith a lead protagonist who has thus far failed to utter a single wordin the series. Any attempts to give Gordon a voice in order to satisfythe traditional movie audience would severely rile Half-Life purists.Whichever way the movie turns out, any director who manages to pull offa voiceless Gordon will win my veneration.

3. Crysis
Crysis while not a game with the most innovative story still has agreat setting and the nanosuit would lend itself to a pretty coolaction movie. At its heart is the conflict between man and alien setamidst lush tropical forests. In a sense a movie based in the world ofCrysis would be a spiritual successor to the first Predator movie.
Most importantly perhaps, gamers with humbler PC’s might finally getto see what Crysis’ infamous supposedly photorealistic graphics wouldlook like in all its high definition glory without the painful memoriesof Crysis bringing their once high and mighty computers down to a crawl.

4. Devil May Cry
Extremely stylish, over the top action is what best describes theDevil May Cry series of video games. Fighting waves after waves ofenemies with some adrenaline pumping rock music in the background nevergets old. Dante, Nero, Vergil and some of the other characters in theseries also on the occasion get to mouth some pretty entertaining,witty and sarcastic dialogs.
In addition some of the fight choreography in its numerous cutscenes is some of the best I have come across in both movies and games.The ideal Devil May Cry movie would be something in the vein of themovie Shoot Em Up, nonstop pistol wielding, sword swinging action withlittle pretence of an emotional thread governing the charactersactions. I’m not saying Dante is someone you should feel nothing for.
It’s just that Dante is the perfect anti- hero. What we would lovemost is to give each other high fives, maybe let out some whoops whenwe get to see the big screen Dante reign hell on his enemies with hisusual brutalistic style and customary battle end remarks.

5. Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed for all the ambivalent views of the criticsundeniably features an incredible world and a great concept. Altair -the main character’s name means “The Flying One” in Arabic and in asense you truly are. While the main objectives were the assassinationsthemselves, what the game truly excelled at was giving you the freedomto literally fly across the rooftops.
Think the initial sequence of the movie Casino Royale or the entirecentral theme of the movie District B13 except here you’re doing allthat and more in the medieval lands of Jerusalem, Damascus and Acre.While we’ve seen plenty of attempts at movies about assassins, inmodern times a movie about a medieval cult of assassins who rely not onguns but their physical agility and a blade or two to execute theirtargets would be a refreshing change.
Plus there are the sci-fi and historical ideas involved around whythe assassins cult do what they do, what is the agenda of the Templarsand the whole concept of being able to unlock the memories of one’sancestors through DNA.

6. Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto, well, it’s all about living out your dream.Murder, revenge, cops and robbers, the staple fare of films it’s allpresent in copious amounts in Grand Theft Auto. We generally tended toperform these tasks in the world of Grand Theft Auto with littlethought to any of your deeds having moral implications.
Though the series always did have a decent storyline to back up youractions, Grand Theft Auto has always been about the freedom to go dowhat you wanted to do whenever you wanted to do it. Sandbox gamesrarely got better than Grand Theft Auto. Bringing such a sense offreedom to the screen is never going to be easy and the game might notseem to be the best candidate for cinematic treatment.
What the series has always had though are great leading characters,physically and vocally perfectly acted and with very interestingpersonalities and some really witty dialogs to go with thosepersonalities. There is a lot that Hollywood can learn from Rockstarabout presenting characters.

7. Metal Gear Solid
Well what is Metal Gear if not a movie itself with it’s incrediblylong cut scenes taking up a sizable period of time in every game thusfar? The soon to be released Metal Gear Solid 4 is in fact rumoured tofeature 90 minutes worth of cut scenes. That’s as much as your regularfeature length film. Cut scenes here though have never been the regularpassable fare. The ones in Metal Gear Solid have always had incredibleproduction values.
It is incredibly choreographed and acted with a stirring backgroundscore by Harry Gregson Williams. The title sequences in Metal Gear 1and 2 have been done by Kyle Cooper a title designer with almost 150films to his credit. So in a sense there is a lot of Hollywood talentthat is already part of Metal Gear Solid. The games also cover a lot ofterritory running the gamut from cold war, to spies to military tacticsand the negative effects of warfare.
A movie based on Metal Gear Solid would benefit from having suchwide range of themes to dip into, a compelling and much adoredcharacter in Solid Snake and someone unfamiliar with the storylines ofMetal Gear might enjoy its convoluted and constantly twisting storyline.

8. Syberia
Adventure games are in this day and age a forgotten genre. Syberiais one of adventure gaming’s finest gems. Released in the year 2002, aproduct of the imagination of Frenchman Benoit Sokal Syberia told thestory of a young woman lawyer named Kate Walker and her journey thatbegins when she visits a small village in France to negotiate thetakeover of a toy factory.
The game featured some charmingly surreal locales along with a hostof great personalities with quirky yet entertaining mannerisms. Thestrongest character of course was Kate Walker herself. Over the courseof the game Kate metamorphosed from a young woman leading aconventional life to a woman with a strong sense of individualism.
The decision that she makes towards the end of the game is one thatchanges the course of her life. The game had a slowly developing butultimately richly rewarding story with a sense of mystery presentthroughout. Seeing the world and much loved characters of Syberiabrought to life on screen would be a dream come true for any adventuregame lover.

9. Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil is without doubt one the greatest videogames Ihave ever played. It was a game that slipped off most people’s radar atthe time of its release. Still those who did play it know howunforgettable a game, designer Michel Ancel created in Beyond Good& Evil.
Jade, the game’s main protagonist is one of gaming’s strongestfemale characters. She wasn’t the usual big bosomed sexed up heroine,the likes of which we have seen in countless videogames. She plays anintrepid photographer who also happens to take care of the children inan orphanage and has an uncle who is a pig. Well it had a crazy yetbeautiful world full of colorful and multifarious species which seem tocoexist in harmony.
Jade’s journey took us through a world of alien and governmentconspiracies, and most importantly a journey of self discovery. Theplanet of Hillys was a bizarre yet gorgeous blend of the futuristic andoutlandish. The supporting cast of characters was also brilliant andunforgettable. A movie based on this game set against its gorgeousmusic would perhaps let a lot of gamers know what they were missingwhen they ignored poor Jade the first time around.

10. Indigo Prophecy
Indigo Prophecy was a very unique game both in its setting and itscontrols. It was a psychological thriller in which you played severaldifferent characters. It was also the closest a game came to aninteractive movie. Your character was endowed with great physicalagility and some nifty psychic powers too.
All the complex animations of the characters were motion capturedand every action sequence looked incredible. Every major action thatyour character performed in the game was via rhythmic button tappingguitar hero style with visual cues provided onscreen. Only here yourcoordination determines if you will be able to make it through thevarious action sequences. It had a dark disturbing, disturbing yetcaptivating story and characters you felt deeply attached to by the endof the game.
What Indigo Prophecy succeeded at brilliantly was its atmosphere andthe ability to ratchet up the tension and establish a feeling of dreadat regular intervals. In a sense Indigo Prophecy is already ninetypercent movie. A little cinematic polish and we’ll have our next greatpsychological thriller movie.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:27 am
Valve: 'PC Gaming Market Is Not Dying' - DEBATE in The Great Debates!
The PC is no longer a viable platform. The PC is all about casual gaming. The PC market is dying.

We've heard it all before, and so has Valve's Doug Lombardi. Irecently caught up with the marketing VP during an Electronic Artspress event. At the end of the night, the house music dying down, wehad a long chat on a number of topics--many of which pertained to hiscompany's primary platform.
What does Valve think of the PC Gaming Alliance? Are they as tired ofthe PC gaming "problem" as we are? What is at the root of the issue,anyway?
Shack:
Do you guys ever get tired of the same old "PC Gaming Is Dying" stories?
Doug Lombardi:
I mean, I think,we sort of laugh at it. Because we've been wildly successful--we'revery fortunate, you know. Our games have all done really, really well,Steam has taken off and become this whole other business for us, Valvehas never been in better shape--and yet everybody is talking about howin the PC world, the sky is falling. And we're like, we've been doingthis for 10 years now--actually 12 years since the company started, 10years since the first game came out--and we've never been in bettershape, financially or otherwise. The company is over 160 people now--itwas 20 people when we shipped Half-Life. We've got multiple projectsgoing--we were always a one-project-at-a-time group.
We don't understand why that story gets traction over time. I thinkpeople have finally started to clue in to the fact--there was a storylast week where people finally looked at the online subscriptionrevenues for WoW and all the things that look like WoW, and realized,wow, there was a butt-load of cash being made here that wasn't beingcounted at the register, at retail, in North America, which is whereall these stories come out of.


NPD, god love 'em, they release a US retail sales report, and peopletake that and say that's the world picture. And it's just not true.It's not like NPD is trying to be evil. Their job is to report NorthAmerican sales data. They're doing their jobs. But people are takingthat and discounting.. in Germany for example, retail sales of PCproducts crush all other games, with the possible exception of the DS.It certainly kills all of the next-generation consoles. So if peoplewere looking at that and factoring it in, if people were looking atWoW's subscriptions alone and factoring it in, looking at Steam salesand factoring it in.. Just look at what Popcap's doing--Bejeweled andPeggle and all this stuff--they're not in that NPD data.
If you go around and you look at all these different things that arehappening on the PC, and you add them together, my hunch is that [thesales numbers] would actually be much larger than all of the consolesput together. Again, minus the DS, because the DS is this crazy thingby itself. But talking purely in terms of the Wii, the PS3, and the360, if you added those together and looked at the whole picture, I'dbet you PC would be even, if not bigger than those three systems interms of the money that's changing hands and the opportunity for doingbusiness.
So we always look at those things, and we always kind of laugh. We'redoing just fine, Popcap's doing just fine, Blizzard'scertainly--they're printing money down there. We always sort of shakeour heads, and go, okay, sooner or later someone's going to write thebigger picture story and perceptions will change.
Shack:
Interesting that you use the word "perception." Is this a perception problem?
Doug Lombardi:
It is absolutelya perception problem. I mean one of the things that happensis--Microsoft has an army of PR people that work for Microsoft. Theyhave at least two agencies that are additional armies. Nintendo I'm notas familiar with their PR outline, but I'm sure it's similar. Sony issimilar. The PC has nobody. They've got people like us, in our sparetime, talking to guys like you. I mean if there were hundreds of PRpeople stationed around the world, whose whole job was to call youevery day and tell you why the PC was a great platform, your perceptionwould probably be different.
Shack:
As far as improving perception, what do you think about something like the PC Gaming Alliance? I noticed you guys aren't partners. Any particular reason behind that? Do you see a real benefit coming out of the PCGA?
Doug Lombardi:
We'll see. Imean, I think it's great that a group of major players are gettingtogether and trying to address the problem. For us, we're really busydoing Steam, building our games. We're not really members of any of theboards, whether it's the IDG, or the PC Gaming Alliance, or whatever.If those guys want our opinion, we'll give it to them, but being onthose boards is kind of a job. We try to remain a small independentstudio, and if our help is needed in some way other than just joiningthe group for the sake of being another developer sitting a table atthe meetings, then we'll talk to those guys. I mean we're totally opento it, we want them to succeed, but until we see an actionable reasonfor us to be involved in it, you know, how we can help in a tangibleway, we're going to kind of sit in the bleachers with everybody elseand wish them luck.



Wedefinitely wish them luck. Like I say, part of the reason why the PChas the perception issue is that they don't have a group of peoplechampioning it. And if the PC Gaming Alliance says, "We need to attackthis from an advertising and PR standpoint," we'll be there to givethem quotes. [laughs] So however we can help. Just because we're not onthe board doesn't mean we're not rooting for them.


Shack:
Do you see a PC gaming resurgence on the horizon, at least in terms of how people think about the platform?
Doug Lombardi:
I think you cansee it in this room. I don't know what the final total is here, but Ithink there are eight PC games and three console games here?
Shack:
Yeah, about that.
Doug Lombardi:
And this is EA's"getting ready to start clubbing you guys over the head for E3"campaign that's beginning. So I think it's starting to happen. I thinkwe saw some of that last Christmas too. A lot of the big titles wereOrange Box on the PC, Crysis, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusadedid really well. I think this year you're going to see a lot of thesame thing with Left 4 Dead, Spore, Battlefield Heroes. There's a lotof people making great PC product. id is getting ready to rev up abunch of really great PC product, and those guys are always great.They've been legends on the PC since, what, '93? So I think it alwayssort of comes and goes.



There's this kind of roller-coaster ride: the consoles launch, their PRagencies go out and do everything they can to try and say the PC isdying, they'll prop up the sales of the console, the console starts toget old in the tooth, the PC starts leapfrogging in terms of graphicsand bigger releases. So we're almost what, mid-way through the consolelifecycle now? So yeah, over the next two years the story's going tocome back that the PC is bigger, things like Left 4 Dead and Spore, theid titles are going to come out and everybody's going to be like, "Wow,those console titles are looking kind of crappy."

Shack:
Do you think PC system requirements are an important part of this perception problem?
Doug Lombardi:
Oh, I think it'sa big problem. I think it's a big problem. You know, we try to bereally responsible. Going back to Half-Life 1, we tried to be reallyresponsible in saying the average PC gamer should be able to play thisgame start to finish and have an enjoyable experience. Now, they're notgoing to have the best graphics, they're not gonna have every shaderturned on and what have you. But they're gonna have a decent framerate,all the monsters and creatures are going be there, and all the dialogueis going to be there. From a basic content and experience level,they're going to be able to go through that.
We take that Steam hardware surveytwice a year, and we publish those results of usually a million or moregamer systems. We publish those very consciously to try to help otherpeople realize like--here's a million people on Steam and what theirsystem requirements look like. No, you can't drop support for DirectX 9yet. There's still 70% of the people playing on Steam today are runningon DX 9 cards. So you've gotta be cognizant of that, and RAM and CPUspeeds, same way.
In the old days we had sort of this weird, "Okay, here's some of whatthe card guys and CPU guys are telling us they're gonna be selling, andhere's this voodoo crystal ball thing we're going to do and try toguess." Now that Steam survey gives us an exact data point to workfrom. You've got a million people, we do it every six months, and wecan go back and say 18 months ago it was here, and here's the adoptionrate, and we can see the trajectory. It's pretty black and white.
I think hopefully one of the things we did really well with Orange Box,and we've heard this from a lot of people: "I fired up Portal on mythree year old machine and it ran great." And that helps us sell moreunits, and helps the perception of the PC industry. People buy a newgame and their system is 18 months old and it doesn't run, or it'sunplayable, that hurts the PC industry. That person who just spentmoney on a PC game is going to have a question mark next time he walksinto the store. And he's gonna say, "Geez, I don't know, if I buy it ona console I know it's going to work."
So I mean, I think people just need to do a better job of looking atwhere gamers are at, being more honest about the system requirementsthey put on the box, and just sort of taking a step back and saying,"Gameplay is king, performance is second, and graphics are somewhereafter that." People have said to us, you know, Portal is cool, but itwasn't the prettiest game. Well, okay, it sold a whole lot, it wasnamed game of the year by over 30 outlets, and many of the people whoplayed it told me they finished it and had a great time. I would muchrather have that than have people tell me it was the prettiest gamethat came out last year.
Shack:
Does theresponsibility lie somewhat with the hardware manufacturers to markettheir products in a reasonable way, or is it up to the developers toset sane requirements?
Doug Lombardi:
Oh I think it'stotally the fault of the developers. Totally the fault of thedevelopers. I mean the graphics guys, their job to keep pushing theenvelope, and as they push the envelope, move the lower-end cards downto a nice price point, so that there's always this evolution that'shappening. If you're a hot rod type of guy, and you want to spend $400on the latest thing, you want to have a smoking machine, and when Left4 Dead comes out you want to run it at its highest resolution withkiller framerates, and call your buddies over for a beer and make themall drool over your system, awesome. But if you're just a guy who wantsa decent PC for less than a thousand bucks, and wants to be able to rungames on it, there should be a card out there that runs games at adecent famerate and decent fluidity. Then it's on us to write for bothof those guys.



It's a business decision, really. Too often I think the developmentside of things runs the house. People say, "Oh, we've got to targetthose high-end core gamers. We have the best graphics, sweetestscreenshots, and we'll get more press, and we'll win." Okay, well,you'll win in the pre-launch phase. Then when the game comes out, and60-70% of the people who don't have that sweet machine--maybe evenhigher numbers, maybe 80% don't have that sweet machine--well you justcut off your ability to sell to all of those guys.
You know, it's hard to be able to have games that scale, and to writeperformance on the high end, and write performance on the bottom end,but you know, winning in any industry means some hard work, and there'sa certain level of hard work that developers have to takeresponsibility for. And when you see games that do that, where theyhave solid gameplay, and they scale well across machines, usually thosegames do well.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 24, 2008 6:22 pm
Age of Conan tops charts: finally a game that takes on WoW? in Gaming
After a long build up, including an eight-week delay to apply the final polish, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (AoC) has been launched.

The game is widely seen as one that has a chance of taking on the current king of the online gaming heap - World of Warcraft (WoW).



That battle for a share of the global online gaming world is one that the mighty Conan himself would relish. At stake are fame, respect and untold riches.

The BBC News website got a chance to play through the early levels of the game and right from the opening moments it is obvious that the cosy world of WoW has been left far behind. It's not for nothing that the game is rated 18.

The game opens on a galley ship on which both male and female characters are slaves. Under attack, the ship sinks and the character is washed up on the beach of an island called Tortage naked but for a loin cloth and shackles.

From those opening moments the graphical detail of the game is a huge leap forward from the rather "cartoon-y" look of WoW. It even rivals Lord of The Rings Online in the graphical stakes. That detail comes at a price - the minimum specs are quite high.

Joe Best, associate producer at publishers Eidos, said: "We really want this to be full fat but also scalable to the PCs of the last few years."

The opening is worthy of a Conan story in which the hero is left to craft his, or her, destiny with their bare hands. The first quests involve finding a way to remove the shackles and then kill the man who enslaved you.

For the first 20 levels of the game, players will be pretty much alone, said Joe Best, an associate producer at Eidos.

The "linear" nature of those early levels on Tortage is where players become familiar with the game world, the abilities of their character and how to play. After that they get to join the larger MMO world of AoC.

     

During those early levels the most important lessons learned are those that show how to fight.

Combat, bloody visceral combat, is at the heart of the Conan stories and the game is no exception. One of the first decisions made when the game was being drawn up, said Mr Best, was that the combat would be "ferocious".

"It's not about watching your character fight for you," he said. "they really wanted to break away from that "point and click" aspect of MMOs."

In games such as World of Warcraft characters attack automatically once they are directed to a target. In AoC the on-screen character only does what it is told. That's necessary as enemies adapt their fighting style to defend against the way they are attacked so that involvement is key.

And the combat is involving, much more so than WoW, where the same attacks and spells will despatch the same types of foe.

There is no doubt that it is fun to use combos and alter your attacks to beat a foe to the ground, or knock them back and then leap forward to finish them off with a panther-like grace that would win a nod of approval from the massive Cimmerian, Conan himself.

     
Quote:
AGE OF CONAN: SPECIFICATIONS
Minimum
Processor: 3GHz
Ram: 1GB
Video: Nvidia GeForce 5800 or ATI 9800
OS: Windows Vista/XP
Recommended
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or better
Ram: 2GB or better
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7950GX2 or better
OS: Windows Vista/XP


It was odd, said Mr Best, that given combat centrality to most MMOs that no-one had tried such a thing before.

AoC's distinctiveness does not stop with blood, gore and intense combat. At the higher levels players can get a mount, (horse, mammoth or war rhino) that can be used for trampling enemies in to the dust. Those on horseback can swing a weapon and use the momentum of a charge to inflict huge amounts of damage.

Those mounts are likely to be very useful in another of AoC's selling points - siege warfare. Guilds can build their own cities or battle keeps, once their members have gathered enough raw materials for the buildings. As Mr Best said creating a city is a "very social experience".

But once built it may not be safe. Rival factions can gather their war mammoths, trebuchets and troops to lay waste to their enemies' homes and businesses. Pitched battles featuring huge groups of players are likely to become very popular.

Mr Best said many of the decisions that have driven the development of Age of Conan were taken to make it stand out.

Quote:
"If you are going up against World of Warcraft you cannot imitate it, you have to go your own path and do it your way," he said.


And that's something Conan would doubtless agree with. But it remains to be seen whether that list of features not seen in many other MMOs is a recipe for the one feature WoW has in spades: success.

Funcom has announced that over 1 million people have signed up to the Age of Conan beta test, a figure which the company believes is a record, and proves huge interest in the forthcoming adult-themed MMO.
Quote:

"Funcom has not been able to find any higher beta numbers for MMOs in the western world," said Morten Larssen, VP of sales and marketing. "We believe it represents the largest ever beta sign-up figure in the history of the genre."


The company also released additional statistics about interest in the game, commenting that almost 800,000 people have signed up for the newsletter, while last week the official site registered 725,000 unique users.

But while the official launch date of May 20 is still applicable in the US, the European date is now May 23, aligning it with the traditional Friday release for titles in the region.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue May 20, 2008 4:54 pm
Are people 'less tolerant of really long games'? in The Great Debates!
I noticed this is true.  I dislike how people are becoming like this but I wouldn't blame them either.  Most longer games today are just tedious, like its not worth completing.  The older N64 games were so great because it was fun spending hours playing them.  WoW is a perfect example - people play that non-stop.  But when you play a game like Oblivion, beating the game 100% is just wasting your time.  Its not rewarding, it isn't fun, and its barely addictive.

I made a game called "Rectangular Fusion" which is a full RTS with 10 units to spawn.  People who spent the time to learn the game were very impressed but people who were impatient and wanted instant action rated it poorly.  It seems to me only the younger audiences are impatient but people who grew up with SNES, gameboy, genesis, PS1, and N64 all know what gaming is really about
Posted by schmidtbag Sun May 18, 2008 5:42 pm
Games as team-building exercises? in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
CNN has an interesting articleon a new trend among large global businesses, who are attempting to'spruce up' their online distance working systems, by adding virtualworld elements. Colleagues who are thousands of miles apart and who maynever have met are usually united online via dry, humorless businessapps. But corporations like Intel are experimenting with new systemsthat add-in social networking elements, and even games. From the piece:

When CDC Software recently staged parts of an annualsales kickoff event in a virtual world created by Unisfair Inc., itincluded an online version of the golf outings that commonly accompanysuch affairs. It held tournaments in baseball and golf video games -and gave real trophies to the champions, said Julian Hannabuss, a CDCsales director.

It's an old business cliche - deals being forged on the golf courseand concluded on the 19th hole. Can this be transfered into Tiger WoodsPGA Tour? I wonder if any business machinations have been hammered out,literally perhaps, in WoW?

Eyeing that same future, IBM researchers are exploringwhether groups of people in different locations can bond by playingcollaborative virtual-world games, like solving puzzles together. IBMcalls the effort "Inward Bound," a nod to the Outward Bound wildernessexercises.

Games are already functioning as informal team-building exercises -how many offices are right now running round-robin Scrabuloustournaments? But as a practice organised and sanctioned by uppermanagement? I love the idea of workgroups playing co-op CoD or Halo. Itwould certainly be a lot cheaper and more convenient than carting thewhole sales dept out to some nightmarish team-strengthening event inthe Pennines.
So, what game would most suit your office as a team-building challenge?
Posted by Editorial Team Wed May 14, 2008 4:50 am
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