Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekly Roundup - October 20-26, 2013

This week featured quite a diverse selection of interesting news. No single story stood over another but I was particularly interested in Grand Theft Auto 5 snatching Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards. Also, we were treated to some new details for Ultra Street Fighter 4, production for the Wii was officially halted, Blizzard won a major legal victory against bot manufacturers, and Beyond: Two Souls received some unwanted attention for digitally rendering Ellen Page naked.

GTA5 Wins Game of the Year at Golden Joystick Awards
Computer and Video Games' annual community voted awards, the Golden Joystick Awards, were held on October 25. The Golden Joystick is the longest running active gaming award and, as they are voted on by the general public, represents the the closest thing to a legitimate unbiased award in the gaming industry. This year Grand Theft Auto 5 took home the top award as the overall Game of the Year. While I take most award ceremonies with a grain of salt, the Golden Joystick has a pretty decent track record and I think GTA5 was a deserving recipient. On a tangent, I would like to see award ceremonies working a year in rears to ensure that games have enough time to shake off any hype they have received around launch (not that GTA5 hasn't lived up to it in this case). Just a thought that I know will never come to fruition for a whole plethora of reasons.

Ultra Street Fighter 4 Details Released / Capcom Developing a New Fighting Game
Capcom teased out a few more details for the upcoming release of Ultra Street Fighter 4. While the identity of the announced but as-of-yet unnamed extra character was not revealed, we were treated to an elaboration of some of the tweaks to the gameplay to expect. In short, players will now have the option to utilize both ultra attacks for reduced damage and the focus system has been enhanced to allow multiple parries in a row. The changes are small on paper but seem poised to blow open a whole new set of strategies. I especially like the idea of multiple parrying which seems to be borrowing heavily from one of the best elements of Street Fighter 3 and could dramatically impact the game. Also, Capcom announced through twitter that they are seeking a developer for a new fighting game they are working on but details were scant. Whether it is a new IP or another iteration of the Street Fighter series, fighting game fans should be excited.

Wii Production Ends
Nintendo announced that the production of new Wii units would stop and existing stocks would be allowed to deplete. This isn't really a shock as the Wii U is now the flagship Nintendo console but it seems a bit early given that demand for the Wii is still sufficient to turn a profit. Obviously, Nintendo doesn't want to cannibalize its own sales so I think you can see this as a push to increase demand for the Wii U. Again, nothing terribly surprising here but news nonetheless.

Blizzard Beats the Bots
Blizzard was awarded a 7 million dollar settlement against Ceiling Fan Software, producers of a series of World of Warcraft bots. Whatever one's individual feelings are on the use of bots, this is a significant victory in that it severely penalizes bot developers and will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in the amount of bots that hit the commercial market. Overall, I feel pretty positively about this. Bots are a main reason for economic instability in online marketplaces which negatively affects those players who play within the confines of the EULA. 

Beyond: Two Souls with Nude Ellen Page
The latest project from Quantic Dream prominently features Ellen Page who was motion captured and rendered into the game. While we could be having a discussion about how this blends the line between dramatic performance art and gaming, apparently some programmer decided it would be a good idea to fully render some breasts for the brief shower scene that appears in the game. For the record, the game is designed such that the shower scene is strictly PG and the only way to see the objectionable material is to use a developer kit to adjust the camera angle (something that 99.9% of gamers wouldn't be able to do). In any case, pictures have surfaced on the internet and Sony has been desperately trying to scrub all trace of them. The whole story is a bit ridiculous from the moron of a developer who shouldn't have rendered this in the first place, to the public obsession to see the images, to Sony thinking that they can actually remove something entirely from the internet.