Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday afternoon tidbits

Links! Getcha hot links here!

-News that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick regrets buying Red Octane instead of Harmonix is no suprise. What is a surprise is how little he seems to have thought about it at the time. Stephen Totilo quotes Kotick as saying, "We really didn't even think, 'Hey we should go to Boston, and meet these Harmonix guys and see what they're up to.'" I don't think it's with the benefit of hindsight to point out how stupid that was.

On the other hand, nobody in the music-game business is exactly flush with cash at the moment. This week, the Boston Globe reported that Harmonix may have to pay back some of the $150 million bonus they received from Viacom in 2007. The sad part about all this is that it was so obvious what was happening as it happened. There's still a strong future for music games, but the market got oversaturated, and we won't lament the loss of these excess SKUs.

-Great essay at Ta-Nehisi Coates' Atlantic blog about the politics of Bioshock and BioShock 2. Looks like somebody named "A. Serwer" wrote the post, rather than TNC himself, which I say in order to give due credit. Some of the greatest praise you can give to the BioShock games is that a post like this doesn't seem like it's overreaching to find relevance in them. I don't even have anything to add to it.

-The upcoming Game Developer magazine has a port-mortem of my favorite game of 2009, Borderlands, and GameSetWatch has kindly excerpted some of it. It sounds like Borderlands had a tumultous development, even more so than most games, so it's all the more amazing that they ended up with such a great final product. You wonder what they'll be able to do with the sequel, having laid down such a solid foundation.

-Another great Hardcasual piece this week, "StarCraft II Beta Puts South Korea in Economic Freefall." How do you know it worked? I shared it in Google Reader and somebody said he thought it was a real headline for a minute.

-Steve Wiebe has reached the mountaintop once more, setting a new world record for Donkey Kong Jr. You may remember Wiebe as the good guy in the incredible documentary King of Kong. I know a lot of people have accused the movie of playing a little fast and loose with the facts in order to tell a more compelling story, but it's a terrific film all the same.


Mike Brothers said...

In my opinion, it's a damn good thing Activision didn't buy Harmonix. They're shuttering Red Octane in the wake of the music game bubble bursting. It seems logical that they would instead be closing down or at least slashing the rolls at Harmonix today if they owned the studio outright. Thankfully, it didn't happen, and Harmonix will live on to (I hope) help revive the genre they created.

Anonymous said...

The article from the hyperlink seems to attribute Mitchell to having the record prior to Wiebe taking it back. This is not the case. Mitchell hasn't had the DKJr record since 2008.

Kirk Hamilton said...

I really enjoy Coates' blog at The Atlantic - Evan Narcisse writes some great stuff for it, too.

I totally appreciate Hardcasual and what they do over there, but think their posts rarely display the chops to back up their usually-brilliant headlines. The site might be better as just headlines, or if they were just stricter with their editorial standards.

The posts are written as narratives, not as news, though the headlines lead you into thinking you're going to get Onion-esque satire (which would be funnier and easier to write, IMO).

"As President Lee Myung-bak peddles his bicycle across the empty city, he hears screams followed by gunshots, then almost-silence of digits clicking at hot keys. The streets are quiet as personal wars rage in the homes. Brothers fighting brothers. Mothers slapping daughters."

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

Ha, look at me all scrooging out! :)

noblemeninpyjamas said...

Interesting article about the politics in Rapture but I think some of its logic is a bit flawed. I don't completely agree with the comparison between Ryan's ideology and the right-wing movement of today. To me it seems more like a typical form of totalitarism... and many of them have fallen in history. Actually, they all fall one day. I even dare to say that BioShock, in its essence, told the story of how ideologies all try to sell freedom while secretly unlocking us in the confines of their logic.

But anyway, thanks for directing me to that great article! I wonder how a similar analysis of other games would turn out?