Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday afternoon tidbits

It's Super Bowl weekend. (Now that I've said "Super Bowl," and not something generic like "the big game," I expect to be sued by the NFL.) Madden predicts a Steelers victory, while I predict that I don't care. Definitely rooting for the commercials this year.

-Earlier this week, we wondered just how many third-party games were available on the Wii. While there are obviously plenty, some readers took issue with my contention that they were dribbling out compared with third-party titles on other systems. So that's only tangentially related to N'Gai's article about third-party Wii games, but I need a lead-in somehow. He argues that more third-parties should lead development on the Wii, and then upscale them to the PS3 and Xbox. It's an interesting idea, and it would be nice to see Wii versions of games that aren't just shitty versions of other games with awful motion controls grafted on. It's especially hard to argue with N'Gai's claim that "the most powerful hardware is not what’s required for a game or a platform to succeed. "

-Tom Cross's "Diamond in the Rough" column at Gamasutra this week was about the challenge of storytelling in games. Much of the piece is about Valve generally and Left 4 Dead specifically. Left 4 Dead doesn't just work for the reasons Tom specifies. I've still been unable to say this in a way that feels satisfactory to me, but what is so impressive about Left 4 Dead is the way that its framework allows the players' own personalities to create a new and unique narrative each time through. It's true that Valve gave each character his own traits, but it's the players' actions that provide subtext. Maybe Louis really is just a good-hearted optimist -- but, depending on who's playing, maybe his sunny exterior is actually masking a craven, selfish heart. (I'm reminded again of Daniel Purvis's excellent recap of one such playthrough.)

-Ed Borden argues, a little counterintuitively, that the Xbox is just dragging everyone down: "Now, I can't play Halo or Fable, and Blizzard can't sell WOW to 22 million X-Box gamers. Now, X-Box gamers get crappy networking and "matchmaking" for multiplayer (console gamers don't even know what they're missing), and I get the joke that is Games for Windows Live. Now, X-Box gamers can't even use a browser or access the huge libraries of classic games from or Steam, and I can't play XBLA games." It's a well thought-out piece with some provocative points. My last experience with PC matchmaking was Gamespy circa 1998, though, so I am pretty happy with Xbox Live.

-I won't get my hopes up for Arkham Asylum. I won't get my hopes up for Arkham Asylum.


Anonymous said...

Mitch, re: matchmaking, here:

Jeremy said...

ha ha ha I 2nd your Batman comment, I'm trying my hardest to not get my hopes up as well!