BioWare Looked To Learn From Action Games

Soon after BioWare announced Dragon Age II, they confirmed that the combat system had been changed to accommodate action oriented gamers. While this caused some consternation among some fans of the original game, BioWare thinks it’s an important evolution of the genre.

“There’s always a danger of alienating the hardcore when you change anything they wouldn’t be the hardcore if they didn’t truly love what was already there,” said Dragon Age II lead designer Mike Laidlaw. “But we wanted to make sure that we held onto the elements that made Dragon Age: Origins strong party-based, tactical even going so far as to replace spell-combos with cross-class combos so that now, when a mage freezes someone, a mage can’t blow up that guy like you could in Origins; now a warrior or rogue has to get involved.”

“So the whole party becomes part of this concert of death, which makes the game even more tactical. But the fact that now, you charge into combat and swing, rather than shuffling awkwardly into position, to me takes care of a convention we could do without,” he continued. “There was even some initial backlash, with people asking: ‘What, have you made it an action game?’  The answer is, frankly, action games have been stealing from RPGs for the past five years leveling up, and getting a badge so that you can get a new weapon, that’s an RPG mechanic. So it’s time that we, as a genre, took a look at some of those elements that action games have done exceptionally well and asked what we can learn from them.

Source: The Guardian

Duke Nukem Developer Invites Serious Conversation

Duke Nukem is something of the embodiment for bad-boy behavior, with a womanizing attitude and comical violence. While some feminists might rankle at Duke’s comments, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford invites the criticism.

“I’ll tell you what, if some feminist organization that is doing a great job advocating women’s rights worldwide, which I think is really important, can get some advantage by using Duke… go for it,” said Pitchford. “How is there a downside for humanity? Go for it. Take it. Use Duke. That would be awesome. If anyone can better our world through the use of anything, and if Duke is a tool to help them do that, that’s fine. The people that are entertained… The choices people make are their choices.”

“While many of the women in the game appear as strippers and other things your mom wouldn’t be proud of,” Pitchford says it goes both ways. “[Duke is] the center of his universe, and everyone in his universe exists to please him, and women offer him different things to men, but he himself is,” said Pitchford. “His whole purpose in existing is to save and protect women not that they need saving and protecting, but in his world they do, because there’s this rare reality of how our species reproduces, and so the aliens are going to use that against us.”

He added: “By the way, here’s another bit of commentary which is fun the downside for the men in Duke’s universe is that the aliens have the ability to convert men into pigs. So that’s where you get the pig cops and the pigs in the game. That’s what happens to the males of the species. The males get converted into pigs and the women just get used as breeding factories to make alien babies. Are men pigs or not I don’t know. I don’t really care. I think people are people. But that’s a joke in culture men are pigs, haha so you play with that joke.”

Source: Eurogamer

Amazon Prime Offers Streaming Video

Amazon has announced that it will offer a streaming video service for Amazon Prime subscribers. These 5,000 movies and TV shows available for all Prime customers at no extra cost represents a shot across the bow for Netflix; they purchased European Netflix equivalent LoveFilm for $200 million recently.

Amazon Prime’s main purpose is to offer free two-day shipping for $79 a year. This new video stream service will be coming to Roku streaming devices, with Google TV devices, smart televisions and some Android mobile devices likely to follow.

Source: VentureBeat

Mass Effect 2 PS3 Patch Hints At New DLC

Back before Mass Effect 2 on PS3 released, BioWare confirmed that there would be another piece of DLC before Mass Effect 3 launched. Now, an update for the game has revealed three new trophies that will go along with an unannounced DLC called Arrival.

The trophies for Arrival are:

“The Ultimate Sacrifice” – Complete the Arrival DLC.
“Last Stand” – Survive all five waves in the battle for Object Rho
“Covert Action” – Rescue Dr. Amanda Kenson without attracting hostile attention.

Who is Dr. Amanda Kenson, you might ask It turns out that the good doctor was mentioned in a Cerberus Network news post as someone who had scientific proof that the mass effect relays that allow for faster-than-light travel were older than 50,000 years, suggesting a race or presence that long predated that.

Additionally, this patch for the PS3 version fixed a lot of notable bugs. This includes better loading times, a fixed picture frame reflecting choices in the Mass Effect: Genesis comic and the infamous memory fragmentation crash that corrupted save games.

Bulletstorm: Why Regular Multiplayer And Co-Op Didn’t Work

Bulletstorm is one of the most gratuitous shooters ever made, but its unique kill with skill system doesn’t lend itself to traditional forms of multiplayer, like death match. Cliff Bleszinski, design director on Epic Games, talks about this multiplayer balancing.

“It’s a fair question, and I guess it’s one of those situations where you have to look at what it would take to build a traditional team deathmatch in this game,” said Bleszinski. “We empower the player through the verbiage and the weapons so much that if you were in multiplayer on the receiving end of that, it would be the most agonising, unpleasant experience. It is a solvable problem, I do believe, but it would basically require building an entirely new game that is in many ways not even Bulletstorm. The flail gun, for example, where you wrap up enemies for up to 6 seconds, which would be an eternity if you’re playing an online first person shooter.”

“People in Gears of War, where we’d have a pause for half a second for an explosion or something, were raging, they wanted to keep moving, he added. It could be something that could happen, but in this day and age, with the Wild Wild West nature of Xbox Live or PSN, where for every friend made there’s someone insulting you, I’m a fan of co-op. I like the idea of four players teaming up, cracking open some beers and having a good time together.”

“Another element absent is co-op play,” and Bleszinski offered another explanation, “First off, it was in there at one point and it actually worked, but we found that the game shifted from being this kind of puzzle shooter into essentially this downhill skiing simulator, where people were seeing how fast they could get to the bottom of the mountain. Really the game just broke down, and it was a situation where people would race through the game, ignoring the vistas and they wouldn’t set up as many skillshots. So when we made the decision to go straight campaign, it gave us the chance to put in one-offs that could only be controlled by one player, like the giant robotic dinosaur, where you don’t have to worry about Player 2, or slow motion one-offs that could only occur in a single player game.”

Source: Telegraph

Epic Talks Hardware, Marketplace Fragmentation For Android

Epic Games has openly praised the App Store platform and the iPhone, but have been cooler to Android so far . While Epic is starting to consider the Android platform, they say there’s still some roadblocks for it compared to iOS platforms.

“One of the problems with the Android marketplace is hardware fragmentation, that s a really big issue. The other thing is marketplace fragmentation, there are so many different appstores out there,” said Epic Vice President Jay Wilbur. “The Android marketplace is a little more difficult [to develop for] because there is less control. I think the Android marketplace is robust I find it very easy to buy things on it, it s just that Apple has very tight control. So anything in the Apple world is perfect. It’s just perfect. We like that, we like that a lot. We know that it’s just gonna work.”


Minecraft Headed To iOS, Android In 2011

Mojang founder Markus Persson has confirmed that his company’s hit title Minecraft is coming to iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. The port will be handled by recent hire Aron Neiminen.

The iOS edition of Minecraft will not receive every update to the game (which is technically still in beta), just the features that complement touch-screen controls, according to Persson. An Android version of the game is also reportedly in the works for release later in 2011.

Source: Gamasutra

Zynga Value Reaches $10 Billion – Report

Recently, the value of Zynga was reportedly put between $7 – $9 billion for a series of $250 million in funding. However, a new report says the funding is somewhere in the range of $500 million and that Zynga is valued at a mind blowing $10 billion.

This round of funding is believed to be led by Morgan Stanley, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Investments along with existing venture investor Kleiner Perkins. It is believed that this is a precusor to Zynga making its IPO.

Source: All Things Digital

InFamous 2 Gets A Hero

Sony has announced that InFamous 2 will release on June 7, 2011. They also announced that along with the standard version of the game they’ll ship InFamous 2 Hero Edition, which will retail for $99.99.

Check out the Sly Cooper logo on the sling pack!

“Short of actual electrical super powers, the Hero Edition delivers everything an InFamous fan could want including a highly detailed 8.5″ Cole MacGrath statue, a sportable sling pack modeled after Cole’s own in-game gear, the InFamous 2 #1 mini comic from DC Comics, the official InFamous 2 Hero Soundtrack and a super voucher code for a collection of in-game content,” writes Chuck Lacson, Associate Product Marketing Manager for SCEA.

There will also be retailer exclusive pre-order items, like the in-game 24k Gold Amp from Amazon, the Kessler character skin from Best Buy, the Lightning Hook special power from GameStop, and the Electrocution Grenade from Walmart.

Source: PlayStation Blog