Archive for September, 2010
Americans love football. ESPN finds new and creative ways to talk about the NFL every single offseason, and EA Sports’ long-running Madden NFL series is routinely one of the best-selling games of the year. EA Tiburon, the long-time developer of Madden, has been able to make the series more and more realistic through the last and current console generations, to the point where understanding the Madden games helps you understand football better.
The problem there, though, is the learning curve involved with football strategy. Unlike basketball, soccer, or hockey, there’s more to a football game than just learning how to control a player. Football is more like a game of chess — to succeed against the AI or a real player, you need to understand how offenses and defenses are run, and what plays to call at what times and how to execute them. As a website like Smart Football proves, there is plenty of depth and strategy to football play-calling.
Do not be afraid by the stark plainness of this post. Refuse to cower at the wall of text following this introduction. Most of all, please understand that this boring backlog article is in such a state for good reason.
A BEACH TRIP!
That’s right: Nick, Doug and myself are travelling to the Oregon coast this weekend, and we don’t have time for such crazy frivolities as “graphics” and “pleasant visual design.” But don’t presume our adventure is only for the pursuit of wacky fun and wild games (and drinking); No, we will be working on our book. There’s a lot to do to for that project, because publishin’ ain’t easy, as Big Daddy Hearst once said.
Editor’s note: We’re happy to present the first-ever contribution from long-time site reader James Heinichen. When it comes to StarCraft, there’s nobody who I’d trust more than James. Enjoy the review! — Nick
Hello, I’m James Heinichen and I thought that you might want to hear about StarCraft II! If you’re interested at all in any of the following you should read this review: Blizzard, real-time strategy (RTS) games, StarCraft, Jim Raynor fan-fic, cigars (oh yes, there are plenty).
Twelve years after StarCraft first revolutionized the RTS genre, Blizzard has released the long-awaited sequel. As a die-hard StarCraft fan, I have anticipated this game for as long as I can remember. My expectations were high, much higher than they have been for a game in years, probably since Metal Gear Solid 3. Fortunately, they have been exceeded.
If you’re a big fan of video games, there’s a very good likelihood you have played and enjoyed the fruits of Japanese video game developers’ innovation. From Super Mario Bros. to Final Fantasy VII to Street Fighter II and back again, many of the highlights of gaming have come from the land of the rising sun.
However, it wouldn’t be controversial to say that, for the last console generation, the games that have set the standard worldwide have come from Western developers — both American and European. One of Japanese gaming’s most prominent developers, Resident Evil creator Keiji Inafune, even said as much to the New York Times: “I look around Tokyo Games Show, and everyone’s making awful games; Japan is at least five years behind,” he said. The same article estimated that Japanese developers, publishers and manufacturers owned as much as 50 percent of the gaming market in 2002; this has fallen to just 10 percent. While this lull is due to many reasons — including a dearth of creativity and the shifting Japanese market — what was shown last week at the Tokyo Game Show may be indicative of a real revival.
There’s been no shortage of Mass Effect-themed entertainment this year. Beginning with Mass Effect 2, the praiseworthy sequel to the series’ 2007 debut, developer BioWare has put out a steady stream of downloadable mission packs, optional weapons and equipment, additional characters and story-related add-ons that all bolster the core Mass Effect experience with varying degrees of success.
While there have been some high and low points in Commander Shepard’s extracurricular activities, this latest supplement, The Lair of the Shadow Broker, is the first add-on that delivers the same level of quality in role-playing, exploration and combat that made Mass Effect 2 such a standout game.
Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge backlog for everybody this week. Nick is trying to tie up loose ends before the fall games rush starts up, Doug is tearing through demos of some impending releases, and Aaron is spending time on some small game by a developer in Seattle…has something to do with Rings (maybe they’re finally doing a good Sonic game?). Oh, you mean it’s called Halo? Haven’t heard of it.
Seriously, the crew is in a verbose mood this week. Bring a drink, sit down and enjoy our wordiness. Without further ado, the backlog awaits.
Oh, hello there. I didn’t see you come in.
I’m just tickled pink to announce that this letter I’m writing will soon become our 200th article to be posted to Silicon Sasquatch.
In case you’re not keen on numbers, let me break it down for you: since December of 2008, we’ve written, edited, argued over, published, and drank to forget about two hundred reviews, editorials, and whatever else we thought sounded worth writing about at the time. We haven’t earned a penny for any of this stuff, which means it’s either been a two-year labor of love or a byproduct of our undiagnosed mania. Either way, we’re glad you’ve stuck it out with us through thick and thin.
So that’s why I’m so excited to finally announce that we’re making a book about the whole dang old thing, and you’ll be able to get your very own copy just in time for Festivus. And it’s gonna be cheap!
When I began working on the book, it was under less optimistic circumstances. We had gone about a month without any updates and I was starting to worry that we were approaching the end of the Sasquatch. Worried, I began searching for the best way to preserve the work we’d done, and a self-published book made the most sense. We’d have a permanent, tangible copy of all the things we’d labored over, and if nothing else it’d be something to remember those days of blogging about games in a positive light.
But when I compared our earliest articles to the things we’d produced in more recent days, I was shocked to see what a difference there was in the quality and readability of our work. I don’t mean to gloat or anything; we had really come a long way. And that rekindled my passion for this blog more than ever.
So we’re writing regularly, and we’re working harder than ever, and the time seems right to produce a book — but not the same book I’d originally started working on. It’s no longer a paean to a failed endeavor by a few disillusioned journalism students; instead, it’s a fond reflection on the challenges and successes of the first two years of our first major independent project as writers and a look forward at where we hope to take this enterprise. We want to share an inside look at what it’s been like attempting to get an independent publication off the ground with no financial support. And more than anything, we want to write a book that our fans — you stalwart supporters who believed in us from the start, or maybe just forgot to remove us from your RSS feed reader — will love.
We’re still ironing out the final composition of the book, but here’s our current road map:
- Around 40 or 50 of our most significant articles, reproduced in full, accompanied with written commentary by the original author
- Original essays reflecting on the earliest days of the Silicon Sasquatch project, the successes and failures along the way, and our plans for the future of the blog
- Previously unpublished content that, for one reason or another, never made it onto the site
- More cool stuff that we haven’t quite finalized just yet
But why write a book when the internet is totally free and has naked ladies and dudes? Well, there are a few great things that a printed book offers us:
- A permanent keepsake so we’ll have something to wave around and shout about to strangers when we’re inevitably living in cardboard boxes
- An opportunity to hand-pick those articles that we editors feel represent the best work we’ve done to date
- An ideal format for providing written commentary on each of those articles
Pricing has yet to be finalized because it’s directly related to the length of the book, and we haven’t quite nailed down a final page count yet, but we’ll be announcing more details as soon as we’re able to.
As with everything else we’ve done so far, we’re not planning on making any money off this book. We just want to make something that we think our fans will want to own and to release it at a price that’s reasonable.
As always, we welcome any comments and questions you might have about the book, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted. But in the meantime, I want to express the sincere thanks of the entire Silicon Sasquatch crew for your dedication and support. We wouldn’t have stuck it out this long if you guys weren’t so patient and involved over the last few years.
Yours in Xenu,
Another year is nearing its inevitable end, and we couldn’t be any happier about it. Although 2010 has already played host to a plethora of amazing and potentially award-winning video games, it’s not quite time to start hedging bets for the game of the year. Read on for our staff’s own list of noteworthy releases that you should be excited for.
I vividly remember the first time I played Shank one year ago at the Penny Arcade Expo. It sticks out in my mind not because I was so impressed with its sense of style and good-natured, over-the-top violence, but because something about the game’s presentation tapped right into my old adolescent subconscious. After about thirty seconds of gameplay, I apparently forgot where I was and exclaimed the first thing that came to mind:
“This game is fucking ridiculous!”
To which a group of pre-teens looked at me incredulously and giggled while their father gave me a stern look. Oops.
Though it’s been a full year since I got my hands on Shank (and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m not fit to be a parent), those few extraordinary minutes were enough to convince me to buy it as soon as it was available for download. But five minutes of creative, celebratory violence doesn’t necessarily guarantee five hours of solid entertainment. Now that I’ve battled a frustrating control system, trudged through fight after protracted fight and experienced a muddled, relatively disappointing storyline, I’m left with a totally different verdict:
This game is fucking ridiculous…but it’s not all that much fun. (more…)
In case you’ve never been to Seattle before, consider this your primer.
In this week’s Backlog: Aaron laments his decidedly first-world problem of having too many games to play, Doug reminisces on the Dreamcast’s glory days, and Nick tries his hardest to remember everything he played at PAX last week.