coincidences

Coincidences are a bitch, aren’t they? We’re so certain, adamant that the world is driven by choice and not some unseen force that causes convenient coincidence. But, things happen, and it seems like choice is sometimes an illusion. We’re meant to be and see that which we don’t expect, and may not even want. And if it were the roses-and-sugar coincidences then it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s always ironic coincidences.

The universe has a fucked up sense of humor sometimes.

So much gaming… so many games.

These days I question my devotion to this industry, or at least devotion to the roles I’ve chosen to play. QA lost it’s charm long, long ago, and a return to marketing would be a sad move indeed. “Production, production!” is what they say… but I do not envy what men and women in production must do. Particularly when the project one is assigned to is not the ideal one (nearly every project at a publisher’s mass production level).

It would seem that my gaming has been adversely affected by this morosity towards the industry. I have many games sitting, begging to be played… but I look at them and think “why bother”. I finish one, and there’s another one right below it in the stack. The Halo and GTA releases of the world no longer excite me, and when a game’s impending arrival does have me drooling I quickly realize that it’s yet another game in a long line of similar games. Just another notch on the bed post.

Perhaps my time here is nearly at an end. I’m no programmer. I’m no artist. My “original” game concepts are trite and cliche.

Game Queue Part Deux

Well, it’s certainly been a while. I blame work and the billions of other Interweb things that suck up one’s time.

Let’s see what’s on the to-play shelf…

Bully F.E.A.R. (360) Grand Theft Auto Libery City Stories Scarface: The World Is Yours Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Aliens vs. Predator 2 Half-life 2 (PC) Ground Control II Leisure Suit Larry Collection Joint Task Force Caesar IV Just Cause Family Guy Video Game Metal Arms: Glitch in the System Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem Viewtiful Joe 2 We Love Katamari Okami Van Helsing Devil May Cry 3 Samorost 2 Gish Guitar Hero Out of This World

Currently, I’m on a playthrough of Okami while working on a FAQ for the same game. The game is awesome, and very few other games (Shadow of the Collossus and Riddick come to mind) are as immersive or satisfying as this one has been. And man, the length of this baby is insane. Over 102 hours logged in so far, and I’m only 80% through the game!

Chobot out of sight; not out of mind?

Thanks, IGN, for the bombardment of Chobot imagery. I mean I’ve seen the infamous PSP image, and what regular of gamer blogs or forums hasn’t? And now that she’s been working for IGN… oy. She’s all over the place.

The pinnacle of this over-exposure to Chobot has led to her appearing at my workplace. Of all places on the planet, I see her as I’m walking past a row of cubicles, sitting in one of the currently vacant spots. She was typing away on some mini laptop (probably a freakishly small Mac). Normally I wouldn’t give a second glance, but as I’m passing she turns and looks off to the side at something. I fixed on her for a second, but my tendency to not stare at women (they get rather uppity about it) kept me walkin’ down the aisle.

Did I see Chobot? Was it all in my mind? Have I caught on to the secret invasion of Chobot clones?

Largest game queue you’ll ever see

2004 and 2005 were lean years for me when it comes to games. I’d been a full-time game tester for a year when the summer of ‘05 rolled around and let me just say that playing the same game day after day for months can really kill the gamer spirit. But I was then promoted to marketing, where I rarely touch a controller during business hours.

With the boost in pay and more time on my hands I decided to pick up a few of the games I’d missed… and, well, the result is now a queue of over 30 games that are sitting on my desk, bookshelf, or on my hard drive, not to mention the tons of demos scattered about the place. Here’s the list, acquired between September 2005 and now:

God of War (completed) Killer 7 (completed) 24: The Game (completed) 50 Cent Bulletproof (completed) Drakengard 2 (completed) Shadow of the Colossus (completed) The Warriors (completed) Psychonauts (completed) Hulk Ultimate Destruction (completed) Gish (played a few levels) Samorost 2 (played a level or two) Abuse (not yet played) Wik and the Fable of Souls (not yet played) Jazz Jackrabbit (not yet played) Spiderman 2 (unopened) Gun (unopened) Metal Gear Solid 3 (unopened) We Love Katamari (unopened) Cold Winter (unopened) Darkwatch (unopened) Leisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude (unopened) Ice Age 2 The Meltdown (unopened) Empire Earth 2 (unopened) Empire Earth 2 Expansion (unopened) Kingdom Hearts 2 (unopened) The X-Files Resist or Serve (unopened) GTA: Liberty City Stories (unopened) Crash Tag Team Racing (unopened) The Sacred Amulet (unopened) Half-Life 2 (unopened) Ground Control 2 (unopened) Aliens vs. Predator 2 (unopened) F.E.A.R. (unopened) World of Warcraft (unopened) Jurassic Park Operation Genesis (unopened) Heart of Darkness (unopened) Out of This World (unopened) Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem (unopened) Metal Arms Glitch in the System (unopened)

The most recent completion is 24: The Game. I became a fan of the show via the syndicated episodes of season 1, and as many reviews have said it definitely caters to the hardcore fans. All of the characters play great roles in the game (albeit some of the in-game models look either fatter or more deformed than their real-life counterparts), and I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of 3rd person shooter, mini games/puzzles, and driving sequences that fill in the many missions. I’d give it a 7.3/10.

The ball is in EA’s court (again)

I’ll merely mention the fact that I’m a big fan of The Simpsons television show. It’s fairly obvious. Beyond that, however, I admire the resilience and potential of the IP. Any license that could be as pimped out as The Simpsons was in the early 90s and still sell products today is something for any business man to admire. Not that I’m a business man nor do I desire to become one, but having worked among them for some time has given me a sense for that side of the biz.

Now we move into the video games sector. Simpsons games have steadily streamed into the market since the show started and save for a few memorable games the majority have been rated from average to lame. However in 2001 Radical Entertainment reinvigorated the license with Simpsons Road Rage, and then Simpsons Hit & Run in 2003. They, for lack of a better phrase, saved the day. And Simpsons Hit & Run in turn put the developer on the map. When VU Games purchased the development studio the two companies seemed poised to continue developing great Simpsons games, or at least a guarenteed hit with a sequel to Hit & Run. I and other Simpsons game fans waited for word that another game was officially in development, but it never came.

With that said I’ll enlighten anyone who hasn’t heard the news: EA, mega game publisher based in the (boring) middle of California, signed a deal with FOX to develop several games based on the The Simpsons.

While it’s good to hear that The Simpsons will continue on following the post-Hit & Run silence, EA’s track record with Simpsons games (the mediocre to bad Simpsons Skateboarding and the average to excellent Simpsons Road Rage) is up in the air. I suppose the point of this nonsense is a message to EA:

Dear EA,

I’ll be first in line to fork over the green and buy any Simpsons game you release, so do not screw me over with a crappy title.

Thanks.

P.S.: How’s about we get fully playable versions of Larry the Looter or Escape from Death Row?

Bring Back the Classics

I thought I’d contribute something more constructive than a kiss ass “good job, guys!”. If any IGN dudes read this, please feel free to forward the link to Rupert’s crew.

Acclaim was once a giant among video game publishers. Founded in 1987, the game publisher and developer became most noted for developing games based on a few original properties (such as Turok) and a plethora of games based on existing entertainment franchises including WWF Wrestling, South Park, and of course our beloved Simpsons.

Now as we all know, Acclaim filed for bankruptcy some time ago and all company assets were sold off. Although many games and series were sold in an initial sale, over 200 remaining game properties remain unsold in an auction taking place in New York. Included in the auction are the many Simpsons games they published (the entire Simpsons package is currently at $7,500). Check out the full list at www.maltzauctions.com/acclaimip.htm.

Needless to say, I was more than tempted to call them up and ask if I could place a bid right then and there. The Simpsons classic games are a good lot as a whole, and just owning the right to those games would be a fanboy’s dream. But, if I were to purchase the rights to those games in some alternate reality, I’m sure I’d get the buyer’s remorse only a few minutes after seeing my empty bank accounts.

So given that, let’s work in the realm of reality. FOX owns the rights to the characters and content. The winner of that auction would need to make a deal with FOX in order to even consider selling or doing anything other than having the materials sitting in a cabinet. The ideal scenario would be for Fox Interactive (or whatever division handles their interactive content) to purchase the entire lot at $7,500 and then make a deal with a publisher to create a classics compilation, similar to what Capcom and Midway have been doing in recent years. It’s certainly possible now that FOX and EA have entered a deal to create Simpsons games on next-gen systems.

But the real question is will the people buy it. Although I as a fan can’t imagine not buying such an awesome collection, the more casual gamers and those who actually remember the games are sure to come out with the “Simpsons games suck” tirade that is all too common when discussing Simpsons games. I hold fast to my opinion that the Simpsons games were never the greatest or most innovative but were good for a few hours of fun. I can see not buying a game like that for $50 when it was first released, but imagine a compilation of nearly 20 games that are spead across all platforms. Every version of Bart vs. the Space Mutants, all of the Game Boy exclusive releases, even the Krusty and Itchy & Scratchy games. There would have to be some legal tailoring when dealing with games that were released on various consoles, but FOX is no slouch in the legal badgering department. Add to all that a price tag of $20 and some nifty extra features (production art, concept sketches, scanned instruction manuals viewable in the game) and you’ll have a package that even the most jaded gamer would pick up. If the Midway Arcade Treasures collections can sell over 1.5 million units, I think a Simpsons collection (a far more recognizable brand than most, if not all, of Midway’s properties) would do OK.

Now if we can just get Konami to throw Simpsons Arcade into the mix we’ll have ourselves some sweet Simpsons action.