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Monday, June 24, 2013

The three of these games have a whole lot in common. Simply put each of these projects are  post apocalyptic first person shooters. All three titles are coming from generally respected game studios with cult followings. The flavor of the three titles are from the same ingredients, but what I know it will boil down to is who has the best spice to their game. For me Titanfall took the plate from all the previews, interviews, and introduction videos.


From Destiny I know the 3-man fire team will make the experience a little more personal. I see the chemistry of the trinity as the smarter move. Its hard to care about the whole team in a lot of multiplayer experiences. So having a tight knit fireteam will add to the motivations of working as a unit. Also the prizes/reward system was where it should be. With each player obtaining their very own reward for challenges is the right way to reward.

Titanfall to me does what Call of Duty cannot do, make zany multiplayer believable. With the showcase of technology in the gameplay trailer we see a reason for things being dropped out the sky. I always disliked in COD that care packages just fall from the sky in the perfect place. With the preview it it hard to tell what planet this game take place on. From my view it looks like a place far from Earth. So the game can use the strength of sci-fi and expand on some concepts harder to introduce into a military shooter.  

Call of Duty: Ghosts, I cannot even pretend to have seen something new and awesome about this game. So I will hand it over to Jamaal Ryan our in house COD player

The reason why Call of Duty: Ghosts’ presence at E3 was underwhelming wasn’t because they didn’t showcase multiplayer, and it wasn’t even because they didn’t lead Microsoft’s press conference like everyone predicted they would. In the light of arguably Infinity Ward’s former better half, Respawn, debuting their game of show Titanfall, Battlefield 4’s jaw dropping Commander mode demo, and Destiny’s gameplay reveal, Ghosts was a mere, well… ghost at this year’s press conference.
Infinity Ward spent an uncomfortable amount of time focusing on the game’s technical minutia. Phrases like Sub-D and Fish AI (though Infinity Ward’s producer took the fish parodies pretty well), and talking points such as real world influenced sensor controlled Navy dogs and organ rupturing sonar waves were thrown around a lot.
I wouldn’t sell this game completely short as some of the changes with the game’s narrative and gameplay are quite different for the Call of Duty franchise. Playing as one of two brothers 10 years after an “event” throws America close to oblivion seeks to be Call of Duty’s most focused story yet, avoiding the avatar hop scotch seen in past installments. In addition, controlling the dog is a significant change of pace compared to past Call of Duty games, as it injects an element of stealth which is a far cry from the incessant barrage of bullets and explosions that we’re used to.
Though its presence in the light of the other massive shooters cooled its steam at E3, the diminished time in the spotlight didn’t help of course. This could be Activision pulling a Nintendo and holding their all out reveal till later this year to garner all of the attention. We can look forward to the multiplayer reveal later this summer.”-Jamaal Ryan

There Call of Duty players something nice about your game.


The original writer of Halo series is making his return on the Destiny series. Back from his break since Halo:Reach writer Joseph Staten takes control of the story elements. By having a writer that is familiar with the fans of his work this should be a great addition. Also on the Call of Duty side the writer known for his traffic screenplay Stephen Gaghan makes his video game debut. While

Titanfall still hasn't put forth a lot information. I have read on Titanfall forums that the game is rumored to have scrapped singleplayer in favor of multiplayer. Which I know gamers are going to love. With the addition of npc’s in the multiplayer arena to keep players killing and dealing out damage. I can see Respawn studios telling the “story” through multiplayer. This rumor I hope is so true because this is how you shatter that dumb idea that all games need single and multiplayer to appease gamers.  


In my opinion they capitalize on improving existing formulas that proved successful. Which is obviously consumers are used to in the video game industry. As long as the formula isn't a direct rehash of the previous iteration gamers haven't complained too much. So why mention this point because I think each of these titles did not drastically leap over the edge of next generation.

The case of Destiny had the biggest let down with going for the massive market share. I dislike the move to release on Xbox 360/Xbox One and PS3/PS4 while completely ignoring the PC. Gamers of the current gen console win, and I am not mad at that. I just wished if that was the plan that Destiny should have released this 2013 holiday.

Instead I expect the project to be further off like 2014 holiday season. Meaning if there are hopes for PC release two things hold it back. PC gamers have to hope the other markets make Destiny a success, and if that is achieved then have to wait for the porting which puts it probably in the realms of 2015 release. By that time a PC gamer will completely not care, will have felt alienated, and at that point Bungie should just stick to consoles, fuck em.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We start off the war between consoles with Sony slaughtering Microsofts armada. Now Microsoft is changing its war plan and is adopting Sony’s war pattern. Well you’d have to be a fool to believe that Microsoft is recanting their always online policy due to feedback from users. The numbers have spoken and now they are in complete retreat mode. But even if they adopt Sony’s policies towards next gen consoles drm, used games, region locks, and system connectivity. You still have to understand this was not their original plan.

The folks at Sony placed the voice of the consumer ahead of some bizarre view of the future. Sony’s teams showed love for the people who make their system possible. Better believe that this is philosophy within the company, satisfy the video gamers first. While over at Microsoft's headquarters video gamers perceivably were not the priority.

From the very first presentation of the Xbox One, we saw tv, sports, and COD. Then come E3 time we see some promises of exclusives. Yes some content was their but you really have to know that its a ways off. More than likely the exclusive heavy hitters won’t appear till 4-6 months after launch. Which is fine for people who are convinced to be onboard for the Microsoft ride this time around. Just for me I did not see the “killer app” that I needed to have the was exclusive to any console, especially Microsoft.

A few disappointing points was the presentation of Minecraft Xbox one edition. Literally nothing new at all. I mean you can speculate there is a possibility that consoles players may have access to mods, but I would say not likely. I did want to play Dead Rising 3, but that wore off pretty quickly because the feeling of been there done that overrode the thrill.

Yes the promise of exclusives was there but they were not done wholeheartedly in my opinion. Just like the revival of Killer Instinct. I came from the era where friends were kicking each others asses in 2-d fighters. But Killer Instinct should have not been brought back unless its mechanics rivaled some choice fighters for the evo tournament circuit. Killer Instinct will surely be swept under the rug shortly after release.

The lack of Crackdown 3 was a devastating blow to Microsoft’s image of exclusivity. No mention of World of Tanks on Xbox One so to me they spoiled the whole partnering with a PC exclusive franchise. World of Tanks won't come to Xbox One because they do not want a f2p game of that caliber at launch. Instead they want you with the planned line up.

With the recant on the always online factor of the xbox one. I now view the whole cloud based gaming as a gimmick to sell systems that was flawed and poorly delivered. Forza’s demonstration of using the cloud for “ghost racing” was not that amazing to me. With Microsoft backing away from their always connect approach I feel as if the “project” or “goal” they had in mind was not that worthwhile. Very much so comes off as corporate bullshitting.

Microsoft is losing everything that it had from the past. I am glad to see consumers showed some intelligence and did not so much buy into this corporate scumbag mentality. Personally I want to thank Sony for not going along with that corporate bullshit strategy of alienating users. If you want a positive spin on how well Microsoft is doing with the release of their system check back when they really start listening to the consumers of the video game community and not just financial forecasts.
With recent news and leaks of Battlefield 4 I as a fan have been very impressed with the amount of community requests that were fulfilled. I admit that they many were expected evolutions. Such as what the Dice team dubbed “leveloution”. Nice to see, was the increase in camouflages for all weapons. Although on this aspect we were completely cheated of variety in Battlefield 3. With the leaks of alternate vehicle camouflages. Many vehicle whores have to be very excited. I know I cannot wait to have slightly customized look on my tank.

So far what I have seen from Battlefield 4’s multiplayer, I cannot help be excited. Here are some features that various sources have outed from E3 game play and also BF4’s alpha testing (all are subject to change)

How Dice could surprise the hell out of me as a fan of Battlefield, and blow away the competition are the simple/complex suggestions below.

While browsing the internet for a photographic technique I have yet to see. I ran across this awesome little modder gem. When you see the amazing pieces modders create. You almost sense they love the product more than some developers. Of course modders build off of existing code but they take on thankless job. Developers can learn a lot from these guys.

When you see the amazing pieces modders create. You almost sense they love the product more than some developers. Of course modders build off of existing code but they take on thankless job. Developers can learn a lot from these guys.

The maps that I expect to make a comeback on the Second Assault map pack.

My best guess:

Siene Crossing: This map has a lot of buildings and map elements that could be shown off in Frostbite 3. To me this combat zone has some of the better more balanced game play due to the various routes. Maybe with increased destruction we could see some better routes created through “leveloution”.

Norshal Canals: Console players missed out on the fighter jet combat on this map. So revisiting this for the console side will introduce an extra layer of combat missed by both systems. Along with increased destruction we could see the toppling of those damn snipers on the dry dock. In addition the combat boat could spice this map up seeing that there are two water routes that stretch through this Canal. Also perhaps some moving trains in the trainyard.

Operation Metro: While this map gives the thrills other fps players enjoy. If it does make a return, I hope they can add on to this map. The choke point on this map makes it a little too easy for one team to dominate the other. If this does make a return (which it will) I am pushing for a revamp and not just a rehash.

Armored Shield: Hardly ever used in this maps vast spaces is the river point. With water assault craft available we may see this map return. Also with the decreased player count on consoles and that f*cking gunship. Console player got shafted on this map and missed its beauty. Come on, Rush mode on this map the attackers beat the shit out of the defenders every time. With the addition of this map we could also see the return of Tank Superiority gamemode. (Which I hope is in the game day one)

Sabalan Pipeline: Sticking with the theme of keeping all existing game modes. This map can provide the landscape for capture the flag and air superiority modes. Also the snowy theme can show off Frostbite 3’s ability to simulate snow fall. After all if you name the game engine frostbite and it can’t deliver some good blizzard graphics then you are doing it all wrong.

If Microsoft releases Halo 3 for free on Xbox 360. We will see so many fans return to the servers they grew up on. I know I will be there day one for some old school Halo 3 with my buddies. But with this re-release Microsoft's puppet 343 should take some notes on this great game. Yes I know 343 Industries consists of plenty of former Bungie guys. With that said they are not the whole original Halo team. So issues with netcode have been pointed out from plenty of Halo 4 users. In fact many issues with the series have been pointed out and some of them made fans leave the series altogether. I would like to see Master Chief styled gameplay return to the Halo franchise's multiplayer. I am not big on Spartan VI or whatever those suits are called in Halo 4. Hopefully we can see some more Master Chief not only in story but in essence of gameplay. Honestly it will take a lot to get me back into the Halo universe. Halo Spartan Assault is  definitely not going to lure me back Microsoft. So back to the drawing/storyboards hopefully Steven Spielberg can help you guys because we all know he's a huge Halo fan.  

Bottom Line: Halo was doing fine without Steven and I think it will be fine without him
Image credit: http://tobylewin.deviantart.com/


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Monday, June 10, 2013

Reviewed by: Jamaal Ryan
But slow down.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is everything just mentioned, but it’s also very much Far Cry 3.
Blood Dragon bleeds 80's homages left, right and center. The appropriately named Rex Power Colt – in the distant future of 2007 -- is an assembled cyborg, made bigger, faster, stronger, badasser. From the minute the beat drops, Predator, Terminator 2, RoboCop, and Die Hard, all their pheromones will ooze out of Blood Dragon’s pores. They slap you in the face with everything from dialogue to music to scripting and sequences. The especially faithful bleep-bloop synths pulsate and warble in and out, striking bone chilling nostalgia to those who were within earshot of one of our favorite referential decades.
However, the game’s development very clearly went from stuffing as many 80’s parodies as possible’ to running wild with a parody attitude in and of itself. This is thanks to its incessant barrage of increasingly tiresome humor. The intro film is great, filled with ‘mutha fuckas’ and the appropriate crouch thrust which are all created in old school digital animation, and there are plenty of moments through this six or-so hour campaign that’ll make you laugh out loud. But many of the jokes – not necessarily the references -- run dry fast.
80’s reference number 5.
The games humor is mostly guilty of a pervasive overstayed welcome from beginning to end. It first fails to keep up with a contextually explained – but no less un-amusing – tutorial which feels more intentionally drawn out rather than fulfilling the requirement. A safe assumption would also be that the writing was blind to its own repetition as loading screen hints loop lazy jokes. "Hand guns are guns that fit in your hand… Fast travel allows you to travel. Fast." Really? However the dialogue will still surprise you with chatter and banter that are timelessly appreciative and walk along the line of a similar style to Borderlands 2.
Blood Dragon's art direction presses a familiar dystopian cybernetic future with its purples and maroons which are dotted and lined with neon clashes. However this particular style isn’t for everyone. While the dark vs. neon lit aesthetic is easily relative of old 80's classics, with the lack of lighting aggravated by bold colors and bulky design, this DLC looks duller and less detailed than Far Cry 3 proper. Only 80’s enthusiasts and those with particularly fond memories will hold an unwavering appreciation for Blood Dragons’ look, which it can be certain was the developer’s intention.
The play-style is immediately familiar. All of the core systems from the retail release still exist: enemies cluster in groups with a standard, rusher, sniper, and heavy diversity, higher food chain-placed animals (now coming in mutated and cyborg flavors) will attack when provoked, fire propagation is still naturally aggressive, and outposts – now garrisons -- remain as evaluations for your stealth and/or offensive positional skills. However there are enough subtle and major changes to pull Blood Dragon away from Far Cry 3.
Weapons have a heavier focus in this offshoot and are arguably better integrated than FC3 proper. The options have shifted; the bow and arrow retains its basic form throughout the game’s entirety, only the Robocop inspired pistol is compatible with a silencer (while painfully omitting the sniper rifle), and the quantitative selection is noticeably less. But once you’ve indulged in side quests and collectables, you’ll better appreciate what opportunities lay here.
The omission of explosive weapons (RPGs, grenade launchers, what have you) force you to put more value and effort into unlocking explosive rounds for your sniper rifle, and if the flamethrower wasn’t enough, incendiary shotgun rounds light enemy cyborg’s faces off and the grass on fire. These awesome alterations are not only primarily earned through side quests, but also through gathering collectables and eliminating animals as well.
My qualms with the original Far Cry 3’s limited incentives were unique as the game’s massive scope out matched its extracurricular indulgences. But being that Blood Dragon is a scaled down DLC title with a consistent goal to transform your armory into a badass arsenal, there’s far less room for meaningless wondering. The guns of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon are the centralized incentive here, standing as the soul encouragement for secondary exploration that reciprocates treasured rewards.
But you can’t talk Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon without talking about fuckin Blood Dragons. These massive beasts wonder the island like any other wild animal you encounter. But their function isn’t just to be a predator behavioral place holder. The dragons have abysmal eye sight but have a supreme sense of hearing, which is established within your first encounter. This alters your plan of attack from just run and gun. You’ll have to creep up on them and aim for their weak spot, relocate at a distance, and position yourself for attack again while avoiding their deafening lasers.
Rex will also gather cyber hearts which he can use to either bait the dragons away, or even grief cyborg enemies with them. If you’re like me though, even on the hardest difficulty you’ll carry the max quantity of 99 cyber hearts without feeling the need to manipulate these neon plasma pumping lizards. But that shouldn’t excuse you from opening an enemy garrison’s laser gate and placing cyborg hearts at the front door as a welcome mat, allowing Blood Dragons to trample in and kill everything.
"I’m gonna level your face like Godzilla levels cities” Not and actual quote from the game.

Comparatively speaking, with such a titular presence in the game, Blood Dragons lose their significance rather quickly. From the moment you detonate a dragon into an unsatisfying ‘splat’, they become easier to kill, though no less exciting to fight. Don’t get me wrong, Blood Dragons are fucking awesome, but they’re certainly no Skyrim Dragons.
Bottom Line
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is an incredibly bold departured DLC with as many ambitious aesthetics as other content releases we swear by such as Red Dead's Undead Nightmare. It's aimed at a specific demographic, something that's not expected from a big name publisher. While the jokes and non-stop references can get numbing, there’s still a hell of a lot of funny to appreciate here. Mix that with Far Cry 3’s superb sandbox shooter design, and you have one of the best values for your hard earned $15.
+ Far Cry's familiar sandbox shooter formula
+ Incentivized weapon progression
+ 80's nostalgia
- Numbingly redundant jokes 

By: Jamaal Ryan

Let’s take a looking at a week in gaming from 6/3/13 through 6/7/13

The Gayest Video Game (6/3)

My Ex-Boyfriend The Space Tyrant follows the adventures of Captain Tycho Minogue who seeks to explore other worlds, encounter alien characters, and confront the greatest tyrant in galaxy has ever seen, who happens to be his same-sex love interest.

Posted on Steam Greenlight, ME-BTST has been professed as the “gayest game ever made”. As seen in the trailer, this title appears to be an adventure game casted with all males clad in suggestive outfits. And as we can expect from the internet, it has received a myriad of responses.

Homophobic slanders were abound, using their online anonymity to their fullest extent which surfaced the same attitudes of those who responded to the Dragons Crown kafuffle while others supported this game, calling out that those demanding the game’s down vote would be singing a very different tune if it featured a cast of impossibly proportioned lesbians wearing bikinis.

One gamer didn’t completely appreciate the depiction of homosexuals and stated that as a gay gamer, would be more supportive if the game’s characters weren’t ostensibly written as gay just for the sake of being gay, much like how women are written in games just for the sake of having a female – albeit stereotypical – character in the fiction. To be fair, ME-BTST appears to be a game made by gay gamers for gay gamers. But as a Black man, I can align with this stance, as I won’t just buy Black media because it represents my race; it would have to drive deeper than demographics and stereotypes.  

Though this breed of game is uncommon, I urge those interested to also call their attention to Mainichi, a game that has players deal with the stigma of being transgender.

My Ex-Boyfriend The Space Tyrant might not be a game for everyone, and it’s unlikely meant to be. But just the fact that a title such as this has been developed and supported on Steam Greenlight is promising. And to that gamer, let’s hope that the representation of homosexual sails through a smoother transition than every other minority group misrepresented in video games. You can purchase ME-BTST here.

Welcome Back to Infinity (6/4)

This week, 343 has made some significant changes to Halo 4’s multiplayer which is detailed in their video following community players testing out the tweaks and rebalances.

Kicking off in Infinity, you’ll notice the difference that 10% increased movement speed makes. Halo 4 was already a much faster game thanks to the long awaited sprinting, but now you’ll have to practice better aiming as enemy players move quicker around the battlefield.

Most of the tweaks were applied to Halo 4’s weapons, which will urge players to experiment more with the game’s arsenal. The DMR was the go to rifle for most players as the Battle Rifle didn’t deliver that umph we know so well dating back to the Halo 2 days. Now the BR delivers a 4 shot kill and brings back the 2 shot melee kill from past entries.

The Covenant Carbine also was rebalanced as well, now bringing players down with 7 shots, a significant reduction considering its high firing rate.

The last rifle adjusted was the Light Rifle, which now increases in firing rate when scoped in. It’s an adjustment that I appreciate, though haven’t bothered testing out myself as I’m getting used to some of the other changes.

The Battle Rifle was abandoned on one of my custom loadouts, and I only toyed around with the Carbine once before never returning to it… until now. Thanks to the rifles’ tuning, my loadouts, and likely yours as well, will become more diverse.

Let’s not forget about the automatic weapons which have also been rebalanced -- the Assault Rifle and the Suppressor -- , now downing your foes in three less shots; however the auto aim angle has been scaled down, requiring more work on your part to make up for the increased stopping power. I’ve noticed the difference in targeting my enemies as it’s less sticky, however I find little trouble hitting my opponents with both the Suppressor and the Assault Rifle in small skirmishes, especially when coming from an extensive Call of Duty background.

Lastly, my reactions to the 35% increase on chaingun damage on the Mantis and the Warthog are hot and cold. I’m happy how that I can actually hit something while manning the chaingun on the Warthog, but I perish the thought of having to deal with facing Mantises with more firepower. To be honest, this is likely due to the availability of each vehicle, as Mantises are rare and other players usually get to them before me whereas Warthogs a far more common, giving me the chance to take advantage of that extra 35%.

I’ve recently jumped back into Halo 4 right around the time that this update hit, and the player behavior reflecting the weapons and movement tuning shows. It’s an even more versatile game than before as already one of the very best multiplayer shooters this generation. If I’m not busy writing, working, or reviewing other games, hit my Gamertag up at Mr Jam0 and let’s get a game of Team Action Sack going.

The Novelist (6/5)

Since discovering it a few weeks ago, I showed interest in The Novelist, a game from Kent Hudson which puts you in the role as a ghost in the house of a family of three: Dan Kaplan, his wife Linda, and his son Tommy. As you dart around the living space, avoiding being spotted by the Kaplan family, you peer into the minds of the lot, observing their thoughts and even influencing decisions.

The game’s central theme highlights Dan and his torn allegiance between occupational success as a novelist and putting his family first. As the entity, you poke around for randomly generated clues which can be Tommy’s paintings, Linda’s letters or from her diary, or you can enter their memories to gather more cues to their desires. Fulfilling his role as a husband and a father could compromise his success in his writing, and focusing on his work could jeopardize his relationship with his family.

Parallels to The Shining are inevitable with a writer, a household, and a ghost; but Hudson states that The Novelist will be more of a “benevolent affair” as the conflict presented in the game will be a subject that more mature gamers can identify with.

In an interview with Joystiq, Hudson was asked to discuss his role as an indie developer, coming from working on AAA franchises such as Bioshock 2, Deus Ex: Invisible War, and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. He puts things into perspective with venn-diagram like dichotomy, stating that while he appreciated the freedom as an indie developer, he can’t deny the resource access available while working on a AAA title.

He also tries to pull himself away from the indie vs. AAA scene, and urges people to remember AAA hit Dishonored, arguably the most successful new IP of 2012.

You can visit the game’s website for more on The Novelist.

Publisher Controlled Used Games, Hourly Online Checks, Kinect Privacy, Microsoft Details (6/6)

After weeks of speculation and weeding through mixed messaging, Microsoft finally rolled out some more details on how it will handle used games and Kinect privacy.
      Owners can’t allow friends to borrow games (theoretically) but they can be gifted so long as those who are being gifted have been on your friends’ list for at least 30 days.
      At launch, Xbox One won’t support game rentals, but Microsoft will consider “explored possibilities”.
      If a game is accessed from another console that’s not your original, that unit will have to check in with the server every hour as opposed to the 24 hour cycle on your home console.
      Up to 10 family members can access your full games library from any console, so long as they’re signed in.
      Kinect can be “paused”, theoretically disabled from listening or observing for that period of time unless you dictate otherwise. While on standby, Kinect will only respond to “Xbox…(whatever)”
      You can give explicit instructions as to what Kinect can and cannot share with the cloud.
      Publishers will have full control over the allowance of used games on Xbox One. Microsoft stated that they will not take a cut on the used games sales.

These details only provide assurance in that we have a better picture as to how much control Microsoft, third party publishers, and we as the consumers have over Xbox One. In my position as a gamer, with little friends who actually play video games, who purchases new games on the regular and couldn’t care less if the internet sees me wanking off, very little of this bothers me; but I’m very aware of the preposterousness of some of these regulations.

Giving full control to third party publishers is frightening, especially knowing that EA recently announced pulling online passes for past, present and future titles. In a conversation with this blog’s original contributor, Ryan Williams, he suspected that it was a sign that EA had other plans for controlling used games. This could very well be it.

While I can understand the narrowly frequent hourly online checks on other consoles makes sense, only being able to gift games to a friends who’ve been on your friends’ list for at least 30 days is puzzling (seems like Microsoft is really taking the meaning of “friends” to heart unlike Facebook’s bullshit representation of friendship).

On paper, being able to control you Kinect’s awareness sounds nice, but this does absolutely nothing for those suspicious of Kinect’s camera and mic facing your home based on the simple fact that remains: it’s still required to be connected for the system to operate.

Sony has been unusually tight lipped all this time while Microsoft takes its licks. While this silence may have little to do with an all-seeing-eye or a required online connection (we can’t be too sure about that yet), you may very well bet your ass that this has something to do with used games. Though my facts were incorrect in my last predictions on 5/24, my hypothesis still remains. As the only console publisher who practiced online passes, Sony cannot afford to lose third party support to Microsoft who’s giving those publishers the wheel on used games.

And if any of you think you’re pissed about these policies, you should check out this guy:

We can look forward to perhaps E3 and the coming weeks after for confirmation on policies on these next gen platforms.

You Probably Shouldn’t Work for Trendy Entertainment (6/7)

Kotaku posted a complete investigation this past week on Trendy Entertainment, the studio behind Dungeon Defenders, who are now working on Dungeon Defenders 2. The investigation began with information from whistle blowers communicating complains on the company’s sexist and belittling mistreatment of their employees, most of which was coming from the studio’s president and co-founder, Jeremy Stieglitz.

Stieglitz was said to run the company through intimidation to the point that some of the employees were too afraid to take vacation. Even one admitted missing his cousin’s funeral in fear of losing his job.

Up to 9 whistle blowers came forward reporting that half a dozen of its members quit in just two months, and that more have claimed that they will leave as well once Dungeon Defenders 2 is finished.

Trendy Entertainment is said to be poorly managed, as crunch time lasted all year round. The company even received $18.2 million from a New York venture capital firm, though none of the pressures within the work environment changed.

Stieglitz, who had fired the lead designer for Dungeon Defenders 2, had allegedly scrapped part of the game’s creative direction, and ordered the team to make it more like League of Legends, beating the “Does League do it? No? Then it's a waste of time” mentality into its developers.

This intent on aping one of the most successful MOBA games came from the same man who said this, “Everyone on the team fondly recalls the old-school days when games were packed with crazy innovative ideas. Nowadays, it seems in many cases that sense of risk-taking innovation and genre-mashup is lost by the major developers, while a lot of the indies are producing titles that are more like pretentious art pieces than practical entertainment. The Trendy team looks to develop original in-house games that are appealingly innovative while being obviously fun for a broad range of gamers.”

The sexism practiced at Trendy ran from the institutional to the interpersonal. For two job seekers looking for the same position, one a man, the other a woman, the man was offered $3,850 a month whereas the woman was only offered $3,000. When it came to interacting with women, Stieglitz was allegedly professionally inappropriate, not looking at them directly and yelling at them while standing outside the room.

Lastly, some Skype logs showed the president describing his preferred physical features in one of his female characters, wanting her to look like a Brazilian super model, having an attractive ass, he emphasized a point about boobs, wanted to display the thong-ness in their pants, and even spoke about a character looking younger than 18 robot years.

Notice the statement “It’s worth waiting for” in pink with the suggestively positioned elf.

It’s truly disgusting and fetish-like behavior that’s made even more disturbing coming from a leadership position.

We have enough studios feeling the pressure under crunch time, and women all over the industry (and throughout the nation) have been subjected to unequal pay, unfavorable disrespect, and – back to the games industry – forced to tolerate sexualized misrepresentation. Trendy Entertainment seems to be the fluster fuck of most of the ills we see in games studios, and it’s time they see a radical restructuring from the top down.

Look forward to our E3 coverage with Ryan William on the show floor, my hands on impressions on Nintendo’s titles, and our reactions to the event.

A WEEK IN GAMING 5.27.13-5.31.13

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

By: Jamaal Ryan

Let’s take a looking at a week in gaming from 5/27/13 through 5/31/13

Square Begins to Shift its Focus (5/27)

Square Enix, the troubled publisher who’s suffered a loss of over 13 billion yen at the end of 2012 and 13,714 million yen at the end of its fiscal year along with underperformed sales for their published titles such as Tomb Raider, is beginning to branch away from big budget AAA titles towards a less financially demanding focus such as mobile gaming – specifically bringing console like gaming to handheld platforms, and the use of Kickstarter.

Upcoming president Yosuke Matsuda pins one of the main causes for their losses on dodgy marketing; claiming that they spoke to a global scale without considering regional individuality. But he believes that their new business approach will be lucrative and points out that Kicstarter “not only serve[s ]as a method of financing for developers, but I believe should also be seen as a way to unite marketing and development together by allowing us to interact with customers while a game is in development.”

Having a big name publisher turn to mobile gaming and Kickstarter is a true sign of industry climate. And while Kickstarter will be new to Square, they’ve already demonstrated success on the mobile platform.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as Square abandoning console AAA publishing and development. We should expect a proper Final Fantasy title to be debuted at E3 after their presence at the PS4 event, and we know that they’ll be involved in other future next gen titles such as the new Thief set to release next year.

Neglecting Wii U Third Party Releases (5/28)

The Wii U version of Sniper Elite V2 is out, but it released without the co-op content available on the other platforms. Developer Rebellion’s CEO John Kingsley stated that their focus was on “making the core game as good as can be”, sacrificing the integration of co-op content.

This is nothing new, as Wii U owners with titles such as Mass Effect 3, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 do not have access to the same content released on  other current gen systems.
There’s third party support on Wii U – if you want to call what little they have “support”—but with games that has less content than versions available on other platforms, what reason do owners of multiple systems such as myself have to invest in the Wii U copy?

I picked up Black Ops 2 on Wii U curious as to how the system can handle an online shooter such as Call of Duty, and it runs smoothly. Now, I also own it on 360 where I have access to timed exclusive DLC. As an owner of a PS3, I know that I would benefit to have a copy on that system (not that I would own three copies of the game) because I’m aware that the 360 content will eventually release on PS3. I cannot be so certain on Wii U.

Nintendo is whirlpooling into the same predicament that they’ve suffered from for the past two console generations. But unlike the solid library of titles on Gamecube, and the popularity of the Wii, the Wii U – granted this is only 7 months after launch – has little third party support as well as attractive first party titles to hold gamers to keep players invested. This absolutely shows in its abysmal sales, even in comparison to their readjusted forecast.

Upcoming large profile titles such as Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Watch Dogs are set to release on Wii U later this year, however I have little confidence that these will be the ideal or even comparable versions to purchase in comparison to both the 360 and PS3. E3 is right around the corner, and I cannot depend on the nebulous presenting of “We will have third party support” followed by a wall of publishers akin to last year’s press conference, nor can I base my anticipation off of actual games shown.

Seeing this pattern of Wii U getting the “lesser version” I would have to keep my ear to the ground and listen out for exclusive content on other systems and cautiously wait as critics and other consumers react to what’s actually included in the game.  

Video Games: The Movie & The Untold Stories of Japanese Game Developers (5/29)

Two Kickstarters caught the attention of the gaming press this week.
The awaited Video Games: The Movie reached its Kickstarter goal, awaiting higher funding benchmarks that will increase the film’s production value. Video Games: The Movie will feature some of the industry’s best and brightest such as Cliff Bleszinski, Randy Pitchford (try not to think about the Aliens scandal), and Warren Spector. 

In response to the incessant criticism that has tirelessly painted video games as a bad influence on our children from LT. Col. Dave Grossman’s frantic rants, to Joe Biden’s tax consideration, to Jim Steyer’s grossly misunderstood commentary in Katie Couric’s violent video games special, Video Games: The Movie  pokes logic holes in the constant misrepresentation, but most importantly it delves into the culture and creation within the video games industry.

In an attempt to breach the culture barrier of the Japanese game development landscape, journalist John Szczepaniak has taken on the responsibility to author his book called The Untold Stories of Japanese Game Developers. But it cannot come to fruition without the help of Kickstarter supporters.

Szczepaniak hopes to fly to Japan and sit face to face with the country’s industry members to develop a better understanding of their experience and perspectives along with uncovering undocumented facts of the marriage of business and culture in the Japanese games industry.

Hopefully this will answer our many questions that have sprung up over the years this generation in regards to the country’s decline in influence and impactful innovation. We’ve seen the diminishing pizzazz of the Tokyo Game Show, heard Phil Fish’s and even Kenji Inafune’s criticisms on Japanese game development. But it’s always better to have an open conversation – or in this case, read the perspective of one – than point accusational fingers. 

Holding a Controller with a Wedding Band? (5/30)

MSNBC’s Morning Joe went on a rant of his hopeful would-be primary bread winning daughter, claiming that all men in this day and age sit at home and play video games and are weak and unmarriable, and he willfully exempts his son and his friends (who probably play video games). While we should give him the benefit of the doubt that he might see video games as one of the reasons why men sit home with little ambition, this feeds into the consistent attachment of video games and a perceived deterioration in our society.

He seems to be making an underlying point that before the advent of video games, that men were strong and forward thinking individuals. That men weren’t sitting at home, consumed in unproductive activities. And while video games is certainly an activity one can drown in, fogging real life priorities, many gamers have flourished in games publishing, marketing, development and gaming press.

The two writers of this blog are in committed relationships, one awaiting marriage, the other awaiting engagement after seven years. Let us remind ourselves of the successful gamers with careers in the games industry; with careers outside of gaming such as photography and social work; gamers who happily await or are happily married.    

Looking Forward to Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference (5/31)

As gamers, our takeaway from the Xbox One reveal was largely unanimous. Where were the games? Who was Microsoft addressing this message to? Microsoft is losing its audience. Let’s not forget the used games mixed messaging and the vitriol against online requirements.

But Microsoft’s strategy might demonstrate some tact. Whether we liked it or not, the theme of Xbox One reached 8.5 million viewers. They might not have been talking to us, but Microsoft certainly reached its target audience within those millions.

Knowing that the company has 15 exclusive titles in development, 8 of them new IP’s to be released in the next year, only knowing one of those titles – Quantum Break – we can look forward to a hopping E3. In fact, in response to a Twitter user asking of Microsoft will be showing off more TV features in addition to what we saw at the Redmond event, Major Nelson responded,  "I can confirm that we will have TV's (or similar) on stage to show the games… That should be the [extent] of TV talk in your E3." 

And that's this week's A Week in Gaming. Be sure to tune in next week for more gaming coverage.