23 February 2011

Creating a Social RPG

At the recent Guardian Gamesblog Live event, a trio of top designers from EA openly answered a number of questions pertaining to their upcoming releases and gaming in general. One of the attendees was Mike Laidlaw, lead designer on Dragon Age 2.

He spoke in great detail about the Dragon Age franchise and his personal opinions on the future of RPGs and video game narrative. Many interesting points were raised and Mike’s passion and enthusiasm for video games as a storytelling medium was made abundantly clear. Some of the comments he made about the direction of future RPGs were very interesting and I would like to address them here.

14 February 2011

Catherine Demo...O.K.

Damn my mono-linguistic nature. If I actually spent more time trying to learn Japanese I may have had a slightly greater understanding of the incongruous events that only recently took place on my television screen. Towers of cubes, screaming abominations, tie-wearing sheep, blood-soaked cutlery and gaping mouths assaulted my senses over the course of the demo for Atlus’ Catherine.

9 February 2011

A Nintendo 3DS Preview Event

23:14 February 5th – Facebook

James Pickard: "Oops, I just pre-ordered one."

4 Hours earlier...

Tucked away down a side-street in Brick Lane; a small group gathered. We were waiting outside a graffiti-riddled warehouse on a dark and windy night, a projection of the 3DS logo slowly rotated on the facade. I’ll admit, I was sceptical about the 3DS’s capabilities; the 3D effect appeared to be no more than a gimmick and the £200 price-tag seemed incredibly steep. Nevertheless, I was prepared for my opinion to be changed with the chance to spend some time trying out Nintendo’s latest handheld.

31 January 2011

Games and Guns

There’s a scene in Jackie Brown where Samuel L Jackson and Robert De Niro are watching a show called, ‘Chicks Who Love Guns’. It’s a show that wouldn’t be amiss on one of those ‘manly’ channels such as Bravo or Spike. In said show scantily clad women ripped straight from the rejection pile of Gladiators show off a variety of ordnance in a generic wasteland; they fire off rounds into thin air and shoot destructible objects for the sheer thrill of it. As De Niro watches the show fairly uninterested, Jackson provides his own narration, informing De Niro on the pros and cons of each weapon and how much he can make selling them. As I watched this scene for the first time many years ago, I found myself identifying each gun along with Jackson. ‘Oh that, that’s a Steyr AUG, hardly ever use them in Counter Strike; ooh AK-47 now that is a good gun.’ Looking back I’d spent so much time learning about these guns through gaming and head-shotting unsuspecting opponents it was no surprise I knew so much! Recently I’ve had reason to consider the ubiquitous nature of guns in gaming and I’ve thought about ways we could diversify their usage.

17 January 2011

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Review

Reboot, rebirth, reimagining; all common terms used in the entertainment industry to, more often than not, bring about interest in a stagnating franchise. With the video game industry supported by sequels it often appears safer to reinvent an old series rather than develop an original intellectual property. Mercury Steam is certainly brave for taking on the task of creating a 3D Castlevania after the significant failings of previous attempts. Especially considering the Spanish developer’s last release was the considerably drab Clive Barker’s: Jericho. Nevertheless, with the support of Kojima Productions, this franchise revival should not be so easily dismissed, and doing so would be an awful shame as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is one of the most enjoyable and well-rounded action/adventure games of this generation.