This martial arts group is evidently called Stunt Forces, and they’re evidently the group that has done the lion’s share of the motion capture work for character and combat animations in the Witcher games.
It’s evidently the most expensive game asset that CD Projekt Red has ever created. Not that we should really be surprised to hear that, I suppose. CGI animation has come a long way, baby, but it’s still pretty expensive to turn out such an eye-meltingly gorgeous cutscene as this.
Not all is roses, though: CD Projekt also reports that there may also be around 4.5 million pirated copies of the game, which was (as the good reader may recall) stripped of what little DRM it shipped with shortly after launch, in what I seem to recall was the first official patch for it.
“We are definitely starting for new consoles,” managing director Adam Badowski told us, when asked whether the pair of known-about “AAA+” games will be for this generation or the next.
“The market is ready for something new,” heralded head of marketing Michal Platkow-Gilewski, “for something faster, more powerful.”
Badowski added: “I can tell you we are and we were focusing on powerful gaming rigs. We’re going to do something amazing, so we need extra processors.
“It will be multi-platform game, so the multi-release at the same time. But if you are talking about leading platform, we will use most powerful, just because it can give us the freedom of creation.
“And it’s cool to develop something special, new – better than others on the market. It’s our goal.”
It’s probably a safe bet that by 2014, we’ll see new consoles pushed out that have some pretty powerful hardware underneath their stylish exteriors, but it makes this old Origin Systems fan smile to hear a developer talking about developing games for hardware that doesn’t quite exist yet.
Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider took to the BioWare blog to offer some tips and pointers to prospective fan fiction writers. He also, unfortunately, took some heat on Twitter from various hyper-sensitive sorts about his choice of imagery in this paragraph:
DO pay attention to flow. In creative writing, flow is more important than language. Some writers will abuse a thesaurus so badly you half-expect to find it wandering dazed alongside the highway, dress in tatters and lipstick smeared across its face. They laden their prose with words they fancy because they think it makes their writing more poetic. It doesn?t. It makes your prose heavy, and while there might be some readers who appreciate that, it won?t make you a better writer. Be sparing with your language, and realize there isn?t a sentence so clever it shouldn?t be cut if it doesn?t assist your purpose? which is telling a story. Cut out all your extra that?s and but?s and adjectives and adverbs (I often need this advice, myself). Slaughter your word-babies mercilessly, for that pain will put you in the habit of not over-populating your prose to begin with.
Evidently, some people felt that the imagery of rape was…inappropriate for him to use. The baby-slaughtering imagery passed without comment, however. Oh, Twitter…so selective are you in your outrage!
I think EA’s projections for the game had pegged the 500,000 subscriber mark as the point at which the game would turn profitable, so it would appear that BioWare’s trust in the Force was reasonably well-placed.
SWTOR has also evidently sold 2 million copies. Make of the discrepancy — between that number and the subscriber base — what you will.
The content and timing of PR plans for top-tier games involve similar, if not longer, timelines and are typically decided months in advance. This is done to ensure maximum exposure for the game in question, with little tidbits of news hitting at regular intervals. Whether it’s the announcement of the voice cast, information about a demo or simply a batch of screenshots, the news is rarely accidental. It’s carefully managed.
Knowing all this and knowing that EA has an extremely polished PR team, it is surprising that it would have even allowed Chobot to preview the game as a member of the press. The team had to have known Chobot had worked on the game when she walked into the demo suite with a G4 TV camera crew. While they may have wanted to keep the news of her involvement under wraps until the designated time, allowing G4 TV to film makes it look like EA’s PR team had no issue with presenting someone who worked on Mass Effect 3 as an unbiased journalist reporting on the game.
This just screams “conflict of interest.”
If I might point out two flaws with Worthplaying’s argument, nobody has ever accused G4 of engaging in anything resembling “journalism”, let alone journalism of the increasingly rare “unbiased” variety.
Though I do agree that the optics of this aren’t good. Is it an actual ethics issue? Doubtful. But it doesn’t pass the sniff test either.
Of course, they’ve also told us that Mass Effect 3 will be the end of “Shepard’s story”, so they’re probably saying this to leave open the possibility that future games in the Mass Effect franchise can draw upon player choices made in the first trilogy to define the general shape of the universe and game setting.
Their arguments about Dragon Age, in particular, make a good deal of sense; it’s been rather disappointing how that series has so far handled player choices and the consequences thereof, with a couple of very glaring incidences where those choices were more or less entirely discarded in the service of an overarching narrative.
The same could be said of Mass Effect 2, although BioWare made it a bit more obvious that the middle part of that trilogy wasn’t supposed to have a wild amount of variance based on choices players made in the original Mass Effect. It became apparent fairly quickly that they were saving up the major choice/consequence payoffs for Mass Effect 3.
Now…can they deliver on that? There’s the question.
Let’s face it…in the run-up to a big game’s release, key people who worked on (and are working on) the thing will be in the press, possibly quite often. BioWare is not exempt from this trend, and several of its staff have been all over the gaming press in the last week.
Mass Effect 3: Mission Command is a just-launched Facebook app that…well…I’m not quite sure what it does. I guess it ties in with your Xbox Live account, if you have one, and involves performing missions that will net you bonus DLC for Mass Effect 3…and possibly some other stuff as well.
Here’s a sample mission concept, apparently: choose whether to agree to continue your romance with Liara T’Soni, or reject her outright. Another mission, detailed in the original article, involves looking for an Easter Egg somewhere on Bing.
If you can get their site to load, they’ve actually highlighted some interesting commentary from a half-dozen different sources. Most of the commentary seems to focus on the game’s now-well-documented first hour, and it sounds like all that we’ve come to expect from Mass Effect is present therein.
Personally, I think that re-issuing a “corrected” version of the latest Mass Effect novel, Deception, is the wrong move. But since some irate BioWare fans were evidently burning their copies of the novel in protest over various errors it makes in regard to established canon, BioWare has evidently decided to work with the book publisher to release a new version of the book with some strategic corrections made to it.
I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s BioWare’s canon to write, keep, and/or mangle as they see fit; the fans don’t own the canon, and shouldn’t presume to dictate it to the studio and the writers that do.
On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if not burning our copies of Ultima 8 in the street was a failed policy decision on the part of Ultima fans.
You can thank Infinitron Dragon for bringing this one to my attention. Do not click that link if you hate spoilers and have been studiously avoiding them where Mass Effect 3 is concerned.
If, on the other hand, you’re like me and love poring over every leak and rumour, click on through and feast your eyes on a couple of companion design choices that BioWare has made. One of them will, I think, be very cool (and please tell me I’m not the only one who is reminded of Farscape, just a little bit?). The other…well…
Andrew Wilson, the head of development for EA Sports, recently gave a talk entitled “Gaming 3.0: moving the goalposts”, in which he discussed plans to move EA Sports games beyond their current pricing model and into a future where gamers wouldn’t have to pay more to enjoy their favourite franchises across multiple platforms.
…he raised the subject of Amazon’s Whispersync feature, which allows customers to download a digital book for one price and then read it on whichever format they like from PCs to smartphones and Kindle, without having to pay again for each platform. He suggested that eventually EA Sports may well move toward the same model with its own games, even providing all of its titles, from Fifa and Madden to Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf, for one fixed price on multiple platforms ñ all linked by the same social gaming eco-system.
“It’s about handing over control to the gamer,” he said. “Ultimately, what we want to get to is this concept where we break down the barriers between the franchises. John Riccitiello our CEO says it seems like such a waste — we spend $20-40m making each of these games, but most gamers only ever play one, because the business model is an impediment. So how about we drive toward a model where every gamer can experience everything we make without paying that much more money. You’ve got to recognise that given the opportunity, the consumer will play and they will bring their friends.”
The gaming market is already heavily multi-platform; EA Sports titles get released on everything from iPhones to Xboxes (and other consoles) to gaming PCs, and other AAA titles get released on at least two of those (PC and console, typically).
For guys like me, who don’t play sports games and suck when playing games on console, paying one price for the PC-only version of a game isn’t a bother. The average gamer today, however, typically has more than one gaming platform that he uses regularly, and often owns multiple copies of many games…one for each applicable gaming system. And at one time, charging gamers full price for each copy might have made sense, before technology caught up with (and, in a sense, rendered obsolete) traditional pricing models.
“Games based around micro-transactions means that anyone can get in, we’ve lowered the barrier of entry ñ it’s iPhone, it’s Android, it’s tablet ñ all of these things now deliver a ubiquitous service of digital gaming that means that just about anyone can be part of it.”
Social and casual games have, he said, massively expanded the global gaming audience from 250 million a couple of years ago to 1.2 billion self-confessed gamers — but that this audience has radically different demands than the traditional ‘core’ gamers. Just as consumers have taken control of music delivery by abandoning CDs in favour of digital downloads, and just as TV viewers have moved away from schedules toward content-on-demand, he sees the future of interactive entertainment being all games available on all platforms when the gamer wants them. “Consumers are saying ‘we’re no longer going to line up at Gamestop en masse and give you money. We want to see an evolution in this space, we want to take control of games on the same way as we have taken control of music and movies.’”
… “Our vision is to move away from having your company or your platform at the centre of your creative vision an put the consumer there instead — because the reality is, they will put themselves there regardless of what you do. And you must provide opportunities for them to come in to contact with everything you make, on every platform that’s available. They will use technology against you, unless you empower them to work with you. You need to offer one connected experience. Netflix, Apple and Amazon have all demonstrated how this works in other industries — the reality is, it will be the same for us…”
I’m thinking this won’t be the last we hear of this idea. One of the other trends in gaming that has just begun to appear in rumours and conceptual discussions is the idea of having multi-platform games share save files between platforms; imagine you could play Mass Effect 2 on your Xbox at home and then pick up from where you left off on your laptop whilst on a plane to Boston, thanks to the fact that your save file was stored online, in your BioWare Social profile. Now, you can’t do that with Mass Effect 2 in real life, but some companies are looking at building games which do support that sort of thing.
Wouldn’t it make sense if when you bought the game, you bought that same sort of cross-platform flexibility?
Founded in 1990, Looking Glass was not only responsible for some of that decade’s most innovative and memorable games, but was also a place where people like Ken Levine (BioShock), Warren Spector (Deus Ex) and Seamus Blackley (Xbox) all worked under the one roof.
The product of a merger between two companies, Blue Sky Productions and Lerner Research, Looking Glass Studios was based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Developing mostly for the PC, Looking Glass’ first few games were published by PC gaming giant Origin (Wing Commander, Ultima), but by 1995 the studio was developing and publishing its own titles.
Looking Glass’ first game (well, while its development side was still known as Blue Sky) was 1992′s Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, a first-person role-playing game that not only broke from the traditions of conventional Ultima games, but in many ways blew right past them, its immersive setting and (for the time) amazing 3D graphics making it a critical success.
The games which came next read like a “greatest hits collection” of PC gaming in the 1990s…
Eidos — massively in debt at the time — shut Looking Glass down in the year 2000, a rather ignoble end for such a talented development house. One could almost argue that such was the curse that afflicted all developers who published Ultima titles, I suppose. But in their short span, the did produce some genre-defining — and genre-shattering — games, which frankly still hold up very well today.
It isn’t always easy being a gamer. Though admittedly, it’s probably harder for our spouses.
Sadly, that is the first thing I noticed as well...
I’ve also seen variants of this cake-topper, including one in which the bride and groom were sitting playing an XBox while the preacher stood by looking at his watch. That seems, to me, to be a more optimal spousal pairing.