Archive for March 26, 2010

“Se7en Things to Learn From the New Secret World Trailer” or “Secret’s Out!”

March 26, 2010 2 comments

The new trailer for The Secret World, as seen by attendees at the GDC this month, is finally public. Rock, Paper, Shotgun also published Project leader Ragnar Tornquist’s thoughts on the trailer.

It seems Tornquist both mind-read my frustration with the painfully slim stream of information coming from Funcom, as well as my threats last week to set the Funcom offices on fire. I am glad we see eye-to-eye on this Mr. Tornquist, and it didn’t have to come to arson. I won’t even know where to get that much gasoline! Moving on…

Watch the YouTube video below in case you haven’t yet.

So what can we glean from the trailer?

One: Graphics
The graphics will never compare to Cry Engine 3’s ridiculous capabilities (I mean come on, the engine looks like it could reasonably simulate the freaking Matrix!), but they sure do look pretty! Swirling mists, a derelict boat swaying in unsteady waters, dilapidated ruins, quintessentially cliched suburban quiet towns, The Secret World seems to feature them all and then some.

Two: Atmosphere
The game will be highly atmospheric. The environments radiate with an ambiance of a world similar to ours, yet concealing something just behind the veil that makes it not quite right. The game lore suggests three cities, New York, London, and Shanghai: starter towns for the game’s three factions. Yet the trailer did not feature any urban metropolises (unless I missed something). I thought this was a bit peculiar, since the three cities are central to the game’s story, and battling out demonic abominations in the middle of Times Square sounds like a blast.

Three: Characters
The character models are sufficiently detailed, but they look a little off, and the animations look a little rigid. For all of it’s flaws, Champions Online excelled in the character creation, detail and animation department. I suppose I am now spoiled in a manner of speaking, trying to find flaws in reasonably well-detailed models because I have seen what an MMO could achieve the year prior. This propensity for well-detailed character models is even more perplexing considering I am used to the character models from WoW, and the character-less ship avatars of EVE Online. At the end of the day, the character models and animations look decent, but it must be said that the MMO isn’t even in beta yet, so there is a lot of room for tweaking and improvement.

Four: Enemies
There will be a very wide variety of monsters in the game, ranging from humanoid zombies to the lightening-infused squishy-looking, octopus-squid-Captain-Davy-Jones-from-The-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-movies-resembling… uh, things. I am also excited by the prospect that the enemies in this game look unlike any monsters we have seen before. Sure the developers have delved into the familiar with zombies and werewolves and the like. But there are several beasts that look and feel original.

Five: Voice-Acting
The voice acting is top notch, and decidedly ominous-sounding. Once again, although I am used to playing MMOs that smack you repeatedly in the face with enough quest text to fill the Encyclopedia Britannica and every crappy Star Trek novel ever written, I find myself irritated at the prospect of having to read any more quest text in any future MMOs that I invest in. I guess BioWare is to blame for that, what with their fully and meticulously voice-acted recent RPGs: Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. So when I see an upcoming MMO that I am genuinely excited about, and then I get the briefest whiff of quality voice-acting, I am excited. That being said, the voice acting seems a bit rushed in places. Almost as if the voice artists were hired on a per-hour basis!

Six: Script
The above is a nice transition into my sixth point. The scripts seems well-written, and from what we have seen the lore facilitates and enhances the story and background elements. The cowboy has stood out in both the gameplay trailer and the teaser for the gameplay trailer. I wonder what his story is, but I sure am excited about it!

Seven: Black Frames!
Last but not least, and completely unrelated to the game itself, Tornquist loves his carefully positioned black frames. Good god man, the screen went black about 42 times during that trailer. I know you are all about the secrets and the atmosphere, but my eyeballs hurt from rapid contractions over 90 seconds!

I haven’t been this excited about an MMO for quite some time, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Categories: Opinion

“Proof that Farmville is Evil” or “Got Virtual Milk?”

March 26, 2010 2 comments

In the most ridiculous video game related piece of news I have come across all week, a Bulgarian official has been sacked, no I kid you not, for milking a virtual cow in Farmville. Of course the fact that he was filling his virtual bucket with milk during a government meeting probably didn’t help.

Dimitar Kerin, a city council member in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, had been warned three weeks prior for playing the game at work. In his defense, he said he was only level 40, whereas another colleague, who had gone unchecked, was level 46. What a douche!

Via Kotaku, the full new item can be found here.

“Gaming Brats” or “We’ve Come a Long Way From Pong”

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Syp’s post yesterday was quite thought-provoking. This is the contemporary age of video gaming, where we are exposed to such marvelous worlds filled with life and possibilities. With features such as life-like animations, realistic weather effects and environments that looks polished, detailed and textured to blur the line between fiction and reality, developers are pushing the boundaries of next generation games. Every week we are given newer titles to engage us, worlds to explore, threats to thwart and kingdoms to conquer. We relish in not only the complexity and atmosphere of these alternate realities, but also in the fact that the possibilities, both in terms of the choice of titles available, and the paths we choose to take in a game, are endless.

However, as humans we have an innate need to bitch, moan and complain. Having evolved from a culture that reveled in controlling a yellow mouth that ate dots and berries while being chased by ghosts who it could also devour if it were high on smaller dots, to controlling a photo-realistic character that swoons the ladies, thrashes the bad guys, and manages to look incredibly suave all the while doing it, we have gotten spoiled. Where we were once content running a frog through oncoming traffic, we’re unhappy if a flower in a meticulously detailed tropical forest doesn’t disintegrate when we fire an entire magazine of hollow-points into it. Where we were once jumping with joy having successfully evaded a large gorillas flaming barrels, we get upset if a life-like character’s lips don’t sync with the utmost precision with the audio file of its dialogue.

Somehow, despite the fact that we are blessed with an entertainment medium that provides endless hours of immersive, alternate-reality entertainment, we, myself included, have the audacity to point out, complain about and throw temper tantrums about even the most benign and insignificant flaws we can find in our favorite titles. So what if the games aren’t perfect? So what if the advanced physics failed to adequately animate an object? So what if lip-syncing is inherently an imperfect science? So what if the graphics aren’t top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art. Hell, we even find room in our infinite collective wisdom to complain about how graphically intense a game is, and how current technology cannot run it at optimal settings (I am looking at all you whiners that complained when Crysis first came out!)

Syp is right. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would one day be playing the games I have the privilege of playing today. And I wonder, maybe this is the same conclusion Frank at Overly Positive came to recently.

Categories: Opinion