So Cryptic, the studio behind Champions Online and Start Trek Online, got hacked. These stories about major game developers getting hacked may be a dime a dozen now, but this one is so special I feel like I should give these guys a helmet and some crayons. You see, Cryptic was hacked back in December 2010, well over 16 months ago, but they just realized that now.
As an MMO player who has tried both their products and hasn’t been particularly thrilled by them, I don’t hold Cryptic in a very high regard. They try hard, and I am certain there are a few people who are genuinely committed to making games that people will play and want to enjoy. But somewhere along the production cycle, someone gets lazy, or a good idea is implemented awfully, or a feature that could make or break the game is screwed up, and you just cannot bring yourself to trust the studio again. Champions Online launched two different versions on launch day. The first one was close to the final beta. A launch day patch completely revamped everything though, a faux pas that I never really got past. As usual I am digressing.
My point is that I don’t trust Cryptic and believe that they prioritize profits over customer satisfaction and “fun”. But even this, this is just ridiculous. Come on guys, for 16 months your loyal customers have been playing your games, only to be told today that their information may have been compromised well over a year ago because you electronic locks had an expiry date of, well, 16 months ago? Disgraceful!
Someone, bless their heart, actually took the trouble of playing through all three Uncharted games, capturing footage, and barring unnecessary firefights, created feature length movies out of all three games in the series. As someone who owns most consoles, except the PlayStation 3 now, I have always wondered what the Uncharted experience may have been like. Thanks to YouTube user morphinapg, I no longer have to wonder! Enjoy!
Modern Warfare was a great game. It took an aging concept, put it in a modern setting, gave it some very memorable characters, an redefined reinvention. Modern Warfare 2 was a decent follow-up, but it seemed to me that the set pieces were more frequent, the situations were more dire, the settings were more hazardous, and most helicopters that flew or tried to rescue someone crashed in a fantastic cacophony of churning metal, flying debris and a giant ball of fire. Modern Warfare 3, frankly, was ridiculous. The set pieces seemed to outnumber the amount of time players actually had control of their character, and this time, every rescuing helicopter crashed, and the passengers always survived unscathed.
I am using the series as an example, but it seems to be that first person shooters (single-player obviously, not multi-player) are more about the fantastic spectacle and less about the challenge. At first it was some form of explosion or crash or ambush. Then it morphed into larger set pieces with collapsing structures and manic car chase sequences. Battlefield 3 took it up several notches by collapsing skyscrapers during a devastating earthquake, and oh-so-shockingly, the protagonist survives the building crashing on him. I can go off on a tangent here and talk about why every first person shooter hero seems to have skin made out of Adamantium, but that is a topic for another post.
Maybe I am using a frame of reference limited to the FPS titles I have been exposed to in the last year, but the pattern is pretty apparent to me: make a massive spectacle, a sequence so insanely improbable and outlandish that one can’t help but marvel at their screen. I think the only time that a set piece actually gave me goosebumps and fit very well into the story arc was *SPOLER ALERT* in Crysis, when the mountain slowly deteriorates in the distance, shaking off skyscrapers-sized boulders and the colossal alien ship encased within rears its extraterrestrial head. /*SPOLER ALERT* Outside of that, every time I lose control of my character because they need to narrowly escape death in one fashion or another, is a nuisance and hindrance more than anything else. But then again, perhaps the worst type of spectacle is the one when you actually do have control of your character during a spectacle sequence, because you don’t know if dodging bullets and dispatching baddies in a meticulous fashion should be your top priority or watching the insanity of the spectacle unfold.
This was supposed to be a “thought of the day” post, so allow me to be succinct: the fact of the matter is that first person shooters are increasingly more about the spectacle, and less about the challenge/story/experience. And with the never-ending race for creating the next best engine, that is not likely to change any time soon.
Via Kotaku, Shacknews got the inside scoop on the rumors that Prey 2 was cancelled. The good news is that it is not cancelled. The bad news is that it has been delayed to 2013. Allegedly, the developers, Human Head, was not satisfied with the terms of contract with publisher ZeniMax. Work on the title stopped in November 2012, apparently so that human Head could coax ZeniMax into a better, more favorable deal. This seems very shady, and it is a little troublesome that someone at Human Head came forth anonymously to share this with the video gaming news media. It could be because people at Human Head are eager to get cracking at the title again, or it could be a leak from the ZeniMax side, to bring the issue to the public, to try and force Human Head to be complaint with the original terms of engagement.
The following email was sent out by Bethesda yesterday
Development of Prey 2 has not been cancelled but the game will not be released in 2012 as planned. The delay is due to the fact that game development has not progressed satisfactorily this past year, and the game does not currently meet our quality standards. Prey 2 has shown great promise and we regret disappointing our fans. We have made a substantial investment in game development to deliver the experience fans want. We are determined only to release the AAA game that fans rightfully expect, and are unwilling to compromise our quality standards to meet a release schedule.
This is what I would consider a very poor PR effort. First, none of the allegations in the Shacknews story were addressed, let alone refuted. Second, the email cites a completely different and seemingly unrelated reason for the delay. Third, unless I missed something, this email is the only official response from either side since this story broke out.
Prey was a great title, it would be a pity to see the sequel scrapped because mommy and daddy had irreconcilable differences. At the very least, whatever the root cause, I hope the two parties are mature enough to understand that we are not idiots, and share the actual cause of the delay, regardless of the outcome.
Anyone still remember the whole Alganon fiasco? Allow me to refresh your memory. After management changes, two separate launches, completely ignoring accusations of how it was a shameless WoW clone, and one of the worst PR campaigns in the history of video gaming, Alganon still stands. And apparently, an expansion was supposed to be released in the near future. What is it called? The Cruning Brusade?
Massively now reports that the team over at QOL is citing “unforeseen circumstances” for why the expansion has been delayed to the fourth quarter. The devs wrote the following in the April newsletter:
“After evaluation of the project, it was decided that more time was needed in order to do some critical bug fixes as well as to spend more time on certain areas and features of the expansion in order to do the best work possible.”
With me so far? But that is not the fun part. The fun part is that one player actually decided to give a blunt, and admittedly bleak evaluation of the state of affairs in Alganon.
First John4 says:
I swear at this point Derek is feeding you these news bites.
Anyway, Alganon, has a long and inglorious history. The problems (other than the current “the expansion is still due Winter 2011 as that runs into March 2012″ quote that i *love* from DS) are tantamount to a few things that have been hashed, re-hashed, and microwaved over time.
Derek will mention all the stuff *he’s* done without really giving credit to Padreic and the people actually keeping Alganon a possibly-respectable game. As a current player and payer of MicroTransactions, and as a guild leader of one of the (maybe) three guilds still in game, we play despite Derek, not because of him. The team deserves the credit, not him. Regardless of his “i kept the company afloat” rhetoric.
I also recently learned he hired a PR firm for this new MMO-thing he is developing, and can say with unending confidence they aren’t doing their job. When the guy no one likes is making the majority of statements online about the game, you have failed as a PR company.
Go ahead. Look it up. It’s in the textbook. Page 126. I’ll wait…
At this point, Derek must realize how polarizing a figure he is. Most of my posts on the Alganon forums have been deleted despite me trying to support the game and being one of about 6 people still trying. When you censor your player base from any communication with the devs at all, it won’t end well. I *really* wish Alganon woudl have left itself in Padreic and the team’s hands instead of the dictator, but alas, we all can’t get want we want.
Thus, i’ve been off to another game of late. Good luck, and thanks for all the fish.
Then Derek actually responds:
One day, it is my hope that you will grow tired of posting this same rubbish everywhere you find me posting or talking about Alganon.
As to the giving credit, you must think that the people who developed the game did that in an isolated environment all on their own and with no direction, no planning, no funding. That’s particularly hilarious in and of itself. Especially when you consider the fact that for three years before I even got there, the game was an absolutely mess – as evidenced by the 2009 release. To where the game is now – more than two years later – what do you think changed? That’s right – me taking over the team, leading it – and FUNDING it.
Stupid internet comments are just that. Stupid.
Yes Derek, stupid internet comments are pretty stupid. Head on over, grab some popcorn, and watch Derek (Not-So) Smart dig a hole that seems to have no finite depth!
Discussion to follow, but how awesome is the premise in Bethesda’s new game “Dishonored”?