Rock On: While most developers don’t comment on rumour or speculation, as enthusiast press that is our job. Nay, it is our duty, so with great excitement I say unto you that according to Bloomberg MAYBE Rock band will be coming back. A few weeks back we saw a survey asking people registered with Harmonix what they would be looking for in a new Rock band title (including potential treats like their catalogue carrying over or even backwards compatibility with their old Rock band instruments). Well, apparently someone told someone who told Danielle Burger over at Bloomberg Business and this news made its way in to the ether so here’s fingers crossed that we’ll be rocking out in our living rooms sometime soon. (Source Polygon and Bloomberg Business)
First Battleship and now this: Over the last few years some very strange IPs have made their way in to the hands of film makers including video games and even more bizarrely board games. Video games like World of Warcraft or Assassin’s Creed may make sense but when Asteroids, Space Invaders, and even Monopoly which is to be helmed by Ridley Scott (and after seeing the mess he made of the Halo TV show this is a truly terrifying idea). Well the latest game to get the move rights treatment is Settlers of Catan. That’s right, the perennial board game geek favourite second only to Risk in its nerdiness has had its film rights sold and will be joining Candy Land and Spy Hunter on the list of projects in development for no discernable reason at all. (Source Ars Technica)
Now THIS should be a movie: Tuesday sees the release of the remastered version of Homeworld on Steam. How I wish I had the good sense to buy the collectors edition of this when it came out but alas I did not. That said, it’s probably for the best. I have too many pieces of crazy plastic in my office as it is though that’s one sexy mother ship and it looks like the gameplay is going to be equally as sexy. Gearbox released footage from the missions and anyone who was a fan of the original will feel shivers go up their spine at these iconic images. (Source Polygon)
I love it when a plan comes together: Sony have had a great big hit with their 8th generation console the PlayStation 4 while its ancillary PlayStation products have not been seeing the same numbers they have been respectable enough. In a move to “realign” the Japanese Electronics Zaibatsu they will be giving divisions more autonomy while at the same time re-prioritizing with “growth driver”, “stable profit generator” and “areas focusing on volatility management”. Basically they are clustering their resources around the hits, maintaining the old faithfulls and sending the money hemorrhaging divisions to stand in a corner and think about what they’ve done. The PS4 (which in the last generation was a big money loser) is now one of the few profitable divisions and is going to be the keystone to the “growth driver” category while their TV and mobile phone divisions are to be relegated to “volatility management” status.
While this may seem like good news and a vote of confidence in the PlayStation brand this also means many of the cross brand leverage points may disappear like Sony’s now sold PC division. Further, given the added weight of responsibility on the PlayStation division to keep the company afloat this could mean a shift away from the risk taking moves that have made the PlayStation brand such a fan favourite and back to the highly proprietary and “risk averse” behaviour that has characterized the company on the whole. Remember this is the same company that makes you buy a “special” micro-sim for the PS Vita that is roughly four times their equivalent card for any other device and has decided that their new $1200 Walkman media device will use a special $155 memory stick. As a fan of the brand this is somewhat disconcerting. (Source Polygon)
Truly Epic move: Epic’s Unreal Engine has been the hub of many of the last generation’s greatest games and has been a mainstay in PC gaming for 17 years powering everything from dude bro shooters to complex and nuanced RPGs. Epic’s former public face Cliff Bleszinski may have left for new projects but that doesn’t mean that Epic is sitting idly by. This past week Epic announced a 5 million dollar grant available to help in the development of projects using Unreal Engine 4 it feels contain “merit”. Basically this is an endowment to developers, siting their own experience with their first title being funded on maxed out credit cards and lawn mowing earnings they are looking to help developers and projects of any scope from small indie titles to big triple A titles as long as they see it as being something they want to get behind the money is available in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000! Epic have made their development tools readily available to students, lowered the licensing fee to professionals to a mere pittance and are now helping developers with their projects. It’s official, Epic are the cool uncles of the video game world. Now let’s see if they’ll let me hang out in their basement, drink their beer and listen to their Bowie albums. (Source Ars Technica)
Well about time: Destiny’s lack of match making heroic quests have led to some pretty broken experiences where the more challenging modes were simply not available to folks with thin friend lists or buddies that didn’t stick around after launch. That is unless you use a pretty inconvenient third party tool to set yourself up with a convoluted and kind of annoying process. This will not help for Nightfall or Raid missions but hopefully in time they’ll get the match making treatment too. (Source Gamespot)
Time not so well wasted: Assassin’s Creed Unity was a dog’s breakfast of intersecting ideas. The game consisted of three different currencies and overlapped with two external platforms. Initiates which tracked your behaviour and unlocked community driven bonuses and chests as well as their Companion App which had a series of adventures and puzzles as well as serving as an in game map. Initiates went down due to “maintenance” back in December for the “holidays” only coming back some time in the last week (and still not syncing properly for example I’ve completed the story of Rogue and yet it only shows “started”). The Companion App on the other hand has been relatively stable and allowed you to unlock “Nomad” missions and chests. Missions and Chests that could be completed by your cadre of Assassins under your command, this was a pretty grind laden experience (more on this during our eventual review) and could at times prove frustrating with quests taking upwards of 12 or more hours to complete at times and locked to Assassins of a certain level meaning you have to repeat missions time and time again to get a crew with enough power to take down the task at hand.
While the latest patch’s unlocking all content from the Companion App and Ubisoft’s unlocking all Initiates content a few months back is nice, it’s still frustrating to those who have ground out hours with the application. That being said, if you don’t want to take on these rather easy and very mundane missions or track down all the chests you can continue to use the Companion App to have your crew run fetch quests and simple “go to point B and kill that dude” missions. (Source Kotaku)
Finally DC starts treating their female fans right: For a company with characters like feminist icon Wonder Woman in their stable of characters DC has done a pretty shoddy job of dealing with their female fans. Recently an eleven year old fan Rowan Hansen called DC on their bologna asking why there were not more female heroes (I would suggest she pick up Ms. Marvel) and why the ones that are there have to wear what equate to bathing suits all the time and how that is in any way practical. Their response was pretty typical first they posted "Thanks, Rowan. We agree, we're working hard to create more superhero fun for girls!" then they drew her as a super hero and then made a big to-do about it on the Today Show. You know, PR thinking being “wow this kid with this swag bag of cool DC stuff and give her a very special version of herself as a super hero”. What was her response? Well I’ll let her words speak for themselves "I don't want people to think, 'Oh yeah, they responded to her. Now it's over.' I want people to keep trying to make this happen. Because it's very important to me." Kudos to Rowan for being able to see DC’s actions for what they were. An attempt to make a problem go away by not really addressing it. (Source io9)
Also this week we finally got to see Zack Snyder’s vision of Aquaman in costume. Basically it’s Khal Drogo of the Sea (don't call him Tuna... though some Tuna are pretty bad ass). Now, that may sound like I’m saying that like it’s a bad thing. It’s not, this is the kick ass Aquaman of later years. I fully expect him to lose a hand at some point to Black Manta in the film, grab a hook, stick it in the stump and continue to kick ass. So, okay, so far one thing confirmed right about the new Zack Snider movies, hopefully there are more swings and hits like this and fewer swings and misses like Pa Kent dying while trying to save a dog from a tornado on a highway. (Source Polygon here and here)