Dev Box Interview: Jumpgate Evolution’s Art Director Darrin Klein

January 28, 2009

It usually takes a small army to create the video games that we play, and, most of the time, all of the focus gets put on the game itself, and not on the people that came together to make it. Our Dev Box interview feature takes a look at some of the unsung heroes that have committed their lives to entertaining all of us. This week we are giving NetDevil’s Darrin Klein a chance to answer some of our burning questions. [Read more]

Dropping This Week: Jan 26-31

January 27, 2009

It’s a new week with new games! At the top of the list is everyone’s favorite Afro sportin’ samurai in his debut game for the Xbox 360 and Ps3. Also peep the best games dropping this week.

Midway Dodges Economic Fatility; Another MK on the Way

January 26, 2009

Late last year Midway released “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe”. The company had high hopes for the game, not only because it was the latest entry in their beloved Mortal Kombat franchise, but because it quite possibly could’ve been the last MK game ever released. Midway was on the eve of bankruptcy, and many looked at “MK vs. DCU” as Midway’s last chance at economic survival.

However, earlier today Midway announced that “MK vs. DCU” may have indeed been their saving grace, as it has sold nearly 2 million units since its’ release in Nov. 2008.  Other noteworthy statistics include 3.6 million matches online on the PS3 version alone. Also, “MK vs. DCU” was the most pre-ordered game in the history of the 17-year-old franchise. [Read more]

Joining The Vintage Game Club!

January 24, 2009

Beyond Good & Evil - Jade
I’m a fairly young guy, so it’s a sad fact that I missed out on plenty of good old games simply because of my age. But many thanks to the internet gods for Amazon, Game Tap, and GoG, because I have access to a bunch of these oldies but goodies for cheap (and occasionally FREE). The only problem I ran into was the awkwardness of playing these games by myself. I didn’t play these games because I loved them; I just wanted to experience them and get some knowledge on the evolution of games. However nice it was to see for myself that the industry is aging gracefully, I often felt something was missing like being on a beach with a tropical drink that doesn’t have an umbrella. Eventually, I figured out that missing piece was other gamers. Only a few old games have cult-like followings that still converse about them on a daily basis, so the possibility of finding that missing piece was slim. Then, I found out about the Vintage Game Club…

The Vintage Game Club is the brain child of three amazing video game writers: Micheal Abbott, also known as The Brainy Gamer; Dan Bruno, writer of an extremely interesting game music blog entitled Cruise Elroy; and David Carlton, who reveals his love for games in malvasia bianca. They created a little place where they facilitate organized vintage game playing, through both popular and obscure titles,  and participate in deep discussions about them. This generally happens in cycles, one game at a time, which is chosen by taking suggestions from the community and then by vote. So far, three games have been completed: “Grim Fandango”, “Dues Ex”, and “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee” and they are moving on the their 4th game which starts on Sunday, January 25th. For this cycle the VGC community picked “Beyond Good and Evil”. If you are looking for a taste of what the Vintage Game Club is all bout, there are plenty of good preliminary thought posts to check out in the VGC forums already. 

Don’t worry if you can’t jump in right when they begin. One of the best parts about the club is its wonderfully laid-back atmosphere. The moderators spend plenty of time trying to keep the pace of the play-through at a very reasonable rate. The nice-and-easy pace gives everyone ample time to think about the game as they play and doesn’t keep you from all those fancy new games you just bought. I recommend VGC to everyone who enjoys playing and talking about games. If this sounds like your cup of tea, head on over to the forums, register, and I can guarantee you will be welcomed with open minds.

EA Takes Bite Out of Tiburon Studio

January 22, 2009

An article from the Orlando Sentinel states that EA, the company behind mega-franchises “Madden,” and “Tiger Woods PGA Tour,” will be trimming the workforce at their Tiburon studio.

This news comes as a bit of a surprise, despite EA earlier announcing that 10% of all their employees would be laid off. Tiburon studios are the powerhouse behind many of EA’s cash cow sports franchises, and it was thought that employees at the Tiburon division would be safe from the recession’s long, unapologetic arm. While he would not mention an exact number, EA government affairs chief, Craig Hagan, told the Sentinel that a number of the studios 650-700 employees have been let go, but also went on to state that the cuts would not greatly affect their productivity. [Read more]

Dropping This Week: Jan 19-25

January 21, 2009

Check out “Dropping This Week”. A new video preview series hosted by our newest TrueGameHeadz member, Kim Santiago. Dropping This Week will be updated every Monday informing you of the games releasing for that week which deserve your hard earned cash! So check back with us here every Monday. Peace Out!

Mindless Self Indulgence Never Wanted to Dance Dance Revolution In Latest Video

January 19, 2009

Mindless Self IndulgenceI’ve been following the band Mindless Self Indulgence for the last 12 years or so, but there’s a good chance you may have never heard of them. They came out of the NYC techno/industrial scene of the late 1990s, but MSI has never really broken into the mainstream (except for that time when Lyn-Z married Gerard from My Chemical Romance), and has happily sat on the fringe of pop-culture generally describing their sound as Industrial Jungle Pussy Punk. While I’ve never really been able to really describe what that sound is, they’re a welcome break from any form of mainstream music, with a wholly unique sound, and put on some of the best live shows … evar.

If my memory serves me correctly, most of the members of the band are gamers, and they make that pretty apparent in one of their newest music videos for their song “Never Wanted To Dance” which owes most of its’ inspiration to Konami’s “Dance Dance Revolution.” While it’s not the first time the band has shown some love for video games (I believe their first album, Tight was mixed on an old skool Atari computer), it’s definitely one of the most blatant. [Read more]

Before Rock Band and Guitar Hero… There was Amplitude

January 19, 2009

Exciting news from the weekend kids, “Amplitude” may be coming back! Now, if you consider yourself a huge fan of music games, and own every “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” game ever made, but have never heard of either “Frequency” or “Amplitude,” consider yourself a poser. Those were two, very original games developed by Harmonix, for the PS2, way back in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

Each game had the player controlling a small ship that would “blast” beats from various instruments off a preset track by using the L1, R1 and R2 buttons. The inspiration for Harmonix’s later rhythm games is blatantly apparent here, and both games were praised for their originality and addictive gameplay by gamers and critics alike. [Read more]

Anticipating Star Wars: The Old Republic By Finding Out What It Means To Be a True Fan

January 18, 2009

Concept Art

In the spirit of this anticipation praising post, I want to facilitate the anticipation practices of anyone out there who is impatiently waiting for “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” the upcoming (but very far off) MMO from LucasArts and Bioware. The demise of Free Radical has a few Star Wars fans depressed as some ex-Free Radical employees have been releasing concept art and footage from the canceled version of “Star Wars Battlefront III.” The game looked interesting and it is quite sad to see it fade away so quickly and easily. It’s possible that someone with some funds and a few extra devs might see this distorted message and embark on a quest to fulfill our hope. Until then, I will be drooling over “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”

While I’m not sure I feel comfortable calling myself a real Star Wars fan, I am solidly attached to the Star Wars Universe. Just out of curiosity, I dropped in the Official “SW:TOR” forums and asked what it meant to be a “true” Star Wars fan and I got a bunch of interesting answers: [Read more]

Dev Box: Sandy Beach’s Senior Programmer Vincent Mysliwiec

January 14, 2009

Sandy Beach

Great games come from all different size companies – teams big and small, from all over the world. This week’s Dev Box features Senior Programmer Vincent Mysliwiec from game developer Frozen Codebase. Hailing from Green Bay, WI, Frozen Codebase have worked on games for THQ, and Konami, including the recent WiiWare action strategy sand castle game, Sandy Beach. 

Name: Vincent Mysliwiec
Title: Senior Programmer
What you do: My primary responsibilities include Wii development and gameplay programming.
Most recent games worked on: Sandy Beach, Elements of Destruction, and Screwjumper PC. [Read more]

Skate or Die: Neversoft and THPS Part Ways

January 12, 2009

Neversoft co-founder and president, Joel Jewett, confirmed that his company is breaking ties with the Tony Hawk franchise, a relationship that spanned nine iterations and over nearly ten years worth of collaboration.

Speaking with the Great Falls Tribune, Jewett said, “It’s probably best for the franchise, it’s time for someone to add fresh ideas to it.”

The Hawk franchise helped sky rocket Neversoft to fame when it debuted in 1999 with “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” a game that achieved critical acclaim, and brought in large sales; both of which helped in creating 8 eventual sequels. [Read more]

The End of an Era: Lamenting the Loss of EGM

January 9, 2009

Hello everybody, my post today is some very sad news and comes with a heavy heart. By now many of you, my fellow gamers, have heard that EGM, one of the finest gaming publications around, is closing its’ doors after 20 years. This is a truly sad period for the gaming industry, and for game journalism as a whole.

EGM, in my opinion, was the quintessential video game magazine. Every month I couldn’t wait for the new issue of EGM to hit store shelves, and I loved seeing what new bits of industry news I could pick up in the latest issue. EGM was especially important to me as a young lad in my pre-internet days. The magazine was my only link to the gaming industry, and it was a huge source of inspiration for me wanting to become a games journalist. I can remember sitting on my couch playing games and having my dad come in screaming at the top of his lungs because I neglected my chores for that day. “What are you going to do when you grow up?” He’d yell. Then, sarcastically, he’d say, “Maybe you can get a job playing video games someday, you lazy …” The rest is all curse words and inaudible mumbling, but as he was yelling I remember looking at the magazine next to me and thinking, “You know what Dad, &$!# you. I will get a job writing about games.” And the rest is history. [Read more]

Dev Box: Jumpgate Evolution’s Programmer Josh Stefanski

January 7, 2009

Jumpgate Evolution

It usually takes a small army to create the video games that we play, and, most of the time, all of the focus gets put on the game itself, and not on the people that came together to make it. Our Dev Box interview feature takes a look at some of the unsung heroes that have committed their lives to entertaining all of us. This week we are giving NetDevil’s Josh Stefanski a chance to answer some of our burning questions.

Name: Josh Stefanski
Title: Programmer
What you do: I’m currently behind most of the AI development for “Jumpgate Evolution.”
Most recent game worked on: “Jumpgate Evolution”

1. What game has most influenced you, and why?
There’s been a few games that have heavily influenced me, the earliest being “Shock Force” (now known as “Wulfram 2″). I loved how the simple mechanics of two tank types plus deployable bases allowed for incredibly dynamic gameplay, no two rounds were ever the same. It was also the first game I played that truly got me addicted to online gaming, as I spent countless nights playing it. Many more recent games have influenced me and how I go about developing games, such as “StarCraft,” “Half-Life,” “Halo,” “BioShock,” and “EVE-Online.”

2. What are you playing right now? [Read more]

Top 10 Overlooked Games of 2008

December 31, 2008

Top 10 Overlooked Games of 2008

It’s bound to happen every year; there’s always going to be a handful of great games that get overlooked by the general gaming population. It can happen for a variety of different reasons – bad release date, not enough buzz, or it simply just slips through the cracks. While it’s sometimes a good thing that gamers missed out on some of the crap that was shoveled this past year, there are some quality titles in the mix that that didn’t even land on most gamer’s radars, and that’s why I’ve put together my list of the top 10 games of 2008 that were overlooked - from least to most disregarded.

10. de blob

“de blob” was the little game that couldn’t this year. One of the Wii’s most unique and inspired games this year was lost to the fact that it was the Wii’s most unique and inspired games this year. While the gaming press really loved the game, it seemed that your average Wii owner would rather buy a balance board and not use it, instead of playing a quality game.

9. Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen

Square Enix’s remakes are getting to be a dime a dozen lately, but the release of “Dragon Quest 4” went off with barely a blip on the radar. Maybe that was because it came out the same week as “Rock Band 2” and “The Force Unleashed” but that’s still not a good reason to pass on this DS update of a PS1 update of a classic NES title; especially since it was the first time the game hit American shores. [Read more]

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