THE RUNEFROG OPINIONATED

A 22 year old Brit with a beer belly.

Xbox One and the Next 360

(Source: soundonsight)

Nintendo and their Outdated Used Games Philosophy

(Source: soundonsight)

Game Over for Game Over

Microsoft recently held a closed-door meeting called Xbox 101 where they demonstrated the computing power of the Xbox One, which they claim exceeds the computational power of more than ten Xbox 360 consoles. However, the hardware inside Microsoft’s new black box is not solely responsible for this. Its ability to be connected to the Internet at all times allows it to use the cloud, which can greatly increase what the Xbox One is capable of.

I’m not going to argue that Microsoft’s announcements at E3 were in the best interests of gamers or indie developers. The PS4 being slightly cheaper and Sony’s more welcoming approach to self-publishing has given their black box a head start, but once the dust has settled what advantages does the One have further down the race track?

Being connected to the Internet at all times seems like one of its greatest weaknesses at the moment but it might become its greatest strength. Microsoft has confirmed that it doesn’t have to be connected at all times, but if you choose to do so the possibilities are what separate the next-gen from the current-gen. By accessing the cloud developers would be able to create huge, living environments. If there are two things gamers want from new games it is scope and variety.

Imagine a game world that has realistic weather cycles, or one that has life-like seasonal changes. I for one would love to play a game where a seed I planted flourishes into a tree over time, or where a home I built in the middle of nowhere decays due to neglect while I’m busy slaying (or riding) dragons on another continent.

The cloud provides developers the chance to create console games that never end. PC gamers are no strangers to this concept. Role-Playing games are constantly updated to increase their lifespan and First-Person-Shooters receive new maps to keep fans hooked. Even consoles get downloadable content, which are basically extra episodes for extra money. I truly think though, that the cloud has the potential to blur the line between what a gamer buys and what a gamer gets.

So is this game over for game over? Will all games become more MMO-like, and less episodic? I expect that the next-gen consoles will redefine what a game is capable of by creating game worlds that are more like simulations than a combination of different levels and locations, and rather than charging players for extra content it will all be included in the initial price tag…

… As long as you buy it digitally, right Microsoft?                                                                       

Videogames: A Matter of Life and Death

Today I read an article where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg gave their predictions of where videogames will be within the next five years, give or take. Spielberg believes videogames will not be completely immersive until they are a three-dimensional experience. Microsoft is allegedly working on that. Lucas thinks videogames will soon be revolutionised by a game that relies on emotional investment instead of acts of violence. David Cage is always pushing towards that. What the cinematic giants predict isn’t farfetched or impossible, but I think their film making expertise will always skip a beat when applied to videogames.

This is because films are passive when compared to videogames, which rely heavily on interactivity. I can sit down and watch a film for two hours and watch the hero succeed in his mission without feeling like I have to get involved but I can’t sit down for two hours and watch my friend complete a game because I don’t get the same satisfaction. Films spend time convincing the audience to empathise with the protagonist and his cause so that we want to see justice prevail. Videogames don’t do this. They give us the opportunity to become the protagonist instead, and it doesn’t matter who the antagonist is because it’s whatever he/she throws at us that define our involvement.

Videogames and films do have some similarities. I have always been convinced that films and videogames are never really about the beginning or the end, but about the journey. It doesn’t matter what Point A and Point B are. It only matters how the character/s get from Point A to Point B. Also, both mediums have to take stakes and levels of difficulty into consideration, but they do it in completely different ways. During a movie the stakes are raised if they decrease the chance of the protagonist’s success, and it typically relies on how the main character feels about something. He/she has to make a life-changing decision and rise to the challenge. Videogames do it differently. The stakes are binary. You survive to the end of you die trying to get there. The stakes are raised by increasing the number of enemies or by making them harder to defeat. This would never work in a film and yet it is integral to every videogame.

Videogames are a matter of life and death. It’s why you can still die in them. Dying isn’t to deter you from playing the game. It’s designed to teach you where you went wrong and to try again. Perseverance should be the theme of every videogame story. It also makes the game more challenging. Every game is a glorified obstacle course and gamers get the buzz from completing it. It doesn’t matter what the objective is. Films are different. If the objective seems futile or unrealistic we zone out and lose faith. This is because a film isn’t about completing an obstacle course. Yes, films are full of obstacles to overcome, but they are there to show us how the characters will act; heroically or cowardly.

So do I think Spielberg and Lucas are wrong? Not necessarily. The Xbox One aims to unite all aspects of entertainment and expanding the videogame world beyond our televisions is the next logical step. Narratively, game storylines will become more complex and cut scenes will become more emotive thanks to the advances of motion capture and the involvement of professional actors.

Do I agree then? I share their philosophy, but films and videogames are separate mediums. They use the same devices but in very different ways and we should continue to embrace this fact instead of trying to fuse the two together.

5 Changes to Make The Amazing Spider-Man Live Up to its Name

The Amazing Spider-Man did a lot of things right. Andrew Garfield makes a much better Peter Parker than Toby Maguire; it re-introduced the artificial web-shooters; it successfully reiterated the famous “great power, great responsibility” quote we all assumed would be in there; and I’m pretty confident Marc Webb only got to direct it because of his last name.

But I don’t think there were enough changes made to reboot the franchise. Some of my suggestions are flat out aesthetical and I’m not afraid to admit that, it is a Hollywood blockbuster competing with Avatar and The Avengers Assemble after all. Other alterations, however, would tear a hole in the fabric that is the Spider-Man mythos forever.

If you haven’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man then I’m obligated to tell you 1.) To go and see it, immediately, right this instance, why are you still reading this? 2.) Not to carry on reading because SPOILERS! I’m not sure they’re spoilers in the traditional sense because what I’m talking about are things that DIDN’T HAPPEN in the film, but it’ll spoil it none-the-less because I will of course refer to things that DID HAPPEN.

Poster

                                                                                                     

LIZARDMEN

Before The Amazing Spider-Man had a chance to hit the silver screen a series of toy products were already being manufactured. One such toy, the Mega Bloks Oscorp Tower Battle, featured Spidey fighting Lizard with a SWAT Lizardman lizardmanning a helicopter! It looks like Lizard will have his own entourage of scaly, cold-blooded cannon-fodder (web-fodder?).

Towards the end of the film Dr Connors, or Lizard at this point, uses his concoction of green metamorphosing gas to attack a SWAT team. The armed officers turn into lizardmen. Then I’m assuming their state of shock prevented them from any course of action, because the next time we see these guys is at the very end when Spider-Man cures them, and they are all exactly in the same place where Lizard attacked them: Which means during the final battle the lizardmen just slumped against a brick wall and chilled for 30 minutes. We see them in two scenes. The one where they get attacked and the 20 seconds it takes them to turn back into humans.

Now, I’m not expecting the SWAT team to automatically switch allegiance and start attacking innocent civilians but at the very least give Dr Connors a few sympathisers to his cause and have them voluntarily turn into lizards. Spider-Man would have had some extra obstacles to overcome, and if that’s too meaningful for you, he would have got another cool fight scene.

If I could get my hands on the screenplay I’d be surprised if fighting lizardmen weren’t a major feature, especially if the writers of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had anything to do with it.

 

CONNORS EATS THE MICE

For those who don’t know, Dr Curt Connors is the bad guy in this film. He tries to grow back a missing limb by using lizard DNA and in true Marvel style he turns into a giant… Lizard. I wouldn’t necessarily call Connors the bad guy, but his beastly alter-ego certainly is.

Before Connors tries his ground-breaking medicine on any human subjects he first tests it on a three-legged mouse. So, naturally, Connors has a few mice in his laboratory. The moment I saw those white, little rodents I knew they would meet a grisly end. Just not the way I imagined.

It’s hard to say what particular family of lizard Connors’ animal form is based on but I’m sure the art department were inspired by something. Probably Godzilla. I’ve done my research though, and depending on their size lizards will eat anything. Smaller lizards will eat insects and arachnids so Spider-Man has already been dealt a bad hand. Larger ones will eat mammals such as rats and mice.

You see where this going.

Half the fun of The Amazing Spider-Man is watching Parker adapt to his new abilities after he’s been bitten by the spider. The other half is watching him eat Aunt May’s shitty meatloaf. Connors deserves an equally bizarre food-related scene. If Peter can get the munchies why can’t Curt?

There should have been a post-transformation-coming-down-from-my-high scene where a seemingly drunken Connors stuffs a mouse down his throat in front of his colleagues, hopefully Gwen Stacy, because where she sees a medical test subject Connors’ inner-lizard sees a free meal.

 

GWEN STACEY HATES PETER

Speaking of Gwen Stacy, she has been re-established as Peter Parker’s first love interest, as opposed to the popular Mary Jane Watson from the Sam Raimi trilogy. I grew up on the Spider-Man animated series where Gwen didn’t exist except in a parallel universe (such subject matter should only be tackled by Fringe Division) so I’ve always favoured the redhead over the blonde bombshell.

Regardless of my adolescent fantasies, Gwen’s father George Stacy is the captain of the New York City Police Department and has an occupational hatred for the web-shooting masked vigilante. Gwen worries for her father’s safety, so needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Spider-Man’s heroics and Lizard’s twisted aspirations result in George getting killed.

So Gwen’s boyfriend, just by association, is responsible (by about 10%) for her father’s demise and she isn’t that pissed off with him for it. I know Spider-Man didn’t grab George by the balls and toss him off the Oscorp Tower but Gwen must feel bitter knowing her lover failed to save her daddy’s life.

Let me put it another way: If I was having a homosexual relationship with my best mate and my father tried to help him fight the Wolfman, and was killed in the process due to my best mate’s incompetence, I’d never have anal with him ever again.

 If The Amazing Spider-Man ended with Gwen Stacy blaming Parker for her father’s death it leaves the sequel open to explore their complex relationship. Gwen would be torn between hating Spider-Man and loving Peter Parker. Throw Mary Jane Watson into the mix and you have a love triangle.

 

AUNT MAY DIES

If you’ve never read a Spider-Man comic or watched a Spider-Man film or heard people talk about Spider-Man you would still know the foundations of Spider-Man. Here are the basic beats: Peter witnesses a theft, Peter lets thief escape, Uncle Ben dies due to thief’s escape, and Peter is riddled with guilt; he blames himself because he started the series of unfortunate events.

Peter has an epiphany: If he has the power to prevent this kind of shit from happening he has the responsibility to do something about it (not as poetic as other renditions). The traumatic experience triggers his motivation to kill crime.

In The Amazing Spider-Man, Uncle Ben asks Peter to meet Aunt May after work to make sure she gets home safely. Peter forgets because he’s too busy skateboarding and hanging out with Dr Connors. Uncle Ben is furious because Aunt May had to catch the tube and walk home on her own, in the dark. Peter storms off, Uncle Ben follows, then the typical beats take place.

Are you kidding me? This is a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. They deliberately put Aunt May in mortal peril and killing her would have established The Amazing Spider-Man from every other Spider-Man. Instead, they use this as an excuse for Peter and Uncle Ben to fight which leads to the same predictable outcome.

Can you imagine how bad Peter would feel if his auntie died because he was too busy doing handplants and climbing skyscrapers? Talk about an epiphany! He probably would have attempted suicide, only to find himself dangling from a sticky piece of string.

 

AN ACTUAL ORIGIN STORY

From day one The Amazing Spider-Man has been marketed as a reboot, a retelling of the Spider-Man saga; Spider-Man: Origins, I suppose. From the posters and teasers to the cast we knew it was the start of something different. I was intrigued. If the story wasn’t the same as the animated series or the Sam Raimi trilogy I was definitely seeing it just to find out what the alternative was.

136 minutes later and I still don’t know. At the beginning of the film there is a shot of a spider in a jar, or a snow-globe, I’m not entirely sure. It’s in Dr Richard Parker’s office and Peter is only a small child when we see it. Later on we find out Dr Parker and Dr Connors worked together manipulating animal DNA, so the presumption is that Peter’s spider-like powers may not be entirely accidental. This is neither confirmed nor denied.

Then, in an after-credits teaser, Dr Connors is asked by a mysterious unidentifiable character if Peter knows of his true origins. Connor answers with “no, leave the boy alone”.

The best part is you don’t even need to see the film to know all of this because it’s in this trailer. At 1:16 is the spider in the jar/snow-globe and at 1:22 is the Man in the Shadows asking Connors about Peter’s father.

And watching the entire film did not build on those hints or attempt to answer those questions, it simply asked the same questions multiple times and much like Prometheus the results only aroused more suspicions. Is this a common trait in movies now? Having to wait for a sequel to answer questions that the trailers for the first film asked?

I’m sure there is a new origin tale but The Amazing Spider-Man is not it. It planted the seed and now we have to wait for the tree to grow, and considering the plan is to make it a trilogy it’s going to take the better half of a decade before it bears any fruit.

My Etsy Shop

kirsty4363:

Check out some buttons I have made and put up for sale on Etsy! 

Feel free to buy as many as you like :) only £1.99 each!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/kirsty4363

The Runefrog Finds A Naughty Bear

Logo

505 Games and Behaviour Interactive, the publisher and developer of Naughty Bear respectively, announced their follow-up title Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise. It will be available on Xbox Live Arcade for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Playstation Network on Sony’s Playstation 3 later this year.

Pic1

Once again, players take on the role of Naughty Bear who continues to face rejection by the inhabitants of Perfection Island. The inhabitants have set off on vacation: Their destination? Paradise Island, and poor Naughty Bear has not been invited. Being ostracised won’t stop him, so he takes off to the Island armed with a hit-list of bears who have wronged him. All of them with feel his wrath.

“Following the success of our first outing with Naughty Bear, we really wanted to push the limits and give players a lot more freedom to be as naughty as they can and help Naughty Bear get revenge on the other bears who have been so mean to him” said Victoria Reeve, Senior Global Brand Manager, 505 Games. “With the first Naughty Bear game audiences responded well to the juxtaposition of cuddly innocence, with dark humour and over the top violence.  We’re really looking forward to seeing what they make of all the great new features we’ve packed into Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise.”

Pic3

Thanks to a completely over-hauled combat system, brand new levelling up system and equipment customisation with thousands of combinations, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise takes everything you love about Naughty Bear and adds several spoonfuls of misbehaviour. With over 30 missions spread across 11 distinct areas of Paradise Island there is plenty of mischief to be had in any way imaginable.

“Naughty Bear really struck a chord with gamers looking for something more than the same old gameplay,” said David Osborne, Executive Creative Director at Behaviour Interactive, “With Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise, we’re turning the naughty dial all the way up to 11!”

Naughty Bear was released in 2010 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Players are tasked with torturing teddy bears to earn Naughty Points with a variety of weapons, objects and scare tactics. If you are intrigued to know what it’s like to be a teddy terror you can purchase Naughty Bear from 505 Games and other retailers.

For more information visit the official website: www.naughtybearthegame.com

The Runefrog Announces: Chompy Chomp Chomp

Chompy Chomp Chomp by Utopian World of Sandwiches is now available on Xbox Live for 80 MSP (and you can download a demo for free) but before you close this window and boot up your Xbox you might want to know what Chompy Chomp Chomp is about.

There are only two ways to describe Chompy Chomp Chomp.

1.) It is a multiplayer game that pits you and three of your friends against one another in a fun and frantic race to eat anything in your way. Chomp down stars, snowflakes, lightning bolts, fruit and EACH OTHER. But avoid poison at all costs because that stuff will burn you from the inside-out.

2.) Imagine Pacman and Satan had a one-night stand inside the bowels of a rainbow. Now imagine their offspring: Little devils that vary in colour who suffer from a chomping addiction. Now stop imagining, because Utopian World of Sandwiches have scooped these little monsters out of the sky and dropped them in a variety of arenas for you (and your friends) to play with.

Here is a video of the game in action!

Utopian World of Sandwiches is an independent video game studio located in Cambridge, UK, where they make enjoyable and eccentric games for consoles, PC, mobiles and the Internet. Oh, and they make their games in a garden shed. No kidding.

To learn more about Utopian World of Sandwiches head over to the official website. For instant updates and news follow them on Twitter or on Facebook.

The Runefrog Complete Gacha Gamble

In my last article I discussed my concerns with Freemium games and their monetising nature. I suppose this article is an extension of that. To summarise, game developers who provide their games for free must make a profit and the most established method is to allow players to purchase virtual items using real money. They sell parts of their game for micro-transactions. There is one more method though…

Complete Gacha, or ‘Kompu Gacha’, is a popular item-generating mechanism in Japan. It is best described as a coin-operated machine that you would typically find in an arcade, except it’s on your mobile phone. It requires players to insert a coin and the machine will randomly generate an item.

The catch? You have to insert a real coin. Well, not literally! What I mean is every time you press “insert coin to play” the game withdraws money from your bank account. So how is this any different to Freemium’s other method of daylight robbery?

It’s called Complete Gacha because to unlock that super rare item you have always been dreaming of you need to unlock another four rare items before-hand, all in the right order – or it’s game over! Can you imagine how much it must cost to get every item in a row? Hundreds of thousands of Yen, apparently.

Here is a pretty picture.

100,000 Yen is £800! I could get a set of samurai armour for that price

100,000 Yen is £800! I could get a set of samurai armor for that price

This cash-generating scheme is no different to the fruit machines, or ‘slot machines’ if you’re American, found in pubs and casinos. The rules are the same: Insert coins, pull lever, get three cherries in a row to win £250; get 3 gold bars in a row and you win the jackpot! It has been estimated that these machines are responsible for 80% of casino profit.

A line of 7s? Sweet! I just won the Dragonslayer Blade!

A line of 7’s? Sweet! I just won the Dragonslayer Blade!

Very recently, Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency banned the Complete Gacha game mechanism because they received multiple complaints that the system was unjust. Gree and DeNA, the leading mobile social games companies in the Land of the Rising Sun, quickly abolished their use of Complete Gacha as soon as they caught wind of the ban. More familiar game developers such as Capcom and Konami have also been affected by this event.

I don’t agree with the ban at all. I think Complete Gacha is a solid profiting scheme, and one that should be used by developers releasing free content out into the digital frontier. Illegalising the mechanism is not the solution. What Complete Gacha needs is some rules and some guidance on how to use it effectively.

First, developers need to consider their target audience. I have looked at the games Gree and DeNa produce and they are tailored for young demographics. Kids aren’t idiots, they know what money is, but I doubt they grasp the concept of fortune with the same importance that adults do. After all, it is more than likely that it is the parent’s money the child is spending.

Second, don’t make it so easy for the player to spend genuine cash. If all it takes is the click of a button or the tap of a finger then of course players are going to do it – It’s easy! Once a player sets their mind on something then that desire becomes their objective of playing the game. They don’t want to stop until they succeed.

Third, market the mechanism with honesty and integrity. Don’t trick players into it. If people want to spend £800 on virtual items then let them, but the least you can do is provide some words of wisdom that might prevent a player from making a huge mistake.

I suppose there is a lesson to be learned: Don’t blend social gaming with casino gambling. You can download two separate apps for that.

Blending gambling with social games does not make a delicious milkshake. Just as addictive though

Blending gambling with social games does not make a delicious milkshake. Just as addictive though