Archive for Limbo

2011 glasses don’t work out as well as 2010 (year in review and look to the future: Indy and Download Only)

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by halbard100

This has been a really gem of a year for gaming despite some hiccups here and there, but one of the big things is how the landscape of the industry is changing. While downloadable games aren’t anything new per-say especially with the size of DLC, stand alone games have become much more prevalent this year. We saw the release the of amazing puzzle platformer Limbo, the hardcore Super Meat Boy, and even the legendary studio Double Fine coming out with Costume Quest. Really incredible download only games have been on the rise as of late, and these don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the predominantly indy movement bringing these out. I think we’re hitting a renaissance of sorts with the download distribution model in regards to game development. Back in the day (really before my time), a lot of the big guys got their start programming at home; I think Bungie’s first studio was one of their mom’s basement. Instead of the internet then, the game was sold on a floppy in a zip-lock bag at a local game store. Game development is going back into the home now after years of big industry, triple-A, huge budget, production. Without the over heads and over bearing of huge production costs, designers can just go and scratch their creative itches without having to worry about whether or not they can get funding or if the game has to be market-appealing. Coupling that with all the new free to use game dev tools like Game Maker, Unity and the UDK is allowing more people who didn’t have the means previously to make games and get them out to a mass audience. Thanks to the intertubes, this isn’t really new news, Kongregate and Newgrounds have been around for years, but we’re starting to see more and more wide spread attention in both size and scale. Anyone can make a game now and try to get what they see in their heads onto a screen and find an outlet for other people to play it and be able to make some money off it.

The VGAs (not sure if I love ’em or hate ’em… love NPH) had a best downloadable game award this year; though it wasn’t televised Costume Quest won that one, and shows like X-Play are reviewing them right up there with disc games we shell out 40-70 bucks for every day. This group of games don’t need to be legitimized by mass media in the least, they legitimize themselves by how great they are and how much the labor of love of them shows through. But things have gone far beyond viral. Take Minecraft for example, it’s popularity exploded over night and to high acclaim, too. Its no longer the already initiated taking notice, its everyone. Thanks to distributors like STEAM, the games get exposed to players who aren’t looking for them and endeavors like the Humble Indy Bundle make the games even more noticed and for a good cause.

The market and environment is changing, expanding, and its happening quickly; five years ago I don’t think anyone really expected things to evolve this way. What does this mean for the games industry? While Double Fine is about as indy as a big studio can probably get, I think we’ll see more and more big name studios trying out the whole downloadable game thing like Double Fine has. Do I think this will be healthy for the current groups that are part of this space now? I’m not sure. Creativity shines through in this market. Games that are quirky, crazy and mesmerizing and more of all fun find a warm reception here. It makes it so you can just say “Hey this sounds like a cool idea,” do it, and see what everyone else thinks. Do I think we’re on the track to a pure download or indy run environment. No, not even kind of. There will always be a need for the big studios and, as Tim Shaffer put it, the “tainted teat” of the publisher. You can’t have games like Batman Arkham Asylum or Red Dead Redemption without all that. You need all that money. But, the downloadable game is on the rise. Costume Quest in only the first of, to my understanding, possibly 4 download only games that the crew at Double Fine have come up with and Stacking is next coming up sometime soon. Who knows what other gems will pop up like Limbo and Super Meat Boy, but I’d put money that the year won’t end with us not seeing one. 2011 could shape up to be another big year for this indy sector or download games in general, but that’s also part of the fun of it: I don’t know. You don’t get the huge advertisement pushes, and it makes finding the games even more fun and rewarding. The future is looking like an exciting time to be a designer and gamer. Bring it on 2011.

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Top 5 Games of My Year (In no particular order)

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by halbard100

Enslaved

One thing I’ve hoped to see a change in the current design of games are the locations. Games like the Uncharted series show that you can have gorgeous, lush environments in modern games and not just shades of brown, gray and red. If nothing else the post-post-apocalypse of Enslaved is where I would want to set a game that I made. The ability to platform through it effortlessly is just icing on the cake. And I could go on and on about the acting, cut scene integration and everything else about Enslaved.

BlazBlue Continuum Shift

I’m honestly not a huge fighting game guy, though I’ve gotten into it a lot thanks to friends to play with, but damn this is hands down my favorite. Gorgeous to look at and easy to pick up and play, but I’ve been playing this series since it started, and I’m still learning new things about how to play and what the characters I play can do. Now that’s depth. Tack on probably the smoothest online gameplay I’ve ever seen and its a winner.

Super Meat Boy

If the platformer wasn’t back by now, its been grabbed, throttled, meatilated and respawned to take it all again. This is hardcore platforming at its finest by keeping it fun, addicting and brain-splodingly hard at times but still making you come back for more. What else could you want? A level editor? Got it.

Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar has really done something amazing with this game. I can’t remember the last time I really wanted to play a western, but the story is so engrossing and the gameplay so inviting its hard not to lose track of time just riding around… or mindlessly shooting things in the face. You know, to each their own. The acting, directing and story in general is some of the best I’ve seen all year at the very least.

Bayonetta

What’s more fun than mowing down hoards of enemies and looking awesome while doing it? Doing it with pistols! … Attached to your FEET! I loved Devil May Cry 3 and Bayonetta’s crazy combat is even more awesome to watch. Sure there’s a little bit of super stripping in it, but when some giant demon comes out of a portal and devours our enemy in the most bad ass way possible who’s gonna argue?

Honorable Mentions:

Epic Mickey

I’m a big Spector fan and love platformers so this is right up my alley. The only downside? No Wii. Still thinking about grabbing a Collector’s Edition if there are some laying about. I must have this game.

Limbo

I’ve played some and love it, but alas no 360. Still, the 10 or 20 minutes I’ve played of it had me captivated and I loved the puzzles.

Costume Quest

Who can argue with a Double Fine production? I mean, I loved Brutal Legend. Yeah, take that. I’m not sure if I’m an RPG fan or not, but I think I am. CQ takes some awesome spins on the standard RPG tropes. Its such a lovable game I can’t wait to see what else the team at DF puts up for download.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes

My roommate got this one and we had a ball with it. I’m not a big Samurai Warriors gameplay fan but there was just something to Basara’s style that just grabbed me. The cool characters, neat coop, and replay value took up many hours on the coach. We hit 100 hours of playing in less than a week; then we realized we had a problem. My favorite to play was Kanbei Kuroda, what’s more fun than taken out waves of enemies with a wrecking ball you’re shackled to? Did I mention it was $40 too?

Mega Man 10

I’m a huge Mega Man fanboy. Mega Man X was my first game and the Legends series  is on of my favorite series of all time; making Inafune-san on of my idols. That said, I was never really introduced to the normal Mega Man line so this throw back was a real treat and hard as hell I might add! The video game club brought out the SNES and I got to throw the old MMX cartridge in and playing MM10 beautifully mirrors playing the classics. How I played these games when I was little I have no idea. If this is the route that Capcom decides to take the Mega man franchise in the future, I look forward to it, or at least until after Legends 3 and MM Universe come out. What do you say to Mega Man X HD Remix?

Minecraft

Last but not least, the game that was a hit over night and a probably it’s own religion after a week. I keep putting off getting this gem cause of cash running a little dry. I’ll pick it up soon; I can’t wait to get building -er- crafting?

This is no where near an in depth list, there’s a ton of games that I haven’t even looked at this year and its been a busy one with some great games. I’ll try and keep a closer eye on releases in the new year. Happy 2011!