Microtransactions suck.

Remember micro-transactions? No? Me neither. I don’t think they ever happened. And then of course there’s Xbox Live.

What’s so micro about three dollars for a TV show? I mean, come on. Considering I already pay for the privilege of being on Xbox Live, a non-server system, this is bad enough:

Xbox Live Login on the Xbox360, with ads clearly marked.


Gaming's future

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An Italicized Declaration

I’ve been away from this blog (and the net in general) for a bit. I looked at life and felt that I needed a change. I’ve been training for a new job. I work in local television in the production department and have for quite some time. I usually do studio camera for the evening news, but I’ve been trying to move to the news department and become a producer. So it began. I spent most of June and early July with few days off of work. The few days I didn’t come in two hours early for a little time to train, I came in four hours early to train and helping to cover someone elses shift. The morning show producer is leaving. I thought an evening show producer would take her show over, and I could vie for his. Well, he turned it down, and I considered my chances of getting the morning show to be zero, so I thought the chance had escaped me.

I sat down and, after much contemplation, decided to reinvest myself in games. Sure the news producing seemed like a safer bet to change life, but as that failed, my production job does leave me with more free time than producing would have. Something had to change in life, and I do love my games… It was settled. I would game.

I’ve been slacking a while in programming, so I began to ramp up for a couple of weeks. I emailed someone about an idea of theirs I’d always thought nifty and the chances of my making it a reality. They were okay with it; in fact they were supportive. (I consider them nothing less than a Gaming Bodhisattva.) I’ve even talked with couple of old friends about their willingness to go on this journey with me in making a serious stab at indy development. I talked with Microsoft about offering game(s) on Xbox Live Arcade. I’ve got a NDA on my dresser I have to sign and return before they’ll talk to me any more about the topic. And then last week I got offered the job producing the morning show.

Sunday I worked 3pm-midnight, and then I started my new shift Monday night of 10pm-7:30am. This job and getting used to the new sleep schedule is, in few words, kicking my ass. The show is a beast, but doable. But now I have to think about this new situation. I dove back into the gaming pool thinking that producing was off the table and that I would still have lots of free time from my production job. Now that I’m a producer, do I still want to pursue the game, or do I want to relax and see where the producing takes me over the next few years? The thought of relaxing is always tempting, isn’t it? It’s a bitch when the heart and head disagree. Obviously the heart says to quit my job and develop games full time, but I can’t afford that. The head says to relax, just produce, and enjoy life. That’s just dumb. So, I’m going to try both. … Wow, I totally didn’t expect to write that when I started this thing. I wonder if there’s a word for completely surprising yourself. I guess I’ll have to change the title of this post. (It was “MIA: Me”, and written to explain to all the folk I chat with where I’ve been. Working.) The game may just take a little longer now.

Project X
Real Life

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Backwards compatibility, again

So , Peter Moore didn’t apologize for his words by the end of the week. It took him a full eleven days. But it’s not even that important now, because Tim Schafer, genius behind works like the PC game Grim Fandango and the Xbox game Psychonauts has began an email writing campaign to get Psychonauts supported by Xbox Back.Compat. If you don’t read Double Fine Action News shame on you, but you should at least read his latest post where he kicks the campaign off. (I think it’s safe to say you’ll be addicted.) Send your email by clicking here, and do your part!

As I had mentioned before, the choices made in what to aim for in BC seems a bit odd to me. Of course, we don’t know exactly what they’re aiming for, just that seemingly each time they do they get a few extra games by welcomed accident. It seems that the best thing they ever did was to focus on the Tom Clancy line of games and have them all work in one update. That’s smart, and rather obvious. You’d think that they’d repeat this approach by trying to ‘theme’ every release, or at least have one big game each time. After asking a few folks, I’ve come up with a list of games that they could get working to appease us slightly more ‘hard core’ players.

-Psychonauts. Yes, over a week ago this game came in first and with good reason. Its artistic style is beautiful, and its design clever in exemplary fashion. Not playing this game results in your loss of credibility as a gamer. Also, if you own an Xbox and choose not to play this game, you are no longer my friend.

-Panzer Dragoon Orta. Some people just love on-rail shooters, and if you even remotely like them, you need this game. It’s a great entry to a great series and perfectly pinpoints the arguments made in this fight for backward compatibility. Microsoft should provide this because, after all, where else can gamers get it?

-Jet Set Radio Future. Who didn’t love skating around in a cel-shaded wonderland painting the city to the coolest of soundtracks? Only people with no heart, and no sense of rhythm.

-Mech Assault. Until Halo 2 came out, Mech Assault was the number one game on Xbox Live. Mech Assault 2 was a solid game in its own right, and would no doubt climb the ‘most played’ lists again given the chance. Nowadays gamers tell “back in my day” stories of discovering Doom’s deathmatch. One day they’ll do the same for Mech Assault and Crimson Skies.

-Steel Battalion. Yeah, that’s right. Steel Battalion. Not only should they get this game to work, but they should do it in tandem with a hardware manufacturer to get the expensive controller to work with the X360. While this is the least likely game that they’ll ever get working, their doing it would be a significant achievement toward the hardcore gaming community and mend fences greatly. Honestly, I was surprised it showed so well.

-Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. While completely overshadowed by Oblivion, this game did rather well in my little poll. I guess even when you have a brand new, shinier, world to explore, it’s kind of hard to forget about the old world. Sometimes it just feels like home.

-Shenmue II. Look. Shenmue is a game that even sold a few non-gamers on buying a Dreamcast. It was just that good. And this is the sequel that continues the story that all hardcore gamers want to see finished. Sure the voice acting sucked (“How about a game of Lucky Hit?”) but the game was wonderful. Of course, if Microsoft really wants to impress us, they could give us the entire Shenmue story, which creator Yu Suzuki still assures us will be completed and released.

-Others. Of which there are many niche favorites like NFL2K5, Guilty Gear 2X #Reload, Spider-Man 2, Otogi, Chronicles of Riddick, and more

It’s games like these should be seen as a boon to the Xbox gaming console library, and treated properly. Microsoft should look back in two generations and still be able to say “See? Our consoles have a long history of providing timeless classics that you can still pick up and play. Yes, we hope to sell many games, but it’s also important to us to sell good games.” But I guess that just makes sense, so we can’t do that, huh?

FYI, you can see the actual votes and ‘other’ suggestions here.

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