Posts Categorized: Videogames

Bill Willingham's Fables

Through their official website, Telltale Games announced a videogame based around Bill Willingham’s popular Fables series of comic books and graphic novels. Not much is known about the game beside a short description, which serves more as an introduction to Willingham and the Fables series than the game itself:

Created by Bill Willingham, the Eisner award-winning and chart-topping Fables re-imagines classic characters from fairy tales and folklore, spinning their stories in wild, brutally violent, mature, and often un-expected [sic] directions.

I think it’s safe to assume that the game will feature gameplay and storytelling similar to other Telltale adventure games, such as Jurassic Park, Monkey Island and The Walking Dead. Like those other games, you can expect that Fables will not cover the stories already told in the Fables books, instead tackling new scenarios in Willingham’s world. More information will be available through the official Fables website.

Dragon Age III: Inquisition

EA has announced the next game in the Dragon Age series, and done so in an interesting way. Generally, for announcements of this calibre, EA will wait for one of the several large trade shows that happen throughout North America, Europe and Japan, like, E3, Leipzig Games Convention, or Tokyo Games Show respectively. This time, however, EA, through one of the Dragon Age series’ Executive Producers, Mark Darrah, they announced the game through their website.

The announcement explains why they’ve chosen a non-traditional method for the announcement:

Recently, I said that we didn´t want to talk about Dragon Age III unless we had something to show. I´m trying to stick to that plan and won´t be revealing much today. That said, a lot of information and rumors have surfaced recently and we don´t want to hide from them. There are a BUNCH of things that I really want to share with you but I want to do this right, and doing it right requires some more time.

This decision appears designed to foster goodwill with a fanbase grumbling with discontent at the recent handling of the Dragon Age franchise, including the dramatic changes introduced to the series with its second volume, many of which appear to have been made to speed development of the game, following on the unexpected success of Dragon Age: Origins, rather than to improve the series’ gameplay and storytelling through natural evolution of the game systems. Read More »

Behind closed doors at E3, the largest videogame conference and tradeshow in the world, currently going on in Los Angeles, Square Enix, makers of the popular Final Fantasy series, debuted a stunning new game engine. The engine, dubbed Luminous Studio, was showcased in the form of a real-time short film inspired by Final Fantasy. The four minute film is a marvel of tech, art and sound design.

Keep in mind that what you’re seeing is being rendered in real-time, meaning that, if Square Enix’s projections for hardware specs are correct (and, to be fair, they’re probably optimistic), this is the potential level of quality that we could see in gameplay sections of videogames developed using Luminous Studio. It’s a little astounding. I remember, watching Toy Story, that I marvelled at the time when videogame graphics would surpass Pixar’s efforts. Watching this, I think it’s fair to say that real-time graphics have long ago left those films in the dust, even if they still can’t compete with Pixar’s latest films.

Game of Thrones RPG
Okay, I’ll admit it, I first loaded up Game of Thrones, a full-on Dragon Age-style RPG developed by Canadian/French developer Cyanide Entertainment, with some hesitancy. Like many Fantasy fans, I consider Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to be a pre-eminent work of Fantasy and place it among my very favourite pieces of fiction, regardless of medium. Though there is recent precedent for the adaptation of the series into other formats (particularily HBO’s television series and the Graphic Novel, adapted in part my Daniel Abraham), videogames have always been a difficult transition due to the non-linear style of storytelling that they often employ. Added to this, developer Cyanide Studio doesn’t exactly have the strongest back library of games and their previous attempt at a Game of Thrones videogame, A Game of Thrones: Genesis was poorly received (so much so that the publisher of Game of Thrones, Atlus, very clearly points out in the press material that this game was developed by an entirely different team at Cyanide!)


So, then, I booted up my PS3, eager but also weary of what I’d find. First impression? A twenty-plus minute mandatory install to my PS3’s harddrive. No flavour text or history to read through, no stirring music or pretty screenshots. Just twenty-plus minutes of a bar slowly filling up.

The graphics are pretty dire. While the art direction is decent at times (if a little over-the-top for Martin’s generally reserved world), the first environment (Castle Black) is bland and lifeless, textures are poor, the characters animate awkwardly, and the faces are almost as bad as an Elder Scrolls game. Further, thought this might be a PS3 issue, which has always Framerate is junky and there’s a noticeable amount of tearing.
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Kingdoms of Amalur Logo

38 Studios and Big Huge Games, creators and developers of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, are no more. After a well publicized run-in with the state of Rhode Island over a missed loan payment, it was announced today that all employees of both companies, 379 in total, have been laid off. No employees have received a pay cheque since April 30th.

Of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the Governor of the state of Rhode Island, Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, said:

“The game failed,” he said. “The game failed. That was integral to the success of the company.”

He told reporters that experts told them it would have had to sell 3 million copies to break even. Schilling has said that the game sold about 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days.

“Companies fail over night,” Chafee said, in response to a question about the sudden closure.

Now, calling it a failure is something of a misnomer. To “break even” Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning had to sell 3 million units. It’s being speculated that where the failure lies isn’t so much with the performance of Reckoning, but with the studios projects and their reliance on its performance to fund the ongoing development of “Project Copernicus,” a long-in-the-making MMORPG. 1.2 million copies in a month-and-a-half is a decent number, even for a game as large as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. A more conservative estimate in sales and budget might have saved the studio (though this is, of course, speculation on my part.)
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