Street Fighter x Tekken: craziest panel at SDCC

sfvstek

I don’t think I have ever played a fighting game, but after sitting through the Street Fighter x Tekken panel at Comic Con (it was just before the SWTOR one), I think I may be tempted.

Here’s a link to video of the entire 45 minute panel.

I’ll try to sum up below. The Japanese developers came on and showed some video of the new characters, to rapturous applause. They got fans to wave $10 in the air if they wanted to get the new game sooner (the air was awash with sweaty arms waving dollar notes). They also discussed issues around balance and invited players to contact them via social networks if they had any balance issues or suggestions (can you imagine a MMO dev doing this?) And then things started to get weird.

The Streetfighter producer announced that his colleague who developed Tekken had suggested that he be in the game as a fighting character. So to decide this, they’d agreed a series of 13 challenges, which they then showed on a video in the style of a Japanese game show. Challenges included competitive coke drinking, hot dog eating, hitting each other with weapons that looked like large balloons, etc etc.

(The other developer lost, although I have to say he was actually quite butch especially in the tile-breaking challenge, but then came on stage in person to accept this with good grace.)

And then, they announced another of the new characters for SF vs Tekken via a trailer, a scantily clad dominatrix called Poison.

street-fighter-x-tekken-poison_84829-160x120

The crowd cheered. Evidently a fan favourite (can’t imagine why :P). And then Capcom brought on a model dressed as Poison to more cheers, then another, and another, then a couple of male models dressed as Poison too, and finally the Street Fighter producer himself came back on stage … wearing the same costume.

This is the point where I again lament the loss of my camera because words can’t really do justice. And if you thought things were weird then, they got even weirder when one of the Poisons started whipping the Tekken guy and no, I don’t entirely understand why.

If that has intrigued you, just watch the video of the panel. I don’t know if all Japanese developers are as batshit crazy as CapCom, but it was like nothing on earth I’ve ever seen. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get hold of a copy of Streetfighter …

[SWTOR] Notes from SDCC, and scarce code is scarce

OK, a few more notes about The Old Republic to catch up on what we’ve seen last week, following up Arb’s summary of her flashpoint yesterday.

As an observer, I was mostly taken by:

  • Smoothness of the character animations. This isn’t LOTRO where the game is gorgeous until someone moves. It’s all very nicely animated.
  • Loved the female sith bounty hunter that Arb was playing, she looked very cool and badass. So did her armour.
  • It wasn’t all that easy for me to tell the various characters apart, aside from the sith inquisitor in his robes. Expect the inquisitor/ consular to get picked on a lot in PvP because they’re so easy to spot. As well as potentially being healers.
  • The dialogue wheels were lots of fun. I could see Arb settling into her character when she started instantly picking the most sarcastic options (which got darkside points, naturally.) What she couldn’t see but I could was that the guy sitting next to her was picking the exact same options with similar lack of delay. It’s almost a shame that the game can’t point out afterwards, “You know character X you met in that team? You guys have a lot in common and picked similar options, maybe you’d get on.” Would be especially neat for light side empire and dark side republic characters to be able to spot each other.
  • The instance was pretty much corridors (dressed up nicely as a ship) with mobs in them, broken up by the occasional boss or dialogue. There was an obvious influence from WAR in that side quests such as “kill 30 republic soldiers” kept popping up and it looked as though the team was completing them fairly organically just by running the flashpoint.
  • You do get to mow down lots of enemy mooks.

The point Arb made yesterday was that she could imagine groups getting very impatient if one member was slow to read or select dialogue or went AFK because the game does require everyone to make a selection before things continue. I assume there is a timeout, but we know how fast faster faster gogogo people get in instances.

Star Wars Panel

Bioware ran a 45 minute panel at Comic Con, at which they showed a few trailers, introduced some of the character voice actors, and answered some questions. G4TV recorded the whole thing, along with a commentary – mine would have been better (obviously) if I hadn’t run out of power on the iPod towards the end :)

The room was packed, and people cheered the trailers (which do look awesome on a big screen with proper sound equipment.)

Main points:

  • New trailer. This one briefly introduces the classes, it’s all made up of in-game footage, no cinematics. And I’m assuming you get to hear the actual voice actors who’ll be voicing the player characters. (The Imperial Agent not only looks geeky, he sounds geeky too! I may be a bit in love.)
  • No overlap of quest between class/ faction. For example, the bounty hunter and jedi knight have no quests in common from 1-max level. I’m assuming there may be some faction quests in common but definitely got the sense that the vast majority of class content is not repeated.
  • They discussed the solo endgame. There will be an entire planet devoted to this.
  • Planets can be quite large. They gave the example of 30 mins to run from one end to the other, although players will have faster transport than that.
  • You’ll be able to customise your companions, including changing their skin and hair colour. So yours don’t have to look like everyone else’s.
  • There is a LOT of dialogue in this game, which I think had been well broadcast previously. The voice actors discussed this, and the sizes of the scripts they had to read. They both really seemed to enjoy their characters and praised the writing (I hope the woman playing the love interest is ready for the amount of fan reaction she’s likely to get :) ).
  • They showed an example of the dialogue wheel, with a jedi vs sith fight where the winning jedi got to choose at the end whether or not to kill their opponent. They let the crowd choose, based on how loudly people cheered for each choice (cheers sounded about equal from where I was sitting). They said they expected people to choose killing, but showed both alternate endings. In the light side ending, the guy said he would change his ways, and they said you might run into him again later.
  • I can’t remember the character’s name but the twilek who ends up as a possible companion to the sith warrior is hilarious. They showed a couple of clips of her sassing people.
  • Level 50 was noted as the max level.

Pricing and Scarcity

There has been a lot of debate in the blogosphere (to put it mildly) about the pricing of the SWTOR pre-orders and collectors editions. Yes, they’re high, but they’re also bang in line with pricing trends for AAA games.

This will not be the first game to offer a $150 collectors edition, and it certainly won’t be the last. I don’t really understand the outrage on this particular point, collector’s editions were always supposed to be something a bit special for the hardcore (and rich) fans.  Having said that, I think Bioware could do fairly well if they sell the soundtrack separately.

Similarly, before complaining about the price of the standard edition, stop and think about how much MW3 is likely to be selling for later this year. Will it stop people buying the game? Hell no. I share the dismay on pricing trends, but this is pretty much in line with the way things are going.

Another issue is the deliberate scarcity of pre-order copies of the game. I have heard some obscure conspiracy theories around EA doing this to push prices up. I have also heard some more plausible debates about how to stop the servers getting swamped on launch (along with suggestions that EA should just somehow manage it.)

In any case, the real take away point I took from seeing the game and the dev team at Comic Con is that no one is trying to fool anyone. What you see is what you get. The game is very much for real. If you don’t like what you’re seeing and hearing in the interviews and demos right now, then it may not be for you. And I trust Bioware that if they are keeping the copies scarce, then they have a good reason for it.

It is a shame if players outside the US and EU have to wait a few more months for their servers, but we did that with WoW and it didn’t kill us. My advice is that it’s worth the wait to have local servers if you were planning to play the game anyway.

So, is CCP set to announce a Vampire MMO next week?

It must be at least a year since I last guesstimated that CCP/ White Wolf were about to loose the blinds from their long awaited Word of Darkness MMO. And I was wrong last time.

But maybe this year will be different. White Wolf are holding a Grand Masquerade WoD Convention next week and the rumours are already flying about a big announcement that is on the cards.

In particular, one of the panels on the schedule for Saturday 25th Sept is on “Tell the World of Darkness Development team what you want to see in the MMO.” A sign of things to come, or just a tease from a gaming company who know that their fans have an interest in the genre?

It does now have me thinking about what I personally would want to see in a WoD MMO.

  • Vampire-centric. The WoD gets muddled as you add more supernaturals and there are balance issues, those work better as mysterious NPCs.
  • Big emphasis on politics, alliances, turf wars, and gathering influence and information.
  • Real world setting. A big city to explore.
  • PvP as economic and influence struggle as well as face to face combat.
  • Be able to make a vampire that perches on rooftops, as per Underworld or Christopher Walken in Prophecy.
  • Lots of blood. And dressing up.

In any case, a company that is asking fans about what they want to see doesn’t sound like one that is ready to release a game any time soon. I’d say 2012 at the earliest for this one. And it will be nice for fans of modern urban fantasy to have a few options on the table, between WoD and The Secret World.

Are you looking forwards to the World of Darkness MMO, and what would you want to see in it?

Comic Con PanelFAIL

Comic Con Day 1

Comic Con Dragon Age 2 Panel

First an admission – I probably like TV more than I like playing games.

Secondly, I didn’t make it to the SW:TOR or Fallout 3 panels.

The second is somewhat due to the first, except I did leave a little time between panels to try and get into the gaming ones – just they were a LOT more popular than I expected. So, instead, I went back to the exhibit hall and had another look at some of the gaming stands, but realistically I wasn’t going to hang around and try and play Red Faction (sorry to any fans), and the queues were pretty long. I did stop by NCSoft but they still didn’t appear to be doing much, and most people with Going Rogue up were just using the costume designer (no surprise there!).

Have no fear though, this update does have a (kind of) gaming aspect to it. I just spent part of my evening at Flynn’s Arcade, playing Mission Control and Pac-Man. And I’m rubbish at those games. But to be back in an arcade after *cough* possibly more than 20 years, well, it was very cool. The whole room was set up as a replica of Flynn’s in the original TRON movie.

Then the back door was opened surreptitiously and people allowed to explore through it to Flynn’s office, where we stood until enough people discovered the location and watched a small presentation, which ended up in a bit of zapping and another door being opened into the fluorescent world of TRON, a bar location with the newest TRON: Legacy trailer playing on all sides, and with the bars giving out Coke Zero, while you could look at displays of costumes and models. Super-fun and a little spooky.

As for the first part of my day, I started at the Hawaii Five-0 panel. No excuses, they promised a cool T-shirt (‘I got lei’d at Comic Con’) and also it was followed by the panel for AMC’s The Walking Dead, based on Robert Kirkman’s awesome comic series. Both panels were a lot of fun and got great receptions, so I don’t regret it, except for missing SW:TOR which was 30 mins after the AMC one finished, but people were being turned away from the queues. And I really didn’t want to sit through a ton of other stuff I wasn’t interested in to see it. Same happened with Fallout 3, though I turned up there over an hour beforehand and the queuing people were being told it was full (at Comic Con, they don’t clear rooms between panels, so people turn up and ‘squat’ for a few panels if there’s something they really want to see. So I did make an effort for you all, but I didn’t want to compromise the stuff I wanted to get done for myself.

We queued to buy exclusive TRON merchandise and I now have a die-cast mini light cycle. It was a pain to get but was genuinely on my list of things I wanted. It’s lucky I don’t mind waiting around a lot, I’m getting well-practised.

I’ll see if I can check the gaming stuff out some more, but if I don’t, it’s honestly because of my uppermost admission. I’m here for the TV mostly!