Gaming news: Zombies in Black Ops, FFXIV released, MSoft wants Second Life, Recettear and Minecraft huge hits, Skaven in WAR

So, yesterday was Eurogamer which bore a surprising resemblance to a bunch of gaming zombies wandering around a huge exhibition hall, half of which was full of demos of Assassin’s Creed II.  Arb and I will talk more about our Eurogamer thoughts next week.

  • Things I saw which caught my eye were:
    PS3 Move. I saw a few demos with the Move and … they looked fun. I don’t think my living room is large enough or tidy enough to justify a purchase but it did look cool.
  • Dragon Age 2. Now with less blood spatters but still with some so you know which game you are playing. We cheered when there was a closeup on the blood spatter.
  • Indie Arcade. Didn’t have time to look at all the games, so focussed on a bizarre passive aggressive game which kept telling you to stand away from the computer and not press buttons. Also a fun explory/ platformy game where I amused the guy standing next to me by falling off a cliff and exclaiming, “Oh! I guess that’s not how you use the stairs.”
  • Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Absolutely adorable, and looked pretty fun too.
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Reminded me of Uncharted 2, mostly down to the graphics, gameplay and camera angle.

In a press release about SWTOR, Bioware revealed more information about the smuggler. It’s sounding increasingly as though the smuggler IS Han Solo rather than just being inspired by him, and one of the latest reveals is that there is a wookie companion.

Also in gaming news this week was another spat between Bobby Kotick and whoever. I’m getting bored of following these arguments but they seem to get a lot of gaming press. I imagine it will be EA’s turn next week.

Gaming post of the week is Unsubject’s admiration of DCUO’s courageous and brave brave marketing decisions. The game is due to be released in November and we still know virtually nothing about the gameplay – it doesn’t bolster confidence.

Zombies in Black Ops

Activision revealed that Call of Duty: Black Ops will feature a multiplayer zombie mode. Apparently it will involve “brand new zombie experiences”. Your guess is as good as mine.

I don’t pretend to understand where it makes sense for a franchise that has always been fairly solidly based on well researched real world settings to go all zombie on us but zombies are cool, right? (Maybe the new zombie experience is that you actually get to play a zombie!) The game is due to launch on 9th Nov.

Another shooter which is drifting away from being too realistic is Medal of Honor, from which it was confirmed that references to the Taliban were dropped this week. Instead they have been renamed as “Opposing force.” Personally I think they should have just reskinned them as zombies.

Final Fantasy 14 launches on PC

September 30th marked the launch day for FF14.

Feedback I have heard so far has been positive, but keen to point out that the game harkens back to an older style of MMO than recent WoW fans (for example) may be comfortable with.

Microsoft interested in Second Life

The Escapist reported this week on a rumour that Microsoft has a bid in for Linden Labs, noting that LL laid off a lot of staff recently and is known to be in some trouble.

They think that Second Life would fit in great as a virtual world for xbox players. I’m not sure about that one myself, but it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it if the rumour is true.

Minecraft and Recettear show good sales

You may notice on the right hand margin of this page that I’ve included both Recettear and Minecraft under the current list of games we’re playing. (Arb is playing Minecraft, I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I will!).

We think they’re both ace, and so do lots of other people.

RPS reports that Recettear has sold over 26k copies, which is pretty darned good for a little indie PC game relying mostly on word of mouth, a near zero marketing budget, and digital downloads.

However, Minecraft makes that look paltry by apparently taking in $350k profit per day.

These trends all bode well for the indie market. With every awesome game that gets successful, players will be more and more willing to try another one if the word of mouth is good. Both of these games are excellent value for money –- obviously there’s no guarantee either will be up your street but both have demos and it won’t be hard to google a review online.

Skaven in Warhammer Online

Werit writes about (Bioware) Mythic’s announcements of their plans for WAR. Plans which include playable Skaven … sort of. Players will be able to control Skaven, but not in a way that replaces their main character.

I’m a little unclear on the details but it sounds as though players will be able to assume a Skaven role in PvP but there won’t be any supporting PvE for the rat people. Werit compares this to monster play in LOTRO which, to be fair, is enjoyed by a lot of people.

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Whatever happened to virtual worlds?

Mashable has a brief post about virtual worlds, calling them the hottest ticket in tech back in 2005.

We imagined the people of Earth leading double lives in alternate realities. It was the stuff of science fiction, like flying cars and robot butlers, and unlike those things, it actually looked like it could become reality.

But somehow, they never really took off. These days, it’s Facebook or Twitter that have become the world’s virtual hangout, not fully realised graphical worlds where you can walk around as your avatar. (Unless you play MMOs.)

In fact, Mashable can only think of two virtual worlds to compare. Second Life – which is genuinely a virtual world – and Metaplace, which wasn’t really designed to be a communal ‘world’ at all, more a series of unattached themed meeting rooms. Neither of them, despite the hype, succeeded in setting the world on fire. Did they fail to catch the imagination of the mainstream, or were they just not accessible enough? Anyone who tried to build anything in either ‘game’ might wonder about the latter.

They also note that WoW is probably the most successful of all virtual worlds if you go by the numbers. And although purists would shake their heads at the notion of Blizzard’s MMO as an actual virtual world, it does fill some of the criteria. (Sandbox games tend to be even moreso.)

I’d keep watching this space, because we haven’t really had any ultra-accessible virtual worlds on offer. The WoW equivalent to Second Life doesn’t exist, yet. And yet, a highly accessible virtual world might have the sort of broad-based mainstream success that AAA MMOs have lacked.

I don’t know if it would be a good thing for Blizzard to be behind this type of push in addition to their current market domination. But looking at the rumours about their next MMO, they talk about having two worlds in one:

  • a social area, like The Sims, where players can hang out
  • a FPS game type area

The former could be that virtual world. Certainly attracting non-gamers to previously niche genres has been Blizzard’s great strength. Could they pull it off again?

You can’t film that!

Apparently some (mad) director wants to make a film about Second Life. The story is basically about a guy whose online affair screws up his real life one.

I think Second Life got away lightly! What, no mad furry catgirl sex? No smut at all? No empty shopping arcades peopled by sad brand names who bought into the hype? They should be grateful to this director for making it look like a popular RP game.

Making a film of an MMO is just weird to me, with the honorable exception of LOTRO.

I know there was also talk about making a film of WoW. But why? I don’t want to watch a film about it when I can just play it. Plus the lore is OK but it’s not that great. Just sounds like another attempt to cash in — can’t blame them when that many people play. And would it invove naked elves dancing on mailboxes because without that, it’s not really the film of the game.