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Comic-Con 2010 Starts July 22nd July 14, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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I’m sure many people will think Its odd I’m mentioning a convention about comics on a gaming website, but over the past few years Comic-Con has become more of a convention for everything rather than just comics. Movies and video games have been previewed at the convention, and this one’s looking to be huge.

Microsoft has announced Gears of War 3, Halo Reach and Kinect are scheduled to appear. They are the biggest Xbox 360 releases of the next 12 months.

Comic-Con will start July 22nd this year. If anything new is posted up I’ll try to comment on it here.


No Love for Network Adapters July 14, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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I tried selling my old Gamecube earlier today. I have a Wii already and since then the Cube has just been sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

Gamestop had no problem taking it, however what they wouldn’t take for some odd reason was my Gamecube network adapter. It just was no longer supported by the store for sale or trade in.

Yes, the Gamecube did support online and LAN play in some of it’s games, just not anywhere near as many as it should’ve. Games like Mario Kart Double Dash was the big network play seller, but it was LAN only. Games that really could have used it like Metroid Prime, had no multiplayer, and Metroid Prime 2 only supported split screen.

I’ve seen this before. A few years ago a friend of mine bought a used Dreamcast to use it to play the classic games, and even wanted to turn it into a web server. While the Dreamcast came with a built in modem, you could replace it with a network adapter. In 1999, only college kids had broadband. When my best friend asked the clerks about network adapters for Dreamcast, he just shook his head and said, “Good luck.”

Dreamcast network adapters are impossible to find and incredibly overpriced if you can find one. Is the Gamecube’s adapter destined for the same thing?

What Makes Good Atmosphere in a Video Game Part 2: Fake Radio July 14, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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For me, It all started with Lazlow, who began with the words, “All right Liberty City this is your talk radio show, Chatterbox, where your opinion matters.”

As far as I know, the chatterbox radio station in Grand Theft Auto 3 is the first recorded attempt to bring a persistent fake radio station into a game, but more than that it wasn’t put there just to add music to listen to (I think that had been done before), but to provide an extra depth of character to the setting and the people in it.  They could add humor to a serious storyline, or provide further background you would not be able to get other ways.

I always appreciated when games would have radio shows in them.  I loved them so much I used to pull the original .wav files from the game installation folders and rip CDs just so I could listen to them in my car while driving.  Let me tell you I would get some weird looks from my passengers when these CDs would start to play.  Their production values were so high they were indistinguishable from regular radio stations, bringing them a lot of credibility.  Of course the content on a lot of them were pretty terrifying to the uninformed and it was pretty funny to see the looks on their faces when I would play them.

Other iconic openings followed in other games like in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, who started with, “Hello LA this is your talk radio show.  If you’re new to town or new to this whole radio thing, you’re listening to The Deb of Night, the only girl who will spend the night with you and leave first thing in the morning guaranteed.”

The radios could be heard in your haven, and sometimes on radios in the game world.  They added a lot of humor to the game, as it became obvious that Deb was probably the only girl the show’s callers ever talked to.  Landmarks in the game were referenced, and it was interesting to see what real people unaware of the Vampire society they lived in thought of your exploits, not knowing why you were doing them, showing that you were actually making an impact on the world around you and the people in it.

Of course there was also Prey, who started theirs with, “From the high desert in the Great American Southwest, I’m Art Bell.”

The Art Bell show of course is real, its use in Prey was actually the solution to a problem the developers were having.  The radio show’s inclusion was more of a storytelling addition than an atmospheric one.  During the development of Prey, the game developers knew they needed a persistent voice telling the player what was going on back on Earth.  The developers wanted someone like Art Bell to do the radio shows given the subject matter he covers fit in perfectly with Prey’s themes, eventually they just decided get Art Bell himself to do it.  Intentionally or unintentionally, its inclusion in the game became a highly anticipated moment, and it also allowed them to include a lot of inside jokes.  Bell even recorded his segments in his home, on the same equipment he used to transmit his radio show.  This not only increased the production value of the segments, it blurred the line between the game and reality.

For everything I said in the last article about Alan Wake’s advertising being non atmospheric, it succeeded and surpassed my atmospheric expectations when at one point in the game you get to see the actual radio station where all those radio shows were broadcast from.  On the billboard just under the station identification sign was the face of Pat Maine, the host of the radio show The Night Owl, which you’ve been listening to all game.

It was always great to hear advertisements for fake products that you’d see billboards for later in the game, showing that fake ads and fake radio shows are a fantastic way to add atmosphere, and they can function together for a deeper connection to the player and bringing this series full circle.

So that’s all for now from my series, “What Makes Good Atmosphere in a Video Game?”  I hope you enjoyed them.  Feel free to comment on what you thought, and post up any ideas of your own about new topics for the series.  If it’s good, I might just use it.