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Category Archives: Games

Indie Game Developers, Overnight Success

For Rami Ismail, the co-developer of Ridiculous Fishing, an iOS app where users shoot at fishes with a machine gun, being an overnight success can be a life-changing experience in more ways than one. At a time when more and more indie game developers are making games and hoping to be the next overnight millionaire, those who have done it share that sudden success comes with its own set of issues. The New Yorker’s Simon Parkin tracked down developers who made apps which became overnight hits to find out more about the psychological impact that they face. As it turns out, sudden success is a double-edged sword. Some, like Rami, felt that the money that he’d earned (Ridiculous Fishing earned $100,000 in its first month alone, and hit $1 million in sales within six months) was not entirely deserved, particularly when compared to the 24-year-old’s mother’s seemingly endless working hours at the local government – while he spends his days working from his computer at irregular hours. Somewhere in the back of your head you know that you worked hard, that you sacrificed your stability and you took on the risk of financial ruin for a long while. You did things that other people were not willing or capable of. And that paid off. But, even so, it feels awful. I couldn’t get rid of the image of my mother in her car, driving to work. Others, too, face a similar issue. Take Dong Nguyen, for example. The developer behind the viral app, Flappy Bird, was earning an estimated $50,000 a month from ad revenue of the free game. It ruined his simple life in his native Vietnam: foreign press journalists camped outside his house in the hopes that he’d be open for an interview or two, while rumours persist that the Vietnamese authorities were seeking him for income tax payments soon after it was revealed how much he’d been earning from ad revenue. As a result, Nguyen took down Flappy Bird from both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Making an overnight success comes with its own set of complicated emotions. Sure, you’re suddenly have more money than you can imagine, but the attention from various parties – from family members seeking financial assistance to the pressure of replicating a former success – can be paralysing. Davey Wreden, the creator of another successful app called The Stanley Parable, blogged about the depression that he went through after the game made him an estimated $6.3 million dollars. From the intense attention from parties all over the world, to the crippling pressure to deliver a second successful app, being an overnight success comes with its own fascinating set of psychological issues. These developers made their games out of a love for making games, and the massive amount of money appears to be a side effect that some of them are not equipped to handle.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Games, Info ICT

 

The Age of Too much DLC

One of my fondest gaming memories was playing Total Annihilation back in 1997. It was a time when Cavedog Entertainment provided new units to use every month; free of charge. These new units weren’t all that game-changing either; just nice additions to the already massive arsenal that few other games have managed to provide. Things have changed a lot since then. Downloadable content (DLC) is now everywhere, with every big release quickly followed by map packs, multiplayer skins, and, occasionally, extra gameplay content. Most of which requires some investment of real world money to acquire. Borderlands 2 has managed to put out 45 pieces of DLC, over half of which are nothing more than cosmetic additions. While the game itself was only released in late 2012, Gearbox has seen it fit to release a new adventure for most American holidays, including Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. This was essentially one piece of DLC every two months. Free to play multiplayer shooter Loadout currently tries to support itself with cosmetic DLC. It is similar to the plan implemented by Dota 2 and League of Legends, although it does this with an amazing level of faith in the playerbase. The Mardi Gras DLC costed US$89.99 and only provided six new outfits. Needless to say, there was almost no value to be had for something of that price and it did not go down well with the community.

Worse was what happened in Dragon Age: Origin, which managed to use DLC to break immersion in the game; which is a feat unto its own. Allowing players to accept a quest and then telling them to buy it is possibly the worst way to integrate DLC into the world and looks like a cheap cash grab. The mother of all unnecessary fleecing of customers through DLC is the Sims franchise. The Sims 3 has 11 expansion packs that add new features and gameplay options; if that isn’t enough there are also 9 Stuff Packs, which simply add more items to the game. The Stuff Packs are not cheap either, with each costing US$24.90. It is extremely understandable that developers want to make a little extra income and extend the lifespan of a game. Gamers don’t mind if this is done properly and in an entertaining way. Extra playable content or options like those found in Borderlands 2 is perfectly acceptable in an age where expansion packs no longer exist and DLC is our only option. Collectible style gameplay like that in Train Simulator is also a great idea as it translates a physical hobby into the virtual world. Charging for DLC is not a bad thing, but there has to be value for the player. Train Simulator’s massive amount of DLC is not an issue due to the nature of the game, the same goes for the ridiculous number of songs available for Rock Band 3. Games are becoming a legitimate means of storytelling and art.

The Last of Us has been lauded as some of the best writing in a game ever made, and isn’t burdened by large amounts of skins and additional DLC. In fact, the only DLC available is a single expansion campaign that helps with developing the characters as relatable people. Bioshock Infinite weaves a story around the city of Rapture, and manages to build an extremely believable world in which the characters exist. DLC here only serves to future expand on the existing story and increase immersion. Gamers are generally more than happy to support developers, but only if the developers care about the players. We have a limited amount of funds to spend on games, and it is more likely to go to those who provide a reason for us to keep buying their stuff. Saints Row IV may have some obviously fanservice DLC for sale (like this Hey Ash, Whatcha Playing? Pack), but also has a Child’s Play pack for supporting the Child’s Play charity. Similarly, Dota 2 began selling additional cosmetic items when the Free To Play documentary was released. Proceeds from the sale of those new items went to supporting the players featured in the documentary. Borderlands 2 also provides great stories with the Head Hunter packs, and these are actually priced quite reasonably. Games like Titanfall, while being fantastic experiences in their own right, suffer from being enslaved by corporate marketing and sales teams.

DLC map packs and expansions become means of simply making more money off gamers, without providing any real value. It would be understandable if the Titanfall developers decide to avoid including new Titans in any of the planned DLC. After all, what would the point be if their publisher is already talking about Titanfall 2 ? The title of this story is probably misleading. There isn’t actually a lot of DLC on the market; but a large amount of it is unnecessary. Cosmetic and vanity items don’t mean much unless the game in question is some sort of MMORPG or relying on Free-to-Play monetisation; otherwise, why should we be paying more money for skins after paying full price for a game? These things used to be given out for free. Providing extra content used to be a massive exercise in coming up with something new. Gamers once awaited expansion packs with great enthusiasm. For good reason too, as expansion packs usually brought large amounts of new content. Those who don’t remember should just look Blizzard’s recent release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Essentially, developers need to give people a reason to buy their stuff. If not, we will end up with a world where games ship with multiple pieces of DLC that becomes obsolete once a sequel comes around.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Games

 

SteelSeries New Products For 2014

The new SteelSeries Stratus Wireless Gaming Controller is part of our Best of CES list for this year but one might wonder : what is it all about ? Stratus is apparently the first wireless gaming controller in the industry that is supported by iOS 7 according to the renowned Danish gaming peripherals manufacturer. The SteelSeries Stratus connects to Apple devices that supports it via Bluetooth 2.1 and it features a button layout that is very similar to game consoles out there : one direction button, dual analogue sticks, four action buttons, and four shoulder buttons. Depending on respective game titles, users are able to link up to four controllers to a single device for multiplayer experiences. The company also claims that the Stratus has a battery life of up to 10 hours with an estimated charging time of 2 hours through the included USB cable. There is a red LED in the middle of the controller which acts as a battery indicator as well as the amount of controller that are currently connected during a multiplayer session. The gamepad comes standard with a protective cover that also functions as an extended grip. Meanwhile, SteelSeries has also revealed another new product at CES 2014 alongside the Stratus in the form of the Sensei Wireless Gaming Mouse. With an ambidextrous shape that is based on the Sensei wired gaming mouse series that was released in 2011 and 2012, the new wireless mouse features 8 programmable buttons alongside a Pixart ADNS 9800 laser sensor with a sensitivity of up to 8200 counts per inch that can be toggled on-the-fly according to the settings that users are able to configure using SteelSeries Engine 3 software. Apart from that, the software also allows users to tweak the illumination zone on both Sensei Wireless Gaming Mouse and its base station which acts as its charging station, wireless transmitter and battery indicator. With a battery life of up to 20 hours, users also have the option to charge the Sensei Wireless Gaming Mouse and continue using it as a wired mouse by plugging the connector cable directly into it instead of using the base station. The new Sensei Wireless Gaming Mouse also comes with a polling rate of 1000Hz and a response time of 1ms to ensure lag-free gaming experience. Last but not least, SteelSeries claims that all the switches on the mouse are durable enough to withstand around 30 million click lifecycle. While the availability of both peripherals for Malaysian market is not yet known at the time being, the new SteelSeries Stratus Wireless Gaming Controller has been priced at RM 327 while the SteelSeries Sensei Wireless Gaming Mouse is listed at RM 522.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2014 in Gadjet, Games

 

Steam Machines Revealed

Valve’s highly anticipated Steam Machines have finally been revealed at CES 2014. As an attempt to bridge the gap between PC gaming and consoles they appear to be on the right track. Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve recently took to the stage at CES 2014 to announce the 13 manufacturers who will be creating the new machines, and also shared some specifications about what to expect from these designs. Dell’s Alienware is apparently onboard, but with absolutely no details on what the box has on the inside; or how much it will cost. However, it does manage to retain the Alienware aesthetic and will probably come in a range of different specification. Gigabyte is also producing a Steam Machine, and the “Brix Pro” might be the smallest of the lot. Barely wider than a DVD, it lacks the graphics cards found on other machines. Instead, the Intel i7-4770R comes with the Intel Iris Pro 5200 integrated graphics. Which might put a damper on those who want to run the most demanding games. It does have 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD to make up for the lack of graphics power. It might also be cheaper than the others. The Origin PC “Chronos” may just be the most ridiculous machine to ever call itself a console. There is no price tag on it, but you are free to draw your own conclusions from specifications that include an Intel Core i7 CPU, two NVIDIA GTX Titans, 32GB RAM and 14TB of HDD storage. As far as prices go, they range from US$499 to a known upper limit of US$6,000. Not exactly console killing prices, but it might come down before the official launch. Otherwise it might be difficult to convince console gamers that these machines are worth shelling out the extra cash for.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Gadjet, Games

 

PlayStation Baru Memperluaskan Fungsi Sosial

Sony bakal mengumumkan sesuatu berkaitan konsol PlayStation dalam tempoh kurang 48 jam lagi, dan kini, beberapa info baru berkaitan dengannya hadir, memberikan idea apakah yang akan disertakan bersama-sama dengan konsol generasi baru Sony kelak. WSJ melaporkan konsol generasi baru daripada Sony akan memperluaskan lagi penggunaan sosial, membolehkan pengguna berkongsi terus ke Facebook, Twitter mahupun YouTube dengan mudah. Beberapa sokongan telah pun sedia terbina pada PlayStation 3, tetapi dijangka akan ditambah baik dan dipermudahkan melalui konsol baru kelak dimana ia turut menyertakan sokongan permainan melalui Cloud. Perkara tersebut bagi membolehkan pengguna memainkan ia pada pelbagai peranti dan para pemain boleh bersaing dengan rakan-rakan mereka menggunakan telefon pintar, dan pelbagai peranti lain. Sony bakal mengumumkannya secara rasmi pada 21 Februari ini.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Games

 

PlayStation Baru Akan Membawakan Sokongan Stream Permainan

Selain daripada beberapa gambar prototaip awal alat kawalan PlayStation generasi akan datang, kini WSJ melaporkan Sony bakal memperlihatkan konsol terbaru mereka pada minggu hadapan yang akan menyertakan pelbagai fungsi baru padanya. Salah satu perkara yang dikatakan PlayStation 4 kelak berkebolehan untuk stream permainan terus dari internet dalam bentuk masa-nyata. Melalui sokongan stream ini, pengguna akan dapat menikmati permainan pada PlayStation 3. Pada tahun lepas, Sony telah membeli dan mengambil-alih Gaikai, dimana menawarkan permainan berasaskan awan. Dengan teknologi perkomputeran awan, ia membolehkan pengguna memainkan permainan dengan spesifikasi tinggi dengan mudah, dan hanya memerlukan talian internet yang sewajarnya untuknya. Buat masa ini, ia tidak diketahui lagi bagaimanakah Sony akan mengenakan caj untuknya. Memandangkan ia akan ditawarkan secara digital, dan dimainkan terus pada konsol pengguna, maka permainan yang dibeli tidak akan dijual kembali seperti pada masa sekarang ini, dan mungkin tidak begitu digemari oleh para pemain. Tetapi, sekiranya Sony dapat menawarkan permainan dalam bentuk stream ini pada harga menarik, mungkin ia akan menerima reaksi positif daripada pengguna seluruh dunia. Sony bakal mengadakan acara pengumuman khas berkenaan PlayStation pada minggu hadapan. Sama-sama kita nantikan kejutan daripada mereka.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Gadjet, Games

 

Sony Memperkenalkan PlayStation 3

Sony hari ini secara rasminya telah pun memperkenalkan PlayStation 3 yang lebih nipis pada acara Tokyo Games Show, membawakan rekabentuk yang 20% lebih kecil daripada PlayStation 3 sedia ada, dan 25% lebih ringan. PlayStation 3 baru ini akan ditawarkan dalam dua pilihan warna iaitu putih dan hitam, serta membawakan pilihan ruangan storan sebanyak 250GB dan juga 500GB. Buat masa ini, tarikh pelancaran di Malaysia ataupun negara berhampiran masih tidak diketahui lagi, dan harga jualan tempatan masih menjadi tanda tanya. Di Amerika Utara, ia akan dijual pada harga RM822 untuk 250GB, dan $299 untuk 500GB.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Games