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Adam McCarthy

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Posts posted by Adam McCarthy

  1. It's not a secret to anyone that many gamers have been very disappointed with the Wii for quite some time, despite its record-breaking success with the casual crowd. With its sub-par graphics, limited selection of promising third party games, and association with the aforementioned casual realm of gamers, the Wii has been the target of much contempt among hardcore gamers.


    Now, it seems people have lost confidence in Nintendo because of the slip-up they believe the Wii was, but I, however, still have faith in them. Am I crazy? Maybe I am, but there are certain details that agree with me. Here are a few of them.








    The NES was a revolutionary console that essentially was Nintendo's beginning


    Nintendo has, historically, been a very strong force in the gaming industry over the past two and a half decades. Starting with the NES days back in the 1980s, the company had a huge grasp on gamers. Nobody was really disappointed, and really, why would they be? The Nintendo Entertainment System was revolutionary, and there were few real competitors. Through the ages, the gaming superpower continued to create innovative consoles with strong libraries to back them up.


    They even boasted the first portable console of the "Big Three" modern console manufacturers, the Game Boy, and have had more handhelds alone than Sony and Microsoft have had gaming systems, both console and handheld (not counting different Hard Drive sizes as different systems). Before the Wii, for the most part, people were satisfied with Nintendo's consoles (even the Gamecube wasn't nearly as maligned). Just because the ideas that the company had in mind for the Wii didn't live up to many people's expectations doesn't mean that we should expect all of their consoles in the future to suck. Because of their strong history, I believe that they will make a comeback in the next generation.



    The Library



    It could be said that Nintendo's line of first party titles is unmatched in quality and appeal. Characters like Mario, Link, Zelda, Fox, Kirby, and tons more are loved across the world by millions and millions of people. Because these huge series have been around for about 25 years, they're extremely well known and loved. Even if a game in one of these series happens to be less than perfect, people will still buy it, play it, and many will still enjoy it. Fans of these series such as myself love to see new titles like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, or Kirby's Epic Yarn, two fantastic titles from series that have been around even longer than I have.




    Super Smash Bros showcases some of the more prominent first-party characters from Nintendo


    However, I know that many people who read this will be thinking the same thing: "But Nintendo has hardly any third-party support, their library is terrible!" Again though, this isn't entirely true. The lack of third-pary titles was largely an issue only with the Wii, because it was so different from the other consoles and developing a game for it was risky. When you look at the differences between the PS3/360 and the Wii in terms of the controls and the graphics, it's obvious why developers didn't port more games over to the Wii. They can't simply switch a few things to make it controllable on the other system, all the graphics have to be redone so the game will run smoothly on the Wii.


    If you aren't convinced that Nintendo will be able to garner some more third-party support, just look at what was said at E3 last year. When Reggie Fils-Aime was unveiling the Wii U, he said that Nintendo realized that with the Wii, they took a step back from the core gaming community, and though that ended up working out for them, they wanted to gain the core audience back with their next console. Third-party support is definitely a major part of the core gaming audience, and in making this promise, Nintendo will surely not overlook this.


    If you still aren't convinced, look at the 3DS. Nintendo promised at E3 2010 that the 3DS would be a powerful system with a lot of big titles to back it up. Were they lying? No, they weren't. While the 3DS hasn't even reached its prime in terms of the library, there is certainly a good selection of titles to choose from already. A lot of first-party support was put into the handheld to push it forward, and significant third-parties such as Capcom, Ubisoft, and Sega have also had success on the system.


    Nintendo was certainly right about having a good library for the 3DS. As a 3DS owner myself, I can confirm that it is a powerful system and is leaps and bounds better than the original DS. In addition, it supports at least some backwards compatibility unike its competitor, the Playstation Vita, and has a library of downloadable retro games to make up for some of what backwards compatibility was lost.



    Better Online Support





    The Nintendo Network is something to look forward to in the Wii U


    In terms of online support, the Wii U will be miles ahead of the Wii. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (WFC) will be replaced with the more appropriately-named "Nintendo Network." User accounts will be used instead of friend codes, something we've all been dying for since 2006. It will also have a much better distribution method than the Wii, permitting the purchase and download of AAA games as well as smaller games from their network, rather than "WiiWare" and retro games alone. Though many people are against the digitization of game sales, the availability of both physical and virtual copies of games is something to be looked forward to.


    Aside from the issue of user accounts and digital distribution, it's obvious that there are many areas in which Nintendo can (and should) improve their online support in. Security, fairness of play, and server integrity are going to have to be kicked up a notch if Nintendo wants to win back the core audience.



    A Dynamic Duo



    By this, I mean the combined force of the Nintendo 3DS and the future Wii U. This section will have a fair amount of speculation, but this speculation is by no means impossible. First, I'd like to to point out a similarity that, to my knowledge, hasn't really been brought up.




    Is this a coincidence? Only time will tell


    As you will see very, very clearly in this picture, the control scheme for the Wii U's controller and the 3DS (with the extra circle pad) are exactly the same. It is possible that Nintendo is trying to standardize their controller layout to match up a bit more closely to that of the PS3 and Xbox 360, but something suggests to me that there's more to it than just that. Is it possible that Nintendo is trying to introduce cross-platform play into their newest generation?


    With the commonality of consoles using wireless technology to communicate with each other and with handhelds, I believe it's entirely possible, and even likely that we'll see it in an entirely new way. Imagine being across the country on your 3DS playing Super Smash Bros with your friend who is playing on a Wii U. The possibilities are endless, and if this feature isn't available directly from the start, it's possible that it will be introduced later.


    Perhaps the most important argument for console-handheld interaction is that it's been done before. The Playstation Vita has features that allow it to interact with a Playstation 3, so it's already being done by other companies. If you'll remember, some GameCube games actually featured console-handheld interaction. In some games (Pokemon Coliseum and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker come to mind), you could use an adapter to plug a Gameboy Advance into the controller slot of your GameCube and play together. In a more modern example, a few Pokemon games on the Nintendo DS were usable with Pokemon Battle Revolution and My Pokemon Ranch for the Wii.



    In Conclusion


    Nintendo is a company that is fully capable of learning from its mistakes. Historically, they have been able to control their fair share of the gaming market and will continue to do so. Third party support is something that gamers can look forward to in the Wii U and 3DS in the next generation, as well as improved online gaming for both first- and third-party games. There are countless features that gamers can expect to be faced with in the next generation, including console-handheld interaction, a concept that could be extremely useful and fun.


    When you consider all the information we have about the Wii U, Nintendo's history, and their promises at E3, it's not hard for me to believe that we are going to see a drastic improvement in the company's performance in the industry soon. With the Wii U expected to release late this year, we won't have to wait long to find out. Finally, here's a quote from Nintendo's own Satoru Iwata:


    "The company is aiming to firmly complete the development of the entire system and prepare sufficient software so that the Wii U will be at its best at the time of the launch. Needless to say, we have learned a bitter lesson from the launch of the Nintendo 3DS."

    -Satoru Iwata



    What are your expectations for the Wii U and 3DS in the future? Do you plan to buy these platforms? Thanks for reading and be sure to leave your opinions in the comments below.


    Click here to view the article

  2. It's too bad I never got into Final Fantasy XIV. Wait, no, what am I saying, that's a good thing.

    I've actually never played an MMORPG seriously, aside from a few free ones, and I thought about getting XIV when it came to PS3, but I got a gaming PC and I want more games for it, so I might actually get this at some point. However, I'm definitely going to wait for the changes to go into effect, and see what others have to say, it's quite a lot of money to be spent in my opinion.

  3. My mother has a Kindle Fire. I don't do much reading myself so I don't have one, but she seems to enjoy it. It's definitely worth noting that she is a bit slow terrible with technology, however. I personally haven't used it, so I can't offer much feedback on it.

  4. Man, it's so tempting, because P3 is now one of my favorite games of all-time, but I don't have enough PSN money to buy it. Maybe I'll grab a $20 card today or something.

  5. I think that the rewards program is fine. I think GameStop's decision with the powerup rewards program is simply to get more people interested in their store and get more people to purchase subscriptions to PUR Pro and GameInformer. From my personal experience, and I speak for a lot of people when I say this, Gamestop hasNever been interested in customer satisfaction. If you look at all the complaints from people about GS it becomes obvious that they don't really care. They sell defective games sometimes, give you terrible deals, and generally suck as a retailer, but because they have such a prominent name many people refuse to buy games elsewhere. It's true that their promotions and deals are good sometimes, but generally the only time I ever use GameStop before, say, Amazon, is if they have a neat pre-order bonus for a game that isn't offered elsewhere.


    The point is that GS PUR, in my opinion, was never meant to be "good" so much as to encourage purchases from GS. While it'd be nice to see some better deals on prizes and such, it's very doubtful.

  6. Thanks for the heads-up, Marcus, it's always good to be cautious about who you're buying from. I know that I, for one, always check out a bundle site and read up on it before trusting them with my information, and definitely advise others to do so as well. The digital distribution market can be a very sketchy thing, especially when it comes down to games (or anything, for that matter) being offered cheaply. There are definitely sites that are responsible in that regard but it's definitely something to check up on.

  7. This is a great step for gaming. We've certainly seen indie developer funding before, but the more the merrier, as the saying goes. I'm just hoping that this doesn't end up being another one of those things where people end up abusing the system and reaping money without actually making a game, or promising a game that they can't provide. At any rate, though, I'm interested in any effort to promote indie games, they're some of my favorite types of games and I support them wholeheartedly.


    It will be interesting to see how the Gala Fund works out. Perhaps it will increase the Indie Gala's popularity enough to warrant it's bundles to be even more successful.

  8. I'll agree with Jason and Kezins that DK64 would be fantastic, but DKC is more likely, since Nintendo seems to like to play with the idea of 2D platformers on a 3D System. Perhaps it will be a DKC Game with a twist, much like Super Mario 3D land was a 3D platformer with aspects from the classic 2D series. Either way, this is a big deal and it should be good for the 3DS and for Nintendo.

  9. I actually was not aware of any of these! I don't own any of these games with the box art mess-ups, but it's really hard to believe that a major developer like Capcom can repeatedly make such mistakes. They'll surely get away with it because not many people actually care what the box art looks like, at least not when the mistake doesn't actually involve the art itself.


    The Street Fighter x Tekken thing is a bit ridiculous. In my opinion developers take the word "exclusive" way too lightly and it's starting to become a big issue. More often than not "exclusive" means not given out with the other version but still available, but in the case of SFxT it's unforgiveable.

  10. I can certainly relate to at least Skyrim here, having booked around 70 hours in it (and I'm still not even halfway done with all the quests). The game has a ton of content and I love that, however the bugs make it very difficult sometimes. I had the hardest time fixing a broken quest that I didn't catch until 30some hours after I accepted it. For the PC version at least console commands can fix most problems, but for the console versions there must be some extreme problems. In addition it's worth noting that the dungeons, while plentiful and useful to do, are extremely repetitive. They all followed basically the same design of kill enemies, kill more enemies, solve extremely simple puzzle, repeat until boss. I enjoyed mindlessly wandering through these because I am weird, and mindless repetition pleases me. (I also liked Assassin's Creed 1). I'll probably play the game again, too, just to switch up a few things and change the whole experience. I played as a mage the first time, I think I'll be an Assassin next time.


    I definitely agree that when so much content is included in a game the developers seriously need to realize that there is a lot of testing that needs to be done, and with such customization options in the character the game needs to respond in an individualized way. It would be nice to see difficulty increase a little bit more dynamically throughout the game, instead of the static difficulty spikes we see currently. I can't say that I am someone who invested in such skills in Skyrim where it became a problem, but I can see where something like investing in light armor, alchemy and enchanting or similar skills would become a problem early in the game.


    Very nice article, and I agree with most of it.

  11. Concept art is crucial to video game production. By creating an idea that determines how a game should visually feel, a concept artist produces what becomes the center of all art in a video game.


    Adam Adamowicz, a concept artist who worked with Bethesda Softworks on Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, passed away last month as a result of complications from lung cancer. Aside from his work with Bethesda, Adamowicz worked on Nightcaster: Defeat the Darkness with Microsoft and Nightcaster II: Equinox and Goblin Commander: Unleash the Horde from Jaleco Entertainment. With the passing of Adamowicz, fans of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series may see some new changes in the art style, due to the fact that no two artists draw in the same way.




    This Fallout 3 concept art was drawn by Adam Adamowicz


    The process of creating concept art is critical to game development. Without a good image to base their work on, graphic designers would rarely, if ever, be on the same page. This type of preliminary art allows a single artist to come up with a general image that shows what the style of a given game should be, and, if it immediately doesn“t work out, not much is lost. The artist can simply come up with another idea and draw it into life. Since the initial “concept†stage is so simple and comparatively quick, it can be repeated until something appropriate is created.



    This concept art set the general tone of development on Metroid: Other M


    Let's imagine a project without concept art for a moment. The design team is (ideally) hard at work, creating 3D models, textures, maps, and everything else. At some point the team realizes that nobody is on the same page, all their designs seem to contrast with some part of the other members' work.


    Now the developers are in a no-win situation. They've wasted a lot of time working on these pieces of the game that now cannot be used together, because if they are used, the game will be criticized and receive low review scores because its art is all over the place. However, if the time had been taken before the design process to create a set of general, hand-drawn images that convey the main styles and themes of the game, this problem would have been avoided. In looking at this sample, the importance of concept art is clear- it ensures that designers working independently on different parts of a game know which direction they should be going in with the art.


    Aside from its clear and significant value in the game development and graphic design processes, concept art also holds some weight as a marketing tool. In fact, many collector's editions and pre-order bonuses for new games contain concept art booklets.


    For example, the Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XIII-2 includes a special booklet containing the hand-drawn early stages of some of its main characters. Many collectors and fans gladly pay extra to see what a game looked like early on, or just to have a neat new book they can show off to friends. The same idea applies to pre-order bonuses in that a game distributor such as GameStop, Best Buy, or Amazon may secure rights to offer one of these booklets as an incentive to pre-purchase the game from their franchise. When used in this manner, these incentives—while usually detested by the gaming community—will net developers and distributors with quite a pretty penny.




    This picture shows the concept art booklet included with the Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XIII-2


    A few developers in the past have chosen to include concept art as unlockable bonus content within their games. One such example is EA's Mirror's Edge. In that game, a player unlocks extra content upon completing certain objectives, much like built-in achievements. These objectives range from simply beating the game, to collecting all the runner bags, to getting a fast time in the numerous time trials and speed run levels.


    While it may not be quite as obvious, this is also a marketing decision. Gamers who like to unlock everything in a given game will end up playing the game for a longer period of time to ensure that they have done exactly that. The inclusion of concept art as unlockable content provides an incentive to gamers to continue playing the game. As the gamer spends more and more time playing the title they may find themselves more and more intrigued by it, and more willing to purchase a sequel or perhaps some DLC. Again, this approach boils down to using concept art, something critical to the design process, as a powerful tool to get more money out of players.




    Mirror's Edge offers concept art as unlockable content


    The loss of Adamowicz is a tragic thing, and something that will unfortunately probably not be taken as seriously as it deserves to be. Anyone who has ever played Fallout 3, Skyrim, the Nightcaster series, or Goblin Commander has been impacted by the work of Adamowicz. Furthermore, as seen here, the importance of concept art in general in any game is not to be understated. While it is a very basic form of video game art, it is one of the most indispensable tools in the industry and is useful in a variety of ways not limited to the graphic design process.


    “All of the designs evolve through contributions from the whole team. I feel like it“s my job to instigate the process with a cool drawing that inspires everyone else here into making something really cool.â€


    -Adam Adamowicz


    Click here to view the article

  12. Alternative hypothesis: They ran out of colors.

    All joking aside, this is a pretty good theory. Nintendo and naming gimmicks have gone hand in hand for a long time. Aside from Sony and their "Move" naming gimmicks Nintendo really is the only one of the "Big Three" who uses them. Anyways, I definitely agree. If they're going to release a "2" then there has to be a reason, and since nothing makes sense at this point its evident that they're probably planning for the future.

  13. There are definitely games made for consoles and games made for PC, and I do agree that controls are definitely an issue sometimes. Playing games like Assassin's Creed (which was clearly made for console) on PC can be horrendous. However, Skyrim's menus are navigable via clicking, I've been playing a lot of it lately and I can definitely say this to be true. It may have been the case in the past or something, but if that's so it has been patched.


    Another thing is that a lot of people play PC games with an Xbox 360 controller, whether it was designed to be used that way or not. I've heard countless people say they play Call of Duty or Skyrim with their 360 controller (which makes no sense to me, but whatever works, I suppose), which may influence the way developers are making interfaces on PC.