It's Wednesday, June 26. The sun is coming down in Phoenix, Arizona. My brother's band, The Audition, should be worried about making an autograph signing on time.
They're not. What really worries them is that it's been eight hours since their fourth Xbox 360 controller went missing. Without it, there's no way to have four-player "Halo 3."
The whole band is upset. People start bickering at one another as the hours tick by and their "Halo 3" itch can't be scratched. Then, my brother has an idea.
"What if it's in the trash?" he asked.
When I had dinner with Microsoft's Shane Kim and Kudo Tsunoda on Monday, we talked about more than just "Gears of War 2."
Kim is the head of Microsoft Game Studios and therefore a guy worth peppering with any gaming questions I could think of related to the Xbox 360's Microsoft-published efforts.
Here's some of what I asked him between bites of fish:
When will Microsoft make a game that requires and takes advantage of the Xbox 360's hard-drive?
"You're not likely to see a first party title that does that," Kim said. I suggested that Microsoft had to have reached a point by now when the company could assume a large number of Xbox 360 owners have the drive. And surely the upcoming "Grand Theft Auto IV" downloadable content will require it. But still, Kim said he believed the games from MGS should be playable on all Xbox 360s and that it's a software maker's challenge to get the games to work without a hard drive.
Why was Microsoft just hiring new senior people for the Peter Jackson "Halo" project more than two years after it was announced?
UPDATE: Microsoft just contacted MTV Multiplayer with an official statement, confirming the prospective hires will work on Peter Jackson's "Halo" project.
“A Peter Jackson-helmed Halo project was announced at X06 in Barcelona," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "Since then, Microsoft Game Studios has been hard at work collaborating with Peter Jackson and Bungie on the development of that project. At this time, it’s necessary to grow the internal team to keep pace with development. Bungie will continue to remain involved in multiple aspects of the Halo Universe with MGS.”
[END OF UPDATE]
A few days ago, Microsoft quietly added several job listings to its careers website.
The company is looking for a Creative Director, Producer, Game Engineers and more to "help develop a new experience in the Halo universe."
It appears Microsoft Game Studios is looking for folks to become a new "Halo" development team within their Redmond, Washington offices. And they're not part of Bungie Studios. There's no mention made of working with Bungie anywhere in the job postings.
Bungie continues churning out map packs and managing the "Halo" community, but have repeatedly suggested they're working on a new game not set in the "Halo" world.
There are other "Halo" games coming. "Halo Wars" is well into production at Ensemble Studios and slated for a 2008 release.
There's also a Peter Jackson project coming called "Halo: Chronicles." We haven't heard much about that one since it was announced in late 2005.
Cleverly disguised language in the job postings point us in Mr. Jackson's direction.
This year's New York Comic Con proved what gamers have known for a long time - video games are a force to be reckoned with.
As the Convention has grown over the last three years, so has the gaming presence. Publishers realize that they can reach their key demographics, at least when that target audience takes a break from sifting through boxes of old comics.
Many game companies were at the Con. There were booths promoting upcoming titles, like "Iron Man," "Metal Gear Online," and even "Space Chimps."
Numerous toy companies showcased their game figure lines for everything from "Kingdom Hearts" to the upcoming "Prototype."
Sunday boasted a day's worth of video game panels that offered insight into "Gears of War 2," as well as the games industry itself.
There were even a very tiny handful of vendors offering games for sale. Basically, there was a little bit of something for everybody.
By no means is Comic Con the next E3, but it was very refreshing to see comics and games mingle for a New York crowd.
Hit the jump for many, many more pics from the floor. Read More...
Why the Marvel MMO didn't make sense anymore. When "Banjo" is coming out. Whether "Mass Effect" is still a 360 trilogy. What will be the best-looking game on Xbox 360....
Last Thursday at the DICE gaming summit I met with Shane Kim, head of Microsoft Games Studios, in a conference room across the hall from where he had sat for a public interview with the New York Times' Seth Schiesel. We discussed his publishing philosophy and reviewed the status of Microsoft's major first-party gaming franchises one by one.
Our sweeping conversation covered "Halo," "Gears of War," "Alan Wake, " and the host of other big Microsoft-backed games under his watch. Kim acknowledged that his studios' line-up is more slender than the in-house offerings of Sony and Nintendo, adding that he hoped MGS' reputation is one of "high-quality premium experiences."
No, MGS won't be set up to produce a lot of games, certainly not one a month, a rate I threw at Kim. "I know for us it's been very fruitful to focus and to really get our attention and resources focused on key things," he said. "I'm actually very comfortable with the volume of titles we have."
Kim was a good sport, even gamely answering my question about whether the view that "Call of Duty 4" -- not an MGS title -- was the best-looking game on the Xbox 360 last year would drive Kim to ensure his label has the best-looking 360 title in 2008. He said: "I hope 'Fable 2' is going to be really beautiful and that it will be considered the best-looking game."
What follows is a game-by-game breakdown of my chat with Shane Kim.
Let's start with the Marvel MMO and his explanation of why it's not being made anymore...
Did you ever wonder if a hop in "Halo" should be worth 50 points?
Well I did. I've been pondering that since September, trying to figure out just how many points a hop should be worth.
I was thinking about it after playing a session of the "Halo 3" campaign with its special scoring feature turned on, and after being shown "Halo 3"'s level-creating tool Forge by Bungie writer Luke Smith. Campaign scoring -- which turned a standard co-op session of "Halo 3" into a competitive, numbers-based affirmation of each player's performance -- was cool. It helped prove when I was doing the heavy-lifting while my co-op buddy was goofing off. Forge, however, was intimidating.
I knew I wasn't ever going to use Forge to make the next great multiplayer arena. I can't do that. But I do like the idea of having a little creative input and cooked up my idea of "Halo 3" Custom Campaign Scoring.
So I suggested to Luke and am now suggesting to the world that Bungie expands the idea of Forge -- the notion that the ingredients of "Halo 3" are tweak-able -- and introduce custom scoring. Hey, Bungie, let the players set the point values for every action in the game.
Getting your butt handed to you in "Halo 3"?
Take a pill.
About two weeks ago, news of a performance-enhancing pill for gamers made its way around the Internet. Dubbed "FpsBrain" and made by German computer-makers Tomarni, the product promises that a person will have a "remarkable increase in perception and reaction capacities."
To boot, the website claims that their staff uses FpsBrain four times a week to "enhance their mental performance and their work efficieny [sic]." If it doesn't work, the company promises "a 110% money-back guarantee."
Sound like a sketchy, late-night infomercial? I thought so too.
So last week I got in touch with the Berlin-based manufacturer and had an e-mail exchange with CEO Thomas Straßburg. And since I'm no expert on "energy drinks" and performance-enhancing supplements, I also e-mailed a registered dietitian to answer my questions regarding the ingredients of FpsBrain. Here's what I learned...
(UPDATE: More Outlets Added)
Are you also tired about reading other people's 2007 Game Of The Year lists?
Do you yearn to learn something of greater significance?
Well then I'd like to tell you what the Game Of The Game Of The Year is for 2007. See, in gaming, all accolades are measured as averages. So it is with Metacritic. So it is with the GOTGOTY. It matters not what any single outlet chose as the 2007 Game Of They Year winner was. It matters what, on average, they picked as GOTY.
You will find that out below. And then you will commend us on the wisdom of this new system.
So never mind that everyone isn't done naming their GOTYs. I am sorry, Game Developers Choice awards, but I can't wait until late February. I apologize, Interactive Achievement Awards. Early February is too soon as well. My best wishes to the Game Critics Game Of The Year Awards, for which even I participated. EGM, I'm sure you'll announce your winners someday.
But time's up and the law of averages is kicking in.
So, which 2007 video game was awarded GOTY status the most times? It was a close call...
(Below is the beginning of my latest GameFile column. For the full thing, check out MTVNews.com)
Late last year I had dinner with a publicist for a major video game company and offered him what I thought was a terrifically modern suggestion about how to enhance gaming consoles. It was a solution, I thought, to the widespread neglect many video games suffer. And my idea, offered between bites of my gourmet burger, was shot down, for a reason I still have trouble accepting.
I suggested that video game consoles should no longer just support the playing and purchasing of games. They should support sharing. Just so the publicist didn't think I meant that his company should let their customers upload and download their games for free, I clarified the kind of sharing I meant: showing off stuff that's in the games.
I was talking about the kind of thing that "Halo 3" has been letting me do since September. That game allows a player to take a screenshot of anything they see in the story-driven campaign and multiplayer matches. The game also lets players record and share video of what they experience, which they can share with other "Halo 3" owners. The system isn't perfect. The videos can't be seen by people who don't have the game. The screenshots aren't as easy to snap and share as they could be. But it's a good step, one that feels right in the age of online-connected consoles.
The "Halo" system is a rarity among console games. Only a few others have similar features. "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," due February 10 on the Wii, will let players capture and share a couple of minutes of fighting footage. Last year's big skateboarding games allowed video capture. "Metroid Prime 3: Corruption" had an unlockable screenshot tool for use via the Wii's Photo Channel. But the ability to share, to show off what you've done and let your friends know how cool or funny or interesting the game you're playing is by just zapping them some sort of visual, is far from universal. I told my dining companion that is wrong.
Check out the rest of this column at MTVNews.com
A lot of people see the beginning of a new year as a chance to start over, make themselves better, and resolve to do certain things throughout the new year. One might call these plans "resolutions" if people could actually stick to them.
One group of people that might do well by setting forth some resolutions for the new year is the video game industry. There are a small handful of things that the industry as a whole could really benefit from leaving in 2007, making 2008 really live up to the hype. Let's take a look at the list.
The Phrase "Next-Gen"
Ladies and gentlemen, "next-gen" is now. Everyone from PR firms to development studios are still using this phrase. Please, I beg of you, stop using "next-gen" until the PS4, Xbox 4000, and the Nintendo Super Wii are slated for release. Those consoles will officially be "next-gen." The PS3, Wii, and 360 are the current generation of games. Now is the time to accept it.