February 28, 2013

It's official, next Assassin's Creed is "Black Flag"

Internet rumours were correct. WHAT.A.SURPRISE.

February 27, 2013

Halsey's I.D. card from Reach trick

Limited Edition Halo Reach ID card with black light Easter Egg.

The limited edition of Halo: Reach, released in 2010, came with an ID card for scientist Catherine Halsey, who keen fans will know as the architect of the Spartan Programme and was the brain that A.I. Cortana was based on.

The I.D. Card recently gave up a secret (not sure if it is really an easter egg) -  place a blacklight over it,  and image of a younger Catherine Halsey appears. The blue hue makers her look Cortana ish – which is presumably the intent given their indelible connection. 

Why are the Spartan Ops lobbies filled with NOBODY?

I finally figured out the thing that bugs me most about Halo 4.

It's the damn waiting times to find players to play Spartan Ops with. The episodes often barely have any one in them when I want to play!

I live in New Zealand. Home of Kiwis, Sex mad KakapoTuatara, the All Blacks and Chloe from Wainuiomata. And we're also a day ahead of the rest of the world. Which effectively means when I play Halo (in the late evening, when the wife and lil guy are asleep) there is nobody around to play Halo with. All the annoying kids that play in NZ (and those even worse racist Australians) have been sent to bed. America is probably waking up to the Good Morning show and the die hard Halo players are either playing BTB somewhere of have already done their dash on Ops.

Indeed, while I've been writing this post, I was waiting to find a game. It was the Greatest Hits week of Spartan Ops and the 1st episode had a shade over 200 playing it, the other four between 40 - 60. Obviously I chose the first episode but could I get a game? No, it timed out like I was some kind of leper (honestly, New Zealand got rid of all its lepers in the 1980s, we fed them to the Tuatara).

So I went and played some Team Slayer, got spanked and here I am again.

I couldn't find any stats which conveyed how well Spartan Ops is really doing for Halo 4. I think it's a great idea and adds to the longevity of the game. I love how far 343 Industries have taken the story of Infinity, Palmer, Lasky and the undefined quantity that is Doctor Catherine Halsey. It's great fun but it would more more fun if I didn't have to spend 10 years waiting in game lobbies just to drive a tank around blowing up things that need to be blown up.

So so while I've been playing I downloaded the new Majestic Map pack. 250 Players in the FFA lobby. What a bloody joke!! Or maybe I'm just grumpy I got spanked in that variant too. I blame the lag of course....

February 26, 2013

Water marked console disks will screw legitimate gamers

Ian Livingstone of EDIOS was chatting about the way consoles are going digitial only (i.e disks will be a thing of the past) and said this:

“With the next Xbox, you supposedly have to have an internet connection, and the discs are watermarked, whereby once played on one console it won’t play on another… So I think the generation after that will be digital only.”

Which is all well and grand if you want to ‘protect’ your IP, gain revenue etc but there would be many situations where a genuine xbox user was frustrated by this situation:

1. Where a console dies (who’s to say Xbox wont screw up with another round of RROD?) and a new one is required.

2. Someone sells their Xbox for whatever reason and gets a new one down the track

3. LAN Parties where people bring their disks

4. Someone steals your console but not your games

5. Your dog eats your console but not your games

6. Someone wins a 'novelty' Xbox from a gaming studio etc as part of a promotion.

That’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are more ways that such a policy would hamper legitimate uses of games.

Off course this is will moot for when the console industry goes fully digital however, does Sony or Microsoft really want to piss of their communities in the mean time?

Justin Baily password from Metroid as Cosplay

justiny bailey metroid costume

'Justin Baily' was a password that was used in the original NES 1986 version of  Metroid.

By using this password, the player was granted the ability to play as Samus in a pinkish/purple leotard and bright green hair.

So for a cosplayer to be doing this, thus must be pretty devoted to the game!

February 25, 2013

Keikai Ketoke's Destiny concept art

guardians battle destiny

Keikai Kotaki has claimed artistry rights of this concept artwork for Destiny on his tumblr - it features Guardians taking on what appear to be some real bad ass looking Fallen!

Pete Parsons talks Destiny and who's idea was it to make it

pete parsons office
Frankie's old school drawing of Parson's office from way back in the day.

GameBeat was lucky enough to use their old school connections and land an interview with Bungie Big Wig, Dave Parsons (no, he’s not the bass player from Bush).

He’s the Chief Operations Officer which basically means he’s in changing of running the company – and when you’re the boss of around 350 people with an expectation your company will produce another brilliant game a-la Halo, then you must be pretty good at your job.

Here’s a few Destiny related excerpts from the interview with Dave.

GamesBeat: Did somebody in particular sell you on the idea of Destiny? I think you came in after it started, right?

Parsons: No, we’ve all been working from the very beginning. Well, it depends on how you look at it. Destiny has been an idea bouncing around since even before the technology to make it existed.

Destiny is very much a product of everybody at Bungie, but its inception comes from Jason [Jones, co-founder of Bungie]. This is very much a vision that Jason has. Then, he gathers a small group of really talented people who have been here a long time, and they begin hammering on it. It’s had multiple incarnations until it finally landed into what it is today. That’s fun to watch. Not just on technology, but art and story.

GamesBeat: It sounds like you did have options, though. Was there a point where you bought into Destiny and said, “I want to do this too?” For 10 years or whatever it will be.

Parsons: As naïve as this may sound, if Jason believes in something and he’s ready to go for it, I’m in. No joke, I still walk in the door every day and think, “Who gets to do this? This is awesome, to be a part of this thing.” Even when I’m having a shitty day, I feel that way.

There are so many other things I could do that, for me, wouldn’t be as satisfying or as interesting. They might be enriching. They might satisfy some level of my curiosity. They might be exciting. But there’s something about these people and this place.

GamesBeat: Did you feel any tug when Halo went off in another direction, with Microsoft’s 343 Industries, and then Bungie went its separate way with Destiny?

Parsons: Personally, I did not. I love the Halo universe. I think it’s great. It inspires me. It inspires my children. They’ve never played, but they know the universe. One, though, I’ve spent a lot of time with Halo. Two, the mythic science fiction of Destiny immediately attracted me. It was that first image … It’s a simple image, but it took weeks of back-and-forth to put together. There were a few images already, maybe three or four, but they didn’t speak to what it was. The moment that image was done, it was like, “That’s it.” That’s the game. That’s the idea. That’s a place that I want to be.

GamesBeat: You had a leak. You had some interesting reactions. What was it like, looking at the reaction from the inside?

What's the Crysis, pussy cat?

crysis nanosuit body paint costume

Apparently there’s a video game called Crysis 3. Apparently it features a nano suit, and apparently PC game called it “…a terrific, dazzling action experience.” Apparently.

Tsavo Highway easter egg from H4

Here’s quite a novel easter egg that was recently found in Halo 4.

A set of doors / walls have a false reflection, in that they show some scenes from Tsavo Highway which keen Halo players may recognise from the third game of the series.

February 24, 2013

Bioshock Infinite will have 3 DLC units

bioshock infinite wall paper
Booker has a lady to protect

In a move that should surprise nobody, Irrational Games announced that Bioshock Infinite will see three bouts of downloadable content follow the game’s release next month. 

The three DLC expansions will feature new characters, stories, weapons and abilities. 

The packs can be purchased separately or Bioshock fans can opt for a Bioshock Infinite Season Pass which will get feature the content at a discounted price.

The Bioshock Infinite Season Pass will be available on March 26th, and will cost $19.99, a 30% discount across the board.  For those that purchase the Season Pass, you’ll get access to an “Early Bird Special Pack” as well.  This includes four pieces of gear that is exclusive for Season Pass holders.

Is there a subscription fee for Destiny?

No, Destiny will be a free to play game. 

While some MMO games like World of Warcraft charge a monthly fee, Bungie will not be doing that. And of course, Destiny is supposedly a FPS ‘persistent world’, rather than an MMO game so the business model is perhaps different.

Despite a well established desire quest for world domination, charging a subscription fee would be a sure fire way of turning fans off from purchasing the game.

Rather than chasing the subscription dollar, Bungie want their game everywhere to get the increased sales window. By being on the  the Playstation, on the Xbox, on your smart phone, being on the PC – that increases the opportunity for gamers to consider buying the game.

Bungie and Activision (the game publisher) will also no doubt invest heavily in producing DLC for in game missions, maps and possibly even microtransactions (just guess there) – there’s good money to be made in DLC so surely they’ll look to this revenue stream.

Finally, one factor that Bungie will be absolutely counting on is that their 'Halo fans' will check out the game. Those fans come from the Xbox realm and are just not used to doing subscription based gaming so would probably not be interested if that was the case. 

The Halo / Bungie fan community are probably the group that will make or break this game – their support in getting the word out about Destiny will be a crucial factor in any success. So, no way will Bungie want to alienate that group by charging them a monthly subscription. 

...and so the Destiny tattoos begin

destiny tattoo

Destiny isn't even out yet and this guy, Malfar has got himself a Destiny tattoo.... let's hope for his sake Bungie don't give him a Phantom Menace...

Here's the 'tricorn' for reference:

February 23, 2013

ME3 DLC details for Citadel and Reckoning

Mass Effect 3: Citadel – Single Player DLC

When a sinister conspiracy targets Commander Shepard, you and your team must uncover the truth, through battles and intrigue that range from the glamour of the Citadel’s Wards to the top-secret Council Archives. Uncover the truth and fight alongside your squad – as well as the cast from the original Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, including Urdnot Wrex!

When the adventure is over, reconnect with your favorite characters from the Mass Effect Trilogy, try your luck at the Citadel’s Silver Coast Casino, blow off steam in the Armax Combat Arena, or explore and furnish Shepard’s own living quarters on the Citadel. With unique content and cinematics featuring your friends and romance interests in the Mass Effect trilogy, Mass Effect 3: Citadel offers one final chance to see the characters you have known for years and rekindle romances.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel will release worldwide on March 5th on Xbox 360, PC and PS3 (on March 6th on PS3 in Europe). Price: $14.99, 1200MS points and 1200 BW points.

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning – Multiplayer DLC

Prepare for the Reckoning! Newfound allies join the multiplayer war for survival in Mass Effect 3: Reckoning. The Geth Juggernaut, Cabal Vanguard, Talon Mercenary, Alliance Infiltration Unit, and more take up arms to stop the Reaper threat. Smash your enemies with the Biotic Hammer as you lay waste to the battlefield as the Krogan Warlord.

Wield 7 new weapons for multiplayer, including the Geth Spitfire Assault Rifle, Venom Shotgun, Lancer Assault Rifle, and amplify your arsenal with new equipment and weapon mods featuring the Geth Scanner and Assault Rifle Omni-blade.

Three things Bungie wants you to know about Destiny

A Vex
Bungie's kimono has been opened ever so slightly regards Destiny. There's been a lot of questions that have been asked but not answered. Not yet any way. But Bungie have said they want you to remember three things:

1. Destiny is an action game set in an amazing and mysterious new universe. If you love first person shooters – if you enjoy Bungie action games – then you’re going to love Destiny.

2. Players are the center of our world. You create a character, and you grow and customize it over time.

3. Destiny is designed from the ground up to be better when you play it with your friends. You can have solitary cinematic experiences, but Destiny is built from the ground up to be cooperative.

It will be interesting to see how the social aspect of the game plays out. I personally don't really go in for co-op missions and the like but if Bungie do it right and players can seemlessly pop in and out of each others missions, quests or raids or whatever they are called, it could be a good thing. 

February 21, 2013

'Fallen' concept art released


We've been lucky enough to have another piece of Destiny concept art released - this time it's a Fallen character sitting on his throne which makes me want to make a joke about a certain popular TV show but all I can come up with is Destiny is coming.... This fellow kind of reminds me of a Predator as well. Want some candy?

Is Destiny on the PS4 REALLY a betrayal by Bungie?


I saw on the interwebs that Rampancy said "What is this bull about @Bungie announcing #Destiny for #PS4 being a "betrayal"? Destiny will run on all the platforms Bungie can manage." and I thought, gosh who on Earth would think that having Destiny run across the main console platforms of this era was a betrayal? I mean Halo: CE had the "Two Betrayals" but I don't think that's even close to what's going on here.

True Bungie fans (and onlookers of course) may recall that Microsoft once purchased Bungie and then Bungie bought themselves back from Microsoft. The price? A Halo game or two until Microsoft could put together their own game studio. So, given that stance, why would Bungie be solely loyal to the Xbox?

And why should Bungie's talents, skills and ideas not be exposed to a greater audience? Surely if fans love Bungie so much they would want their friends who've never played a Bungie game but don't mind the odd bit of Kratos to experience the magic of Bungie?

And let's of course remember the reason for the season. Yes, Bungie like to make games they want to play. That is not in doubt. But companies exist to make money so that their owners can feed their children, buy flashy red covertibles and take part in camel racing if they want. It's up to them and no one else what they do with their cash.

And if you want cash, you may as well make as much of it as you can, so course it makes sense for Destiny to come out on the PS3 and PS4 and the Xbox 360 and the Xbox 720 and probably the PC. But in no way shape or form is such an action a betrayal. It's business.

Do those people same people not realize that Halo was a commercial venture and that Bungie had done several succesful such ventures before then in the form of Myth, Oni and Marathon and GNOP? And those where PC based games. So if Destiny on the Playstation is a betrayal, was not Halo being an exclusive on the Xbox Bungie betraying their PC fan base? I don't think so Tim.

Destiny is going to make a boat load of money for Jason Jones and his crew and I say good on them. When they release DLC for Destiny and make another bucket full on money, I'll say good on them. Why? Because that's life. Feeding your kids and having enough cash to by the next Gears of War game or some flowers for your wife is what it's all about. That's what Bungie is doing, and that's what you do when you go to work everyday too.

February 20, 2013

Bungies’ PS4 Destiny announcement video

Here’s what Bungie’s Jason Jones contributed to the Sony PS4 release conference today, an in house video touting the Destiny game:

The key take away for me is that the graphics of Destiny will be absolutely first rate. The music sounded pretty good too. 

Kinect 2 specifications leaked?

The old one that hardly gets used at my house as it sucked for real games like Halo and Mass Effect

Apparently the technical specifications for the 2nd generation of Xbox Kinect have been leaked.

The device will feature an ability for 6 users at once, will utilise High Definition and offer better tracking – as you’d expect!

Is the PS4 compatible with PS3 games?

Will the PS4 play PS3 games? 

At the Sony PlayStation 4 conderence, Dave Perry said PS3 games are "not natively supported."

This does not necessarily mean the extensive collection of PlayStation games won't be available to users as it would appear gamers will be able to use the console’s cloud service to access to a wide array of past PlayStation.

So basically that seems to mean you won’t be able to use your PS3 game disks in the PS4 and you might just have to pay again for your favourite game if you want to use it on the PS4.

Diablo III announced for PS3 and PS4

As part of the PS4 announcements, Blizzard has confirmed that Diablo III will be coming to the console.

Blizzard’s Senior vice president of story and franchise development Chris Metzen announced “the studio has been waiting for the right time to return to its roots.” as Blizzard was originally a company that made console games.

Diablo III will be released on both PS3 and PS4. Metzen says they've completely retooled Diablo III for consoles, which includes an optimized user interface and a new control scheme that allows players to take direct control of their avatars.

The game will possess a new four-player co-op mode that lets you and your friends play on a single screen.

Play Station 4 officially revealed by Sony. It's a major advance in console technology

The next round of the so called console wars began today with Sony’s official announcement of the Play Station 4 gaming console. The PS3 is a great step forward in gaming technology, and of course in this day and age consoles are no longer just for games and the PS4 is a great example of that.

"The demands for a new platform were clear," said Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House as he introduced the PlayStation 4.

House said the PS4 must "surpass gamers' wildest expectations" and that it will encourage "new business models" for developers.

In some kind of Dark Knight Rises riff he also said "We must give gamers the experiences they not only expect, but deserve.

"Our vision of the future is consumer-centric and developer-inspired ... expect powerful opportunities to connect, play, and stay informed,"

This all sounds lovely and grand but what are the details? What’s the guts of the device?

Lead system architect Mark Cerny says the PS4 features a supercharged PC architecture with a x86 architecture CPU, an enhancer PC GPU, and 8GB of GDDR5 system memory as well as a local hard drive. This all means that the PS4 can make nearly two teraflops of computations a second.

The console will ship with an Xbox Kinect-style stereo camera peripheral device and a controller with a ‘Move’ sensor built in.

The new controller, the DualShock 4, boasts improved analogue control sticks, an enhanced rumble feature, and touchpad.

I hear there's some sharing button?

A new share button will allow PS players to distribute screenshots and video clips, while gameplay can be livestreamed and open for real-time comments and interaction from other players – surely a sign that social media will be a fully integrated experience within the console. Indeed, the platform will allow users to watch games being played by others, and "reach out" to play on a friend's system. Console wwners will also be able to use their smartphones and other personal devices to browse videos and use companion apps.

Big Brother is watching you and your gaming needs.

The Playstation 4 aims to be able to know its user and anticipate their needs: “Long-term vision is to reduce download times to zero... if we know enough about you we know what game you'll purchase next and download it in the background." Which is very Google like.. and perhaps a waste of hard drive space…

and... Destiny? 

Bungie's Destiny will be released on the PS3 and PS4 and will included content exclusive to that console.

 they didn't show the console?!

No Sony did not show the console. WTF? 

February 19, 2013

Cabal poster sighted in the wild

A Destiny promotional poster featuring a look at the Cabal has been spotted in the wild. They look like big brutal bastards....

Well this had to happen sooner or later

Notice any thing familiar?

February 18, 2013

Will Destiny be available on for PC for gamers?

Short answer: Maybe
Longer answer: Maybe, baby 

It would appear that Bungie’s Destiny will be able to be played only on the Xbox and the Playstation plat forms. No mention of PC being an option has been made by Bungie.

In a telling quote by Bungie’s co-founder, Jason Jones said,

“We did a bunch of ambitious things on Halo deliberately to reach out to people. We limited players to two weapons, we gave them recharging health, we automatically saved and restored the game – almost heretical things to first-person shooters at the time. We made the game run without a mouse and keyboard. And now nobody plays shooters the way they used to play them before Halo ’cause nobody wants to.” 

Mr Jones appears to be suggesting that one plays shoot ‘em us on the PC any more which Counterstrike fans might disagree with….

BUT, and there’s always a BUT at the reveal event Bungie’s COO Pete Parsons was quote as 

“Until anything’s officially announced, from the first parties, obviously we can’t comment on any platforms that might be forthcoming. But what we can say is that we’re building Destiny to be wherever gamers are. And we want this to be one of the great video game franchises and entertainment franchise for the next decade”.

Which basically means YES, Destiny will feature on PC’s at some stage. So PC gamers should keep their fingers crossed!

What is Destiny's release date?

When will Destiny be released?

The release date for Destiny has not been announced but it would appear to be very likely to be a 2014 release and not 2013 date.

The reasoning for this can be found in the press release by Activision celebrating the announcement of Destiny:

"Activision reiterated that although Bungie's amazing new world was revealed today, Activision has not included the launch in its 2013 outlook and there should be no speculation or expectation of a different result."

Given laws around information supplied from listed companies to their investors, Activision has countered any possible 'market expectation' around sales of Destiny that could bring earning potential to the company in 2013 (and thus any possible effect on the share price).

So effectively this release means Destiny will not be sold in 2013.

Want to know more about Destiny? These links might help:

What is the Cabal in Destiny?

Cabal territory on the Red Planet
What is the Cabal in Destiny?

One of the missions your Guardian will undertake is a trip to the red planet of Mars, where you will might find “the bones of a lost human civilization in the form of an ancient city.” A victim of the terror that brought an end to the Golden Age, the literally golden remains are yours for the taking from the Dust Palace. The only thing in your way will be the Sand Eaters, a group of massive, armored 'War Rhinos' that are collectively known as the Cabal.

Here is a Cabal Legionnaire:

Cabal Legionnaire

Update: Cabal posted spotted in the wild:

I think this is the Cabal from the Pathways Vidoc:

February 17, 2013

First taste of Destiny's music found by the ARG players

First taste of Destiny's music found by the ARG players

The ARG for Destiny has revealed some Destiny music (have a listen), as written by long time Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell and some guy called Paul McCartney.

Whilst featuring a chanting choir, the great news is that the short piece sounds nothing like Halo.
You can probably surmise Marty was keen to avoid Halo comparisons given Destiny is a wholly new piece of art.

Marty, Mike and Paul and the music of Destiny

The music of  Destiny was composed by longtime Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell and partner Mike Salvatori, Destiny's soundtrack has been shaped by two factors: an unexpected collaboration with Paul McCartney (yes, that dude from Wings) and the fact that O'Donnell was asked to score a game that did not yet exist.

Polygon reports that "O'Donnell says that Bungie COO Pete Parsons came to him early in Destiny's development and asked him to start writing. "I need more meat," O'Donnell said, hoping for something — a trailer, a documentary — to write music against. But Destiny was a project in its infancy, lacking in gameplay moments that could serve as inspiration."

So, O'Donnell said he began writing based solely on Destiny's ideas, stories and artwork.

The result was nearly an hour of music written to foster inspiration within the development team. "I dumped 50 minutes of music on them and said 'Deal with that. Make a game as good as that,'" O'Donnell joked.

Destiny's early score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. O'Donnell collaborated with Paul McCartney on Destiny's music for the better part of two years, trading ideas, bits of melody and themes back and forth.

 O'Donnell says he believes McCartney was drawn to the project by his interest in the technology behind interactive music. "I think he saw how big the video game industry is and he's the kind of person who wants to create wherever he can contribute."

"He said 'I'm gonna get that machine out of my closet and send you some stuff,'" O'Donnell recalled. "And he did. So, some of the stuff that he did in our game ... comes from the machine he used on Revolver to make loops. That is just so cool."

I heard Destiny is a "persistent world" what does that mean?

Kotaku notes that in Destiny your Guardian  live in a persistent world. What is a persistent world?

It's a world that is "constantly being affected by not just the passage of time, but by other players. As you enter certain areas of the game, the server will register which of these are public domains/combat areas. If you stumble into one, it'll automatically, and invisibly, search for another gamer to matchmake you with."

It means other Guardians may unexpectedly drop in to your own campaign to help you out. 

"So as you play, the server should seamlessly integrate another player into your game. As you're scouting a safe path around the dangerous Cabal, for instance, you might bump into another player. So even though you're playing out your personal story, a lot of your time is spent in shared adventures."

This is a new twist for the console platform - it's taking the concept of co-operative play and adding a twist. Destiny, will still be your story but other Guardians' energies and efforts will have an effect on yours. 

To that end, Destiny needs to be played with an always on internet connection as it was obviously built for social and cooperative play. Clearly, Bungie expects social gaming and interaction at this level to be the way of the future. 

What are the Guardian classes in Destiny?

What are classes of Guardians  in Destiny?

So far Bungie have revealed three classes of Guardian that will be able to be customised in Destiny

The classes are:
  • Titan
  • Hunter
  • Warlock

Here's some concept artwork of the three classes acting as a fire team. Apparently battling Saruon. 

Who are The Vex in Destiny?

Vex enemy destiny

All we know so far is that the Vex are an enemy that the Guardians must defeat and that they are apparently time travelling robots. It is not known what catch phrases they will use in game but we're pretty sure they won't be saying "come with me if you want to live".

This is a Vex Hobgoblin

11 Concept Artwork pictures from Destiny

vex time travelling robots
The Vex
Destiny Conceptual artwork by Bungie

Destiny has been revealed to the world and Bungie took a note from 343 Industries’ playbook and did the reveal with a set of concept artwork (albeit intermingled within a Vidoc of full of explanation).

Here’s some of the art that Bungie designers have done on The Fallen (Cabal), settings, cities and the Traveller, who’s true identity while probably be revealed in game 3…..

The Traveller

Mars' Exclusion Zone is controlled by the Cabal

black garden
The Black Garden

hell's gate
Hell's gate

Titan, Hunter, and Warlock.
Titan, Hunter, and Warlock.

Destiny Avatars

Coming down in the deluge of Destiny reveal information, here are some Avatars that can be used in game. Plenty to choose from, at this stage they are mostly based on concept art.