Infinite: It’s a big number. It never ends. It’s also part of the name of the latest entry in the BioShock series, but since I don’t think any of us will be picking it up right away, I wanted to share my thoughts on numbered entries in a series.

Final Fantasy is, to my knowledge, the most famous offender. They’ve even taken numbering to new levels with Final Fantasy XIII-2 and different numbers for early entries between Japan and America. Recently, we saw some funkyness from Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, the first numbered entry in the series to have a “2nd title”. Then there’s Far Cry, where none of the games connect, and yet we’re on our 3 entry.

Is numbering a game in a series another marketing tactic, an attempt to keep things chronologically sensible, something we should disregard or something else entirely?

Saturday, 10:38 am – matt

wow that’s joke! what’s the point of the extra space? as you said its just a horrible tease…

unfortunately the ps3 will never have the same Xbox live style chatting due to a severe lack in ram. Sony definitely learned their lesson with the ps4, as Gavin pointed out at the announcement they actually used similar specs from computer platforms so people know exactly how powerful it is, the made up 8 core processor thing they did for ps3 really turned out to be a complicated mess for developers to work with.

it’s funny the psvita can support cross game chat but the ps3 can’t. its both laughable and promising as a sign that Sony at least learned from their mistake and won’t repeat in future.

Friday, 3:38 pm – Albert

Gooooooddddd Friday Everyone! I know everyone has today off (or half day in my case), so there will be gaming abound!

PS+ has been intriquing to me and I was tempted to snag a copy of it myself. However, with steam and the whole Sony privacy hack and all that jazz, i’ve been reluctant. I hope I only hear good things now that Ricky and Matt have it. Also, they need to make their grouping and teamchat easier on that system…

To answer your question to the SimCity locations – Nooooo, you can’t use all that space. It’s all just useless. It’s just there. Taunting you. To give you an idea of how awesome the AI is in this game…

Something doesn’t seem right here..

Thursday, 5:28 pm – matt

and the fisting gifting keeps going! after generously donating resident evil to Rick-a-thee, thee-a-Rick has returned the favor by giving me a coupon code for a subscription to PS+, because you know, I dont have enough games to play and i believe this is actually all part of ricky’s plan to fatten the rest of the crews game collection so his looks less bad.

i see your move…

but speaking of the +, its a plan ricky and i have debated for since its inception, but i can certainly see the perks the program can offer, with the price being les thana full retail game and offers an incredible amount of new content each month, you just have to be patient for new releases to move into the category. free games remain available as long as you keep your subscription, but i am curious as the games that are only discounted in PS+, what exactly happens if you pay 33% off retail but discontinue the service?

whats all the open green space in simcity? can you actually use that area to build?

Thursday, 1:28 pm – Albert

That’s a good point – video games seem to just keep tacking on the numbers to continue selling numbers even with minimal changes. AKA every sports game these days or the CODs of this generation. Honestly, who is still playing the newest COD unless you sat out the last 8 iterations. Gaming companies seem to just produce sequel after sequel (sometimes switching it up and making a *gasp* prequel) until the franchise suffers from fatigue.

Playing some Simcity still when I get a chance, but it’s more of a time waster now. Not really super into it but I haven’t explored enough. I just feel like i’m making the same template for the base of the city and just trying to cram as much as possible into a small space.

The image below [courtesy of Reddit] is a perfect example of the gripe everyone has been having.

Extra Space? Not here!

Thursday, 12:34 pm – matt

well i have to say im a bit embarrassed to say i didnt even realize FF14 came out… i mean honestly how the hell are they still going with the number system. this might be a reason why videogames are seen as cash cows. Novels dont go in a number system, they come up with new titles for different books in a series, why not gaming?

Wednesday, 4:04 pm – Albert

I was talking about FF13! It was the last Final Fantasy i’ve played… I have to disagree that it wasn’t that bad. It was bad. Any game that takes 15+ hours to “start to get good”, – I don’t think that’s a great formula. I played it for 2-3 hours and it was super slow to get started, extremely linear, and just did not appeal to me. Now that is just MY opinion. Perhaps I was hoping for something closer to the older FF series that I had played so long ago…

Boo FF13! Yay beer!

Wednesday, 2:11 pm – Ricky

Here you go matt, let me take your mind off of Final Fantasy with some OH MAN PHANTOM PAIN IS METAL GEAR SOLID 5!!!!1!1! (video at the link, can’t find a YouTube version to embed just yet)

Wednesday, 12:29 pm – Ricky

matt, we’re talking about 14. So we’re definitely not knocking FF13, but instead we’re lamenting the mistakes made by the MMO FF14 and the travesty that was it’s launch. You can see the history of the title here, but this is the tl;dr: It took 5 years to develop and release, then another 2 years before they got it “working”… somewhat. From Yoshida Wada, September 2011: “the Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged” as a result of the game’s shortcomings.

In my mind, he’s right. That was the game that has tarnished the brand for a lot of long-time series and MMO fans, and it’s a principle reason behind the Wada’s resignation and the company’s restructuring.

Wednesday, 12:00 pm – matt

geez a lot of hate for FF13, understandably it wasnt a great game, but as the ONLY person here to actually have played it, it wasnt THAT bad. its very easy looking back to say “square shouldnt have invested so much in FF 13 because it sucked” but they obviously thought it was a good direction and it failed, shit happens. its certainly not the worst game to be released by a major company in the last couple years. I mean if Grand tehft auto came out and totally sucked it wouold be a huge blow to RockStar, square needs to cut losses and move on to the next one.

they do have over 12 games to look back on and say “well we did SOMETHING right…”

Tuesday, 3:58 pm – Gavin

My bad on SW:TOR. I thought they went free-to-play immediately, but evidently not.

Also, two minutes of hate for the network director who decided to rename Sci-Fi as “SyFy”. I HATE YOU FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.

Tuesday, 3:35 pm – Ricky

Couldn’t agree with you more Gavin. Less messing around with expensive mistakes like FF14 means more funds to continue to publish great titles.

Just a couple points: Star Wars: The Old Republic is a great example of how NOT to launch an MMO, as it had an extremely long and expensive development cycle, launched with a monthly fee which no one wanted to pay, then gimped its feature-set when it eventually moved to free-to-play.

One MMO I’m actually really looking forward to – from both a gameplay and industry perspective – is Defiance. This is the latest from the developer of the MMO Rift, Trion Worlds, and includes two components: The MMO video game on consoles and PC, as well as a TV show on Syfy. There will be some connections between the two components, but both will also be able to stand on their own. Early beta reviewers on the Steam hub page are raving about the game, and I know I’ll definitely be following the launch closely since the approach is so novel.

Tuesday, 1:03 pm – Gavin

It’s also worth mentioning that Squeenix as a publisher does fine. Their games are well-received and generally sell well. As a developer? Not so much. You get the languishing Japanese development times and then horrid disasters like FFXIV, which specifically cost a ton to develop and market, and then a ton to repair when the bugs were discovered. MMOs are very difficult to do well, profitably. They’re tremendously expensive and the development time is massive. So if you screw one up, you’re losing an awful lot more money than if just a regular game failed.

I’m not going to say that I believe the days of the MMO are over, but I will say that it’s a difficult market to break into. Between WoW, LoL, and EVE, there are some major, major players in the MMO field. What are you going to do to make your game interesting, to make it stand out? We’ve already seen major titles like Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic adopt the free-to-play model straight out of the box (“come play an MMO for free, once you buy the game!”), and major titles like DC Universe Online, The Secret World, and Star Trek Online abandon the pay-to-play model once unit sales came back below expectations. There needs to be a major hook in order to get people to join your world en masse. And when FFXIV came out, WoW was still absolutely ruling the roost. Heck, they still are, from a business point of view.

Bottom line? Staking your future on an MMO is generally a bad idea. While the payoff can be enormous (how much money has Blizzard made from WoW?), the associated risks are much too high.

Tuesday, 10:52 am – Gavin

Ricky and I chatted about the losses of Square Enix. They expected to sell 3.4 units of Tomb Raider in a month, but have only sold 1.44m. “Only”, indeed. Those numbers are great, considering it’s the first month of sales, and considering that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has sold 2.77m altogether. 3.4m was an insane estimate for a company that released a game in Q1 of 2013. For reference, here are the games released in Q1 of 2013:

  • Tomb Raider
  • Sim City
  • Dead Space 3
  • Ni No Kuni
  • Devil May Cry
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening
  • Crysis 3
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines (yes, it was a shit game, but it was still a major release, and people who jumped on this one were probably a little gun-shy to jump on another AAA release right away)
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeangenancengeancegenance
  • God of War: Ascension
  • Lego City Undercover
  • Gears of War: Judgment
  • Resident Evil 6 (PC)
  • Bioshock Infinite

There’s simply too much there. You’re spoiled for choice, and let’s face it – people aren’t dropping $300 in a month for five titles anymore. You’ve got 14 AAA titles right there, so it’s not exactly unexpected that one or more of them could get lost in the fray, not to mention the countless indie titles that pop up each month – The Cave, Antichamber, Miasmata, etc.

And what about Sleeping Dogs? By all accounts, an exceptional game, but the realm of open-world action games effectively belongs to Rockstar, with GTA and Red Dead Redemption. Marketing therefore becomes a major factor – “this is how we’re different than those titles”, and “this is how it’s different from Just Cause 2, which was an open-world action game we released as well”.

Face it: you’re not selling 3.4m units in a month unless a) you’re the only AAA title being released in a multiple-month span, or b) you’re Call of Duty or Madden.

Squeenix needs some perspective. Stop dropping oodles of money on Japanese games that never get released, and pay more attention to your North American and western European markets. And holy crap, revise those sales expectations! NOBODY was going to sell 3.4m units of anything in Q1 2013.

Tuesday, 9:14 am – Ricky

Well, speaking of Final Fantasy…

Yoshida Wada, president of Square Enix, has announced that he is stepping down and that the company will be restructuring after what it claims will be “exceptional” losses of about $106 million USD for the fiscal year ending March 31st.

According to other news outlets, Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution and Sleeping Dogs all failed to meet sales expectations. Here are the official slides from the presentation. Note that even though the sales numbers don’t contain digital sales, the slides still say that each title failed to meet expectations. I’ve also heard online chatter that Tomb Raider is the best selling entry in the franchise, which makes the news even more perplexing.

Really crappy news considering how much myself and others enjoyed Sleeping Dogs, and since it’s the only title without a legacy of the three listed, it’s quite likely it will be one of the series left behind during the restructuring. Of course, with Wada gone, maybe now we can finally get those Final Fantasy 6 and 7 HD remakes.

Monday, 11:35 pm – Albert

Monday, 3:13 pm – Gavin

Those stats are neat. That said, you might call me heartless, but I never cared about “production babies”. It gets injected into plenty of credit sequences, and I often find myself going “so, someone on the team had unprotected sex. Good for them.” And considering that BI was announced over two and a half years ago, I’m not desperately surprised at that number. Gears of War 2 (I think) had a huge number of production babies as well. WHOOPEE.

BAH HUMBUG.

I’ve been out of the country for a while, and all I had access to was my phone, so at Albert’s suggestion, I played an assload of Game Dev Story from Kairosoft. I enjoyed it for what it was, and it was highly addictive, but I had a few criticisms.

For those who aren’t familiar, Game Dev Story is a sim RPG where you play the owner/creative director of a game development studio. You develop games, hire/fire/train/upgrade staff, and control the development cycle for your studio. It’s a neat approach to a genre that I would not otherwise have considered were it not for Albert’s recommendation.

I had no idea what I was doing at first, so I hired a writer, a coder, a sound engineer, a designer, and got to work. Because funds are so low at first, you outsource one or two things, but compromise on the rest in the development of your games. You choose the genre and the content and set about developing your games. You go through the alpha and beta coding processes, iron out your bugs, market your game and put it on sale. Considering you can also choose your platform (after licensing it, of course), market your game in the fashion you choose, and use research data to ugprade your game’s performance, it’s a phenomenally deep game considering how small it is on your phone – a mere five megabytes.

Despite the irritatingly repetitive music, this is a game that is EXTREMELY easy to get addicted to. You’re doing nothing but thinking of how you can impress the critics and get good critical reviews and sales. But don’t forget about the bottom line! You also have to pay your staff salary. Don’t have enough money? Take on an external development contract to earn a few dollars here and there. But don’t just develop games – your staff will get burnt out and their creative processes will flounder.

All in all, I did greatly enjoy it, but I have criticisms.

  • Critical scores are generally arbitrary for the first bit. You could put every development point you have into “polish”, and the critics will still say “needs more polish”.
  • You are occasionally punished for things outside of your control, like if another studio releases a game similar to yours, or if there’s a blackout, or if your equipment fails. The number of times my equipment failed on me was atrocious. It was arbitrary and frustrating. If any of those things happens, your game stats go down – another studio releases a similar game, and your hype goes down, so fewer people buy your game. Blackout/failure? You lose a SHITLOAD of points in your graphics, sound, creativity, or fun factor. I get that it’s supposed to mimic the real world and that these things happen, but there’s no way to protect yourself from that.
  • Platform licensing fees were prohibitive – you couldn’t simultaneously train your staff and buy platform licenses to expand your market. Ricky suggested that the way to get around this was with a New Game+. I have issues with that, which should be very obvious.
  • No option for multi-platform releases. This just seemed simple.
  • Absolutely no reward for creativity in genre/content matching. The game punishes creative thought and encourages the status quo. Want to make an historical action game (not unlike Assassin’s Creed), or an RPG game with pirates (not unlike Sid Meier’s Pirates!!)? TOO BAD. NOBODY WANTS THOSE GAMES, APPARENTLY. I got bad critical reviews for a hunting game that was a shooter. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF GAME DO YOU EXPECT A HUNTING GAME TO BE. WHY IS THAT EVEN AN OPTION IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT A SHOOTER. Remember those Big Game Hunter games? Those were actually well-received and popular. So, you just fall into a routine of “Robot action”, “Sim dating”, “Puzzle chess” combinations. You never got any reward for thinking outside of the box. That was probably my biggest qualm with the game.

As for game numbering, I’m generally nonplussed. So long as there’s some spiritual link to the first in a series, they can use whatever wonky-ass titling they want. But if the first game in your series sucks, don’t expect me to line up for the second one, even if it’s much better – the stink of a bad first title can ruin a good second game (LOOKING AT YOU, RED STEEL).

Monday, 3:09 pm – Albert

I would rather have Super Final Fantasy Hyper Mega Happy Fun Time Love You KEKEKEKE 3! But that’s just me. I actually just wanted to share this image I thought was interesting.

Monday, 2:07 pm – matt

interesting topic of conversation, as most of us are in the midst of playing through some long standing franchises. Tomb Raider is restarting itself at point 1, but when the series first came out they were numbered despite having very little (actually nothing) to do with previous installment. Max Payne 3 hit us all here at Gamentary despite it having very little in common with 1 and 2, then look at a planned trilogy like Mass Effect and the three titles are strongly linked. We’ve been playing Resident Evil 6 lately which has always kept loose ties and plot lines connecting the games together.

its an fair point about Final Fantasy’s numbering system, why do they keep it up with very little if nothing at all in common between games. I find the example of Red Dead very fitting, similar to a racing title we are actually playing, Forza Horizon. Horizon is based on same engine as previous Forza, but takes a much different approach to the actual racing, so instead of being labeled Forza 5, its Horizon. Metal Gear Solid has done an amazing job bridging all games together, and when it comes the very different title featuring Raiden in Metal Gear Rising, they chose a different name rather than adding it to the Metal gear Solid cannon. Kudos to them because that game looks fucked.

how about this for contrast though: would you rather have final fantasy keep numbering their new games, or have capcom stop releasing new street fighter games and simply tacking on “championship edition”, “turbo edition” and “super hyper extreme edition”?.

Monday, 12:41 pm – Ricky

Ha! Great example of a non-numbered “sequel” – Red Dead Revolver is only the first game in the series, with Red Dead Redemption taking on a whole different approach and cast of characters. EXACTLY LIKE FINAL FANTASY. If you’re going to change the setting and characters, just change the way it’s named. Final Fantasy: Cloud’s Strife. Final Fantasy: Lightning Strikes. Etc. Actually, writing it out like that doesn’t seem much better…

Looks like BioShock Infinite is a critical darling, with multiple 10 out of 10s and overall, and extremely positive reception. It’s currently sitting at 95 on Metacritic with 33 reviews. This has to be one of the best 1st quarters for gaming – Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Revengeance, Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Devil May Cry have all released with very good reviews as well.

Monday, 12:28 pm – Albert

I was just thinking about how awesome PAX East was a while ago. Definitely will have to revisit. The most exciting title to see was Red Dead Redemption, now that title has come and gone, obviously not without fond memories and extended hours.

The recent numbering of series have just become so vague in purpose as time goes on. A long time ago, sequels used to matter. Diablo, Diablo II and Diablo III all share the same lineage and were updated and in some way, better than its predecessor. But then you get massive titles like Assassins Creed where they are not sure where the story is going… lets spend a lot of time on this character but only one game on this character, etc. Sometimes reception and money is all that matters. If people love Ezio, let’s keep giving them more. Let’s do one EVERY year. Story? Meh. You don’t need a franchise sequel/prequel every year (as least I don’t) but then again I don’t want a game to take 10 years to come out and be a disappointment *cough* Simcity *cough* Diablo III….

There is also Final Fantasy which I cannot even understand. Why are there so many? WHY? I’ll let someone more educated answer that.

Oh course, I just dissed on Simcity but I played a good 5-7 hours this weekend. I’m torn – on one hand I sink hours into it, trying to figure out the right formula to create in a region.. City 1 – Oil, Trade… City 2 – Workers, Coal, Trade… City 3 – Workers, Education, Tourists??? I don’t know what it is, but i’ll figure it out. But on the other hand i’m doing the same thing it seems in every city. The landscape is so small that it is difficult to do anything but setup your zones, essentials (water, power, waste), then create your utilities (fire, police, health), and then you can start on your specialization. Of course by the time you’ve already completed these things you’ve run out of room to upgrade your specialization and run out of workers. This leads you to create another city… rinse and repeat. Quite a conundrum.

Monday, 6:00 am – Ricky

PAX East was this weekend. 3 years ago, 3 members of this merry band of internet citizens ventured down to Boston for the first time. It was an amazing trip, and I missed the city and the convention a lot this weekend.

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