As of today, it’s eight days until Grand Theft Auto V comes out.  We know Ricky’s all-in on this one, but I’m skipping out.  No particular reason – I know it’s going to be a great game, but the GTA series never did much for me.  I recognize that the world in GTA IV was terrifically organic, even if they went the bland, blasé “dark and gritty” route.  But my problem is that I only appreciated one facet of the game – free-mode multiplayer with friends.  Otherwise, nope, I didn’t care for the story that was probably excellently crafted, and I fear that I’m going to be in the same mood for GTA V as well.  I respect the heck out of what Rockstar is trying to accomplish (and truth be told, they’re probably quite successful at it), but it just isn’t for me.  I like my free-roam open world games to be a lot more Just Cause 2ey.

Friday, 12:45pm – matt

its a interesting question regarding my dismissal of San Andreas, because I actually played that game on the PC during a rather un-enjoyable section of my life in general, so I had a very hard time losing myself in the game and the environment. It was too large, too ambitious for the time. There weren’t enough options to get from point a to b and I found the “Sims” portion of the game in character development a waste of time. there was a large number of things you could do in San Andreas, but not being able to do them with another person was boring. GTA 4 killed me with the “social” aspect of the game in having to maintain friendships with NPC was so fucking annoying. after completing a mission and wanting to just hack around you would get incessant phone calls that really took away from the game. I know the options could be turned off to have reckless fun, but once you completed a story mission it was back on.

Friday, 8:33am – Gavin

Curious how SA was a disappointment for you – in my routine trollings of the interblags, GTA:SA is often referred to as the pinnacle of the series by the (potentially nostalgic) fans.  I never played the game myself, so I can’t comment on it.

I have to wonder if this Steam sharing model is a response to the lawsuit in Germany against Valve regarding the sale of pre-owned digital content.  It certainly has major implications for digital distribution as a whole – if Valve can pull it off, perhaps others will seek to follow suit.  Though I admit, it’s possible that it only works with Valve because nobody (in my experience) uses Steam in spite of itself.  Everyone I’ve spoken with, every post I’ve read, generally the user has a positive experience with Valve and Steam.  Perhaps it’s easy for me to say because I can afford it, but if this lets me try out some of the games that Ricky has, it is very, very likely that it will lead to me actually purchasing them.  Owning my own copy of a game is a point of pride for me – I illegally acquired Half-Life back in the early 2000s, back when I had a PC that could handle games, but once I picked up my new laptop, a legitimate copy was one of the first purchases I made.

Is that a sign that I’m growing up?  Or that I’m a sucker with more money than sense?  YOU DECIDE.

Thursday, 2:50pm – matt

this new San Andreas being created by Rockstar is pretty ambitious, and my only thought about it is please don’t replicate the old San Andreas… I was never a HUGE GTA fan, the games were fun but I took them with a grain a salt and move onto the next title. Obviously GTA 4 changed everything to me as that become one of my favourite games of all time, plus I ROYALLY kicked ass in that game which certainly kept me coming back for more to maintain my dominance over the minions on the internet. I played San Andreas on the PC when it released, and was severally disappointed in the game, not because of the story line, but how drawn out the map and environment were. it took WAY too long to get places of importance and I quickly found myself becoming frustrated with the venturing form one point to another just to go back to the original spot again. GTA 4 introduced the taxi cab system, which was simply amazing for when you got sick of dealing with the driving and just wanted to venture to a specific point.

That’s some pretty cool news regarding the Steam share plan. I remember hearing apple was looking into how to offer second hand sales of digital content, so maybe now that someone is testing the waters they will be inclined to join the digital revolution.

Wednesday, 3:50pm – Gavin

KABOOM.  Steam is beta-testing a service that lets you share your games with someone else.  KA-F***ING-BOOM.  This is amazing for so many reasons, not the least of which is that all of these unloved games I have that I probably won’t get around to playing may soon find a home.

Really fascinating stuff from Steam; at the very least it’s a kick in the face to Microsoft for what they had originally planned with the Xbox One and sharing.

Wednesday, 9:21am – Gavin

The GTA V map was officially released, and this world looks big.  Like, very big, for that type of game.  Compare it to the map for GTA SA for some perspective, all found here:

I believe it clocks in at about 50 square miles.  But is bigger better?  Some maps have been positively massive in scope.  Just Cause 2 was 400 square miles.  Fuel was 5560 square miles.  Daggerfall was well over 60,000 square miles.  But then, a lot of those environments were just reskinned duplicates of other environmental setpieces.  I know you have to make hay while the sun shines, but variety is the spice of life, and it isn’t the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.  Metaphors.

Basically, make sure you use the world, and I have no doubts that Rockstar has done an incredible job at creating a world that is not just large, but purposefully large.  You don’t need 12 army bases and 100 villages and a thousand kilometres of roadway; if you’re putting those things in, they need to have a purpose beyond “…AND WE MADE IT BIGGER!”.  Traversing the map should be an adventure, not a chore.  In JC2, when I finished one mission and went on to the next one, I’d often find that I was 20km away from my mission start point.  20km in Just Cause 2 time is a long time, so you could slog for 20 minutes before you actually get where you’re going, and that’s not even counting stopping for battles.  Planes weren’t always easy to come by, and boats were even worse, so you might have to blow some of your hard-earned cash buying one.  That’s a quick way to deplete your savings.

I’m not necessarily opposed to padding out a game’s world, if it means creating a larger environment for those who want to enjoy it.  Half of the towns, outposts, shacks, and caves in Skyrim weren’t necessary, but that’s the point: they weren’t necessary.  You could skip right past them if you didn’t want to do them, and they didn’t add to the bulk of the journey.  You could walk across the entire map in about fifteen minutes (assuming you didn’t get stopped for battles), and if you didn’t want to walk, then you could simply fast-travel to where you wanted to go (assuming you’d been there already, a perfect mechanic).

While I’m honestly not really in the mood to play GTA V, I can say that I do really look forward to seeing the organic world that Rockstar created.  Just an afternoon of farting around in it is all I’m looking for, just to appreciate the work they put into it, which is no doubt top-notch.

Monday, 4:13pm – Gavin

I should clarify – by “dark and gritty”, I’m only partially referring to the story, which, while still peppered with humour, takes itself seriously much more often than it doesn’t.  There are environmentally humourous pieces – the radio stations and Roman, mostly (there could have been more beyond the “Rigged to Blow” mission, but I never got past it because I was too bored), but it’s still a game that prides itself on being some semi-realistic street drama.  Plus, graphically, that game is all the colours of the rainbow, assuming the rainbow is brown and grey only.  It’s a very organic world, but the palette is very much skewed.  But then, I enjoyed the hell out of Just Cause 2, which is an exploding psychedelic rainbow 99% of the time.

I’m definitely not a hater of the series.  It’s a perfectly valid, excellently crafted series with huge worlds and great detail.  It’s just not for me, that’s all.  I deal with realism every day; I don’t need to emulate it when I get home.  I generally didn’t care for much about the game except that free-roam mode, wherein I’d either just blast around by myself, just testing the limits of what the Liberty City Police Department would tolerate, or I’d have a few open slots for my real-life meat-world friends, and we’d basically just catch up as we played.  It was a similar experience for me most times, but that’s because I don’t care for anonymous competitive multiplayer in any game.  I preferred the attitude of the original GTA to GTA IV.

Interesting announcement from Sony today with the Vita bits and pieces.  Hopefully this spurs developers to produce more games for the Vita.  The Vita TV isn’t that exciting as a gaming device by itself – the Vita library isn’t really that big and it doesn’t have a ton of exclusives that are better than the PS3 contemporaries.  But for $99 USD, it’s basically a portable media device similar to an Apple TV or Roku, so it’s priced competitively.  A particularly cool feature, however, is that it can connect to a PS4 and stream games directly to another television anywhere in the house.  Main media room is the basement, but you’ve been kicked out and there’s another TV in the living room?  BAM you’re playing.  It’s not a particularly exciting device as far as I’m concerned, because I’m not in the Sony ecosystem, but I do acknowledge that for what it is – a media streaming device that will also stream your games to another television, it’s definitely priced right.

The baby Vita is a good idea for Sony to try to catch up to Nintendo.  With the 2DS coming out and being marketed for children, a crazy gimme-gimme-gimme market that knows no bounds and will pester and hound and irritate until their lust for blood has been sated, Sony had to do something.  It’s something of a shame that they ditched the OLED screen, since that was, in my mind, the defining characteristic of the Vita over any other handheld device, but you’ve gotta cut costs when you can.  Hopefully this spurs crazy sales so that developers won’t be afraid that they’re taking a risk if they try to work in the Vita as a second screen for the PS4.

The Vita is a much better device than one would think. Sony nixed the idea of releasing the PS4 and Vita in a bundle for $500, but I wonder if that should have been the plan all along.  You get more than what you would get with Microsoft for $500, and with Nintendo, yeah you’re paying $200 more, but you’re getting the more powerful system and a standalone handheld unit as well.  Buying a Wii-U and a 3DSXL will cost you $500, and bundling them together lets developers know that everyone who has a PS4 has a Vita as well.

But of course, there’s a reason I’m not sitting in the big Sony executive chair.

Monday, 2:37pm – matt

Hmm, well Gavin I have to disagree with you about GTA 4 being “dark and gritty”. I found that game to be quite bright, fun, and light hearted. One thing GTA has always done is never take itself to seriously, even if it has a gritty story line (Saint Row has taken the same approach in keeping the game fun, albeit Saint Row takes the light hearted approach and not only runs with, pump it full of PEDS and run a marathon). There is always plenty of humour mixed in, and the detailed world they created for Liberty City was freaking insane, even today.

GTA is certainly a title that has its fans and haters, depends on what kind of game experience you are looking for I suppose. its interesting that you enjoyed the multiplayer mayhem because that was actually the focus for the game, introducing online into the franchise and it worked very well. I think GTA 4 might be the game Ive played the most online ever, as that offered a completely different game every time I played it.

In other news….

the vita has come home! Sony has announced a “ouya” type console for the vita that will allow gamers to play vita games on the tv using a dual shock controller as well as stream media through the ps4, kinda interesting, kinda cool, kinda confusing, im not sure where this will fit in with the Sony line, as you could essentially do this with a HDMI port, dual shock controller and a VITA now, so this is probably tailored for those without a VITA who want to play the games but not necessarily away from the house.


They also announced a new PS vita model that will be the usual thinner and lighter that current models, but this will come with 1 gig on onboard data and the OLED screen has been removed for a more cost effective LED screen. all in preparation I assume for the PS4 and the interconnection that will come with the VITA handheld, so those looking for a VITA might be able to grab the older model in a bundle with game on the cheap!


Monday, 8:30am – Gavin

GTA V is probably the most anticipated game of the year, so I’m excited to see people’s reactions to the game.  Presumably another home run hit by Rockstar, but did you know that GTA V has the biggest budget of any video game, ever?  At $265m, they’ll need to sell about 7 million copies just to break even, assuming they take home the standard $38 of each $60 title sold, less retailer and manufacturing/distribution costs of the total revenue of each copy sold (I have no idea what the actual profit margins are, as I’m obviously not in the business).

Of course, GTA V will easily crack that number.  Granted, there were price markdowns, but GTA IV sold something in the realm of 25 million copies.  I wonder if GTA V can top that.