On Hong Kong

Blizzard’s (a)moral, and incredibly fast-moving Hong Kong fumble (repeated over the past few days by the NBA, and by extension, Disney’s ESPN) has suddenly become a lightning rod of a reminder of the nature of the gaming business. Companies and corporations aren’t our friends, and keeping a healthy distance informed by a baseline antagonism (someone wins, someone loses, and the winner is never you) is always the way to go.

On the China microblogging site Weibo, Blizzard’s statement in Chinese was: “We will, as always, resolutely safeguard the country’s dignity.”


The above statement is just so unbelievably bad. B-A-D. That’s what really got me over the hurdle: A video game company defending the “dignity” of a government, of any government? I’m sure this message was not intended to ever come out of China, but I don’t think the general response (from dubious congressmen, no less) to it has been overstated, at all, given the magnitude of this mistake of a comment, and in fact has turned the situation from a gaming moment into something of an international-level incident.

Our world is worth fighting fo… wait, what?

I know, I know, some of y’all already can’t wait for this to blow over to get back to WoW Classic in peace: consumer “activism” 1)“grassroots collective organization of consumption or its withdrawal” per Lawrence Glickman is no-one’s idea of fun, exactly, and there’s actually something of a point to the idea that we shouldn’t grow too attached to our “consumer” identity (shoutout to Jason Schreier).

Buying games doesn’t make anyone a gamer (shoutout to my Steam backlog) – playing ’em does. So there’s that.

Still, many such consumerrilla camps have indeed sprung up in a matter of hours, not days: The Blizzard portion of Reddit is pretty much on fire right now (and will continue to burn, surely), there are pro-Hong Kong Mei memes popping up, and fans are sending GDPR requests en masse.


References   [ + ]

1. “grassroots collective organization of consumption or its withdrawal” per Lawrence Glickman

Read More

Interview with Epic Games’ Jay Wilbur

Since its inception in 2008, the Dubai World Game Expo has been the annual showcase for game developers in the Middle East. In the last few years many western studios have taken an interest and have come to sponsor or give panels, including CryTech, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Epic Games.

Epic had a large presence at DWGE 2010, showcasing their latest development tool, the Unreal Development Kit. Their booth featured a workshop with tutorials on the basics of the UDK, and representing Epic at DWGE were Jay Wilbur, Vice President, as well as Markus Arvidsson and James Tan – two of the independent developers behind UDK-based game The Ball. I sat down with these fine gentlemen to discuss a variety of topics including Unreal Engine 3, the UDK, and games development in general. What follows is my conversation with Jay.

The Slowdown: The Unreal Engine has a long history of licensing and modding; how did the decision to launch the Unreal Development Kit only come about now after all these years?

Jay Wilbur: So, all the while, we’ve always made our games open and available for people to mod – Unreal Tournament 3, going back to the original Unreal. People would be able to use the tools to make their own mod. But that locks those creative endeavours to the game, so somebody else would need to own that particular game in order to play the mod. With the UDK, we’ve freed developers to create standalone applications, turn it into a standalone playable entity – asset, I should say, and then deliver it to anybody who wanted to play it. They wouldn’t necessarily need to own that game in order to play it. So the goal was basically to have more people use Unreal Engine 3 in the development and also have more people be able to play the end result.


Read More

UDK Hat Trick: The Ball, The Haunted and Sanctum

Ever since Epic Games announced the Unreal Development Kit in November 2009, with UE3’s market penetration, a $99 starting price and comparably modest licensing terms (0% royalty on $5,000 and 25% above $5,000), the big step for aspiring mod teams to take in moving over to the commercial side of video game development has considerably shrunk.

In fact, there are already three promising Unreal Tournament 3 mods that have not only made the jump over to the UDK but also gone commercial, and curiously, UDK is not the only factor that binds all these three projects together. Each these teams also took part in the Make Something Unreal 2010 contest arranged by Intel and Epic Games. (In fact, two out of three of the above projects are included in the UDK showcase.)


Read More


Together with EA and Epic Games, the Polish Painkiller developers People Can Fly are certainly doing their darndest to specifically target us connoisseurs with their latest Unreal Engine 3 game, Bulletstorm.

How, exactly, you may ask? Glancing over older press releases (frantic, adrenaline fueled, immersive) for Painkiller, the lingo has been amped up several notches: Symphony, carnage, blockbuster, unadulterated, entertainment, arsenal, outrageously, unprecedented, frantic, yell-inducing, inciting, mayhem, insane, execute, exaggerated, excited, onslaught, cutting-edge. 1)http://news.ea.com/portal/site/ea/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100412006088&newsLang=en

(Only missing the good ol’ slobberknocker and barnburner, in other words.)

Good thing, then, that the just-released debut trailer below should back up some of that smack, too:

Below, a list of excerpts and examples of the aforementioned jargon in action:

  1. The developers are slated to deliver a “Blood Symphony of Gunplay and Carnage” packed with “blockbuster moments” 2)http://news.ea.com/portal/site/ea/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100412006088&newsLang=en
  2. The developers “believe” in “making killing ridiculous enemies as awesome as possible” 3)http://gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2010/04/16/before-bulletstorm-there-was-painkiller.aspx
  3. Inspired by pulp and Heavy Metal, the company is collaborating with comic book author Rick Remender, “best known for his original pulp sci-fi series Fear Agent and his work on Dead Space” 4)http://gameinformer.com/games/bulletstorm/b/xbox360/archive/2010/04/19/inside-bulletstorm-writer-rick-remender-s-head.aspx
  4. The game places specific emphasis on the methodology of the kill: “special kills that reward players with increased upgrade points” 5)http://gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2010/04/26/killing-with-style-an-illustration-of-bulletstorm-s-skillshots.aspx
  5. The team “dubs the close combat in Bulletstorm ‘creative mayhem'” 6)Gameinformer May 2010, p48
  6. The company has also done away with the cover systems of today: “Bulletstorm … has no cover mechanism, and we’re turbo sliding 20 or so metres further than science’s popular ‘momentum’ would realistically take us.” 7)http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=245721

While Wolfire & co. have been shoving it to the mainstream in a slightly different manner, People Can Fly seem to be aiming to counter the current established shooter paradigm in ways that are reminiscent of the Death of Glam Metal!

The question remains, then – which side of the fence is glam metal on, exactly, and what about the Death of Grunge? According to Joystiq, EA have slated Bulletstorm for Q1 2011.


The question remains, then – which side of the fence is glam metal on, exactly? And what about the Death of Grunge?

References   [ + ]

Read More

Lost in Trans-Civilization

Scivelation Logo

A few months back, we brandished our interest towards BWF Game’s little-known upcoming Source engine project, Salvation. Just goes to show how swift the turnover rate is in the gaming business these days: Over the course of mere months, the game has now been rebranded as Scivelation, and instead of the previously utilized Valve tools, is now built on Epic Games’ Unreal III Engine.

“Set in the distant future, Scivelation’s universe is a world born out of the ashes of conflict and misery. An oppressive global dictatorship, known as the Regime, has risen to power after the aftermath of the Apocalypse; aggressively seeking out and eliminating any opposition to their tyrannical government.” 1)http://ve3tro.com/6213/scivelation-announced/

Scivelation_01_wallpaperFor me, the rather obscure mash-up title – Griffin McElroy already lamented the lack of a proper pronunciation guide 2)http://www.joystiq.com/2009/10/11/scivelation-announced-but-poorly-pronounced/ – recalls the word skive (also rarely spelled as scive, according to the OED), which means “To evade a duty, to shirk; to avoid work by absenting oneself, to play truant.” Whether this is BWF Game’s intended meaning remains to be seen, of course, but with the player character taking “his or her place amongst the ranks of the resistance” 3)http://ve3tro.com/6213/scivelation-announced/ in the narrative, this interpretation of the title does not seem an immense stretch of imagination for me.

After the jump, I have set up a modest comparison of screenshots between the two versions (Source and Unreal), and some more analysis about the game.


References   [ + ]

Read More