Oh my God, Nintendo, just stop. You are drunk. Have a cold drink of water and go home! Well – it was probably only a matter of time. With the tremendous success of Amiibo as unlock keys for non-essential game content, one initially hoped that Nintendo would remain mindful of just where the line in the sand should be drawn in order to prevent this situation from becoming a shitshow. After all, Nintendo deliberately manufactures Amiibo in such scarcity that obtaining them has even been likened to having sex with Jeffery Dahmer. Thus, assuming that not everybody will be able to have access to any given Amiibo, it would make sense not to lock vital game content behind their purchase, as jumping through the hoops necessary to obtain them is simply asking too much of the consumer.
One was initially completely on board with picking up a copy of March 4th’s release Twilight Princess HD, yet it seems of late Nintendo is able to take one’s most sincere purchase intent and set fire to it with gasoline. It would have been nice to pick up Xenoblade Chronicles X and Fatal Frame V, but Nintendo ruined both of those releases with unnecessary censorship at the behest of SJWs. Now Nintendo has taken the release of Twilight Princess HD, and have made it almost impossible to purchase on account of the company’s extreme greed.
Existing Zelda universe Amiibo may be used to unlock optional extras such as regenerating health and extra arrows, which is completely fine. This is how Amiibo should operate. However, one Amiibo is set to function differently to the rest of them, in that it is being used to lock away a substantial chunk of new gameplay. That Amiibo is ‘Wolf Link’, and it has been confirmed by Amazon France to lock away an entire dungeon known as The Twilight Cave. Obviously this new content is going to prove to be the strongest draw for any Wii U owner who has already completed the game, so it seems aggressively greedy and arrogant for Nintendo to demand that Zelda fans wanting to experience this content first buy a full price game and an Amiibo figurine. It would be disgusting if fans merely had to buy the game and accompanying toy at regular RRP, but Nintendo’s business model demands that many of them will have to purchase the latter at a >100% mark-up from scalpers. So fuck Nintendo.
And Fuck Sony Too
Arrogant Sony are back! Sony are once again making a mockery of their Playstation 4 slogan ‘For the players’. What is the single most out of touch thing Sony could do? What would be the most brazen act they could perpetrate against the gaming community in order to take something away from ‘the players’ that ‘the players’ themselves brought to the table, not Sony. The answer to that is simply that Sony is attempting to trademark the concept of ‘Let’s Play’ videos. More precisely they are attempting to trademark ‘Let’s Play’ as it pertains to:
“Electronic transmission and streaming of video games via global and local computer networks; streaming of audio, visual, and audiovisual material via global and local computer networks.”
Sony intends to take something that was created by the gaming community for the gaming community away and make it their own corporate property. Given Nintendo’s gaming of Youtube copyright in order to control how people are able to stream Nintendo games, one can easily see a scenario wherein Sony will attempt to make it so that Youtubers will have to partner with Sony if they wish to monetise ‘Let’s Play’ videos. This would not matter to some of the smaller hobbyist Let’s Players, but for any Youtuber attempting to make an income from their streaming it is bound to hit hard. And what claim does Sony even have to this form of content? It was created by gamers, not by Sony. Gamers would have been more than happy to share, but Sony wants it all for themselves.
Really, the only hope here is that the body responsible for granting trademarks determines that the ‘Let’s Play’ concept is too broad for any one entity to trademark – and there is actually some hope here, as they have rebuffed Sony once already. Sony made their application for the ‘Let’s Play’ trademark on October 28 of 2015, but on the 29th of December it was knocked back on the grounds that further clarification was required. Sony have until the 29th of June 2016 to put together a more solid submission, else the trademark will be abandoned. At any rate, fuck Sony – this is some of the slimiest shit that one has seen outside of Zynga and King.
Square Enix Doubles down on Episodic Content for Hitman
In the wake of the revelation that Final Fantasy VII: Remake is going to be episodic content Square Enix appears to be really warming to this publishing model, so much so that after a few hiccups in relation to the development of Hitman Square Enix has decided to break the game up into component parts and sell it piecemeal. If readers are confused as to why one is reporting on the release of a game that came out over fifteen years ago, it is only because there needs to be a special hell set aside for people who decide to reboot a series using the same name as its initial entry. The reason that Hitman‘s 2016 iteration appears to have gone full episodic is in order for the team to have more time to develop each location. The base game was originally intended to come out in December of 2015, but ultimately it was not ready in time and got pushed back until March 11 2016. Now it would seem that even that additional development time was not sufficient, and only the first part of it will be released on the March release date.
“We decided to take the full leap and publish HITMAN as a truly episodic game experience. Part of that decision is for that little bit of extra time to ensure every location we release is at the quality level fitting for a HITMAN game. But the main driving reason is that this will allow us to create a living game that will expand and evolve over time and establish a foundation for the future – this is the first game in a storyline which will continue and expand with future Hitman games.”
To paraphrase the above statement: part of the reason for the episodic release is because IO Interactive needs more time to finish the game, but the main driving reason for an episodic release is because IO Interactive needs more time to finish the game. Okay.
When Final Fantasy VII: Remake was split into multiple parts that was a decidedly negative thing as it cannot help but hurt the structure and the pacing of the game, this will not necessarily prove to be the case with Hitman though. In terms of both structure and value the game remains a virtually identical proposition. The base game was originally intended to contain three sandbox environments and retail for $35 – and was later set to receive three additional DLC sandbox areas at $10 a piece. Now the prologue and first sandbox area will retail for $15, and each of the additional areas cost $10 a pop – with the retail disc being released at the end of the year. An episodic release is ideal for such a game, with its six self-contained environments each being able to be segmented into discrete episodes.
Square Enix’s strategy in this instance is mainly of interest because it highlights the desirability of tailoring a game’s release strategy to the requirements of the game itself, and not the other way around. It does this in two ways; firstly, the game’s release plans had to be completely redrawn because the deadline IO were given was not sufficient [which was also the case for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided], and secondly, Square Enix have decided to release the game in a way that is complimentary to its design. This is certainly not the case for other episodic material – as the format did not do much for the Half-Life 2 episodes, and it stands to absolutely blight the experience of Final Fantasy VII: Remake. A game’s release date should be determined not by marketing but by the developer themselves [within reason], and if a game is to be episodic then it should be designed in a modular way that compliments that kind of release. The latter will never be true of Final Fantasy VII: Remake. At any rate, Hitman‘s episodic structure is ideal for this author, as the first episode will likely prove more than enough game to satiate curiosity.
The Shittiness of 3D Anime Explained
Something a little different this week. Earlier in the week Anime News Network published a fascinating explanation as to why 3D anime often looks so janky in motion. Because of tight budgets, grueling schedules, and a dwindling workforce, anime employs a lot of cost cutting measures in order to stretch resources. This is primarily achieved by often using a far lower framerate than film, and also by offloading much of the animation work to either foreign animation studios or to domestic 3D animation – and here is where the problem arises.
When anime is created using conventional 2D methods much of the cost-cutting can be mitigated by the director having complete control over where it occurs. Some scenes will benefit more from a higher framerate than others, and in some instances there can even be different framerates operating within the same scene. 3D anime also cuts costs by lowering framerate, yet unlike 2D anime it is not currently possible for it to be produced using multiple different framerates. Because of this it tends to operate at a universally low framerate, which is why there is often a perceptible judder during high contrast scenes. Other than this, 3D cell-shaded anime can look quite beautiful, and is often indistinguishable from 2D animation when not in motion – yet because of its inflexibility 2D animation will continue to reign supreme until a solution can be found.