Episode #51: Jeff Loses His Geek Cred

Posted by jeffp2662 on November 11, 2011 in Episodes tagged with
Opening Music:

phenomena” (by Mesu Kasumai)

Torchlight II Needs More Time, Won’t be Out This Year
Runic Games had been hoping to get Torchlight II out by the end of the year. President Travis Baldree now says the company “made a good run at that” at that goal, but it simply isn’t realistic. Rather than release an inferior product, it will instead take the extra time to ensure the game is as good as it can be. 

“We’ve come to the realization, however, that getting a game of this scope up to the quality and polish level we want to achieve is going to take a little longer,” he wrote on the game’s official website today, “especially since we want to run a small beta before release to ensure that our launch is smooth.”

Whereas the original Torchlight wasn’t as polished as it could have been, Baldree points out Runic has the resources to do better this time around. (It likely has the success of the first game — which sold one million units — to thank for that.)

“Right at this moment though, we do have those resources for the sequel,” he said, “and we feel strongly that we should apply them to make this the best game we can make and hopefully one that you’ll enjoy and continue to want to play in the future.”

Baldree claimed the current development cycle on Torchlight II has taken 18 months. He expects the time still needed to finish the rest “is relatively small.”

Like its predecessor, Torchlight II will only cost $19.99, with the big addition being online multiplayer. It also introduces a new class, the Embermage, which is a spellcaster that can use fire, ice, and electricity. It’s scheduled for release on both PC and Mac — it’s possible that an Xbox Live Arcade version will not happen because the Xbox 360 doesn’t have enough memory to run the game as-is.

Will Wright’s Newest Project is Called HiveMind
Will Wright is one of the most prominent game designers in history, having co-founded Maxis and created games such as The Sims, Spore, SimCity, and all the rest of the Sim line (Farm, Earth,Copter, and so on). He left Electronic Arts, Maxis’ parent company, in 2009 to focus on his entertainment think tank, Stupid Fun Club, and while he continues to contribute to that, he has a big idea for his next game, which is known simply as HiveMind.

The first details on the new game — which is being developed at a new startup of the same name — were unveiled today in an interview with VentureBeat. Wright seemed to be deliberately vague about many aspects of the game, including the actual gameplay mechanics, potentially because they simply have not been decided upon as of yet.

The new game revolves around the concept of “personal gaming,” a term Wright uses to describe a game that caters itself to the player in question. It can look at things like your interests, where you’re currently located, where your friends are located, how much money you have at that particular time, and so on.

“Rather than craft a game like FarmVille for players to learn and play,” Wright said, “we learn about you and your routines and incorporate that into a form of game play.”

Final Fantasy Producer Talks About Not Ignoring the Action-RPG Trend
Square Enix is trying to resolve many of the issues fans had with Final Fantasy XIII with XIII-2 — the game is less linear, for one. While our newest preview of the game notes combat isn’t one of the aspects that’s undergone a significant overhaul, that may not remain the case for future installments of the series.

“I think the nature of the franchise is to present something new each time,” Yoshinori Kitase told Edge. “In the global market we see many players moving away from games that used turn-based systems toward what you might term an action-RPG.”

“That’s a trend, and you ignore things like that at your peril.”

Kitase is a producer on XIII-2 and served the same role on several of the recent, non-MMO FF games (X, X-2, and XIII). Before that he served as the director on a number of FF games including fan-favorite Final Fantasy VII. So clearly, when he talks about the franchise, he has some idea of what he’s talking about.

“FFXIII and FFXIII-2’s battle systems have those elements of speed and action that are the key words for us, though that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to stick to the same route in our next game,” he said. “That’s something only time can tell.”

Despite the Litigation, Skyrim References Minecraft
By now you’ve likely heard all about the ongoing litigation between Bethesda and Mojang, developers of the Elder Scrolls series and Minecraft, respectively. While there is clearly some disagreement between the two when it comes to game names, that didn’t dissuade Bethesda from including what appears to be an homage to Minecraft in the newly-released Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The issues between the two companies don’t actually involve Minecraft. It’s Mojang’s next game, the collectible card/board game hybrid Scrolls, that Bethesda has taken issue with, and it’s largely due to its name. Bethesda feels ‘Scrolls’ is too close to ‘The Elder Scrolls’ and wants the name changed. Persson recommended this be settled with a friendly game of Quake 3 (a game developed by id Software, which is owned by Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media), though the issue instead went to court. An interim injunction was won by Mojang last month, with Bethesda given the option of appealing the decision.

While that is all going on, Skyrim players (including Reddit user mrconty) discovered an interesting Easter egg. Located at the top of the Throat of the World in Skyrim, players can find what’s pictured above: the Notched Pickaxe. It’s not especially heavy or powerful as a weapon, though it is worth a decent amount and grants bonuses like shock damage and a boost to Smithing abilities.

The pickaxe is one of the most commonly used tools in Minecraft, but a pickaxe alone wouldn’t be much of a reference — it’s the “Notched” part that players believe is a reference. Minecraft creator Markus Persson goes by the nickname Notch, so naturally, Notched Pickaxe.

The gesture isn’t likely to result in Mojang suddenly surrendering the Scrolls name. It is nice, however, to see that there doesn’t appear to be any bad blood towards the Minecraft maker from Bethesda’s side, at least from the developers themselves.

Lord Of Time Craft: Doctor Who MMO
It seems like a long while since the announcement of Three Rings’ Doctor Who: Worlds In Time but perhaps not. Perhaps it will actually be announced yestermorrow and I’m writing this from a place between moments, stuck in the gaps between seasons, trapped in the trembling alcove between the tick and the tock. What I have been able to discern from this aching voidspace, which echoes with the shrieks of collapsing realities, is that on 18th November 2011 it will be vital for me to inform you that Sega have acquired the erstwhile Puzzle Pirates developers and will be helping to bring the Doctor Who MMO to fruition.

Although I have extensive experience of the free-to-play Worlds In Time, garnered during an expedition to ‘later this year’ when it is due out, I am forbidden from speaking of those future events for fear of altering history. Also the future has really tough NDAs.

If I were you, I would expect the game to have more in common with Puzzle Pirates than World of Starcraft, or whichever game Blizzard dominate the MMO scene with in the inferior alternate timeline that you currently inhabit. Think puzzles and challenges for all age groups rather than roleplaying and raids.

There are very few concrete details as of now but the Sega acquisition could put a great deal of support behind the project. Hopefully we’ll know more relatively soon and the website shows off the art style, which seems informative in itself.

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