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My beach house!

For anyone who may not have heard, EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Nick Earl, recently revealed plans to introduce a new premium DLC system, in which EA will charge a fee for an extended game demo, comparable in size and content to Battlefield 1943.

This could potentially be an innovating strategy for EA, providing gamers with early content of anticipated games, while giving EA valuable gamer reaction to said games. Unfortunately, it looks like there’s already a lot of potential downside to this system, and its success will depend greatly on how EA chooses to implement it. Read more… »

When Avatar figuratively exploded onto the scene, many of us were taken aback by the re-introduction of decent 3-D effects in film. The exquisitely developed depth, glossy holograms, and delicious visuals quenched our appetites for a new form of visceral experience.

But in the usual, ridiculous overreaction by almost everybody in the media and general populace to what can almost definitely be defined as a fad, 3-D has re-emerged as the buzzword for the early part of this decade. Once again, content producers and hardware makers alike begin to rub their hands together with glee, as rabid tech nerds and people with too much money begin buying TVs in the hope that will will get to play Modern Warfare 2 with slightly more cohesion.

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If I had to choose a game with a good story over one with good gameplay, I would pick the former.  There are infinite arguments over the merit of either (story or gameplay), but a good story gets the blood pumping in my brain – and my genitals.

So, when I discovered the Wii would feature the next Silent Hill game, my speculation raged. I assumed it would be another motion controlled fiasco that would further cement my distaste.  I was wrong.  Climax created an excellent entry into the series that proves motion controls can enhance narrative. Read more… »

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In an industry where hype is the rule rather than the exception, there is much joy to be found when a title slips under the radar and catches us unaware of  its quality and vision. Knowing that a sleeper hit can delight as much – or more – than the latest blockbuster release, it’s worth celebrating those titles from last year that arrived with little fanfare, but left with a bang.

In the information age, a game that is able to surprise us is a rare treasure indeed. Follow me over the jump to look at some of the games that defied our expectations, or blindsided us with win, in 2009!

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Tunneling under the mainstream radar, EVE Online has grown to become one of the most successful MMOs of the last decade. It’s been called the “smart person’s” MMO, “spreadsheets online”, and “where economists go to wind down”. But its status is one of conjecture amongst gamers – almost everyone has heard a story about EVE. Its sheer scope, range and possibility appeal to many, until they find themselves inside the universe and completely flustered.

EVE is unique within its genre in that the game is not run by the developer, but by the player. Its developers, CCP, simply set the stage and provide the tools. From there, a limited amount of NPC elements provide new players with some guidance and intermediate players with some challenge. But the real game lies deep within the central space of the universe where there are few rules, no guards and one of the most unforgiving, challenging and intense environments that gaming has ever seen.

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Like the sea of fellow gamers out there who have been brought up with the Super Nintendo and  Sega Genesis, we’re all familiar with frustrating less-than-16bit games. We’re also on the same page in regards to arcade games like Pac-Man, where players will often find themselves in an endless abyss of a never-ending quest, usually without any narrative to tell us why we’re supposed to be eating white pixels.

Upon fast forwarding two decades, it’s strange how some of us have been accustomed to Kojima-san’s Metal Gear antics, or Square Enix’s ability to tell a poignant tale of cliché love and redemption. Maybe it’s just me, but this assimilation to the world of video game storytelling has had me convinced for a good decade. It must be said: games without storylines suck. Read more… »

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It was recently revealed that Sony would be allowing a bit of a different approach to trophies for Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. Rather than bestowing trophies upon the player as he performs certain actions or passes certain milestones, they would instead be withheld until the end of each chapter, so as not to interrupt the gameplay.

Sounds like a pretty simple, inconsequential idea, right? The repercussions of this sort of approach might be even greater than you think, potentially going as far as fixing what many dislike about achievements/trophies altogether – if other studios get on-board. Read on to see how the world of gamerscores and trophy collections could soon be turned on its head.

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Use at the risk of extreme frustration

Ladders have existed since long before the written word — evidence from Mesolithic rock paintings suggests that the ladder has been used for at least 10,000 years. This is a long time to further develop and perfect such a common and useful invention, yet, from most accounts, ladders haven’t changed much in their history. Sure, minor improvements have been made such as the A-frame, but the basic design of the ladder is one that doesn’t demand a lot of improvement.

The video game ladder has seen a similar lack of innovation, and although resolution has increased and bloom has made those metal rungs look just so very pretty, not much has changed for this pixel-infused climbing device.

The problem with the videogame ladder is that, while real world ladders are simple and intuitive, video game ladders are horrible mockeries of usability. What went wrong? How have videogame ladders become so tragically separated from their real-world counterparts?

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Difficulty


Not long ago, we had a discussion about difficulty within games on the Limit Cast, and, as often happens with this kind of discussion, my mind carried on ticking over long after the podcast had finished.

The subject is still wide enough that we may go back to it on the podcast one day, but until then, allow me to regale you with the bizarre workings of my mind as I discuss more areas relating to difficulty in games, and how that can affect your gaming experience.

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Technology is a relentless beast, careening forward at breakneck speeds. Hell, when I first activated my iPhone, I immediately received a text message from Apple letting me know that there was a new model coming out later that afternoon.

Gamers know this all too well. Particularly when it comes to software, we find ourselves drenched by a constant deluge of new titles. Even an enthusiast, with nothing but time to play games, cannot play all of the latest and greatest that our favorite hobby has to offer.

Combine the overabundance of new releases with the eternal need to “keep up with the Joneses”, and you have a recipe for constant pressure to leave games unfinished. Players are constantly quitting games before reaching the end, simply to be able to say that they experienced the next big thing.

How has this trend influenced the course of game development? Follow me over the jump to explore how game resolutions continue to be one of the medium’s greatest failings and opportunities.

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All of the furor over LFD2‘s censorship in Australia has caused a righteous uproar, both domestically and internationally. Since it seems that Australia has begun to take over China and Germany as the king hate-state of video game hatred, let’s get some facts straight.

Australia’s OFLC ratings board, who are mandated under law to provide a rating for every single film, and game, released in this country, are provided with inconsistent and outdated guidelines. There is no R-rating for games, so titles, even those with excessive language, violence, and sex, are squeezed into an inappropriate classification.

Not a day goes by that I don’t read a blog or a news post that makes blanket statements or groups Australia with other regions that regularly censor content. This is not the case. I’m not by any means defending our system; it’s deeply flawed and in need of change, and I’ll explain how and why.

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The Retro Revival
By: | November 14th, 2009

Retro Revival TMNT

It’s easier to recycle an old idea than to create something original.  Musicians know this.  Authors know this.  Game developers certainly know this.

Video gaming has now reached a point where the early (and even the not-so-early) games can be looked back upon with a sense of nostalgia – a longing for the good old days of the Golden Age of Gaming.  Pac-Man, Pong, Galaxian, Frogger, Tempest… these games were marching the front lines of innovation in an unestablished, and almost comically different, industry.

Wistful game geeks today have an average age of 29; they recall their early gaming days with a fondness usually reserved for first loves or lost pets.  Leave it to game companies to take advantage of our doe-eyed sentimentality by selling us things we’ve already bought.

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