GamePro Ends Magazine Run

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It’s over. After 22 years, one of the first magazines dedicated to reporting on a young and rapidly growing console market has finally decided to call it quits. According to a report by IndustryGamers, November’s print issue will be GamePro’s last and the website will close on December 5th.

GamePro joins Computer Gaming World as another casualty of a medium under pressure from the digital space. CGW, later known as Games for Windows in 2006, covered the PC gaming industry for over 27 years before shutting down in 2008.

As a kid, GamePro was as good a reason as any to hit up a place like Waldenbooks for the latest gaming gossip. It was different, entertaining, and like many other magazines at the time, trying to find its own voice in an industry where everything was still up for grabs and Vic Tokai had one man on their customer service line.

Its pages reflected the childish excitement of the time – rough, colorful, and illuminated with plenty of art that clearly wasn’t on any of the game boxes. It even had its own comic strip and a spandex hero who showed up at CES before there was an E3.

And this was all before the ‘net became the monster it is today. GamePro, EGM, Gamer’s Republic, and a score of others were only the channels in those heady days through which audiences could tune into whether Zelda was going to have another sequel, see who would stoke the 16-bit fires with more trash talking hardware ads, or share tips and cheat codes.

Unfortunately, changing market conditions in the face of an ever-growing digital world have made it difficult for several print outlets to sustain themselves, especially in recent years.

IndustryGamers reports that GamePro’s editorial team will be folded into PC World and that GamePro’s website will eventually point visitors to PC World’s instead. There is no word yet as to what options will be given to the rest of the staff, or if there will even be positions for them in PC World going forward.

Whatever the case might be, I wish them all the best in landing on their feet along with a sad farewell to another gaming legend. Thanks for many years of thumb blistering memories and excitement.

New trailer for “The Secret World” spells out what you can expect

Funcom has released a new trailer for their upcoming MMORPG, “The Secret World”. If you’re wondering whether it’s something you want to play other than World of Warcraft, that depends on whether you want to fight for the fate of the modern day world as a member of one of three secret societies who know the truth of what goes bump in the night. From New York City to Seoul, South Korea, players will get to shoot it out or use the kind of magic Harry Potter can only dream about to fight this secret war.

I’ve been keeping an eye on this one for awhile and it’s been shrouded in, well, “secrecy” since the start, but it looks like Funcom is getting ready to show off more than just a few fancy trailers with a little taste of the gameplay.

For more info, check out the press release right after the jump below.


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Candid Kinect

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Kinect came out yesterday amidst much hoopla and joy for those that managed to snag one. If you haven’t heard of what it is, it’s the motion sensing accessory for the Xbox 360 that essentially follows your body to do stuff onscreen – like control your dashboard or actually play games using it.

It’s got a leg up on the Wii and the Move by not forcing you to hold anything, but did you also know that it takes pics of you? That’s what Destructoid is reporting.

Apparently, someone “got too hot” while playing Dance Central and took off their clothes. What they didn’t realize is that Kinect randomly took pics of them and now they have no idea how to delete the potentially embarrassing album on their console.

So I guess the moral of the story is: Kinect is watching you? Play safe, my friends.

Play Asteroids via the web, courtesy of HTML 5 and developer Kevin Roast

For those of you who would like to take a trip back to the golden age of video games there is a snazzy playable version of Asteroids using HTML 5.

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I can remember dumping quarters into Asteroids by the pocketful back in ’79 hanging out at my local neighborhood Arcade. Check it out here: Arcade Classic Asteroids

Note: Works best with a desktop, laptop and browser setup with physical keyboard. “i” or mobile devices may not work at all :(

London 2032 + robots = one awesome concept

Remember the Ghostbusters teaser from Zootfly? Though Zootfly didn’t get to actually develop their own Ghostbusters game because they couldn’t get the rights, the video showing off their concept work in 2006 created a huge, happy buzz on the ‘net as if pink slime had bubbled up from everyone’s screen in seeing it.

It also helped to convince Sony that there was an audience out there hungry for Ghostbusting. When Terminal Reality, who was already working on their own project pitch, were waiting to hear the good news, Sony was ready to believe them. Atari published the game in 2009 with a multiplatform release.

So what do London and robots have to do with the Ghostbusters? According to Destructoid, a pitch video created by former Ubisoft artist, Fanny Vergne, and a few others at Ubisoft Montpelier had been leaked into the wild and it’s not half bad. It might not be based on a well known IP involving spirits, but it’s still an amazing, if short, piece of digital fantasy. Since they broke the news, however, Fanny Vergne requested that the art and clip be removed from their site, but not before they had already hit other sites that decided to follow the story.

Now here’s where it gets weird. Depending on where you read the news from, the video has also had something of a strange trail to follow with some sites stating that Ubisoft canceled the game when it wasn’t a game cancellation at all. The video link below on Youtube even says that it’s a canceled Ubisoft game (along with others that have uploaded the clip under their own accounts), but it’s not according to Destructoid. Kind of hard to cancel a game when it hasn’t even gotten past the pitch meeting.

But the footage is already out there in the wild along with a few pieces of neat concept art, under whatever header the articles they are featured in want to call them. It certainly looks creative, flashy, and is one of those things that we had gotten a taste of but will probably never get to see as a game.

Unlike Ghostbusters. But who knows?

Review: Major League Baseball 2K10

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From staff reports:

It seems like an eternity since EA Sports stopped making Major League Baseball titles, leaving gamers to decide between MLB The Show (if one has PS3), or the 2K games.

That’s meant an absolute disaster for XBox gamers, who’ve had only the 2K series to turn to each spring.

Every year, lovers of baseball and video games put the disk in their systems hoping it’ll be the year 2K finally breaks through and produces a game that’s both playable and engaging. And every year, it seems, the game is better than the previous year but never quite hits a home run.

Major League Baseball 2K10 shows the game’s designers are working hard to shake their reputation for warning-track ability.

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Xbox Live online support ending for Xbox originals

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“Originals” as in the games that were made for the first Xbox according to this open letter from Xbox Live’s general manager, Marc Whitten. From the announcement, it sounds like this is being done in order to pave the way for more positive changes in moving forward with Xbox Live as a whole on the Xbox 360 and those changes simply weren’t compatible with what was leftover from the old Xbox.

You’ll still be able to play a majority of your old Xbox games on the Xbox 360, but forget about any multiplayer support that you might have enjoyed with them particularly if you’re still hooked on Halo 2. On April 15th, it all ends, so get in as many of those online match ups as you can with your favorite classics before it’s over.

And as big as Halo 2 is, Bungie’s also planning to mourn the passing of an era in their own way with plenty of gaming goodness on April 14th, so be sure to keep an eye on their site for the latest news on how that’s going to go down.

Vanquish

Resident Evil father, Shinji Mikami, will be adding his own title to Platinum Games’ quickly growing lineup with Vanquish whose trailer was officially shown today.

The trailer actually says little about what the gameplay will be like, but it leads in with live action and a heavy dose of CG effects to set it up as a yarn about one man’s fight to stop an attack against the United States (as opposed from within thanks to a duplicitous Vice President in a giant mech). Cue in colossal space station with a sci-fi army backed by beam weapons from the sky, and you’ve got something that’s a far cry from fighting tentacle-headed corpses and collecting herbs.

Or maybe Mikami is just as tired of zombies as I am.

Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem

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Wired’s Clive Thompson has put together a great piece that looks into the demise of Duke Nukem Forever. In it, he examines how success had ultimately become the worst thing that could happen for it at 3D realms and the reason why the long delayed game may appear under the Take 2 label instead. It’s kind of hard to think of how such a good thing could be so bad for the Duke, but I was surprised to see just how far the combination of unbridled enthusiasm and perfectionism had ultimately wrecked his chances for a long awaited return. It’s a gripping read.

3D Realms isn’t dead as a company, that much was made clear, but as far as development goes…Thompson’s piece pretty much lays it out at the end. Ever since I had seen the working footage briefly demonstrated by Jason Hall in ’08 in his first show, it seemed as if it were close to finally gettting out. And then screenshots, rumors, more months passing without a demo, until finally the bombshell dropped in May this year.

It’s also a story that made me angry to think of how many missed opportunities there were for it to finally see the light of day, of how many lives were invested over so many years in seeing it through, and the pressure to live up to the unbelievable hype that DNF had created around itself. When you look at something such as the Duke Nukem List memorializing its fate with everything that the world had accomplished while it waited for development to finish, you have to wonder why no one had the sense to stop and see just where the endless feature creep in raising the bar would ultimately leave it.

And the thing is, from the screens and the leaked design docs scattered across the ‘net that I’d seen, I’d still play it. Even if it were in pieces.

Stop it with the horrible voice acting. Please.

Bad voice acting isn’t a new problem, but the depths at which it can sink can always surprise even jaded players like myself that thought they had heard everything. Sitting down with a game shouldn’t also require torture to the ears, but with the Xbox 360 game, Raven Squad, I have no choice if I want to finish it. Even if you had Tarantino onboard to write up some snappy dialogue, having someone with the pulse of an ice cube delivering the lines is just as bad as pulling the text off of a cereal box instead.

Seriously developers, if you can’t afford decent voice acting and feel that you have to do something like draft your local office personnel or familial relations “that think it would be easy and cool”, chances are, it will be a bad idea. Honestly, I’m not sure if that is what happened with Raven Squad, but I heard that it was what happened with another game, Chaos Wars.

If you have no choice but to go that route anyway, I would suggest spending some of your budget on acting lessons to ensure that your actors can properly pronounce words like “evac”, “tango”, and “beach”. There’s also something called “emotion”, too, that I heard makes a big difference between simply reading the script and getting into character. I heard actors sometimes do that.

But if you did hire actual actors and they turn out to be terrible, sending them back to acting school might not be a bad idea anyway.