News Shelf: 10-06-12

One of gaming’s most visible faces walks into the horizon, a Toronto-based game wins honours at IndieCade, and World of Warcraft gets pulled into the equally bizarre world of U.S. politics.

Cliff Bleszinski leaves Epic Games

One of the most visible faces in the game development world, Cliff Bleszinski, announced his departure from Epic Games on Wednesday. In the past 20 years he’s worked on some of the most influential and successful games across several generations. Gamers today most likely know him for the Gears of War series. Children of the ’90s probably remember the totally awesome and neon-coloured Jazz Jackrabbit.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going non-stop. I literally grew up in this business, as Mike likes to say. And now that I’m grown up, it’s time for a much needed break,” Bleszinski said in a blog post on Epic.

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Truly, though, the man has headed some of the biggest games in the industry and had a question answered by the Old Spice Guy. By our measure he’s earned a break.

If you haven’t already, check out the New Yorker’s fantastic profile of CliffyB from back in 2008, written by Tom Bissell.

Dyad wins Audio Design Award at IndieCade

Dyad Review

 

Dork Shelf certainly loves Dyad, the shooter-racer-music game thing by Toronto luminary and awesome-hat-owner Shawn McGrath of ][. The judges at Indiecade Festival this past week seem to agree, giving it for the Audio Design Award this week. "Dyad will reveal to you the secrets of the universe via bright flashy colours and phat beatz,” says the website’s summary.

Many others came away with honours at this year’s Culver City-based international festival of independent games. They include Grand Jury Award winner Unmanned from molleindustria and Davey Wreden’s "sort of a game, sort of a story, kinda neither” The Stanley Parable, which took home the Special Recognition Award. "These finalists showcase true artistry in game development, combining a wide array of both artistic and technical skills, ranging from art direction…to the mysterious alchemy of ‘game design,’” according to the IndieCade website.

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Once again we salute McGrath’s team on the marriage of psychedelic lights and trippy music that rightfully earned Dyad a place among the indie heavyweights of the year. Click here for the full list of award winners.

PBS mini-doc looks at The Creativity of Indie Video Games

Speaking of indie games, PBS’ online program Off Book has a new short doc called The Creativity of Indie Video Games. Running about seven and a half minutes, several prominent commentators and designers (including Kill Screen Magazine’s Jamin Warren and Darren Korb, music man for Bastion) talk about the creative process for indie games, championing the freedom of vision afforded to them.

The video assaults the senses with a bewildering barrage of clips from dozens of games, from Fez to Dear Esther to FTL: Faster than Light. If you want a primer on what makes indie games the fertile grounds for creativity in the industry (and perhaps an argument against the so-called Big Bird cuts we’ve been hearing about after the U.S. presidential debate) then this video is a must-watch.

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GOP candidate smears opponent for playing WoW


On the topic of U.S. politics (the segues are just writing themselves this week), the Democratic senatorial candidate for Maine fell under an unusual angle of attack from her opponent: her World of Warcraft account.

Colleen Lachowicz is known as Santiaga, an Orc Rogue, according to Politico. Her opposition, on behalf of Republican incumbent Tom Martin, created an entire website showcasing her WoW persona.

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“Colleen Lachowicz, AKA Santiaga, is a gamer in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW), which takes place in the make-believe land Azeroth,” says the hilariously worded blurb on Colleensworld, and entire mini-site dedicated to posting some off-colour comments from the in-game world out of context, mostly from several years ago.

“Maine needs a State Senator that lives in the real world, not in Colleen’s fantasy world,” says the site.

Lachowicz responded by pointing out the “misconceptions about people who play online games,” but also said she considered the tactic a distraction from talking about the campaign issues relevant to her constituency.

Politico reports that Martin was unaware of the attack campaign until he was contacted by reporters, and doesn’t condone them.

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Resident Evil 6 ships 4.5 million copies, gets critically panned

I don’t have a transition for this story other than the one scene where Leon Kennedy shoots the president (hey, he was a zombie at the time). Capcom released a statement on Thursday saying that it’s shipped more 4.5 million copies of Resident Evil 6 worldwide since its release this week, “the highest ever for a Capcom game.”

It’s important to note that “copies shipped” isn’t the same as “copies sold,” of course. We’d have to guess that generous pre-orders helped inflate the shipping numbers. Capcom could use all the positive press they can get for the game, however, as it’s becoming more infamous for the critical drubbing it’s received almost across the board from review outlets both mainstream and specialist.

The game’s Metacritic average currently runs at 66/100, a staggeringly low number for a high-profile Capcom game. By comparison, even the polarizing-via-DLC Street Fighter x Tekken has an average of 84. Over at the Toronto Star, our Dork Shelf compatriot Matt Demers writes:

“The lack of the game’s concrete identity is its biggest flaw: it’s neither a survival-horror game nor a third-person shooter…Longtime fans of the series may be disappointed with what’s being offered here.”

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