Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I've been hard at work completing reviews that I'm actually getting paid for! Can you imagine that? A paid blogging job? I might not exactly be blogging, but I am getting paid for uploading words to a WordPress outfitted blog! Wow! Can you imagine what everyone must think? Unfortunately I'll have to send an e-mail around to everyone who might care because they won't be seeing the news here! Anyways, read this stuff:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Hey! Where's FURTHER READING? It's right here... You're looking at it.
I completed my Halo 3 ODST Audio Log quest last night. Time to return the game, I only wish I had an opportunity to play online, but I still have no Live subscription! Damn!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Quite a few interesting pieces of news have emerged on a slow Monday after the Tokyo Game Show has al wrapped up. Isn't it interesting to see the way the waves of news crash on the internet? Especially with gaming where things take very little time to break upon readers of the big blogs like Kotaku and Joystiq. Sometimes news breaks even before it was meant to, kind of like:
  • Super Street Fighter IV is confirmed,
  • a spiritual sequel to Counter Strike is announced,
  • iFixit tears the PSPGo apart before consumers do.

A trip to Streetlight - NBA Hangtime

Today Jenna and I went to Streetlight Records to sell some DVDs and games. Jenna's on her own quest for suspenders and a hat from Urban Outfitters.

I made my way straight to the used video games they have at the front of the store. While they had plenty of SNES games there was only one column of Nintendo 64 games on the shelving underneath. I already knew not to expect anything.

I found two cartridges to a lock box and I couldn't help but feel like the little guys were probably cramped. There were plenty of copies of Madden 64 and even a copy of Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time, each priced at $20.

While I did find a copy of the Nintendo produced and published NBA Courtside with Kobe Bryant, there were no carts bearing Midway's NBA Hangtime image. Maybe I'll find it somewhere else down the road.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Sunday's are always the slowest days in gaming news, but FURTHER READING is here to pick up the stories that might have fallen by the wayside while you did things other than crawl video game news sites.

Halo 3 ODST sells 2 million are reporting that Halo 3 ODST's sell through numbers for the first 24 hours top 2 million units.

Does that need to soak in at all? What can we surmise from this number? Is the video game industry going to be hurting at all this retail holiday season?

Honestly, I don't think this should surprise anyone, not after the title's long history, various changes, marketing campaign, and the ultimate critical determination that the title is worth the $60 price of admission. And what is there to do when a Halo title sells like hot-cakes so easily in the beginning of the holiday season? Maybe all that's left to do is play the game and enjoy it!

I don't like to obsess about NPD numbers or the console wars, mostly because I think exclusives hurt gamers many times more than they help the businesses, but we can probably rejoice that ODST can sell so easily. Think about all the developers who have moved their lesser recognized titles into the beginning of next year. Now think about how many units of Halo 3 ODST would have been moved instead of those titles if they had been planted on the shelves next to them. Isn't this holiday season turning out to be a story book one for everyone?


I have slacked off on FURTHER READING so much that it's hard for me to get back to the regular grind of posting it every day, even if I don't have anything new to post myself. I've played through Halo 3 ODST and now I'm cleaning up and replaying bits of the game, and I also had a night out last night, so that means I'm technically posting today's FR tomorrow! Isn't the future great?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009


With the Tokyo Game Show in full gear there's plenty new media to see. Instead, I find myself posting some cam footage of Modern Warfare 2 from an unknown event. Check that, as well as other quick links below:

REVIEW: Halo 3 ODST for the Xbox 360

Another holiday season sees the release of yet another Halo video game. While the series has had it's RTS outing, Bungie takes the series back to it's first person shooter roots (can we really call them roots?) with Halo 3 ODST. How is this Halo different from all the rest? Will Master Chief make any appearances? Is it worth playing?

To make short answers of those questions: a little, no, depends on your idea of "worth."

Halo 3 ODST has you filling the shoes of "The Rookie," an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper who crash lands in New Mombasa. You've been separated from the rest of your squad and you have to pick up the pieces of what's happened to them during the hours you've spent unconscious. ODST certainly presents a different mood and style from the primary Halo trilogy, but these subtle differences don't really detract from the playing experience. What changes have been made can barely be reflected upon in the gameplay. Instead, Bungie has players entering combat in a newer, moodier, darker atmosphere that really plays to the "alone in the dark" motif.

The Rookie explores the city at night, and boy is it dark at night. Parts of these sections were too dark for me to see, even with the visor attachment that lights up the landscape and outlines key points of interest: friendlies outlined in green, enemies in red, landscape in yellow, and story-specific objects in a noticeably brighter yellow. That certainly helps as you either pick off enemies from afar with your scoped SMG or pistol, but in interiors it was still too dark for me. I certainly felt like a rookie fumbling around in hallways and corridors looking for clues to where my squad mates had gone.

This doesn't mean that finding a clue wasn't fun, in fact I felt that this whole experience of find clues that led to flashback missions was really rewarding as a player. It's not like finding the clues are hard, they're very easily mapped out on the in game city map, but it was the feeling that I was given a cinematic and a mission filled with combat and explosions that made the fumbling around worthwhile.

Speaking of the in game map, it's provided by the Superintendent of New Mombasa, whose nicknamed Virgil. While this character is obviously inspired by some of gaming's latest robotic personalities (see GLaDOS), it doesn't speak very directly to the player. It provides the in game map (which kind of puts the exploring on easy mode) and directs the player from time to time with the city street maps. I found that throughout the campaign I was really glossing over any interaction with Virgil, he just didn't matter that much to me.

After each flashback Virgil also provides you with a resupply station so that you won't suffer the total lack of ammo there is in the game. I never really worried about having enough ammo in Halo 3 or any other Halo game, but for some reason I wanted to completely avoid the alien weapons but would constantly be out of SMG ammo. Worried that I'd never get the newly scoped weapon back, I'd hold on to it and use up all my pistol ammo. Of course none of it mattered in the end. ODST makes sure you have the weapons you're in need of, even if you might be running pretty low before finding the next ammo stash.

What low ammo meant to me as a player though is a choice between the longer route with no enemy encounters or the shorter route where I have to pick off some snipers and take down a brute or two.

One thing I'd like to note about Halo 3 ODST was the musical score. It was moody and contemplative during the rookie's over-world missions and driving and exciting during the explosive flashbacks. Some of the tunes just caught my ear and stood out above some of the other effects in the game.

Although I'm making note of one nice thing in the game, I have to say that the dialogue is terribly cheesy, and while the voice acting might suffice, it doesn't make up for the fact that I had to suffer through lines like "You're vote... just got overruled!" How very groan inducing!

If you're the biggest Halo fan in the world, then there really isn't any convincing you, you're going to buy the game, and so will plenty of other people. But if you're like me, you can probably get everything you're going to get out of it in a rental period.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I spent plenty of time gaming today, but that doesn't mean there wasn't stuff to read!
Yes, FURTHER READING is short and to the point tonight. It's time for bed!

I've beaten Halo 3 ODST

... and what can I say? It's still very much Halo, no Master Chief, with a few minor tweaks to the gameplay that really don't effect much. The campaign was fun, but short, and not nearly as "epic" as Master Chief's final outing.

What I find even more interesting is how many people on my Xbox Live friend's list have seemingly come back from the dead to play the game. How many people have last been seen playing Halo 3 and are now playing ODST?

At least two people on my friends list have been silent for months and are now playing the latest Halo offering (along with so many other folks exploring New Mombasa at night).

I'll have my review up tomorrow and be on the look out for a round table review on Gametopius later this week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today felt like a weekend. Why? The state school system has decided to raise our fees and subsequently cut class time by mandating furlough days. Thus, today felt like quite the Saturday. Here's what you should have read today:

I Rented Halo 3 ODST...

... and I'm going to review it! The campaign is supposedly about 6 to 10 hours, and really that's the reason I decided to rent it. I have the limited-access Silver Xbox Live account right now. Basically, the only Firefight I'll be able to do, is by myself (can I play by myself?) or on split-screen.

Will Jenna play with me split-screen?

Anyways, is only playing the single player campaign OK for a full review? If only, I had been given a review copy!

(Yes, the image is backwards, I'm leaving it like that.)

Monday, September 21, 2009


FURTHER READING brings you a trio of Halo 3 ODST reviews for your perusal today. It almost seems like there isn't that much going on in gaming, but I know I was a lot more excited about the Halo 3 release because I had just bought my Xbox 360. Is ODST worth the price of entry?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Boy, it sure has been a long time since the last FURTHER READING.... If I'm not mistaken, it's been over a month (or something like that)! I'm sure everyone who doesn't rely solely on PLAY READ WRITE for their gaming news has found some other outlet to read the news at, but as part of the goals I made earlier today, FURTHER READING is back with everything you need to see for today!

An Update of Sorts

There comes a time, maybe every 10 years or so, that I feel like thrusting myself upon one of these hidden mines. As a gamer, I can't help but feel drained and bored with what I have available to me. This time most often comes in periods where I have no money or motivation to pick up and play new games. Instead, I run my head into the wall over and over again with old ones, until I realize I'm done with them and it's turning out to be work.

I guess I realized I was in one of these periods when the first thing I did today was check the regular news sites and find absolutely nothing of interest to read. I honestly do not care about the Halo 3 ODST review that's out now, mostly because it's got to be at least a solid game, and no one cares about the review anyways, it's Halo, it's going to sell.

That's when my minesweeper's happy face turns into a sad one. When, oh, when will I be afforded a new game? And what game will it be?

This holiday season certainly doesn't have as packed a line up as last year, but there are certainly titles to be excited about, but I won't get into that right now. I guess I'm just feeling a little burned out. When my only motivation to turn on the Xbox 360 is to continue to try and earn more achievement points than my friend, Zach, on GTA IV, I can't help but wonder why I'm still playing. It's like all of those people who work on the FAQs and guides must only afford themselves one game a year, because they'd have to play it for a year to find everything. Doesn't it turn out to be work after so long?

Gaming's community is probably the only thing that keeps me coming back, that, and a love for the game of course, but I need something new to absorb.

Even League of Legends, a game that's so new, it's not even out of beta yet, couldn't really wet my apetite because it's actually just DotA packaged and sold. Granted, I haven't played a lot of DotA, but I can't help but question why I'm playing, or why I should bother getting excited.

I'll soldier on though, as I'm sure there will be plenty of games to play in the coming months. Please forgive any lag in posting, and I'm sure you've all noticed how there's been nothing to FURTHER READING, but I vow to renew my effort in those regards and continue posting.

As I did earlier this year, I think making some goals would help immensely in motivating me to write more and hone my craft to as fine a point as possible:
  • I'm still shooting for 300 posts by the end of the year. As I renew my pledge to post FURTHER READING every day, that goal should inch closer and closer, but I should also fill that tally with plenty of original content.
  • I'm going to write at least a post a week for and if I take care of them, hopefully they'll take care of me with some review copies.
  • I will get more achievement points out of GTA IV than Zach, but it won't take the DLC to do it!
  • I'd also like to get at least one other voice on my blog, whether it's my little brother in some capacity, Jenna, or Zach for that matter.
I hope any of my dear readers that are still around will do me a favor and drop a line in the comments in the near future to keep me motivated on my race to the end of the year.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

League of Legends - the beginning

I managed to get into the League of Legends beta by finding a key in one of Kotaku's sadistic scavenger hunts. Luckily, it wasn't so sadistic!

Now that I've installed the game, I think I might actually play it, but I guess I have a few worries:
  • I've only played DotA a few times, is this going to be way over my head?
  • Will I get bored and quit playing before I arrive at a point of understanding the "fun" of the game?
  • Will everyone online call me a n00b?
These few questions will probably be answered very quickly, but I'm determined to at least give it a try. I'll write up some of my impressions after a little bit of playing later this week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Modern Game Marketing - Microsoft's MW2 Branded Xbox 360

I guess it's all kicked into full on over drive. I think the holiday season will still be filled with as much excitement as the industry can muster. It needs it, after all the numbers that have been declining every where, I'm sure that the industry could be enjoy a busy time for sales and some of the bigger movers in gaming. Of course that means console bundles and special editions!

And no one could deny what the offender Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is turning out to be!

Of course I can understand what they want to happen, but this sort of fanfare hasn't been pulled since Halo 3, and even that game didn't seem to come from such an evil marketing place. I suppose, again, the industry's sales will have to depend on another title to move units like there's no tomorrow, but in 10-year console cycles, there's got to be a tomorrow and that might be what's happening right now.

But in a way I think this can all be swayed as a good thing. Hopefully, the console manufacturers can focus enough on their own software efforts (and with the advent of digital download services it seems to be a easy and profitable thing for them to do), we can see the limits of all these different technologies stretched in as many ways as possible.

Still, Activision's deft and nimble marketing push, dropping new information on the game weekly, growing their advertising charge on all channels in a parallel effort, makes me a little uneasy. I can't help but feel like I'm being a little to directly marketed at....

Modern Game Marketing is a series on how new games, and the corporations behind them, get you to want them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Search for Hangtime Begins

I've been thinking a lot about some classic video gaming moments lately. Most recently, my friend Matt Baltar had me thinking about some happy times when I was growing up. Of course, my thoughts drifted to NBA Hangtime.

My brother and I rented NBA Hangtime for our Nintendo 64, some time between 1997 and 1999. Of course the game features some over the top fun, including players being set on fire when they're doing well, or breaking the backboard when some crazy dunks are made, but what I remember best is the ability to shove other players to the ground in order to steal the ball.

After discovering this aspect of the game, my brother Matthew and I quickly dissolved into a violent, giggling foul-fest. I don't think a single point was scored throughout and entire game. Don't even get me started on the goal tending....

After thinking about this for some time, I've decided to make a grand search for a copy of the game to join my Nintendo 64 collection. I easily have more N64 games than any other system, and I think it's time for the classic mock-basketball game to join my collection. I have NFL Blitz, and I recently picked up a copy of Blast Corps, but NBA Hangtime has become a sort of necessity.

I'll be posting further down the line as I continue on my hunt, but we'll see where it takes me and how long exactly it'll take for Midway's NBA Hangtime to join my collection.

Something I wrote for class:

It had been a turbulent week, to be sure, but I had an air of self-determination. I had gotten myself to this point and I was going to make damn sure I had a good time. You see, while Mecca might be half way around the world, mine was in Southern California over the next three days.

All my life I had read about it, soaking in every detail about my favorite hobby and all the news pouring out of the LA Convention center. I suppose my fascination with the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3, gaming’s biggest industry convention) started in July of 1997. I was 9 years old and my mom and I were at the grocery store, picking up supplies for a long week of house boating. The check out stand approached us and my eyes glanced a copy of Nintendo Power magazine. I was an avid reader of the magazine at the library were new and old copies mixed in a box like clothing in the wash, and each issue felt the wear of the countless readers they had every day. I had never owned my own, until that day.

On the cover was a game I had never heard of before, but couldn’t wait to learn more about. Star Fox 64 made a small impression at first, but has now become one of my favorite games of all time. Maybe its humble beginnings have brought it to such status, but I digress.

Inside that issue, wrinkled, folded, and read 1000 times over, there were details of something else I had never heard of. To my 9 year old brain, nothing could be cooler than a huge exhibition of video games, new ones, that no one had ever played before. How could I be there? How could I take part in that? I wondered to myself, told everyone I knew, and waited patiently for the next year’s E3, and its mountains of news and previews about video games people had never heard of before.

About a year ago, I would have been reluctant to believe you if you told me that I would be attending E3 2009. Time makes fools of us all and I am no exception. I began contributing a weekly column on video games to a blog in the late fall of 2008. When media registration began for E3 in the spring, I sulked and squandered any possibilities, “You write for peanuts! A volunteer column does not a freelance journalist make.”

Looking back, I don’t know why I told myself not to try, because once I did, I found the entire process much easier than I could have ever imagined. I’ve had this dream of being a member of the enthusiast press for some time now. I can’t imagine anything better than playing and writing about video games for a living. Nothing made me feel surer of myself than stepping on to the floor of the LA Convention Center for the first time.

Mecca did exist. There were so many lights, sounds, and games to take in. People were walking, watching, playing, talking, and I couldn’t possibly take in everything at once, but God knows I tried.

Three days later, my feet were tired, my legs were tired, and even my thumbs were tired. The 9 year old inside me died and went to heaven.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Assassin's Creed 2 - Gamescom 09 Walkthrough

More and more I see how Ubisoft's slight touch can affect the impressions a trailer can make. At E3 this year, the Ubisoft booth featured prominent demos being run with commentary. The Splinter Cell conviction demo was running around the clock with someone on the microphone oohing and ahing as the player smashed enemies heads into sinks and mirrors.

Sure that sort of thing is pretty impressive and many players would think "that's cool, that I can do that in game." But really, does it all need to be pointed it out?

Here's the Gamescom walkthrough of Assassin's Creed II, another Ubisoft game coming out this holiday season. Here the developer talks the player through the action on screen.

First of all, the voice over seems a bit contrived. Who is this developer and when did he develop his movie-trailer voice? Plus, a lot of the action taking place is in fact... kind of slow. That's probably when the voice over talks the viewer through some of the action and sells it in a good way. When Ezio is impeded by the gate and has to find an alternate path, I have to admit that it seems like the same gameplay we were met with in Assassin's Creed (one). Instead, the developer voice over insists that this is a good thing. "Players will have to react quickly... blah blah blah."

Look, it's bull shit. I'm convinced, I'm going to buy Assassin's Creed II at some point, but please don't baby talk me through some gameplay footage. It makes me feel like I can't really trust it, like it needs to be verbally inflated in order for me to keep my interest up.

I hope to God AC II turns out to be a better game. I enjoyed AC (one), but in the end I put the game down half way through and finished it six months later. I don't want to have to do that again just to enjoy the game thoroughly, and without burnout. We'll find out soon enough as Assassin's Creed II is released in November.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Happy Dreamcast anniversary! Holy crap I can't believe it's already been ten years! Anyways, check this stuff out:

Do I consider the iPhone a gaming platform?

I couldn't help but ask myself that question after seeing the graph from Apple's "Rock and Roll" event presentation today (image from Engadget). While I have an iPhone and do play games on it from time to time, do I think of it as a competitor to the mobile platforms from the more traditional gaming hardware manufacturers?

Simply, no. Instead, I still consider my iPhone to be a phone first, maybe a mobile web browser second, and a utility thirdly. I probably associate my iPhone with games and the very bottom of the list. But enough about me, can other people appropriately call the iPhone and iPod Touch a mobile gaming platform?

Certainly Apple would like us to "bestow" the iPhone OS as a gaming platform, but I don't think that the core gaming audience would agree to do that. I can see how those who have not been gaming for several years up until their iPhone purchase would want to call it a gaming platform, but ultimately we have to understand exactly what makes up the over 21,000 games available on the App Store.

Anyone with the ability to infer things about the App Store can tell you that a huge chunk of those 21,000 games are repeats, one-offs, and copies. The App Store has a huge problem with multiple apps being released that all accomplish the same thing. That's what the ratings system is supposed to help with: whittling down all of those repeat apps down to the cream of the crop.

In some ways, you can surmise the problems the App Store faces with it's strengths. With so many developers creating new applications, it's hard to imagine any one niche going without an App to fill its space, but with all of those developers come the copy-cats and crappy apps that wouldn't necessarily exist if there was a bit more of a hump to get over in order to start programming for the iPhone OS. While the App Store has probably revolutionized the way the major publishers and developers look at gaming at large, it will always be plagued with Apps that aren't exactly all there.

Would you trade the 3,680 title library the Nintendo DS has for the App Store's 21,178 games? I know I wouldn't, and that's even counting all of the Imagine: Babyz titles out there.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Ways and Means of Petitioning

My first full article is up over at You can read all my thoughts on online video game petitions right now!

"Avid gamers know that one of the more interesting things video games has going for it is it's passionate community. Gamers are both loyal and critical, vocal and reserved, optimistic and cynical; as hobbyists we can bring entire companies down with our collective buying power, yet at the same time celebrate and promote companies to Fortune 500 status....

It's unknown when the first online video game petition was started or what cause it was in support of, but we know that it probably failed, as most online video game petitions do. It was also probably written by a very angry 13 year old, as most things on the internet are written. In the case of the BOYCOTT EA petition, it has (at the time of this writing) 952 signatures and has yet to earn a response from the companies in question."

Goodbye TF2 Spoils

Over the past couple of days, Valve has started removing the items people have gotten from using a third party idling program. I was one of those people in my quest to achieve a hat for one of the game's 9 classes.

While I never got a hat, I got plenty of items I didn't have, although I had plenty before hand as well. Now, after logging on today, I received a message stating that I had lost the items I had gained through the use of the idling program.

Unfortunately, a lot more than that was taken away, as I no longer have a Backburner, Kritzkreig, or Sandvich, among others. I guess I'm a little disappointed by all of this, but I should have seen this coming. It means I'll be reduced to random drops for any items that I had already earned achievements for. Should I reset my stats and let the game take me back to the beginning when I originally installed it?

Frankly, TF2 has been completely under my radar as of late and I am hoping to sincerely and swiftly rectify that by playing a lot of it over the coming weeks. If only I could get on right now, but I've left my (Jenna's) mouse at home. I know my good buddy, Daren, has played Counter-Strike: Source with his track pad, but I'm afraid that's a feat I'm just not going to be able to match any time soon.

Modern Game Marketing - The Ballad of Gay Tony

Ever since the marketing spree for Inglorious Basterds kicked in, I've been exceedingly sensitive to when companies are trying to market directly to me. I was a little disappointed by the movie and the advertising certainly made it seem to be a beast of a different color. Now, I'm taking my eagle eye to the latest games trailers that have made must haves out of titles arriving this holiday season. This will probably morph into a larger piece maybe for a larger site, but we'll see how it goes this first time.

Rockstar Games released the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV's second DLC episode, The Ballad of Gay Tony, to much excitement on Tuesday, and to put it plainly, it was a great trailer. There's a lot of character and information and life in this trailer, maybe something that was missing in the previous The Lost and Damned trailer. There are a lot of things this trailer does
much better than any other. Let's run down exactly what makes it great.

1) Make it like a movie trailer: Rockstar Games are obviously very proud of the work they do in their ability to have a very directed style and goal. Much of Grand Theft Auto IV was a parody, a parody of the environment, the people, and the actions involved in "achieving the American Dream." With the Ballad of Gay Tony they obviously are aiming for the flashy glitzy life style. How does the rest of the trailer achieve this?

2) People dancing in a flashy club is a sure way to promote this downtown lifestyle. A large crowd is going to make the viewer think "If I play this game, I'm really going to be in the thick of it." The people dancing in the club also plays on some of the nostalgia people feel for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. How many of us spent plenty of time watching the people dancing about in the hippest clubs? Using player nostalgia is another way Rockstar is going to be selling this game in the rest of the trailer.

3) Maybe the reason The Lost and Damned got lost in itself was the vehicles the characters were using primarily. I know after my horrific experiences with the motor bikes in the main GTA IV game, I was more than a little hesitant to hop back on (despite the proper changes being made). Now in TBoGT, we see lots and lots of the most powerful cars in the game, which were actually a lot more fun to drive than the various motorbikes.

4) With all of the fast cars, and dancing people, will there be any combat in the game? Of course, and those images are cut in with the dancing and set to the music as well. Showing a little blood on Luis' forehead means that he's going to be doing a lot of work. He's also got a big gun, and people like that too. Of course, as the player we won't be seeing the action in quite the same way, but watching is very far from doing, so the trailer is certainly whetting the appetite in these quick shots.

5) Here are the main marketing images in the trailer. What exactly is new about TBoGT and why should anyone want to expand their GTA IV experience? Of course everyone loves flying around in the Annihilator helicopter in the main game, but in TBoGT we'll be given a much more compact, and deadly toy to fiddle with.

6) This image also represents a fair amount of nostalgia and giving long time players of GTA what they want. At the release of IV, many players lamented the loss of the gigantic sandbox that San Andreas let players wreck. They wanted to see the load of planes to fly and all of the other crazy things you could see and do across the three expansive cities. This golf cart footage harkens back to the more comedic elements in a GTA.

7)Here's another image that gets spliced alongside dancing and flashing lights. It also makes the player's mind boggle. What could possibly be happening here and what is the players involvement in such an environment changing event? While players saw crashed and damaged railway cars in IV, they certainly never saw one being lifted off the ground by a helicopter.

8) This frame is also crucial in the specific message the marketing is trying to send to prospective consumers. The first thing the viewer notices is the explosions, the second is the amount of destruction happening here. The trailer is trying to tell the potential buyer that they will have a profound effect on their environment, that they'll be able to change it and even destroy it.

9) When Luis is climbing up the skyscraper, we know that the gameplay in the latest DLC pack is going to expand vertically. After spending so much time exploring the streets of Liberty City, Rockstar is trying to say that they're going to take the lid off in TBoGT. Also notice the helicopters circling Luis: they inspire images of King Kong fending off the planes firing at him as he climbed the Empire State building. Do we see how subtle images inflect different feelings in the potential consumer yet?

10) The final image of the trailer is probably meant to drive home the overall message that GTA fans will want to play TBoGT because it is going to bring back all of the chaos and absurdity of San Andreas. Were you one of the people who decried the lack of planes and parachutes in IV? Rockstar will assuage your complaints and bring in a new era of flying around only to crash a copter into a building and bail out at the last second.

I sometimes think that game trailers have a long way to come before they can invoke the same kind of draw that movie trailers have already. Quick cuts, specific images, flashing lights, all of which combine together to get a player to say "wow, I want to do all of that." Sometimes it can be very hard to market a game through video when the main attraction is the interaction, but these days I find it harder and harder to discern where Hollywood marketing begins and ends because with each trailer games seem to get closer to standing shoulder to shoulder with movies.

Modern Game Marketing is a series on how new games, and the corporations behind them, get you to want them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is there something wrong with JRPGs?

While I've stopped contributing my weekly "That's the Name of the Game" column to, I've become a contributing editor over at, a site, I'm happy to say, is much more focused on video gaming and the industry at large, as opposed to an audience with a more causal slant towards gaming.

My first piece of written work on that site is part of their round table discussion, Forwards Compatible, on Japanese RPG games and the issues surrounding them.

"People who can find themselves delving deeply into the battle systems in JRPGs have probably looked beyond the new coat of veneer each console generation allows developers to polish on to their games. I think understanding the core of the RPG genre involves a certain mathematical finesse I just don't have. If I find myself with options to increase abilities or stats on one of my units in Final Fantasy Tactics, I usually beef up the Hit Points and the Attack damage. I'm sure I could be doing more with luck as my thief moogle fails to snatch any coins from the opponent, but I'm trying my best to just get through this battle and on to the next."