Category Archives: Features

On Xbox Live Indies

“In its later years, Microsoft stopped promoting the service as much. XBLIG became a wild west, home to crude zombie shooters, strange MMOs, Minecraft knock-offs, and lurid anime adventures. This became possible via the peer review process. With both Community Games and XBLIG, eager developers uploaded their games, and waited for other developers to go looking for functionality, glitches, or other problems. Those peers either accepted or denied the entry. All 3,300+ games on the service went through this procedure, both a hobbyist projects and serious attempts at making use of this emergent indie service.”

Read my full feature on Xbox Live Indies at Zam

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On Superman Returns: The Video Game’s Development

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“Scripting problems were first in a number of communication and approval problems with Warner. Problems arose with, of all things, Superman’s groin size. “We sent them the box art for the game and [they came back and said], ‘you need to make Superman’s package smaller. That’s a little too big. Superman wouldn’t look like that,'” says Nystrom.”

Read my full story on Superman Returns at Polygon

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Xbox Fitness and the Digital Future

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Xbox Fitness is not an isolated case, but unlike an aging service being taken offline—the DSiWare shop opened in mid-2009—Microsoft has an active, relatively new product. And, when the servers turn off next year, Xbox Fitness won’t work whether the file remains on a user’s hard drive or not.

“If we were talking about DVDs, a retailer would never try a stunt like this. But Microsoft, armed with a license agreement that denies consumers any meaningful legal rights, is training consumers to not only suffer, but to expect this sort of treatment,” said Perzanowski.”

Read my full feature on Xbox Fitness at Playboy

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On Ghostbusters: The Video Game

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“Bill Murray’s attorney called within two days. He agreed to reprise his role. “I can tell you, there was a dogpile of producers in the hallway when we got that call. It was almost like when a pitcher charges the mound after winning the World Series, like, it’s the only time I’ve ever hugged another man like that,” Melchior quipped. “Little did we know how difficult it was going to be from there.”

Read the full inside story of Ghostbusters: The Video Game via Playboy

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Video Game Rentals Skirt Legality

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“Upon booting many contemporary video games, the screen floods with text which states your rights as a consumer. Buried in the wording is the language stripping ownership. In Bethesda’s Doom, the text reads, “You agree not to: Distribute, lease, license, sell, rent… without the express prior written consent of the Licensor.” In 2K’s Battleborn, the language is the same, adding additional restrictions for “Virtual Goods or Virtual Currency.”

Because the rental industry relies on rights granted by the First Sale Doctrine and Video Rental Amendments Act of 1990—rights being eroded by Vernor v Autodesk and the legalese agreed upon when booting a new game—are game rentals now illegal in certain circumstances? “Yes,” stated Rosenblatt. “Unless [the video store] obtained separate permission from the game company they are probably violating copyright or a contract. And if they do that, they’re taking a calculated risk.”

Read my full story on Playboy

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Video Games Live at 10

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“Attendees such as the cosplayer skew younger, but generations can be equal. A child next to me in Toledo, 11 years old at the most, was lost in his own head trying to stay interested in Castlevania tracks from the ’80s. He failed and skimmed the free program they handed out at the door. An elderly gentleman on the deck below never moved, stood, or clapped, seemingly confounded by the laser lights, fog machine, and special guest metal rocker “Viking Jesus.”

Note these specific instances were visible solely for their inaction in a sea of action. Those who get it—and to be clear, it’s a staggering majority of the near 1700 seated in Toledo—are as jazzed as Tallarico. They’re hollering, they’re clapping, they’re screaming, they’re yelling for songs. An even younger child below the balcony section sent his hand into the air and head banged through a heavy metal rendition of Pokemon.”

Read my full feature on Video Games Live at Playboy

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Killer Instinct 2 and a Video Store Memoir

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“During the mid to late ‘90s wacky fighting games were a genre unto themselves. Killer Instinct blossomed from their existence. Descending into absurdity, the nobility of Street Fighter and shrewd violence of Mortal Kombat turned into all-out extremism. The genre underwent a cultural transformation.

Such schlock birthed Shadow: War of Succession on 3DO, where a Jane Fonda workout model battled shotgun-toting mobsters. Kasumi Ninja had a Scotsman shooting fireballs from under his kilt. In Tattoo Assassins a parody of disgraced Olympic skater Tonya Harding killed people with a zamboni.

These games found their master in Killer Instinct 2. It was brawny, bold, brash, and many other b-led adjectives—“bodacious” in ‘90s lingo. Killer Instinct’s team at UK studio Rare brought a violent, cheapo drugstore action figure line to life.”

Read my full piece on Killer Instinct 2 and video stores on Playboy

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