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Tycho / on Wed, Jan 21 2004 at 4:30 am

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Dungeons And Something Else, Part One

Though it may well ransom my eternal soul, we even now consort with demonic powers in the production of a heinous act of continuity.  I would cross myself, but I can never remember how that is supposed to go, and I don’t want to risk hell for doing it backwards.  Consorting with, you know, demons notwithstanding.

You don’t want to hear about my fighter/barbarian, anymore than you want to hear about when the nice lady at the CDC scraped my urethra out with one of their cold metal swabs.  Maybe less, even, so I won’t taunt you with it.  I’ve always thought of my pen and paper inclinations as a sort of rash, as much as I’ve loved the times I’ve spent arguing about the encumbrance capacity of imaginary pack lizards I’ve also been keenly aware of the need to hide it.

Outside of the occasional announcement of something that looks interesting and will be out in 2006, various press releases, and carefully metered media, there just doesn’t seem to be much of interest going on at this particular moment.  There’s this thing masquerading as news about UT2k4 not being network compatible with UT2k3, I don’t know, maybe somebody’s interested in it.  I just reinstalled 2k3 to play with the crew I’m running with these days, and I’ll be God Damned if you can find a game worth playing in.  Network compatibility or no, I don’t have any reason to believe that’s going to change much, regardless of what number follows the U, T, 2, or K.   

It was a problem even when the game was Brand God Damned New, and the reason for it is really strange.  Unreal Tournament 2003 had a truly insane amount of content right out of the box, and then subsequent bonus packs added even more gametypes - in my server browser, I see Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Double Domination, Capture The Flag, Bombing Run, Invasion, Last Man Standing, and Mutant.  Now, in addition to this truly unprecedented and theoretically desirable situation, we add a miraculous invention from an earlier Unreal game - mutators.  These are small bits of tender code which can do small things (like make your head get larger when you shoot people) or large things (remove all weapons but one, and make that weapon kill any person with a single shot), but the latter example - called Instagib, is extremely popular.  Personally, I wont play on a server that has it.  It’s not something that I enjoy, so I avoid games that play with it on.  Moving on though, UT2k3 has probably the best mod support ever - maps, models, whole games just get grabbed automatically.  But you don’t always know that you’re going to like a given mod, and you don’t know that until you play it, and half of the time when you connect to a server these days it just starts sending you ten or so megs of bullshit that you may or may not appreciate. 

The practical upshot of this is that the community online is highly fractured.  Virtually any server you connect to is packed to the gills with bots, and when you do find a server with people on it, they’re probably playing some mod, mutator, or gametype that is distasteful to you.  I defended the game to the skies when it came out as you’ll recall, and I still like it in its original form.  But things that you’d think of as strengths - a staggering volume of gametypes and content, simple game Mutators that allow for a variety of quirky gametypes, and the ease with which modifications are downloaded - erodes consensus and fragments the playerbase.

The most interesting videogame news I’ve read lately is this SNK Playmore/Sammy Studios stuff - have you heard it?  First, we heard that SNK was going to move into a more Pachinko Machine Oriented and less Videogame Oriented direction, which is fine if you like pachinko and fuck all if you like anything else.  Don’t play a lot of Pachinko myself, I live in America

Then, things started to get weird - check out this article at SNK-Capcom.com, which begins by drawing on a fascinating internal rumor and proceeds to analyze the entire affair.  It’s pretty magnificent.  At any rate, go read it, but here’s the long and short of it:  it suggests that SNK Playmore is going to offload its extremely significant intellectual property to Sammy Studios, who you know about because they recently told Sega to stick largely to arcade games after purchasing a controlling interest in the company. 

Sammy Studios.  Aside from this gothic wild-west thing you’ve been hearing about, they’re also the Guilty Gear people, the ones who struck with such artistry and precision into the staid conventions of 2D fighting.  With beloved franchises like Metal Slug, Samurai Shodown, Mark Of The Wolves, and King Of Fighters - coupled with the will to move them off of the aging Neo Geo hardware, and the skill to modernize that traditional genre - the possibilities implied by this leaked information are almost breathtaking.   

I don’t have any problem with the Neo Geo as a system, just to clarify my last statement - but I don’t ride a horse to the grocery store just because I revere some idyllic historical period.  It’s time for those games to graduate off that ancient platform.  And Sammy’s the one to do it.   

(CW)TB out.

don’t fuck around with my dog


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