This Week’s Obsession
As suggested by Gabriel’s recent communique, pokemania is not only going strong but has burst, like some foul canker, and the infection has spread. It’s true that I have built a so-called “Leaf Deck,” but this is because I was fairly certain they would beat me up if I didn’t. Now he’s hauling in his case of Next Quest figurines each day, as I myself once hauled a tacklebox of Necrons, only I need to stress that it was more awesome when I was doing it, because Necrons are unkillable harvesters of flesh and not some kind of weird fox or living scarf. It’s absolutely fucked that I have spent almost fourteen years trying to reveal the subtle glories of table gaming, only to be cast down time and time again. However wise my counsel, it apparently lacked that crucial munchkin component.
After I completed Half-Life 2: Episode Two - perfectly acceptable entertainment, but nowhere near the revolutions found elsewhere on the same platter - I started to wonder how they would deliver the third episode to the same platform in the next year or so. I doubt they’ll have another four games to accompany it, but who knows: they’re a bizarre company where extraordinary things happen. Left 4 Dead, Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, and Episode 3 might look pretty nice on there together. On the PC, of course, one simply clicks a couple times to get whatever they want, and then leverages Valve’s fairly incredible community implementation to get things done. You could accomplish all of this using only the tip of your nose.
On the Playstation 3, even with Valve’s distaste for native development, there’s already several precedents for direct delivery of individual titles. On the 360, where Arcade is Microsoft’s only concept for delivering titles in their entirety, the hundred and fifty meg limit falls hard around some titles, hemming them in. But there’s a weird (read: psychotic) eyelet where where larger-form product can escape: as content drops for retail titles.
I was surprised that there was no option for this in The Orange Box itself. Now that Valve is in a position to write a game once and then compile it to different platforms, a retail release - called “Steam,” and including two or three catalog titles - could be delivered as an anchor for their considerable franchise power almost in perpetuity. After years of fairly positive digital delivery experiences through Steam, I have to say that I found purchasing a Valve product in a retail context almost unpleasant - and not just because it entails hauling around my considerable bulk. Retail has been a raw deal for a long time now in developer terms, and I avoid it whenever possible. I should solicit another piece by an insider here for the post, and I know just the guy. When he breaks down the way royalties work in the industry, you’ll be surprised it isn’t just Electronic Arts that’s left, selling Electronic Arts games in EA branded stores.