Short-Takes: 4/5/13

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I was very concerned about the purchase of Lucasfilm for this exact reason. Lucasarts had limped along for the past few years, putting out such memorable titles as Star Wars: Clone Wars: Republic Heroes and Star Wars Kinect. Alas, while gamers are sometimes chided a little bit for being too nostalgia oriented, in this case I think nostalgia is the only saving grace for Lucasarts. No good games were made since Empire at War in 2006: The Old Republic was made more by Bioware and EA. But it’s in that last example that the phoenix might rise from the ashes. Disney’s left the door open, however slightly, to licensing the name out, which would allow more... stable developers to give it a shot.

Jonathan Tung:

When I said that nothing good would come out of the Disney-Lucasfilm merger, I warned that bad things will happen to the Star Wars franchise. In other words, I TOLD YOU SO.

Alex Miller:

As I told Simon (and anyone else who follows me on twitter @wgg_ram) a little bit of my childhood died when I saw this news. Beyond the excellent Star Wars games that the studio pumped out, there were quite a few brilliant original IPs along the way. My only hope is that, as it seems the Star Wars name is now well and truly out there for the highest bidder, we will see some developers treat it like the valuable and much loved commodity that it is. While this is bitter to think, this may in fact be a blessing in disguise. As Simon says, Lucasarts hasn't made anything worth writing home about since Empire at War. Hopefully now, with other studios taking their shot, we will see something worthy of that letter home.

kotaku.com

The Next Xbox and its Controller are Currently Covered in Crazy Stripes

Simon Wu:

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So Apple’s been doing this secrecy and hype thing for a while, and I’d say they’re pretty good at it. Microsoft pulled it off once, during its first reveal of the Surface tablets. So now, obviously, it must immediately become the modus operandi of the entire company. These cloak and dagger paint jobs are also part of this newfound obsession with concealing the product until the big reveal. Unfortunately, this has also allowed huge leaks to spring, and pretty much all of them negative. Just this week, rumors flew again about even more draconian always-online regulations, which we won’t comment on again because we’ve done it ad nauseam at this point.

Jonathan Tung:

It’s quite clear from all this hubbub that Microsoft is doing it’s best to prevent pictures of their Durango console from leaking out to the public. I’m quite surprised thought that they have decided to take a page from the automotive industry and simply paint on all kinds of crazy black and white stripes just for the sake of secrecy. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of some kind of trend in the near future.

Alex Miller:

Given the alleged problems the next Xbox has had with leaked information, this extra length doesn't seem like a particularly odd maneuvere by Microsoft. Fair play to them for wanting to keep their device a secret until they are ready to release it. However, this does give me hope that both the new controller AND the new console will be revealed at the same time, a feat which would see Microsoft one up Sony, something I'm sure the former desperately wants.

foxsports.com

New Square Enix President Will Review Whole Company

Simon Wu:

I’m absolutely positive that Whiplash will have a Mindshare’s worth of words to say about this news and how it might affect his beloved Final Fantasy. But I think failure is important, because it weeds out the bad or underperforming parts of companies (forced closure of studios in the middle of producing a potentially good game for other reasons notwithstanding). Moreover, it doesn’t kill the brands they are known for; those get traded around like sports players. Failure often gives another company a fresh chance to make those names valuable again. I might be getting a little ahead of myself talking about bankruptcy here, but the financials Square Enix faces are very dire indeed, and the sort of shakeup that bankruptcy has on games is warranted.

Alex Miller:

Another shakeup at the top of a major gaming company. Now I'm not saying Square Enix is on the same level as EA, but it's nice to see companies at least appearing to respond to their mistakes, rather than just plunge ahead blindly. Hopefully this will bring even better content out of Square Enix (and maybe even a more approachable game).

Before It Was Cancelled, Star Wars 1313 Was Going To Be About Boba Fett

Simon Wu:

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My week has been a long cacophony of this, and this, and especially this. Now this is just the icing on top. In all the gameplay demos and conferences until now, Lucasarts had been pretty coy on who you were actually playing as, but I guess since the entire gig is off all the details can come out. Boba Fett was probably the best character to negotiate the dark underworld of Coruscant, and he is such a rich character to explore. There’s an entire middle of his life we’re missing from sudden orphan to Jabba’s hitman, and it would have been great grounds for learning his motivations and personality.

Alex Miller:

Sighhhhh. ... Well, I suppose it's for the best. Just like the live action Star Wars TV show that was promised and that I continue to wait patiently for, if it can't be done right then it shouldn't be done at all. The notion of incompatible technologies is interesting however, hopefully we see some of that technology seep into other games because the trailer and demo for 1313 were nothing if not beautiful.

kotaku.com

Ubisoft: Player satisfaction justifies Assassin's Creed sequels

Simon Wu:

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Yes, Ubisoft, you’re absolutely right. More Assassin’s Creed is a good thing. What is not a good thing is releasing them on an annual basis. AC is falling into the pit that is Call of Duty, but it is very decidedly NOT Call of Duty. Having very minor evolutions of a core multiplayer experience and a generally forgettable single player mode does not fit AC’s model... unless this is the new model. The series is (quickly becoming was) absolutely chock full of mythos and unbelievable plot twists and mind blowing science fiction and alternate history timelines. I want to hold up this series, Ubisoft. I want to say it’s a franchise that I eagerly follow every tidbit of. Now, however, I’m not so sure.

Jonathan Tung:

Yes, Ubisoft, of course we want to have yearly releases of Assassin's Creed! And yes, we all enjoy playing the exact same game again and again each and every year with minor improvements to the story and gameplay. (Sarcasm)

Okay, you know what? This is getting kind of ridiculous here. While I do appreciate Ubisoft's ongoing commitment to making the Assassin's Creed franchise one of the best gaming brands this generation, I still get the feeling that they might end up ruining it somehow with stagnant releases each and every year. And like what Simon said, I too get the feeling that they're simply flat-out copying Call of Duty and Madden now.

Alex Miller:

When the first example that comes to mind is Activision's division of CoD between two studios, Ubisoft’s excuse seems to fall somewhat short. As is sometimes the case, however, we the gamers are mostly to blame; regardless of a game's quality, we tend to buy pretty much any game with a big name. Despite people's supposedly lukewarm response to AC3, it is still the best selling game in the series. The only thing Ubisoft gets is: make more and make them quickly. My only hope is that one of two things happens. Either 1) they divide the series between enough studios that each game has enough time and attention to be fully developed  or 2) sales and reviews drop, prompting Ubisoft to find a new cash cow/flagship series to focus on. While it is possible that Ubisoft would push on just to milk the AC series, if the sales figures don't live up to expectations (which hopefully a drop in quality would cause, though as I said before, this is by no means certain) I don't see them continuing it, at least not in the current model.

pcgamer.com