Ask Me Stuff

Ask Me Stuff

Every Wednesday I ask you to Ask Me Stuff. If you have a burning question about the games industry, leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it this afternoon.

I’ll be doing this every Wednesday.

Now, fire away with those questions.


    • Tough one. The question is: does it make financial sense for whoever owns the IP? I think there’s still plenty of value in the Homeworld name, certainly as much as in, say, X-Com or Dungeon Siege, both of which have recently been revived. But Homeworld was always a really hardcore game, and does that still appeal? Looking at similar titles, Sins of a Solar Empire did quite well recently, so I think that shows there’s still a market there. Whether that market is large enough for the IP holder (which I believe is Activision) remains doubtful.

      So, will there be a Homeworld 3? I’d put the chances at around 25%.

      • I for one certainly hope so. Great series of games especially Cataclysm. I played Sins and it was for a very dragged out game in terms of research and what not. Mind you I didn’t play any of the expansions, so if could have changed. I think this link will tie me over until Relic announce something.

  • What happened to platformers? They were always fun just for the sake of being fun. No intricate story line or hours of cutscenes, just plain fun. Super Mario Galaxy 2 has reminded me how much I miss these games and how few there are coming about these days. The few that do come out end up getting all serious with violence and guns (Ratchet and Clank, Jak series), whereas the only ones that seem to keep the basic formula are the Mario games (which are near perfection) and the Sonic games which are, well, you know.
    Maybe I’m just a big kid, but I’d kill for more of these games.

      • LBP was great, I thoroughly enjoyed playing it and I’m looking forward to the new one. I never got too much into creating my own levels, so I would’ve liked the Story Mode (if you call it that) to be a little longer, but I was happy.

        • Same, Level creation was a bit over my head. But I loved the story mode, and I loved the levels the community made, and the MGS LBP pack. And the soundtrack was fantastic. I can’t wait for more E3 news about it!

    • Don’t forget New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a title that will emerge as one of the highest-selling of this console generation. For some reason, platformers are no longer considered to be AAA titles worthy of a full price release – unless they’re developed by Nintendo. There are, however, plenty of good platformers to be had on XBLA, PSN, WiiWare and iPhone. Part of the reason for this shift is that there’s a mindset that 2D equals downloadable game. Whether or not you agree, that’s certainly the popular view. And as platforming moved into 3D, it became less about pixel-perfect jumping and more about exploration. As a result, the genre has lost its identity and morphed into action/adventure hybrids like Tomb Raider or Uncharted or Psychonauts or Ratchet & Clank. For me, pure platforming needs to be in 2D.

      • This is all very true, and there are some very decent side scrollers that you see come from online distribution (XBLA, PSN, Steam etc.), mostly from indie developers too. I agree with you that 2D side scrollers are the true platformers, but that’s not to say that good 3D ones aren’t possible. The PSX Crash Bandicoot games are brilliant, but as soon as Naughty Dog let them go they just turned to excrement. The first Jak & Daxter game is easily in my top 3 for the PS2, I wasn’t a fan of the ‘serious’ direction the sequels went. None of these big developers seem interested anymore, but with the success of Galaxy 1 and 2 it’s obvious that people still love a good platformer.

    • We need another Abe game!

      Lorne Lanning needs to get off his arse and start letting us know when they are going to do another release, or let someone else make a game!

  • Is it true that all game journalists are in fact highly trained pigeon ranchers, Plunkett himself I believe has been known to break in the wildest of them and with nothing but a stare with his steely eyes, transforming them into a cheap reliable transport service tame enough to be riden side-saddle.

    Oh and, when in the new F1 game coming out?

  • What game would make your day if it were announced at E3? No matter how slim the chance may be. ;D

    • Ubisoft to confirm Beyond Good & Evil 2 is in development and Michel Ancel is heading the team.

      Or, if we’re in the realms of pure fantasy, Psychonauts 2.

      • Fully agree with both, I’m still looking forward to the release of Beyond Good and Evil 2, hopefully marked by a rerelease of the original.

        I lent my copy to someone and never got it back. Should have seen that coming.

      • Ubisoft hurt me forever after completely ruining the Rainbow Six franchise The best tactical simulators ever!

    • I haven’t heard anything about it being cancelled, but I expect it won’t be ready in time for the planned “Spring 2010” release date. Bohemia do tend to take their time and they’ve been busy with the ARMA follow-up, Operation Arrowhead. We’ll see what presence, if any, they have at E3 next week.

  • I was wondering which game you’ve played that was improved the most by replaying on a harder difficulty setting?

    • Fallout 3, definitely. I played it first on Normal and barely used any stimpaks or drugs and always had plenty of ammo. On Hardcore, you burn through far more resources and, at times, actually find yourself scavenging around for supplies, drinking from toilets out of necessity, eating tins of old food… just like you would in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I’m very much looking forward to the even more demanding Hardecore mode in New Vegas.

      Also, a quick shout out to the Thief series where, on Expert, you not only had extra objectives to complete but it was now forbidden to kill humans. The latter requirement forced you to approach each mission in a different manner and devise new strategies for the same obstacles.

      • I will take these comments on board for NV also. I put in about 150 hours in FO3 and used heaps of stim packs. I usually just play on normal settings but with alan wake and splinter cel conviction, I have used the hardest settings (that are unlocked at the start anyway).

        I will def do this for NV.

  • At the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, their 80s exhibit includes several table-style arcade machines with a collection of games to pick from.

    How come, 25 years and many many hours of gaming on, I’m still totally crap at playing 1942???

  • Whats your take on this Mortal Kombat video just released?

    Is it a desperate attempt to keep a franchise going or an interesting fresh start with potential?

    • I have absolutely no interest in Mortal Kombat whatsoever. This video hasn’t changed that fact.

    • Expect to hear more on the future of Hitman once IO has wrapped up work on Kane & Lynch 2.

  • I guess this is a question for everyone really, In your opinion, what separates the good RPG games from the fantastic RPG games? (On this current generation of consoles specifically)

    • Look, I would consider Final Fantasy XIII a “good” RPG, and Final Fantasy VII “great”.

      The difference is, VII was ground-breaking, innovative, had a fascinating story, setting and characters, and provided a (limited) degree of freedom. Not only that, it had a relatively old-fashioned battle and levelling system that just worked, and the graphics were simple yet mind-blowing. They always provided just enough detail for you to get an idea of what was going on, and you’d fill in the blanks in your mind. It actually left a lot to the imagination, and I always love a game that leaves you wondering and makes you use your mind.

      XIII, by comparison, basically left nothing to the imagination. Everything that happened was detailed in high-resolution, basically turning you into a bystander, rather than an actively involved gamer. It had a solid battle system, but it was too focused on stlye rather than substance. It had a good story, good characters and a good setting. I hated the story being split into chapters though, as I hate knowing when a game is going to end. I’d rather a naturally-evolving story that allowed you to make your own conclusions and to be an active participant in the world.

      In ten years time, people will still be playing FFVII (hopefully, if they don’t stuff it up, the remake as well), but I highly doubt anyone will be still playing and reminiscing about XIII. It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it just wasn’t memorable at all.

    • RPG is such a misleading term. It stands for “role-playing game” as we all know. This leads to people arguing that every game is an RPG because you’re playing a role in every game. Uncharted is an RPG because you’re playing the role of Nathan Drake. It’s nonsense, of course.

      From the earliest days of pen & paper role-playing, it was always understood that the phrase contained a second, implicit clause: that the role is defined by the player.

      An RPG must allow the player to define the role they’re playing, whether that’s through stats, abilities, conversation, morality, of whatever. The player must have some kind of input into and choice of the type of character they’re playing. And those choices must mean something in the world, your choices must have consequences. Good RPGs, in my book, give you more input, more choice and more impact.

      Final Fantasy XIII is a terrible RPG. Mass Effect 2 is a pretty good RPG; Mass Effect 1 is a better RPG. Fallout 3 and Etrian Odyssey are great RPGs.

      • I don’t look at the genres in that literal a sense; if we did that every game, by definition could be slumped into one genre. Because every game has action and adventure and strategy and has you play some role.

        I also love impacts that the character can have on the world. That’s why I dived head on into Dragon age origins, and loved it. I found on many occasions, after a conversation happened, I thought to myself “I’d love to tell this person exactly how I feel” only to have that option available to me later. The game was so expansive that it allowed for the storyline that was playing out in my head to be reasonably translated into the game.

        Unfortunately good RPG games on this current generation are few and far between (particularly for the PS3). Nier, Enchanted arms, Eternal Sonata, White knight Chronicles. All these games don’t interest me because I feel like I’ve played them all before, because all the characters from game to game are almost identical. I think the best RPG of the last few years is Mass Effect 1. I’ve clocked in so many hours playing that game, ironically on someone else’s 360. That franchise not being on PS3 is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t know how many times I’ve attempted to save money for a second hand 360 just to buy that one game, only to blow it on some crappy game like GOW3.

        Interestingly, one game that has all the makings of a good RPG is Oblivion. I’ve got the GOTY edition, but I’ve just never been able to get into it. I don’t know why, I just don’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. Perhaps it’s my love of Sci-fi over dragons and swords.

  • Question 1:
    Am i prepared for my exam on Monday. I have an exam at 9am on a public holiday for 3 hours. (Man I am going to do heaps of gaming over the follwoing 3 weeks before the next course starts)

    Also, I am doing international business management and gaming will help me, I am starting to see the impact that globalised production (eg. Foxconn) is having on the global trade and the news it generates. Also, when you talk about the centralised printing and distribution of games rather than the local production.

    You start to see that the games industry is very globalised, with obvious localisation of PAL/NTSC and the assocuated rating boards. Generally, companies are trying to realise economies of scale and spread the fixed game development costs across the largest number of retail units = profits?

    Question 2:
    Are there any other examples that i should be thinking about, relating to the gaming iundustry that highlight the shift toward globalised markets/production etc. For example, are you aware of any developers using countries such as india for testing overnight while the developers are sleeping so they wake up to reviewed code?

    • 1) I’d say you are more prepared than I am for my exam on Friday, or at least have the potential to be due to the fact you get the weekend. This precludes the fact that you have a copy of backbreaker, but includes the fact that a dead snail is more prepared than I am for my exam on friday.

      2) I worked in the film industry and in animation and previs. Australia was used for just what you describe, we would run the effects whilst the Americans slept, then pump it to their servers for them to look at as they began their day of shooting (in the case of previs) or editing/other post production etc. Having a 24hr cycle available on deadline intensive industries can allow them to get the job done on time, and fat data pipes between continents finally makes it feasible. The film industry has been doing this for a while now.

      • Looks like you should not have killed that snal. He knew a thing or two…

        Thanks. I had heard about this for software (not games) development but was not thinking about the film/post production but with the knowledge and tech available in AUS and the favourable time difference, makes sense.


    • Plenty of publishers and developers outsource parts of their projects to studios in countries like China or India. It’s quite common for the game design to be done in Western Europe or North America while other elements such as art asset creation are done elsewhere in the world where costs are lower.

  • David, Would you be interested in doing a 10 Questions interview with me at Australian Gamer? Look me up, mate – Cav

  • Well this didn’t get answered last time, so I’ll try again. What’s going on with R18+? Haven’t heard anything in ages. It’s really fallen off the radar.

    • Last I heard, the guy in charge of the proposal to go before the AGs has said the information is unballanced due to the submissions of gamers.

      The situation has been put on hold or something, can’t remember what he said would be the next step.

    • The Attorneys-General are reviewing the submissions right now. Given they received over 60,000 of them, it’s going to take a while before we see any kind of decision taken. This was never going to be a quick process.

  • Hi, I used to be a big of gaming magazines. But with the internet and finding out about stuff immediatley. Do you guys as journalist still read them and if so which ones do you read.

    Or if anyone else reads them what to reckonmend one.

    • Have not read a game mag for ages. Used to read hyper or get anything with interesting game demos. XBL gets the demos before discs anyway so there is really no point.

      Still watch good game though if i need someone else’s opinion about a game.

    • I still read Edge every month. Their reviews aren’t as reliable as they used to be (an Edge 10/10 used to be something extremely rare, given only to truly revolutionary games… these days they’re handing them out every other month).

      But that aside, their general articles are usually interesting, and their “Time Extend” and “Making Of” sections which revisit classic (and even not-so-classic) games of yesteryear are always a good read.

      It’s also about the only gaming mag out there actually written for adults, instead of 12-14 year old boys.

      On the downside is their collection of monthly columnists, not to mention their letters page. You’ll not find a more wretched hive of pretentiousness and pomposity in all of gaming.

    • I’ve got a subscription to PC PowerPlay, Dave’s old stomping ground.

      They do interviews with the developers, comprehensive coverage of gaming situations and lots of tech and gadgets.

      But it’s strictly PC, nothing about consoles, so if you’r okay with that, I can’t reccomend it highly enough.

      • I still purchase PCPowerplay from time to time, but It seems to have lost it’s edge that it had in the late 90’s early 2000’s.

        I used to feel the reviews were always spot on and they had the right people reviewing the right games to get the best review. Now I don’t have the same faith in them anymore. I regularly disagree with many reviews.

        They also only usually have 2-3 reviews now with the rest of the mag filled with previews and other random junk.

    • I still read EDGE because I like the writing and the design. It also still carries interesting features, thoughtful columns and the odd exclusive first look at a game.

      Retro Gamer is nice too.

      The more feature-driven direction the new editor of GamePro has taken that magazine has impressed me. Definitely worth picking up if you can find it.

      There’s also a new magazine called Kill.Screen coming soon out of the US. Obviously I haven’t seen an issue, but I like what they’re trying to do with it.

      • Hi Dave,

        I had a look at the Kill.Screen website the magazine is quite expensive. When your at E3 can you pick up a few copies and do a give away?

  • Dave what are your thought’s behind Activision not releasing the PC version of Blur outside of the US, wouldn’t this choice simply encourage piracy among the user base who’s money is seemingly just not wanted?

    Could you think of any real level headed business reason for this decision? Needless to say my online experience with my imported copy has been non existent due a completely empty online community.

    • I understand it’s due to the reluctance of retail to support the PC platform right now. It’s not the only multi-format title released recently where the PC version has been conspicuously absent from store shelves…

      • Hmmm well PC versions not being cranked out along side console version’s is nothing new. But this situation just seems especially odd restricting the sale of the PC version to just the US. Heck it was even listed as for sale on the release day in AUS on Steam but was promptly pulled.

        In an industry where piracy is blamed as the lead cause for PC development woes it’s seems downright stupid to offer a PC version of a product for sale in only one territory, then have it pirated out he backside in the territories which don’t have direct access to it.

        If they end up calling out piracy as a cause for low PC sales on the title then it would be a pretty poor scape goat.

  • I can’t see the top of the K in Kotaku on the banner above on the site. It looks like H’otaku.

    Did someone carry the white banner across the page or are my eyes/monitor stuffed?

    • I think I see the same thing as you, maybe not a white banner, but as if the “K” is under something else, it doesn’t have the rounded edge.

      On another note, the sister site links aren’t at the top across the page today. They are in the top left corner, like a list down the page, there are no icons for them either…

    • Maybe…

      (I’m doing some investigation into this very topic right now. Will hopefully have something to report before E3; if not, then when I return from LA.)

  • What do you do to publishers that try and tell you what to do with reviews and code they send you? What about if you talk negatively about the game and or perhaps their release schedule on which they decide to release it on?

    • I politely inform them that I’ll write about their games if I choose to, and I’ll write about them in a positive manner if they’re worthy of it.

      Seriously, I don’t tend to get much hassle from publishers.

  • Any word on the AFL game being made for 360/PS3 that was due out this year from Big Ant Studios?


    • Owned? Atari 2600, SNES and either PSone or N64 (not sure which I got first). I was primarily a computer gamer back in the 80s and early 90s. I had a PC, of course, and a C64, while I’d also spend time with various friends’ Spectrums and Amigas.

      The SNES was the first console I owned where I was at an age and income level to buy my own games. I have about 50 or 60 games for it.

      Since then I’ve picked up a Mega Drive, and have purchased every subsequent console except the Saturn.

  • Wow… after 322 Days, Dave finally changed the picture! :p

    It’s come full circle also, as the Mass Effect picture replaced an early Alpha Protocol image. An image where Dave first decided…

    “I’ve decided that all future Ask Me Stuff pics will, in fact, show in-game conversations-slash-interrogations.”

    This is a special day for all involved.

  • I just bought Red Dead Redemption. Am i on the bandwagon too? (haha – wagon joke)

    I don’t care, the game looks sweet

  • I’ve been looking for any information on a Shadow Complex sequel but haven’t found any. Do you know if anything is in the works? Did you enjoy the game? Do you want a sequel?

  • Are the any industry guys or journos you like to hang with at E3? Who are the good dudes and who are the wankers?

  • What has happened to the community service award? Been a while since I saw it gracing the pages of Kotaku AU…

  • Hi David,
    I am trying to get a hold of a copy of “deadly premonition” but can’t find one anywhere! Was it even released in aus?

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