August 17, 2005

A Full 360

The price points for the new Xbox 360 have been announced. I'm a little disappointed, but not really surprised. I held out hope that there would be only one version, and that it would come with the hard drive. However, the $400 dollar version comes with a lot of accessories; bought separately they would total more than the $100 extra, so I guess it works out.

Now anyone that knows me knows I love my Xbox. (I finally got Ninja Gaiden. Hard, but awesome!) I bought (or rather my wife did for me) at launch. But, Halo was there to greet me. It was a 'must have'. I'm excited about the 360, but there's nothing that will be at launch that I would die without, and I'm even a big fan of Project Gotham. Now, when Halo 3 hits, I'll be right there. But who knows when that will be?

Posted by mix at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2005

Modding For Fun and Profit

In the life-cycle of every successful mod-able game there comes a time when the dedicated mod teams start showing off the fruits of their long-suffering labor. It seems as if that time is upon us for UT2004.

The first mod that has really stood out is The Soulkeeper. It's been in development for quite some time, and with each news update the team gives, the quality and quantity of the content grows. The latest update drops the word of the mods imminent release and the inclusion of dragons. Any mod with dragons is worthy of a look.

Another BeyondUnreal-hosted mod that I've followed is UnWheel. They were great competition in the Make Something Unreal contest in the Non-FPS category, and unlike us, have continued to expand their game. That alone is worth some kudos, but now they've added realtime reflections to the cars. I've seen this effect achieved before, most notably in Marble Mania (now defunct).

Filling the mecha void is the Transformers-inspired Counter Organic Revolution (COR for short). The control is a little sketchy, and the scale of interiors feels slightly awkward, but the idea and the animation are impressive.

One has to assume that these groups are somewhat in it to prove themselves as game developers (which is fine and applaudible; heck, it was our motivation), but I'm wondering if even a tiny fraction of such teams will ever make it to the big time as a complete team. The status quo seems to be that successful mod work tends to get individual members jobs in the game industry, but a precious few ever become legitimate companies. (Many claim to be, but how easy is it to become an LLC in any given state.)

I can only think of a few that have done it: Splash Damage, Trauma Studios (which was recently closed by DICE), and Tripwire, who made Red Orchestra and won the MSUC.

So why is that? If these mods are so great, why aren't more teams getting paid for it? Simply put, the games business is hard. These mods might be top-notch, but they typically still don't match the level of commercial-quality games. Many ambitious mod makers have to realize they they just won't find the resources in art and code to really compete and garner the respect it takes for publishers to write them checks. A decent game idea won't cut it. Those are as plentiful as blades of grass.

Well, enough of my rambling.

Posted by mix at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)