‘Alien: Isolation’ still haunted by the failure of ‘Colonial Marines’ – 6/15/2014

Sega and Creative Assembly are attempting to redefine the horror-survival genre with Alien: Isolation, but every attempt to demonstrate the games uniqueness has been overshadowed by the failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Recently OXM reported on the struggle Creative Assembly is having in promoting the game while trying to escape the shadow of Colonial Marines. The article noted that many gamers who sampled the demo at E3 2014, tried to play the game like a shooter rather than a horror survival.

The games presentation and demo at E3 2014 had been praised by critics but gamers are still bringing up comparisons with Colonial Marines.

When the game was first unveiled on January 7, gamers were a little weary of the announcement with most of them expecting the it to be a failure. Since then; any news or preview about Alien: Isolation has always been meet with remarks that bring up the failure of Colonial Marines.

The moment an article about Alien: Isolation is published on a news site or posted on a aggravator site like N4G, the discussion will quickly be dominated by expectations of failure while citing Colonial Marines as an example of what to expect.

In response to the negative backlash, several game pundits were trying to assure their readers that Alien: Isolation will not be a disaster while encouraging them to give it a chance. Many were quick to point out that the game is influenced by Ridley Scott vision and not the James Cameron film.

However gamers had been quick to dismisses the pleas of giving the game a chance.

Alien: Isolation will be released on October 7, 2014 for all major consoles and the PC. With so much bad publicity, the development team will be under a lot of pressure to avoid another disaster like Colonial Marines

Written for The Gamers Progress
06/15/2014
Original Article: ‘Alien: Isolation’ still haunted by the failure of ‘Colonial Marines’

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Gamers surprised that Crytek is developing ‘Homefront: The Revolution’ – 6/6/2014

Crytek official announcement that they are developing Homefront: The Revolution has impressed many gamers while pundits in the media are surprised that this sequel was even considered.

The original Homefront was a highly anticipated game that was promoted as a new vision for the shooter genre by having players engage in a guerrilla war against North Korea’s (known as the Greater Korean Republic in game) occupation of America. Its biggest selling point was a story written by John Milius, Hollywood icon who directed Red Dawn.

However the game was meet with mediocre reviews due to what was seen as a bland gameplay that offered nothing original. The failure of Homefront resulted in Kaos Studios having to shutdown while playing a contributing factor that lead to THQ having to file for bankruptcy in 2012.

In a market dominated by the rivalry between Call of Duty and Battlefield while saturated with forgettable knock-offs, Homefront had faded from gamers memories. So when Crytek announced a squeal, the premise impressed the gaming media while also having them ask “why?”

Hayden Dingman of PC World started his article by stating, “I’ll be honest: I’d sort of forgotten that THQ ever contracted Crytek for a Homefront sequel. I’d definitely forgotten that Crytek then purchased those rights when THQ went bankrupt just so they could finish creating said sequel.It exists. Crytek is making Homefront 2—titled Homefront The Revolution—a reality.

Aaron Birch from Den of Geeks started his preview by stating, “Despite the first Homefront being almost universally mauled by the critics, and being seen by many as one of the worst FPS titles in recent memory, a second game is on the way. ” After that he goes into details about the game with some optimism.

In an interview with the development team, David Jenkins of Metro starts by asking, “I know everyone must be asking this but… why? Why buy the Homefront franchise when the basic gist of the story seems easy enough to recreate without the licence? I mean, the idea of America under occupation is interesting but the whole North Korean angle is rather silly and you could’ve easily just swapped in aliens or another country and made pretty much the same game.

In a less optimistic outlook, Jesse Rogalski of Hardcore Gamer stated, “Is the idea of a sequel to a title that undersold, under-delivered and one that can be directly linked to the demise of not only the developer, but the publisher itself, already doomed before release?

Gamers have also shared their concern on social media and forums as many surprised a sequel to Homefront is even being considered.

Despite many asking “why bother,” the premise along with Crytek reputation has sparked gamers interest and are whiling to give it a chance. Rogalski and Dingman do note at the end of their article that the game does look interesting.

Homefront: The Revolution will be a reboot the original game and will have players fight a guerrilla war in an open-world setting built using an updated version of the CryEngine.

Written for The Gamers Progress
06/6/2014
Original Article: Gamers surprised that Crytek is developing ‘Homefront: The Revolution’

Glenn Beck illogical opinion about ‘Watch Dogs’ ridiculed by gaming community – 5/31/2014

Glenn Beck has created a firestorm of laughter and backlash among the gaming community after denouncing Watch Dogs for teaching kids how to hack.

During a segment about the effects of video games on children, Beck claims that Watch Dogs teaches the player how to hack into other peoples smartphones and computers to collect personal data for their own personal use.

Beck further stated during the segment, “The idea here is they are teaching you to hack and then become the ultimate voyeur in other people’s lives, including their bedrooms, by hacking into their phones and everything.

To no surprise; the gaming community has denounced his ignorant remarks while he has become a laughing stock among members of the game and tech media. Many have been quick point out the fallacy in his statement while others have just called him out on his ignorant remarks.

Erik Kain of Forbes.com pointed out that Beck rhetoric has always been about Americans cultural decline while further stating, “So it’s really not surprising that he’s latched onto video games. Video games, to those who don’t play them, have a mysterious and threatening aura. They’re violent, decadent things.

Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku stated in her article, “Listening to him talk about Watch Dogs is kind of funny, since he’s convinced it’ll teach kids how to hack into his iPad.

Machinima official Twitter page stated, “Oh come on. Political commentator Glenn Beck believes #WatchDogs is teaching children how to hack

Watch Dogs creative director, Jonathan Morin, was quick to denounce Beck remarks via Twitter. Morin even responded to the remarks of his Twitter followers who mocked Beck’s misinformed opinion of the game.

Meanwhile most gamers have mocked Beck’s illogical connection to hacking or just say some offensive remarks about him on social media.

Despite Becks misinformed comments, many academic studies have shown that playing video games improves a subjects ability to make quick decisions along with overcome complex challenges. Meanwhile criticism of violence in video games has declined while the few that are published often lack any real credibility to support its argument.

This is also not the first time a political pundit ignorant remarks about a game has met with a backlash among the community. Most infamous was when Kevin McCullough of TownHall.com wrote an article that described Mass Effect as a rape simulator targeted at children.

Watch Dogs is an open world game that has players take on the role Aiden Pearce, a vigilante hacker, who is trying to avenge the murder of his niece. The game was released on May 27 for the PC and all major consoles.

Written for The Gamers Progress
05/31/2014
Original Article: Glenn Beck illogical opinion about ‘Watch Dogs’ ridiculed by gaming community

Playing It Old School – ‘Wolfenstein’ and the birth of the shooter – 5/18/2014

Most of the iconic and popular games are first person shooter (FPS) that put gamers in the role of a hero who has to go against an army with nothing more than a few rounds in the magazine. A gamers time is mostly spent on the virtual battlefields of Counter Strike, Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield.

This joy of the virtual war was made possible thanks to Wolfenstein 3D breaking the norm to establish a new genre for a mature audience. With Wolfenstein: The New Order on the horizon, Playing It Old School will like to go back and pay its respects to the Father of the Shooter genre.

Known to most gamers as a shooter, the Wolfenstein series actually started back in 1981 as a stealth action game developed by Muse Software. Castle Wolfenstein had players attempt to infiltrate a Nazi fortress to steal secret plans than escape undetected. The game was a hit and was followed by Beyond Castle Wolfenstein.

Unfortunately Muse Software closed in 1987 with most of its assets sold-off.

Then in 1991 John Romero, John Carmack, Tom Hall, along with Adrian Carmack established Id Software LLC and one year later they would set the foundations for modern gaming. These pioneers acquired the Wolfenstein intellectual property and used it as the foundation to create the first-person shooter genre.

Wolfenstein 3D has players infiltrate the castle by fighting Nazi soldiers and their monstrous creations (including a Robot Hitler). The games success was followed by Spear of Destiny, which has the gamer attempt to recover the Holy Lance before the Nazi’s could use its power.

The game became the building blocks for the FPS genre and it’s success was followed by Doom and Quake. They would become a major influence on the development of other groundbreaking games like Half Life, Medal of Honor, Soldier of Fortune and 007 GoldenEye.

The game also introduced gamers to one of the most iconic characters, William “BJ”  Blazkowicz. He was the foundation for characters in an FPS while being one of the earliest gaming heroes that was targeted towards a more mature audience. On a side note; he is the grandfather of Billy Blaze from Commander Keen and a descendent of the “Doom guy” from the Doom-series.

The game itself was a pioneer in transforming video games from an expensive childs toy to a mature medium. Wolfenstein 3D was the first step needed for the gaming industry to grow and to experiment with more mature content.

After a decade long absence; the series was introduced to a new generation in 2001 with Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Gamers once again took on the role of Blazkowicz as he attempts to dismantle Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse secret weapons project and prevent Heinrich Himmler from using ancient magic to resurrect an evil warlord. This reimagining developed a new timeline within the context of a classic setting. The game also included a groundbreaking multiplayer feature that borrowed elements of Counter Strike with objective based missions set in a WWII setting,

Return to Castle Wolfenstein was the byproduct of taking one of the most iconic games and rebuilding it into something new. The end result was one of the best FPS games of the time while being awarded multiple “Game of the Year” awards. Its success was followed by a console port that expanded the story along with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, a free to play multiplayer game.

The story continued with the seque,l Wolfenstien in 2009, which had players once again taking on the role of Blazkowicz on a mission to stop the Nazi from harnessing black magic. This time Deathshead have concentrated his forces in the town of Isenstadt in a quest to acquire Nachtsonne crystals needed to access the Black Sun Dimension.

Unfortunately Wolfenstein failed to generate the same kind of buzz as its predecessors. The game was met with average reviews while sales were so poor that the game became a financial flop.

Now the series will enter into a new era of gaming with Wolfenstein: The New Order, a new twist on the classic that will take players to an alternative 1960 were the Nazi’s won the war. How this game will stack compared to its predecessors is hard to tell but the Wolfenstien  series has always been a pioneer in defining the shooter genre.

However being first at something is always followed by a wave of controversy, and Wolfenstein was no exception. Wolfenstein 3-D caused a firestorm of controversy due to its graphic violence and Nazi reference. The original game was banned in Germany because of the display of Nazi symbols and the use of Horst-Wessel-Lied as its theme music (see Strafgesetzbuch section 86a). The game had to undergo editing and censorship just to be sold on consoles and in different countries.

Years later; Return to Castle Wolfenstein became the victim of false moral panic after Jonathan Kay (not a gamer) of the New York Times accused it of promoting anti-Semitism. As a result of the article, the game was vaguely referred to in Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism by the United States Department of State.

Despite the controversy and censorship, the Wolfenstein series has always stood strong as the needed push for gaming culture to embrace a mature concept. The success of Wolfenstein: The New Order will determine if the series could still be a major influence on the shooter genre.

Playing It Old School is a column that looks back on classic games while reflecting on the influence it had on video game and pop culture.

Written for The Gamers Progress
05/18/2014
Original Article: Playing It Old School – ‘Wolfenstein’ and the birth of the shooter

Leland Yee’s arrest is a victory for gamers – 4/9/2015

On March 26,2014 the FBI made series of arrests across the country related to a massive investigation into political corruption, among the most prominent politician arrested was California State Senator Leland Yee.

Lee was indicted with two felony counts of conspiring to traffic firearms (a classic ‘Baptist and Bootlegger‘ scenario) along with six corruption counts. As a result he has ended his campaign for California Secretary of State while the State Senate has suspended him. He has pleaded Not-guilty to the charges on April 9.

After hearing the news; conservatives and gun rights advocate wasted no time popping open the champagne bottle in celebration. Political sites have been flooded with Op-Ed’s denouncing Yee’s betrayal of the peoples trust and his hypocrisy of trampling on gun rights while trying to traffic arms.

The festivities of the Right has been well known while unknowingly another cultural group has had a reason to celebrate, the gamer community. As several weeks have passed; the gaming community hasn’t been having the same kind of celebration despite having our good reasons.

Besides being an opponent of private firearm ownership, was an outspoken adversary of the gaming community. His reasoning came from a position that gamers are “children” while its affects are based on junk science.

Yee is most infamous as the sponsor of AB 1179, which banned the sale of violent video games (in the vaguest definition possible) to anyone under the age of 18. The bill was signed into law by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegge before being struck-down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Despite the ruling; Yee never gave up on his moral crusade and continued to find ways to legally challenge an industry that he demonized as peddlers of snuff. At times he would brand an entire culture as children and expecting them to remain silent as he trampled over our freedom.

Using his background as a child psychologist, Yee has acted as a moral authority on the debate while casting other views aside. He even took the massacre at Sandy Hook as a low-ball chance to attack the video game culture.

Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry’s lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest,” Yee stated in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now this once champion moralist is now facing charges of alleged public corruption while trying to buy firearms from Islamic terrorists.

For gamers; the arrest of Yee is one of the greatest victories for the community since Jack Thompson was disbarred back in 2007. The staff at IGN, Gamespot and other establish game news sites also need to pop open a bottle of champagne and celebrate with the writers at National Review.

Watching a judge declare him guilty is going to be the most amazing moment to watch, got a special bottle saved for that celebration.

Written for The Gamers Progress
04/9/2014
Original Article: Leland Yee’s arrest is a victory for gamers

Criticism of violent video games has lost credibility – 4/5/2014

Despite advancements in technology along with the inclusion of mature content and themes, criticism of violent video games in the media has been on the decline according to the research of Greg Perreault.

The research attributed the decline to the core demographic became older (average gamer is 30 years old and has been playing for 13 years) and violence in video games having become accepted.

Giving credit to where credit is due; kudos to Perreault for conducting the first study on a trend many old-school gamers have started to notice, that is the controversy regarding violence in video games has died.

Perreault is correct that the core audience has matured and with it has video games as a media while the culture has grown to become a major element of pop-culture. In the 90’s it was just an expensive toy but today they are generating more revenue the movies at the box-office while attracting the talents of Hollywood icons.

During the progression; real scientific studies were done on the effects of video games on the audience and they have killed the myth that it “breeds killers”. Meanwhile studies have unveiled the positive effects video games have on the player such as rapid decision making, better overcoming complex problems, helping to develop effective organization skills.

The end result has been that any outrage about violence in video games can no longer be taken seriously while anyone who brings up the junk science is dismissed.

Such an example to look at would be Cassie Rodenberg and her in-depth critic about allowing gamers to have interactions with prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto. According to her observation of students who played the game; such a feature mentally justifies violence against women while recanting the struggles of a real women who are forced into such a life.

Rodenberg would have made a strong case were it not for one minor problem, she wrote her critical analysis in 2013 about Grand Theft Auto V. In no time readers began to pick apart and destroy her entire argument based on a naive approach to an outdated troupe of moral outrage.

Given how critics have praised the game for its thought provoking story that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society in a style influenced Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, Rodenberg decision to focus on a controversy that is a decade old and very insignificant to the story gave the impression that she was too stupid to understand the games significance.

However; Rodenberg has not been the only person to debate the subject using an outdated mindset. Nobody could forget about the fake gamers at Salon.com and this example of a childish banter that tries to denounce the violence in video games using junk science and the writers own political outlook.

The very few times a video game has been criticized for its violent content was because of some very disturbing element that should always concern audiences. The content in question have been the obvious issues of rape and gruesome torture. No matter how mature the audience becomes; rape and torture will always be something disturbing while its presence in video games will never be tolerated.

The most resent example was the attention that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes received after the ESRB listed “Sexual Violence” and “Intense Violence” as a listed content. This of course is referring to audio recordings of Paz being raped along with the open surgery she undergoes after being rescued. Despite the act not visually featured; the context of rape in any media is always going to be disturbing to the audience.

Several months earlier; Grand Theft Auto V was criticized for a plot point that required the player to torture a suspect. While some accused it of glorifying torture, many gamers found the moment to be very disturbing and hard to play.

Finally who could forget the controversy regarding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the option of playing “No Russian”.  What made this level disturbing was not the fact the player participates in a terrorist attack against civilians but the atmosphere of the environment with screams of terror in background while people are being butchered as they flee or begging for their lives.

These examples attracted controversy because the content was a subject that the general audience will always find disturbing. It was not a game of simple blood and violence but a moment that the player would never forget.

As video games continue to the advance the story will explore darker and more mature themes that is going to attract controversy. However bickering about the simple of violence is an outrage that nobody is going to take seriously as the culture has moved pass that point.

Written for The Gamers Progress
04/5/2014
Original Article: Criticism of violent video games has lost credibility

Reasons why movies based on video games fail – 03/23/2014

The release of Need For Speed has proved once again that movies based on video games are disasters. It now joins the ranks of many video game adaptations that have been panned as embarrassments to the cinematic arts.

There is a reason why so many movies based on video games fail to impress critics, attract audiences and satisfy the fans. The problem could be broken down to four major reasons and here is why:

Nobody in Hollywood respects video games as an art – This is not referring to all actors or directors, because it’s obvious that Steven Spielberg respect video games as an art. It could not be said the same about studio executives who see gaming as a fad among kids that they want to profit from.

To be fair; most studio executives operate in a shell while only focused on the bottom line of the industry. Its understandable that they need to focus on profits to keep everyone employed, but focusing on the bottom line gives them a warped perception on the business (aka knock-off’s and clones). To them its all about what sells and if they can’t understand it then it must not sell (this also is why Community has had a turbulent run).

However there are going to be a lot of entertainers who feel that video games is not an art and working on such a project would be beneath them  (people who are not Spielberg, Joss Whedon, Peter Jackson or Zack Snyder).

Lacking an understanding of gaming – Since many in Hollywood have failed to respect video games as an art, they have also failed to understand it as a medium. For example; people who don’t understand gaming as a medium will look at Grand Theft Auto V as a “car game that allows you to kill hookers” rather than a story of three friends seeking the American Dream in a corrupt society.

Its easy to overlook that video games didn’t become a story telling medium until the late 80’s while having to break from the traditional standards set by cinema and theater.

The issue is that a lot of screen writers and directors will look at video games as if it was an action movie. The action is a gameplay mechanism that allows he player to function in the context of the environment, not drive the story. In doing so they have overlooked the story and robbed it of any content that fans enjoy.

Case in point would be the Max Payne film and how it failed to properly recreate one of the greatest works of neo-noir since Pulp Fiction. The key word being “neo-noir”, as in a gritty crime drama within the context of a modern society. Not a dry action bore with trivial elements of a “supernatural” thriller.

Lack of respect for the source material – If the creative team doesn’t understand or respect the medium than its likely that they are breaking away from the source material.

Too often when such a film is announced, fans get excited in the hopes of seeing a cienmatic adaption of their favorite video game. A few months later they are shocked to discover that the story and characters are not based on the source material.

The film adaptations of Doom, Hitman, and House of the Dead are just a few examples to note. The most well known example to look at would be the turbulent production that Resident Evil had to undergo.

When the Resident Evil movie was green-lite back in the 90’s, Capcom and Sony originally wanted George A. Romero to direct it.  Unfamiliar with video games; he attempted to understand the source material by having his secretary play the game over eight times while being recorded. Next he would study the videos while writing a screenplay that was faithful to the story.

However Sony rejected Romero’s screenplay and put the project on hold until Paul W. S. Anderson submitted his screenplay. That is correct, Resident Evil was originally suppose to be directed by one of the most influential horror film directors and Sony rejected him in favor of some hack.

This bring the next big pint…

Unqualified directors – Finally when it comes down to it, the majority of movies based on a video game have been created by directors who obviously lack any kind of creative talent. A lot directors who have made movies based on video games are either inexperienced or just notoriously terrible.

Taking lessons learned from the success of comic book films and New Hollywood era, there could only be a good film based on a video game if the director understands and respects the medium. Not too long ago; comic book movies were seen as box office poison until Bryan Singer redefined the concept in 2000.

Video game movies could also have the same kind of success if only the right talent is leading the project. One needs to realize that there is a big difference between the works of Paul W. S. Anderson and John Moore compared to the auteurism of Joss Whedon and Sam Raimi.

Directors like Whedon, Raimi along with Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Jackson and Zack Snyder were the kind of geeks who had the utmost appreciation for the source material. These artists were raised within this culture and as adults it has been a vision to properly recreate or retell these stories through the cinematic arts.

Also important to note is that they all had some experience in film making that help build the needed credibility among the studios to green light their dream project. Raimi had established himself with the Evil Dead-trilogy, Sir Kenneth Branagh was already recognized for his cinematic adaptations of the works of William Shakespeare before directing Thor,  the successful re-make of Dawn of the Dead help launch Snyder’s career, and Whedon became an icon with his cinematic screenplays and television shows.

Meanwhile the majority of movies based on video games have been directed by individuals who are either inexperienced or known for making bad films. The best film Moore directed, Flight of the Phoenix, has a 37% on Rotten Tomato, Andrzej Bartkowiak is also very similar, Uwe Boll can’t direct a film for s***, and Need for Speed is Scott Waugh second major film.

That is why fans were disappointed when Jackson abandoned his highly anticipated Halo movie. Because it had a chance to actually be a proper adaptation of a popular game series because of his experience and Neil Blomkamp possible vision.

However there is some hope for the proposed adaption of The Last of Us since Sam Raimi is attached to the project.

Written for The Gamers Progress
03/23/2014
Original Article: Reasons why movies based on video games fail