The week may have started off slowly, but at least the D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit took place at the end of the week so that we could hear about David Jaffe’s love for Aerosmith and the film Armageddon.   More importantly, D.I.C.E. is a time for game developers to talk about the making of high-profile releases and the hot-button topics in the industry.  Bethesda’s Todd Howard demoed a whole bunch of awesome Skyrim stuff his team created post-release (dragon mounts!), multiple gaming industry execs debated the merit of the used game market, and the Interactive Achievement Awards highlighted the year’s best games.  Here’s a look at what happened in video game news this week:

Skyrim was like this dragon at the Interactive Achievement Awards; fearsome and crushing anything that came in its path.
  •  The Elder Scrolls V:  Skyrim wins big at the Interactive Achievement Awards:  In a year that included such amazing games as Portal 2, L. A. Noire, Batman:  Arkham City, and Uncharted 3, The Elder Scrolls V:  Skyrim was honored with the most prestigious award in the video game industry–the IAA Game of the Year award.  Skyrim also took home four other awards, including Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction and Outstanding Achievement in Story.  Other titles that won big at the Awards were Uncharted 3:  Drake’s Deception (honored mostly for its visual prowess),  Bastion (Downloadable Game of the Year), and Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 3 (Action Game of the Year).

-Nick’s take:  What, no awards for L. A. Noire?  Come on!  The Interactive Achievement Awards are the most prestigious in the industry because they’re voted on by the people who actually make video games.  They’re like the Oscars or the Grammys of the gaming industry.

Image courtesy of Misspelling courtesy of Capcom.
  • Capcom says “oops,” releases Resident Evil Revelations to stores with spelling error on the side of the box:  D’oh!  Capcom’s 3DS survival-horror title Resident Evil:  Revelations released this Tuesday with the correct title on the front of the packaging…but not on the side, where “Revelations” is misspelled as “Revelaitons” (sic).  Capcom has acknowledged the mistake, fixed the error on games released after the first batch, and is offering a free insert with the correct spelling to grammar-Nazis (aka English majors like myself) who feel offended by the misspelling.

-Nick’s take:  How a game like Resident Evil is allowed to release with a spelling error on the packaging without anyone noticing beforehand boggles my mind.  On the plus side, these games may become collector’s items, and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so; all copies of the game were sold out at retailers I visited except for Walmart.

It looks promising, but will Twisted Metal deliver?
  • God of War creator David Jaffe leaving Eat Sleep Play; studio to refocus on developing mobile games:  Even before the release of Twisted Metal on PS3 this Valentine’s Day, the game’s outspoken visionary David Jaffe is leaving developer Eat Sleep Play.  Mr. Jaffe is expected to help with Twisted Metal post-launch for a few months, while Eat Sleep Play is refocusing on the mobile game business.

-Nick’s take:  While Mr. Jaffe assures us that Twisted Metal will be a great game, his departure from the studio before the game even comes out doesn’t exactly paint a picture of confidence in the game’s success from Sony or Eat Sleep Play.  Let’s hope that Twisted Metal is as good as Twisted Metal 2 and Black and not a disaster like Twisted Metal 3 and 4.

Through what I can only assume is dark magic, Skylanders figures (such as Spyro here) transmit data in-game when placed on this base.
  • New Skylanders game coming later this yearAfter Activision Blizzard made boatloads of money from Skylanders:  Spyro’s Adventure last year, is it a surprise to anyone that a new Skylanders game is coming so soon?  Activision has announced that Skylanders Giants will be arriving this fall, bringing with it 20 new characters–some of which will be twice the size of the first game’s characters (both in-game and in physical toy form).

-Nick’s take:  The first Skylanders made Activision a ton of money, so a quickie sequel is just the thing needed to keep the shareholders happy.  Let’s just hope that Skylanders Giants is as good a game as the original.

Schafer's Double Fine Productions is looking to create a new adventure game in the style of Grim Fandango with help from gamers.
  • Tim Schafer creates Kickstarter page for new adventure game, attains necessary funding–plus lots more–in less than a day:  Tim Schafer–the man behind such beloved cult classics as Grim Fandango and Psychonauts–created a Kickstarter account in the hopes of raising $400,000 for a new adventure game via fan donations.  Mr. Schafer had hoped to raise the money within about a  month, but fans rallied and pledged him $400,000 within eight hours of the Kickstarter page going live.  What’s more, the new adventure game has now raised over $1 million in fan money, to be used for porting the game and polishing it.

-Nick’s take:  Wow!  I didn’t think there would be such a huge outpouring of support for a new Double Fine/Tim Schafer-developed adventure game.  What’s more, Markus “Notch” Persson is trying to help Mr. Schafer get a sequel to Psychonauts made.  I think everyone now sees an opportunity in both Psychonauts 2 and getting gamers to fund new projects.

This is Diablo III. Don't expect to be buying it until at least April.
  • Diablo III delayed again:  Gamers have been patiently waiting for Blizzard’s Diablo III for years now, but now they’re going to have to wait even longer.  Activision Blizzard has delayed the game from its prior “early 2012” release window to April-June of this year.

-Nick’s take:  Many (all?) PC gamers are eagerly awaiting Diablo III.  One more delay isn’t going to kill them–Blizzard needs to ensure the game is nearly perfect for launch or risk gamer’s contempt.

There are big things in the works at Epic Games.
  • Unreal Engine 4 to be revealed this year:  Epic’s Unreal Engine III is one of the best current-gen graphics engines, having powered such games as Gears of War and Batman:  Arkham City.  In an interview with G4, Epic Games vice president Mark Rein said that “People are going to be shocked later this year when they see Unreal Engine 4 and how much more profound an effect it will have.”

-Nick’s take:  Gears of War 3 is one of the best-looking games you can buy right now.  I’m assuming that Unreal Engine 4 is going to take advantage of next-gen technology like DirectX 11 (used to great effect in the PC version of Battlefield 3 and the Unreal Engine III-powered PC version of Batman:  Arkham City) and be made with next-gen systems in mind.  I expect it to outperform even DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine.

This is an Xbox 360. According to Nielsen, more people own one--or a similar gaming console--than don't.
  • 56% of U.S. households are gaming households:  According to media research firm Nielsen, 56 percent of United States households own either an Xbox 360, PS3, or a Wii.

-Nick’s take:  Video games are becoming more and more “mainstream” each year.  I personally own all three current-gen systems, in addition to a 3DS and a gaming PC.  More console owners = more people to kill online in Call of Duty.



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