This was a pretty interesting week.  Microsoft’s Spring Showcase revealed a few interesting tidbits about upcoming games, a major developer left Microsoft, and another modern military FPS was announced.  Of course, Mass Effect 3 released on Tuesday, meaning many gamers were too busy playing the game to notice all of the industry’s happenings.  That’s where I come in.

Peter Molyneux is leaving Microsoft and forming a new studio called 22 Cans.
  • Fable Heroes announced for Xbox Live, Peter Molyneux leaves Microsoft:  Can’t get enough action-RPGs?  Well, Microsoft and developer Lionhead Studios have another Fable game for you.  This one’s different from the other Fable games you may have played, though (and the upcoming Kinect title Fable:  The Journey).  Fable Heroes is a four-player hack-and-slash action/RPG that is sort of reminiscent of the old Gauntlet games.  It will be an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive and features a cartoony art style.  There’s no price or release date information for the game yet.  In Fable-related news, Fable creator Peter Molyneux announced on Twitter that he is leaving Microsoft and Lionhead after development on Fable:  The Journey is complete.  He will be starting a new company called 22 Cans, of which little is known.

-Nick’s take:  Fable Heroes is sure to polarize fans.  I don’t think it looks too great, and it certainly shouldn’t carry the Fable name.  Then again, who knows–the game could turn out good.  Mr. Molyneux has been a vital part of Lionhead since he co-founded the studio in 1997.  He’s known for overhyping his games, sure, but his games usually still turn out pretty good.  I don’t know what Lionhead’s going to do without him.

Excited about Halo 4? Me too. It's a shame we won't be beta testing the multiplayer anytime soon.
  • Halo 4 won’t have a public multiplayer beta:  While Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo:  Reach all had public multiplayer betas, the same won’t be true for Halo 4.  Speaking with the Official Xbox Magazine, 343 Industry’s Frank O’Connor said that a Halo 4 public beta would be a “huge interruption”  to the game’s development.  He also stressed that the game is undergoing plenty of in-house testing.  A later statement from 343 confirmed what Mr. O’Connor said.

-Nick’s take:  Bummer.  Halo 4 is going to be the first Halo game developed entirely by 343 Industries.  Because of this, many gamers (myself included) are a bit concerned about how the game will turn out.  Bungie always beta tested the online multiplayer in their Halo games, so it’s come as a bit of a shock that 343 isn’t doing the same.  I think a tight development schedule and pressure to meet a set release date are major reasons why gamers won’t get their hands on a slice of Halo 4‘s multiplayer early.

Valve has taken a crowbar to Counter-Strike: GO's cross-platform play.
  • Counter-Strike:  Global Offensive will not feature cross-platform play:   One of the potential selling points for Valve’s upcoming Counter-Strike:  Global Offensive was cross-platform play between the PS3 and PC/Mac versions of the game.  Unfortunately, Valve has decided to cut cross-platform play out of the game.  Speaking with Joystiq, Valve’s Chet Faliszek had this to say:  “The beta has proved we want to update not just the beta, but the game itself post-launch frequently on the PC.  To do that, we need to separate the platforms so one doesn’t hamstring the other.  So for that, we have removed the idea of cross-platform play.”  The Xbox 360 version of the game is unaffected, as that version was never going to feature cross-platform play due to Microsoft’s stringent Xbox Live policies.

-Nick’s take:  Portal 2 showed that cross-platform play between the PS3 and PC could be done.  Unfortunately, the SEN is still not an open platform, meaning that any updates need to go through a certification process before hitting the Network.  This means that updates to the PS3 version are going to come more slowly than their PC counterparts.  In other words, the PC version of Counter-Strike:  Global Offensive is going to be the best, just as with many of Valve’s games.  At least PC gamers won’t be able to whine about PS3 teammates holding them down because of “inferior controls.”

The Nintendo 3DS is selling extremely well.
  • Nintendo 3DS sells 4.5 million in one year:  This is for all those who think that portable gaming is dead.  Nintendo has announced–citing NPD data–that the 3DS has sold a whopping 4.5 million in its first year on U.S. shelves.  By comparison, the DS only managed a relatively paltry 2.3 million units sold during the same time period.

-Nick’s take:  The 3DS turned into a bona fide hit once Nintendo lowered the price to $170.  Worthwhile new software has been slow to release, but there have been some great games released for the handheld, including Super Mario 3D Land and Resident Evil:  Revelations.  I hope the PS Vita sells well, too.

I hope you like the generic Commander Shepard look, because you might not be able to transfer your Shepard's look into Mass Effect 3.
  • Mass Effect 3 not letting players import their Shepard’s face:  After gamers on the BioWare forums started posting about trouble importing their custom version of Commander Shepard into Mass Effect 3, GameInformer reported that their staffers had trouble importing customized Shepards into the 360 version of the game and reached out to BioWare and EA for answers.  An EA representative told the magazine that the problem is with importing faces from the first Mass Effect, which would explain why PS3 users haven’t had the same problems (the first Mass Effect was never released on the PS3).  BioWare’s Chris Priestly later posted on the Mass Effect 3  forums that BioWare is aware of the problem and is trying to find a solution.  He also pointed out that PC gamers have found a way around the issue via fan-made tools, but 360 gamers are out of luck right now.

-Nick’s take:  AAA video game releases never go smoothly anymore.  Skyrim had a ton of issues, and now Mass Effect 3 players are having problems.  Apparently, the bug only affects Shepard’s face; all decisions gamers made in earlier Mass Effect games still carry over, which is the more important thing.

This guy kicked my butt in Dark Souls, but I eventually overcame his challenge. I wonder what challenges the next Souls game will have in store for me?
  • Souls series of extremely difficult RPGs not done yet:  RPG gamers who think Skyrim and Mass Effect are too easy have a reason to rejoice.  In an interview with GameTrailers, From Software’s Eiichi Nakajima and Masanori Takeuchi said that they’d like to make more games in the Souls series (of which Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls belong).  Takeuchi-san brought up the developer’s old  King’s Field series and its many sequels, saying “Of course, it’s [Souls] not over yet.”  Takeuchi-san also brought up the idea of making Souls games for smartphones and handhelds.  Unfortunately, he also said that the much-requested PC version of Dark Souls is “up to the publisher, Namco Bandai.”

-Nick’s take:  This contradicts what From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki said in an interview with Edge magazine in February.  In that interview, Miyazaki-san stated that Dark Souls was too buggy (huh?) and didn’t feel like From Software would do another game in the series as a result.  These games are great, so I’d like to see another sequel (even if I won’t be able to beat that game, either!).

The law hath spoken! Bethesda and Mojang have settled, while Activision and two former Infinity Ward members are still suing each other.
  • Activision settles part of lawsuit with ex-Infinity Ward members; Bethesda and Notch Scrolls lawsuit settled:  According to a Bloomberg report, a California State Superior Judge threw out a claim by former Infinity Ward members Vince Zampella and Jason West that accused Activision of making false promises so the two would stick around to help develop Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 2.  Meanwhile, Markus “Notch” Persson sent out a tweet that read:  “The settlement is that we give them the trademark, get to keep the name, and won’t make an elder scrolls [sic] competitor using the name.”  Basically, this means that Mojang is allowed to put out a game called Scrolls–despite the title being trademarked by Bethesda–but isn’t allowed to make an Elder Scrolls competitor with the word “scrolls” in its title.

-Nick’s take:  As if Mojang had any plans to make a competitor to The Elder Scrolls, anyway.  Mojang is a small indie developer, while Bethesda is a large AAA RPG developer, and yet even Bethesda couldn’t make Skyrim work properly.  Why would Mojang even want to attempt making an RPG of that scale?  Vince Zampella and Jason West may have had a legitimate gripe against Activision, but they also probably lacked proof of any wrongdoing.  That case still isn’t settled yet–expect plenty more drama to unfold in the courtroom between both parties.


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