Nintendo ‘willing to invest’ to secure third-party support
July 7, 2011

It’s not a new concept to the industry; Microsoft reportedly paid $50 million for exclusive Grand Theft Auto IV DLC and were even accused of money-hatting Namco in order to secure the exclusivity of Tales of Vesperia, but paying for third-party content is not something that Nintendo has openly admitted to. Similarly, Jack Tretton – President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America – has, in the past, proudly proclaimed that Sony ‘don’t buy exclusivity’, whilst also taking a side swipe at Nintendo, who, in the eyes of Tretton, have a tendency to rely too heavily on first-party production.

While Tretton is world-renowned for talking from his arse, I do believe that particular comment holds some merit. It’s unlikely that Nintendo took his words to heart, but it’s no secret that criticism can be a compelling catalyst for creativity, and Nintendo’s relationships with third-parties have elicited criticisms abound. To what extent you believe their words or not aside, Nintendo have, since the Wii U’s reveal, been promising much-improved third-party support, suggesting they’re willing to learn from, and, more importantly, act upon, their shortcomings.

At a recent shareholders meeting, Satoru Iwata was questioned on the Wii’s frequent software droughts, and if Nintendo had plans in place to prevent a similar situation with the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS:

We think it very important to make several hits from the third-party software publishers within the first year from the release of the platform, while offering Nintendo software seamlessly. In order to achieve this goal, we have shared information about the new hardware with the software publishers earlier than we did previously and built a cooperative structure, and we are developing several titles in collaboration with these publishers. I cannot talk in detail about the names of the titles, or with which publishers we are currently collaborating, because we have not announced this information yet, but what we are aiming for with the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U is, platforms which have much more software and a wider variety of software than the former Nintendo DS or Wii. Therefore, we are thinking of creating an environment where software from other companies will become hits.

Nintendo claims to have shared the hardware specs of the Wii U earlier than usual, but developers such as Bethesda have indicated that they ‘know nothing’ about its capabilities. To me, this is worrying. Huge, Western developers like Bethesda are of the precise ilk that Nintendo should be trying to get on board. Bethesda, BioWare, Infinity Ward, Rockstar, Valve, Crytek – names that core gamers recognise and respect, names that will sell, and names that will promote system sales. I don’t work for Nintendo, I have absolutely zero inside knowledge or sources at Nintendo, and I have never claimed to. In that sense, I also have absolutely no idea who Nintendo is courting and who they’re not, but if a studio as big as Bethesda has been left in the dark, then it doesn’t fill me with confidence.

After the initial excitement and positivity coming from select studios, promises of core IPs like Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield heading to the Wii U were made by developers Ubisoft and EA, respectively, but their relationship with Nintendo was already fairly strong. So, what about those who are seemingly less inclined to develop for Nintendo’s latest console? What kind of Nincentive (sorry) will be offered to them? Money, of course!

Please understand that Nintendo is prepared to invest in order to make this a reality.

Problem solved? We shall see…

 – Rory



Grand Theft Auto IV mod looks better than real life
July 6, 2011

Life has its ways of proving us wrong  and altering our perceptions, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Today, it’s for the better. Recently, I was joining in on a discussion on – of whose homepage my ugly mug is currently featured – about photorealism in videogames and whether or not they’ll ever be able to convincingly recreate reality. I said no. Well, to elaborate, I argued that, unless we see some major advancements in the way that certain assets are modelled and rendered in the next few years, that developers simply can’t, and won’t, devote the man hours required to meticulously render the inside of a character’s nose, or the individual veins in leaves.

It seems that the community does what the developers can’t. In a move that has made me sorry for opening my big, stupid mouth, I have been stunned by one fan’s work. A community mod for Grand Theft Auto IV  has been released and it’s positively jaw-dropping. The mod uses something referred to as iCEnhancer 1.2, and whilst I’m not entirely sure what kind of technical witchcraft and wizardry is going on behind the scenes in this mod, I do know is that it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Sure, the foliage still looks a bit questionable and it’s still discernibly different from ‘real life’, but it’s mightily impressive; for that level of graphical fidelity to be achievable by technology that’s commercially available today fills me with excitement for the future of videogame verisimilitude.

– Rory

RUMOUR – Grand Theft Auto V to be announced at E3 2011?
May 4, 2011

Grand Theft Auto – Fox News’ favourite game franchise – is one of the biggest in the gaming world. With over 120 million sales worldwide, most people have at least heard of Rockstar’s carnivalesque sandbox success, for one reason or another. Safe to say, it’s a pretty big deal. With that being said, Rockstar are almost guaranteed to be working on a sequel to 2008’s Grand Theft Auto IV.

So, where best to announce one of the biggest games of the year? Why, at one of the biggest gaming expos of the year, of course – at E3 2011. Certainly, if GTAV were to be announced this year, it’d be at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles of June this year. That’s pretty much a given, but what evidence do we have, and what is the likelihood of seeing it there?

Well, let’s first look to the GTA series’ release timeline. Between what I would refer to as ‘main’ releases, – GTA, GTA 2, GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas and GTAIV –  discounting handheld titles or those which may be regarded as spin-offs, – Chinatown Wars, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony – then releases in the GTA series seem to come once every three or four years. As mentioned previously, GTAIV launched in late 2008, so a release in 2012 would seem to be very much on the cards based on the history of the franchise, so that’s a good, if somewhat flimsy, indicator – if a 2012 release was at hand, a 2011 announcement seems natural.

Along with recent evidence, a Tweet from superannuation who claims to have inside contact with several gaming developers, suggests just that.

It is my understanding that the new GTA will be unveiled at E3 in some capacity.

Again, it sounds pretty flimsy, and it should definitely be taken with a (un)healthy dose of salt, but if this guy does have the links he claims, then it just might hold some weight. What’s most exciting for us at least, is this rumour when taken and combined with several others. Firstly, Nintendo are apparently recapturing the hardcore market with the Café and there’s arguably no better title to do that than Grand Theft Auto. Secondly, Rockstar were apparently one of the first developers to receive the Café dev kit. Thirdly, after the securing of Chinatown Wars, Nintendo were apparently strengthening relations with Rockstar.

The information on the second rumour comes from 01net, the site who sparked the whole Café speculation and seem to be largely well informed. Bold statements such as ‘hope to have it ready for launch’ also seem to make sense – the new console has a predicted launch of Q2 2012 and GTAV would nestle into that timeframe quite nicely.

GTAV at launch of the Wii HD would already put it a huge notch ahead of the 3DS’ in my eyes.

– Rory

GTA: Chinatown Wars- new details
September 19, 2008

Do want

Do want

Nintendo announced GTA:Chinatown Wars to a rather indifferent audience at E3 this year.

“But it’s GTA…on DS!” I hear you cry.
“What’s not to like?!”

See, the thing is, when Nintendo announced the game, that’s exactly what they did.
They did no more than merely acknowledge its existence.

We had no idea how the game was going to play, look or function. All we knew that it was a Grand Theft Auto game…on the DS…presumably set in ‘Chinatown’.

But for all those salivating for some information on Rockstar‘s latest, look no further.

As most had second guessed, the game takes place from an isometric view, much like The Sims.
So while not fully 3D, the ‘top down’ view still allows for 3D detail. 3D Cel Shaded detail that is.
Yep, that’s right, a cel shaded GTA game.

The game will stick to the fashion of every GTA game ever, and remain a free-roaming crime sim.
However, the missions, and the entire game itself, are more suited to handheld play, with missions being shorter and more streamlined.

There will be Touch Screen controls, but aiming will be controlled by the D-Pad, with ‘R’ taking care of the targeting.

The game will feature all the things you’ve come to expect from a GTA game, like a free roaming city, cops, a wanted level system, 24 hour clock, weather effects and all the rest.

The game also supports the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for uploading stats.
Just what exactly these stats are remains to be seen, but rest assured, when we know, you’ll know.