Secret of Evermore Longplay

Secret of Evermore, as played by Tsunao. Part one of four, this video is a bit over 2 hours long. The only RPG that Square produced in North America, it’s a quirky entry in the SNES’ impressive library of roleplaying games.

I’ll post an update here when I’ve had time to go through some of those old EGM magazines I found. From the artwork and the name, Square probably intended it to be reminiscent of the popular Secret of Mana.

RIP Visceral Studios and Hennig Star Wars

EA announced the end of Visceral Studios (Dead Space, Battlefield Hardline) and the revamping of the Amy Hennig’s Star Wars title. From Patrick Söderlund’s blog:

Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.

I’m sure that the details of this fallout will end up on on some of the more sensationalist sites. Patrick goes on to say that the game will now be released at some point after EA’s FY 2019, and what will happen to Visceral. It’s a long fall from the grace of Dead Space. As for Hennig, the Uncharted heavy is currently in “negotiations” about her future status.

What a mess.

Xbox Boss on Crossplay

Gamespot has a wide ranging interview with Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, which included some remarks about cross platform play. He talks about Minecraft, and Sony’s unwillingness to play ball with Microsoft. I found this quote insightful:

“I think people look at [cross-play] and say is it better for gamers. If it’s better for gamers, I have a hard time thinking why we shouldn’t go do this, especially when you’re trying to make the gaming business a bigger business; grow it, get more games, create more opportunity,” he said. “Especially in the indie space, actually. If you’re creating an online indie game and you’re going to create five [shards] of your game–the Steam version, Xbox Live on PC, Xbox version, the PlayStation version, the Switch version creates hard matchmaking scenarios. We should help developers, not make their lives more difficult.”

At least the Xbox boss understands the fragmentation of the ecosystem. I used to think that crossplay was something of a Utopian dream. Why would any console maker willingly erode their brand strength? But that sort of thinking may be very last gen.

PlayStation VR at One Year

Over at PlayStation blog, Shawn Layden pens a paean to PlayStation VR on its first birthday. The chairman writes:

PlayStation VR was designed to open a doorway into thrilling and captivating new worlds that electrify our senses. We are confident that virtual reality is that next step in in the evolution of the videogame medium, with a collection of more than 100 gaming experiences designed to make your synapses fire, your heart race, and your muscles twitch.

I admit I was intrigued by the X-Wing simulation in Battlefront, but not inspired enough to spend the money for all the hardware. I could be wrong but I assume you want a PS4 Pro to run it smoothly. I’ve been dabbling in VR design for a few months now, so I’ll be buying some hardware eventually. For now the limited capabilities of Google Cardboard are enough for me.

Anyway, I can confirm this next bit:

With traditional videogame development, we can draw from nearly 40 years of experimentation, trial and error.

VR is a little bit different. Of course we’re still drawing from the long, proud history of traditional videogames development — but VR’s unique capabilities mean developing entirely different levels of artistry and engineering.

I’ve found an old and long post on Gamasutra about 20 Atari games. I’ll be posting about that in the future when I’ve had a chance to fully review the article. But for budding game designers, especially younger ones, it’s an education to dive into these ancient titles. I know I was surprised at how radical some of them were, even to today’s standards.

I bet you can sense the content pivot coming to this blog. More on that in a future post. And congrats to the PlayStation team on reaching one million PSVR units sold. This is a significant milestone. Thanks for reading.

Xbox Backwards Compatiability

Via Gamespot, Phil Spencer gives an update on the status of the original Xbox Backwards compatibility program:

“We’re close, we’re really close,” Spencer said when asked for the status of Xbox backwards compatibility. “I have a little dashboard I go to and I can see all the games [and] where they are in getting approvals in the pipeline. I know the games that are coming for the original Xbox but I don’t think we’ve announced them all. We have to do this in partnership with partners, but we’re still on track. I feel really good. The games look great.”

The Xbox boss is confident that the program will launch before the end of the year 2017. Here’s to hoping.