Starcraft 2 LAN support?
Earlier in the year, Blizzard’s vice president of game design managed to seriously annoy Starcraft‘s legion of fans by announcing that Starcraft II would have no local area network (LAN) support. For many titles this wouldn’t be a very big problem thanks to the draw of online multiplayer, but in the case of Starcraft, fans were far from happy. Starcraft’s LAN support was an integral part of its success, thanks to its tight LAN coding. Games were always most enjoyable and reliable when played locally rather than online, a crucial factor in the world of professional gaming, a world in which Starcraft is most famous for in the East.
Starcraft continues to be a huge game in South Korea, with gamers playing professionally on TV networks there and earning considerable sums of money for doing so. Its legacy, one built upon its multiplayer, is huge and far-reaching. So the idea of no LAN play and not even the suggestion of an offline mode, such as the one used in Steam, made things look even murkier for the already controversial Starcraft 2. It even managed to provoke an online petition that gained over 120,000 signatures. However, now it looks like Blizzard is working on a way to implement LAN play that also includes Battle.net. Blizzard’s logic behind forcing Battle.net upon wannabe LAN gamers does make sense to a degree, since primarily it’s to ensure that Starcraft 2 players legitimately own the game. The current suggestion is that the pseudo-LAN play will involve a brief connection to Battle.net to confirm that the games used are genuine. Then presumably it will switch back to purely LAN play, ensuring that the speed and reliability of playing via a LAN is preserved.
It is very easy to question just how important LAN play actually is in our broadband world. After all, unlike during the dial up days, the majority of multiplayer gamers have fast connections that naturally have lower pings than would have been around during Starcraft‘s launch. However, many die-hard LAN gamers would argue that it just can’t match both the excitement and technological advantages of playing via LAN. A peer-to-peer connection guarantees that a very low ping will always be achieved, something vital in a title as active as Starcraft II. Then there’s the sheer satisfaction and fun that comes from taking your PC to a friend’s house and seeing the annoyance written all over their face when you decimate their army for the second time running. The idea of Blizzard removing LAN play has opened up quite a few debates regarding just what direction multiplayer gaming is taking in this high speed Internet world. LAN gaming certainly seems to be on the decline, and it’s a shame to see, but it does make a lot of sense. After all, systems such as Skype and Ventrillo still ensure that you can hear the disappointment in your friend’s voice when you’ve beaten them for the third time running. So it also makes a lot of sense regards why Blizzard wouldn’t bother with LAN play when online multiplayer is so popular, and indeed when piracy is so rife that it is important for Starcraft 2 to have some form of piracy protection such as Battle.Net. However in this case, I think it looks extremely likely that some form of LAN play will be re-introduced to Starcraft 2. It might not be quite as pure as some fans want due to Blizzard’s wish to avoid piracy, but it should be sufficient for the vast majority of fans and ensure that players are not restricted to multiplayer in its online form.
TGR says: True
Pay to Play 1 vs 100?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this summer, you’ve likely noticed the latest Xbox 360 craze brought to us by Microsoft: 1 vs 100. Based upon the hit TV game show, 1 vs 100 pits one person (known as The One) against 100 others, collectively known as The Mob, for a chance to win a large cash prize (the Xbox 360 version’s largest prize being 10,000 Microsoft points). To ensure that plenty of people can partake in some 1 vs 100 fun on their 360, players can join The Crowd, in which the top three players from a round win an Xbox Live Arcade game. So far it’s been hugely successful with 2.5 million users downloading it since it entered beta in June. The beta, which is running until mid September, is free to all Xbox Live Gold subscribers thanks to its advertising revenue.A recent survey, however, has unearthed the possibility that 1 vs 100 may have a price attached to it in the future – $15 per season, to be exact.
How much are you prepared to pay to be this happy?
It’s worth noting that online surveys often ask hypothetical questions that never become reality, but it does suggest that Microsoft are investigating every avenue for where to go next with 1 vs 100. At first it seemed like 1 vs 100 would simply be one of the perks of being a Gold member, and another reason for Silver members to upgrade, but it looks like a change might be on the way. Microsoft is remaining tight-lipped so far, merely suggesting that they’ll see how things go. The earlier discovery in June of a Season Pass certainly suggests that this could be the future of 1 vs 100. The cynical reader will no doubt be thinking that this would be typical Microsoft, and just another example of the company making money out of yet more features on Xbox Live that should be free for Gold members. Let’s face it, it would make financial sense. If people are willing to pay $15 for 13 episodes, and surveys would help determine this, it makes sense for Microsoft to take advantage, certainly if they want to continue having big prizes like HDTVs and cars.
Admittedly, I am a bit unsure of whether $15 is a reasonable price for 1 vs 100. As much as it was great fun to play the first few times, I did find it increasingly dull and a little pointless, and I know not alone in this view. If Microsoft do decide to charge once the beta period ends, then changes will need to be made so that customers are happy. The removal of advertising, which regularly interrupts gameplay, and a more entertaining interface would be a good start. Possibly the inclusion of an increased number of smaller prizes would help encourage people to continue playing as the season goes on, and make the price tag less disenchanting. There is the possibility that it the price is just for Silver members rather than all members, something that would make a lot of sense and I suspect could well be one of the many options Microsoft are considering at the moment. But, at this infant stage of 1 vs 100, I can’t see any of this happening in the near future.
TGR says: False (for now)
BioShock film getting 28 Weeks Later Director?
Earlier in the year, there were many rumors surrounding the possibility of a movie based on the BioShock license. These were quickly confirmed both by Variety and Take Two. It was confirmed that Gore Verbinski, director of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and John Logan, the man behind The Aviator‘s screenplay, would be involved. However, back in June it was all looking a bit less likely when Verbinski announced to the LA Times that he wasn’t ‘confident’ that BioShock would actually make it to the big screen. He cited concerns about its escalating budget, and about production moving abroad, a move that Verbinski didn’t want to do. Despite the financial concerns, it sounded like a script was written and a cast was put together but with no director on board, things were not looking great for the BioShock adaptation.
Imagine this, but bigger, and with popcorn. There you go.
Despite previous bad attempts at video game-to-film adaptations, I have to admit to being somewhat excited by this announcement. The city of Rapture was an incredibly compelling, detailed place. Much of this was thanks to its art deco design and surreal take on a 1950s style city. It was familiar, yet deeply disturbing, simply because it was so twisted. If ever a game seemed perfectly matched to being turned into a film, it was BioShock, so I was disappointed to hear that this might not be happening after Verbinski’s announcement.
That is until yesterday, when Variety reported that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was in talks to direct the film. A somewhat unknown quantity, Fresnadillo is most famous for directing the horror film 28 Weeks Later, the commercially lackluster sequel to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. If this is true, then it’s an interesting move. Choosing a lesser known director could certainly be quite canny, financially speaking. Fresnadillo is also known for directing eccentric films like Intacto, a rather unknown film about people gambling with fate. Someone used to dealing with strange stories could potentially do great things with a title like BioShock, compared to Verbinski’s track record that’s full of family films. There is, however, still the fact that BioShock: The Movie may still never see the light of day. It has suffered from more than its fair share of problems including changes of location, high costs, and a change of director. However, I think it’s likely that Fresnadillo is on board to direct. Now it’s all about whether the film actually sees daylight.
TGR says: True