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CURRENTS
Issue #87
July 3, 2008
I See WoW
Front Page

7/01 - 7:01 PM CST
Heheh, isn't that a cute timestamp? (Sorry, I'm easily amused.)

Intros and outros are currently acting as the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. I have to write four of them every week, and I honestly just run dry. I mean, I just wrote the outro to Q&A two nights ago. Would you like to know what I've done in between that time? I WORKED. That's what I did, and nothing more. I didn't even get the chance to play some videogames. This being the case, what exactly am I to write about in this intro to Currents issue eighty-seven? There's only so many ways I can say "well, I've been working a lot," and my readers are likely bored of hearing this fact repeated time and time again.

HOLD! I just remembered! I DID do something other than work in between Sunday and now! This afternoon, after I finished with my shift at work, I went and got a HAIRCUT! Now my hair is much shorter, which is good, because it was too long. This, of course, is the reasoning behind most haircuts.

Oh, I also picked up a Blu-ray remote for my PS3, because I'm sick of using the DualShock as a remote while watching movies. Seriously, all it takes is the accidental tapping of the analog sticks, and suddenly your movie is fast-forwarding at 83728345x. Quite annoying. BUT NO LONGER.

Enough of this tepid banter. Let us dive into the NEWS.

Fans Irate Over Art Direction
Somebody has to rain on the bloody parade
Title

You really can't please everybody, no matter what you do. This is a fact of life, and a piece of advice you've likely heard before. But if the people you're attempting to please happen to be Blizzard fans, this little saying really hits home.

As we all know, (unless you happen to be among those who dwell under rocks) Blizzard recently unveiled Diablo III, much to the delight of many, many RPGamers across the land. It has been seven years, after all, since the release of Diablo II. Heck, even I got excited, and I've never even played Diablo. (That shall soon be remedied, however, as I have the Diablo Battlechest on the way to my home.)

And yet, not all Diablo fans are happy! In fact, a whole bunch of dissatisfied fans slapped their names on this petition. Why? They don't like the art direction in Diablo III based upon what they've seen thus far, and they want Blizzard to, uh... change it. Their main complaint, it seems, is that Diablo III's art style has been heavily influenced by the art direction present World of Warcraft. If you read the petition itself, it states "D3 is 2 much like teh WoW," in a multitude of ways, at least a dozen times. Here's a handful of the woes they spelled out in the petition:

- Cartoon'ish art direction, obviously influenced by the Warcraft universe, Diablo isnt Warcraft.

- Character models defined by cartoon characteristics like over-sized and exaggerated parts, vivid colors and unrealistic elements, almost directly taken away from World of Warcraft and pasted to Diablo.

- Cartoon'ish and unrealistic weaponry and armory, over-sized and stylish armors, over-sized weapons, items that look pasted directly from World of Warcraft.

- Blocky, cartoon'ish graphic elements like big, over-sized fire braziers in dungeons, heavily influenced by the World of Warcraft art style, over-sized and cartoon'ish scenario decorations like smiling statues, Warcraft styled architecture and decorations.

"Cartoon'ish?"

I've never played WoW or Diablo, so I can't attest to the veracity of these complaints. I did read the petition though, and whoever wrote it managed to make himself sound like little more than a frothing Diablo fanboy with sorry skills in spelling and sentence construction. And I'm inclined to believe that's exactly who he is. It's actually somewhat comical; he's finding WoW in every nook and cranny of the limited amount of D3 we've seen thus far, and it's eating away at his mind.

"WoW! I see WoW everywhere!"

Source: Kotaku
Trophies, "Xross Media Bar" Implemented
See, this is the stuff that PS3 owners have to get excited about...
Title

You know, it's a funny thing, but I use my PS3 so infrequently that just about every time I turn it on to, say, visit the store, I find that I have to download some manner of update. I'm really not exaggerating either. It just happened to me a few days ago, when I decided to get on and take a look at Qore. I was told I needed to download an update, it took an obscenely long time, and, uh, by the time it was done I didn't care to visit the store anymore. Anyway. Just a funny story. On to the actual NEWS portion.

SPEAKING of PS3 updates, Firmware update version 2.40 is upon us! Why should we be excited? Because, this update hails the arrival of achievements trophies, as well as the new "Xross Media Bar," or XMB The PS3's trophy system, as you can probably guess, is more or less their version of Microsoft's Xbox 360 achievement points. The XMB is a new addition to the PS3's interface that will be accessible during videogame play.

Trophies will be integrated into the experience by game developers, not Sony. Rather than receiving a numeric score for certain achievements, players will be rewarded with bronze, silver, and golden trophies based on how easy or difficult a certain task was. If a player completes all tasks, they will be awarded with a platinum trophy.

Each trophy will have a numeric value attached to it; however, this value will not be shown. Rather, it will contribute to a "leveling" system. Essentially, by completing tasks and collecting trophies, the user will "level up," much like a character in an RPG. Understand this is referring to the player, not to any characters in the game. You'll only get bragging rights, not increased health meters and damage. When asked why Sony was avoiding numeric rewards, Eric Lempel, director of PlayStation Network Operations said "we don't know why our users would be interested in a numeric value... We think the medals best represent one's progress." (Read: we have to at least TRY to shake the appearance that we're copycatting Microsoft.)

Somewhat disappointing is the fact that the trophies will not be retroactively awarded. That is, you will not be rewarded for anything you've done on any old saves. If you want any trophies for the many foes you slew in Warhawk, for example, you'll be required to download a patch for the game and then play it again. Only a few existing games have been confirmed to be compatible with the trophy system, although it will be a standard feature for every game in the future.

The Xross Media Bar will allow players to quickly and easily look at the trophies they've earned, as well as the ability to compare a player's trophies to a friend's. The bar will be accessible in-game, and will also provide shortcuts to several other PS3 features such as the web browser. However, in order to actually launch such features, the game will have to be stopped.

Firmware version 2.40 is already here, so all you network-enabled PS3 owners had best go start your download!

UPDATE - Sony Yanks Firmware Update 2.40
HOLD, NOT SO FAST. Apparently, after widespread reports of PS3 consoles locking up after downloading firmware 2.40, Sony has YANKED the update entirely. If you try to download it, nothing will happen. Apparently they've got some issues to iron out. So, uh... we'll have to wait a bit longer still for our trophies. Spirit-crushing, I know. Here is Sony's official statement, from the knowledge center for 2.40:

UPDATE: 7/2/2008, We are aware of a limited number of consumers experiencing an issue with installing firmware 2.40 on PLAYSTATION 3. While our consumer services department has seen a low volume of calls on this topic, we are committed to enabling the community and XMB access features delivered in the 2.40 update. In order to further assess the issue, we have temporarily taken the firmware offline for further testing. We are working diligently to isolate the problem for those few consumers and to identify a solution before we put the firmware back up. The Knowledge Center will be updated with information as it becomes available; please check back here for further details.

Sources: GameSpot | Kotaku
Script Reportedly "Double the Length" of Crisis Core
EXCITEMENT, EXCITEMENT, EXCITEMENT
Title

I cannot wait for Dissidia: Final Fantasy for the PSP. It is, quite simply, a game that cannot go wrong: every major hero and villain ever seen in a Final Fantasy title mishmashed into one huge game, in which they engage in spectacular, blade-clashing, magic-slinging battles. It would appear from the trailers that the game is quite story-heavy as well, and a recent interview in Dengeki PlayStation with three of the game's producers, including Tetsuya Nomura, confirms this fact.

The game's planning director, Mitsunori Takahashi, described the game as an "action-RPG plus competitive fighting." In other words, it seems that Dissidia is hardly a cut-and-dried fighter in the vein of Super Smash Bros or Soul Calibur. Senior Director Takeshi Arakawa went on to say "this isn't like Kingdom Hearts, where you walk around locations and find yourself in combat. This also isn't that same mechanic of action-based fighting in continuous encounters. It's more like 'Should I take this guy on next? Nah, maybe I'd better go with this one instead...'"

When asked about the decision to include Jecht in the game rather than the more obvious Final Fantasy X villain, Seymour, Nomura stated that they included Jecht because he had a more direct connection to Tidus. "I thought if we chose Seymour it would be hard to show a proper connection between him and Tidus," he said, "and we'd end up having to put Yuna in too." Arakawa said that the scenes with Tidus and Jecht should serve as an "interesting expansion" to the story in Final Fantasy X, perhaps implying that unlike most fan service projects of this nature, Dissidia might actually respect the stories and events of the original games. (This is just pure speculation on my part, though.)

Of particular interest was when Mr. Arakawa claimed that the script for Dissidia is "double the length" of the script written for the recently-released Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. So, regardless of whether or not the storyline is any good, we at least know that there will be one... and a substantial one at that.

Nomura stated that the team now had a release window in mind, and were working hard on development. He also said that they plan on giving a solid release date at an event in August. (The event itself was not specified.) Stay tuned, everyone!

Sources: Kotaku | Forever Fantasy

I'm fairly excited for Infinite Undiscovery, and I'm sure quite a few of you are as well. I don't have any new info on the game for you, (I'm unsure we really require any more) but I DO have a pretty picture of the game's boxart! Take a looky:

ooh, pretty...

Not bad. It doesn't display any of the game's characters, which is strange for an RPG. But you know what? I think it WORKS. I'm excited about this game, AND its boxart!

QUICKIES: In Which I Make Passing Mention of Some Relatively Small, But Inherently Awesome News Stories!
teh ouchness
  • Ouch: 3D Realms Chief Calls E3 "Irrelevant"
    Supposedly, Duke Nukem Forever really IS being developed. Or at least, that's what 3D realms has been telling us for the last six months or so. Recently, 3D Realms chief Scott Miller told Next Generation that development on the game was "swimming along nicely. Seriously nicely." Good, good, I'm sure we all find that reassuring. What he said next, though, is particularly interesting. When asked if he would be showing of DNF at the upcoming E3 Media and Business Summit, Miller said no, saying "It's just that we view E3 as irrelevant nowadays. In fact, I wasn't even aware it was coming up." Um... ouch? Man, can the ESA catch a break, like, ever? When they don't have members hitting the door, they've got developers like 3D realms calling their big annual event "irrelevant!" Irrelevant indeed.

  • Sony Files Patent for New Handheld Device
    I said handheld DEVICE, not GAMING SYSTEM. It COULD be a gaming system, but we don't really know at this point. Anyway, the story here is that Sony has recently filed patent for a portable device that features touch screens, as well as pressure-sensitive pads running around its edges. It is not specified to be any particular device, (like, say, a PSP2) but the patent mentions that it could be used in gadgets such as cell phones, PDAs, and (gasp) portable gaming systems. Considering that Phil Harrison is credited with the idea on the patent itself, I'd say it's actually fairly like that this will be integrated into a future Sony handheld.

  • Wii Beats PS3 in June, in Spite of MGS4
    This makes the SEVENTH STRAIGHT MONTH that the Wii has been the number one selling console in Japan. Famitsu publisher Enterbrain has the Wii pegged at 235,990 for the month of June, while the PS3, which recently saw the release of the long-awaited Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, sold a mere 139,494. If MGS4 can't do it, I'm not sure anything can.

Sources: Kotaku | GamePolitics

Ninja Gaiden Sigma has arrived... Devil May Cry 3 has arrived.... Diablo Battlechest has not! I grow impatient! Oh well, I have Persona 3 to keep me company in the meantime... and for a long time coming.

I have begun my annual viewing of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The LOTR films happen to be my favorite movies of all time, and I watched the second film (The Two Towers) today. I love those movies so much. Just thought you should all know that.

July 4 draws near! The day that we Americans celebrate our independence by blowing stuff up! I'm still not clear as to what exactly I'll be doing, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. In any case, I hope all of my American readers have a fine 4th, and I bid you farewell for now. Check out the upcoming Q&A for my next appearance.

Oliver Motok
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