Syfy Channel and Trion Worlds are bringing us their take on the post-apocalyptic, alien invasion genre. What is it that is going to make this show different?
Where the Viewers Are
Television executives worth the price of their expensive suits are always trying to figure out how to capture the so-called “second screen” experience. Executives have known for some time that viewer’s eyes are not only on their televisions. Many viewer eyes are also on their computers and, more appropriately, on smartphones and tablets. Many popular shows and networks are attempting to cash in on this experience by offering “play along” content for viewers. AMC’s The Walking Dead features “Story Sync”, the CW features a social game called “CWingo” and Disney features “Second Screen” for use with their DVD/Blu Ray library of movies.
The Next Big Thing?
The content provided thus far hasn’t blown me away. In fact, I feel you must be either a rabid fan or maybe just plain curious to check out these experiences. Syfy seeks to change that perception by capitalizing on the very popular MMO market. Both a new television series and MMO game entitled Defiance will release simultaneously in April 2013. The plan is to have key plot points, such as references to battles and weather conditions, appear both in the show and in the game at about the same time.
Defiance is set on earth in the near future where seven alien species join humans on earth’s drastically transformed landscape. The name Defiance leads us to believe there will be some sort of uprising or revolution. Episodes focus on the interactions between the now extremely diverse human and alien populations. An article from Ad Age (a weekly trade magazine for advertisers) states they are looking to integrate advertising on both platforms.
At the Helm of the New World
Trion Worlds is an American game developer and publisher whose primary focus is MMOs. Trion was founded in 2006 by Lars Buttler. Formerly Vice President for Global Online at Electronic Arts, Buttler oversaw several games including Ultima Online. The company develops on the Trion Platform. Tailor made to support connected games, Rift (2011) was one of the first games Trion developed on their platform. The company’s team consists of several industry veterans. The team’s previous titles include Aion, World of Warcraft and EverQuest as well as Pogo.com. Trion began work on the Defiance MMO in 2010.
Kevin Murphy, executive producer of an interesting list of shows, is the series’ showrunner. Priest director Scott Stewart directed the pilot which began filming in July in Toronto. The cast of Defiance looks superb. Syfy producers cast several TV favorites such as Julie Benz (Angel, Dexter and No Ordinary Family), Jamie Murray (Warehouse 13) and Mia Kirshner (24, The L Word). The series stars Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty and True Blood) as Joshua Nolan, a law-keeper in a frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few heavily populated areas. Check out the entire cast here.
Specific information on the story is vague. As noted on the Defiance website: “And with the Arkfall came the Terramorph engines: machines designed to optimize the Earth’s surface for Votan habitation.” “Arkfall,” the name of the cataclysmic arrival of the Votan on earth, was followed by fifteen years of famine, disease, and war. In this time different alien races began to cohabit the earth. The story begins at this point. “Arktech” is some sort of foreign substance brought to earth by the Votan (I’m betting one of the more angry alien species). Arktech is important and valuable enough that both humans and aliens scramble to gather it. Playing as one of the “Arkhunters” your victories in this persistent world impact the television serial drama.
Defiance gets its name from the in-game township of Defiance. Built on the ruins of St. Louis, Missouri, it is a popular spot due to the useful ore in the nearby mountains. This town is inhabited by rebel Votans, allied aliens, humans and more. In this newly-formed civilization humans and aliens must learn to coexist peacefully. Episodes will take place in and around this boom-town.
When an MMO isn’t just an MMO
What makes this MMO unique? It’s linked to a TV show and it’s coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC! The user base is expected to be quite large across all these platforms. Trion’s dynamic-content technology creates gameplay that unites players rather than players playing on their own. Defiance calls these dynamic gameplay events “Arkfall Events.” Events are named after Votan ships that were destroyed while in earth’s orbit. Pieces of these destroyed ships fall to Earth occasionally, rich in rare resources that draw dangerous crowds.
A Link to the Future?
2Old2Play looks forward to seeing more progressive content like Defiance. With recent advances in technology such as SmartGlass and various Cloud services, it’s nice to see our devices finally linking together. Syfy and Trion are taking a gamble on the recent second screen experience. If they can create an interesting and seamless delivery of the franchise across platforms, Defiance could be a real game changer for both television and gaming.
Official Site: http://www.defiance.com/en/
Game developers and publishers are resting up for the big holiday push this fall. Last week I went to the video store with the intention of buying a game and ended up with the first two seasons of The Venture Bros and a copy of Young Frankenstein. This week we have some anime fighting, spaceships, race cars, a PC love story, and what may prove to be the world’s most annoying game since Journey Escape on the Atari 2600. Don’t like it? You won’t have to wait long because two new AAA titles hit shelves next week. Now go clean your garage!
Legends of Pegasus- Kalypso Media drops this 4X space simulation mid-week. Terraform planets, colonize space, and pimp out your galaxy cruiser in this PC visual feast. Does Legends of Pegasus have a spaceship editor? Well, yes it does! Can I build my own orbital defense stations and structures necessary for the survival of my colonists? Yes, Legends of Pegasus does that too! Can I drive a spaceship into the planet so fast that it punches a hole all the way through that vacuums all the colonists into the crust, through the core, finally propelling their charred remains into outer space? Uh, that’s enough questions for now! What Kalypso developed is everything that a fan of the 4X genre could ask for: insane levels of customization, personalized ships, and sim building on a global-plus scale. Sim fans can pick this one up on August 10.
Today, High Moon publically released the demo for its highly anticipated game, Transformers Fall of Cybertron. Fall of Cybertron hits stores August 21st, but you can set the demo to download to your Xbox right now from this link:
The demo includes both single player and multiplayer content. The single player campaign portion features two different missions, one from the Autobot campaign and one from the Decepticon campaign. Single player content will highlight both Bumblebee for the Autobots and Vortex (one of the five Bruticus members) for the Decepticons.
On the multiplayer side, two maps are available with deathmatch and control point capture game types. It's here in multiplayer you'll notice an overhauled and much expanded customizations screen. This time around your class options are Infiltrator, Destroyer, Titan and Scientist and once you pick your class, you can heavily customize the appearance of your game piece.
Since Gamestop pre-order people got early access, High Moon has been flooded with feedback. According to their facebook page, weapon balance changes are already taking place and cheaters are already being banned. Speaking of Gamestop, if you pre-order from there you will get the G1 Retro character pack usable both in single player and multiplayer.
I hope you have your footie pajamas ready, because this week is a snoozefest. There does appear to be a very cool arcade release for XBOX360. Other than that, many of these games previously released on either consoles or PC.
This weekend, from July 27-29, you can participate in a public stress test for Path of Exile's servers. Path of Exile is a dark fantasy action RPG being developed by Grinding Gear Games. It has a fixed 3rd person perspective camera similar to Diablo and Torchlight. Path of Exile has been in development since late 2006 and entered into a closed beta in August 2011.
Public Beta Weekend
Starting at 5pm PST on Friday July 27th thru 11:59pm PST Sunday july 29th anyone can play the beta. All you need to do to play is create an account on www.pathofexile.com and then download the 4Gb game install and you'll be ready to go on Friday. The game install file can be downloaded here: http://www.pathofexile.com/downloads/PathOfExileInstaller.msi and all the information on the beta weekend can be found here: http://www.pathofexile.com/publicweekend/
Free To Play
Path of Exile is following the current PC trend of being Free to Play. Players will have the opportunity to buy various items for their in-game characters including:
-Additional character animations
-Dyes and item skins
-Alternate spell effects
-Inter-realm / inter-account character transfers
There is a focus here on being truly free to play and not pay to win like many free to play games have become. All the upgrades are cosmetic customizations.
Randomly Generated Lands
It’s another week and this week is chock full of.... well, nothing to soil your adult diapers about. Unless you’re a health guru that’s been craving another game that keeps you indoors. There are a few arcade games out this week that actually may be fun.
Here are the releases this week, and I told you so.
Adidas Micoach (PS3, XBOX360) Motion controlled fitness game created by Adidas. Game features over 400 exercises with both sports and non-sports specific exercises. Sports specific exercises contain star athletes such as Dwight Howard, Kaka and Ana Ivanovic. What better way to workout than to hear a star athlete tell you are a flabby girlieman (or woman). [$49.99]
American Mensa Academy- Brain training game that was made in collaboration from Mensa, the largest and oldest society of people with high IQs. In other words, you don’t stand a chance.
Prototype 2- Sequel to the open-world action game from 2009 is finally released on PC. Game features a new protagonist, Sergeant James Heller, who is seeking revenge for the death of his family. He is infected with a virus that allows him to be a shapeshifter. Game will not include multiplayer. [$49.99]
What was once traditionally the realm of comic book and sci-fi geeks matured into the multiplayer, free-for-all, pop culture phenomenon known as Comic-Con. This annual San Diego four day event attracts over 120,000 fans of comic books, movies, television shows, anime, manga, fantasy/sci-fi novels, and video games. Yup, video games!
It’s easy to dismiss Comic-Con as simply a nerd fantasy world gone wild with no place for video gaming. With the recent additions of Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and other major game developers to the roster of exhibitors, it is getting harder to ignore the fact that Comic-Con is maturing into a gamer’s paradise. Although it hasn’t quite reached the same video game industry presence as E3, which is held 1.5 hours away and about one month earlier and showcases a lot of major announcements, Comic-Con is beginning to rival it. Announcements such as the unveiling of the Halo 4 live action trailer for the upcoming series Forward Unto Dawn and Epic’s Rod Ferguson announcing the March 2013 release date for Gears of War: Judgement. Unlike E3 where you must be directly involved in the production, review, distribution and development of video games, Comic-Con is open to anyone and everyone. Similar to E3 though, there are multiple opportunities to play a lot of games before they release.
It seems like many gaming companies are taking the summer off. That leaves us gamers having to either replay some of our old favorites or (please no!) go out and enjoy the summer heat. Here is the small list of new games for this week.
Anna - First person horror game with puzzles. Takes place in an old sawmill in Italy and the main character has to solve puzzles and encounter “Anna”, a presence that knows all and apparently wants to scare the crap out of you. There are three different endings based on the mental condition of the character. [TBA]
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Collection - Re-release of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic I and II: The Sith Lords. A great deal for those that have been sleeping under a rock and have yet to play this series. [$19.99]
Nintendo 3DS Releases
Heroes of Ruin - Square Enix created dungeon crawler with multiplayer play. Four player classes are available. Weapons can be sold and bought through StreetPass.Players will have the ability to drop in an out of multiplayer games at any time. [$39.99]
$99. That is the magic number for the Android based OUYA game console coming to market March 2013. OUYA’s Kickstarter campaign goal was $950,000 when they launched on July 10th. It took a mere 8 hours to surpass it. After 24 hours OUYA had raked in over 2 million. Today it is sitting at close to 4 million dollars and has 27 days to go. Apparently people around the world like cheap consoles! Who knew?!
A new project founded by Julie Uhrman (former head of IGN Digital distribution) with design input by Yves Behar of fuseproject ($100 laptop \ Jambox), OUYA’s goal is to take mobile gamers and bring them back to the TV. In order to do so, OUYA is courting some of the best and brightest indie game developers to develop nearly every type and genre of game for OUYA and doing so by making everything open source.
Developers will obviously have full access to the console and its inner workings but the goal is also to provide that same access to you and I. The console will be assembled using standard fasteners that anyone with a glasses repair kit can likely open. Crack it open as many times as you want, go ahead and root it, neither will void the warranty.
OUYA’s goal is to enable hardware hackers of all stripes to develop, document, give away or sell any type of interface between human and console they can dream of. A PS3 controller? Please that’s too easy. Kinect for Windows on Android? Now we’re talking.
Another week of releases is upon us, and what an exciting week! Okay, okay, not that exciting unless you’re a college football fan. This week Pick of the Week is back, as well as another What Were They Smoking?! Award.
Pulse’s Pick Of the Week!
NCAA Football 13 (PS3, XBOX360) - I may not like EA Sports, but I cannot deny the hype around their football games. A few small changes, along with the addition of previous heisman trophy winners and ability to recreate legendary games. Also new game entrances, revised commentary (finally), and game presentation that gives score updates of big games and a ticker at the bottom of the screen. [$59.99]
Summer Stars 2012 (PS3, Wii) - The perfect game for the Summer Olympics without the official Summer Games affiliation. Events include sprinting, triple jump, mountain biking, and diving. Also includes venues in London. [$20.00]
The Sims 3: Diesel Stuff Pack (PC, Mac) - At first I thought this Sims 3 pack had something to do with vehicles with diesel engines, and quite possibly some plaid shirts, holy jeans and trucker caps. Not even close. This pack features clothing and decor from the Italian fashion company Diesel. That’s pretty much all you get with this pack. [$20.00]
Arcade and DLC Releases