GameFront 2010: The Year’s Most Shocking Gaming News
Hey, you know that Duke Nukem game that’s been stillborn since, like, forever? Well, supposedly it’s being made by Valve. Oh, and Activision and Infinity Ward have been having a slap fight for most of the year over what alleged slave drivers those Activision guys are. It certainly wasn’t a slow year for game news, and a few stories had our eyes shooting out of our heads like Roger Rabbit. Okay, that’s probably an overstatement, but you could certainly have caught us looking like our little cat friend here.
We got together and looked back at the stories from 2010 that most took us by surprise. Spoiler alert: Duke Nukem Forever is on here. Sorry if that diminishes your shock.
What Floor Phil Owen:
Duke Nukem Forever lives!
When I got on a plane to go to PAX, I did not imagine that in less then 24 hours, Gearbox would announce that they had resurrected this long-joked-about title, much less that I would get to play it. But Gearbox did make that earth-shattering announcement, and I really did get to play it. Gameplay-wise it was not exactly spectacular, but it was entertaining as f–k because it has an honest-to-god personality.
I don’t really know if this news was actually that big of a deal beyond the “OMG itz DNF” aspect, but the 30 minutes I spent in that Gearbox booth were beyond surreal, and nobody’s going to forget that story any time soon.
Project Natal becomes Kinect
So Microsoft’s controller-free thingie getting an official name isn’t, I guess, that big a deal, but it was pretty surprising that it would be something that fucking stupid. “Kinect” is a really bad name for a thing, because when you say it out loud to all the mamas out there who buy shit for their kids, they didn’t have a clue how to spell it. And it’s just a bad name on its own. It’s not quite as bad as, say, Leaders and Legends, but damn if it isn’t awkward as hell.
Phil Hornshaw’s two cents: At least it wasn’t called “Wii.”
What blew Ross Lincoln’s mind:
The Matthew Crippen Case is abruptly dismissed
I wrote pretty much everything I have to say about it here:
The dismissal is shocking for a few reasons. A) because typically, particularly in the last 30 years, the courts are both VERY business friendly and VERY amenable to the idea that IP is more sacrosanct than individual privacy; B) because of the brazen misconduct by the prosecution and prosecution witnesses; C) because the presiding judge seemed to have ruled out the only available defense several weeks prior to dismissing the case, then reversed himself; and D) because I fully expected that the outcome would be a ruling in favor of the idea that even if you purchase something, you don’t really own it.
It’s also worth noting that by dismissing the case, the issue isn’t resolved. Companies can still claim that their customers don’t have a right to modify the hardware they’ve legally purchased regardless of the circumstances or intent. But at least they don’t have a favorable verdict backing them up the next time someone tries to sue a law-abiding, if perilously close to the black market, customer, who is simply exercising the same rights that iPhone users have.
What startled Phil Hornshaw:
Infinity Ward v. Activision
The bad blood between developer Infinity Ward and mothership Activision over the making of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 just kept getting more and more ridiculous. The whole thing resulted in lawsuits and counter suits, with Activision publicly calling out IW on more than one occasion. It was the kind of scuffle you’d expect to see between no-talent brain-dead celebrities, and it was hilarious. Kotaku made a great rundown of the whole situation, because it gets confusing.
Suffice it to say, all the noise that came out of the situation was interesting, and some of it was ridiculous. The founders of Infinity Ward left the company to create Respawn Entertainment and signed on with Electronic Arts, but not before claiming they’d been overworked by Activision in what they called “police state” conditions. They also claimed Activision held hostage money it owed IW from Modern Warfare 2.
For its part, Activision moved Call of Duty over to Treyarch, which created Call of Duty: Black Ops — which was even bigger than MW2. It also claimed insubordination on IW’s part, among other things.
All in all, big changes to the games industry with lots of people calling each other names in the press don’t show up too often. We won’t see how the whole thing shakes out until May, so hopefully we’ll get a few more fun developments, like both companies claiming secret assassinations or espionage or aliens or something.
Microsoft lets hackers run wild with Kinect
At first, Microsoft was a little pissy about people appropriating its newly released Kinect hardware to do things like drive cars and let people play with lightsabers and lay the groundwork for the eventual robot uprising and the overthrow of Mankind. The company even threatened to respond with lawsuits against hackers in the early days of Kinect’s release.
How awesome was it, then, that Microsoft stopped in its tracks when it saw some of the amazing things that people were doing with its hardware, and instead of going all Huge Evil Corporation on us, actually signed off on letting programmers and scientists see how far they could push the hardware? Answer: extremely awesome.
It might have something to do with the fact that there’s nothing cool to play on Kinect just yet if you’re not a five-year-old girl, but it’s great that Microsoft is seeing potential for its peripheral beyond petting pretend animals and throwing pretend bowling balls. The hardware inside the machine is actually pretty slick, and people have been able to do some very cool things with it. Yes, Kinect is probably version 1.0 of the eyeball of future Terminators, but at least right now, a gaming machine has expanded into the real world and is actually have an affect on real science. That’s pretty cool.
Now if Microsoft would just get some hardcore games together so I have a reason to buy the damn thing.