Sunday, February 7, 2010

To HVS: I'm Not mad....Just disappointed.

You know with all the backlash going around for HVS' decision to make the Grinder Multiplatform and change Gladiator A.D. from a highly detailed arena fighting game with fatalities, to a mild Teenage fantasy gladiator game with bright colors, and everything. I have to put my two cents into the fray- no I feel a need to put my two cents in.

There's this thing My dad used to say that really hurt me to the core of my being. I'm sure, dear reader, that a parent, grandparent, or guardian has said the same thing to you at some point in your life. The phrase is "I'm not mad at you, I'm just disappointed." Well after hearing this news this sums up the feelings I have for HVS as of right now.

Let's start with a few comments from pre E3 2009 made by the HVS crew. The first one being about the necessity of Wii owners having the same experiences and types of games that the other two consoles have.

"I can't tell you how excited we are to be sharing The Grinder with you! We've been playing a lot of Left 4 Dead and there really isn't that kind of frantic cooperative experience on the Wii right now. There's certainly nothing that takes advantage of the Wii hardware the way we are able to with our engine. One thing that we learned from working on the Hunter series is that we'd prefer to feel like badasses who are suiting up to go out and slay monsters. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for enemies, weapons, characters and story. "
That was enough to get people hyped about the game, and generate interest in the company's exploits. Sure the Conduit faltered in a few areas, but it was still a valiant first outing. This was clearly a move to greatly improve over the mistakes made the first time around and make something great. Next quote is about the original proclamation to create a way to spawn large crowds of enemies.

"We call the technology our Imposter and Instancing system. We are able to take a single enemy and replicate him over and over again. Along with the replication, we can also scale, color, and otherwise modify each instance. This allows us to get an unprecedented number of unique enemies on screen at once at a fraction of the cost to do it otherwise. During our in-house testing, we have been able to see up-to 65 enemies on screen at once. These were initial tests… [Smiles] "
Another key instance of wanting to create something unique for the people who own a Wii. Next up the customization features from the Conduit making a return in the Grinder.

"Similar to The Conduit, we're planning on arming players with a huge arsenal of uniquely useful weapons. Dual wield weapons is one of the more obvious new additions from The Conduit, but we've also got some creatively cool new weapon designs that we think are really going to get people very excited about this game in the coming months. Of course, you can expect to see us taking advantage of the Wii remote's highly awesome interface. "
Excellent. Customization was one of the Conduit's high points, aside from it's fun multiplayer, and Voice chat functionality. However it was after this the updates on the game fell by the wayside. Speculation took over our little humble communities. Then we enter the new year of 2010, and hear a small glimpse of Grinder based info talking about crossbows and destructable vehicles. Interest rising again, and then comes some statements from Constantine Hantzopoulos

“I have to say that it was a space that was open and we took a gamble on it. It’s like, ‘Wow, there’s no mature games on the Wii. Is there an audience out there?’ We did some research, it said there was an audience out there. I won’t comment about Nintendo, they did champion The Conduit as a ‘this is a Nintendo game.’ And, you know, I think they did okay by us. At the end of the day, I just think that you’re seeing kids are skewing much younger towards next-gen. And that’s what I saw out of Conduit. Because not a bad game, visually it’s appealing, right? AI wasn’t that great. High Voltage’s first real effort as an indie developer, creating their own IP. And it was a good effort, right? And there’s always Conduit 2, right? …Anyone past 12 years old was playing 360 and PS3 shooters. And at that point, you can’t tell a 13 year-old, ‘But it’s on the Wii.’ Forget it, you know? That’s not what they see or hear. They’re not really interested in any techno-fetishist aspects of look how great it is on the Wii…And, you know, the effort that we put behind multiplayer on that game to basically get by friend codes and provide worldwide match-making and so on and so forth, I actually thought we dove too deep…
…Circling back to the whole mature Wii thing, again SEGA took a gamble, we put out some pretty decent content. I mean, House of the Dead: Overkill and MadWorld are great Wii games. They really are, especially House of the Dead: Overkill. That game is funny…Yes [it did better than MadWorld]. I mean they’re both doing okay and at the end of the day we’ll make our numbers, that’s good. Conduit’s done quite well for us. It’s been slow burn. That’s the other thing you find out about the Wii. It’s not necessarily first 3 weeks like most titles. And DS. It’s a longer burn, actually. So panicked at first, but it’s like okay.
But that begs the question, are we going to do more mature titles for the Wii? And it’s like, probably not. Look at Dead Space. We were stunned. That was my litmus test. Basically, it’s like, okay, you got EA, who can put all the marketing muscle behind this, an established franchise that scored quite well on 360 and PS3. They should be able to actually hit this out of the park, right? We get numbers, real numbers aside from NPD, and I’m like, ‘Woah.’”

I don't even have to tell you how I feel about that statement.

Of course with all this the writing was clearly on the wall for what was to come. I speculated on GoNintendo that perhaps Sega's publishing arm had a hand in this new change of direction for both games. I had a feeling that was the case, The interview with Gamepro pratically proved my suspicions.
"We focused our efforts throughout development on providing a very enjoying one-on-one system for gamers to enjoy. We did spend significant time exploring an online multiplayer option but after working with our partners, we decided that creating a polished and fun same-box experience was the number one goal."
Fantastic, considering that any fan of fighting games will tell you that online is an absolute must. Even Ignition entertainment knew that. It's actually a no-brainer to accuse SEGA for these changes as well as "suggesting" that it would be a wise choice for The Grinder to go multiplatform. I can almost picture Hantzopoulos sitting on Eric Nofsinger's left shoulder whispering in his ear: "Dead Space was a fantastic vidya gaem... too bad it failed because teh casualz only wants teh imagine partay babaez. Letz sell to teh hardcorz, they like teh shootan gaemz!" And so We have our current situation which is clearly an option where it may do somewhat better - I say somewhat, because in all seriousness I can only see this game doing well on the Wii and possibly on the PS3. The 360 is swimming in FPS games (including L4D 1 and 2). Nofsinger may already know this, and has taken great strides to liken the game moreso to Hunter: the Reckoning to distance itself from it's original L4D-like premise. The game already is a different experience as in it's more like a team of badasses hunting mythological creatures, and Michael Myers' older brother. So it has quite a few things going for it in that aspect

Let me just say this as I end this little ranticle: When you make a decision like this, and it would seem to put yourselves in a negative light towards your established customer base. you might want to take steps to soften the blow. Timed exclusives would be a great way to soften the blow and prevent this backlash from happening, as would Wii exclusive features, and this could happen. Speaking of that, there is another theory that seems to be rearing it's head again, and that's the whole notion that this is to prepare for the announcment of the Wii HD at this year's GDC, and that The Grinder will be the game's launch title. I have only one thing to say about that theory.

Source(s): Ign, GoNintendo , Gamepro, Destructoid, Ignition Entertainment forums

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