Archive for March, 2009

Live Actor Videos: Yay or Nay?

Years ago, in the early days of CD-ROM, live actor video footage was very common. Today, this is almost completely unheard of. Computer generated graphics are the standard. I recently tried the PS3 demo of Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 and was shocked to see live actor footage in a new game.

During it’s popularity, live actor footage had a bad reputation among gamers; it was the quick time events of the early 90′s. Gamers generally disliked it for a few reasons:

  • It’s presence implies games that you watch rather than games that you play.
  • It creates a discontinuity between gameplay graphics and cut scene graphics. In other words, playing a 3D rendered character and then switching to watch a live actor can kill the immersion of the game.
  • Part of the allure of video games is that they are a showcase for flashy technology and programming. CG cut scenes show of the skills of the artists and programming teams. In-engine and in-game cut scenes are common bragging points. Live actor video is the complete antithesis of all of that: it avoids programming and technology.
  • The quality of the acting is generally horrible. The field of video games may be known for bad stories and writing, but the live acting is an order of magnitude worse.

ra3_2

The Red Alert 3 acting is a rotten example: it’s purposefully campy, silly, and outrageously stupid.

However, today is a different time. We’ve seen a few games grow by leaps and bounds in delivering quality dialog, humor, atmosphere, and voice over work. I’d like to see a more serious dev team give this a shot and try to deliver something genuinely innovative. What do you think: good idea or is this a technique that should stay buried?

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Netflix Hikes Blu-Ray Rates

Personally, I thought $1/month for Blu-Ray was an awesome deal. Apparently, it was too good to last. Today, Netflix significantly hiked their Blu-Ray surcharge:

Discs At A Time Netflix DVD and unlimited Downloads Netflix with DVD and Blu-Ray and unlimited Downloads Blockbuster with DVD and Blu-Ray. Mail Only Blockbuster with DVD and Blu-Ray and Retail Store Exchange
1 $8.99 $10.99 $8.99 $11.99
2 $13.99 $16.99 $13.99 $13.99
3 $16.99 $20.99 $16.99 $19.99
4 $23.99 $28.99 N/A N/A

Blockbuster doesn’t charge extra for Blu-Ray and Blockbuster also offers the very convenient in-store exchange service, but Netflix offers the buffet style all-you-can-watch download service.

Personally, I disabled the Blu-Ray option on my Netflix account immediately after getting the notification, but the rates aren’t too out of line with what Blockbuster is doing. I’m glad that there are at least two competent services to choose between.

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PlayStation Cloud

Sony registered the “PS Cloud” trademark on March 24, 2009. Obviously, this is simply a trademark and doesn’t necessarily mean that there are any real development efforts taking place.

But it does raise some suspicion…

question-cloud

(Sorry to beat the cloud computing topic into the ground. Last post on the subject until further developments)

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Killzone 2 “Behind the Bullet” available Thursday

Remember the North American Killzone 2 ad? You’ll be able to control that this coming Thursday for free from the PlayStation Store.

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