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Darrin’s 2011: Year in Review

Year of the Puzzle Game?: There are lots of puzzlers every year, but this year the lineup was unusually good. A handful are worthy of special mention: Catherine, Portal 2, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, and Cubixx HD. Catherine had a perfectly integrated narrative. Portal 2 had amazing production values and the best co-op play. Clash of Heroes and Cubixx were hugely addicting.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year and Generation: Sony pushes C#/Mono for hobbyist development. As a programmer, this is heartbreaking. With such a vibrant landscape of new languages and runtimes, why would Sony, arguably the biggest competitor to Microsoft, mandate the ultimate in conformist Microsoft only tools on the development community? How about tools like Fantom, Scala (for type theory purists), Google Go (a cleaned up version of C++ for high performance applications), LLVM (adopted by Apple), OpenGL/OpenCL, or the upcoming Kotlin (from JetBrains who create the world’s best IDEs)? The following is a must-watch video regarding Java and .NET:

Most Overlooked: Motorstorm Apocalypse. The action racing in this game is the best, the tracks are brilliantly creative and packed with fun art and content, yet most people didn’t even realize that this title existed.

Worst Products: Sony’s smartphones and tablets. The Android space is exploding with amazing products. The bar for quality is just so high when you see budget entries like the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet and super Tablet products like the Transformer Prime (wow!!!), or premium superphones from HTC, Samsung, and Motorola. Then, Sony and Dell, seem to be making the worst Android products on the market that are both overpriced and using old hardware and software. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy them or what Sony and Dell are thinking. I was chatting with some Dell employees and they definitely didn’t “get it”. They were telling me about Android products have such a low ROI (return on investment), but they really just didn’t fully understand how far behind the competition their Android products really were and how significant that is if you want to have a hot product.

Biggest Trend: Rise of the smartphones and tablets. I’m surprised to hear so many predictions for the end of dedicated handheld gaming devices as I see the home-console market at more of a risk.

Personal Favorite Game: LittleBigPlanet 2. The provided levels are the most fun I’ve had all year, they are extremely co-op friendly, and perfect for playing with kids. The level editing tools are a joy to tool around with, and the Move pack is the most fun I’ve had with the Move controller.