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  • GameSpy: Indie Spotlight #1: Drinking from the Fire Hose - Page 1
    meager booth had even heard of the small studio but by the end of the weekend s festivities a growing buzz about this curious and colorful little indie brawler had infiltrated the farthest reaches of the convention center The big appeal of Slam Bolt Scrappers is how it combines elements from wildly different genres in a fresh and original way One of the game s two main modes pits teams in two on two matches where you must construct opposing towers that engage in bombardment warfare You steer small flying muscle men who acquire colorful Tetris style puzzle blocks for their towers by pounding the snot out of strange monsters that attack from above Blocks you ve collected can be plugged into your tower and forming larger blocks of specific colored pieces creates shields rocket launchers and other important tower defenses It s also fun to fly across the screen to deliver punches to the opposing team members to thwart their building efforts Whittling away at your enemy s tower while building and defending your own is addictive and chaotic and it s a formula that Fire Hose Games put a lot of effort into fine tuning The way players responded to the PAX East demo was immediately gratifying for the small development team Even three months later elation over the sudden crush of exposure from this first major public showing of the game is giving the studio a big boost Before PAX East happened we were literally nobody says Fire Hose Games president Eitan Glinert who explains that the positive reactions they received from convention attendees was tremendous PAX East was a huge question mark for us We had no idea what to expect and getting the response we did was just this huge validation of everything we had been busting our asses to do Crafting Slam Bolt Scrappers has been an evolutionary process the game went through four different iterations before the team found the one that ultimately clicked Spending several months working on each idea only to scrap it and move on to the next was a challenging process to push through says Glinert As a small indie studio we were lucky that we were able to scratch our heads and go back to the drawing board to try changing stuff around he says I don t think we would have been able to do that at a big studio because it takes a lot of time effort and money to do that sort of thing Glinert admits the freedom indie development affords is great but also double edged Working without constraints can be extremely challenging so it s important for the team to determine its own boundaries and limitations Money is also an ever present concern At a bigger studio Gilnert explains someone is paying the bills and you re getting the funds you need to make the game At an indie studio there s practically no guarantee to that so just staying in business long

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/110/1106155p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Mind Games #3: The Anatomy of a Fanboy - Page 1
    platforms is not a viable option for most people so they must make a choice and give up opportunities to play games on other platforms After this initial purchase gamers invest a significant amount of time and money into their hobby and this ongoing investment causes people to associate their own self worth with the value of their favored brands Because people feel meaningfully linked to certain brands they interpret negative comments about these products as personal attacks But why do fanboys act so crazy The short answer is that they are experiencing cognitive dissonance Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort that people feel when they try to hold two conflicting beliefs or when they are presented with evidence that contradicts something that they strongly believe For example I would experience cognitive dissonance if I fervently believed that the Wii was the best console around and then someone pointed out that the Wii is less powerful than other consoles and offers fewer blockbuster titles The critical thing about cognitive dissonance is that people are very motivated to stop feeling it so they turn to dissonance reduction strategies that are irrational and often infuriating to other people One common rationalization strategy is to explain away problematic evidence after the fact For example I might try to change my own desires In technical terms this is called adaptive preference formation but in practice it goes something like this I want a 3DS I don t have enough money to buy a 3DS Actually I don t think I want the 3DS 3D is just a stupid gimmick In this case dissonance is reduced by denying the core desire that created the conflict Another way to avoid or reduce dissonance is to change the way that you pay attention to different kinds of evidence This expresses itself in two ways People exhibit a confirmation bias they believe and pay attention to evidence that supports their beliefs and they marginalize evidence that does not align with their beliefs Nobody decides to start ignoring good evidence or paying attention to facts that support their ideas we just naturally fall into these patterns when we experience dissonance Cognitive dissonance and the strategies that people use to reduce dissonance are common to all people When we invest time and money into a brand we create a personal and emotional link between our preferences and our sense of self worth In order to protect our beliefs and by association our own personal value we often employ irrational or illogical self protective strategies We rationalize we deny our own feelings and we pick and choose what we want to believe about ourselves and our favorite brands Acting like a fanboy is only natural but the environment surrounding gaming pushes fanboyism to new extremes Because gamers are often experienced Internet users their beliefs are challenged constantly Even well regarded products are the target of negative reviews or positive reviews that are not quite positive enough Similarly facts both supporting and undermining

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/117/1178432p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Mind Games #2: Hard Times - Page 1
    game s really hard Mindset is a concept that was formulated by psychologist Carol Dweck Dweck presented children with different challenges such as completing math problems Some of these challenges were relatively simple and others were very difficult Dweck noticed two kinds of children in most classrooms Some children liked to push their boundaries these children worked diligently on tasks that strained their abilities and some of them even described these tasks as fun The remaining children preferred to repeatedly complete tasks that were well within their capabilities rather than work on difficult tasks and they often quit attempting difficult tasks These two groups of children characterize the two groups that most people fall within people with Growth Mindsets and people with Fixed Mindsets People with a Growth Mindset believe that their personal skills and attributes are malleable They hold the fundamental belief that they like heroes from a role playing game can enhance their skills if they work hard and challenge themselves This belief sounds very basic and obvious after all everyone knows that if you work a muscle it becomes stronger right Well people with a Growth Mindset don t just know that this is true they believe it to be true And they believe it to be true about a whole host of personal qualities such as intelligence gaming skill interpersonal relationships and basically any other trait that can be enhanced with practice The consequence of this worldview is that people with a Growth Mindset see failures as meaningful positive experiences that are necessary for self improvement In contrast people with a Fixed Mindset fundamentally believe that personal attributes are fixed values They believe that people are like characters in fighting games They have specific positive and negative qualities that define them and that do not change This worldview is not totally misinformed genetic factors contribute heavily to traits such as intelligence attractiveness and height No amount of practice can make someone who is short become tall or someone born with a very low IQ become a genius The problem with having a Fixed Mindset is that it reduces your motivation to overcome obstacles and it changes how you interpret failures For example if a person with a Fixed Mindset believes themselves to be a skillful gamer then they expect to be good at most video games They may not be motivated to enhance their gaming skills because they believe that they are already accomplished gamers Furthermore encountering a difficult game forces them to either admit that they are not skilled or create a response that preserves their ego such as suggesting that the game is simply too hard for anyone The result of this kind of thinking is that a Fixed Mindset gamer will avoid games that test their limitations and they will rarely improve their skills or enjoy a challenging game Does this sound familiar Ninja Gaiden This game s so hard the developers made a follow up version with an easy mode that actually

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/116/1165614p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: Mind Games #1: Scare Tactics - Page 1
    we suspect that someone is ill or that we re about to lose our jobs Terror is what we feel when we re in danger whether that danger comes from a hungry animal or an armed assailant So if scary games induce negative emotions why do we seek them out Unlike other animals humans can derive pleasure from physical and emotional pain This phenomenon was coined Benign Masochism by psychologist Paul Rozin Rozin studied this strange relationship between pleasure and pain using an interesting tool chili peppers He asked people to eat increasingly hot foods and then asked them which one they like the best Most people said that the hottest food that they could stand was also the tastiest Rozin concluded that we fool our bodies into thinking that we re in distress so that we can then enjoy the feelings associated with being in danger Somewhere along the line humans developed an interesting trait We crave the illusion of physical and emotional danger When we feel distress in a safe context we experience pleasure Roller coasters are fun because they re safe but riding one with a loose seat belt is terrifying the effectiveness of the seat belt doesn t change the physical and emotional sensations you feel on the ride but it changes your experience of the ride Another possibility is that humans have developed an attraction to negative feelings as a protective measure We seek out negative emotions in small safe doses so that we re prepared when we encounter similar feelings in real life In this sense our experience of a sad scene like the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII makes us better prepared for real tragedies such as the death of a loved one We enjoy scary video games because they allow us to experience powerful and complex emotions in a safe way Of course other factors also influence whether or not specific people enjoy scary games including differences between individuals and perceptions of control Different people are comfortable experiencing different levels of emotional intensity For example some games with no real horror elements like Call of Duty Modern Warfare may be too intense for some people but other people may barely be affected by games that are quite scary The boundary between entertainment and genuine discomfort is different for everyone and the difference between the two can be quite fine Games are generally safe because like movies they can t actually harm the viewer but even safe experiences can be emotionally upsetting Perceptions of control also influence our experiences This is true of most games but control is especially important in scary games Putting players into dangerous or frightening situations and giving them limited options can create uniquely scary experiences For example Silent Hill Shattered Memories is a very effective horror game because you aren t given any real means of defending yourself In contrast Left 4 Dead features horror elements but relatively abundant ammunition and cooperative play gives it the

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/115/1159961p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: The Money Making Game #10: The War on Games - Page 1
    In May Disney owned Playdom paid 3 million to settle charges it had violated the Children s Online Privacy Protection Act The company was accused of illegally collecting and disclosing personal information from hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents prior consent As gaming companies continue to expand their footprint and engage in digital distribution methods including social networking games and mobile titles privacy will be one of the key areas where game industry opponents turn their attention That s going to put not only Disney and EA which has been steadily increasing its footprint in the social gaming space in the spotlight it s really going to be a factor for one of Wall Street s most anticipated IPOs Zynga The company acknowledged this in its S 1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission The regulatory framework for privacy issues worldwide is currently in flux and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future the filing said The U S government including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce has announced that it is reviewing the need for greater regulation for the collection of information concerning consumer behavior on the Internet In addition the European Union is in the process of proposing reforms to its existing data protection legal framework which may result in a greater compliance burden for companies with users in Europe It s ironic really that in an age where we post the most private details of our lives for the world to see on social networks privacy could be a hot button issue for games But keep in mind that industry opponents see themselves as advocates for children which opens the door for this sort of maneuvering And the high profile theft of personal information from Sony and several other publishers over the past couple of months has certainly not helped matters I think the next big thing on the horizon is privacy and security says Greg Boyd an associate specializing in entertainment media and publishing with law firm Davis Gilbert I think you can take a look at what s recently happened in the game industry with the hack attacks and we re going to have to pay a lot more attention to that moving forward This is the very same thing that happened with Playdom Children are our most sensitive area The good news of course is that a privacy fight won t affect the content of games Developers are still free to tell whatever story they want in whatever manner they want But when it comes to how they monetize that especially for online games things get a little stickier It s less about the content in the online environment as it is in fair warning and fees adds Michael Zolandz a partner at SNR Denton I think that s the big issue in the Commission s context It s not so much what children are able to access it s hidden fees or

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/118/1181089p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: The Money Making Game #9: The Winners and Losers of E3 Expo 2011 - Page 1
    crazy press conferences leading up to E3 proper Nintendo Loser Show attendees were eager to get hands on time with the Wii U but the world outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center gave the system a big raspberry Nintendo s stock is down more than 12 since the unveiling taking it to a low it hasn t seen since September 2006 The flat reception to the new console along with a drought of titles for the Wii beyond The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword shook investor confidence that the company could return to its glory days And even a solid lineup of games for the 3DS which should help solidify sales going into the holiday period wasn t enough to soothe them Nintendo s global president Satoru Iwata acknowledged that the company could have better presented the Wii U but downplayed the investor reaction This happens whenever we come out with something brand new and try to do something unprecedented Iwata said People have never had this kind of experience before and they cannot completely appreciate it It reminds me of the situation in 2006 when for the first time we showed the Wii system At the show people were excited and enthused about the prospect of the Wii at the time but as soon as I returned to Japan I noted the reaction there was much different There was so much skepticism surrounding Wii at the time EA Winner Overall no one had a more impressive lineup than EA While the spotlight shined brightest on Battlefield 3 and Star Wars The Old Republic plenty of other games that had people interested including Mass Effect 3 FIFA Soccer 12 and SSX EA has been a company in transition for a while now but it seems to have finally turned the corner and found the path back to being a solid player in the industry And investors have been expressing ample confidence Since early May the company s stock has climbed over 16 Microsoft Winner The heavy emphasis on Kinect titles might have made the core audience cringe but investors were hearing cash registers ring in their ears Kinect is a bona fide hit and Microsoft is wise to capitalize on that excitement Sure few core gamers will use the functionality shown off in E3 s various Kinect demos but those features might convince people who normally wouldn t buy these games to give them a try The integration of live television and Bing search for entertainment programming was also applauded The console wars are dead these days the real fight is for people s time and if Microsoft can have people watch TV through their Xbox 360s it wins since it s still able to serve ads and functionality while easily convincing folks to ditch that Doctor Who marathon for a few rounds of Black Ops with an integrated friends list that alerts you instantly to game requests Sony TBD If any company straddled the line between success and

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/117/1177114p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: The Money Making Game #6: Should PopCap Go Public? - Page 1
    to capture the company s interests But in the past year or so valuations of companies that are closely tied to the mobile and social gaming space have skyrocketed and the rush of venture capital money has given several new publishers a lot of spending money Zynga for instance has a valuation of nearly 10 billion This year it expects to generate 1 8 billion in revenue with 630 million of that being pure profit according to published reports It s also in the midst of working with two mutual fund companies for a financing round worth another 500 million making it the frontrunner among potential suitors Roberts acknowledges PopCap has had conversations with several companies but says the company is still considering its options Whenever you file an S12 you re pretty much guaranteed that someone will come and try to buy you he says Our goal is not about an exit at PopCap It s about creating this legacy of games that mean as much as Monopoly and Scrabble to the world A few things make PopCap particularly appealing to both the private and public sectors First the company has a tremendous stable of franchises Plants vs Zombies Peggle Bejeweled Zuma and Bookworm are all big hits with broad footprints Any investor would be happy to have a piece of them The company has also ramped up its production lately but not to the point where it s over reaching PopCap is moving conservatively and that s good says Billy Pidgeon senior analyst of M2 Research They re growing but not too fast Finally it s seeing big growth these days thanks to the mobile and social revolutions in gaming We ve probably gotten more new customers from Facebook and the iPhone in the past three years than we ve ever had in our history says Roberts Revenues are impressive at 100 million but they re hardly in the same league as some of the industry s bigger players including Zynga That could put a ceiling on potential stock prices but Roberts says he thinks it s something that can be managed The key to happy investors he says is to set a target and meet it Ultimately execution is what people are looking for It s OK as long as you re setting expectations right he says We re a little company That makes us unpredictable in terms of revenue We re software driven which makes us unpredictable in terms of revenue But we ve been on forecast for 15 of the last 16 quarters The real fear of any change at PopCap isn t about investor acceptance it s on what it might mean for the company s culture Keeping shareholders or new corporate overlords happy is a lot different than meeting their own expectations And the constant demand for improvement of the bottom line has trumped quality at a number of other companies If they go public I wonder if they ll start to lose

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/115/1156098p1.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GameSpy: The Money Making Game #5: The Disney Situation - Page 1
    process a Disney spokesperson said on January 24 It s that word began that has the people who survived the swinging ax polishing resumes and looking over their shoulders In the meantime the company s executive shuffle continues Long gone are DIMG head Steve Wadsworth and DIS leader Graham Hopper having both departed in 2010 Others now run the show John Pleasants CEO of Playdom the social game company Disney paid 763 million for last July and Yahoo veteran Jimmy Pitaro Former Disney Interactive Studios head Graham Hopper And the marching orders are clear By putting John Pleasants in to run games not only will he focus on turning those businesses into profitability but diversifying our presence in the business so we re not reliant on one platform that s obviously facing challenges said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a conference call shortly after the appointments were announced It s our goal not only to be profitable but obviously to get there by shifting our investment To further emphasize that shift Disney also poached Adam Sussman Vice President of Electronic Arts mobile division naming him Senior VP of Publishing for Disney Games Sussman is credited with making EA a powerhouse in Apple s App Store along with other platforms That division was responsible for over 200 million in revenue according to Sussman s LinkedIn profile Let s be clear Disney s gaming group was indeed not getting the job done Divisions didn t work well together Internal efforts to build online worlds never saw a lot of success And the unit was bleeding money And a big part of the reason Disney couldn t get its game on was because it farmed out its top franchises to other studios and focused chiefly on kid s games Over the last couple of years though Disney decided to get serious about things The company tripled its investment in video games and staffed up to over 1 200 people which at the time was notably bigger than Microsoft s internal game building team It also brought on high level talent like industry legend Warren Spector and Bungie Studios co founder Alex Seropian At the same time Disney began doing away with the shovelware it was known for and putting out some games that turned critics heads Split Second may have been a colossal sales flop but it earned an 84 aggregate ranking on Metacritic and signaled that Disney was finally ready to play with the big boys of the gaming world Epic Mickey and Toy Story 3 led console sales up significantly in the most recent quarter but those gains were offset by Playdom s acquisition costs That indicates that in fact the plan was starting to work It wasn t working fast enough though and management ran out of patience From there the path was set By focusing on games for Facebook and the iPhone Disney will drastically reduce its developments costs and thus its risks It also will be able to

    Original URL path: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/115/1150887p1.html (2016-02-16)
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