Sunday, January 17, 2010

Joysticks, guitars, blood and gore.....oh my....

Interesting how things work.

Just last week I read the different suggestions to a forum post asking about joysticks and there were some good answers. From an inexpensive Saitek Cybrog joystick to the beautiful Logitech G940 system ($300).


Of course being an old fart who remembers the glorious days of a multitude of choices not only in joysticks but also flight sims, Thrustmaster has always been a wishlist favorite.

The Hotas Cougar is a joystick thruster combo that is reportedly used by the US Air Force. It doesn't really get any better than that. Heavy and feels like the real thing, but at $229 the joystick combo isn't cheap and doesn't seem to get good reviews from users on websites like Newegg. Finally, there is no force feedback, something needed in for full immersion.

Why talk about joysticks? Well I downloaded Wings of Prey last night and a quick spin was 'challenging' trying to use my Logitech Wingman, which has collected dust under my desk and in moving boxes for about four years.

I've been meaning to get back into flight sims. I own the latest Falcon game, Microsofts Flight Sim as well as a few classics, but they require so much time to not only become proficient enough to make the game fun, but get anywhere in the missions.

The smart thing to do would be to buy an inexpensive joystick, say under $50 and see if I spend anytime in the cockpit before investing hundreds of dollars.

But since when have gamers done anything smart?

Guitars, blood and gore
Now that the gaming industry has released the sales numbers for 2009, predictions and analysis are pouring in. In a report on Gamespot a few items were touched on;

-You know that wing of Best Buy that's dominated by 'Rock Band', 'Rock Guitar' and every other alliteration? That could be going away the way of the Wii. It appears consumer interest isn't ongoing enough to support it.

-Blood sells. While other categories may have floundered, the games labelled M for Mature managed to M as in move, right off the shelves.

-Just because a roman numeral appears behind a title doesn't mean it will sell, developers need to put thought, effort and heres a novel concept, originality into new titles.

Like most people, my encounter with Rock Band came during a party after a few drinks. The experience didn't leave me with the yearning to buy a console to play it at home. Nope that honor stays with Gears of War, and thankfully it eventually came out on PC.

But it does frustrate me to have the rest of the gaming department squeezed into a small remaining area because of the overflowing shelves of game gadgets and custom guitars dedicated to the various versions of this genre.

As for the Mature games, sort of saw that coming. Nearly every game trailer requires age verification and the standards for mature games appears far tighter than those placed on television shows. Quite frankly the only console titles to do well are fighting and shooting games, and with todays' graphics and details displaying the effects of such, they're naturally going to be considered mature.

With all the major developers having a tough time with profits, one can only hope they pay attention to the last bullet point of good old-fashioned content with a dash of originality. The knee-jerk reaction is to go back to the well and roll out sequels of best-sellers with the next few months and upcoming year full of them.

Bioshock 2, Ghost Recon and the list goes on. Heck Assassins Creed 2 hasn't even hit the PC and the follow up should come out by the end of the year.

"All too often the economy is blamed for the recent industry contraction," Divnich said. "In reality, decreased sales in 2009 had more to do with a lack of innovation than economic recession. The growth of our industry now rests more on innovation than it ever has before, especially since nontraditional and casual markets consist of a larger share than in previous years. No longer can developers update a few maps, design some new weapons, add a few new characters, then throw a roman numeral at the end of the box and call it a 'sequel.' That may work for core targeted games (action, shooters, and RPGs), but this strategy is not ideal for nontraditional and casual gamers."

Developers take note, if you don't put some effort into it, don't blame piracy or gamers when it doesn't sell.

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