Monthly Archives: November 2013

Blizzard responds to over-sexualized character design criticism

“It takes work to make compelling characters, but it’s important to take a step back to ensure that we’re not alienating our players,” Game Director of Heroes of The Storm Dustin Browder wrote today on the game’s official site.

Browder’s post follows up on comments he made in a recent interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, where he was asked about the tendency to over-sexualize female characters in MOBAs like Dota 2 and Blizzard’s own Heroes of the Storm.

“Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense,” Browder said then. “I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. . .We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.”

When interviewer Nathan Grayson pressed on, Browder and his public relations handler deflected and eventually ended the interview. In their defense, they indicated that they were running out of time before Grayson raised the issue.

In the post he published today, Browder apologized for responding poorly, that he thinks the issue is important and that Blizzard is listening to feedback.

“On the stage at BlizzCon, I spoke about Heroes being a collaborative project, shaped by the passion, love, and support of gamers like you. We’re building this game together, we’re listening, and your thoughts are valued.”

Top 5 Skyrim Mods of the Week – Drunk Cows

It’s finally happened, Cam and Seb are now playable in Skyrim. As if that wasn’t enough, Kevin gets his own bespoke armour and celebrates by drinking, with a cow!

GameSpot Staff Next-Gen Console Choices

We sit down with a number of GameSpot staff members to investigate which next-gen console they purchased and their reasoning behind the decision.

Microsoft providing advance returns for broken Xbox One consoles

After waiting such a long time for the new line of consoles to launch, having a busted system out of the box can be a real disappointment. Fortunately, Xbox One purchasers who are experiencing any problems, particularly the grinding disc drive issue popping up on a number of YouTube videos, won’t have to wait long to get back in the action. Microsoft is using their advance return system to allow gamers to receive a console prior to shipping back a broken system for service.

Regarding the disc issue, Microsoft issued the following statement to GameSpot:

“The issue is affecting a very small number of Xbox One customers. We’re working directly with those affected to get a replacement console to them as soon as possible through our advance exchange program. Rest assured, we are taking care of our customers.

Customers have the option for us to send a replacement console right away without waiting until they have returned their old one. This means a customer only has to wait a matter of days, rather than weeks to get back up and running.”

For anyone experiencing any issues with their console, whether its hardware or service related, Microsoft recommends the following steps:

  • Talking to a live customer support person that can call you back if you don’t want to wait
  • Xbox.com for support pages and forums
  • On Twitter with @XboxSupport
  • Using Help and diagnostics on the console by saying “Xbox Help”

Like the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One launch has gone smoothly with relatively few customers reporting issues that keep them from enjoying their new game systems. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, since both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have sold over 1 million units , a problem with just 1% represents over 10,000 consoles. Studies have indicated previously that, for personal electronics, the average failure rate for most products within 2 years is around 15%.

Mario Party: Island Tour Review

When you hear “minigame collection,” the first game that usually springs to mind is Mario Party. The series has been responsible for hilarious memories and strained relationships since the Nintendo 64 era, though the series hasn’t always set a good example: some of the installments, like the miserable Mario Party Advance, have dragged you to the dregs of party hell. Fortunately, Mario Party: Island Tour is a raucous portable entry in the series that adds some refreshing new elements.

Island Tour adheres to the same structure as many of the other Mario Party games: two to four human or AI players move around a traditional board-game-style map in a competition, playing minigames for prizes and attempting to hinder other players throughout. Most Mario Party games have focused on the collecting of coins and stars to determine a winner at the end of a game, but Island Tour’s boards feature different objectives and modes of play. Some, like Perilous Palace Path, simply require that you be the first to reach the goal, while others have you collecting items to see who can end the game with the most stuff. Even if the boards have a similar objective, there are other factors at play that alter gameplay significantly: Banzai Bill’s Mad Mountain might let you summon a giant bullet that sends everyone in its path back several spaces, while Kamek’s Magic Carpet Ride forgoes dice and assigns movement to an inventory of numbered cards, making your selections about how far to advance a strategic consideration. There’s a nice bit of variety here, and the game helpfully gives ratings to luck, skill, and minigame categories when you’re choosing a board to play on (though their accuracy is debatable). Most of the boards don’t take too long to run through, but that’s probably for the best given that the 3DS is a battery-based console, and nothing kills a party like running out of juice mid-game.


What would a race game be like if you drifted ALL THE TIME?

It’s pretty easy to get things hopping, thanks to the 3DS Download Play feature. Much like Mario Party DS, Island Tour allows up to three additional players to access and enjoy the full game in multiplayer, even if they don’t have their own copy. It takes a few minutes to send the game to other 3DSs–and, of course, they can’t keep it once the host disconnects–but after the wait is over, the players have access to the entire game (though the host player controls all the settings and selections). It’s a nice way to ensure that there’s always an opportunity to get a party started as long as everybody has a system. Unfortunately, there’s no way to play online. Yes, Mario Party is more fun in a local, group setting, but the omission of any sort of online option is puzzling, especially given that the 3DS supports friends lists and voice chat.

If you’ve got a party of one, however, Island Tour has a special single-player mode called Bowser’s Tower. In this mode, your chosen character scales a tower, playing a minigame on each floor and winning to proceed. On every fifth floor, you face a boss character, and these fights are minigames in themselves. Compared to the single-player story mode in Mario Party DS, Bowser’s Tower is weak: there’s no variation on events depending on character choice; it takes a long time to complete a runthrough (and, if you’re really unlucky, a bad roulette spin can send you back to the start); and you have to finish it more than once to unlock everything. Yet Bowser’s Tower is a nice diversion, and as you play and complete board runs, Bowser’s Tower, and individual minigames in either single- or multiplayer, you earn points that you can spend on unlockable content.


You can’t always bite the bullet. Sometimes you just gotta run.

But the meat of any Mario Party is its minigame menagerie, and Island Tour has more winners than duds in its mix. While you have the expected minigames of the “collect stuff,” “knock other players off a platform,” and “dodge things coming at you” varieties, there are some more inventive offerings that make good use of the 3DS hardware. Since the 3DS offers a variety of control methods–controller, buttons, stylus, microphone, and gyroscopic motion–the minigames can use one or more of these elements to make more interesting snack-size experiences. This leads to some neat outings, such as Buzz a Fuzzy (a motion- and circle-pad-controlled archery minigame) and Match Faker (a memory-type game that lets you use the stylus to take notes). The game takes advantage of the fact that each player has their own display, resulting in things like the third-person, arena-based blasting in Tanks a Lot and the hyper-gliding ice racing in No Traction Action. There are even a few auxiliary minigames that use the oft-forgotten 3DS AR cards. Unlike in Wii Party, where only one player could use the GamePad, everybody is on equal footing with the same controls and view, and many of the minigames do a good job of both recognizing and taking advantage of that in their design.

But there are still some stinkers in the mix. Strictly luck-based minigames turn up in the rotation frequently, and they’re not any fun. A few others feature sluggish controls that hamper your ability to move well. (In minigames that involved moving the system along with another control method, I found that the game had an obnoxious tendency to lose calibration when it shifted back to motion controls, which required an experience-interrupting recalibration.) Though you can switch between preset standard and easy minigames and turn mic-using games on or off, you still can’t disable individual minigames or make a custom set, which is a disappointing oversight.

It’s not a perfect party by any means, but some good design considerations, better-than-average variety, and always-enjoyable Mario thematics put Mario Party: Island Tour a few notches above your average video game bash-in-a-box. It’s nicely portable, uses the hardware well, and has a mostly good minigame mix, making this the easy-to-play multiplayer vacation you’ve been looking for.

GameStop shares fall

GameStop’s latest quarterly earnings report released today showed both revenue and profit were on the rise year-over-year, but investors are not responding positively to the news. GameStop shares are currently trading down more than 9.5 percent to $47.33 (-$5.12).

One potential explanation for Wall Street’s sourness could come down to the retailer’s projected earnings for the all-important fourth quarter holiday period.

GameStop said today that it expects earnings per share to range from $1.97 to $2.14. According to a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts were expecting this figure to be $2.15.

The retailer will hold an earnings call to discuss results and answer analyst and media questions beginning at 11 a.m. EDT. Check back later for more.

GameStop shares fall

GameStop’s latest quarterly earnings report released today showed both revenue and profit were on the rise year-over-year, but investors are not responding positively to the news. GameStop shares are currently trading down more than 9.5 percent to $47.33 (-$5.12).

One potential explanation for Wall Street’s sourness could come down to the retailer’s projected earnings for the all-important fourth quarter holiday period.

GameStop said today that it expects earnings per share to range from $1.97 to $2.14. According to a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts were expecting this figure to be $2.15.

The retailer will hold an earnings call to discuss results and answer analyst and media questions beginning at 11 a.m. EDT. Check back later for more.

GameStop shares fall

GameStop’s latest quarterly earnings report released today showed both revenue and profit were on the rise year-over-year, but investors are not responding positively to the news. GameStop shares are currently trading down more than 9.5 percent to $47.33 (-$5.12).

One potential explanation for Wall Street’s sourness could come down to the retailer’s projected earnings for the all-important fourth quarter holiday period.

GameStop said today that it expects earnings per share to range from $1.97 to $2.14. According to a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts were expecting this figure to be $2.15.

The retailer will hold an earnings call to discuss results and answer analyst and media questions beginning at 11 a.m. EDT. Check back later for more.

GameStop shares fall

GameStop’s latest quarterly earnings report released today showed both revenue and profit were on the rise year-over-year, but investors are not responding positively to the news. GameStop shares are currently trading down more than 9.5 percent to $47.33 (-$5.12).

One potential explanation for Wall Street’s sourness could come down to the retailer’s projected earnings for the all-important fourth quarter holiday period.

GameStop said today that it expects earnings per share to range from $1.97 to $2.14. According to a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts were expecting this figure to be $2.15.

The retailer will hold an earnings call to discuss results and answer analyst and media questions beginning at 11 a.m. EDT. Check back later for more.

GameStop shares fall

GameStop’s latest quarterly earnings report released today showed both revenue and profit were on the rise year-over-year, but investors are not responding positively to the news. GameStop shares are currently trading down more than 9.5 percent to $47.33 (-$5.12).

One potential explanation for Wall Street’s sourness could come down to the retailer’s projected earnings for the all-important fourth quarter holiday period.

GameStop said today that it expects earnings per share to range from $1.97 to $2.14. According to a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts were expecting this figure to be $2.15.

The retailer will hold an earnings call to discuss results and answer analyst and media questions beginning at 11 a.m. EDT. Check back later for more.