Home News General News The Foxhole Week (2011-2)
The Foxhole Week (2011-2) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Starfox   
Monday, 10 January 2011 23:18

This Foxhole week appears to have been pretty basic with few real game news coming our way. Most AAA titles are still polishing their weapons for the big rush with releases that should take place between the end of January for the first ones and June 2011. So aside from the first info available for the upcoming The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim of Bethesda Software it was a rather slow week punctuated by more company statements than screenshots. A week during which:

THQ follow the path of Bioware and Bethesda, F.E.A.R. 3 is delayed... again, the guys at Frictionnal Games found the bright light in PC gaming, Bethesda wants you to experience *real* combat in Skyrim, Jowood experiences difficulties and The Foxhole almost forgot to wish itself an happy birthday.

 


THQ had two big announcements to make in conjunction to the company event held in New-York this week. The first one was concerning an all new logo for the company, logo which according to the press release "...epitomizes the change, innovation and creative growth that are the cornerstones of the new THQ". But beside the logo, THQ had also a change of commercial strategy to announce regarding their publishing policy which will be of a larger impact to gamers than the mere logo change.

THQ should start in the coming months to sell some of their titles cheaper but they will also sell DLC to go with them (see how it is related to Bioware and Bethesda now?). Of course as all those gamers having played Bioware Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 or even Bethesda The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3 already know, this business model is not exactly new but has proved of some interest in order to allow a bigger income per game while keeping gamers stress to a minimum as they are not forced to buy any DLC  or can better manage their finances (for example buying only one DLC every other months). The second benefit for a publisher being to increase the durability of a title and to shorten the time needed for the initial development (features that cannot make it in time for the initial release can be introduced at a later date with a DLC). Some would say that it's actually selling a game in puzzle format for a bigger price than before (considering that Dragon Age with all the DLC is a $75+ title) and we could indeed argue about that, but the fact is that the model seems to be working.

First THQ game to benefit from this new policy should be MX vs ATV Alive (a racing game scheduled for a release during Spring 2011) which will be sold $40 instead of $50-55 and with a free DLC. Soon after the release, other DLC will be presented for sale.


After Bethesda and Bioware, THQ is the third publisher that intent to go the heavy DLC route. Maybe that alone warranted a new logo?
 

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Warner Bros announced that the new opus in the F.E.A.R. franchise is re-scheduled for a release in May on all relevant platform (PC, PS3 and Xbox 360). It's the second delay the game suffer as it was originally scheduled for Fall 2010 before being delayed a first time for a release at the beginning of 2011. This time however the reason invoked for the delay is just what one could imagine: F.E.A.R. 3 is not ready for prime time and developers need more time to achieve their objectives. As long as it's a matter of ending up with a better product it's safe to assume that most gamers won't complain.
 

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Frictionnal Games (developers of the Penumbra series of first person perspective survival horror games) issued a pretty long message at the end of last week on their official blog to let the world know that their last title Amnesia: The Dark Descent is doing overwhelmingly well, much more than they expected, almost reaching the 200,000 copies sold mark only 4 months after its initial release. For an independent developer like Frictionnal Games, it is quite an achievement indeed, almost completely unexpected for an indie title.

Even more important is the fact that the sales figures seem to have boosted the confidence of the guys at Frictionnal in PC Gaming (which we can only be happy about). As they state themselves:
 

With these figures at hand, we must confess that it gives us new confidence for the PC. The sales that we have had (and are having) are more than enough to motivate developing a game with the PC as the main (and even only) platform. Based on what we have seen, the online PC market is just getting bigger and bigger, and we are convinced we are far from the end of this growth. We think that other developers that consider making their game exclusive to a console might want to think again.


They go on stating that they were however very lucky with their PR coverage which likely resulted in more sales than what should have normally occurred. But the fact is that thanks to Amnesia, Frictionnal Games seems to have made the switch from being a mere hobby to being a decent job and business. At least that's how the guys running it are feeling. For more about how they feel, consider reading their whole message.

Isn't it great to see at least one developer that is not proclaiming that "PC Gaming is dead... If not today, it will be soon". One bright note in the all too common "Let's get to the console" publisher/developer chorus, that's always good to hear.

Anyway, congratulations to Frictionnal Games for a well deserved reward and best wishes for the future.

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You had to know this was coming. After Bethesda official announcement that TES V: Skyrim was indeed in development, the first details about the game are beginning to *leak* (I say *leak* because even if the thing is official, it's how Bethesda PR always go... They *leak* info, they never give you the full stuff). Anyway, the paper magazine Game Informer was the first in line to receive the -- generally pretty rare -- confidences of Todd Howard. And boy, some of this info is puzzling.

Starting with the combat system. Forget about the Oblivion combat, it was not brutal, not visceral, not involving, not challenging and more importantly not *joyous* enough according to the words of Todd Howard himself: "There has to be an energy and a joy to it". So OK, I won't argue about that as Oblivion combat system was pretty much a downer compared to... say, Dark Messiah combat system. But what did they change to make it more *joyous*? Apparently there's some rinse and repeat involved as Bethesda evoke "finishing moves" that change depending on the weapon and the opponent. I hope they know Dragon Age already has those and that they don't actually plan to base Skyrim new combat system only on that? No. Todd tells Game Informer "And we're also interested in how the weapons feel in your hand.". Whatever that means.

Apparently the combat should be more about tactics and less about brute force. And they also made backward running impossible. This ends the good ol'times when you could run backward with your bow, funneling arrows after arrows in your pissed off assailant. According to Todd Howard, the choice was made because back running in third person was plain ridiculous; and that gives us another hint: either Skyrim will be a third person title OR you'll be at least able to fight in third person (you could in Oblivion too, but it was awfully messy). Bethesda also wants to introduce dual-weapons fighting. And it will be possible to set each of your character's hands to perform a certain action (holding a shield, a weapon or casting spells so you can eventually fight with a sword in one hand and cast spells with the other). Magic seems to have kept its basic schools although we can hope that casting spells will be less goofy than in Oblivion. Well, nothing extensively new under the sun but it all comes down to how the combat actually feels and sadly to know that we'll have to play the game, it's not a paper article that will give us any hint.

Outside of pure combat, things seem to have evolved too. The number of skills have been reduced to 18 (it was 27 for Morrowind and 21 for Oblivion) but perks (did I hear someone say Fallout 3?) are introduced. There will be 10 races to choose from but apparently classes do not exist anymore (your character is a Dragonborne especially raised to slay dragons which is not without reminding me of guys called Grey Wardens) and the character creation system will be more or less à la Fallout 3. The level progression won't be capped but starting at level 50, things will definitely slow down. Well in short, you may expect a mix between Oblivion and Fallout 3 as far as the character is concerned.

The engine -- Bethesda already claimed that -- is new with dynamic shadows, snow, water flow disturbed by wind... etc. The world of Skyrim will include 5 big cities in which you'll be able to perform various actions like smithing, farming, mining, wood cutting (I swear I just heard a guy shouting Gothic!). Quests will be randomly generated based on your play-style and performances (if that works that might be the only real true novelty announced so far that was not already used in some other game, kudos to that). NPC will be more dynamic... they will run around you, pick up after you (your fallen sword during a fight for example or your socks when you go to bed...). There's potential in there... There's also a lot of potential to see NPCs becoming a major pain in the ass depending on how the thing is handled.

Well, re-reading all the above I have the feeling that the guys at Bethesda spent most of their time since Oblivion looking at other games and see what cool features were included so they could pick them up. Good thing that gameplay features are not patented or Bethesda would be on their way to infringe a gazillion patents. In truth that's not necessarily bad if it's well done so we'll have to sit tight, crossing fingers. One or two prayers to the gods of Nirn might help too.


As announced via a short press release, the alarm board is all light up for Jowood Entertainment AG (Gothic 2 and 3, Arcania: Gothic 4, Spellforce series) as the Austrian publisher applied for a procedure of capital reorganization last week. According to Austrian financial laws, Jowood has now 90 days to find a viable solution to their financial problems before going bankrupt. For now however, it's business as usual and Jowood managers seem to be confident about finding new investors and positively negotiate with current creditors within this time frame so the company may pursue its activities.

Upcoming games from Jowood that might be impacted by the events should the situation not be resolved include Spellforce 2 and Haunted (a point and click adventure game).

Five years ago, Hangar 16 had vanished entirely in the dead and cold vacuum of the unforgivable web. Five years ago the struggle begun to rebuild our lost community. Officially, The Foxhole birth took place on January 24 2006 but we were real busy during the whole month trying to save everything that could possibly be saved. Thanks to the efforts of Stubby then Silver and other old-time folks, everything started to fall back into place even though we lost several people in the process.

Five years later we're still  here and I'm a bit shocked. Why? Because this site was only meant to be at first a temporary measure until a way could be found to bring back Hangar 16. I wasn't expecting The Foxhole to be around for more than a few months, let alone five years. But there we are. Will we make it up to the 10 years mark? Frankly there's no way to be sure. The web is constantly changing as is life. In the case of independent self financed sites as ours, 5 years on the web is already a pretty long time. No self respected webmaster would venture making a guess on the survival probability of their gaming website more than 2 years in advance, not even the big names out there. Only thing I can assure you is that we'll stay as long as we can.

So happy birthday to The Foxhole and many thanks to our members and visitors who coped with our often lunatic ways during these 5 years. I'd also want to extend a personal thanks to our most senior member bobs who was the one who came with "The Foxhole" name in the first place. Wherever you may be bobs... thank you!

 

This conclude The Foxhole Week issue 2. Until next time.


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