Metal Gear Production Manager Ken-ichiro Imaizumi has shot down rumours of a PS3 exclusive game to be announced by Kojima at this September’s Tokyo Games Show.

Responding to the rumour which appeared on CVG yesterday, Imaizumi tweeted: “I say it is just a rumour. I have no idea who made it up such a story”. This was quickly re-tweeted by Mr. Kojima himself.

The rumour originated from a “senior US publishing source”, who claimed the demo was originally for E3 but was pulled to ensure it was “bulletproof”.

This would have left Kojima Production’s E3 schedule quite busy indeed, having already unveiled a Snake Eater re-release for the 3DS and in-game footage of Metal Gear Solid: Rising.

It would have presumably given the company a reveal at the Sony press conference, the only platform without Metal Gear footage this year. Make of this what you will.

Via the folks at VG247.

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I decided to make this a franchise, because that is what games are best at. So there.

I was washing the dishes and was thinking about my previous post and the possibility of a blog where readers posted design challenges and I turned out half thought out game ideas every day. The idea scared me as I’m just not that creative, however I wondered if when I applied myself I could think of ideas that do not come to me naturally over the course of time.  So I though about a game based on the tedium of washing dishes.

So the game opens with the player washing dishes at some restaurant and they’re forced to complete some fairly tedious mini-game where they mouse over all the areas on a dish which aren’t enjoyable. I’m imagining graphics which are akin to Cooking Mama or some other piece of gratuitous friendliness.  So the player has to wash these dishes for a day, then it awarded some money depending on their performance.  Throughout the day the player can listen to GTA style radio, with the traditional music or talk back stations.  Then when the next day comes about, the player is introduced to a stereotype of a nice and attractive girl, who’s also going to be washing dishes. Throughout the day the dishes game is interrupted with short dialogue scenes between the protagonist (not player) and this girl, who clearly have some sort of chemistry.  So after the day is over the background changes to some park where the protagonist and lady friend have gone together. The interplay between the two is flirtatious, funny and endearing without any concerns. The player should ideally be enjoying these sequences, at least in comparison to the dull job of washing dishes.

Did you know that "Washing Dishes" in Google Image search auto completes to "Washing Dishes Cartoon"?

The next day passes in much the same manner until the player washes some weird goblet. One or two plates after the goblet a waiter comes in and asks who cleaned the goblet, to which the player responds. He is then brought out to the restaurant, where the owner of the restaurant is amazed at how clean his special goblet is.  He then, unsurprisingly, bequeaths his restaurant to the player.  The game now transforms into a management sim of sorts as the player balances the money spent on the restaurant with customer satisfaction and profit etc.  However the player can now choose to spend time out of his management day and his profit on time with love interest, receiving an enjoyable date scene like the one before. At the start this is liberating, as the player is not only able to spend more time with the lady but also is free of the awful dish washing mini-game. However it soon becomes apparent that the player has to sacrifice his enjoyment (the date scenes) if he wants to succeed at the game’s stated objectives (building a restaurant chain).  If the player chooses to go against the games stated objective of building the restaurant chain then his relationship will flourish, while if he prioritises the chain then he’ll be able to take the girl out to increasingly expensive places but spend less time with her, which is what she ultimately values.  The dichotomy will obviously never be explained directly to the player and they must pick up on the trend themselves.  If they follow the business goals for too long then the relationship eventually breaks down. If the player patriotism the girl then perhaps the game ends with him having to sell off the restaurants and returning to the menial job of washing dishes, but married or something like that to convey romantic success.

That’s my attempt to use game mechanics to naturalistically teach, inspired by the tedium of washing the dishes.

Last night, up late and desperate for biscuits, I found myself navigating to the kitchen via the light given off by the lock screen of my iPhone, which is predominately white.  I’d held the phone up above my head and had to constantly rotate the little source of light, as it was not only fairly dull but also had a very low falloff distance. It did not illuminate the world around quite as much as give the outlines of things in an eerie blue-white. Every fifteen seconds the lock screen shuts off, so the there’s maybe half a second of complete darkness before I manage to again hit that button.  This struck me as a fun mechanic in a survival horror game grounded in real life.

Metro 2033. Any excuse for screen shots.

Imagine your house suddenly goes black, one night as you’re up far too late suffering from “one more turn” in Civilisation or perhaps creeping yourself out in Metro 2033.  Hell, to make this topical you could even by watching the World Cup or E3. Whatever light you live by suddenly cuts out so you figure that a fuse must’ve blown out or something. You pull out your iPhone and the game teaches you the particulars of using it as a light source while you walk slowly to the fusebox, being careful not to trip on the stairs or whatnot. Upon reaching the fusebox you can see that it’s in fine shape, so you guess that the power has gone out. So you light the way to your bed and lie down, silently lamenting the loss of the enrapturing soccer game. As you lie in bed staring at the ceiling (as the player, you may look about here and open/close your eyes) after a few minutes you hear a sudden tinkle, the shattering of glass.  A man swears loudly. You can hear footsteps.  Grabbing your phone, you must now stay alive for the next hour through a mixture of stealth and escape until the power is restored to the area.  You crouch by your bed and dial 000 (911). Nothing, power must be out there too. Or perhaps they’re merely overwhelmed with calls. It’s academic to you though, as the man is getting closer. You tiptoe to the side door, hoping to avoid detection. It’s all going smoothly until he hears your key turning in the lock. You run out into your front garden and hide behind a tree. Your phone’s reminder to sleep goes off and alerts the man. You jump over the fence and fumble the landing, rolling your ankle and letting out an involuntary yelp.

I picture the game as having a more natural darkness than Doom 3, with object outlines visible while the entire thing stays pretty dark. The iPhone on the other hand is a whole lot dimmer and has a very quick cut off compared to the flash light. Less environmental light than Doom 3 as well, being in a blackout.

I envision the game lasting for only an hour or even less perhaps. The high level of anxiety I’m looking to instil in the player would become exhausting after too long and the longer the game goes for, the more cheap reasons why they can’t find anyone to help them I would have to devise, ruining immersion. I like this idea of very personal, one to one horror relationships that games cannot do due to their length.  The everyday scenario also appeals to me because it’s relate able and horror seems most influential when it’s devoid of any abstraction from the audience’s life. The iPhone mechanic would work well with move, although I wonder whether it would be scarier with the ball glowing in a way reminiscent of the iPhone in game, so that the player grabs glances of the environment around them or whether it be off to increase their immersion in the game. It could also work well with Kinect, assuming that the whole “it can scan objects” thing is still a feature, despite not being mentioned at E3.  The player could simply pick up a phone shaped object then, maximizing immersion. Shattered Memories has already proven that the Wii could do such a thing, although Motion Plus would be a requirement so that it need not be pointed at the screen constantly. A recalibration message every half hour might ruin the game.

Uncool part of "The Darkness"

Upon mentioning this idea in “the” Steam chat last night, someone pointed me to a game called “The Darkness” being  facetious.  The same guy also pointed me to “Tunnel Rats” when I thought up a subterranean game after watching the Daily Show a few days ago, when they interviewed a caver. Anyway, upon investigating The Darkness, I saw that it included the ENTIRE film of To Kill a Mockingbird and that some guy said that watching that through was the most authentic romance scene he’d ever been a part of in a game. I’ve clearly not played the game and I have no idea how the scene actually plays out and whether the player has any interactivity. However it’s a damn cool idea.

The cool part

Can you imagine a DS game where the top screen is a movie playing out in real time and bottom screen is a Mass Effect style dialogue between you and a romantic interest, watching it on your couch? Where the game last just as long as the movie does and has dialogue trees miles deep? Where over the hour and a half you really come to understand a person? All the dialogue is spawned off contextual things happening in the movie however it quickly branches off into other things. You might make your love interest laugh or cry, you might get into a fight or end up making love. Because this much time is allocated to a single character, they can be as complex and troubled as a real person and as difficult to read. To get the “best” ending, you’ll be required to really start to understand your partner and there would be no single approach that could work for the entire game.  It’s sort of glorified interactive fiction, not anything revolutionary. Still, it could be a cool thing.  Writing these ideas out really helps to flesh them out, so there might be more of these in the future.

Mere moments ago, Ubisoft’s president Yves Guillemot announced Nadeo’s latest title “Planet Mania” consisted of three seperate games/toolsets to be released over the next year.

Titled Trackmania 2, Questmania and Shootmania the titles offer both opportunities to play their respective genres and to create content through a robust and unified toolset which will allow players to “shape the future of PC gaming”.

The game, which is a PC exclusive, was announced as part of the company’s “create” initiative, which also featured a sidescroller creation platform devloped in part by gaming industry legend Michel Ancel.

Although the titles of the three have been known since Nadeo went on a domain spree in 2008, not much was known about them until now. Trackmania is set for a Q4 release while Shootmania is scheduled for Q1.  No release date was given for Questmania.

Microsoft came out swinging with a predictable but nonetheless satisfying trailer for Call of Duty Black Ops. Stuff exploded and featured a lush green colour palette that is refreshing after the browns that the series has been mired in.

In fact, the colour palette on display was remarked upon in the Gears of War trailer as well, which featured similarly lush greens, the sort which make me forget it’s running on the unreal engine. For a moment at least. Roadie run seems a little faster. It appears to be gears.

Halo reach has a starfighting mode. You pilot ships to shoot at people in space and attack mother ships. Nothing is known. First time I’ve cared about halo since the first.

What stole the show for me was thirteeen seconds of Metal Gear Solid Rising. Raiden cut some terrorists/PMC members up. In half. In a boring middle eastern environment. Made it look like a sidescroller from the way it was being played, I assume it’s full 3d. At one point Raiden cuts down a support and some stuff falls down crushing a dude. At one point he slices up a dude who isn’t looking at him. Stealth gameplay confirmed?

Not really. The game looked every bit the stealth less action game I find myself fearing. Yet just fifteen seconds of gameplay have me incredibly curious.

Kinect filled GAF with naught but laughter. Also it seemed to have some nasty latency on it. Even if it’s the most effective way to handle the UI, moving a mouse cursor with your hand isn’t really the minority report stuff that Microsoft claimed it would be.  Voice recognition and head tracking are still more interesting that the flailing. Am also shocked by the lack of any true core title for the Kinect launch.

Slim Xbox was uninteresting until Greenburg dropped the bombshell that Kinext would require it’s own power supply with old 360s and not with the slim.  Although thats only been “confirmed” by GAF, so who knows.Star wars and a Forza title for Kinect not launching until 2011, unlike the Kinect which is out before holiday. Also, watching GAF it through Kinectimals presentation was painful.

I realise that this isn’t an original thought/complaint/observation about the games industry. However when I was listening to the first e3 Bombcast and talking to a few journalists about Microsoft’s Cirque Du Soleil “Prelude” event I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that not one person really distanced themselves from the analysis of it all. While I enjoy listening to people debating which demographic the event was for and whether it would reach that audience quite a bit, in addition to more analysis of what it looks like Kinect might or might not be able to do.  I like it, it’s why I tune into such channels.

But isn’t there something perverse when noone in the gaming industry stops to appeciate the fun in such an experience? Not in any major way, but in the sort of fundamental way which would come through in their analysis and result in a little less rational detachment from having just been at the centre of such a surreal experience.

Maybe such a person might be the sort who I could relate to as a journalist, who isn’t quite so jaded with the entire business. It’s often said that clowns are some of the least happy people you’ll meet. No one ever identifies this as a problem.

Aside from me of course. I got that poor bastard killed alot.

Except when I played, it was Fisher falling out the window

However, I’m wondering more about how ol’ Sam died as a character in his latest outing Conviction. You see, I’ve had a long relationship with Mr. Fisher. I’ve helped him through his role in the birth of the shadowy organization Third Echelon, I’ve stopped Kobain Nikoladze, the former president of georgia from nuking America. I foiled both the “Pandora Tommorow” plot to bring down the United States via germ warfare and Admiral Otomo’s plan to draw the US into a second war over the North Korean peninsula. Then his daughter died and he was forced to kill Irving Lambert, his closest friend in order to maintain the trust of a north american terrorist group. We’ve been through a lot together.

Yet up until now, he’s never killed anybody he didn’t have to.  Sometimes he’d complain to Lambert when he wasn’t allowed to exercise the “fifth freedom”, yet Fisher would put himself in harms way time and time again to save the lives of his enemies. Indeed he frequently pointed out to Irving and the player that no soldiers were truly enemies, in a way reminiscent of Snake Eater. I, like Fisher, attempted to preserve human life wherever possible. Sure, occasionally a guard or two got knifed because they were a bit too alert, but over the course of four international crises the final body count was probably less than 40.

Which is why it disturbed me so much when I exceeded that kill count within half an hour of Conviction and fisher didn’t even bat an eye. Fisher is portrayed as bitter about both the death of his daughter and furious at the agency which forced him to kill Lambert. He tries to distance himself from everything between games, attempting to leave behind the life which represents nothing for him but tragedy.  I could accept this and even shared his bitterness towards Third Echelon, whom I felt had betrayed me in the last game although I could care less about Sarah Fisher.  However his reaction to the tragic deaths of those around him rang positively false to me in Conviction. The idea that through the death of the two closest two him he loses any and all respect for human life seems faintly ridiculous. His actions are framed through his desperation to reunite with his daughter, however he acts this way even when his daughter’s safety is completely unrelated to the mission at hand. It was for me a huge point of disconnect with Fisher, with whom I’d identified fairly closely with despite his previous lack of characterisation.  Which is a shame, as I found Fisher to be a really interesting character throughout the majority of Conviction, which had some pretty engrossing twists and relationships.  Shame that Fisher was consistently undermined for me by his new found disregard for human life.  Although should his change have been more believaable, reflecting that in the gameplay had a lot of potential to be cool.

A more hardline and agressive fisher I can certainly agree with. In some of the interrogation scenes my frustration with a character was perfectly in line with Fisher's.

Especially if it happened halfway through a game to reflect a character’s emotional arc. Or the player and character were forced into killing for a time and seeing how this impacted the character while paying off the player’s own discomfort.

Cool game though, for such a mischaracterisation to even bother me.