Posts Tagged “xbox”

Dark Souls: As It Once Was, So Shall It Be

They’re not ready for this…or are they?

As someone whose gaming career began in the days of the 2600, I have borne witness to a shift in the arc of game design.  Now, most everyone will agree games are ultimately about entertainment.  What changed was the root of that entertainment.  Games now tend towards providing a bit of escapism for the player without them having to put much effort in.  Think of it as an interactive movie where the obstacle, be it a giant monster or arcane puzzle, is merely a plot device moving you on to the next scene.  Those who wish for a greater challenge have the option to increase the difficulty, but rare now is the game where the difficulty simply “Is”.  Dark Souls, like its spiritual predecessor Demons Souls, is such a game.

Damn kids, in my day this was considered a mid-boss.

Some of you already get it, others of you require a frame of reference (due to my advanced age, no doubt) to really understand what this means.  The entertainment value in many games of the 8 and 16 bit eras was drawn from the challenge they posed.  Battletoads, Ninja Gaiden, Zillion, TMNT, Ghouls and Ghosts, Shinobi, and R-Type come to mind.  Read On »


posted July 21, 2011 - 12:30 pm in Gaming, Opinion by

Indie Developer – Red Crest Studios

Xbox Live Indie Games gives smaller developers and even lone programmers the opportunity to build their own creations and share them with the world.  This has led to some extremely creative games being released on Xbox Live at a very low cost to its consumers.  One of the genres that is becoming increasingly popular is Role Playing Games.

Indie developer Red Crest Studios is set to release Bonded Realities, an RPG coming to Xbox Live Indie Games this week.  Being a huge fan of the old school RPG, I decided to contact Michael Ventnor at Red Crest for a brief Q&A via email regarding Bonded Realities, and what’s coming next from this new indie developer.  Here’s what he had to say:

So tell me a little bit about Red Crest Studios.  How long have you been in operation?  How large is your team?

I officially started the Red Crest brand on 9th December last year. So Bonded Realities predates the studio that made it! My original plan was to release the game under my name and, if successful, then set up the studio name and continue making games. However, the interest in Bonded Realities grew quite sharply and people were asking for an official studio name, so I fast tracked its creation. I had the name and logo in mind since the beginning. Red Crest is made of just me.

Do you have plans for the mobile market as well?  Or are you concentrating on Xbox Live Indie Games for now?

Xbox for the moment. I do have game designs on hand that I can develop when I decide to try the mobile market, but that will happen later when I’m (hopefully) more successful.

Your latest creation, Bonded Realities, is a Role Playing Game for Xbox Live Indie Games.  What made you decide to do an RPG?

There were many reasons why:

a) There aren’t enough RPGs in the old-fashioned style I like. While there are a couple on the Indie service, there should be more.

b) I grew up on whimsical RPGs, and always enjoyed the number-based turn-based strategy mechanics, and the funny settings and stories.

c) I thought making an RPG would be easy. “It’s just logic and state machines”, I said. “Programming languages do this kind of thing best”, I said. That old, arrogant, incorrect self is now dead, buried and cremated after numerous development delays. But I still persevered to finish, because I didn’t want to waste the work I did so far.

Can you tell us what is Bonded Realities about?

A lot of people who’ve played the game already were surprised at how the game opens. You are a toddler, being dropped off at child care by your mum. Like your typical day at child care, you go outside to play with your three best friends, Liam, Josh and Maria. But then a bright flash of light happens, and the next thing you know, you’re in a totally different place, separated from everyone else, and transformed into a new body. Your goal, therefore, is to find your friends and get home. Bonded Realities’ story is designed such that it unfolds as you play. It may sound scant with how I described it above, but that’s because you know nothing about what happens or how to fix it at the start. I deliberately made the story like that because I enjoyed stories that didn’t reveal your end goal or how to achieve it at the start, rather it is revealed in several plot twists later on. There is a big boss fight at the end, so don’t worry :-)

How long do you expect it will take the average gamer to complete Bonded Realities?

I’d say around 4 or 5 hours. More if you want to do 100% completion, since that involves finding all the treasure chests and some of them are very well hidden (but contain very powerful items and equipment!).

Are there any particular RPGs that have influenced the gameplay that we’ll find in Bonded Realities?

As I said before, the RPGs I enjoyed the most had good mechanics and a funny setting. Earthbound being the obvious candidate, most indie RPGs are compared to that because of its quirky nature. Others I’ve played include Pokemon, Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi and others. I tried to recreate what I liked, and fix what I hated, whilst adding in a lot of my own ideas and style. As a result, I worked hard on interesting combat, jokes everywhere, and a clean and unique interface.

What were the biggest hurdles you encountered while creating an RPG for XBLIG?

Mostly just the shock with how much work is needed to make a decent RPG from scratch. I used no middleware (except XNA, of course) because I really enjoy engine programming, thus the Bonded Realities engine was written entirely by me, and all the art was done by me (I’m not a particularly good drawer, it’s taken years of practice just to get where I am now). The music was licensed since I have no musical knack whatsoever. But again, I enjoy things that others would hate, like writing code, and thinking up ways to make certain parts of the game more fun without too much implementation effort.

Can you give us a preview of what we might see on the horizon from Red Crest now that Bonded Realities is getting ready to release?

I’ll be entering this year’s Dream Build Play with a completely different kind of game. It won’t be an RPG, or even resemble anything like that. It involves an experimental game mechanic I thought up, so the biggest trouble for me right now is trying to make it fun.

A Game That Shows Promise

Looking at Bonded Realities’ trailers and screenshots, this game shows a lot of potential.  Having enjoyed Role Playing Games since the original Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System, I’m looking forward to grabbing this one and spending a few hours satisfying my hunger for some good old-fashion RPG’ing.



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posted January 28, 2011 - 6:00 am in Gaming Life, Interviews by

Square Enix – Halo: Reach Action Figures Now In The UK

To all of my good friends in the UK, you can now get your Squenix Halo:Reach action figures without having to buy them in the States and have them shipped over.

For those of you who don’t know, these action figures are larger, and far more detailed than the McFarlane Toys figures.  They are fully articulated and come with interchangeable hands.  Series I was released with Jun, Noble Six, and Emile, with Series II containing Kat, Jorge, and Carter to be released some time in 2011. has acquired a small quantity of these collectibles ahead of the currently unannounced UK release date.  Who knows how many or how few they have available, so you may want to get ordering right away!


posted December 21, 2010 - 8:20 am in Gaming Life, News by

Console News For Monday, December 20

Only a week left until Christmas.  Have you gotten your shopping done? Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation Coming To A DS Near You Dragon Quest fans rejoice!  The 1995 continuation of the Dragon Quest series is finally coming to the States on the Nintendo DS handheld console.  Originally released on the Super Famicom (Japanese Version of the SNES), DQVI was never brought over to the US for commercial release.  No release date yet however,… Read On »


posted December 20, 2010 - 1:14 pm in Gaming, News by

A Parent’s Guide To Video Games For Your Kids

This story never gets old. A few weeks ago, I was at BestBuy picking up some goodies for my wife.  While I was in line, a mother walks up with her son that had to be no more than eight or ten years old, and clutched in his hot little hands was a copy of Call Of Duty: Black Ops. I’ve seen this more than once this holiday season mind you.  But for some reason,… Read On »


posted December 17, 2010 - 10:25 am in Gaming Life, Parenting by

Kinect May Be The Hot Item This Christmas Season

Now I have to admit, I chuckled a little bit when Kudo Tsunoda said that Kinect sales would, “blow away any of the sales you’ve seen with iPad.”  But, you have to admit that selling over 2.5 million units in 25 days is extremely impressive.  Moreover, it looks to be on track to actually be a good contender to blow out Apple’s impressive record with the motion controller. Furthermore, there appears to be a shortage… Read On »


posted December 6, 2010 - 8:34 am in Technology by

Kinect’ing For The Holidays

Well, it’s officially winter in Southeastern Michigan.  The flurries are coming down.  My car is grumbling on the slick roads since I’ve effectively doubled it’s horsepower.  No fast driving for me for the next three months.  What to do…

In previous years, this has usually been the season where I stay indoors as much as possible, crawl under a blanket, and gain an extra 15-20 pounds from all of the holiday turkey and ham and fixins’.  Of course there’s also the holiday shopping, which I try to get done as early as possible to stay away from the hordes of last minute shoppers.

But this year is a little different.  Since I received my Kinect sensor, there’s been quite a bit less time on the couch, and much more moving around.  Unfortunately, I’m on a spending freeze for personal goodies since it is the holiday after all, and being married means that I have to leave something for my spouse to purchase for that wonderful day, December 25th.

So right now all I can do is dream.  And what am I looking forward to?

Video Games

Dance Central – Yes.  I’m looking forward to playing this one.  Behind closed doors and with the windows shut, of course.  But this looks to be a very fun game.

Kinect Sports – This is an exceptionally fun game.  I could see myself spending many hours playing Table Tennis, Soccer, Boxing, And Volleyball.

Assassin’s Creed II - Yeah, I know.  It’s been out for a while.  But with a pile of other games topping my list this last year, I just haven’t had time to sit down with it.  But now it’s on the top of the stack.  And as soon as I get done playing Mass Effect 2 for the billionth time (this time with all the DLC), I’ll be popping that in the tray.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – As soon as I get done with ACII, this’ll be next on my pile.

Halo: Reach – Of course!  With the new Noble Map Pack out, I’ll be sprinkling some death from my DMR here and there throughout the winter.


Tron: Legacy – This is definitely my holiday topper.  I feel like I’ve been waiting 25 years for this movie to come out!

MegaMind – Going to see this on Saturday actually.  Can’t wait!

The Tourist – I’m intrigued by this one.  I’m a huge fan of Johnny Depp and I’m hoping this one is better for Angelina Jolie than Salt was.  Such a disappointment…


Despicable Me – releases on December 14th.  I saw this twice in the theatres and I still want more.  I’ll probably watch this a few hundred times over the next couple of months.

Red Vs. Blue: The Recollection – If you don’t know of Red Vs. Blue, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing.  Reliving the last three seasons is certainly going to be a treat.  Unfortunatley, there’s no Blu-Ray option yet, but I’ll still be enjoying this in all it’s DVD glory.

Back To The Future Box Set – Yeah.  It’s kind of nostalgic.  But hey, that’s me.

And of course, planning the next car project to make it better, stronger, and faster.


posted December 1, 2010 - 11:25 am in Feature by

Kinect vs. Move – Round 2 – FIGHT!

Hot off the presses.  Microsoft has apparently sold 2.5 Million Kinect Sensors in 25 days (which is apparently better than the first month of iPad sales).  That’s an average of 100,000 Kinect devices sold per day.  Per Don Mattrick, President of the Interactive Entertainment Biz at Microsoft, “We are thrilled about the consumer response to Kinect, and are working hard with our retail and manufacturing partners to expedite production and shipments of Kinect to restock shelves… Read On »


posted November 30, 2010 - 11:41 am in Technology by

I Am A Monument To All Your Sins

To say that Bungie’s swan song in the Halo universe, Halo: Reach has by far the most challenging campaign of all of the Halo games is a gross understatement.  To play the campaign on the highest difficulty setting, Legendary is for the most part, insane. Checking my stats, I started playing the game on Legendary – Solo on September 22nd.  Ironcially, seven days after the release of Halo: Reach (For those of you who don’t know, Bungie… Read On »


posted November 13, 2010 - 9:55 pm in Gaming by

VGChartz Sales Data On Kinect Sparks Remarks From Greenburg

Yesterday, VGChartz released initial sales data for Kinect for the Xbox 360, stating that the device had sold almost 480,000 devices between its launch on November 4 to the week ending November 6.  For two days worth of sales, it’s not a figure to laugh at.  Especially considering that it took the Playstation Move four weeks to reach a similar number.

But Mr. Aaron Greenburg, Chief of Staff for Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, is indeed, laughing.  Per his post on Twitter, “LOL’ing at sales reports from VGChartz, why do people release info as official when there is no source or science behind the #s?”

VGChartz has come under fire before for the accuracy of the data that it reports.  Many times, their data will be corrected when groups such as NPD release their own tracking data.  However, with NPD no longer reporting their data to the public, VGChartz is the only source left for many bloggers, myself included, to gather semi-accurate sales data.

Brett Walton left a comment in the Kinect article stating, “I’m a little disappointed that a senior figure like Mr Greenberg decides to comment in such an immature way rather than maybe offer the actual figure for example.

As ever, it is entirely possible that our figures aren’t perfect (they are only estimates from samples afterall), but they shouldn’t be that far out.”

So is this another example of VGChartz guesstimates being way out of what the actual numbers are?  Or could Mr. Greenburg be clutching on to the real sales data because the true numbers aren’t as impressive?

Stay tuned.



posted November 11, 2010 - 8:06 am in Gaming, News, Opinion by