Do long delays hurt episodic games?

Feb 5, 2014

Episodic games are all the rage this season, and the odds are good that you’re probably somewhere in the middle of playing one right now. Almost all of the big story-driven mobile games are adopting the episodic formula these days, with most recent examples like In Fear I Trust and République just getting started with their own respective journeys. On the surface, making an episodic game is a great idea. You get to put the first installment out into the world up front and gauge your players’ feedback before fine-tuning the episodes that follow. But there’s one potential risk that could actually end up harming these pre-planned episodic games: the lengthy and sometimes unavoidable delays or wait times between each individual episode.

Take Telltale Games for example, the studio that effectively brought the idea of episodic games into the mainstream of our industry. “Faith,” the first episode of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us, was originally released for PC on October 11, 2013, and with the second episode “Smoke and Mirrors” finally debuting this week, this puts the amount of wait time between these two episodes at just under four months. At this rate, we may very well have to wait until early 2015 to see how Bigby Wolf’s adventure ends: especially considering the crazy amount of new projects that Telltale has decided to juggle all at once.

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There are a number of reasons for varying delays in releasing the subsequent installments of an episodic game, and none of them are exactly ideal for the studio, or for the player, at that. Over the last few weeks, you could almost feel the growing frustration of gamers towards The Wolf Among Us everywhere online, with some early Season Pass adopters even afraid they might never get the next portion of the game they already paid for. And for those that do start playing Episode 2 this week, will you have a hard time picking up where you left off after such an extensive break?

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TORONTO GAMER ALERT: Fancy Videogame Party looks fancy

Feb 4, 2014

Do you like video games? What about… parties? What about the unbearably bitter cold of a Canadian winter? If you said yes to all three of these, you’re going to want to clear your schedule on February 21st. The Fancy Videogame Party is coming.

Thanks to its thriving indie scene, Toronto has tons of great events for gamers – and yet Fancy Videogame Party is like the perfect storm of gaming events in Toronto. It’s not one, not two, but three celebrations in one.

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First, it’s a celebration of The Hand Eye Society’s fifth birthday. The Hand Eye Society, for those not in the know, is a Toronto-based indie gaming collective that holds a variety of events all year long to help spread the word about great Toronto games. 

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On Flappy Bird and Football: America’s two greatest pastimes

Feb 3, 2014

While I’m not usually one for sports, I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for football. I don’t follow a team or watch every Sunday, mind you, but if there’s a game on and I’m in the room, my eyes will probably be glued to the screen. And when there’s a big game like the Superbowl or Grey Cup (Canadians know what I’m talking about), I’m happy to carve an evening out of my schedule to watch.

Last night’s blowout was no exception.

The big story from last night, it would seem, is of the Broncos complete and utter meltdown that started with the first play of the game, and the absolute trouncing delivered to Payton and his boys by Seattle’s Legion of Boom (which includes former Grey Cup winner Brandon Browner, in case you Canadians are keeping score at home) that followed. Also, Percy Harvin.

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But if you ask me, there’s a much bigger story from last night than utter annihilation of the Denver Broncos. It’s the story of technology’s growing relationship with events, how our love affair with gadgets perfectly blends with football, and, well… Flappy Bird.

But we’ll get to that in a moment.

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Play this browser game NOW: Zos, a fantastic sci-fi adventure platformer

Feb 2, 2014

Zos is a full-fledged adventure game brought directly to your web browser courtesy of developer 8bitSkull. Based in a surprisingly rich science fiction universe, Zos has players completing objectives, talking to characters, and platforming across a variety of colorful planets. What is essentially a giant space monster is slowly consuming the universe, and it is up to the player to find the artifacts called ‘The Essences’ that are capable of stopping the beast. Of course, The Essences are scattered all across the galaxy.

As the player adventures through the planets, they can interact with the inhabitants of whatever planet they are on. Zos has surprisingly well-developed alien cultures, and it was always interesting to go and interact with the NPCs that were encountered along the way.

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An indie developer is making one game a week (and the results are pretty great)

Feb 1, 2014

Game developer, Thomas "Less Milk" Palef, is currently in the middle of a self-imposed challenge to develop one new game every single week. Game development is a hobby for Palef, but he wanted to kick things up a notch and actually start finishing playable games. So, for over a month, Palef has been busy coding a producing a new HTML5 game every week.

"It's been six weeks now, and I've learned a lot," Palef said to Gamezebo during an interview. "I'm really trying my best to make each game better that the previous ones, and so far I think that I have achieved this goal. I know that I have only one week to make a game, so I keep my ideas and mechanics simple. This way it's not that hard to make a game in one week."

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The best games of #CandyJam (so far)

Feb 1, 2014

After last week's debacle involving game developer King trademarking the word CANDY, game developers around the world vented their frustrations by participating in the Candy Jam, a game jam event designed solely to passive-aggressively taunt the trademark system as well as King's other embarrassment from last week, being accused of ripping off another developer’s game. The Candy Jam website sets its mantra as: "Because trademarking common words is ridiculous, because ethics matter and because it gives us an occasion to make another game jam."

Developers have since been working on creating their games, and uploading them to the Candy Jam website for others to check out. While the Candy Jam lasts through February 3rd, there are a good number of games already posted.

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One of the more polished games posted is Discord Games' Candy Chasm Saga, an endless-faller that involves falling down an chasm filled with candy, attempting to collect as much candy as possible while avoiding crashing into the scary-looking tokens floating about. Magnets are available to scoop up and make your candy-grabbing life easier, and golden apples provide limited invincibility. Candy Chasm Saga borrows art assets from Discord Games' full-time project, Chasm

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Game of the Month: The Banner Saga

Jan 31, 2014

Wow, what a way to start off the year on a high note! We’re only a month into 2014 right now, and we’ve already seen a number of wonderful game releases that put a big ol’ smile on our faces. And not only were these games all great in their own right, but we even went as far as to call some of them early contenders for our next Game of the Year. Think I’m kidding? Well let’s not forget that Gamezebo’s Game of the Year 2013 was released at the tail-end of January last year, so anything is possible at this point!

There’s no question that January 2014 has been a month for long-awaited games to finally come to fruition: games that have been in development for so long that their names were starting to become something of a legend in of themselves. But boy are we glad that we actually got to play them now, because when it comes to an epic Viking-themed quest across the frozen tundra and a frantic multiplayer sword fight, I think it would be an understatement to say that it was more than worth the wait.

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So do you feel the same way as we do about January’s shining stars in gaming? Were there any other strong contenders you think deserved a spot on our list? Don’t be shy – we want to hear about them! And at least we can all agree on one thing for certain: if this past month was any indication, then we have an unbelievable year of games to look forward to.

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12 year old takes a joyride to the border, blames video games

Jan 29, 2014

When scouring the globe for the latest in gaming gossip, it’s not often that a story comes out of my local paper – but hey, it had to happen sometime.

On Tuesday, January 28th, a 12 year old boy from St. Catharines, Ontario decided to take his grandmother’s Nissan Altima for a joyride. Unlike most kids who do such silly things and crash before the end of the block, this kid got pretty far. All the way to the Canada/US border, in fact.

The Queenston-Lewiston Bridge acts as one of several gateways in Niagara between Canada and the United States, and it’s a good 20 minutes from St. Catharines (possibly more depending on where in the city he started from). Not only that, but it requires some serious highway driving – including a trek over the monstrously tall Garden City Skyway that still terrifies me on every trip I take. 

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Amazon will Conquer the Games Market

Jan 29, 2014

It faced down long-established booksellers in 1994, expanded that fight to big box retailers a few years later - and, in 2011, it took on Apple and Google with the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet. Now it has its eye on the mobile gaming market - and to win this fight, it will need to take its gloves off.

The Kindle Fire is already a decent gaming device. 70% of all users play games on it - with ARPU's that are higher than Google Play and neck-to-neck with Apple. But there's room to grow. And while Amazon might be behind to the gaming world, Microsoft was also a latecomer in the console space - and it went on to be a leader.

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In fact, Amazon appears to be following a trail similar to the one Microsoft blazed, using a three-pronged strategy: Implement a top-down approach; invest in the necessary talent; and create a developer friendly ecosystem and platform.

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King CEO Riccardo Zacconi responds to… well, everything

Jan 27, 2014

Last week was a rough week to be King. Gamezebo broke the news on Monday that the company was trying to trademark the word CANDY in the US and already held the mark in the EU. On Tuesday, news surfaced that they were opposing The Banner Saga’s trademark because of their claim to the word SAGA. And then on Thursday, claims that King had cloned a game in 2009 were burning up the internet like wildfire.

Individually, King responded to each of these incidents… though their responses left a lot to be desired. Some, like how they handled the cloning situation – denying the accusation and destroying the evidence in one fell swoop – seemed downright sinister. But now, in the week following some difficult press, King CEO and Founder Riccardo Zacconi has issued an open letter to discuss all of these matters in a frank, open and honest way.

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“Over the last few days, there has been a vigorous debate both inside and outside King about how we protect our intellectual property,” Zacconi writes. “I want to set the record straight about where we stand on these issues, and clarify our philosophy on intellectual property. At its simplest, our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others.”

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