The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.
The new Kinect can see you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake
Do you always feel like somebody’s watching you? You’re sitting at your desk on a Monday, and you’re putting off work to read the latest post on Gameological (we hope). You have a short name—like, say, “Dave.” And you just can’t shake the feeling that something out there is sending all of your personal information to Microsoft’s gaming division. Well, strap on your tinfoil hat, because that’s about to become a reality, if Peter Schaar, Germany’s federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, is to be believed. (And who DOESN’T believe Germany’s federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information?)
As reported by Polygon, Schaar is concerned that the upgraded Kinect included with every Xbox One system will collect information about users and report it back to either Microsoft or “third parties.” The new Kinect is always listening, since you can power on the Xbone with voice commands, and as the Polygon article points out, it can also identify specific people, track their movements, and see in the dark. That means not only is it watching you even with the lights off, but it’s watching you specifically, Dave, and it knows exactly what kind of clothes you wear and food you eat. Of course, a Microsoft representative deflected this by saying that users can “change the settings of how [their] Kinect is used” and that “privacy is a top priority,” but that’s exactly what Microsoft would say if it were selling your blue jean preferences to the highest bidder. Wake up, sheeple!
Double Fine wants all of your money, again
Has anyone considered the possibility that Double Fine is not really a game developer but a front for some kind of supervillain operation? The name even sounds like something that Two-Face would come up with, and what better way to separate a few thousand rubes from their money than by literally asking them for it? It certainly worked last time, with the Double Fine Adventure project raking in over $3 million based only on the pedigree of the development team. And now the studio that brought us Grim Fandango and Psychonauts is back to hold us by our ankles and shake out our lunch money one more time with another Kickstarter project.
Now, I don’t know who Batman would be in this metaphor (or why Two-Face has resorted to common bullying tactics), but it really doesn’t matter because this new project, Massive Chalice, sounds pretty cool for an evil plot. It’s essentially an X-COM-style strategy game, played out over centuries, in which you control an immortal king waging a generations-long war against an army of demons. That means you’re not just concerned with winning battles, but also with determining who your great warriors should marry in order to ensure that their offspring are capable of defending your kingdom. Double Fine is looking to raise $725,000 for Massive Chalice, with the ticker currently sitting at $664,000 (as of this writing) so it doesn’t look like that will be much of a problem.
Speaking of Kickstarter, the crowdfunding campaign for Eternal Darkness’ “spiritual successor,” Shadow Of The Eternals has pulled in pledges totaling $271,000—which is a fair bit short of its $1.35 million goal—with 15 days to go. Maybe this team should’ve hired Zach Braff instead of Denis Dyack?
Mirror’s Edge sequel might actually be in the works, but who knows
The original Mirror’s Edge is one of those cult hit games that everyone loves but nobody bought. It was a parkour-based shooter from the Battlefield developers that felt more like a 3D Canabalt than a war game, and it really was quite fantastic. Of course, like any cult hit that everyone loves but nobody bought, the internet has been clamoring for a sequel ever since the first game came out. Now, it looks like we might finally be seeing one soon. As reported by Joystiq, a page for Mirror’s Edge 2 recently popped up on EA’s Help Center, suggesting that an announcement might be on the way for the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo. The page was quickly removed, so I can’t exactly prove that it was ever there in the first place, but this seems like it would be a perfect way for EA to recover some of the goodwill they’ve been burning off lately. Joystiq also mentions some recent rumblings that Mirror’s Edge 2 will be on the Xbox One, which would help Microsoft build some more positive hype for its new console. I mean, as far as appeasing fans goes, this is practically the equivalent of EA standing outside your window and playing Peter Gabriel on a boom box.
World Of Warcraft developers delay your next unhealthy obsession
Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft transcended “cultural phenomenon” and became a certified money-printing machine years ago. As of early May, it still held about 8 million subscribers, with each one paying a monthly fee to slay rats and hang out with Kung-Fu Panda. Of course, even a moneymaking machine will eventually run out of ink, and it’s not a very well-kept secret that Blizzard has been working on another massive online game as World Of Warcraft’s popularity slowly fades.
Unfortunately, anyone who’s eager to throw the rest of their life away in service of another digital fantasy realm is going to have to wait a little longer, according to this report from GamesBeat. Blizzard still hasn’t officially announced anything about the game (although its codename, Titan, leaked a while back), but apparently 70 developers from the game’s team have been moved on to other projects. Those left behind are set to completely start it over. GamesBeat suggests that we might not see anything from Titan until about 2016, which will be 12 years since the release of World Of Warcraft. This isn’t necessarily an indication that development hasn’t gone well. Titan could simply be suffering from the same problem that delayed Duke Nukem Forever so long. That game was in development for so many years that it kept getting outpaced by technology—forcing its makers to scrap the project and start over with modern tech—so maybe Blizzard just wants to “future-proof” this thing to ensure that its next MMO is worthy of World Of Warcraft’s legacy. Besides, Duke Nukem Forever turned out fine, right?