Daily Recap: June 15, 2009

Ironically, Animal House was filmed at the U of O...but you all likely know that by now First of all: Congratulations recent college graduates. Welcome to a world full of (seemingly unavailable) opportunities!

I'm sorry, that was harsh.

Still, the University of Oregon's ceremony for the geography and anthropology departments had a wonderfully apocalyptic keynote speaker telling everyone the skills they earned during four years of tuition-giving are for jobs not yet created, and that there are no guarantees of gainful employment right now -- but good luck anyway! I laughed for my graduating friend.

As far as Silicon Sasquatch goes we're back on track this week with our lovely Daily Recaps, and we'll actually get around to posting additional content over the next few days.

Doug's preparing a wonderful beginner's guide to sports games, which is something I've always wanted to read considering my inability to get into the genre. I'll be working on a review for Saints Row 2 and I can't say enough good things about it from the in-depth customization to the spraying of public property with fecal matter.

Also, look for our impressions of the recently released Overlord II demo; as far as I can tell, controlling a horde of gremlin-sounding demons with a penchant for clubbing baby seals results in guilt-laden hilarity.

Monday's news = 1UP posts some hefty Project Natal rumors, Verizon steps onto GameTap's turf and Shigeru Miyamoto really wants to help you win at gaming.

Thankfully, that's not the actual size of the Natal camera. Damn perspective.

Microsoft's Natal hardware, demoed famously at E3 two weeks ago, is kind of the current poster child of gamedom. Sure, E3 2009 had a lot of fantastic announcements from all sorts of developers, publishers and console makers, but the media bees are certainly buzzing about the capabilities of the company's proprietary Xbox 360 camera.

Now 1UP has confidently posted significant (if proved to be true) rumors about Project Natal, believing that the camera is actually part of a "new" Xbox console package to be launched in the fall of 2010. However, as the post states, don't think of it as the Xbox 720, but more of what happened between the GameCube and Wii transition: similar hardware that can play the last generation's games while offering new ones with different control schemes and slightly better graphics. Something tells me this new Xbox will cost a bit more than the Wii's meager $250 asking price.

I've read a lot of postulations about Natal recently, but 1UP is really going all out here. The idea isn't extremely far fetched, but one would have to question Microsoft's methodology of extending the 360's life cycle -- which we know the company wants to do. Why continue to carve the gaming population into accessory-laden segments? Oh yeah: cash money.

It's bad enough with overpriced hard drives, and it was worse when there used to be Core, Pro and Elite models. If Microsoft does introduce a redesigned 360 to bundle with Natal, the price has to be competitive and the package can't alienate current 360 owners by offering too many upgrades to then negate the older model. Of course the company can do whatever it wants, but the backlash from gamers could be tremendous.

Verizon seems to be everywhere, but you can't say the same for their downloadable game service; not yet at least

Apparently Verizon craves a slice of the deliciously profitable pie that is downloadable PC gaming, à la GameTap.

Joystiq has a story up unveiling that the telecommunications giant will soon be introducing a test program in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to offer over 1,400 PC games for a $9.99 per month subscription fee. The games can be played online, likely through Verizon's own software, or can be downloaded directly to the computer. I'm sure users can expect some form of DRM considering the format.

Now that one big telecoms company is on the bandwagon, who'll be next?

An image from Nintendo's patent for "demo play," originally referred to in the document as the Kind Code

It's been mentioned for a while, but now the truth finally comes out: Nintendo will be introducing a new feature in New Super Mario Bros. Wii that can finish difficult parts of the game for you. Shigeru Miyamoto seems to be spearheading this innovation, currently referred to as "demo play." The famed designer wants to attract people who give up on games after failing during trying portions of a title.

I truly support the idea, but it took a few minutes of deep pondering to come to that conclusion.

It's not that I'm worried "demo play" could take away from the experience of overcoming adversities -- after all, if someone wants to pay full price for a game to watch it be played, that's their own decision -- it's that I initially assumed this feature might turn games into a boring spectator sport where friends rent and "beat" a title on autopilot just to say they did. I'm already not a fan of videogames adopting cinematic cliché­ after cinematic cliché, so the idea of literally watching a game like a movie sounded off-putting.

However, I think "demo play" is a promising development for gaming as a whole. How many times have you or someone you know quit a game due to frustration? Maybe the option just being there will bring the more timid and inexperienced toward gaming, and as such the act will become even more socially acceptable.

Sure, the so-called hardcore can use this as flak to say you're not getting the most out of a difficult game if you let the computer do it for you, but I've always been more concerned with the experience of videogames and not high scores or bragging rights. A game's story, presentation, art style, music and a multitude of other things matter way more than if it's hard or easy enough. Even with achievements I only try to get the most points in games I care about and love, not solely just to have a bigger gamerscore than someone else.