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Uncharted 4 Sells Many Copies Which Pleases Lots Of People

Uncharted 4

Sony and Naughty Dog are happily boasting that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the PlayStation 4 is the fastest selling exclusive title in the history of the console in the North American region with 2.7 million copies of the game sold worldwide (counting both discs and PlayStation Store purchases) in its first week on the market.  Its success isn't exactly a surprise; interested parties both inside the video game industry and out expected Uncharted 4 to sell well and we're talking about a franchise that just prior to A Thief's End's release has sold a combined twenty-eight million copies spanning the original Drake's Fortune through its two PS3 sequels and the PS Vita's oft-overlooked Golden Abyss and Fight for Fortune.

I bring this up to say that hopefully this success sends a message that there's still high demand for expertly crafted, AAA-level single-player linearly plotted video games.  We hear so often that these kinds of games are largely unsustainable from a development perspective, that people don't want them anymore in favor of evergreen mutliplayer-exclusive experiences, and that free-to-play mobile experiences packed with consumable microtransactions are where the entire market is headed overall.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Uncharted 4 and cannot recommend it enough.  Developer Naughty Dog has packed the game with so many beautiful details and fun moments that I felt negligent rushing through certain set pieces despite those sequences being built around escaping from danger as fast as I could.  I finished the game, but I know there are moments that I missed and eventually I'll need to replay the game to try and see everything.  I advise you to play the game and see what it has to offer.  Let yourself be captivated by the mystery and explore the story beats.  Don't rush through it, and avoid the endgame spoilers.  You need to experience this one for yourself.


Power Button - Episode 204: Disney In-finish-ity

Power_buttonBlake Grundman has a problem.  He's invested a lot of time and money into collecting Disney Infinity figurines and video games and now Disney has canceled the entire product line.  He needs some time to air his grievances and openly weep, so on this week's episode of Power Button we hold a farewell for the biggest Toys To Life product that somehow didn't make enough money.  Also, knowing that Disney is going back to licensing its properties to other publishers again, we pitch some ideas for Disney-owned properties we'd like to see become new games.  A dream is a wish your heart makes (unless you fail to turn a profit).  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Ratchet And Clank Wrap-Up

Ratchet and ClankNow that the latest Ratchet and Clank game for the Sony PlayStation 4 is complete and a best seller, it's time for the game's directors, Shaun McCabe and Chad Dezern, to talk about the lessons learned from the development process.  Gamasutra hosts the discussion as the two cover tying the game into the Ratchet and Clank film, using the film's development to boost their own processes, and organizing their old PS2 Ratchet assets. 

We simply don’t have access to our source files from the PS2 era. Back then, we had a numbers-only naming convention, with number-to-name directories scribbled in private notebooks. We used a home brewed asset management system that we can no longer access. And our directory structure was a free-for-all, with source files frequently hidden away on local directories. 

Luckily, the PlayStation 3 R&C Collection proved to be our saving grace. Idol Minds went through the painful process of extracting our assets from the PS2 master disc for the collection. We realized early on that we could use those libraries. So we enlisted support from technology consulting firm Tin Giant to extract data from the collection and convert it to our engine formats. Amusingly (to us, anyway) the assets retained metadata from the PS2, so we got to revisit our asset numbering system and remember our fledgling development practices.

I enjoyed both the new Ratchet game and the tie-in film, although the game is the better experience of the two.  I enjoyed it so much that I put in the extra work to earn the PS4 platinum trophy.  You have to admire the work that goes into the Ratchet games.  The team at Insomniac Games clearly loves the franchise and wants to give their all when they create a new one.  Even they don't know where the series goes from here, but I know we'll see a new installment before too long.  I have a feeling there are still too many solid ideas written down on brainstorming notebooks for the Solana Galaxy to know permanent peace.


Disney Exits Console Publishing, Disney Infinity To Be Discontinued

Disney InfinityFailing to definitively conquer the video game console publishing market, Disney Interactive is exiting the business and taking its Toys To Life game platform Disney Infinity with it.  The game will shut down in June following the release of the final two character packs (based on Alice Through The Looking Glass and Finding Dory) and the studio behind it all, Avalanche Software (not to be confused with Avalanche Studios, the Just Cause folks), is now out of business.  It's a grim day for Infinity fans as despite performing what any other company would consider to be successful in this business, it's not enough for Disney.  USgamer has the report.

Disney Infinity probably made a good deal of money, but for Disney, the licensed Star Wars Battlefront represented the future moving forward. Pachter estimated that Disney Infinity made $200 million in revenue last year, while Star Wars Battlefront earned $660 million. The $200 million estimate put Disney Infinity ahead of Lego Dimensions and Skylanders, but Disney is a huge company and its perspective on 'successful' is vastly different.

By licensing the Star Wars brand to Electronic Arts, Disney doesn't have to have developers on hand to make titles. It reaps the rewards and the risks are all Electronic Arts. At some point, management looked that the gulf between Infinity and Battlefront and wondered why it was publishing games in-house. You can probably expect to see more licensing of Disney properties, but most of that will probably lean on the mobile side.

If you're still interested in the Infinity figures, watch for clearance sales at your favorite retailer over the summer.  It's disappointing to see Disney exit the business, but now that the company is switching gears back to a licensing model, perhaps we'll see some creative ideas based on Disney properties from other companies.  Yes, there will always be a place for Star Wars games, but where are the Arkham Asylum-like Avengers game, Darkwing Duck Remastered, and of course my biggest, most wanted pipe dream of them all...

It's a shame that being merely successful at a business like this isn't enough for Disney which has an "engulf and devour" mindset in the video game industry as it engages in a repeated cycle of buying established studios, pushing them to deliver, closing them when they fail to quickly produce top selling sensations right out of the gate, and then withdrawing from the business altogether before trying again a few years later.  I don't understand why anyone would spend so much time and money to build a platform that is successful by standard metrics and then throw it away just became it makes only some money and not all money.


Power Button - Episode 203: Aliens Vs Podcast

Power ButtonAliens are among us!  Specifically, aliens in video games.  On this episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I take you through Zen Studio's Aliens vs Pinball pack which leads into a discussion of our favorite video game aliens.  From the denizens of SR388 to Lavos to Halo's Flood and beyond, we're going past the stars and beyond the moon.  You cannot comprehend the true form of this show, but try it out anyway.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Soak Up The Little Details Of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the NightKonami's classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night originally for the Sony PlayStation is packed with all kind of small details and nice touches that are very easy to miss if you're blasting through the game at top speed.  Take some time to explore the haunted castle and really soak in the atmosphere.  VGJUNK has a list of little moments and quirky additions in Symphony that you may have missed if you weren't paying attention.  For instance, are you familiar with the list of field notes for each monster you'll find in the castle?

As is customary amongst lords of the night, Dracula's castle is packed with a menagerie of monstrous creatures including, but not limited to: bats, larger bats, skeletons, larger skeletons, ninja skeletons, demonic puppets from Hell, Great Old Ones, angry tables and, in the Sega Saturn version, something called the Human Face Tree, which is even creepier than it sounds. Once you've killed a monster, its information is added to the game's bestiary for you to peruse at your leisure, and I suggest that you do so because Symphony of the Night's monster list is an absolute joy to read.

Just take a moment to bask in the glorious phrase "specially trained war-goose." Not one of your regular war geese, oh no, it's one that been specially trained. Nothing but the best for Dracula's castle. It makes sense that a goose would be chosen for this military role, because geese are the most naturally aggressive and remorseless birds on the Earth.

Symphony and its sequels are full of these kinds of things, although you can tell that this game was especially crafted with love, creativity, and care.  This is a game where a vampire flicks peanuts into his mouth to restore health, where skeletons run away in delight when you slay their slavedriver master, and there's an optional shoe item that makes Alucard one pixel taller as its sole function.  Keep an eye out when you're stabbing demons and jumping across platforms.  You just might be entertained in the middle of all of that entertainment.  It's an absolute creative crime that Konami no longer makes games like this one.


Let's Watch A Pinball Bug Hunt With Aliens vs Pinball From Zen Studios

Aliens vs PinballZen Studios continues to acquire some amazing licenses for use in its pinball tables.  Following on from FOX's Family Guy and American Dad comes a trio of tables based on the Alien franchise.  Relive the excitement of Aliens, run in fear from Alien Isolation, and get caught in the crossfire of Aliens vs Predator. Combined as the Aliens vs Pinball pack, the new tables arrive for Microsoft Xbox One, Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 4, PS3, PS Vita, Steam, Windows 10, Mac, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire on April 26.  In the meantime, you can check out the Alien pinball action in this video in which I run through the three tables and explore them.  These aren't amazing scores as I'm only just learning the ins and outs of the tables, but it'll show you a little of what to expect. Thanks to Zen Studios for providing early access to the tables.


Stir Up Trouble In Catlateral Damage

NewScreenshot2My girlfriend loves cats and she loves video games, so when I was offered a free copy of the cat rampage action PC title Catlateral Damage which was recently released for the Sony PlayStation 4, I thought to myself, "Ooh, she's going to love this."  And sure enough, she did.  We've spent some time plowing through the living rooms, laundry rooms, and dinosaur museums of Catlateral Damage, playing the role of an housecat who vows to make those humans suffer.  Check out these videos of the game in action as I swipe and shove everything not nailed down onto the floor in pursuit of points and unlockables.