Viewers of the 2012 Video Game Awards got a special treat in the form of an announcement teaser for Dark Souls II.
The teaser is a pre-rendered cinematic that gives only vague hints of the sequel's plot and provides absolutely nothing in terms of gameplay information. In any case, we have confirmation that a direct sequel (rather than a spiritual successor, ala Demon's Souls to Dark Souls) is in the works. Dark Souls was almost universally acclaimed by fans and critics, but a large portion of the loyal Demon's Souls fans held out that Dark Souls was actually a step backwards from its predecessor. Since a very large portion of Dark Souls players were Xbox and PC users who had never tasted the greatness of the PS3-exclusive Demon's Souls, many of them didn't know any better than to love the game without reservation. Being a big fan of Demon's Souls, I knew better and was one of the critics who argued that Dark Souls didn't quite hold up to Demon's Souls.
Don't get me wrong, I like Dark Souls! It's a really good game! I just felt that Demon's Souls was a more competent and cohesive overall package (especially factoring in the time it was released), in which all the features and mechanics worked fluidly with each other, and which was immensely better balanced (i.e. providing a challenge that was brutal, but fair).
I'm going to reserve my excitement for Dark Souls II until we start learning details of the gameplay. I fear that the marketing folks at the publisher might push FROM Software into making an even more mass-marketable game than Dark Souls was, which could lead to an even further simplification and dumbing-down of the game mechanics and concepts.
However, I'm not going to let that reservation stop me from expressing my desires for what I'd like to see in the game, just like I did prior to Dark Souls' release. [More]
A slimmer PS3.
It is being reported that Sony is planning on releasing a slimmer version of the PS3 console this holiday season. I have yet to see any detailed technical specs of the new unit other than that it will be lighter and smaller than the existing PS3 Slim models and will have a bigger hard drive out-of-box (250 gig or 500 gig models will be available).
I don't really see the point in this move; although, I guess if the lighter, smaller unit is going to cut production costs, then it's a smart business move for Sony. But from the consumer standpoint, I don't see any reason why someone would want or need to "upgrade" to the new model.
Maybe they'll release additional technical specs at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show? [More]
Recently came across Toronto-based software engineer Alex Curelea's blog, in which he describes the psychology behind why Diablo III may not be as satisfying as Diablo II was. It was a good read, and very quick too.
In the analysis, he compares Diablo fans to monkeys who are rewarded with flavored juice when they pull a lever after a specific sequence of shapes is displayed on screen. Eventually, the monkeys begin to associate the reward with the sequence of shapes, and the reward center of their brain becomes stimulated when the sequence appears, rather than when the actual reward is given later.
As previously reported, the Demon's Souls servers will be shut down as of midnight, May 31st, 2012 Pacific Standard Time. After only two-and-a-half years, the online functionality of this critically-acclaimed PS3 exclusive will be going dark. What a shame. Two years is nowhere near enough time for a game (particularly a console “Greatest Hits” title) to terminate its functionality. Heck, even annual released like Madden NFL and Call of Duty keep their online servers active for longer! But I guess that's the difference between having your game published and servers maintained by a little company like Atlus rather than a mega-publisher like EA or Activision.
The sentiments of all Demon's Souls players as of June 1st, 2012.
While I, myself, have moved on to Dark Souls (Demon's Souls spiritual successor), I still know several friends who have yet to play Demon's Souls and still have interest in trying it out or buying it. But they have less than a month left to do it before the most appealing functionality of the game gets disabled permanently.
Even though the announcement isn't a terribly big deal for me (as I've already completed the game and have moved on), I still feel very sad that - if I wanted to - I won't be able to go back and be able to get that Platinum trophy with the comfort (or fear) of knowing that I'll still have the support (or opposition, as the case may be) of other online players. As such, I have compressed my feelings on the issue into a little piece of fan art:
UPDATE (June 1, 2012): Servers to stay online "indefinitely"
It was just brought to my attention that the online servers for Demon's Souls are going to remain active past the previously-announced May 31st deadline. I guess enough people went out and bought the game in the hopes of playing it before the shut-down that Atlus decided to keep things going! Keep up the good work, Demon's Souls fans!
Demon's Souls server operation has been extended by Atlus indefinitely!
Today is a sad day for fans of Atlus' critically-acclaimed PS3-exclusive game, Demon's Souls. Hot off the heels of my Dark Souls review, the announcement that Dark Souls will be ported to the PC, and new rumors that DLC is in the works for Dark Souls, Atlust just announced that the Demon's Souls servers will be shut-down at 11:59 PST on May 31st, 2012.
We knew it had to happen sooner or later, and the shut down was already delayed at least once (it was originally scheduled to happen shortly after the release of Dark Souls). It just seems like this is way too early. The game is only two-and-a-half years old!
It's also really too bad that FromSoftware and Atlus don't seem to have any plans to update the game to support some sort of P2P, direct IP/TCP, or proxy-server multiplayer set-up. I know it would defeat the idea behind the online components, but something would be better than nothing. Letting the fans connect to each other directly, or to set up their own servers would be nice, but I'm not even sure if it's technically possible given the structure of the PlayStation Network.
UPDATE (June 1, 2012): Atlus extends server operation indefinitely
Just found out that Atlus has extended the operation of the Demon's Souls servers "indefinitely! [More]