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Ask CVG Anything: Do the new consoles look hideous?

Plus: Is Retro's next project disappointingly familiar?

Ask CVG Anything does exactly what it says on the tin. We ask followers on the CVG Facebook page and forums to send in their best game-related questions, and do our best to answer them.

If you want to see your question featured in a future edition of Ask CVG Anything, either add it as a comment at the bottom of this article or keep an eye on our Facebook page or this forum thread where we'll be regularly asking for more.


Retro's big surprise was... another Donkey Kong game. Is this utter gubbins? - Balladeer

Rob - Kinda. I'm told the last Donkey Kong game was really, really fun. But I think everyone wanted a new Metroid game!

Andy - The original was excellent and this one features music by David Wise, which means it's already brilliant. Yes, I would've preferred a big, earth-shaking HD Metroid, but I sort of suspect that most of the talent behind the Prime games has already moved on. Unless they were satisfied spending their days recreating old Mario Kart tracks for 3DS, of course...

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Chris - It's roughly 60% gubbins, 40% excitement for me. In fairness, it's a typical example of the internet hyping itself up and setting itself up for a huge letdown. Nobody at Retro ever said it was working on a new Metroid, or a Star Fox, or an F-Zero, and Nintendo only ever said it was working on a Wii U game. I don't know why I'm so disappointed, because Donkey Kong Country Returns was excellent and more of the same in HD will be similarly excellent. But I suppose for once I just got caught up in the community-manufactured hype.

I think part of the reason is that Nintendo said well in advance that it was going to be showing off a new Mario Kart and a new Super Mario 3D game, but it still wouldn't say what Retro was working on. I think the reason it didn't just say "oh, and we'll be showing Retro's new Donkey Kong game" gave the impression it was working on something different that was to be kept secret.


Long term, will shunning "indie" developers and easy self publishing be more costly to Microsoft than the pre-owned DRM and always online issues? - DAEDALUS79

Rob - I think it will. It'll be the breakthrough unknown indie game that'll be the next big thing, and as things stand the likelihood of that coming to Xbox One is slim.

Andy - Yes. Xbox has Minecraft, but it won't have the next Minecraft.

Chris - Probably. I can understand why Microsoft's doing it (though I don't agree with it), because it was the first to go down the easy self-publishing route with the Indie Games section of the Xbox 360 Marketplace. The problem is, that led to a lack of quality control and the result is a total of 2987 indie games (at the time of writing), of which 2900 are probably complete pish (but get Mount Your Friends - it's hilarious). It's little wonder Microsoft buried it way into the depths of the marketplace.

With that in mind, I think Sony (and Nintendo, since it allows self-publishing with a free Unity engine licence on Wii U, so expect a big batch of indie titles in the next six months or so) should just make sure these self-published games don't result in a deluge of amateurish shovelware (for want of a better word) that clogs up their online marketplace and drowns the genuinely good titles. There has to be a very efficient (yet fair) promotion system in there, so that every indie game gets a fair whack at being noticed, but only the good ones get promoted.


Can developers/publishers afford to support more than three platforms when making a triple-A game? ie, PS3+4, Xbox 360+1, Wii-U and PC. And, if not, which ones do you think they will drop? - ted1138

Rob - It is a question of budget, but it's also a question of workload and turnaround. To research and define and produce all those assets is super difficult to do within two years, but it's even harder if done across different generations of hardware.

The PS3, in particular, is a massively complicated multithreaded mess with a labyrinthine Cell processor at its heart. But of course, developers think it's worth the effort because it's a popular console with a great tie ratio. If it had the same sales figures and tie ratio of the Wii U, for example, I can understand why a publisher or studio would focus efforts elsewhere.

Zoom

Andy - As EA told me at E3, we should expect at least two years of 'cross-gen' games on PS4 and Xbox One - and it makes sense because that's where the audience will be. In that case, I don't see any reason for any platforms to be dropped.

Chris - I reckon - for the couple of years at least, as Andy says - we'll see PS3 and Xbox 360 continue to be supported relatively well, with games appearing on both. They may not necessarily be pared-down versions of the same games appearing on PS4 and Xbox One, but I don't think publishers will ignore them anyway.

What I mean is if they announce, say, Assassin's Creed V down the line I don't think we'll see it on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U like we're seeing with Assassin's Creed IV (because developers need to start saying "right, it's time for you all to move onto the next system" eventually), but that doesn't mean they won't still get another studio to work on a smaller-budget PS3 and 360 title, maybe a spin-off. When you've got a total of over 150 million Xbox 360s and PS3s sitting in homes worldwide, you don't just stop supporting it, especially if you have a big IP that's likely to make money back on the strength of its name alone.


Were Microsoft right to fold to public demand regarding there DRM and Always On (24 hours) or should they have stuck to their guns and rode it out? Could they have ridden out the bad press? - StonecoldMC

Rob - This was more than bad press. This was a fundamentally bad idea. The future is digital but you can't force a revolution.

Andy - I think so, but like PS3 it would have really hurt them at launch. My full opinion can be found here.

Chris - I really don't know. Maybe if they'd ditched Kinect and somehow ensured it was cheaper than a PS4 at launch then some people would have still bought it. Not as much as if the DRM hadn't been there, of course, but still a decent amount. We all like a good moan, but there will always be people who are willing to buy despite the setbacks.

Everyone knew SimCity had harsh DRM before it was released (though we never knew it would result in widespread errors, of course), but it still shifted 1.1 million copies in its first fortnight. Everyone hated EA's Online Pass but Battlefield 3 still sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and FIFA 13 still sold 14.5 million.


Would you agree that the new consoles are hideous looking? - flash501

Rob - They're alright!

Andy - Not really, but I don't think either of them are particularly striking in the way PS2/3 were. That said, when you see PS4 in the flesh, you will say 'wow' - it's bloody tiny compared to Xbox One.

Chris - They're pretty bad in my opinion. The slantiness of the PS4 is going to make it a nightmare to fit into my TV cabinet, and the Xbox One is so massive you could probably hollow it out and fit it with an ensuite bathroom.

I also don't get that weird two-tone effect they both have. I don't know if that's supposed to be the 'in' thing in electronics design just now but I think it makes them look like unfinished prototypes. Still, as long as the games look the part I'm not too bothered.


Did you cry big flowing man tears during the intro to The Last of Us? - El Mag

Chris - No, because I'm Scottish and we don't cry at anything.

Not only that, but I was having serious problems with the game when I started it (similar to these problems) so the game kept freezing and the cutscenes kept locking in place while the sound continued as normal. So, annoyingly, I only heard 'that moment' and didn't see it, until the video in the cutscene suddenly sped up and caught up with it. it totally ruined the flow of the moment and I just ended up thinking "ah, right, so that's the sad bit everyone's on about".

Finally managed to fix the problem (even with the patch installed, the game only works for me when I play offline), but the damage has been done. At least it's working now so it'll be fine by the time I reach the end (still playing through it in my spare time because I didn't review it).

Rob - I cried so hard the police came round.

Zoom

If you could have any super power would you still work at CVG? - JDB

Chris - As long as my super power wasn't the power to play a game and immediately have my thoughts converted to text form, then yes.

Rob - Probably - it is rather lovely here! I would also fly to work.


With the recent announcement that online multiplayer has now been added to PlayStation Plus for PS4, much like how Gold is required for multiplayer on Xbox, do you guys care that you have to pay for multiplayer on consoles (Nintendo aside) and which model in Gold and Plus do you think offers the greater value now? - TheLastDodo

Chris - That last bit sounds like a loaded question, because it's fairly obvious which of the two offers the greater value!

I don't care too much about having to pay for online because I've been doing it for seven years now on the 360 and I'm just used to it (Stockholm Syndrome!) whereas I never play games online on the PS3 but the free games still make it worth it.

In short, as long as it means the servers are running well without too many problems (and we don't get another situation like in 2011 when PSN went down for a month) then I'm not too bothered. It's still much cheaper than something like World Of Warcraft.

Rob - No, I think it's an antiquated, regressive business decision to charge for online play on consoles when PC platforms find their own ways around this. However, adding value to subscriptions is a smart idea, and certainly the Games for Gold and PlayStation Plus offers do help make the fees more tolerable.

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