Total Cluster FAQ

My previous FAQ Me! article went down quite well with our readers and I’m glad so many of you enjoyed it so, back by popular demand, here it is. To give you a different opinion, other than just mine, I’ve asked a few of my fellow writers to join me in what turned out to be a total cluster FAQ!







If you’d like more info on any of the other writers just click their picture but I’m sure you all know how this works so with out any messing about…let’s just jump in.

Which one feature do you think is missing from Xbox Live and the Playstation online services?

Well, first off (and I’m not trying to start another fanboy war) but PSN still needs to catch up and become a bit more social. I think Xbox Live could do with becoming a little more social too. I can’t put my finger on why but I seem to have become really frustrated with my friends list on the Xbox lately. It just keeps doing stupid things, I mean, is it me or does the ‘X’ button have a mind of its own? Sometimes it’ll send the invite you want to send, sometimes it opens up a party chat to them which, when you’re mid game in a frantic multiplayer round on Left 4 Dead or Red Dead Redemption, is annoying because then you need to spend ages pissing about bringing the guide back up, going into party chat and then closing it. I know what you’re thinking: “Wah, big deal” but do it yourself, it takes ages, and when all you want to do is shoot Ben, it’s annoying.

Ben had mentioned something in his E3 article this year that he’d like to see and so would I: cloud storage for your gamertag and save games. Basically, you could go to your mate’s, sign into Xbox Live or the PSN, and you’d have access to your gamertag, your online rank and campaign data for Halo Reach or your position in Fable III. You do, in a way, have a kind of access to some of this, depending on the game, but only if you want to mess about recovering your profile and your online rank.  Spartan is technically stored on Bungie’s servers but, as a whole, I’d like to see the feature fully fleshed out so that it’s as easy as signing into your Hotmail and something that’s part of the console, rather than a feature of a game.

Oh bollocks, that wasn’t “one feature” was it? I really need to start paying attention to what I’m writing, luckily the other writers can read.

I’d like to see features that have been part of PC gaming for years brought to consoles like guild, clan and group support.  If I’m honest, it suprises me that we havent already seen it added to the Xbox in the last big dashboard update.

Like Ben I'd like to see more guild support

I’d like to be able to preview the premium themes. I know you can do it on the web on a third party website, but who wants to fork out for something without knowing anything about it? I think it’s the responsibility of Microsoft to allow these to be better showcased… a 10 second animation is all they’d need to show. Hugely irresponsible to take people’s money when they don’t know what they’re buying. Other than that, I’m happy with XBox Live.

If the user is under the age rating and cursing or otherwise making a fool of themselves, proving the futility of life as we know it, and/or dissuading people from using the online service, then the controller will deliver onto the body a powerful electric shock to the genitals and won’t stop until they do. (The electrocution is ball-seeking). Then have Kinect record it when it happens, and release them periodically as videos on the XBL service.

Ok… (Step’s away from Ed) Right, next question.

Which game studio/publisher do you think has the best games?

Ooooh that’s a pointed question isn’t it? Someone’s clearly after a bit of debate here… well I’d have to go with Bethesda as I love the Elder Scrolls series, love Fallout 3 and am looking forward to Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. I can’t think of any other developer that I have that many games from, although I could be wrong if I spent time and went through my collection.

That’s a tough call, a number of developers make some of my favourite games, I find myself leaning towards either Valve or Blizzard though. Valve have such a great lineup, what with Half Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead and Portal, whereas Blizzard have my holy trinity of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft. If I had to choose between the two of them, as close as it would be, I’d give Blizzard the nod.

Bit of a tricky one this, for me, I want to wade in and just shout Bungie but other than a handful of early games, they’ve only ever done Halo (which isn’t a bad thing).  It’s stupid to say that they produce the best games; same goes for most developers, they make what they know. Would a Blizzard made racing sim be any good? Could Polyphony Digital make a shooter? Maybe not. The best games for me are almost always the first party or exclusive games – they have that something extra special that the third party ones don’t. I think if you were to sit down and think about your favourite games of this generation then most would have been exclusive to one platform. This leads us nicely onto our next question.

The world needs to send you into outer space to save humanity; you can only take 5 games with you. What 5 do you take!

World of Warcraft,
Civilization IV,
Pokemon Red,
Starcraft II and errrr I don’t know off top of my head.

Shit. How long am I going to be up there? If you need me to actually DO stuff and be productive then I should really pick some crappy games so I don’t get sidetracked eh? If, however, you’re expecting me to be up there for a long time, then I’ll want games that I can play over and over and for a long time without getting bored… so UFO: Enemy Unknown, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Two Worlds and Command & Conquer: The First Decade. That last one’s cheating. I don’t care.

Why do people keep stranding me in places?

Argh I hate being asked for lists of things, there is always one that I forget. Questions like this always seem to have different answers depending on my mood too and these answers vary slightly from the time Lorna stranded me on a desert island with nothing but a crate of consoles and an unlimited power supply, but here they are anyway.

Halo Reach – I like Halo.
Forza 3 – I’ve had that game since it came out and still need to play it.
Doodle Jump – Can’t mess with Doodle Jump.
Mass Effect 2 – It’s like a training manual for space command and a teacher of valuable space based lessons, the most important of which is Lee’s rule of space command number one: “If your crew has been captured by an alien race, don’t piss about digging up rocks! Go and save them.”
Fallout 3 – Fallout 3 gets a lot of mentions on Gaming Lives doesn’t it? Well it’s a good game, that’s why. Anybody who disagrees normally didn’t play it for long enough. They got as far as leaving the vault, stopped in the sunlight and thought “well, now what?” before getting annoyed and turning it off. I got news for you guys that’s exactly what you were supposed to feel like when you left the vault, that feeling of complete confusion and bewilderment wasn’t Fallout being a rubbish game, it was the game being its very best.

Are betas really betas or just jumped up demos and marketing tools?

I thought in most cases they were to test out the multiplayer aspects and make sure the servers could handle the strain? Or to make sure the game was working properly. I wouldn’t be concerned that they’re demos or marketing tools, I’d be more concerned that they’re relying on you to bug/glitch test their games.

I can understand people thinking that a beta is a just a jumped up demo, but I see it more of a demo for the developers. It’s an almost built copy of a game that needs field testing with the masses of gamers so they can find connection issues, bugs/glitches, balancing different character classes, weapons, vehicles etc.

The different stages of betas could probably be classed as different things, the Alpha stage is without doubt a full on bug hunt and to a lesser extent the closed betas. I think once a title hits the closed beta stage then more of the marketing aspect starts to emerge. Open beta is more or less full blown marketing, but that’s not to suggest it’s not invaluable – stress testing servers can sometimes only be done during the latter stage due to population limits on early beta tests. The key for a developer is finding the balance between hype generation and bug squishing.

Depends on the beta…
Some are clearly betas as they’re unfinished and have lesser quality textures and such like, whereas others are obvious marketing tools geared at pulling enough people in prior to launch and THEN they’re hooked and have to fork out for the full game.

I’m with kind of with Mark and Ben on this one, it just seems to be a way of building up hype of late. Tell people that it’s limited and invite only to make them feel special, they tell their friends and they tell theirs. It’s viral marketing at its best. What would happen if a small studio was building a new and really innovative IP and on paper the idea was amazing, they let out one of these public betas and it was buggy, the graphics weren’t finished and it crashed from time to time, taking your game save with it. Everybody would be moaning the game was crap and be slagging it off and it could seriously affect the opinion of the final version if all those people who have played it have decided its rubbish before it’s even out. That’s what a beta is, an unfinished game. Adam actually covered the ins and outs of the modern day betas here.

What games are you looking forward to most in 2011?

Ohhh so many highlights include,
Diablo III, DiRT 3, Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Batman Arkham City, Bioshock Infinite,
Portal 2.
ohh and Driver: San Francisco

CRYSIS BABY!!!!! I can’t wait for this game, I adored the first Crysis and have been hoping that there’d be a decent sequel to it and E3 just confirmed that for me. It looks incredible, looks fast, looks REAL… yeah, that’s my one pick so far. The rest I can take or leave I suppose, but I may change my mind on that one.

For me, any of the big ones that have already been mentioned, oh, and Dead Space 2. I’d like to see a big Mass Effect 2 episode as well but nothing’s been announced as of yet. I’m on the fence with Gears of War 3 still, I do love the franchise but I just find it hard to get excited about Gears even though I love it and I’ll be there at 12am picking up my copy.

Is anything coming out that isn’t Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? Oh, the 3DS? Okay, I’ll take that Snake Eater remake and that Ocarina of Time remake…
Okay, I’ll just take both Zeldas.
Year sorted. :D

‘Who has teh best ass in gamin?’

Oh, now there’s a question that could be debated for hours between us Gaming Lives writers with a really in depth analysis, a full history of gaming bums and their impact on popular culture but instead I’ll pass this one over to one of the girls for a totally different answer to the one you were expecting. Lorna…?

Biggest... I mean best arse in gaming

Reaver, hands down.
James from Team Rocket?  Okay, not him.
Ellis from Left 4 Dead 2
There aren’t many tasty male arse shots that spring to mind which is a shame, but we can use our imagination…sadly we don’t tend to see tasty arse close ups of the guys in games…usually just sex bombs like Borderlands’ Lillith.

If you could create a game of any movie what would it be?

I’d be hard-pressed to think of a film I loved enough to make a game out of it. I’d be even harder pressed to think of a film where a game would help expand it in a significant or fun way without just being a lame attempt to cash into it. Actually, fuck it. Give me the rights to make a game of either or both Crank films, they’re perfect for a videogame treatment and refuse to take themselves seriously, which means there’s a lot of potential for hilarity and balls to the wall WTF.

Super Mario Bros with Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper…
that’s such a cool idea for a game!! Not sold on the whole “Italian plumber” thing though, maybe change them into Irish electricians…
but with a penchant for Ginsters pasties?

Wow this one’s a tough question… No wait! No it’s not…

Under Siege. Now stop and think about it for just a moment… imagine playing an FPS on the USS Missouri as none other than Casey “I’m just a cook” Ryback. You’d cry tears of pure awesomeness.

Do you think that game developers are over doing the whole Zombie thing?

Yes… yes I do. I’ve thought this for some time, and I think “oh for crying out loud change the fucking record” BUT… the same could be said for space marines, ye olde heros, treasure hunters and all the other stuff that’s been bandied around for decades. I think it’s just because zombies are more obvious standouts from space marines et al.

The whole zombie thing is getting a bit over the top. Games like Resi and Left 4 Dead obviously need them as it makes up the core enemy type, but adding zombies into Call Of Duty and Red Dead Redemption just seems like jumping on the bandwagon. Whereas in TV and movies everyone is putting out Vampires.

They’re not vampires Rook! They’re just emos that live in the woods! The zombie thing is getting over used way too much, the zombies in Red Dead have me confused as hell. From what I can tell it’s going to built into single player which just seems odd, it doesn’t fit with the style of the game, but I might be wrong so don’t quote me on that.

In five years from now how do you see the gaming landscape for the hardcore gamer?

Running out of new ideas.
I think we’re going to need someone to come in and do to gaming what Chris Nolan did to Batman movies… take it, turn it upside down, shake all the nonsense out of it, make it more sinister and more gritty… and then let it breathe. I want gaming to become so immersive that I forget there’s a power switch.
I want to boot up the console, slide in a game disc and be taken to another world that’s SO realistic in terms of the depth of character, back history etc that I’m there. I don’t mean virtual reality “there”, I mean on a spiritual level.

I think you’ve pretty much nailed that Mark, I’d like to hope that’s how it goes but, as complicated and time consuming as games are to make, I think it’ll need to go more episodic to achieve it. Almost like a TV series with shorter stories linked with a larger over arching story line. Current DLC for games like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age have the balance of cost, gameplay and what it adds to the universe of said game down to a fine art. Part of me hopes that this is more the way we go eventually but I also hope that the big boys like Activison and EA don’t get greedy with it. This is a really good question that’s got all sorts of things buzzing around my head so thanks to thesonicmole who sent it in, I’ll have a stab at giving this a full article coverage soon.

With EVE Online introducing a FPS into their universe, what game world would you like to see go cross-genre?

An action adventure set within the Warcraft universe could be quite good, something a bit Uncharted 2 in style. It’s such a great universe to play within and has it all when it comes to scenery. Lush forests, ice glaciers, underwater zones, deserts, volcanic regions – everything! What about a Valve “All Stars Tennis”, it works for Nintendo after all. Just imagine playing as Gordon Freeman while you serve against Ellis from Left 4 Dead, GLADOS could be the umpire.

I don’t know if it’s been done, but I’d love to see a micro-management or RTS game where you can then individually take control of your minions or units. So for example, you could have an RTS like Command and Conquer where you can then take control soldiers and it becomes a shooter as long as they’re alive. Taking control of a spy makes it a temporary stealth section, tanks are vehicle sections, planes are dogfights/carrier missions, and so forth.
Like Battalion Wars, except not hard to control, not short, and not kind of pants.

I want to see the point and click mystery game come back, except better, like point and click 2.0 and maybe have it set in the Bioshock or Fable universe. Oh, and a survival horror FIFA game would be funny; I’d play that for, like, an hour. It could be set at Wembley stadium during a power cut and all the premiership players could be zombies.

Here's me thinking I was being original.

I’d love to see an RPG game such as Oblivion/Fallout but with a trading angle to it so you could legitimately invest in stores (like you could in both those games) but also determine which products were sold, at what prices etc as well as trading with other towns to export your goods and import theirs. I’d also bring in the real estate aspect from Fable 2 but do it PROPERLY so it’s not just “I own this so I’m your landlord”, and you’d have to control the rent etc. Being a hero is great, it really is, but there’s more to life than slaying dragons… I want to slay dragons and sell trinkets with “I heart Middle Earth” on them!

How long do you think it will be until we see a new console cycle?

I think Microsoft and Sony will look more into handheld gaming devices before we hear about a new main home consoles. PSP and its variations never really worked as well as the GameBoy/DS variations. And with Nintendo owning that market and making profits just like they did with motion gaming, then I’m sure Microsoft and Sony will want to try and take a chunk of that profit margin too. The 3DS will raise the bar though.

Nintendo have already said they’re working on their next console, which will be HD and 3D and probably motion controlled, too. They also said they’re not going to show anything for a long while, or at least until 3DTVs are a lot more commonplace or there’s no point releasing a console with features that are mostly useless to a majority. So I guess if 3DTVS catch on in a big way, then it’ll be soon after that, with Nintendo or Microsoft first, and Sony doggedly holding onto their ’10 year development cycle’ until they release a console with features stolen from Nintendo and Microsoft.

It’ll be a long time yet, it’s just not logistically feasible at the moment. I tried it myself a few months ago with the Xbox but the handlebars just got in the way and I kept bashing my shins on the pedals. If a Console Cycle is ever released, I guarantee it’ll be for the Wii… I guarantee it’ll be white… I guarantee it’ll be made from the shittiest plastic imaginable… and I guarantee it’ll be utter shite. Sorry what… you didn’t mean that kind of cycle?? Oops.

There’s still a bit of life left in this generation yet but in two years time I think we’ll see consoles starting to get left behind with what developers can do visually and technically but as such are being confined by the limits on the machines of this generation. In 2012 or there about. I’d expect at least something from Microsoft, perhaps not releasing that year but we’d see something at least. No doubt it would have 3D support, huge Hard Drive (someone’s got to hit the 1TB sooner or later) and they’d probably cave and throw in a Blu Ray drive too. Focus would be well and truly on home entertainment machine so perhaps something like Windows 7 + media centre in a box.
With that said, Nintendo could well surprise us and reveal a Wii HD in time for Xmas, but I doubt it.

Where the hell am I supposed to put this?

If I’m completely honest, I’m not ready for one; I’m not sure if I will be in 2012 either. I always got the impression that the console market followed behind the PC market with regards to the hardware but the PC side just doesn’t seem to be light years ahead of the console market like it used to be, so that tech isn’t filtering down. I don’t think we’ll see a huge change for a while. Gaming is getting to a point where it’s more about money than anything else, so for the dev, games need to be cheaper and easier to make. I think that Kinect and Move may have bought us another 5 years, Nintendo will do what’s best for them, but with the Wii being the biggest thing since the pocket and watch, why change it until people stop buying it? When the change does happen though, I think we’ll see 3D support, motion support and maybe that original version of Kinect (Natal) we saw before it got watered down to fit a budget and had the good tech striped out of it. I think discs may eventually start to be a thing of the past or certainly more of a switch to digital distribution on the consoles and I’d love to see resolutions of 4k 2k (that’s 4 times the resolution of your 1080p tv) even if it does mean buying another TV. It still confuses me as to why Sony haven’t started banging the Playstation platform into everything they make, so maybe we’ll start to see things like that too with the next cycle.

Last five articles by Lee



  1. Rook says:

    I liked this article and not just because I took part. I liked that it seemed we had a panel of writers to comment and actually provide short but to the points answers, made for an easier read.

    Good one Lee.

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Totally agree… said to Lee on MSN the other night, after reading it in drafts, that it read like a conversation and it’s got me wanting to do a proper podcast or something similar the next time we all get together. Will comment properly tomorrow… too tired to think right now!

  3. Ben Ben says:

    You can just imagine the big ass boardroom style table with folk sat around it :)

    As always Lee, an interesting read :)

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    Great read and I like the format…seems like it is a great idea for an ongoing series.

  5. Edward Edward says:

    I agree with it sounding like a conversation, and I’ll back Mark’s comment about a podcast.
    Thanks for cutting down my stupidly long answers, too :)
    An awesome read, thanks Lee!

  6. Kat says:

    I’m not into arses but I have noticed that Halo Reach likes to linger amongst them, both the guys and gals. Noice read Lee & extras!

  7. MarkuzR says:

    OK so I’ve read this again and loved it, was great reading everyone elses answers to see what makes them tick, what doesn’t, what makes them horny etc. I love that there’s a very varied motley crew here, from Ninty fans to PC gamers… great cross section. I still don’t know how long we’re going to be up in space though… do I have time to nip out for a haircut or have I missed that window? I’ve got a package coming in a week or so, do you think UPS will hold it for me until I get back?

    Also… Fallout FTW!!

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