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Sprinkling The Pixie Dust

Even a month into release I am still finding Oblivion deeply satisfying. Call me sad, but I am now the proud owner of both the PC and the 360 versions of the game. What is it that makes the game so much fun? the rich graphics.. the fun quests.. despatching an Imp with a well placed blow from the sword or maybe working some magic to explain to that arrogant bandit just who is boss as he finds himself at the receiving end of a tirade of fireballs. In reality, the appeal of the game is all this and more.. but what makes a good game or better yet a great game?

Our industry, like its feature film industry cousin, has no magic formula to success. We certainly have a checklist of items that we aspire to in every product we develop. We spend a great deal of money and assign skilled development teams to deliver cutting edge graphics, carefully worked out gameplay and all the nuances that we expect will make a hit game. A further significant amount of money is then spent in advertising and hype courting the consumer and critic that this game is the one that will change their lives. We put the product in a pretty box with a manual and fill the warehouse hoping to sell a million copies of our new masterpiece.

And yet, many of these products fail to spark the imagination of you, the consumer and they gather dust waiting their turn to fill the bargain bin in a "job lot" deal with a large retailer. There are undoubtedly stinkers, and I use that term unreservedly, in titles that get released each year with obviously low quality. Yet, there are many titles with high production values and associated high budgets that simply never become hits.

In the industry we often say lightheartedly that the major hits have been sprinkled with pixiedust. That invisible hit making ingredient that has our products flying off the shelves. From the largest publisher, to the smallest independant team we can never define which of our games has been blessed with this magic. If we knew what it was that brought the blessing of the pixies to a game then each and every publisher would be a hit machine, turning out success after success, but even the mega-publishing giants of the gaming world have no guarantee of having their product so blessed.

I have been lucky in my career that many of my titles have been liberally sprinkled with pixie dust but it is something that none of us ever take for granted regardless of the months and years we have sweated over producing our latest game. The pixies are fickle in their support with only so much dust to go around.

In the last month or so with the release of Oblivion and Tombraider Legend they have clearly been working overtime to bring some extra magic into our lives. I have a list of up and coming releases in my watch list that I really do want to enjoy, so if any of you are in personal contact with the gaming pixies I would be grateful if you could point them in the direction of my list!


It's love

As Captain would say, "Love will keep her in the air". Obvlivion is one of those games where it's clear that the developers, voice actors, artists, all the way down to the janitor knew what they were trying to do, and put a ton of Love into the game.

Which is why every part feels so good. Sure, I have issues with the menu being consoled (on the PC side), but with the player add-ins all contributing their love into the game (I get Unicorns with my mod - yay!), it just keeps growing.

You can tell when a game has been made with love - and often, it's the ones that sit in our hearts and souls. And pocketbooks, for that matter.


First of all, I'm starting to wonder about purchasing the 360 version of Oblivion (I just finished the PC version). It would be nice to try it on my big screen and to try out a fighter this time. Maybe in a month to avoid burning out on it...

Second: I recently tried out the Tomb Raider: Legend demo on the 360. I have to say that I cannot remember the last time that I literally cheered out loud when playing a game. This happened when I finally figured out the final puzzle of the demo where you must launch a first position and then launch a few crates off of a see-saw-like cantilever. That was one of the finest puzzles involving game physics that I've seen. If the rest of the game is that good then I must buy the full version.

"Even a month into release I

"Even a month into release I am still finding Oblivion deeply satisfying." What about drinks, casual conversation, yada yada yada, & I’ll call you (never)?

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