The final issue of DisCONNECT for each year either looks back on the previous year or forward to the next year. Last year I looked back, this year I’m going to make wild predictions which may or may not come true. How accurate are my predictions? Unless it’s healthcare-related, I have a success rate of about 1%, with a 1% margin of error. I should have guessed something accidentally by now… I guess my psychic abilities are zero, and I’m unlucky.
1: Duke Nukem Forever is Released
If I made this prediction in 2009, I’d be laughed off the Internets and possibly attacked IRL. But given the revelation that DNF didn’t just die at the end of the 3D Realms era (despite what so many people said), it’s not so much of a stretch. Will it make Early 2011 like some are projecting? I doubt it. I’d be leaning closer to Summer 2011 (or Winter if you’re in the US). Will it rock? I don’t know. I’ll get it regardless because I owe it to my inner child. And, of course, DisCONNECT will review it in standard cynical style. 360 and PC versions. Because I’m crossplatform, baby! Or something. Moving on…
2: Windows 8 Details Leak
Okay I admit I’ve got pretty much nothing to back this up, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that details about Windows 8 are probably not too far off, probably sometime next year. Nothing solid or overly useful, but interesting none the less. I think Microsoft are probably looking at returning to the old update schedule for Windows refreshes. The kids all raged that Windows 7 came out “so soon” after Vista. Obviously those kids don’t remember/weren’t around in the 90s when we went from Windows 3.11 to 95 to 98 to 2000 and ME in such a short time period. The gap between XP and Vista was unusual. That said I think Win8 will actually include some new features which will piss people off because they’re different. Expect Windows 9 to essentially be Windows 8 except with under the hood tweaks, while people claim it’s “way better and so different” to the previous version (as with Vista/Win7).
3: Portal 2 Brings Episode 3 News
I’ll laugh if this one actually comes true, but we all know this is a long shot. That said, the gap between Ep2 and Ep3 is lengthening, and seriously I have to wonder what the hell Valve are up to. They take the same amount of time as most devs take to make a full game to make a single episode. They’re good episodes, but they can recycle a lot of general content and don’t need to drastically upgrade the Source engine. Anyway I’m not here to attack Valve, rather I’m here to suggest that Portal 2 will end the media blackout regarding Episode 3, about which we’ve heard practically nothing that we couldn’t figure out for ourselves. Half Life is a lot like LOST was; each episode answers a question with another question. LOST ended without answering a lot of stuff. I somehow think Half Life will do the same. Anyway, here’s hoping!
4: Team Fortress 2 Successor Info Leaks
Team Fortress 2 was released in 2007. For a multiplayer game that’s very good, and TF2 shows no signs of slowing down, thanks in part to the major content upgrades that it receives. TF2 has secured its place along with Counter Strike and the Battlefield series, which is remarkable. That said I’m sure that Valve are sitting there thinking that something has to happen to keep players interested, and these regular little content packs and the dubious MannCo Store aren’t going to cut it forever. TF2’s been a pretty good investment but it’s probably due to a full overhaul. I wonder if the Beta right now is actually the start of plans for a successor? Maybe we’ll find out a few hints in 2011?
5: Mac OS X Lion is a Piece of Shit
The initial impressions I have of Lion is simply “What?!” and nothing more. Some people are ranting and raving about it being an OS revolution, but these same people also think that smartphones weren’t invested until the iPhone was released, which we know is crap. I don’t know why Apple thinks we need to have our desktops act identically to an iPad, and their half-arsed implementation looks stupid to me. It’s funny; OS X lacks a true maximise button, because Apple decided that the window “should only expand to show what it needs to show” (as if they know better than the user), and now they’re going the other way and taking up the entire screen like a greedy tumour! Seriously Apple, make up your god damned minds!
6: New iPad is Major Refresh
By “major” I mean some important component is updated, like the screen or the camera. I guess this one is a no-brainer, but then again Apple are known for releasing incremental upgrades that are nice to have but not essential (i.e. 3G to 3GS). Will this one be a major upgrade? I’m guessing it probably will be.
7: Mass Effect 3 is a Different Kind of Good
ME2 was different to ME1. Some people said it was worse because of the thermal clip thing and removal of some of the powers. Personally I wasn’t bothered and I found the character development and pacing in ME2 to be superior to that of ME1, which is saying something because both are outstanding examples of good writing and character development in video games, particularly given that it’s a somewhat open ended experience with multiple outcomes. And I also like how it ditched the shitty inventory system with its mess of duplicate guns and ammo and stuff. The initial teaser for Mass Effect 3 seems to suggest a similar direction, as do the small bits of info we’ve had leaked except for some things. My biggest worry is that they play up the “comedy” part too much; ME2 was great because it was bleak and pretty hopeless, with plenty of things left unfinished and an uncertain future ahead. Suggestions indicate that ME3’s tone is to get darker again but perhaps include more of the small amusing things that we saw in the first game. Suppose we’ll have to wait and see… I don’t know what classifies as “holiday 2011” for the US, but I’m guessing regardless of what they say that we’ll see it towards the end of 2011.
8: TES5 Skyrim Falls Below Expectations
I love The Elder Scrolls series, I really do. But Oblivion was hyped beyond belief and on release I think all of us were left feeling a little bit disappointed. The schedules seem to be somehow less impressive than we were led to believe. The game world was pretty static. The NPCs “training” were really just playing animations and there was no progression beyond the levelling system that followed the player. Unlike Morrowind, we couldn’t kill quest characters. I think that TES5 will follow the same pattern unless Bethesda have learned their lesson. Also the friggin’ Gamebryo engine is making a comeback with TES5. That means more jittery physics and poor performance! Seriously guys, there’s no reason to keep using it.
9: Dragon Age 2 Moderate User Critical Success
DA:O is a great RPG. The second one? I have doubts. Maybe it’ll be just as awesome as the first but it’s obvious that it goes in a different direction than the first one, with stylised graphics. It looks more vibrant than the original. Look, leave the stylised over-the-top shit to the JRPGs that wapanese kids like, and keep the grit in the Western RPGs. Still if it’s as good as the original we’ll all play it regardless, but this sort of cross-stylistic stuff never bodes well. I somehow doubt that users will be as pleased with it.
10: Consoles Continue to Dominate
The age of PC gaming is definitely on the way out. The PC originally was the dominant force for the hardcore games. In some ways we still are (there aren’t any decent flight simulators on the consoles after all, nor anything like ARMA2 and the butchered version of Operation Flashpoint doesn’t count) but we’re also losing a lot of ground in what would traditionally be considered PC territory, like western RPGs. The RTS genre still belongs to the PC but that’s pretty much it. This tend will continue and I’m afraid we’ll see a further decline in the viability of the PC market. I think part of the reason will be piracy, and part of it will be profit-driven; there are simply lots of consoles out there which are ultra easy for people to operate and maintain. The PC market can’t compete with that, it’s too complex and dynamic, which is our greatest strength. Anybody who was hoping to see a return to PC dominance or the decline of cross platform games will be disappointed. Consoles have won, I’m afraid, and the PC will always be the second development system, rarely the primary. At least we’re ahead of the PS3 though!
And that’s it for DisCONNECT 2010! Thanks for reading along with me this year and being patient while I reestablish DisCONNECT after a period of extended silence. What’s up for DisCONNECT in 2011? Only time will tell, because I have no plan or anything just like always, so anything could happen. Like Pioneer in the outer reaches of the solar system, we’re in a period of radio silence… well, that isn’t technically accurate I suppose so… look, just forget it.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…