I’ve been gone for a week, trying to get myself moved into a new house, and have been wholly without videogames for that entire time. "But Ian!" you probably won’t say. "I was sure you were one of those ill-advised gamers in love with your PSP." True, but my wife took care to pack it well, because she is thoughtful and also very smart. So, now I return with a few stories of interest, and nothing of much importance.

The endless a-holy war between PC and console gaming got another bump in the rear this morning as CVG posted an article discussing DirectX 10 development with Mark Rein of Epic. According to the article, and relatively small leaps of logic that one could easily make, game developers aren’t liable to push the graphical envelope on PC games because, at least in the case of cross-platform titles, the PC releases only make up a small percentage of total game sales. Couple that with the fact that DirectX 10 is still a new-ish technology, and all signs point toward the big publishers, with the multi-platform releases, spending less time on making everything look like Crysis and more time on licensing shitty mall punk music. PC-only developers will obviously continue to have fun with the graphical capabilities of a high-end PC.

I used to dream about owning a high-end PC.

Looking forward to N+ on the Xbox Live Arcade? You should be. It’s a fantastic, maddeningly difficult Lodestone-style game of item collection, dodging danger, and leaping through the air with the agility of a concussed duckling. (In my case, anyway.) According to a post on the official forums of N developer Metanet, the game has an exclusivity contract with Microsoft, so you won’t be able to play it anywhere except on the PC and the 360 it has been on the Arcade for a year. With the comparatively huge support for independent developers on all three of the current consoles, I think it’s a bit unfortunate that these exclusivity agreements segment the audiences up, when small developers really just need to hit as wide a section of players as possible.

The intrepid Andrew Eisen, of Game Politics, sent a reasoned letter to the ESRB regarding the effective ban of Manhunt 2 via the board’s choice to assign it an AO rating. He received a very cordial form reply that stuck to the board’s "We just give the ratings; we don’t decide how retailers use them" mindset. Hey, we here just make bullets, we don’t decide which throbbing organs you shoot them into.

In the interest of garnering support for my tendency to champion narrative in gaming, here’s an interview Joystiq conducted with Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of Discworld creator Terry Pratchett, who wrote on the upcoming Heavenly Sword, as well as the recently-released Overlord. I’m going to be laszy and quote a couple of paragraphs here, because I think they’re good ones:

"It’s not just that technology is allowing us to tell better stories, though it is to a certain extent. But we’re trying to bring stories in-line with technology. When the first games came out, many were text-based adventures, and story was all they had. But as graphics started to improve, everyone fell in love with them, along with things like AI and physics. Story got left behind.

Now, suddenly in the last few years, the industry has really started to focus on story and narrative as an area that needs improving. But this has really been a problem of our own making, because we’ve simply not grown story-telling in games at the same pace as everything else. I think if we had, we’d be in a much better position with stories in games than we are now."

This week has releases! Do you?

Combat Mission: Shock Force
Let’s Ride: Friends Forever
Ride! Carnival Tycoon
Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children

Mario Strikers Charged

Bratz Ponyz
Chameleon: To Dye For!
Picross DS
Glory Days 2
Spelling Challenges and More!

World Championship Cards

Brave Story: New Traveler
Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl
World Championship Cards