You suck for not having bought Viva Piñata. Fortunately, Rare is undeterred by your scorn, and has announced that it will produce more games in the franchise. I say "fortunately," because that draws attention back to last year’s release of the original. As of yet, Rare has offered no indication of what these additional game(s) will be, or whether they’ll follow the same formula as the original. It might be too soon to offer a game in the same mold, so it’s anyone’s guess right now, except for mine. My guesses are terrible.
I know Earthworm Jim 3D was a wretched game, but you’ve still got some affection for the guy, haven’t you? Franchise creator David Perry has revealed that the entire Jim team has been reassembled, awoken from their sleeper agent status to rid the world of robots and gum-chewers. At this point, Perry ought to be regarded as Mr. Hype, since his only target for the potential project is "eventually," which is equatable with "prior to the release of Duke Nukem Forever." I like to ride on hype machines.
Jack Tretton’s not currently facing the worst PR around the world of Sony. Misters Harrison and Karraker have eclipsed him in the past couple of weeks, which is, I imagine, why Tretton has given this tasty little quote: "I don’t have anything to tell you specifically, but we’re certainly open to changing the Sixaxis controller if it addressed North American gamers." This carefully strategized move allows Harrison to shock and wow us all in his keynote later today with the announcement that rumble will return to the hands of PlayStation gamers everywhere. Y’know… the literary difference between comedy and tragedy lies solely in the timing.
Also regarding Harrison’s keynote (scheduled for 10:30a PST), word is that the topics will cover "live demonstrations of previously un-announced services and games," such as that thing that Kotaku leaked, and the return of the abovementioned vibrating technology. Maybe he’ll surprise us all. Sony has, after all, allowed for a thick smokescreen of colossal cock-ups recently; maybe they’ve been hiding something great.
I’ve got a couple of quick impressions on the indie side of things here to counter-act the lumbering clumsiness of the big corps. Independent developer Jonathan Blow presented a keynote on the benefits of prototyping your gameplay. Time becomes a significant factor for hobbyist or independent designers, whereas it’s less of a resource and more of an obstacle for larger developers. Gamasutra’s coverage of the presentation ended with this fun, recursive little quote: "Blow finished by saying that independents are much more invested in the games themselves than employees of large companies. He noted that just as in the strategy games he was so fond of, life is a very limited resource and wasting it on merely average or okay games, at one to two years a shot, is unfortunate."
Microsoft is sponsoring a four day independent developer’s challenge at GDC, with four teams competing to build the best games they can during that time using MS’ own XNA framework. It’s good to see amateur developers getting a sliver of the spotlight, but what I’m more pleased about is this line from Joystiq’s report: "Each participant we talked to was more than willing to talk about how impressed they were with their efforts of their adversaries, and the teams apparently commiserate about the lessons they’ve learned during breaks." That’s the best way for everyone to improve, said the idealist to the abyss.
Finally, another raft of diversions to distract you from work, courtesy the IndyGamer blog. This time, it’s the top ten freeware arena shooters of 2006. If the term is unfamiliar to you, think Geometry Wars, or any other shooter that takes place on a single screen.