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The State of Next-Gen Piracy in China - A Report from Frank Yu

366w ago - Earlier this week, Nintendo and Hong Kong authorities broke up a major piracy operation for the Wii and Nintendo DS platforms. I had not heard much recently in China since the initial, serious, piracy hacks on Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Frank Yu answered my call with a note on the state of next generation piracy in China (slightly edited):

I know the pirates and the modders in China. They are able to chip the Japanese Wii but the US Wii has more protection (Editor's Note and, presumably not hacked because of the availability of the Japanese Wii). For games like Paper Mario, that needed a firmware update on the Internet which even modded Wii's could get. On the new Metroid, the Internet update does not seem to work for modded Wiis this time...(no doubt) a solution is being created.

Yes, the Xbox 360 hardware is totally broken for pirated games...however, if you leave your mod chip active MS will detect it and shut you out of Xbox Live. I have heard rumours of mod chips that can be switched off so that it toggle between a modded Xbox and an unmodded one to go on Live. I have brought many MS Xbox people to the shops here in China that do the modding (its not illegal to install the chip as far as I know but it is illegal to technically sell the console) (Editor's Note: Frank used to work for Microsoft...

It's Official: Spore Coming To The Wii

366w ago - In a recent interview with UK's Guardian Unlimited, Will Wright has finally confirmed that a version of Spore is being developed for the Wii. And despite the different controls, Wright seems to like working on the platform.

We're doing Spore on the Wii, and we did MySims. It takes signifcant re-thinking to work out how you're going to do it. PS3 and Xbox 360 are similar enough that you can basically use the same system for both. So it comes down to what the interesting major platforms are and which markets we want to hit.

While this is probably one of the most noteworthy portions of the article, the rest of it is worth a read just to find out what the likes of Will Wright has as his home game set up, what kind of games he likes to play and of course, his take on the never ending debate on the effect of video games on children. A nice little read for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Creed IS good!

366w ago - The hype is warranted. From my time with Assassin's Creed, I would not be surprised if it is game of the year.

Screen Play spent a gripping day last week playing the game and chatting to effervescent Creative Director, Patrice Desilets, the self-proclaimed "best Assassin's Creed player in the entire universe right now" (and also the genius behind critical darling Prince of Persia Sands of Time).

Assassin's Creed, which will be released on November 15 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (and later on PC), has been four years in the making at Ubisoft's Montreal studio and promises to revolutionise the action adventure genre.

Similiar to our recent Mass Effect special, Screen Play will be sharing highlights from the game all this week.

Patrice says the team spent the two first years building a "brand new engine" for
Assassin's Creed and then the last two designing the game.

"The mandate we received back in January 2004 was to redefine the action adventure genre on the next-gen platforms," says Patrice.

"But you have to remember back in 2004 we didn't have any next-gen platform whatsoever, it was only numbers on a sheet of paper. So right from the start we had to come up with not only technology-driven ideas but also game design because we wanted to really...

GameCity 07; Haze is not 'gold' but still glitters

366w ago - One of the other big reasons to travel hundreds of miles to Nottingham (instead of going a few miles to London!) was the hands-on Haze demo.
I met David Doak of Free Radical at the event and got my hands dirty with a title that I'm certain will do good business.

Playing initially as one of the 'rebels' on a split screen with another avid gamer, the first thing you notice is that the controls are immediately accessible. Haze doesn't mess with the FPS formula in this respect. Everything you'd expect would be on the buttons and triggers is there, but with a few bells added on.

For example, if you are playing as a rebel you can grab some 'nectar' from any of the Mantel fighters you've despatched and create a nectar grenade. Throwing the grenade at Mantel troops initiates an overdose of the drug in their systems. You can see the individuals who are affected since their armour turns red.

You see, when you have an overdose of nectar as a Mantel soldier you go a bit crazy. You see the Mantel troops going mad and shooting their own people under control of the drug. The nectar grenade also provide cover and, simultaneously, gets in the way of targeting troops on the other side of the fog, so you need to be careful to use effectively.

The controls are fluid, the graphics are gorgeous...

Pressure piles on pre-owned

366w ago - Free Radical and Frontier slam 'jumble sale' second-hand games market LEADING developers have spoken out against pre-owned games at retail - warning that studios could turn their back on the 'traditional' publishing model if the trend continues.

TimeSplitters and Haze developer Free Radical Design and Frontier Developments' David Braben have both told MCV that the current system is flawed - as, while retailers rake in profits on a title every time it goes through the trade-in system, developers are left with nothing.

"Of course it isn't fair that retailers are claiming all of the profits from the sale of second-hand titles, and it is bizarre that our industry tolerates it," said director at Free Radical Design Steve Ellis.

"I can't imagine going into PC World and buying a pre-owned copy of MS Office. It just wouldn't happen. The logical conclusion of this - the retailers' ultimate goal - is that they only ever sell one original copy of any game and then they pass it around between everyone who wants to play it, keeping all of the profit for themselves except for that initial sale. How can that possibly be fair?"

The brains behind Frontier Developments David Braben agrees:

"Clearly from the developer and publisher point of view, the second-hand...
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