Aliens: Colonial Marines – Aftermath


Rebecca “Newt” Jorden – Portrayed by Carrie Henn in 1986’s “Aliens”.

And here it is ladies and gentlemen, the latest Gearbox release, Aliens: Colonial Disaster. Not only a disaster regarding the game it self, but also all the bad PR revolving around it.

Let me state right from the start that I’ve never been compelled to join Gearbox’s forums or write about them before to say how awesome they were, I praised them for their amazing work with the Borderlands franchise and I showed so by buying and pre-ordering anything they threw at the market with a Borderlands logo. Or in a more common lingo – Voting with the wallet.

All of that is about to change…

At first I was finding it strange that my work colleagues were telling me on the release Tuesday that the reviews [of Aliens: Colonial Marines] were being terrible and destroying any idea that the game might be good. I dismissed it and thought it was bad and unprofessional journalism / amateur reviews.

After starting to read and investigate by myself, including the famous tester statement on Reddit, I still didn’t want to believe on these ‘rumors’ and opinions. It was a busy week for me so I didn’t have time to open and play my pre-ordered A:CM until yesterday, Sunday.

Before actually playing it thou, I was still curious and followed up these forums very closely, and that’s when I first bumped into this and even worse, this.
There is no escaping the facts when watching those two videos, they are not opinions, they are not make-belief, it was a real side-to-side comparison with what was, and what is.

As you might imagine I couldn’t wrap my head around it, how did something so big, something with such budget, something so revered by film lovers, and something with six years of development time, train wrecked so hard into release.
I’ve read all the conspiracy theories, money going to Borderlands, Outsourcing to TimeGate, Nerve and whatnot, SEGA knowing about it, SEGA not knowing about it. 8Gb Patch (not) coming. But to be quite honest, after all this dust settles and fingers stop being pointed I care only about one thing: How will Gearbox fix it, and will they fix it?

It’s hard to even begin to conceive how such a developer, publisher and literally bullet proof IP managed to achieve such negativity and failure after a six year project, but I’m repeating myself. My point being, Gearbox and SEGA cannot leave this as it stands, they can’t sit this one out, not in 2013, not with the amount of funds involved, and not with the Aliens trademark. We’re talking about an estimated 40 to 60 million dollars involved, obviously enough we can’t dig any official figures yet.

For someone waiting as long as some of us have, for a decent, really good game involving Aliens™, and specially after knowing it would be a direct (albeit parallel) sequel to Aliens, the E3/PAX demo was a Godsend, it was going to be an interactive Aliens, further exploring Archeron and mostly, discovering what happened inside the SULACO, mostly.

And those guys managed to screw it up…

Gearbox can’t even sleaze their way out of this one by blaming outsourcing, Gearbox is the name on the box, Gearbox for all intents and purposes is the main developer, it was their duty to verify, double-check and fix what was wrong prior to release.
But Gearbox couldn’t do that now could they? SEGA wouldn’t provide them more time after so much postponing, it would look bad asking for more time. Money was buried (or not) into Borderlands 2 development instead of Aliens, staff was short as well, so outsourcing was ‘required’, but the end result was looking so bad that something had to be cooked up out of thin air, something to show it’s actually looking good, and the E3 demo was born.

Are we close to the truth? Maybe, maybe not, we’ll probably never know. We’ll probably never see an apology or any taking of responsibility, not when the President of the developing studio says thing like “always profited from criticism” and giving away Shift Codes for A:CM with “Friend of Gearbox” on your customized armor, when he knows how poorly the game was received.

Don’t get me wrong Mr. Pitchford, it’s a great and humane attitude to “profit” from criticism if it involves learning from mistakes and improve yourself as a person. But that door swings both ways, if you don’t admit your mistakes in the first place, than you haven’t learnt a thing.
Considering the amount of revenue your company received from such a PR and critical fiasco, I think a “Fix” to this game is the least your fans deserve.
I’m not even asking for an apology, just action.

Remember “A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else.” – Gandhi.

Make things right Gearbox, and you’ll win back your pre-orders, but most of all, win back respect by the consumers and the media.



Warcraft – The Lost Tracks

If there’s one thing I loved – and still do – about the Warcraft™ franchise is it’s enthralling soundtrack. It was one of the first things I fell in love when I first picked up the series, and despite World of Warcraft™ being eight years old (and not aging all that well lately) it’s soundtrack is still one of it’s strong points, and some very talented people definitely work in their Audio department.

Russel Brower and Matt Uelmen’s amazing guitar twists (mostly in Diablo™ 1 and 2) are just two names from the top of my head. Yet, whenever I listen to one of the CD’s that come with the collectors editions, in the end there’s always some music missing, some takes, a lot of takes really. It’s that music you hear when playing the game, but you don’t recognize it from the official soundtrack CD because you’ve never heard it, or it sounds differently, something’s off. And after doing some mild research I found that in a lot of cases, the tracks we have in our esteemed CD’s are lacking content, the original work in some cases is far more extended.

Matt Uelmen on Guitar in 2006

Matt Uelmen on Guitar in 2006

I started rummaging around for the most obvious stuff that would be missing from the CD’s, the content updates. Despite the soundtrack of the original World of Warcraft being quite enriched with the song and music of Azeroth, things start to be different when we got to patch 1.7 and the release of Zul’Gurub, by patch 1.9  – The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj – the music library missing was becoming even more vast, and with 1.11 with Shadow of the Necropolis, we had three new raid dungeons with music we could only hear in-game. You can see where I’m going with this…

Eventually we got up to Cataclysm™ and the missing or different library was big enough to fit into a two CD set, provided you cut some track here or there.
With the easing up of digital distribution and broadcast, it became easier to gather all the out-takes, tracks and variances that I thought relevant, and with some time – you know, chillin’ – I started compiling all those tracks together to create a digital “CD”, of forty tracks…

It was amazing what I was finding as I went through all the tracks, extended cuts (like Reforged and Nightsong) that sound better and longer than the official CD counterparts, and even different cuts; Blizzard included two tracks in the Burning Crusade CD that were meant to be a representative of the music from Ahn’Quiraj and Naxxramas, but they were short and the Ahn’Quiraj track even had some remixed music found in the early areas of the Draenei race, far different from the audio you can rip directly from the source.
I also found that a lot of the tracks people ripped from the game and uploaded to, say Youtube, were basically a simple edit of those tracks into one, a copy/paste of several smaller music pieces into a large single file, leaving a lot of silence, in-between each music segment, which wasn’t very interesting to hear. Music got to a momentum, a climax, and slowed down to the point of complete silence, some long 20 to 30 seconds later it would start building up again, or just go straight to what should be it’s climax, it just sounded wrong, disperse and plain boring. So I adjusted that, overlapping, removing repeated bits, removing uninteresting climbs in sound and silences, so that three or four smaller music tracks would fit, adjusted seemingly into one bigger track.

Three-time Emmy Award-winner Russel Brower

Three-time Emmy Award-winner Russel Brower

By the time I was done Cataclysm was in it’s patch 4.2, and only by now, patch 5.2, did I find the resolve and spare time to actually consider ‘releasing’ this to other people who might also enjoy these works of art as much as I do.

So here it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, the – appropriately called – Warcraft: The Lost Tracks to download at will. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did assembling it.

Download link (236Mb)
(all the legal stuff in included in the file)

Cover Art

Cover Art

Crafting a story: Kallisto

Callendria 'Kalllisto' Istorghen

Callendria ‘Kalllisto’ Istorghen – Illustration by Rosalind-WT

Family name: Callendria Istorghen.
Known as: Kallisto.
Race: Human undead
Allegiance: The Forsaken / The Horde.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral.
Profession: High Priestess.
Traits: Tenacity and perseverance.

Undertaker Mordo was just rambling on carrying on his duties, and today was clean-up day. It was time to toss those that did not awake, into the fire. Rotten flesh is fine to the Forsaken and it’s more then welcome, but if it’s just taking up space then it’s much better to use it as literal canon-fodder for the machines of war.

Mordo slowly but surely carried on with his task, he grabbed some rotten corpse by the leg and dragged from the small niche where it layed to a small pile of carcasses ready to be carried upstairs to the entrance of the crypt, he then pulled out yet another unfamiliar body and placed it in the same pile… Now he grabbed one more by the rotting wrist, but this time, the body grabbed back…

– “Who are you?!” said the newly awakened corpse, looking stupified while grabing Mordo’s wrist, and as suddenly as she realized what she was grabbing she let it go, she was grabbing the wrist of Mordo, a walking, breathing, pale corpse. She started yelping a shriek, but contained her self, hands on her mouth, yet her hands were bony and rotting, she looked at them with incredulity, her eyes and mouth wide open in awe. She looked back at the “man” who woke her from her slumber. – “Wh.. Wh… Who? What.. happened to me? Where am I?” She said while looking around searching for anything that might be familiar.
Mordo was just staring back the entire time, no fascination whatsoever on his face, just an expression of boredom as if the situation was trivial to him like sweeping the floor is to a servant, finally he replied. – “About time you woke up. We were ready to toss you into the fire with the others, but it looks like you made it. I am Mordo, the caretaker of the crypt of Deathknell. And you are the Lich King’s slave no more.”

* * * * *

Found in a crypt after the aftermath of the third war, under what is know today as Deathknell, Kallisto was once a highly regarded priest apprentice of the kingdom of Lordaeron. Daughter of humble farmers, she was asked by her father to take the cloth and embrace the Light so that she could avoid the same fate of working the fields her entire life like her parents had to.

Kallisto had only taken the priesthood short of a year, yet the potential was reveling itself immensely, as if destiny had chosen her to take the path of the Light. Yet the wheels of fate turned in a way no one had expected, perhaps fortunately, perhaps not.

Her true story began only after she succumbed to the first outbreaks of the plague to the north of the kingdom just before the third war broke, word has it that she was put down by Arthas Menethil himself during his incursion to the north to investigate the first signs of the plague, but that’s merely folklore and mith. It was thought she was burned like the rest that fell to the effects of the plague, but the truth is her corpse was carried back and thrown with the rest around Deathknell to serve as an eventual recruit for the armies of the Scourge.

Yet, fate had decided that Kallisto was not meant for the despicable acts of the Scourge, in fact the entire events of the third war went by whilst the would be priest didn’t even flinch, until one day – some three years after the war ended – long after the Scourge had lost its ground, Kallisto had a rude awakening by a graveyard keeper named Mordo…

* * * * *

Kallisto is now regarded as one of the most powerful priestesses of the Horde. Under the banner of the Banshee Queen, Sylvanas Windrunner, Kallisto has succeeded in multiple campaigns against the enemies of the Horde. Her presence was most notable in conflicts such as the battle of Blackrock Spire to dethrone the offpsirng of Deathwing, Nefarian, down to the very bottom of said mountain, inside Blackrock Depts to push back Ragnaros to the elemental plane. The war effort in Silithus and the defeat of the Silithid empire and the Old God C’thun was also a feat not strange to her.

Despite these outstanding efforts, the Forsaken priest had hunger for more. Although manipulating the power of The Light is somewhat painful for the undead, she wanted to learn more about manipulating the divine Light and progress with the career she could not during life. Bringing down her enemies and the enemies of the Forsaken while learning the necessary traits of Priesthood was the fuel to her fire, so Kallisto kept fighting, aiding in the confrontation and pacification in the Outlands, beyond the dark portal.

Alas, one of her most successful campaigns was still to come with the incursion to Nothrend’s interior, where the threat of the Lich King reignited. It was a personal fight for her, the emergence of the Lich King and the plague of undeath was the entire reason she is what she is today, the world had changed completely to the eyes of a Forsaken.
She wasn’t sure if she wanted vengeance, answers or some sort of closure for everything that happened to her and the abomination of a race the Lich King had created; she just wanted something, anything, anything that made her feel alive and with a purpose.
Despite an immense loss of lives, and even inner turmoil between the Forsaken and the remaining factions of the Horde due to the incident with Grand Apothecary Putress, the Kingslayer was finally brought to justice.

By this time, the great priestess was considering to leave the battlefields permanently, as she had seen too much war and death already, but alas, when the Cataclysm hit it took the world by surprise, reshaping and shattering the continents.
Thousands of lives were lost, and Kallisto, upon request of her Queen, took up the banner of the Forsaken once more to represent the Horde in the Twilight wars that were to come and re-enforce the lingering alliance with the rest of the horde.
Old enemies re-emerged, Nefarian, once Lord of Blackrock Spire was brought from the dead. Ragnaros was now summoned in full force of his destructive capabilities, as he was never seen before. And at long last, the inevitable battle against Deathwing – the Aspect of Death – was at hand, in what was to be one of the longest and toughest war encounters in written history. Even with the aid of the remaining Aspects of Life, Time, Magic and the Dreamer, it still proved to be an extremely hard and tiresome battle.

Priestess Kallisto is today – and has been for several years – a decorated war veteran of the Banshee Queen, a Hero of the Forsaken and the Horde, fighting for years along side many other war Heroes like the orc hunter and beast master Prod’Gal, the legendary orc Horde warrior Marhug ‘The Shielder’, Forsaken brother of arms Christian ‘The Vermin’ Doming, master of dark magic and Warlock, and even the Death Knight known only as Rated the Hater, earning the name due to his harsh and strict opinion upon any poorly maintained war gear and weaponry of his colleagues.

And that is but an introduction of the story of the great priestess of the Forsaken. Once part of the living, without a clear path; now an undead with a path filled of victories.
Known many years ago as Callendria Istorghen, that name is now merely a memory, a distant whisper of a life gone by long ago, for now she is merely know as Kallisto of the Undercity.

“I’ll Put It On Your Tab”

Contents included in the C.E.

At least that’s what Chen Stormstout used to say back in the day I played Warcraft III, and boy was that game good. I was not the biggest fan of RTS’s at that time, but Warcraft stuck with me, to the point I was aching for an RPG of the franchise instead of a fourth RTS. Eventually WoW was announced, and I melted away in exaggerated young adult happiness.

Back then WoW was something to look forward to, it was the next big thing, it was their “Titan” at the time. I was probing forums about it and guild searching two years before it was actually released, and when it finally was I went with the obvious choice of a collector edition, and since then I’ve been collecting them all, building up a wall of Warcraftness at home, one by one, it looks amazing.

But you gotta have’em all, if you miss one then what’s the point, it’s like having an incomplete collection of something you love, it’s annoying. Although I’ve been loosing more and more interest over the years about the game, it’s been seven years after all, I can’t help but miss playing it if I make a pause of two or three months. Plus I still have the collection to finish, so now that Mists of Pandaria can be gazed upon the horizon I couldn’t help myself but to pre-order this and put it on my tab with Stormstout.

Although this expansion is receiving mockery due to the Pandaren, I find it unfair since the concept of the panda race existed long before the Kun-Fu Panda movie (a great movie by the way), and it’s extremly funny to see people jumping on the hate-wagon and drawing the line at pandas when it’s always been a game with cow-people, pig-people, fish-people-dragon-people, snake-people, bear-people, space-goat-people, insect-people, buffalo-people, I could go on and on, and people complain because it’s panda-people now? C’mon…

The Changing Face of Games Retail

Keza MacDonald hopes the demise of Game Group might herald the return to the high street of small enthusiast shops.

“Game Group, the company that owns both of the specialist high-street games retailers Game and Gamestation, has officially gone into administration , after suspending trading on its shares and filing for administration last week. Along with practically everybody in the games media, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about this over the past few weeks, going over the potential reasons for Game’s failure to compete and its spiralling implications – not just for the obvious victims, its UK customers and employees, but for everyone who buys, makes and sells games. You can read about all of that here if you’re interested, but there’s no other way to spin it – this is bad news for all of us.

What I haven’t seen much talk about is our personal relationship with games retail. Game as it currently stands, with its limited selection of strong sellers and at times rather aggressive emphasis on pre-owned, up-selling and pre-order deposits, bears little resemblance to the Game that I visited when I was growing up. Games shops were actually places that I used to go to hang out when I was a teenager, to browse with friends and occasionally make new ones. It’s this experiential side of retail that things like Steam and Amazon haven’t replaced, and I really miss it.

Our local Gamestation in Edinburgh, before it was swallowed by Game Group, was a two-floor gamer’s paradise with new stuff on the bottom floor and a top floor full of T-shirts, figurines, demo stations and racks full of retro games going back to the NES. The most valuable of these items were displayed in glass cases. I remember staring longingly at a mint condition (and very overpriced) copy of the super-rare SNES game Secret of Mana inside one of those cases for about two months. Now and then there’d be someone else staring longingly at it right beside me, and we’d strike up a conversation. The staff were friendly and passionate (as many Game and Gamestation employees still are), and would happily chat for a half hour, trading recommendations and experiences. It was a real enthusiast store. I spent a faintly ridiculous amount of money and time there.

After Gamestation’s acquisition, whilst games sales were really booming between around 2006 and 2010, a lot of this disappeared. Retro was sidelined and eventually eliminated entirely in favour of a Game-like pre-owned model that focussed on newer games only. The merchandise became slowly more generic until most of the quirky stuff was gone and only the DS cases and Mario plushes remained. I stopped visiting games shops very quickly and started buying online. I attributed the death of the games shop as I remembered it as a necessary complication of my hobby’s move into the mainstream, and mourned it only briefly.

When I moved to Japan at the end of 2008 though, I discovered a world where the game shop was still an experience. There, alongside the rows of shiny new games at the front of the store, you’d find Dreamcast and N64 and Mega Drive games just an aisle away. Pretty much every games shop apart from the massive Bic Cameras and Yodabashi Cameras superstores gave as much floorspace to older games as it did to the new stuff, with 10-year-old boxes proudly displayed and baskets full of miscellaneous cartridges in which you might find a treasure.

Near where I lived in Nagoya there was a second-hand games and CD store, K’s House, that looked and smelled like someone’s attic, with cartridges and disc cases and mysterious, obsolete peripherals and controllers stacked head-high. Now and then, flipping through N64 games in there, I’d see some Japan-only game that I’d read about as a nine-year-old in a magazine and delightedly hand over ¥500 (£3.80) for it. My shelves are liberally adorned with such curios. God only knows how much money I spent.

I could have predicted that the experience of shopping for games somewhere like Osaka’s Den Den Town or Tokyo’s Akihabara would be exhilarating for any geek, but what I didn’t understand about Japanese retail is that most stores were like this. In Britain, shopping is something I do grudgingly and in as little time possible, picking up things online wherever possible. In Japan it became a recreational activity.

All of this will probably sound intimately familiar to anyone who collects vinyl. The record shop is perhaps a British equivalent to the Japanese games store. But surely there must be a place for enthusiast shops here, still, alongside the megachains like Game (or whatever Game is replaced with in the coming weeks). If it turns out that the British high street cannot support a games megachain, does that mean it can’t support smaller, more specialist shops either? Can’t there be somewhere for enthusiasts to shop, too, whilst mums and gifters and more casual browsers pick up FIFA and COD and Just Dance from bigger chains and supermarkets? Bigger retail stores are vital to the health of the games industry, but for a long time they’ve been all there is.

Maybe they do exist, somewhere, and I just don’t know about them. Do you?”

Keza MacDonald is UK games editor at You can follow her on Twitter @kezamacdonald
This is merely a repost of a very interesting article, you can read the entire piece here.

Game Over for GAME

After following the situation for the last week or so, what I find amusing is the ex-CEO of the company blaming the poor fate of the company on a poor 2011, including Christmas on some articles.

Yeah, I suppose titles like CoD:MW3, Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Fifa 12, Madden 12, Uncharted 3, Professor Leiton IV, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Zumba, Dead Island, Forza 4, Gears of War 3, Dark Souls, SW:TOR, Batman: Arkham City, Saints Row: The Third, Deux-Ex, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Need For Speed: The Run, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, God of War Collection 1 & 2, Sonic Generations, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Just Dance 3, Driver, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, L.A. Noir, Mortal Kombat, Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space 2 were just total garbage (some better ‘garbage’ then others) and the lack of AAA titles this year was the company’s doom…

Gotta love people that manage company’s without so much of a clue of what they are actually selling or talking about. But hey, it’s easier to blame the “lack of titles” over last Christmas and the digital distribution market (Steam) and Online only retailers (Amazon).
Yes, that sounds legitimate, let’s blame Steam which is but a small portion of the market compared to the consoles and might as well blame online stores like Amazon for being intelligent and having stupidly amazing prices and promotions strictly online. What’s that you say? Oh GAME’s website also had cheaper products then the stores? Well, why not do those prices in-store as well? Oh you got rent, shipping and employee costs to pay, that’s right. Well look how that turned out eh, people rather buy online then, there goes the rent money, oh snap.

Oh but they still don’t buy from YOUR online shop, but rather from Amazon or Steam, or even eBay? Damn, I wonder why that is… Maybe the over-the-top profit margins? Ever heard less is more? Steam sure did, so did Amazon.

I suppose 2 years since Ian Sheperd took the reins wasn’t enough to see how game was spiralling to their demise, nor to adapt to a market THEY should actually know about, digital distribution and price slashes right under their noses and still they missed the train, amazing…
You don’t charge people extra on a time of crisis like the world (and specially Europe) is still in, you charge less and do amazing deals and behold, you actually end up selling more.

Example time:

I was still working at a GAME store when Dead Island came out, the game was a blockbuster hit, sold out in every GAME shop in London, except ours, we had so much stock due to ghost pre-orders (that’s when you pre-order games for a fictitious costumer). And what did the brainiacs in head offices decided to do? Increase the price from 34.99£, to 39.99£ and when stock was really low, up again to 42.99£, boy, they were so smart! You know what people did? Hit the road to online retailers and Tesco’s. Gratz GAME offices!

Oh GAME… I guess a fair analogy would be to compare you to a sexy blonde, best thing that ever happened to most men, yet dumb as a door knob.

At this point, I just really hope GameStop or whoever saves your ass, because I want my Diablo III CE pre-order! But if not, well, I guess I’ll have to go Amazon, teh-heh! :>