Mass Effect 2

Before I go into detail about Mass Effect 2, I’d like to share something shocking that happened to me while I tried to get the game for the Xbox 360:

A couple of weeks ago, I finally found the time to stop by a retail store to buy Mass Effect 2.  It was still $60.  I chose the Xbox 360 version because I have the first game for the same console and I wanted to transfer my save data for the second game.  I was very busy, so I left the game unopened on my desk for 3 days. On Friday night, I removed the plastic wrap, security seals and became shocked at what I saw inside. In the disc side was a blank disc with a Mass Effect 2 disc cover printer; it even had the Verbatim logo near the hole. The manual included was a very thick NHL 2K7 booklet.

I was furious! I was scared that they would not believe me. I decided to call them up and told them about what happened. Luckily, the manager was very nice and said “Just bring it back with the original receipt and we’ll swap it for you”. I drove there immediately, told the clerk my story. The manager gave me another copy and told me to go to customer service to get the exchange and have my receipt updated. I opened the second case in front of the clerk and at last, I finally had the real Mass Effect 2: 2 discs, manual and the Cerberus Network Card which has caused some controversy with selling used games at high prices.*

I have heard some news about these incidents; there are scammers out there who will either have a shrink-wrap machine, or carefully reseal the plastic wrap and fill the case with something different so the weight feels the same.  I just never thought it could happen to me.  I learned a very valuable lesson; if I ever buy a game from a retail store I don’t frequent, I will double-check the contents before I leave.  They also told me that I wasn’t the first person at that store this happened to.

Mass Effect 2 is the second game of the planned trilogy. It is made by BioWare, a Canadian developer.  Some of their previous games include Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate*, Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins.  The first Mass Effect game has also drawn Star Control comparisons of its own.

First of all, I am proud to announce that I have encountered only 1 glitch in Mass Effect 2.  While I was talking to an Asari, they flashed in the background for a split-second after walking away.  I remember the first game had characters stuck in wall, textures popping in while exploring the newly loaded level, awkward deaths and sometimes strange eye movements during conversations.

While I haven’t finished the game completely, I have played it through enough to see how it reminds me of Star Control II:

  • The player has direct control of the ship when traveling between planets and different star systems in a star system.  It consumes fuel and needs to be refueled at fuel stations.  Mass Effect Relays are used for long jumps.
  • The player is immersed deeper into scanning planets.  There is a radar that needs to be moved manually around the planet's surface.  The player can find minerals and signals such as distress beacons.  There is a line graph that creates waves according how close the target is.  Any minerals collected can be used for upgrading things such as weapons and armor.
  • Mass Effect 2 retains its non-linear progression and the player's alliances depends on their stats, previous actions and the responses chosen during a conversation.  I liked how it reminded me of my actions in the previous game and how it affects the sequel.

Even though Star Control and Mass Effect are two different universes, the similarities between the two could pave the way for more sci-fi adventures to come back to mainstream.

Here are some quotes I found from other sites that compare Mass Effect 2 to Star Control II:

The big change is that if you want to travel to a star system that isn't near a Mass Relay, you have to fly there by leaving a nearby star system and manually traveling there. Similar to classic PC game Star Control, this uses a certain amount of fuel, and you need to have enough fuel to make it.

‐, Chris "Atom" DeAngelus, "X360/PC Review ‐ 'Mass Effect 2'"
A game that helped to push the themes of exploration and causality in gameplay is Star Control 2, and its influence is clearly felt here as well.
‐, James Murff, "Mass Effect 2: Background"
While flying between planets to perform various tasks and missions, players can also explore peripheral planets in search of minerals (necessary to upgrade weapons and other research). This is accomplished by scanning planets and launching probes to gather what you find – anyone familiar with Star Control II will have a pretty good idea of what to expect here; this feels like a modern version of that.
‐ Alan Bell, "Mass Effect 2 Review",
But the truth is that there is no sacrifice because the fuel is cheap compared to loans obtained during the missions, so I can not say that the new form of travel is a considerable improvement over what he offered Mass Effect PC Game, nor meets the expectations of those who would like Bioware has been set a little more in games like Star Control II.
‐ "Mass Effect 2 Game Review", PC Game Trek

Mass Effect is definitely worth checking out.  The first game can be purchased at a lower price and the second one can still be played without remembering anything from the first.  Mass Effect 2 is an incredible improvement over the first.  If anyone’s looking for a new game that has some kind of similarity to Star Control, Mass Effect is definitely worth looking at.

I hope I don’t come off sounding like a BioWare spokesperson.  I think they’re a great developer and they made many games that I love.  When it’s time for TFB to tell Activision that it’s time for another Star Control, I hope they’ll see games such as Mass Effect are successful.  It’s a great game.  It’s a good example of how today’s technology and game design theories can make a game like this more straightforward and make people think more carefully about the decisions they make and what they want their character to turn into.  If a new Star Control game is ever made, there will be many changes and surprises to see.

I am aware that Infinite Space has been released for the Nintendo DS.  It’s a sci-fi RPG game with inspirations from the novel Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.  Also, David Stark informed me that he updated his game, Space Exploration: Serpens Sector which mixes elements of Star Control and Strange Adventures in Infinite Space.  There’s a lot of brainstorming to do and I hope it turns into something that can fascinate everyone.

What do you think about comparing games that share similarities with Star Control?

Metacritic: Infinite Space

* Some people have noticed video game retailers selling used copies of Mass Effect 2 for nearly the same price as the new copies.  However, the Cerberus Network card can only be used once to redeem downloadable content without having to pay an additional $15.  Depending on the price of the used game, consumers are technically paying more for something that does not include additional content unless they pay the extra $15.  The Cerberus Network card is a way of encouraging more new game sales.

** The video game rights to Baldur’s Gate is currently owned by Atari. However, BioWare has previously made Dragon Age: Origins, which is similar and adds a dark twist to the fantasy RPG.

Sample This!

(Video removed)

While Crystal Dynamics had games planned for the 3DO console, they released a demo disc containing 8 options:

  • Gex (trailer only)
  • Off-World Interceptor
  • Samurai Showdown
  • Total Eclipse
  • Star Control II
  • The Horde
  • Cyberclash (trailer only)
  • Pataank

After the disc is inserted, the Crystal Dynamic trailer is played, showing a decent amount of SC2 footage along with the other games.  When the menu loaded, I heard Chauncey (Kirk Cameron) from The Horde say “I have no home, sire.  I was raised by a kind herd of wild cows”, followed by the techno music from the Cyberclash trailer.

In the demo, only Super Melee is playable.  Both sides are only set to one team called “Demo Team”.  The team consists of a Ur-Quan Dreadnought, Thraddash Torch, Chmmr Avatar and Yehat Terminator.  The teams cannot be changed, or renamed.  When selecting a ship, the C button can be pressed to play a video that briefly describes it.

The second game by Toys for Bob that is on this disc is The Horde.  It was made for DOS, Sega Saturn and the 3DO.  The DOS version does not have full motion video; it is replaced by still images from the video.  This is also one of the oldest games I have seen they are credited as “Toys for Bob”.  TFB’s name appears again in the intro video to the full version.

There is something that makes this demo stand out from the others:  The player can save and load, which is interesting since I can’t think of any console game demos that allow saving, especially for this generation of consoles.  I admit that I haven’t played through The Horde much to explain it deeply; I’ve only played this demo and watched some gameplay videos on YouTube.  Kirk Cameron plays the main character Chauncey.  He saved the king from choking to death.  In return, he gives him a farm in the Shimto Plains and his mighty sword, the Grimthwacker.

The game does have a resemblance to Harvest Moon in the sense that the player must make profit from the land.  However, the player has no direct control over plants and is not required to sow seeds.  In each phase, the player must use whatever money they have to arrange traps, fences and bait to protect the land and ensure that the villagers do not get eaten.  As the player progresses, the player can purchase new items and pay taxes.  Chauncey is not a skilled fighter; the sword he wields is incredibly large and he spins in a circle whenever he attacks; he becomes dizzy and vulnerable to attack if he spins too much.  Maybe I’ll look into The Horde some more if the opportunity pops up.

I also found a very interesting easter egg on this disc.  If no buttons are pressed at the menu, the Crystal Dynamics trailer will automatically play and go back to the menu.  If the player presses the start button (or the play button as it’s labeled), it will briefly show the credits for the demo disc and a group picture.

There are two names that catch my attention.  The first one is Alex Ness under “Testers”.  This is when he started at Crystal Dynamics.  He has also tested the Japanese version of Star Control II.  I wrote about it before and it’s definitely worth reading.  Alex is now Producer at TFB.  His hard work, sense of humor and his down-to-earth writing style has brought great joy to the company and to all of us whenever he writes anything for us to read.

The second name that caught my attention is Steve Henifin.  He is credited under “Sound”.  He is currently working at Silicon Knights as a music composer. Some of their games include Eternal Darkness, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and Too Human.   Silicon Knights is a Canadian video game developer.  They are also working on an unannounced project.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to quickly recognize anyone in the photo below.  If you see anyone you know, please let me know. :D

So that’s what Sample This is like.  I wanted to concentrate more on TFB’s content.  The credits were an unexpected surprise; I was just trying to skip the video when the credits popped up.  I saw Alex’s name and I just had to take a screenshot of it.  It’s definitely a great addition to anyone’s video game collection.  Has anyone played The Horde before or recognize anyone in the photo or credits above?

The Horde intro
Star Kosotororu II

Quick Announcements

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. With so many personal priorities getting in the way, I’ve only been able to read on video game related news and create a mental list of things to write about in the future. I thought it would be fair to share my list with you. Keep in mind that this list is things I would like to write about and nothing has been “set into stone”:

  • Voting has ended for PC Gamer Top 100.  It will be a month or 2 until we see the results.
  • We missed Paul Reiche's birthday.  It was on February 17 and it is the same birthday as Paris Hilton and Michael Jordan.
  • I wanted to integrate Twitter into the blog.  I have a twitter page (@starcontroller).  So does Paul Reiche (@PaulReiche3), Arianna Reiche (@ariannareiche) and Chad from (@chadjd).  I do update my Twitter account occasionally and I hope to make better use of it in the future.  If you have Twitter, please follow us.
  • With talk of downloadable characters in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, there's a very strong demand for ToeJam & Earl.  These characters  and their game were created by Greg Johnson, a longtime friend of Paul.  Sega wants to use these characters without paying Greg, which is ridiculous.  Can you imagine if Hideo Kojima didn't get paid for having Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Brawl?  I have recently learned that Greg did not get paid for the Virtual Console port of ToeJam & Earl due to legal complications.  I feel very bad about these things and I hope that Greg gets paid fairly for it if Sega wants to use his characters.  After all, it is one of the most popular and unique games on the Genesis.  He deserves respect and payment for it!
  • There are some things about the birth of The Ur-Quan Masters that I'd like to write about and might interest people.
  • Did you know that Crystal Dynamics had a demo disc for the 3DO called "Sample This!"?  It included The Horde and Star Control II along with a few others.
  • Have you heard about the senior employee terminations at Infinity Ward?  There is an issue with royalty payments from the stellar success of Modern Warfare 2.  What does this have to do with TFB?  First of all, it's an example that no video game developer is immune to the recession, legal technicalities and there are no measurable trends to predict these things.  I respect Infinity Ward and whenever I think about TFB, they are one of the few developers that made one of my favorite childhood games and still active in the industry.  TFB does a great job at keeping their plates full with projects, satisfying their publishers and respects their fanbase as if there were 50 million of us.
  • Star Control has been mentioned in various Mass Effect 2 reviews.  Some people have even gone as far as to compare the way ships travel in both games.  I haven't played ME2 yet and I hope to get it soon to see for myself.

Don’t worry, Star Controller is still here.  Please subscribe to the site’s RSS/Atom feed.  Subscribe to the TFB news feed; I know it’s been a long time since there’s been an official announcement, but when it happens, my little PHP script will shine, hopefully. :D  Anything could happen in the future…

Star Kosotororu II

Zarla matched dialog with audio files to translate the speech:

In the beginning of January 2010, I got my hands of the Japanese version of Star Control II.  Although I don’t understand Japanese, it’s a great addition to anyone’s collection.

Here are some things I noticed in this version:

  • The default name of the flagship is Kamui.  It is a Japanese word that can be used to describe a god or divine spirit.
  • The default name of the captain is Isamu.
  • The paper starmap is not included; instead there is a hint book at the back of the manual listing the coordinates of each star system.  Everything is packaged in a double CD case, like the ones for 2-disc PlayStation games.
  • The VUX are the only race not translated in Japanese.
  • The screenshots in the manual and packaging are from the English version.

I thought about translating some Japanese text such as the the game’s translated title and names of the aliens.  Since I don’t understand any other languages other than English, I opened Microsoft Word and pulled out some Japanese characters so that I can enter it into an online Japanese-English dictionary.  Unfortunately, it was a tedious process; I looked at each symbol and matched them one at a time.  In addition, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is still impractical to use for this purpose.  With the time I spent on this, I was able to translate two things:   Star Control II is called Star Kosotororu II and the Orz are called Orth.

I remember a few years ago I wrote a letter to Alex Ness on my 19th birthday and he told me that when he was 19, he worked at Crystal Dynamics as a lead tester.  The first game he tested was the Japanese version of Star Control II:

Hey that just reminded me. You know what I did when I was 19? Became a lead tester at Crystal Dynamics. So what, right? Well guess what my first game as lead was? The Japanese version of Star Control 2!

That was also when I met Paul Reiche and Fred Ford. I was a huge fan of Archon and Mail Order Monsters as well so meeting them was like some kind of crazy dream. I remember seeing Paul's picture on the Archon box when I used to play it religiously on the Commodore 64. It's still weird to think that I now work with that dude.
‐ Alex Ness

When I got this game in the mail, I asked Alex what is was like testing the Japanese version:

Nice going with that Japanese version of SCII. I remember thinking the voices were pretty good although a ton of the humor was lost in translation. I used to sit with the Japanese translators and play through the game, asking them what each thing said and the way they explained it to me never quite sounded right. I think that’s just because our languages are so different and Paul’s style of writing is very American so they didn’t really understand it. Especially when it came to creatures like the Orz/Orth! The Mycon turned out pretty well, as I recall. What do you think of the voices?
‐ Alex Ness

Alex took on the role of producer at TFB in 2000, when they were developing 102 Dalmations: Puppies to the Rescue for Eidos.

I remember a few years ago, there was some talk of taking the speech from the Japanese translation and creating an addon for The Ur-Quan Masters.  However, with the years that has passed by, it is complicated to determine who owns the rights to the audio and whether or not it is okay to freely distribute it.  Serge asked Paul Reiche about finding the Japanese bitmap fonts and legally using the audio.  Here is his reply:

Hi Serge,

Man, I don't really know the answer to that question ‐‐ especially the Japanese font ‐‐ because we contracted the Japanese version to Free Fall Games, and I don't know what kind of legal encumberances might exist.  I don't think anyone on the planet will give you a hard time about using the VO and font though, but that's just my opinion.

Hope that helps!

‐ Paul

There’s more e-mails that Serge quotes in the thread and it’s worth reading.  It shows a complicated side of video games that has popped up many times in video game news:  Rights ownership.  Because Atari owns the title “Star Control”, its open source release is called The Ur-Quan Masters.  It’s great to see that this legality didn’t stop UQM from happening. I’d like to thank Alex for taking the time to write to me.  It’s awesome to learn new things about the people at TFB and how people are connected to Star Control.

SC2 in Japanese

SC2 in PC Gamer Top 100 and GamesRadar

I purchased the March issue of PC Gamer and discovered that the top 100 list is not there; after looking at the CD included, I found the previous February issue in digital form.

This is NOT the list that was made from user votes:

These 100—chosen globally by the staff of PC Gamer and PC Gamer UK and other PC gaming experts around the world—represent not just the highest of PC gaming culture, but also its variety, its daring, and its pioneering spirit. Each of our writers was asked to nominate 15 of their favorite games, in order. Their votes were collated, and arranged into the list you find here. Writers were then free to comment on their choices, or those of others. The results are the essential curriculum for every fan of PC gaming. The results are the essential curriculum for every fan of PC gaming. And now you can get in on the action, too! We’re offering our readers, the chance to produce your own Top 100. To take part, visit and let us know what’s in your Top 100!
‐ "The Top 100 PC Games of All Time", PC Gamer, Feb 2010

Star Control II was #55 on this list. Here’s what “D” had to say:

It combined the space adventuring of Starflight (or Star Trek) with the simple but addictive combat from Asteroids, and populated its openended universe with misfit aliens who ranged from genocidal Xenophobes to rude pterodactyls and taught us that Frungy was the sport of kings.
‐ "D", "The Top 100 PC Games of All Time", PC Gamer, Feb 2010

Dan Virkler sent me an e-mail a while ago about how Star Control II was listed as one of “30 commercial games released as FREE” on GamesRadar:

Star Control II was the best reasons to own a 3DO. Explore space, interact with other species, gather resources to improve your ship, and blast your friends to bits with this classic piece of sci‐fi software.
‐ Tyler Nagata, "30 commercial games released as FREE", GamesRadar

When I think of the 3DO, I realize that the first time I heard about this console was when I started to learn more about Star Control; when I first discovered that The Ur-Quan Masters was based on the 3DO code released by Toys for Bob, I started to wonder what the 3DO is.

The March issue of PC Gamer does not have the top 100 list of fan-chosen PC games; it only has an article titled “Games of the year award” for PC games in 2009. This is the second time I attempted to spread the word about something I’ve seen in PC Gamer; the first was voting TFB as the 50th best developer to be added in their “top 49” list. With regards to that, they’ve never posted the results to that and they were probably curious about what we would have chosen.

The thing that confused me is that the February issue of PC Gamer mentioned voting on now, when the site was up months ago!  I wrote to someone, asking if our votes still count; I still haven’t received a response.  Lukipela posted something on the SCDB that I agree with:

My thoughts are that I usually ignore these things. Star Control II may be a great game. It may even be the greatest game. But I don't see how voting it up on whatever list is currently topical helps much. In this case though, since meep has started his initiative and all I can see a point to it.
‐ Lukipela

Voting for Star Control has no direct impact on Star Control itself. It’s great to see it pop up in countdowns and it will take more than that to show that there can be new Star Control games made today that will be successful.

I don’t have a subscription; I only buy the magazine whenever I hear about something interesting. I’m probably not going to use anything from PC Gamer for Star Control-related things anymore. It’s a great magazine and very popular; I respect their editor’s choice reviews, mainstream coverage and strong support for PC gaming. They’re very busy people with plenty of competition and I respect that. Based on what I’ve tried to do with 2 of the things I read from PC Gamer and the fact that they haven’t followed up with either one as of this posting, I’m not sure that it’s something that could benefit Star Control.

With regards to the “Campaign for a new Star Control”, I think we should take into account TFB’s current unannounced title; it will be something new, with a classic TFB feel, not based off another license and their biggest project yet.  If this game is successful, it can prove that TFB  is highly-talented with great ideas that can generate profit.  I wonder how many video game ideas they have in their minds. :D

I’d like to thank Dan for the GamesRadar link, Tyler for saying kind things about Star Control II and also “D” for saying some kind things about Star Control II in the March 2010 PC Gamer magazine.

GamesRadar: 30 commercial games released for FREE
A campaign for a new Star Control
Vote Toys for Bob

Did you know? Mike Ebert

I was searching for articles related to Star Control when I came across an article by Alistair Wallis on Gamesutra called “Playing Catch Up: Zombies Ate My Neighbors’ Mike Ebert”. The article discusses how he started out in the video game industry, games he worked on and his current position as lead designer at Toys for Bob.  This article was written in 2007, while TFB was working on Madagascar 2.

Zombies Ate My Neighbours is a run and gun video game developed by LucasArts and published by Konami.  The visual style is similar to classic horror films.  Like Contra, this game is also very difficult and has a strong legacy of its own.  It was released for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.  In October 30 2009, it was ported to Nintendo’s Virtual Console.

Mike is also an artist and has created artwork for other popular games such as Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island and its HD remake The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

In 1992, he created art for Indiana Jones: The Fate of Atlantis and was a playtester for Star Control II.  How cool is that?

He eventually founded his own studio, Big Ape Productions, which shared offices with TFB.  After developing a few games, he left his publisher due to “politics”.  Paul Reiche offered him a spot at TFB as lead designer, which he accepted.  At that time, TFB’s next project was Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure.  He continues his role as lead designer to this day.

I had no idea there was a connection with LucasArts and TFB.  Toys for Bob has an incredible roster of talented people and I know that Mike’s role as a lead designer will be a great influence in their currently unannounced game.  This really makes me think about the six degrees of separation theory.

The article on Gamesutra has much more to say about Mike than just his role at TFB.  With a long history and ties to other critically-acclaimed games, it’s definitely worth reading.  Check it out!

Playing Catch-Up: Zombies Ate My Neighbors’ Mike Ebert
Mike Ebert’s MobyGames page

SC2 Intro Remake

This is one of six songs in a free album called “reTracked Patterns” by various artists:

"I took 6 songs by famous tracker musicians of early 90s and reworked them in Apple Garage Band with a few additional software synthesizers."

This is the first song played in the PC version of Star Control II which describes the aftermath of the Ur-Quan war.

The original composer is Dan Nicholson

Manwe (Alexander Matchugovsky) composed this remix. It’s a really cool remake; it sounds fairly close to the original, with an electric guitar and synth sounds added. It’s good to see that there are more remixes of SC2 music emerging; a good sign that there is still a strong fan base. Think about any of your video games. Have you heard any remixes or seen the original tracks uploaded to a popular site such as YouTube?

Here is the link to the MP3: Star Control 2 intro

Thanks Alexander for taking the time to do the remake. I know there are remixes out there that I haven’t listened to yet.  I’d love to play them in Audiosurf if I ever had the time. For example, there are newer tracks from TheMisterCat that I still haven’t heard.  I’ll add “remixes” to my mental to-do list.

Pkunk’s Not Dead
PONAF: Star Control Fan Music

Edit: Crediting the right people for the remix and pointing out that Dan was responsible for the original music.

The Ur-Quan Masters in January 2010 Game Developer Magazine

Game Developer is a monthly magazine that concentrates on professional video game development topics.  Anyone who is a game developer in the USA can get it for free, while everyone else can pay for the printed or digital copy.

Portions of Game Developer can be viewed online for free.  It is because of this that I have been able to find an article titled “2010 space is the place”, written by Jeffrey Fleming.  The article briefly describes 7 open source science fiction games, what’s great about them and where they can be downloaded.  Here’s a snippet of what Jeffrey said about Star Control II before explaining how it evolved into the open source port known as The Ur-Quan Masters:

Combining open‐world training, exploration, and combat with a deep and cleverly‐written dialog system, Star Control 2's vast universe was given extra charm by a quirky graphic design that included art and music contributions from old school TSR illustrator Erol Otus.
‐ "2010 space is the place", Jeffrey Fleming, Game Designer, Jan 2010

TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) was the original company that created Dungeons & Dragons.  They have been purchased by Wizards of the Coast who now own the franchise.  Erol worked as an artist for various Dungeons & Dragons manuals.  At that time, Paul Reiche III also worked as a game designer for D&D before entering the world of video game design.

This reminds of me of the PC Gamer Top 100 article I wrote before and I’m impressed that Star Control II got mentioned in a 2010 magazine so soon.  Who knows?  Maybe we can rally enough votes to get Star Control II in PC Gamer too.

I’d like to thank Jeffrey Fleming for including The Ur-Quan Masters in his article.

Vote Star Control II and 4 other games for PC Gamer Top 100

P.S.  Did you know that Erol did the voice of the Chmmr and Paul did the voice of the Mycon and Talking Pet?

Guitar Hero: Van Halen

I was doing some reading online about some video game events when I discovered that the manuals for Guitar Hero can be downloaded from Activision’s website.  I saw TFB’s name in a game I would have never anticipated:

Just to be clear, this is not what TFB is working on as their current project.  This simply means they were involved in Guitar Hero: Van Halen.  They are credited in the Wii and PS2 manual.

Underground Development was initially known as Z-Axis.  Before Guitar Hero, they worked on the Dave Mirra BMX series and the PlayStation 3 version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.  There was an announcement they their studio would be closed by the end of May 2008.  Fortunately, they stayed strong and remain open to this day.

How was TFB involved in Guitar Hero: Van Halen?  I made many guesses and at the end, I realized that I can’t answer this by myself.  So, I asked Alex Ness, Producer at Toys for Bob.  Here’s what he said about Guitar Hero:

Yeah, we helped out with Guitar Hero Van Halen and Guitar Hero 5 on the Wii.  Wasn’t much work, mainly building their environments that were based off of the PS3/360 versions and animating the Miis, which was pretty fun.  It was kind of one of those things where we had just finished a game and had a bunch of artists sitting around with nothing to do so they jumped on another Activision product.  We didn’t really have any creative input.  So, sorry if we got your hopes up!
‐ Alex Ness

I wonder what Fwiffo, ZEX, Talana, Tanaka and the Ur-Quan would look like in Guitar Hero. :D

It seems that more and more developers are getting involved in Guitar Hero.  The main reason for multiple developers getting involved is to push out each Guitar Hero game to as many platforms as possible with the same quality on schedule.  Guitar Hero is one of the best-selling video game franchises.

Toys for Bob has plenty of valuable experience with this generation of home consoles.  They developed Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam, one of the Wii’s launch titles.  When the Madagascar 2 video game was in development, TFB was responsible for the Xbox 360, PlayStation3 and Wii version while other developers worked on a single version.

In his e-mail, Alex briefly touched on TFB’s  secret project:

As I think I’ve mentioned in the past, we’re actually working on something pretty cool right now that I think you will like.  As much as Star Control?  Probably not but I guarantee you’ll enjoy it more than Madagascar 2.  It’s also easily the biggest project TFB has ever undertaken and has proven to keep us extremely busy.  We’re supposed to finish it up by Christmas of this year.  I’ll let you know as soon as it is announced.
‐ Alex Ness

Here is the list of clues that have been given so far, including some quotes from an older post I wrote called “Farewell Shaba Games”:

  • It's not Star Control
  • "Not another game based on an animated movie"
  • "Currently the biggest project TFB has ever undertaken"
  • "Will have cool story and gameplay elements that feel more classic Toys for Bob"
  • "We're supposed to finish it up by Christmas by this year"

At least we have a rough release date and we know this unannounced game is currently their biggest project.  It makes me even more excited about this.  Activision must have trusted them very much with this project if it’s something original, has the classic TFB stuff we all love and is their biggest project so far.  I’m definitely going to add this to my game collection when it comes out.

Happy belated new year to everyone and thank you Alex for taking the time to write back to me.

Farewell Shaba Games

Vote Star Control II and 4 other games for PC Gamer Top 100

Vote Star Control II!

While I was surfing the web, an interesting website popped up in my Google Alerts:

Welcome to the PC Gamer Top 100

We need your help to decide the Top 100 PC games of all time. To vote, follow these three easy steps.

  1. Search for games
  2. Pick your top 5 games
  3. Order and submit

This reminds me of the “Top 49 Game Developers” I’ve seen in their magazine.  I encouraged fans to e-mail them about selecting Toys for Bob as their 50th best developer. I don’t think they had any plans for publicizing what the most voted choice is; they were curious about what readers would choose.

This time, their list is different.  This website shows the editorial top 100 with Star Control II at #54, above big-budget titles such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (#98), Far Cry 2 (#93), Crysis (#76)  and Street Fighter IV (#60).  That is their top 100 PC games of all time.

After clicking on a game title, it will open the game’s page where it will show some images, a percentage rating and which issue it was reviewed in.  Unfortunately Star Control II was never reviewed in PC Gamer, so that part is blank. :’(

PC Gamer is allowing people to vote for 5 games.  We have the power to get Star Control II on that list.  I just wish that I found out about this earlier.  They started collecting votes since December 16.  They will list the top 100 games chosen by readers in the March issue of PC Gamer.

Please select Star Control II as your first choice!  After selecting Star Control II, there are 4 more slots for any games you desire.  Don’t forget to submit the votes after choosing.  Spread the word!

PC Gamer Top 100
Star Control II on PC Gamer Top 100
Vote Toys for Bob