Good old days weren’t so good – Mark Cerny

PS4 architect says indie scene not like his start, talks about massive Atari infrastructure, making “shovelware” for Sega.


Between creating Marble Madness and helping design the PlayStation 4, Mark Cerny has seen the process of making games transform time and again over his career. And while the growing popularity of independently developed games is bringing some development team sizes back to where they were when he first started, Cerny told Game Informer the parallels between the two eras pretty much end there.

“It is absolutely not like us back in those days,” Cerny said when asked if current indie studios reminded him of his early years. “So Atari was one-person teams, or two-person teams. But because it was coin-operated games, there was dedicated hardware, and those cabinets cost $3,000.”

As a result, there was a huge amount of infrastructure built up around each game, Cerny said, with multiple levels of management tracking and green-lighting the work from a single programmer. Developers were similarly stifled at Sega, where Cerny worked on games like Kid Chameleon and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

“If you look at what we were doing at Sega, that was, in some sense, I hate to say it, shovelware,” Cerny said. “It was one programmer, one designer, three months, and you just shipped it. And the quality was low and they didn’t care. That is so far from what we call indie today, which is a labor of love and you never know when it will be done. It’ll be done when it’ll be done, when it achieves the creator’s vision.”

As system architect for the PlayStation 4, Cerny was also asked about any misconceptions regarding the soon-to-launch system that he would like to clear up.

“John Carmack came out recently and said that the [Xbox One and PS4] console hardware seems to be about the same level of performance,” Cerny said. “I think that probably the power of the PS4 is a little bit underappreciated there in that statement. But you have to take it from John Carmack’s perspective. This is a man who builds spaceships, right? So from his perspective, he’s 20 years out in the future looking back, and they all kind of look the same.”

Cerny didn’t seem to take the slight too personally, calling Carmack a “true genius,” citing his work on engines as evidence of an “unbelievable” level of vision.



Donkey Kong delay hurts Wii U holiday lineup

Tropical Freeze pushed to February as Nintendo leans on Super Mario 3D World, Mario & Sonic Olympics, Wii Party U to bear the load.

Tropical Freeze

The Wii U’s holiday lineup is looking a little lighter as Nintendo today delayed the launch of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Previously set for a December debut, Tropical Freeze has been pushed to February in North America, as confirmed by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata during a Nintendo Direct presentation.

“In order to deliver the optimum gaming experience, we need a little more time for development of this title,” Iwata explained, adding, “We would like to apologize for this delay and hope you understand.”

The Wii U’s holiday lineup still has a handful of big exclusives yet to launch, including Super Mario 3D World on November 22. The same month will also see the launch of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, as well as the digital debut of Wii Fit U. Meanwhile, October’s release slate is headed up by Wii Party U, Sonic Lost World, and this week’s retail launch of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.

Analysts including IHS’ Piers Harding-Rolls and Baird’s Colin Sebastian have pointed to this holiday season as a key stretch for the Wii U. Sebastian said “the fate of the platform” rests on its holiday software lineup, while Harding-Rolls said this season’s sales performance will dictate his firms long-term outlook on the system.

Review: Rayman Legends

Ubisoft’s video game franchise takes giant leap forward with platforming milestone.

Rayman Legends

It’s hard to know exactly what kind of creature Rayman is, but he is certainly legendary.

Move over, Mario. You have some company at the platforming top.

It’s hard to know exactly what kind of creature Rayman is, but his legend is growing. And in Rayman Legends, it reaches its apex. Ubisoft’s colorful new entry is platforming gaming at its finest, brimming with content and overflowing with sheer fun, with just enough bizarre and innovative thrown in to always keep you guessing.

In one level, you’ll run at light speed to avoid oncoming flames, your jumps splendidly timed to the musical beats of “Eye of the Tiger.” In another, when a boat collapses straight down upon you, you’ll jump and wall-run and swing your way straight up, in perpetual motion and yet almost never moving all at once.

 Some levels offer straightforward platforming all the way up until the moment when you’ll rush to beat thorns, or flames, or something else to the end. Other levels offer intriguing risk-reward and timing, forcing you to decide whether to land on the parachuting enemies, or kill them and slide to other areas. Sometimes, you’re making these decisions at light speed; on other occasions, just often enough to mix things up, you get to take your time.

It’s some of the best, most interesting platforming level design in a while. Every single level feels original, different from the last, and that engrosses you throughout the entire game. If ever a platformer managed to keep you on the edge of your seat, this one is it.

In each level, you’ll want to rescue all the Teensies — sometimes by solving puzzles, sometimes by navigating tricky platforming, occasionally just by running into them to preserve some sense of ease in the game. Find enough, and you’ll unlock more levels, more heroes, and more special features.

The beauty of Rayman Legends lies in the little things. The pacing is spot-on, and, even in a genre that’s been around for decades, Ubisoft finds fun ways to be creative. There’s something satisfying about those levels where the music serves as cue for your leaping and attacking, and solving the light puzzles to rescue certain hidden Teensies is equally fun.

The visuals and sound effects add a lighter side to what’s often a challenging platformer. Find a hidden room, and you’ll hear a tongue-in-cheek “ooooooo!” And at the end of every level, things reach a cartoony crescendo complete with a wild and fun visual representation of your performance in the area. Do well enough in a level and you’ll earn a lucky card you can scratch off, revealing unlockable characters, paintings and other things.

It’s all an apt reminder that this is supposed to be a fun game, even if a few sections here and there are interminably challenging. None of it ever feels unfair, thankfully, courtesy of taut, easy-to-use controls.

Rayman, who’s really just one of a host of characters that you can control and unlock in this game, can jump, glide ever-so-slightly, attack and occasionally do other things — all standard platforming stuff and all easy to pick up. Momentum and timing, staples of platforming, are the name of the game here, and they feel completely natural in this effort.

It all adds up to one of the finest platforming games you’re going to play, and in a genre that’s seen its share of Mario and Sonic hits, that’s not praise that’s doled out lightly.

Yes, Rayman Legends is simply that good.


Sonic to Make a Triumphant Return Next Year, New Digital Titles and Boxed Game in the Works

I hope you aren’t sick of Sega’s blue hedgehog, because 2013 is going to be a big year for Sonic, and not just in video games, but toys as well.

In an interview with Toys ‘n’ Playthings magazine, Sissel Henno, Sega’s European head of brand licensing, shared the company’s plan to push Sonic in a big way next year.

Over the next year there will be a big focus on the expansion of [Sonic licensed] toy distribution across Europe. Similarly, we will also be growing the apparel, publishing and stationary categories.

We will have several new digital titles launching as well as a new boxed game, so there will be plenty of opportunities to link marketing campaigns across games and merchandise.

So it looks like we’ll be getting a few digital titles staring the blue hedgehog and at least one larger ambitious release. Does this excite you or are you tired of Sonic and want something new from Sega? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: PlaystationLifestyle