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Verbrennen: the Writer

Posted to the Epic Gears of War forum in September 2007

Forgive me if this gets lengthy and wordy. I'm often cursed with long-windedness.

Why Gears will survive: an essay concerning the future of Gears gaming.

There are many issues facing the loyal and casual fan base of Gears of War, all of which need to be addressed not only by Epic, but the gamers themselves. I choose to continue to support Epic and Gears, and this is why.

Seriously... issues I will admit that the bugging in multiplayer, including the "Seriously..." issue is annoying and frustrating. However, at this point we can assume Epic is well aware of the problem, and if it were easy to fix, it would be done. Many people get angry about not receiving their achievement and the flaws in the kill count system, and express it in the following ways:

"Epic doesn't care"

"They just care about PC and UT"

Et cetera.

While it's not unmerited to be angry about not receiving an earned and difficult achievement, I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously thinks Epic doesn't care about the Gears fanbase. Gears of War is their baby, a product of years of work and personal commitment. Video games may not be an "art" in a traditional sense, but remember back to the first time you played Gears. It was amazing. You hadn't seen anything like it in gaming before. That's all Epic. Of course they're going to devote resources to UT and Gears for PC, Epic is a business, and I'm sure Microsoft is a tough boss. But, I hardly think they're done with Gears for 360. You don't put that much time, passion, and effort into something to abandon it. The idea is ludicrous.

I believe the Seriously... issues will be fixed, but that kind of stuff takes time and a lot of testing. Any time you try to make something better, you risk making it exponentially worse. Look at it this way: any patch to fix how your kills are recorded holds a huge chance of messing it up worse or erasing your kill count all together. I, for one, hope Epic takes their time on making sure any patch that effects my gamerscore or achievements is flawless. Flawless takes time. Coding isn't foolproof, testing is a pain, and everyone who works at Epic has a family and a life outside of work just like every one of you.

Annex kills There's a handful of reasons why Annex kills will never and should never count towards non-Annex achievements:

Respawning is simply too heinous. Think back to the last Annex game you had that was a complete slaughter (assume this was a set number of rounds and not a "first to 3" or anything like that). You probably killed the same guy ten times in one round. Ten respawns times ten rounds in an example match is one hundred kills. One hundred. And that's a very modest kill count per round. At that rate it would only take you 100 matches to hit 10,000 kills. A brief list shows how quickly this can get out of hand:

5 kills per round at 10 rounds per match: 200 matches to Seriously...

10 kills per round at 10 rounds per match: 100 matches to Seriously...

15 kills per round at 10 rounds per match: about 67 matches to Seriously...

100 matches played can be done by a dedicated gamer in a month. This isn't even drawing into consideration weapon achievements, which if counted in Annex would be easily won in a couple of hours. Plain and simple: the point of Annex isn't kill count, it's "capture the flag." This is why Epic released Annex-appropriate (Annex ONLY) achievements. Annex is a great multiplayer's my favorite. And you bet your (insert body part here) that I kill as many people as I can, but it's all towards winning the area.

New PC content not coming to 360 This is also perfectly understandable, but still some people insist on foul play. Allow me to explain why the content can't come to 360:

The short explanation is Unreal engine technology advancements have made the new content incompatible with the interface on the 360 version. Now, technobabble aside, what this means is that there is no way via patching to force the new content into the older version of the game. It just flat out doesn't work. It's like when you're running Windows 98 and you buy software that needs XP or Vista to run. Functionally, in this case, the 360 release of the game is "old technology." To release the new content on the old platform would require Epic to literally re-write the coding for it, from the beginning, on outdated software. That's a pretty unrealistic expectation.

Yeah, it sucks that you can't fight a Brumak on the 360 game. Yeah a game editor is totally sweet. Heck, even I'll admit the campaign mode is a little short. But, like I said previously, there's no way Epic is finished with Gears. Give it a couple months after the PC release and I'm willing to bet we'll see great new content for 360 (and PC). Epic will be done with Gears when Gears II comes out. Then Gears II for PC will be released with newer content, people will spazz, and Gears III will come out. It's okay to be bummed that you're missing out on something. But it's not the end of the world, and it's certainly no reason to stop playing a game that is pretty much awesome.

Halo III In the long term, the release of Halo III will have little to no influence on the Gears franchise, and here's why:

There's a loyal fanbase to Gears. People who will defend the game as the best ever vigorously until death. There's an equally loyal Halo fanbase. These people are utterly untouchable. And there's people in between...gamers who like both, play both, and play other 360 games. The non-affiliated 360 geeks. Nothing is going to change the absolute loyalists, and the non affiliated gamers will play whatever's newest and best – be it Gears, Halo, Bioshock, whatever.

At this point we run into the brilliance in overlapping the end of the Halo trilogy with the beginning of the Gears franchise from a marketing standpoint. Microsoft pushing for the '06 release of Gears of War makes sense not only because it was a powerful tool against the release of the PS3, but also because it gave them the ability to have one large fan base building up right as another was about to begin winding down. Yeah, we know now that this lead to Epic having to cut some things they would have liked to have in the game, but the bottom line in business tends to prevail over artistic passion. It happens. But that only means that Gears II and III will be that much more awesome.

Anyway, I hope that this has inspired some thought (and appreciation for the game?). Feel free to's just my opinion.

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