www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bthesite/game-cache/bal-friday-buffet-ncaa-football-13-gets-its-coverboy-zynga-makes-a-power-play-and-game-critic-drama-20120302,0,4467394.story

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Friday Buffet: 'NCAA Football 13' gets its coverboy, Zynga makes a power play and game critic drama

Plus the next Xbox's codename and of course, 'Joustin' Beaver'

By Dave Gilmore

12:39 PM EST, March 2, 2012

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News Roundup

•••• Zynga is branching off into its own social gaming platform, making the entrypoint for “Farmville” and “Words With Friends” players a self-contained site rather than Facebook. They also plan to open up their marketplace to independent developers. Hey Zynga, whatever it takes to keep my Facebook friends from sending me bales of crops, I'm all for it. [The New York Times]

•••• The demand for young game developers is ever-increasing, and the number of colleges and universities churning them out has doubled in a year. USC appears to be leading the pack, and only asks a meager $40,000 in annual tuition for its program. [USA Today]

•••• The next Xbox console is (probably) codenamed “Durango” and might be unveiled at E3 this summer. I'm sorry but codename breaches are one of the nerdiest things around. “They discovered our secret codename! Quick, retreat to the tree house!” [The Verge]

•••• Remember those early copies of “Mass Effect 3” that EA launched into space? The gents who found one of the copies tried to raffle it off. Turns out this is what law experts call “illegal” and they are refunding everyone's money. [The Escapist]

•••• Heisman Trophy winner and future millionaire Robert Griffin III will be “NCAA Football 13”'s cover boy. There will also be a second former Heisman winner sharing the cover with Griffin who has yet to be determined. The voting for the second player starts on March 12. So, just so we're clear, Boise State's Jared Zabransky got his own cover in 2008, but RG3 has to share? Got it. [EA]

Blowing Off Steam

I recently bit the bullet and started following a lot of people who write about games on Twitter. I felt that I could not serve you, the loyal Game Cache reader, without having my finger on the pulse of what my colleagues were chatting about. I thought I'd find some juicy insider info here and there that I could pass along to you. Boy was I wrong.

In the last two weeks, the pattern I've witnessed goes a little something like this: someone writes or says something marginally controversial, then it's a contest to see who can be more outraged. Lengthy posts are published. Readers leave horrible comments. Rinse and repeat. Take a step back and regroup before you post, folks. Life is a lot more enjoyable when you don't spend it in a constant state of public outrage.

Classic Corner

Since big, fancy RPGs have been the topic du jor of late, I've been thinking back to my own love for the genre. To me, the king of the 16-bit RPG was hands-down the “Shining Force” series. The story in these games was just as enthralling as modern RPGs, and the intensity of the turn-based combat left you on the edge of your seat every a villain would attack one of your wimpy healers or magic users. I still get a Pavlovian jolt if I see the words “DOUBLE ATTACK” written in all caps, italicized. The original “Shining Force” can be had on your iPhone or iPad for a meager $.99!

This Week in Game Cache

We watched the definitive Lana Del Rey games-related parody (so far). I filed our first big-boy console review, hopefully convincing you that “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” can co-exist with “Skyrim” on your shelf. We also met our first “Game Face,” which came fully equipped with some serious facial hair and a passion for MMOs.

Loading For Next Week

We'll catch up with any big news out of the annual Game Developers Conference, start playing the heck out of “Mass Effect 3” and meet another lovely local gamer. If that fails to peak your interest, I will start giving away free downloads of “Joustin' Beaver.”

Really Important Video

I was really tempted to stick with the Lana Del Rey parody theme, especially since I finally just read those “Hunger Games” books. Instead, I thought I would balance the scales a little bit. You see, I love “Skyrim” with all my heart, and it's hard for me not to mention that fact in every post. However, it's not a perfect game. Sometimes it's a hilariously weird game.