Friday, January 31, 2014

UE4...Maybe This X-Mas?

Though Epic has sold Gears of War and plans to continue to make games, they are also pushing to get the Unreal 4 Engine out to other companies. And thus stirring up more rumors that Epic is really focusing more on the software to create games and not so much the games themselves. Either way, the Unreal 4 Engine has been out for quite a while and developers are not taking advantage of it.  Most point out that the engine was not made for the last-gen consoles, something that hundreds of millions of users will continue to utilize for years to come while until the PS4 and XboxOne are integrated into the day to day gaming world. Right now, only a handful of them own the new systems so it's silly for developers to use a new technology that won't work on the older (but still not that old) systems.

Because of this issue with the last gen consoles, obviously UE4 does not work cross-gen. Something made for the PS4 with the engine can't be transferred back to the PS3 with the same content. In essence, you'd have to make two separate games with different software to make the whole thing work out.

Which is why we haven't heard about many games working with UE4, but Epic believes by this Christamas we'll see more of those games come to light.

"As soon as they start going live, then you'll see suddenly see that we're everywhere again. You'll be thoroughly sick of us!" ~ Mike Gamble, Unreal Engine Europe manager.

Gamble is so confidant in UE4, claiming that half of the games using the product are new IP's, that we'll be seeing new games around Christmas solely using the engine, that by first quarter 2015 we will get the Triple A products.

It's a lot to boast for a company that has made a load of changes over the past 2 years. Three of their biggest names have left to work on other projects or start new businesses. 40% of the company was sold to Chinese investor Tencent. Epic's one home game has been sold to Microsoft. And now they the company has a lot to answer for with it's future. We'll see what happens down the line, which will apparently be around the holidays this year and hopes that their big gamble will pay off.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Iowa May Legalize Gaming Tournaments

Video game tournaments are something many of us are aware of, but mostly don't take advantage of. A lot of times you pay a fee for a crappy prize in return at a local level - national or internationally it's a different story. Particularly here in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex, gaming tournaments are abundant between the yearly Quakecon, the events held by ScrewAttack, and developer GearBox located just up the road. It's easy to be spoiled at how common game tournaments are. But in some states, they are illegal for *gasp* fear of gambling and debauchery. The only concern I've ever had at a gaming tournament is if someone is going to go on a sugar spree after so many cans of Mountain Dew.

But one House Representative from Iowa, Chris Hagenow, wants to update an older law that limited tournaments to trackball golf machines. Why only golf? Well no one gambled over golf, or threatened violence, or had hissy fits. Golf is a civilized game. Essentially, the Representative is striking out the words "golf" and wanting to open tournies up to more video game machines. With a strong note that this is not meant to encourage gambling, in fact, it's to do the opposite. Because, you know, there are so many people in seedy back alleys powering up their Wii's to play Cabella's Big Game Hunter for fast money.

"Come on Bambi. Get your ass out here. Daddy needs some crack!"

The reasoning is fairly logical. It's stupid to penalize people for holding gaming tournaments, where no gambling is involved. Just people coming together to show off their skills for a prize by the holders of said tourney. Where's the harm in that? The changes to the bill would not only be for track-ball units, but for gaming systems where users have control with a device, so a broad settling over all video game content.

I'm pretty sure there's another reason for all of this. I.E. money and taxes. I'm going to take a strong guess that Iowa has a tax on those video golf tournaments for people to legally run them. Opening it up to include more games means more money for the government. It's not any stretch of the imagination that this is similar premise to how state lottery's are ran. You pay for the ticket, but any winnings are taxed if they're over a certain amount. A $1,000 video golf prize could net the government anywhere from 5-20% of the winnings from the tournament holders or the recipient. Adding more games equals more profit. Yea Democracy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Epic EVE Online Battle For Digital Land

This is 15,000 people playing at once. I'd imagine the
$500k fight is equally as grand in scope.
In the world of EVE Online, some serious sh*t went down on Monday, and it's being labeled as the most destructive, and costly battle of the game's history.

EVE Online is a multiplayer online (duh) game where you start out 20,000 years in the future as any one of four races and make your own path in space pirate land. You can trade, mine, market your fighting skills, hell you can be freekin' James Bond in space if you want to. And 500,000+ people can't be wrong as the game continues to grow over the years. Part of what makes EVE Online stand out from other games is how well the space battles have been tuned to gamers. It's not a throwaway like both of the Star Wars MMO's have made it. They've integrated them into the vital aspects of the game without compromising the gamer's need to do what they want.

So when Monday morning rolled about, one of the largest groups, Pandemic had a bit of a folly. One of their member's didn't pay their subscription fee. Whether it was lack of funds or an error on part of CCP Games, it's not sure. But that one member held border patrol over a certain section and when he didn't show up on time, all hell broke loose. Multiple forces, rivals to Pandemic, took advantage of the lapse in coverage and made a move. One that became one of the longest, drawn out fights for territorial claim and made CCP pray that their servers would hold. EVE Online utilizes a system they have dubbed "time dilation," which essentially allows the servers to slow down 10% to help alleviate additional stress on the system. Players actions are queued in order of which buttons you hit first. Much like turn-based Flash games offer, it's a similar concept and allows you to make multiple decisions at a time and go about your day as needed (if you're still logged in).

And like most MMO's have gone, people can buy things using real money. Some of the baseline ships can be worth as little as 3 grand USD. Now players can build up their in-game currency without spending any real world cash, but of course as we all know, that takes a lot longer then plopping down the money to get basic upgrades. And based on the number of ships in this battle and the amount of money on the line, it equates to roughly $500,000USD. That's...a lot of money to be concerned about. Screw gold farming in WoW. Why aren't we on EVE farming for real cash?

Pandemic's leader doesn't know which team has the upper hand right now, but the battle is still going on, and EVE's servers are still chugging. Real world implications with politics, morality, religion, anything else but money is not really on the top of people's minds. It's "holy crap, they're playing with $500 grand ships???" Even Fox News had to talk about it. Though the number in the hyperlink is still a fail.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Epic Plans To Continue Making Games

Don't know if you all are aware, but Epic Games sold the Gears of War franchise to Microsoft yesterday. Yep. Their flagship product is now in the hands of Microsoft. It gives Microsoft the power to pretty much do whatever they want with the series, from making a new game to locking it up and preventing it from releasing on other platforms.

But what about Epic? Are they going to die out now that their core series is gone? A spokesman for the company this morning went on Twitter to help put the minds of gamers at ease. Epic will still make games, just not Gears of War. They have multiple games in development, such as Fortnite, a survial/action/crafting game (I'm curious at the notion at mixing the genres), and is a subsidiary of the Infinity Blade series on the iOS.

Oh, and the Unreal Engine. That's kind of important too.

But many are speculating that this is the end of Epic Games and making games, moving more towards the business end of being the money backer and tech guru. Mike Capps, Cliff B., and Rod Fergusson have all left the company since 2012. So it's not surprising to at least assume that Epic wants to distance themselves. Time will only tell, as cliche as that sounds.

Monday, January 27, 2014

When Doom Was King

So The Guardian talked to some of the original creators of the game Doom. Not entirely sure why; there isn't an event for it and the 20th anniversary was last year as the game originally released in 1993. But talked to the men in charge they did, and it's interesting to see what they used as inspiration for the game.

"We started work on something new in January 1993, putting out a press release announcing all the revolutionary things it was going to do: we said we fully expected it to cause the biggest loss of productivity in the world ever."

Well...Doom did just that. And with the inspiration of Dungeons and Dragons, Aliens, and Tom Cruise, Doom was born.

Much of what we, as gamers, like about Doom is the speed of the game play (something we never experienced with other first person shooters at the time), the efficiency of aiming and shooting, and the scary moments. Yep. Doom was scary. Many of the moments we remember about the game are when we're sitting outside the doors in near darkness and listening to the sounds of the demons waiting to pounce on us. And then you open the door to a single light bulb, swinging back and forth, completely distracting you as you try and target the enemies. Stalking right behind you is another monster, pouncing and tearing you to shreds...that sh*t was scary.

The interview/op-ed piece is worth the read to see what the early days of Doom were like from a development and creative standpoint.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rare Game Sale!

Game collectors, a copy of Nintendo World Championships is up on eBay for the next day and 9 hours (at the time of this posting).

The original sticker is torn off and replaced with a ballpoint writing of the word Mario, but the seller has claimed that this is the real deal, one of the grey cartridges. The insignia near the top left was only marked on this particular game, so it is, indeed a rarity. And those who have checked the serial numbers on the opened game can verify it. Of course, it's still $5,000+ and in a used condition, game only, no box, but it could still fetch a nice price-or a nice gem to someone's collection.

The Gold version is more valuable, but finding just A copy of the game is a challenge of it's own. Only 90 were made, with 26 additional ones encased in Gold. The last grey one sold in 2011 for nearly $11,000. I don't expect this one to reach past the $6 grand mark because of it's condition (so yes Orlando Sentinel, the quality of the exterior DOES matter in value), but it's a worthy purchase to a collector.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Companies Looking To Games to Hire Employees

As reported in the NY Times, some companies are taking gaming to a new level by introducing them into their hiring practices. Games are being used to test creativity, analytic, and a person's ability to multitask. It also allows companies to test people remotely without the need for the person to come in and sit down to a formal interview (thus saving, you guessed it, more money and time).

Start-up companies such as ConnectCubed, Knack, and Prophecy Sciences are using cognative games to help businesses with their hiring practices, and it's taking off. Dozens of major corporations within the New York area are jumping into this. While it's not a foolproof method, because a game can only test so much with a person and how they will act with co-workers and bosses in the real world, it does have a lot of potential to help weed out applicants that may not suit a position. Someone applying to be an assistant will need to rely heavily on their muli-tasking skills. What better way to test it then to give them a game and watch as they try to juggle 10 sushi orders at once?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gamers More Likely To Have Lucid Dreams

Jayne Gackenbach is a psychologist at Canada's Grant MacEwan University, and one of the few people who has spoken out in favor of video games over the years. In a recently published paper, Gackenbach believes that gamers are more likely to experience lucid dreams based on experimentation on the increased focus and spatial awareness of the participants.

For those who don't know, a lucid dream is a dream where one is aware that he or she is dreaming. If you've ever tried to knowingly fight off a dragon in your sleep, that's a lucid dream. There have been numerous of studies made about the idea of lucidity over the decades, but no one really knows the answer until you ask the initial participant "Hey, did you know you were dreaming?" It's believe that lucid dreams can increase focus and drive. And gamers, we are nothing but focused and driven when we want to finish a game.

Gackenbach's findings go a step further to imply that gamers are also more likely capable of handling nightmares versus the average person. Gamers are more likely to take control of the nightmare and fight back, as it were, while others may wake up from their soundless sleep in a fit. Interesting to see how games are translating even into our sleep. The mind is constantly working, even while we rest, and this is just more proof of video games influences in a positive manner.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Things We Do In Games That Are Weird IRL

I don't know where this idea came from, but I'm pretty sure it started while playing Borderlands 2 on Sunday with the boyfriend. We are in the last stretches of our new game and me, being the inquisitive little treasure hunter that I am (must get all of the shinies!), I will open up any box that I can. That includes the porti-poties and toilets that litter the landscape. Which is obviously, not normal except on Pandora. Where poop physics are involved. Yep...we have the minds of 5 year old kids who are fascinated by fecal matter. Anyway, this behavior is not normal for the real world. It's not normal behavior for most video games. Except Conker's Bad Fur Day. That is one giant, long-winded, poop joke.

But it made me wonder about our actions in video games that are anything but normal in the real world. I'm not talking about picking up a machine gun and going haywire in Grand Theft Auto trying to be Rambo or Tony, ala Scarface. But things we typically do in a game that we don't realize how strange it would be to try and replicate them in the real world. Here are a few favorites I came up with:

~ Jumping to go faster! This is in just about every game and sometimes, it's true. Sometimes it's a falacy that our brain tricks us into thinking that we're actually moving faster while we jump (when we're really not). Super Mario started this trend (which formed into the Jump Slide move) and now, it has a Facebook page.  We all do it, don't deny it. But imagine trying to jump around in the real world just to go a little faster. Yep. Silly.


~ Eating random things found on the ground. Unless you're homeless, this seems like a really bad idea to just pick up food lying around and munching on it. Who knows what kind of germs and bacteria have been crawling all over it. But we're all guilty of doing this in video games. In Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles we pounded down thousands of pounds of pizza just lying around. You could even beat up trash bins for a slice of health. Nasty. Or in Final Fight, you can find whole roasted turkeys on the floor. It's awesome for a pick-me-up, but kind of gross that it's been sitting on those dingy roads, maybe for minutes, or hours, possibly days, waiting for you to pick it up and grab a bite. Ew. I'm pretty sure the CDC would classify you as a health risk if you ate it.

~ Hiding in "dark" corners. Like Flo pushing car insurance on you, instead of drugs, we hide in corners in order to avoid detection or escape the bad guys. Metal Gear Solid is notorious for this, as well as walking around in seemingly unassuming cardboard boxes that would carry oranges. Or an oil can. Or a crocodile head. But the notion that just a little bit of shadow to protect yourself from being caught is pretty silly. Absolute darkness is one thing, but a hint of the shade and we completely disappear? Not possible. I don't think any of us would get far in a game of hide and seek if we all took to the shade and shadows in order to hide from the person dubbed as 'it.' "Hey Mark. I can see you." "No you can't." "Um...yes I can. You're standing right there in the shadow." "Nope. I'm invisible." Though that would make for some great dumb criminal stories. "Tonight at 10, a man thought he could get away with robbing a bank by hiding in the shadows of the building itself!"

~ Teabagging. I think this is fairly self explanatory, but just in case, here's an image to reiterate. Don't do it.



~ Jumping through portals and doors. Much like jumping to speed up, we also jump through doors, walls, windows, anything with an open space that causes our character to freeze for a split second and then the screen changes to the new environment. Why? Because it's fun! You can't tell me that you didn't do this in MegaMan. Everyone did it. Everyone. I was more apt to doing this in Metroid, but any game that has a door I make it a habit to jump through it. Again, it's something we all do because it's silly to watch your character freeze for that second. Imagine that in the real world...we'd be jumping through lots of doors for no reason and it would be exhausting after a while. I don't want to deal with my co-workers taking up so much space in the doorway to jump through them. And the only "pausing" that would happen is when a person falls down and blocks the path, because you know that's going to happen. Jumping portals: fun in games. Not in real life.

~ Smash all the pots!!! Very much a Legend of Zelda/Dragon Quest thing, but when you see a pot in a game, you break it. It's common sense because said pot holds goodies, anything from money to cow poop. In the real world, the most you're going to get is dirt, worms, and a very angry neighbor. There is no way this is feasible in the real world without massive consequences and a few tags of vandalism to your criminal record. But we can't help it. Must smash all the pots! All of them!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Moving Gaming To The Literary Elite

It's not a game about libraries, but you get the idea.
Did you know that some libraries are carrying video games now? No seriously. They are. Delaware County in Ohio received so many requests to add games to their facilities, that the library is now offering a selection to rent out to patrons.

I checked my local libraries to see if they were jumping into this trend as well, or if they at least have eBooks available for temporary download. Sadly, the Dallas area seems to be really lagging behind on technology. CD's are about as high tech as some of the facilities will go in terms of rental. Lame.

The Delaware County Library chose games after researching and reviewing the ESRB guidelines on each product. It doesn't state in the article if they have M rated content. But a quick search on their website and it appears to be more family friendly content, nothing above a T rating. They have racing games, puzzles, platformers, a wide variety of content. Even more interesting is that they carry PS4 and XboxOne games, where most libraries are pre-PS3/Xbox360 content. That's impressive.

So look out libraries. You might get more requests for games in the future. In fact, I'm sending in a suggestion form to mine right now. I should be able to get technology above a music CD. Just saying.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Using Games As Social Studies Textbooks

As video games have permeated more and more into the classroom setting, a social studies teacher in Hershey Pennsylvania is integrating games to become the class textbook. Jeff Mummert uses video games as a means of critical thinking, to get students more involved in the subject matter, and to review games much like they would a painting. Even though the worlds and the people are mostly imaginary, the concept is sound. If there's one thing I have been concerned about for years when it comes to education, is that schools are too focused on drilling facts for tests and not expanding student's mind by allowing them to ask questions.

So, yes. I approve of this method of teaching.

One assignment Mummert provided asked students to critique World of Warcraft after watching a YouTube trailer for the game, asking them to analyze stereotypes, inherit racism between the different classes, and the like. Questions that one doesn't think about when it comes to WoW, but they are important in understanding the world, the game play, and the social sciences. And of course, the obvious games: Elder Scrolls Skyrim and Assassin's Creed, which take on historical contexts within their game worlds.

Now of course, this wouldn't be an "entertaining" article without bringing up video game violence. Mummert wanted to use the latest Bioshock in his classrooms because of the dystopian setting it evoked, but ended up turning it down because of the "horrifically violent" nature of the game. They don't really delve into much more after that, but given how sensitive the U.S. is to exposing kids to violence in schools (and not really giving two craps when it comes to movies and television), it is a concern that isn't taken lightly. I remember even in high school having to have a parent sign a permission form so that we could watch The Lion King. Yeah. A Disney G rated movie required a permission slip. Not to watch the movie, but to ensure that it was okay for me to watch a G rated movie. You can forget about anything above a G. It's not happening. So while I understand that some games with their M rating would not be feasible in a classroom here in the states, it would still be possible to splice up cut-scenes and showcase the social studies content (which Bioshock is chock full of) that doesn't include "extreme" violence.

Mummert also dives into modification of a game to help introduce historical context, and provide more diversity in gender and race. They don't actually/physically go in and alter games, it's all theoretical and done on paper. Still, it's critical thinking. Any form of it is a massive thumbs up in my book.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

3d Holographic Table Toping!

The Voxiebox. You may not have heard of it, but you will be seeing it soon. It's positioning itself as the first holographic display for tabletop games, and after making the rounds last year through testing at trade shows, it has popped up again at The Games Forum, a small event for independent game developers to test each other's products and provide feedback. ExtremeTech is equating the Voxiebox to the chess match ala Star Wars Episode 4.

The technology behind the box is pretty simple. The device contains a projector that beams an image up onto a screen, which renders the images at a rapid rate with vibration. This allows the image to be viewed as a 3D model from almost any angle. The only time you'll see an image disruption is if you watch the display base straight on. The best view of the image is more of a top-down guide, and of course this is still new tech. So minute details and subpar graphics are to be expected. And anything beyond a chess or checkers game can be problematic with the fluidity of the images projected.

But as a whole, this is pretty neat stuff. It's the future we've been waiting for...well for years. Just remember not to play against a Wookie. They get mad when they lose.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forum Trolls - Dev's Want You To Chill Out

Gamers. Or rather the gamer haters. Not those, the ones that troll the internet and spout ill-egoton words and death threats against developers. Chill out.

That is what one gaming insider is asking of players, as posted in an op-ed on Kotaku. While the person's name and who he, or she, has worked with have remained anonymous, knowing Kotaku they verified everything behind the scenes before it was released. And the piece is relatively easy to follow: stop being assholes, you gamers who post those foul things online. Maybe it's just me, or the way I was raised, but I've always been told that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Now we, as consumers, have the right to be dissatisfied with a product and for a $60 game, if we see issues or glitches, it's okay to tell a developer about them. But there's a big difference between "the spatial clipping in this zone causes the game to completely break" versus "f*** you EA. I hope you f****** die and I hope your family dies and [enter whatever sick death method you want to add here]." Yeah...no. That's grounds for a threat, which you can be arrested for. I don't know when it became acceptable to degrade people and mention acts of violence when you dislike something.

And as other commenters on Kotaku have pointed out, it's becoming more common to see this on a daily basis. Your local barrista, the mail man, the grocery store clerk, the guy making your hamburger at McDonalds, all of them have received at least one death threat, or physical assault because someone didn't get their coffee poured just the right way. Or they got a bill in the mail that wasn't suppose to come for another day or two. Working at GameStop, I've received several, even after I moved positions and no longer handled customer service issues, I was still getting threats. It's not fun. And not smart to do that to the people who are taking care of your meal...just saying.

Rounding back to the main point of the op-ed, it's okay to complain. It's okay to let developers know something is wrong with the product. But be nice about it. Don't swear. Don't yell. And use full, proper, sentences. Don't threaten. Don't induce violence. You can be kind and still get your point across. It's not difficult and will make you a better person in the long-run.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Banned Games Still Likely After China's Lift On Consoles

As China's video game system ban is lifted, it's to be expected that the country will draft out rules on what is, and is not appropriate for sale. I mean...it's China. Need we say more? The Ministry of Culture has stated that the rules are being written as quickly as possible, but there is no set timeline on when they will be ready for release. Products that are "hostile" to China in terms of content and imagery will not be allowed, and all content is expected to be heavily regulated. Battlefield 4, for example, was labeled as a threat to China's national security last month. So yeah...that's banned. Probably anything to do with any form of violence, so no Call of Duty or GTA (but who's really surprised about that?) And I'm going to bet that Katamari wouldn't make the list either. Random, but it's not. The Katamari games tend to focus on the Japanese identity with food, games, and even the people. There is very little to no mention of China-in fact one of the few times that you do see it, you roll it up in order to get your Katamari into space. I imagine that's not the type of image China wants to have broadcasted to children in their country. So I'm not expecting a slew of games will get the stamp of approval.

It's a chance for the country to at least breathe a little bit of the entertainment and commedity that has been prosperous for many (and a chance for the government to get a piece of the action-just think about the black market and how much money would be removed by taxing games instead in a legal fashion). And since China's announcement, shares with Ubisoft and Nintendo have gone up; Sony is already in talks of trying to expand their foothold in the marketplace with the new freedom. Even Microsoft is working with BestTV, based in Shanghai, on a multi-million dollar partnership. It's a lot to look forward to, but I'm not surprised to read that there will be regulations out the butt. China will make Australia's video game laws look lax by comparison.

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Rounding Up Of Links

Hello thar geeks. Apologies for the lack of updates. I've been out with the flu, and for anyone who has been down that path, you don't even feel like getting up and out of bed to do anything. All you want to do is lay still and hope you don't die. It sucks. A lot.

With that, I have another link round up because there are so many interesting things on the internet from the past few days, that I can't limit it to just one topic.

Forbes is talking about how video games will help us reclaim our focus. Because of all of the distractions in today's world, technology and gaming is the way to go when...technology and gaming seem to be distracting us. Damn you stupid bird. Hit the pig! No! I don't need to go back to work, even though I'm 15 minutes later. I must beat this level!

Four game writers talked to IGN about the future of story telling. And it's a wide variety of speakers, from the triple A titles like Tomb Raider and The Last of Us to the indies of Gone Home. Very much worth the read if you have a few minutes to kill.

LA based Alexx Henry Studios has developed a technology that allows user to self-insert avatars into games. Granted the process is elaborate, involving 68 cameras taking a 360 degree portrait of your body, scanning it, and importing it. But when all is said and done, you can be in the game, jumping, walking, talking, and it looks pretty real. No announcements yet on the "slim" home version.

And of course, AI's are taking over. Polygon looks at Michael Cook's development of an AI to create a video game, how it learns, how it thinks, and how it ultimately produces the games that it does. Skynet people. It's a thing.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Squishy News Roundup

Keeping this light today. Something is dancing on my internal organs, and punching my brain, so I don't have the energy to really focus putting together a worthy blog post...whatever that may be. So, this is what you get:

Valve at CES, live blog.

The Myths of Video Games and violence.

Sony Online All Access Pass may be applied to all of their online games?

And women are still underrepresented in the film and games.

Monday, January 06, 2014

You Can Pre-Order Lots of Games!

Um, Kotaku, there are a lot of things that are out, or have been available, for pre-order for years before release. It's not a new thing. You just happened to catch on to some of the more obvious titles that don't exist yet.

Having worked at GameStop for years, I have seen pre-orders come and go. Even Halo 3 you could pre-order at some store locations the day after Halo 2 was released. No seriously. You could. A game that we knew was coming, but wasn't announced yet and wasn't even in development, you could pre-order. The Last Guardian is another fantastic example; announced in 2009 GameStop stores and the website started accepting pre-orders for the product. And then the game was delayed. And delayed some more. Now we're not even sure if they are going to release it at all since we're looking at a 4 year gap from when it was brought to the public forum. But if you have pre-ordered it at a store or online, your order is still there. For a game that may cease to exist.

Pre-orders exist for several reasons: it gives gamers a chance to reserve a title with a guarantee that they will have a copy on release day. Sometimes, such as with Call of Duty or GTA, it's for the claim to fame that you got the item on Day 0. Other times, it's to ensure that you actually get a copy of a game that may not be as well received, an import, or low production rates. Ace Attorney comes to mind, a franchise that is still popular today but very difficult to find copies of (so few of us are willing to part with them).

A good rule of thumb is to not get caught up in all of the hype. For those gamers who want the pre-order bonuses on the big name titles, you can still get them sometimes a week, heck even a month, after the game's release. I picked up GTAV 2 months after it was released and still received the pre-order bonus item for the PS3. Now for games that include a Beta or a limited time key offer, then of course having Day 0 access is the best way to go. Or if it's a smaller, lesser known title with few printed copies. It also doesn't hurt to ask the clerk behind the counter "hey, do you happen to have any more of the pre-order bonus items for this game?" Sometimes, they do! But don't be an ass about it if they don't. Some stores are sent more cards/boxes then others based on prior supply and demand.

Be selective about what you pre-order. You don't HAVE to pre-order CoD this year. Stores are going to have plenty of copies available. Focus on the games that will be low stock or imports. And if you think a gaming store is going out of business soon, you are entitled to a refund on whatever payments you made towards reservations. But do it before they head out the door, else you're going to be placed at the bottom of the list by the collection agents. Sorry.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Sony Altering "Cloud" Gaming?

A patent published yesterday, but filed nearly two years ago by Sony, may give us a glimpse of the future of gaming that we've been waiting for...or it could crash into oblivion. Who knows.

The patent is technology for "suspended state of cloud based legacy applications." Breaking it down, the idea is that during gameplay from a product that is being serviced through a cloud system, the program will be able to freeze a moment in the game, take a snapshot of it, and introduce new content. The system would only work with emulators, but it can provide endless possibilities of adding new material to older games. Super Mario Bros. with new levels? New ducks to shoot in Duck Hunt? Just imagine.

"Finding new ways to play preexisting video games can increase the longevity of older games. Instead of replaying the same level or completing the same missions repeatedly, gamers often desire new challenges when replaying legacy games. In response to this need, game designers have begun to produce mini-games. Within a mini-game, the gamer can be instructed to complete new objectives or challenge their friends for high scores in a format that was not originally designed into the legacy game."

Which could also be really dangerous. Needless to say, it would still involve a lot of lawyers and reviewing licensing agreements, so I don't imagine this would be implemented anytime soon. Sony could be saving it as a patent to say that they have the patent, and if anyone else tries to replicate it, they've already laid claim to the product. It may never be used because of the potential for so many legal headaches by altering pre-existing content. Not to mention, how many of us want to have our favorite games changed? I replay a game because I love it, even though I know all the missions, side-quests, and where to find the secrets. Adding new things doesn't really amplify the replay value to me. I want to play my classic game as it is.

Something to consider...but this is something Sony could apply to their in-house content. Or independent developers focusing on PSN only sales could easily jump into this trend and keep their products constantly updated at a whim. But a positive from this is the potential to port older games, like Duck Hunt, to PSN without the need for months of coding and re-coding to get the game to talk to the PS4. Because it's all Cloud based, the only adjustments that need to be made are ensuring that the controller can be calibrated for the game. This could be a huge opportunity us retro fans have been waiting for. There's a lot to consider with this technology, both good and bad. But again, I don't imagine it'll be implemented for a while.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Desinty-XIII, Whatever The Hell That Is

Squeenix, you're making it difficult to like you right now. You and your confusing things.

Something, most likely a game, is being teased by the company and Gloops, titled Destiny-XIII. Gloops is a mobile game developer whom created Apoc Wars and Shadow Alliance: Revenge just to name a couple of their hits. Obviously, it's a cross-over of some type, but to what effect? Are we horn-dogging more of Lightning? It would be a good time to capitalize with the incoming release of Lightning Returns. Or it could be the "original spin-off but now totally it's own game" FF15. Or part of the whole "Fabula" thing they have going on. I don't know anymore. I'm so confused by all of it. Mostly disenfranchised by what they did to Lightning, but you know...fan girl being a fan girl here. I'll still buy the damn game, but I won't play it. *Must complete my collection!*

Anyway, details will be released January 8th. So speculate away!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013 Review Time

It's that time where I look back over the past year and figure out what you monkeys liked and couldn't stop reading. I'm always surprised to see the stats every year. And this time, we have a change-up in the, um, line-up. Okay, that was a poorly constructed sentence. My apologies.

First off...you all are still interested in the porn. The Misty Dawn story that I linked in my 2012 review was still a popular search. I don't know if it had to do with the person's name or my comments about the story, but, um, yeah...porn. Still a thing you guys like to search.

Equally as impressive is that my Academic Anime posts from 2011 also saw a boost in readership. Again, not entirely sure what this means (schoolgirl porn?) but I can attribute the rise to reposts on other websites of similar subject. In fact, there were a group of people who were upset that I didn't reappear at AnimeFest this year to teach more of those panels. When I explained my reasoning, they seemed to understand and let it drop (so much that they're not returning to the con.) But it's good to see that others are as interested in the subject of anime and looking at it from a scholastic standpoint.

Referral sites have gone askew as well. Vampirestat is up, Google is down, and something called Secret Search popped up this past month out of nowhere. It's a website that tries to put a dollar amount on your domain. Well I don't have one, so um...thanks for the extra hits?

Next up: Where is my audience reading from? And in an interesting surprise, I have a lot of readers in Malaysia. Now I did take into account the page spikes in December from 3 days where I posted a question on Google's forums seeking help to my coding problem (which I ended up figuring out on my own, like always), so the change in viewership is quite interesting. Malaysia reads my blog at least 3 times more then the United States. Which is followed by Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and France. Canada has completely bottomed out of the top 10, when it was in third last year. I don't remember saying anything offensive about Canada or Canadians. In fact, I've been wanting to move to Canada to get away from the crazy people here. *shrugs*

And now the fun part, the most viewed posts:

The Feminist Stance on Bayonetta: 5612
Open Letter to Parents : Stop Being Lazy: 4863
The Swearing Ban Begins!: 3980
Will Your Game Matter In 20 Years: 3463
Zelda Cruel To Animals?: 3353

Here's to another year of educating porn and chicken!