Thursday, June 30, 2016

Legacy of Bad Games - And That's Okay!

Vice contributor Mike Diver spent some time with a man named Sos. In the development community he's known as "that" guy. The one who doesn't care about making it big; touting a product that took millions to produce with fancy graphics and jaw-dropping story lines. He's in the business to have fun and make as many games as possible. All of them are playable, most of them are pretty bad. But hey! That's okay! Sos Sosowski is all about producing games for enjoyment. Even if you're frustrated by the nightmare that is DOOM Piano, your friends and the internet are loving every moment of it. Sos' website glorifies the fact that he makes terrible games.

The interview with Sos is refreshing, in that it's not the typical affair one sees with a game developer. Sos is blunt, dynamic, and stylish with hos he describes his work. He doesn't boast about the content or game play, but he knows people are going to have fun. They are throw-away games; good for a few minutes of entertainment and then you're done. Though I'm sure there are marathons of DOOM Piano going on somewhere in the world to see if people can actually complete the darn thing. But his games are also very innovative and utilize microphones, web cameras, and the like to direct characters on the screen. Back before the Kinect and Move, you could tell an NPC to walk with a Sos game.

The list of game titles he has produced over the years are astronomical. He boasts that he's created over 100, fully finished games. Games that can be played, but may not look the best, and that's okay! That's part of his style. From Shoot Yetis with a Machete in a Sewer to Pork the Hamster, the games are meant to make us tilt our heads and click on the button. That's some good marketing right there. A number of these games were created during timed development sessions, or the 0h Game Jam. So they may not look polished, but they are playable. So if you have some time to waste today, reading the Vice article is worth your minutes, to jump into the mindset of a man who doesn't want to be part of the "in-club" of game designers. He's doing his own thing and having fun with it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

I didn't intend for this to be a round up post, but my news sources were overflowing with some odd topics today that it would be a crime if I didn't do this today. So here is your wonderful, weird gaming and nerdy news for the week!

- Get ready, everyone. Twinfinite has it all figured out; the reason why video game movies don't succeed. Movies don't replicate our gaming experiences to be meaningful for us, as individual gamers. Captain obvious much?  Look. We get it. Movies based on video games haven't done well in the past, mostly critically, sometimes financially. And we're fully aware that movies can never be like games. Ever. It takes compelling stories and dynamic characters to make a movie work, but in any adaptation, stuff will get left behind. Once gamers and fans of games realize this (as many have with the onslaught of books to movies), they'll stop blasting the "okay" gaming movies.

- A professional cosplayer is running for a political office in Arizona. It's not a gimmick. It's a real thing. Going by the name AZ Powergirl, Cara Nicole has joined the Green Party and is looking to be elected into the Arizona legislature for the House of Representatives. Her goal is to give that "other" voice to this election cycle. "I want to give people the opportunity to choose something more outside the red-and-blue party system," she comments. Her platforms involve environmental reform and families - specifically supporting legislation that helps divorced parents (on both sides) and custody cases to allow for more fairness. Whatever happens with her campaign, good luck to her. Being a cosplayer and a model is going to open her up to a slew of attacks from those on the field.

- I wanted to post this article from Florida Today because of the headline: Research shows the benefits of video games, dogs, sex. I'm intrigued. Please. Tell me more. The article is a bit cobbled together, but it indicates that your bachelor or bachelorette lifestyle of playing games, owning a dog, and drinking is healthy. In moderation, of course. Getting sloppy drunk every day and binging 20 hours on games is not good for anyone at any time. But a drink once every few days, and gaming a few hours each week can help improve your mood, thus leading to a happier life and more sex. So...go forth a game!

- Blastr.com has an opinion piece on how future video games should take a page from Mass Effect and develop more female leads like Commander Shepard. I'm a fan of the game, and appreciate BioWare's attempt at providing content to all genders by allowing the player to make their own decisions, I don't think femShep is the best representation of female characters in games. Why? Because she's a replica of broShep. Choosing to play as female Shepard doesn't change the dynamics of the game at all (with the exception of one scene I remember from Mass Effect 2 and even that was just a passing "that just happened" and was immediately forgotten). You have the same dialogue, movements, actions, and choices presented to you, regardless of whether you picked male or female. The only choices that you won't share are companion relationships - except Liara and Kaidan. Spoiler. Otherwise, the two genders are indistinguishable. That's not part of the female experience. At all. I'm not saying that femShep can't exist, but she's not representative of what we want in our female characters. We want avatars that represent us - our highs, our lows, our quirks, our flaws, and be a bad ass all at once. femShep is a copy/paste of broShep. I still enjoy the game and customizing her to tailor my snarky needs, but she's not the dynamic character that other female gamers should look up to.

- For an unknown, strange reason, not even 24 hours after the event, some people are comparing the attack at an airport in Istanbul to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 mission "No Russian." The few similarities are eerie, but in the end it's just a coincidence. It was an act of extreme violence and blaming the game won't solve anything. It's just a band-aid for your brain so you can feel better about life and move on, knowing that you can have a tangible cause to associate the attack to (no matter how wrong or right it may be). Gamerranx and Observer have compiled a few stats to showcase how violence in games hasn't affected crime in the way the media likes to portray it.

- The Science Blog has posted a study that reports that the theory that women are crap at games is debunked, after a team reviewed thousands of gamers playing MMO's. Females make up 20% of the MMO market, which seems small to me since I tend to run into a lot of women in Final Fantasy XIV. According to the study, after looking at 9,000 gamers in Everquest 2 (that's still active? holy crap!) and 2,000 gamers in the Chinese game Chevaliers’ Romance III, the skill level between men and women was virtually the same. There was no variable difference, or the percentage level was so low that they cancel each other out. I'm curious to find out how they received the gaming data, but there you go. Science in action.

- The Games for Change festival, held last weekend, believes that VR can help spur social change in the world. The thought is that with the new technology, it'll be easier for the average consumer to jump in and explore, which is what a number of games and apps include with the simulators - climbing mountains, working at a car repair shop, etc. They hope that VR will become more accepted over the years and encourage women to play and develop their own games, due to the ease of use.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When 'Firewatch' Art Is Used for a Ford Ad?

It's just so easy to steal art in the digital age.

Firewatch developer Campo Santo is experiencing the aftereffects after a Ford dealership in Quincy, Massachusetts used their art to promote the Ford Focus without their knowledge. No payments. No inquiries. Not even a "hi, we're using this." They took the art and ran with it. Part of the Ford Freedom Sales Event, the huge image sent to customer's via e-mail is an exact copy of the promotional artwork used for Firewatch, with the orange and red mountain-tops among a landscape of trees with the infamous park tower in the center.

The home office for Ford has commented that they have no control over the marketing of affiliates. Dealerships are independent businesses. They also addresses concerns over a video ad they produced earlier this year that had a similar art-style (the colors are the same, but the design itself is slightly different) that the content was all produced in-house and is original.

Game Informer reached out to the dealership once the image started making it's rounds on Twitter. Initially, upon reaching their art department, they were informed that they did not check to see if the image was safe to use and hung up on the magazine. Later, they received an e-mail with clarification that they always use "DMCA compliant sites" and the image was a wallpaper on one such site. However, most people don't actually check to see if the image is really DMCA compliant. The wallpaper site allows anyone to upload images without a care about if the image is under copyright. People can submit requests to have images removed that violate copyright, but it's moot if there is no vetting system to prevent the upload in the first place.

Campo Santo hasn't responded to the incident, but some of their employees are getting a kick out of it. Including one who was avoiding Twitter for Game of Thrones spoilers, and instead found the Firewatch madness going down! The Ford dealership in question hasn't responded to follow-up requests by the media, and hasn't addressed the blatant stealing of content for ad promotions.

If Campo Santo wants to pursue legal action at this point they can, not only against the car dealership but the wallpaper site as well for not properly checking that the image was DMCA compliant. For the rest of us, always watermark your art and include a copyright claim in the notes. That's the best we can do for now until the laws of the internet catch up with art.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Twitch Creative and Their Big A Cosplay Prize

If you didn't know by now, Twitch is kind of a big deal. And since the launch of their Twitch Creative section, which focuses more on the artistic side of streaming and less on gaming, it has grown by leaps and bounds. I thought it would be more of a platform for game developers and figure/live drawing artists to showcase their work in a new format. It's opened up a new realm for cosplayers in streaming their costuming progress as they work. So much so that the top streamers on Twitch Creative are cosplayers.

To spur the fuel further, Twitch announced last week a huge cosplay contest to be held through Twitch and at TwitchCon 2016. They are offering over $63 grand in cash and prizes for the top 20 who qualify. It's kind of a neat concept and allows for more viewer participation, which is key to Twitch's success.

So how does this work? You have to be currently working on a costume, or in the process of starting one and stream a minimum of 15 hours of you building the costume via Twitch Creative. There's a hashtag you need to use so that your work will count towards the contest. You need to complete your costume before the sign-up deadline and provide a 60 second clip of your work. After that, Twitch viewers will have a few days to vote for their favorites and the top 20 will be given a travel stipend and hotel accommodations to attend TwitchCon 2016 in San Diego. They will compete head to head at that point and be judged by a team of cosplayers and gaming streamers. The top prize is $15 grand.

It sounds easy enough, but be sure to take the time to read the rules before you dive in. They are hefty. And remember that the $63 grand includes the $33k that will be dolled out for travel expenses. Roughly $1625 for each winner to accommodate 2 people (you and your handler). The contest is only handing out about $30k in case prizes while the rest will be utilized for traveling. That's still not a bad deal for a weekend in San Diego in October. The weather is worth the trip.

As a gamer and educator, I can't wait to see the results of this contest. I want to watch how people vote for their favorites and what the social implications will come from this.

As a cosplayer, I'm iffy. They have announced 3 judges already; 2 are professional cosplayers and 1 is a gaming streamer with no cosplay history. How is the streamer qualified to judge a contest focused on craftsmanship? I understand that Twitch wants to incorporate media personalities that will help boost viewers and interest in the contest, but when you have a prize pool this big, it cheapens the efforts of everyone involved if you can't have a solid judging team to support it.

I'm also concerned with public voting for 2 reasons: follower numbers, and craft vs. skin display/cool costume bro. While this could be a great opportunity for newer faces to get their work out there, if you don't have a large following, you'll be left in the dust. Someone with 500 followers and convinces all of them to vote will not see the same numbers as someone with 500,000 followers. Even if only 1% of those 500k vote, that's enough votes to crush the first stream.

Reason number 2 has to do with what I've seen with past contest experiences where public voting was the primary or only factor in a cosplay contest. And what ends up happening are the costumes that show a lot of skin, or those with really big mech suits end up winning and it's no longer based on craftsmanship. It becomes a contest of what appeals to the eye of the public. Which, we all know means, sexy costumes, skimpy skirts, abs, and Hulk Busters. It doesn't matter if the costume is held together with duct tape and safety pins. This is why you have a team of cosplay judges who know the craft, who understand construction, act as the deciding voice in who wins. For them to not have a say in the finalists concerns me. I hope that the Twitch audience will be adult enough to vote for the people who put their work into their craft, and not vote someone because of their boobs.

It's an interesting premise, overall. Curious to see the outcome.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How UK leaving EU Can Affect Creative Gaming Culture

If you haven't turned on any news station or morning show over the past month, then let me quickly catch you up on the hailstorm of damage that is the Brexit. A catchy title regarding an important vote among the people of the United Kingdom on whether or not they should stay in the European Union (EU). The EU dictates trade practices, and some people in jolly-ol' England decided they wanted to split up and work out their own rules. Yesterday was voting day and by a narrow 51%, the UK is going to leave the EU. Stocks have been going nutty. The value of the Pound is down. There are growing fears by many immigrants that countries in the UK will begin to close their borders. And even Scotland, who was overwhelming against leaving the EU, is bringing up calls for independence once more. It's a pretty big damn deal.

And even gaming companies are having to weigh in on the matter. TIGA, the network for game developers and publishers in the UK, issued a press release this morning commenting on the need to ensure the future success of the growing gaming economy. Following the EU referendum, TIGA outlined 4 things that will affect game developers, including access to finances and rights to intellectual property. The latter is an issue since the UK is a member of the EU's Trade Mark regime. Rights to a product designated by the EU may be removed once the exit is finalized, and vice-versa. I.E. a game that once had rights associated with it by the EU may no longer be valid, and any person or some other company could claim the product as their work. It also puts more burden on game developers to get multiple copyright and trademark patents throughout Europe instead of the 1 needed covered by the EU. These are just a few examples, but the press release goes more in-depth on how the exit will do a number of the development field.

Given that this is all taking place overseas, and most of you, my dear readers, are in the U.S., this probably doesn't matter. Right? Well keep in mind that Rockstar North, the kingpins behind Grand Theft Auto, are based in Scotland. Leaving the EU will affect how they do business, the talent they can hire, and trademark agreements.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Dear Readers,

This week I am exhausted. Having to take over a co-workers job after he announces an impromptu retirement (and subsequently leaving the day of) has left me with very little energy. So today's post will be a Weekly Link Round Up to get the writing juices back into motion. Possibly tomorrow as well. We'll see how the news is treating me for the rest of the week.

I hope you all enjoy and commiserate with me on the best, and worst, gaming news on the internet.

Signed,

A really tired writer at The Geek Spot


- Rolling Stone Magazine must have a love for Quake that few of us knew, because they have devoted an article to the franchise, it's 20th anniversary, and how it changed gaming. Check out the history of Quake and the random tidbits you probably didn't know - Trent Reznor made his soundtrack debut with Quake. That's pretty cool.

- Looking for the indie games that were at E3 this year? Ars Technica has a video wrap-up of the games on the show floor, and highlights some endearing indie games that you probably didn't know about! Most of the video is meh. They are trying to do a US vs UK thing on gaming tastes, but the indie content is worth the watch.

- Kratos is growing up! And so are video games according to Tech Insider. If you haven't seen the new God of War game play released at E3 this year, Tech Insider gives a general overview of what you see, and how the new direction in the franchise is making the demi-God Kratos feel more human. The rest of the article is a complete wash since gaming has a long way to go in moving beyond tropes to tell stories, but the new Kratos is worth a look.

- WhatCulture is giving us 7 games that have confusing plots, but they make more sense then you realize. The problem with the list, other then it's from WhatCulture (hah), is that the games mentioned are plot lines that are not difficult to figure out. Eventually you get to the end and realize "it was all a dream" or some crap like that. Even BioShock makes a lot of sense when you reach the end. There are multiple side-stories in these games that may still be confusing, but the general story is pretty straight forward. Even their entry for Kingdom Hearts is pointless. Convoluted plot? Sure. Difficult to comprehend? Nope! If their wiki page can summarize the plot in a paragraph, you can understand it.

- The movie Pixels is still a running joke among movie critics and a number of gamers for being terrible. Not even laughably bad to the point where it could be on MST3K. It's just bad. And Honest Trailers really rips into the movie, and Adam Sandler's career. Warning: do not watch if you are a Sandler fan. The movie still turned a profit, and Sandler is posting some high numbers with his Netflix deal so...good on him for bouncing back from the negative reviews. At least he's doing what he loves.

- If you have any interest in the new Ghostbusters movie, Sony Pictures and Activision have teamed up to provide you a copy of the film for free when you purchase the Ultimate Bundle of the new Ghostbusters game for PS4. The bundle will include 4 DLC packs and 2 dashboard themes. The bundle will be released on July 12, 3 days before the film is in theaters nationwide on July 15th. Kind of cool if you're into that thing.

- Curious about that Death Stranding teaser by Kojima? The famed game developer responded to questions earlier this week to clear up some of the theories surrounding the trippy, Norman Reedus adventure. In doing so, more questions have been asked. But for certain we know that the baby Reedus holds is not him nor is it his child. The baby is also not a representation of Kojima's rebirth into the gaming world, nor does it have affiliation with Konami. Enjoy figuring out what it all means!

 - The problem with video game movies will always be a topic for discussion, even as Warcraft breaks international box office records. mxdwn.com (how the hell do you say that name?) attempts to review the problem once more, and provide solutions. BUT! The article isn't written from the perspective of a gamer, as so many others have. Instead, a pro movie critic and incredibly casual gamer, who admits to having a Steam library with a paltry 20 games consisting of Triple A titles, wants to dive in and look at solutions. Based on his past articles, he cares about the geek culture in a different way. He doesn't affiliate himself as being a comic book nerd, anime fan, or part of the Dr. Who alumn. His work reads as though he is a fan of fantasy transcending reality to appear on the movie screen. That's kind of cool. Take a look at the article on how video games can be better movies, from a film critic perspective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tiny Build and G2A Butting Heads Over Fraud Purchases

There's a controversy over piracy and PC games brewing with the website G2A.com and the developer Tiny Build. G2A is a global, digital marketplace for video game goods from consumers to consumers. They work with some gaming developers, publishers, YouTubers, Paypal, even some Amazon affiliates in other countries to provide deep discounts for digital gaming products. For $2.99 you can get 10 random Steam codes for games. Their model is to take un-used codes from Steam and Humble Bundle purchases and re-sell them to customers who want the product below the retail price. It allows customers to get rid of games they don't want, and new players to join the fold. Though developers don't get a piece of this second transaction with G2A (unless they have a partnership), for the most part it seems harmless.

While it sounds great for the consumer, it's not so great for the developers that aren't involved and getting a slice of the profit (as small as it may be).

Two days ago, Tiny Build posted that G2A sold $450 thousand dollars worth of codes that were purchased with fraudulent credit cards. The thieves bought the codes with the cards, and then sold them to G2A for a fraction of the price. G2A then re-sold the codes to new buyers.

Information is still being pieced together and we don't know if G2A is working with Tiny Build to resolve the matter. Right now the blame game is taking place, with G2A not taking responsibility since they were a third party member in this situation (they didn't steal the credit cards, and their transactions were legal on their end). Tiny Build got a huge charge back list from credit card companies and can trace the codes to G2A. Having experience in this area with GameStop, it can get messy really quick.

Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman spoke to PCGamesN about the growing issue. This type of situation was bound to happen and, according to Hartman, there is no incentive for banks to take a stand against fraud of this level. The businesses affected are not their customers; the credit card holders are. As such, the businesses end up losing out in the end, and Tiny Build has $450k of profit out the window that could have been used to develop more games.

Part of the fraud prevention system that works is a multi-tiered process. Trion Worlds not only utilizes software, but data and human effort as well. Sometimes the best laid schemes are foiled by the humans crunching the numbers, not the programs running in the background. I can fully attest to this, and wonder how many hundreds of thousands I've saved GameStop by stopping fraud.

Harsman has some good tips to help people who don't want to contribute to the fraud purchases: if a price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don't buy unless it's a direct low-sale price from the publisher. If you ever have a question, ask! Truthful vendors are going to provide fast responses, and will give full details. If the info seems to gloss over the game content, pass it up. And if you want to support the developer, the best thing to do is to go to their website and buy right from them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

E3 and the Lack of Female Representation

Feminist Frequency released an overview of the gender representation from the developers featured at E3 this year, and of course it's making it's rounds on the internet by news sites and trolls. Because trolls will always be trolls. The wise words of Wil Wheaton clearly do not permeate into their existence, or they would stop being dicks. But the chart is something to look at and review, so that's what we are going to discuss today.

If you want to be a troll, go somewhere else. I have no problem hitting the delete button, or reporting you to local authorities if you threaten me. This is an adult conversation. If you want to be a little kid and rant, go to your corner and do that. It's not welcomed here.

With that out of the way, Frequency started this study last year, based on the games previewed/announced during developer presentations. While there are more games on the show floor, they are not always showcased to the audience at large, the millions of us who watch YouTube and Twitch streams of the developers conferences live. We may not know about these other games until a week or two after E3 has ended and journalists have time to write their thoughts. Last year, there were 7 games in these presentations that featured a female only lead. 35 allowed you to pick the gender of your main character, though Frequency points out that most of those games featured men as the hero of choice instead of women.

This year, it's pretty pathetic.

Only 2 games in developer presentations contained female heroes as the primary character. Those 2 games were shown last year, so they are not even new. Horizon: Zero Dawn and ReCore. That's it? Really devs? The issue of ethnicity aside (that's a discussion for another day), we can only manage to get two women into new games for E3? That's sad. 29 other games had the feature of allowing you to choose the gender of your main character, and a greater ratio of male to female main-stage options (41% compared to 32% last year).

What the heck happened?

Honestly, I don't know. Some of the games featured last year with a female lead were released in late 2015/early 2016, such as the Lara Croft games and Mirror's Edge. But no other games have taken their place. You are free to argue that Dishonored 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda have female options as protagonists, and feature game play for both genders is a win in the "gaming girls" column. And it most certainly is. Mass Effect in particular had a very heavy-hand in advertising with broShep only for games 1-3; it's nice to see a change where both genders are featured equally on the screen. But that's about it! We still only have 2 games featured on the main stage with female only protagonists. Where are all the ladies?

Video games have long held this notion that it's a male dominated field, but it's been proven time and time again over the years that women are equally as invested in the hobby. Having heroes that are male only reinforces the notion that games are not for women, or that women are not allowed to be the hero of the story. (This is the core reason why I'm not happy with SquareEnix's direction for FF15. By removing female heroes from the core cast and sexing up Cid into a woman is the opposite of everything that Final Fantasy has stood for when it comes to diversity and sanity, in a fantasy world.) While more devs are getting on board by giving players the option of being male or female, that doesn't change up the advertising or the box art. Characters featured are male, therefore it's assumed that the male protagonist is the ideal choice over the female, as if the female is a lesser being. How often do you see commercials for a video game with a heroine on the screen instead of a male hero? Probably never, unless the game was developed with just a female hero, such as Tomb Raider. If girls and women don't see representations of themselves in these stories, or at least fictionalized super women, it further segregates us from the medium and limits creative output.

Having said all of that, here is my personal opinion. I'm a fan of male-centric games like God of War and Halo (just 1-3, though). The archetypes developed with these leading figures are dynamic, cunning, and intense on levels I rarely see outside of books that I'm drawn to these characters. But, I'm also annoyed that I can't say the same thing about games with female characters. Mostly because the options are incredibly limited. The few female-centric games tend to cycle between the same set of stereotypes: Mrs. Man, Macho Woman, and Mary Sue's. I don't like these type of characters. I like heroes with flaws. The ones who might not get up after a punch to the face, but still willing to fight for their cause in other ways. The ones who are not intentionally sexed up to show us boobs and butts (because that's what a female audience wants - impractical boob armor). I like the characters that feel real. The everyday person doing extraordinary things.

You can slap the template all you want on your alternate female heroes, but at the end of the day it doesn't make them dynamic or real. It just makes them another boring, boobed-out woman.

I don't want female-centric games because I'm a feminist. I want these type of games for something honest. They make for amazing content that can open up a new world of creativity for us to explore. Life is Strange is a vibrant example of this. (The irony of this is not lost on me. SE published Life is Strange and promotes the gender diversity, but has no trouble tearing apart Final Fantasy in favor of a male cast.) So let's embrace that reality and enjoy the diversity around us!

Monday, June 20, 2016

What's the Deal with "Remastered" Games?

Instead of making you wait until the end of the article to answer the question, I'm going to put it all out there.

The trend of remastered games coincides with Hollywood to remake past successes into new franchises. While it's not cheap, for many studio execs they see it as a guaranteed profit in a world where digital and on-demand viewing is taking up the landscape. How many of us go to the movies these days more then 2-3 times a year? Probably not a lot. Not when we have so much at our fingertips with computers, cell phones, and gaming consoles that we can have movie night in the comfort of our home at a fraction of the cost.

The growing market for home entertainment is putting Hollywood in a rut, so the movies they produce need to be sure-fire money makers. Unfortunately that means rehashing old content because of past and current trends from the movie-going public that reinforces the notion that taking something old and making it new will sell tickets. Original ideas have been relegated back to art houses. And that sucks.

Video games have been steadily doing the same thing. Think about the top releases over the past 2 years and your mind is probably honing in on Grand Theft Auto V, Final Fantasy X-X-2 Remastered, God of War III Remastered, and the like. Games that looked great on their original consoles of choice (PS2, PS3, and XBox 360) but have made the jump to the current-gen to sell more copies that are guaranteed sales. Why? Because even gamers are as predictable as movie-goers and willing to spend money on pre-existing franchises.

And that sucks.

Cultured Vultures has a good opinion piece about the subject matter, asking developers to stop releasing remastered editions of games. Particularly the ones that appeared at the tail-end of the PS3, XBox 360 days and are barely 3-5 years old. Games like Crash Bandicoot, which are being updated to revitalize the franchise that has been dead for a decade is one thing, they argue. Putting GTA5 on the PS4 when it was just as amazing on the PS3 is another matter; in that there was no reason for it to happen. You can argue that it's for better studio interfacing with updates, but the PS3 and XBox 360 versions seem to do well with patches and upgrades.

Ultimately, and I know I keep repeating myself here, it's up to you as the consumer to decide where you want to spend your money. If you like remastered games, then you're going to buy them regardless of what gaming critics may say. If you don't like them, then stop buying them. It's really as simple as that. Game developers will stop releasing remastered games if people are not buying them. Instead, they'll pool their resources and make new games. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the same ol' content. It's stale. It's boring. Remastered games are not helping the landscape, only further conforming to the Hollywood business model instead of providing the innovation we so desperately crave.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Awhhhhh snap. It's time for the Weekly Link Round Up! And you know with this week it's going to be a fun one. All of the E3 news one could ever want...probably not here. I did my best to find some of the other gaming news hitting up the internet this week to give you a cornucopia of madness. Here is today's menu:

- The Seattle Times has a continuation of a discussion this week about gaming violence and the E3 presentations that hit the floor in the wake of the Orlando shootings. But it's not about bashing games, but looking at how this immediate need to find blame can detract from other causes to violence and aggression that have been studied more in depth (and have produced more valid results then the violent gaming debate). It's a start...but I still feel that the developers and companies did their best at E3 this week to pay respect to victims. Asking them to completely overhaul their presentations within hours before going live is insane. They did what they could and they did it appropriately. Let's leave it at that.

- There's an interesting art exhibit taking place in New York City called 'The Mystical Digital.' It's a space that invites everyone to come in and create their own video game, encouraging people to draw, design, write stories, or do whatever they please. The hope is to get people to open up their eyes, and minds, to the endless possibilities to the gaming world. And maybe we'll get some new people into the industry. The exhibit ends this evening so if you're in the area, see it fast.

- Prosthesis have been taking a leap forward with 3D printing, and now with the help of video games, designing them has become much easier. If you've seen the biotic arm from Dues Ex, some of the artist worked with a team of engineers and doctors to create a living replica that looks too good to be true. Science! And Gaming! Cool stuff!

- Video games may be the future of South Park? With a release date announced at the Ubisoft panel this year at E3, South Park creators Parker and Stone were on hand to talk about the game and the future of the TV series. The show is about to hit it's 20th season, a rarity for any TV series, and there's been speculation that the duo may be ending South Park after their latest contract runs out. Given the success of The Stick of Truth, could video games be where South Park changes direction? Parker and Stone didn't give much detail and said it's always a possibility. While talking about making a squeal to Stick they threw around the idea of making another movie. With South Park, whatever happens, happens.

- A father and son team recently won a $1.4 million dollar grant from the California Energy Commission to create a system for measuring energy use from video games. Not physical energy, but the electrons powering up your devices so you can game. California estimates that 5% of household energy use is going towards gaming (and may not include the power behind TV's, computers, and routers). They are looking to curb the rise in energy use for gaming rigs and emphasize the benefits of cooling them down, other then to help keep your machine from going kaput. This is a very lengthy, science article but a great read for today.

- Skylanders is coming to Netflix? That's the latest rumor, and until I see promotional artwork on the Netflix site confirming it, I'm not believing anything. Given the run-around of April Fools stories with Judge Dread and Legend of Zelda, it's understandable. So take this however you wish; the animated series is said to run for one season of 13 episodes. It's not meant to promote the game, but it's going to promote the game.

- International Business Times has an interesting look on how shows like E3 and the exhibit hall setting don't sell video games the best way. The hours of waiting in line to play a 3-10 minute demo, people crowding around to see the screens and watch you play, the loud music and battle cries from the booth next door drowning out the sound in your headphones so you can't even hear what's going on in the game you are playing - is this really how you want to remember your time in the booth? It's an interesting take on the E3 experience, and something I'm going to keep in mind when I travel to PAX Prime/West later this year.

- The new Batman game from Telltale Games is going to be all about Bruce! While there will be fighting crime in the black bat cape, Telltale wants the gamer to dive more into Bruce. Who he is. How does he think. Why does he still don the suit after all this time. The philosophical questions that we tend to pull from comic books, but not so much in movies. I approve of the direction!

- And after many weeks of being absent, WhatCulture has returned with a list of 10 games that only exist because of nostalgia. Because it's hip to be all about the 80's. Somehow The Evil Within is 80's because it's Resident Evil and Silent Hill mashed up into one? I'm not buying that argument, how about you? This list is a weird combo of remastered and re-released games mixed with new games that were inspired by other games, culminating in Broken Age which is not a nostalgia driven product. It's a game developed by Double Fine Productions. That might be the "old-school" feel of it? I don't know. Dumb list, but laugh at it's sillyness. That's why I'm posting it today!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Warcraft's Success May Alter Future Film Distribution

How about that Warcraft movie, huh?

I'm not talking about E3 today, so you can get your fill elsewhere. I want to talk about movies.

While the reviews and box office numbers have been pitiful domestically, it's been raking in the money internationally; China in particular has taken a shine to the movie with $156 million in ticket sales (after the exchange rate) during opening weekend. World-wide it's sitting at roughly $300 million. That's double the film's budget.

So what happened? How is it piss-poor in the U.S. and everyone else seems to enjoy it? Part of it is the Warcraft experience transcends the U.S. population. A lot of people seem to forget that. World of Warcraft still boasts some of the highest player and subscription numbers of any MMO (somewhere between 4-8 million depending on where you look and who to ask). While the movie is more of a prequel to WoW, it has a fan base. A large one. Those who know Warcraft stuff will go to see it. And as many reviewers have pointed out, that's the target audience for this film. It's not Lord of the Rings meant for the general audience. It's Warcraft meant for Warcraft fans. Which means if you don't know squat about Warcraft you are probably going to get lost in the story. I think this video from The Cinema Snob explains the point quite well.

And after seeing the movie, I would agree. My film nerd senses were disliking this so much, I was having a hard time sitting still. The multiple plot points and quick changes of the scenery made it difficult to keep up with the story. By the end, I didn't care what happened to the humans or the orcs. I just wanted it to be over with. But if you know the lore of Warcraft, I could see the appeal. There were a lot of references to the original story. If you are a fan, then you will probably enjoy seeing the beginnings of Azeroth form under the war banners in this CGI rendered epic.

There are some things that both sides of the love/hate argument can agree with: the orcs were too damn big. Like, I'm a giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, kind of oversized. It's silly when in comparison to the games (board and video) they are only slightly taller then humans. The pseudo-relationship between the half orc/half human woman with the warrior is laughably bad. Her make-up was also in dire need of a re-do with those fangs. She can barely talk! And the excessive back and forth between the human and orc camps was very distracting. It didn't allow for extra empathy to the orcs. It just made content more confusing.

While we may not have the best reviews of the movie here in the states, overseas Warcraft is currently king of the box office. It's made more then Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And I mean Star Wars in it's entire run - not Star Wars opening weekend. Warcraft beat out Star Wars in 5 days. Holy crap. The success of the film internationally is enough to spur a sequel, which is what Blizzard wants. But will a domestic release happen with this poor reception? This could be the first U.S. based film that moves overseas to become fully financed in Asia. It would be the start of a new trend, the market in China and India is massive and ripe for the entertainment world. Now with laws a little bit more relaxed on the type of content that can be released in these countries, it's a potential gold-mine for Hollywood. Blizzard would be crazy to not move the next movie to China for production and distribution.

Warcraft may not be the game movie we've all been hoping for. But it is making it's mark in the entertainment industry in a way we didn't predict. And it could change how future films are produced. Who knows? In a few years we may be the ones who are stuck waiting on film releases from China, hoping to see the latest Avengers on Blu-Ray, if we're so lucky.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Nintendo E3 is Always Different

Once again, Nintendo did not follow the trends by holding a theater full of industry professionals to talk about upcoming releases. Instead it was all live streamed from their booth on the E3 floor. No large audiences. No applause when games appeared on the screen. Just Reggie, Miyamoto, and a lot of Zelda talk.

So of course Nintendo starts with the upcoming Legend of Zelda, with a more open-world aspect and voiced characters. Because that's a thing that's really rare with Nintendo products. Nintendo is so in love with this game, after their main conference, their stream for the day was pretty much devote to Zelda. It's Zelda everywhere!

And then it followed up with live game play of the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon. About 40 minutes were devoted to the changes in the combat system and what the new starter Pokemon have to offer.

That's it.

That's their entire E3 conference. Nintendo is going to do a daily showing of stuff and their line-up primaries were Zelda and Pokemon. Nothing about their secret console. Nothing new to show off, other then game play for content we know will release in the near future. That's all folks! That's your Nintendo E3 experience in a nutshell! I've just saved you 8 hours of video time.

If you are really big into Zelda, having an 8 hour stream devoted to one of the levels in the game and showing off all the new things you can do is fine. But for the rest of us, we got bored 15 minutes in. On the flip side, it's nice to see what industry peeps get to experience at the Nintendo booth.  So there's that...I'm not wowed. Between the other dev conferences, Sony wins once again. Hands down.


In other E3 news, Final Fantasy XV VR is terrible. Just as I expected it to be. It didn't look all that great in the Sony conference, so I'm not surprised that it's as bad on the show floor.

And in the new God of War your kid comes with his own button. The relationship between Kratos and his son is essential to the game play and story, according to the developers, and they wanted to emphasize that with the control scheme by devoting a button to interact with him. Press X to Jason.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sony E3 Conference Was Games Haven

I'm really digging this new direction Sony has been going for the past two years with their E3 content. Instead of standing up on the stage and giving speeches by multiple developers and executives, they let the games speak for themselves. And this year it was ramped up with a whole lot of game footage, and not a lot of talking. Plus, NEW GAMES. Two years in a row there are new IP's on the table? Sweet. Thanks Sony! You are restoring faith in this gamer once more.

I ended up live tweeting my reactions throughout the event, and they started off with one hell of a mind blowing moment. God of War is back. While I'm a bit tentative about the game content, given that the last round I was able to beat the game in 8 hours - and that was me being lazy, what we saw opening up the show was not only visually astounding, but meaningful for our Kratos. He's really evolved over the years, became a grizzled man with a beard and he has a family once more. But now he's moved to Norse Mythology. He's done his deeds against the Greek Gods. Time to piss off the Norse! And the game play seems as fluid and combo heavy as the original set of God of War games. Can't wait to see more. This is a sequel I'd be willing to invest time into again.

This was followed up with The Last Guardian. I rolled my eyes at this point because this has been the 15 year project that will not die, no release. #willthisgameeverrelease hit my feed, and then I had to retract my tweet a few seconds later when a date was on the screen. Finally. October 25, 2016. Not only this year, but soon enough that we don't have to wait until Christmas. About. Damn Time.

New games announced include Detroit, which puts you in the mindset of an android cop and you are tasked to stop a rogue android who is holding a young girl hostage. You can change the outcome of the game based on your decisions and how you investigate the matter. It looks like LA Noire meets Blade Runner. Really stylish visuals and I'm curious to see the complexity of the story line that would allow you to change it so drastically based on your decisions.

Days Gone is a post-apoc zombie game. Not much detail about the story other then you are playing as one of the few surviving humans on Earth, and most of civilization has been wiped out. And there were a butt-ton of zombies. Everywhere. Left 4 Dead level of zombie hoard that are fast, and ready to eat you for lunch.

And then there was the man himself, Kojima, making his debut with Sony and dropped a very mind-bending wtf trailer for his upcoming game Death Stranding. It stars Norman Reedus, of Walking Dead fame. If you recall, Kojima was working with Reedus on the Silent Hills game before Konami cancelled it. Apparently the relationship between the two was strong enough that they partnered up for this new project. The trailer is...confusing. And will have you scratch your head. But it's glorious to watch and it's Kojima. We will follow this man to the ends of the universe.

Sony is also attempting to capitalize on VR. With the release of their model later this year, they will have 50 games on board, including Batman Arkham and Final Fantasy XV. Yep. FF15 will have a VR component. No wonder it's taken them over a decade to develop the darn thing. Though truth be told I'm so sick of FF15 that I tuned out at that point. I was more interested in Resident Evil 7 and it's VR ties. The RE franchise looks to be heading back to it's roots with more eerie, closed world, puzzle-solving zombie scares versus the run and gun style of the recent releases. I can't imagine how it would be in VR. I'd probably be jumping at every window creek.

Sony is also remastering Crash Bandicoot for the PS4. And we got a hands-on demo of Horizon. I'm still very much in love with that game. Basically...Sony is winning E3. Not a lot of talk, and a ton of game play. Nintendo has a lot to prove today to retain the teen to adult audience.

On the Ubisoft side of things, only one thing caught my attention from their presentation: The Fractured But Whole. South Park's new game, a sequel to The Stick of Truth, will be releasing later this year. If you pre-order the new game, you can get a copy of Stick for free. But Whole has a new fighting system that is geared more towards action games, but will still maintain it's turn-based combat. Players can now utilize cover and move around the screen to attack enemies. And the game does pick up after Stick where the kids have now moved into superhero land, create origin stories for their powers, and end up being divided on how the team's "franchise" should move forward to make the most money. Because Marvel vs. DC. It's a thing. I enjoyed the jokes and I'm excited to play this game.

Your move, Nintendo!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sony E3 2016 - Live Tweeting Commencing!

Watching the Sony E3 press conference right now and will be live tweeting this evening.

All you need to know right now is that Sony is trying to class it up with a full orchestra for the night. And minds being blown with a brand new God of War taking place in Norse Mythology, an older Kratos as a dad, and very fluid game play as it happened on the stage. Super cool!

My brain is all in now. Sony, show us what you got!

EA's E3 Presentation and the Gun Violence Debate

The madness of E3 is already in full swing. So much so that even my blog had a hard time with using Day -1 over Day 0 in the subject line of yesterday's live blogging event. But it was an okay start to the week of events leading to one of the largest developer and retail showcases in video games.

I will do my best to live blog again today, but it'll have to be during my lunch break since I have that 8-5 job to take care of first. Today's list includes XBox E3 (this is Microsoft's press conference, which will be focused on the consoles and not their other branded content), Ubisoft, and the PlayStation Experience. Twitch is all over the big presentations this year so you can watch it all online for free without much trouble. Unless you get the skipping video like I did last night. That sucked. Horribly. At least it didn't ruin my experience, much.

In the wake of the Florida nightclub shooting that occurred on Sunday, The Verge published an opinion piece about the nature of violence in video games. The issue being not that there are violent games, but that when EA took the stage Sunday mid-day to talk about their lineup in the coming year, they didn't address the shootings. They didn't tone down the content. It was business as usual. I'm not sure what The Verge article is trying to get at. Based on the comments they have responded to, they don't expect EA to stop everything they are doing and mourn those who were lost. Nor to they expect the company to completely rework their entire show to not highlight games using guns - that would be months or work lost to upend and redesign in less then 6 hours.

I don't think a video game expo is the place to make political statements about gun violence. And it's such a delicate debate these days that any comments from EA, Bethesda, or anyone else could easily have people turn against them. The point of the expo is to talk about the new games coming out soon.

At the same time, ignoring the situation probably wasn't for the best. I wasn't anticipating them to start off the show with a monologue about the situation. But they could have pulled a Bethesda and attached a multi-colored ribbon to their suits to show solidarity for the victims. It's indirect action that brings attention to the issue, without directly addressing it.

Having been in EA's shoes before, I understand. You spend months building and prepping for a presentation (which by all accounts was pretty smooth compared to past years, even with the minor tech glitches with the live streams) and out of left field comes an event that could impact your content. Do you change it up 5-6 hours before you go live? Do you talk about it? Do you not talk about it? All of these decisions were going through the minds of EA staff to determine the best course of action. And for them, they didn't have the minutes or manpower to make changes on such a grand scale - so they went on with the show.

Maybe that's for the best. Maybe the fact that business was as usual for EA is enough to spur people into realizing that gun violence is too normal for the U.S. When we're one of the only first world nations that still has a relaxed gun policy (you can argue with me all you want, but I can pick up a gun in less then an hour and it's completely legal - that's nutty by all accounts) and we're #4 in the world in gun-related deaths behind Afghanistan, Iraq, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo - all war zones. Gun violence in this country can be measured in war numbers. Crazy.

The fact that EA went on with their original plan is telling. The commonality of gun violence is just that. Common. Maybe that will be enough to spur people into action and seeing just how big of a deal that is in our country, and allow people to address it and hopefully fix it.

We all know by now that violent games do not make violent people. There are hundreds of millions of us who grew up gaming as testament to this. Countries like Japan, Norway, and Germany have loads of violent games. Japan puts out a lot of crazy games. and some of the strictest weapon laws in the world. Homicide rates always rank below 1% on the global scale for these countries. If they can do it, why can't we?

So this might open up the much needed dialogue regarding the gun debate in the U.S.? Or it's just another day at the office. You decide.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

E3 Day -1 with EA Games and Bethesda

It's E3 week and EA Games along with Bethesda are doing a Day -1 to kick off the event.

Yeah...freekin Day -1. What's up with that? They are going live in about 2 minutes with their E3 Conference and I'll be live blogging this afternoon. You can view the event on Twitch as well. Enjoy!

All times will be posted in CST after the initial time stamp.

1pm EST/3pm CST: Jamming out to the music on the Twitch stream. It's like if someone merged a Vegas club with an elevator.

3:05pm CST: Stillll waiting. But what else is new with conferences? :D

3:07pm CST: Working on papercraft models for my next costume while I'm waiting. Square everywhere.

3:09pm CST: There we go. Starting now. A few of the front row seats are empty. Lame.

3:09pm CST: Awh. Sync fail. Stream sound is not keeping up with the video.

3:11pm CST: Of course the London stream is totally fine. California? Nope. U.S. internet fail.

3:13pm CST: Stream broke. Woo! Refresh it if you're on Twitch. Helps with the syncing issue.

Titanfall multiplayer is now up on the screen. If you care about Titanfall that is. Much more war-zone like then it's current iteration.

3:16pm CST: Single player will be available for Titanfall 2, confirming a leak from this morning, and if you want to beta test, they are taking requests now at the EA and Titanfall 2 website.

3:19pm CST: Madden.................stuffs. We all know how I feel about this. Though I will give it credit on being so realistic in graphics and game play that pro athletes in the NFL now use it as a training tool.

3:23pm CST:EA is adding a new line of competitive game play for Madden and their other sports game, so more people can feel like an eSports pro without being one. They are also bumping up the stakes to their EA Major game play, and they are starting this weekend with the Madden 16 finals.

3:24pm CST: And no one is in the audience is applauding the eSports gamers because we don't care about Madden. We want new games. Thanks.

3:26pm CST: Bioware time!

3:30pm CST: So here's the plot for Mass Effect: Andromeda. You are an N7 soldier sent out to the galaxy Andromeda to locate a new home for humanity. The game is very much focused on exploration and seeking. It looks like a very distant future from the original Mass Effect series, if it'll even tie in at all. There are clear images of Asari, Krogan, and the Citadel. Hopefully game ports are allowed as past choices affect the future (hell, the color you picked makes a difference, lol)

3:33pm CST: I got lost. They were talking about Play and supporting their current games, but I think the message was thrown out. There was also a $1 million donation suggestion for...what...I don't know. Confused.

3:35pm CST: Woah. This guy is way too into FIFA. This isn't the Academy Awards. It's an EA conference. Tone it down a bit.

3:38pm CST: Little bit of clarification now, finally: they are adding blank characters to FIFA that allow you to tailor their career and watch them through stories developed in the game. That's something different.

3:42pm CST: Footbul/Soccer fans. Your turn. Lots of FIFA talk. New game engine with the players. New ball engine. Lots of changes to make the game more like the real deal.

3:45pm CST: New program called EA Originals announced. The idea is to support small developers and partner with them to help with marketing and publishing with the EA title behind their name. A lot of this was inspired by Unravel. Now EA "claims" that they want to keep the profits with the original developer. I call bull since it's EA, so there you have it. :D

3:50pm CST: First EA Original game called Fe. You are a creature in a forest and must figure out who you are and where you are. Every creature communicates through music, and you learn songs to help you move forward. The game won't tell you where to go or what to do. You figure it out on your own. It sounds a lot like Journey. I like the idea behind it. Wish it had color beyond black and purple.

3:55pm CST: The Star Wars segment. Battlefront will have some levels from The Force Awakens. And there's a game to release in 2018...that's about it! Thanks guys for the lack of info. There's currently a "behind the scenes" video playing from the different EA studios working on the games but it's meh. Too kitschy, not enough info. "Like us because we make Star Wars stuff."

3:57pm CST: Again, people in the audience were not really applauding to that segment. lulz

3:57pm CST:Last game, Battlefield 1.

3:59pm CST: Wow. Storm just rolled through. If the blogging stops, I lost power. Yea Texas weather. O_O

4:00pm CST: EA will be streaming the game live after the press conference with 64 people so you can experience it before it's released. The game will allow you to take control over vehicles in a new way, including trains and the Zeppelin.

4:04pm CST: I love how the US audience seems to uninterested. XD It's amusing! Also, did EA use a Kayne West, gay fish, song? If so, fail. Massive fail. Did they not learn from the Assassin's Creed movie trailer?

4:08pm CST: Conference is over. Feelings are meh. Not bad, but not good. I echo the US audience and didn't really feel excited about anything. Maybe Bethedsa will take us up later this evening.

 
Bethesda

9:00pm CST: Just in time after a rousing episode of Game of Thrones. Can't wait to see what Bethesda has lined up this year!

9:15pm CST:Seems like the Bethesda panel is either taking forever to get going, or experiencing technical difficulties. But! if you go to their Twitch channel, Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler, former X-Play alumn are warming up the crowd. Thumbs up to these two instead of nameless celebs who could not care about games.

9:18pm CST: There we go. We're up and running now. First thing? Quake Champions.

9:22pm CST: When Id talks about game play for competitors, I believe them way more then EA. They make games that LAST, not a new game every year. QuakeCon. Case in point.

9:23pm CST: Ohhhhhh. I don't know what theater they are at, but Bethesda wins at the shiny room. So shiny! Screens are not just on the stage but spread out and overhead to cover a good chunk of the space. Very interactive and immersive.

9:28pm CST: Elder Scrolls card game is on the screen again. They mentioned this last year, but didn't have much detail until today. Looks much like Hearthstone but they mention it'll have a single player campaign - hopefully free and newbie friendly.

9:31pm CST: Fallout 4 and Shelter add-ons, including a new combat system for Shelter, a chance to build your own vault and test it on random NPC's in the area. And! book a trip to NukaCola Theme Park? It sounds hilarious and awesome. And immediately jumps into a remake of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for next gen consoles. Damn it's pretty.

9:34pm CST: And I'm saying that even with a really low video quality on the stream to try and get the stupid stuttering to stop!

9:37pm CST: New game: Prey. You are a subject of an experiment on a space station that is meant to improve humanity, but bad stuff happens and now you have to get out alive. It's a first person, psychological horror. Very strong visuals without being overly gory.

9:41pm CST: Haven't played the new Doom yet? This week, you can download the first level on any console the game is available for free. And if you have the game, with the exception of the Premium DLC coming out next month, all future multiplayer updates and editing tools are free.

9:42pm CST: One lady was SUPER happy about the Elder Scrolls: Online dev on the stage.

9:44pm CST: Jesus. People. Calm down. O_O It's just Elder Scrolls: Online. Get that woman away from the microphones. My goodness.

9:47pm CST: Okay, I think it's just like 5 people in that audience who really care about Online, and they are RIGHT BY THE MIC STANDS. Really annoying. Can someone move them, please?

9:48pm CST:So here's the update with ES: Online: New DLC coming to consoles and a new system called One Tameril - it allows people to group up with anyone of any levels and not be penalized for being a noob. You can level with friends and family no matter how big or small your level mark is. It's something other games have done for years, so it's not that new, but it's nice to see the trend is catching on.

9:52pm CST: VR is the hot trend. Fallout 4 is on the list. Cool and oogy.

9:54pm CST: Time for Dishonored 2. Moving to a new location, move distinct environment and textures. This is using a brand new game engine just for this title. Lighting and shadows play into the grit of the game.

9:56pm CST: The game engine also allowed them to create a more robust NPC system where you can watch one walk around the city all day as they live their lives. Really cool.

10:01pm CST: Second game is a true sequel to the first, about 15 years after. Currently playing a demo and the game feels so much more in depth compared to the first.

10:12pm CST: Lots of game play to cover! So new powers to play with, more interaction with the environment to determine your stealth, as well as how and when you want to strike. Strong first person perspective with the game. Great landscapes. There will be a collector's edition, so get it fast.

10:16pm CST: And that's it from Bethesda! If you stick around on their Twitch stream, Adam and Morgan will take over for QA's with the developers. Not a bad round up of content in the upcoming year.

That's it from me tonight. Signing out!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Version Two! Since I deprived you all of a round up last week, you're getting a double dose this time. Rejoice, for The Geek Spot has risen! Let's see what's up with gaming news over the past few days:

- Geek.com is already calling an end to the era of video game movies, citing that 'Warcraft' was our only hope. Melodramatics aside, if you were putting all your hopes on the 'Warcraft' movie being the best thing since sliced bread, you need to take a chill pill. The reviews several weeks ago were not looking good, and even the Rotten Tomato meter has dropped to 24%. But! the general public reviews are sitting at 80%. That's pretty nice, all things considered. It may not be word for word like Warcraft (the lack of puns and overbearing shoulder armor are downers for me) but it's resonating with audiences in some way. May not be the best game to movie adaptation, but don't give up hope yet! There's still 'Assassin's Creed,' as long as they remove the Kanye West, gay fish, music out of it.

- Not to be outdone, the U.K. MP's want to look at the issue of sexism in gaming, and consider measures to restrict release of games that promote violence against women and offer incentives to developers that promote female-centric games. They are also considering looking at a special rating system for sexual content and violence separate from the ESRB. We'll be watching this story as it unfolds.

- Apparently video games are becoming viable tools for training pro athletes. Not eSports, but football, basketball, and the like. The New York Daily News followed football player Bryce Petty through a training regimen with Madden in an effort to up his knowledge on the game and see plays as they happen, instead of on a white board in a locker room. With how much games like Madden and NBA2K have advanced over the years to include all of the nuances of the real-world sports, they are becoming important to athletic training. Not physically, but mentally. You better believe EA will use that as a marketing tactic.

- A site called We Got This Covered, already has a list of 6 of the most disappointing games this year. It's only 6 months into the year, guys. Can we at least wait until November and give the other games a chance to one-up those titles? Their list includes Homefront: The Revolution, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, and Tom Clancy's: The Division. It's only June. There will be worse later on this year. That's a guarantee.

- E3 is next week! With most of the announcements still under wraps, International Business Times has a summary of the rumors that we may see on the show floor this year.

- If you're looking to start a debate, a Vice opinion piece argues that 2002 was one of the best years in video games. While I appreciate the writer's perspective, I don't feel like the games mentioned really own up to the title of "best ever." Aside form GTA, they didn't redefine the console era or push the industry forward to start new trends. They were good games, but not the Earth-shattering moments that we would expect for a "best year."

- The Cheat Sheet pokes fun at video games with horrible voice acting. Though I wish everyone would stop making fun if Final Fantasy X and the laughing scene. Gamers. You do realize that the whole point of that scene was for Tidus to get Yuna to smile by acting ridiculous? So many people focus on the laughing portion, that they ignore the dialogue that occurs after where Tidus and Yuna laugh naturally. It was meant to be over-exaggerated, if you just listened to the damn story. So stop railroading against FFX, and let's get back to the Jill Sandwich comment from Resident Evil. Yeash!

- Tech Insider was able to confirm that PR rep for Call of Duty leaked a video of Kit Harington and a motion capture day for the next CoD game. If you don't know the actor's name, you probably have seen him as Jon Snow on Game of Thrones. So, this is what you get to look forward to, CoD fans. Enjoy.

- And finally, a laughable article from Twinfinite covering 6 game series that will end this year. Maybe. For certain the Disney Infinity line is done. Disney Interactive will close it's doors after the last line of toys are released. And while The Witcher 3's DLC content is completed, it's not going to stop the franchise. More then likely there is a game 4 in the works. And no more Uncharted? Given the outcry of fan love, there's probably another adventure to be had. You got to love how people over-exaggerate these things.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

More Gaming Shows on YouTube Red with MatPat

I'm still trying to calm down from this week. Because my butt is going to PAX West (formerly called PAX Prime) this Fall and I'm freekin' stoked. I've been wanting to go for years, but just like any big name convention of that popularity, it's near impossible to get tickets. But my years of Final Fantasy XI NM camping have paid off. I'm in. Success!

But there is other gaming news to get to. I'll just go over here and continue to do my happy dance in the corner of the room.

If you're looking for something new to watch on YouTube Red, the subscription based service for original programming, Matthew Patrick's first official series 'MatPat's Game Lab' premiered last night. MatPat has been on YouTube since 2010, and his take on the gaming world is to look at the science behind video games. It's Mythbusters ingenuity and charm with a gaming twist. One of his first videos analyzed the infamous "barrel roll" from Star Fox. Over the years, as the ideas got bigger, so did the budget. A budget that he did not have, and even with ad revenue and sponsored videos for Rainbow Six: Siege, it always put a stop on the big science questions he wanted to explore.

That's where YouTube Red comes in. Now with the budget, MatPat can go crazy with the ideas.

He filmed 8 episodes for the series in about 4 weeks (which is nutty on any production scale), brought in cameos from other YouTube gaming talent, and will have a variety of science-things to cover. Such as if the ball in Rocket League can actually be propelled by a race car. Or the sneaking in Metal Gear Solid and the dare-devil tricks in Mirror's Edge can be replicated in reality. You can watch the first episode for free without purchasing a subscription, and it tackles the Mirror's Edge inquiries first. MatPat goes through training, gets experts involved, and throws down the numbers on how the game and reality compare. Though I do wish there was more science, less of MatPat falling down.

The series will also introduce a 360 camera experience for additional content to subscribers.

Looks like it'll be fun to watch, and they're in 20-30 minute bite-sized pieces, so easy to run through.

There's also an episode on Ostrich Racing. You know you want to watch that.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Extreme Work Conditions for Gaming Voice Actors

SAG is causing waves in the video game division again, this time issuing a letter to the state of California and OSHA to investigate claims that the extreme work conditions in recording booths are causing damage to vocal cords for a number of actors and actresses. In September last year, the guild was looking to strike against interactive media for unfair practices for pay. One of the goals they were looking to achieve was compensation for excessive vocal work - such as the yelling, screaming, and guttural noises we are use to hearing from our digital avatars. This new issue is part of a long line of problems voice actors have faced for decades, and the growth of video games have made it more prevalent.

David White, SAG's national director, stated that the complaints began coming in back in February when the guild asked their members to respond to an open questionnaire about business practices in the voice recording industry. He noted that a number of actors were experiencing higher rates of cysts, polyps, and cord hemorrhaging for the long hours of recording sessions. Several of the complaints claim that actors are not given a chance to warm up their vocal cords, have to scream for several hours without breaks, and they are given "candies" that help reduce the feeling of pain on their throats while continuing to work.

Many fear losing their job if they brought up concerns with their employer. The majority of voice actors are contract based and work per job. They are not guaranteed positions, unless you are lucky enough to land a television show with a re-occurring role. Video games? Not so much. Even Konami replaced David Hayter, legendary voice of Snake, with another. No voice acting gig is secure.With that increased pressure to perform, actors are more likely to ignore the conditions around them.

SAG is still negotiating with major game developers to come to a resolution with the strike, and this latest concern could throw more headaches into the mix. It's up to the state of California and OSHA on how they wish to proceed.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

AT&T Building an Anime and Gaming Streaming Service

That's not a typo. No need to do a double-take here. A report from Variety, via AT&T, states that the company will be launching a subscription bundle along with the Chernin Group. The aim is to offer a streaming service like Netflix and Amazon but catered to a younger demographic that is too old for Barney, but too young for House of Cards. These are the pre-teens that love video games and anime.

Working with Crunchyroll, the anime subscription service with 800 thousand paid users, the platform will have an a la carte model (does anyone else see the irony here? We can finally get a la carte but not with our cable) where members can pick the content they want and pay a monthly flat rate to access it. The system does not have a price point yet, and there are no details on what else is being offered, but it is expected to be separate from the standard AT&T cable fare by not being an add-on or a bundle package. It will be more in line with what Amazon offers to it's Prime members for streaming.

How will that affect video games? That's up in the air too since details are slim other then "this is a thing that's happening." More the likely it'll be similar to a GameFly model where you can download a game to your system or PC, and you have to log in to play. Once your time is up or you stop paying, you can no longer play.

More details will emerge in the coming months, but it's something both gamers and anime fans can look forward to.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up!

You may see a double dose of the round up, since last week I was taken away from blogging for a few days to attend a convention. I'm back and ready to showcase some of the most entertaining gaming news on the internet...this week.

- The French Minister of Digital Affairs is looking at ways to combat sexism in gaming. They are looking into providing credits and funding to companies that create games where women are empowered, or promote positive images of women. Even after legislation last year in France against the gaming industry on this matter was struck down, Axelle Lemaire is combating it with the new incentive program. What that means for future games? I don't know. It's a nice thought, but asking an artist or developer to change their image for some extra money is not kosher in my book.

- E3 is next week. More importantly, Ubisoft will return with another preview of an upcoming game, and YouTube user CrowbCat wants to remind everyone that the visions of an Ubisoft E3 never match reality. He has released a video, currently over a million views, comparing a few finished Ubisoft games with their E3 counterpart. Some of the side by sides are so different, it's a wonder that they are even the same game at times. Here's the deal: What you see from Ubisoft at E3 is a playable demo that does use their game engine, but only a small snippet of the game itself. When they implement it into the full version, there is a downgrade in graphics, lighting, dust particles, sound, and voice quality so the engine can render everything at a faster pace. Can the engine render the high quality stuff? Yep. But Ubisoft opts to not do this in favor of speed. Is it right for Ubisoft to do this? No. But they're not the only one. The practice needs to stop and I'm glad that someone is putting them to task to ask the question on why they can't deliver on the quality they promise.

- Overwatch is reigning supreme on social media, and Blizzard has joined Facebook to integrate their live view system into the game itself. Soon you'll be able to play your matches while streaming them to Facebook, including the mobile versions. And that means more posts I get to hide. Yea.

- A ZAM article asks what has happened to all of the T rated games? Well...they're still there. The Sims is riding high on it's successful franchise after all these years. You have to look a tiny bit more for them. There are more E10+ and M games, based on the ESRB's recent findings, but it's not impossible to find. Most retailer websites allow you to narrow down you searches by game ratings. And there is some great content out there. Ratchet & Clank, Guided Fate: Paradox, and Dragon's Crown. It's not as though all of the T games vanished.