Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Growing Problems with No Man's Sky

The issues surrounding No Man's Sky  continue to pile up. And finally other news publications then myself and Kotaku are seeing the light: Pre-Orders suck.

As more people are working with Amazon, Steam, and Sony for refunds on the game, just as many are wondering why this highly anticipated title has received such a huge backlash in a short amount of time. Some of it had to do with promises that were not met upon the game's launch. Others are people not content with the limited content offered, or the changes that had to be made to get the game out on time. Being a game developer is a rough job, made even more dubious with the rise of social media and instant feedback from fans. Whatever the reason may be, it's clear that a lot of people are unhappy with the results. Some are even comparing the game's launch to the failure of Assassin's Creed: Unity. Ouch.

Steam has issued a statement on the product page that No Man's Sky will not bypass their refund rules: if you have owned the game for more then 14 days or played longer then 2 hours then you are ineligible for a refund. However, they still review each request on a case by case basis, so you can still try. All the while, former Sony employees began to sound off on people returning the game after dozens of hours of game play. The player base is still dropping and it doesn't look like there will be much hope left after all the dust settles.

Here's the run-down on the whole hoopla:

No Man's Sky has had at least 2 years of buzz building around it. Beginning with the idea of having a template for broad, expansion gaming that allowed users millions of hours of content in one product, it became overwhelmed by the director's vision and the publisher pushing to release the game sooner then later. There is no specific goal, though the game suggests you try to reach for the center of the universe, per the lore. It's focus is on creating new experiences, seeing new worlds, and coming up with creative ways to have fun. It's Little Big Planet on a different playing field.

While the PS4 version released with little issues, the PC game has been plagued by downed servers, run-time errors, and the like. Though it was a rough launch, it did become the biggest selling game on Steam this year.

As people began to play, some of the features that were boasted by Hello Game's and it's director were missing. Reddit threads have exploded with gamers debating about the promises of the studio versus the reality. Aspect such as lack of planetary physics, dynamic ship builds (currently all ships are homogenized to look exactly the same for every player), and resource distribution not following the rules the developer claimed to be - less Minecraft more WoW where you have to learn the schematics before you can build. Even the little things such as being able to land on asteroids, quoted by the director, are not available.

It might be nitpicking, but when you scroll through the lists and see how much content is not in the game that was promised by the studio, it raises a lot of questions. Was Hello Games and the publisher trying to capitalize on the hype? Did Sony pull an EA and push Hello Games to release an unfinished product? Was it too many promises too soon that the team couldn't produce? We won't really know. But it is a lot of missing content when you get down to it, and gamers are not happy that they paid for an unfinished product.

With no timeline on updates or when the content will be available, people are asking for refunds. Now I will say, personally, if you have played the game for more then 20 hours, asking for a refund is silly. You made your mess by buying the game. Deal with it. But if you are only a few hours in or have had so many tech issues that you can't play it, then asking for a refund is feasible. I feel the people who have been playing for the past few weeks have been trying to find content to help them appreciate the game. And not every gamer is asking for a refund - it just happens to be more then the normal.

Sony and Hello Games need to do damage control. They've got to come up with a solution as well as a timeline for future content releases, fast. At this point they are on a sliding slope with very little chance to recover.

Admittedly I have not played the game. I haven't had the time, and felt that the initial release would be plagued by server issues with so many people logging in at once. I didn't want to pay for a game I couldn't play right out of the box. Letting games sit, unopened annoys me. The concept sounded interesting. I really like the dynamic art style. Yes it's not as flashy as Skyrim on mods, but it doesn't need to be. The exploration aspect was a bit of a turn-off since that's not my deal. I need quests that direct me from Point A to Point B, but I could get over it to try out the game.

At this point, I don't know if I want to play it. Reading the concerns of gamers who have been waiting for this product to release, I may wait it out until more content is available. Going from planet to planet seeing the same thing and doing repetitive tasks? No thanks.

Oh, also, stop pre-ordering games. We've set a precedent, as consumers, that it's okay for studios to release unfinished products. Why? Because they have a guarantee sale with your pre-order. If you want better games, then change your buying habits. Stop buying things that are incomplete. Simple as that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

It's one of those days where all of the topics I had prepped to sit down and write about have left my head.

Lucky you, readers! That means you get an early round of the Weekly Link Round Up! Rejoice!

- Jordan Minor on Geek.com would like for Ubisoft to have their own version of a Brexit and allow it's subsidiaries to have more reign over development. Ubisoft's current model with creating games is to give pieces out to multiple studios, globally. If you've played an AssCreed game, you'll have seen the message about the multicultural viewpoints. The problem is that it produces conflicting content, and doesn't allow the other studios to flourish. They are all stuck under the thumb of Ubisoft and can't create their own games. Minor believes this is stifling the creative powers, and they need to be set free. Valid points, even if it's just one game every few years, Ubisoft could relax the leash a bit.

- Reports are surfacing that Steam, Sony, and Amazon are offering refunds for No Man's Sky outside of the return policy. Enough gamers are concerned with the lack of content in the game, that they want their money back. You could argue that if someone has played for more then 30 hours, they shouldn't be entitled to one. But it's also a game about exploration with no end goal, and little content beyond finding new planets with similar looking creatures. 30 hours may seem like a lot to you, but for some gamers, that might be just a drop in a bucket for a game that offers unlimited exploration. 30 hours out of a billion is nothing. Hello Games hasn't made an official comment about the refunds yet, but it's adding more concerns to the game developer's future.

- PewDiePie's second video game is releasing soon and will explore life as a Youtuber. That's it. His first game did well with mobile app stores, and he's working once again with developer Outerminds to produce the content. Best way to stay up to date with the game is to follow PewDiePie's Twitter feed. Otherwise...that's all I've got. Another gamer is making gaming even bigger.

- What the heck happened to game box art? The question was posed on Gizmodo Australia, and honestly I think a lot of game box art has sucked since the late 90's, early 2000's. So many of them replicate movie posters where it's the hero on the cover, looking ominously off into the distance at the challenge before them. Usually it's a dark cavern, or a tall, worn-down castle. There's nothing dynamic about the look when everything seems similar. App icons are no different. They tend to be catroonish with oversized character heads and little else. The only box art I can remember appreciating over the past decade has been for the Final Fantasy XI expansion packs. They are all in Amano's artwork and feature multiple characters, creatures, and settings. The Wings of the Goddess pack is astounding in it's composition. Box art is dying out as more content moves online. It's just a thing...but hey! More art books for us!

- German developer Kalypso Media, Tropico and Sins of a Solar Empire, has filed a claim against a Radioactive Software over an upcoming game release due to it's name. Kalypso owns the name "Urban Empire" a game that has been in development for several years, and has a website but no release date. Radioactive Software is set to release a game called "Urban Empires" early next year. See the difference? Kalypso claims the name is infringing on their rights to produce. With how wonky legal issues can be, this may move forward and receive a court date. But really, it's just a name guys! Get over it.

- New York Daily is taking a look back at the weird arcade game that is Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. MJ was no stranger to the early days of video games, having several titles on the NES, and Genesis. Moonwalker was a foray into the game halls where you use dance moves to destroy your enemies. Ah the innocence of early games. How quaint.


Special News from me:

- PAX West is in 3 days. Rejoice! I will do my best to stay up to date with the blog. But if connections are being weird, be sure to follow my Instagram and Facebook feeds. I will be capturing a lot of photos!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Running Your Own Convention - In Mobile Form!

A game about running your own fan convention. It doesn't sound like an ideal "fun time" compared to what's out on the mobile app marketplace these days. But Con Man is not an average game. It's silly, and unabashfully aware that it's all about the tapping. So much so that it exploits your need to tap, makes fun of you for it, and doesn't beg you to spend your real world money (unless you want to).

I downloaded this app over the weekend to try it out. It's a freemium game, meaning free to download and play, but you can spend money if you wish for additional perks and powerups. But unlike most freemium games, there isn't a limit on gameplay here. You can do quite a lot without spending a penny. Should you wish to spend funds, it's to gain more of the in-game currency and loot boxes. You aren't missing out on exclusive items or new levels.

Con Man began it's life as a web series, funded on Indiegogo as the brain child of Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk. If you have ever seen the show Firefly, you know who these two gents are. The show centers around Alan's character in the life of the convention scene. An actor who tours the sci-fi cons to make ends meat after his show was cancelled. With cameos from Fillion (who is an actor that turns A-list), Felicia Day, and a whole host of noteworthy nerds, it explores the other side of con life from the perspective of the actors! It's really funny. I highly recommend it.

Their $3 million stretch goal included a mobile game based on the show. Released on Friday, the game is already garnering a few chuckles and some massive battery life drains for my poor phone. This may be worse then Pokémon Go.

If you have ever been to a nerdy convention, you'll see all the tropes, stereotypes, and amusement from the moment the loading screen appears. It's all done in an amusing tone, so don't take offense to it. You know you have seen the streaking grandma, or the actor attempting to pick up ladies in costumes. What the game does to expand upon the traditional tap/building games is to provide some different elements, such as battles! At random points throughout the game, aliens will invade your convention and you have to stop them. You'll be sent to an arena where you fight, by tapping, to stop the aliens before they wreck up your con space. Even cooler is that your battle champions are cosplayers with their own special powers.

But let me backtrack a bit. Con Man the game has you play as the convention owner. Your job is to run a successful convention, make money, and expand your space to add more vendor booths and guests. You earn money and xp from each booth you add. But you also have to have staff on hand to help you with amenities, such as food and security. Each of these jobs has a fun character associated with them. Joss Whedon is the Janitor while Kevin Smith is the "con cop." Problems and challenges will appear as the game progresses that you are tasked to resolve. Too many people doing the pee-pee dance? Put more restrooms around the convention (I've already learned that you can't have one bathroom spot. You have to distribute them throughout the area). Bug problem? Squash them with your finger. Each challenge will net you a reward upon completion in cash and XP. As you level up, more building options will become available to you. You can build the standard fare of snack stands and booths, but eventually you'll receive power-up items that offer bonuses - such as a 10% power boost to cleaning out trash cans. And it's not just general con tasks. Even the attendees will have things they need from you, such as finding a lost friend or help locating a booth.

Leveling up goes by fairly quickly, even at the higher end. Make sure to have enough merchant booths to keep up with the pace. At Level 15 you unlock the ability to customize the style of your convention. Gaming centers and sci-fi plots can tailor the look and feel of your con.

The game is fairly easy to pick up and play. Though right now the options are limited. You are required to create an account or sign in to Google Play so it can keep track of your scoring. The options involve adjusting the sound volume, and that's it. All in-game notifications will hit your phone if you keep the app running in the background. Hopefully that's addressed in a future update. Otherwise, the game is pretty standard. There's nothing extraordinary about it, but does add a few new twists to the game type that at least keep your attention for a few more minutes. Worth a download and play if you're a nerd. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Another week. Another series of gaming stories heading your way on the Weekly Link Round Up! Here's what we've got today:

- Being a game designer in the 80's and 90's was tough. Sega artists are happy to explain to Video Game Densetsu, reposted on Quartz in detail, how in the early days, artists had to draw every pixel. No. Literally. They had to draw out each pixel using an oversized light pen. The photos of the early digital imaging software are astounding. It required less mouse clicks and more pen.

- The Ringer asks the question we all would like to know, in some subset of our mind: How long are video games? The problem with virtually all games today is that very few have a set time, or a distinctive end. No Man's Sky allows you to play as long as you like. There is no story to follow. And those games with stories are sometimes so full of side-quests that it could take you months to stop playing; see Fallout 4. Knowing the limits to a game could help further development of new, dynamic content down the line. Because every game has a ticking clock on it.

- Speaking of No Man's Sky, the game's user base has seen a dramatic drop since it's release. Some estimates are up to 90%, with an 81% decline in sales in the UK. Reasons for this vary from the poor PC launch and the number of bugs associated with it, lack of features promised at launch, or that most people bought the game at release. Now having to get back to reality after playing it for so long. A Reddit post has spawned a website full of the missing contents in No Man's Sky. The game may not have a future at this rate.

- Tabletop gamers are already immersed in this, but for you console gamers you may have seen more of your favorite digital titles get the board game treatment. The rise of tabletop is once again upon us, and MCV looks into the growing trend.

- Aside: Did you know there was a new ToeJam and Earl game being developed by Adult Swim? That one was a surprise to me! There's a trailer up, and the title is set to release early next year on PC and console.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Real Weapons and Video Games?

Video games and gun ranges. Probably not two things you would expect to come together outside of a digital realm. Machine Guns Vegas has designed a firing station that utilizes gaming technology to provide "virtual" experiences using real weapons.

Using video screens and lasers to track ammo, you can play a game with a live weapon. A specialty designed soft box catches the ammo so they don't travel far, and won't damage you, or the equipment. The lasers track the trajectory of the bullet and the game reacts. It's not a true virtual reality experience since you don't wear any fancy headgear and you're not placed in a digital realm. You're playing Call of Duty with a real firearm.

Why should this be on your radar? The company has designed over 750 scenarios and most are for law enforcement and military use. It gives officials an opportunity to train on gun use, and safety, in more applicable situations. Most gun ranges have static targets that are oversized and not representative of the multitude of human bodies. If they are moving targets, it's typically left and right, or back and forth. They don't dodge, duck, or weave behind boxes and walls. By utilizing games, law enforcement can train for real-world scenarios. The quality of their gunman-ship improves.

Company founder Genghis Cohen commented that Nevada has one of the most lenient concealed handgun laws in the country. "[Y]ou can get a concealed carry permit and then pass the shooting test and it’s the first time many people have ever shot a gun. The standards are so low for getting permits." Texas is not all that different. I know a number of people who have never shot a gun before, but they own one. It's just that easy to buy a deadly object. Go fig.

Having these types of training simulations for consumers, law, and military can potentially improve safety standards across the board. Currently the system is only available in Nevada, or if you have a lot of money and want to punk down $100 grand for a basic set-up in your home. It'll be interesting to see if this concept grows over the years, and how much it'll affect future gun ranges, if at all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Happy 25th Super Nintendo!

Okay. Faux pas on my part. Yesterday it was the 25th anniversary of the Super Nintendo, for it's North American release. The console that gave a new generation of gamers a chance to experience the joys of the NES all over again. Releasing on August 23, 1991, the second system from Nintendo had a lot to live up to. The previous console exceeded expectations on family home entertainment that many wondered how Nintendo could top it, and keep gaming a lively activity. In terms of sales, it exceeded all other consoles at the time, and was one of the founding systems for the "console wars." The SNES also solidified the type of content Nintendo wanted to make available. They weren't trying to be like Sega and the Genesis. Nintendo wanted to do what only Nintendo could do. With it came an era of notoriously strict policies that required developers to jump through hoops to get their game on the SNES. Which means all games had to be approved by Nintendo's panel before release, as few to no bugs as possible, and all content must be family friendly. This is why there is the PG version of Mortal Kombat on the SNES.

The Super Nintendo was a system that conformed to, and broke all expectations that consumers had about video games. It made gaming a viable market for entertainment to rival movies and television. While still providing the type of family entertainment that parents could rely on.

It also became the starting point to a number of beloved franchises that we see today on the Wii-U and 3DS. And who can ignore the awesome galore that is SNES games? 4 of my top 5 favorite cartridge games are from the SNES. The system was a great mix of fun, challenge, and in-depth stories that you couldn't get on other consoles. It was a system that continued to improve over the years without the internet and updates. I'm still amazed to this day that the same system that brought us Super Mario Kart is the same one that created Donkey Kong Country. The same computer chips. The same sound board. Two very different, and entertaining, games.

Since we're in full on-nostalgia mode, take some time this week to pay respect to your elders and enjoy an SNES game or two. Nintendo continues to add more to their store for 3DS and Wii-U downloads. I'll probably take my system out of the box and play a few rounds of Super Metroid and Chrono Trigger.

Happy NA 25, Super Nintendo! Thanks for paving the way!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Lows of Gaming Journalism in Mainstream Media

It can be a rough business writing about video games in mainstream journalism. Kotaku Australia spoke to a number of people regarding their perception of the world with newspapers, magazines, and television newscasts. And! how the viewpoints of others cloud their work.

Mark Serrels wrote the piece on anonymity, so a number of the sources appear as "one person said." Which makes it difficult to determine if what was posted is the truth. However, given the responses provided, it feels pretty accurate to how mainstream media views games and gamers.

The adage of "if it bleeds, it leads" is no different when it comes to gaming. If there is a story with a lifestyle hook, or angle that catches someone's attention who isn't a gamer, it's more likely to be published. Such as any claims that video games cause violence in youth, or a mass murderer was also a big fan of Call of Duty. Those stories will take precedence over a routine update to the PS4. On the same front, tech journalists are less likely to post stories about games then those in other departments. The people that we WANT to talk about games are usually the ones who don't because the resources made available to them are third party. It's an AP source or some other that gets the initial content, and the questions they ask do not contain the information that tech journalists want. So the story gets passed on to the next person, and it turns into the sensationalists content that we commonly see.

Traffic is king. Clicks are the monarchy. And ad revenue is the overlord. Whatever it takes to get people onto your website, mainstream media will do it.

Which makes journalism that much more difficult when you are being dictated what stories to follow-up on, instead of providing the news as it happens. That also means that news directors are telling reporters to follow gaming stories without having a clue what they are about.

The release of Pokémon Go is a fine example. Publications pounced on the story because the game was so popular. But if you look at the content within them, they were pretty barren. They rarely talked about the game play or the specifics to the game. It was glossary overviews of "everyone is playing it" and that it's a social phenomenon. No details. No meat. Just fluff. It's a constantly struggle with gaming journalists to provide quality content while working for a large paper.

Thankfully we have outlets like Kotaku and Gamasutra to provide gaming journalism in multiple formats that we don't have to subject ourselves to major publication outlets. However, it doesn't change the perspective of gaming to the masses. Only gamers see the real content, while the majority of the public gets the fluffy version. Will it change? Maybe. But not anytime soon. Not until editors see the value of well-written stories.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fans to NBC: Fix Your Olympic Coverage. Also, Mario!

I'm going to use today's post to talk about the Rio Olympics. So that you all don't feel like you have to suffer through paragraphs of my prattling, I'll start with the gaming tie-in. Part of the closing ceremonies includes a presentation by the next host country; passing the "baton" to the future games. Tokyo, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics and they came out in style. Offering a bevy of visual candy for gamers, Nintendo teamed up with the delegation to bring Mario to Rio. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared on the stage from a green warp pipe, decked out in Mario gear after the video presentation. It was everything that we needed it to be. With the games taking place in Tokyo, it's going to be high tech and nerdy all the way.

It's also going to be a more anticipated Olympics in terms of structure and decorum. Rio has had nothing but trouble over the past year with cleaning up their waterways (which was still not completed in time), the Zika virus outbreak, government and economic instability, and a high crime rate. Rio was everything the IOC wanted to avoid. But somehow they were able to cobble together an effective games. Enough to keep people from not seeing the problems around Rio and now the country will have to deal with the clean-up. A number of residences were demolished to make room for new stadiums, that will probably remain unused after the Olympics. They will have to deal with the monetary fall-out, the mounting debt, and the low return from ticket sales.

Because Tokyo is a city with decades of a solid infrastructure behind it, including a green environment, virtually no crime, and high standard of living, not only would it be able to efficiently run the games, any new venues built will have long-standing use. It's not a "one and done" scenario in Japan. Many of the venues from the 1998 Winter games are still utilized for training and competitions.

My problem with the Rio Olympics this year isn't so much the mounting troubles of the cities - though that should be addressed immediately if Brazil expects the populous to back them on future projects. Rather, it's the poor coverage of NBC. The network secured a multi-Olympic, billion dollar deal years ago and will have coverage through 2032. This is the first Olympics where NBC offered online streaming of most events as they happened, but it did require that you have a cable subscription. Their prime-time content was focused on the bigger events and, as always, just the US team.

This year in particular, we were smacked upside the head with an onslaught of advertisements and "player background" stories. It was too much and I found myself tuning out regularly. Which sucks because of all the things I look forward to, it's the Olympics. I love the concept behind them, and that for 2 weeks we can all stop being dicks to each other and have fun.

Between the severe tape delays of events, the altering of event times to coincide with NBC's prime-time coverage, and the horrible commentary, the Olympics became difficult to watch. Yes, I just linked to a FOX News article because it gives a decent overview of all the problems with NBC's content. Last night's closing ceremonies, I ended up turning off the television after 15 minutes. The first 7 minutes were nothing but commentary from the NBC anchors. You couldn't hear any of the event music or proceedings. After commercials, it was more of the same and I gave up. It was too much talking about so many random things, and not enough silence to ENJOY the ceremony.

NBC has claimed in the past that they are attempting to attract more female viewers by showcasing athlete's "journey" stories. That women are more likely to tune in to learn more about the history of the competitors and not the events themselves. That may have been the case a few decades ago, but the content from NBC in the 2000 games was not as pervasive on these journeys as they were at Rio. If anything, there were a hindrance from letting the audience watch and appreciate the events in their entirety. I never watched for the athlete stories. I watch to see the games.

So why is this an issue? Well the US is the only country that covers the Olympics in such a manner. Every other country showcases as many of the events as possible, unedited, in real time. All of them. AND! You don't have to have special cable privileges. Anyone with a tv antenna or an internet connection can view.

It doesn't matter if their country is playing a match in Volleyball or not. They still show the event. Sure they may take a few extra minutes to highlight their team's events when they are on the court/field/floor, but they don't make that the focus, followed by 20 minutes of "journey" stories and another 10 minutes of commercials.

Sadly, due to licensing issues, you can't see the other broadcasts in the US without bypassing a few laws. Or if you have a cable subscription. The BBC's coverage of football (soccer) matches was fantastic by comparison to ours. NBC did have 2 channels dedicated to other sports to air in real time, and that was soccer and basketball. Thankfully. Their USA and NBC Sports channel affiliates only covered some of the events, in brief spurts, much like the prime-time broadcast.

Overall: it was a crappy Olympics to watch. The joy of the games was lost by NBC over-reporting on athlete stories that no one cared about, and not giving us full coverage of all of the events. The return of golf and rugby didn't make it to the video coverage. Did you know that we won Gold and Silver in Judo? Kayla Harrison won her second Gold, after receiving the first for the US ever in the 2012 Olympics. Not only is she the first to receive Gold for the US in the event, she's the first to receive back to back Gold. But you probably didn't know, because why would NBC care to cover it?

Hopefully NBC will learn from the feedback, which was surmounting this year after the hashtag #nbcfail appeared on Twitter and Facebook feeds. Tokyo coverage has to be better. We are going to the epicenter of all things technology. If NBC can't get on board with that, then there is no hope that the coverage will change.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

For some reason Blogger didn't post yesterday's blog session in a timely manner. While I try to figure out what's up, it seems like a good time for a Weekly Round Up to make an appearance! Here's what's on the menu today:

- MedicalXpress, because you know you can trust them when one emphasizes the X in express to make it extreme, wants you know that with over 98% of Australian households having some form of a video game, it can affect morality in children. A paper released by Macquarie University looks at the reality of video games, and challenges the notions that they are full of amoral choices. Games like Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto give players a chance to make decisions that can be positive. More study is needed in this area, the paper notes, but it's not all doom and gloom for gamers in Australia.

- Speaking of Australia, some Americans living in the country were asked what they like and dislike about it. Top likes: the awesome healthcare at little to not costs. The dislikes: Games are expensive.

- Kill Screen has a thoughtful opinion piece about the invisible women of video games. How playing as a female character, allows female gamers to subvert the environment to their advantage. Quick, and in-depth read!

- The upcoming XBox One S will be able to support 4k gaming. However! Games won't play in 4k. Confusing, right? The system will come with HDR support and you need a TV that is HDR ready in order to see the 4k content, even if your screen can already receive 4k broadcasts. That's the jist of it, but still crummy for XBox gamers who want that sweet 4k action.

-  Job Stauffer, head of creative communications at Telltale Games, is urging the industry to redefine gaming genres. His points center around the growth of the medium allowing for more diverse, in-depth story telling that a game can't be just one genre. It can be multiple things all at once, and limiting the genre tags is a disservice to the games. You'll get no arguments from me on that one. It's a point I bring up consistantly in my gaming and anime panels.

- Not enough Overwatch talk on The Geek Spot? Well GameSpot sat down with assistant game director Aaron Keller at Gamescon to talk about the future of the game.

- Finally, if you need some evening entertainment, the annual Pokémon World Championships kicks off today, and will have a live Twitch feed tonight. Gamers from over 30 countries will be in the card tournament with over $500 grand in cash and scholarship prizes. Oh to be a kid again...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gaming Press Conferences

Peter Moore doesn't think that gaming press conferences have a future. That's the word according to the EA mogul while at Gamescon this week. This year a number of larger companies, such as Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft either held low-key events or were out of the scene entirely. While Gamescon is at an odd time of year, just 2 months after E3, and is settled in Germany, it poses a challenge to developers. Many of us know that the release schedule for games typically goes Japan/NA first (sometimes Japan then NA), and Europe second several months later. The timeline for releases is more spread out, so announcing content and new games becomes moot when the audience will have to wait longer to get their hands on the product.

But! The big shift with these events is to go online. This year's E3 had a big push of streaming coverage of conferences. The intimate nature of the press seeing content first is no longer a thing. Even Nintendo said no to such a session at E3 and gave the content all online to gamers.

Is this a surprise?

The flash of the stage shows, while sometimes fun, has been dwindling. We're not as impressed as we use to be. We just want the games and we want them now. And when the majority of your sales is to gamers, not the press, you would be wise to market to them. That's what Moore is getting at. What do you think? Is Mr. Moore correct?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Konami Announces 'Metal Gear Survival' - MGS Without Kojima

Konami is going for broke, announcing a new Metal Gear Solid title at Gamescon 2016. Metal Gear Survive will be a four player, stealth co-op game sent in the MGS universe set directly after the events of the last game. Survive will focus on the military groups from the 5th game, as they are sucked into a worm hole that throws them into an alternate universe where they are forced to battle zombies.

Before you start defending this odd story-choice, keep in mind that Kojima is no longer with Konami. I don't know if he's even a consultant on future MGS titles. The blood between the two figures has been so volatile that I wouldn't be surprised if Kojima accepted his losses with MGS and left to have a clean slate. It's also unclear if any of the past MGS team members are working on Survive.

This sounds like a cluster f*ck waiting to happen.

Like someone said "hey, that Call of Duty game with the zombie mode sold well. Let's do that with Metal Gear but talk about time warps." And everyone was on board with it!

The trailer is not helping quell concerns. The imagery used looks and feels more like a first person shooter, and we don't see any of the co-op, stealth elements that the press release refers to. There are also glimpses of Big Boss, but it's unknown if other characters from the franchise will make an appearance. It also appears that scavenging might be an aspect of the game play. New weapons and tactics will be introduced, including a bow and arrow. Because stealth? Survive will use the FOX engine designed for MGS5.

Konami will have more details will be released after the convention, and the game has a pending 2017 release date.

Guys. I'm scared. If this is what MGS looks like with Kojima, I don't want it. Maybe this will be the swan song for Metal Gear and Konami can focus on mobile games.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Do You Really Want To Be A Creative Writer for Games?

I'm saving up my data plan so I can blog while I'm at PAX West (formly PAX Prime) this year. The schedule was released and it's full of developer panels from Ubisoft, SquareEnix, and Blizzard. I can't wait to share!

In the meantime, let's have a real talk about writing for video games. David Gaider has spent nearly 20 years at BioWare and has brought us story wonders such as Baldur's Gate II and KOTOR. He recently posted a lengthy blog on Medium.com explaining the ins and outs on what it's truly like to be a game writer.

"The story is not everything in a video game," he writes. "Maybe this causes you to clutch your pearls in shock, but it’s true. A game writer has to bow to the requirements of gameplay and level design, as well as to the limitations of both technology and the schedule. Just because I can imagine the story taking a turn into a giant castle doesn’t mean the art team wants to build said giant castle."

Gaider gives a fresh perspective on what writing can really be like. Unlike books or novels where you are the lone soldier, creating the story on your own terms, with video games it's all about collaboration. You're trying to fit the plot line to the vision of the director, producers, and graphic teams. Something that may sound incredibly grand for the story may not fit within the design of the world. Gaider gives a very detailed overview on what to expect if you truly want a creative writing career in video games. And there is an emphasis on "truly" because you may find through this path that you'd rather be a level designer, or focus on character dialogue - a different branch of the writing process that is equally as important (and offers more job stability) as story development.

I also love the tips that he gives in the post: practice and keep it simple. The KISS policy (Keep It Simple, Stupid) works wonders. A noise of commitment or a character action can speak so much louder then a line of dialogue. And his top thing to not do: Don't Send In Fan Fiction. No one cares and it doesn't showcase your unique talents as a writer. It's about being creative and not copy/pasting what's been done before.

Definitely worth a read for today.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Responding to "Kiddy" Video Games

Quick updates before we get to today's post. Consider this a mini Weekly Link Round Up, for stories that need to be talked about.

- Final Fantasy XV has been delayed! Originally set to launch on September 30th, after a 10 year development period, an announcement was made at GamesCon followed by a video posted to the game's YouTube channel. Now being pushed to the end of November, SquareEnix states that it's to help refine the game. Instead of pushing out a day one patch, like so many are opt to do, they want to make the game as clean as possible right out of the box. I gave up on FF15 years ago, so I'm snickering about this in my corner while everyone wallows in the news.

- The team behind No Man's Sky has been fielding questions over the weekend regarding an XBox One version and game stability issues. Right now if you want to play the game, get the PS4 version. The PC one seems to be riddled with bugs and errors that Hello Games can't quite figure out. Turning down the game's settings to Low seems to help, but it's a short term solution that butchers the look of the game. Expect more patches soon.


 On to the main post!

After reading this piece on TechnoBuffalo about "kiddy" video games, I started to think about if this notion of games being for kids will ever change? Comic books and animations, even the most adult of them, are still thought of as "just for kids." Or perverts if you watch anime, because everything from Japan is hentai. I say that last sentence with so much sarcasm that my eyes have rolled out of my head and onto the table.

The stereotypes of entertainment are difficult to overcome. For the 100 plus years comic books have been in our hands, a number of people still feel that they are only meant for the young. Even though 'The Avengers' may make hundred's of millions of dollars at the box office, and people will camp out for San Diego Comic Con passes, they're not considered adult entertainment.

But the stigma not impossible to shake off. Film and theater are the best examples, and longstanding. Both began as simple means of entertainment to help entrance the masses for a quick buck. Shows and film reels were made to be quick, and enticed those who wanted to escape into a fantasy realm for just a few moments. Typically they appealed to lower and middle class families because they were relatively cheap. You would never see someone of wealth attending a film. They were thought to be passing fads. Over time as technology improved and people found importance in the mediums, the mindset surrounding them has changed. Now they are considered "high" art, with the exception of Michael Bay movies.

So what can video games do to overcome this "kiddy" mindset? The best thing is to keep plugging away. Challenge the notion that games are only for kids. Keep creating dynamic content such as Limbo and Flower. Showcase all the crazy things that one can build in Minecraft that keep it a constant boon for both children and adults. And don't fall into the arguments when others make fun of you for playing games. Point out the games that are meant for all ages, not just the M rated content, and go back to enjoying Pokemon Go. Mario is just as fun for kids as it is adults. Playing Call of Duty isn't required as an adult.

Being an "adult" doesn't mean giving up the things you did as a kid, or only sticking to PC and M games. Plenty of people still play sports, ride bikes, and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gaming is no different. Don't get sucked into the teasing and game on!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

If you have ever heard that saying that no news is good news, then you are aware that it doesn't apply here. Welcome to the Weekly Link Round Up, with highlights of the best, and worst, gaming news on the internet this week. Here's what we've got:

- Riot Games is pulling a Blizzard by going after game cheats claiming copyright violations. The developer behind League of Legends is looking to stop hackers and those utilizing the "LeagueSharp" cheat to keep the game fair. Which is all well and good, but Rio is issuing court orders on the grounds that players are infringing on copyright by distorting the game to give an unfair advantage to a select few. It's a big question on how flexible the copyright laws are, because most were created before the digital age. Does Riot have a fair claim?

- Microsoft is acquiring live streaming service Beam, a Seattle-based company that lets users influence and interact with a video game being streamed by another player. Beam is only 8 months old, having launched in January of this year to compete against YouTube and Twitch. Beam allows viewers to affect the game users are playing, including changing weapon load-outs, and altering mission objectives. It also has a much lower lag time between user chats and the gamer. Twitch is currently at a 10-15 second delay. Beam has reduced it to half. The goal is to integrate Beam into XBox One systems, but for now the company will operate independently with their browser-based version.

- General science and knowledge site Medical Xpress wants to talk about kids and games. If games do affect kids education, they want to know how. So they spend 13 paragraphs trying to figure that out, and it's sad. You all couldn't read the studies that have been released on the how and why? Even a casual gamer can link increased cognitive motor skills to game play. It's not rocket science, folks.

- In case you want to be reminded at how badly games stereotyped everyone and everything in the 1980's, the Huffington Post has you covered. Enjoy feeling old and less then stellar after reading!

- Still pumped up on sports with the Olympics going on? Stuff has a gaming quiz focused on sports just in time for the games. There is a good mix of retro and modern for all sports fans.

- A new documentary titled The Lost Arcade captures the final days of Chinatown Fair, world-renown business located in New York's infamous Chinatown. Vogue spoke with Irene Chin, a first time producer and film-maker, about the project. And the interview is really inspiring. It's in-depth and focused but doesn't feel like a swan-song to the arcade. Wish I could see this, but sadly it's only playing in a theater in NYC and San Fransisco. But I will be keeping an eye on their website for any online releases.

- Nordic Games is bringing back THQ, re-branding themselves as THQ Nordic. When THQ was in bankruptcy court, Nordic was able to scoop up the name and some of their properties. Since then the projects have remained dormant, but the new name is sparking some hope back into gamers. Will we see another Darksiders or Destory All Humans? The latter is a fun game, in spite of the name.

- And finally, here's another bad article about how to become a pro gamer, thanks to Geek.com. TLDR version: Pick a game. Practice. ??? Profit.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Games For Change - Nove Alea

A new city simulation game is out on the web, and completely free to play. Nova Alea is hoping to get people to think differently about building simulators by changing the scope of your goals as the gamer. Because of this, it's being called the anti-SimCity.

With SimCity, the growth of your town equals success. You don't face the consequences of greed or land grabs. The challenges are keeping your city running efficiently with enough police, fire, and medical services, while maintaining electrical and water lines.

Nova Alea is focusing on creating a new dynamic for city simulations by making it more in-tune with the real world. Game designer Paolo Pedercini created this abstract game to factor in class and racial conflicts. It becomes an all-too real sim about gentrification, a current trend in urban neighborhoods, where property values are increased causing the displacement of lower-income families and small businesses. The area becomes "modernized" by the upper elite for premium prices. A number of cities lose out on the value of their citizens by pushing them out of their homes so that they, and the wealthy few, can make more money.

The end-game goal of Nova Alea is to make money. You have to buy and sell properties in a metropolis to build a profit. There are market forces that you have to keep in mind that can throw a wrench in your city-dominating plans. As rents rise, and skyscrapers are built, the game dynamics will change, and so will your cash flow. If you don't watch the market carefully, all of your work can blow up in your face as the housing bubble bursts. There are even grass roots campaigns that will appear to push back against your property buy-outs. Barriers will appear that weren't there before, and it can be mindbogglingly frustrating to continue on when you have so much resistance fighting against you. At the same time, this is what thousands of cities are dealing with every day. They try to resist the change of big businesses buying out their homes and small stores.

Nova Alea is all too real in it's simplistic, block design. The design may look bare-bones, but the coding behind the game is incredibly complex. The gameplay is intuitive. Easy to pick up and play for even the most casual of gamers. But if you suck at managing things or playing simulators past 5 minutes, you are probably going to be turned off by this product. For everyone else, this is a must play game.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mobile Olympics

In case you have been avoid all forms of news, media, or entertainment, here's a quick update: the Summer Olympics are on. For the next 2 weeks expect your feeds to be billed to the brim with content from the games.

While it's standard procedure as usual in other countries, here in the US NBC has finally caught up to modern times by offering live streaming of some events as they happen. Many countries have been offering this since the 2008 Summer games in Beijing. While most content is still time delayed for their evening broadcasts, you can watch a number of matches online. If you have a cable subscription that is. Yep. Once again NBC is dangling something amazing in front of our eyes only to have it slapped back down to reality that watching the Olympics unedited is for the privileged few who can afford it.

I love the Olympics and what they represent. I despise the way NBC covers it. Our visuals are so focused on US athletes as if they are the only people in the world. But if you watch Germany, Spain, Italy, China, South Korea, Australia, even South Africa's coverage it is entirely different. They showcase the games as they are, without restrictions. Sure they may put more emphasis on their country's athletes, but it's not all about them. It's about the games and letting everyone enjoy them as they happen. NBC on the other hand likes to pre-package their content for nightly events that they claim get them more viewers. This year in particular I've yet to meet someone who has liked their coverage instead opting for Facebook Live, Instagram, and YouTube feeds of events in real time.

The Olympics have gone mobile and people are enjoying it. Compared to the Winter Games 2 years ago, technology has advanced rapidly. The ability to stream from a phone wasn't at the capabilities that we have today. It's allowing viewers to see every event from a new perspective, including the gnarly crashes. If NBC expects to keep up with their viewers, they need to change up their format and accept the fact that more people are mobile, online, and don't have cable subscriptions.

TLDR: Get with the times, NBC.

And just so you don't think I've forgotten, here's the tie-in: a list of the 7 most ridiculous Olympic video games. Yes, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics does make an appearance, so you can rest easy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

YouTube Flagging No Man's Sky Videos

No Man's Sky, the game de jour that so many have been waiting for, has finally released on the PS4 and already Sony and YouTube are smacking users with ContentID claims.

Last week, both companies were scrambling to take down YouTube videos of game footage that were not released by Sony. This includes early release gameplay from reviewers, or people who managed to get leaked copies early. Some of that concern has carried over to the release of the game, and a number of YouTubers are seeing claims on their videos - even those that have no gameplay footage at all. The mere mention of the game's name is causing YouTube to flag accounts.

They have a pretty gnarly algorithm, and Sony is a butt when it comes to ID claims. I've dealt with them before when we uploaded footage from a karaoke contest that happened to use the soundtrack from an anime they own the rights to. There are no advertisements on the YouTube account and we make no money from the venture, but we got hit with the claim. And disputing it would have put us on the losing side (we're a freebe podcast with no money) and a mark against our account. Some users have reported that even after one violation from Sony has resulted in account deletion. Sony does not joke around with copyright, even when you make no revenue from your postings.

Hello Games is working with YouTube and Sony to have the account flags removed for game reviews and discussion channels. Streamers may be in limbo until a decisive yes/no is given from Sony on if No Man's Sky is okay to play. Some channels are up, and others are down. It's a messy situation in a line of issues behind the game and it's release to the public. Hopefully it's resolved soon and Sony loosens up on the restrictions so people can help promote such a highly anticipated game. For free, might I add. Sony. Free. Advertising. Do it.

Monday, August 08, 2016

What Can We Learn From Bad Games?

Some games are made to be bad. Some are projects looking for a quick cash grab and fail at plot, characterization, and are full of technical issues. And some games just suck.

But with failures come learning experiences for developers, publishers, and gamers alike. While it doesn't stop the cash-cow of Ubisoft from pushing out new Assassin's Creed games every year, can we agree that Unity was a disaster that needed to be put into the grave asap? While Syndicate was far from perfect, it made up for the shortcomings of Unity with more engaging characters and fewer glitches.

Ars Technica took it upon themselves to play some of the worst rated games on Metacritic, so you don't have to! And in the process they came up with some interesting results.

The biggest takeaway is that if you are going to make a video game, do it well. You don't have to have the flashy graphics of a Triple A title. But you do need to make it as bug free as possible, and have a story that is compelling enough to keep people interested. Five Nights at Freddy's is far from a visual feast, but it is so well designed that we can ignore it's graphic shortcomings and enjoy it for what it is.

Aside from the obvious, it's apparent in the article that the lack of a proper control scheme spelled the end for these bad games. Even the most complicated of designs still require a simplified controller so that users can pick up and play with little instruction. But when every button on the keyboard is programmed and we don't which letter should be used to move? That's a sign to stop playing and walk away. The controller IS the game. Without the proper interface or design scheme, people will no longer invest the time into playing.

But equally as important in the immersion factor are the digital characters that create the world that the gamer plays in. In every game the NPC's matter. What good would Fallout be if you didn't have the chatty shop keeps that make you question your game-life choices? As Ars Technica found out while playing Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny, which sounds like a bad DnD rip-off:

"The game’s NPCs are stiff, awkward, and all seem to be voiced by the same voice actor, regardless of gender or appearance. They also don't offer much help explaining the obtuse game mechanics, which would have been useful in terms of combat."

While the hayday of quick, cheap games to make money is far from over, we have been seeing a surge of independent games that look and play wonderfully. The follies of the past are being taken to heart with the new generation of developers.

What lessons have you learned from playing bad games?

Friday, August 05, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

This blogger is in dire need of a cute puppy/kitty photo overdose. Bad morning.

Good thing that it's the Weekly Link Round-Up! We can ignore the world for a little bit and focus on gaming.

- QuakeCon is going on right now in Dallas, Texas. The annual convention for all things Bethesda is still sticking to the roots and providing a crazy event for anyone that crosses the threshold of the convention center. It's still free, unless you want to join in the BYOC events, and there is sure to be some talk of the new Quake game that was announced at E3 this year.

- Speaking of Quake Champions was demoed at the event yesterday! Take a look.

- Cosplayers, if you are heading to Gamescon this year, the association running the event has just announced that no toy weapons will be allowed on the floor.. In the wake of the recent violence in Germany, and globally, the organizers have decided to ban all fake weapons. They are also asking attendees to not bring any bags or sacks unless absolutely necessary. Everything will be subject to additional searches at the doors. The last request will be tricky - as a gamer who has attended a ton of gaming events, we all bring backpacks to hold our swag. We get a lot of freebes. Where do you want us to store them? We're certainty not going to be able to hold it all and it's more of a safety issue to have people jostling items constantly. But! Something to be aware of with the event nearing.

- Pokémon Go's roll-out has hit Brazil and people are already pouncing on the servers. Olympic gymnast Kohei Uchimura, one of the top contenders for gold this year, has already racked up a 5,000 Yen bill since arriving in Rio. But his cell carrier is being incredibly forgiving and reduced the payment back to to 30 Yen. Why can't we get cell companies like that in the US?

- In a story that should shock no one, Overwatch blasted sales records last quarter with an estimated 15 million players, and over $500 million in revenue to Activision Blizzard. This is the first game to displace Riot's League of Legends as they saw a downswing in game play after the release of Overwatch. It's the fastest selling PC game in China of all time and one of the most viewed search terms on Reddit. Overwatch isn't going to go away anytime soon, gamers.

- WhatCulture has a list of 13 sequels that are better then the original game! Let's see what's in store. On the list we have Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Donkey Kong Country 2, and Final Fantasy 9. Okay. Hold up. I have a load of problems with this list. First off, Final Fantasy 9 is not a sequel to anything. It's a standalone game. To argue that it's better then Final Fantasy 7 is one thing. To argue it's a better sequel is another, because it has 0 relationship to 7! Why would you even, WhatCulture? You know better! Next, SMW2 is better then the first? Super Mario World is the epitome of gaming on the Super Nintendo. Same with Donkey Kong Country. So don't even try to claim otherwise. They also list Perfect Dark as a sequel to Golden Eye and even mention that it's not a sequel...so why even...okay. Fail. You get the stamp of fail today WhatCulture. Go back and try again.

- Den of Geek has an interesting piece on how Metroid created atmospheric gaming. To say a game has atmosphere is another way of proclaiming it has immersed the user into the world of that game. Den of Geek proposes a good argument for Metroid and the limited technology didn't deter them from creating an in-depth experience. From the decisive beeps in the soundtrack, to the evolving backdrops, there is an elegance to Metroid that few other NES games can claim to have achieved.

- Interested in the financial side of VR technology? Bloomberg has you covered with the long term investments on the gear, and what it means for consumers down the line. It might sound dull, but it's quite a read to get a better idea of where businesses are looking to target VR on the market, and they're not all geared towards gamers!

- Finally, because we need more silly news, fans of the Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad movies want to shut down the entertainment review site RottenTomatoes for the poor scores on both films. They have started a petition on Change.org, which only has just over 5,800 signatures on it as of this post. They claim to know that the petition won't resolve the concerns, but they want to send a message to reviewers and critics alike that jumping onto a bandwagon to hate on a film is not acceptable. Because that's the best way to get a message across? Look. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, particularly entertainment critics. That's their job. You have the option to agree or disagree with them. That's your responsibility as a consumer. You choose what you want to like. So get over it. There are way more important things going on in the world.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Nintendo Power Available Online!

Update 8/10/16: Nintendo has issued a DMCA notice to Archive.org and all digital copies of Nintendo Power have been removed from the site.

The official statement from Nintendo:

'Nintendo’s broad library of characters, products, and brands are enjoyed by people around the world, and we appreciate the passion of our fans. But just as Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of others, we must also protect our own characters, trademarks and other content. The unapproved use of Nintendo’s intellectual property can weaken our ability to protect and preserve it, or to possibly use it for new projects.'
 
Original story below:

The nostalgia is real. Archive.org unveiled yesterday that they now have Issues 1-145 of Nintendo Power. The magazine was born in 1988 to cover all things Nintendo. Everything you ever wanted to know about upcoming games from the company, Mario, and Zelda were listed on the pages. It was one of the first gaming magazines, and it was the perfect way to get kids to read. I know I was a fan of it!

The magazine ended it's run in 2012 after 285 issues, due to dwindling readership and changes in the market. But the legacy still continues, with the magazine paving the way for current leaders such as Kotaku and Game Informer (oddly enough), while creating game guides specific to Nintendo Power and even gaming magazine awards. The release of back-issues on Arcive.org is a treat. You can start reading today, completely free. Delve into the wonder that is late-80's/early-90's advertising and game culture. Kids, you do not know how good you have it these days. There's no word on if Archive.org will expand the library, but this is a fantastic start and hopefully they will add in more magazines down the line.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Tenative Earning Projections Post E3

Back to the business side of the gaming world. Over the next few days, Activision/Blizzard and EA will be releasing their quarterly earnings reports. A number of experts are weighing in on the results, hoping for a favorable output after E3, coinciding with a boost of pre-orders and digital downloads after the show. In general console sales have been on the downswing for nearly two years, with game sales not showing any change since this time last year. With many of the games announced at E3 to be released this year, investors are hoping it'll spur people into buying them up just in time for the holidays.

EA's forecast yesterday was light. They are in the green thanks to the digital market, but are being modest about their projections for the rest of the year. The estimation is down to $1.08 billion in revenue, matching the Stock Exchange's expectations set early 2016.

To help diversify portfolios, a number of the larger game publishers are looking to mobile gaming. GameStop has been attempting to do this for years, and just acquired a few AT&T mobile locations across 27 states that will act as mobile/digital hubs for consumers. The likes of EA and Activision are potentially looking to do the same, just off the heels of the success of Pokémon Go.

The gaming world on the business end is in a tentative state right now. The market is changing. They see it. But they are afraid to take any big risks that don't reap immediate rewards. We may see a slew of the same ol' games for another year or two until publishers feel safe with their stock holders to do something bold.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

10 Things Everyone Does In Video Games

It's list time! I haven't made one of these in a while and I was inspire by Twinfinite's really crappy list of 10 things everyone does in video games. I mean...come on guys. There were some blatantly obvious ones that were missed, and the focus of the list was too much on First Person Shooters instead of games in general. In case you weren't aware of this, not everyone plays FPS games. So I wanted to create a list that gave a more accurate impression on actions, moves, and commentary that everyone does in most games. The list doesn't have a particular order, but I wanted to start off with the one thing that should have been obviously included in Twinfinite's list:

1. Jumping to zone. Why was this not included in the Twinfinite list? I don't understand why it wasn't listed when it's an obvious response. We all do it. Since the early days of gaming, watching your character jump across the screen was loads of fun. Sometimes the jumps were quirky. Other times they were daring. And then you have MegaMan who freezes in place when he jumps between screens and it's hilarious. There's no benefit to doing the jump. You do it because it's funny and it became a staple to every game ever, from Mario to Halo. You jump when you zone. It's a thing. Even now in MMO's where there are few loading screens, you'll still find people jumping through the zone lines.

2. The jumping to zone method was the results of the concept that jumping allowed your character to move faster. This was later termed the bunny-hop and combined with strafing became a common move in FPS games. But before then, someone, somewhere had this crazy idea that jumping across a screen allowed your character to speed up. And in theory it made sense. Jumping animations were static in the early years of video games and required less pixels compared to running motions. If a character jumps, less processing power would be needed and the character could move a fraction of a second faster. This all ended up being mostly bunk for the majority of games - watch a speed run of Metroid and you'll understand. But that didn't stop us from doing this in a number of games as we bounced our characters across the speed to help us move faster.

3. Check the FAQ's. Admit it. You do it. We all do. It doesn't matter what game, simulator, or puzzle you are trying to solve. GameFAQ's wouldn't still be around if we all didn't absorb ourselves in the FAQing knowledge.

4. Accidentally hit the crouch button. This is the bane of every gamer's existence, especially in Minecraft. Crouching, in general, is a very helpful tool. Great for ducking behind objects and sneaking around enemies, or to avoid the firing line. It's part of the Solid Snake arsenal of things you need to survive a round of Metal Gear Solid. Typically crouching will make you move slower, make it more difficult to swap weapons, and you become a target if you are not watching your surroundings. There are times where you get so involved in the game that you smack the keyboard and put yourself into crouch mode. It sucks, and we all have done it at least once or twice. It's incredibly unhelpful in Left 4 Dead when the hoard of zombies heads your way.

5. Teabagging. Need I say more?

6. Break everything! The Legend of Zelda Zelda and Final Fantasy have set an unfortunate precedent that you need to check every nook and cranny, double back your steps, and break pots to get to items that will help you in your journey. Games like Fallout have taken it to a new level and allow you to destroy the environment. All for that bobble head that will give you a small power boost, but we need it!

7. Speaking of Zelda, even though the game warns you to not mess with the chickens, we still do it. Every time. I think we're sadist in wanting to see Link get mowed down but a flock of chickens. And it's funny every time. This one is very game specific, but it doesn't make it any less true.

8. Hiding in dark corners to avoid enemy detection. This one is silly for multiple reasons: most of the time it breaks the logic of the game that a dark corner will magically hide you from everything, even if you are being chased by an enemy. The latest Hitman game plays on this trope, but if you are even an inch in the light you can be seen. And in many cases enemies will walk right by you even as you are clearly visible! But game logic. Even in games where stealth is not a feature, we do this. It's been engraved into our mindset that dark corners equate to safe spots from enemies. And then we get mad when we are found out because hey, this is an FPS. Not MGS.

9. Pull a Leeroy Jenkins. The World of Warcraft player will live in infamy and has been immortalized in the WoW universe as a quest and a card in Blizzard's Hearthstone game. And many of us like to capture that glory by calling out his name as we charge into battle! Granted that's all we do is yell his name like the crazy people we are and then go about our business. We don't actually cause any havoc nor destroy the plans of the group. We just want to act like we are, and then go about our business.

10. "Steve Perry" taunt. I don't know when this became a thing, but I know this is something we've been doing since the release of Guitar Hero. It's typically used to try and cause someone to lose their concentration. Instead of a swear word or an insult, saying "Steve Perry" is enough for the player to go "huh" and potentially mess up their game play. While Guitar Hero may have lost its luster over the years, it's a taunt still used today by many gamers on Twitch.

Monday, August 01, 2016

New Pokémon Go Updates Upsets Users

Some unfortunate updates to Pokémon Go have left some users asking for refunds from Niantic, the developer behind the app.

Yesterday the game pushed out a new version that removed the in-game tracking system for catching the digital creatures. The footprints that would accompany Pokémon in the "Nearby" tab have now vanished. Granted the feature was buggy to begin with, but at least it gave you a general idea of how far away a certain monster was. Instead you have no way to chart their movements. It's also noted that the iOS version of the app no longer has the battery saver mode - why that's been removed is unknown but that will be a big point of contention for a number of Apple users.

And to make things worse, CEO John Hanke responded to an interview regarding the Go maps being created for players to locate PokeStops, Gyms, and Pokémon. He doesn't like them; at all. The new version released also made API changes that have decimated maps and apps like PokeVision. Daniel Gary, the creator of Found'em All, a Windows 10 based app, commented that these updates to Go are causing a lot of havoc. And Pokemon that use to return when you query a location has now been reduced, making it harder to track the monsters. It's no surprise that cease and desist letters from Niantic are also circling the app community.

A lot of people are now asking for refunds or opting to uninstall the app until Niantic addresses the issues. Without any tracking system, in game or out, people don't want to play. And they still haven't addressed the Pokémon population issues outside of city areas. I'm still lucky if I see 1 pocket monster in my neighborhood. Drive into the downtown area? They litter the place. It sucks.

About the only "good" improvement with the update is that a secondary message now appears after the loading screen reminding people to not walk into unsafe areas. I guess that's something to be happy for?