Friday, October 12, 2018

Extra Life Pimp Out

I am interrupting the Weekly Link Round Up to talk about Extra Life. While I won't have a donation page this year, my brother and some of our friends will be participating. I want to help out as best as I can.

So! For Saturday and Sunday, any bits and new subs that I receive on Twitch will be going directly to Extra Life. Any money that I would have received from Amazon/Twitch will instead go directly to Extra Life. Hopefully it's a big contribution, but even if it's not, even penny helps.

Join me tomorrow and Sunday for live streaming of games and cosplay!

Tier 1 Subscribers get access to the PimpHat emote and a darn cute icon to let people know that yes - you are extra amazing because you donated.

Or if you want to donate directly to Extra Life, consider sending your money here or here.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Video Game Gambling Coming to a Casino Near You

While we continue to debate if loot boxes are a form of gambling, casinos are continuing to grow and change out machines to reach the 18-35 crowd. At the recent Global Gaming Expo the highlights were "video game" machines. Games like Soulcalibur II and a Steve Aoki-branded DJ machine caught attention. These gambling units are designed with a younger customer in mind: one that wants to reap rewards fast and doesn't want to waste time waiting. Which means more money spent in a shorter time frame, resulting in higher profit for the casinos.

"Young gamblers today don’t have the patience to put hours into a table until they hit a big win," says Dan Stromer of Aces Up Gaming. And he's not wrong. Watch any Twitch stream and check the viewer count. You'll quickly see people leave if there is a lull in content, or if they're not receiving any emotional/physical rewards for their time. There are hundreds of thousands of other streamers they can watch instead.

So you'll find that many of these video game machines will have higher payouts and more bets per sessions, some as high as 2 per minute and 88-97% of wagered money paid back to players. That's a good deal when you compare it to the 5 cent slots or spending hours on poker. Even if you walk away from a video game unit breaking even, you still feel more accomplished in 10 minutes than if you had spent 4 hours in front of a roulette wheel.

Many of these games are straight forward - fight against opponents, touch the screen to grab fish for a 'Shark Week' themed machine, strum to the beat and dodge the wrong notes while you DJ - the interactive elements make the games feel more engaging than Black Jack. And that's how the casinos keep your bum in the seats.

This is the future of gambling. As the population ages and the 1980's-2000's babies grow further into adulthood, casinos need new ways to keep their profits up. Tapping the video game market is the way to go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sony E3 Animations Explained!

Remember all those months ago at E3 during the Sony Showcase, when we were confused by the mini-animations that acted as transitions between game play footage? Those pieces were created by Media Molecule (Little Big Planet) and we have answers as to what the heck those things were! James Batchelor of Games spoke with studio director Siobhan Reddy about their new game Dreams.

The game is similar to Little Big Planet in that it's a tool to create your own content. You design the characters, the lights, the sets, the music - everything with the flick of your wrist using the motion controllers of the PS4. The idea seems to be that creating video games shouldn't put up a barrier between money, coding, and artistic expression. Media Molecule wanted to make the process as easy as picking up a guitar and plucking a few strings; even if you don't know how to play an instrument you can still strum a cord.

Interestingly, Dreams has been on the developer circuit for at least 2 years but wasn't properly shown to the public until E3. Albeit in an odd way, it was something to let people know that the developer was still in business.

Will this "game" have a "game-mode" similar to Little Big Planet? It's difficult to ascertain right now. The game will have tutorials to give users an idea of how to use the controls, but it seems like everything is dependent upon the player as to how to use it. Media Molecule has added weekly challenges and assignments to make the game more welcoming to new players who are unsure of what to create.

Give the article a full read-through to see what MM has been up to. Dreams currently has no release date, though the trailer states 2018.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Let's Bring Back Nintendogs!

In the age of remakes and reboots, there is one franchise that I hold dear to my little-gamer heart. So much so that it's one of the few games that I wish would be reinvented for the Nintendo Switch: Nintendogs.

Yep. The pet simulator that allowed kids and teens in 2005 to adopt and care for their own digital dog. It included all the necessary pet actions: Feeding. Taking it out on walks. Collect fun Nintendo hats. Buy dog toys. Train your dog. Enter dog shows. The works.

It was as close to owning a real dog as one could get. You could even use the Nintendo DS built in microphone to call your dog's name and it would rush to you, paws tapping and clawing at the screen while it softly coos for your attention.

This game was amazing and it still is. All versions of Nintendogs (each game allowed you to adopt different breeds) sold over 23.9 million copies on the DS, making it second to New Super Mario Bros. The last version released was in 2011 for the 3DS, Nintendogs + Cats. It didn't score as well as the original with critics, and lacked the styling and finesse of a finished product, but it did well enough to keep the brand in Nintendo's lineup. The cute dogs can be seen in toys and Smash Bros. as an item to distract other fighters.

I miss Nintendogs. While I could download a similar game for my cell phone or the original on the 3DS, the look and feel would not be the same. Nintendogs had an ease and care to the product that you won't find with other simulators. Your digital pet being able to recognize their name when you called to them was astounding. Ace Attorney rarely accepted my shouts of "Objection!" But I could call for 'Sir Barksalot' and he would come dashing to the screen without hesitation. The details on the fur, paws, and ears helped marked distinguishing characteristics with each dog. I also appreciated that you could see the differences with each breed and it wasn't a mesh-mesh of dog parts.

Teaching your dog tricks was a challenge, because it is difficult in real life. Some dogs will take to training much faster than others. It depends on their personality and disposition. Keeping your dog fed and clean required your devotion. This wasn't a game that you could pick up and throw away after a few days. You had to give the attention your digital pet deserved. And it was fun! It made one feel accomplished to see their pet grow. Your heart leaps every time they succeed at a new trick. Your face lights up as your dog learns to go outside to use the bathroom, instead of messing up the house. Each new task they learned was a reward for your dedication.

Nintendogs would be the perfect game to bring back into our lives for a Switch revival. We all could use a little love from a digital pet, and take it with us where we go. Hook up another Switch and you can play with your friend's dog. Have a pet party! Or if you're out walking with your Switch in your bag, your digital dog is doing their daily walk too. Download your pet and take it with you on the road to Nintendogs pet shows and compete with other digital dog owners for prizes. The possibilities are endless for this game with the Switch. Everyone could use the love of a dog. It may not be a real animal, but the benefits of having a pet are worth it - even in digital form!

If there is any game that needs a reboot, Nintendogs is it. And I'll be the first in line to buy it.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Walking Dead Games May Survive the Fallout

As the Telltale Games saga continues, another developer is planning to pick up the mantle for The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Announced yesterday, Skybound Games has reached a deal with Telltale to produce the remaining episodes of the series. This was further confirmed during a panel at New York Comic Con this weekend by Skybound founder Robert Kirkman.

According to Variety, Skybound plans to work with members of the original Telltale team to complete the story. Speculation and rumors aside, it would be appropriate to have the writers and content creators back on board. Assuming they would allow it - the way they were fired from Telltale would leave a sour taste. "For the love of the game" will not be enough for them to return.

Few other details have been provided. A post on Skybound has a general overview of the announcement and the team wanting to "do right by you" the gamers.

Skybound is an interesting team, in that they have never used in-house developers to create their games. Everything they have produced has been outsourced. But it's clear to the crew and to fans that the story of Clementine needs to have an ending, even if it's going to be a bumpy ride to the end.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Weekly Link Round Up

Friday is here, which means another Weekly Link Round Up to stimulate your brain cells. Maybe this round up will blow your mind. Probably not, but it's something we can hope for! Here is a collection of the best, worst, and weirdest gaming news on the internet this week:

- Paste Magazine asks are video games too long? With the recent release of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, people are easily going to pour 40-50 hours into the game. But said game's "story" may only take 8-15 hours. The rest of the content is filler to keep you engaged. Ultimately a game is what you make of it, and if paying $60 for 40 hours of fun is "too long" then I wonder what the writer deems as "too short." Because I think I'm getting more than my money's worth when a game is over 40 hours.

- Mashable ranks the top 10 best video game villains. Well, it's not really the "best" villains but more of 'who is the best at being the worst.' This is a really dumb list. I can let Trevor from GTA5 slide as  villain, but the list makes no sense. Mario is at number 2. Mario! And Nathan Drake. And Lara Croft. Based on Mashable's definition of villain "[t]he more evil and detestable, the better." What the hell evil deeds has Wander from Shadow of the Colossus ever done? Taking down monsters is a good thing! Ugh. We need more people to report these crummy lists so they stop appearing.

- GamesRader looks into the realm of professional photography in video games, or VRP (virtual reality photography). Speaking with IRL pro photographer Leo Sang, the article covers the growing art behind in-game photos and how developers are adding more tools to allow the user to have full control of the world for that perfect shot. It's quite an inspiring read!

- Leaked footage from a possible Harry Potter game has hit the internet with some intriguing questions. The content comes from a Reddit user who claims he was in a focus group when the video was captured. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has not commented on the leak and it's possible that this game may never see store shelves. But the possibilities behind a big-budget Harry Potter game where people can create their own character, choose their house, and live in the realm is an exciting prospect.

- Mayim Bialik, neuroscientist, author, and actress who you current TV fans may know from The Big Bang Theory, recently posted a video about her "manfriend's" obsession with video games. And initially it annoyed her that he was spending more time on his cell phone with a game than with her. Makes sense. Until she tried out a game for a promotional campaign she was involved with, and began to understand the appeal. It helped reduced some of her stress and allowed her to see that they can be fun. The video is short and cute, and hopefully helps put a different spin on how gaming can help a relationship, even if you try it once and decide you don't like them.

- Friendly reminder that director and horror-legend John Carpenter likes video games. He tweets about his latest playthroughs quite often.

- The Week asks if the video game industry is going to be the next to collapse in the economy? Short answer: nope. It's still incredibly popular, and even studios that do not make much money are still producing enough profit to keep the machine going. The Week cites Telltale Games as their example of the industry failing, but we know there were a number of shady things going on behind the scenes with upper management that cause the business to close. It's not a sign that the industry is going to die. If anything, it's a signal that unions for developers are needed.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Last Jedi and Russian Bots. Welcome to 2018!

I wasn't going to talk about this, but now I have to after I was pulled down into the most ridiculous rabbit hole ever. I blame an acquaintance for bringing this into my field of vision, but it is so stupidly fascinating that I couldn't stop and look away. And now I might be developing a migraine from this insanity.

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi.'

According to a select few, the reason that the movie received negative attention is due to Russian bots.

I'm going to let that sink in. Because my goodness. What. A. Bold. Claim.

News stories published this week from outlets such as The Verge, Market Watch, and even The Hollywood Reporter have put their proverbial marbles out there to solidify the rumor that Russian bots harassed Rian Johnson (the director) by posting negative tweets about the movie; thus causing social dissent among 'Star Wars' fans to hate the film. How do these news outlets know it's Russian bots? It came to light this week via a study from Morten Bay, a recent doctoral graduate who studied the thousands of tweets made about the film during it's initial release. He wanted to see why the movie was getting high critical marks but very low user reviews on sites like Rotten Tomatoes. By making a statement that Russian bots were involved, the internet had a field day.

If this isn't the dumbest rumor you have read all year, I would like to know what tops it. Please comment with a link to the rumor. I would love to see it.

While The Washington Post tried to make sense of the craziness, this has easily become the most head-desk, cringy moment of the year.

I'm going to keep it real for everyone: the overwhelming majority of people who did not like 'The Last Jedi' are not Russian bots. The fact that this needed to be typed out is asinine.

The bots that Bay refers to are small in number. Of the 967 bot accounts he counted, less than 2% were politically motivated. Normal, everyday citizens use bots to post opposing views all the time in order to avoid consequences or backlash on their personal accounts. To assume otherwise is silly. Bots are very easy to set up. And to assume that all negative content on social media is from Russian bots is equally as silly. Bay's intend with the study was to inform people that political life is now bleeding into movie reviews and our consumption of casual social media. As such, he suggests a need for greater transparency by social platforms. While audiences/readers need to be aware to not take comments at face value. However, the title of the paper and the summary are overzealous - thus some are jumping onto the crazy train.

People are allowed to like or dislike a movie. You can be a 'Star Wars' fan and not enjoy The Last Jedi. Example: Me. People choosing to dislike a film doesn't have to be politically motivated or because of a "socialist agenda." I didn't like the movie because it was a bad movie. Bad plots. Bad writing. Bad character development. It was bad! And for the vast majority of people who did not enjoy the movie, we say we didn't like it and move on. It's a very, very, very, VERY small minority of people who take that dislike to the next level and spew hate. 'Star Wars' is a popular franchise with global appeal. You're going to have a larger, more visible number of "haters" compared to other fandoms. But these people do not make up the majority. What they are doing to entice hate due to gender and race, while spewing nonsensical madness is horrible; absolutely. They are not the end-all, be-all on 'Star Wars' fandom.

The bottom line is no. Russian bots did not swing the public at large to hate 'The Last Jedi.'

We need to get our senses back and start scrutinizing every story, every comment, every word like we did in the pre-internet era. Posting something first is not a badge of honor when it's rifled with inaccurate information.

This was the weirdest rabbit hole I have experienced. The madness of it all.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

That Monster Hunter Movie Plot...Ugh

That Monster Hunter movie is still a thing and yes, it is moving forward in production. Actor Diego Boneta, who has been tapped to be in an upcoming Terminator movie, was announced yesterday as the leading male actor for the potential MH franchise. Let's be honest - if MH makes a profit it's going to be a franchise series. Everything is a franchise these days. With the likes of the 'Resident Evil team' of Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich helming the project, I think we all know where this will be going.

The Hollywood Reporter also gave readers a glimpse into the current plot line. "The movie’s plot centers on the leader of a UN military team named Artemis, played by Jovovich, who is transported to another realm populated by monsters. There she meets the Hunter (Jaa), with the two teaming up to close a portal to prevent monsters from attacking Earth."
That's right! With the exception of a few names, little to nothing about the movie is likely be tied to the Monster Hunter games. Alright! That's exactly what video game fans want to see!

In fairness, the 'Resident Evil' films have done well despite their lack of connection to the original source material. Though Anderson will profess otherwise as a "fan" of the games. People went to see these movies because they were action flicks that filled a void. 'Monster Hunter' will likely be no different.

So for those MH game fans that want to see hours of tracking and capturing of monsters, gathering materials for crafting, setting up campfires and eating ridiculously over-sized food, and the team only having a "3 death max" before being forced to return to base and starting over - these aspects of the game are most likely not going to happen. This isn't a MH movie for game fans. This will be a MH movie for the masses, which will mean watered down content that appeals to the greatest number of people. All in the name of saving Earth, because that's what every fantasy movie should focus on. Earth! Right?

I still attest that the 'Ace Attorney' movie is the best video game adaptation to date, and I would love to see more films take this route. Embrace the over-the-top mantra of Monster Hunter and go all out! It may not be a guarantee hit at the box office, but it's better to take chances and try to be a faithful adaptation than another boring action film.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Steam Removes Over 170 Games from Store that Violate TOS

Steam seems to be sticking to their new rules of not removing games from the store without extreme probable cause or straight up trolling. Though they have seemingly gone through and done another quick purge of content. In the past 2 weeks, PC Gamer has counted over 170 games that have been pulled from Steam for that exact reason.

Before you get concerned, these are "games" that do violate Steam's new terms of service. Some of the products are re-skins of existing games; disrupting a bevy of copyright issues. Others are products clearly meant to troll gamers and cause trouble like MILF and Make Border Great Again!. And then there are the hentai games that completely ignore Steam's 0 nudity clause for minors (seriously, stop that. Kids are not a fetish). There are also games developed to unlock a multitude of Steam achievements without you, the gamer, putting forth any effort. These also violate Steam's rules and a number of them have been removed. Any games that are schemes meant to circumvent Steam's policies are going to be long gone.

As always with Steam, if you purchased the game you can still play and download it. However the storefront for the product is no more. But really, how many people are going to be sad that a MILF game is gone?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Jeopardy Round Up

Today is suppose to be the Weekly Link Round Up, but I think this clip from Jeopardy is the winner of all things "the internet." It will make you smile. It will make you chuckle. It will give you hope that yes, video games do indeed have a future in game shows. For even after we are all long gone from this world, we will still remember that a contestant on Jeopardy once thought Morrowind was part of the Dragon Age franchise.

On Wednesday night's episode, the remaining category was devoted to video games. Which the contestants dutifully avoided until they had no other questions to answer. And it goes downhill. Badly. Only 1 question was answered correctly. Contestants had no where to hide. This was the last category and the game could not continue until every question was addressed. This isn't the first time Jeopardy imported video game questions on the board. Even Angry Birds made it in as a Final Jeopardy question during a past episode.

It's also a wonderful lesson to those who want to be on any game show that your knowledge of random facts will be put to the test. So study hard, and get out of your comfort zone. You never know when you'll be quizzed on video games or have to describe what the fox says.

Regardless of what's going on in the world right now, games, this should help you smile. Happy Friday.