February’s Focus

I’ll keep this short and simple. The primary focus of gaming articles for February will be the creation, progression and growth of the Gaming Industry. 

People made games because hey, games are fun. Arcade machine’s became the first mainstream face of video games and were superseded by the consoles that followed them. Originally the consoles were for playing arcade games at home and in some cases tinkering and development. Eventually Game Console’s became their own thing and began to grow. We now have this hybridization of Arcade and PC gaming on Consoles. This is a very fascinating subject, I look forward to discussing it more with all of you this month.

Nintendo Releases a Rough Draft as a Final Product

http://www.gonintendo.com/content/uploads/images/E3/image_60348_thumb_wide930.jpg

The image above comes from Gonintendo, the first is the 2DS that I’m sure you’ve heard so much about by now. From right to left you have the following:

On the far right is the 3DS XL, the first semi-decent, next-gen handheld system from Nintendo. Its’ battery life is still undesirable, a joke compared to past Nintendo handhelds. It also still has the 3DS emphasis but is still solid and useful with a clamshell shape.

In the center is the 3DS, a piece of crap that barely lives long enough to let you know that it exists. Shoved into the lower corner of the system is the 2nd class citizen at Nintendo right now, also known as the dpad . Don’t forget about the afterthought, the backwards compatibility.  Very poor scaling is the name of its’ game, in combination with none 1:1 symmetrical screens – it’s a pos that should have remained a concept.

Very first is the 2DS, it’s a Ben Heck rough draft that Nintendo found. Nintendo heard us cry for a 3DS without 3D and a solid battery life and games but didn’t want to fulfill it properly. So instead they take something that Mr. Heck would not have ever released, maybe a joke that he scribbled on a napkin (This is just a joke, Ben does awesome work). From there they decide to release it under the guise of appealing to parents. You cannot protect the screens like the entire rest of the DS and 3DS line can do. You can not angle it like the rest of the DS and 3DS line. Heck, it looks like a cheap piece of crap. Not even the original DS Phat looked like crap.

I look at it and I see an anorexic Gameboy DS. In this use of “DS” it doesn’t mean “dual screens” or “developer’s system”. Oh not, it means “Dual-screened Slate”. It’s creative, it’s new and it’s totally unheard of. Instead of releasing something that fans could rally behind and love, they release a cheaply priced, mono sound reject in a very grudging and snide manner. Nintendo doesn’t care about its’ fan or its’ market. At least not beyond being able to do anything they want like a retired prude. We get the message Nintendo. You couldn’t publicly say F U to the fans so instead you released the Wii U. Wii U Nintendo. Wii U with a splintered broomstick.

Blowing Games Is New Again

Say hello to the Retromator 4000, a very specialized game modding tool available from the maintainers of gog.com. No, you won’t actually get to blow newer games (unless that’s your thing, sicko). Instead it plans to change your modern gaming experience by adding "features" to make it similar to older games.

Based upon the screenshots released it seems like it can lower the bit depth of games, expose unseen numbers and menu’s in a retro style user interface and even convert your modern masterpiece into a text adventure. How is the gog.com team doing this? Magic, that’s my only explanation. It’s very scientific, look at what they’ve done to Alan Wake!

Original Shot:

Retro-Mated Shot

Text-Mated Shot

Amazing, truly amazing. This is the type of tool that would normally get sold for anywhere between 1-3 Andrew Jackson’s, it’s being given away for free! It’s not available for public use yet, but if it can deliver quality results on just about any game then it’s going to be a winner. Once again we’re being shown that Good Old Games is a business that consistently tries (and succeeds) to bring a solid, nostalgic but high quality experience to gaming.

Giving it away for free is genius, it will help to funnel people to the store once it’s publicly available. As a business there’s no point in doing anything exciting or great with games if it isn’t profitable or beneficial in some significant way. I’m hoping that it’s the best of both world’s, only time will tell us if the RetroMator 4000 will be a stud or a dud.

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Sega, Release Your Games On Gog.com

Or at least on your own site without drm. I don’t really care if it comes to gog.com, I just want to get them without the drm attached. I’ve bought them so many times, do you not trust me with the game? I trust you with my money! Then again I know that you trust me, you promised to release Alpha Protocol from its’ DRM within a few years of its’ launch with a patch and you came through – EARLY! Why not test the waters and just sell that game directly from your site without drm or toss it onto gog.com, a good pc game store that like-minded gamers frequent? You have nothing to lose and only money to gain right? Call up Obsidian and tell them that you’re publishing Alpha Protocol one more time to test another outlet for cash.

 

 

 

Weekly Humble Bundle Debuts With Bastion

I’ve been a major fan of these bundles, I try my best not to miss them. The games can be hit or miss but you usually have at least two games that are just spectacular. Even so, participating in the bundle is a bit like buying a music cd. You get to buy what you want but still get to try out other content that you may have never tried before. I would have never played Superbrothers Sword and Scorcery if it wasn’t for these bundles, I’ll keep participating in most of offerings that support linux.

Each bundle usually involves 5 or more games but may start out with less than what it ends with. You pay what you want to get drm free versions of the games. Pay more than a dollar and you’ll get a steam key, in some bundles you’ll also receive Desura and Ubuntu Store keys. Beat the average and you get the extra games. If you donated before they showed up you’ll get them anyway without beating the average.

Your money can go towards the developers, two charities that have roots within the gaming community and to the host of the bundle itself. The other special part about the bundles are that the games are multiplatform titles, they are all set to work on Windows, Mac and Linux. In some bundles they even offer Android versions. There’s usually soundtracks available for most of the games offered too, awesome!

The change with the weekly bundle actually appears to borrow from Gog.com quite a bit. They will focus on a single game and extend the quality items included with the purchase. So in addition to the soundtrack you will also receive art, sheet music and phone ringtones. You’ll only get it if you beat the current average of $2.58. Pay $25 and you’ll receive a Bastion branded bandana, sountrack cd, a Bastion post card and post card based upon their next game (Transistor).

Despite all of the nice bonuses here I’m going to pass. I’ve bought Bastion twice now but I would suggest that anyone the slightest bit interested check out this bundle. I may just gift this to a friend, they would love the idea of a gift that they received benefiting charity and hard working people. First via Steam then second via the fifth Humble Bundle. I do like the idea of the Humble Weekly Sale, I just wish that it could last for two weeks. Maybe after the first week could be limited to only paying for the older bundle at the average donation level or higher while a new bundle is launched. That would make it easier for people with jobs that may want to contribute but just may not have everything in order yet.

If you’re cutting it that close than maybe you shouldn’t donate but I’ve had close situations where the order of money spent or keeping a certain amount in my account mattered greatly. Even an expenditure as small as $0.01 can be the difference between experiencing a fee in your bank account for the monthly tally if you’re just keeping the minimum amount to not be charged (this is an issue I’ll tackle later – future tl;dr switch to a credit union).

No Woman Knows The Konami Code

The Verge questions the lack of women at the Sony Playstation 4 event.

I respond with a question – Why does it matter?

There aren’t any “little people” representing companies. Very few if any black folk, I don’t think there are any openly gay or transgendered folk available either. There are way too many bald people, not enough people with dreadlocks. We don’t have enough fat guys and I’m pretty sure that there are very few if any Libertarians available.

I don’t know for certain if video game/tech companies are actively discouraging women from taking leading roles behind the scenes and in presentations. Does it really matter? It would be one thing if we had qualified, talented, female candidates that were ambitious and constantly being left out but I have not seen or heard anything that would lead us to believe that there is active discrimination. Women may make up half of the population but how many of them actually try to take J Allard‘s job or Satoru Iwata‘s position?

“By now, we have a pretty good idea of what a male-dominated game culture can do — a lot of guns…”

Correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe that women play, enjoy and even thrive in fps’s. Anecdotally speaking, my three sister’s loved and played the heck out of Goldeneye, War Mode in Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Time Splitters 2 and would probably be Serious Sam 3: BFE if they weren’t too busy working. I’m fairly certain that many women play Call of Duty, the most successful fps franchise in recent history and possibly ever.

If there’s an issue with anything, it’s with the representation of women characters in video games. Sometimes they just aren’t there and other times they can be raunchy. I believe that for every Jade we receive 50 Ivy’s.

 

Above is the protagonist, Jade, of Beyond Good & Evil fame. I dare not search for an image of Ivy, I’m not exactly on my home pc right now!

I’m not convinced that we need more women employed in gaming. What I do believe that we need more diversity in gaming period. The traditional industry is becoming a soup of insularity and overspecialization, the latter of which has been said to result in death.

How many fps’s do we truly need? How many AAA, epic you become so ungodly powerful games do we need? Will getting 3 more people online in shooter x really be of significance?

If there is more than one way to skin a cat then there has to be more than one way to make a game. If diversity in games took place, I believe that this would attract more women to the Industry as well as other demographics. The video game industry isn’t as homogenous as Japan but based upon articles focusing on demographic-based injustices it sure sounds that way often.