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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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March 2015

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Xbox One's Standby Mode: Power Waste or Easy Fix?

March 31, 2015

When I started playing Xbox One on a regular basis, I noticed something odd not long after. When I shut off the Xbox One, it wasn't quite as shut off as I thought it was. I found out what the issue was not long after, but at the time, it was still an unexpected point, and one that some believe might be a larger problem.

I plug most of my home theater gear--including my gaming hardware--into a combination of a Belkin Conserve Insight Electric Monitor and a Belkin Conserve power strip before it reaches the wall socket, so I can tell at a glance just how much juice the gear is pulling at any time. One night when I was shutting things down, I heard an odd whirring sound coming from the Xbox One, and I discovered that the Insight was still showing about 15 watts or so of power use.

April with Games with Gold Will Be Huge

March 30, 2015

For those out there of the Xbox persuasion, you're likely already familiar with the Games with Gold program. Indeed, you've probably already picked up a free game or two with the service, or maybe even jammed your hard drive full of freebies. But you may want to make a little room, because reports suggest that April is going to feature double the freebies of a normal month.

A combined total of six games will be given away in April; two of which will be available for Xbox One, and four for Xbox 360. Starting April 1, Xbox One players will be able to get "Pool Nation FX" and "Child of Light" available for the entire month.

Andreessen Horowitz's Plan to Make Bigger Game Worlds

March 26, 2015

One of the biggest draws in gaming these days is the open world concept. While it's not exactly new, it's seeing a major expansion, with a host of games coming out that feature massive, expansive worlds to traverse in pursuit of a variety of goals. But huge worlds don't come easy; they take a lot of time and development to produce. But the construction of huge game worlds may be easier in the future thanks to a $20 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, putting that cash into Improbable, a company geared toward making the biggest worlds around.

Andreessen Horowitz's investment comes with an addition to Improbable's board of directors in the form of Chris Dixon, a partner with Andreessen Horowitz.

New Word Emerges on Legend of Zelda Series

March 25, 2015

Not long ago, word started to emerge about a possible new series coming to Netflix based on one of Nintendo's most popular game series, "The Legend of Zelda". Just as everyone was starting to get properly hyped up for a series that didn't feature Link giving us his best Steve Martin impression--well ex-cuuuuuzzze me, Link, but it was terrible at best!--along came Nintendo's own Satoru Iwata to rain on the parade. Well, at least, a little bit.

Iwata, while talking with Time Magazine noted that he had "...nothing new to share with you in regard to the use of our IPs for any TV shows or films, but I can at least confirm that the article in question (referring to the earliest announcements) is not based on correct information." The subsequent question, meanwhile, went unanswered: why did it take Iwata a month to step in on this?

Anyway, while this is sort of a kick in the teeth for those hoping for a Legend of Zelda series, it's only a little bit. After all, Iwata confirmed the article in question was not based on correct information.

EvE: Valkyrie Ready to be the Big Name in VR eSports

March 24, 2015

While there's little doubt that eSports has been a pretty big concept ever since it first came on the scene--and has been making some really impressive gains thereafter--it's an idea that just doesn't seem to go quite as far as it could. Sure, it's great fun watching people run around blasting each other in some breed of "Halo" or "Call of Duty" or "Battlefront", but are we thinking too small? The crew out at "EvE: Valkyrie" thinks so, and when you think about what that means, you too might be salivating at the thought of the inevitable scope of this whole idea.

For a while, eSports has been about teams, about a handful of players running and jumping and shooting, but "EvE: Valkyrie" may be poised to blow the doors off the concept with the idea of fleets of spacecraft blazing away at each other. And "EvE: Valkyrie"'s team has been hard at work getting it ready for prime time and the eventual release of the Oculus Rift, a development which will better put users in the position of flying spacecraft in a bid to take on the enemy.

While there's certainly skepticism here, and not without reason--it's not out of line to say that virtual reality has been "the next big thing" for quite some time now, and long-time gamers remember the era of blocky, pixellated games at $5 a crack--this could well prove a major effort.

Remember the battle scenes in "Ender's Game"?

Nintendo's Plan For Mobile Gets a Little More Detail

March 20, 2015

What a difference a day makes, huh? Yesterday we didn't have much detail at all around Nintendo's new NX platform, and now we've got word about Nintendo's earliest plans for mobile. These are actually some really interesting plans, too, and may well give Nintendo some much-needed leverage in a rapidly changing gaming market.

After the announcement of the connection between Nintendo and DeNA, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed that the first release for mobile should occur sometime this year. Plus, there will likely be quite a bit more development down the line as completely new IP will be developed for smart devices, as well as for the mobile platform.

Nintendo's NX: The Story So Far

March 19, 2015

For those who got to wondering if maybe Nintendo wasn't planning to cut bait on the Wii U, there's a little more to suggest that Nintendo might be getting ready to throw in the towel on this round of the console wars, accept third place with dignity, and regroup for the next generation. Word has emerged around that next generation in the form of the NX, said to be Nintendo's next gaming device. But what's known about this device so far?

According to word straight out of Satoru Iwata, the company is actively developing the new system, and has brought in some help in a new partnership with mobile game firm DeNA. The partnership will be developing a membership service that's not only geared toward the 3DS and the Wii U, but also smart devices, PCs, and the newly-revealed NX.

The NX is described as a "dedicated game platform with a brand new concept", though just what that new concept was was kept very close to the vest.

Tamriel Unlimited Coming Soon: What To Expect

March 18, 2015

I don't know about you, but I've got a goodish portion of June lined up for the upcoming launch of "Tamriel Unlimited." Formerly known as just "The Elder Scrolls Online," and formerly just limited to PC gaming--a field of gaming I don't often get involved in thanks to a control scheme I'm not particularly happy about--"Tamriel Unlimited" is making the jump to console titles June 9, at last report. But what will we see when it hits?

First, the good news: the game will be available for a one-time fee instead of on a monthly subscription model, good news for those infuriated by the thought of paying a subscription fee to the game maker and another to the console maker for the privilege of online play. However, there are premium subscription options on hand, allowing for new benefits to be delivered in-game on a recurring basis. Additional good news comes in the fact that it looks like, for the first time on consoles, all the districts will be in play, from Skyrim to High Rock to Vvardenfell and beyond, even some places that have never been seen on console before in any depth like Khajiit homeland Elsweyr and Argonian territory Black Marsh.

A launch trailer helps provide some insight into what's coming out, with six major content updates are on tap here.

Virtual Reality: A Failure From the Start?

March 17, 2015

While looking around for news, I spotted an unusual item from the Canadian Online Gamers Network that offered a rather stark conclusion right from the second paragraph: virtual reality is not the future of video gaming, and in the long term, it has all the chances for success that a boat has of winning the Indianapolis 500. After considering the idea, I came to the realization that the COGN is probably right, but not near so right as it thinks.

The ideas expressed were reasonable enough, but the problem is, many of them simply weren't expressed to their fullest. For instance, the COGN notes that "you can't move around." Essentially, you won't be able to move around in a virtual reality environment without a separate controller. The only problem is, that's wrong.

This Weekend, Cards Against Humanity Goes Free

March 13, 2015

If you haven't heard of the game Cards Against Humanity, then you're really missing out on an impressive piece of work. A game that takes a handful of cards with a handful of non sequiturs and invites the player to turn same into hilarity is hard to pass up, and this weekend, it will never be so easy to get in.

According to reports, "Cards Against Humanity" will be free for tablets, for smartphones, and for Windows PC this weekend following the launch of "Cards Against Originality", a Web app which will include all the original cards contained in the set as well as the five expansion card sets. The original game's Creative Commons license, at last report, allows for such work as long as it's offered at no charge. This has allowed a set of imitators like Xyzzy to step into the fray.

Video Games & Television: Closer Than Ever

March 12, 2015

It wasn't so long ago we were all looking at the connection between "Defiance" the video game and television show with something like concern. After all, we knew that video game conversions of movies didn't work out so great, and the converse was just as sadly true. But there's been something of a push on of late, and it comes by combining a couple news stories together to get what may be a trend.

First, there's word of the new trailer for "Dead Rising: Watchtower," a movie that will be available for viewing on Crackle, Sony's generally lesser-known streaming video service, starting March 27. Featuring Jesse Metcalfe, Dennis Haysbert--otherwise known as "that guy with the voice from the insurance commercials"--and even Rob Riggle, this one focuses on what looks like an area where Zombrex suddenly stops working.

New Jersey Instructors Considering More Video Games in Classrooms

March 10, 2015

Video games in classrooms aren't technically a new idea, but they have been one somewhat limited in scope. While most 80s kids--and even some 90s kids--remember their time of "Oregon Trail" and the like, the idea of a wider-scale gaming approach in the classroom is tough to follow. But there are some considering it, particularly out in New Jersey, as related from a recent article in The Daily Targum.

Ph.D candidate and instructor Erica Lucci advanced the concept, noting that video games actually have the ability to teach in a wider scope than standard methods of textbooks and rote learning, and it's not so much the play that has Lucci's attention, but rather the designing of said games. Though the play can certainly help as well; just ask former first grade teacher Joel Levin, who created MinecraftEdu, a type of rebuild of Minecraft focused on helping students do research more capably.

Joel Burgess Talks Horse Armor, A Failure That Keeps Bethesda Going

March 9, 2015

It's easily one of the the lowest points of all downloadable content (DLC) points out there; more specifically, it's the Horse Armor found as part of Bethesda's "The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion." But recent word from Joel Burgess--Bethesda senior level designer--who had a hand in the development of horse armor recently talked about the DLC item in question, and noted that, while horse armor wasn't a great move overall, it meant greater moves to follow.

Burgess offered up some remarks while at the Game Developers conference, and talked about how the "Elder Scrolls" series has always been known for its ability to mod the games, going as far back as 1996 and the release of "Daggerfall". Indeed, Burgess pointed out that "Morrowind" came with an editor built right in in a second disc on the release, so modding was clearly important. That philosophy carried on into the release of DLC in general, which was a comparatively new concept in the console market that only really started with the last generation of consoles.

So when the idea came for DLC for 'Oblivion', no one was really all that sure what to put into play; sure, some games were doing gun packs or cash packs, but with Bethesda, it was whole new branches of gameplay like "Shivering Isles" and "Knights of the Nine," both excellent examples of add-ons that provided more story for the user's dollar. But horse armor came before all that, and offered up an example of what people didn't want in a field where no one was really all that sure of what to offer up.

Some Real Surprises in Xbox One Gaming to Come

March 5, 2015

While scanning the news feeds of late for something interesting to talk about, an odd trend developed in terms of future releases, particularly for the Xbox One. Specifically, there were a lot of titles coming up, and I was downright shocked at the sheer array of titles on hand here. These weren't just simple titles, either, but some really impressive stuff, and some things I didn't even expect to see coming.

First was the revelation that a lot of indie titles—particularly “Shovel Knight”--were poised to come out in rapid fashion. While some of these were comparative unknowns, some—like “Shovel Knight” and perennial favorite “Mighty No. 9”--were much bigger names just waiting for a shot at our systems. While there wasn't a lot of word in terms of release dates for these impressive little nuggets, the fact that they were recently getting shown off at the Game Developers Conference suggested that arrival would likely be sooner than expected.

But that was just the start.

World of Warcraft Gold Soon to Mean Something

March 4, 2015

Long ago, I was a World of Warcraft player, back even before the days of the Lich King. I had a level 44 dwarf hunter, I believe it was, who went by the name of Glongg, and roamed the fields and countrysides with his bear, Grylls. No one ever thought that was funny, a fact that to this day makes me at least a little sad. But eventually, I left the World of Warcraft life behind when I got to thinking that the game was little more than a part-time job that not only wasn't I paid to do, but also had to pay for the privilege of doing in the first place. However, Blizzard may have come across a clever idea that improves the perspective a bit: letting people pay for their subscriptions with the gold they earn in the game itself.

More specifically, users will be able to buy what's known as the WoW Token, a system that can be purchased using either in-game or real money, and then in turn can be used to cover subscription costs.

Valve's First VR Game: Job Simulator?

March 3, 2015 know, I left “World of Warcraft” when it became too much like a part-time job that no one paid me to do, so why in the world would Valve bring out its first game for its new VR system, a co-development with HTC known as the Vive, and call it “Job Simulator”? The answer might just surprise you.

“Job Simulator,” developed in part by the folks at Owlchemy Labs, has a startling premise: if you've been reading your “Forbes” or other business mags lately, you might well be familiar with the idea that robots might one day, in the grand words of “South Park”, “terk” our “jerbs”. Translated into more familiar English, that means “they took our jobs”. Hit YouTube up and you'll see a host of videos on the topic, many funny, and some taking way too much time.

Why Watch E-Sports? The Answer Might Surprise You

March 2, 2015

The e-sports phenomenon has been growing by leaps and bounds, and though we haven't heard too much about it lately, it's still carrying on, offering up a new and unique experience in gaming. But why do people turn to e-sports? That's a question Eventbrite wanted an answer to, and as such, it went out to get said answer with a survey. What it discovered, meanwhile, might prove a bigger surprise than expected.

The biggest reason that e-sports fans turned to e-sports, according to the Eventbrite study, was on the strength of the community.

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