Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Can a Class 4 Softswitch run in the Cloud?

Can a Class 4 softswitch really run in the cloud?  This was a question I got at Mobile World Congress from a...

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Where's the Margin? (Part 1)

As much as I grumble often about the VoIP/UC providers and their lack of differentiation, SD-WAN is going to be just...

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First Hackproof Wi-Fi, then Grab Some IP Communications

While most of TMCnet blog readers want to monetize IP communications, most of the world just wants to be able to use...

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Software Media Servers Help CPaaS Offerings Such as GENBAND Kandy

Cloud communications are giving customers deployment options they never had before. Big data centers running ‘you name it’ communications functions and software...

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New Flowroute Customer Onboarding Platform Lubricates CSP Porting

Smoothly and effectively onboarding new enterprises is one of the most significant operational challenges for cloud communications providers. Flowroute is aiming squarely...

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CounterPath Bria-X Delivers Cost-Effective UCaaS Solution

In the 1990s Novell had a lock on servers in the enterprise. There was no Linux but SCO UNIX and IBM's AIX...

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Stupid Mistakes Lead to Kelihos Botnet Spam Lord Arrest

Russian Pyotr Levashov spread ransomware and other malicious software through the Kelihos botnet, possibly hacked the U.S. election and probably ran the...

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E3 Goes into Wide Release This Year

February 13, 2017

E3 was always something of a gamed system, according to reports, especially given the growing proliferation of independently-operated games media stations. Now, however, E3 is changing the way it's operating, and for the first time ever, officially opening up the show floor to incoming members of the public.

Those concerned about massive new crowds need not be; the operation is running essentially on a lottery system run on a first-come-first-serve basis. Starting February 13 at high noon Eastern time, E3's parent organization, the Entertainment Software Association, will sell 15,000 "consumer passes". The first 1,000 will sell for $149, while the remaining 14,000 will sell for $249.

Businesses concerned that this will cheapen the value of their current passes need not be; the business and press pass holders will have a specific entrance point just for them, a "VIP Business Lounge", and several other perks.

Nintendo Switch Offers Value in Online Connection

February 7, 2017

Nintendo's outings in the console market have been less than well received lately, with the company's fates collapsing ever since the release of the groundbreaking Wii system. Now, Nintendo will have to compete against systems commonly regarded as more powerful than its own releases at the outset, and Nintendo's looking to provide value in other areas, like the online connection cost.

The new reports suggest that Nintendo Switch will allow users to play online for about half the cost of Microsoft and Sony alternatives, running under $30 a year. That's going to represent a significant value for Nintendo gamers, and one that might give it an edge in the market going forward.

Since some of the Switch's biggest games--like Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers--will require online play on at least some level (it's not known as yet just how much online connectivity will be required or if such connectivity will be charged for) to get the most out of them, being able to connect on a budget will be a welcome development if it goes in the direction it might.

There's also been some discussion over Nintendo's upcoming VR plans, particularly the use of the new Joy-Con controllers that the Switch is slated to use. It's not much discussion as yet--it's mostly centered around one quote from Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima--but notes that Nintendo's actively working on "...resolv(ing) the issues with playing comfortably for long hours..." which will then be put into play as soon as possible.

Granted, most probably aren't framing their buying decisions on the ongoing costs of connection.

PS4 Pro's Boost Mode May Give it a Market Edge

February 6, 2017

We're coming to a very strange time in the console gaming market, with a new version of the PS4--the PS4 Pro--already on hand and the Xbox Project Scorpio poised for launch. Even Nintendo's bringing out a new console in the Switch, which will destabilize the market even further. That's prompting significant marketing efforts, and PlayStation's may have emerged with the new "Boost Mode" for PS4 Pro.

The new PS4 Pro option would actually deliver on a noteworthy proposition: to improve older games' performance without the need for patching or similar measures. Currently, reports note, getting the benefits of extra PS4 Pro hardware requires a little extra programming work in the form of patches.

Smells Like Virtual Reality: Vaqso Poised to Add Smell to VR

February 1, 2017

Recently, the folks at Vaqso unveiled a device that would offer a whole new dimension to virtual reality: smell. Originally designed as a means to promote restaurants with virtual reality displays including smell, the system is taking on some potential new uses as well.

The Vaqso system is approximately the same length as a Snickers bar, reports note, and attaches readily to several currently-available head-mounted display systems. It uses a set of different odor cartridges--currently three types exist, but that number may reach 10 by the time development has concluded--and an internal fan creates stronger and weaker smells by adjusting its rate of operation to deliver smell.

An additional application programming interface (API) makes it easier to connect Vaqso's smell-based interface with newly-built games, making it entirely possible to smell what's going on in a game to at least some degree.

Vaqso isn't the first to do this--Noslus Rift and Feelreal already exist in the market--but Vaqso can offer multiple different odors, something that its competitors can't. Throw in Vaqso's compatibility with a variety of different heads-up displays and it gives the system a clear market edge.

World of Warcraft Takes a Slot in Museum History

January 30, 2017

There's no denying that World of Warcraft is a major force in gaming, and has delivered a historical punch all its own. Some say it really started the current push for more massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) in the market, and such a groundbreaking title deserves a little praise and feteing. That particular breed of recognition will come from the Computer History Museum, which has established an exhibit specifically around the game.

Part of a larger installation called "Make Software: Change the World!", the goal is to show exactly how software does just that. The exhibit cost fully $7 million to establish, and has taken about five years to go from concept to physical reality.

Nintendo Switch Likely to Widely Outsell the Wii U

January 24, 2017

With the Wii U now pretty much a dead stick, having provided about as many games in its lifetime as Sony and Microsoft might bring out in a couple months, all eyes are on the Nintendo Switch. But will this system make Nintendo a figure worth talking about in the console space again? The current figures aren't exactly sure, but it's a safe bet that the Switch will at least do better than the Wii U did.

Projections from DFC estimate that the Switch will sell roughly 40 million consoles over the next three years, which is an exciting proposition. In fact, that's nearly three times what the Wii U sold, showing both how bad off Nintendo was beforehand and how much better off the Switch will likely to be.

Microsoft's VR Plan May Hit GDC

January 24, 2017

One of the first major game conferences in a typical year is the Game Developers Conference (GDC) event, running February 27 to March 3 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. This isn't always as exciting as E3 tends to be, but it can still deliver insight. This time around, the insight in question features a look at Microsoft's VR plans, or at least those that could show up down the line.

The current reports suggest Microsoft will have Windows Holographic developer kits at the GDC event, and word is these kits will be working with a slate of inexpensive headsets, similar to those shown at CES by Lenovo.

Microsoft has kept its VR plans quite quiet so far, especially when it comes to the application programming interfaces (APIs) involved. What has slipped out so far, meanwhile, has delivered some very notable points.

Some Time in Stardew Valley: Your New Staycation Destination

January 17, 2017

I spent most of this weekend taking on the new Stardew Valley release for Xbox One--or at least comparatively new--and there's actually a lot to be said for this game. Not all of it is good, but for anyone who's been on the fence about picking up this particular title, I may well have what you need to topple one way or another: firsthand insight.

For those not familiar, Stardew Valley acquaints you with you--who you get to name yourself as you see fit--who is in this universe an employee of the Joja Corporation. It's part Dickensian workhouse, part Dilbert strip, and every bit as unpleasant as that combination suggests. One day, your grandpa dies, and before he does hands you a sealed envelope containing what amounts to your inheritance and a great deal of insight.

Scalebound Dead

January 16, 2017

Well, that's about all that needed to be said, isn't it? The newest word out of Microsoft proper is that the open-world dragon battler is officially shut down, canceled in the midst of plenty.

Though there was footage aplenty of the release, there wasn't much in the way of playtesting going on. Microsoft never actually allowed anyone to try the game itself, leaving the gaming public with little more than discussion on the footage available.

Microsoft's statement noted "After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for Scalebound. We're working hard to deliver an amazing lineup of games to our fans this year, including Halo Wars 2, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, and other great experiences."

With precious little to go on, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise that the game was shut down.

eSports Steps Up Into Racing Series in Vegas

January 10, 2017

While the biggest news in Las Vegas in the last few days was the Consumer Electronics Show, there was something else going on that wasn't as big, but still delivered an exciting new prospect in its own right. It's advancing the field of esports in a fashion nothing else, and in a fashion that will make people slap their heads.

More specifically, it's the Visa Vegas eRace, and it expands esports from mostly the province of real-time strategy, first person shooters and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games to add something that probably should have been there all along: racing.

It put both professional drivers and sim racers together in a match of rFactor 2, a racer that's known for its somewhat bland graphics and attention to detail. With a 20-turn track that no one got to see before the race, and a platform of identical PlaySeats and Thrustmaster wheels to race with, the racers put on a real show, though one that didn't go off quite without a hitch.

Some weren't happy that the eRace used rFactor 2 as its platform, though it does seem like it worked out well. It's odd that that was what they used, especially given the number of racing titles out there.

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