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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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September 2014

You are browsing the archive for September 2014.

Why The Reports Of Oculus Rift's Failure Are Likely Premature

September 30, 2014

The rise of the Oculus Rift is proving to be a major move indeed, as everyone looks forward to a future—hopefully a closer-term future than is currently believed—in which “Skyrim” and the like now feel so immersive that you might actually believe you're building Lakeview Manor with your own two hands instead of just tapping buttons. A future where you might smell the venison stew cooking and can enjoy the honey nut treats instead of just looking at them. A future that looks that much more like “Star Trek” than it ever has before. But some are already calling for the demise of such a system before it can even be put into play, and I can't help but think that that's a little premature.

The idea was advanced that, despite an array of reasons to suggest that wearable virtual reality (VR) would likely win, it would instead fail.

Mobile Games Prove Challenging For Facebook

September 29, 2014

The rise of Facebook as a social media system and the rise of mobile gaming were two phenomena that fired up largely alongside each other in terms of time. But the two phenomena really didn't interact for quite some time, and when these two did come together, it made for an interesting problem for Facebook. To solve that problem, Facebook has had to do some reconsidering about the way it addressed issues of mobile development, and mobile developers alike.

With mobile-first gaming becoming increasingly prevalent online, and Facebook's move to being more of a mobile operation likewise coming into play, it becomes clear that Facebook too had to make some changes in a bid to get more involved with developers who were wanting to go mobile more often than standard Web-based. But Facebook originally had a problem with mobile games, and in a sense, still does; playing a game through Facebook on mobile devices is said to be impossible.

However, there are still means for Facebook to be relevant to mobile game developers, particularly as a marketing tool.

Titan's Death Leaves Questions About Blizzard's Plans

September 25, 2014

It was a dark day for massively multiplayer online (MMO) gamers out there when the news landed that Blizzard was poised to pull the plug on science fiction MMO title "Titan," a game that had been in the making for as long as seven years. But with the death of "Titan" leaves a pile of unanswered questions about Blizzard's short-term future. Just what will the company do now? There are plenty of possibilities, sure enough, but what's the route to go?

The idea that "Titan" is out of play represents a big problem; specifically, there's a whole lot of time and development effort--not to mention outright cash--that went into this project, and the loss of said project represents a pile of waste besides.

A Stadium For Major League Gaming?

September 24, 2014

E-sports has come a long way since its earliest days, and it's easy to see how that's the case. We've gone from the earliest days to offering millionaire players, a World Series of sorts, gambling, even scandal in the teams themselves. Now, we've got what may be one of the last things separating Major League Gaming from an actual sport: a stadium.

More specifically, Major League Gaming recently announced that it was picking up a building near the Easton Town Center mall just outside of the city of Columbus, Ohio to open up the Arena. The building will offer up a 14,000 square foot venue for gaming, complete with bleacher seating, and MLG plans to inaugurate the stadium with no less than October's “Call of Duty: Ghosts” Pro League playoffs with a total prize purse of $75,000.

Following the incredible success of The International, the Dota 2 championships which offered up an $11 million prize package and a total viewership of better than 20 million, as well as the “League of Legends” championships that brought in 32 million back in 2013, it's become incredibly clear that e-sports are gaining ground not only with viewers but with advertisers as well.

Oculus Rift Crescent Bay Blows Previous Versions Away

September 23, 2014

The first ever Oculus Connect conference recently took place, and with it came a new prototype version of the Oculus Rift known as the Crescent Bay. What's known about this version so far, however, is going to really put some change in the game, and will likely have Microsoft and Sony very deeply concerned. Why? Because what's known about the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay so far is pretty impressive stuff, and could ultimately make it the market leader when it emerges.

The Crescent Bay packs in not only built in audio, but also an improved refresh rate and better resolution, making it a complete experience all the way around. That's a great improvement, yes, and it's augmented further by making the built in audio systems removable, meaning that if you've got a really impressive pair of studio-quality headphones you prefer using, you'll still be able to use said headphones with the Crescent Bay, assuming what's currently known about the system holds true through to release.

Project Morpheus Closes in on Completion

September 22, 2014

A new report has emerged to suggest that the virtual reality (VR) market might well have a new kingpin soon, and that kingpin may not be the Oculus Rift. While it was the first among us—at least in development kit form—the new reports suggest that Sony is actually out in front, with an 85 percent complete model. Yes, the Project Morpheus headset system is within striking distance of completion, and that might well shake up the market sooner than expected.

Naturally, Sony isn't saying just when Project Morpheus will be made available for purchase, but it is saying that the system's 85 percent of the way to a final product. Since the Morpheus uses smartphone parts, it's expected that the final price of the product will be within most users' budgets, keeping it in line with Oculus Rift's expected price, which Facebook has already noted should be easy on consumers' wallets.

This is excellent news for Sony, of course, who could desperately use a cash cow to help it reverse its chain of losses.

Lights, Camera, Gaming? Lionsgate's Plan For Games

September 18, 2014

Anyone who's been gaming for any length of time likely remembers the movie tie-in game. I'll give you a moment to wash the bad taste of your mouth. Most people do not remember the movie tie-in game well, much as most people don't remember the game tie-in movie very well. But there are ways to do it right, and an odd newcomer to the field, Lionsgate, is looking to turn its movies into games, and do so right.

Lionsgate has come a long way since its early days, and now holds several major franchises in its portfolio.

Amid Controversy, More Women Playing Games

September 17, 2014

It's easily been one of the biggest issues in gaming in the last few months, the issues of gender inclusiveness and gaming. But while some are calling for more inclusiveness, and others are saying that gaming is just more of a male-centered culture, one thing is becoming quite clear: more women are gaming than ever before, and a recent study showed that, recently, it was actually a majority of the ladies that turned to gaming in the last six months.

A report from the Populous research agency, titled the Gaming Revolution report, showed that 52 percent of people who had played a game in the last six months were actually female. That number is up slightly from three years ago, but represents something particularly noteworthy: the achieving of a simple majority. The number three years ago was 49 percent, almost a majority, but not quite.

Is There Still Value in the Console?

September 16, 2014

While speaking at the Gamesbeat 2014 event, Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter offered up an idea on one question that's likely dogged a lot of gamers in the wee small hours of the morning. That particular long dark night of the soul revolves around one point: do we even need consoles any more? This was a point that particularly interested me, and my response, both to the general question and to Pachter in general, is that yes, there's value in the console, though maybe only one console.

I believe I should start here by noting that I've been a gamer for a lot of years. I've played console games since the eight-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, and PC games since adjusting one's config.sys and autoexec.bat files was common practice.

Harnessing Hate: Turning Trolls to Gameplay Features with Dick Starr

September 15, 2014

The general rule for dealing with trolls online is, as the saying goes, to never feed them. That is, never give a troll anything like attention; don't yell back, don't insult, don't get dragged into the fight because trolls live for that sort of thing. But Poor Ugly Dwarf may have just turned the concept on its head by bringing out “Dick Starr Conquers Mars,” a game that actually somewhat depends on trolling to make it challenging.

“Dick Starr Conquers Mars” takes the one downside of Twitch broadcasting—minimal if any audience participation—and makes audience participation a big part of the game. With “Dick Starr Conquers Mars,” audiences aren't just limited to the standard catcalls and threats, as well as insults; here, audiences actually determine what kind of hazards and bonuses the characters get.

The iPhone 6: Good News for Gamers?

September 11, 2014

It's easy to look at the arrival of any new gaming platform and wonder if it will be, ultimately, good news for gamers or not. Certainly, before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ultimately made appearances, the question was often asked, is this a good thing for gamers or not? While frequent answers of “not” prompted quite a bit of change in Microsoft's camp, it's not always quite so obvious. The iPhone 6, only recently unveiled, seems to be prompting a bit of doubt as to just whether the iPhone 6 will prove to be fish, fowl or good red meat for the players.

Already, several games have been announced for the device by some reports, including titles like “FIFA Ultimate Team,” “Peggle Blast,” and “SimCity BuildIt.” That's good news by any stretch, and word out of developers is that the new, expanded screen space will provide some extra value in and of itself.

What Do You Have In Common With a Gaming Nine-Year-Old?

September 10, 2014

That may sound like a crazy question, but it's one that's going to likely surprise many by showing off the sheer extent of PC gaming. As it turns out, that's likely what most gamers have in common with a nine year old who games: PC gaming. A new report out from The NPD Group suggests that 37 percent of people from the age of nine and up play PC games, and cover a wide variety of gaming types within the field.

The average PC gamer spends about 6.4 hours a week, on average, with titles ranging from the newest in hardcore gaming to the simplest of casual games. Thus, the NPD Group study separates the players into a set of distinctive subclasses, the casual, the light core, and the heavy core player.

E-Sports Hit College Campuses; Scholarships Being Offered

September 9, 2014

We all know that college sports are a huge, multi-million dollar affair that mean big bucks for colleges and potentially even the players—colleges are, after all, the pool from which professionals are chosen—but what hasn't been quite so extensively considered yet is the idea of doing likewise for e-sports. That's changing, and now, there are not only college scholarships on hand for those who program video games, but even for those who play video games.

There's a small, liberal arts focused college in Chicago known as Robert Morris, a college that has a varsity e-sports team. Said team competes mainly in “League of Legends,” and one student netted a 25 percent tuition scholarship—about $6,000 annually—in order to play. Robert Morris isn't exactly unfamiliar with unusual sports, playing host to a varsity bowling team for both male and female competitors as well as a varsity women's dance team.

Oculus May Have A Controller To Go With Its Rift

September 8, 2014

The Oculus Rift; it's easily one of the biggest developments in gaming since a plumber strode across our standard-definition televisions back in the 1980s. But one thing that's left viewers skeptical almost since its arrival is how, exactly, the system would reconcile in terms of controlling. It was one thing to see all this amazing, immersive video, but how would we actually move around said video? That question may be closer to an answer with reports that Oculus may have a controller in mind to go with its amazing viewer.

The Gear VR, said to be built on Oculus technology, is set to not only come with its own Bluetooth controller, but will also work with other Bluetooth controllers as well as, on some levels, built-in tools like a touchpad and buttons found directly on the headset itself.

Samsung Gear VR Starts Simply In Gaming

September 5, 2014

The virtual reality movement is one that's seeing quite a bit of growth, even if much of that growth hasn't exactly hit store shelves as yet. But one that's moving along pretty well is Samsung's Gear VR device; while the device hasn't been formally released yet, nor is there any kind of expected date for launch, it already seems to have a game ready to go and specifically designed for it: “Romans 360.”

“Romans 360” is, at last report, an adaptation of “Romans From Mars,” which was also designed by the company behind “Romans 360,” Side-Kick Games. “Romans 360” has the kind of gameplay that makes it about perfect for virtual reality; a simple interface involving the player located directly behind a turret which said player turned and fired, repeatedly, into an oncoming horde of Martians lead by the god of war himself. And no, not Kratos.

Originally, “Romans From Mars” got its start on tablets and smartphones, like so many other games before it.

What Could An Atari Revival Look Like?

September 3, 2014

Atari is, oddly enough, one of those major names that gets a lot of attention thanks to its long and storied legacy but also because of its modern era issues. We don't think of Atari much as a developer these days, but it's actually still in action, and now, the company is reportedly shifting tack. Now, the company isn't so much looking to develop its own games so much as it's looking for others to develop its own intellectual property, and even do some updating in the process.

While at 2014's round of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Prime event, Atari's CEO, Fred Chesnais, started talking about an Atari revival using an unexpected concept: “Asteroids.” But this time, Chesnais saw something a little different than spinning a small triangular ship around opening fire on big hunks of space rock. Chesnais described a game that was more like “Day Z” in space, in which the player finds him- or herself marooned on an asteroid, required to survive on said asteroid.

Admittedly, that has about as much to do with the actual “Asteroids” release as a fish has to do with seaweed—both are found in water, after all, but both are completely different life forms—but it's still an interesting idea.

Is Cross-Platform Gaming The Next Big Thing?

September 2, 2014

Admittedly, we haven't seen a lot of this going on lately. There's a certain amount of rush to exclusives in gaming, but what we don't hear much of is something called "cross-platform play," in which those gamers playing one game on, say, an Xbox One can't play with gamers who are playing on PlayStation 4. This can be inconvenient, especially for those who game with friends--"South Park" spent like three episodes on this with its "Game of Thrones" parody. But now, that may be about to change with some new developments, and it's all thanks to one indie studio.

Some games, particularly shooters, have occasionally allowed for user-generated content that can be passed from one user to another.

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