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About
My name is Jason. I'm an avid lifelong gamer, and somewhat longish reader of Destructoid. Currently unemployed, my usual occupations are fixing PCs for people, replacing broken phone screens, and embarrassingly often, working behind a retail counter.

I tend to game on PC these days. Favorites of the last year were Cave Story+, Bastion, Portal 2, and E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy.

You can usually find me in Destructoid group chat on Steam as Morcant, or frequently in Tribes: Ascend as Jahok.
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I'd just like to raise a little awareness here about Obsidian's new project, tentatively titled Project Eternity.

“Obsidian Entertainment and our legendary game designers Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer are excited to bring you a new role-playing game for the PC. Project Eternity (working title) pays homage to the great Infinity Engine games of years past: Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment.

Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment.

I'm stoked, and if you played PC games around the turn of the millennium, you should be, too.

Early backers (limited to 25,000) can preorder the digital version for the discounted price of $20, with another unlimited tier at $25. Higher tiers offer soundtracks, physical boxed copies, T-shirts, and fancier swag for even higher tiers. Par for the Kickstarter course.

As of this writing, the project has raised $173,000 (and rapidly rising) of their goal of $1.1 million, with 32 days to go in the fundraising campaign. No specific details on stretch goals yet, other than hinting at new levels, companions, NPCs, and more areas added to the game world itself.

Are you excited? Do you think this kind of game deserves to be extinct? Does it overlap too much with things like Diablo 3 and its many clones? Deposit opinions below, please.

[Edit: Josh Tolentino's front page post wasn't live yet when I hit "publish." Oops. Feel free to go discuss there.]
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A followup to this previous writeup about the 3DS XL marketing. Zolani13 brought up a few things via comment there that warrant clarification. The major points of contention, in summary: It is a matter of perception that people focus on either the diagonal measurement of a screen or the square, viewable area, and so Nintendo is accurate in its marketing claims; and that the dot pitch measurement was not illuminated adequately to criticize the picture quality.

For convenience, this is the chart that contains any figures referenced.





The diagonal measurement has been used consistently across all types of consumer displays for both marketing and specification sheets for over 60 years. It was originally so because of the physical architecture of CRT displays, but made its way into the LCD generation for two reasons: It is a simple way to express the size of a display, and by the time LCDs came onto the mass consumer market, it had been the de facto standard of screen measurement for 40+ years.

I don't think it an exaggeration to say that it is the single number most commonly associated with a display's size.

In point of fact, on following up with some light research across manufacturers, display area (width x height) is not published at all – neither in ads nor technical specifications. The only information given in every case is diagonal size and aspect ratio, complemented frequently by height and width, and other irrelevant details of performance. That it must be mathematically determined by the end-user exposes its severe disuse. (I scanned through information from Samsung, LG, Sony, Google [Nexus 7] and Apple to arrive at this conclusion; even Apple's extensive evangelism of the Retina display failed to report viewable area.)

The point is the deception and obfuscation of the truth on display here, and the media outlets who repeat it as Gospel to their readership/viewership without a second thought. The improvement in published specifications is not 90%, so finding and advertising a 90% increase is misleading at best.

For what it's worth, we would not be having this conversation if Nintendo's marketing had stated “90% more viewable area.” I suppose that lacks the brevity and punch of “90% bigger,” though.

As to Zolani13's latter point – that the 3DS XL screen lacks in quality is readily apparent by the nature of using the same resolution stretched up to a larger screen. More space has to be filled with the same amount of visual data, and so that data is degraded, however slightly. Whether pixels are stretched to fill the space or there is more space between them, or both, the picture quality is objectively worse. Perceptions will vary (as they frequently do) on the degree. I personally don't think this is a dealbreaker for anyone. Not even 15 years ago a dot pitch below 0.32 mm was considered very good in high-resolution monitors. I only included it because it was trivial to do once the other numbers were generated, and for the sake of completeness of the comparison.

The calculation of dot pitch is simply the diagonal measurement, in mm, divided by the diagonal pixels (hypotenuse of Pythagorean theorem where the sides are vertical and horizontal resolution). It is standard to express this distance in mm, due to the scale of the measurement. 0.0076 inches is a bit unwieldy. I admit that it may not be absolutely precise, because I lack a physical sample as well as the pixel analysis equipment to do a proper measurement. If it makes you feel better, we'll call it 0.27 ± 0.01 mm to cover any potential variance.

There is precedent for being concerned about screen sizes in advertising. Several class-action lawsuits were brought against PC manufacturers in the mid-90's over screen sizes advertised, versus the sizes delivered. More recently, in 2010, the San Diego County District Attorney along with 6 other California counties settled a case with LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony over “misstating the screen size of flat screen televisions.” Cases like this are largely the reason that many LCD displays are now marketed in size “classes,” with actual viewable size stated in the finer print.

Manufacturers will stretch the truth as far as they can, until consumers or consumer advocates push back and challenge the accuracy of their claims. You may not always be right, but you're never wrong to ask.
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I apologize in advance. Virtually the whole purpose of this article is to prove that I am right. In doing so, I do hope it will be informative and useful to those who read it. But it's not primarily for you. Buckle up, this might get wordy.





Let's begin with a question. What size is your PC screen? How about your television? Mine are 32” and 42”, respectively. And that is how most anyone would answer that question, with a single, simple measurement. Originally, televisions were constructed of round cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, and the only realistic way to measure them was by their diameter. Later these were encased in a rectangular bezel, with the corners at the edge of the round or roundish CRT. Thus, we inherited the diagonal measurement as something of an industry standard for display measurement in consumer devices. It's simple and elegant, and in combination with the aspect ratio provides all the information we could want about a given display's dimensions.

You may have inferred what I am driving at. Nintendo claims that the screens of the new 3DS XL are “90% larger.” I take issue not with the absolute accuracy of that statement, but the method by which they arrived at it, and the inherent deception therein.

The primary display (top screen) of the original 3DS measured 3.53”, or 90mm. You know, I'm just going to stick with Imperial units to make this easier. Now, lacking any sort of 3DS XL teardown or caliper measurement of the screen (as it's just today launched in EU territories), I'm going to rely on the figures provided by Wikipedia. Those state that the 3DS XL has a 4.88” top screen. Finding the rate of difference between these two measurements is easy, divide 4.88 by 3.53. The result, 1.3824... indicates that 4.88 is ~138% of 3.53, meaning a ~38% increase. (For what it's worth, the result is 1.377... if you do the calculation with metric units, due to imprecise unit conversion and lack of significant digits, I suspect.)

So where is the 90%? It's in the area.





I made a comment previously that used diagonal˛/2 to compare the area of the two screens. That might be okay for an approximation, but it's only truly accurate in the case of a square where sides are equal.. So, in order to find the precise areas for comparison, I started by finding the aspect ratio. The lower screen is simple, 320x240 is a 4:3 display. The top screen has a resolution of 800x240, but as an autostereoscopic display, each eye perceives half of that 800 pixels independently; it is effectively 400x240. Divided, that is 1.66..., equivalent to a 5:3 ratio.

My math was a bit rusty, so I searched around to find this page with a convenient algebraic formula for determining the height and width. Essentially, our variables here will be as follows: x = unknown width, y = unknown height, m = known x ratio, n = known y ratio, d = known diagonal. Using the formula y = (dn)/√(m˛+n˛) we find the height, and the formula x = (m/n)*((dn)/√(m˛+n˛)) gives the width.

Using the above information, I've compiled a table of data.





You can clearly see that the area, a product of the width and height dimensions, is approximately 90% greater in the 3DS XL model. This metric was chosen to showcase the increased screen size for the obvious reason that 90 is a bigger number than 38 – it simply makes the marketing look better. However the area's multiplicative nature does not convey the actual improvement in usability. I refer back to the second paragraph; we intuitively use the diagonal measurement because it is simple and conveys the most meaning of any available physical dimension.

The chart also shows the relative reduction in pixels per inch (pixel density), and increase in dot pitch (measure from one pixel to the next adjacent diagonal pixel, usually expressed in mm), which is the direct result of increasing screen size while using the same resolution. This is why some early impressions of the 3DS XL have reported a slightly less sharp display. The pixel density has suffered at a rate of 27.6%, while the dot pitch has widened linearly with the screen size, at a rate of 37.8%.

And that number, 37.8%, is what I believe to be the most genuine measure of the improvement of the 3DS XL's screen size. LCD televisions and monitors aren't sold by their display's area in square inches or millimeters. No one this side of professional commercial displays uses that information, which is why I take issue with Nintendo using those statistics to derive their 90% number to market a consumer product.

I don't have a horse in this race – I neither own nor immediately plan to buy a 3DS, XL, or any of its competitors. I don't even expect this to change anyone's mind regarding a purchase decision. My only motivation is to cut through the marketing talk to arrive at honest information. And, of course, to show that I'm right.
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Just hit my email. Excerpts:


"Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. [...] To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity."

"Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security."

"This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy."


For my part, I appreciate that they actually have people on staff who seem to understand the dangers of undermining DNS, and the potential for abuse. Pushing industry self-regulation is also smart, because when it works, it works pretty well (see: ESRB). Feels a little like they just want to wash their hands of a contentious issue, though.


Full text of the response.
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Video here.



Slightly old news (by internet standards), but since I didn't find any mention of it, I thought, "You need to know." Just a quick note to bring some attention to this little project. French indie dev Sauropod Studios is plugging away at their forthcoming Castle Story. It's a very early work in progress, but the potential already on display is substantial. Picture Minecraft meets RTS, with weird banana-colored men taking orders from you.

With the recent Cube World developments and third quarter 2011 release of Voxatron, it seems volumetric picture elements are all the indie rage lately. I'm looking forward to seeing where the project goes from here.

Thoughts?


Credit goes to Kirby in the Steamtoid chat for bringing this to my attention. <3


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What new year doesn't arrive without some pompous bastard prattling on about things to come? Today I am your bastard. Due to my BIAS, I'll be hitting on hardware and platforms more than individual game titles or publishers. There's way too much drama in software. I certainly wouldn't want to upset some Call of Duty fanboys (or haters), or people who collect female images of Link.


Nintendo

I skipped purchasing a Wii. The fact that the Wii U has the biggest standard controller of all time is not helping Nintendo win me over. It uses a new controller with a 6.2" 16:9 touch screen. I'm a bit worried about battery life, but it's so large that they could just about throw a Chevy Volt's power pack in it. Kudos to them for at least getting the second nub right on this one.


Effin' huge

Nintendo may enjoy some success with an app/ebook/video marketplace, although I fear they'll lose focus and this will be overrun with things nobody actually wants to do with their home console. iOS ports may replace the Wii shovelware we've come to know and love. But maybe I'll be surprised by a variety of downloadable games that run on either the 3DS or the WiiTablet.

Also, someone is going to make a game where the lights go out and you shine a flashlight around with your motion/sixaxis enabled touchpad thingamabob. If this happens in 2013 I was just ahead of my time, remember that.


Sony/Microsoft

Both Sony and Microsoft will announce new consoles in 2012, possibly at E3. I don't expect to see anything concrete until at least TGS, however. Sony will call theirs the Playstation 4. Microsoft will call theirs the Xbox Pi. Both of them will charge annual subscriptions for online services; this may not be announced until E3 2013.




Neither will incorporate cloud-based rendering like OnLive's service. Here's why. As purveyors of a platform, they have an intrinsic need to keep you buying their newest home media convergence device. If you can simply play the game in question on practically anything web-enabled, where does that leave them and their investment in overpowered hardware? Cloud service will be limited to game saves and profiles; this assuming that Sony bothers to incorporate it at all. I only say this because Microsoft already has a cloud computing platform, and Sony would have to lease their usage.

Voice recognition will be included as standard, along with motion control of some form. Backward compatibility may be promised once again, only to be dropped and forgotten after six months. If one or the other really wanted to differentiate their platform, they could include simple, inexpensive biometric feedback. This sometimes gives people the willies, however. Just a few short steps from..




Storage will be interesting. Sony will want to continue using Blu-Ray; Microsoft might use a proprietary Blu-Ray-type optical disc. (Which may in fact be a debranded Blu-Ray to keep from appearing to support their direct competitor.) Both consoles will also likely use a hybrid hard drive/solid state drive for internal storage and game installs. Most of the SSD benefits, without costing $500 for enough capacity. Really looking forward to this.


PC

The PC will continue to be the chosen platform of the master race.




OnLive

OnLive will rock the boat a little bit, and expand their base of customers. Their time to shine will come once wireless carriers improve bandwidth and reduce latency to the point that people can enjoy a seamless full-fledged AAA game on their mobile phone. Depending on their marketing strategy, they may also become a threat to Nintendo in the budget-oriented gaming segment.

Like cell phones themselves, OnLive may not need to prove itself 100% reliable to succeed if the cost and convenience equation works out for end users. It's absolutely a compelling platform, which presently suffers a bit from conditions beyond its control.


In conclusion

This wonderful new year is full of promise. The Vita is dropping in about six weeks, and the 3DS is showing some real sparks of creativity. We should have some great games on the way, like Retro City Rampage. But I just can't get too excited about games for this dull humdrum generation of hardware when I can imagine what's just around the corner. That gets me excited.



And then there's this.

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