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12:53 AM on 06.13.2013  

Deep Breath.... The Future is....

In my last blog I wrote about just where my mindset was moments after watching Sony's press conference.  Days have passed that seem like seconds, and we've had "leaked" interviews along with tiny details that will  help to give a snippet of what the next few months may end up being.

I haven't digested E3 yet.  I haven't actually seen anything outside of the demos at the press conferences.  Quite honestly the worst part about E3 is simply not being there when you want to be no place but there.

The point of this post is to really digest what is happening, lay it all out, and look at just exactly what it all means. First off, let's leave games aside, exclusives aside, and first party bullshit aside.  I want to take a moment to prognosticate the future without arbitrary reasons as to why it may or may not go this route.

We know the landscape of input devices are changing, we know the landscape of output devices are changing, and we know there are people who simply cannot stand it.  Personally, I think we need multiple screens.  We need many screens.  We need to get this bullshit user interface crap off of the screen and create an image that is something you can immediately envelop yourself in.  NO, that isn't impossible now, but I'm sure some would agree that the most minimalist of user interfaces, the most natural of inputs and outputs, the more natural and subliminal everything feels.  I have built/upgraded my current PC for the simple feature of running three screens.  I think I might want 4 just to have the "other crap" on that one and out of the way to eliminate flipping between things.  We'll see, but I can tell you right now, I wish I had this...  As far as where this all unfolds, just keep the image of that heart rate monitor in your head.  Imagine playing just dance with that on and try to grip a controller with that on.  Imagine playing CS:S with a vest that hits you when you get shot.  Playing everything through the Oculus Rift instead of three screens in a comfortable environment.  Yes they have advantages, but they also have disadvantages.  I don't think making everyone get gigantic hamster wheels and wireless displays on their face with motion sensing controllers in each hand so that I am actually "doing" everything in the simulation is critical.  I'll get to why in a moment, but our brains are a whole lot smarter then most people realize.

So what happens with the things that talk with the input and the output?  Valve has been working on monitoring gamers while they play and working on using those readings from sensors to help envelop the player.  I think that might hurt things.  It's like lucid dreaming, when you know it's happening so you just dick around.  Subconsciously, maybe that is impossible, maybe your chair will sense things based on the angle you sit and help to bring things in close by having more natural sounding 180 or 360 degree speakers. I think the best answer is straightforward and simple.  Create the most natural display equivalent to what we see when we open our eyes and use that as the basis for engagement.  I don't want to get shocked every time I mess up in a game, I'd rather have fun.

In terms of the other hardware, I would love to see something where HSA goes insane.  Where the predictive voodoo inside of the APU architecture allows for parallel processing calculation to always happen in the best spot and where things like overhead aren't an issue. 

I always here about how games look really good and how impossible it is to make things lifelike.  I look at things and see potential.  I wish for something that isn't motion blur, for things that don't have to be anti-aliased, and where textures aren't compressed.  Let's take a look at games that were at the conferences.  How many were just shooters with somewhat similar environments, how many were cell-shaded (because that "ages" better!?), and how many were lifelike natural worlds that seems like the places we could walk outside to in 5 minutes?  When you record a movie it just is the real world.  In philosophical terms, the thoughts in your head can be considered reality, giving the theory behind the movies like The Matrix and others.  This doesn't mean everything has to be made out of mind-blowing realistic graphics!  When I remember arcades there was practically nothing, but I was transferred to another world.  When I play Kentucky Route Zero I play something that I wish was my world.  There are always a million ways to draw a circle, art has taught us that.  We didn't need the 3DS because we have something called shadows that turn circles into spheres. (seriously, look at the texture on that thing!)

When I think about this I imagine someone playing Mario without the sound (no cheating, mute that shiz).  We all know the noise it makes, we know what's missing, we are humming it right now in our heads, but the fact of the matter in that instance is that there is no sound.  We can't see the wind, but we can feel it.  We can't see how light and sound bounces off everything, but we know it does.  The way games are put together is the work of thousands of people trying to recreate that.  Filtering is a way for GPU vendors and hardware manufacturers to make their life easier.  Mods are a way for someone to build on all of that and make something compelling.

So, 10 years from now what happens?  Where are we the "next" generation of hardware?  Remember a year or three ago that someone was blabbing about the "one console future" and about half the room stood up and shouted "PC GAMING!"  This is kind of like that, but with actual reasoning behind it. 

Right now all of the consoles (apart from the crazy uncle, Nintendo) run on the same architecture.  In 3-5 years phones will be on something very similar as well and some already are.  We will likely have very similar and extremely efficient hardware powering just about everything.  That's the beauty of building a system on a chip.  You can take this one portable little thing (think raspberry pi) and put it in just about anything.  You program it in such a way that it is slightly different and make it work better at what this specific application is.  Like taking FPGA design and combining that with an all-in-one chip.

So, we have our "design" for that chip now.  We know what the goal is, it's just a decade or so of work to get there.  What does that mean in terms of gaming and that whole "one console future?"  The way I see it, the future is here/now.  We have our one console whether we admit it or not.  The only "issue" is getting those pesky publishers to stop playing favorites.  For the OS to be the determining factor.  Steam vs. PSN vs. XBL is the ACTUAL battle from here on out.  What would you rather have?

Either choice, it's a lot better outlook then when people were planning on strapping two power supplies to a PC and having 2 KW output to 4 graphics cards.  Maybe just a little bit more fine tuned.

Time will tell,
-nabokovfan87   read


11:20 PM on 06.10.2013  

PS4 and Xbox One Pricing... Take this away from E3.

E3 is upon us and we finally know the pricing and specifics of each console.  More importantly we know the world where each is headed.  Sony wants games to be open, normal, and as they have been for some time now, but also want's to bring modern things into the puzzle using the Gaikai service. They also announced a $400 price tag as well as the news that online play will no longer be free, just like cloud saves, autopatching, and other conveniences.  Microsoft announced their $500 dollar price tag, TV features, plethora of standard exclusives and blockbusters like battlefield, call of duty, halo, forza, and so on.

I watched all of the conferences simply waiting for Sony to take a gigantic dump all over the xbox one's face.  It serves them right for having the audacity to complain that sony didn't show a box at their reveal when we all know their box not only is poor, but is simply a rectangle with vents.

As mentioned in other blogs, I am a PC gamer.  I own many consoles, and have been waiting patiently for the next PlayStation due to my history and issues with PlayStation 3.  I was thrilled when the PS4 was announced to have not only better hardware, but a lower price, and no DRM shenanigans.  But, they decided to tier online and keep everything else tiered as they did on the ps3.

A long story put very briefly, I lost my entire saves collection at least 4 times.  Since then they added plus, which I cannot use because my console has a YLOD, the hard drive with the backup must be put into the original console, and simply put, there is nothing I can do to get those back easily.

The news of more things being tiered that should be and are free elsewhere has me concerned.  The reaction on twitter shows that they light glossing over that fact wasn't well received either. 

So, we all know what the new consoles will cost and contain, let's look at the realities of switching to PC.  Here is the price on a typical, standard, middle of the range PC that will give you performance similar to that of the next console generation.

Motherboard (79.99): MSI 970A-G46
CPU (119.99): AMD 4300 AM3+
PSU (89.99): Corsair CX Series
Ram (69.99): G.Skill 8GB DDR3 1866
GPU (209.99): Asus 7870
Case (29.99): NZXT Source-210
-------------------------------
Total: 599.94

Here is the prices for a pc using the actual hardware platform of those consoles:

APU (129.99): AMD A10-5800K w/ 7660
Motherboard (89.99): MSI FM2-A75IA
Ram (69.99): G.Skill 8GB DDR3 1866
GPU: (not required, built into the APU)
Case (29.99): NZXT Source-210
------------------------------
Total: 319.96

You need a hard drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor, and OS.  Those can be had for anywhere from $50 for all of the above, or well above that price point depending on what you want. Let's assume windows 8 for $99.99 and A 500 GB drive for $59.99.

All of these prices come from not shopping around and specifically are available today/now and not reflecting any sales upcoming due to new hardware releasing.

Total 1: 759.92
Total 2: 479.94

Adding that OS cost is where things take a change.

Needless to say, the realistic price of those boxes is just about what it actually costs to build the exact same PC right now.  You gain access to thousands of sales, from humble bundle, steam, gog, origin, uplay, amazon, and elsewhere.  The release price of most games is cheaper, and the overall ease of use includes saves that can be easily backed up, cloud based saves for most modern games, automatic patches for most games, and direct access to every single thing you could ever want the console to do.  Youtube, netflix, blu-ray playback, whatever it is.... you can now easily add that or access it without going above and beyond any extremes.

Now, the matter of exclusive titles is the real issue here.  Does playing those 5-10 games per year really matter?  When my final ps3 died It was a tough going.  Games like deadly premonition, gran turisomo 5, dark souls, madden, nhl, and many others where launched first elsewhere and where for the most part exclusive to the consoles.  However, the amount of money saved by not paying full retail price, waiting for sales, and simply having access to cheap games is astounding. 

Look at your gaming shelf,  how many games are on it? 100? 200?  I have well over that on my PC.  I have 481 games on steam alone with nearly 100 installed.  That isn't including uplay, origin, gog, and standalone games I have from the past few decades.

Let's assume these are budget titles. say $40 if they were a console game. Perhaps, 25% of them digital download indie type titles for $10.

25% * (481) * $10 + 75% *481 * $40 = $1202.5 + $14,430 = $15,632.5

Seems insane right?  Here is the realistic price of my games. ($6025.72)

The pricing of games on PC is simply put, dramatically different.  The way games work on PC is dramatically different.  The ideals of PC gaming are dramatically different.

I know Sony destroyed the Xbox when it comes to price and content, but can everyone please take a step back and realize that certain things need to be free for everyone for very good reasons?  I shouldn't pop in a disc and have it tell me to go buy gold or another console to play local online with my stepbrother.  I shouldn't have $5 a month be a reasonable "cheap" alternative to solid customer service and a quite frankly an already proven feature set that has been working for some time.  Yes console manufacturers and retailers love money, but there is a slightly better way to get your content, and I hope the console gamers realize that the only difference between the PC and their next console is a usb cord and a controller driver, both of which they already have.

Think it over,
-nabokovfan87   read


11:00 PM on 05.24.2013  

The "NEW" Console Generation

I imagine the vast majority of people will see this title and do one of two things, either sigh or get angry for no apparent reason because of quotation marks.

A snippet of background.... I am a PC gamer, owned a PS3 (7 of them, long story), played just about every console since the nintendo, and have 5 different generations of them under the TV in my room.  I understand both worlds thoroughly, from handhelds to hacked together chip consoles like the Retrode that just play old games.  The other snippet of information is that I have a passion for PC hardware, and ultimately went to school for where I graduated a Computer Engineer.

I eagerly awaited the new consoles for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being that there will be practically no excuse for games not coming to PC anymore.  A slightly less nugget being that it is the start of AMDs new steamroller chip.  I hear podtoid repeat that consoles are going to be "just as complicated as PC were a few years ago".  Is that really the case?

In 2003 a piece of software came out that dramatically transformed the future of the PC platform.  It brought with it auto-patching, cloud saves, in-game communication, easy access to mods, multiplayer, friends lists and the rest of the things that go with multiplayer, community based in-game content, forums for every single game on the platform, and many other features that transcended where we thought things would go at that time.  Now we have consoles that are based on the same hardware, require keys to authenticate just about everything, must be online, require fees to play online if you like X's, and flat out lock content if you like X's and do not pay said fee. Then we have Sony who seems to be putting out a box that is simply that, a gaming console that doesn't have crap on top of it.  We will see how it plays out, but you either choose the Xbox with a camera and stupid gestures to do everything, a Nintendo platform that doesn't do what you thought it should let you do, a Sony platform that is a simplified PC with the 2003 era issues, or a PC/HTPC with steam. 

Hardware in either of these is going to be put simply like this.  The consoles are going to be ahead right up until steamroller is released on PC.  It even gives me the taste that the consoles were a testbed for AMDs Steamroller platform and the hUMA architecture.  It does help when two of the three console manufacturers hand you a gigantic wad of cash to help test case your idea for the future of how computers are to be formatted.
By the time Steamroller comes out, the console will have software developed for it throughout the past months while PC users will need to deal with quirks.  After a time frame the kinks will be worked out, and considering how the hUMA can change the way PCs work it seems like the platform that will work on it quickest is going to be PC for research purposes and offloading experiments to alleviate performance issues.

I have no idea how things will work out, but we are on the ledge of what could be a big change and something that has been coming since we knew that GPUs were better at certain loads than a standard Central Processing Unit.  I am quite hopeful that things work out well for all involved, but most of all AMD needs this to pay off.  A new generation with millions of disappointing customers and one singular architecture to point to would be a bankruptcy waiting to happen.  Here's to hoping the designers of these boxes screwed down the motherboard correctly to prevent warping and worked out what a heatsink is this go around.

E3 is days away, and we will get to see the future in action.  I'm not sure what I should think about all of these possibilities, but they truly are endless.

[img=277x428]http://www.destructoid.com//ul/user/3/38228-254506-IMAG0123jpg-220x.jpg[/img]
-nabokovfan87   read


11:26 PM on 03.19.2013  

Thoughts on Teenage Pokemon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjFE6A7EMJk&list=PLZLTS4u9M_2qom3sQRdNivw8Az8e5yeK3

So I was finally able to watch the episodes and was surprised by where things went. It was something along the lines of half being about stupid internet video game things (fighting, discussions, news, etc. and just video game centric in general), was about 10% random teenager issues, 10% pokemon jokes, and the rest was somewhat snarky teenager type humor.

When I first heard the idea for teenage pokemon I had immediately envisioned the following in my head....


It would be about teenage pokemon with teenage issues growing up in the untold world of pokemon. Sure we all have no idea what any of that really means, but coming from someone who has a background in therapy, how the mind works, and the philosophy/psychology of his patients, perhaps holmes has a better idea of what that entails. Take that viewpoint, and mix it into a type of show where you get laughs, humor, but at the end of the day you get something out of it. Maybe it is because you are older, wiser, and have been in that place and we can all relate (sort of using the nostalgia of pokemon mixed into some bizarre retrospective on human nature at that age?)

Who knows. I enjoyed the show, and am looking for more, but that is sort of what I thought I was in for, but didn't really pan out that way.

My favorite character of it so far is metapod. He seems to be the one I can relate to the most, he sits back and observes and comes in and drops the knowledge. Not trying to be boastful or anything, but I feel like I observe things a lot more then I am in the forefront of the action, and that is why I can relate.

Either way, it was entertaining, loved the look and style of it, loved the nods it had inside it, and more importantly I cannot wait to see where he takes it next.


Thanks for the show holmes,
-nabokovfan87   read


1:48 AM on 04.24.2012  

Goodbye Demon's Souls...

Many years ago, it seems like it now, a little known game was released. Demon’s Souls. After the gaming press pooped their pants with excitement, and hearing about it for many months I decided it was time to actually invest in an annoying RPG.

I say annoying because of something I decided to do around the start of 2009. I wanted to actually give some genres a chance instead of just ignoring them and playing counter-strike or rainbow six. Following that I bought Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Borderlands, and eventually Demon’s Souls. I was intrigued by ME, but it was a bit underwhelming when the ending rolled around. I was a bit interesting in how a gigantic barren field could hold my interest in fallout. I was pissed off that I spent 40+ hours playing borderlands, because it was a useless waste of time that I want back. Then came Demon’s Souls.

I spent the first night messing about the first level. Impressed at how I had unlocked two gates as a means to keep track of my progress for future playthroughs of the level, and I sat and stared at a gigantic door for 3 minutes deciding if I was going to open it. It was late, I was tired, and I had to get up for work in the morning. I decided I would give it a go and if I came into trouble turn it off and that would be the end of it for the night. I destroyed Phalanx by figuring out what I had to do, running around and avoiding damage, and needless to say I had impressed myself with actually being able to beat a boss first go around.

I thought about the game the entire day at work, couldn’t get past how much the ambiance of the world had sucked me in, had interested me, and I wanted another taste of it as soon as possible. I spent that night running around some hub world, trying to find some “monumental” who was supposed to explain how it all works. After finding an image of them online I had actually walked right past them at least 10 times. Listened to the story bit, leveled up, and awaited my next play.

That continued for a month, I would think about the game constantly, having it nag at me in the back of my mind, working through ways to get around the world and replaying the game in my head over and over. It wasn’t an obsession, it was lust. That game had something about it, something I wanted, something that brought out the best of me, the worst of me, and made me realize a lot about myself as a gamer.

I had gotten to the second boss, probably stared at the third, and I had decided to move on to a second character. I flew through the first level, got to the same spot, and tried another character. It was getting to the point where the game had little room for my tomfoolery and I had to return to my starting character.

I sat down one day, Beep… Beep… Beep…, Black. “Ugh, what now” I thought. I looked at the ps3 as I turned it on, green, yellow…. Fuck. I spent the next month waiting for the RMA to get to my door, boxing it up, calling Sony and explaining shit for the 4th time. Apparently it was going to be $150 dollars to fix my 60 gb ps3 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4CASA0vlXk). My UK friend had the same thing happen a month ago to him.

Well, no worries, everything was backed up to a spare drive, I had everything in waiting, I would soon play again. I get the box, start to import the data, but apparently some of it is “protected” to stop me from stealing trophies or something. Oh great, every single game with trophies is not allowed to be imported, it is there, but I can’t import it. Thanks, Sony. Fine, I’ll just redownload every single game from psn again, patch the games, restart everything, and enjoy my Demon’s Souls.

Good, back at Phalanx and done with the first world. I even tried to remake my characters, but it wasn’t the same. I decided to just stick with my main, get as far as possible. A few months later…. Bleep Bleep Bleep, flashing red. SERIOUSLY! Alright Sony, I’m not paying you money to fix this, you obviously can’t, let me just go buy a slim and be done with heat issues. I beg my dad to take me to the store, the one that actually has it in stock, and have access to my stuff again. I spent a week redownloading all of my psn stuff, repatching every disc I had, what a wonderful “feature”. Made me miss steam, just doing shit for me.

Things got busy with school, I had gotten to the bridge again, with that stupid dragon, but I wanted to level up a bit and try to take it down. I tried for weeks, barely doing anything, magic, bows, nothing…. Oh well. I pushed on, got to the second half of the first world, practically cleared it, messed around with just about every world, and finally gotten to explore the entirety of the game it seemed. I looked into special weapons, world tendency, and I even managed to get some cool stuff during events that unlocked them. I would intentionally die on the first world in order to cause tendency, just to unlock a gate on the left side. Man that lady was hard, oh well.

I went to work that day, seemed like any other day. I got a call, little brother, “The house was broken into, they took your ps3.” WHAT! FFS, it wasn’t…. Are you serious? Hold on… I walked outside, got the details. My mom was having knee surgery, what a great time for this to happen. “It’s weird,” my brother said, “they left flowers and candy in mom’s room.” Heh, no man, those were from me. Alright, I’ll see it when I get home.

Just like that, a year long journey to enjoy a simple game was destroyed. Some asshole had taken everything, my ps3, some cables, thankfully he didn’t touch my rig. It seemed like a year and a half before insurance paid me for it…. A whopping 150 dollars, it was the 250 gb version.
I spent the next few years on steam, waiting for the time to buy a ps3 again, waiting for that moment when I would get a chance to try my hand at playing the game again. It’s been 2 years. Now I get news that there will be a sequel. Cool, but it won’t be the same. I wonder if there will be a pc port? Anyways, I wish I had my ps3 back. Back to Counter-Strike…

I spent many months, years it seems just wanting to buy the system, buy the piece of crap that died twice, that has all the shit I wanted as long as I pay them for “fixing their broken shit”. Piracy my ass, thanks Sony. I even bought Gran Turismo Collector’s edition, a strategy guide for dark souls, just to get a taste. I had to borrow a friend’s ps3 just to redeem the dlc code for GT5, so that it didn’t expire.

Annoying…

It’s strange how you can spend so much time, more time thinking about a game then actually playing it. The only reason I wrote this is because those thoughts, those experiences, that game, is changed forever. The servers are going down, it will be playable, but it won’t be the same. It has survived all this time on sheer fans dragging it to the front of people’s faces, forcing them to give it attention. Hardly any other game has done that. Heck, even got myself a PC port on the way of Dark Souls, that will be nice, but it isn’t the same, it is the original, it isn’t where it all started, not even the same company.

I guess the only way to end this is to say thanks, thanks Demon’s Souls. I’m sorry some people saw you as just a “difficult game” or something where you are “hardcore” because they play you. I’m sorry I never got the chance to find out what happens on 1-4, or at 5-2, but thanks for the memories. Thanks for taking the time to show me what some of the world has to offer, that even though the game may be an RPG, it isn’t. Even though the game has online integration, it’s something so much more. There isn’t too much I can say, except you are probably the best game this generation, probably the most important one since half-life, but no one will ever admit it. One day I’ll have a ps3, probably right after Sony decides to pull its head out of its ass, but for now… Keep enjoying the shelf. Thanks for everything…

-nabokovfan87   read


2:37 PM on 03.04.2012  

MP Gaming, Harassment, and Some Thoughts...

Last week was tragic, in a word. There were not only things going on in my life, but a much larger and more important issue that arose. Firstly, and most importantly, it is best for anyone who reads this to go and listen to the comments made in context of which they were made. Here is the video that you can view to hear the comments as well as a secondary news post with links to deeper discussion of the topic on the show. Here is the quote that concerns discussion and the entire reason this is even news at all.

“Rea: Can I get my Street Fighter without sexual harassment?

Bakhtanians: You can’t. You can’t because they’re one and the same thing. This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20 years old, and the sexual harassment is part of a culture, and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community--it’s StarCraft. There’s nothing wrong with StarCraft if you enjoy it, and there’s nothing wrong with anything about eSports, but why would you want just one flavor of ice cream, you know? There’s eSports for people who like eSports, and there’s fighting games for people who like spicy food and like to have fun. There’s no reason to turn them into the same thing, you know?

You can’t go to the NBA and say “hey, I like basketball, but I don’t want them to play with a basketball, I want them to play with a football.” It just doesn’t...it doesn’t make sense to have that attitude, you know? These things are established for years. That would be like someone from the fighting game community going over to StarCraft and trying to say “hey, StarCraft, you guys are too soft, let’s start making sexual harassment jokes to each other on StarCraft.” That’s not cool, people wouldn’t like that. StarCraft isn’t like that. People would get defensive, and that’s what you’re trying to do the fighting game community, and it’s not right. It’s ethically wrong.

I know that you’re thinking “what do you know about ethics? You say racial stuff and sexist stuff.” But those are jokes and if you were really a member of the fighting game community, you would know that. You would know that these are jokes.

Rea: So, ensuring that we alienate any and all female viewers...that’s the ethical thing to do?

Bakhtanians: Well, you know, there are layers here, if you think about this. There are layers of ethics. There are people who are racist and commit hate crimes, right? And then there are people who are racist but they have tons of friends of all colors and they have deep love for those friends. Do you think those people are one and the same? Absolutely not.”

They were badgering her, continuously and nonstop, making her feel extremely uncomfortable and doing so with little to no respect to the people around them, the gaming community, and most importantly human decency. He brings up two reasons for his actions. The first “if you were really a member of the fighting game community, you would know that. You would know that these are jokes” and the second is “That’s not cool, people wouldn’t like that. StarCraft isn’t like that. People would get defensive, and that’s what you’re trying to do the fighting game community, and it’s not right. It’s ethically wrong.” I think this is a much deeper issue than anyone is giving credit for. While I listen to the stream and the conversations quoted above the main culprit, speaking towards Miranda (after saying that he doesn’t know where the line is) states that it is a so cal line, and that is where it comes from.

While I can sit here and debunk every word of his sentence, let me just state the facts. I live in southern California, have played in what little arcades are here, and have been for over 20 years. I know what the arcade scene is supposed to be, what the mentality and atmosphere of the arcade generation is. Around 2 years ago a few friends from work decided we would go to a local restaurant during lunch and play Street Fighter during lunch breaks. We had a blast, we talked smack, but most of all we had a deep respect for the other person, whether it was with Blitz, Street Fighter, or anything else. Not once did it come to putting down the other player, or making someone who lost feel like a terrible gamer for doing so. That is the same way it was when I was a child, and it still is the same way today, for myself and those around me.

The entire purpose of the arcade is to compete with one another right then and there, nothing regarding multiple matches, but simply you will get to play as long as you do not lose. Anyone can walk in the door, be it a fighting game champion, or the neighbor, and every person has the same opportunity to take the person on the stick out. In my opinion, that directly counters the comments made above, and any sentiment that harassment, put downs, and disrespect are part of the game. Heck, the NHL playoffs is one of the most bitter rivaled games in sports, but after every match the players stop and shake eachother's hands, whether they are bleeding, broken, or bruised from the battle, there is a deep and meaningful respect for the journey.

Ethics, the study and attempt to understand what is right and wrong, essentially it has everything to do with this topic. Saying something is ethically wrong because someone is suggesting it be changed, is like demanding that slavery be reinstated because it was the norm, or that whaling, shark fining, seal clubbing, deforestation, and many other practices be allowed to continue because they are what happens even though there are laws preventing them from occurring. I cannot see, or agree with, the logic presented in what he was trying to communicate. There isn’t a law saying that women cannot be president simply because it has always been a male, but it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, it simply means that it hasn’t. It is legally wrong to own a slave, it is legally wrong to assault someone, berate someone, and harass someone, but it does happen. I really wish the person who did this takes a deep and hard look at his own thoughts, and really sits down to contemplate what is right and wrong.

The side issue of all of this, and the main reason I am posting this right now is because this isn’t just the standard for street fighter. It is a standard of all games that are online, co-op, or whereby multiple people get together to play a game. Someone didn’t ask a female Pikachu to smell them as a punishment, someone in counter-strike doesn’t get t-bagged after every death, but it happens more often than not on the Xbox and Playstation platforms. This is not a PC vs. Console discussion, simply a discussion of maturity. Are PC gamers more mature? Forum threads would suggest not, but then again the loudest 10% post on forums, while the rest of the community simply plays the game. 9 times out of 10 when I hear someone in the press describe how they play online, they say that they turn off voice chat. I know from my own experiences, voice chat is an extremely key aspect of enjoyment, competition, and sportsmanship. When playing gun game in CS:S often you give the person who won the match crap because you were 2 kills away. You call him a hacker, or say it was a bullshit kill, but that is the extent of it. Nothing personal, nothing extremely negative, or harsh, but simply commenting lightly on the situation. It is to the point in games like Gears of War, Halo, Killzone, Call of Duty, etc. that if you have voice chat, someone of young age who quite honestly shouldn’t be playing an M rated game will give you crap for sucking, being older, being a girl, or simply not being them. It isn’t a matter of age, it is a matter of respect for one another, maturity, and most of all it is a matter of not having the people in the servers to boot out deviants and to set standards. Everything is on autorun, text based, and quite honestly lazy. The CS community thrives on differences of opinion. One person may want to play surf, gun game, standard, arena, or zombie modes, and those are available to them. They may want to play with beginner level players, on smaller server sizes, with specific weapon restrictions, rpg mods, stats mods, low gravity, or in a server of a specific clan, community, or group of friends. Any which way you can imagine, the game presents the opportunity to do so, and the players in the game can remove deviants by verbally telling them to leave, team killing them until they leave, voting them out of the server, banning them by vote, getting an admin to control the situation, or simply leaving themselves. Again, choice is the key here.

The main difference between CS and Halo is the average age of the gamer. If you look into the ESA and other video game groups you will find that the average age of the PC game is 10 or more years higher than that of the console crowd. This means people with much more life experience and whom know what is right, wrong, and how to handle a difficult situation.

I am not going to try an conclude anything, but leave you with this. The following video was linked to by Miranda (Super__Yan) with the words:

@ProtomCannon's article on SRK (http://shoryuken.com/2012/02/29/back-to-basics-getting-beyond-the-drama/) made me remember why I love the fighting game community so much.
...
In short: my coach was a jerk, he doesn't represent the entire community. I'm not ever leaving. See you at NCR. I'll leave this here: http://vimeo.com/13324213

Thanks for reading, and remember, in the words of captain planet, “the power is yours” to do what is right, wrong, and to let others know that what they are doing is wrong or right as well.

Keep on keeping on…
-nabokovfan87   read


8:54 PM on 02.27.2012  

Mass Effect 2: 2nd Playthrough Thoughts

In the past, I have played slightly more than zero RPGs. Feel free to view the “Hi, I’m Nabokov” blog for more info on that, but the point here is that RPGs have been a relatively new thing for me, starting with Demon’s Souls, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Earthbound when I was very young. I was intrigued by the ME universe ever since I stepped foot into it, and quite honestly I couldn’t wait for a second game in the series.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, and seeing what happened with Dragon Age 2 had me vehemently expecting a dramatic letdown. This isn’t the point of the post where I tell you how awesome it ended up, but you would expect it to be wouldn’t you? When I finished the second game I was extremely disappointed at what I had played. Moreover, I was confused at what to even think about my experience. I made a thread over on another forum, and the summary of the thread is simply the following; The first game had dramatic experiences, encounters, and stories that were compelling simply because it was all new and because the world had so much tension, but with the second game, there was hardly any tension, and players of the first knew what to expect. The shooting was worse, the story was horrible, and the ending mission was a joke.

After that, I wanted to play the game again after I had time to remove it from my subconscious and play the game for what it did rather than basing my opinion on anything I had played before. I also was able to play the game with the DLC. I wanted to know if the game itself had simply removed the good stuff, or whether I was simply out of it for my first playthrough. So I bought 35 dollars of DLC for the game I had paid 20 dollar for a year ago and booted it up. 25 hours later I was finished, I had done all of the loyalty stuff, all of the DLC, all of the upgrades, and touched just about every aspect of the game that was remotely possible.

Did I enjoy it? Well, I think I have right around the same opinion, I have no idea what to think about this game. I think that the design of the game is broken. The video cutscenes are at such low resolution and severely distorted on PC that they bring you out of the experience, the FOV of the game is severely broken, especially considering the constant battles inside complexes and cave buildings, and the ending should have been something along the lines of the lair of the shadow broker ship mission, which parallels the citadel end mission from the first game very well. I really dislike how cookie-cutter the ending of the game actually is. If you want to play it correctly then you have to get the IFF at the very end, and instead of being about something interesting, the survival of your squad ultimately relies on how many bullshit loyalty missions you ended up playing. Moreover, the developers have Mordin set to die first beyond all other crewmembers, even though he is a scientist, not a fighter, right? I broke down the other DLC on the latest episode of the Damnit Slam Show, feel free to listen if you want to hear more (http://www.damnitslam.com).

I guess the summary of my experience is that the game isn’t finished, and the only reason I played it again was to get the right character and decisions for the third game. I am invested, but I don’t feel like paying double for DLC that should be in the game especially considering how empty the experience feels compared to the first game. Every building, area, and aspect of the game feels much smaller than the first. The citadel feels like a shopping mall, rather than a hub, and places like Illium are so poorly designed that you spend the majority of the time walking to where you want to go, then actually doing something interesting. For a franchise and developer that automatically receives 10’s whenever someone things they are coming out with a new game, it is a big letdown. It isn’t as shit at Dragon Age II, but it is pretty bad.

-nabokovfan87   read


1:16 PM on 02.15.2012  

The Dark Side of PC Gaming

Well, I am amid a computer-tastrophe of sorts. I have no idea why my PC restarted itself a few weeks ago. I took off my OC that I had been running for over 9 months now. I cleaned the dust filters which were immensely dirty and airflow wasn't possible on any of my intakes. I re-applied some AS5 to the GPU and it dropped temps around 8C and resulted in the HS/F screws no longer having heads on them and an order for 100 size 2 screws.

I am going to chalk it up to voltage issues on my motherboard, this gigabyte board has always given me issues. I bought a dremel for my senior project, and essentially am ready to mod my Antec 1200 Case so that it has room for the Asetek 2011c cooler, so the CPU bracket has easy access, removing the mesh on the door and replacing it with plexi, and removing the gigantic 200mm dust hole that annoys the living hell out of me on the top of the case.

If I want to upgrade the ram, then I must upgrade the processor. If I want to upgrade simply the mobo, then I need to purchase a copy of windows 7. I desperately need a new video card, and the work I did on my 4850 last week has resulted in some image issues in Mass Effect 2 (could just be the game). I want to get an x65 Saitek HOTAS Flightstick as well, that is $340. I also have been waiting for over 2 years to get a new pair of 2-3tb hard drives, and then they whole flood thing happened.

The issue with all of this is that I am also in the middle of waiting and hourly checking for the MSI Lightning 7970 which should be up for sale any time within the next 3-10 days.

So that could be:

7970: $600-$650
CPU Cooler: $70-$100
New Mobo: $100-$200
Windows 7 Pro: $140-$200
Possible Ram Upgrade: $50-$150
Possible CPU Upgrade: $200
Possible Flightstick: $340
Possible HDD Upgrade: $200-$400

The long and short of it, I love my rig, and I will never stop being a PC gamer. I will spend any waking second this weekend playing ME2 and recording my gaming podcast. While I am not writing this to ask for help, or anything similar to that, I would just like to put my thoughts down, where my head is at, and just sort of take a moment to think about it all. There are many wonderful things to having a PC and being able to upgrade the hardware. I can spend hours just cable routing or cleaning the dust, testing the system itself, or half a dozen other things. I very much enjoy my rig, but at this point it is a massive headache of issues that I didn't have a month ago.

I need the GPU, I need the new cpu cooler to replace my h50, I more then likely need a new mobo/windows, and I want the flightstick. That's, over the price of the rig itself. Just ironic...

-nabokovfan87   read


8:11 PM on 02.13.2012  

Kickstarter, PC Gaming, Petitions, and Gamers vs. Publishers SOLVED!

Kickstarter double fine stuff happened, I listened to podtoid, and a lot of thoughts have been going through my head. Let me elaborate, I am a PC gamer. I am told constantly that games are going to be 60 dollars instead of 20-40, ports are impossible to make, and that my platform of choice has been dead for the past 10 years.

It makes me laugh to consider those things as truth, but you get the idea. PC gamers exist in a world where no one wants them and it is by the grace of pure passion and love of the craft that anyone enjoys it. I don't know how many times I have heard the media say they hate playing things with 10 year olds on Xbox live, only to tell them that it is far better on PC because of moderators and maturity of the player base, but they just keep paying for online because they think that is where everything cool happens and they can have their cool t-shirts and cool games and everyone else is stupid for not joining them. OK, obviously some background behind that, but let's just move on.

There have been hundreds of indie games on Kickstarter in the past. It is amazing that this is getting press because double fine did it, but by all means I am glad that it has. Immediately my mind spinned towards what could be possible, and what SHOULD be happening right now.

So, imagine a world where (this would be far better in the movie guy voice, but...) the next time someone tries to petition for a port, the HD remake everyone wants doesn't happen, a developer takes a shit, or your favorite developer just doesn't want to localize that brilliant title from somewhere on the other side of the globe, it was actually possible for you to do something about it. The people purchasing the products themselves were ACTUALLY given what they wanted. Fucking brilliant right? Yeah, but it will take 10 years for this to actually happen, and I know 5 companies right away that simply could do it right now and have a bazillion buyers. Let's see.

1. Demon's Souls PC Port
2. THQ games... (Metro 2033: Last Light, SR4. etc.)
3. GR/RS HD remakes on PC
4. RARE being bought out by the fans
5. Psyconauts 2
6. Earthbound 2
7. Pokemon Fully 3D PC RPG with super HD graphics (not fucking cell shading)
8. Red Dead: Redemption PC
9. MvC3 PC

Obviously I can keep going, but that isn't the point or the question I am going to even discuss. The reason all of these will never happen is because the developers are in the assholes of publishers who want to make a piss-ton of money. They don't give a damn about anyone but themselves, and they will literally step on babies just to make a dollar. Maybe not, but I think you know they would deeply consider it.

All I am saying is imagine a world where the stupid bitches making decisions now, weren't. It would be amazing as a gamer, specifically a PC gamer, if we were all a little more open to the idea of some 14 and 17-year-olds making a game have having someone help them out to get it released (Side note, please support the 14 and 17-year-old who are trying to make a survival horror PC game that has a bitching soundtrack).

I really wish less publishers owned great companies and licenses like MvC, RAREs games, Demon's Souls, etc. which all will take either a long time or hardly ever exist on expanded platforms simply because people want to sit on them and not do a damn thing with them. I would love to see Super Mario World 2 exactly in the SNES style, or an actual DKC4 SNES port exist in today's world, but because someone at wherever doesn't want to even give it a shot, it won't happen.

Here is my idea...

A website that isn't called Kickstarter, where gamers and companies can actually discuss things and gamers can propose ideas to developers (not publishers). Gamers can back it, the developers post a number of sales they must require to work on it, once it is reached it goes to the approved section, and then the developers go to whomever and get it made. It isn't a perfect system and I am sure there are some tweaks to fix it, but in all honesty, something like that needs to happen.

Thanks for hearing my rant, please post your thoughts below!

-nabokovfan87   read


2:14 AM on 02.11.2012  

Training: Tutorial vs. Experience

There are literally millions of games, a plethora of genres and a bazillion different typed of gamers. Obviously one of those folks is going to come across something that he or she hasn't played before, therefore they have to learn how to play it.

The first issue most people come across is understanding the rules of the game. Let's take a turn based strategy game, say magic the gathering, when you first boot it up the first thing that you are given is a tutorial on how to play the game in question deeply going over the rules and actually showing you step by step how to play the game in question. Action based games have taken these to show you "the rules" by laying out the controls. Half-Life: Opposing Force did this by having the player go through an obstacle course.

Modern games, Witcher 2 for instance, show you some of the controls, but not all of them. This brought tons of criticism and personally I am still stuck on the final "tutorial" level since the first week of release. It is ridiculous to think that simply not understanding the basics of a game can have such a drastic impact on player enjoyment, but it does happen and it is a true statement.

So, how do you fix this? Let us use Counter-Strike: Source as an example. CS:S is an extremely competitive game and that alone puts many gamers off from even attempting to play it. The basic way to "learn" CS:S is to simply do the following...

PLAY IT!

Ok, this may seem a bit simple, but in all honesty there are games out there that you can only learn by doing. CS:S has a mode called "gun game", you may have heard of this in other popular FPS games on the consoles, but this is the original form of that game. Being so, it has been adapted for easy mode and to present more difficult challenge for higher skilled players. The first mode that is available in other popular shooters is simply gun game. You start with the pistol, get the next best pistol, then the SMG, etc. The second is called reverse gun game, where you start with the strongest weapons and get weaker and weaker ones, giving the advantage to players whom don't know exactly what they are doing, or joined late. It is a brilliant solution to a problem that has plagued many attempting to get into CS:S.

What you don't realize is the amount of hours it takes to get comfortable with the different weapons, with the mouse you are using (ensure it is set up correctly, see note at end), even the keyboard can take some getting used to. Try playing with lower sensitivity to reduce twitchy mouse movements and provide more fluidness to your shots, remove mouse filters that introduce lag, try shooting the chest and let recoil result in the headshot. As you can see there are vast differences between playing a game and expecting to be good, and actually learning how to play a game.

Once you get the weapons down, and you know your rig, you will have to put time into each map, to learn the intricacies of the layout and learn the choke points, statistical likelihood of someone going a direction, how to tap fire instead of spraying, crouching to avoid being hit, and just where and when to expect to get shot at. Again, it isn't as simple as starting up a game and being good because you know the controls, or have played a shooter before, if you want to be great at anything in life you must put time into it.

What about other games, like non-competitive or single player experiences? Let's take a look at Serious Sam, a game whereby you have dozens of enemies coming from every which direction and level design is going to be rapidly changing. You need to know how many shots it takes to get an enemy down, you need to know how they attack, the ins and outs of the combat itself, but everything else is secondary.

If we put those two together, CS:S and Serious Sam, you need to know what it takes to kill someone, not only the aspects of the gun itself, but the damage model of the game, and give the game a chance to teach us these things. This isn't something that can be put into a tutorial, it isn't something that can be explained, it is something that every CS:S player has put hours upon hours into learning, mastering, and perfecting.

Granted there are dozens of games that you start knowing nothing at all and have to resort to the folded sheet of paper with the controls, somehow they call that a manual, and attempt to interpret everything about the game based on a controller layout picture. It is amazing that some games release half-broken, unfinished, or simply bad, but it is far worse in my opinion to have a great game hindered by lack of understanding because the developer didn't explain the rules or the basics of the game. That being said, for some games there is no tutorial, but it isn't as easy as stating the controls and saying blatantly obvious things the player can do in the game world. It may take time to understand completely and it will take time to adapt at each different game, even ones in the same genre or by the same developer all have different feels to them. But, if you approach it with an open mind and actually give the game a shot rather then simply rushing into it and being pissed that you died a lot, then you will be surprised at how compelling an experience it and many other games you overlooked can become.

Something like Demon's Souls? Yeah... Go give it a shot!

-nabokovfan87   read


10:40 PM on 02.09.2012  

Support THIS! Kickstarter Survival Horror FPS

Hey all,

I wanted to take a moment to alert everyone of a game that has peaked my interest. It is a horror or survival based first person shooter. I found it on Kickstarter, even interviewed the devs here. To my surprise they weren't 20-something-year-old college students, but in high school. They have a passion for games that I think we all can relate to, and as a PC gamer, much of their influences parallel my own as well as mostly every current PC gamer.

The main reason I am posting this is because I want it to happen. The world needs game designers who have a passion for design, not some whom simply want to make a dollar or work for a huge publisher. It is easy to see how they can be lost in the fog with the hundreds of indie titles released monthly. More importantly, this is their first game, and I would love to see these kids succeed, especially with their first venture. This doesn't appear to be another indie game, it looks to be a game with deep emotion, story, and most importantly heart.

Feel free to click the link below and take a look into their game, and help spread the word and support them.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1069586425/abandoned-first-person-shooter-game

Thanks,
-nabokovfan87   read


1:42 AM on 02.07.2012  

Games as Escape vs. Release

The title would suggest that I have been going through some things, quite frankly, yes. Needless to say it is often nice to turn to a quick round of CS:S or something similar to get my frustrations out, but quite honestly it never works that simply.

I get pissed, something happens and I get even more angry at the situation. Eventually I get to a point where the only way to relieve the stress and/or anger is to take it out on stupid virtual AI and decimate enemies in beat-em-up fashion. Playing games angry is always a bit difficult, the situation in my mind causes me to lose focus, and I end up getting rolled more often then not. Essentially, I want to play the games like Serious Sam, Counter-Strike, and others to get my frustrations out, but all that happens is the pent up anger builds until I am mid migraine as well as pissed at the situation.

Simply put, playing games as a way to release pent up stress and frustration is very different then doing so when you are at your peak. Think of it like a safety valve, once you get to the very top the whole tank explodes and there isn't shit a safety valve is going to do. The best approach is to ensure you play these types of things in order to reduce stress, not eliminate it. That way you actually end up getting your mind off of the frustrating situation at hand and actually enjoying the game in question. When you are pissed to the extreme points I was speaking of earlier, you lose all sight of the game and just want to destroy something. Something akin to wanting to punch a wall in anger.

Now, what about playing games as an escape. Sure, using games as a way to get your mind out of a situation is great, but the game itself needs to fit that quality. Something that can be used to escape from reality needs to actually force you to think about the game in some fashion. Not just, is it fun to play, but it has to interest the player on a deeper level. In the past it has been things that have a deep story based element where you instantly become enveloped into the world. Something like Demon's Souls, The Darkness, etc.

The difference between playing some to escape the situation and release from the situation is twofold. First, certain games are good at doing one or the other, Demon's Souls is great at sucking me into the world, but it sucks for getting out frustration, stress, and anger, because the gameplay of demon's souls encourages frustration. Something like the NHL series or Madden, Blitz would be even better, are usually good because they allow you to simply beat up on the opponent and perform better then them without much work.

Again, when frustration, stress, and anger are maximum externally, no amount of playing these games for release or escape will matter. It is best to do something to drastically get you confront the situation, think about ways to handle the situation or simply sit and breathe through the issues until they subside.   read







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