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MS E3 2013 Impressions [revised]

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Sony impressions  
Nintendo impressions 

EA and Ubisoft Impressions

Be prepared for more impressions.  I will link all upcoming entries so you can read all my thoughts. Also, pardon any typos. My laptop screen is burned out and it hurts my eyes having to type this on a TV screen so I won't be doing any correcting.

Microsoft

So MS decides to start their conference with an absolutely amazing video of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.  The game looks flatout looks gorgeous. Yusuf Mehdi unveils a newly redesigned Xbox 360 that takes after the look of the Xbox One. "It's smaller, sleeker, and as quiet as ever." And he left out souless.  Seriously, it's about as exciting in design as the Wii U is.  XBL Gold will now get two free games per month, starting July, but they're probably going to be a bunch of older games. The first two will be Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed 2.  Yippiee.....

They showed off three upcoming Xbox 360 games. One was World of Tanks, a popular free-to-play PC game, another was an indie game called Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.  The last was Dark Souls II, of which I'll just get for the PS3.  I don't care at all about World of Tanks, but I'll have to look into Max, as it looks like a fun platformer.

Bill Spencer comes out to talk about TV... Wait... he's talking about games?  :o So the first Xbox One game they display is a Roman era war game called Ryse: Son of Rome. Pretty graphics, bloody combat, stuff being blown up and destroyed. You can also control your army and have them seize catapults and the like. So it's their first exclusive, and a launch title at that.  It just doesn't grab me as a must-have, though. 

They threw a quick teaser in and it's a new Killer Instinct!  Ted Price comes out to talk about Sunset Overdrive. All that was shown was a pre-rendered trailer.  The next game shown off is of course Forza 5, and they pull out a flashy McLaren P1. But well, I don't care about Forza, so I fastforward. Phil Harrison comes out to talk about supporting indie developers. Minecraft coming to Xbox One.  Funny.. I've yet to play Minecraft, and surely don't want to on the Xbox One. 

So, here's something I'm actually interested in.  Sam Lake from Remedy comes out to talk more about Quantum Break. Apparently, it's a game that coincides with a TV show.  The game's about a character named Jack, and some kind of time stopping technology.  The game looks pretty intriguing.  Another game, D4 is being shown off.  It's an episodic murder mystery. Failed to interest me. 

Dave McCarthy from MS Studios. Here's a line that struck me. "This team came together for one purpose. To give the gift of games to everybody."  Yeah, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE INTERNET!  Sorry.. *ahem* He talks about something called Project Spark, and it appears to be a game creator that uses Kinect voice comman and SmartGlass to do some terraforming. Seems to be MS's answer to LittleBigPlanet. 

Aaaaand... SmartGlass.  Aaaaaand don't care. They show of a match for Killer Instinct, and mention an arcade stick that will be available at launch.  They demonstrated Upload Studio, which is the DRV function in Xbox One to upload the KI match they just had.  That's a pretty cool feature that people in the fighting game community will love. Twitch is also an integrated feature. 

Away with the MS Points system and now they'll use a real currency system. Also, Xbox Live Gold Sharing will let anyone in the household use your Gold benefits, even multiplayer (gee, THANKS MS!) without being signed into your account.

Now this is my first "OHHHH GOD DAMMIT!" moment.  A new game from the producer of the Panzer Dragoon series called Crimson Dragon is shown, I say OHHH GOD DAMMIT! because those of you following my blogs know I'm resolved to not buy an Xbox One, and this is one of those games that REALLY makes me want to get one. 

Capcom Vancouver comes out to premier Dead Rising 3. And here's another "OHHHH GOD DAMMIT!" moment. Exclusive? GOD DAMMIT! But, I'm sorta torn about this game. For one, I love how much bigger it is, but for two, it lost a lot of its charm thanks to more realistic, natural looking graphics. It honestly looks just like any other zombie game. And I don't like it.  Yet, I still want to play it because I know the gameplay will be fun. Yet, I don't want to buy an Xbox One for it. Torn... 

John Mamais of CD Projekt Red comes out to talk about Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to the Witcher series, so I really have no interest in it. Patrick Soderlund of DICE takes the floor, and has a technical snafu trying to show off Battlefield 4.  But you know DICE.... this isn't the fu cking game of yours that I care about.... So, skipping. 

Phil Spencer returns to unveil a new game called Below.  It looks to be another indie title. Some kind of adventure game. Next, he talks about five new studios they've created. He shows some footage, but there's so little being shown, I can't even comment on it.  The next bit they show just so happens to be a teaser for the next Halo.  SURPRISE!  Bonnie Ross of 343 Industries.  She talks about Halo.  She hypes up the fact that it's 60 frames per second.  Well, at this point, it better be. 

Phil Spencer again to announce the price of the system this November ... at 499.  OUCH!.  He closes by showing off one more exclusive.  It's by Respawn Entertainment.  It's a futuristic war game with mechs, jet-packs and freerunning. The game is called Titanfall.  It looks fun, especially when you get in the mechs.  I would like to try it, but I'm certainly not going to buy an Xbox One for it. 

Overall thoughts: 

You know what, as negative as I've been about Microsoft and Xbox One as of late, I have to say.. this has been one of their best conferences in years.  They had very little fluff, almost none in fact. It was game after game after game. Ryse failed to really grip me, along with some other larger games, but right now, the games that have my interest are Quantum Break, Crimson Dragon and Dead Rising III.  That trio alone is tempting enough to make me want to preorder an Xbox One, but I have got to say no. MS needs to change a few of their polices before I can "jump in", but I digress. This conference was solid. No Usher.  No Kinect.  No TV. Just games, something that we didn't think was possible after the Xbox One reveal. I can't believe I'm doing this, but....

Rating: B+

EDIT: I originally gave it an A, but as an afterthought, the very little time they spent on 360 I feel hurt them. It makes me feel they're going to abandon the 360 almost immediately after the Xbox One is released, just like they did with the first Xbox when the 360 launched. 

Will the games be good enough?

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Yes, another not so positive blog about Microsoft and their Xbox One. If you're tired of my ramblings, here's your cue.

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http://kotaku.com/more-then-anything-ive-read-this-is-the-deal-breaker-511778528

Yes, it's Kotaku. But well, they're reporting everything that everyone else is reporting, straight from the horse's ass...er...mouth.  Yes, MS has finally confirmed everything that we've all been hoping for was just rumors and bullsh it.  Well, now it's just sh it.  MS may not issue used games fees (hurray?), but we'll most likely see publishers themselves try it. This is actually where I'm hopeful they won't, considering EA's thrown out the online pass.  There's ridiculous restrictions when it comes to giving games, and trading games will be practically impossible. Oh yeah, and if I want to GIVE you a game, you better have been a friend of mine for at least 30 days... This is ludicrous.  Oh, and the rental market is now fuc ked. 

And then there's the final confirmation.  The one that's the deal breaker for everyone that I've heard against the Xbox One.  The 24 hour connection check.  Oh, and if you're playing one of your games on someone else's system, that goes up to an hourly connection check. 

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Let me just address this one right now before someone posts it. 

"But, if you have the Internet to complain about the Xbox One, you have the Internet to play Xbox One."

True, but the difference is, I care about the gamers who DON'T. I don't support this kind of jackassery. There are MILLIONS of gamers WORLDWIDE without the necessary 1.5 Mb/s connection MS requires to utilize Xbox One online. They won't be able to enjoy Xbox One as a result of this. The reason why you're hearing perfectly enabled gamers complaining about the mandatory connection checks is because we're exercising something called sympathy.  It's a powerful emotion that helps keep us from devolving into nothing but a bunch of greedy, selfish uncaring jerks. Do you REALLY need the Xbox One that badly that you would support such unfriendly business decisions? Do you not care that MS is basically pissing on your consumer rights?  Will MS even have games good enough to justify this?

So, this brings me to my blog title. Will the games be good enough?  Right now, the only game that comes close enough to generating any interest into the system is Quantum Break, and that's only because of the pedigree of the developer. Now, I hear that DICE has something in store for us at E3, and it's been rumored - and I stress rumored - that Mirror's Edge 2 will be Xbox exclusive and if this is the case, it will test the limits of my resolve, because I REEEEEEALLY want that game. To put it into perspective, the only game that I want more than Mirror's Edge 2 is The Last Guardian. I do not want to back down, cave in and buy a machine that I'm strongly against just because of a few choice titles. I also want to own them if I ever would buy them, but MS has made it clear at this point they no longer want their customers owning anything they buy. 

Let me just go back to the "I have online, so I'm not affected" bit. You don't know that.  You have no idea what kind of things can happen that can disrupt your enjoyment of the Xbox One. Your router could fry as a result of power surge. Your ISP could down, or you lost your job and had to cut back on montly expenses. Your job has relocated you to a remote town where there is no Internet, or at least BB. Some construction worker severs a fiber optic cable leaving you without net for several days. Something may happen that will cause you to say, "Fu ck, why did I buy into this?" It may never happen, and you might enjoy the Xbox One without a hitch for years. But why do you want to game under a Damoclean Sword? Why aren't you bothered with the fact that MS will be watching your every move, making sure each person playing isn't some kind of pirate? 

So, no. I don't care about MS's offereings this E3. I don't think there's one single game that's going to be amazing enough for me to be able to look the other way on the DRM issues and the 24 hour connection check and the trading and loaning restrictions. It's not going to happen this year. It may not happen next year.  If it will ever happen, it will be when MS's cloud is long dead and powered down, which will be the only way you'll be able to play the Xbox One completely free of an Internet connection.... or will it?  

Will any game be good enough to buy, knowing you'll never be able to play it again in the future? To be rendered a worthless piece of plastic only fit for a coaster? NO game is good enough for that! 

The downside to achievements

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I'm sure most of you know by now that MS has filed a patent for achievements for watching TV shows.  

http://www.gamespot.com/news/microsoft-files-patent-for-television-achievements-6408924

This isn't anything entirely new.  GetGlue does the same thing if you watch something online, and they even spread the news across your Facebook friends.  :roll:  But having an achievement unlocked for watching a show you genuinely want to watch isn't a bad thing.  The problem with achievements is they coax some people into spending time on something they don't really have an interest doing.  

In 2005, I remember the first achievement I unlocked.  It was for Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie.  I finished the first level and the iconic little blip appeared on my screen.  I just received my first 100 points to my gamescore, or as some affectionally refer to as e-penis.  Kong was also the first game that I achieved 1000/1000 on.  Is that really an achievement, though?  Anyone who plays through the entire game can do just what I did. 

The following year, the PS3 released and I bought one.  As the years went by, I found myself buying the majority of multiplats on the 360.  It wasn't because of the 360 being the best in graphics or performance or playing online, or even the preference of the controller.  What got me buying multiplats on 360 more was the actual achievements.  I became addicted to them and had to play the 360 versions to increase my gamerscore.  Meanwhile, the PS3 got ignored.  Even great PS3 exclusives weren't enough to entice me to play the machine again because "I can't get achievements for playing them."

Addictions are problems.  I'm not saying everyone who plays for achievements are addicts, but I know some are.  I know one person who was the first in my group of online friends to achieve 100,000.  Wanna know how he did it?  He played bad licensed games.  He played kids games.  He played Barbie.  He bought XBLA games he didn't even like because "they were a quick 200."  He spent time on xbox360achievements.com to research his next quickest path to gamerscore domination.  Did he enjoy getting there?  I'm sure he did, so where exactly is the problem?

The problem is that's not what achievements are meant for.  They were meant for rewarding you for things you wanted to do, and to entice you to try something you normally wouldn't - within reason.  Having to play a bad game, having to play a kid's game, having to play a Barbie game to increase your gamescore should not be encouraged.  You should be playing games you WANT to play and games that you LIKE.  You also shouldn't be driven mad trying to unlock some stupidly hard challenge for 10 GS or spending two hours killing people with the same gun for 15 GS.  I've even heard people paying other people to play games for them under their profile just so their gamerscore could continue to grow when they themselves weren't playing.  Is a gamescore really worth that much to some people?  Apparently so.

I will admit, I'm guilty of this.  Although I never had it as bad as needing to play a Barbie game, I did play games I had no interest in for quick "chievos".  Hell, I even got the Burger King games because they had achievements.  I also spent far too much time on certain games trying to get all 1000 out of 1000.  Whenever I get a Lego game on the 360, I feel compelled to get every single achievement, and I can't seem to convince myself that it's not worth doing.  It's not enhancing the gaming experience, more as it's just wasting time that I should be spending playing one of the over 200 other games I've yet to play.

Granted, one could make the argument that the achievement system was designed to lengthen the life of your game.  If you just sped through a great game in five hours, you're most likely not going to spend anymore time on it.  But, if you get an achievement for finishing the game on Hard, that's another five hours.  You might be encouraged to play with your friends online for some more achievements, or explore levels that you would normally pass over.  In the case of bad games, though, you don't want to spend anymore time on a game you don't like.  It's like ordering a disgusting sandwich.  Do you keep eating the sandwich just because it's there?  Do you get an achievement for keeping it down when finished, or should you just have the sense to put the thing that's making you sick down?

Another problem with this kind of achievement hunting is that it doesn't reflect accurately what kind of gamer you are.  When you compare gamer profiles side by side, you see the games they've played and the achievements they've unlocked.  You get a general sense of what they like to play and just how much they like to play it. When used correctly, the system is brilliant, but what do you think of someone who just plays kids games for the easy points?  Doesn't that strike you as a waste?  Shouldn't you wish that gamer spent his time better?  Well, it is his time after all, but then don't you wonder if he really enjoyed himself, or that he could enjoy himself better had he been playing games he truly was interested in?

So this brings me back to the TV "chievos".  Now granted, the idea of physical rewards is always nice.  If you're going to get something that you can actually use, that's more than just a boost to your gamescore.  You might actually be encouraged enough to make a point to watch something.  Now, if these are just going to be simple point boosts, then I begin to wonder just how many people will continue to watch a TV series they don't like just so they could get the achievement for it.  

Aren't there other TV shows out there more deserving of your time?  Aren't there other games out there more deserving of your time?  Wouldn't the real achievement lie in knowing you truly enjoyed what you experienced?  Too bad there isn't a real achievement for that.  

Achievement.aspx?text=Enjoyed%20somethin

I had a dream

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In this dream, MS succeeded with their Xbox One, at least initially.  They sold close to a million units at launch, and sold roughly a million more shortly afterward, but something went wrong.  There were so many problems with the machine itself and with the services they had.  The Red Ring of Death came back to haunt them.  That was the last straw for gamers who put up with it with the 360.  Azure servers went down. GameStop and other major retailers had enough of their used game income being gouged.  They stopped carrying the Xbox One.  Xbox One started dying.

The PS4 was off to a great start, about as great as the Xbox One had, but their momentum quickly gained once people grew tired of broken MS machines.  It gained faster when retailers stopped carrying Xbox One.  MS tried to repair things with retailers, ending the Azure software agreements and even offered free basic XBL, but to no avail.  Xbox massacred itself.  

MS's stock plummeted.  They now had internal hemorrhaging they could not stem.  The millions of dollars spent with partnerships such as the NFL and CBS started to show lackluster returns.  Investors left.  The 300,000 plus servers powering the Cloud grew too taxing to upkeep.  Shortcuts were taken and service suffered.  Xbox Ones world wide wouldn't connect and millions of units were instantly bricked.  Anonymous, self-proclaimed freedom fighters of justice, swept in and hacked MS's network, ensuring the Cloud stayed down for an extended period of time, an attack on MS for violating consumer rights.  

Third-parties began withdrawing, unable to make profits as a result of low sales  of used games, and an inability to make money from used games, a feature MS worked so hard to entice them with.  They flocked to Sony, and some even returned to Nintendo.  EA and Nintendo came to an agreement and as such, the Wii U received the Frostbite 3 engine.  Nintendo wisened up and realized that their newfound support needed to be nutured and cultured, so Nintendo worked with developers so that they could take full advantage of the hardware.  They were still behind in graphical prowess, but it didn't matter.  Third parties became more profitable as Wii U units started selling through the roof.  The Xbox One became a distant third. 

Now, here's where the dream became really interesting.  Nintendo and Sony relished in the decline of MS.  Two industry giants benefiting from the fall of a third, and the heads had a meeting.  Hirai and Iwata talked and talked.  What they talked about, I don't remember.  That part of the dream was hazy.  But what came as a result of the talk was a partnership.  They forgave one another for the bad blood created during the SNES era where the two of them were supposed to create a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo.  

Somewhere around 2019 or 2020, they would join forces and develop a new console.  Sony brought with them their immense console marketing while Nintendo brought their innovation and world reknown first party franchises.  The two benefitted immensley from the partnership and grew to be more profitable together than they ever had as competitors.  Hardcore and casual united; gaming found its new golden era.  

There was also a side effect of this juncture.  They joined forces on the handheld front as well.  While Sony had the muscle in the console market, Nintendo had the muscle on the handheld front.  Sony built an extremely powerful handheld while Nintendo marketed it and took the world by storm.  Sony opened the door to indie developers like they did with the PS4, and this new handheld's library saw variety more vast than the Vita and the 3DS put together.  Under Nintendo's close watch, Sony began repairing the financial damage they incurred from the failure of the Vita.  

Meanwhile, MS kills the Xbox One.  They try things fresh and release yet another Xbox, this time a machine that is game-centric.  This time, they let Kinect go.  This time, they no longer go after multimedia partnerships.  They tried to go against Apple and SmartTVs, but it didn't pay off.  Windows 9 is released, and succeeds where 8 should have, so it becomes their bread and butter and they run with it.  They learned costly mistakes with the Xbox One and now it's too late for them reclaim their market.  The new Sony and Nintendo console has it all.  MS tries a gaming phone, but they can't get anywhere near the same support that the Nintendo and Sony handheld has.

Two companies join to capitalize on the mistakes of a third.  What an epic and glorious dream... Shame I had to wake up from it. 

Wii U > Xbox One

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Getting really tired of seeing this >Wii U meme all over the place.  Figured I'd flip it around and have some fun with it.  Anyway, perhaps I made the mistake of watching the Xbox unveiling while in a bad state of mind, because this conference annoyed me and infuriated me.  There is far, far too much fluff going on with this new Xbox.  It's getting harder and harder for me to consider the Xbox an actual gaming platform now.  When you unveil your new "gaming system" to the world for the first time, and the first feature you talk about is ... TV integration?  THAT'S A PROBLEM!

Instead of getting excited for the upcoming Xbox, I see a console that is no longer a box.  The box cannot exist without about 300,000 other boxes called servers spread throughout the world.  MS has put so much of an emphasis on the Cloud that they've spent hundreds of millions improving their networks.  The next XBox isn't what you buy at the store; it's what you pay per month.  Quite frankly, you cannot enjoy the Xbox One without an always online credit card connection.  At least that's the impression I got. 

Oh, and of course, there's the reports about the always online crap and the used games fees again.

http://kotaku.com/xbox-one-does-require-internet-connection-cant-play-o-509164109

http://www.gamespot.com//news/xbox-one-has-preowned-fee-report-6408671?fb_ref=rec_features

(According to Xbox Support's Twitter, the GS article is false https://twitter.com/XboxSupport3/status/336937800702238722)

Obviously, MS wouldn't be spending any of their unveiling time denying or confirming these reports.  We probably won't receive official confirmation until E3, but damned if what I've heard isn't damning.  

As for the next Kinect, I don't want it.  I made the big mistake buying one back in 2010, which is still sitting in its box.  The problem is, I simply don't have the room for it.  I won't have the room for Kinect 2.0.  Same goes with Illumiroom.  Why push something so hard that can't be enjoyed by everyone?  Push more games.  All you need for games is a TV and a controller.  Don't keep pushing Smartglass. Don't keep pushing Kinect.  Push games.  PUSH GAMES!

This is embarrassing. This is MS at its most embarrassing, and I'm talking more embarrassing than Kinectimals.  More embarrassing than Usher Raymond.  It's so embarrassing, it makes me embarrassed just to know that I own an Xbox 360. It is appauling to see a company who practically bullied their way into the industry full of people who felt they had no business being there and shut them up by bringing freaking gamesm into shifting so much into social and media integration and focusing on games as an afterthought (turning Rare into a shovelware Kinect developer is reprehensible).  Yeah, Sony's doing more social things too, but they're actually doing it alongside games.

All this XBL and Cloud fluff.  All this Kinect.  All this SmartGlass.  These futuristic integrations because we're too lazy to look for a freaking remote.  It's so god damned unnecessary, and MS will have one helluva time convincing me that I need to buy their machine.  It doesn't matter at this point now.  I'm so done with MS that I don't care how many new exclusives they release, it's not worth putting up with all the MS BS that comes with it.  Oh, and what the hell is with the name?  Xbox One?  The first Xbox was the Xbox One.  Is MS so inept that they forgot how to count?

Yeah, you can bash the Wii U all you want, but it's more of a gaming console than the Xbox One will ever be.  Don't agree?

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Courtesy @killa32130

Now Playing #125: Donkey Kong and Mario: Minis on the Move

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I love the Mario vs Donkey Kong games.  In fact, I finally got around to finishing Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem just a few weeks ago.  There's only one title I know of that I haven't gottan around to yet, and that's Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again because I never owned a DSi.  I should probably check to see if the game's available on the eShop now that I have a 3DS.  Anywho, my interest was piqued in this game when I saw it announced a couple of Nintendo Directs ago, and for 10 dollars, I simply had to get it. 

I will say this, though, the game is lacking in presentation.  Is it surprising?  It's only 10 bucks.  But, there are no little cutscenes of Mario going after Donkey Kong with his minis.  I miss those.  As for gameplay content, the game's packed, especially for just 10 bucks.  The main game has four seperate puzzle modes with three of them having at least 50 puzzles.  The other mode, Giant Jungle, has three massive puzzles that took me more than a half hour to solve on each one.  Unfortunately, I can't help but wonder how much better this game could have been had it not been relagated to an eShop title and had actually been designed as a full priced retail 3DS title. 

So basically, the game works like this.  The playfield has holes everywhere, and you have a tube that fills up with tiles that have pieces of track on it.  Curves, straights, intersections; you place different tiles around the playfield for your mini to make his way to the goal.  Along the way, he can pick up M coins for extra points.  Collect all three in a level and earn a star.  There are also coins that sit on clouds, and to get these, you have to create a closed loop.  Do so and that segment raises up and also spawns extra time pick ups.  Make a mistake?  You can also drop a bomb and shatter a tile.

The game's highly addicting.  The first mode, Mario's Main Event starts out ridiculously easy and for the first 20 or so levels begins to get boring, but once the difficulty ramps up, you get hooked.  It can get pretty hectic trying to manage your path while keeping your mini clear of obstacles at the same time not lettting your tile pipe get backed up.  If that happena, it's game over.  The more you play, the more modes unlock, and you also unlock mini games and toy minis.

The mini games are nice little distractions that involve you pulling a slingshot back and firing your mini at targets, or chipping away at an object until it's blown to pieces or raising and lowering a mini on a platform to collect coins and dodge Bullet Bills.  Even though they're just mini games, they aren't really engrossing, so you - or at least I - won't feel compelled to play them for long.  You'll just want to dive right back into the main modes.

I got to tell you, though, the later modes of the main game have some evil puzzles.  Peach's game has you using only a select number of puzzles while Toad's has you moving rotating titles and swapping other titles around.  I already told you about Giant Jungle, and those puzzles are just nefarious.  Still, I'm having a lot of fun with this game, and everyone with a 3DS who likes puzzlers would do good to download it.  Again, it's only 10 bucks!

Let's Pay: Stealing the LPers' Income

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Content ID matching is a topic that I haven't keep up on, but know it's been around for a while.  Basically, it's something that YouTube does to YouTubers who make income via advertisements on videos that contain content held by copyright owners.  Instead of taking the videos down, they redirect any ad revenue generated away from the content producer and to the copyright holder.  So, anyone who makes a Let's Play video and received income from the ads now loses it to the publisher, provided they claim it.  Nintendo has now laid claims.

http://wiiudaily.com/2013/05/nintendo-lets-play-controversy/

Personally, I feel Let's Players should be left alone.  I don't think copyright law particularly applies to this situation, as I see it differnently than animated music videos or recut films.  For a song artist, they can potentially lose a sale of their song because someone can hear it off of YouTube.  For a movie, someone can watch it off YouTube.  For a game... you can't really play a game off of YouTube.  And honestly, if someone just wants to see the game played without playing, they're still not going to buy the game, regardless if the LPer gets ad revenue or not.

Let's Plays are valuable sources of information.  Not only do they demonstrate a game being played to help out a person struggling through a specific level, but it's also a resource that a consumer can use if they're researching a potential purchase.  Stealing away an LPer's income source for making these videos is akin to charging writers for reviewing their games, or for writing FAQs and strategy guides.

Should Major League Gamers be charged for training on a publisher's video game?  Should a portion of the prize money be allocated to, say, Capcom because someone won a tournament playing Street Fighter X Tekken?  Now, I know what you're thinking.  "No, because they're sponsored." or "No, because it's promotional; they're advertising the game."  Well, Let's Players are also promoting these publishers' games.  The publishers don't have to pay these YouTubers to talk about their games, but instead are stealing their income for doing so.  This is like CBS signing over checks to Square-Enix every time a GameSpot employee talks about Tomb Raider.  

Here's an interesting thought.  Why not Sony charge whoever plays the game that's being shared to them over the PS4?  Why should some guy on the other side of the country be able to play someone else's game for free?  "That's unfair!"  Right, and so is taking ad revenue from LPers, who BOUGHT the game in the first place!  And in case you don't want to read the article I linked, I'll just pluck a quote out of it. 

"Theyre [Let's Plays] a great form of advertising and sadly, the way Nintendo is punishing people for playing their titles is going to do more harm than good, when it comes to exposure for their games. YouTube personalities will be less inclined to make lets play series based on Nintendo games since they get no revenue, which decreases exposure. Word of mouth exposure has always been one of the most premium forms of advertising for games."

Exactly.  The only difference is that these LPers are making a few dollars doing it.  They're taking time out of their day to spend playing YOUR game, which they BOUGHT, and spreading the word.  If you as a publisher are really bothered by that, then how about you pay them instead?  You didn't play the game for them, so how dare you take away what they earned?  

I know this is a grey area, and I can see exactly how copyright law would apply to these situations, but that doesn't mean I think it's right.  I don't like the way it works, and I think it needs to be reformed.  It also sucks for me personally, because I was thinking about doing this in the future.  Now, not so much.  If I really have to agree with this copyright law, then I figure I how about 100 different publishing houses money, because I earn a living shelving their books in my library. 

Bonus Content: Rich's take on Nintendo's claims. 

Options should always be a standard

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Before I begin, please take a few minutes and watch this.  If you've already seen this, please then advance, or if you don't want to watch, please skip to the quote, because that's really all you need to know. 

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/6601-Dumbing-Down-for-the-Filthy-Casuals

"You paid up to 60 dollars for a game; you should have some option to experience all the content. ... If you paid for content, do you not have the right to all the content you bought?  What if books spontaneously combusted if you didn't understand certain words, or movies refused to unpause until you took a quiz to prove you knew who all the characters were?"

What brings this blog about is my current experience with the first Fire Emblem I'm playing for the GBA.  10 years later, the series FINALLY gets a casual option that turns off permadeath and allows you to save anywhere.  Why, oh why, did it take 10 years for that to happen?

"But... but... permadeath makes you think harder about where you're moving your guys!"

Sure, it does.  What I don't enjoy, however, is the random death that can happen to even the smartest of people.  For instance, that sorceress hidden under the fog of war that can reach out 10 blocks and vaporize your character because she scores a critical on you?  How about your knight, who never should have missed, misses and the swordsman with the Killing Edge, who never should have hit you, hits you with two criticals in a row?  Or how about you execute a perfectly laid out plan only for it to become a clusterfvck because the game spawns 10 new enemies you weren't ready for?

Of course, part of this frustration is my fault as I'm somewhat of a perfectionist.  I cannot accept losing a single character, so if I lose one, I have to start the mission over.  Even if I've spent 45 minutes and about to finish the chapter but lose a guy to the boss, I will start it over.  Even if I lose a character I don't use, I will start it over.  It would have been nice had someone 10 years ago realized that not everyone who plays Fire Emblem truly appreciates this so called "difficulty".  The game isn't that hard for me, more as it's just a time waster.  I will still end up beating the game; it's just going to take me longer.

And that's the thing.  I don't have as much time as I used to have.  I found myself with more games coming out this generation that I want to play, but I haven't gotten to yet.  Again, it's sort of my fault for adding more pressure to my hobby, because I've decided to focus on my backlog of games.  Every time I view a loss in Fire Emblem, I think of how much extra time I have to spend on it it when I could be applying that time to a different game.  

Now, this goes back to the argument of hardcore vs casual where the "true" fans don't want to see easier options to make the game appeal more to the casuals.  If you watched the video, then Jim has debated that point far better than I could have done.  The thing is, you still get your hardcore experience, and the casuals get their casual experience.  If a "noob" beats the game, why does that bother you?  YOU beat it on a Ultra Mega Super Hardcore Of Which Makes Me a Bad Ass Mother Fvcker mode.  Pat yourself on the back.  

But honestly, Jim's point about paying money for a game and not being able to enjoy it because it's too hard is a great freaking point.  This is entertainment, and this particular medium - video games - is all about fun.  What happens when someone of a lesser skill level gets frustrated with the game?  That fun decreases.  Not finishing a game you paid for is like not finishing a tasty steak or tofu burger if you're a veg; it's a waste of money.  So, I'm glad there's an Easy mode in Dark Souls; I'm glad there's a casual difficulty in Fire Emblem: Awakening.  It means more people are able to experience those games in their entirety. 

In fact, I'm almost tempted to say that microtransactions are a good thing, which would contradict something that I'm adamant against, but I understand more now why companies put them in.  They want to attract more people, the less skilled or the more impatient players, who can unlock things at the ready - for a cost - so they can skip through all the bullshyte that the rest of us go through to really enjoy our games.  Of course, Dead Space 3's a bad example of this, because they redesigned their upgrade system specifically for microtransactions, and I won't play it because of it.  I still view microtransactions as capitalizing on the less skilled and more impatient gamers, but at least they have the option to breeze through the game at their leisure.

This isn't just about difficulty, though.  I also think that every game needs a subtitle option for the hearing impaired (most already do).  I think there should be more lefthanded controllers and handheld consoles.  I think there should be standard options to save wherever you want, even in the middle of a cutscene, because you never know when something comes up.  You can always pause a movie or bookmark a book; why can't you do that with video games?  I would also love to play a Rockstar game that allows for more tha one save slot, because I may not be the only one in the household interested in playing it.  And I always want to see an option to play as a character that you yourself want to see.  If it doesn't make sense within the game's story, at least you have the option to make it nonsensical.   

Of course, we can't change the fact that vampires sparkle in Twilight.  We can't write in more meaningful dialogue and character development into a Michael Bay movie.  We can't put more zombies in Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride Prejudice and Zombies.  This is where games differ from movies and books.  Yes, we pay money for movies and books, and everyone who starts them can finish them.  That isn't the case with games, and that's not how it's supposed to be.  Since many games have shown that you can customize certain features, you can actually have a better experience than the game maker originally intended.  So, instead of making optional options an option, let's instead make them a standard. 

Now Playing #124: Fire Emblem

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So, on my journey to finally get some old games that I've owned finished, I come to Fire Emblem.  I started it back on the Game Boy Advance back in 2003, and now 10 laters later, I'm returning to it.  As it turns out, I stopped at Chapter 15.  If I stopped because it proved to be too hard or I got distracted with another game, I'm not sure.  I do know why, though, that it took me so long to return to it.  Gameplay wise, I hate it.  No, seriously, I can't stand it. 

I love strategy based RPGs.  My favorite series of this genre so far has been Disgaea, closely followed by Final Fantasy Tactics.  I have two reasons why I strongly dislike Fire Emblem, though, and the first has to do with the fact that characters do not return once they're killed in battle.  I understand why this is, because it forces you to be extremely careful, but the unfortunate downside to this kind of play style is that battles tend to drag out.  Instead of you overwhelming the opposing forces by sacraficing your men, you have to stay back and let the enemy wear themselves out on your strongest players.  

The second reason why I dislike this series is limited use weapons and item management systems.  For several chapters, you are stuck having to waste turns trading items and equipment among your units.  You only only get money every four or so chapters, and you have to wait for a level that has venders and armories to stock up.  I have yet to run into any problems with equipping my guys, but I hate knowing the fact that you can render a unit useless by having them run out of weapons.  It's an antiquated system, and I sincerely hope the series doesn't continue its usage with its laters titles.  

Those two issues aside, I am having fun with the game.  I love it when my characters attack twice in a row, and I love how enemies try to hit me through forests and mountains and I just sidestep and counterattack, killing them on their turn and not mine.  I like the story, and I think the writing is excellent.  I definitely enjoy the way they use older style wording.  I'm currently on Chapter 11, I believe, so I've finished Lyn's story, and forgot entirely how the chapters worked.  I look forward to experiencing Eliwood's story next.  

Now, this game has brought painful memories to the forefront due in part to another Intelligent Systems game Advance Wars.  I never finished that game either, mainly due to the fact that the game kicked my ass.  The final level seriously turned me off on the game.  I pray that Fire Emblem does not have a frustratingly difficult final level, because I hate spending 30-40 minutes on a mission only to lose and start all over again from the beginning.  I think the next Fire Emblem game I have is Sacred Stones but I don't think I'll start that one right away.  I have a feeling I'll need a break from the series after I finish this game.

Now Playing #123: A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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Oh, how I've tried to finish you.  I started you once when I first played you back on the Super Nintendo, but got suck in one of the crystal dungeons in the Dark World.  I tried you again when I purchased you on the Game Boy Advance, but got distracted and moved on to other games.  Now that you have a sequel inbound on the 3DS, I'm getting the call to try you again.  This time, I WILL finish you!

And I forgot how hard this game is.  I mean, it's not that it's hard, it's just I have to get  used to the thing all over again.  It's so easy to get hit by the jerkish movements and the weird attack angles of Link's sword.  I've died more times during the first dungeon than I think I ever did in a 3D Zelda game... :?  Damn, I'm rusty.  Anyway, this game brings back a lot of memories, most particularly the music which is still classic.  I just finished the first dungeon and got the Pendant of Courage, and I can't wait to move on to the next.  

I'm playing it on my old DS Phat, because like an idiot, I got rid of my DS Lite.  I loved that thing.  Anyway, I decided to get this beauty as well.  

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It's the Ice Blue Japanese version, and I opted for this one as it was selling for 99 versus 129 that the rest of the models were going for.  Anyway, I forgot that this title doesn't sleep when you close the system.  You have to actually pause the game and select the Sleep option, and then you need to hold both shoulder buttons and the select button to get it out of sleep.  Took a bit of getting used.

Back to the game, I still remember loads of it, like getting the flippers from the Zoras so that I could swim the waters.  I also remember the worm boss, the same one shown in the new Link to the Past, and I remember some puzzles really stumping me, especially a couple in the crystal dungeons.  Not looking forward to revisiting those.  Maybe they won't be so hard, maybe they'll be harder?

Also, I'm really glad gameplay has evolved since Link to the Past, because only have one button for a tool really sucks.  :P  I'm always swapping the boomerang out for the lantern or the bombs or the arrows.  I also forgot just how useless the map for the dungeons was.  And yes, I did try to attack the chickens to see if they'd bombard me again.  :P  So yeah, really looking forward to actually playing this game through completion this time around.  Embarassed that I still haven't.. :(