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armyman_22 Blog

Things are going GREAT

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Hey guys (anyone who pays attention),

Things are going way better than I expected with my new Youtube channel. Also I have been gaming a lot more these days. My back log is still huge, but I am devising a way to resolve that. Well hope things are going well in your worlds. Keep gaming and if you can't be good, be good at it.....PEACE

Are sounds and music in gaming important?

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As we all know games are reviewed in sections and for good reason. Games more so than movie hinge on a lot of elements coming together to make it worth the 59.99$ USD price tag. One of those areas is music and sound. Is sound in gaming as important as some of us think? Well let me ask you this have you ever turned of the sound in a Smack down game? If you answered yes then you might have an idea of why the sound of a game is needed. A lot of people wouldn’t even look at sound as a factor, but a true gamer knows its value. Still some could make a good argument that sound isn’t necessary to enjoy a game. The Xbox 360 offered gamers the option to turn on whatever music you wanted while playing your favorite games (which was a stroke of genius). Some games don’t really even have music while your playing for example most sports games like Madden or 2K basket ball. Lets explore this idea of music being an option or not.

Pros—With the right type of music playing at the right time…so much feeling and power can be achieved. You can probably remember some of your favorite game’s music right now if you tried. The theme form Mario Bros., Mega Man 2 Crash man’s stage, The Street Fighter 2 theme or Ken’s stage, or how about any tune from Final Fantasy 7? These and more games can cause you to hum tunes uncontrollably or even have a buddy join in with you. I remember playing Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross with the music giving me a certain feeling of awe. It pulled me into the story and had me invest interest in the adventure before me. Cut away from great music to Voices used in gaming. I remember when you had to just imagine how your favorite character sounded like. When you played Final Fantasy 7 or Metal Gear you had no voice to talk to you or comfort you. The dialogue had to be that intriguing to get you wrapped up into the game. Then Final Fantasy 10 and Metal Gear Solid came along and solidified what you already knew to be true. These characters sounded as awesome as they looked. With the proper voice actors a game can take you to new heights. Madden wouldn’t have been Madden if you didn’t hear John Madden and Pat Summeral. Finally What about the plain old sound effects? Every gun blasting, creek and cracks of floor boards, or the clang of steal as two weapons hit in a fighting game like Soul Calibur matters. It’s undeniable that these things wouldn’t be the same if sound weren’t present. When Call of Duty Modern Warfare arrived I lost count at how many people were astounded by how the weapons sounded. The realism was very much alive in those guns. Yes there is no doubt about it that sound effects can bring things full circle

When it comes down to sounds and music in a game might not be necessary, but without them gaming could be changed, and for the worst. Could you picture Halo with no theme music? Imagine for a second no realistic weapon sounds in a Call of Duty series. Would you buy a Rock band games with songs mad by your local garage band? If the answers to these questions were yes then you’d have to agree that Music/Sound in games is not only needed, but also definitely warranted and unacceptable if it isn’t good. I don’t want to envision a gaming world with no music, sound effects, or voices, as these things are much need to bring the experience full circle. With that being said if you don’t agree; turn on your favorite game and mute the TV…. then come back and let me know how it worked out. Just in case you do disagree with this point use the comments section below and let me know why. Until next time if you can’t be GOOD, be GOOD at it. PEACE!

Is Innovation in gaming dead?

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There was a period in gaming history when developers consistently sought out new and fresh approaches to making games. Some games were so great it changed the face of gaming. Games such as: Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto 3, Gears of war, and 2K5 football not only pushed the boundaries of their perspective genres, but also became measuring sticks of sorts. When a new fresh game hits the scene and it is so well put together that not only everyone wants it, but it enhances why we play games it helps the industry. When a game sets a new standard for others to be measured against everyone benefits. The question here is: Is innovation in gaming dead? What’s the last game you remembered that shook things up so to speak? Well let’s take a look at why innovation is important in the first place.

What is innovation? Well Webster’s defines it as: the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. With that being said let’s look at some innovative titles. When 2K games arrived on the scene many opposed them, because the favorite EA sports had been dominating sports gaming for quite some time. The biggest sport title, (and still is) at the time was Madden football. Sega’s 2K sports soon began to gain steam and with the release of NFL 2K5 the stakes were at an all time high. NFL 2K5 did so many things that no other football game had done before to include its own predecessors. Never before had a game used an ESPN license in such a manner as this game did. The TV style presentation was super real. The half time show boasted interviews with on the field players and included a full blown sports cast. With a wealth of other features it pushed Madden football into a corner. On top of all the things it did; it offered an irresistible price tag of 19.99$. It forced Madden football to also drop its price. Madden football had to come up with similar features in order to compete. In short NFL 2K football changed the way football games were being made at the time. Isn’t that innovation by definition? If you followed things from that point until present day I’m sure you have seen how things have turned out. EA frightened by true competition, and unwilling to lose its cash cow bought the NFL license. Effectively silencing its competition and killing future innovation in the football gaming world.

Let’s move on to another game that set the bar higher. First person shooters are probably one of the most improved upon gaming genre. Over time various games brought new standards to this category. Doom, Halo, and Duke Nukem all changed FPS’ in different ways. For a while somehow FPS were stuck in the era of WW2. For a time things were exciting. Playing Medal of Honor and Call of Duty became normal and standard. Several sequels of these titles passed before the programmers at Infinity Ward had a bright idea. That idea was “What if we took FPS into a modern era of war?”. Thus producing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare which while not doing anything new by way of control it made massive head way by simply changing time frames. Never before had any war related games been based (however loosely) on a modern conflict. It presented a new dynamic which allowed for different and more realistic weaponry, and a plethora of other things. To a greater extent albeit not the greatest game Medal of Honor (2010) was the first game to be totally based on a real world conflict EVER! That still is a form of innovation. It’s doing something that hasn’t been done before. It met market needs. With all that being said the modern war fighter game is now a forgone area.

Now that we have examined examples let’s talk about why is innovation needed. Think about this: If you went to school every year and learned the same thing from the same teacher would you still want to go? If security measures weren’t continuously improved would you stay with it? We once had Myspace, but things got old and people thirsted for new blood which gave birth to Face book. Innovation is needed to not only keep things fresh, but also to meet new demands. It’s there to improve things for the better not just for the sake of change. So let’s address the main question: Is innovation dead in gaming? Well to answer that think about what the last true game that changed something. They are far and few between these days to be honest. Grand Theft Auto 5 was cookie cutter. Every Madden is cookie cutter. Titanfall....remove wall jumps, and some mechs you have cookie cutter.

So is innovation dead in gaming? I’d answer no, but it sure is on a big hiatus. There a few games trying to shake things up, but for the most part game developers are fine with playing it safe. So devs will stick with tried and true methods to sale their games. We as the consumers aren’t demanding new and fresh titles like we should so until then we will get what we get. Chances are if an innovative game burst onto the scene these days it’s because a game maker was passionate about producing a high quality product either out of the love of gaming or because they wanted to make a superior product to sale. So the answer is: No! Innovation is not dead in gaming, but it sure is taking a heck of a vacation right now. Well until next time if you can’t be GOOD be GOOD at it. PEACE!

Why DLC sucks

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Hey guys I'm gearing up for my new YOUTUBE GAMING CHANNEL. As I do I will keep doing these blogs here, but stop by and see what Im about when my channel starts. On to what you came here for this BLOG!!

Now I know the title of this is going to immediately ruffle some feathers. I am also aware that most of those feathers will be of NEW gamers. When I say new I mean any gamer who started his/her career with the PS3 and Xbox 360. You see Downloadable Content didn’t rear its ugly head regularly until the aforementioned gaming machine made their debuts. Downloadable Content (DLC) was in theory an extra add on to an existing game to expand the life and enjoyment of that game. Initial thought of as an aftermarket tool to breathe life into aging games. It was also thought of to extend the enjoyment of a particular game, or improve those games dynamic. If you think about things that way DLC should be a God send to the gaming community. Instead the industry has used this outlet to turn things into a money making scrape goat. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

DLC made its debut in later PS2 and Xbox games. When a game was thought to be used up developers came up with a great idea to extend the life of their product and it worked well at first. Roster updates for Madden, extra stages and features in Socom, and the like were brilliant in their endeavors. The real beauty of it was no one was being charged for these add-ons. As time when on it became clear that things were not always going to be this way. Let’s turn back the clock and examine things for a minute or two. DLC is a more complex version of what gamers use to call: Easter eggs, hidden content, and cheat codes. Think about it long and hard for a second. If you’ve been gaming since the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) days then it’s quite clear to you. When you needed help in Contra you typed in the now infamous Konami code and “BAM!” 30 lives were at your disposal to help you. Secret levels and devices have always adorned Final Fantasy games. There were tons of codes and secrets for Grand Theft Auto 3 that would change how the populace of the game acted. There were codes that gave you new and rare cars. There were also codes that helped you with health and other power ups. We won’t even go into PC MODS which gave you numerous manipulations of your games. So with this in place the idea of DLC was great because you could go above and beyond what was already being offered to improve a game vastly. Who wouldn’t want extra characters, different weapon sets, or stages that you previously didn’t have access to?

Well when the Xbox 360 and PS3 hit their prime the idea of using DLC as a financial weapon for financial gain began to launch. Extra skins for characters, multiplayer stages, and add on content were used first as a testing ground to see if you the gamer would purchase them. The next step was to use the previously mentioned material to have you RESERVE games in advance. This was an effort to make the game in question more desirable to you. “Hey if you reserve Call of Duty you can get this exclusive MAP pack earlier!” For a while this worked like gang busters and to the delight of publishers raked in big bucks. Now DLC is planned out way ahead of time and presented to you in the form of a SEASON PASS (which I will discuss in a later BLOG). You see publishers have now conditioned gamers to believe they have to have this material and if you have to have it….why not get it at a discount rate? This is the beauty of the season pass. Who wants to buy one map for $7.99 when they can get all 10 for $19.99? Heck of a deal am I right? You see that is the fallacy of this theory. Truth is you already have spent you’re hard earned cash on the game which retails normally at $59.99. Now you can either buy separate levels or gears (which are already in game) for $7.99 which if you buy the 10 amount to roughly $80.00. The publishers aren’t fools though which is why they sale you a season pass for a seemingly discounted rate or $19.99. This makes it appear to be an irresistible deal that you can’t pass up when in actuality they had already bet on you buying the $20 set and not the separate levels. It’s a brilliant marketing and sales tactics if you are the publisher, but you are not them. So to sum it up the gamer has now spent $80.00 (assuming you didn’t buy everything separate) for one game. The story of re-packaged Game of the Year Editions (GOTY) is REALLY a slap in the face as companies not only show you it was all inclusive from the start, but now they discount the whole thing after the fact.

DLC these days are pre planned (quite obviously) and packaged to gamers as a “FAVOR” instead of what it really is. A money making scheme by the publisher. What is really happening is that the gamer is purchasing a deliberately unfinished product. Once you buy DLC (code to unlock) the already in game features you will now have the finished vision of what the company really planned. So are you starting to see why “DLC is sucks?” Down loadable content these days is a money making plot. A device by which to suck up you the consumers hard earned dollars. This isn’t to say there aren’t any worthwhile DLC out there. Games such as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 gave you extra time released characters at no cost. Little Big Planet had tons of shared content from online creators. For the most part DLC has become the evil King Koopa and your money is princess Peach. Now you will have to play Mario in order to rescue your beloved Princess (USD) back from the evil clutches of Bowser (played by EA or Activision take your pick) in order to live happily ever after. In short you can wise up and make informed decisions or you can just keep watching your princess get kidnapped. Either way I hope you see now “Why DLC suck!”. Until next time if you can’t be GOOD be GOOD at it. PEACE! In the meantime you can check out my current Youtube channel and see what it all about. https://www.youtube.com/user/sfcspectacular or google Sfc Spectacular

Graphics are over rated

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From the first days of video games (or any other visual media) your eyes are the first things to be treated to what the form has to offer. Graphics have always been the measure to which the common gamer judged a game. Back in the day graphics mattered, but not all that much. All you needed was a visual representation of your character on screen A La Mega Man or Mario, and you were pleased. Your imagination pretty much took off from there (I barely recognized Toadstool to be a person). So with that in mind visual representation in the world of gaming has probably been a big thing since the days of PSX, Saturn, and N64 era.

Pros—there is a lot to be said by watching a visual tour de force. Seeing the perfect visual to match what you imagine in your head can be oh so satisfying. The proper graphics can take you to places you could only have hoped to dream of. Think back to GTA 3 when the city was sprawling with life. The cars in that game resembled real life vehicles. The people (although deformed by todays standards) were pretty ground breaking. Pop-up and texturing were acceptable because what the scope of the game was presenting to you the gamer. How about Super Mario Bros.? When you plugged in that new NES for the first time and you saw Mario and Luigi jump on their Goomba enemies with a satisfying squash you just knew you had arrived. The point is with the proper visuals you can escape real life and enjoy whatever quest, mission, or adventure presented. Motion capture, a thing that is still fairly new also lends credibility to graphics. Do you know what bad motion-capturing can do to a game? Think WWE Attitude where Stone Cold Steve Austin appeared to be a drunken bum stumbling to the ring. When done right it can lend so much to a game. When Madden football started using the process every tackle, block, and catch appeared that much more life like. As Solid Snake you felt along the walls of Shadow Moses or crawled through vents making things appear that much more real. Bottom line graphics are top selling point for about 80% of games these days.

Cons—With the positives out the way it can also be argued that graphics can take a back seat to an otherwise outstanding game. There are tons of examples to fit this bill. A “TRUE” gamer can dismiss graphics as long as gameplay, story, and certain other features pull a game together. In other cases graphics aren’t even the main point of the game and it can be wildly successful. Games like Tetris, early Pokemon games, Tecmo Bowl, and a few others were wildly popular despite graphics. Let’s talk about bad graphics period. When a game comes out gamers have a certain expectation. When those expectations aren’t filled consumers may feel duped. Texture problems; pop up, shading, collision detection, and plain old ugly design can out right ruin the experience. E.T. was an awful mess of a game. Who could stomach to look at any wrestling game in the 90’s? As of late Duke Nukem forever was horrible looking mess (to say the least). The point here is games can succeed or fail hinging on its graphics, but it has been proven that you don’t NEED good graphics to have a great game.

Although graphics are a large part of gaming the conclusion is that they aren’t the end all be all. Sure they bring the package of a far off land full circle, but gamers had just as much fun when Link looked like a fat elf as oppose to his often-cartoony princely look these days. Hell you can have a game not even be outrageously good looking; like Candy crush or Flappy Bird for gamers to be addicted and loving it. So in the end graphics aren’t all that important. Don’t get things twisted in this case cake taste great, but with the right frosting it can be exquisite. What’s your opinion? Are graphics a big selling or enjoyable point for you? Let me know! Until next time “If you can’t be GOOD be GOOD at it!!”

Are games really changing?

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Since the early years of gaming (NES, ATARI, SEGA MASTER SYSTEM) one thing has remained as a prime objective: Fun! Whether it’s the aim of getting a high score, saving a princess, or going crazy in a lawless open world city fun has always been the gamer’s goal. In the past few years’ game producers have made promises and those promises have been either hit or miss. What’s worse is that some hard ware systems have limited gaming’s advance while other systems promised to advance gaming while merely just giving the audience a catchy gimmick for a year or so. With the new system out the question now beckons ARE GAMES REALLY CHANGING? In the process of asking that the more important question is: Will it be a fun change? In order to best address these questions this article will be broken down, as would a game review so try and follow along.

Overview: Most games at their heart haven’t really changed thus far. Some one is kidnapped, a gangster wants you to do favors for him, a black operation is a foot and its up to you to stop it with an array of guns. With that in mind, these things may not be getting old so long as game developers keep fresh takes on these genres. The idea here is to improve on where gaming can go.

With the new and powerful systems hopefully game companies will be able to operate outside of the old norms. Disc size, hardware limits, and imagination can enable this upcoming generation of systems to truly change gaming, but for now it’s all speculation. With the upcoming systems public interaction seems to be at the forefront of company’s minds. They seem to think sharing content and online gaming is the true future of gaming. This may very well be true, but will it sacrifice the fun?

Graphics: This seems to be the one mainstream area that continues to improve from generation to generation. With this being true there comes a time when looking real just isn’t enough. The PS3, 360, and PC all are strong enough in this area to make you believe in the game your playing. Sports titles now appear to be sports broadcast games. Action games have a plethora of realistic weaponry and don’t skimp on the gore. Even adventure games have the appearance of a cartoon of the highest quality. The pitfall of advancing graphics sometimes leads developers to try and confuse gamers into thinking better graphics also equals better games over all. Can graphics really get much better? Do we need them to BE better? Will the over all fun be sacrificed to make room for just looks? It’s a sure bet that 40% of new games will fall into this moniker.

Story: Where story based games are concerned a lot of games in recent years have been very great. Games like Bioshock, Far cry, Elder scrolls, Metal Gear, and plenty of others broke new grounds where story was concerned. A more positive is that most of these games made excellent use of new hardware in order to make the overall experience of the gamer so much more pleasurable. Story based games have caused gamers to plow through some of their favorite titles in record time. On the other hand some stories are tired and stale by now and could use some adjustment or a plain new over haul. With the new systems this is totally possible. Where story is concerned the advancement of gaming is looking beautiful. It’s a sure bet that 85-90% of new games will be just fine in this area.

Control and gameplay: This is the biggest area of disappointment in recent years. Some systems (which shall be unnamed) claimed to be changing the face of gaming with their innovative motion controls. The truth is gaming is at its best and will continue to be at its best with a controller in the players hand. While cute and clever motion gaming of any kind has been a mere gimmick at best. Controls and gameplay should be relegated to expanding on new angles for the gaming community. No more rushed games, quick time action gameplay, or crazy angles. It’s just a sad attempt to appear different, but end up being different just for difference sake. Developers need to focus on taking their time and increasing the depth of the core game. With sports titles it could be as simple as imputing viable things like pre-game shows, better post game (playoff) shows/ambience, and commentary that’s relevant. Bottom line this area has the greatest potential, and should be of the highest focus in the future. On a side note spare the gaming community the obvious DLC that’s been planned about as long as the game has been in development. DLC was partly derived because of disc space and hard drive limitations there should be no need for all that in the future. It’s a half behind bet that this area will be a 50-50% of being top priority in the future.

Sound: This has been the driving force in gaming since gaming has been gaming (are you lost?). Most old school games used their sound to drive the focus and evoke top-notch emotions from their players. Think about it…remember when you slide down your first and last pole in Mario Bros.? How did it sound when Pac-man was ousted by a ghost? When you faced off against a boss in MGS 1,2,3 or 4 did your heart race as you hummed the music being played? How did you feel when you gained a perk in Fallout 3? Lastly what would a Final Fantasy be without the music playing when you won a battle? Voice acting has come quite a long way also. From reading a screen to being able to hear the emotion in a characters voice was great. The point here is that sound has played and most likely will continue to be the driving force in gaming. Its one of the only areas gamers rarely have to worry about in AAA titles. It’s a safe bet to make that 99.9% of quality games will continue to make benefit of this area.

Re-play factor: Another area that has been dwindling as of late. With all the DLC, online passes, and other money making crap why make a nice, long, multi tiered game? The answer: Money! That’s right, what use to be about passion and love quickly turned into a “How can we milk these sheep for their hard earned money?” Where things use to be about the love and dedication or being made from players turned developers todays gaming market is mostly about deadlines and dollars. When this is the top priority who has time to make sure a game is FUN? Better yet who has time to make sure its bug free (looking at you EA mostly)? This area at its very core had been the driving force in gaming. Think about it. Why did you keep playing any Super Mario game? Why play the Legend of Zelda? Even Pac-Man warranted you to obtain a higher score than your last score. These games were simple in nature, but made sure to take the time and be entertaining and having players coming back for more. It’s a fearful bet that 80% of titles will suffer from this horrible affliction.

Multi-player: Ever since online gaming for consoles started this has been a priority from not only gaming developers, but also hardware companies. While trying valiantly to bring lazy gamers to each other without having to drive across town, take a bus, or simply walk down the street the industry slowly destroyed what gaming use to be. It use to be about fun with friends then progressed to multiplayer split screen on the same system to “WOW I DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE THIS CHAIR TO GAME WITH OTHERS!” While not meant to be this way online gaming slowly turned into a hit or miss affair. You might log on and have a blast with friends. Riding a horse around in Red Dead Redemption with your friends shooting up a barn having a good old time. Then one day you decide to pop in Call of Duty and you get an earful of racial slurs or an all time favorite of a high pitched 12 year old whose mom wont get him chocolate milk. Sure consoles like Xbox 360 made lofty promises about match making, but that’s been as failed as the system itself (red ring of death anyone?). With the introduction of the aforementioned online passes, DLC, and payable online service itself you as a gamer has to once again ask where’d the fun go? Why am I paying beyond the purchase of my beloved game itself? Looming on the horizon is the lofty promise of making online more expansive. Also content sharing will be a bigger attraction, but in the end will that goal benefit you the gamer? Where’s the fun in all this? You can make a sure bet that 100% of the focus is going to this area where consoles are concerned.

Closing: If you’ve read this far, things probably have been painted as a little bleak. Although a lot of the points made are negative there is much to be happy about. Rejoice in the fact that quality Developers such as 2K, Blizzard, Treyarch, Naughty Dog, Rockstar, Rocksteady, and bunch of others have always had the best interest of its supporters in mind. In most cases these companies focus on making quality titles, because they know quality equals loyalty. To be fair to the current consoles have advancement in mind, but will that advancement accidently block out the fun?

On the other hand you can definitely expect to pay more in a lot of areas. Whether it is some DLC that could have been put into the original game, or some add on content that could have been released for free (al la Tekken Tag Tournament) or the more gimmicky season passes. It could be the proposed full on paid PSN service. It surely will be the future incarnation of XBL. Rest assured it wont be a question of if things will cost more. It’ll be how much fun would I get for my dollar? Will I have fun at all? Things will boil down to the title of this article-- Are games changing or are things destined to be the same with a clever disguise rapped around them? These are questions, which only the future can answer. In any case enjoy what you have now because as an old saying goes, “Its better to deal with the devil you KNOW than the devil you DON’T!” PEACE!