Micronspiracy Plans Bad PR Campaign to Advertise Dogs
- Jun 19, 2013 9:12 pm GMT
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Oh boy oh boy, what's all this talk about that big black rectangle with a separate rectangle doing more things now? If you haven't guessed by now, the new Xbox has been completely re-done because everyone wasn't satisfied with cute mocap doggies they could pet in the middle of a grenade barrage with motion sensing technology. To be completely honest, Xdog didn't have much going for it besides an adorable doggie dressed up like a four-legged flanker because everything else its kennel did was intrusive, cruel, or just felt like a pain in the tuckus.
Don't get me wrong, I like dogs. C'mon, I do cue the dog video:
But, however much I like doggies, being able to only share your game with, erm, I'm not actually clear on how any of that worked...maybe you were supposed to take a digital copy and send it over Nintendo Live so Shigeru Miyamoto would look at it and laugh because you didn't buy the superior Virtual Boy? Yeah, that's how it works. ANYWAY, there were even more issues with Microslap's new system that caused everyone to foam at the mouth like Old Yeller (R.I.P.), particularly the need to carry it downstairs to hook it up to your modem every day.
While I do support efforts to get people to exercise with something gaming-related outside of Kinect, not everyone was willing to fiddle with wires all day to only have their copy of Call of Snoopy get tapeworms. Further penalizing gamers, the police would come over to have you arrested for neglect, but then would laugh at you (while working you over with Wiimotes) before forcing you to play the newest Kinect-only Steel Battalion game. Everything (and I do mean everything) was looking bad for Microsoft fans and/or casual acquaintances.
That is, until I realized something.
The recent news of removing some of the console's S&M gear gave me the distinct impression that everyone at Microsoft just really wanted to show how cute dogs are. Think about it, did you stare slack-jawed at the screen when the sub-par TVriffic reveal unfolded, somehow unable to click away? You watched the whole thing, right?
Don't say no, I will end you.
Indeed, it was a cunning plan to get us all to notice the Dog of Doodie Dog so that dog lovers would help boost the console's sales to sky-high proportions; all due to the simple fact that everyone loves dogs. A cunning strategy that only few seem to realize, this new form of viral marketing is taking the pet world by negligible amounts of excitement, raising awareness of such smash-hit games like Tokyo Jungle and Dog's Life.
a.k.a. "Air Bud: The Game"
Gaming will never be the same after the adoption of Barky Killer 7 Duty to your home dog biscuits and, with all hope, we will see next-gen dogaming take the world by adorable.
Yeah, this is the end of the entry. Oh poop, I forgot I don't have an outro statement.
The "Vocal Minority" Gets Results
- Jun 19, 2013 4:19 pm GMT
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"Quit bit ching about it."
"If you don't like it, DON'T BUY IT! That's all you got to do!"
"This is MS we're talking about. They aren't going to listen to you!"
"Do you think your blog is going to change anything?"
All these are paraphrased, but these are the types of comments that I, and other bloggers who've voiced their oppositions against MS and their policies, received. Eat. Your. FVCKING. Words.
Don Mattrick himself bowing down before the consumer, admitting that their policies were wrong. Mattrick and everyone else at MS were confident that they were doing what was right for them. THEM. Not US. So, us as in we, told THEM, "No, that's not going to work." Granted, some of us did it... more passionately than others, but at the end of the day, they listened.
You know, we shouldn't really applaud MS for doing a 180 on their policy stances, but we ended up applauding Sony for simply not doing anything. The question remains: do we applaud you for wisening up? Or, do we applaud you for being scared shytless that your machine wasn't going to sell in the state it was in? Regardless of why you caved, you did cave, and now those major deal breakers are gone: the DRM and the 24 hour connection check. You've restored my faith in your company, so now you get to earn my business again. I can now buy an Xbox One with a clear conscience, and I'll preorder one when GameStop allows preordering again.
Now, I can enjoy a system that has:
- Dead Rising 3
- Crimson Dragon
- Quantum Shift
- Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
- Kinect that actually doesn't require me to move my furniture around
- TV! (ok not, really)
Now I can enjoy a system that lets:
- Gamers across the world play without worry of region-locking
- Gamers in the military play while on break
- Me retain the rights that I desparately hold dear
- Me play a fvcking single player game OFFLINE!
I want to quickly touch on Kinect, because I never really blogged about it before. My MS rants were focused on the policies. So, what do I think of Kinect? I still think it's unneeded. I bought an original Kinect for the 360, but it's still boxed up after I found out there's not furniture arrangement in my tiny room that lets me enjoy the device. Hearing that the Kinect 2.0 works around furniture now makes it more appealing to me. I don't like the idea that it has to be always connected to the Xbox One to work, and I wish they made a cheaper SKU without it, but since I'm getting it bundled, I might as well try to warm up to the thing. I'm also not keen on the whole NSA thing, but I don't plan on gaming in the buff or do anything illegal in front of the camera.
I cannot believe that I'm so happy that a company came out and said they're going to do something now that they should have done in the first place. Some may chalk it up to Sony for simplying not going MS's old route, but why do you think Sony did nothing? They listened. True, the Internet may be a "vocal minority", but when you get passionate people in that minority to speak loudy enough, it's like listening to the majority. This feels extremely liberating to know that we fought against Microsoft and their policies.
We won, and what's best about this for them is the war's over before the boycott could ever truly begin. Their sales will suffer less now, and we no longer have to exclude the Xbox One when considering a next gen purchase. Everyone's happiest when they're given choices. That's how the free market works. To put restrictions on freedom is never a good thing. It hurts you, the company, and it hurts us, because we love your products. We as consumers should never have to say "I want it, but I hate everything that comes with it." Console releases should be a joyous occasion, not a series of scandalous events. Thank you, Microsoft, for coming to you senses.
Bonus content: Never forget. Courtesy @kbaily. Had it not been for her, I'd have missed it completely.
The Xbox 180
- Jun 19, 2013 3:03 pm GMT
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Man, here I was hoping that things would settle down now, after making a blog that got over 1000 comments regarding Microsoft and all their terrible ideas for the Xbox One and then this happens.
So while many of us, were now going to watch and see what happens when the Xbox One crashed and burned at launch, it appears that the internet backlash was so strong and so harsh that M$ had no choice but to reverse and say "ok we're not going to make you check in once every 24hrs or restrict your ability to play used games." Mind you it's still $500 and they are still making Kinect 2.0 a mandatory part of the console which has some still wary but it's a small victory nonetheless. Though even some wonder if this is just a PR stunt that they'll turn around at launch and change it.
I can't help but think that MS was hedging it's bets on Sony doing the exact same thing and then Sony came out and said "you can play used games on the PS4." And MS was caught with their pants down, humiliated and coming out of all this as the villian. The gaming community wanted to come after Microsoft with torches and pitchforks.
This says something about the power of the collective that we can make a difference. That we can stand up for what is right and show that no we are not going to put up with your money grubbing corporate shilling. Everyone who was against this made themselves heard loud and clear that we weren't going to take it.
So I'll keep this one short but to all those who wrote lengthy comments in my last blog defending MS's policies and trying to justify that this was what the industry had to do....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY_BuLo5z-M
I promise my next blog won't be about Microsoft.
The War Is Over, and We Are The Victors
- Jun 19, 2013 2:44 pm GMT
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Well, I dont think anyone saw this coming. At least, not so soon.
Microsoft just announced that the Xbox ONE is dropping all of its DRM policies. That is, you will not need to connect to the internet once every 24 hours, and used games will be treated exactly as they are today.
I think the community at large needs to congratulate itself. Guess what, guys? We have been heard. Twice now.
This is important. I stated in my last blog that I believed that Sony's used game policy came as a result of backlash against the Xbox One (remember how tight-lipped they were until E3?), and it was met with applause. Microsoft heard us (and probably saw the reports that the demand for PS4 might exceed supply) and they have changed their ways.
These past two weeks have shown us something. For these past few years we, as consumers, have been afraid of our rights being taken away. Companies were blaming Gamestop and piracy for their falling revenue. Reports from analysts were telling us that our used games would be taken away. It was all quite appalling, and while we cried out against it, it seemed that nothing could penetrate the giant, bloated bubble that is the gaming industry.
What this has proven to us, as consumers, is that our voices actually matter. For too long we have felt ignored and swept aside. Microsofts ignorance to its own fans when it initially unveiled the Xbox ONE delivered some serious backlash, and yet it still pushed its policies on us, telling us what we want. The future looked bleak, yet when Sony announced their used game policy and everyone cheered, we sent a clear message to Microsoft: fix yourself or get out.
The Xbox ONE still has issues that need to be fixed (mandatory Kinect 2.0, for one) and I still wont buy it at the ridiculous price point of $499. But we've seen something today. We've seen the end of a war. The war between developers and consumers over digital rights. We thought it would be extending into the next generation, but it hasn't. It ended today.
Turns out, we won. And thus ends a chapter of gaming history.
Well done, everyone.
On This Generation and the Next: Part 2: Sony
- Jun 19, 2013 8:54 am GMT
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Welcome to the second part of my three part series on the aftermath of E3 and the past generation of consoles. My first article garnered quite the conversation, as everything to do with Microsoft these days, so it will be interesting to see if my thoughts on Sony will do the same, enjoy and again, hit me up on the site or on twitter @Optimusprime223 if you want to chat about anything!
The house that PlayStation built got quite the reaction didnt it? and a very, very different one from when the PS3 was introduced, especially when the frankly ludicrous price was announced. I remember watching that E3 conference and thinking Robbing B*****ds!. It did not stop me from getting one though, but I did wait over six months before doing so.
I bought my PlayStation 3 primarily as a blu-ray player to go under my main TV. This was one of the best decisions that I could have made, it has proven to be a reliable player of HD movies and games since I bought it all those years ago, and apart from a few lock ups, I have never had a problem with it, which is only a good thing.
My biggest issue with it, though, is that the XMB sucks. It sucked on the PSP and it definitely sucks on the PS3, while the Xbox Live dashboard has become nothing but a series of ads, at least it was pretty and relatively easy to use (or, at least, it was). While the XMB does have everything set out in a relatively easy to find manner, it aint pretty, and truth be told is one of the most boring UIs I have ever encountered.
That said, it works so small graces. There was a time when Sony had the potential to radically change how we interfaced with our consoles, and people were excited. Hell, I was excited, I remember emailing the Giantbombcast asking what they thought about it, and if they thought an idea I had for it would be cool. That idea was a persistent grave yard where you could go and see a given gravestone and find out how many deaths you had in a particular game. The potential, as I am sure you have worked out by now, was PlayStation Home.
I remember watching the reveal of Home and thinking if they pull that off it could be awesome. Seriously, if they just booted the console straight into Home and had you moving around and actually going to meet your friends to hook up and play together, as well as all the other stuff, the console landscape would be very different today.
It was a grand experiment filled with amazing ideas, but several years down the line and Home has become a glorified chat room. The potential is still there, and yes I am aware that many people call Home, well home, on a regular basis, but it could have been so much more. With no mention of what the deal with Home on PS4 is, can we expect it to make an appearance? To be honest, I really do hope, despite my feelings on it, people do like it, so why take it away and upset a ton of people.
If you're wondering why I am not fussed about Home anymore here is why: I downloaded it soon after launch and logged in, setting up my character and going for a wonder. I was bored sometime later, but liked the look of it and again that ever present potential. I then, just for giggles, created a second character, a female one. I loaded into the main hub, appeared outside and within 3 seconds had 5 male characters crowded around me going hey baby, how are you. It was what I expected to happen, but not as quick as that, and so I was out.
The PS3 is a great system, I have enjoyed my time with it. Move and Home were grand experiments that failed to meet potential, and in Moves case, where a little expensive, but the whole generation can be summed up with the term missed potential.
Sony, however, have changed. The original reveal of PS4 was confident, a bold statement that yes, indeed they have listened, not only to consumers, but to developers as well. Gone are the days of custom made Cell Processors, this time only a few items are custom and even then not in a way to completely mess with developers heads.
They anticipated where gaming was heading, and looked to the e-sports scene for inspiration in what software and online features to add. They have changed the interface, removing, at least as far as anyone can tell at this point, the XMB and replacing it with a slick new interface that takes inspiration from Xbox Dashboard with the ads underpinning it all. I am basing that on a few quick looks at the system, but I do know it ain't the XMB, which is great.
Actually while I wrote this Sony confirmed that the XMB is a thing of the past and a new interface, a very slick and cool looking thing has been confirmed, and I hope it lives up to what is promised in the latest video.
They even had developers come out and say that the PS4 is much easier to develop for and that Sony had been a dream to work with. They had indie darling Jonathan Blow announce The Witness and kick off a series of partnerships with smaller studios. It was fantastic news.
Microsoft bit back with its announcement, and I have to say that the PS4 still had me. I would love to say that I wont get an XBO, but that would be a lie, I will, but I will get the PS4 on launch and wait a few months for the Xbox One. This is a decision based mainly on price and it is a fair one, I have no particular love for either company over the other, both have provided me with fantastic gaming experiences over the last seven years and will continue to do so.
That price makes a difference though. Sony knew it as soon as Microsoft announced their price plan, and almost bounded onto the stage at E3 knowing that at the very least the price would cause a stir. But that pesky DRM thing is still causing issues, and Sony capitalised by having Jack Tretton come on stage at the end of the press conference not only to announce the nearly £100 (or exactly $100) cheaper price, but also to say that PS4 will not require an always on internet connection, nor a 24 hour check in, the system will be region free and they support used games, along with trading and all the stuff Microsoft allegedly dont.
Jack could have effectively dropped the mike and walked off stage at this point, the crowd already going wild. I laughed. Not because it was especially funny, but because the biggest reaction anyone got, company, celebrity or game, for the whole show, was the fan reaction to that news from Sony. It said a lot about the state of the games industry.
What Sony did was the PR equivalent of a guiding principle of Korean Martial art Taekwondo: One block, one strike and the fight is over (I am a black belt in TKD so that might help with this reference). They blocked Microsoft's aggressive stance on DRM and exaggerated price, and countered with a strike that knocked them pretty cleanly out of the ring, the ring in this case being the hearts and minds of consumers.
There are, to be fair, still questions Sony have to answer. Just what will the digital DRM policy be? disk based games can be traded fine, but what about digital content? They have stated that season passes are going away, but what are the third parties going to do if they cant use them? Can free to play games still happen, such as Dust 514? Will there be a bundle with the thinly outlined new PlayStation Eye camera? just what does that thing do anyway?
They also, very quietly, very sneakily, announced that multiplayer was being locked behind the PSN+ subscription fee. While personally, I have no issue with this, I can see why some people will take umbridge. I did hear an interview with a Sony exec that said this decision was because multiplayer is an extremely expensive thing to run, and I have no issue with them being honest about the reasons why they have had to make this decision.
The PSN+ subscription is, and will continue to be, fantastic. Mine has paid for itself already just in games I have gotten free. I know I might be taking money from the developers by getting them, but the other side of that coin is that I also known that developers name and if the game is good, can look for future titles, willing to give them money. The fact that it also extends to my Vita is such a massive bonus its untrue, and I cannot wait to see what new goodies come my way as things move along.
The one thing I will say that Sony did extremely badly was promoting the Vita at E3. That system is way, way better than people give it credit for. It may be that the remote play on PS4 gave them plenty of promotion, but it will be down to the games to use that feature in a compelling way, and I honestly dont see it happening, but I could be wrong. The Vita deserves better, and selection of indie titles coming to both it and PlayStation 3 and 4 are compelling reasons to stick with Sony.
Of course, they can still screw this up. It is months until the console is unleashed on the world, and there could be hardware issues, server issues, even both, not to mention what could turn out to be a strong launch but a dwindling supply of games thereafter. Indie titles that can be self published on the system can make up for this, but even they take time to create, something Sony needs to manage carefully.
Still, the PS4 is getting my money on launch day, and I cannot wait. I may have been swayed by the hype, but my decision is mainly based on price, and as I say, an XBO will be in my home some time next year. The games look just as compelling, if not more so, on PS4 and I am always talking about how I need to play more Indie games. It doesnt help that my PC keeps just turning off for no reason, so one of the better avenues to the indie scene is just not reliable enough for me, but still, I the next offering from Sony gives me another way in.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, and that it sparks as much discussion as the last one. Tune in later this week for the final part, on everyones favourite nostalgia house, Nintendo!
The Real Reason I Won't Be Getting an XBox One
- Jun 19, 2013 7:35 am GMT
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The closure of half of Io Interactive would have upset Kane & Lynch 2 fans all over the world if there were any. I think I must be the only one that thinks it's brilliant but objectively I am hard-pressed to defend it. I want to call it a diamond in the rough but if that were the case the rough would be the pee-soaked grass around a park bench and the diamond would be glittering shards of a spent Lambrini bottle that was carelessly thrown under there.
Still, despite the cretinous AI, the wonky shooting and incredibly nasty story (Anita Sarkeesian wouldn't know where to start) I have to say that I love it and it's one of the few games I have completed multiple times. It has a sort of vulgar purity which starts ugly and gets worse. There is no glamour or style in the characters or their actions, they are just rats trying not to get eaten by bigger rats. The visual style really cements the grimy street vibe of the whole thing.
Believe it or not but things get worse ... and by worse I mean nakeder!
What is prompting me to write this blog is that now the current console generation is gasping it's last breath it's worth noting those B-list games that may not make a top 10 but might squeeze into a 20. It's strange to me that a title like Mirrors Edge gets a sequel when others like Spec Ops: The Line, Binary Domain or Zak & Wiki are equally worthy. Why is it that a game like Killer Instinct gets an extra life when general opinion seems to think it undeserving? Dark Sector, No More Heroes and Condemned warrant another visit, or even a first if you never got round to them. Have I missed any out?
Despite owning over 100 360, PS3 or Wii games there are still too many more out there for me to even consider the jump to Xbox One, PS4 or WiiU. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dishonored are critically praised classics that are firmly on my wishlist but so are Crackdown, Just Cause 2, Child of Eden, Sleeping Dogs, Alice: Madness Returns and a whole host of others. One day I may even finally get round to Psychonauts or The Longest Journey. Here's hoping.
I love the possibility and promise that a new round of fresh TV cabinet hogging gaming powerhouses can bring but there is something exciting about walking past the shiny new cases in my local gaming shop, diving head-first into the bargain bins at the back and leaving with something a little different with change for a fiver. So go get Kane & Lynch 2, you'll love it*.
*All claims regarding the rather excellent nature of Kane & Lynch 2 are entirely the opinion of the author who will accept no responsibility when you realise that Kane (an Lynch for that matter) have the aiming skills of a bear with a hosepipe!
On This Generation and the Next: Part 1: Microsoft
- Jun 18, 2013 1:28 am GMT
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So the dust has settled, and the first volleys of the new console war are over. Microsoft are following up the Xbox 360 with the Xbox One, while Sony are being all logical (who would have thought!) and making the sequel to Playstation 3, the Playstation 4. There has been some controversy, some great announcements and some interesting ideas laid out, and now that E3 is over for another year, I wanted to take a look at what has happened over the last generation, and why I am excited for the new one.
The day before the Xbox 360 launched, I was made redundant from my job at the time. The HR manager said to me What are you going to do now? I replied, Buy an Xbox 360 tomorrow and play games until I find another job, and that is exactly what I did.
I worked at GAME when the original Xbox appeared onto the scene, and when I bought one, it was fantastic. I loved that thing, so I more than happily plonked down for a 360 way back in 2005, and for several years it was my console of choice, my games nearly always going on the Xbox first. Plus, it had Halo, a big plus for me.
Microsoft seemed to be doing everything right, Xbox Live was now an integral part of the system, the games were great, Indie developers were able to hit up XBLA and provide some great, cheap titles and it really seemed like MS were the console maker for the developer community. Thats despite some unfortunate technical hitches with the actual hardware. I am currently on my fourth Xbox 360.
They kept the interface fresh, improving it every year and making it better and better, providing some technically stunning games and even creating XNA to help bedroom coders create a console game easily. It was a fantastic time, but at some point, something changed, and it started to feel as though the company that I spent so many years loving had forsaken me in the name of advertising dollars.
Shortly after that, Kinect appeared. I remember watching the Microsoft E3 press conference where they announced the device, sitting on google talk with one of the guys that worked at the gaming site I was writing for at the time, just amazed. The thing looked so damn cool, and I couldnt wait to get my hands on it, and I did, on launch day no less. This was a mistake.
The first Kinect was a gimmick, nothing more. It allowed them to extend the life of the 360 for a couple of years, but the thing barely works, a number of factors preventing it properly detecting your body and your movements. These were things that should have been known to Microsoft, things that limited the usefulness of the peripheral. I managed to get mine to work in a small room, but I had to stand right in the corner as far away as possible, at night, with the room light on.
The voice commands do work, and at this point are the easiest way to navigate the 360 interface, especially if you want to find XBLA games, or indeed, anything gaming related. This is where they have forsaken me. The Xbox Live dashboard is more an advertising space than anything else, and as a result I havent switched on my 360 in nearly four months. I dont begrudge Microsoft making money, but there must be a better way.
So what about the next generation? Well I have to admit, the Xbox One looks very cool, even if it is a small form factor PC. Hopefully the kinect will work this time, and the dashboard isnt as cluttered with ads. Maybe even games will be easy to find, especially if they are trying to push an all digital future.
Speaking of, Microsoft had a strong showing at E3 with its titles, such as Titanfall, which looks awesome, Project Spark, Forza 5, Ryse, Dead Rising 3 and Sunset Overdrive all looking very cool indeed. They pushed the TV stuff a little too much, but for the way I will be using my Xbox One it could prove useful. I do like the grab to minimize, it looked slick and gave hope that Kinect will work consistently, also providing a case for the whole three operating systems thing.
There is, of course, the elephant in the room, the whole DRM stuff. It is my opinion that it has been blown massively out of proportion. At the end of the day, it has always been the case that what you buy is the license to use the software, not the software itself. This has NOT changed, Microsoft are simply being more overt about it. I do, however, get why people are annoyed at the whole check in online thing, it should be longer than 24 hours. I do think that it wouldnt be that hard for them to change that limit though, but I have to also give them respect for having the stones to stand up and say most people are connected to the internet in their homes, so our console requires it.
Its a bold move, and remember, everything they are doing on Xbox One has been happening on PC for years with Steam and at this point no one bats an eyelid. I remember the same controversy happening when that system first launched with Half Life 2, hell, even my own uncle, a programmer himself, found it annoying and didnt like it at all. Now he buys most of his games through Steam.
If Microsoft can follow Valves footsteps and offer games at reasonable prices, with great sales and a non-intrusive system then maybe the Xbox One is the future. I am not going to predict that, but I hope they do. Right now, having a title available for download at the same price, or in some cases, more expensive than what I can get in a retail store is just goddamn ridiculous.
The last thing I want to say is that I hope people start using the abbreviation XBO instead of this stupid XBone thing that has sprung up. It makes soooooooo much more sense, at least to me, and slips off the tongue just as well as PS4, which can only be a good thing for Microsoft, who are getting a lot of flak at the moment and need to build consumer confidence and faith.
Well, this post was going to be about all three companies, but Microsoft has certainly been able to generate headlines going into the next generation, so I have had to split it into three, parts two and three coming later this week I hope. If you want to chat about my thoughts on this or anything else, hit me up on the site, or twitter: @optimusprime223.
(Brief) E3 Commentary and Console Launches
- Jun 17, 2013 10:09 pm GMT
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Well, I do have a blog written up about sex and sexuality in the Mass Effect universe, but Im waiting for a more timely time to post it. Plus, this E3 was incredibly interesting and I would be remiss if I didnt post about it.
The Xbox One
We've had a plethora of blogs railing on anti-consumer policies of the Xbox One (rightfully so), so I won't waste everyone's time by talking about them again. JustPlainLucas and Kbaily have done great jobs ripping it apart anyway. All you guys need to know is I agree with them. Woo! Come at me Microsheep!
This is where I was extremely elated about the conference. Sony listened to their consumers and didnt pull all of the X-Bull being done by Microsoft. Did anyone else find it weird how the thing we all got most excited about (used games having no restrictions) was something we've taken for granted for so long? Our rights were on the verge of being taken away, so it makes sense that wed get excited over someone protecting them, but I find it ironic that no new feature excited anyone nearly as much as that.
I think the important take-away is that, for once, we can see our voices being heard. It was sort of heard when EA pulled away online passes, but when Sony was being tight-lipped about used game policies until E3, I can only assume they were doing so to see consumer reaction to whatever Microsoft revealed. I think their policy is a result of the backlash against Microsoft, and because of that I love Sony even more.
Here's where most of my thoughts lie for this blog.
Nintendo is doing its own thing again (highlighted by the great decision to not have a keynote this year), which Im really happy about. I always thought it was a bit unfair to put them in the console war with Microsoft and Sony because its pretty damn clear that Nintendo doesnt care about what the other companies are doing. It's relying on old IPs (of course) but they do have The Wonderful 101, which looks absolutely fantastic and like a breath of fresh air into the industry. They also (albeit oddly) have Bayonetta 2, which looks a lot better than the original. There're quite a few strong titles coming out for both the 3DS and (finally) the WiiU this year, which leads me to my next point.
Dont expect a stellar launch lineup for the PS4 or the Xbone. Why? Because it's a console launch. I think the current generation has stayed around for a bit too long, and a lot of people forgot during that long period of time without a new console that a console launch generally does not have an impressive game lineup. Sure, youll get one or two gems from it (The WiiU had Nintendoland and New Super Mario Bros. U ) but other than those gems youre going to be left with an expensive plastic brick doing nothing more than collecting dust for a few months until the game youve been anticipating finally comes out.
I would like to point a finger at the 3DS, which I did buy a few months after launch even after considering the fact that it did not have a solid game lineup at that point. After getting burned on the price cut a month later (and while I respect Nintendo's attempt at compensation, I'm not playing the games I was given so therefore I have not benefitted), I was quite upset about my purchase and considering selling the system altogether at a huge loss just out of spite. I kept it for the sole reason that I knew a new Kingdom Hearts game was announced for it (I think my user icon makes it very clear that I like JRPGs).
I am so glad I kept the thing. I didnt make that brash and hasty decision to sell the handheld and now I get to reap my rewards, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Luigis Mansion: Dark Moon, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor OVERCLOCKED, Resident Evil: Revelations, Super Mario 3D Land, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Mario Kart 8, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward. Those games have given me absolutely fantastic experiences and the purchase of my 3DS was worth it just for those. But wait! Theres more! Coming out this month is Project X Zone and next month we'll be getting Shin Megami Tensei IV.
Well, the 3DS has picked up steam, hasn't it? I wonder if that's because its had time to be out on the market? Certainly the price cut helped move units and once games like Mario Kart, Fire Emblem, and recently Animal Crossing hit people started buying the system specifically for those games. Nintendo's E3 Nintendo Direct showed off a plethora of noteworthy titles coming for the WiiU. Could this possibly be a sign of the WiiU's library growing as a result of being around for longer than 2 months?
Now, Im aware that the WiiU suffers from a low install base (I attribute that to faulty marketing, Nintendo didn't make it clear to its casual base that the WiiU is an entirely new console), but so did the 3DS. What eventually moved 3DS units? Games. We all know how popular Pokemon is, and generation 6, Pokemon X & Y, come out in October. You bet we'll be seeing a lot of people picking up 3DS units just because a new Pokemon game came out.
My bet is the same thing will happen with the WiiU. Will it win the new generation of consoles like it has the current one (Im going by sales numbers here, because in the end thats what matters to developers)? Probably not. Will Nintendo die and go third party like Sega did with the Dreamcast? Most definitely not. Nintendo is here to stay, deal with it.
Monsters University - Film Review
- Jun 17, 2013 6:05 pm GMT
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Reviewed on June 15th, 2013
Disney presents a film directed by Dan Scanlon
Screenplay by Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson and Dan Scanlon
Starring: (voices of) Billy Crystal, John Goodman and Helen Mirren
Running Time: 110 minutes
Released: June 20th, 2013
One of the more understated strings in the bow of animation giant Pixar are the moral lessons that their films provide to audiences. In 2001 Monsters, Inc. introduced us to Mike and Sully, two monsters that were part of a corporation where monsters could travel through teleportation doors and into bedrooms of children to scare them so that their screams would power their operations. Children were also seen as dangerous outsiders until the business learnt that laughter is a more successful for increasing production. Overcoming our fears, risk taking and laughter are lessons that the animation studio itself taught us and embraced on its own.
Pixar have again upheld this optimistic, moral outlook because Monsters University is a celebration of diversity and learning your specialist skills. The film is a prequel to the 2001 film, with Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprising their roles as monsters Mike and Sully, who are not friends but college rivals learning the trade of scaring and hoping to be accepted into the Monsters, Inc.
The film will give parents an opportunity to talk to their children about the subject of college in a positive outlook. In American there has rarely been a more important time to have this conversation. The Huffington Post wrote in April that there had already been thirteen college shootings this year. In 2007 thirty-two people were shot dead at Virginia Tech. Though never short of funding, the American education system also still produces consistently subpar performances. Countering these pillars of fear and tension, Monsters University captures the emotions of college life and then gleefully subverts them.
The core of the film is the friendship of Mike and Sulley, who represent contrasting attitudes in college study life. Mike is hardworking, ambitious and by the book but also small, an outcast and a loner. He wants to be the sole leader. Sulley is unprepared, lazy and coasts off his family name as a Sullivan. He's bigger, more intimidating and popular than Mike and expects everything will come through his natural ability and that he doesn't need to study. After making a bet with Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), they're thrown together into a Scare Games contest, where they reluctantly band together, along with other loners, to complete a series of challenges to stay enrolled in the college.
Each game played against the other rival fraternity houses gives the film a story structure that is not dissimilar to The Internship. Unlike that film though, you actually care dearly about the characters. This is one of Pixar's greatest strengthens, not just as animators but as filmmakers. Each of the hilarious characters, including a middle-aged student and a two-headed dancer, helps to understand each other's strengths and how to use these in the tasks.
It could be viewed as a generic 'be yourself' message but in the context of a college setting its thematically sensible because college should be a place where people learn their own skills and can take unexpected detours and still succeed. For those assuming this is a derivative underdog story, there is a huge point of conflict in this film, coupled with Pixar's trademark lump in the throat moments, as the story shifts into its darker unexpected final act.
The director of the film was Dan Scanlon, who worked as a storyboard artist for Pixar on Cars. He graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and in his first Pixar film as director he has used these visual skills exceptionally. The film is hysterically funny, partly due to the wit but also the number of sight gags on display.
Monsters University itself resembles a proper college, with lecture rooms, dorms and orientation stalls, and uses this detail to reference old college films and campus stereotypes. I liked the variety in the monster designs, like how one of the students had a moustache shaped like a vampire bat or the gothic monster that had spikes coming out of the microphone she was holding. Dan Scanlon also controls the beats of the story so that there are breathing spaces between the challenges and that action sequences are brisk and never overlong.
Hollywood films now are bigger and louder, but with little to say. Monsters University is a rare blockbuster that could teach audiences something. The film is about learning to accept fear and failure, while remaining hopeful about change and growth through our different skills. Pixar's personal talent is that their films are still as simulating as they are funny and creative.
E3 2013: The Best In Years
- Jun 17, 2013 4:04 pm GMT
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Its easy to claim that E3s success this year was due to the heavy showing of next-gen console tech. Watch Dogs looks awesome and The Witcher 3 seems to be visually unparalleled, and yet it was the drama that ensued that made me want to follow the conference as much as the impressive games did.
Microsofts great proverbial belly-flops never stopped growing more simultaneously painful and amusing to watch. The laughable moments accumulated since their revealing of X Box One and just ended today with another statement makes it hard to believe that they actually want their system to succeed. They tried to act like a bull dog, but came off as brutish and uncaring to their fans, catapulting Sony and Nintendo into trumping position over the Big-N.
Theres no doubt that the graphical capabilities of Microsofts and Sonys new machines are impressive. Microsoft showed arguably more graphical gravitas than Sony had and seemed to have an upper hand over their relatively long-time gaming rival. That was until Sony talked about their price-point and first-party used game support wooing us Play Station fans and winning more gamers over.
It hasnt been long since Ive decided to go back to my Sony roots, it just feels like home. I never felt totally comfortable on the 360, with the controller or with the interface (especially the ads). The 360 offers some great franchises that Ive had a lot of fun with, but playing the Play Station 3 just adds that comforting sense of familiarity that came with years of owning and playing a PS2.
Thats not only just to say I had some biases going in, but I also harbor a hope that Microsoft does stay healthy. However, as a coworker said, They didnt just shoot themselves in the foot, they blew their whole [damn] leg off. Its sad that they seem to succeed by graphical integrity and console features alone. With higher pricing, 24 hour required internet check in and a broadband-soaking internet service, theres very little reason to go with the big Ms machine over Sonys machine.
Sony and Nintendo had fun mocking Microsofts conference and their responses. Microsoft just continued to be the pit-bull, showing little tact when discussing fan-related issues. It was obvious that somewhere they ran off the track.
The X Box One has some impressive games, many of them being exclusives. In a former life, I would have gladly supported their system over the others, but now that Im older and a bit wiser, I know better.
This years E3 was the best in years, because they focused so much more on games and tech rather than booth babes and swag, at least from what stay-at-homers saw. The next gen games seem to go back to the roots of why we love to play video games and how our experiences will improve. Its both a good and intimidating time to be a gamer. Lets see what happens in the years ahead.
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