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Asagea_888 Blog

Dusting the cobwebs....

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It was a while ago here in GameSpot that I had signed up for Raptr, and it was only yesterday when I revisited my old account for the first time in ages.  But apparently, my account seems to have done quite well without me.  All I had to do was play my games, and I'm at the top of many leaderboards.  I'd forgotten how awesome it was. I also took the time to respond to the friend requests that I failed to get to the last time around, as well as make a few new ones (like widdowson91 for example)

It's a shame that GameSpot had taken Raptr off its rotation in favor of Livefyre, because Raptr is clearly better.  It's like the Facebook/Twitter for dedicated gamers, and the response to Raptr has been favorable overall among the majority of GameSpot users, including nearly all of my GS friends.

I don't care about Livefyre because frankly it sucks, so I'm happy to be using Raptr again.  Anybody who wants to be my Raptr buddy can find me under Asagea_888.  It's easy :)

Keep calm, game on, and live long and prosper.

May Gaming Cookies (Part 2) -- Jump the Shark

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Jump the shark...what the hell does that mean?  I don't know, it just sounded cool.  Anyway, here's part two of my Gaming Cookies blog---served with a nice glass of warm milk and a nifty intestinal hemmorage to go along with it.

Gears of War: Judgment.  Wasn't this game, like, $60 a couple of weeks ago?  Usually when newly released titles get an early price drop, it's a sign of trouble for the overall sales curve.  For consumers, it becomes an opportunity to get a $60 game at a moderately cheaper rate.  For me, I got it used for under $40.  I had my misgivings, but I ultimately decided now was the time to fully finish my Gears of War collection.  I also saw that Tomb Raider 2013 dropped to just under $40.  Square Enix had considered the game a commercial failure despite its pretty good sales record overall, and retailers responded in kind by slashing $20 off.  Regardless of what Square Enix seems to think, I STILL believe Tomb Raider 2013 is an awesome game -- well worth the time and the price.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.  Finally picked this up after failing to do so earlier in the month of April.  Nintendo seems to be doing better with the 3DS than they are with the Wii U, which is obviously a good sign that they're not caving in to the pressures of people that are overwhelmingly prophesizing their imminent collapse.  Seriously, they're only skipping E3, not signing their own death warrant.  Anyway, it's games like Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon that are sure to help Nintendo in the long run.  I'm enjoying my experience with it so far, so I do not fully agree with Carolyn's GS review.  Don't let the lack of save points deter you from considering this game.

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Persona 4 Arena.   I'm not really all that familiar with the Persona series, so it probably wasn't a good idea to consider this.  Then I remembered that it was a fighting game, and that's a genre I know all too well. (Long afternoons at a liquor store arcade spending quarters into a Street Fighter cabinet can do that to a brother.)  And while Persona may not be Street Fighter, it is equal parts Persona and equal parts BlazBlue/Guilty Gear -- which is rather fitting because the game was developed by Arc System Works.  That in itself gives the game a personality all its own, and it's a pretty fun fighter to boot. The gameplay vids were enough to convince me to add this to my collection.  And it was at a sweet price, too.  Bazinga.

Will Persona 4 Arena get me into the Persona series?  Good question.  I don't know if it'll convert me right away -- if at all -- because as much as I respect the series overall, I couldn't get into it.  Still, you have to admire the Persona franchise for doing things differently with the Japanese console RPG.  No kingdoms, no amnesiac country bumpkins, no warring nations and certainly no Sephiroth wannabes.

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Before I end my blog, I wanted to share with you what almost happened with me this week.   Maybe I was drunk (....just kidding, I don't drink beer)  or perhaps I was overly caffeinated by Pepsi the night before, but something compelled me to look into that new Star Trek video game, and I was very close to picking it up for $60.  As a kid, I loved watching the old Star Trek TV series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and I did briefly play a Star Trek Game Boy game on my friend's system.  I'm not overly fond of the new reboot, but I thought the game looked pretty good.  Then I read the onslaught of negative reviews.  A handful of those wouldn't really dissuade me much if my judgment is sound, but nearly every publication to date was saying that this new Star Trek game was crap.  It was so bad that Paramount themselves were reported to have created fake accounts on Metacritic and posting BS positive reviews to negate the streaming flow of negativity in an effort to drum up some support.  Long story short, I changed my mind.  I'll likely wait until it drops to $20, which I expect it will do very soon -- joining the likes of Tomb Raider and Gears of War Judgment.

But hey, I thought that Shatner/Gorn commercial was pretty funny!

May Gaming Cookies (Part 1) -- Game and Watch

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Despite Nintendo's current challenges, the company remains committed to a turnaround and hopes to convince consumers of the Wii U's potential by introducing a cavalcade of first-party titles.  Of course, for this month's two-part May Gaming Cookies, I thought I'd share with you one of my most recent gets----and a very special one, at that.

A lot of you may not recognize this right off the bat, but this was Nintendo's very first gaming system; known as the Game and Watch.  As its name implies, it was a game system and a pocket clock rolled into one.  And Ball was the first official Nintendo game ever to be made; (long before Mario, long before Samus, and long before Link.)  The object is simple -- you're a juggler that moves left to right keeping balls in the air.  Arthritic animations aside, the game was hugely popular with children long before the Game Boy was even conceived, and I can recall in my wee kindergarten days how every kid begged their parents to have one.  Ball wasn't the only game to be released on this dimunitive little platform.  Mario and Donkey Kong also had their own Game and Watch games, too.

I'm a Club Nintendo member as many of you know, so for this year, I decided to save as many points as I could to get my hands on this little piece of Nintendo history.  My recent purchase of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon just about put me over the 1200 point requirement (about roughly 1280 points in total), and I immediately placed my order with 80 points remaining.  Can't wait for it to ship!

I've already achieved my Platinum status, so all I need do is wait for the upcoming Elite reward.  Hope it's a good one -- last year I got a set of Zelda posters.

Thanks for reading Part 1.  Part 2 will come later this week, so if you don't mind, I've got some game buying to do.

Skyrim yet again, all over again

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It wasn't too long ago when my new friend Alicrombie went back to World of Warcraft.  Well, I'm going back to something myself, and that's Skyrim.  On the heels of a Legendary edition set to be released this Summer which contains all the DLC expansions and a crucial game update, I decided to make due on one of my New Year's resolutions (technically, it's no longer a 'New Year') and make a glorious return to Tamriel to finish what I started.  Funny thing is---I never downloaded the DLC.  I was too busy mopping up quest after quest after quest, and my Khahjit had been collecting cobwebs and eating mothballs.

Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the save file I had worked so hard to build up had disappeared.  This might have occurred when I went in to have my 360 fixed.  At any rate......I'm a man of my word.  I said I'd play and try to finish Skyrim by the end of the year (the pre-DLC portion) and I'm going to do so -- even if I have to start fresh all over again. Given everything I've learned during my previous journey through Skyrim, I think it should be a fairly smoother trip overall.    Fortunately for me, I had more fun than frustration getting to the last point I was prior to going on hiatus and having my 360 yellow-ring on me.   Life's not fair, but complaining will get you nowhere.  You simply have to start again.

Tamriel itself has changed -- not in the ways of expansions, but in the ways of bugs being patched.  So hopefully my experience will be one with little to no crashes, though I did like the floating giants.

All this as Elder Scrolls Online is entering beta testing phase.  Looks like I've got some catching up to do before then.

Follow me....follow me....

.....on Twitter!  Yes, I've finally decided to cave and join the Twittersphere.  Twitter is perhaps the most widely used social media website in the known world, and a pretty neat way to get to know people who like to publically share their personal breadcrumbs.  For me, I'm mainly using it for getting information on gaming and other important elements in my life.  I'm quite the busy bee and my time spent with a computer is sporadic at best, so I kinda need to be kept up to date with various things while I'm on the go -- which explains why I have the Twitter app on my iPhone :P

The background images you see are examples of the artwork that I do.  In this case, it is a digital comic that I am currently working on using characters I've created -- some based on real people that I know in my real life.  I think it's an interesting premise to be sure, and one that opens the door for incredible storytelling. 

I know there aren't a lot of you who use Twitter, and that's perfectly understandable.  You're more than welcome to visit my Twitter page anyway, even if you're not a registered member, as I will very likely tweet stuff not related to gaming per se (but don't rule it out!)  so you'd get an insight on what goes on in my personal life--- provided that I choose to share it.  For those of you that DO have Twitter, however, feel free to follow me and I'll do likewise with you.  Twitter's a chance for everybody to get to know the guy behind the silly username of Asagea_888 (which really doesn't mean anything at all :P )

EDIT:  Here is my Twitter account

@kungfubunny1978

If the Link doesn't work, just visit Twitter and key in @kungfubunny1978.

Nintendo Direct: Holy 3DS motherlode!

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With all the gloomy weather over at Nintendo, a slight silver lining can be seen at last.  I caught a glimpse of their latest Nintendo Direct yesterday morning and was quite impressed with their cavalcade of solid 3DS releases.  The focus was directed mainly on the 3DS with several high-profile announcements.  Although some games were missing from the line-up, the titles they announced thus far are almost certain to ignite a spark of interest among 3DS owners longing for solid titles.  All the games are potentially awesome indeed, but here is just some of my own personal highlights of the Nintendo direct.

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Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past 3DS was a bit of news that summarily shocked and pleasantly surprised me.  This is Nintendo's first new Zelda game since Skyward Sword.  Don't be put off by the title though -- because this new Link to the Past is no remake.  This is a direct sequel to one of the greatest Super NES video games ever made. Since it takes place in the same universe as its 16-bit console counterpart, I'm lead to believe that the story transpires not long after the events of the original game.  I also like the return to the top-down perspective as well as the return to traditional gameplay controls.  No swinging a Wii remote and drawing with a Stylus.  In my opinion, traditional controls are how the Zelda games were truly meant to be played, and I welcome it wholeheartedly. 

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This next game's got a strange title, but it's something I want to try out;  Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.  Given the shake-up over at Square Enix, the company needs to divert most of its focus on what it does best---console role-playing games.  And Bravely Default is a nice little homecoming.  I don't have a full grasp on how the game actually plays, but I'm really liking how it looks.  The game looks to be a promising new IP for Square Enix outside of their Final Fantasy series.

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Earthbound SNES is finally coming to the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console.  Need I say more?  People have long clamored to see Nintendo's other RPG franchise make it Stateside, but as far as it goes, Earthbound will probably be the one and only game in the series to see the West unless Nintendo decides otherwise. If Fire Emblem can make it, why not Mother? I know there's a fairly sizeable North American and European fanbase for the Mother series, and I myself would like to try this game out, too.  It's a quirky little gem with a lot of innuendo, crude humor and a hint of adult suggestiveness all wrapped up in a seemingly cheery and bright setting.

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Finally, I was most excited about another VC release for the 3DS; Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons GBC; co-developed by both Nintendo and Capcom.  In my opinion, these games were better than Link's Awakening because it was basically one big adventure split up into two parts.  Or two games masquerading as one big adventure.  Whichever the case, I used to have the original GBC games in my possession and look forward to striking the pot again. 

All things considered, after a string of strike outs, has Nintendo finally hit a home run this year?  There's no mistaking the fact that the Wii U is struggling to keep up.  The 3DS itself did sell well, but it's still far below the numbers of the original DS.  However, given the recent 3DS announcements that have successfully piqued my interest, it's fair to say that Nintendo's pulling a lot of the right strings. 

Could it translate into better fortunes?  We'll see in the months ahead.....

An injustice in my personal life.....

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.....that I had to choose between Injustice: Gods Among Us or Gears of War Judgment as my last "new game" buy for the month of April.  I kinda wanted to get Judgment so I could complete my Gears of War collection, but there have been mixed opinions about it.  Probably not worth picking up for $60 right now, so I may hold off for a price drop.  I decided, because I still love fighting games, to get Injustice instead.

My initial impressions so far is that it almost feels exactly like Mortal Kombat 2011.  Only you can use the environment to your advantage by grabbing an object and hurling it at your opponent, or tossing them against the background, which I think adds depth to the fighting.  It's really, REALLY over the top.  And it's got DC Superheroes.  The story's eerily similar to the one Marvel explored regarding the Superhero Registration Act pitting Captain America against Iron Man.  Here, it's Batman against Superman. Not exactly a fair fight, but these two have fought before, so it makes for an outrageous plot.

I don't have a particular favorite character at the moment -- I'm merely testing the waters, and it seems like I'm using Wonder Woman a lot, even though I'm not very good with her.  I like how she fights using two different styles, and I've already modeled my Gamer Card with her imagery.  And Superman can be incredibly cheap with his eye laser and aerial ground punch; you can spam those moves a ton to both damage your opponent and quickly build up your Super Meter before landing your Super Move.  The tutorials aren't very elaborate for beginners, so I had to learn through trial, error and experimentation.  Injustice seems catered for more hardcore fighting fans, but it isn't so challenging that beginners cannot enjoy it on their own terms.  There's still a lot I personally need to get a grasp on in terms of the mechanics.  As of this writing, I still don't get the Wager mode.

I'm a little early on this game, so those are my basic impressions.  Hope to have more in the future!

A Special Message TO Capcom

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I was surprised, shocked and floored when Capcom announced a reimagining of one of their Disney-licensed Nintendo games based on a Disney Afternoon TV series I used to watch religiously as a kid.  If you know Scrooge McDuck, you'll know Duck Tales. (Oo-ooo-ooo!)  And if you loved both Duck Tales the video game and Duck Tales the cartoon, you'll be pleased to learn that Duck Tales Remastered, helmed by WayForward and featuring voice-over dialogue from the original TV show cast, will hit the ground running this Summer on the PlayStation Network, XBOX Live Arcade and Wii U's eShop.

That's pretty exciting.  Duck Tales NES was a huge hit, and it garnered enough of a cult following to keep it somewhat relevant throughout the years.  The game has been mentioned here and there around the water cooler from time to time.  Launchpad McQuack, as most of you remember, had become the unwitting recipient of a GameSpot contest involving gaming's "greatest sidekicks". (He beat out Sully from Uncharted, for Pete's sake.  SULLY!)  And who can forget this iconic theme song?  (Life is like a hurricane.......okay, never mind.)

In a way, I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't even bother to remember it because I can recall playing the game several times on my best friend's NES.  The gameplay was basic,  but it was a solid example of doing justice with the Disney license.  It's just like how Konami made excellent video games featuring the Ninja Turtles; an era we may never see again--- even with the well-received Nickolodeon reboot.

If companies like Capcom can dig a game like Duck Tales out of relative obscurity for a contemporary reimagining, I can scarcely imagine the possibilities of other games sharing the same glory.  And it's happening.  As of this writing, Ubisoft is bringing out a remake of Flashback: the Quest for Identity and Sega teased a spot for a possible re-imagining of the Disney-themed Genesis classic Castle of Illusion.  All well and good, but one game has stood out in my mind. 

That game, my friends, is Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight.

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If I started a petition on a message board to present to Capcom, and they actually listened, would it be possible that Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight can see a proper re-release?  Mind you, I can divulge the most awful horror stories on how me and my best friend tried desperately to finish the game as impressionable middle school kids, failing numerous times because of its difficulty and clunky control mechanisms, and ultimately achieving our impossible goal only once in our entire lives. I dare say the game made Ninja GAIDEN look easy. However, no matter how many times Street Figher 2010 kicked our ass, we have only fond memories of our masochistic nightmarish experience.  That said,  I would very much like to see Capcom bring this game from out of the shadows. Originally, the game wasn't even a part of the Street Fighter continuity.  But who cares?  Capcom can make it work somehow.  Capcom can make it a spiritual sequel---a de-canonized what-if scenario; just like the Ultimate Marvel comics which split one character into multiple different universes and story retellings.  It wouldn't so much cause an uproar much less a fleeting curiosity among today's Street Fighter fans.  And I'm sure SFIV uber champion Daigo wouldn't mind. Besides, the story of Street Fighter 2010 is awesome in all its absurdity.  It has Ken being rebuilt as a cyborg with enhanced cybernetic fighting capabilities and the ability to "gatehop" between planets.  Plus he sports a killer pair of Ray Bans.  Plus, he actually wins the Street Fighter tournament over his pal Ryu.  How's that for incredible?

In the game, Ken must avenge the death of his friend Troy, a scientist who was researching a dangerous strain of alien bio-matter known as Cytoplasm.  The stuff apparently turned Troy into a puddle of waste on the floor, leaving a trail spanning five different planets. The Japanese version of the game was wholly unrelated to Street Fighter with a different storyline and different characters, but Capcom USA saw an opportunity to cash in on the popularity of the first Street Fighter---long before Street Fighter 2 even hit the scene.

I'm fairly certain Street Fighter 2010 has as much a cult following as Duck Tales, and Duck Tales was billed a game aimed for younger audiences.  2010 was marketed towards a much older crowd.  As was another Capcom game that was recently revamped---Bionic Commando NES.   So Captain Commando?  I know you're listening.  Street Fighter 2010 is a game that begs to be remade, and I would love to have it come back.  I'm itching for some good old fashioned gameplay revenge......this time, with a PS3 controller. (...or a 360 controller.  Whichever!)

Thanks for reading.  I'm going to be rewriting this blog with River City Ransom, Little Nemo's Dream Adventure and Yo Noid! in mind.  Yes, I said Yo Noid.  PEACE!

It is finished.

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.....those were Zachary Hale Comstock's last words.  Does he live or does he die?  I won't tell.  ;)

I will say that my time in Columbia is over.  Just finished Bioshock Infinite last night.  I came into it a week and a half later than most of you guys and managed to beat it in seven days.  But I made several errors that prevented me from getting 100% on my first playthrough and didn't want to start over from the beginning when I had gotten so far.  The very same thing occurred when I played the first Bioshock on my inaugural attempt.

In beating Infinite, you unlock a nice surprise that may, more or less, prompt you to replay the game if you're up to it.  I could replay Bioshock Infinite simply for this reason.  However, I'll leave the surprise a secret!

Not bad for 2013, I'd say.  I've beaten Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, Tomb Raider and now this.  That's three newly released games conquered soundly.  Now it's time to go back to my dusty queue of other unfinished titles!

Always online..... or nothing at all

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Both the PS4 and the XBOX 720 aren't even released yet and already they're getting a lot of buzz for things outside of what is typically expected.  Thus, anticipation is heavily overshadowed by an enamored sense of worry over how these consoles are putting measures in place that might stop them from even playing games at all.  The PS4 has had to deal with rumors regarding pre-owned games not running on the unit, and although Sony assured consumers that used games can be played on a PS4, it is far too early to tell at this point.   Today, the rumor mill is churning over Microsoft's upcoming new console, and the issue stems with the concept of "always-online", requiring a game or a machine to be fully connected to the internet to function.   A notable Microsoft employee took to his Twitter account to call into question gamer's concerns about  'always online', concluding with a rather snarky hashtag "#dealwithit".   Granted, the tweet wasn't specifically aimed at the new XBox in particular, but his comments prompted an immediate pouring of outrage from both gamers and developers like Bioware, citing the launch disasters of both Diablo 3 and Sim City; two high-profile PC games associated with DRM (digital-rights management), which is the defacto technical term for "always-online".   It also raised questions over whether or not the XBox 720 will fully adopt the feature, and that's not including the other possible fact that it, too, may not play used games. The Microsoft employee in question later apologized for his comments before changing his Twitter profile from public to private to avoid further scorn.  So far, Microsoft hasn't publicly commented on the rumors and speculation.  The so-called XBOX 720 is due to be revealed in a few short months, leaving many to wonder if Microsoft is purposely waiting until then to either confirm or dispel the rumors.

The industry never duly intended for "always-online" to be an affront to honest gamers, though it is certainly understandable why gamers may feel that way given the circumstances.  It may have been designed as a countermeasure against potential hackers, pirates and opportunistic cheaters.  These unsavory elements have been a collective thorn in the backside for both companies and their consumers, costing the industry millions---if not billions---every year.   It may be that the industry is pushing for more social aspects to their games.  They might have this assumption that gamers who play with others have more fun than people who game by themselves.   Whether you like it or not, we're living in an era of Facebook and Twitter, where more and more people are glued to their smartphones and tablets, wirelessly keeping in touch with friends and strangers from every corner of the world.   In a gaming sense, the industry probably wanted to force the idea of social networking in single-player games because they viewed solitary experiences as no longer being relevant or profitable in this day and age.   Companies have made it abundantly clear that they are willing to adopt any newfound idea if it has the potential to generate a foreseeable profit margin, and you can only guess that they're also crossing their fingers hoping gamers will not cause too much of a fuss over it.  Looking back, most ideas and proposals forced by the industry have been met with fierce resistance and criticism for fixing what was never broken, only to end up breaking it.

If every internet connection worked perfectly  100% of the time and every household on the face of the planet had access to the internet, always-online DRM would have been a fine idea.  The reality is not every person can use the internet in their home, and it doesn't always work as intended; even for those who have top-of-the-line connections like DSL and FIOs.  Another thing to consider is that not everybody wants to embrace the social aspects of gaming right away---if at all.  That doesn't necessarily make them anti-social; it is merely their preference.   When you think about these things, you come to understand why DRM and always-online is problematic in its current stages.  Even more troubling is the possibility of games refusing to work at all if the internet decides to have a bad day.  Case in point games like Diablo 3 and Sim City, and consoles like the XBOX 720. 

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When Diablo 3 first launched with the DRM component firmly intact, the high volume of people who purchased the game on day one lead to its in-game servers suffering from immense overcrowding, ultimately shutting down in various portions and preventing the entire game (even the single player modes) from running for a good several hours.    Disgruntled consumers took to the message boards to vent their frustrations before Blizzard finally addressed the issue, but the damage had already been done.  The same goes for the recently released Sim City reboot.   The game launched with an impressive out-of-the-gate sales record, and that also lead to a debilitating server flood that crippled the single-player portion of the game almost entirely.  Maxis argued that they could have deemphasized the digital-rights management, but they ultimately chose not to because it didn't fit with their vision.  Angry gamers took to task those comments, claiming that their so-called "vision" of Sim City didn't correlate well with their own experience because disparaged servers stopped them from even accessing the game in the first place. 

It's often said that the video game industry is slow to learn from their mistakes.  In theory, there's some truth to that claim.  The industry is aware of the problems associated with DRM and "always-online" components for single player games.  Yet, I tend to think that they're more insistent and stubborn in their own beliefs than they are dumb or uneducated.  They insist the idea can work, because they likely poured a lot of money into the idea, and their reputation in on an invisible thread.  And, by God, they'll see to it that it's either their way or no way at all.   So it's really not so much the industry turning an intentional blind eye to the concerns of gamers but, rather, the industry giving you a plate of lima beans and doing everything they can to convince you to eat them so that, maybe, you'd one day grow to like them. Otherwise, you won't be getting dessert.

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However, it needs to be clearly understood by both game companies and gamers that, as it stands now, DRM and "always-online" is fundamentally and technically flawed.  It becomes an even greater issue if an internet connection is required to even play games at all, and this is a concern that I have for Microsoft's upcoming console.  If the rumors prove to be true, then Microsoft will need to answer to an influx of angry gamers who have thrown their lima beans to their puppies begging for scraps underneath the kitchen table.  There's nothing inherently wrong with playing games with an internet connection so long as it fulfills its intended purpose well and doesn't serve as a distraction to the experience.  But an internet connection shouldn't be a requirement to even run a game at all, because if it only takes a modem to ruin the fun for every single gamer on the planet, regardless of your preference, then we as consumers face a very bleak outcome.    As I alluded to before with the industry in general, I don't believe Microsoft is stupid.  I think it's very likely that they're perhaps stubborn and insistent.   If all the speculation and rumors are to be believed, and should they be confirmed, then they're going to sell you the notion that DRM and always-online is the "way of the gaming future"---an appropriate and necessary measure that protects consumers and the industry at large. And they're hoping against hope that gamers will see it their way. 

I can tell you right now that is far from being the case.