Category Archives: Gaming

Let’s call a spade a spade

It is an old expression, lets call a spade a spade, the pot calling the kettle black and so forth. It is (when I grew up) the expressions that refer to let’s call it what it is, let’s label it directly, let’s not beat around the bush. So when the BBC gives us ‘Loot boxes: I blew my university savings gaming on Fifa’ (at https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53337020), we see the story of an idiot, an idiot named Jonathan Peniket, who basically is voicing whatever excuse he has for the simple reason that he is (as I personally see it) indeed an idiot. So when we see “Better players give you an advantage, and there is a virtual currency and market where these cards are traded. You can buy packs containing a random selection of cards. The idea that it was gambling seemed ridiculous to me at the time. I understood that the chances of ‘packing’ my favourite players were low. I spent the money, opened my packs, got lucky a couple of times, and tried to be positive, despite being left feeling slightly underwhelmed. ‘If I could just spend another £15…’, I thought. Four years followed of spending more and more money on player packs – each time seeking that buzz that would only occasionally come.” We see here the driven and almost educated response of a crack whore trying to get someone else to pay for her addiction, a little bitch looking for the 3600 cards and a person who wants the 1200 cards in month one. I know it sounds ominous and even offensive, but that is life. So when he was a teenager, like two years before his first card (at 17), he got inflicted with the Pokemon vibe (gotta have them all), that empty feeling was transferred to FIFA and when we see “How one teenager spent nearly £3,000” we see a person who is too stupid for his own good. The game is a mere £55, so how stupid do you need to be to spend 60 times that amount? The BBC writers Felicity Hannah and Jane Andrews are quick to dismiss in a short term the truth of the matter behind “They say Fifa Ultimate Team can be played without spending any money and that purchases are entirely optional”, it is a truth, I play NHL, I get 3 packs a day, free of charge, the packs add up that in a month you can save up pack points to get to specula bronze packs, two silver packs and two gold packs. In addition, every pack comes with virtual money to buy other cards online (bid for them), in the second months, I had all 30 arena’s, close to all home and away jerseys for all the NHL teams and most of the goalie masks. After 6 months, I had close to 800 hockey players, a few legendary, and several really rare cards, the game also unlocks upgraded players as you play more and reach milestones (game achievements) you unlock even more players and upgraded legendary players. I cannot answer for FIFA, but it seems that this approach has been mimicked over all the EA sport games, as such I have all that and NEVER paid a cent, showing you just how stupid this boy Jonathan Peniket really is, but the BBC writers are happy to convey “I accept responsibility for what happened. The decisions I made to spend that money were made by me”, yet the little tough guy was eager to state that he “was addicted to the buzz of chance when I bought packs” and “I was spending £30 at a time, then £40, then £50. By the time my card began to block my transactions, I was throwing £80 into the game four or five times a night”, so that the statement “video game packs and loot boxes [a general term for in-game purchases involving chance] are a form of gambling”, yes you can go that way, but when a junk is taking drugs, he isn’t really medicating is he, so what he states it is is merely a form to avoid as much guilt for his stupidity as possible. Loot boxes are not now, not ever gambling, so until we see one of these packs give us the 15 cards all stating ‘Thank You’ it can never be gambling. You get cards, there is always one rare in EVERY PACK, and you can always try to trade it. Consider that there are 3600 cards, 1200 are rare, meaning that you have a 1/1200 chance of getting Neymar, Mbappe, van Dijk, De Bruyne, Lewandowski, Ronaldo or Messi. That is the simplest top-line stage and people with the intelligence of porridge (Jonathan Peniket) decided to spend £3,000 and optionally still hasn’t learned that lesson.

In all honesty, I am no fan of Electronic Arts, they made a few errors on several levels and the loot box stage is optionally too exploited, yet it is not gambling. I remain firm on that part. The fact that some are too stupid to be allowed near a Credit Card does not mean that it becomes the fault of Electronic Arts, and if someone state that Electronic Arts needs to do more to temper per person spending that I would not disagree, but it doesn’t make loot boxes gambling. Only when there is a chance that you lose all, that there is no reward at all, then it becomes gambling. 

Gambling to most is “the wagering of money or something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods.” Yet the operative part in gambling is ‘uncertain outcome’, here the outcome is always the same: 1 Rare, 3 Uncommon and the rest are common cards. And when you realise just how big FIFA is, you need to realise from the start that you can never have them all. In most CCG games the games are at best 400-500 cards (without expansions). FIFA has over 6000 players, as such, your ultimate team will always be limited, you need to make the best of this and lets not forget “Better players give you an advantage”, that is true, but only in the field where both gamers are equal and with a person like Jonathan Peniket that is not a given, it is extremely doubtful. You see if he was a true gamer, then he would get the UEFA cup with West Ham United F.C. (if that was his local team) wouldn’t he? In all this posturing we forgot about the gamer involved, didn’t we? Now, I’ll be honest regarding FIFA, I (pretty much) suck at it, I do not like Soccer too much and that is fine, others love it and that is fine too. I loved the 98 edition on the N64, I played FIFA to some extent on an earlier version on the Playstation (the first one) and it was OK, yet I am not into Soccer, NHL is my game and there I see great things, I love the games, I play my dekes (and fail at times too) and I get beat a lot by kids in the US, Canada and Sweden as they live for hockey. I can live with that, they play it 6 hours a day as such, I expect to get beaten and no matter who is in my ultimate team, I am not going to win. It is simple math and the math shows the truth. I still love the game as I am a hockey man, the NHL game grew and over 18 years I have had my share of it. I loved the original version that came with my PS2, I loved NHL03 on Gamecube and so on, I still love my PS4 version of NHL19. I never had to spend $1 on any pack, so I am not complaining (not much for the Ultimate league anyway).

I have a nice collection of cards and I am happy to report that I got all the NHL jerseys and all the arena’s. Yes there is more to the game and I never stopped enjoying the game, I reckon that the same applies to those loving FIFA and apart from the few who cannot fathom limits, everyone is seemingly happy, oh and the fact that Felicity Hannah and Jane Andrews never gave you a list of all the packs you can get for free on a daily basis is also something you need to take notice of, they are all about headlining ‘EA’s response’ and the ramblings of a shopaholic junkie are equally issues that need to be seen. So as we see the article end with “Fifa was approached for comment, but has not yet responded.” We see the little nags that they reflect to be. What was that, a remark towards laying blame on FIFA for allowing for this? The fact that there is concern on what constitutes gambling should be seen as a first, all whilst there is absolutely no guarantee that under Covid-19, there is no way of telling who at FIFA are aware of this. It is seemingly an issue yet The worlds of Electronic Arts “the well-being of players is paramount – and all their games, including Fifa, have the ability to use parental controls provided by gaming platforms to cap or prohibit spend” are underplayed, so we see here that there was a option to ‘cap or prohibit spend’ and when we realise that this was a mere approach to give a vocal stage to someone who should be given lessened consideration as a junkie is setting the stage? Gimme a break!

In the end, yes EA could have optionally done a little more, but how long until we forget the initial setting that the consumer needs to accept responsibility for their actions and stop nagging like a little brat? He was there spending money on pack after pack and that was on him, not on EA. The part of the act was mentioned, yet focussed on the amounts, not the stupidity of the person spending. 

This is merely my view and you are (of course) welcome to disagree. 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Media

Realisation towards achievement

We all realise things over time, I am no exception to that. I am old school (well, old at least), I come from the stock where you buy a product, you get a product and to some degree that is it. I was there from the very beginning. I have nothing against SaaS, I get the concept, I get the notions and the considerations that come with it. Yet when I see how some programs need to find a way to fund its creators, I get it, and I do not oppose (OK, that came across wrong), but you get the idea. There is (for the most) no such thing as a free ride). 

When I look at the beginning of the iPad (I had the very first model), I got deeply into Blockheads. It was a free program and yes that was nice, but the programmer was really smart. He gave the players the option to get production upgraded to twice the speed for a mere $5.99. After a few hours I saw that I was going to like the program and spend the cash. I never regretted it and I still have the program, it served its lifetime stage, a dozen times over at least. It might be the best $5.99 I ever spent. Now, there are ways to get ‘free’ programs going. Micro-transactions was another option. Games had the option to earn the cards, or you could buy a booster pack (Magic) it is another way to get the return on investment. In the beginning games like Castle Age relied on it and it worked well, those who didn’t have the money, or would not spend the money could still play, without purchases you still made progress, but it would be slow and there would be grinding. I had this in Castle Age, I actually only made 1-2 purchases and the game became playable. A decent game for under $5, there can be no objection. 

So as the SaaS model progresses, I looked at both Day One ($2.08/month), and EverNote which is a lot more expensive. I am looking at it a an option next to Tablet Journal, which was free at the time and only charged for the additional backgrounds and icons. I had no issue buying them and now that I am looking at the new iPad, I wanted to upgrade the programs I used. 

Also, over time I noticed a few flaws in the Tablet Journal and I did program once, as such I was thinking to make my own version. Or at least make one that I liked completely (and it keeps me off the street which makes everyone happy). It also intersects with a few other issues I was having and the idea forming in my mind is a new sort of game, but I cannot start on that, my programming skills are just too rusty (the reward for becoming a data miner). 

In all this I needed to address replay-ability, challenge, growth and independence. You might think that this is a joke, but the last element is actually a lot more important than you think. During AC Brotherhood, Ubisoft almost had it right, but their focal point was in another direction. As such I now see that the mobile/non-mobile environment needs to be embraced, not separated on or merged. 

Gaming is a state of mind that must be protected and embraced, the mind is in different settings, the mind is the centre piece in the game and the makers seem to ignore it too often. Most game makers seem to see the brain, the person as the added appendage to the game, yet this is not the case, or at least I personally think that this is wrong, the brain is the entire piece n all this and the game is designed around it, as such the failures of Ubisoft become clear, when you make a game for everyone, you make a game that pleases no one.

We all have different needs in gaming, some prefer puzzles, some prefer stealth, some like it in RPG mode, some love closed levels, some need them to be open. I think that this is why Minecraft is such a hit, it is open and allows us to fill in the part we want to fill in. Yet, I have no intent of making some version of Minecraft, I believe in setting the stage to a group of people, so some will like it and a larger group will not, but it would be my intent to make it as appealing to those who want it as possible. 

So what will it bring? I do not know yet (the rusty programming skill makes it a question mark). Yet, the larger stage is not what w like, or what we might like, it is the stage of being apart, being different. Just as I hope that Cyberpunk 2077 has larger true hacking skills, we see the need for a game that is about making us seem more clever, not a game that links piece one and piece 2. I am not referring t a puzzle game like Myth, but the added setting that puzzles brought in rendez-vouz with Rama. So not getting two cogs to compete the puzzle in Tombraider (no negativity implied here), but a stage where we need to see the puzzle and consider the solution, not fitting 2 parts, but finding the proper 4 parts out of 50 offered. 

I get it, not everyone likes puzzles and some will not like the option offered, but I would make it for those who do like this side of gaming, the part where the mind figures it out. You see I always believed that games are a great educator and the proper game still needs to be paid for, but as the joy and educations progresses, we see a price that is eagerly paid by the player, all whilst those who lack funds (or prefer not to pay) can still play the game. 

When we realise that we are better or feel better with the program in our midst, at that point the $5.99 is not a hurdle, it is the threshold to the next stage in our lives and if games like Minecraft, Blockheads, Magic, Archero and Fallout Shelter can please its audience, any other creator can too.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT

Death of the creed

Before I begin I must warn you, if you are an AC fan, a fan of what Ubisoft produces, you will hate this story. The second part is that this is based on personal views, speculations and what the ‘leaked’ 30 minutes of AC Valhalla brings. The game is still in development, so the end result could differ. Keep all that in mind!

We saw the creed getting killed, its fans have seen a steady decline since the third game, and that is where we stand, it took 8 years. It took this long because no one will argue that AC4 (Black Flag) and ACO (Origins) are indeed excellent pieces of work, but it was marketed by what I like to call a group of people without any backbone, softcovers the lot of them. Black Flag is an excellent game but it is not an AC game (the escape from prison level is perhaps an exception). Black Flag is the pirate game that Sid Meier dreamt of making, but technology stopped him and Ubisoft had the inside track here to make a new piece of memorable IP, but they moved away and set the stage to a much larger IP hoping to set new standards, perhaps they partially succeeded, I will let you decide. After that the quality went down fast and as I see it they had a chance to make a new IP with Origins, they took a separate detour and it was truly an amazing product, but they spoiled it with Odyssey and now we have Valhalla, one person had the same idea I had, it is Odyssey with a new skin, it feels like that. Graphically it does look good, but the parts I saw is all about spicing and lacking substance, one viking goes into the fray, onto the breach and into the masses and slaughters what can be slaughtered. A lot of posturing, it feels off and I was afraid of this from the beginning, their marketing was so intent on creating hypes, this early, 6 months before the game is out, that usually reeks of shallowness and in all this, the game is as disappointing as I feared. The Creed was murdered by its own friendly forces. An IP dragged to death by shallow idea’s and a lack of creativity and staging of braced ego, or is that braised ego? It is a shame, for even as the first one lacked to some degree, it was an amazing start, after which we got Ezio in 2 and Brotherhood and legend status was reached. There is a decent case for revelations, but it was downhill from there, which is a shame, including AC3, the story was pretty amazing, there was a much larger stage and even as some (including me) did not consider AC3 to be a great game, it did bring surprises, there was no denying that. The Graphics department has never disappointed and that must be stated out loud, graphically the game remained at a high point all the way to Odyssey, even as we dread the last game, it was close to sublime in the graphics department. 

Perhaps this is the future for all who wants to make a game pleasing everyone, as I see it you are left with a product that pleases almost no one, it is my view on the matter.

So as I consider the Valhalla leak (no idea how the game was leaked, I think it is marketing, afraid of what is most likely to happen), I see a game that is shoddy on several fronts, but I do realise that I was watching something that had not been released yet. However, the stage I saw is in line of what AC had become. Yes, it is a game, as was Odyssey, but when you realise that not one fort on the planet had thousands of arrows, their aim was not that great (especially as they cannot shoot things in the night that moves), we see a much larger lag in gaming and a lag in the AC series. You merely need to see the first two seasons of Vikings to get that picture across to a much larger degree. To create arcade gaming situation in sandbox games implies the game needs triggers and that leaves you in a stage moving from mini game to mini game, did you sign up for that?

It is hard to write anything positive, and that too is an issue, apart from the graphics which has been far above par again and again. So even as we see the ‘leaked’ footage, we realise that the stage that Ubisoft created was the makings of hypes with no game play, it was perhaps the most stupid thing they could have done, and they should not have started the creations of hypes until October at the earliest, perhaps the birthday of the board of Directors on October 4th might have been a good idea (World Animal Day). If the game continues the way it is (as I saw it) there is every chance that it will be the last AC game to be made, I only bought AC Odyssey as it was on special at 80% discount, I stopped playing it after day 2 as the game was massively inferior to Origins and as I see it Valhalla is going to be even worse. If not, then Ubisoft better make it very clear in a next presentation with actual gameplay. 

Can the IP be saved? I am not certain whether it should, there have been too many massive misses, a new IP station makes a lot more sense and they have options there, they merely decided to ignore them (as I personally see it). So whilst we might consider bashing the Guillemot members (which is never a bad idea), we need to realise that they have bigger problems at present, because as I expect Valhalla to disappoint us, they only have one shot let, Watchdogs: Legion better be a slam dunk home run, if not the existence of Ubisoft might be done for. After Odyssey and Breakpoint, Ubisoft cannot handle any more disappointments, even as the Division 2 is heralded by its fans as a serious step forward, it does not get bonus points, Valhalla needed to be a win and there is every indications that this is not going to happen, implying that the life of Ubisoft will be in the hands of Watchdogs: Legion. It might not be fair, but that is how it is and even as it is shown to be pretty amazing, the failure of Valhalla will impact Watchdogs: Legion as well, unfair, but that is life, often not fair. Can I give Ubisoft any advice? Yup, they should have listened to me when I stated again and again that games need proper testing and both Odyssey and Breakpoint can be seen as evidence that this was not done. 

Could I be wrong?

Yes, of course I can, but those who have seen and flocked to the 30 minute leak will agree with me that Ubisoft has massive problems and not everyone is a Rainbow 6 lover, a game that so far has remained well above par (according to those who play it). So whilst the Creed is that ‘everything is permitted’ the Ubisoft board might have taken this too literally and releasing below par games should have been prevented, it is merely my view on the matter.

Oh and in the coming stage of the PS5 (and the Microsoft alternative), they better stop the entire stage of 25GB+ patches, it will hurt their business even more as I personally see it, and Ubisoft actually knows this, you merely need to see the opinion of internet in Rural France for that (which is France outside of Paris, Bordeaux, Cannes, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Nantes) and Europe has a few of these places, as such, the people interested in Ubisoft games will be dwindling down faster than they are happy with.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming

It’s not a problem

When was the last time you had the idea of ‘What if this is not a game, what if this is real?’, that is the stage that I faced this morning. Now, I have never made a secret of the fact that I have given views against the (a personal observation) stupidity of Ubisoft. Yet this morning, I had the idea that puts Ubisoft in the forefront of technology in real life. A stage where they could add billions to the value that they have. This advantage can be seen in Watchdogs 1 and is a lot more visible in Watchdogs 2. Can you guess what it is?

What happens when the head up display is visible when you are on route? What if you add Google glasses, or a google eye screen to the Apple Watch and an iPhone? You get a personal tracker and navigation system. So what happens when the arrow system in Watchdogs is reflected on the road via a google glass? It would enable you to find your way faster, especially when you are new to a location and add to this the option of enhanced tracking that 5G offers, we see that the IP that Ubisoft has already is entering an entirely new frame, a global frame where we can navigate in other ways too. I wonder if Ubisoft has considered what they have. Even as there are flaws in the game, the device will offer a much larger stage, and of course a stage to fix what is currently slightly below par. I wonder if game makers have considered the benefit of what their game offers (unless it is Kid of Rock), I do not think that the unicycle has a large benefit, but tracking and projection technology goes a long way, especially in light of where we need to be and for what we seek. It is not connected to my IP, but I can see the joint benefits that they have and there is a much larger stage in the viewpoint of the people who might need this, those who are elderly, bad in manoeuvring and limited in the freedoms of movements that they have. It is not an adaptation of a few thousand people, it will be the adaptation for millions of citizens, all consumers of a much larger need and Ubisoft might be able to provide there.

I personally do not think that they had considered the approach to this, games are there to mimic life and to give alternative options, not set the stage of project what the consumers need and there Ubisoft might be the first to set the way. It is fine if Electronic Arts wants to follow, but we already have Soccer players, Football players and Basketball players. Still, a few companies might want to reconsider the IP they have and how it might be applied to the 5G realm. And this is where it hurts, you see Huawei is close to ready for what is needed, Ericsson and Nokia are close to 3 years away from setting that stage. A union of smart mobility, smart wearables, and Domotics and the two non Huawei players have not made a dent in those approaches, their software is lacking and as I see it opportunities for Huawei and optionally Ubisoft as well. 

Good business is where you find it and the creative mind will always find alternatives based on less than perfect events. It was not about the perfection, it was about application.\

So in the end, whatever market Ubisoft loses, the IP they have can be set in a who range of optional new ways, even in ways that they had not yet considered. 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Science

Multiple rulers

We have a ruler at times. A ruler so we can see whether the size measures up to the setting we held ourselves to, and a size to what we hold others. We are all like that, and sometimes we use more than one, it is almost like we set a standard metrical and then another one to get the inch setting. There is one stage we avoid; not on purpose, but the stage we set because we did not think of it. That is the stage that I found myself in this weekend. Anyone who has a Playstation 4 (or better) has either been playing the Last of us part 2, or has been contemplating playing it. There might be the smallest group that did not (and that is fair) but that group is really really small. It started in 2013, a (small) player named naughty dog, famous for Crash Bandicoot and a few other titles, had an idea and made that game, that game was titled The last of us, we might not have realised it at the time but gaming history was written that very moment. They made the game that heralded the end of the Playstation 3 on a high. The game was graphically, musically and technically at the very top of gaming, do not take my word for it, the game got over 200 game of the year awards, which is a record by itself, so when it was remastered for the Playstation 4, I did not hesitate to get it, now there is the second part and what I have seen so far is blowing my mind (again). It als gave me the idea to come up with the two ruler rule. So far the only three passing that standard are Naughty Dog, CD Project Red and Bethesda. This does not mean that others are not good, some are great. Yet to fit this measurement you need to be better than the best. I believe that those makers could have turned their game into a movie and it would be as groundbreaking and as appreciated as the game. As I see it CD Project Red did that by getting the Netflix the Witcher made. OK, they cheated by getting Superman to play the lead, but still they got it done and it is every bit as amazing as the game was. Excellence is transcendental (or so I believe) and I feel certain that the Last of US (both 1 and 2) would make amazing movies/mini series. I played part 2 to some extent and then I remembered (I thought back to the first one) and I decided to play it again. Even now, 7 years later, the first game is as overwhelming as any new game is, yes, the second one surpasseds the first one by a fair bit, but both of them leave most others in their wake, the games are that good. This is not bad for the others, there will always be rocksteady, there will always be rockstar and they will endear the gamers in their own way, there is no doubt about it, yet when we see the bullet point memo people at EA and Ubisoft, they are done for. The few franchises they hide behind will not help them, even now, their games at 70%-80% reduced rate are a debatable buy and that is not a good place to be in. When a two billion company like Ubisoft gets passed over by what some regards as small studios, we need to realise that gaming has been on the fringe of technology since the 80’s. Some people decided to give the thought that gaming too is iteration (like every year an Assassins Creed game), some exploited other means, some good and some bad, and before some think that Ubisoft is all bad, they did bring us Assassins Creed 2 (and brotherhood), Far Cry 3, AC Origins, Watchdog 2, The Division and a few others, when we look past the iteration, we see that they make good games, if only they were properly tested and vetted before release, it is the largest flaw that Ubisoft brings us today. And it is getting noticed more and more as we take notice of games like The Witcher and The Last of Us. Wecan add games like Elite Dangerous and Subnautica and the remastered edition of System Shock (hopefully 2020), we see that the original ideas are still there and they are wiping the floor with the iterative wannabe’s. You see the stage is changing and gamers are not completely aware.

We see the created hypes and we see how Microsoft is hiding behind the marketing cry ‘the most powerful system in the world’, yet they got defeated by the weakest system of them all (Nintendo Switch) and as Microsoft hides behind the hype screen we are all missing the larger point. As 4K gaming hits the front yard of many gamers this holiday season, they tend to forget that the games will be twice the size and so will the patches. In this situation consider that in places like Greece and Turkey a Ubisoft patch will take up to a day (estimated), a day per game downloading a patch. The UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Italy and a few others have better connections, yet in these places in Rural areas their internet is not great, so the long term view of the approach that they are currently holding is that they will not be in a great place. Yes, France, Spain and Scandinavia the connection is well above decent, yet is that the same in rural areas? In France it is not and I just set the pulse point on millions of gamers who will be in an extremely agitated state soon enough, yet not if Ubisoft continues as it currently is. And we need to review that too. A game might seem amazing, yet in the 4K life, patches will be increasingly larger and larger. So what do you think will happen when a patch is not 38 GB, but 70 GB? How long until gamers lose their shit over this, because the second time it happens might already be enough for the gamer to demand a refund, and with some places having the 7 day purchase option in place, that cooldown will be enough to end the lifespan of places like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Activision. Yes, I get it, others will be in a similar place, but consider keeping a list of all your games and all the patches that come through, who will win the patch race agitation list? 

Yes, we get it Bethesda will also be in a bad place, yet RPG games like Skyrim are too great and will always have patches coming their way, yet overall when I look back at the games like Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout 4 the amount of patches have not been overwhelming. As I see it one breakpoint patch has had more to download then the sum of nearly all Bethesda games, that is the station we see, yet we forget that the station we face is nothing more than a small way station, the stations we are about to hit are proper terminals with larger needs. We need to measure what was and what will be to a much larger extent and use two rulers, the size of the game and the size of the patches, whilst we tally the number of patches. Breakpoint was regarded by gamers as the most disappointing game of 2019, 38GB of patches later and it is still up for debate, as I see it, they no longer have any freedom of movement, gaming will change but not in their direction, the games will need to be better and their infrastructure is not ready, the patch notes give a clear indication of that. So yes, we will see a console war, but we will see a lot more than that. Santa Monica Studios, Naughty Dog and a few others are ready and they make Playstation games. The people at Microsoft are not ready for the issues that sme games bring and their Azure cloud is useless at this stage, it is about innovative gaming, the iterative clowns have no place being here. We are about to see a console war and Microsoft could soon end up in 4th position, so when we consider the big three, who else will surpass them? Their marketing hype of the most powerful console for sale, and they forgot that they still needed good games to stay in that place, with less than half a dozen exclusive games, the pickings are slim for Microsoft, to see that you needed an additional ruler, a different stage of measuring. Just like the measurement of power, there are two ways of measuring it, all whilst the elements for both formulas were readily available, too many players were looking at one formula and forgot about the other one, and that is what the limelight will show at the end of the year and when that limelight shows bright, we will see that some players are done for, one ruler would not have shown it, they all focussed on the revenue and they forgot that revenue is hindered by the resistance that patches bring, these players forgot or basically ignored the danger of large patches and now that they are 26 weeks away from a new standard these players will panic, they will panic more and more and let marketing do the fight of the public arena all whilst it will merely stop activities for a few days and some patches required months. Now, we accept that both Sony and Microsoft have that house of Pox looming, but as I see it, Sony has more alternatives and in this fight, the one with alternatives is the most likely to win. In all this there is strength to any marketing endeavour, but its flaws are there too and once your board of directors start to earnestly believe the stories they tell, they have already painted themselves into a corner. 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Science

Playing the fifth station

I am watching what is to come and even as the first part was not my bag of tea, the New Spiderman game definitely was, a new Gran Turismo and now I stop with shouting titles, a lot more publications will do that. What was interesting was the response the game makers had (the man behind Insomniac games to name one), the additions that the PS5 enabled, and so far I am watching actual gameplay and it is blowing me away. The presentation is giving new titles from franchises we love and new titles from origins we never saw and so far it is pretty mind boggling, but Sony is pretty good in that respect, so I am not overly dumbstruck, yet the graphics and the environment as we see it in the game Stray leaves me with thought, Sony, not unlike Microsoft is going in a direction we expect, as such I see a gap that players like Apple and Google can touch on. Sony has well over half a dozen exclusive titles that players want, and there we see the first part that I sort of expected. We see the exclusive and the likely less exclusive games, yet after 30 minutes still nothing from Ubisoft. I am certain that Ubisoft will be on the PS5, no doubt, but the stage where the small software houses are taking the limelight and sharing it with Sony shows just how bad the stage of Ubisoft is at present. Then we get to see Ghostwire, a game teased before, now we see it on the PS5 and this game alone is reason to get the PS5, and even as it is not the most expected game, it is certainly taking the limelight and that is a new feeling. When we see what comes with Hitman 3 I feel certain that no Microsoft Hype has a chance at present, I am cautious because their show a few years back was really good, but they have to take all the stops out to even equal what Sony is bringing. And that is important here as Hitman is most likely coming to both systems. With a lot of titles handing out the Holiday 2020, the expected image that PS5 will come with an overwhelming amount of launch titles (or first month titles). At the end of the presentation it is clear, there is no Ubisoft, they are in trouble, because there is no way that they want to miss the event, Bethesda was there with 2 titles, so why not Ubisoft? 85 minutes after the start, we get the power hammer, Eloy is back and what we see on PS5 blew me away, Horizon 2, Forbidden West is a PS5 Gem andI can’t wait to get my fingers on this console, which was shown right after, it is gorgeous, you should see the video on YouTube yourself and see what is there, words cannot describe it. No matter how some Microsoft fans shout that their system is the biggest and the strongest, without good games it does not add up to much, so far they are 3 million systems behind Nintendo and that is not all, 4 reviewers were completely blown away, it is that overwhelming and most of us will be waiting with bells on for the next 20 weeks. 

Sony, you’ve done it again!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT

Between fact and speculation

There are two parts in all this. The first is fact, the second is speculation, the facts come from what we know and have seen. First fact given by the BBC is that the PS4 has so far sold 108 million worldwide, the Xbox 49 million, which is 3 million less than the Nintendo Switch, The PS4 and Xbox both started in 2012. The Nintendo in 2017, surpassing the Xbox in half the time. As such, that so-called strongest console was surpassed by the weakest console and in 4 hours we get to see what the new PS, the PS5 will bring us. In all this there is no surprise for me, I saw this coming in 2016, and as the Xbox One X showed us the face of Microsoft and their short sightedness, I saw how they would lose the market more and more, even as Microsoft is trying to create hype after hype, selectively giving us missing information, the consumers are waking up to the colossal error that Microsoft has become and I firmly believe that it is about to get worse. If it was up to me I would direct Google and Apple towards alternative paths making Microsoft the system in 4th or even 5th position. I am that mean at times. 

Speculation

Speculation is another path, yet that is not about the hardware, that is set to the business practices of Activision and Ubisoft. To give you the example, I have been an Elite fan since its release in 1985, In 2016 it was on early release on the Xbox and it was pretty much the ONLY reason I got it. The game is still fantastic and since that point, over 3 years, the game has had a speculated 53 updates, the last one 3.4 GB, Ubisoft released AC Odyssey in 2018 and has a speculative 54updates, the last one 24 GB, almost 800% of the Elite Dangerous one. Activision seems to have a new record, Call of Duty has seemingly a 85 GB patch. That is way too massive and games on the PS5 will end up being larger, a lot larger. Under that given situation, the entire patch system needs to change. Ubisoft especially (Breakpoint 38 GB, AC Odyssey 2 GB) is a setting that gamers will no longer accept, it is a little bit ridiculous that Ubisoft cannot properly test its games. The AC series especially has shown a lack of proper testing, yet that will dwarf in both the PS5 and Xbox X series life. Under the new setting, the makers can hide behind ‘everyone has broadband’ and ‘there is unlimited download’, yet it is clear that rural Germany and France are not on the big internet page and the entire Coronavirus work at home part with congestion all over the place, in the same setting whilst players like Netflix is pushing 4K series more and more, the entire mess of congestion will only increase. Players like Ubisoft will not survive the quality they have brought so far and there is no doubt in my mind that both Sony and Microsoft will have to protect their player sooner rather than later. This is the speculative part and we will hopefully learn more in 4 hours when Sony gives us the works on the release of the PS5. The time of  release is nearing more and more. As I see it, it is a mere 22 weeks away and some will have to save up for both a 4K 125Hz TV as well as the PS5. As I see it, Sony is extremely likely to have a massively great 2020 soon enough and an even better 2021. None of this matters to Nintendo, it will work great on the new TV and they have already surpassed Microsoft, who will need the largest part of 2021 just to break even with the weakest console. They are not in a good place and whatever hype they create, it will not look good, yet that is still speculative of me and I hope to be proven right no later than March 2021. 

Gaming is about to change and we are only hours away from seeing it ourselves. 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Science

30 cents to the dollar

Yes, we all have moments where it is about the discount, and I had a promise to keep. So when I noticed that Breakpoint was available for less than 30 cents to the dollar from opening night 7 month ago, I decided to give it a go. There was a good point and a bad one. The bad was the bug I noticed last october, was still not fixed, it is seemingly part of the system, even after the 19GB patch (which was to be expected 7 months later) the game still has a lot to be desired. The bug I saw was that when you enter a bunker in the first mission, it immediately leaves you 4 hours later, it is suddenly late morning daylight. A lot of the reviews still applied 7 months later, and to some extent it is to be expected, but let’s be fair, do we need a mission for every bloody handgun? It is my personal expectation that I will still be able to end the lives of a lot of people with a trusty HK Model 23 (1991), that handgun 29 years later will still correctly end lives, it has a laser targeter (I never used one) and it also has an excellent silencer. So going onto missions to find some HP USP, even if it is 2 years younger, does not really load my canon. Now, I get the option that soldiers (non military) have their own preference to what is the most deadly solution (if they can aim) and YES, this is a video game, but Ubisoft could have thought it through. Some reviews of ‘they added everything, so you end up running for nothing’ and it applies to this game. I get the loot part, I get the lets look fun part, but a game that has more chopper and drone support then the entire US army had in both Afghanistan and Iraq is a little over the top. Oh, and the amount of opposition outnumbers the US army as well, as such there are more questions, but this is a game, I get it. 

The good

The good are the graphics and the environment, yet the game has its share of glitches (I personally only experienced non essential ones) like winelines in midair (a meter above the ground), yet that is a non-essential glitch. The graphics are pretty good and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere shooting people I never cared about, just like some people in real life. Th sounds were good, yet debatable, if soldiers talk that loud for real, they deserved to get themselves killed #Justsaying. So, the area was brilliantly selected (read: designed).

The Irritating

Yves Guillemot, you bloody idiot, every time I got killed in action, I got the ‘join and invite people’ yellow blinking part. You idiot, I don’t like others joining me, I don’t want to join other players either! It is a personal thing, learn and switch that bloody part OFF! The second irritating part is the Ubi Club redeem part, especially as the Ubisoft server was apparently not working, even though I was online. There was the issue of redeeming in game perks and for some reason that jut did not work, so when we consider that some published 16 hours ago ‘Ubisoft Making Accessibility Part of Company DNA’ all whilst I cannot redeem Ubisoft club points, clearly lost the plot. In the light, I reckon that David Tisserand needs to clear his speaking points with the Ubisoft internal IT department #JustSaying.

The past

Yes, we have seen the references to other games from within Ubisoft, yet the island made me remember the 1989 Rainbird achievements Midwinter. I keep on remembering this game towards that game. One review did give me that Wildlands is a much better buy than this game, but I felt it essential to try this game, especially as I reviewed parts of it on someone else’s dime (it was their game), so whilst I see the point that some reviewers made (boring and repetitive for example) I see that the biggest issue is that it had to be released to a closed circuit of testers and after that look at the final version, I personally believe that the Marketing non gaming department at Ubisoft has too much power. This game required 4-6 months more of testing and development. The second part (which was nice) was the gunsmith, yet in the middle of nowhere, there is no space to improve my rifle, add a silencer on a rifle I took off a dead person (headshots are an effective way to remove hardware that a person will no longer care about). I would have limited the gunsmith part to the base between the waterfalls, but that part did look pretty awesome. For me it was an interesting two days, but in the end, there is a stage where I accept that the game is optionally not for me, others will like it, I get that, but when I like a game mode and I see that there is still a dubious level of acceptance even at 30 cents to the dollar, the game has more than flaws, it has essential issues, especially when you get to a wharf and you are suddenly surrounded by 3-4jeeps, all with heavy miniguns and around 10 opponents, all triggered by talking to a person about a boat, we see the oldest flaw of all, event triggers, all whilst the army needing that much to stop one person (optionally four for someplayers) has a lacking trust in their own army. 

Conclusion

In the end the games has good and bad sides, there is just that feeling that it still has too many bad sides and the fact that it is at 70% discount does not take that feeling away, that’s just sad (read irritating), I personally believe that Ubisoft should have done a lot better, it angers me because the stage of an open world of this size should have been more inviting, it makes me sad. And yes, I get it, I might be accusing their marketing department on a personal feeling, but where is it stated that Guillemot needed the money desperately enough to let a game be released before it was ready is a much larger nightmare than we would like to consider. Half a dozen games and all of them released before they were ready, that is how I see it, look at CD Projekt Red, they merely keep people waiting until it is ready and the perfection that Witcher 3 brought is still heralded 5 years later, that means something and it is time for Ubisoft to catch on, preferably before they waste every bit of IP they have. 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT

Open Targets

We all have that point in time when we see a person we know, and when we see that person, we wished we had a paintball rifle, that person is the target. That person optionale did nothing wrong, it is a variant to “Slap your annoying coworker day”. I feel certain that more than one person had me in mind and that is probably why my title as ‘certified psychopath’ gets me out of hot water. Iget it, I tend to be goal driven and I have zero regard for diplomacy (most of the time), yet it also works in opposition. I get annoyed when some boss gives me the run around instead of giving me the direct message. There is nothing as hateful as a manager keeping you on a leash instead of giving the bad news up front, which he has had for 3-4 hours. So wasting time on long rides whilst the short message would have changed the dynamics towards the goal. 

Yet the larger issue is not the manager, it is me. I am aware that I have flaws and faults (we all do), yet I present the flaw as a strength, and that is where things get dicey at times. I feel that I am on the right path, but I also understand that those drowning in diplomacy have a case. In this setting we look at Ubisoft, it is hit hard by the Rainbow Six clone (I would call it a rip off), and Apple and Google are actually in hot waters over the entire setting. This is nothing less than copyright infringement. This is a lot more than a clone, this is more than some copy lookalike. Several people, or better stated, several gamers could not tell the difference ad that is a bad thing. Ubisoft has many flaws, but in the titles they believe, they have pumped cash into them and Rainbow Six is an important IP revenue for them. As such the game Area F2 is a much larger concern and the impact on Alibaba will also be significant. It is my issue here that I fail to see how Area F2 even made it onto the App sites in the first place. And that is before we take a look at the Nintendo app store. There is a larger flaw and even as I enjoy slapping Ubisoft, I am also protective of games and Ubisoft does deserve every bit of protection here. There is a larger stage, not merely of what is missed, but of the things we see that require a larger consideration, apart from Alibaba getting every bit of software scrutinised, before it is allowed online. The larger stage is how can we prevent this larger stage exploding. In today’s stage we see that videogames get the initial 30-60 day joust for revenue and that leads to a 60-120 day revenue boost. Basically Area F2 screwed that up for Rainbow Six and they should pay for it, optionally using the Alibaba credit cards. In today’s stage it will be a massive invoice, and as I personally see it, Ubisoft is entitled to those funds. The stage for Alibaba changes even further when we consider the historic stage that Call of Duty and Medal of Honour had, they looked alike but were different in several ways and it kept both alive. In this stage where people cannot tell the difference between Area F2 and Rainbow Six siege there is a much larger and a different stage. Copyright infringement is not new, not even in gaming, but the fact that people cannot tell the difference is pretty new and very unique, and I wonder what play will be set in motion to stop this from happening again, in all this, I do believe that Alibaba will take a large hit to their value, I personally believe that Ubisoft has all the rights it can to divert damage to its IP and let it all be paid by someone name Ali Baba

It reminds me of an old publishing joke, you see the book ‘Ali Baba and the 40 thieves’ was politically incorrect, it was republished as ‘Ali Baba and the 40 fighters for the Palistinian cause’. I wonder how it sounds when the third edition is staged as ‘Alibaba and the 40 game programmers’, yet in all this it is still early days, I will keep my eyes on the court case, because the impact will be a lot larger than most of us can imagine. The only thing I wonder about is how they got it looking alike so fast, there seems to be a factor of intent in all this, so there is every chance that Alibaba will go to court against the people who made Area F2. 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Law

Parallels

I started playing a new video game. Well, it is not new, I have played it 7 times (I think), I played it on the Xbox 360, the PS3,the Xbox One and the PS4. The game was released on 11/11/11 and it is called Skyrim. I have loved this game since its release and it all started with the predecessor Oblivion. So how does a game become this amazing? There is a parallel with the series I Claudius made in the 70’s. You see there are two distinct differences, this game is great, not great through marketing (Microsoft never learned that lesson). In I Claudius its greatness came from 4 elements. 

  1. The Script
  2. The Cast
  3. The Director
  4. The Environment

I believe that games have a similar side to it, and we can see the difference between a good game and a great game. Even as there is no real cast in Skyrim, the makers have to define the characters, on TV they are played but the impact is similar. It is the environment that has the greater pull, whilst it was Roman times for Claudius, the medieval era that the Elder Scrolls exhibit have a similar pull on people.

It drove me to make the first design for TES: Restoration, yet in all this, I do recognise that another Skyrim was not going to make it, gamers are innovative driven not iterative and we have seen this going back to Tomb Raider 2 (1997) and even before that. 

The first question becomes ‘How can we continue a franchise and remain innovative?’, the second one is ‘How can gaming be pushed towards future greatness?’ In the first case we need to investigate, the second one is for the visionaries. The first question is important because what was released between Assassin Creed 2 and Assassins Creed Origin was less and less and almost destroyed the franchise, it is nice that Ubisoft remains in denial and after that makes a ‘Looking towards the future comment’, yet the issue is much more important than you think. 

Great gaming does not happen overnight and places like CD Project Red are really rare. A lot of game designers tend to be one trick ponies when it comes to great games and so far they pulled it off more than once, as did Bethesda as did a few others. Yet the ones that do are a minority and in the light of console wars investigating what is possible matters, good gaming is good for all, the era where Microsoft and Sony keeping each other one their toes driving gaming is almost a thing of the past and we need to see better games to resolve that issue. It does not matter how it goes, but at present only Sony and Nintendo remain great, Microsoft a lot less so and as such it will impact great gaming for Sony players down the line. 

As to how to fix this, I have no idea. Yet the thought does propel me forward and I Claudius is still a prime example of what makes a product great. The fact that it can stand against any drama produced almost 50 years later is proof of that, yet in that regard looking at the elements help us. The two elements that are the strong drivers here are the Script (the game story) and the environment. In that regard Bethesda is sitting pretty for now. Evenas there is no finality towards Hammerfell (2021), the signs are good and as I personally see it, it would also benefit my idea of TES: Restoration. It doesn’t change the premise, it merely makes it larger and the new consoles are ready for that, the fact that PC’s need to reserve 150GB for the new flight simulator confirms that and gamers do not care about that space, they will do a lot more to their budget to get the best out of games. Thousands of Elite Dangerous fans are evidence of that, they beat flight simulators fans almost two to one on hardware. Andforthese fans storage is an important element (another thing Microsoft never learned in 8 years). And the setting is not PS5 against Microsoft, it is old, stale and Microsoft lost. It is getting The Apple and Google Solution to par off beyond Nintendo. It is not an easy trip but it can be done and a few good games is all that is needed. Not games already released (Diablo 3 and Skyrim), but actual new IP that the others do not have, that makes any new great game 5 times the challenge for the existing consoles. And it can be done, in all this I refuse to discard Apple, when it comes to TV Shows, they are showing to give Netflix a run for their money, and if they can do it on TV, they can do it on gaming too. 

It is a wild west of digital format and both Google and Apple are on equal footing for now, yet the stage in 2022 is not known and cannot be set until the IP comes out for comparison. So all the junkies that are hardware driven will learn a very interesting lesson, the lesson that it was never about the hardware. The CBM64 people saw it, the PS1 and N64 people lived it and no one seems to catch on. It has always been about great games and as we see copies of great amiga games arrive on Android the decision makers are starting to wake up, yet they lost dozens of opportune IP that is now in the hands of those making a few dollars from microtransactions. It is the loss that we have seen over a year and the larger players are apparently not catching on, so where do the gamers stand?

Well, that remains to be seen. I Claudius was almost never a reality and so far has never been remade. The chance of equalling I Claudius is rare to say the least and surpassing it will be almost impossible. It is the impact of a near perfect TV series and games have had that same impact. On TV we saw other series making it good, even great and games can do that too. Will we see it? I have no idea, but if I can come up with 4 golden idea’s in a year there is no way that there is no one else doing that same thing. My biggest issue is that it is unlikely to be Ubisoft, it is more and more likely that several indie developers are sitting on that great idea and finding them by the right people is what counts towards the next console battle. As I personally (and speculatively) see it, someone (high up) at Microsoft will open their mouth making a needed jump to their precious Azure solution, making the game a no go, as such I am more and more curious on what Apple and Google pull off. They might have what it takes to become a member of the big 4, the question at this point will be, does Microsoft have what it takes to remain one of the big four in 2023. The game is open for a lot of players, yet will they have the software to make it count?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Science