Category Archives: Gaming

5 stories?

Yes, I got into the vibe again. I was mesmerising on the game Dante’s Inferno which was released in 2010, yet what if we consider that the setting is in reverse? What if there are 5 people (a random number mind you) that are cast into hell and they need to get out, they need to find evidence of their innocence, get the evidence and then get out of hell. There needs to be a twist, a good time, I will need to come up with 5 twists all different, in this you get to choose the life you want to lead. One is a woman, she is cast into the circle of the lustful, it will be a wink towards ‘The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper’ by Helena Rubenhold. That woman will need to get past the circle of lust and Limbo to present her evidence and be awarded entry into paradise. This story is pure stealth.

In the second story we will meet with a miser (gender optional), the actions of this person lands them into the circle of greed. Yet that person was never set to greed, but to contracts and agreements and every contracts was kept, several were close off at the last minute to avoid the people from getting extra fees, these people will need to be found and then the evidence need to be gotten to the scribe in Limbo, proving the wrongful accusation. It is partially stealth, but this person will introduce ranged fighting (bow/crossbow)

In the third story it will be about melee fighting (ranged and stealth allowed), A bully (male only) dies in a fight where he killed two people in violence, he ends up in the 7th level of hell. But as he goes through that level wandering alone, he learns and recalls more of the transgressions done against him, he son of the priest that condemned him to hell was the person who coveted his girlfriend and the love of his life. The second man was helping the priests son, but whilst the son of the priest was away, he raped the girl. As his walk is confused and dazed he find more and more items proving what actually happened, he needs to the the circumstantial evidence to the shrine so that the scribe can get the complete story from the girl who never survived the rape.

In the fourth story we get a person who is in hell for fraud, there is no doubt that the deed was done, but as the person lives and survives in the 8th level of hell evidence comes to light that the wrong was done to right another wrong. (Gender optional)

In the fifth story we see an officer, confined to the 9th level of hell, he is guilty of treason, he killed his general. As time goes by he finds other people he knew and we are shown the reason why he killed the king. It is a WW1 environment and we see that the king was pushing people intentionally into the line of fire of enemy machine guns, hundreds were lost, the general needs to get out of his shackles, out of his prison and needs to find the people who are in hell too and get their statements. They need to be in mental orbs so that the scribe will accept them.

As we get through the game, we see that Purgatory is a place, but it seems flawed and as the general gets through the levels we see that things are amiss. This get us to the sixth character, the sixth character is you, you have all the sides of the other 5, you were lustful (most teenagers are), we all are at times gluttonous, we all eat to much at times, you were greed driven (we all have to pay rent) and as we get into Anger, Heresy (cursed lately?), Violent, Fraudulent and sometimes we even betray those around us. But as the story unfolds, we learn that those setting the verdict of those guilty were pushed into hell and hell was overcrowded and the overflow went straight into tartarus, precisely what Hades banked for and you need to fix the system without anyone learning that you altered the stage. It is in this story that you will face the demons that rule over the levels of hell.  A stage where hell is mapped, a stage where we get to walk through hell and it is really really big. I reckon whomever pulls this off has a larger gain to make, and let’s not forget this IP is free for anyone making this game a Sony exclusive game. Good Luck!

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The stage moves on

Yes, today I got the news I was happy about. There was of course the news on Diablo IV coming. But the one bit of news I did not know about hit me about 56.3 minutes ago (roughly). Diablo 2 will be coming to us in a remastered version, as such is there something like too much Diablo? And even as it makes me happy, it shows that some are in a larger stage to resurrect the great old games in a new jacket. I have been stating this for almost a year, and now as Diablo 2, Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 are coming, the good old days of gaming is coming back. There are always reservations, in the stage where we live Mass Effect for years, we will be faced with a game where we go through the motions, yet there are hundred of thousand of gamers who missed out on that and for them I am happy. This stage is not the same for Diablo 2, yes the story is clear but the game was a lot more than the story and that will still satisfy. Even as some wasted time on a relaunch of Bullfrog games, the good games could still be coming. There is Nightdive Studios who is working on System Shock and there are a few others that will bring good gaming back to systems and consoles. It is all the stage and with the $138 billion projected for gaming this year alone. Everyone wants a slice of that pie and some will not care how they get it. 

Even as we all applaud the effort and the choices, we are still in a holding pattern on the games that will redefine gaming on the next generation of consoles. Some are hoping that Ratchet and Clank will bring it this June, most are eagerly awaiting Horizon Forbidden West to bring the goods.  Others are expecting that God of war, who redefined what the PS4 could achieve will see a similar setting when God of War: Ragnarok hits the PS5. A few (like me) hope that Gotham Knights will bring the cheese to the mouse, we are all victims of our own needs and Batman is my obsession, it has been since I was a little fellow staring at Adam West and Burt Ward, it took a while for my mind to grasp special effects, but that was life in innocence, or as some members of the Dark Brotherhood would state ‘it’s life’s greatest illusion’, we can offer no choice, the door was right. And as we accept that illusion we look towards the games that are still to come. 

I am not going to add links to all these great teasers, trailers and spoilers, because in my mind they tend to be all spoilers. Whenever it is a video that does not come from the actual makers, I tend to avoid it, merely for the dangers of seeing or hearing too much. Just like someone stating that in God of War: Ragnarok you will have to find armour 42 made by the smith Anthonius Stark (don’t worry, I made that up myself right now), we all have our ideas on teasers and real parts, even as I hope that Bethesda will add two achievements to their new Elder Scrolls game it will not be a teaser or spoiler towards the actual game. The first one is ‘You stole someone’s sweat-roll’ the other one is ‘He took an arrow to his knee’, those who played Skyrim will know what that is about and optionally giggle for a moment. 

There are dozens of examples and most gamers have their own thoughts on the passing of time whilst gaming. For me it is creation, it is what made me design The Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration (was 6, now 7). I did this in 2013, almost a year after finishing the game on Xbox 360 and PS3. We all have our ways of dealing with time and it seems that stories and creation are mine. So as I look and re-evaluate the stage of almost 5 seasons of Keno Diastima, I need to consider if 5 seasons are optional 3 seasons, a season with more bang for the buck, that is of-course one path. I am still considering on rewriting ‘How to assassinate a politician’, we all need hobbies, don’t we?

It also keeps my mind of my 5G IP, which is now in a wait state, a setting that is not good for the nerves, let me tell you, as such recreating the works I do have is not the worst way to pass the time. Some might consider that the stage is moving on, I merely consider that the stage was never standing still and you either keep up or you are part of those left behind, no matter whether the stage is one you devised yourself or one that others placed in front of you. As such some will point at DARPA with their disruptioneering division. I say hire a politician, they are experts in “have the potential to disrupt current understanding and/or approaches”, their input have had drastic influence in the stage for both the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II as well as the USS Zumwalt, and I say (oversimplifying the problem whenever I can) disruptioneering achieved.

The stage moves on, but it is us that defines the stage, not others, others only define the stage when they invite us to it and we are willing to be the tool (read: participant) of the stage we want to be on for either money, fame, continuity or passing the time.

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It’s good to be evil

It is the the phase that gave life and fame to Dungeon Keeper 2, it was not used by the first game that was released in 1997, but the fame of the first game was not less, it was a time when games were still in its infancy and good ideas were wasted all over the place. Both the first and second dungeon keeper were amazing games, as was an earlier release by Bullfrog named Magic Carpet. Still the IP was used later on by EA to set Dungeon Keeper in a stage of micro transactions and there EA screwed up the IP for life. A stage set to ‘maximise’ earnings became the downfall of EA. Yet the original games are still revered by a lot of people, as such wouldn’t it be nice if EA cleaned up its act? In the last week we got ‘EA now owns Codemasters and its many, many racing games’, ‘Here’s why Glu is an excellent strategic fit for EA’, as well as ‘The Silence After EA’s Anthem 2.0 Decision is Concerning’, you see Glu could be a good buy, yet in all this it only sets out the stage if there is an option to get a return on investment towards the $2,100,000,000 spend on this. The investigation (at https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-02-22-heres-why-glu-is-an-excellent-strategic-fit-for-ea) is quite good. It shows a part that I never considered and that does not matter, yet what is important is “The acquisition helps EA address a weakness by acquiring a suite of high-grossing titles that are very female-friendly and have large, loyal audiences. Plus, Glu’s expertise with these genres means that EA is gaining a lot more knowledge and insight into this demographic, which we expect will translate into enhancements for future Sims games.” It is important, because we see an element that is mostly ignored “have large, loyal audiences” is nice, but only if you treat them right and that is where EA loses the wheels on their wagons, not once, but multiple times. As I see it greed driven executives tend to destroy signs of loyalty. And there the shoe becomes a larger stage of concern. You see we can accept that we can either do right by loyalty or create it, the first tends to be easy, muzzle the greed driven executive is a first, creating it requires the greed driven executive to leave the room permanently and EA does not seem to be able to do this. 

In this, there are a few options, consider the stage we saw when we were offered Magic Carpet. So what happens when that game is relaunched in an upgraded version, one that would play wildly on a Nintendo Switch. Elements of the game can remain in place but the game needs alteration as to not infringe on the IP of Bullfrog (now EA), I feel justified as EA ignored it old IP for well over a decade and the ones they did not ignore was clobbered towards the stone age. 

As such Magic Carpet could be a much larger sandbox game. A map of Iraq extending to the Mediterranean Sea, with parts of Saudi Arabia and Iran. A stage where the power of your castle and the magic carpet comes from growth, a stage where we can learn new tricks and new abilities are found all over the map. You see the old systems could never do this, the computers were not powerful enough, but the Switch might make a new setting true, its controllers will have one for movement, one for fighting. A stage grown to the new systems. As such we can grow the fortress, and as abilities are acquired we can do more, go further and unlock more. As such the game takes a rather new turn.

The same can be done with Dungeon keeper, but that will have to take a massive adjustment, the stage of Dungeon keeper is too set. Still the idea was awesome. Consider the stage of Silent Hill, but now you are not the player, you are pyramid head, a stage where we consider the games were you play the antagonist. Pyramid Head is one of the more famous ones, yet consider that station with the man Dirk Garthwaite who became wrecker (a Marvel character), what if we can reshape such a person to our personal taste? We are all getting overwhelmed with the Norse gods through TV series and games, yet that same setting might come from Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Inca or Aztec deities. All options to consider in the stage of making a game, yet how many still embrace the good old slogan ‘It’s good to be evil’?

I am asking because some sources give us ‘Global game revenue to reach $29bn by 2021’, all whilst a country like Australia only set their notch on $140 million, which amounts to 0.4%, not a lot to write home about is it? If loyalty is indeed key and when we see EA (and a few others) bungle the cake, how come they still end up with a large slice of that pie? As I see it, it should be relatively easy to take it from them with a better product and a better product is key in gaining loyalty. EA might have paid $2.1 billion for that database, but that will not stop competitors Nintendo and optionally Amazon to take over that cake. These two players are driven to loyalty and they can have it if they play their cards right. 

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Doubt and consideration

Yes, we all have them, doubts that is. And I had mine yesterday and this morning. I got a whiff of a game called Sandship (on iOS) and it did not take me long to get hooked. Now, we all get hooked, but hooked can be short term and long term. This game has all the trimmings that we can expect to see. It has some sort of storyline, it has puzzles, a sort of challenge setting and of course there is always the option of micro transactions. All these games have them now, but in this game it is done in both an ingenious and non-invasive way. As I was looking at what is possible, I realised that there was doubt in me. You see, I feel certain that a game like this would be a huge success on the Nintendo Switch, it would need some tweaking, but the foundation of the game is close to perfect. And as far as I can tell, Nintendo has nothing like this in their arsenal, especially when you consider that there is some level of operational education in the game. I get it, some will doubt my view on this, yet I also find myself wondering whether the makers took a look towards the Console, or are they in a stage where they will rely on micro transactions? For a beginning developer it is a fair call to rely on the micro transactions, yet this is not a game made by a beginner, if so that person is a real gaming savant. 

The doubt is whether I am seeing it correctly, I am to some degree anti-MT, yet I understand that these MT’s are a good starting point for any developer. In addition, even as I accept that some people want to play on their phones, some games need a tablet or a decent TV screen. It just works better that way.

The consideration is for some of these developers, once they have a starting capital, did they consider setting the game, optionally adjusted on a console and with cloud gaming on the rise that consideration will soon be a lot more important than ever before. It is more important because extending existing IP is a lot more important and optionally a lot cheaper than making up new IP. 

This gets me to part 3 in this, you see there was a game in 1985, it was made by Epyx and it was called Chipwits, now the game seems redundant, but the educational side as well as the challenge in all this was amazing, especially for a computer with only 64KB (RAM and ROM), consider what could be done with a Nintendo Switch that has 62,500 times the memory and a CPU that is probably just as excessively more powerful than the 6502 in the CBM-64 was. One of many games that are as easily remembered as some of the other games that some gamers idolised. Why? Because these games were truly innovative and original. And even now as as we see some developers concentrate on the flash and the bang, they are all seemingly forgetting that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, in addition, plenty of younger gamers are dependant on the parents and guess what, these parents are not a great fan of games like Manhunter 2, but they are  always seemingly willing to buy the additional game that has an educational character. But that might be mere speculation.

What is in view is that too many games rely on one path, whilst they could add paths to their software range and in these days having more than one path is important, especially when the waning range of downloadable games that can be surpassed every new week, yet the games we purchase are the games we keep around, often for a long time. There are plenty of examples. 

It is that part that shows the folly of Google when they dropped certain paths from their Stadia range, I wonder what Amazon will do, because we have 4 generations of consoles that show us that original and exclusive games make the console. PSX, N64, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox360, PS4 and PS5. They all had their range and gathered clusters of 1000’s if not hundreds of thousands. Microsoft had their Master Sergeant, Sony had Lara, Kratos (and a few others), it is the exclusives that makes and break the console, yet original games are still part of that equation and the makers need to realise that, because there is every indication that some are relying on makers like Ubisoft and EA (complete with bugs), yet that comes with a risk, the moment the gamer has had enough the entire development house will be regarded as toxic, whether that is fair or not, the gamer will almost always act out of emotion and emotion does not really consider the balance of the topic, merely his bruised ego and the aggravation of glitches. As such all consoles need a stack of options, options that Google (as I was told) has done away with, giving a larger playing field to Amazon. It is in this light that we will optionally sooner than expected see:

1. Sony
2. Nintendo 
3. Microsoft

Turn into 

1. Sony
2. Nintendo
3. Amazon
4. Microsoft
4. Google

This is not a typo, Even if Amazon wins, there is no real telling how Microsoft ends up against Google Stadia, I think that is the fear that drove their Xcloud. You remember the pictures? 

Why keep on pushing this when you have a console that comes close to the PS5? No one is asking that question. We see speculative settings on Xcloud and mobiles, yet the real gamer does not consider a mobile screen to be a real screen. So facilitating to more games will push Microsoft further to the back of the console line. I wonder how much Amazon and Google are considering that path, and there are options, there are games that matter, but will the hardware people consider the options that are decently in abundance?

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A penny for your brain

On the side of the road was a car, it was near Buvika. The car was empty, yet next to the car was a blanket, on it a man, a woman and two children, a boy and a girl. They were having a nice lunch in the summer sun, basking in the sun. They were enjoying the weather and the food, it was a stop a they were on the road towards Molde. It would take a few more hours, so they would arrive in the early evening, yet in these white nights, there would be great visibility until long after they arrived. The parents were having a conversation, what about was unknown to Inge, but she was enjoying the view of the field towards the water. She got up and walked towards the Trondheim fjord. She was enjoying the view of the water, she looked for a few more minutes when she heard her father shout, she turned around waved and she walked back, yet as she had walked less than a dozen steps her foot gave way and her leg sunk into the grass. She got up and looked down, she saw two yellow coins, she picked up the coins, put them in her pocket and walked back. Her mother looked at her smudged light trousers. She shrugged “A small hole I stepped in”, and laughed. They got into the car and drove off, they ended up at their destination 4 hours later.

In the burrow was a man, he was a frightening man, he was a warrior with power and authority, as he felt his treasure leave the silent shout was almost deafening to any who could have heard it. He felt betrayed, he was stolen and he would have payback. The shield was broken and rotten, but the skull cleaver was comforting in his hand, he focussed and he felt the ground give way, and as this happened he moved up and forward, even now as the light dimmed, he felt the summer sun on his skin, and as he noticed looked to the south west, he saw a golden glow, that is where he had to go and he made one step after another.

It was not for many hours when he came up to a farm, he could feel life in there and he had no army, he stepped towards the farm, the door was there but he pushed the door into splinters and threw it into the house like it was nothing. He walked in and a woman looked around, this shield maiden screamed and he took notice, he pushed the skull cleaver into her chest, she never had a chance. A man came running in, he too was dispensed with, there was no other noise but the sound of horses and cattle. It was only one hour later when the warrior had two new soldiers, the man picked up a pickaxe, the woman picked up a hoe and they looked at the warrior, he never spoke but they followed as he made course into the fields towards the golden glow.

Well, I came up with the ‘draugar’ horror story a few nights ago and this was as good a time as any to add it, making it the foundation of movie number three in as many months. I was amazed just how much folklore there is on the Nordic Draugr, there was even more I never knew (who knew) and I have not used that part yet. A stage where we see the danger coming from the North, so with Covid from the east (and now from any direction), Draugr from the north. I wonder what we can throw against us from the west (perhaps a Trumped up demon) and optionally an Afreet from the south, not the worst day to do something about the population explosion, so far Covid-19 only killed a little less than 2.5 million, so we might as well write in a few more options. And let’s face it, when Wall Street does not have a few billion consumers to worry about, they might overhaul their greed driven numbers system.

Which is an essential thought when you consider that Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7,500,000,000, EA spend $2.5 billion on IP and that race will continue on an exceeding scale, so me throwing some free IP towards public domain on areas like movies, games and TV series is not the worst idea. So whilst two players have spend a combined $10 billion, I hand out IP to public domain and original decent game developers will get a shot at showing those two players that the power of original IP will trump bought IP, IP that is not original pretty much any day of the week.

I do have a hidden agenda, but it is not time for that yet and the idea of showing Microsoft the error of their way is a massively satisfying stage for any ego, even mine (which is not that big to begin with).

When players learn that solidified dreams cannot be set to currency, they might actually learn the one lesson they ignored for well over a decade, I will be there the laugh in the rafters, to that I have no doubt.

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The marker, what is it?

We are always in a stage where it is about the price, as such the title ‘are video games too expensive?’ In the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/feb/08/are-video-games-too-expensive-assassins-creed-cyberpunk-2077) had my attention, I wonder what they are throwing at us this time, they being Luke Holland. He throws “With new consoles from Sony and Microsoft expected, a raft of video game publishers announced that the RRP of their new releases would increase for the first time since the mid-00s” at us and that seems fine. There is also the fact that most game dealers tend to lower that price off the bat, the makers have there day one discounts and it goes on. I get it. Luke is not wrong and through the article he gives a decent point of view, but some issues remain. It is not given with “While an extra £20 won’t break the bank for some, games might already be stretching what little disposable income many people have, particularly when twinned with the £250-£450 cost of the shiny new console on which to play them”, it is a fact, but there is more (there always is). He touches on it with “the cost of producing an AAA game – big-budget, big-studio, tentpole titles – is now akin to that of making a Hollywood blockbuster. Grand Theft Auto V, released in 2013, cost £195m in development and marketing” yet he dances around it by dangling Cyberpunks and the bugs in our faces, whilst he ignores the massive bug list that AC Valhalla had (the very first image in the story). So whilst we get “A Martin Scorsese film lumbers in at three hours long. Most narrative-led games clock in at 15-or-so hours – five whole Scorseses; a hundred quid’s worth of Marty”, yes but there we see it, the quality, quality is what separates them, Scorsese hands us sheer perfection, Ubisoft products have not done this for the better part of a decade, in addition a game like Cyberpunk is showing us innovation to a much larger degree even (if for now) it has bugs. Ubisoft has been treating us to more of the same for years and they still can’t get it right. That is the part that is missing in this. And the gem is given at the very last “Yes, £70 is a lot. But choose wisely and you’ll never, ever feel short-changed”, yes we agree, but the ‘choose wisely’ part has become tainted. Consider that IGN gave us ‘Update 1.1.0 will fix over 30 Quest, World Event, and Side Activity issues, many that would prevent players from proceeding due to glitches and problems’, they gave this TWO MONTHS after the game was released, so how come that we see scores (metacritic: 80-85) depending on what system, a game with that many bugs is given 70+? And when we see that per source Gamepro (65) to PC gamer (92), we should have issues with the ‘choose wisely part’, in opposition there is Watchdogs: Legion, they did get that part right and when we see metacritic reviews (66-74) we need to sit down and consider that we all have different tastes and the settings are not equally pressed, which is unfair to Ubisoft as well. 

This is where the shoes become an issue, we might think that £20  is not too big an issue, when you are in a stage where you might buy a lemon £20 is a lot, really it is. 

As we try to set a value per time range, we need to consider that art is not easily categorised, and a true video game is still a work of art, which is why I have been slapping Ubisoft all I can, as I feel that they forgot that part. They got parts right they got games right. Even now, I still see in my mind the sunrise in AC Origins, perhaps because it was the first real 4K game, perhaps it was the setting, but they got that part right, pretty much all of it, which is why I am so angry about AC Valhalla. I stayed away from it and until the price is set to below £10 I continue to do so. I got AC Odyssey at £10 at some point, and I still regret it, so I might not fall for that this time around, in this I have serious settings on finding a way to officially remove Ubisoft from the AAA developers list, but then I remember, they got Watchdogs: Legion right, they might pull it off again. 

In this we need to make one more sidestep, Luke gives us “December’s Cyberpunk 2077 – despite being unfinished, riddled with bugs and, on consoles, uglier than a pooing pug”, which is interesting as he did not give us that setting for AC Valhalla, did he? I get it, we all have style of games we like, as I was in the 70’s addicted to the original William Gibson’s Neuromancer, I remain faithful to the game, I keep it on my shelf and I wait until the fixes have come in to play beyond the introduction. We also seem to forget that Cyberpunk 2077 had grossed well over $600 million in digital sales alone as of the end of 2020. He can have that view, I never liked GTA5, I did not like GTA4, so I stayed away from the sequel, I get it plenty like it, but it is not for me, just like Skyrim is not the game for a lot of them. We all have different tastes. 

Yet the title of the article remains in my mind, it still does, you see the part that Luke skated away from is that Immortals Fenyx Rising is $39 in the US, the same game is $50 in Europe, $77 in Australia and $45 in the UK (all PS4 prices). And this has been going on for years, all whilst the prices are even worse when you buy a digital format game, it also impacts the value of the art but we do not see that here, or in Luke’s defence with “a hundred quid’s worth of Marty”, when a game is not set to a level stage we see the issues, especially when the Xbox store charges more for a digital copy than a store would for a physical one, even an Australian store. This has been going on for at least 5 years. Games are judged by markers, but the reviewers are using different markers on different stages and they all refer to them as ‘markers’, as such people are walking away because they can no longer tell the difference. In this the final remark (which is still wise) “But choose wisely and you’ll never, ever feel short-changed” loses ground. An overhaul of what reviews and what should be reviewed is set to corners that are blatantly disregarded and it required an overhaul for well over a decade, I know because in the beginning (1988-1999) I was a reviewer. I might never have been the best, but I was always fair on the games I reviewed and I kept to the games I liked. When you get 2 pages a month, you want to spend them on the games you like, nothing else. A flaw? Optionally, but I had to make the space count so I did it on the games I likes and other reviewers on the games they liked. 

And I will admit, reviewing has become a lot more complex. A game that was on the CBM64, Atari ST or PC286 does not compare what is out today, so in that consider Watchdogs: Legion (at https://www.bworldonline.com/it-could-have-been-transcendent-arts/), I for the most agree with the review and the 85% score is decent and well earned and the one issue that I have is seen in “perhaps due to the weight of its pledges, it never gets to reach its projected dazzling heights. It never stops being enjoyable, but the most demanding players will be bothered by a nagging feeling that it could have been not just better, but transcendent — that it’s just a few steps shy of greatness”, it sums up the failing of Ubisoft, games that could have been beyond ‘WOW!’ are merely ‘Nice!’ And many reviewers do not do half as good a job on reviews as Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong did. So whilst we give attention to ‘choose wisely’ we forget that gamers are getting overloaded with reviews on all kinds of digital formats, and they often can no longer separate the critical reviewer from the unquestioning followers and the blind hater, which is an actual problem that makes any gamer like they are getting played and suddenly that £20 makes a whole lot of difference. 

If enough people say that it is not a marker, it is a coffee stick. We will see that at some point some will stir their coffee with it, no matter where it was before. 

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Evolution

We all have a setting that we want to switch off, I do too. Yet at this moment it is weirdly in overdrive. It is almost like it knows that the end is nigh, and if so, I need to make my 5G IP public, so that the next innovation wave will be a public domain driven one, inventions openly to be used for all. Yet we are not there yet. As such, I was watching a gameplay on Vampire Bloodlines 2 and my mind suddenly shifted to an old X-Men comic, in that we are confronted with a person named Tarot. That person can spring forth the tarot card revealed to him and make it a living entity. The comic book is decades old, but it crossed my mind as I was watching the game demo. I suddenly remembered the Vampire Jihad CCG and that is where the ideas started to cross. What if we do not always have the choice? We are trying to set the stage to what is the best solution, yet what happens if the player is limited to a CCG deck that he or she holds? So what happens when we are on a level and we see all the opposition, and the card we are offered is the Fool? It can be an area effect, or a selected effect, as such the meaning “having beginner’s luck, improvisation and believing in the universe” can be in a few ways, beginners luck implies we get get by this area unseen, things go bump at their end (beginners luck) and whenever the trot deck is used it needs time to recharge, also when we reshuffle again and again, luck runs out and bad luck falls upon us. The 22 cards are The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World, and The Fool. Yet they have two meanings normal and upside down, so 44 options, and all that randomised. It makes for a very different game. 

In this we can be a gunslinger, a sneak or an illusionist, but the cards are wild. We cannot predict what we will set to next and when we consider that they are powerful, merely relying on our skills might not get the job done, so when do we go one way and when the other? 

A stage no one has ever faced before, we all remember Spiderman, yet who remembered Tarot or Tarantula (Marvel characters), yet the comic world is so much larger, beyond DC (Mad Hatter) and Dark Horse comics (Hellboy, Ghost). Instead of focussing on the character, consider the abilities that the characters had, most might remember Cloak and Dagger, yet who remembers Mayhem from the original comics? When we think back to Infamous: Second Son, it starts magnificent, the smoke ability really gave a good start, it was the linearity that drove it back to average, a real shame. Yet the setting is not merely on where, and who, but how we adapt to a new setting we never had before (hence the Tarot Mention). We set the skill list and power ability to what we think is the best solution for our gameplay, but what happens when we do not get a choice? What happens when interaction becomes the wheel of fate for us? As far as I can tell no game does that, not now and not in the past, but does that not create a much more satisfying feeling when we grow beyond that? We do get the option to tweak, yet we are not given a choice of what the powers are, I stated it in a much earlier story towards a version of Infamous 3, what happens when the parents push the solution from them into us? From father and mother and a stage where the gender decides how much of mum or dad resides within us, Gregor Mendel gave that premise in 1845. Is it so wrong to use the classical greats to set the story to some part we cannot influence? How can we grow our comfort zone in gaming when we tend to rely on where our strength is? Especially when we are entering a stage where the game replay becomes much more important, we need to set a new stage on how it is played. If we are set to a location (London, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Gotham, Metropolis), the one element we can influence and set outside of our reach is us, the player we control. We can in addition change the stage of what we can do by selecting through parentage what we can do and leave us to tweak the ability to the best of gameplay. We forgot the one rule that is natural, that is the inability to select what we are, we can merely shape ourselves to the best of what we have.

Look at the long list of games that are out there and you will find no titles that match this. When you consider that gaming will be set to $138,000,000,000 in this year alone, it will not be about those who make the best replica, it will be about true original gaming, they will take the larger slices, whether it is PC, consoles or a future setting of cloud gaming. 

I hope you had figured out that part, if not consider that the most anticipated games are some remakes of true originals, the rest are true original games. Some franchises will forever run, but some are running out of luck and options. I wonder who will fall to their knees in 2021 and 2022, because we need to realise that 2022 is as important as 2021 is, it gives view to what the developers think we want, it is a fair setting and some will make the cut, some will not but they all want a slice of that 138 billion and the most original games and most perfect games will get the bigger piece that is how it always was, and now that this cake is so big, they all want the largest slice, but it will be art designer that defines originality, not the business analyst. It is the simplest application of evolution, if the games do not truly evolve, the gamer will lose interest a lot sooner than the developer is ready for.

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Colour the stage

I was almost asleep when an article in the Guardian passed my eyes. The article was from Feb 3, but I read it only now. This happens, there is only so much my eyes can deal with and this is one of those moments I am catching up, it is 05:15, as such I am still ahead of the curve. 

The article called ‘Amazon, Google and why you can’t just invent a blockbusting games developer’ is an excellent piece by Keith Stuart. There might be a few quotes in there, but I will try to avoid it as the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/feb/03/amazon-google-and-why-you-cant-just-invent-a-blockbusting-games-developer) is a gem from start to finish. You need to read it. 

You see, we are looking who wins the Cloud gaming rush, but even I forgot the setting that is forgotten. I touched on it in the past and I did point out that Amazon is doing much better than expected against Giant Google, yet that is not enough. The lesson that Microsoft refused to learn is upon all three of them. In my view these three are staged in a mindset of ‘Business staging art’, which is the wrong setting. It is now and has always been ‘Art pushing business’, it is the one side that they all forgot (Nintendo and Sony as an exception). Art is the power over business, not the other way around and Ubisoft is learning that the hard way. They forgot the station they were in when they got their business executives push the thought ‘A new Assassins Creed every year’ that is when they lost the plot and if Google and Amazon do not learn that lesson quick enough they will be out of the race too. At present there are thoughts that Amazon is now in the lead. I cannot tell as I do not have certain links and connections, but those who voiced it have a decent case, Amazon might win this, a race I actually never saw. I thought that the people at Google were googly and artsy enough to see that, yet I could be wrong there.

So as cloud gaming is taking a slow stage towards the gaming of tomorrow, the stage is larger and it needs to be painted. Not by some painters R Us franchise, but by kids and dreamers who dream of tomorrow, who dream of what might be and then we see if the artsy people can guide these younglings into a frame of gaming, not the business executives on what looks cool, but art people on feels cool and what plays truly cool, a stage ignored too often and also pushed into silence by the wrong people. Keith makes mention in his article on the business stage of AAA game development, yet the business needs will be the collected data and cloud services and the art of gaming falls away. Just as Microsoft was blinkered into the Azure stage, we see Google and Amazon making similar if not too identical moves. Parts were seen almost a year ago in Forbes when they gave us ‘The Console War Is Over Because Sony Left Microsoft Behind From The Start’ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2020/02/28/theres-never-really-been-a-console-war-because-playstation-left-xbox-behind-from-the-start/), a stage most saw coming a mile away. Only because Microsoft still doesn’t get it, they never did. Not for almost 7 years, they lost the plot and they had to answer to board members who never understood it in the first place. That is the stage that Google and Amazon face at present and the one getting it last (or not at all) will be the loser in this. To be honest I expected Google to win this, I did not expect Amazon Luna to be on par with Google but they were and if they can solve the software issue, they will be ahead of both Google and Microsoft which is a race result I would never have bet on a year ago, but there you have it.

So when we look back at a quote in the Forbes “the console war is over and Microsoft has moved on, leaving Sony in the dust”, we see the problem. It is a business quote, it is a cloud quote and it is a presumptive quote on what gamers need. Yet the gamer wants a good game, it does not matter where it is and they prefer to play on THEIR system. By making the cloud the axial and not the game Microsoft lost and it will lose bigger because cloud gaming requires a good connection which takes out well over 30% of Europe and well over 35% of the US, so these executives are running in a race with both hands tied behind their back, they will claim that their legs do the running, but the arms are required to keep balance, and without balance they do not stand much of a chance. Even now, as we see congestion after congestions, they keep on saying it is about cloud, but the stage of the cloud is the internet and the connections and they are not on par, 5G is too far away, so those with the options will look at cloud and there the games matter, so Microsoft is out of the race and it is now between Google and Amazon and the Amazon horse has now optionally an advantage.

So even as Forbes is setting the (wrong) stage by consoles and how Microsoft only has one console on that list in the top 10, the Xbox360 in 8th position. We forget that time was an issue, and in a short time Xbox 360 became an actual contender, after that the wrong people at Microsoft started to talk and others were told to listen, it gave folly to the Xbox One and more folly to what came after. All whilst Nintendo completed the Switch and that ended Microsoft. Now Microsoft is a mere distant third and if Amazon gets its game right, optionally Microsoft becomes 4th at that point the people will abandon that system. The titan that was created in 7 years was utterly destroyed 8 years later, and as I see it there will be no coming back from that. This saddens me, not because of Microsoft, but with Microsoft where it was Sony had to up its game and that is the part that matters. It is not about the PS5, it will be about the PS6 in 2028 and without Microsoft the difference between PS5 and PS6 might not be to the degree it should be. I look at the future and gamers, true gamers will look at the games that are dreamt up right now, the dreamers will require hardware that does not exist yet pushing consoles and optionally cloud systems, but any gaming cloud system set to the premise of business people will not have that much of a chance. 

I might be wrong, but so far in gaming I have been right a lot more than wrong, so I feel confident in my view of the matter.

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Hammer hits anvil

Yes, that is the foundation of an idea, the idea is voiced, in the ear, the hammer hits the anvil, the anvil vibrates the wires and the lightbulb in your brain lights up the room and the idea is born. The setting is the same for all, the only difference is that when the hammer hits the anvil, not everyones wires vibrate, and as a result in some people the lightbulb never lights up that room that is known as ‘skull space’, still my setting was that I did not come up with one idea, I came up with three. It is an idea that was someone else’s idea, but that foundation can still be used today and in a cloud space game setting.

Lets go back to 1984, George Orwell was making noises in regards to government oversight (of everyone) and in that same year Mike Singleton had an idea and created ‘the Lords of Midnight’, now even as the setting was nice, it was set to computers with a limit to 48KB (ZX Spectrum) and the 64KB that the Commodore had. Yet what happens when we take that idea and use the map of the UK (that island left of France) and set ourselves in a stage of riding, stealth and travel to collect the alliance of a minimum amount of keeps to secure the safety and unity of one region, each keep is in one county. The stage is all set, so to change it and make it a real challenge, the stages vary, the keep is not always in the same place (sometimes they are), and we aren’t always starting in the same place, so there will always be more than one option. The area is all in a stage where there is an enemy, not always visible, but as we align, we are given who is not our enemy and they will give the information of what is against us. A stage that is more alike the old days, when communication took days, not seconds. We need to adjust our way of thinking without removing the first person challenge. Even as it is based on that game, it will be a completely new game, it will be a larger setting based on the entire UK, all with optional awards (virtual diploma’s) of achievement and a retirement award. A game that shows time in a new setting if you like.

The setting of a cloud will allow a larger setting of randomisation, as the server does all the alignments, as such if 10 players play it, there is a chance that 2 players have close to the same setup, but not completely. A game where you need to do the work and not rely on some wiki solution where the one solution fits all. 

About a decade later someone made a game called Virus! It was an original game and even as it never made any headlines, I never forgot the originality. Yet in this day, what can we do to innovate? For example, a shooting game is one completed a game that has been completed, but it does not need to be like that. What if the opponents and the level of play is determined by a QR code? In the game Virus! It was Windows and your hard-drive, which in those days was innovative, yet today it does not work like that (or at least it should not). QR codes are everywhere and any level completed will be one we have already seen, yet what if we had on any mobile the option to save the code and use it to transfer the image to the cloud game? It does not matter whether it is a spaceship with an environment, a soldier with an urban or rural setting, it is about the fact that we are not in control and the maker cannot be creating levels again and again, and random generators tend to be less random than you think. Yet the setting of a QR code is out of our control and we can decide what every dot means, we merely are in the dark whether that dot is used. A game with almost infinite levels and a never ending stage of challenges, a lovely idea for any shooter with drive to compete.

Yes, I agree that it is in fact an iterative idea when we revisit an old idea, but the people seemingly forgot about the idea and as such it becomes a new ballgame. When we are given “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Known Issues [Updated Feb 5]”, in a stage when Ubisoft gave the laughingly statement that the game would be released days early and we see 3 months later that there are well over a dozen issues with impacts on a dozen missions that cannot continue, is it such a bad idea to look at the past when these kind of screw ups would never make the cut of publication?

And a lot could have been prevented from day one by properly testing a game. In this I tend to fall back to Skyrim, a game that has issues, no one denies it, but in all the years (since 11.11.11) that I have played it, I only witnessed 3-4 bugs myself on any console (Xbox360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PS5) and a dozen or so glitches, yet glitches do not break a game. And that was made almost 10 years ago. I think it is time to reconsider what we love to play and what maker consider to be a good game. When we consider the size of Skyrim, my only issue with the game (after playing it again and again at least 8 times, is that the missions are always the same, yet the openness of the game allows for a lot of exploring and doing things your way. But what gives when the QR code resets the opposition and changes what you face in every dungeon, crypt or hollow? 

And that gives me another idea, I reckon that there are a few nordic directors with a grasp of the dark side of tinsel town, and when you consider Troll Hunter (2010). I thought it was awesome, André Øvredal took a folktale and pushed it and us into another direction. I am certain that it can be done again. So, what happens when we take that part of Skyrim that is based on Nordic legends and create a new horror movie, but one that is close to the folktale of the Draugar “Draugar usually possessed superhuman strength, and was “generally hideous to look at”, bearing a necrotic black colour, and was associated with a “reek of decay” or more precisely inhabited haunts that often issued foul stench”. Lets not forget in the academic world where people hunt academic recognition, stupidity (read: shortsightedness) is found a dime a dozen and when we see the people’s admiration with the zombie apocalypse, the idea that it had already happened is not the weirdest idea to consider, so what happens when someone opens up the wrong thing (tomb or urn) in Malmo and before the authorities have any clue what actually is going on, the issue has spread to Norway, Denmark and Germany. So as we need to rely on folklore, folklore that is specific to Scandinavia, what will those do who have no knowledge? The military will merely grab bigger weapons, weapons that have some effect, but the stage is different, you can hunt cockroaches with a flamethrower, yet what happens when that roach is somewhat heat resistant? The option are nearly endless and it could make for an entertaining 2-3 hours with a box of popcorn. As you see, these AAA game designers are all about being cool and having hot items (riddled with bugs), I needed one salad to get three ideas on paper. I wonder what I will be able to think off with a decent cheese pizza (with extra oregano).

Have a great Monday!

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Moon Shine

I wish we were talking about that home brew alcohol, but we are not, this is about Amazon Luna and their counterpart Google Stadia. Now, I am telling you this from all kinds of selected sources, I did not play either myself, I feel that this is not as important as the setting round it. The first thing that I have to say right now is that I am pretty amazed with the second wave quality that Amazon Luna offers, from the early Alpha stage that some reported on as well as the second wave that several subscribed to, Amazon Luna is way over and well above standards (to a larger degree). I would think that Google Stadia had the upper hand, but that is not the case, they are surprisingly even, yes Google Stadia has an advantage, the load times of games is decently faster than Luna, but the rest, whilst in the game they were on par and that is a surprise I initially did not see coming. Yet overall they both fail in other ways. They are both relying on Ubisoft to bring the great titles, yet that is the largest danger when we see the stage that Ubisoft provided for and at this point, there is not a whole lot of faith that they will be around by the end of 2022 (they did this to themselves). 

My issue is with the Amazon 4K gaming promise. You see my YouTube has all kinds of lag and latency issues when I go above 1080p, so does Netflix, I do not even bother with 4K, merely because of congestion. That is not a setting that everyone faces, yet they will when larger cities get over 100K users streaming gaming via their internet, it is almost unavoidable, the infrastructure is at present too weak. Yet in 2-3 years if 5G comes through to a much larger extent and a much better bandwidth and speed, yes, it would work without hesitation. Most rural places will have this issue off the bat, so France and Germany can pretty much forget about it outside of their really big cities and I wonder if Spain, Italy, Greece and a few other nations are ready for that level of congestion. It makes both Google Stadia and Amazon Luna a USA Big city setting, OK, I exaggerate, yet in all I am not that far off. 

There is a second setting, each system is missing out on exclusive titles, it worked for Nintendo, It worked for Playstation and even Xbox, the exclusive titles have always pushed platform and neither has an overwhelming set of exclusives, which is a shame, yet that might be become the hunting ground in 2022-2023, yet not for now and some of the critics they all seem to agree, Luna is for now seemingly the winner. I agree with their assessment. Google is not showing skin in the game, no commitment, if they stop, the user is in nowhere land and there is no indication that Google is committed, that signal is more clear with Amazon, even as load times are not as fast as with Google, that might merely be a temporary delay, in all I personally had expected more from Google, so to see Amazon win this was a bit of a surprise, and if Amazon has its own share of exclusives, the streaming service might become set and match for Amazon, but let’s be clear, it is too early for that verdict at present. 

It is however a thing of the future, 5G will make it clear and when your local internet provider is upgraded to something serious, it will be a real horserace and to be honest, Amazon is doing a lot better then expected with its stallion Luna, it is close to equal to Google, a level of equality I had not expected, so as I personally see, the one having the more and the better exclusives will win the race, they both have Ubisoft games, so that is not an overwhelming advantage, just like the previous war, the exclusives set the race when the hardware is too close an equal, a stage we saw between Xbox360 vs PS3 and again Xbox One vs PS4, yes personally I see the Sony sides to be superior on a few sides, but for the gamer that was not clear and from that point of view they were close, and in both cases the stage of exclusive games made Sony a winner, a war that Google vs Amazon will see soon enough and whilst we see a level of melancholy with Sonic and other older games, it is the exclusive games that will give a system the game, set and match signal, and I wonder if Google is willing to commit to that, that was voiced by a few critics and I see their point of view, I am not sure if I completely agree, but their points were valid, I reckon that by the end of Q1 2022 the stage will be decently clear, at that point the people will more strongly commit to the
Moon, or to the stage, will I? Not sure, I am happy with my PS5 and in this the exclusives will push me in one direction or the other, as will it be with other gamers as well. 

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