Tag Archives: AC Odyssey

Battle of the giants

The Guardian has released a list of the best games of the year. As a Sony lover, I expected to see god of War and it is there, we also see Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 4, which ought to be there too. I was never a racing fan and still that game blew me away, so there!

We also see games that never were my fancy; Monster Hunter World is not a game I tried as I was disappointed with the grinding that the 3DS version gave. I admit that the graphics on the new consoles looked amazing, yet i felt no need to try. Ni No Kuni 2 is not a surprise and the absence of Bethesda is no surprise. I am quite frankly amazed on how many times Bethesda dropped the ball in this quarter alone. I have no idea what got them hit with the stupid stick this many times. Red Dead Redemption 2 is there too and my only surprise is the remastered Shadow of the Colossus. I actually did not expect it to show up, as I saw Dark Souls Remastered. If we look at those two, they deserve to be there, and even as it hits the mark, they do have the benefit of having a long time to be the original, when we look today, it is much harder to find an original game, as such these two might be regarded as having an unfair advantage.

I also missed titles that should have been there. first there is Spiderman, it is not merely the best Spiderman ever made, it is graphically perfect, it has the clear feel of a Peter Parker adventure and it is true to a Marvel world, as such I expected it to be there, right next to God of war, two games that made Sony to be the Huge success it became in 2018. The Xbox One misses out due to exclusivity, and I am in conflict with myself over Assassin’s Creed Odyssey not being picked, there are reasons it should be there and optional reasons for it not making the cut, yet I feel the balance scale is still on the side of it being there. I believe that in this case the DLC is added reason for it making the grade this time around as well (the cultural DLC of life in Egypt last year was a stroke of genius, you walk through it seeing just how much as a gamer you missed out on, making the replay 150% more satisfying). As a PlayStation lover (an important distinction), I need to side with Keza MacDonald on this one. Her statement: “This game is a beautiful experience. As driving games go, it’s the best I’ve ever played“, in the end, God of War blew me away as well, it was such a rush to see a game propel to the size it did, yet in the end, there is every chance that Forza Horizon 4 might end up being the best game of the year, it will be a title well deserved. In all my opposition to what Microsoft calls ‘good business‘ and their view of gamers, this one they got right, well done Microsoft!

If gaming is perception and presentation, just to call the attention, we need to stop and take another look at Bethesda. Even as the media titles have been ‘protective’ like ‘Bethesda Accidentally Leaked Personal Data of ‘Fallout 76’ Customers Looking for Help‘, as well as ‘Bethesda’s attempt to fix a Fallout 76 blunder leaks angry shoppers’ PID‘, we need to be mindful, accidental or not. Personal data is out there, possible due to an overreaction by Bethesda. Many consider Fallout 76 to be a failure; I am slightly less pessimistic calling it ‘work in progress’. That is the nature of the beast, when you tackle the online gaming, things go pear shaped, not merely because of the dangers of online resources, the mere consideration that 4 eager gamers can ask more of a system than 23,665 programmers can correct for, it is a mere truth of the online stage. And it was my personal feeling that after Tamriel in an online stage, Bethesda would have learned enough to get it much better from day one, they did not!

So it is unlikely that Bethesda is going home with any prices and awards this year (however, there is still Legends, and optionally blades).

Why look at this?

Games are not merely games, when a person buys a game; he or she pays for both an experience, as well as a stage of engagement. It is hard (read: impossible) to merely see AC Odyssey, without going back all the way to Masyaf and the very first Assassins Creed (if you played it as early as then), this is why AC2 and AC brotherhood are still seen as the path of perfection that AC Unity devastated. I got this Ubisoft punishment device (see image), just so I could explain it to the skull of Yves Guillemot as graphically as possible (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

We have had plenty of reasons to get mad at Ubisoft for a whole range of reasons and now we see a growing group of people angered with Bethesda. I say one optional flop does not make a raging crowd, yet the views, visions and YouTube’s out there say different. As for perception, this game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWwyhymcDxI) was one of the first 5 games I ever bought (3rd or 4th), I still think fondly of this game, even after 34 years. I got the Broderbund title as it got the IBM joystick award (in those days there was no proper game reviewing). It was an instant success. When you get emerged in a game, your world changes, and you tend to focus on fun and challenge. This is not unique for me; this is for anyone who loves games. Now we can hardly perceive this, yet I still remember the challenge that level 5 was initially. For many, their first console, the first game they truly got involved in, that title they will carry in their hearts for the longest of times, they will judge other games by that game. For many it will be on all systems, others will judge it per system (which is fairer anyway). So the new gamers will hold a light to any new game, comparing it to FHIV, AC Odyssey, Super Mario Odyssey, and Red Dead Redemption 2. That is the nature of the beast and when we find the developer lacking, they will get slapped around by these gamers (poor poor Yves Guillemot). Yet when a developer gets it right, when they deliver beyond the over marketed title (like AC Origin) they also get the benefit of powerful acknowledgement (as they are entitled to that too). For me (in the Mario universe) it started with Super Mario 64, and until we got Super Mario Sunshine, it had the crown, even later as we saw Wii and WiiU, Super Mario Sunshine still ruled and now we see the optional crown going to Super Mario Odyssey (I only played the demo so far).

So when we see this, when we realise that best game of the year is also smitten with what they made before, we see a difference, another measurement. So in that light, I do hope that the rumours of Samus Aran and her trilogy for Nintendo Switch will be true. So far in 14 years no one ever surpassed the fun and challenge value that Metroid Prime delivered and I loved Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to that same degree. So to get that on Switch will up the ante for any game developer. The fun, the challenge and getting to the conclusion of the challenge is everything to the gamer, Nintendo has forever understood that part of gaming to a much better degree than any other developer (Bethesda had a good grasp of comprehending people on the past).

So when we see that the reality is that we will optionally be able to replay those titles via the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console, we see that Nintendo has a long term future as well, as these titles can capture the older hearts, as well as new players giving them a lot more bang for the buck. Nintendo rules these waves, we see this with the latest addition Super Smash Bros (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWo9wfsnj7M). It is Super Smash Bros that gives the main dish as a desert. When we realise that the impression of fun is not merely looking good, it is about getting it right, it is in this view that looking perfect will always lose against getting it right.

It is that distinction is also important when you look towards the best game of 2018, even as a PlayStation fan (a bias that is forever important), we see that Spiderman PS4 got it right, Forza Horizon 4 merely got it right better. So Microsoft on a game type that I am not really a fan of; justly wins with a title by getting it right the best. Even as God of War was perfect, exceeded everything they made before, we might compare it to why Super Smash Bros got 94%, yet in the end, the game that blew us away more will take the cake and candles in all of this. FHIV might never be in my collection as the One versus One X is just to distinct here (for now), yet the fact that whenever I see FHIV, I get the desire to race, as a non-racer, that impression is extremely distinct; it is why my vote went that way. To capture the heart of a player that has another game style is an achievement that we all seem to forget. Just like Super Smash Bros has the ability to get all kinds of people to pick up the game and play against as many people as possible, we see the impact of excellence in gaming through fun and the joy of getting there. Nintendo mastered that ability a long time ago and whenever we see any other game getting there, we rejoice.

Far Cry Primal got close and then dropped the ball by being ‘predetermined’. Far Cry 5 never got there by offering everything and becoming nothing at all, the God of War got there through the people who knew the originals, giving us a new track, another path in almost perfect graphics and with a rating of 94% they did excel, set that against the 92% of Forza Horizon 4 and in my state of mind, there would be no contest, game over for Microsoft Studios, yet that was not the case, challenge and fun, they merely got it slightly better. Even as we see that they got Best Racing Game and Xbox Game of the Year (which was not really that much of a challenge this time around), they are still on track to get Ultimate Game of the Year, Best Sports/Racing Game and Best Audio Design, it is my personal opinion that they would optionally lose the third one and anyone who has heard the soundtrack of God of War is likely to agree with me. As I see it, Forza Horizon 4 gets to be the Ultimate Game of the Year; at least that is how I personally would vote.

The annual award is a battle of giants, some excelled for a long time, some excelled in every way and some merely competed to some extent. What is important in not merely who wins, and who gets nominated, we see that the winners will impact what we see in upcoming 2020 games and that is important to realise.

As we will anticipate on the coming of the Trilogy on Switch, some might wonder why. It is not merely the FPS part, it is open (to some extent), it is a challenge and it is an adventure, even in 2002 when it was released, even with the more ‘advanced’ graphics that the Xbox and the PlayStation 2 had, they could not touch Metroid Prime and its 97% rating. That small disc, holding a mere part of a DVD blew away all competition and with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes at 92% it did so again, and those who loved gaming want to get that feeling again. That is the impact that fun coated in challenge, or is that challenge coated in fun? Whichever way it is presented it creates gamers and it creates desire within a gamer. The ultimate game of the year can impact that future of where we will look next, what we will try next, even if it is not our cup of tea. When it hits the mark we will all order a pot of it, not merely a cup. That is one part that the game makers understand, and they are eager to get into the sweet spot of gamers there.

Should you think that gamers are selfish, think again! Digital trends reported less than 2 weeks ago: “Grandma Shirley — had left expressing her doubts at living to see The Elder Scrolls VI, a petition was created on Change.org to have her immortalized in the game“, gamers care to this extent, especially when they share a connection to a game, so I think that Bethesda needs to be truly stupid to not consider this, and to be honest Bethesda has been overly considerate in the past, not for personal gain or marketing, their actions regarding Erik West (Eric the Slayer), and there are more examples. Bethesda has forever been trying and aiming to get it right and to a larger extent, they have, so I was puzzled on how they got Fallout 76 so wrong. I merely cover it with ‘a work in progress‘, which in light of the approach is probably as correct as it gets (for now).

Gaming is for me not some state, or an escape. It is a world you become a part of, not replacing reality, but having it on the side. Making it part of the 24 hours a day you have, not replacing the 24 hours you should live in. Some choose sports, some choose a passion (or passion itself) and some hike, trail and be out in the open. Gamers do the gaming thing and when developers get that mindset right, the games will propel in excellence, it is a lesson Nintendo learned early on and they are still able to surprise us. In this Bethesda and Nintendo are optionally more alike. They both got it wrong (WiiU/Fallout76), yet as Nintendo Switch is now the golden mark of excellence, we might get the same from Bethesda (with whichever titles comes next) and that too is gaming, when the challenge is met and we get that satisfying feeling of a new challenge and we look forward to every second that comes next. That ‘Oh Yeah!‘ moment (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB8BLMMVFLg) when you see that they are got it right. Gaming has had plenty of these, which is why developers are getting additional chances. Witcher 3, Mass Effect 2, Diablo 3, Skyrim, Metroid Prime, GTA5, the Last of Us, Golden Eye, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The list goes on and will remain growing after tomorrow, because any developer that flops now (Far Cry) will optionally be able to hit it out of the park at a later stage (Far Cry 3) and that is gaming too, to be there and live through the successes, even after a massive failure (AC Unity anyone?)

Gamers can afford to wait as there are plenty of players offering the next golden egg, or is that the next golden eye? And with results like God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Ni no Kuni 2, and Subnautica I personally believe that the future of gaming is in good hands. No matter who gets to be called the ultimate game of 2018. There has been 45 years between Pong (1972) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017), it was never about who had the best graphics (Minecraft 2011 is evidence of that), any category can win, any style can win (Rock Band 3 2010) and it opens us optionally to playful directions we might never have considered on day one of that game (Limbo 2010).

Personally I love the yearly gaming awards for reasons mentioned earlier, but for the most, for me it is about to consider a game that stood out in one way and merely missed out on that game initially having something to look forward to, which in my clearest case was Far Cry 3, the previous versions were not up to standard and therefor I never considered it, which gave me in the end more joy than I bargained for, exceeding expectations can end up being that rewarding.

It will be Monday morning in 60 hours, so try to take a moment and play a game this weekend, even if it is for merely an hour and it is something as simple (and highly addictive) as Minecraft.

 

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It’s about time, slappers only

Even as we look at games, play games and even improve games, we all tend to have our own idea on how things should be. So I decided to take a look in another direction, I decided to look at the Unreal Engine (Unity too), on how to make a game. To be honest, I have no plans to create a game, even though I have a few ideas on at least one original IP, I feel out of my depth on creating the game myself.

So why look at these engines?

I noticed whilst I was observing someone else making a ‘game’ and introducing people on how to make a game, I noticed that my mind wandered into how that applied into my own IP. It also gave me the additional ideas on how to evolve gaming (my IP) and give the player something new, something they have not played before; more important, a version of view that has not been done before, which in light of all the games out there is quite the statement to make. Even as some effects seem familiar as we have seen different visions in games like Splinter Cell (night vision, thermal vision), what can you do to gaming when you do not get to have a choice? What if your evolution also brings with it changes in how you see things? It was an interesting view that we saw (read: read about), in Infocom’s Suspended. It was my first Infocom game (CBM64) and also the only one where I actually had to buy the hint guide for (came with a marker to make invisible statements visible. So as we took control of Iris, Whiz, Waldo, Auda, Poet and Sensa, we saw something different as all of them looked at the same thing. That idea was pretty interesting to read about, yet what happens when we ‘see’ the difference? That was the first foundation of a new title. The second part came from a memory of a game called Mercenary (Novagen). There were the Palyar and the Mechanoids, now what if they were one and the same (a Dark Chrystal reference), what if we have a game where the environment forces us (not allows) for evolution from one to the other, yet also with the setbacks that one or the other has. A game where you can choose to go one way, go the other way, yet gives us the puzzles and challenges that does not merely make it a fun game to play; it would in addition also give us a challenge that makes the fun of replay much higher. As an RPG fan, the option to replay a game is important to me for the mere reason that if I am able to buy a game at $100, I would like to be able to play it several times, or as they say in Fintech, if you can squeeze a $10 bill and you get 11 $1 coins, only then have you maximised your currency. I can do that to games, so hence the stage to create something that is a great return on investment.

So as I am looking at these Unreal Engine presentations, I am seeing all kinds of changes that could make the game even better, more challenging and more fun to play. I am now also seeing a few things that I had not actively considered to the degree that I needed to consider it. After merely seeing 3 hours of presentations, I saw half a dozen items that added to the thoughts of the new IP I am ‘creating’. So what happens when you are in one stage? You want to be in a stage where you can have two challenges without repeating the methods. It is almost an Alien versus Space Marine part, but not the same, the difference is still there, yet in another way. The best example is seen in the original Daredevil with Ben Affleck. So what if our view is based on some version of: ‘sonic plus’? This was merely one of several iterations my mind was going through to set the stage of the game. And just watching the run through gave me additional idea after idea and as such, my version of this non existing game kept on evolving.

Why do we care?

Well, you might not, yet consider the elements I came up with, it seems that it is not entirely unique, yet the version I have has to the best of the knowledge never be seen and if I can come up with this, why de several development houses work with a new version of that same Franchise again and again and we see a total lack of actual original new games. What makes for a game to be squeezed in repetition with a larger lack of new IP? It seems to me that certain houses have been lacking in true new IP and that seems like such a shame. If a gamer is depending on something new, not something relaunched, we see the flaw that is out there, and in that same light we see the growing desire of golden greats like System Shock. Do not get me wrong, I loved that game and I hope to play the remastered edition when it is done. More importantly, it also gave me other ideas on how to resolve play value. You see, in System Shock, what was working had to be destroyed (camera’s) systems had to be switched (VR Cyberspace level parts). Yet what happens when you have to get it fixed. Not some blatant ‘repair tool’ that shines on the object. No, what happens when you have to scrounge systems to find parts to rebuild a server, strip tools, strip consoles to get the keyboard, the display and the processor system? Get to the router and then get to the server? We seem to think of such elements too easy. So what value do you get when you play the game in hard core mode and you have to set the stage to repair network access systems? You might only have to do it once, but there we get the additional choice of fixing a system, versus stripping systems to create a mobile version. Now what additional solutions will we see when it goes beyond merely network. In System Shock it is on a space station, so water, environment and other elements would optionally be broken and that is how I saw my new IP, not merely fixing and scrounging, but the fact that in any biological disaster we see the impact and limitations of a dangerous zone. Now, what if that is not set straight, but could alter from game to game? New routes, now solutions and other options would need to be found to get to a certain stage, in addition, as we change those parameters, the steps to do certain things will also alter as to where and when we choose to make changes and that too adds to the challenge.

A next stage

So what happens when we take that to a new level? What if we consider Watch Dogs 4 (three is being made now)? What if the setting of the stage is completely out of our comfort zone? What if we impose limits on ourselves? How willing are you to go into true survival RPG when it is not some irradiated mess (Fallout series) or Post-apocalyptic (Horizon Zero Dawn). How ready are you to be a real gamer and in the game you ended up in Korea or Japan and that game is all Korean or Japanese? Will you fold or rise to the occasion? In my view in Watchdogs 4, you and your sister/brother escape from people smugglers and you swim ashore to end up being in either country. Having no knowledge of the language, in Seoul or Tokyo and the introduction leaves you with a clean smartphone and Google glasses. Now you have to get the software, use the glasses to translate signs on the go, you need to learn language and you need to figure out how to get another party free (who is still captive somewhere). You get to choose on a criminal or non-criminal lifestyle all with its own challenges of work, odd jobs, a place, food and other elements. Can you complete both sides whilst also freeing your parents and not set of the alarms that running to the police will get your parents killed? Now consider doing that in a completely set city (a 900% version of the Watchdogs 2 map), also consider the elements that can be added, additional challenges and a true evolved NPC stage of interactions. I got part of the idea when watching the YouTube channel Only in Japan * Go (at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDsvL48jluG3tvlyurB4K3g), what if the interactive part is truly AI driven and it has a lot more responses than we have now (like 5,000% more). A stage where time is more important, not merely a day rotation where 30 minutes represents 24 hours, but where time is closer to actual and the game will have constraints in time management. We have seen elements of what I described here and there, yet for the most we have never seen them all united and when you are in a game that should last you 100-150 hours of gaming to complete. Taking the stage forwards by adding long term playing challenges, with the essential need to avoid grinding we see a new stage in gaming, a new stage in RPG, even as we see the truck load of people being anti-Bethesda for now. They did make a huge change and even as there is an essential need to patch the 34,554 bugs and glitches (a mere speculated rough estimate), we are looking at a game that is more about survival than the series have ever added before. We see the option to push a similar evolution into the Watchdogs series, where survival becomes an issue when we are no longer in our element; also we are no longer in a place where we can just walk around. The option to show new technologies and add technologies in a new light, where a device like Nudle Glass, could translate any sign we see in the game by adding a text balloon with the translation. where the phone will do voice translation and we add mobile technologies where we start getting the ability to hack, the ability to interact and the ability to emboss the storyline and challenges. A place where you need to get the odd job (on a food market, a market or just some courier job) where you get the cash to get by for the daily cycle whilst still having to find a way to safe your parents. More importantly, a stage where you have to get it done within a certain time (250 days for example) before their health gives out, these are all stages that we have seen before, yet never all at the same time and not to this extent. We need food and water (the one real fault in Subnautica), yet when we are given hours to get things done, we see options to stretch a game in more meaningful ways. the need to get transportation and to get on public transport as we cannot run from one end to the other (like in Watchdogs), as we have to get from one place to the other in Tokyo (or Seoul), yet when we have to get by 13Km to do that, time becomes a factor and that is the part game makers ignored because they lived by the act that all of it had to be fast and dynamic, yet the longer RPG game could benefit from the additional challenge of getting transport and learning to find your way by public transport (time skipping). It is not merely for the challenges and the storyline. You get to be part of the environment; you will need to clearly think on your feet. We might have been able to forego sleep in Fallout 3 for 200 days, yet the need for sleep will be here (even if we skip it in a few seconds wait time), we impact the other elements and when time becomes a deciding factor in the game we get a more true survival game. In opposition of Elder Scrolls (Oblivion or Skyrim) where we loaded up al every mission we could, making time a factor means that we need to focus on a mission. Even as we need not consider time for everything, we get to have a time driven to do list, affecting the way our NPC’s regard us, as we miss the deadline for jobs.

We also get to consider how we survive, not only is making the wrong enemies a much larger concern, adhering the game to, for example, Japanese law where they have ‘No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords’ gives new needs for being creative. The Thunder ball in WD2 was extremely innovative, in WD4, we might resolve to set the stage for a walking cane, or perhaps a belt (strangling). By adding the locations realism in practise, we also create new solutions towards game play. We can still use the WD hacking weapons, yet now we add new elements to the challenge. We might think it is not cool to be unarmed, however when we consider the reality of ‘Japan has some of the world’s strictest gun control laws with punishments that even scare gangsters‘, when we see that, the need for creativity makes the entire enterprise more rewarding too. I hope we can all agree that opening vents via remote in WD2 was as lame as it could get, the challenge can still be met in other ways. So when it is no longer about the killing, but now it is about creativity (like collecting data) we create a new kind of survival game, an entirely new challenge and is that not what gaming is about? When it is not about dropping bodies; when the stage becomes about paths that are about industrial espionage, true surveillance and getting the wealth that could purchase freedom, or perhaps the paths that will expose the people holding your parents, we see applied creativity in another way. We open the door for people to find another way to get to the end and that journey is open for anyone, yet by making time a new constraint and a more truthful constraint we see that people will try to adopt ‘glitches’ when that fails (and it should), we end up getting a real gamer and the game that does that changes the dimensional view of anyone playing a game. When the silenced scope is not available, when the knife gets you years in jail (parents dead, end game!) we can start looking at what we can do to give the challenge of a watchdog. You see, a watchdog is a person who ‘warns members of the community when potential or actual problems arise‘, we saw that to some degree in WD2, running all over San Francisco, yet we can take it to a much larger scale. When the game allows for the criminal side by data invasion, corrupt journalist devices and hack police terminals, or do the opposite by resolving hacks, by deleting criminal data bases and transmitting video of criminal activities in the game, we can become rich, famous and well known or have both worlds by getting a second identity and do both. If we can set the stage of double dipping and we can also create the stage where we can be found out playing both fields and as such impede progress, angering both sides of the social isle; we get a much larger scale to play with and a much bigger challenge. It makes the game more rewarding when we replay the game.

Is this a good idea?

Most likely in this shape not. It needs work and we now have the resources to take it to this level, yet most software houses have not shown the willingness to take it this far (exception Ubisoft- Far Cry 5 and Bethesda- Elder Scrolls), and a lot more is possible. You merely have to look at Horizon Zero Dawn and how much further it could go is a clear indication of what might be reached. Having the map online is one solution (Fallout 76), yet when we realise that in Horizon Zero Dawn is in a scale of 107.5:1 (in miles) compared to real life. What if we see a game where it is less than 10:1 (1:1 being the optimal solution), what other parts will you open? Not merely a place like Tamriel with suddenly the space for 24,999 additional locations, but the stage where we actually need to keep mind on mapping to find the location of Telepe, we see a new challenge added to it all. The nice part is that we can still scale according to level of gameplay, having from easy (90:1) towards hard-core (1:1) we get a game that is not merely more challenging, we get a game that no one has seen before, it needs a true new approach to skills, levelling, completing and time that changes the game. The nice part we saw in Fallout, is where we in Survival (hard-core mode) we see the one life part as well as the absence of fast travel. We see them all as interesting challenges to try, yet when we add them all together we create an entirely new level of gaming. The PC has been there for some time, and with their drives installing it all to the drive is a breeze nowadays (one Blu-ray for the map, and one for the game) For consoles it is a different matter and one that needs work, optionally requiring an online connection for single play, where all the other players will work from an ‘image’ of the same map. No matter how we slice it, the players and gamers are all ready for a new level of gaming.

The downside?

Well, there is no real downside; there is an additional challenge of avoid the mistakes we see in AC Odyssey. Several sources give us: ‘Lots of level grinding‘, ‘Repetitive missions‘ and ‘Long load times and stuttering‘. The last one is a technology issue and should be resolved; grinding needs to be avoided at all times, yet at times will be there. If your daily routine requires income, we get grinding to some extent and food and rent, yet when you pay rent every month, we need to find the week to get through, whilst getting paid in the process. The challenge is to keep grinding to a low. when we see the comment ‘Simplistic combat’, we accept that in some cases, yet when we are in a game where combat is to be avoided and reduced to slappers only (pugilism), we still get a decent challenge if the AI is good enough. In addition, as I see it I want the gender to set the stage for entirely different play throughs, As the girl you have retail options, and also a stage where invitations to the right party places could offer all kinds of opportunities, yet on the criminal side of the game, it might not be so rewarding. To overcome (in a creative way mind you) on how we can add no less than 5 dozen ways to get income (two dozen of one and 36 of the other), we have the setting for not merely an achievement, depending on where it is, we might set a financial stage, as well as a social stage that opens up location (housing opportunities) to shift the range of time requiring to be spend doing one or the other.

When we approach that part, the game becomes bigger, not more tedious. Some might say that if there is no kill score, there is no game and perhaps those people would feel better moving to Detroit, yet in light of any RPG, is violence required? I never did it myself, yet some have played and finished the game in pacifist mode. I admire that as I never considered that in the first few play throughs. Those are defining moments in gaming, when you go out and try that one option you never tried. When you are merely left with the MacGyver placement to get the dough you need for next month, how can you apply it in enough ways to avoid getting the ‘grinder’ label?

In light of the AC Odyssey reviews that might be the larger challenge, especially when you want to equal or even surpass the 150 hour game challenge. I particularly like the Watchdog setting as we get to explore new ways where technology is pushing the envelope of gaming, not the hardware, but the devices in the game. When we need to evolve the software in the smartphone used to get better at hacking, get more in receiving and skim more from people, how can we do this in creative ways? As the locations change and we see that in ‘richer’ places we see more NPC’s with RFID protection, how can the player still get by? In WD2 we merely got the apps and that was it, it was an opportunity missed. Several apps had the potential to be upgraded to a ‘better’ version. When we see that in action, we can contemplate what foreign refugee life in that new place could be. Push beyond the apps and elements like health tags, domotics, smart monitoring, entertainment hacking for students (extra income in game), so many options to add to the game. At some point the question becomes, will that much data break the game?

The other way round

The largest issue we see in many RPG games is that linearity is an issue; Infamous Second Son is the best example. It starts truly great, yet when you get to Seattle it becomes as linear as a ruler and even in hard mode it is not a real challenge (apart from the third boss). To avoid that we can do what they avoided in Horizon Zero Dawn. There (in my personal view) the Tallneck had too much information; it is an equal flaw in the AC series. What if we change it so that some sets have some types of information (not unlike the server hacks in WD1), yet other information like food, shops, are found in other places. What happens, when we need some version of Yelp for one and a WD version of Lifull (Japanese rental app) for another part? Why did they not use a much larger App Shop tool, where apps had advantages and disadvantages and you can only use one, giving a new challenge in the game. You see we can use it as a benefit and a limitation. We get the benefit of one, whilst losing out on the other (luck becomes a factor) and if every game tweaks these elements (like rental prices, income per hour) we take a risk in using the same solution, diversifying the choices we make, enhancing the replay option.

Every time the ship sinks

It is an old joke, yet did you imagine in 1997, that watching Titanic (preferably in IMAX) had a different outcome when you watched it the second time? It might not work in the movies, in gaming it will. When we are confronted with a new challenge and we can reset the parameters, we can add a chance that some actions happen, making the rush towards a goal more urgent and by moving from easy to normal or even survival some chances increase. It gives two parts, the benefit that you are truly challenged and the stage where there was no chance to win (like in Shanghai, when you end up having two identical stones on one another), we can try to avoid the chance, yet should the chance be zero?

RPG & Realism

I added the no guns part earlier not because I like it that way, but because I admire the option of the pacifist path, it adds to a game, so we can still have weapons, we can still use them in the equation, making the penalty and danger a lot larger if caught. Yet having a weapon and especially in the far east where we all think that life is incomplete without Katana or Geom, we see all kinds of options to enhance the game and gameplay. Yet in my mind WD4 should be much stronger on technology, hacking and devices, maximising what we can do with them. It was pathetic in WD1, yet in WD2 we saw a really nice boost, we can however do a lot more than it had and we should push for that. At present there are a whole host of actual hacking apps. iRet, netKillUIbeta, iWep Pro, Myriam iOS Security App, iSpy, Hopper App, Cycript, Frida, Firecat, Highster Mobile, et al. What if there is a Watchdog version of some (or all) where we have to rely on other means to get information to get further in the game? We can have one to three apps that have these abilities and as we get access to another app, we can evolve one of those three to give us more hack power. In addition, the merging of app and stealth gives us more time to get what we need before we are blocked (an income limitation). So as we go forward we get challenged more. We could just go Fred Flintstone, bash the person hack the phone an walk away. Getting more initially, yet also getting loads of infamy from the boys and girls in law enforcement blue.

All options that would have been available, yet the present RPG lines never truly pushed the envelope, it seems a little bizarre. There is no way of telling how popular any RPG game gets, yet when we see that the greatest foes are ‘repetition’ and ‘grinding’, it seems odd that some of my ideas were not there in WD2, as it was something we could have seen coming a mile away.

This might not have been interesting to anyone but gamers, yet when we see how the US is seemingly angering Iran and Saudi Arabia to an equal degree, do you really want to wake up and drink coffee, or play a video game and hope that after 4 hours it was all merely a bad dream? When we consider the dozens of additions that took less than a few hours to add, against the fact that some of these games have been out since 2014 and sequels in 2016. Is it not interesting that so much of the same is shown to gamers? Not merely Watchdogs (Ubisoft), Fallout (Bethesda) could have made additional usage of terminals, writeable holotapes and other bits as well, between 2008 and 2018, we saw 3 products and we see forward momentum to a decent degree, no one is debating that, yet how much more could we have seen? When we see in regards to Far Cry 5 ‘it’s very much More of the Same‘, should we fear the beginning of iterative gaming? I can tell you now that this would be a really really bad thing. We went from Forbidden Forest (1983) to Tekken 3 (1997), which shows a 1000% improvement in all directions, yet when we consider Tekken 6 (2007) and Tekken 7 (2015) we are for the most merely confronted with better graphics and the list of games with a similar issue is growing rapidly. A truckload of gaming leaps all ignored for a few reasons I gather, so in my view there is too much wrong and the fact that we are confronted with Forbes asking “is it fresh enough, or is this just another Ubisoft open-world game checking off all the boxes?” and the fact that Metacritic gives us 78% rating for the game. When you consider that the game had a budget between $80 and $130 million, and a 78% score, we need to worry. Ubisoft might not care as some claim that it made over $310 million in the first week. Yet, if we consider that it could have been a 90% game, is this a stage where Ubisoft missed out of an additional $150-$200 million? There is no way to tell and it is highly speculative from my side. In this I am not hammering Far Cry 5, merely using the most visible example. Is one a sign of the other and as such is it also a sign of iterative game development? It is an important fact and one that needs investigation as the game in gaming is set for more and higher budgets. As gaming was set to a $108.9 billion stage in 2017, and as the predictions given to us, that in 2020 $20 billion more will be made, is it not important to maximise that as much as possible? Especially now in a stage where too many are on a tight budget, relying on Black Friday and Week 12 discounts, getting it right as much as possible will be adamant in getting the larger chunk of that $120 billion pie.

When we (speculatively) see that ‘more of the same’ is part of the 78% rating, a diversified game is becoming more and more important. Some might not care, others might oppose, yet when we see that GTA5, a game (not my style of game mind you) that some regard as perfect as a game can get, that game made $6 billion, my case is, as I personally see it made.

If some are to be believed, there is the idea that 2020 would be the year of GTA6, with the view as is, there is every chance that every owned of GTA5, will get GTA6, implying that all the other game makers will vie for the additional budget left for gaming. In that stage, as I personally see it, they will not spend it on a game that is more of the same, so the other game makers will have to consider upping their development ante by a lot.

Whatever comes out then will also require extremely serious testing, as the people are getting mighty annoyed with the amount of huge day one downloads they face.

 

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Crime as a business model

Have you considered that yet? Have you considered that turning towards the criminal side of revenue (and additional spiking profits) you could gain a bundle? That question came to mind when I saw ‘Apple and Samsung fined for deliberately slowing down phones‘. The guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/24/apple-samsung-fined-for-slowing-down-phones) gives us: “Apple and Samsung are being fined €10m and €5m respectively in Italy for the “planned obsolescence” of their smartphones“, So when we see that Apple got a €10m for their application of creative endeavours. Now consider that Apple makes about €450 per iPhone, or €625 after all the tax write-offs and other offsets that they can legally employ. So in all, to break even Apple required the sale of 16,000 phones just to break even on that fine. Now look at the numbers from Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/804398/us-iphone-sales-by-model/). There we see that the latest three models model 8, model 8 plus and model X represented over 60% of their sales share up to December 2017 and 54% up to June 2018. Now consider that this represents 41.03, 46.68, 77.32 and 52.22 million units. So the stage is close to 60% of 88 million units (almost 53 million units), as well as 54% of 129.5 million units giving us almost 70 million units. So there we have it. The stage where the means to sell 123 million iPhones through what the court is seen as deceptive conduct gets a fine that amounts to 16,000 units. A fine received that represents a mere 0.013% of their cost of doing business. How much of a joke does it need to be before we see proper legal reprimanding large corporations? The governments will not properly tax them; the legal institutions will not properly fine them. The fact that the people do not to a much larger degree realise that crime is the only way to pay your bills is basically beyond me. And this is not even including the latest model iPhone which is a lot more expensive (the cost of making one is likely to be equally expensive though). That whilst Samsung and Apple are seen as the only two bad guys seems not entirely correct. Because if Samsung (an Android phone) has it, I feel certain that other Android phones might have a similar setting in play (speculated, not proven or documented), so it is not merely Apple with its IOS. Yet the stage of Apple is now not how they got rich, we see that their unscrupulous practices is an optional the reason why they are the richest company on the planet, and governments are letting them get away with it. When a criminal is allowed to keep 99.987% of their ill-gotten gains, why not merely become a criminal? I myself send my resume to the GRU (a Russian punitive monitoring government corporation relying on creative solutions), for the mere reason that if I can do a better job than Igor Valentinovich Korobov, why not? Not sure if they are allowing an Australian to run their military intelligence operations, but hey! If Apple can think outside of the ethical box, than so can I.

But this is not about me; this is about a growing amount of corporations looking to stage retail growth. Even as we see that this is going on in many retail segments, The path pushed onto people in places like gaming where at the mere saving of $15 Microsoft gave its players an Xbox One (and Xbox One X) with merely 50% of its capacity. Yes as I calculated it for consumers the difference was $15 to get twice the storage, it was that bad and the media trivialised it for the longest of times. So it is not a surprise that 70% of the life sales cycle of the Microsoft consoles was surpassed by Nintendo with its Switch in 15 months, the most powerful console in the world (and initially its less powerful brother) has been around since June 2014, and in 15 months the bulk of all sales is close to being equalled by the weakest console of the three large players. Yet the issue is not that Microsoft had a bad idea, they have had plenty of those. When a console maker knowingly and willingly undercharges a system, is that not deceptive conduct too? The problem is to prove it. Yet when we realise that a 1TB drive gives you less than 1,000 GB, merely because of the operating system (which makes perfect sense). Some give that reserved space to approximately 140GB leaving you with 860GB. Now consider that games like HALO5 and Gears of War 4 are each 100GB, Forza Horizons 4 is said to be 95GB, that gives us 34% for these three games alone and we are already getting the news that Fallout 76 and Red Dead Redemption 2 will be massive too, as are AC Origin and AC Odyssey. So we are looking at an optional 76% filled hard drive with these 7 games. Seven games to fill the drive. OK, I am the first one to admit that not all games are this big. The Lego games are Tiny in comparison, many other games like the EA sports games are between 38-45GB (normal edition) I did not find reliable information on how much extra the 4K part is, but usually the size doubles. So at this point, when that hits you, can we consider (not agree, merely consider) that Microsoft could optionally have been engaging in deceptive conduct as well? It is all around us and there is too much of it. Also, I am not ignoring Sony in this, they solved it by allowing people to change the hard drive from a 1TB to a 2TB (at their own expense), which is currently $119, so 100% more storage, which initially putting it in would have been a mere $15 difference on consumer levels. Yet the question there is did Microsoft do anything illegal or merely something really stupid? If they had allowed for personal upgrades there would have been a much larger Xbox One wave, I am certain of it. The Sony tray solution could have been equalled by the Xbox One X from Day one, giving the gamers actual value for money. That part will of course be looked at when Xbox One Scarlett comes out, which is still set (according to some sources) to 2020, yet this is not about gaming, or merely the Xbox. There is a group of people that is finally becoming savvy enough to look at what they require to have something worth their time and money. We see a growing group of people knowing what to ask on their new mobile, their new console, their new tablet and their new notebook/netbook.

So how does this relate back to the optionally ‘criminally implied through innuendo‘ business model? This is actually more important than you think. There was an additional reason for all this. You see a shop named JB Hifi (the most visible one in Australia) gives the consumer: “Across town or around the world, the new Surface Pro 6 is your perfectly light, incredibly powerful travel partner — now with the latest 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor and up to 13.5 hours of all-day battery life.“, they even added the footnote: “Surface Pro 6battery life: Up to 13.5 hours of video playback. Testing conducted by Microsoft in August 2018 using preproduction Intel® Core™ i5, 256GB, 8 GB RAM device. Testing consisted of full battery discharge during video playback. All settings were default except: Wi-Fi was associated with a network and Auto-Brightness disabled. Battery life varies significantly with settings, usage, and other factors“, you see, TechRadar gives us another story: “Microsoft promises up to 13 hours and 30 minutes of local video playback from the new Surface Pro. That’s a lofty claim and one that our test unit failed to live up to. That being said, based on our tests of the previous model’s battery, we no doubt see a noticeable improvement. Test results came in 24% and 32% longer than the previous model at 4 hours and 3 minutes, and 6 hours and 58 minutes, respectively, this is a long way off from the “up to 13.5 hours of all-day battery life“, which is also deceptive (to some degree); you see when we look for ‘all-day battery life‘ ZDNet gives us (relating to the Samsung Note 9: “it seems that what ‘all-day battery’ means is that if you are an average or typical user, then the Note 9 should last you all day without needing a recharge, but a whole bunch of real-world factors can get in the way of that.“, this translates to the Surface Pro that you need to be able to get through the day without needing a recharge when you are an average user, when we see an initial 13.5 hours, we all would agree, yet TechRadar gives us a mere ‘6 hours and 58 minutes‘ (the longest version) which is less than a working day, especially when you are using it on your trip from and to the office (or was that the other way around). Now we get to see the other side of it all and even as the iPads are better, but not by much, it is the marketing usage of ‘all-day battery life‘ that is becoming a much greater issue, in this case (even as I concede that there are several models of the Surface Pro, also there are issues with different models and usage, places like JB Hifi uses that same setting for the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 i7 512GB, and as we acknowledge that the i7 needs more power than the i5, we see that that battery life is optionally misrepresented and it is odd that at this point Microsoft conveniently does not seem to check on how their devices are sold. When we look at The Verge, which gives us: “Thurrott reports that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella met with Lenovo last year and quizzed the company over how it was responding to Skylake problems. “Lenovo was confused,” claims Thurrott. “No one was having any issues.” It appears Microsoft’s own problems were the result of the company’s unique approach to the Surface Book, with custom firmware and drivers. While other, more experienced, hardware makers were able to respond quickly, Microsoft’s delay impacted reliability“, this is not the end, especially when you consider that the article is a year ago and is a reflection on the ‘Leaked Microsoft memo reveals high Surface Book return rates‘, and whilst this was the Surface Pro 4, a system two generations old, we see that basic stages have not been met with better quality control and a much better information control setting. In addition, the ‘party line‘ response on battery life is as I personally see it a much larger issue that seems to be determined to sell more and hope that the consumers will not bring it back. I believe that there is a failing in the UK and Australia, a fact that is shown in the Daily Mail (at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6233259/Microsoft-unveils-899-Surface-Pro-6-iPad-killer-alongside-new-999-Surface-Laptop-2.html), where we were treated to “The Surface Laptop 2 now gets 14.5 hours of battery life, while the Surface Pro 6 still gets a solid 13.5 hours on a single charge“, a quote that should be enough to get the Daily Mail in hot waters with a whole league of unsatisfied users and if the Daily Mail concedes that they were merely going by Microsoft numbers, it will be Microsoft taking a hot bath of people demanding that level of battery performance. Or it is entirely possible that Microsoft will claim that there was an unfortunate miscommunication between their marketing department and Annie Palmer, the Daily Mail article writer. In the end the setting should be regarded as sales through deceptive conduct and even as these two players are the most visible ones, they are not the only ones. There has been the Apple Error 53 issue, Telstra with their interpretation of ‘unlimited’ and Optus with their interpretation of DCB (Direct Carrier Billing) and the less said about my interactions with Vodaphone (aka Vodafail) the better, all whilst that list of corporations that are graduating summa cum laude on the art of miscommunications keeps on growing too.

A lot of it is only visible after a long time and after the damage is done. We all agree something needs to be done, yet when we realise that the fine is merely 0.013% of what some end up gaining, there is absolutely zero chance that this situation will be rectified within the lifespan of us, or our children, the profit margins are just too large.

for me, my interactions with Apple costed me $5599 in the end, money I did not have to spare and even as I still love my G5 PowerMac and my iPad one, I remain sceptical and cautious of anything new that Apple released after 2006, the price has been too high and I am merely 1 of one billion active Apple users, they have that much to gain by continuing on the path they currently are.

The law is seemingly slightly too flaccid to resolve the situation at present, how sad is that?

 

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Just like everyone else

For the longest of times, I have worshiped Google. I have always been pro Google, and having worked in their offices for a year, being exposed to the options within Google is just overwhelming (and the food is pretty much the best in the world). So what happens when you are shown that Google is basically just like all the other large corporations? What when you wake up to an early e-mail where google advises you on the new Google Home Hub and the Google Pixels 3 (which is appealing even if it is at the price of your soul), yet 150 minutes later, you are shown by the Wall Street Journal that Google is just like every other corporation at present, how would you feel?

I can tell you that an ice bucket of water over your head at that point would have seemed a soft caress in contrast to the rude awakening I was made privy to.

To get the better view, we need to go back to May 2108, where we were treated to: “Google Australia’s boss Jason Pellegrino, who spoke on a CEO panel at Sydney’s CeBIT tech conference today, told the audience there had to be a “utility exchange” for the data a business obtains, adding if there is no trust, it can prove detrimental“, as well as ““That was about a leaky bucket. That data was going to places that consumers didn’t expect, didn’t agree with and got not value out of themselves. “None of these data buckets should be leaky. However, it’s started a discussion about what’s in the bucket itself. The data that’s there has been used to deliver a great service – no one has been sitting there saying Netflix ‘I can’t believe the data that you’re sharing’ – because they are delivering a wonderful service.”“. So as we were given on Monday ‘Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public‘ with the two quotes: “Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal“, as well as “A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident“, so basically Jason Pellegrino (not the exquisite Italian sparkling water) was basically calling the kettle black, whilst we can agree at this point that he had no business opening his mouth in the first place in light of 3 years of hidden software screw ups. It seems to me that both are in equal hot waters. Even if we water it down (not using sparking Pellegrino) into a setting that Cambridge Analytica was doing it on purpose and that the implied setting by Alphabet Inc. is that their software engineers basically did not know what they were doing (to some extent). We can call a fair dinkum, but something this hidden for three years. What optional issues can we expect from the Google Pixel 3, with Android version 3.14159265418 (Android Pie), as well as the Google Home Hub where the consumer is optionally revealing all their daily needs (including the speculatively implied and roughly estimated 54,233 daily attempts to watch Pornhub) with or without the optional keywords Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, Shania Twain, Selena Gomez, Kirsten Dunst and Taylor Swift. Yes, that is the data those marketeers are willing to pay handsomely for, not to mention those unnamed parties speculatively involved in election persuasion consultancy projects.

It gets even more interesting that the Home Hub could potentially reveal when a person is at home or not (like on vacation), because there is no one who would want that data, right? Last week we would not have given it a second thought, yet with the revelations in the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-exposed-user-data-feared-repercussions-of-disclosing-to-public-1539017194) we now have a much larger issue. It was fun to see the review on the Verge where we see this puppy in action (the Google Home Hub) where the operator asks for the overview of the Pixel 2, whilst pre-orders of the Pixel 3 are happening all over the world, another fallen blobby in all this.

So as we see the turmoil that one of the world’s biggest tech giants will face over the last quarter of the year, we need to realise that you should never meet your idol whilst he is still alive. I reckon that Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will be able to hold his cool for the smallest amount when he meets me, but that is presently not a given.

So as well are treated to “The closure of Google+ is part of a broader review of privacy practices by Google that has determined the company needs tighter controls on several major products, the people said. In its announcement Monday, the company said it is curtailing the access it gives outside developers to user data on Android smartphones and Gmail” we need to wonder what is next for the social media people. I actually preferred Google+ as it was less junk driven then Facebook. And it also gave me the timeline as a first instead of the populist drive, which still annoys me in Facebook. So even as some at Google as trying to wane us to slumber, the cold reality is : ‘the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data but acknowledges it has no way of knowing for sure‘. That is the immediate setting in this, we no longer know who has our details and we might never know how we were optionally specifically phished and targeted as per 2015, is that not a nice new reality to face?

So as we need to realise “The company will stop letting most outside developers gain access to SMS messaging data, call log data and some forms of contact data on Android phones“, we might think it is no big deal, but this has the data potential to be a lot larger than any nightmare scenario that the UK ‘Hacked Off‘ ever envisioned in their nightmare settings that the press would have been up to, when people with less scruples (not by much though) have been given optional access to and let’s not forget, the criminals tend to be more creative then the law enforcers ever have been (or some of the intelligence services for that matter).

So even as we accept that the Google plus issue is a dwarf compared to the Facebook scandal, it still optionally victimised the setting through: “It found 496,951 users who had shared private profile data with a friend could have had that data accessed by an outside developer, the person said. Some of the individuals whose data was exposed to potential misuse included paying users of G Suite, a set of productivity tools including Google Docs and Drive, the person said. G Suite customers include businesses, schools and governments“.

I am not alone in this, a few hours ago, the New York Times are giving us: ‘How Will Google Play Its New Product Announcements on the Back of a Data Scandal?‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/business/dealbook/google-data-products.html). It is not merely that part, we need to consider that at present only Apple has a seemingly clean slate and they can use this to their advantage. It is in the end watered down by the NY Times through “They’re all part of Google’s strategy to highlight the company’s services via hardware (rather than necessarily become best-sellers in their own right)“, they are all still ruled by software and the cold setting here is that it is their software that was incompletely tested and prodded by those who should have done so. I refuse to merely blame a programmer here, it is a much larger problem!

The failing here can be seen in places like Ubisoft, EA Games, Bethesda, Microsoft and several other large developers. The non-stop trivialisation of proper testing and proper timelines to test settings is at the back of all this. It is not merely a lacking QA, it is a non believe in the power of testers and longer conversations in their insights that is here as well. Issues seen in FIFA 19, several shortcomings in NHL 19, AC Odyssey bugs reported mere hours ago and the less said regarding the Microsoft Surface Go the better and the list goes on. These issues shows that Google is part of the entire problem, the quality testing and scrutiny is seemingly not done (or not done to the extent needed), and with the Google Pixel 3 just around the corner, with a lessened confidence level at present, would you at that point trust the Google Pixel 3XL 128GB at $1500, or will you play it cautiously and select the less powerful, but still a large step forward when selecting the Huawei nova 3i 128GB Handset at $600, in this day and age, can we feel comfortable with spending an optional $900 too much? I will admit that there are a few alternatives at that price, not merely Huawei, but the list of quality choices is very small.

The revelation that the Wall Street Journal exposed us to on Monday is probably the most inconvenient that Google has faced in a long time. Even before we see whatever Google has to promote in the near future on 5G capabilities and enabling technologies, they now have a visible problem to address. It is not merely a dent in their armour, it now shows us a Google that was optionally never the knight in shining armour it has largely been seen as, which is a much larger problem for Google then they are willing to admit to any day soon.

Too many are hiding behind hype terms like AI and machine learning, yet the realisation that non repudiation and authentication was required on many more levels where data is involved in all this, is a failing on several levels, predominantly the developers one and it is there that Google will possibly face a very hard time to come.

#Halfwaytotheweekendnow

 

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‘More’ is Awesome

It is an expression we have seen in several places, so when I initially heard that the new Assassins Creed Odyssey was ‘more of the same’, I was not that surprised considering the Ubisoft of the past few years, yet, as I loved the forward propulsion that AC Origin gave us, I was upset enough to keep my eyes out for a decent review and Eurogamer gave that to us (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23CLV1jl9oo). In the first those who do not realise it, Eurogamer is one of the best reviewing channels for games you can find at present. They have been honest and give a decent view from their point of view. It is also interesting to note that each of the reviewers namely Aoife Wilson, Johnny Chiodini (aka Mr Feedbackula), Ian Higton and Chris Bratt have their own likes and dislikes, just like me. I myself am nuts about RPG games, they too have their preferences in gaming. So in this case I got treated to the smooth Irish voice of Aoife Wilson. Let’s face it, when any review comes with an Irish accent, does it not generally sound better?

So the review gives a little bit of a spoiler, but considering that it is merely the start of the game and the fact that the game promises over 100 hours of game play, we can accept that part and the very first thing we see is that even as it is another Assassins Creed, it is no exactly ‘more of the same‘. It is more, a hell of a lot more and even as there are elements of all other games in here, the game is definitely a new behemoth. So even as we are treated to 431 BCE, which by the way this was also the beginning of the Peloponnesian War (I remember that time well), it was a year before Athens was almost completely ravaged by Typhus, and a year after that we got treated to the very first showing of Oedipus Rex, a tragedy like no other. In this the mother forgives him, the father is unlikely to ever do so.

But back to the game. Yes, there was some ‘more of the same’, but mainly only in the graphics, which were outstanding in Origin and outstanding is always good. The video give us a clear setting that the storyline has been given a massive haul over, making it a much larger RPG sandbox setting than ever before. That is my part where I answer Aiofe’s question ‘Does it justify 100 hours of game play?‘ To that I at this point state ‘Yes!‘ The story lines are an important part, and in addition to the other parts it seems like with Tomb Raider, the underwater parts seem to look a lot better. Parts of the review also imply that the game has taken a more tactical side to the game as well. Going after a fort by yourself versus weakening the enemy first makes a lot of sense, so in all this, there is a lot to see. As I see it, it is not ‘More of the same‘, it has become ‘A more evolved and adult approach to a game of such a tactical nature‘. So in all when you look that you are playing a game with 4K (for those with the coins to play in this mode), we see the setting that AC Odyssey is offering a game that remains under $1 an hour, which is by far one of the most rewarding value for money games I have seen for some time and that is worth a lot. It also gives the setting that with two distinct choices (playing as the he or the she), also makes the game an interesting choice to replay, which makes the game even more rewarding in more than one part. If I had to make a pre-release view then it is that Ubisoft is back in adding value to its brand and franchise, which gives us the ‘better late than never’ part and that counts as well.

Those who have read my views on Ubisoft know that I have not been kind to them, but I have always given credit where credit was due and in all this, and in this case Ubisoft should get loads of Credit. If there is one optional part missing (unverified) in all this it will be the setting of the Nekromanteion not being there, what would have been in the Northern boundary of the map. It was where the Temple of Hades was. It might matter as it in this time setting when the site building was erected and it would stay there until the Italians (Romans) decided to burn it down in 167 BC.

I have watched several reviews and I disagree with a few. Some state that this is not a proper AC game, and perhaps this is true as this is centuries before the Creed, is that a bad thing? I would offer that AC Black Flag is even less of an AC game. It is perhaps a new IP and in all this it is a push for an historical RPG game, this is with my love for RPG a great step, for others perhaps less of a nice step. No matter how you feel about the AC part, Odyssey is exactly what the titles promises to deliver. You will embark on an epic journey and when you think that Origin already gave that, think again. The map alone seems to be close to 300% of the previous game and that is impressive when you realise just how big Origin was. So on October 4th give your pet a really big treat, presents and felicitations as it is World Animal Day, because the day after that AC Odyssey is released and there is every chance that you will ignore everything around you for days to come, which would make perfect sense.

So even when we see large changes in this franchise, it is my personal impression that they are all for the better, there is not one part that seems to be negative in this. More options for dialogue, more choices on paths as well as multiple endings. Making the replaying of this game more enjoyable and when you consider that this game was already down to $1 an hour (for some even a lot less) making that 100 hour journey the best epic journey in the history of this franchise. The most honest question you can ask yourself, are you willing to play an RPG? Are you willing to step out of your optional comfort zone? It is my belief that this trip will be one you are extremely unlikely to regret, but in the end only you can answer what you like. what is clear is that the AC franchise has taken a new course, and as it is a pronounced one, it will not be for everyone, I merely expect that it will be the right path for many more players than ever before and that is a good thing, a good game is always a good thing, even if it is not for everyone.

Only a delusional developer makes a game that is for everyone!

If there is one part that I will miss, it will be the one hit kill. Historically speaking, sneaking up to a person and shove a spear through the back of its skull tends to be fatal, there has never been an exception to that, not even when you sneak up to an ego driven empty headed politician. They all tend to keel over, curl their toes and start their: ‘I am dead now!‘ procedure. So that part I will miss, even if there is no more hidden blade.

So one optional non positive part against close to a dozen positive parts, how can any player pass it up? Well that will be fair, the non RPG lovers, but for that group there are plenty of other games to play. No matter how you view it all this will be an amazing trip, so choose, decide and optionally enjoy this game. I expect this game to get an 88%-97% rating, that whilst the RPG lover is likely to give it a 92%-99% rating (only Zeus, Poseidon and Hades get 100%), Leonidas and all everyone else will have to live with a 99% rating.

As far as I can ascertain at present, my official response will be: ‘Well Done Ubisoft!

 

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Where we are in gaming

So the E3 is almost done. I saw the EA bit, I was blown away by Bethesda where they ended the presentation with 13.2 seconds announcing the Elder Scrolls VI. A mere teaser, but what a teaser, the crowd went insane on the spot (me included). I reckon that it will be a 2019 release and we will hear a lot more after the release of Fallout 76 later this year. When it comes to Fallout 76 it will be a lot bigger than ever before. It allows for single play, friends play and multiplay. That is merely the first part, the second part is that Fallout 76 is announced to be 4 times the size of Fallout 4, so any Bethesda fan expecting to be well rested by Christmas better start buying stocks and options in Red Bull, as they will need it and lots of it.

There was a lot more announced, most importantly the setting of a new free game, called Blades, an elder scrolls version of Fallout shelter, a very different one, Bethesda went one step further where the game is fully playable in portrait and landscape mode, the view on the game made me desire an immediate update to my mobile (which is falling apart anyway). In addition, Fallout Shelter became available at that point for both PS4 and Nintendo Switch. So Bethesda is not sitting still and a lot of it at no cost at all, showing a level of gamer care that we have not seen to this level before. Bethesda blew us away with the upcoming DLC’s, updates and new games. After that it was time for Microsoft. I have had issues with Microsoft and they are still growing, yet the presentation given was really good. Phil Spencer knows his shit and that of many other players in this field. He knows what it is about and as we saw all kinds of ‘world premieres’, it relied to some degree on both Bethesda and Ubisoft to give some of the goods, but that was not all. I stated it before, I am not a racing fan, but Forza 7 blew me away, it was astounding to see, so I was not ready for what happened next. If Forza 7 is set at as a 90%-91% game, the upcoming Forza Horizons 4 is getting us straight to the 100% mark. They really outdid themselves there. It is set in historical England, all of England and if you think that Forza 7 had the goods, seeing seasons and weather set into the driving, seeing every place go through the 4 seasons, you will see something totally unique and there is no doubt that if it holds up on the Xbox One X on 4K and 60fps, you are in for a treat, even a non-racing fan like me can see that this is something totally new. There were also announcements on gaming houses and developers bought as well as some of the indie developers who are showing excellent products. Phil Spencer is making waves; he is not out of the woods as he has to clean up the mess of two predecessors, so he has his work cut out for him. There was also a less nice part. They did in many cases give not any release date, merely ‘pre-order it at the Microsoft store‘. I personally believe that this is the Microsoft path, a path that was dangerous and I accused them for not being in consideration of gamers. There was more. You see, Microsoft is moving to take the shops out of the equation. They were doing it to some extent (poorly I might add), yet now when we consider Gamerpass “Xbox Game Pass launched back in June, and provides access to more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games for $10.95 per month“, before you think that this is a lot, consider that you get access to 100 games, with the announced NEW games, we got that it will include the next Halo, Gears of War, and Forza on launch day. So that is a massive teaser, yet I am also scared of the intentions of Microsoft. I have seen this before. You see, TechAU gave away the speculated goods with “selling games is no longer an option. With console hard drive storage sizes increasing to 1-2TB, its possible we need to rethink game ownership completely. The big question will be the games available. If they’re all games from 6-12 months ago, it may still be seen as a good opportunity to play a bunch of games you meant to buy, but never got around to it“, if only it was true, because they already dropped the ball twice on that one. You see, I saw a similar play in the late 80’s by The Evergreen Group, they had government backing and undercut the competition for years, after that when the bulk was gone, the prices went back up and they were close to the only player remaining. It seems that Microsoft is on a similar path and when we saw the Faststart part I got a second jolt of worry, with the stating that they used machine learning to see how gamers play. This implies the profiling of all players, so when exactly did you as a gamer agree to that? You see, when this becomes personalised, it is not about the average player, this is about you as the individual player and I personally believe that the push ‘to pre-order at the Microsoft store‘ is not merely marketing, it is about pushing for online only and take the shops out of the equation. It makes sense from a business point of view, yet you end up with the only IP, the ones they allow you to have, for whatever time you end up having it. I never signed up for that, and even if we love the offering they give for now. When the shops can no longer support this theory, what happens then? How will you feel in 5 years when your IP is based on a monthly rental? It is a dangerous part and for now you think it does not matter, but it does, you see the earlier quote ‘With console hard drive storage sizes increasing to 1-2TB‘, yet the Xbox One X is merely 1TB, so there is that already, then we realise that the 1 TB merely gets you 800 GB (OS and other spaces reserved), so now we see that the previous Gears of War was 103.12 GB, implies that with one game installed, you are down to less than 70%, now add Halo 5: Guardians (97.53GB) and Forza 7 (100GB). So, only 3 games and 50% of the total drive space is gone (those mentioned games were the largest ones).

So when I see the mention of space for 12 games, I wonder how correct it is. Now consider the announced games like Fallout 76, the Division 2, Beyond Good and Evil 2 and wonder what will be left. People will wake up much to soon as they have to reorganise their console drives, way too early in 2018. Consider, not just the games, but the patches as well. Now you start seeing the dangers you as a gamer face. The moment that 120 million gamers start working in an online setting (PS4, XB1 and Switch), how long until the telecom bandwidth prices go up? How affordable will gaming remain? For now it looks great, but the bandwidth fountain will be soured, the impact is not short term when it hits, and the impact will be too great to consider for now and the Telco companies have not even considered the dangers, only their option towards optional revenue. There is supporting evidence. In Australia, its fun loving product called NBN had 27,000 complaints last year alone. If the old setting for every complaints 5 people did not bother, we see a much larger issue. With issues like outage and slow data speeds one number (source: ABC) gives us that at present the growth of 160% of complaints ‘equated to 1 per cent of the activated premises‘, how is that to sit in whilst downloading 100 Gb for your Xbox One X, and that is merely Australia. In places like London in full setting congestion will be a normal thing to worry about. So when we see “Julie Waites said her 85-year-old mother Patricia Alexander has been without a working phone at her Redcliffe home, north of Brisbane, since June when the NBN was connected in the area“, which we see 4 months after the event, there is a much larger issue and Microsoft did not consider the global field, an error they made a few times before and that is the setting that gamers face, So when your achievements are gone because for too long there was an internet issue, consider where your hard earned achievements went off to. I am certain that it is not all Microsoft’s fault, but its short sighted actions in the past are now showing to become the drag regarding gaming.

The one part that Microsoft does care about is its connections to places like Bethesda and Ubisoft, who in their presentation show to be much larger players. We get that this is merely beta and engine stuff, but the presentation of the Division 2 rocked, I am not sure how the Crew 2 will do, but it looked awesome, in addition the EA games looked as sweet as sport games can get on the Xbox One, so they have the goods. Phil Spencer is making waves and he is showing changes, but how trusting will this audience remain to be after a mere two incidents where gaming was not possible due to reasons not in the hands of Microsoft? Their support division stated last year that the uploaded data from my console (not by me, were all the responsibility of the internet provider), are you kidding me? Yet the games do look good, there is no denying that, yet their infrastructure might be the Achilles heel that they face in the coming year. There was also time for the upcoming AC game called Odyssey. It is very similar to the look of Origin in looks. Graphically it is stunning. The view also shows that AC is changing; it has a much larger political impact in the story line and the changes you can make. It is a lot more RPG based than ever before, which as an RPG lover is very much appreciated and with the choice of a male or a female player is also a change for good, unlike AC Syndicate the choice will be for the duration of the game, making it a much larger replayable challenge. The demo shows that there definitely are changes, some are likely gamer requests, the rest seems to be a change to make the game more appealing regarding the play style you choose, but that part is speculation from my side. I would want to be cautious, yet they truly took the game to the next level with AC Origin, which makes me give them the benefit of the doubt. The setting that Ubisoft brings is much stronger than last year, so it could end up being a stellar year for Ubisoft. When we get to Sony, I become a little cautious. Yet even as we saw it in the previous presentation, instead of merely presenting titles, having live music on stage, the music from the games was a really nice touch. I do not know about you the gamer, yet I have been more and more connected to the music as the quality of it has been on the rise, so seeing the performances was well appreciated. It might have started as early as ACII and Oblivion, now we see that good music is a much larger requirement in any game. A much darker the Last of Us 2 (if that was even possible) sets the stage for what is to come. Yet, even as we see awesome presentations of what is to come, I have to admit that Microsoft did have a better presentation. Sony is also playing the ‘store’ setting with PlayStation Store for bonus options. The games are overwhelming and those are merely the exclusive titles. When we consider all that Ubisoft and Square Enix bring to the table, it shows to be a great year for all the PlayStation owners. Yet, the overwhelming advantage that they have over Microsoft is not as much as you would think. The question becomes how heavy the overbearing advantage that the Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima and Spiderman have, yet when set opposite Forza Horizon 4, Halo Infinite and Sea of Thieves I wonder if it remains a large advantage. Sony has more to offer yet the overwhelming exclusive benefit is not really there. So when we look at a new Resident Evil, actually a remade version of Resident Evil 2, we remain happy for the ‘unhealthy’ life diminishing gaming treats that are offered; both consoles will be offering gaming goods we all desire. There is no doubt that gaming revenue will go through the roof and it seems that we are in a setting where games are not just on the rise, the predictions are that they will grow the market in nearly every direction, and we still have to hear from Nintendo, you see that one is important for both Microsoft and Sony. There is little doubt that they will surpass the Xbox One in total sales, yet now it becomes the setting where they might be able to pull this off as early as thanksgiving, a setting Microsoft is not ready for, the ‘most powerful console‘ will optionally get surpassed by the weakest one as Microsoft has not kept its AAA game for close to two years. Three simple changes could have prevented that, yet the view and setting of always online, GamerPass and storage destroyed it, the mere consideration of infrastructure was missed by Americans focused on local (US) infrastructure and forgetting that the optional 92.3% of the desired customer base lives outside of the USA. The simplest of considerations missed, how is that as a hilarious setting? Oh and getting back to the Sony presentation, if you thought God of War surpassed your expectations, it seems (from the demo) that Spiderman is likely to equal if not surpass that event, so there is one issue that the others will have to deal with, the PlayStation players (Xbox One players too) will just have to wait and be overwhelmed with the number of excellent games coming their way before Christmas, because for both of them the list seems to be the largest list ever. I am posting this now and perhaps update a few Nintendo settings, as there are several revelations coming. GeekWire gives us in all this “Microsoft’s Xbox One still faces an uphill climb vs. Sony and Nintendo“, yet the article (at https://www.geekwire.com/2018/e3-2018-analysis-microsofts-xbox-one-still-faces-uphill-climb-vs-sony-nintendo/) misses out. You see, even if we are to agree with “Microsoft has effectively made its own console irrelevant, because even with the Windows Anywhere initiative, there’s no particular reason for a dedicated enthusiast to own an “Xbone” if you already have a PC. There are certainly advantages, such as ease of use, simplicity of play, and couch gaming, but the same money you spend on the Xbox could be going to tune up your computer so you can play the same games in a higher resolution“, we see the truth, but a wrong one. You see ‘the same money you spend on the Xbox could be going to tune up your computer“, is not correct. We need to consider “you can find a large number of 3840×2160-resolution displays in the $300 to $500 range“, as well as “For a better 4K experience, look to the $450 GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, $500 GeForce GTX 1080, and $500 Radeon RX Vega 64, though the Radeon card is still suffering from limited availability and inflated prices. These cards still won’t hit a consistent 60 fps at 4K resolution in the most strenuous modern games“, so you are down for a lot more than the price of the Xbox One X and still not get the promised 60fps that the Xbox One X delivers. And that is before you realise that a TV tends to be 4 times the size of a PC display. The biggest issue that has not been resolved is the mere stupidity of 6mm of space, that allows for a 3TB Seagate BarraCuda, it would have diminished most other issues, now merely evolve the operating system requiring people to be online all the time and Microsoft would have created an optional winning situation. It should not impact the need (or desire) for GamerPass and it would change the curve of obstruction by well over 70% overnight, all that when you consider that there is a $65 difference for 300% storage, something that the 4K community needs. Phil Spencer has one hell of a fight coming his way and if he can counter the Microsoft stupidity shown up to now, he could potentially turn the upcoming number three position around in 2019, making Microsoft a contender again at some point, yet if the short-sighted board of Microsoft is not willing to adhere to some views, they will lose a lot more than just the loss of a few hundred millions of console development, they might lose a large customer population forever, because gamers hold a grudge like no other and if it was not merely the cost of the console, the fact that the games they bought might overtake the total amount spend by close to 3:1, and once gone they will never ever return. That is the stage we see now and even as there is a lot of improvement, where it matter no changes were made. So even as we should all acknowledge that Phil Spencer is a large change for the better, Microsoft needs to do more. They have the benefit that Sony gave a good show, yet not as good as Microsoft. Perhaps the live presentations are the E3 part we all desire, the demos and previews were all great on both systems. In that regard Ubisoft and Bethesda both brought their homerun at the E3 and they are well deserved ones. As both deliver to both consoles there were no losses on either side, only wins for both sides, yet that leaves the small devil in my brain considering the question. If Fallout76 is 4 times the size of Fallout 4 which (according to Eurogamer) ‘required 100GB install sizes as a minimum‘ for 4K. So how much more will Fallout 76 need? It is in that light that we need to look with a 1TB drive, something I saw coming 5 years ago. So now, whomever buys a 1TB system will soon (too soon) stop being happy. That is one of the fights Phil Spencer will face soon enough, an issue that could have been prevented 6 years ago. It is so cool to see all these games coming, whilst we see a storage system supporting merely part of what comes and that is before we see the network congestion as a few million people try to update their game and get access to the networking facilities. It was an issue that haunted Ubisoft with the initial Division in 2016. When we saw ‘I’m still at work, had to stay overtime and I’m really salty because I might not even play today because of all this server downtime‘, I merely stated that they could have seen that one coming a mile away. Ubisoft upgraded everything and I do not expect to see this in the Division 2, yet consider that it is not merely one game. Consider every gamer getting issues when they want to access Gears 5 and Halo Infinite on launch day. That is the issue we could see coming and in all honesty, in most cases it will not even be the fault of Microsoft at all. The evidence was seen in Australia merely a week ago when ABC treated us to “NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow suggested that “gamers predominantly” were to blame for the congestion across the National Broadband Network. He later clarified that he wasn’t blaming gamers for congestion, but reiterated that they are “heavy users”“, that is the reality setting, where Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Destiny 2, two games are 49% of the average hourly bandwidth usage, now add Fallout 76, Gears 5, the Division 2, EA Access and Microsoft GamerPass. You still think I am kidding? And that is merely Australia, now add London congestion and when we consider some news sources give us: “London, Singapore, Paris and New York taking top spots when we consider internet congestion“, I reckon that Europe has issues to a much larger extent. When we consider in addition that the Deutsche Welle gave us last January “A new report has found that only a small fraction of German users get the internet speeds that providers promise“, as well as “the problem is only getting worse“. That is the setting Microsoft is starting to push for and the gamers will not be enjoying the dangers that this will bring. Certain high level non thinkers at Microsoft are making this happen and now Phil Spencer will be faced with the mess that needs cleaning up. The part that many have been ignoring and it will hit Microsoft a lot harder, especially when it wants to move away from uphill battles, a sign that we cannot ignore and whilst the plan might be valid in 4-6 years, the shortage that the hardware and infrastructure gives at present will not be solved any day soon and that is counting against Microsoft. The impact will hit Nintendo as well, but not nearly as hard. The evidence is out there, yet some analysts seem to have taken it out of the equation. Is that not an interesting view that many ignored?

So we are moving forward in gaming, no one denies that, but overall, some cards (like always online) were played much too early and it will cost one player a hell of a lot more than they bargained for.

 

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