Tag Archives: Atari ST

Girdle your loins

Yes, it is time to commit to a promise, yet to do this you need to understand a few things. This all started two years ago when I had an idea, we all have ideas. Yet in my case, the idea was nice, but not ready to be acted on. The basic stage was to lower islamophobia and I believe that educating people does that. In this case it was staged as a game. The idea was sound, but I am not a programmer and places like Google and Amazon tend to be away from their desk when the return on investment is not clear. 

In the mean time the idea grew and grew. In march of this year a few demo’s were released containing the Unreal engine 5 and that was a game changer, the aspect and the population for my solution changed, moreover the application evolved massively.

Datapoints

Data is important and at that point the equation changed and I had to elaborate on data. As the application of a solution changed, so does the data requested for the new approach. 

As such I had the following data points

Turkey 84 million
Egypt 102 million
Pakistan 220 million
Bangla Dash 64 million
Indonesia 273 million
Iraq 40 million
Saudi Arabia 35

Which represent 914 million of the 1.9 billion Muslims. The Muslim population represents between 20 and 25 percent of the global population. In addition Islamophobia is more outspoken now than it was during the Crusades and at that point we were trying to kill each other. 

It was becoming clear that Muslims need a safe space and both Google and Amazon were seemingly not interested. Even the Kingdom Holding Company was not responding to the offer. The offer was a solution that will get 50,000,000 subscriptions, which is actually the easy part. But I will get to that soon. You see close to 50% of these Muslims will never go on the Hajj or a pilgrimage, most cannot afford it, some will never get the lottery. That is not anyones fault, the numbers of Muslims living outside of Saudi Arabia are just too big. So they will never see the splendour of the Grand Mosque in Riyadh, they will never see the Mosque in Medina where the Prophet himself taught. And this is where the Unreal engine version 5 becomes a game changer. 

Part one

Part one is the Islamic part. The two mosques in detail via the Unreal engine 5. You see, this becomes now no longer some video game, but a setting where you walk through a video of these places, true to perfection and when the times are there, you can hear the sermons. These sermons are already digital, they merely require plugging in. Now well over a billion will be able to see the majestic and greatness of these places and over time more Mosques could be added. The people who could never visit these places will be able to see them in more detail than ever before. Yes, you can see them on Youtube, but they are video’s of a person seeing what that person wanted to see. This is a place equally true to life, but now at any given moment you can look around 360 degrees, see the ceilings and see the place you could not visit, optionally not ever. 

Part two

Part two is the gaming side. People love games, all people do. And now a site would exist where Muslims could play, optionally play together and not be harassed all the time. The games are actually the easy part. Everyone is looking forward and create something they hope everyone will like. But when you look behind you, you will see hundreds of games created between 1985 and 1998 on Atari 800, Commodore 64, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Hundreds of games, many without any IP protection and yes, the graphics need upgrading, but in case of many games that is as much as is required, the rest tends to be simple as these games worked on 64Kb (512KB in the latter two cases). And that is before you start looking at adding Chess and Checkers games, board games and a whole lot more. It should be relatively easy to create 12-24 games a year. One alteration is an old game called Defender of the crown. In those days it was huge and awesome, but if you make it defender of the faith where the setting is not England, but Jerusalem, where the attacks are not a simple mouse click, but close to specific attack machines like they had in those days. Let the gamers see how hard it was in those days (see the movie Kingdom of Heaven for details). There are a few more of these alterations and you get a whole trove of games that will entice gamers from 12 to 81. And it might be possible to get twice as many games a year if you create 2-3 software houses. So many games forgotten could receive a second lease on life. After these exercises these software houses will be ready to create new and specific games for a Muslim population. 

Part three

Part three is the social media side. Not based on Facebook, but based on Google Plus or Cocoon. A closed system and it makes sense. Muslims have family, they have friends, friends from the mosque and they are not connected, some of these will be in all three. By setting these groups apart and taking out marketing we return to true social media and here others cannot harass you, if so those people get removed as this service comes at a price. There will be an option for Marketing, but. It can only offer it in certain places. It cannot splash everyones profile like Facebook does, it is the price of a free system. 

Part four

The last part is pricing. I envisioned a stage of $10 a month and $99 a year (two months free). That stage can easily get the controllers of this system 50 million subscriptions, I believe that 400 million subscriptions is possible, but initially not much higher and it would take two years to get there. I also believe that when the system has over 100 million people the price could be lowered from $10 a month to $7.50 a month or $75 a year. 

So that is why I was laughing out loud when we saw in ‘Repetition or Confirmation’ on November 13th 2022 “its Xbox Cloud Gaming program had attracted over 10 million players spread over 26 countries since opening its beta up a year prior.” My plan get me 50 million over 6 countries. My laughing out loud now makes sense, does it not? 

The plan takes on new life as a player like the Kingdom Holding Company could buy the Google Stadia from Google as they are dropping it, as long as it supports Unreal Engine 5. What starts at a nominal 5-6 billion could grow into a $40 billion system. Muslims are fed up with the harassment and American big-tech is not doing anything successful. As such I created a path towards safety. I offered it to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but they were not interested. So you tell me, am I delusional or did I see what no one else is seeing? 

And there is more, Amazon has distribution centres in three of these clusters, so adding a server park there would be relatively easy and with the 5G systems faltering having satellite locations is important, it sets the bottleneck to the local cluster. All simple constructions that Google and Amazon should have been ready for and they are not. 

As such I am making this now Public Domain and you can see how the big boys (Amazon and Google) were blind for the longest time, they are all contracting their workforce and when someone laces this system the others will ALL lose market share and this player will grow into a power player. So there!

What am I losing? Well, I was hoping for a Canadian Passport, a loaded debit card (or an envelope with cash for initial expenses) and $50 million post taxation in a Canadian bank and I would be able to retire. I had hoped for a second pay cycle of 5% of the revenue for 15 years, but that is no longer realistic. And I feel happier making it public domain than giving it to an idiot like Microsoft.

Good luck and good hunting!

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Resetting contemplated options

There is a time when a person needs to reevaluate the choices he is considering. I am at that stage. I had hoped that the parts I have shown would have enticed Google or Amazon, but they have not (or so it seems). So I have the option of considering two more options. The first play for the third party is now underway. The third party here is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. You see they are intent on getting out of the oil business, or better stated, they do not want to depend on it too much. Here I am offering a gaming stage with well over 50,000,000 subscriptions. The nice part is that they can now consider Google, Amazon or Tencent. I personally do not care (as long as they can keep it close to Amazon Luna quality. You see, for me it cares as part of the deal is that I get 10% of the IP and sales value (plus a starting fee). 10% of 50,000,000 subscriptions could be anything from $25M to $50M and when this takes off, I have no idea where it will end, but even at a mere 1-2 years I could end with $25M to $50M a month in the second year if its running. I reckon that is a good retirement fee. Even at a maximum of 6 months it will be more money than I ever contemplated (or even dreamt of) having I was never greed driven. 

So consider the graph below.

The main event is the idea I concocted. The Master Choice is a set of old CBM64 and Amiga games now set to the latest in game streaming. Games that you all forgot about (Younger players are exempt from this). The CBM64, Atari ST and Amiga had created so much awesome IP and most are left unattended, left as garbage. Something these master pieces never deserved. I wrote about them in the past. And as I stated this is merely the start. Then there are the remasters. New games now made to fit this platform. There will be interest, the moment this solution surpasses 10,000,000 subscriptions, others come calling like junkies at a free cocaine feast. It is not good News for Bethesda or Blizzard, they decided to become Microsoft solutions. And when this takes off, Microsoft will fall flat. Yes, they will have their mobile options, but the larger stage will be lost to them. I have nothing against Bethesda or Blizzard, I loved their games and I still do, but there is a consequence of choice and if I get this done, they face hard choices. Then there is a part I cannot tell yet. The new IP. This needs to be catered so that independent developers can grow and can facilitate to, because any GAAS solution will need that. I have close to a dozen options for the start, but after that it will be time to hand over the reigns to the next generation, I will have proven I was right, I will be entitled to my retirement and months of skiing every year. Time for the next generation to make a mark and now there would be a new player. A Saudi group of programmers giving us a new stage of gaming, a stage no one ever considered, no one ever contemplated. But if a small nation like the Netherlands can give us Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West, what can a nations like Saudi Arabia achieve? You forgot about the small parts, did you not? Minecraft was Swedish (as was ABBA), and that is merely when we look at two of the most visible houses at present.
So I want to open the field to others, I want to entice new options and a new era of gaming, because evolution of gaming is important. Nintendo will remain, Sony will remain. They always considered the gamer number one, it is not that I am telling that they remain, the gamers have decided that they remain and some will still side with Microsoft, that is fair. But the Microsoft field will tighten in gaming as it will in two other directions and I will hopefully be there to see it happen (health issues). Yet until recently I never considered Saudi Arabia as the new Mecca for gaming. It was an article in some magazine that dropped the coin. Saud Arabia was always in the back of my mind, but I expected that my IP would have gone to Google or Amazon. Now there is every chance that I will win a lot. A setting that sets the owner on par with Nintendo and Sony is not to be ignored, and even as Microsoft would still be number three for a little while, the humiliation of them getting surpassed by a new player will tong, it will sting a lot. It will show in the first that I was right, it will show in the second that their path was wrong all along. Yes they will make serious money with mobile games. But to lose one niche in technology to this effect will hurt, it will make everyone wonder what Xbox was and why it no longer matters. But for me it is about a new era for gamers, a stage that puts them in the pole position. The front person in a technology that depends on enticing their senses with creativity and inspiring them to become creators. And it has every chance of happening soon. How soon? I have no idea. I am still dependant on the selectors and the choice makers, in this I am a small fish, but a fish dangling 50 million subscriptions in looked at and my blog speaks for itself. Almost 2500 articles on all kinds of matter, many of them games and a lot of them showing ‘evidence’ that I was right long before others knew what was happening. It might be my delusional side and that is a fair observation for others to make, but if the sale happens they will suddenly state “Why did you not come to us?” At which time it will be too late and they don’t need to look at me, their superiors (or shareholders) will look at them asking them why they missed out, these people have no sense of humour. But I do, I will be on the sidelines giggling, enjoying a hot cocoa with rum and watching the snow fall and the slopes prepare for winter fun. And the one thought I will have is that I made ti the end of the rat-race maze, in a way I never contemplated 30, 20, or 10 years ago and I wonder what I will do next, because the creative mind only stops when it is dead, that lesson I learned through many sleepless nights (and three bundles of IP).

73 minutes until breakfast, whatever will I do now?

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The edge of what could be

I thought about this and it intersects with stories over the last week. You see there is a change coming, but one that is openly ignored by some people. Not by the normal people. They ignore it all and so they should. But some want their life to continue as it is, to hang on to easy revenues a little longer at the expense of everything else. There is no real good here. The mistake was made by Sony in 2011 and again when the PS4pro came and now with the PS5 they still make the same mistake. I am uncertain whether Sony can (at present) correct for that mistake. They had the option to gain a huge advantage in 2012, but they decided to play the appeasement game with Facebook, now the game changes. Nintendo was not up to speed for a few understandable reasons and Microsoft only cares for self at the expense of others, so they would never go there. Now in the new setting the streamers are about to get to the same setting. I designed a few parts of it, I set the stage in my first IP bundle and it could apply to Amazon and Google in near equal matters. But that is one setting, the stage could now benefit Netflix in more than one way. Yet who does it fit better? I cannot say, yes a few items fit Amazon better and the idea of the Luna charging ahead sounds good, but the Google Stadia could face the same benefits and none of these parts are part of the additional 50 million consoles. There is the other shoe. I cannot tell how fair it would fit Netflix, but under similar settings all three could compete for that. But it is not about that part. It is about the other parts. 

You see as the game of gaming changes, the makers could adhere to the system, or they can adhere to the gamers and users. It is the second side that will push them forward. The system is clinging to the group of an ageing population, but when that falls away the game itself will be pushed into a new realm. Those not ready will fall behind really fast. In that new stage we have Amazon, Google, Netflix, Sony, Nintendo and Tencent. Yes, we see the claims that Tencent is not coming along, but a stage where hundreds of billions is part of the game and that is not including gambling is not a stage anyone ignores, no matter what they say. Whether it is merely Tencent, or a union with Huawei will be sought is not something I am aware off. But there is no way that Tencent will not be part of this. The part I cannot tell is how far along they will go. Will they be a console, a streamer, or a hybrid facilitating both? You see, I do not know any industrial willing to let go of a slice of $275,000,000,000. As such Tencent is a player, I feel certain of that. 

So where will it all go? There are several indictors that marketing and granularity will change. Meta is one factor, 5G is the other factor and it will all come to blows as Neom is completed. Neom will be the first step to clearly show the changes to marketing, advertisements and a few other matters. I saw this coming and as such I created the 5G IP I have. When the other parts are completed the companies that are still clearly in the dark will wake up and a rush will come. All racing for the same destination and not all will make it and now there are two sides that come to blow. Three if you reconsider the stage. In the first stage there is Meta, meta will be ready and adhering to whatever stage is played, it will be that flexible and I am not certain how or where it will go. Only the inner insiders of Meta know this. The second stage is seen by gamers and more importantly the streamers. The streamers are important fr a few reasons. They can become new clusters. Clusters where gamers and users are in charge, they will decide what they are exposed to and even as some will try to dissuade the consoles and streamers. The one successfully resisting will win that race. You see, the people have had enough and corporations are so used to the bully push that they will continue. Just to get their hands ‘in the game’ but that move will push them out of the game, there is no other solution for them and by the time they learn that lesson the hard way. The users and gamers will have had enough. They will of course cry like Chihuahua’s, making all kind of claims but at the end of the aged population they will be denied access, the people will have had enough. And on the third side is the explosion of marketing and advertising. Neom city might show the way, but they are not alone and that signal will show that there is a larger change coming it will evolve nearly everywhere, but mostly in metropolitan areas. And until recently I never considered that my IP would cover two of the three sides of that evolution. Which is also a larger weird part. Where will Amazon go, where will Google go and how far will Netflix get with their game streaming. All sides that give rise to questions, ones that I cannot answer yet, but I feel it is a temporary setting for me and after that I will consider whether I make it new IP, or make it public domain. In one part I like the public domain side, I have enough IP to last me a lifetime, some of the IP become public domain on June 30th if I do not reset the clock and I will watch from a distance how stupid industrials make claims and demand a seat on some negotiating table they have no business being at. They squandered it in greed and in the belief of their own ego, as such they should be allowed to die (go bankrupt) for that shortsightedness. A stage that has some repetition and a stage that is coming for a few too many of them, especially when they are no longer of what comes next. Yet it also is cause for worry. When these people are denied ‘their’ seat near edge of what could be they tend to become bullish, childish and they will resort to be the selfish people they always were, just a little bit more out in the open now, and still those around them will not act. This is why I like my public domain routine. It leaves the IP FOR EVERYONE and they can do nothing, well almost nothing. The only strength on my side is that I have is the willingness to lose it all, to make it public. 

It is the only thing I can do to protect the realm of gaming, when a company cannot own it, the larger base of players win, that has always been the case. The problem is that not everyone can see that. I do not blame them, I for one did not see it for a long time. I was never one for ‘free games’ and it all should be free or hacked. I believe that game makers are entitled their revenue and their profit. I never opposed that, but in the 80’s and 90’s games were more than entertainment it was a stage where the gamer was enabled. I feel that around 2005-2010 the gamer became a point of exploitation for the system and any digital revenue. I opposed that, there is no clear guilty party. Ubisoft might have some sides, but their need was revenue. I do not consider them guilty. Sony and Nintendo to some degree too. They are all guilty of adhering to a changing stage, but that does not make them guilty. There was a second layer, or at least it was my believe that the second layer was some mash of elements that pushed for a larger layer of exploitation. This continued until now, yet there is a new horizon, the streamers and there they have less power and when the power is pushed onto the gamers and users their options vanish,  that is my belief. There is a lot more and streamers can bring it to the front, the consoles had that option but they decided not to do that, for whatever reason they did not do this.

And now the edge of what could be changes, it alters in a way I cannot tell at present. Yet I still believe that the streamers will be at the core of gaming in the future. I will still play on a playstation as well at whatever number they are when that happens. Yet when I see what could be there is no chance that there will not be a streaming system next to it, as is most likely the Nintendo. Where gaming goes I cannot tell beyond a certain point. That is how things tend to be. I  reckon that it started when I created the foundation of what could have been The Elder Scrolls: Restoration in 2013. Over the years I upped the stage and set it to a much larger foundation. Then it fell away as Microsoft bought the place. So these ideas are now getting incorporated in another game, because the ideas were sound, they were merely precise. As a storyteller I can reshape them to fit another game with reasonable ease. Will these stories be part of the next edge of gaming? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. At times I wonder if pushing the edge of gaming is a good idea. But the edge of gaming was pushed by the CBM 64 (Loderunner), Atari ST (Dungeon Master), CBM Amiga (Dune 2), N64 (Goldeneye), PS1 (TombRaider), PS2 (Kingdom Hearts), Xbox360 (Mass Effect), PS3 (The last of Us), PS4 (God of War) and PS5 (TBA), now it is time for the streamers to do more than be the next copy of a game we see everywhere, now they can shape the edge of gaming that is not here yet. Only under these circumstances will gaming continue, evolve and inspire. Consider the old games and see where the new systems could take us. That is where we will be able to see the edge of what might be.

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First the weird

Yes, it was something that happened on Wednesday night. It was (apparently) important and it involved Batman. It was a dream, mot likely about IP, but I cannot state whether it is based on the comic books, I do not think it was the Arkham games series. I also do not think it was the movies, but beyond that it is blank, I just cannot remember it and if I do not write it down quickly, it becomes lost. So now I have to wait for the REM stage to kick in again. Beyond all that, there is new IP. A new setting, a digital setting that comes to mind on some of the MB games, in the first it is Hotel and now we have a new stage, Yes, we can ‘just’ copy the board game, but that is such a waste of time, unless it is a mode you can unlock. A board that becomes bigger as more players come to it. The nearly same setting, but now we add a library of hotels. So the original game had the Boomerang, Fujiyama, Royal, Le Grand, Safari, Taj Mahal, Waikiki, and the President. But the fun part is that digitally we can add, we can replace keeping the game new and fresh. So we can get hotels based on famous hotels in Dubai, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, London and so many other places. As we add multiplayer options where the player can select from a pool of online players, friends and game fans, this game could get a lot more attention, and history has shown that there was an interest in this game. I still haven’t given up on the notion of collectible keys (used on the Amazon Luna) to unlock elements in games that other games provide for. And Hotel could be no different. Other games unlock additional hotels and this game could unlock other elements in other games. A stage that pushes novelty and pushes the desire to play, to find and to embrace any game that streaming offers. 

I mentioned the keys before and it could be one of several enhancements that could push the Amazon Luna (beside the 50M extra consoles option). You see, the need for gaming is different on streamers, yes there is a like minded setting with other consoles, but the plus value is not merely some subscription, it is the part where the subscription leads to additional sides, it keeps the gamer invigorated. And in sandbox games there is plenty to see, but in other games after you played it once or twice you think you have seen it all, unless you add to the game, unless the game keeps on developing. There is only so many times the bulk will play Monopoly. Yet if we can localise Monopoly and unlock local editions the interest in such a game evolves from medium term to long term enjoyment. And there several MB games could find themselves in a larger stage. In earlier writings I evolved the game Stratego to a much larger online stage. Yet what happens when we do this to the game Tank Battle? What happens when we evolve the game Clue to a version based on the CCG the X files? All games with multiple options, all games with an evolved nature that offers long term appeal. And as stated on multiple times, some of the original CBM-64 games could get a whole new era of gaming enthusiasts if they put their mind to it. 

All settings that some ignored, some were forgotten and many were overlooked, or perhaps the game designers never considered the early years of gaming. Just like some of us seemingly forgot  about some of the TV shows from the 60’s and 70’s, several of them bubbling with new life if the right director comes along. The acquired IP from the old days could be the cheapest and that offers a whole new stage. Some of the makers are all about looking at the new, but to find. Truly new series with no connections to the past is so utterly rare that it is almost folly to join those crusaders, all chasing windmills. Which is still weird because the fields are covered with fix them uppers and some of them have solid housing frames. 

The fact that some are racing to remaster decent PS4 games for PS5, and they are merely looking behind them, in the rear distance there are true gems waiting to be rediscovered and I hope Amazon does so, Google too, but then they decided not to develop games, so they need to rely on the indie developers and some will be looking towards the CBM-64, Atari ST and Amiga games. As I see some development notes pass by, I can see that they are and they will have decent chances to pick up an interesting amount of coins. 

 

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Relaunching IP

It is a thought plenty of people have and I am no exception. I was contemplating things and then I realised in light of the news I covered in the last week that educating people is always better than telling them how it is. Some people are afraid that THEIR thoughts are all, but I am not the most intelligent person on the planet. I am more intelligent than mot and my IQ is around two point short from the setting that Alan Turing had, so I have that to sulk about. But the station to educate others, to teach them where to look and what to look for remains appealing. So there I was sitting and contemplating an old master called the Balance of Power. I had bought the game on the Atari ST and I loved it. The game was a little shallow, but it was new, it had never been done before and as such it kept my attention for a long time. 

Wouldn’t it be great if someone picked up that idea and turned it into something serious? No longer a mere US versus Russia, but geopolitical field that included espionage. The US, EU, Middle East (Iran or Saudi Arabia), Russia, China and Japan? Consider that we have ‘quotes’ like “Problem analysis is the process of understanding real-world problems and user’s needs and proposing solutions to meet those needs. The goal of problem analysis is to gain a better understanding of the problem being solved before developing a solution”, and there is massive support to consider. There is J. J. A. Tacq who gave us Social Science Research From Problem to Analysis (1997), there is From Secrets to Policy by Mark Lowenthal which is now in its 8th edition. Foundational materials that makes us think and consider a much larger picture. There are economic works that could help creating understanding. Even if one book gets implemented in that game it becomes a whole new beast and to get the kitty turned into a behemoth that scares every tiger in Asia work needs to be done. But the game that was meant for a 640Kb Computer now gets 10,000 times the resources and has a setting of a massive data warehouse that could enable larger prototyping than ever considered before. I see some bloggers (journalists too) working the same equation again and again, all whilst they could create something much more explanatory and insightful for all readers. Some might not care and that is OK, yet the Balance of power had appeal to a fair amount of gamers and I believe even now in a new generational setting I believe that this appeal will still be there. And the benefit of streaming implies that you can try and you can see how the pawns fall down, the rooks optionally stand up and the political board shows a lot more than you ever considered. 

We seem to think that old is gone, but games and simulators were more advanced because they overcame memory obstacles, I reckon that some programs can still make us turn out heads, especially when some of these programs were created with the limitations that 1985 had and considering that my Abandonware gave the game 4.6 out of 5 gives another reason to consider what was out there. And let’s face it, what do you have to lose?

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I see dead people

There is a stage we all see and we all think we seem to know, I am very set on the ‘seem to’ part. I stumbled upon a 5 years old article by TechCrunch, it is about Peter Molyneux, a person I personally know, so I was curious. It was the beginning that got to me. With “the British game development hero that spearheaded famous studios Bullfrog and Lionhead, but who also always had a reputation of being fluid with the truth. Molyneux was the guy who made Populous and led the studios that created Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate, The Movies, Fable, Black and White, Magic Carpet and many others. But Molyneux was also a teller of tall tales, a maker of wild promises in interviews that had little chance of being realised” the game is on, you see it is about the games, and Bullfrog let by Peter delivered again and again on CBM64, Atari ST, Amiga and PC. I still miss some of these games. They opened the mind, the made us creative and it pushed us to think different. So when we get to ‘a teller of tall tales, a maker of wild promises in interviews that had little chance of being realised’, we are b being misled on two fronts. The first is that (as far as I know) Peter has always been in the business of pushing gaming boundaries. It is hard to prove this, but I have an example, in those days I had a mouthwatering PC, it had all the bells and whistles and it would make coffee for me if it had hands, so here I am with a high end graphics card that can do anything with was, so even as Black and White is fun and amazing, it was that merely fun and amazing, about three months after the game releases there is a new graphics card and I install it, I had nothing real to do and I restart Black and White, so when the temple is built and I walk inside my mouth drops, it blew me away. Black and White was the first game that was ready for the nextgen graphics, it was the first time this would happen to me. Even now I still hope for a remaster of Magic Carpet on the new consoles, a rerelease of dungeon keeper, and only team bullfrog can deliver on that.

The second part is the one TechCrunch does not mention, in the early 90’s, the media was on gaming like nothing you ever saw, the journo’s at the ECTS were renowned, worse than paparazzi and always looking for a sound-byte, an exploit and that part is not mentioned, also the words of Molyneux have been pulled out of context more than once, he did something other gamer makers did not achieve, he surpassed the boundaries of systems. That can be seen if you compare the reboot of Syndicate with the original, the original remains vastly superior 20 years later. The reboot got a mere 66%, it is vision that get us games and Peter Molyneux had just that. Then we get a part the is hard to dispute and most likely correct “The other reason Molyneux thrived was that his team delivered. There are, and will forever remain, disputes over exactly how much he was involved with some of the titles to his name (Glenn Corpes, Sean Cooper, Demis Hassabis and a variety of others deserve their credit) but what was inarguable was that Molyneux had managed to create an environment in which great games happened”, yes Peter was not alone and we all get that, but Peter made it happen and it is undeniable, great games happened at Bullfrog and Lionhead. The titles are still revered and people still yearn for another fable, another dungeon keeper and another theme park, even now, even 20 years later, that is gaming at the edge!

Then we get a gem “He would combine those ideals to form an exciting story for what a game might be, often road testing a certain phrase or image with you before using it with the press. This, I gather, is not unlike the way Steve Jobs seems to have been”, the man was part visionary and could recognise visionaries in coders, that is part why his games were so great (the original concept is part of that), until Bullfrog, who had considered being the bad guy in Hero quest would be entertaining? And that is the foundation of great gaming, bel to turn the equation upside down and get another nugget of gold, he had this. I particularly like the end of the article “Ambitious design, big ideas and bold visions are what propel the games industry forward. When all is said and done, create-a-cash-engine mentalities are only ever temporary, but it’s the ambition that makes video games forever. I for one hope that Molyneux rises from the ashes one last time to teach us this lesson again”, it is all the parts Ubisoft forgot to be, it is all the sides the spreadsheet driven BI executives at EA and likeminded companies are dumbstruck on. I hope that he gets a few more notches on his 6 shooter with new titles on nextgen, optionally Google Stadia too. Consider the titles we saw at the beginning and consider that those who knew the games still remember them and love them 20+ years later, that is an achievement only Nintendo has been able to equal. 

So when it comes to Bullfrog, its staff and the man behind it, I tend to see dead people, it is the press behind it, not the makers of games, they have proven their grit, they did it several times. 

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Reflections

These are the days where a lot of people reflect on choices made and I am not any different. I was at the foundation of gaming, when gaming was young, when people thought that this was the sport of nerds and I did not care. I reviewed games for 13 years and I never regretted it. I was there when Commodore release the CBM64 and the Amiga 500. Sony released the PlayStation, I was there when Nintendo released the N64 and the GameCube. I had the Sony PlayStation 2 on day one, I saw with amazement when the SEGA Dreamcast was released. I saw an amazing range of games and systems, even now I think back to how great gaming was in those days. Even now we see how some makers misrepresent their games on how unique their game is whilst in the end it is merely another version of Candy Crush or Bejewelled. The hide behind quick animations and we see some Zombie game and the list goes on, they all need to make a game that is quick so that it is downloaded, their name depends on the amount of downloads, the sheep that play games follow the games that have a lot of downloads, yet they miss the larger stage. A game is something larger, it keeps you interested, it offers a larger stage and there is no denying that Microsoft Game Pass might actually entice people who call themselves gamers will actually end up playing actual games. Yet there is a danger there too. I personally believe that Microsoft is in it for the soft money, the micro transactions and it makes sense, micro transactions represents billions a year in revenue, and there mobile systems are the biggest source of micro transactions and that too is a reason why Microsoft wants Apple access. 

It is time that this stage changes and if there is one stage we want to protect then it is the gaming stage, that stage gives direct access to the younger players. Even as these ‘critics’ proclaim loot boxes are ‘gambling’, there is no status on games like Candy Crush and all others designed to drive gamers to spend money, the addiction of achievement. Yet we see a lot less on that part do we? I remember playing the very first Lemmings, from the first hour I saw just how addictive it was, I still have great memories on Magic Carpet, I saw amazing games from Mirrorsoft, Microprose, Psygnosis, Rare, Westwood, Bullfrog and too many others to mention. Even then the creativity outranked corporate types and the gamer won. That field has changed!

Even today, I remember playing games like Millennium 2.2, Lemmings, Covert Action, Ultima 3, 4, 5, Eye of the Beholder, and that was long before PC’s started to take gaming serious. One title I am leaving for last, In 1987 FTL (Faster than Light) created Dungeon Master, it changed the way people looked at RPG games. It was only surpassed by Dungeon Keeper because Dungeon Master paved the way and created the love of the RPG game, Dungeon Master became the best selling game of all time for the Atari ST, others would follow and Dungeon Keeper would push the love of RPG to even greater heights, in the end 700,000 copies would be sold and it is there where we see what we can gain, in those days 700,000 copies were sold, in this day it would be 10 to 50 times as much. And we overlook the playability of those games now, yes we see the hypes created (and the games EA screws up), yet they also had there share of successes and underestimations. Who remembers ShadowCaster and Black Crypt? Upgraded they would make interesting games and in that same setting EA has close to half a dozen games that could raise the setting for Google Stadia. So what happens when we tinker Magic Carpet to become larger and multiplayer? And that is only the tip of the iceberg, Microprose has even more titles and that is all before we look at the near future and see what else we can do to set a larger stage of games that people either cast aside or ignored in the first place. An excellent example of that is Microprose’s 1990 release of Knights of the Sky. I loved the game and many others did as well, but the larger group seemingly forgot about this game, a game that could be upgraded and work on a whole range of systems, including Google and Apple systems. We need to take another look at these games, games produced in the era spanning from 1985-2005 gives us close to 100 titles spread over half a dozen systems and we forgot about them. Why is that?

I get it, some people moved on, they moved on to other things and that is fine, but there is an entire generation of people that is limited in its view of games and it is limited to match three shapes. That is not really gaming and we need to make sure that this does not happen. For a system like the Google Stadia, it is the difference from being in the game and setting a goal towards being the 4th system in gaming, from there the sky is the limit. There are enough games, the question becomes where do they (or Apple) want to go, offering a system or committing to a system. It is a small but distinctive difference, one is seemingly going that way (it doesn’t matter who), yet it opens up a larger stage. A stage where people can optionally now play a larger and repaired Mass Effect Andromeda, a game that is game 1 and game 2 together. A stage that Google Stadia and Apple allows for and that is good, perhaps the others will catch on, but that is not a given and perhaps not even required. Hardwire gives options, but when did all systems need to offer everything? I believe that Nintendo and Sony can work side by side, I feel certain that either Google or Apple will be the third system, there is a chance that people will select EITHER the Google or the Apple system, but I cannot be certain of that at present. And it does not matter, like Android and iOS, people will make a choice giving Google an edge but at present not a given victory, time will make determination, yet in time and over time we need to revisit the old games, the fact that we see more and more remasters is because the old jewels remain jewels, some of them merely need to get dusted, others need polish, but they remain jewels and the sooner some see that, the better their hardware will fare. 

 

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Sources of negativity

We are all binomial in origin, we like yes/no, we dislike yes/no, we hate yes/no and we love yes/no, yet most of us hide this in long winded excuses of reasoning, we all do that (including me). I partially hate Microsoft for what they did, for how they destroyed something that was pretty fabulous, I am upset with Ubisoft or how they squandered excellent IP and hid into the woodworks and made a quick buck, destroying the IP they created in the meantime. And as such as I was looking online for a few more tidbits as we approach the demise of Xbox, I came across a few items that puzzled me. 

I love Bethesda, I do not love all their products, which is fine. I am no lover of Rage, but others are, and that is fine. On the other hand I love Fallout, but was never a fan of Fallout 76 and that is fine too. I prefer my games not online and single player. Still, I accept that this is a pathBethesda went on, we all have growing curves and there is a collection of people (a large one) who do like Fallout 76. Perhaps the evolution of Fallout 76 will turn into Fallout 176, Fallout 276 and whatever comes and I will like it at some point, but the barricade that is out there is not one that Bethesda created. In another story we see the interaction, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone console players are turning off crossplay to escape PC cheaters’ it is merely one reason why I hate online play, I do not really hate it because I loved online Mass Effect 3, I was addicted to it, but the world has enough cheaters, when I game I want to get away from that and play on a level playing field, as such I focus on single player only, and in that my taste goes wide. 

As time went by I must have invested tens of thousands of dollars in console gaming, I agree when people say that it is wasted money, but that was my choice, I had a good job, my last ‘true’ vacation was in 1998, so when I get home I need escapism and puzzles, or challenges all at the same time and the consoles provide. It got me to the first issue on consoles, the pricing YouTubes are a little redundant and obsolete when you realise the origin.

When I look back, I started with the VIC-20, then the CBM64 ($1349) with disk drive. Overtime I evolved my systems. CBM Amiga ($700), Atari ST ($700) and there was the PC to use (I’ll get to that soon). As a gamer and reviewer I had made some waves, as such the Sega Dreamcast was free (christmas present from Sega), the Sony Playstation (I forgot what I paid for it, but it was less than the N4) The Nintendo 64 ($699) and after that I pushed towards the Sony PSX-II ($899). It was followed by the Nintendo Gamecube, a machine I loved. After that there was a small lull, I got the Xbox at the end of its lifetime for free with my mobile and it brought a few highpoints. We are now getting close to the time where everything changed. I was happy with my Xbox, the controller was a little bulky, but I have large hands, so it was a blessing in disguise. I played several of the games and Time Splitters 3 was an awesome trip, so good that I got it completed to 98% in hard mode. Then Microsoft upped the game, the Xbox360 came and I truly loved it, it was close to perfect in many ways, the 20GB drive was a little small, but you could upgrade it to a 120GB and within a year I did. Gaming life was close to perfect. I mentioned Time Splitters and it matters, there was the clear claim of backward compatibility and I fell for it, yet soon thereafter I learned the hard way that it was not and I never got Time Splitters 3 to 100%, the first annoyance was created. In all honesty, it is close to one defect in its life cycle. I too received the red rings of death and Microsoft replaced it, as such I was 3 weeks without my 360, but that was not an issue, the replacement was faster, the resolution was clearly better and gaming was at an all time high. Microsoft was a clear player in all this. The next step was the PSX3, Sony had always been great but I was not drawn to the third version, I was actually still enjoying the PSX2 (as well as the GameCube). So it was a nice relief when I bought a new TV and the PSX3 was part of this as a bonus, to be honest, I was not drawn to the PSX3, I did love the games I played on it, but overall, until Metal Gear Solid IV, games of the patriot arrived, I was not madly gaming it. As such, when it did the shift was starting to happen. 

Before that time the Xbox360 had 70% of my time, the GameCube 20% and 10% was for the PSX3. MGSIV was the first game to attack that pattern. Sony would give us more games on that system that impacted the consoles.As Sony got more adapt in exclusive games, the PSX3 would consume time: God of War 3, Infamous(1 and 2), Ratchet and Clank, Beyond two Souls, Gran Turismo and the end there was the Last of Us, Sony was reacquiring the timeline. Even as I had Oblivion and Mass Effect 3 on my Xbox, the timeline had shifted to 40% X360, 40% PSX3 and 20% Gamecube. Sony was back through great games, just like it did before and Xbox was not to blame. In all this I did not mention PC Gaming and that was on purpose, from 1989 onwards my PC was for gaming and I had more often than not the best of the best. A soundblaster card? I had it and when the first games came needing the better processor I had that system. Unreal Tournament, Black an White, System Shock(1 and 2), Wing Commander (1,2,3), Red Alert, Populous, Ultima, the list goes on, it was when Thief came that I ‘woke up’, I had a really good Diamond card yet Thief forced me to upgrade to the Diamond Viper 2 (no regrets) and the realisation set in (around 2003). Gaming is about the graphics card, sound, storage and the processor and at that point a graphics card was $600, the soundcard $500, and storage came as is. As such a console was a lot cheaper and my need for gaming was fulfilled. Only two years later a high end graphics card was $999 and as such console gaming was becoming increasingly cheap.

This all matters, when we are confronted with the pricing of the Xbox One X and the PS5, we forget that what came before was a lot more expensie and offers less, it was also the time that we started to realise that we need increasingly more space, the Xbox360 and the PSX3 already taught us that, as such the faults in the Xbox were more than merely stupid. Sony solved it by letting people selecting a larger drive and replacing the old drive, Microsoft had not caught on and would not catch on for the entire life cycle of the Xbox One, it is only now that they are seeing the light and their other flaws (always online) are showing that they are no longer to be the trustworthy system and trust is everything here. 

So when I see this tyrade of options and systems and whether I (and many other gamers) are willing to pay only $500 or are willing to pay $550, I wonder if these people realise that they are continuing a consumer base that goes into pillions and they have spent a massive amount of money. Microsoft is also making the mistake to hunt towards the most powerful systems whilst good games is where it is at, so where are the great games?  This is where Ubisoft comes into the mix, exclusive or not they went from great game maker to mediocre game maker and you merely have to look at the exclusive sony titles to realise that. Whilst the creation of titles gave them 90+% games, we now see that 80%+ is the best they can muster and for the most pushed deadlines and marketing promises that cannot be kept are the cause. The lack of proper testing is another matter where they failed and it impacts the choices of consoles we have, because whether we want to accept it or now, Ubisoft is a big deal in console gaming and as they fail, the exclusives are where it is at and there Sony wins, it is a landslide win. To get the greatest games we need Microsoft and Ubisoft to get back to the top or we need someone to replace them, it is that simple.

Players like Bethesda, Capcom and others help, yet the more the merrier (in the high end gaming cycle) and we are all starved for good games and the consoles are a driving force.

Let’s hope that this gaming force is driven to the max at the highest peaks for years to come by as many players as possible, for in that setting the gamer truly wins, no matter who tops the bill.

 

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Update to include monsters

I was thinking of some of the old games I used to play, especially one I never mastered. The game was released in 1985; I played the Atari ST edition. The game was called ‘Balance of Power‘ and it was basically the east versus the west and through the interface you could interfere (take control of) the balance of power between east and west. In the end I got overly comfortable to the expression “You have ignited a nuclear war. And no, there is no animated display of a mushroom cloud with parts of bodies flying through the air. We do not reward failure“, yes diplomacy was never my forte. There was an update 5-10 years later when the 1990 edition was launched, I never played that edition.

I believe that the world is ready for a true update of that game. When we add the atrocities by Turkey only a few days ago, when we add the Khashoggi debacle and the impact of social media and spin doctors at the heads of media outlets we see that the world has changed to a much larger degree and the impact of what actually could happen is perhaps worthy of a new game. We need to see and play with the impact of ISIS minded forces as political parties play with the impact on a global stage. The fact that the USA is no longer a real superpower and the fact that the treasury of Saudi Arabia, the consumer base of India as the technology footing of China are much larger influences than foreseen; we get to debate a much larger spectrum of what the balance of power looks like. I believe that when the people see the impact of these elements, we see that the world reshapes almost like some Sim City version with larger repercussions. When we consider the global powers of Google and Facebook we see that the game of world politics gets filtered by economic markers. The evolution of what was once regarded as the ‘Balance of Power‘ is optionally now the stage for a larger form of balance (or is that a forum of balance) staged in a collection of seesaws where one resets the balance of two others. the old balance of power staged on the bear and eagle are outdone, less valid, the entire proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran clearly shows that and the impact of the media as they filter the news is also a larger impact and we have never been able to truly look at the impact there is, hence the idea of a new Balance of power, optionally called: ‘the Power to balance powers‘, the optional new truth that Turkey is the fourth power to instigate multiple genocides (America as it degraded the population of Native American tribes to zero, as well as the Catholic powers who removed well over a dozen civilisations, and Russian combined actions in 1931 and 1932) is something we need to consider in a much larger scope.

It is this stage where we look at the news and we are confronted with ‘The Kurds’ commander in chief explains why his forces are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin‘, I have no way of seeing how this plays out, but there will be larger repercussions on many stages. It is time that the youth takes a serious look at the large issues that their parents are dumping on their doorstep, we need to figure things out and it is time that this is done out in the open, no longer hidden behind a screen of media filters and silencing diplomatic teams as they are trying to remain ‘non-accountable’ towards actions chosen.

The problem is not merely that we ignore the actions; the larger stage is that all kinds of ‘compromises’ are being made for the long term and the next generation needs to learn what those repercussions are and I believe that the right video game could do this. The previous generation was apparently taught that evil should never be allowed to win, yet 25 years after WW2 we all became complacent and we thought that evil was gone, evil never is and we all have optionally become part of evil as we condone the actions of many, hide behind the shallow needs that social media offers and we remain unaware as the news is decided by the wealthy (read: corporations) as they became the shareholders, stake holders and advertisers; they get to tell the media and the news what is important, what is filtered out. That is the stage where the balance of power can educate a lot of people just how dangerous our status is at present, not dangerous as if a war comes, we are beyond that, I mean dangerous as we have set the stage for multiple generations of anger, hatred and feelings of revenge, and a growing lack of tolerance towards one another. It is almost like a 4 seat seesaw and each of these seats is the balancing point for another seesaw, it becomes a game of trying to stay balanced, it also means that there is a lack of movement available, which implies that some parties will be about claiming actions when none (or that specific one) was not available.

when we see the media, we are pushed to the question ‘What is the omitted Information that Remains Missing?‘, this is a spin on two levels, the first is ‘Which question should have been asked?’, which brings us to ‘Has a quote or testimonial been taken out of context?‘ this is harder to answer, but it is an influence, which gets influenced by: ‘Is someone approaching the issue from a different set of values?‘, as well as the stated answers ‘Are the claims supported by well-done research as well as based on reliable sources?‘ and that is the foundation for merely looking at the media how it filters information, the entire stage becomes a much harder game to program, yet should it not be done because of that?

And that is all before we get to the political and diplomatic stage on “If the answer is not helpful, can we change the question to make it so?” these two elements interacting in media causes all kinds of communication (read: presentation) issues whilst both sides remain intentionally ignorant to the equation. The next generation needs to be educated on what a mess this generation is creating. That part is seen (only in part) with: ‘12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia‘ (source; NY times), with the quote “The Russian Air Force has repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria in order to crush the last pockets of resistance to President Bashar al-Assad, according to an investigation by The New York Times“, which was set to events on May 5th 2019, many newspapers gave that information when it happened, the repeat from the NY Times gives us the quote “Russia’s position as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has shielded it from scrutiny and made United Nations agencies reluctant to accuse the Russian Air Force of responsibility“, this is important as the United Nations Security council is now presented as an umbrella that offers a shield from actions it was supposed to stop, a stage we knew existed, but not to the degree we see now.

So when we see the NY Times quote: “Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital in southern Idlib Province served around 200,000 people before being destroyed in a Russian airstrike on May 5” which comes with assisted high resolution graphics of 40 mega pixels or better whilst we look at the exploding hospital, we wonder how lucky that photographer was, or perhaps someone knew in advance what would happen, we are left with too many questions and no real explanation that fits the morality and values within us.

It is becoming more and more important that we see the world as it is now being pushed by the monsters among us, we like to set the stage to merely Iran, Turkey, ISIS and Hezbollah, yet the real monsters are the ones claiming to fight the atrocities and in the end merely facilitate to it, it goes beyond the wear events, the technological feats we see in regards to 5G is also a global impact, and we can go on and on on all the events that are part of the stage, and it would soon become too complex. Perhaps that too would be the strength on any new version of ‘Balance of Power‘ the fact that too many issues are intertwined for several reasons. Yet when we add greed to the mix, the game becomes awfully transparent, add to that the actions by some making claims that they cannot prove; the created stage of carefully phrased denials, all out in the open and when we ask specifics we are left with half-baked answers that are not answers at all. This is a part that plays a role in all this, we seem to forget that governments have a duty to properly inform us, yet in the listing from government, through corporations to media to the viewer, we forget that there are three iterations of information, all bound by their own personal issues. It is almost an applied variation from Mark M. Lowenthal ‘Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy‘, the application of stages towards the drive of any policy (governmental or not) is also baked into the media and is subject to what we are allowed to see. Consider that impact, as well as the impact of data on the whole, it might become a massively complex new game, yet when we are able to show the impact of these elements to the people, we would optionally get a much more informed person, one who ends up asking the right questions, the questions that politicians, CEO’s and CFO’s fear. When that part comes out in the open, we get a first stage to truly fix things.

Yet with my sense of humour, we should make a lot more space to include the stages that Darrell Huff introduced us to when we were given ‘How to Lie with Statistics‘, and this gets us to today, we know that the balance of power is not merely what we have, what we get and how we get there. There is an internal stage where political power is also set to the stage of people in jobs (as enabled consumers) that was proven ages ago. Yet how that stage is managed is an entirely different matter. the pushed stage where enablers, facilitators and consumers become the ‘have group’ the rest will be the ‘have not’ group.

As we got told today (source: the conversation), we see this stage in Australia, “Centrelink generally requires evidence of looking for 20 jobs per month in order to keep receiving Newstart“, that sounds fine in theory, yet in the applied practice we see that the job search government links to a job search collector, whilst the seeding player of this group is another matter. So when we look at IT jobs in Sydney we see: ‘594 jobs with 715 positions‘, with the largest bulk (over 90%) being Adzuna, yet the reviews from some are stating that this source is riddled with ‘scam’ mentions, as well as overly positive claimed stages. There is a larger issue afoot and there is not enough scrutiny, even as the people can go to really valid places like Indeed, LinkedIn and Jora; the choice we see in the governmental site calls for question of scrutiny.

Why on earth did I mention that?

We see that the balance of power is set to what is done and what can be achieved, yet when we are confronted with a stage that is not available or realistic, how will we interact? When we are set in a stage of age discrimination on a stage where our issues are not heard, or set in a long winded stage of registration where the IT parts fails too often, the government gets to optionally report that no complaints were received. In Australia the mess with Centrelink data matching, the failing Biometrics Identification Services, the UK failures on IT in the NHS and the list goes on where the costs keeps on adding billion after billion, that directly impacts a government, its budget and its waning options, very much issues on a larger scale and the claim we see with “aggressive ICT outsourcing has led to agencies being left at the mercy of external vendors“, whilst there is no proof that growing the internal options would not have resolved the issue. It is a stage where corporations have a hold over the government, pushing cheaper solutions (another reference to age discrimination get pushed to the backbench and no solutions come forward. this is a direct application of the earlier mentioned ‘in the listing from government, through corporations to media to the viewer, we forget that there are three iterations of information, all bound by their own personal issues‘, which in the application of the Balance of Power means that corporations have a much larger option to disable or limit government actions. That is what the impact of corporatocracy is. In the original games there was no real corporatocracy, nowadays there is. The US is perhaps the strongest example and the impact we see in the FDA and DEA (see yesterday’s article) as well as the ATF limited through the powers of the NRA and by corporations addressing attachments to governmental needs we see a larger impact of where governments show limitations on the world stage.

Yes, the entire game has become a lot more complex which in the end leads us to the question, is any application of the ‘Balance of Power‘ still actual and realistic? That is partially seen in 2013 when the NY Times gave us: “Eight major companies, led by Google and Microsoft, are calling for tighter controls on surveillance of their customers’ data by governments“, yet the opposite was never put in place, the existence of Cambridge Analytics, the application of selling consumer data as well as the abuse of data collection through apps has never been stopped. We get all kinds of options to market through mined data giving a larger rise to corporatocracy, whilst the media remains silent on the dangers of corporatocracy. So when we see ‘This is what happens when corporations run the government‘ (Washington Post, March 2019) and ‘Australia’s march towards corporatocracy‘ (the conversation Feb 2017) we see merely two mentions on Google search page one, whilst he situation set the stage that there should have been dozen of clear mentions and investigations, yet the media seemingly have almost zero mentions, how is that? I think that there is a clear stage where corporations do not want to see any mention if possible and as I mentioned earlier ‘in the listing from government, through corporations to media to the viewer, we forget that there are three iterations of information, all bound by their own personal issues‘, and here we see how ‘through corporations to the media‘ is directly inhibiting exposure. The Balance of Power would be an awesome game if we can incorporate it into a new game, especially when we see how the media and corporations make sure that a lot of the information will not be shown, active censorship in nations that proclaim freedom of speech and freedom of expression, when you own the printing house you get to tell the people what they care about, we apparently forgot about that small part again and again.

It is the beginning of a rigged game where the next generation gets to pay for the screw ups of the current generation, feel free to ignore or deny that, yet when we consider the US with a debt of $21 trillion, the EU has around € 10.1 trillion and on a global scale we see that the Global debt had reached an all-time high of $184 trillion in January 2019, we see that the Balance of Power is a term that has become debatable, a stage where banks are basically in charge, limiting or directing the options that any government is allowed to consider. The original game never anticipated that reality, but there you have it. John Perkins tried to inform the audience with ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004)’, yet even after Berrett-Koehler published it, gaining an instant bestseller, whilst the major U.S. media refused to discuss Confessions or the fact that, because of it, terms such as “EHM” and “corporatocracy” were now appearing on college syllabi. A stage where the media claiming to advocate freedom of speech, whilst we see that its absence is allegedly corporation controlled, a direct (still alleged) piece of evidence showing that whatever balance of Power we envision, when it is set to nations and governments we get less than 50% of the players in view, making a larger injustice to the people.

In this, I wonder who exactly the real monsters are; are they identified by the acts of nations like Turkey, Iran and North Korea, are they the acts by organisations like ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas, or are the corporations and the media they control a lot less innocent in all this. Will the next generation be ready for what we, the current generation have facilitated for?

I honestly do not know.

 

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It’s been that long

I got alerted to a milestone yesterday on YouTube, you see, last week was the 25th anniversary of System Shock, one of my most beloved games from the past. I still remember the two moments that set the milestones for this game. The first was the PC Format by Future plc. About a month before the release, PC format included the entire first level of the game (medical level). So you got about an hour of gameplay into that game, a month later the game arrived and of course, I had to have that game on day one! I did and that started a tour of around a week getting through the game. Someone was nice enough to stream the game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IzNzVAxk8E) the stream starts at 10:00. Even now, hearing the intro music still gives me the good shivers. For a game to do that is so rare, it is to some degree scary. I am still awaiting the remastered edition by NightDive Studios. It will be launched a little later than planned (2020) but on all the consoles, so I might get that happy feeling again on all my consoles.

This is the foundation of better than great gaming, the story, the emersion and the control. The game offered all three to a great degree. That part is also important as System Shock 2, a game that came 5 years later had almost all the same controls, the first game was the founding father of RPG games, and control was close to that perfect. Graphics did upgrade by a lot, yet the shock (for me) in this game that the game only sold 170,000 copies, not much for a game this perfect, as such I do hope that the remaster will hand out the multimillion copy achievement sold. When we look at PC Gamer we see: “System Shock smokes. It is the most fully immersive game world I have ever experienced“, as well as “no matter what kind of game you’re looking for, you’ll find something in System Shock to delight you“. Finishing with “unquestionably raises computer gaming to a new level” (at https://web.archive.org/web/20000309153138/http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/1024.html), I gave the game a similar review and gave it a 95% score when I reviewed it.

From that moment on, I reviewed RPG games using System Shock as the minimum bar, as you might imagine not many games got to that level. It was also the first game where ‘leaning around corners‘ became an option in shooting games. As far as you see the stream and listening to the makers of the game, you get the part how this game became a trendsetter of excellence, even if they do not mention it, it was a labour of love and passion gets to be the deciding driver in any game towards excellence.

Depending on your age, consider the game that you would play again after 10, 20 and 25 years. What titles come to mind? In my view Elite Dangerous (after 35 years), Ultima 4 (after 35 years), System Shock (after 25 years), Ultima 7 (after 25 years), System Shock 2 (after 20 years), and the list goes on, but it is not a long list, games that are dipped in excellence are rare to say the least. Yet I am a gamer, a game junkie and like all other gamers I remain hopeful that another developer gets it right to the largest degree, Ubisoft did that with Assassins Creed 2 (and Brotherhood) then stuffed up to a much larger degree until Assassins Creed Origins was released. That is why the scrutiny of 93%+ games is so essential. Most gamers will take a turn in other direction if it gives them excellence, yet when they leave their comfort zone in gaming, excellence is the only marker that they will accept to make them do so. Games like Mass Effect 2, The Witcher 3, Grand Theft Auto V, Horizon Zero Dawn, all games that relied on near perfection; it is a stage that is seldom reached. And in all this the FX Slogan was key (for me it is) ‘The story is everything‘. Horizon Zero Dawn is perhaps the strongest example. In the beginning I enjoyed the game, yet it was the storyline after the proving that set the stage for me to continue and learn more and more. The origin story of Elisabeth Sobeck and Aloy is absolutely marvellous. Yes, I have seen the rants against the game, rants like ‘Giving up Horizon Zero Dawn‘ (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv_1DzGf_1s). His response ‘I just don’t find it interesting anymore‘. Yes, I do not agree, but it is his view, and his view is valid to him, just when we see this he is still not completing: ‘The War – Chief’s trail‘. Yet the best story parts were still coming up and the game takes it time getting into the story, it is important to show this, because you might have a different love for games, I love stealth games, games with an essential need for stealth, not everyone loves this, I get that. You have to realise that, I might not be the voice for you; I might have other loves in gaming. I was never a lover of GTA5, I admire it for its excellence, but it is not my game, it is however for millions of other gamers.

In this view it is important to find more voices until you find the reviewer that aligns with your fulfilment in gaming. It is easy to find good reviews and for many games a lot will have the same view, but in the 90%+ range you need to find the one voice that is on your level of gaming. It is easy to merely see that The Last of Us was a great game, pretty much everyone will agree, yet Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne? I loved both games; I never got to complete them. With Bloodborne I actually stopped (after a dozen attempts), I still have the game as it shows excellence on many levels and the engine is sublime, but it is also an excellent example for ratings. I would give it 91%, yet others will give it 93%-95% and now we have the review issue. Are their reviews better? They might be, they might be better at playing this game, more important, they might highlight things I missed, because I was not great at this game. Graphics and engines are easy, the subtle parts defining Bloodborne (as well as Dark Souls 3) is another matter. And now you come into the mix thinking it was merely an 85% game as you did not like the game (which is fair enough), finding the right reviewer is important, more important, the one that aligns with your game play and this is where a game like System Shock differs. The game remained playable for a much larger audience. Now we accept that the gaming bar was not as high in 1994 as it is in 2014, yet playability had remained similar over 25 years, it is my view that Bloodborne is a great game, yet, to me, it is not as playable. That small distinction is important when you seek out buying a full priced game that totally rocks your world.

To me the story is a deciding factor, whilst play style is the most important second. That part is visible to many who remember Metroid Prime on GameCube; I still love that game as well. I never got beyond 98% completion, and I would love to play it again getting to 100%, that is because the game is extremely playable with a play style that is set to comfort. We might sneer at the graphic level (compared to the Xbox and Playstation2 in those days), yet Metroid Prime still delivered as an equal and better to anything the other two could offer. That part validates the 97% rating it received. Yet, if it is not your game, would you still regard it as high?

The question is important as System Shock did make that cut, even by those not loving the game style, they were all impressed with the game, it set a new bar of quality, Metroid Prime and Horizon Zero Dawn both did that as well.

And it is there where we see the stage for streaming games, for Apple Arcade, Google Stadia and thee we see the links. Apple Arcade shows smooth gaming, but not hi-res gaming. That is not an issue if you consider Metroid Prime, the lowest resolution of the three consoles delivered the best gaming experience of all. You can see this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q73cHEAwKVw), I found the top 10 interesting, but not overwhelming, of course the number one is like some Zelda clone, with decent graphics, but not great graphics. There are 100 games announced yet there too I wonder if people are willing to pay $5 a month, $60 a year to do this, You can argue if you can find even 3 games you really like, then the money is well spent. So it is a decent idea, the issue I have with the stage is that the solution will be years two and later. However, in a family setting the game changes massively, the cost is per family (up to 5 players) as such $1 per person per month is just too good to pass up.
More important is the fact that the games look amazing on the iPad, so there is that to consider. My larger personal issue is long term. For me it is $8 month (Australia), as such in Australia it gets down to $100 a year. It has good games and the important dig is: no ads, unlimited access to 100+ new games rolling out later this year, as well as download for off-line playing are the catchers that will make people try this. Consider the initial $100 for the entire year, seems a lot, but playing 100 games for the price of one is still a game changer. I am assuming that you can only play for as long as you are a member, but we get the same on consoles, so that should not be the issue.

The arrival of Apple Arcade and Google Stadia is still important, but not for the reason you think. System Shock was important as the game was a true innovator in gaming. These new streaming services are set on a stage where the amounts of gamers imply the revenue for the makers. Even as marketing get you in the beginning, the bulk of gamers will push for games that are TRULY innovative and I have learned and seen that true innovation pushes the envelope of games in general. System Shock, Command and Conquer, Metal Gear Solid, Wolfenstein 3D, Gran Turismo, Warcraft 3, Minecraft, Tombraider, Diablo, Zelda – Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Super Mario 64, Half-Life, Doom. These are on a short list of the most innovative games in history and the most important part is that most of them started on systems lacking resources. Systems like the first PlayStation, the Nintendo 64 and the PC-Pentium One. Most mobiles and tablets now surpass what was possible even in those maxed out years. As such, innovation was always about imagination and I love the idea of streaming services as it pushes the need for innovation. I go back to System Shock one and two, yet some might remember Molyneux’s titanic achievement Black and White, a god video game. A game where you influence actions and not control all actions, when you realise that innovation is creation linked to imagination, we start considering the lack of resources required, not the max of resources. In this games and gamers are about finding the right note, the right chord that makes your heart sing. System Shock still does that to me 25 years later (OK, Elite Dangerous does it as well after 35 years).

I still play Blockheads by Dave Frampton after 6 years on my very first iPad, it is basically the only reason I still use my very first iPad for anything else but reading (until I get a new one). I got the game to deal with my Minecraft addiction when I was not at home and I never regretted getting it (oh, and I found the tablet edition of Minecraft not that playable), even today (last night actually) I still play Blockheads.

We might think that innovation fades, as it would over time, but I personally learned that innovation creates a captive audience regardless of time, it is a personal observation and you might not agree, but I also believe that this is the stepping stone for both Apple Arcade and Google Stadia. Consider the re-released consoles. CBM64 mini that gives us: Boulder Dash, Paradroid, Jumpman, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, Uridium, Impossible Mission (1+2), Winter Games and Summer Games II all games that could be upgraded and give a new audience the games they love to play. The CBM 64 brought so much innovation in games with only 64KB available; these games became the foundation for better games as systems upgraded (Atari ST and CBM Amiga). In this Nintendo with their 64 was pushing the envelope even further, Super Mario 64 is just one title, Goldeneye (named after the bond movie) set the bar so high that it was still the most desired game a decade later, even as the Wii relaunched the game, it ended up being inferior to the original, that is the level of excellence we lost out on and in this resources are not the issue, these are games that could easily be streamed and offer gaming perfection.

The list goes on and it would take too long, yet when we consider sources like My Abandonware and other sources (like Amiga Emulators) we see optional chests containing hundreds of titles that are ready to be remade and a lot of it has no IP protection, as such the best programmers can take the great vision and turn it into a cash maker through streaming. I reckon that is what both Google Stadia and Apple Arcade are hoping for, I am uncertain to see a winner at present, but the games that make it will be the deciding factor and even as the games on Apple are not great, they are still off to a good start, I myself hope that the historic database will inspire game makers, and this is a field where both genders can excel, you merely need to remember the name Danielle Bunten Berry (M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold) to realise that creativity was key, not gender. As such I do hope that we see both genders remain active, even as Danielle Bunten Berry left us in 1998, her games could stay around for much longer, that is the other part of innovation, it has no expiration date; it is almost timeless. If you doubt that, consider her games as well as those by Roberta Williams (King’s quest series). That is actually another part of gaming, there the playing field for genders is almost level as creativity not ego decides on the quality of the game.

As such it might have been that long, but in the end, the timeline was not long enough, I am willing to get into streaming to some degree (Assassins Creed Odyssey might get lag issues) but there are hundreds of games that will never have that issue and the list of games that will hit the spot is a lot larger than anyone ever considered, especially when a good idea (or a great idea) gets upgraded with innovations that were not available when a certain game came out.

Consider the game Command and conquer, optionally a game like Battle for Middle Earth, or even Dungeon Keeper 2. We have gone through those games and finished all the maps; now consider the issues you face when the maps are created procedural, would your strategy still hold up? That question impacts all three games. Often the strategy was in the map design, take that away and the challenge changes by a lot. I believe that ‘It has been that long‘ is a premise that does not really exist in gaming, I truly believe that System Shock will capture the hearts of new gamers, I believe that upgrading innovation that was will give life to other games, even games that were in the 80%-90% and upgrade them by an optional 15%, and be honest, what game maker would not love to be linked to making a 90%+ game? At present Ubisoft is seemingly proud of their 70% games (so are a few other makers mind you), so we can see the essential need of excellence in gaming, the question is who will bring it and with two new players (gaming providers) entering that field, answering those question becomes a lot more important as we (gamers in general) have had our fill of mediocre games.

Even now we see that as we still yearn for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion as well as Skyrim; I stated to Richard Garriott (the man behind the Ultima series) a while go, if we could get the Oblivion/Skyrim engine and create Sosaria to life, we would have a winner that could entice millions of gamers. Skyrim with over 30 million sold is clear evidence of that and the tales of Sosaria were founded on great story-lines and compelling interaction of personal choices and philosophical concepts. The entire Ultima line (story 4 and later) are all about eh seven virtues (Honesty, Justice, Honour, Sacrifice, Compassion, Spirituality and Humility), it would be the foundation of 6 games, each one surpassing the previous one and to see the evolution from isometric to first person would be the game changer for anyone who loved that story-line, in addition, the Elder Scrolls never did concepts to that degree, which is not their flaw, but it could be the strength of any new Ultima IP.

It is in that part where I see System Shock one and two, it was near perfect and it is still ready for a whole new generation of players. Especially when you consider that the original System Shock on floppy (yes there was a floppy version) was a mere 15Mb, and Metroid Prime on GameCube was less than 1.5Gb, whilst Goldeneye was a mere 64Mb, so as you can see size was never the deciding factor.

I believe that 2020 will be an interesting year for games and gamers. I believe that those relying on ridiculous large games and high resource requiring games (like a Core i9-9980XE) will find that their size issue gets thumbed by true playability and innovation setting the stage for much better games after that. Innovation remains a game changer for games and I wonder how much change we get to see in 2021-2022.

 

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