Tag Archives: Bioware

Vindictive eagerness

So is a person eager to be vindictive, or does that person seek vindication through eagerness, they are not the same but at times we cannot tell the difference within ourselves. Yes, there are a lot of people who are angry because Bethesda games are not coming to Sony Playstation, it is the consequence of Microsoft paying $8,500,000,000 for Bethesda and all that is around it. I get it and even though we find it a dick move, if I owned Bethesda I would have done the same. Strategically speaking it was a pretty brilliant move. So as we took notice of quotes like “Bethesda’s SVP of global marketing and communications Pete Hines offered an apology to PS5 owners, claiming that he understands the frustration, but there’s also very little that he can do about the situation. At the end of the day, it seems that the exclusivity is just part of game publisher politics!” And the man is right, it is the trump card of a system, we feel stricken because millions of gamers embraced Bethesda on their console and that got me thinking even more. I had already handed out free IP to any Sony exclusive game, but what if I add Amazon Luna to that list? You see, the idea came when I saw “Microsoft outlined the future of the Xbox platform. It was a quick focus on how we’ll be playing games rather than what we’ll be playing. Part of this new design strategy was outlined in a Q&A with Xbox head Phil Spencer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella” in the PC Magazine that was headed by ‘Microsoft Expands Xbox Cloud Gaming, But Streaming Won’t Replace Consoles’ and PC Magazine is right, but if we give IP to Amazon Luna (Google Stadia made a few wrong decisions), which was seen 3 days ago with ‘Ubisoft keeps Google’s ship afloat as exclusives dominate the show’, yes, if Google wants to embrace gaming mediocrity it is their choice, and even as they see it as a valid one, I do not think that relying on Ubisoft will help them that much, as I personally see it Ubisoft dropped the ball too often and has become slightly too unreliable. So it seems that the Number three spot after Nintendo might in the near future become Amazon Luna. Microsoft will remain around in gaming ranking, but it will be 4th, or 5th (more likely) position. So as I have a bit of free time, I will try to make the $8,500,000,000 invoice to seem like it was a $28,500,000,000 one, and by handing out free IP to Sony and Amazon exclusive games is one way of doing it and as I am creating novel and never seen before gaming IP, Microsoft will have to counter and that is the funny part of a vendor that buys ideas, they more usually than not are utterly incapable of creating their own (Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk). 

So as I was pondering a few ideas I suddenly realised that cloud gaming comes with another benefit, games can take new directions in a much larger field. It is like handing an artist who grew its art through drawing on A4 pieces of paper, an A1 sheet. In the beginning, he might think of how much bigger his art is, then he will see that he can place 15 additional pieces of art on one sheet, yet when you combine the two thoughts, you get a very different stage and that is where cloud gaming can take you.

I created in the past a game IP (situated in Amsterdam post apocalyptic) that had a wink towards Mercenary (a very old Atari ST game), but what if we change the premise, what if the sandbox is not merely one we create, but what if we can move from sandbox to sandbox? So what if we create the algorithm that can give us Europe around 400BC, 500AD and 2700AD and 3500AD? The same for a sandbox in China, India, South America and America? Not the people, but the lay of the land. So you end up with 20 sandboxes and the gamer can try and master them all. As we set the stage to a larger frame of mind (and a larger sandbox) we now can use that same sandbox in a few stages and in several games. So far none have offered that option, because it was not part of their setting, but they never considered the advantage of a much larger piece of paper, yes you can use it for larger art, but how many considered the ability to change that one piece of A1 and turn that into 16 pieces of A4? 

Yet that was merely the land, so what next? Well that is where it takes a shine to other fields and for that I need t remind people of something called Zoids, but with caution. I never saw the manga, I only saw the toys in a shop, but it was presented to me in a different fashion, two pieces make a larger third piece and even though I thought it was novel and nice for the kids, I never gave it much thought after that, but the idea stuck in the back of my mind somewhere. So what happens when the gamer is such a Zoid and by exploration the gamer can find and salvage more and more parts evolving over time and adding abilities, requirements and staging a much larger area. There was seemingly (never seen by me) something called ‘Zoids Saga DS’, it had the right idea, but like so many other things it was seemingly a really nice idea, but it was ultimately limited by gaming and that was 25 years ago, in this stage something like the Amazon Luna or the Sony PS5 can turn that idea into something serious and as we detach area from gaming premise we can add game after game in the same sandbox, the gamer can select which sandbox he plays this on, like an adaptive RPG, the stage will no longer be depending or limited on where you are, but what you become. Gaming as far as I could tell never took that sideway towards a larger highway, so as  we are dumped in what would become Madrid, Paris or Oslo, the adaption takes a different turn and we will not have seen that part before, cloud gaming allows for that and if we can bitchslap Microsoft marketing around on what they present to be innovation compared to actual innovation we might wake up whole scores of gamers as well. In this there is an old saying: “The analyst will show you what the best direction is, the politician makes you look forward to the invoice that follows”, yet the business world has more and more adapted from actual analysts to storytellers and now they have a problem, the politician adjusted to the storyteller, yet as I offer materials and foundations to others, the storyteller can adjust for what they have, not what others get. They can merely watch it happen and that puts the politician that the company relies on in a precarious situation.

Now this is no indication that all is bad for Microsoft, they will have home-runs and they will have plenty of good days, and they are entitled to those too, yet within the next year Microsoft and their  Azure work desk will add limitations and they will set the need for gamer data and as gamers will realise that always online means something different for Microsoft as it does for a cloud game, people will catch on, they are to some degree merely a revenue asset and that is where Sony, Nintendo and Amazon can shine and win. They always treated the gamer as a gamer and they gained the revenue, Microsoft and Ubisoft saw the gamer as a revenue piggybank and as I personally see it approached them as such, the moment the larger group of gamers catch on these two will take a dive and that is why my view of Google Stadia relying on Ubisoft gets hurt in the process. As I see it, should Amazon Luna embrace the qualities of Sony and Nintendo, they will end up in third position of the gamers list, with Google and Microsoft trying to catch up. I wonder if that is what Microsoft aimed for the whole time, spend $8,500,000,000 to end up in fifth position. I do not know, I am merely speculating and created a few ideas in the process. So as I left an (intentional) gap in the thoughts I offered, have you figured out what I am seeing all whilst Google Stadia and Microsoft Xcloud rely on Ubisoft+ titles? When Ubisoft+ becomes a separate vendor, something we have seen in streaming more than once, what will become of Microsoft, Google and its gamers? Amazon Luna has an advantage and over the next year it could evolve into an impressive amount of forward momentum, a stage that could degrade Microsoft in 4th position, so the maker of the strongest console in the world is basically a year away from moving from 3rd position to 4th position in gaming. I wonder if they consider that part when they handed over $8,500,000,000. I would not be surprised if they offer PS5 gamers Xcloud and Microsoft software on PS5 in some near future. I doubt Sony gamers will trust Microsoft, but you never know. 

So as we accept that we see “Xbox has roared to life at E3 announcing 30 new games for Series X|S”, we think it is a lot, and when we see “it laid out two years of exclusives including Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Starfield from Bethesda”, yes over two years, implying 15 a year and more important, the big guns relying on a Bethesda game now need to create a hype that is staged for November 11th 2022. 11 years after Skyrim and it is still 511 days away and a lot can happen in that time, more important, their big guns are presented a year early and we saw that happen when Bioware did that with Mass Effect Andromeda, how exactly did that end?

The old expression: “You never know how the cow catches the hare” (answer: with a fishing rod)

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Replay the past in the present

We all do that, we sometimes think we can and sometimes we hope it will be an option. I am on this horse because I am slightly too angry with UK Common Law, and I need to cool down, so I hope that THAT article will come next. To cool off, I did something I had not planned, I installed Skyrim on the PS5, in part because I saw a tweet regarding Skyrim that I can get it to do 60 fps on the PS5, part because I am still one achievement short (slay the legendary dragon), in the last two attempts there was too much grinding going on and I am still playing it on the PS4 as well. Yet for some reason I had forgotten how satisfying the first 10 levels were. The limits, the setting of joining groups, and the setting of having no place. I had forgotten just how perfect Skyrim is. Yes, I know, I have seen the crying people on ALL the bugs, but to be honest, I have had very little issues. Yes, there are a few glitches, but that comes with the setting of a game this big. Oh, and over 9 years we see that there are 17 patches (including the last one for PS5, I am guessing), a game that is 9 years old (released 11.11.11) and still it holds a sway over us (at me at the very least). A good game is really hard to find and Bethesda outdid themselves here. I had designed Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, and I had hoped it would equal Skyrim, of course my ego feels that I would be surpassing it, but if I only equal it, the game would be a massive success. This is seen in two ways, in the first, write yourself a list of games that you still love to play (beginning to end), and I reckon that this list has less than a dozen titles, If the game must be older than 3 years, the list will be less than half of what you had and in 9 out of 10 cases Skyrim will be on there.

The future options
In light of the news that has been out there, 2021 will be a great gaming year. This is part of what is already out there and part because Bioware has announced a remastered trilogy of Mass Effect on PS5 and that Microsoft contraption. There is off course the first game, yet it is the second one that takes the cake, until recent seen as one of the best tactical RPG’s ever created, the people (read: gamers) have been eagerly awaiting that title. There are all kinds of rumours as to the reason, but in the end it does not matter, millions want to replay that trilogy and on nextgen is a setting that no one wants to miss. Even as I set the premise last year n an idea to relaunch ME4 (together with ME5) to give a larger credibility to the titles, we see that no matter how good that could be, it might never be as great as ME1 through ME3. I get that, the story was breathtaking no game could ever equal that in that era and even now games are struggling to equal those three titles. Bioware and Bethesda set the markers to near perfection and that I what gamers crave, that near perfection feeling, Ubisoft seemingly never understood that. 

Yet no matter who we embrace and what title we go for, we go for the entertainment and in that setting I looked again at the station of the open RPG I created (as a response to Microsoft buying Bethesda) for developers to freely use for Sony exclusive games. It was my way to make the Microsoft $7,500,000,000 to be a lot more expensive than they bargained for. In this I made a few more modifications, or perhaps a better description would be ‘a conceptual path to allow for more’ in this the idea to have 1-2 additions to be played on mobiles, free games that enhances the first one. In Fable we saw Pubgames, yet what happens when we create mobile games (android and iOS), that allows players to do some of the menial tasks in the game, whilst you are on route to work/school, during lunch, or just when you are out enjoying the sun. 

Work
The work app is one where the rejuvenated hero works a job (depending on what job he scored), over 30 minutes you tire the hero and he sleeps it off whilst you work/learn, and at the end of that time you come home, start the game and the hero has gained credits and coins.

Education
Whilst our hero works he learns and gains experience (not as much as in the game), but he could learn and achieve an extra skill point, in addition to that, whilst the hero learns, there will optionally be a stage where new and more equipment becomes available.

As we have thee money to go out and explore, we see that the game gets a larger push towards the gamer, to see more, learn more and do more. Yes, we acknowledge that there was a great stage to play Fable 2 and own the pub BEFORE you entered the tower, yet what happens when your years of absence made you lose the pub and its income? The setting is a mere reflection (I am not negative towards Fable), we need to see that there is a whole range of options and in this I moved as far away from the Bethesda s possible, not because the games were bad, no the opposite, they were really good, so creating something different was essential and when you look at all the D&D games, it is surprising how alike some are. If another franchise gets to stand up, it needs to be different from other games, it needs to set a different stage and it needs to have larger options, in this large is reflecting on the application of other solutions giving you more options to enjoy exploring, and do things. 

In this, I merely thought of a part of my consideration (Elder Scrolls VII) and I came up with another bevel to implore and to exploit. A setting that TES4 and TES5 didn’t have to the degree I considered and as such, I can add this to my game as it was never there, and that is not all, even as we see the larger stage of new opportunities, we need to weigh, just like in every game, will it be an addition, or merely a fab that goes nowhere? It is an important question to ask ourselves, because we always think that our idea is perfect, but that is not a given and even as I create something new, it will not be for every gamer, it will be for the RPG lover, that is who I cater for, and I will say right now, if you do not care for RPG games you might not like this game and even if you like RPG games, you might not like this either. I cater to a group of people and I will be happy when that group is larger than expected, but unlike Ubisoft, I keep realism in the visors, those who cater to all will never cater to anybody, I still believe that and so far I have not been proven wrong.

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The path overlooked

Yes, we all overlook paths, options of choice, you, me, we all do it. It has nothing to do with intent. Most of the time we forgot that the option was there. Yet this time around it becomes an essential part, you see 2021 will offer a larger stage, a stage where Microsoft has an advantage (Bethesda, Bioware, EA), they might be in denial and some will make carefully phrased denials or reconsiderations with last November “PS5 will still get Bethesda games — but they’ll be ‘first or better’ on Xbox”, now, the first part is fine, Microsoft paid $7,500,000,000 for that privilege, it is the ‘or better’ part that I have a problem with, as such I set out and designed (conceptual design) of a new RPG to be used freely by Sony in previous blogs, but that is not enough. There is every indication that Mass Effect might not make it to PS5 either and that too is fair, it is a Microsoft stage and I worry, because Mass Effect remastered will contain Mass Effect 2, which is pretty much one of the best games in history, anyone denying that is nuts. So I need to have to be creative and set the stage for Sony too. Now, Sony has its own stage of exclusives and they are way good, but to set the stage that an independent software house can freely use for a PS5 exclusive is not the worst idea, I am a writer, not a game programmer. Intelligence and business intelligence yes, games no, I am a simple guy (to some extent). 

As such I started to work and after half a dozen ideas (that looked too much like something that existed already), and after I had set the stage of a completely redesigned Murder on the Zinderneuf (optionally now with a different title) and a completely new approach to Seven Cities of Gold, I found the setting I forgot about (all whilst I also made an approach towards Fallout Shelter, yet not the same game, but now set on a space station called Babylon 5) I found the solution in this in an approach taking a coin from the TV series Smallville. Yet this is not a game about Superman, Superboy or Tom Welling. Consider a city, I would say Any city and perhaps that is apt, you see there will be 4 towns, the size of Lancaster, PA. In these towns (you get one randomly assigned at the start of the game). We have a town with 12,000-18,000 NPC’s, we will also have events that impact the town (not unlike the TV series Haven), but not the same, anyhow, you start as a boy (or girl) as a sophomore and you will have abilities and there you can make a directional choice. But here the complication starts, the powers you have have limitations, they drain after use and take almost a full day to recharge, yet as you use a power, you make the power stronger and as such it can be used faster (up to 3 times a day) and as you use one power new options will evolve. 

SO you need to be wise in its use and also consider the option of being clever and find another solution. This will not make it easy, but that is the challenge, get to the end of high school and win all challenges. We have seen a partial setting in Buffy, Angel and Smallville, but no one considered to make a game out of it. 

So why will it work?
I believe it will work as the game maker needs to evolve the NPC part of the game way beyond Ubisoft ever achieved to do so. You need to keep track of up to 18,000 people and their family, if one person will not make it, it will affect at least a dozen people and as you fail to save people, there is a chance that the police will start to investigate you as an optional criminal. 

It sets a new stage where you need to plan your steps ahead, it is no longer fly by the seat of your pants, it becomes fly by wire and you are the Boeing 737, as far as I can tell, it has never been done before and if the makers pulls it off, it is the setting for an almost legendary achievement. And let’s face it, these series have had its settings of antagonists, in this we get the setting that we make some of these antagonists heroes. Some of them have been unfortunately in that regard.  A nice example is Sandman (Spiderman), Alicia Baker (Smallville), Amy Madison (Buffy), Sylar (Heroes), the list goes on and on and no one considered to set this approach of abilities in another frame and not merely there, there are a few more settings. 

Why this path?
Well, we can have another run through the story games like there are so many, but games like Spiderman (PS4, PS5) are successful, not merely because they are perfect, but because they offer choice, we get to go into the game in whatever direction we want to take it. We know that at times we need to follow the main story, but the large stage of freedom is why these games are so adored and replayed. We never considered to take that stage and evolve it. Yet we must also see the path of originality, which is why I merely gave examples. I saw ‘inFAMOUS Second Son’ as an average game, not because of the start, the start is pretty fantastic, a smoke ability? The issue becomes that the game based in Seattle becomes linear way too soon, so as you mark of all the missions per district, as you clean up each segment, you end up with enough power-points to immediately upgrade whatever power you unlock, the stage of choice is great, but always per district and always linear, that is why it is not a great game, but a good game, and the concrete power at the end is not used to the larger stage. Laser power is too powerful. All stages of near hits, but still an original game. A 90%+ game that ended being a mere 80% game, such a shame, such a waste. In my mind I am setting  stage that avoids that, and a stage where the town becomes the sandbox and the NPC’s are the triggers that starts missions (optionally puzzle inclined), and as I do this, I am wondering what happens when we remaster Soul Reaver to a new stage, enlarged, interacted and also take away the weakness the first one had (repetitive and a little shallow). Sony has great IP, I wonder who was sitting and considering what they hd only to fall into the same trap Microsoft is in (it needs to be new, it needs to be cool), and all that time, Sony has access to IP 20 years old that was regarded as an original game. It needs work, no one denies that, but it is something Microsoft does not have, as such we need to consider it, because the more exclusive games, the less chance Microsoft has and we need to acknowledge that the Bethesda deal gives them an advantage, not enough, but why give them that much leeway in the first place?

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The edge of IP

Yup, another bout of insomnia, another idea in the IP range. I state this casually and carefully, because even if the stage is altered, there might be a setting where it in not entirely my IP. In the first I came up with a new Mass Effect Andromeda, I wrote about it previously and to make the story fit, the game would contain a remastered and rewritten part one (the bad version we saw in 2017), a lot would be used, but the game would be different, even if the planets are not. That was only part one, the stage of part two is in three parts, the Nexus, the missing ships and 5 additional planets. Also we would revisit the planets that were cleaned up with a lot of additional materials. Yet my mind kept on racing. It was the Prothean Vigil VI who gives us “They used the conduit to gain access, but the conduit is only a prototype. The portal only links in one direction, so they were trapped on the station. I do not know what became of them there, it is unlikely they found any food or water, they suffered a slow grim death”, the game is 13 years old, and I have lashed out to Microsoft on a number of occasions, but this one, this one they got right, and the second game was even better the the first one, optionally one of the best RPG games EVER produced. 

So what happens when a group of people makes it to the Citadel, about 2 millennia after the reapers. The station cold dark and we get to see the restart of the station, the keepers are setting the parameters for races to come, yet what happens when teams Humans, Salarians, Drell, Turians, and Protheans make it to the Citadel? Not the original station as shown in the game, but the station in its complete complexity. Each race starts in the original building that was meant for them, as they could dock there, but after that, it becomes a chase, a challenge, of puzzles and wit to survive, to create the stations energy settings, the interactions that are required and not to mention as you play one race, all the others become NPC’s, with the option of a previous completed race to use your achievement as a template to equal. Something like that has as far as I can see never been done before and to that extent wasn’t even possible until the PS5 (and its Microsoft equivalent) were released. Not to mention there is every chance that the Google Stadia might keep up, so that is three, all whilst it would be possible to link a friend and set his milestones as one for one of the NPC’s. 

You might wonder why that and not a new station, a new environment. Yes, that is true, but to create all the races and all the settings takes a lot more and these races have been clearly established, also there is a danger that we might inadvertently copy parts of another Citadel station (System Shock), as such I wanted to get head of the curve (as I am not getting any sleep)

It would still be a large undertaking, The idea was bugging me when I was redesigning MEA and MEA2 in one package, the setting of the size of the station was never that clearly represented, also the cryogenic unlocks made little sense, there was too little pro and con options. A setting where we see the plusses on one sided and we weigh that, all whilst the minus side was largely ignored. So as I went out to create a new version in my mind, I kept on looking at the larger stage, the larger needs and it kept on kicking me back to Citadel station, especially the parts we saw in ME1 and ME2, I thought it was time to kick it in another direction and this is what I came up with in a mere 2-3 hours. 

Consider the screenshot, it is part of the citadel, 5 arms, one arm holding dozens upon dozens of skyscrapers, each building (or at least several of them) explorable, yet there is also the danger of that needle and haystack expression, there needs to be a clear directive on what is required, what are we seeking for, and not all are in the same arm, so paths are needed, airlocks, and larger cargo spaces so we can travel between the arms, yet the keepers (now under clear Reaper control) must also be avoided and changes need to be done whilst they are not looking. All whilst ever building is getting cleaned and sanitised by worker drones. 

It becomes a much larger setting and it might be one that the explorers under us (Dora too) might like to get a handle on. And let’s not forget, there are 5 teams, optionally some with advanced knowledge. All this and the Andromeda challenge too? What a luxury! I would love to make it a Sony exclusive, but Microsoft already has the beat on the IP, so if there is exclusivity, it might be Xbox (something I really would not like).

Well, it is 2:14 now, I have no idea what I will come up with next, but I got roughly 4 hours until the sun comes up and I forgot my Maui Jim glasses. 

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Jealousy

We all have it and I am no exception. Yes, I am keeping the IP I have to myself (for now), and I have been involved in video games since 1985, so when I see ‘EA Executives Blocked From Receiving “Exorbitant” Awards’ (source: Kotaku) all whilst we see “Earlier this week, investors shot down EA’s proposed payment plans for their executives” in the same frame when I proposed a version of Mass Effect that would undo the damage the previous one did and give the players a 400% boost in exploratory gameplay is set on a slippery slope. When a group of people getting millions of bonuses for making junk why would I bother helping them? (slightly miffed me), yet when we see the list of games coming out, we see a drove of remastered games (now also coming to Nintendo Switch), with a huge spoonful of sport games, which was always their core business, yet there is now a hole, even as we accept that there is a border to Sims, there is an edge to the Medal of Honour and there is a life expectancy of Dead Space, EA had good games and that is merely in the near past. Especially now in the Google Stadia stage, they seemingly forget Populous, Populous 2, Seven cities of gold. Yes, we get it these are old games, but so are a large group of remastered games. EA has a large opportunity, Google needs fuel for its stadia, EA has a whole range of games that likes players and with Ubisoft the way it is now, EA has the advantage. We might see the temporary influx of a gem like Battle Chess and we all see it, yet it became a game that was (for a while) liked and optionally loved by a whole range of people with zero interest in chess gaming. So what happens when the tutor part of Battle Chess increases a lot more, what happens when a whole new generation of players can get into chess, optionally with the added play online, set groups of players and so on. A categorical side of Elo, the chess rating. There is still the option to add Battle Chess 2, yet the question becomes how many people warm up Chinese chess (different pieces, different moves). When we accept that we are willing to engage into the side of puzzles that need solving, chess puzzles are there for all and in the stage that Google Stadia finds itself in, there is a larger need to get the gaming fuel going and the fuel they are all forgetting about is the fuel that is out in the open. And it is not about the identical port, but it is about what more the games could offer and these games have plenty to offer, all whilst the IP is still in the hands of EA (most of them anyway). EA has a massive advantage. Even as there is a lot of anti-EA people, the quality of games was never below the par line, not like the par line Ubisoft waves anyway. There is also the stage to grow, a game like Shadow Caster was not the great game it could have been then, but the stage now could lead to a lot more gaming and dare I say it a higher quality level of gaming? And they are not alone, Ian Bird created a game called Millennium 2.2 31 years ago. A game that I still remember playing on the CBM Amiga, The CBM Amiga had to deal with 512KB of RAM and a disc holding 880KB of storage, Any system can surpass that now, so we could see a setting where this game could be restitched at the tailor giving us a new style of clothing, in new colours with more versatility. That is the stage that I feel the most on with Severn Cities of Gold. Ubisoft makes us chase in game loot boxes, yet the origin of this comes from discovering things and Seven Cities of gold delivered. Nowadays it does not hold up to our needs, but what happens when we set the stage to a much higher level, yet the original idea was sound. Yes, I know, we hear all these people with ‘I can do this much better’, but where are they? Where is their product? 

I am not claiming to do any better, but I see what is and what can be and they are merely mulling it over with their ‘improved product’ and not showing anything. It is a shame because there is a stage where Google Stadia can surpass Microsoft and I have a vested interest in showing them how wrong their approach was, treason to gamers is a stage I take very seriously and I am driven to see them fall, if only to show them the error of their delusional stage of self preservation. OK, I admit that this is a little over the top, but to see them having to swallow their words ‘We have the most powerful system in the world’, letting them surpass themselves by the weakest system (Nintendo Switch) and optionally set the stage of the Google Stadia surpassing them as well is a nice notch on my 6 shooter. The fuel for gamers is games and adding a whole range of games that entice, reward game time and let them feel the joy of gaming is rewarding to me. 

And the stage of setting loose on the gaming world of amazing games is just icing on the cake. In this EA is a good start, they had excellent games, no denying that and a package deal there would be a larger win for Google. I believe that the games that enticed the previous generation can still entice the current generation when we upgrade and adjust the game to what we expect in today’s environment. Let’s not forget that most games were created in a pre controller age, as such the quality of game play will go up a lot, and I believe that this stage is one that Google Stadia as well as Apple Arcade would want to pursue. They cannot beat Nintendo or Sony, but they can catch up with marketing driven Microsoft and optionally surpass them, I would see it as a personal achievement. A setting where bullet point driven executives are shown the door by the gamers they set up to milk. So I admit, there is some jealousy when my evangelical approach to gaming is not rewarded and the inferior approach to gaming is, on the other had, they delivered a product and I do not deny it, I merely wonder why some products (the non-sport games) aren’t better, yet I also recognise that the umpteen versions of Sims allow for jewels like Unravel to make it, one hand washes the other and we let slide the disappointment that was Mass Effect 4, especially as there is a stage where the mistake can be undone. All whilst those who love the Sims get another influx of juice, Jedi juice is you like.

We can channel our jealousy, we can ignore our jealousy or we can deny it, it is up to you to decide on your view, your choice and perhaps your drive. I will leave it with you, and to give a little shot to your drive, gaming revenue represented $120 billion in 2019, if you want a slice of that, get to work.

 

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The Ai setting

Yes, we have all seen and optionally commented on the blunder that was Mass Effect Andromeda, yet consider that we could undo the damage? Even now as the rumour mill goes on about a remastered Mass Effect. I personally wonder what power Apple or Google consoles gained if they owned the Mass Effect IP (or Bioware). Consider a new console with one of the most revered IP’s in gaming history. This is not some ‘what if’, well actually it is, but consider tens of millions of fans now in a stage where they are confronted with one of these systems holding onto the console so that they can play this game. It is not unheard of, we have all been in that stage before and consoles used to get ahead with this level of creativity in their exclusives list.

So as I (re)designed the Mass Effect concept I did the one thing that had not been done before in gaming EVER. Mass Effect 5 is not merely the fifth game, it would be games 4 and 5 together, yes some things will be the same, but the stage is larger and also has a lot of changes. In the first, the Nexus playing area is at least 10 times larger, and the stage is a combinations of additional and new gaming settings. Of course each of the sister ships of the Hyperion would need to be found, Habitat 7 does not change, it is the introduction to the story and to playing the game. Yet the planets of 4 (Elaaden, Havarl, Aya, Eos and Voeld) would also be there and they would be larger, each with additional missions and additional tasks (making replaying acceptable and challenging). In addition to this  the other parts are mostly there, except for the memories, they can only be on the hyperion (how they could be on planets never visited before is just weird). As I see it, every planet has stages 1. Arrival stage, 2. Post Remnant Vault activation, 3. Phase one of repairs and adjustments 4. Phase 2 of repairs 5. Phase 2 of adjustments

It sets a stage where the planets need to be revisited and in that light each of these planets gets a second area to land and to set up another base, so as one base is scientific in nature, the second one is military in nature. Apart from the Kett presence, the second base will be a lot more about flora and fauna. There will be some Kett, but not to the first area levels, and in addition to that, the player will need to set the stage of building the cars and factories so that they support the nexus best. It will be around choices made, but it will depend on the player. For example in the 4 planets staged (Aya is off-limits), Food will be staged on every planet, yet the return on one is 100%, yet the others will give you 70%-80%, so the need to make the choice is essential, but you have no real choice in location, making the stage of food different, for example Eos is the first planet you reach, yet to give the player choices, we get a different setting, a such finding the right places to grow food and mine for minerals becomes a little bit of a challenge, however we can level the playing field by setting the percentage stage to random (70,80,100 or 110), add to this the nexus and the stage where waking up the right people becomes important, as well as reenergising the nexus so that labs can open up as energy becomes available is a larger stage. 

Most elements that can be compartimentalised in the game could set a growing stage we can adjust to, it also sets Mass Effect to a much larger stage, one worthy of a successor to the first three. For the fifths game we should look deeper into the Kett, we see them as the great evil, but what happens when that is not the case? What happens when their existence is part of a crucible? We need another 4 planets, in this, we should try to set a larger stage and a different stage. So what happens when one planet is aquatic? What happens when one place is like a gas giant (not unlike Cloud city in the Empire strikes back)? A stage where we interact in other ways, as such 2 remain, one should be toxic in origin the other one I leave open (someone might have had an idea), with the stage in that regard, the larger stage to revisit meridian and a stage where we apply a new stage, a stage of resources shared and politics gained. There are a lot of options that a game like Mass Effect allows for and in this we haven’t even looked at the stage where the nexus is attacked and a fight in the corridors, not just that, the damage is ‘real’ and debilitating depending on where the station is damaged, so repairs need to be made (to some degree) before the station is back on track. All these options overlooked in the initial game, the nexus was supposed to equal Citadel, but was less than 10% its size in gameplay. That has to change, and the game is in a much larger setting if the new approach is taken, a game that revisits feelings on a game published and becomes better and stronger because of it. As such no matter where it ends up initially (Google Stadia or Apple console) they would have the setting to add a few million fans right off the bat, when we see the initial hype for Andromeda, that stage can easily be surpassed if the result is properly tested. I wonder if Electronic Arts ever considered that their product could end up deciding who the third most sold console could end up being, the stage is that certain at present, and of course, there is no reason why it should not be on other consoles, yet the financial power that a timed delay for other consoles is could fund a massive part of the development cost and that is when the larger profits comes in (for Electronic Arts), especially if a game like Mass Effect Andromeda sets the gaming bar to a much higher level. We have seen long term gaming in several ways, yet until Bethesda released the Elder Scrolls Online, long term RPG was a little in a corner, now you are given the light where they are no longer alone in this, it sets a different stage for Google and Apple, one they could only have hoped for and it is within their reach to set this stage to their system.

 

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What if they redid it?

I got lucky last week. I stumbled upon Cash converters with a Mass Effect Andromeda (for Xbox One) for $2, even as I had the PS4 edition, replaying it for $2 was just too nice to pass up. There was another reason to not get it for any more than that. I was hugely disappointed with the game. The makers were holding a huge pastry in front of us, only to offer a mere outdated carrot in the end. Still, the graphics were nice, the game remains flawed on several levels and the goals are for the most too linear.

It was at that moment that my mind redesigned the game again (I did that exercise after I finished the PS4 edition). And I wondered about the one question that needed answering. What if I created Mass Effect Andromeda 2 (MEA2), whilst upgrading the first game from a 72% game to a 91% game or better, would you replay it?

In this stage the game would be 3 discs with the first game (mostly), the second disc would be the Nexus and the third disc would be the second game called Mass Effect Andromeda: Debellatio.

First off, the first game would end up being twice the size, the entire memory segments part would be on the Hyperion alone, the Hyperion would be roughly 20 times the current version, whilst the playable part of the Nexus is 10 times larger and the view makes it 200 times the size. The missions of the first game would remain (there would be more of them) and the story would be amped up to give a larger storyline to the Kett, the scourge as well as the Angara. The question is: Would you seriously consider playing it again?

I believe that this could work. The game would be massive on the consoles (200GB), yet the stage created would give close to 200 hours of gameplay. The original touched on great topics and then let them simmer, which was a waste on a few levels. Still, there is really good material to work with and if the maps are enlarged by well over 50% it becomes more of an exploration. We could also fix the flaws in the first version by making the second tier (after the vault is restarted) a lot more challenging and rewarding. The mining part required upgrades, so that there is a direct link in building the nexus and completing it linking it to the resources found and mined. These are all elements that add to the game and add requirements to the need of exploration.

Lastly, the arks, all 4 (with an optional 5th) will be found by the end of the second game, making it part of the main storyline and not some DLC. Consider these elements and ask yourself, would you buy a game at $160 that offers all that? I believe it would, especially when the multiplayer part is upgraded to a Mass Effect 3 level. It could be a new wave of multiplayer hungry admirers, it will of course come with the guarantee that I get to cut off the head of any EA executive that messes with that concept or forces the buying of loot boxes, the Mass Effect 3 formula was utterly perfect, so let’s not ever mess with that again.

It took a mere hour to consider the steps that could get this game from 71% to 91%, and I get it, there are budgets to consider. The question becomes what does an EA executive see as the difference of a budget toward a 70% game versus the one delivering a 90%+ game? I wonder if they can really set a number to that. Consider that the first version was staged by a budget of C$100 million, which included marketing and research costs, whilst I designed in my mind improvements over a mere cappuccino. There is a benefit of having been a part of gaming since 1985, and I believe that I know what pushes a decent game to a great game. If the EA/BioWare executives make that claim, I wonder why they failed the first time, whilst they had 3 examples in front of them and they owned the IP of it.

Even as Forbes gave us in 2017 ‘EA Is Now Singing Mass Effect Andromeda’s Praises As A Revenue Driver‘, yes it is true, but the bulk of all these were people who had played the previous games and hoped for a glimmer of greatness. And a revenue driver sounds nice, but if it cannot be repeated it becomes lost IP, and who ever won a war by losing its IP?

The important part was that the combat part did not suck, it was a good combat system and that is at the core of the success that was and the greatness it could be. There is also a business case to be made, as Anthem is seen as a failure by more and more, we need to recognise that EA desperately needs a win, one that will allow them to be regarded as an AAA developer. The news ‘BioWare Loses Lead Producers for Both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem‘ that got out two weeks ago supports the placement that Bioware (EA as well) are no longer the high end developers they used to be. It is about business and profit at the expense of gaming, a disastrous formula well beyond twice over. I would go as far as stating that until these two players do not learn that lesson, they have lost their ability as an actual game maker.

The fact that there are options for both EA and Bioware is merely a stroke of luck on their part, hugely due to the previous designers who did do an excellent job, even now, one generation later Mass Effect 2 is still seen as one of the best games ever to grace the Xbox 360, moreover, the Xbox One has only produced games that equalled it, optionally with the exception of Assassins Creed Origin, a game that did break all the records.

And even now when we realise that a few months ago we got ‘EA ‘learned a lot’ from Anthem but doesn’t apologize‘ gives us the larger stage, we don’t need their apology, we need them to make an actual game (if they still can, and sport games do not count).

Yet the premise remains, what if the first MEA is added to the second and upgraded, would you pay for it, and would you play it? I personally believe it to be the case, especially when you realise the amount of times the first two games were played to be a nice and a naughty Shepard, optionally 4 times if you wanted to do it all for the ‘he’ as well as the ‘she’ version of the game. The groundwork was decent, but too largely unfinished and the amount of stages where the game failed on a few levels was just mind boggling, Mass Effect 3 had a few of these issues, but not as much, and they were less irritating I might add.

Why?

All gamers (including me) we yearn for the high of really good gaming and we want that feeling again and again. It is not just the sound of the achievement; the feeling of getting to the end of the game; and not to forget the entire journey to get to the end. We will go through great lengths to get that feeling again and again, hence the power of the Franchise, even after 5 partial failures, AC Origin made up for that and for the most we feel really happy that we got to that point. Ubisoft has seen this personally, EA might say that they learned, but it is still unlikely that they actually did. For the most EA became a pool of business graduates and there is nothing against that group, yet the business is gaming and not spreadsheets. You might want to keep it for your numbers, yet profit is no valid KPI of joy, the KPI of joy is excellence, it always was joy, Elder Scrolls, Ultima, Fallout, Dark Souls, Witcher, and God of War, not to forget the latest new RPG franchise Horizon Zero Dawn. They all know that excellence is what keeps you in profit, EA (optionally Bioware) forgot about that part and now they are bleeding, the amount of damage cannot be seen, it can only be seen in how they survive and whilst they think that profit and margins are the most important, these two players will miss the ball again and again. This is such a shame because before 2016 the Mass Effect franchise was a great achievement, the question becomes are the makers ready to fight for greatness?

Gamers care for that and even as we realise that others are vying for our attention and our allegiance, they now see that the time of options like Anthem is transient at best, the fact that gamers are willing to pay full price for a well-made remaster of the original three, even now after 10 years is the part that matters. You either rely on old games for a little while or you up the ante. It is at Ubisoft where we see that optionally become reality, even now, as far as we can tell, they went all out on Watchdogs 3: Legion and so far all the response is raving, and the fan club of those wanting to play it in the first hour is still growing non-stop, even after its initial view several months ago. Watchdogs had a speckled past, but they upped their game in the second game and it seems that now, in the third game they up it all in a very different and very novel way, the path a gamer did not see coming, the most enticing drug of all, the surprise path, EA and Bioware should learn from that.

It is important to learn and important to up the game because serious games do that and they are up against a larger community of games, games that will include Cyberpunk 2077, God of War 5, an optional Horizon Zero Dawn 2, Watchdogs 3, all games that have (seemingly) upped gaming and both EA and Bioware will be up against it. If they are to be considered an AAA developer they have to equal and surpass that opposition, a lesson that business graduates often did not learn, it might mirror the US stupidity in the Middle East, it is based on the American standard of ‘Money talks, Bullshit walks‘ it is there that the middle east policy failure shows it for what it is. It is the same in gaming, you need to flaunt it, but to do that, you have got to have it, there is no other way and business graduates are too often of the path: ‘Fake it till you make it‘, it merely keeps you afloat in an ocean of gamers, all well versed swimmers mind you.

I have seen excellence in gaming since 1984, I can recognise it almost instantly and it is not linked to micro transactions. I saw the excellence of Elite on a CBM64 in 1985, is still lives today as Elite Dangerous, 30 years later it creates a large following of over 4 million gamers, not a bad result. There were more games and there are even games that are successes and I missed them, I cannot be everywhere. Yet I have never failed to spot good games and I have seen the path to improve bad games several times. I believe that the Mass Effect Andromeda franchise could be resurrected as a great game; I wonder how far Bioware and EA are willing to go to make that happen.

 

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Comprehension amok

We get it, some games are flawed, and some games go for the image of coolness and fail. We heard it well over 12,324 times, through articles and YouTube videos. Anthem, a game that is not bad is a failure. Some have a deeper idea, was this due to EA, or to Bioware? The issue is that the makers were no beginners. Bioware, the people behind the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age and a few more had a great track record. Even now, Mass Effect 2 is still one of the very best games to make it to any console ever, which is some achievement, and it remains a factor, even today.

Some give the decent feedback ‘a cool looking game that is not bad, but it is not getting us where we want to be‘. I can get along with it. Then I got a hold of a slide which is more important than you might ever realise. Another quote that matters is: ‘Anthem is an example of EA’s monetisation plans in action‘, we now have two settings that can easily make a game go from acceptable to really really bad. This matters when it is not merely a game you buy, but when it becomes Gaming As A Service. The issue is not how much you pump into it; it is how right you need to get it the first time over. They dropped one optional solution to it (not part of this conversation) and focussed on the artificially created Hype called Anthem.

I had seen issues with Destiny, so I was giving this game a wide birth until the game had proven itself and within 24 hours, the massive amount of complaints starting to hit the internet in close to every way possible. I was actually decently amazed how neutral and how considerate some reviewers were. the AngryJoeShow was its usual self, but for mere entertainment watching it is still the first step to consider, I do to see where haters come from, and he does not disappoint (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AJsKyh0x7w). When we see the statement (supported by evidence of sorts) that the loading of the game took longer than the actual gameplay, we see just how far Bioware had fallen of the wagon, or was that EA? Angry Joe gives a list that does not screw around. This does not merely indicate that there is a core issue, there are other parts linked to the core that give strong indication that EA failed on too many levels, optionally Bioware also failed on several levels, yet in all this we need to take a look at a screenshot.

When you make a game where jet packs are central in the gameplay, the makers need to consider that some people think outside of the box. So when we are in a cave and we see a large opening, large enough to fly through, so when you try and you get slapped back for no good reason, we see the first larger failing, the tactical side that was not thought through. Levels made on cosmetic states where the state of consideration should only ever have been tactical, so either remove the good looking hole giving you ambient feelings of lighting, or make sure we can use it as an escape cover. The second screenshot was early art work I was able to find. Now, I do not know whether that is in the game, but it seems to me that it is a clear sign of copyright violation and an optionally downright stage of plagiarism.

For some reason the stage reminded me of Alien 1979 and Aliens 1986, but then I might be wrong. If that is set as early concept art, it should have been a huge wake up call for both Bioware and EA, right there is where people had to consider the danger they were walking into.

Yet, for me this is not about those failings, for me there is another side, there are actually two sides. We see that with the GAAS image. The two elements that were there above all others were Player Centric and Lifetime value. Al the indications shown by so many people give us that these two were not merely ignored, they were not comprehended by the people trying to sell the idea, and they added catchwords to sell the money maker, without comprehending the impact it had, that is how I see it.

Player Centric comes from Customer centric. Yet there we see in one place: “Customer centric is a way of doing business with your customer in a way that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, customer loyalty and profits. But, a customer-centric company is more than a company that offers good service. A place like Amazon is a prime examples of brands that are customer centric and have spent years creating a culture around the customer and their needs“, and when we consider that part, we see that Anthem would not have passed the Alpha stage at present before August 2019, that alone means that of the 6 elements, one is a 80% failure, making the game 17% less effective right of the bat. The additional testing and reconnaissance of the game in real live server environment would have shown 4 essential elements to be too far below par. The load screens, the loot, the tactical setting of the map(s) and the story-lines, storytelling as well as the interactive parts (those three all count towards the story dimension).

Here we see the failing of the presented Player Centric part. This also impacts the second element, namely ‘Lifetime Value’. The moment the player centric parts were hit, ‘Litetime Value’ was equally hit, but to a much larger extent. It is clear that proper testing would have ousted many of the elements, as such it stands to reason that either the makers BE-A (my optimistic version of this merger) never cared, or did not properly do the essential testing and fixing. All what I have seen (console versions only) indicates that it could have become a nice game when it gets to the beta stage; the game is nowhere near that ready. The graphics look good, but good graphics on a failed core is still a failed game.

Say What?

that is where the issue starts, a game that does not look bad and has potential is in the GAAS (Gaming As A Service) still a failed project when it does not meet certain expectations and Anthem fails a few of them. Even as I was never a fan of this genre, I see issues that I should never have noticed and those are really badly managed issues.

Still we should acknowledge that it is a failed, but not a bad game, which also implies that what went wrong, could optionally be fixed, yet when we get to the loot part, we see just how far the model failed. The loot is mentioned by several to be massively repetitive, in the stage of this game where the weapons are shown we see too much repetition making the loot way too bland, so when we look at this part against ‘High User Engagement‘, over a period of 6 years, we see that the third part fails too, at least when we consider player expectation. In all this when we see that other elements can only be bought, we see the drive towards Recurring Revenue Business, a side that will not be successful as three elements have already failed for too much. At that point the game has gone from 83% to a mere 41% effective as a GAAS experiment, a stage that could have been avoided to a much larger extent if it had only been tested better, stronger and with more diligence.

They did get the graphics right, and it looks cool, but there again we see that a real GAAS solution is so much more and the fact that one of their alleged slides show the failures to this degree, we see that gamers should be upset. A game like this could not be sold in any other way than an open BETA, optionally an open BETA that is for those who have pre-ordered (and pre-paid the game) offering these people unique gear and weapons, for their effort, that might have worked, giving them additional options would have made things even better and it would all have been in support of ‘Recurring Revenue Business‘, as well as ‘Multi-Platform Business‘, gamers love that shit. To be regarded as official beta testers upping the game to such an extent? Gamers would buy the game for the mere notion (as long as it comes with actual unique gear).

So as we see this game and the game maker we see that comprehension went amok on a few levels, in this I would point the finger at EA (for the most) yet the stage of whomever let this game slip towards the ‘approved for release’ that person should never ever be allowed anywhere near the gaming industry ever.

In the end I wonder if they have seen the Single Player GAAS opportunity that Mass Effect Andromeda would enable for. That is if they ever get a visionary to call the shots on that part of the equation, because if they fix up that game, they could have the stage of ‘High User Engagement‘ that surpasses 110%, which would be a legendary achievement to say the least.

If there is one accomplishment that does stand out beyond the graphics then it is the person who decided that hiring Sarah Schachner was a good idea. She created two pieces, AC: Origin and Anthem both soundtracks that make you wonder if they were even made by the same person and she hits the ball straight out of Fenway Park, twice in a row mind you. Two soundtracks that were utterly amazing, yes, the Music of Anthem does exceed all human expectations (merely my view, but I stand by it); as such I expect to see more great work from her in the future. If EA and Bioware can get the rest right, they might have a chance to survive this expensive overpriced, wrongly focussed ordeal called Anthem.

The EA shareholders would definitely be appreciative of that notion.

 

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Game of failures

This is for those who love games. Games are important, it has always been important even as plenty of people do not realise it. Getting your kids into gaming at an early age is increasingly important. Our lives revolve around interfaces; interactivity of systems, so lowering that threshold to children as soon as possible is important, very important. Those parents who think that they will get it school are out of their minds. To get any child to be aware of how a tablet is used, to how a mouse is used and a controller is close to everything. Yet this path only works when the software is up to scrap and whilst this was easily the case for Putt-Putt, the games nowadays that go beyond merely being an educational support idea is far from perfect, in some cases they are disastrous.

Some kids get to tap their parent’s smartphone and that is fine. This is not a new issue; it goes back to the early 90’s where Humongous Entertainment created amongst others, the Putt-Putt series, an interactive game that worked like a picture book story and as the player learned to click on the environment, it started to be more and more interactive. I thought it was the greatest idea in 1992 when I tested the game. I already saw at that point that lowering the threshold for the next generation was going to be a big thing and this game delivered. Even as that side did not survive, it had set a seed in motion and created learnware, a way for people to get engaged into the use of computers at an early age, an age that went beyond the Atari 800 and Atari ST. It was a game available on PC and allowed people to fear the mouse less and become inquisitive in a natural way. I got the game via Electronic Arts in the UK if I remember correctly. It hit me how wrong the company has gone. Well, that is not entirely fair, the larger missed stages are not by Electronic Arts, yet their link to Bioware taints them the same way, no matter how removed they are from the equation. As Forbes states: ‘Five Extremely Basic Things ‘Anthem’ Gets Wrong And Needs To Fix‘, not merely an elemental flaw, a much larger massive flaw from beginning to wherever the player ends. Forbes gives us “even if BioWare manages to patch all the technical issues out of the game, what ails Anthem goes deeper, and fixes will require some pretty core reworks of entire systems that are currently in the game“, this is what you get when marketing decides on the products and proper game testing is either ignored or never properly done. I particularly liked the introduction by Paul Tassi: “While I am Mr. Anthem-Is-Not-That Bad-Actually, trying to push back against a flood of negative reviews to let at least some people know that they may enjoy the game if they’re a fan of the genre, I am also not blind to a number of very, very obvious problems with Anthem“. For me it goes back to a more basic part. Bioware has been sitting on IP worth close to a half a billion dollars and squandered it to the largest degree. Even if there is a repair to the Mass Effect universe, if they are not ready to dish out $50-$100 million and take a very new direction, ne not seen before in gaming, they will be in hot water getting boiled alive. It is not merely the ‘hope’ on Anthem getting repaired; you cannot hold the audience with E3 presentations for almost 2 years and make colossal mistakes to this degree. Bethesda is similarly not in a good place, yet they have been changing direction 180 degrees trying to get fixed in their first massive failure (Fallout 76 for those in the dark). In case of Bethesda, it is their first tits up event, so they have time to get it fixed and they got the rudest wake up call. For Bioware it is not the first time, with the Andromeda failure, they have a lot less to go with and that whilst Anthem was supposed to be trying to budge in on the Fortnite hype (and similar games), as such we can come to the conclusion that Anthem is in much deeper waters, and there is no safe swimming there.

Forbes gives us a lot more, with ‘Viewing and Equipping Loot Is Absurd‘ is the indication that no proper game testing was done, or if it was done, it was not scrutinised towards the minimum levels it needed to be, the essential 6 steps that were discussed (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2019/02/24/five-extremely-basic-things-anthem-gets-wrong-and-needs-to-fix/#3f7327ce63a5) shows just how wrong it was implemented and handled. This makes for a clearly shown wrongly tested game. And when we get back to Mass Effect 3 and their loot boxes, we know that it could be done better and there was a much better example at hand. Forbes goes one better and shows the Ubisoft method (the Division) a two year old game where loot deployment is well done and take 8 seconds against the 12 minutes loss you face now (as was stated by the reviewer), how could you ever achieve in captivating and maintaining a proper audience?

With the comment: “there is no way to see your overall stats anywhere. Not basic stuff like health and shield, which are added up between components with no total shown” I am on the fence. In a real shooter (Bagdad 2003, Beirut 1983, Kandahar 2011, or Aleppo 2015) you are alive, wounded or dead (preferably not dead). When you get shot you do not get to check your health or shield status. The Kevlar either held and you felt like a mule kicked you hard, or there is red all over the place. Yet, this is a game and a choice was made not to give it. I am not sure whether the gamer accepts this, but it was a choice made and we have to accept it. We all have come a long way from the Wolfenstein 3D health indicator. Paul gives us a lot more, from the free play, to crafting to the revive issues. The game is seemingly flawed in too many ways, in a day and age where getting it right from the beginning is almost everything, when we consider that the first teaser was in June 2017 and we see these levels of shortcomings, we need to realise that the larger players have lost the plot somehow. Is it management, project management or merely marketing that cannot get the time lines straight? No matter what the reason is, between the need to grow knowledge in a global gaming dimension as well as the revenue driven side of gaming, it goes beyond what we know now, it is all about how to evolve a system that is as mature as it gets. Perhaps the curse for Bioware is that Mass Effect three was close to perfect. You don’t get to mess with perfection ever; they learned that the hard way twice already. And as we see an exploding amount of videos on YouTube on loot grinding and chest locations after a mere weekend of availability, we see that there is a lot more to fix on this game, from my point of view, a game that is still such an alpha should not have been released, not ever.

In the past I have had good cause and plenty of reasons to have a go at Ubisoft, yet in comparison there are plenty of indicators that they are getting it right. The Division 2 is a much better version that the original, it is not really a new brand or a new game; it is a much better game. Even as it is too early to tell, there are some voices (who had early access) and they are comparing the division 2 after the first game to the Assassins Creed 2 compared to that first game. If that is true, if that holds up than those who embraced the division are in for one hell of a ride, crushing Bioware further still. In a world where we are driven to choice as our budgets limits us, the problems that Anthem created for themselves is one that they might not survive, to get this much opposition to a game three days after release is a really bad thing, those who bought the game might run back return the console games (not an option for PC games) and put that money towards the Division 2 and wait three weeks to start a proper multi player shooter.

When it comes to this generation gamers, we are faced with a failing generation as they are confronted with decision makers who clearly have not had the best track record in game design, that is proven with the mere sight of so much failure on any day one edition.

If I had to make a judgement, my personal response would be a simple one: ‘Looks like this could be a nice game, call me again if you ever get to a workable beta version‘, a game that is optionally a year too early, unfinished and unbalanced in a world where there are half a dozen better made alternatives. Bioware strikes out a second time, will they be around to make that mistake again next time?

My version is upheld and given strength when we see the ‘Anthem Day One Update Patch Notes‘ (source Gamespot) which is massive and filled with issues that should not have been allowed to be around past an alpha version. It gets to be worse for the console owners. The information in the open is that the day one patch too that is around 7GB on consoles. So you buy the game and still you need to patch 7GB from the start, I expect at least half a dozen more patches in the near future and if they are core patches, the download size is likely to be higher. Forbes gives us more than mere patch information in the several articles that Paul Tassi wrote. Last week he gave us: “In addition to the sizable day one patch, BioWare has moved swiftly to hotfix two other issues right now. The first being killing a chest exploit that was allowing players to easily farm endgame gear“, it is merely proof (as I personally see it) that this game is still pre beta stage giving us a lot more issues to ask questions on and for the most, I do not see that such a critical look is being taken by many reviewers. I have had no issue going for the throat of Yves Guillemot (apparently still CEO of Ubisoft) in regards to the AC blunders; do you think I was going to pull my punches on Bioware after the Mess Effect Andromeda bungled to that degree? Bioware needs to sit down and take a hard look at where they are at and what they think they can do next, because squandering IP to the degree that they are doing is not a good sign and it will affect EA just as badly, because that is the impact of a game with this many issue relying on micro transactions. Their best action at present is to hand out the $39.99 pack for free to all those who registered in the first 7 days, and I would double the amount of shards given in that pack, because when we start seeing the dozens of copies of the console editions of Anthem in the preowned game section that will be the first sign that Anthem will become a dead product, death in 60 days, it could be the worst result a multi-player shooter has ever faced, and it is not all on them, in this case the increasingly higher regarded and higher review scores of Division 2 will be part of that death stroke.

Anthem for a failing gaming experience‘, it is quite the epitaph to put on the tombstone of any game.

 

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The beat goes on

Perhaps you remember the stage. It was around the time that Sony started giving the audience both God of War 4 and Spiderman, breaking all kinds of records in the process. It is gaming at a new level and both groups of players (and many who play both games) have been satisfied well beyond amazement. Now we see that Microsoft is trying to bring the pain to Sony and they are doing it the right way (and only 5 years too late).

With the acquisition of Obsidian (Fallout New Vegas) and InXile (Wasteland 1+2) we see that they are starting to wake up, yet will it be enough? Having exclusive RPG games is the right way to go about it. You see, dedicated RPG fans tend to be long term fans. If you get the game right, there will be no chance that these players will switch consoles or PC Gaming platform. Bethesda proved that point and it gets to be better, there are people (including me) who have the game on all their consoles. There is value in doing that, but it tends to be reserved to the dedicated few and if you are not that person and you merely like it on one system, that is good too.

But it is not all roses and honey in this arranged marriage. Former Obsidian Owner Chris Avellone gave us (via Screenrant) “Chris Avellone didn’t hold back after discovering that Microsoft had just acquired Obsidian Entertainment in a blockbuster deal, beseeching the powerful tech company to gut the leadership that still worked there” that might be the case, it might not. I do not know. Yet what is a given is that the value of such a company is its IP, plain and simple and no matter how amazing Fallout New Vegas was for the Xbox360, that is still Bethesda IP, so is the Elder Scrolls. If they cannot match my ability to create the foundation of new IP within 168 hours, what value, or perhaps what costs is Microsoft looking forward to and will it even have a chance? Let’s take a leap in another direction. In 2017 Guerrilla Games released Horizon Zero Dawn, a game that when looked in depth has an amazing story behind it. It’s a little Matrix perhaps, but the intention towards greatness was there and with reviews ranging from 89%-95% shows that they had the good stuff, the right stuff and the parts that Ubisoft keeps missing out on. Now they are in not merely in the right pace, they are literally sitting on the next goldmine. How it will turn out? No way to tell. I am not in their in-crowd, but the potential is there. Can Obsidian bring that level of pain to their competitors in this field, because that will be the need? I know a lot less about InXile, yet so far they have been largely dependent on the Bards Tale and Wasteland franchise and that could be enough if they take it to new levels, because that is what the players look for. For me the Bards Tale looked awesome as I had not touched the Bards Tale Franchise since the CBM-64. I never really got into that game. Not every game is everyone’s cup of tea and that is not a bad thing; only Ubisoft has been delusional enough to think that they can make a game for everyone and they keep on making games that pleases no one (OK that was a bit of an exaggeration).

You might think that gaming is not interesting, yet it is the most interesting part in all this, merely because gaming has remained on the edges of technology for the longest of times. Its push is also a push for hardware. It is my personal belief that the new I9 processor (an Intel fabrication) would not exist without gamers. Mark Seconi (Intel) gave us in Forbes last month “Gaming has traditionally been the more lightly-threaded of applications your PC will face, but over the last couple of years we’ve seen games and gaming engines become more threaded. Nonetheless, they do still remain lightly-threaded, but we also recognize that a lot of the gaming community also do content creation to some extent. That’s both casual creation or something more demanding and a lot of those applications are beginning to use more and more threads“, you merely have to consider how this skill could propel blockchain software solutions over time and we see that partially at Digital trends with two quotes. The first one “Rather than compete directly with either the Threadripper 1900X or the Ryzen 7 1800X, the Core i9-9900K promises the best of both worlds. It has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, matching the Ryzen 7, but boosts up to an audacious 5GHz Turbo frequency. Not even the 2nd-gen Threadripper has cracked that milestone. Its core count might be far behind, but the Core i9-9900K can hit higher per-core clock speeds at default settings“, as well as “the Core i9 is the clear winner in every benchmark and test we could put it through. Against the previous generation Core i7-8700K, the Core i9 matched its single-core performance, but flexed its eight-core muscles by upping its multi-core score by around 25 percent. That’s the kind of improvement two extra cores provides“, something that is 25% more powerful than anything else. This implies that your data mining scripts can clear up more data, aggregate as well as set the stage for more predictive analytics in a single day, well over 25% more because the solid state drive fixed a lot before, the processor had become the bottleneck and that is now changing. Consider another paraphrased quote: “It takes millennia to break the cryptographic algorithm. This cannot be done faster because of the computational limits we have (now that takes 25% faster). Quantum computers in the future might be the answer, yet we merely upgrade the algorithm. Satoshi Nakamoto, the bitcoin creator added cryptography in his system to help people authorise bitcoin transactions from their wallets“, yet it is not the hacking, it is the creation of all this that also takes time and if it is about speed, creating the cryptographic 25% faster will be everything in banking and FinTech solutions for decades to come, that is where the i9 will find itself get embraced by banks at the speed of light, and that is even before we see new solutions that will allow people to now create live video-edited streams on the air. A system that optionally censors ‘live news action’ within 7 seconds, from the battlefield straight to the TV recipient, a stage that allows almost instant filtering. Places like CBS, Fox News, SBS, BBC and many others will fly to the shops getting that solution taking away time constraints. When you consider ‘There are nine factors associated with newsworthiness: generally recognized significance, possible future impact, conflict, human interest, proximity, the number of people affected, timeliness, exceptional quality, and shock value‘, now consider that this so called ‘gaming chip’ optionally removes the time constraint for the creation of 3-4 of them, do you still think it is merely about gaming?

Is this about gaming?

It still is to some degree; it is about pushing corporate creativity, this is not merely set in a more expensive computer, it is seen in the creation of material and the creation of a video game is one of the most visible digital creation fields there is.

We can all admire the creativity of an advertisement, the clever use of innuendo and graphics. Yet this is all staged in a time frame. What happens when we remove that element? What happens when we see (as this is happening at this very moment) that data mining is done on the fly, the need of ‘on to go’ editing for dashboards and presentations are set to zero time? Don’t laugh because this is happening at this very moment all over the world. The systems are fast enough to no longer be the bottleneck. Now we see the need of a new kind of data miner. One that can see through data and who can creatively look at other ways to present the lack of 2.75% growth, or perhaps a long term impact that has to be explained to the shareholders in an acceptable way. It is a new age in Data Visualization, where the story is everything and now we see the intersection with gaming development. Adjusting the storyline of the dashboard is becoming the mainstream player here. Don’t take my word for that, Forbes gave us two weeks ago: “Any great story means visualization and detail. It takes the small additions of those details to build a picture in someone’s mind to truly make the story complete. The same goes for analytics and data“, it is a new style of adherence. a person needs to be able to focus the listener and create attachment of the shareholders to a cause, a trust and a commitment to that corporation, in this creativity is become everything and that is directly seen in the ability to create any Role Playing Game.

It is digital theater in a new way, the hardware is now ready to do it on the fly, but with the wrong presenter that view collapses as soon as it is presented and the gap between projection of data, capture of results and presentation to the shareholders is now diminishing and we see that solutions like Tableau are ready for that, if they can only find the right people to get the data from Point A to PowerPoint presentation. The corporations still have their marketeers to tell the story, yet the shareholders will no longer accept the delay of the presentation pushing a new need to a group of people that we have not seen before.

Uniting Business Intelligence and Gaming

In the first stage we see (a random choice) presentation (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LntX_5qA_Aw), this two minute presentation gives what BI was, frozen moments in time presented on the screen to a group of people. Now we go to the extreme other end, it comes from a game called Counterstrike. It is 90 seconds and shows how the display dashboard is adjusted (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQO8dR8NHM4). In the second stage we need to unite the views, the issue is that no one is ready at present. A company named Profitsword is making waves in the right direction, yet they have not arrived at this destination yet (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhE6RMZYF3M), it is merely on theme and it is the themes that drive the solutions. Should you doubt me, ask yourself, have you ever gone to a car site and configured a car to your liking even though you will never be able to afford the wheel caps? Jaguar, Dodge, Maserati and there are plenty more. You see, it is actually quite simple. A thematic approach gives us identity and the identity of a company translates into value, interaction gives engagement and these two elements are becoming more crucial in keeping the shareholders (and the general audience) interest. The question is problem is how to avoid a mere ‘sprinkle’ of interest and keep it business oriented. The gaming industry had that solved close to a decade ago, people ignored it too long and those in the trenches of that world are now reaping the benefits. The game has 11 million players, in May 450,000 people were actively playing the game. In a business of 100 billion, those numbers matter and the fact that this game has been around for 18 years is even more amazing. We are halfway in the month and this morning 178,000 gamers were playing that game. These numbers matter, because if engagement and interaction is everything in this field, how long until BI graphics require a lot more than we currently see?

What happens when Hawaiian Tropics changes the game and this poster is not merely advertisement, but the Shark, and the swimmer in the water becomes elements of profit, loss, ability and availability shown in its own way? What happens, when the presentation is not merely graphics, but the water itself shown brand visibility against others? That is not a fab, that is the direction that we are going in and people will stop, they will take additional looks at that presentation and when they can choose elements like placement, and product type to see how the brand shows up against others, how much better in protection, where to get it, where the best deal is and we are there now 5G will allows that to be done on the fly, to see the ads, interact and the people will engage, and as has been shown for a few years now, engagement is quality marketing. It is not views on Facebook, it is not a display advertisement, it is the engagement with the presented product that draws people in, every single time and the quality programmers for that solution have been doing it in gaming for over a decade. As I started, the beat goes on, but the tune is shifting as are the beats per minute in that showstopper. The push for engagement will be everything over the next 5 years and that will be seen even more clearly in the boardroom and shareholder presentations. Having the ability to mainstream such levels of interaction is going to be the next gold rush and at present the amount of players on that level is disturbingly low. The moment they catch up too late we will see all these golden fires that promise a lot, yet in the end you merely see a file with scorched data results.

Whatever we will see, it is not an easy path and there will not be too many good players, ready to go that distance, yet those who do will corner that market for close to the next generation. That path is actually a different one and the golden programmers will be needed, but not high on this corporate ladder. that place will be limited to the with the creative vision to see what needs to be programmed and those programmers who see the image and comprehend how to program that will end up being the people with a job and career until their retirement.

It has been a long time from the models we had to the model where creativity was the slowest element in the digital framework, however we are there now and knowing how to deal with it will be the crux. Or to frame it in another view, the time for the cold accountant is over in the Annual stockholders meeting, now it is not merely that knowledge, it is the one who finds the novelist that gives the correct engaging story that weaves it all together in a way all shareholders can relate to, that will be the golden placement to have.

This now gets us back to Microsoft. No matter what software house they buy, yes they will always have a Minecraft audience need, yet the bulk of all the gamers require a new a most original IP to get them through the next season of gaming. Guerrilla Wars figured it out and gave the people Horizon Zero Dawn. A new IP, now Microsoft needs to do the same with two houses that have relied on the same IP for an awful long time; are they ready for what comes next? Microsoft Studios has the right stage when the connected with Bioware and unleashed Mass Effect on the people in 2007, it seems to be a lesson they have forgotten too easily, so I hope that they catch on quick as this is a stage where you are merely allowed to get it wrong only once. Mass Effect Andromeda taught them this lesson the hard way, a C$100 million dollars development failure that merely gave them a 71% rating (in gaming rating translates directly to revenue), Guerrilla Wars needed a mere 50% to get a much better result, creativity and the story were everything, pretty much quite literally and we will see that same push in Business Intelligence. Data Visualisation is getting us there, whether we want it or not. When we realise to all the ways we can engage with an audience, we will learn that a few buttons will not do the trick, it will be about the backdrop, the interaction and the choice of what we see. It is a path gaming has been on since 1993. You cannot ignore 25 years of technology evolution that would actually be really stupid.

 

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