Tag Archives: cloud gaming

Colour the stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hammer hits anvil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great Monday!

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Copyright? Copy left

As a trained IP attorney (minus the experience), I am always in line with IP and the traps and tricks are to some degree well known to me, so one question with any design my mind makes is “Is it more alike to the previous version, or not?” This is important, I have no doubt that making TESVII: Restoration myself implies that Bethesda (or their legal team) calls and demands all the materials I copied with an added cease and desist and that would be fair, IP is protected and I will not copy what is not mine, but a good idea is a good idea and that is a larger stage. As such, my mind has been considering a new version of seven cities of gold and when I saw new, I mean totally new. The part of exploration is pretty much the only part that not all mine, but that is too generic as such my version has options. 

As such the game is in two settings, the first one is the original world, with all the bells and whistles and the gamer can start (and should start there) so that he or she can get their feet wet. After this and after the immediate training, you can start a second game, a new game, yet this version will redesign the world, so you will be in a massively new area, an area that differs largely from the original. It will design a new map roughly 1000 by 1000 miles, you start in one part, and that is 200 by 200 miles. You get to explore, map, set sights and start foundations. You get to build a fort, from the fort you grow a trade post, from there a village, a town and if you are good enough a city. But it is not merely ‘building’, you have vassals for that. A city with infrastructure, religion, logistics, a setting that grows with every choice you make yet it is not that mundane. As I was thinking it through, I was listening to Jordi Savall, and a  consideration grew, what if music is part of growth? As the town band grows, its music increases, all production goes up, yet not always, some react to the beat, some to tempo and some to melody, as you set the stage for the local music, you set in motion a choice. We explore and we find, but there is a sort of randomiser in play, so not everything will be there, some parts will be, some will not, some area’s will have hides, a forest has lumber and as we explore what is and what can be grown, we alter the foundation of growth, the game needs to be entertaining, but it can be educational as well. When we played Civilisation, we had the research to make changes, what if something like that is in the game, but different? What if we had writings, but we set a larger stage with laws, we make choices, common law or civil law, later the introduction of accounting, criminal law and taxation, but they can only come into effect if certain conditions are met. And when the addition is made we see the larger benefit, politics, republic, monarchy, all choices that impact the bottom line of life, but we need to see the changes in a larger stage, the settings of natural laws, the benefit of a nameless religion (in the beginning there was a benefit), yet all these elements are in a different shape, this is not civilisation. So what happens when the world is a 1000 by 1000 miles and you can run through it all? Transport becomes important, we start with horses, and as we see more and more challenges, we can also fathom the impact. We get to shape the world as we see it, as we want it to be. Run around like in AC Brotherhood, but here there are no shops, no banks and no buildings, we get to build it all. Build to close together and space becomes a problem, choose the wrong location and you might be cut off from resources a town needs, we want an exploration game that is true to reality and the new consoles allow for that, cloud gaming allows for that. So when you see the AC Brotherhood map below, consider that 25 times the size, if the X and Y axes represented 10 miles, consider it now at 50 miles in each direction, and that is merely stage one.

What more, whenever you make a new game, you get a new map and you have no idea where you are so navigation and cartography become important, no YouTube in that space, in 1607 JamesTown was founded, consider that stage and see if you can do better, a game that has its own little sidesteps, because wildlife could kill you as you ride too far away, no option to get back in time, as such you will see the results of choices. Seven cities of gold was a great idea and what they got out of the CBM64 with 38Kb of space was pretty awesome, so we can take that idea and evolve it into something really serious and from there we get something entirely new, something never seen before, and all this in a third person view, not a top view that is map like, but the actual view, and consider that you might be playing a very different set of rules from your best friend, you can actually consider discussing what the best road to act is, a game setting we rarely see. 

Is it doable? 
I believe it is, the new consoles, PC’s and cloud consoles (Google Stadia) can easily deal with it, the question is, can it be done in such a way to entice the player to dip its toe in the exploration waters and see what will come next? I am game, but I am merely one view, there is a commercial side to this and a game designed to appeal to 10-499 people is not a triumph, it is a niche that has no place to go, it is the 3-5 million group we want to reach, that makes a setting achievable and something worth pursuing. It is merely my view on the matter, but I believe that banking on value for money is never a bad idea. 

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