Tag Archives: Consoles

The images came

Yes, they came, the images. My mind played out the beginning of a new movie, one with Owen Wilson in the lead. I am not ready to tell that story yet. During that escape I also saw a few other things, it is there that we find ourselves. In the middle of a story not to be told, but with images that make sense in gaming. You see, in the early years (1993) Origin made a game that had potential, the game did not really exploit it, but it had created an optional new wave and even as the finale implied things in the end, they never came. Yet it is only one side. Games are always about options, but nothing ever comes from the tail side of that coin. What if choices are set upon us? More important what if the other side has equally strong negative sides? We can select the internet to do our work for us, or we can go forwards embracing the choices we have made. Too many games forget about that. I believe it was the wrong take to make on gaming. We grow and we get clever through adversarial settings. That as been proven for the longest time, yet we overlook it because it is not what the gaming community wants. By whose standards? Players like Ubisoft and Microsoft have no idea what gamers actually want and they have shown that lack over and over agains for at least 10 years. So let’s take this up a notch. You are at a shrine, there is a camera, a book and a potion. You can only select one, what do you take? When the clue is unfolded it makes sense to take one of them, yet each give a formidable advantage, yet you lose the other two. In the age of Gauntlet and Diablo based games we might take that part later, but what happens when the choice if final and the others are removed from choice? As I see it it enables replayability, it grows a much larger value in any game. You see a game that does everything will basically please no one. We forgot that the founders of gaming like Infocom with Zork enabled us to think things through, a side in gaming we tend to forget. And I did too, for the longest time I merely went from achievement to achievement. I forgot to have fun, I forgot what replayability enables, not the same track again, but another path towards the same destination. More to see, more to experience and more the encounter. Most game makers are about story experience and one story fits all, but that is seldom if ever the case. For the same reason two role playing gamers might select different races (orc, dwarf, human, elf). All part of the package, all part of 4 learning experiences. Yet most people stick with the one choice and work from there, yet I believe that they take the one path because no one explained that they can get more by taking another path the next time around. It does not fill the revenue bill and that is a shame, yet in the new stages, in streaming stages that option will become increasingly important. Streamers have a monthly fee, so if one game can be played 4 times the revenue meter fill up larger. More importantly the games would have to become a lot better, a lot more immersive and the stories would need to become a whole lot better. I do not believe this to be a bad thing, this is how evolution of gaming starts and it does need to start, you see fully deployed 5G is no more than 3 years away and at that point the console wars will go into a new dimension with the streamers (Google Stadia, Amazon Luna) will become fierce and a lot more decisive. I do not believe that they will replace the Nintendo Switch or the Sony PlayStation 5. Yet they will be next to a lot of these systems and that is where the $200,000,000,000 revenue ticket for 2022 is at, and with the Amazon Luna with an optional 50,000,000 more consoles that war takes a hard turn into better gaming and the ones not ready for upgrading gaming will lose out to a lot of revenue clambakes. It will not start drastically, it will be all nice, but it sets the stage for 2024 and there the numbers do add up to failure or success and none of the players are embracing failure, or so they seem to think, but which of these systems have truly embraced upgraded gaming?
Not many, I can tell you that much and that is merely the first wave, the second wave will add the previous revenue success to the next one and those who missed out on pile one, have little to no option for an increased pile two. That is where they all are, in denial. Phrases like ‘We are working on it’ or ‘this will sort itself out’ but behind the curtains they sweat, they have no idea where to take it next and I wrote about at least half a dozen options, and they all laughed, but in November 2023 they will stop laughing. They will face the shortcomings of choice and the lack of options they left their gaming community with, so these people will dump that system and cancel that prescription. So these people will face 2024 with limited revenue and no plan of implementation. That will be the losing streamer. The other one will take a bow and head for revenue piles two and three, at that point Sony will face a true contender for the first position in console wars, the field is wide open, but I believe that Microsoft has already lost, they did this to themselves. To be honest, as the information goes at present the Amazon Luna is the most likely winner in that direction, but I have no idea where Netflix is going, so there are options in a race where some horses cannot compete and some horses are unknown. In that race I see Nintendo in third position, with their gaming attitude they could go higher and they have what it takes, but they work on a formula that is almost guaranteed to keep them in the race, yet like any formula, it has limits and that is not a bad thing, it is what they chose and so far they kept 93,000,000 gamers happy with the Switch overtaking Microsoft by a lot, the weakest system defeated the strongest console in the world. Why is that? Technology? No, Nintendo listened to their gamers, gave their gamers what they needed. That was the simple truth since before the Switch arrived and when it did in 2017 the world saw a winner and Microsoft became the number one loser. This is about to happen again yet in 2023/2024 it will be the streamers who fight over the initial number three position, but some will have it within them to get to second place. And good games is where they get the winning positions, the better the games, the more the gamer wins and that is my stage,
I want gamers to win, because if they win, I win. I am after all a gamer.

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The hesitant choice

It is a stage we try to deny, but it is there, we all face it at some point. You see, there is (especially in business) a danger to go ‘gung ho’. There is benefit in awaiting the right moment. Yet what to do when that is in a vacuum? This happens. There is an option to make a decent amount of coins, but it relies on others making a move, or not to make one. But no matter how you slice it, you are in a vacuum until that happens. 

You see, what I predicted is close to coming to pass. The console wars will be settled and the outcome will be  

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

Google ended last because it is not creating games, it is relying on Ubisoft and indie developers to get there. Microsoft screwed the pooch a little too often and with my help I will gladly push the suckers to 4th, I preferred them at 5th but Google made that impossible. Third is Amazon and that is because the solution I see will fit the Amazon Luna, more importantly in the setting at present they might get to 2nd, but only temporary and with conservative numbers Nintendo will catch up again. Sony will not be surpassed and what they have going for them will keep them in charge there. I do find it funny that the most powerful console in the world (as Microsoft seems to remind us) will be a system at a mere 4th position. The weakest console defeated them and the Luna has the option to do the same.

All because stupid people will not learn. The greed driven will be all about pushing Azure whilst they cannot play the blues. A sad setting that gets Microsoft exactly what they deserve (answer: zip, zilch, nada).

So why is this a hesitant choice? Well in the first I still have time and I do hope to get my share of well over $400,000,000. Would you not do the same? Only when I see that the battle is over, I will make it public domain allowing indie developers make a bitch out of Microsoft. 

What surprises me is that the makers still do not see what is out in the open. It is not rocket science, the clever people should see what I noticed well over a month ago, it was then that I decided to crunch a few ideas and what I see represents well over 50,000,000 consoles. Am I delusional? I will let you figure that out when I set the bar and the visibility of the solution to all. I will of course use the same method to 4chan and a few other open places. You see, the longer Microsoft and Ubisoft are unaware, the better the chances for the indie developers. In a rat race these two will win and I feel a little better if they lose, I am wired that way.

What if others figure out what I saw? That’s OK. If they did it by themselves they earned what is coming for them and I still believe in my 5G solutions to give me the pennies (read: bag of gold) I deserve and there is only so much a person needs. I see greed as an underestimated delimiting factor on creativity, and I do not like delimiters, except in data files. They are essential there.

So whilst you are enjoying coffee, oh no, that would be me and coffee is almost ready. Enjoy the day!

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A short sighted wire

I was taken by surprise today, the BBC gave me ‘EU rules to force USB-C chargers for all phones’, the article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58665809) gives us “Manufacturers will be forced to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices, under a new rule proposed by the European Commission (EC)” which is stupid on several levels. It remains a surprise on how we see the computation of IQ of a population being  AVERAGE(group), whilst the IQ of a collection of politicians seems to adhere to LOWEST(group). Now let’s be clear. I would love to see a stage where power supplies all adhere to the same settings, but the USB-C charger of my MacBook will not charge my Chromebook, my USB-Micro charger of my android phone actually does charge other devices and a generic charger will not work on my android phone, as such the entire setting of all using the same cable is a laughable stage. More important, generic power boards with USB points will not charge everything either (it would not charge my Chromebook), so where set the standard? Set the standard at what each battery has to accept? 

So when we see “EU politicians have been campaigning for a common standard for over a decade, with the Commission’s research estimating that disposed of and unused charging cables generate more than 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.” So how about a mobile phone that lasts well over 5 years? I reckon that this element will save a lot more waste space required. But under what conditions? So how about all chargers for anything battery operated like a wireless WiFi, photo camera’s, film camera’s, webcams, speakers (like Bose and JBL), bluetooth devices. The list goes on, they ALL have to adjust? How stupid is that train of thought? When any asian market decides to take a turn to the right, when they find a new innovative way, where will the EU be left? A setting that can be hammered straight out of gateway, set to ‘unused charging cables’, all whilst the charging cble is the one part that often needs replacing long before the charger is too broken to be used. And these charge cables are also used for consoles, printers, scanners and other devices. So who was the local yahoo that set for “All smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers”? Someone with a friend at Apple, or perhaps someone who hates non USB-C systems? Perhaps some yahoo who forgot his Android cable that still uses USB micro?

When we see the elements of that article, the numbers do not add up. Even Apple, the people who embraced USB-C give us: “Apple has warned such a move would harm innovation”. So when we see “In 2009, there were more than 30 different chargers, whereas now most models stick to three – the USB-C, Lightning and USB micro-B” we see a level of raw BS. You see my Apple USB-C charger will not charge my USB-C Chromebook, a simple test overseen in 10 second. Then there is “the Commission’s research estimating that disposed of and unused charging cables generate more than 11,000 tonnes of waste per year” I know that this is equally a setting of utter nonsense, because there is no division between unused and broken cables and they cannot, it is mere estimation work. The reason I know this is because I have three chargers that are still in my desk for backup. In case one of the other ones break, the cables are equally important. When at work I keep one cable there in case I forget to charge the night before. All reasons to have more than one cable. I have two additional cables for other reasons and some over time broke. All settings that are an issue, so when we are given that the cables changes are required for 

smartphones
tablets
cameras
headphones
portable speakers
handheld video game consoles

All whilst the console controllers are not part of that equation. This is an attack on the Asian market, it has nothing to do with landfill. That is how I personally see it and that is why I consider that compared to these politicians Homer Simpson is pretty much the Einstein of them all. Oh and then there is the stage that at times the same port is used in multiple ways, so what about portable speakers that cannot be connected to a laptop because the laptop does not have a USB-C port. Issue upon issue all whilst a group of people are now setting a technology limit? So consider one part not seen there (no blame to BBC) “The USB-C connector was developed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the group of companies that has developed, certified, and shepherded the USB standard over the years”, so a filtering to less then 1200 companies? How is that not segregation and discrimination? And when we take that list of 1100-1200 companies, how is that drill down per nation? And when we take a close look at waste per nation we see “European plastics production almost reached 58 million tonnes” and we see an article on 11,000 tonnes? This adds up to 1% of 1% of an actual problem, I think the people in the EU needs to sack without any pay the people from that European Commission. To underline that part, consider that my Wifi Router and my Mobile phone use the same USB-Micro charger and when it is not charging it is disconnected, all whilst the Chromebook and the MacBook both need DIFFERENT USB-C charger, as such the line “encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device” becomes equally debatable. 

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Lunae commentarius

Yes, it might be Latin to you, yet we are talking about the Diary of the moon, my idea for adding social media a safe place to gamers. You see, I have had a few discussions in the last few days. The responses go from ‘Why, they’re only gamers’ and ‘Why do we need another social media’ to ‘Don’t worry Facebook will solve it’, and that is the problem, Facebook does not solve our problems, it uses whatever bothers us towards a data setting for them. They are not doing anything wrong, they are a commercial party. Yet the time has come for gamers to get a real safe space and as such we are looking around. I saw what Google+ offered and I preferred it, but Google shut it down, recently we got Cocoon (2019) and they (at www.cocoon.com) give us “Cocoon is a home for the people you feel close to today, and will feel even closer to tomorrow”, they are right. In the beginning there was Facebook and Facebook alone, but as their saturation increased the amount of advertisements grew, it is the trade-off of saturation against quarter on quarter growth. There are no clear numbers, yet it seems that Facebook has 25%-50% of the ENTIRE planet. That has never been done before, that is what saturation looks like and everyone on that advertisement stage is trying to fill their pockets. 

The stage is also getting banked (towards Facebook). We might see (if we look) “Cocoon 3.0: a place to share with all your people, and just your people”, we see this in the media page on July 22, 2021, the media is remaining quiet as a mouse. So when we seek Google search, we get all kinds of cocoon mentions, but only when we seek deeper will we see that the media is avoiding this new option, perhaps someone needs to talk to media stakeholders that need Facebook as a ‘friend’? Yet these issues shows that we need another way, a Google+ and Cocoon way to set the stage, first for gamers, then for all the other people.

So how does this work?
In my view, a social media account is like an RPG game. You are your castle, your house. Together with your friends you have a cluster and that cluster is seen in two ways, your cluster of all your friends and your ‘in-crowd’, those who see everything. The book (it look like a leather bound diary) has some details, optionally a photo (if the gamer wants this), but in essence there is a closed avatar and the open avatar. The closed avatar is only for friends and in-crowds. That avatar has pages, each game a page, each game with the option to add images (screenshots) with an edited screenshot at the top, which is either made the diary header, or (more to follow), the page holds your achievements and a timeline with data available for YOU to decide where it goes. 

So it goes on for every game you play. But it is what happens next that matters. You decide whether the friends see everything, whether you want to spread everything, top-line or nothing to the game maker, the official game page or the Amazon distribution page. The important part is that it is up to YOU, the gamer to decide what is send around, and the stage is that NOTHING is shared until you allow for it more important, those who get the information can never forward your details, your nickname is seen, but not searchable and the list goes on. I also envisioned a stage where there is a Sony Tab and a Nintendo tab, completing your game experience on the entire field.

So we see clusters, ranks and vines. A station where you are in charge and that setting changes social media. When Amazon launches this, the need to non advertising continues and it goes all over the place.

The stage is more than just achievements, you have a header of your favourite game and you have headers of the games that you play the most (at present), a stage where you profile yourself into a larger community of YOUR making, merely your friends and family. This is not longer about selling ads, this is a safe space where the gamer can communicate achievements and milestones to their group of people with no advertisements. It will be a band new day for the gamer. It was something I had hoped we would see on the PS4, now we see a setting where Amazon has a much larger playing field. Consider that the Luna account can be linked to your Kindle, giving you your game diary on the go?a stage that can only get larger, there is a setting where the other streamers will have to run, run really hard just to keep up with the Amazon Luna, just a thought.

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Wrongly Slapping Microsoft

So, there I was being happy, reading tweets when an article passed by. It was an article from July 2020 no less, although I did not notice the date at first, the title ‘The hidden costs of Microsoft Flight Simulator’ had me a little captivated, so I took a look. In all this, let’s be upfront. I have an issue with Microsoft on several levels, they screwed up their console, they (as I personally see it) betrayed their customers and I am not a Microsoft fan. Yet, there Flight Simulator is different, it is a ‘game’ for a select group of people. I am not a sim fanatic, but I get it, we all have needs and for them Flight Simulator is ‘da bomb’, I do not object. I bought my first flight simulator when I got my CBM64 (with disk drive). I bought the program in the early days for around $175 (Dfl 299), I was not bonkers about the game, but it was a new level of gaming. It came with a book, not a small manual, but an operations guide that was formidable, 4 maps and a disc. I never regretted buying it. I got one on the PC later on, I got the flight simulator X and one more. Even as I was not a great fan, the Flight simulator is a different level of gaming, so when I saw the new one announced and I saw first images on YouTube, my mouth dropped. It was overwhelmingly amazing, it was the best a non pilot could get and that person would get as close to flying (without the $300 an hour lesson fee) as humanly possible. So this article got me piqued. 

Now, as I said, I am not Microsoft fan and bashing them is almost a civil duty the first hour and done for personal pleasure the 6 hours that follow that, but I do try to keep a sense of fairness, so the article felt bad, it felt insincere. The article (at https://www.pcinvasion.com/hidden-costs-microsoft-flight-simulator/) gives us the following “However, simulation titles, particularly flight sims, are notorious for nickel-and-diming their customers. On day one, the new Microsoft Flight Simulator will continue this trend that it birthed right out of the box.” As I see it, this is their clumsy approach to a few items, the first are the three Simulators out there. There is a standard, a deluxe and a premium edition for $59, $89 and $119. We get “the simulator itself, the entire world map, over 37,000 airports, 3D telemetry of select cities, and 20 flyable aircraft, and replaces 30 airports with hand-crafted versions. It is available for one-time purchase”, the deluxe edition has 5 additional airplanes and 5 handcrafted airports and the premium edition has 5 more above the deluxe edition. If you are new, you might not want to go the distance and stay with the standard version, yet, I get it, the sim people do want more, they want the Beechcraft Baron, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Cessna Citation Longitude and so on. Even though we see ‘extra’ no one is looking too deep at what the standard has, and it has plenty. Like the Boeing 747-8, the Aviat Pitts Special and 18 others. As for airports we might look at that, but I found the information given “Each World Update has replaced additional procedurally-generated airports with hand-crafted models. World Updates are available in all editions for free, bringing the number of airports available in the Standard edition up to 45, so in the ‘FOR FREE’ side, we see 15 additional airports. In this, the hand crafted versions replace the procedurally generated ones, it is more precise, it is the one you want and that is if you want to go to this airport. The simulator has 100% world coverage including over 37,000 airports, 2 million cities, and 1.5 billion buildings. There are programs out there requiring the same pay with only 1% coverage (if they get to 1% that is). 

As such, I have no idea what the writer of “it’s really the price difference of this new release that has some folks reeling. The Standard edition will start at $60, but the Premium Deluxe is double trouble with a gut-churning $120 asking price” is bitching about. The simple sim matter is that sims are a niche market and if you are not a sim person, or if you want to find out, you can either pay the $59, or get the Xbox game pass (it is included there), with the world (on your computer), you will be engaged for months, if not years to see if you are Sim material and that is part of the choice, a niche market is not for everyone and the makers of that program will not cry if you are not. Microsoft Flight Simulator has millions of fans and well deserved so. I enjoyed playing them, I am not great at them and I get that some people pay the $200 for real flight controllers. Yet above all else, the FS2020 blew me away ad I was honestly not ready to be that impressed, but they achieved that and that too requires attention. I will happily slap them when they do something wrong, but not here. Microsoft got the FS2020 really really right and perhaps if I ever get another overhyped PC I will get this flight simulator as well. CNet gives us “The minimal specs are fairly reasonable, but for the ideal graphics, you may need a more powerful setup”, which is is to be expected. Yet when you consider that you will need a XFX AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT RAW II for 4K images, some get scared and some accept this. Yet when you get to see:

You know there was a reason that you bought that card, however the starter will find plenty of amazement in the low resolution setting which needs a GeForce GTX 770, however this card is $379 with the premise that if you have no hardware this close, your PC is decently outdated to begin with. As such, I am always happy to slap Microsoft around, but not in this case, they really outdid themselves for the sim fanatics and they will not hesitate to Pau the $50 more for 10 additional planes and 10 additional airfields. They will get over the all the other things soon enough and as far as I can tell, whomever want to slap the FS2020 around better be loaded for bear, when you can claim “100% world coverage including over 37,000 airports, 2 million cities, and 1.5 billion buildings” you did something really really right and that too is worthy of mention, excellence will always be admired in gaming, whether it is your cup of tea or not, excellence is where it is at, excellence creates immersion and that is key to any game hoping to become a legendary product.

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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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Alternative income

It seems that I hate Bethesda, I do not, I am not happy that they are part of Microsoft now, but that was their right. It is Microsoft I do not trust. So as I was playing (yet again) Fallout Shelter, we need to see how close to perfect that game is and it is a free game. The optionally dropped the ball on two issues, maybe three if they played their cards right, but that was their choice, gamer ended up with a near perfect version of gaming and that is what we all wanted (even though I would have paid $5-$15 for the game). Yet the game is not new, it is innovative adjusted, the origins of this setting goes back to Dungeon Keeper (1997), we tend to forget these little details. And when I say ‘innovate’ Bethesda truly did that to the game and their game rocks. 

It did however made me consider the stage and how it could be adapted. There was a Westworld edition, I had only heard about it, I never played it. The game was too much of a copy. Yet the setting of Dungeon keeper is one I tend to circle back to. It is the origin of that game that drives my thoughts. There is no advantage setting this to a larger Bethesda stage, Bethesda already owns it, but perhaps there are options in the Ultima stage (Richard Garriott), there could be a drive  through Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, there are plenty of options, but it is the drive of creation, with a little grasp of pragmatism (perhaps 1-3 optional micro transactions) that would make it work. The first thing is not the game, it is understanding the drive of the gamer, from that point we can move on to see what optional franchise has the larger cluster. We can chose any game, but if it has only 20 fans, the drive to a population large enough to make it work is one that we have to surpass and greed driven people always want revenue now (not me though). There are the protected franchises (Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings) that had its own barriers. There are less known franchises (Ultima) that has dedicated protectors, so we can align ourselves with a protector, or find IP that is no longer protected (which tends to take time). I stated it before and will do so again, on the Amiga Millennium 2.2 had close to all we need, so how to make that a success? To do that you need to understand the mechanics of the game. We can work with clocks, the free game only allows a clock speed of 4 and 5 skip days per day, when you buy anything, even once you get the option of clock speed 8 and that can be avoided by a one time payment of $4 giving you direct access to 16 times the speed and unlimited skips, considering that it takes up 235 days to fly to Uranus (I had to allow for that pun), we see a game that could show us optional revenue. Then there is the stage of the arcade, change your mobile into an arcade machine, play the old games for $0.99 and it will keep a track of up to 3 games, for $4 you can add 10 slots and every month another game is released, another of the classic games that can be played, the amounts of fathers that spend a fortune in quarters can now play their favourite game (optionally) for a mere $0.99, how is that not a guaranteed drive? And the nice part is that dozens of these games were never IP protected, it was not an issue in those days. 

There is a whole world out there ready for the visionary programmer to dig into, covid be damned. 

And when we see that some older games are almost forgotten (Paradroid, Boulder Dash, Spy vs Spy,  Joust, and not to forget Theme Hospital), we tend to think as what is old is useless, but there are real diamonds there. I still believe that a proper set Magic Carpet could do really well on consoles (no micro transactions), optionally mobiles could people forget their destinations when they get sucked into Populous, as such I wonder why the people at Electronic Arts are not awake. Another larger player used to be Epyx, and I cannot fathom why a game like Chip-bits, never was rereleased when the systems grew up, there are other players like Laser Squad, that might have gotten right what a legendary game like X-Com missed when they relaunched. And when the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) relaunched the game as a movie, no one considered that Arcade classic was fun to play and relaunching it might have been an option? I am not sure if there were IP’s in place and who owned it, but it seems that the owners did not move on the IP, as such I merely wonder why. 

As for the number one question you all have, why am I not doing it? The answer is simple. I am not a programmer and I am ready with my IP, but those with the $$$ (or £££) haven’t reacted yet, but that does not stop my mind of remaining creative and if it is a win for the gamers, it is a win for all of us. Life at times is that simple. I know my strengths, I also know my weaknesses and limitations, the latter two you tend to avoid for obvious reasons. Well, it is time to fee the inner person with a shepherds pie, I am feeling peckish!

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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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Parallels

I started playing a new video game. Well, it is not new, I have played it 7 times (I think), I played it on the Xbox 360, the PS3,the Xbox One and the PS4. The game was released on 11/11/11 and it is called Skyrim. I have loved this game since its release and it all started with the predecessor Oblivion. So how does a game become this amazing? There is a parallel with the series I Claudius made in the 70’s. You see there are two distinct differences, this game is great, not great through marketing (Microsoft never learned that lesson). In I Claudius its greatness came from 4 elements. 

  1. The Script
  2. The Cast
  3. The Director
  4. The Environment

I believe that games have a similar side to it, and we can see the difference between a good game and a great game. Even as there is no real cast in Skyrim, the makers have to define the characters, on TV they are played but the impact is similar. It is the environment that has the greater pull, whilst it was Roman times for Claudius, the medieval era that the Elder Scrolls exhibit have a similar pull on people.

It drove me to make the first design for TES: Restoration, yet in all this, I do recognise that another Skyrim was not going to make it, gamers are innovative driven not iterative and we have seen this going back to Tomb Raider 2 (1997) and even before that. 

The first question becomes ‘How can we continue a franchise and remain innovative?’, the second one is ‘How can gaming be pushed towards future greatness?’ In the first case we need to investigate, the second one is for the visionaries. The first question is important because what was released between Assassin Creed 2 and Assassins Creed Origin was less and less and almost destroyed the franchise, it is nice that Ubisoft remains in denial and after that makes a ‘Looking towards the future comment’, yet the issue is much more important than you think. 

Great gaming does not happen overnight and places like CD Project Red are really rare. A lot of game designers tend to be one trick ponies when it comes to great games and so far they pulled it off more than once, as did Bethesda as did a few others. Yet the ones that do are a minority and in the light of console wars investigating what is possible matters, good gaming is good for all, the era where Microsoft and Sony keeping each other one their toes driving gaming is almost a thing of the past and we need to see better games to resolve that issue. It does not matter how it goes, but at present only Sony and Nintendo remain great, Microsoft a lot less so and as such it will impact great gaming for Sony players down the line. 

As to how to fix this, I have no idea. Yet the thought does propel me forward and I Claudius is still a prime example of what makes a product great. The fact that it can stand against any drama produced almost 50 years later is proof of that, yet in that regard looking at the elements help us. The two elements that are the strong drivers here are the Script (the game story) and the environment. In that regard Bethesda is sitting pretty for now. Evenas there is no finality towards Hammerfell (2021), the signs are good and as I personally see it, it would also benefit my idea of TES: Restoration. It doesn’t change the premise, it merely makes it larger and the new consoles are ready for that, the fact that PC’s need to reserve 150GB for the new flight simulator confirms that and gamers do not care about that space, they will do a lot more to their budget to get the best out of games. Thousands of Elite Dangerous fans are evidence of that, they beat flight simulators fans almost two to one on hardware. Andforthese fans storage is an important element (another thing Microsoft never learned in 8 years). And the setting is not PS5 against Microsoft, it is old, stale and Microsoft lost. It is getting The Apple and Google Solution to par off beyond Nintendo. It is not an easy trip but it can be done and a few good games is all that is needed. Not games already released (Diablo 3 and Skyrim), but actual new IP that the others do not have, that makes any new great game 5 times the challenge for the existing consoles. And it can be done, in all this I refuse to discard Apple, when it comes to TV Shows, they are showing to give Netflix a run for their money, and if they can do it on TV, they can do it on gaming too. 

It is a wild west of digital format and both Google and Apple are on equal footing for now, yet the stage in 2022 is not known and cannot be set until the IP comes out for comparison. So all the junkies that are hardware driven will learn a very interesting lesson, the lesson that it was never about the hardware. The CBM64 people saw it, the PS1 and N64 people lived it and no one seems to catch on. It has always been about great games and as we see copies of great amiga games arrive on Android the decision makers are starting to wake up, yet they lost dozens of opportune IP that is now in the hands of those making a few dollars from microtransactions. It is the loss that we have seen over a year and the larger players are apparently not catching on, so where do the gamers stand?

Well, that remains to be seen. I Claudius was almost never a reality and so far has never been remade. The chance of equalling I Claudius is rare to say the least and surpassing it will be almost impossible. It is the impact of a near perfect TV series and games have had that same impact. On TV we saw other series making it good, even great and games can do that too. Will we see it? I have no idea, but if I can come up with 4 golden idea’s in a year there is no way that there is no one else doing that same thing. My biggest issue is that it is unlikely to be Ubisoft, it is more and more likely that several indie developers are sitting on that great idea and finding them by the right people is what counts towards the next console battle. As I personally (and speculatively) see it, someone (high up) at Microsoft will open their mouth making a needed jump to their precious Azure solution, making the game a no go, as such I am more and more curious on what Apple and Google pull off. They might have what it takes to become a member of the big 4, the question at this point will be, does Microsoft have what it takes to remain one of the big four in 2023. The game is open for a lot of players, yet will they have the software to make it count?

 

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Sources of negativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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