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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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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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I see dead people

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

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

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

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

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The BS from players

When is a gamer a player? One could argue that many players are gamers, yet not all gamers are players. It is looking at a set of collections with two unknowns, yet the media to a much larger degree will not care. The BBC shows this with ‘Cyberpunk 2077 delayed until December despite developer crunch’, they also give us “A letter from the developers said there would be “many emotions and questions” about another delay, and asked fans to “please accept our humble apologies”” and here we get the first setting: ‘Why?’ My setting is given in a station where we see that their last project was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a project that was rated at 100% by some, others gave it ranging between 91%-95%, only the Nintendo Switch version did slightly worse, but the largest range was overwhelmed with the perfection of gaming offered, only GTA-V had a rating on that level. When we look at the best ratings EVER, on the PS4, it is on 13th position, on the Xbox One it is on 10th position, and on PC it got 18th position, so when CD Project Red thinks it needs more time, we should just give it to them, Witcher 3 was so lose to gaming perfection that we should accept it and when we see players like Boss Hunting giving us “Referring to what we’ve filed under “Tweets which have aged like unrefrigerated milk”, CD Projekt Red promised that Cyberpunk 2077 would face no further delays earlier this month. But delayed they have, and now, like an absentee father during the summer holidays, a promise has been broken; and everyone is sitting on the curb with their swimmers on”, so let them sit on the curb, actual gamers will accept that it will be ready when it is ready, the entire BS game of flaming whilst these same players were too often silent when it mattered. 

I will grant you that I was looking forward to playing the game, yet I would much rather wait until late January for a game that is near perfect, than a game that needs the amount of patches Ubisoft treated us to lately. I get it, most do the perfect game does not exist, not games this big, yet we can limit the issues and that is what we see now (at least I hope it is). A YouTuber MrMattyPlays gives a decently good view on the delay (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYU1lv8WqWk), but he does more, as we see the game play on the screen, the driving, the actions, the choices we get to make, we see something that is so much better than anything presently released, yet CD Project Red sees an issue and delays. MrMattyPlays mentions ‘perception’ and that is true, yet anyone having issues is off their rocker (as I see it), the only mistake MrMattyPlays makes (as I personally see it) is the fact that he compares CD Project Red to Ubisoft, CD Project Red is a relatively small player, especially compared to $2 billion Ubisoft with well over 18,000 staff members and over 14 Ubisoft locations. Not to forget the fact that they produced the worst game of 2019 (Breakpoint), I admit that it is not overly fair to have a go at Ubisoft, but we need to accept that CD Project Red at present is the creator of one of the most perfect RPG games ever (in 2015) and that achievement has over the last 5 years not been broken, will it? We will see, but that milestone give es them credibility and we better acknowledge that part in the equation, and it has nothing to do with John Wick being in the game, I’ll take him on with a pencil if need be (the John Wick fans will get this).

Is there an upside? Yup we are only 12 hours away from the official release of Watchdogs: Legion and so far it seems that they made a amazingly good product (Watchdogs: Legion), so I get more time on that (and Pikmin 3 too).

Yet the larger stage is not the makers, it is the media, always hounding for half a sound byte, half a quote, and then when the stage fumbles, play the blame game. We saw this with the non stop hounding of Hello Games and No Man’s Sky, even christian digital media were implying release date knowledge, begging like little bitches for clicks. The media is the larger problem, they want to ‘appease’ the avenues needs of gamers, but cold consideration is not on the table. And as such we get a warped expectation, yet in all this no one will hold the media to account will they? Just like the BS wave of flames around loot boxes, I am no fan of EA, even less now that I cannot buy a physical copy of NHL 21, as my favourite team is on the cover now, so I am in a ‘Fuck EA’ mode, or is that mood? Yet the setting of loot boxes is seemingly misreported, how many free loot boxes can be earned? How many packs a day are given free, how many milestones are rewarded with packs and cards? None of the media reports on this, I had a truckload with NHL 19,  I do not know how it is now, and even as several sites clearly reported on the free packs that FIFA 19 (or FIFA 20) had, I see no reporting on the FIFA 21 part, so will the gamers get an actual real view? I doubt it, it is seemingly not in their interest to cater to EA, but it seems that opposition of EA is catered to, I wonder why. It is the simplest stage of players versus gamers and as I personally see it, a lot of these players have never gamed on any decent level.

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When we reconsider

We reconsider at times, we all do. It is not merely a stage of changing of minds, it is a stage of giving a game another chance. In my case it is F1 2020. The last one I had was F1 2000, a game that I got with my PS2, I am not much of a racing fan, but I enjoyed the game to some extent. The ‘some extent’ is not to be mistaken with some critical view of the game. I do not have one, I like racing to some degree, I am not a lover of it. It’s a simple stage. Another game I had was Project Gotham 3, it came with my Xbox 360. That game I loved, it was fun, the F1 game is less fun, more of a simulator, till it is a nice challenge to have and at times we reconsider getting the game, so after 15 years I am willing to get another F1 game. Some go with statement like ‘cleansing the palette’, some go with ‘something else to devour’, some people (like me) never thought negative of the game, merely saw it as something that was not their cup of tea. Yet we all get to a stage that we want to try tea again. It is partially natural. For me, in part it was the stage where F1 2000 was actually a good looking game, I merely was decently lousy in racing. And the F1 game was a decent simulator. That in position to the fact that Project Gotham Racing III was more fun, slightly less of a simulator. Yet this is not about the F1 game, it is about FIFA. The BBC introduced me to ‘FIFA 21 review: ‘The virtual, beautiful game is passing off old as new’’, as well as the Verge giving us ‘FIFA 21 Is Limping Toward Retirement’. Now we should all accept that it is one hell of a test to prolong a franchise, even as soccer is one of the most favourite sports in the world, renewing it for 20+ years is still a massive task. Now, we can all go Monday morning quarterback on the makers, but in the end, I wonder if anyone could have done the job the way EA did. Now, I am not blowing their horn, they have a marketing department for that. In addition, I support their view that loot-boxes is not gambling. I have always supported that side, even as they clearly have made a few mistakes, the fact that they were made is open to debate. And even add the UK gives us “The Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport (“DCMS”) has launched a call for evidence on the impact of loot boxes in video games to help it determine whether they should be classified as gambling products” I still have a personal nagging that this is is a rigged setting. 

Even as we see things evolve, we see a larger stage the is not explored, which is partially an option for discussion. Yet the stage is still in the open. Like the F1 game I looked at, others look at FIFA in a similar way, I am not a FIFA fan, I am an NHL fan and the disturbing part is the here in Australia, the game still cannot get ordered, which is an optional EA play push and a Xbox Billing wish. 

I get the stage that this is, not many Australians have a preference to Hockey. I played it when I was younger. Hence, my interest (and my delusional dream that San Jose, Ottawa, Edmonton, or Calgary calls me that they are in desperate need of a goalie and my name came up), who has not had that thought? Which soccer player does not want to be able to bend it like Beckham? There is a weird interaction with sports games, especially the one we really prefer. We go for the annual setting, but there too EA dropped the ball more than once. It is their right to drop it, but it seemingly gets them in the situation they are in now.

And the stage of sport games is larger than we consider NHL21, FIFA21, Madden NFL 21, EA UFC 2020, Rugby20 2020, F1 2020, NBA 2K21, PGA 2K21, a stage that is a lot bigger than we realise and even if we are not a great fan of some games, EA and others had the option to change the stage and get a much greater following, but they set the game to an event of capture the dough. We can all be or become Monday morning quarterbacks, yet what will this resolve?

We are in what I call a clear stage to reconsider, the gamers and the makers. This is not about sport games, yet this is the larger stage of gaming and to set the what is new, and the why renews. A stage the gaming seems to overlook again and again, As I personally see it it comes with the marketing field who increasingly limits the scope ‘How to acquire new money and how to get as much of it as we can’, it is a natural setting for marketing and that makes sense. But if gaming leads, it is time to set a very different stage. Even as some as in the setting of ‘What if that does not work?’ Nintendo faced that with the WiiU, yet that led to the Nintendo Switch, a system that broke all their records and pushed the Microsoft console from 2nd to 3rd position and as Switch is in 2nd position, still growing its markets, still growing after 3.5 Years. 

It is time to reconsider the plays that are currently being made.

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Exit stage right

Yup, I am back. In the first there is the Swiss issue I discussed earlier today, as set the free movement ending is not reached, 68% rejected that part. So in this the larger stage were (as I personally saw it) the fear mongering side, but that is merely my view on one part. The election was on a few items and the Swiss have spoken, they rejected the ending free movement part and I am fine with it, yet I do feel that the term of all those benefits, I wonder if we ever get to see a list on that. But no matter what it was up to the Swiss and they rejected the notion.

Then there is the corona issue (not the beer), as per now we have 33 million infected and one million are dead. I believe that this number is actually higher, but I cannot prove it, the top three are USA, India and Brazil. In this I partially reject it because I believe that Indian infected is most likely a lot higher and those who died are cremated rather fast, so even as the numbers are too low, I cannot say that there is intent here, consider that in India the alleged personal need for ignorance is high, a nation where the Mumbai region alone has 55 million people, so 6 million over all India and only 95,000 deaths does not add up. When we apply the global mortality rate, the death count in India is close to 50% too low, a nation where population pressure is through the roof. I get it, not every person gets tested, there are not enough test packages to get even close to the testings required, there is no blame, no one is at fault, but we need to realise the setting and in a lot more places than India, the setting does not add up. 

And in the third setting, we see that there is every indication that President Trump will be exiting the stage on the right side. There is an overwhelming amount of push on places like Twitter where we see the Rock, George Takei, Billy Baldwin, David Cross and numerous others are giving their voice to Joe Biden, there is even a growing amount of Republicans on that list (including me) and the stage that President Trump has set is for the bulk of all the people no longer acceptable. I reckon that if the voting amount is raised from 55% to 65% it will be over for President Trump. As far as I can tell, at no time in history have Americans united against an elected president ever before. These events are making the anti Vietnam and anti Lyndon B. Johnson events fade. Even as Joe Biden has presently a 10% lead, it is a dangerous setting. Some people will fall asleep and will not bother voting, but the is the danger that got President Trump into the Oval Office in the first place. I would hazard a guess that if only 65% votes, one could argue that the USA does not deserve saving, not t this stage. The active people seem to realise that and their voice is simple “please vote”, they do not say who to vote for, they seem to think that this will be enough to get them to vote and hopefully not for President Trump. People like Dwayne Johnson are more eloquent in this, they name the people they endorse and give additional information. Still, I am to some extent in awe, I have never seen such a level of unison coming from America since WW2 (the Hitler is bad group) and perhaps it is important to pause at this notion. Yes, I remember my last piece, yet that was not about being pro-Trump. That was about the law and the constitution, little pesky things all kind of people want to avoid, I do not. 

What else is on the table? 

Well, games would be my guess and even as we are all still reeling from the Bethesda, now Microsoft decision, PC Gamer gives us a past overview (at https://www.pcgamer.com/au/what-happened-to-12-of-gamings-biggest-studios-after-they-were-sold/). I understand what they bring and I do not oppose it, but what stands out is that Bethesda is bought for more than the amount spend on 12 other acquisitions (not all Microsoft), there we see the the purchase of Mojang by Microsoft implies that all is not lost for Sony, yet this close to release of a new console makes it a question mark at best. In this there is also the thought that EA has options for Mass Effect and even the original trilogy, yet that is for another time. For the most the countdown clocks are running for Cyberpunk 2077 and the PS5/Xbox series X. November 19th 2020 for Cyberpunk and the consoles will come at November 12th (PS5) and November 10th (Xbox). The mayhem starts in 43 days 6 hours and 34.2 minutes.

 

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Software as a salad

Yup, we all have our moments of creation, although this is a redesign, the idea is out there and it is set to be an open invitation to the owners of the game Clue, to take it to a next level. What happens when we change the tally? It dawned on me when I was walking in a mall and I laid eyes on the Harry Potter edition of Clue, it looked nice, it looked revamped to be as close to the Harry Potter world as possible, but it was still the classical game of Clue. It was funny, because around an hour earlier I was sitting down sipping on a coffee and try to wake up (well a fair attempt anyway), I noticed two tables over a gorgeous young lady (19-21) and she was talking to her friend (no idea what about) and she was getting slightly over enthusiastic over pictures of Professor Snape (Alan Rickman is cool). I had to giggle internally and I would have given anything for Alan Rickman to be blushing one table over, but that was not the case, yet it started a thought and after the coffee when I noticed the HP Board game, when a thought started to take hold, what if one game could lead to another? What if we take the EA original Murder on the Zinderneuf (yes, it was original in 1983), make it a first person adjustable mystery, yet every game unlocks specific randomised new options. What if the game unlocks the game clue, but what happens when the game, a game that is different every time (apart from the stage). The game offers a challenge already, but when you get a different murder mystery every time you play it, in addition, you get the board game Clue to play at home or online with opt in players or a computer character, as well as a stage where you could optionally unlock the HP edition, the Downton Abbey edition, the Walking dead edition, the Asterix edition, a Scooby Doo edition and so on. The idea of opening a game an unlocking the other skins one at a time sets a larger premise, sets a drive to play the game, especially for those who love the game. The game would not alter too much, but the location, people and object skins do and that are cosmetic items. The option to seed the game like a minefield with other cards (like the ones in the game), but with different outfits, so the game keeps on looking fresh. Then there are the stage where the initial game when replayed will offer a person to find objects, like a Golden Snitch, the Resurrection stone, An Asterix flask, Scooby Do’s bone and so on. A game with a long lasting half life, because there will be options to unlock for a long time to come, yet who took on considering that approach in gaming until the Google Stadia became a fact? Let’s face it, I never saw this for the years that Steam was out. 

There is no end towards what is possible, but what should concern you is why the makers of current games aren’t thinking the far ahead, or that much out of the box. This is my 7th game IP concept in under a year, and in the gaming industry, these so called captains of industry haven’t come up with 50% of that amount of IP. So I leave you with that thought, will you buy software, or will you mix it up like a salad, it might not taste the way you think it does, but it is more likely then not an original taste and that counts in gaming. The stage of ‘I never had that before’ and it remains true, it is not for everyone, but when you set the goal to make a game for everyone, you merely make a game that pleases no one. 

 

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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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Light of creativity

In creativity we normally see a theme, or perhaps better phrased, some (like me)( are thematically driven, it might change per project, but in me there is a drive to think thematically, it is how I set the the stages of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, Watchdogs 4: Refugee,  and Far Cry 7: Timing

In this I have spoken about the Elder Scrolls and Watchdogs before, but not too much about Far Cry, in this game the stage is a little bit different. The game has two sides, a day side and a night side, yet that is not really made clear in the beginning, The game is stages in Japan on the Island of Amakusa, the man is in the city as it is today, yet when he falls asleep he becomes the boy or Girl named Sage. For the kid its 1945, for the adult its 2010, and the stage is different, the man learns skills that the boy has when he falls asleep, the kid finds things and places (and avoid US troops) the difference is that this is a game without guns, the US troops have them, but the boy/girl cannot fire them. The man learns to be better and more apt with knifes, and it helps the other one, but is only deadly to animals. The story starts in 2010, the man is evicted, he lost his job in the meltdown, he is making it on his own and when he gets to an abandoned house, he finds an engraved phalange, and as he holds it, he falls asleep. 

At that point it becomes morning 1945 and the boy takes over. 

It is the foundation of the game, in this we see the entire island twice, once as the boy in the midst  of an American occupation, with lose combats against the Imperial army, we see the game starting in one stage in July 1st 1945 and July 1st 2010 in the other stage. The idea of having two stories that intertwine is interesting, the 2010 story sets the stage of what knowledge is gained in 1945. This stage is depending on stealth, that is often not important in 2010, as we try to gain the treasures and rare items to pay the debt, as that unfolds, we see two stories unfold as well as two needs to be scored in a single night, and as the stage unfolds more and more we get to see a WW2 story from a Japanese side, yet the Americans are not shown too evil, but they are scary to a 11 year old child. 

That is merely the beginning of the setting and it took no more than two hours to come up with it. So when we see “a small team at Visceral also worked on a pirate game code named Jamaica. That game wound up being canceled when Ubisoft announced the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and EA wound up with a bigger a bigger priority for its “genre” studio: a Star Wars game”, a quote a mere three days old, yet I was able to (semi)create three games in a week, so where is their creativity? I came up with the setting of the game Evolution which was came from an Idea I had when I was playing the game Mercenary on the CBM64 and was based in Amsterdam, The centre of Amsterdam was completely mapped and I came up with a map change which I got from the documentary Zero Hour, as I see it, the lack of creativity from some of these large software houses baffle me, it really does.

Well, its fine as I see it, I came up with 6 games (completely) original in its foundation, as such the entire stage of ‘being canceled when Ubisoft announced the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’ passed me by completely. And in that regard, we see that even their version is not that original, Sid Meier set that stage with Pirates, as such I wonder what they will create next, and beyond that, which of them will actually make it to the consoles, because that is another setting.

As we see all over the place ‘Apple clashes with Microsoft, Google, and Facebook over cloud gaming’ no one is asking the question, who will hand us original games? In this the setting that only Sony and Nintendo remains is not the weirdest idea. So as the others are fighting on how to gain the largest slice of pie in the GaaS game, some will focus on originality and make the largest gains. 

So what games will you play and which system will focus on original games? Is that not important too? 

 

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