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The brain race

I am not sure how familiar you are with the ‘race brain’, yet mine went nuts two hours ago. It was a set of circumstances, the first was Dragon Quest Builders 2, I restarted the game only to fall over on the second island (again). As I learned to ‘follow’ the orders nearly precisely I got a bit further, but I was thwarted by the game makers who got overconfident and that is where the wheels came off the car, or was it the train went of the rails? It is almost a crossing between a close question and an open question. If you confine yourself to closed questions, you tend to miss the desired direction, and when you confide in the response of open questions you go in EVERY direction, except the right one. It is a shame really, because the game (island 1) was heaps fun, you are in a stage where the second island seems fun but frustration sets in too quickly and you go nowhere, a game that relies on fun and delivers, at least the first 2 hours, after that it goes nowhere. But that set my brain in motion, or better stated it went into overdrive. As I was relaxing I looked at the new Hogwart Legacy trailer for PS5, within seconds my mind was devising all kinds of trails to make the game ‘better’, and I could not stop it. 

A game that I have not seen yet, I have not played yet and I am already trying to improve on it, 

In one part with an adaption (or DLC) that gives a setting that a group of four one in each house are linked, an idea that has links to an old WW2 movie, but the stage never left me and now it delivered something different. It seems a silly way to waste time, but my brain would not stop. My mind went on towards the stupidity of EA and their sport games. You see, I do not agree with some voices, Their packs are not gambling and I, for the life of me cannot understand why EA is not on the offensive. 

To understand this, you need to see the stage devised by Julius Caesar, I believe it was in De Bello Gallico, he stated that a soldier is in attack, in defence or awaiting response and each links to the other, as such the attack can move to defence or anticipation, defence can move to anticipation or take the offence and so on, as all three states are covered the soldier that can move between the three without pause and move from any stance to attack, that will be the winner. EA seems to be unaware of this option and seems to be between defence and anticipation only. It is a choice but it will be the stage that always and forever leads to losing. I came up with an idea to take the offence in this. Of course as all marketing costs, it might not be cheap but it beats getting slapped around by those giving voice to idiots spending $12K on packs for a $55 game, that is more than ludicrous and the media is eating it up, something they can flame and no one is asking the questions that matter, not even the legal department of EA, or at least they do it in a way no one can hear.

Even the Times gave us 3 days ago ‘YouTube stars ‘lure Fifa gamers into gambling’’ (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/youtube-stars-lure-fifa-gamers-into-gambling-dwk8tcx3g), a stage that beckons response but it seems that EA remains largely silent. So as we get “The company behind the Fifa football video game has been accused of using “exploitative” marketing techniques to lure children into gambling”, so where is the response and the campaign by EA? I wonder where they are? You see, loot boxes are not gambling.

Why?
To call it gambling you need to consider that you lose your money, this would only happen if you buy a loot pack and the only thing you get one card stating ‘Thank you!, but that is not the case. In my case (NHL19), I get a free pack every 8 hours, then each pack has also coins and a token, there are each month 3 packs that can be gotten with these tokens and they are three good packs. Beyond that you get non trade-able cards and the coins can be used to buy or bid for items in the auction part. When you hit a milestone (some small achievement, you also get options for packs and in some cases a specific player.

Within a month I had all 30 arena’s, all NHL home and away jerseys and in three months I also had all the NHL goalie masks and a ton of other stuff, I never spend a dollar on this. One site tells me that FIFA21 does not offer this, I am not sure about NFL21, so why not? It would solve all issues for EA. You see, people are staring blindly on the alleged gambling, but the stage of gambling is never truly properly investigated. You see when we gamble we see two options. The first is ‘play games of chance for money, but that stage has the unwritten law that you can lose and this never happens, you always get cards, common, uncommon and one rare card. The second version of gamble is ‘take risky action in the hope of a desired result’, that part too is not met, because the desired result is always the same, one rare card, several uncommon cards and the rest are all common cards. This stage is not the one we consider because the outcome is always the same. What most people forget is that in FIFA 21 (allegedly) we see “30 official leagues, over 700 clubs, and over 17,000 players”, if that is correct, there is every chance that there are 2,000 rare players, which means that any rare card has a 0.05% chance of coming out, so if you want Messi, Beckham or Ronaldo you need to get really really lucky and lets face it, every club in the world wants these three players. But that part is close to never considered, and when we go back to the adult idiot spending $12,000 on packs, that person need to get his credit score adjusted to -15000. Is there an issue? Perhaps there is and I think that EA made a few blunders on several levels, but that does not make it gambling, and as we never see anyone receiving a pack with only a thank you card, the stage of gambling is, as I personally see it never reached. 

So how did I get there? 
Well my brain will not stop thinking things through in creative ways and it is reason for another case of insomnia. I watched the trailer of the Unholy (which looks awesome) and immediately my brain went towards a remake of Stigmata (a Rupert Wainwright gem), why? I have no clue, when my brain is in this mode it needs to run its course, which is keeping me awake pondering N+1 issues all whilst N was the maximum I could contemplate. So at present I am typing this whilst I am trying to calm down my brain by listening to the Mikado (Gilbert and Sullivan). 

The creative brain can be a curse, not an unholy one, but a curse none the less. So whilst we see what is next my brain (overzealously) adapted Hogwarts legacy before seeing the final product, I considered a new version of Stigmata, I am still contemplating a backdrop for ‘How to assassinate a politician’, which at present is set in the Hague and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Then there is the idea I had regarding ‘Keno Diastima’, here I believe they should nearly all be new actors, no famous people there, I will not say to much because the cliffhangers 2-3 and 3-4 will be brutal, which is how it should be. 

An idea came to mind on a prequel to ‘Soylent Green’ with Chris Hemsworth in the lead (almost 2 years ago), yet here I fear that the story is just not good enough, the setting is great but I feel that it would end up being some cult movie and not a real breaking movie, a stage that precedes near perfection is also a dangerous step to make and it could backfire in a horrible way, which is why my mind remains the great dangers. I considered the idea before (2019-2020), but I never figured out the part that matter, no matter how good the prequel is, the stage needs to go beyond something nice, and Richard Fleischer did set the stage in a phenomenal way. One can say it is like buying a raincoat to warn against the rain that has been going on for weeks, the flood will drown you long before the usage of a raincoat is validated. There are other idea’s and I wrote about them before, so I want to avoid repetition, but the stage will soon come that Hollywood will look in other directions for new idea’s. Outside of the Marvel and DC range and there have been so many really good idea’s, I merely wonder why that path was not traversed before by Hollywood, Bollywood or Nollywood. And as my brain is seemingly slowing down, I end today’s article and will try to get some sleep (one can dream, can one not?)

Consider the two sidelines that are hidden between the lines and contemplate why it was done, because there might be madness in my methods, but there is also methodology in my insanity, it is merely what we aim for and whether we realise what we were aiming for in the first place.

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It’s good to be evil

It is the the phase that gave life and fame to Dungeon Keeper 2, it was not used by the first game that was released in 1997, but the fame of the first game was not less, it was a time when games were still in its infancy and good ideas were wasted all over the place. Both the first and second dungeon keeper were amazing games, as was an earlier release by Bullfrog named Magic Carpet. Still the IP was used later on by EA to set Dungeon Keeper in a stage of micro transactions and there EA screwed up the IP for life. A stage set to ‘maximise’ earnings became the downfall of EA. Yet the original games are still revered by a lot of people, as such wouldn’t it be nice if EA cleaned up its act? In the last week we got ‘EA now owns Codemasters and its many, many racing games’, ‘Here’s why Glu is an excellent strategic fit for EA’, as well as ‘The Silence After EA’s Anthem 2.0 Decision is Concerning’, you see Glu could be a good buy, yet in all this it only sets out the stage if there is an option to get a return on investment towards the $2,100,000,000 spend on this. The investigation (at https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-02-22-heres-why-glu-is-an-excellent-strategic-fit-for-ea) is quite good. It shows a part that I never considered and that does not matter, yet what is important is “The acquisition helps EA address a weakness by acquiring a suite of high-grossing titles that are very female-friendly and have large, loyal audiences. Plus, Glu’s expertise with these genres means that EA is gaining a lot more knowledge and insight into this demographic, which we expect will translate into enhancements for future Sims games.” It is important, because we see an element that is mostly ignored “have large, loyal audiences” is nice, but only if you treat them right and that is where EA loses the wheels on their wagons, not once, but multiple times. As I see it greed driven executives tend to destroy signs of loyalty. And there the shoe becomes a larger stage of concern. You see we can accept that we can either do right by loyalty or create it, the first tends to be easy, muzzle the greed driven executive is a first, creating it requires the greed driven executive to leave the room permanently and EA does not seem to be able to do this. 

In this, there are a few options, consider the stage we saw when we were offered Magic Carpet. So what happens when that game is relaunched in an upgraded version, one that would play wildly on a Nintendo Switch. Elements of the game can remain in place but the game needs alteration as to not infringe on the IP of Bullfrog (now EA), I feel justified as EA ignored it old IP for well over a decade and the ones they did not ignore was clobbered towards the stone age. 

As such Magic Carpet could be a much larger sandbox game. A map of Iraq extending to the Mediterranean Sea, with parts of Saudi Arabia and Iran. A stage where the power of your castle and the magic carpet comes from growth, a stage where we can learn new tricks and new abilities are found all over the map. You see the old systems could never do this, the computers were not powerful enough, but the Switch might make a new setting true, its controllers will have one for movement, one for fighting. A stage grown to the new systems. As such we can grow the fortress, and as abilities are acquired we can do more, go further and unlock more. As such the game takes a rather new turn.

The same can be done with Dungeon keeper, but that will have to take a massive adjustment, the stage of Dungeon keeper is too set. Still the idea was awesome. Consider the stage of Silent Hill, but now you are not the player, you are pyramid head, a stage where we consider the games were you play the antagonist. Pyramid Head is one of the more famous ones, yet consider that station with the man Dirk Garthwaite who became wrecker (a Marvel character), what if we can reshape such a person to our personal taste? We are all getting overwhelmed with the Norse gods through TV series and games, yet that same setting might come from Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Inca or Aztec deities. All options to consider in the stage of making a game, yet how many still embrace the good old slogan ‘It’s good to be evil’?

I am asking because some sources give us ‘Global game revenue to reach $29bn by 2021’, all whilst a country like Australia only set their notch on $140 million, which amounts to 0.4%, not a lot to write home about is it? If loyalty is indeed key and when we see EA (and a few others) bungle the cake, how come they still end up with a large slice of that pie? As I see it, it should be relatively easy to take it from them with a better product and a better product is key in gaining loyalty. EA might have paid $2.1 billion for that database, but that will not stop competitors Nintendo and optionally Amazon to take over that cake. These two players are driven to loyalty and they can have it if they play their cards right. 

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Doubt and consideration

Yes, we all have them, doubts that is. And I had mine yesterday and this morning. I got a whiff of a game called Sandship (on iOS) and it did not take me long to get hooked. Now, we all get hooked, but hooked can be short term and long term. This game has all the trimmings that we can expect to see. It has some sort of storyline, it has puzzles, a sort of challenge setting and of course there is always the option of micro transactions. All these games have them now, but in this game it is done in both an ingenious and non-invasive way. As I was looking at what is possible, I realised that there was doubt in me. You see, I feel certain that a game like this would be a huge success on the Nintendo Switch, it would need some tweaking, but the foundation of the game is close to perfect. And as far as I can tell, Nintendo has nothing like this in their arsenal, especially when you consider that there is some level of operational education in the game. I get it, some will doubt my view on this, yet I also find myself wondering whether the makers took a look towards the Console, or are they in a stage where they will rely on micro transactions? For a beginning developer it is a fair call to rely on the micro transactions, yet this is not a game made by a beginner, if so that person is a real gaming savant. 

The doubt is whether I am seeing it correctly, I am to some degree anti-MT, yet I understand that these MT’s are a good starting point for any developer. In addition, even as I accept that some people want to play on their phones, some games need a tablet or a decent TV screen. It just works better that way.

The consideration is for some of these developers, once they have a starting capital, did they consider setting the game, optionally adjusted on a console and with cloud gaming on the rise that consideration will soon be a lot more important than ever before. It is more important because extending existing IP is a lot more important and optionally a lot cheaper than making up new IP. 

This gets me to part 3 in this, you see there was a game in 1985, it was made by Epyx and it was called Chipwits, now the game seems redundant, but the educational side as well as the challenge in all this was amazing, especially for a computer with only 64KB (RAM and ROM), consider what could be done with a Nintendo Switch that has 62,500 times the memory and a CPU that is probably just as excessively more powerful than the 6502 in the CBM-64 was. One of many games that are as easily remembered as some of the other games that some gamers idolised. Why? Because these games were truly innovative and original. And even now as as we see some developers concentrate on the flash and the bang, they are all seemingly forgetting that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, in addition, plenty of younger gamers are dependant on the parents and guess what, these parents are not a great fan of games like Manhunter 2, but they are  always seemingly willing to buy the additional game that has an educational character. But that might be mere speculation.

What is in view is that too many games rely on one path, whilst they could add paths to their software range and in these days having more than one path is important, especially when the waning range of downloadable games that can be surpassed every new week, yet the games we purchase are the games we keep around, often for a long time. There are plenty of examples. 

It is that part that shows the folly of Google when they dropped certain paths from their Stadia range, I wonder what Amazon will do, because we have 4 generations of consoles that show us that original and exclusive games make the console. PSX, N64, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox360, PS4 and PS5. They all had their range and gathered clusters of 1000’s if not hundreds of thousands. Microsoft had their Master Sergeant, Sony had Lara, Kratos (and a few others), it is the exclusives that makes and break the console, yet original games are still part of that equation and the makers need to realise that, because there is every indication that some are relying on makers like Ubisoft and EA (complete with bugs), yet that comes with a risk, the moment the gamer has had enough the entire development house will be regarded as toxic, whether that is fair or not, the gamer will almost always act out of emotion and emotion does not really consider the balance of the topic, merely his bruised ego and the aggravation of glitches. As such all consoles need a stack of options, options that Google (as I was told) has done away with, giving a larger playing field to Amazon. It is in this light that we will optionally sooner than expected see:

1. Sony
2. Nintendo 
3. Microsoft

Turn into 

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

This is not a typo, Even if Amazon wins, there is no real telling how Microsoft ends up against Google Stadia, I think that is the fear that drove their Xcloud. You remember the pictures? 

Why keep on pushing this when you have a console that comes close to the PS5? No one is asking that question. We see speculative settings on Xcloud and mobiles, yet the real gamer does not consider a mobile screen to be a real screen. So facilitating to more games will push Microsoft further to the back of the console line. I wonder how much Amazon and Google are considering that path, and there are options, there are games that matter, but will the hardware people consider the options that are decently in abundance?

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A penny for your brain

On the side of the road was a car, it was near Buvika. The car was empty, yet next to the car was a blanket, on it a man, a woman and two children, a boy and a girl. They were having a nice lunch in the summer sun, basking in the sun. They were enjoying the weather and the food, it was a stop a they were on the road towards Molde. It would take a few more hours, so they would arrive in the early evening, yet in these white nights, there would be great visibility until long after they arrived. The parents were having a conversation, what about was unknown to Inge, but she was enjoying the view of the field towards the water. She got up and walked towards the Trondheim fjord. She was enjoying the view of the water, she looked for a few more minutes when she heard her father shout, she turned around waved and she walked back, yet as she had walked less than a dozen steps her foot gave way and her leg sunk into the grass. She got up and looked down, she saw two yellow coins, she picked up the coins, put them in her pocket and walked back. Her mother looked at her smudged light trousers. She shrugged “A small hole I stepped in”, and laughed. They got into the car and drove off, they ended up at their destination 4 hours later.

In the burrow was a man, he was a frightening man, he was a warrior with power and authority, as he felt his treasure leave the silent shout was almost deafening to any who could have heard it. He felt betrayed, he was stolen and he would have payback. The shield was broken and rotten, but the skull cleaver was comforting in his hand, he focussed and he felt the ground give way, and as this happened he moved up and forward, even now as the light dimmed, he felt the summer sun on his skin, and as he noticed looked to the south west, he saw a golden glow, that is where he had to go and he made one step after another.

It was not for many hours when he came up to a farm, he could feel life in there and he had no army, he stepped towards the farm, the door was there but he pushed the door into splinters and threw it into the house like it was nothing. He walked in and a woman looked around, this shield maiden screamed and he took notice, he pushed the skull cleaver into her chest, she never had a chance. A man came running in, he too was dispensed with, there was no other noise but the sound of horses and cattle. It was only one hour later when the warrior had two new soldiers, the man picked up a pickaxe, the woman picked up a hoe and they looked at the warrior, he never spoke but they followed as he made course into the fields towards the golden glow.

Well, I came up with the ‘draugar’ horror story a few nights ago and this was as good a time as any to add it, making it the foundation of movie number three in as many months. I was amazed just how much folklore there is on the Nordic Draugr, there was even more I never knew (who knew) and I have not used that part yet. A stage where we see the danger coming from the North, so with Covid from the east (and now from any direction), Draugr from the north. I wonder what we can throw against us from the west (perhaps a Trumped up demon) and optionally an Afreet from the south, not the worst day to do something about the population explosion, so far Covid-19 only killed a little less than 2.5 million, so we might as well write in a few more options. And let’s face it, when Wall Street does not have a few billion consumers to worry about, they might overhaul their greed driven numbers system.

Which is an essential thought when you consider that Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7,500,000,000, EA spend $2.5 billion on IP and that race will continue on an exceeding scale, so me throwing some free IP towards public domain on areas like movies, games and TV series is not the worst idea. So whilst two players have spend a combined $10 billion, I hand out IP to public domain and original decent game developers will get a shot at showing those two players that the power of original IP will trump bought IP, IP that is not original pretty much any day of the week.

I do have a hidden agenda, but it is not time for that yet and the idea of showing Microsoft the error of their way is a massively satisfying stage for any ego, even mine (which is not that big to begin with).

When players learn that solidified dreams cannot be set to currency, they might actually learn the one lesson they ignored for well over a decade, I will be there the laugh in the rafters, to that I have no doubt.

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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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