Tag Archives: For Honor

Deadly diversification

A term that is very much aligned with finances, perhaps to some degree this is about that, but it is even more about the diversification of business. The path we see did not start today or yesterday, yet as the news releases pile up, we need to consider the impact some are creating, mostly by not making any level of an impression. The final straw became clear and visible as Eurogamer (at http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-12-20-crytek-breaks-silence-lets-go-of-multiple-studios) gave us the news on Crytek. The quote “Crytek had struggled to pay staff since May 2016, but a source within Crytek’s main office in Frankfurt, Germany, told Eurogamer last week that October salaries had arrived, with November salaries set to be paid this week” is at the heart of the matter and as we realise that it is end December, we feel for those people who have been without pay for the longest of times. Now I am not going to kick a person who is down, that just ain’t cricket. Yet what does matter is that if we were to believe Ubisoft, that this house, the makers of Far Cry, Ryse and Crysis is in a mess that is deeper than a mere slump.

So Ubisoft? Were they not evangelising how great a game Far Cry was and how well Far Cry had been doing? If that is so, how come that Crytek is in such a mess? From what was initially a game I did not like (far Cry 1 on xbox360 is the only game I literally threw out of the window, the disc that is) was a game that I ignored, until I got the free edition on the PS3 as part of my PlayStation Plus, so as one does not look a gift horse (you know what I mean), I had a go at it and I was amazed on how a failure had become such a good game. I even bought the 360 edition later. Yet I kept my distance with Far Cry 4 as things were a little weird and the least said about Far Cry Primal the better, although it was not a bad game (at $20 I was willing to chance the burn of a lost $20 bill).

Yet here I myself was making the initial error. You see Crytek was the initial developer of Far Cry, the rest came from Ubisoft Montreal. Far Cry 3 was awesome and what followed was basically more of the same with a few nagging issues, not bad games mind you, but continuation of the same is what was the matter with the Far Cry series, a lesson Ubisoft has been unwilling to learn. I loved Far Cry 3 because of the stealth part, there is a lack of stealth games and Far Cry 3 filled that need. Yet repetition will never be a good taskmaster so as we saw more focus on large explosions and big guns, I personally saw a decline in the Far Cry series. Everyone said I was wrong and the fact that the ratings have been in decline is to some extent evidence that I was not.

Now we know that Ubisoft sees itself as the multibillion dollar revenue titan, yet we can agree that it only remains to be a titan for as long as the games are really good and it has been lacking in that department. If Ubisoft is still breathing it is mainly due to the impressive improvement that Watch Dogs 2 is turning out to be (by Ubisoft Montreal) and the anticipated success that For Honor is showing to become (also Ubisoft Montreal). So is that all?

Nope, the other side of their gaming franchises are taking another hit when we consider the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/19/assassins-creed-film-review-michael-fassbender-videogame-marion-cotillard), when we see ‘achieves transcendental boredom‘ gets a rating of one star and scores a lot lower than last year’s remake of Point Break, we know that the bottom of the barrel had been reached. Ubisoft might not mind losing $120 million as they are approaching 3 billion in value, yet that value becomes debatable and questions whether the value of Ubisoft has been inflated when we look at the non-successes from the last few years. As for the movie? Well I personally think that other questions come to mind when IMDB gives it 8.2 out of 10, yet Rotten Tomatoes sees it as 26% fresh, making it basically 74% rotten. Where the tomato dudes and dudettes state “the CGI-fuelled end result still is still a joylessly over-plotted slog“, with a stellar cast that includes Michael Fassbender (12 years an entrepreneur), Jeremy Irons (from Brideshead Revisited to Justice League a hit) and not to forget the utterly lovely fashionista  Marion Cotillard from Orleans (which is cool as this is one of the few French cities I actually visited in the past), who some saw first in Taxi (by Luc Besson) and most remember for being the person who drive the dagger home into Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises, with dozens of additional awesome gigs in between. So the cast was already top notch. So as I see the ratings and critics we can set the issue with the director and script that both might be regarded as below basement levels. In all this Ubisoft needs to be pointed at as the cause for the mere reason that you do not sit idly by as what should have been regarded as the most important franchise of Ubisoft to take a hit like that. A mistake that is not the first one (remember Unity). In this, the review Forbes is giving, as diplomatic as they could be, gives way that several high placed Ubisoft meetings are due and these board members better get a really good grasp of the risks they are now running. Although, I thought they would not last this long, the fact that they are still around can only be attributed to the hit ‘the Division’ became (it really is), the improvements Watch Dogs 2 proved to contain and the informing approach that Jason VandenBerghe has done through quality gameplay videos on YouTube showing the people that For Honor is indeed the awesome journey gamers hoped it to be. We could speculate that the life of Ubisoft would be depending to promote several people from Ubisoft Montreal to get promoted to the board of directors whilst we trim the fat with a sharp blade from the current collection of board members, whether Yves Guillemot would like to call it trimming fat or slicing off surplus weight is up to him, but he needs to do something to get Ubisoft to stand out in a few ways, standing out in one way will no longer be enough, the movie is making sure of that. Regarding For Honor, we have a small addition (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1LF52R8U_0) where the gamer himself is really not that good, yet we still get to see some awesome gameplay, making us all wonder, what damage can we, as overall better gamers do? The fact that I had this question in mind in a multiplayer setting is something I rarely have, mainly because I am not that much of a multiplayer person.

Yet let’s get back to bleeding and sickly Ubisoft. We will see how they will do and how desperate the fans will be to see the movie, yet the reviews are not great and as the AC fans have Rogue One, Moana and Office Christmas Party to see the options for the AC movie are not that great, yet we should consider that any large issues we will possibly see in the new releases could be countered by Ubisoft giving us a free download of the movie, which they can then book as sales and as negative sales (loss) keeping their tax deductibility high as well as their ‘revenue’.

We could attribute that approach to optional good CFO management, yet in that regard, the games that are lacking the high reviews they could have had, as seen by Assassin’s Creed Unity, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Far Cry Primal and the Crew. We need to wonder what else gamers are missing out on and the issue with the movie should not be linked, yet the gamers are unlikely to see it that way. With two non-hits, the movie now expected to be a flop and the AC franchise a year away from the next one, you should see this as an alarm issue for Ubisoft; in addition it is not impossible that Ubisoft could decide down the track (next quarter) to push forward the time line of the next AC game, with additional risks that the next one is another version of Unity.

In all this I am intentionally ignoring Steep. Even though the ratings are not great, I think it is a great achievement in its unique kind. Extreme snow sports are very niche, just like some sport games. The open world approach is truly cool and the fact that there is a tongue in cheek developer amongst that team and added the achievement ‘Shaked by the bell‘ is just awesome, just remember to go head firsts! I will accept that niche games like this score lower because of the niche character, but the fact that it shows something not seen before needs to be heralded, especially as I have been roasting Yves his chestnuts for not doing so in a few franchises.

Crytek might not be linked to Ubisoft, the issues they face are hopefully a loud wakeup call towards Ubisoft. Diversification in gaming is a good thing, as far as I can see, Jason VandenBerghe is excellent evidence of that, yet the wrong direction and distance could hamper growth and divert attention in another direction. Any firm that has €2.98 billion in revenue, whilst ending up with a remaining €561 million in net income should realise that the cost of 10,000 employees is quite the anchor. It is hard to state whether a remaining 18% of the revenue is a good result. I might have a good grasp on games and gaming, yet the CFO side of such a firm is a close an equal to reading tea leaves. Consider that next year, the AC movie results will be in. Not sure on the producers and where the funding came from, because Ubisoft Motion Pictures is only one of the three producers, so the damage would be limited, but with the additional releases in 2017, Ubisoft needs to make very sure that they have at least 2 really good hits in 2017. For Honor seems to be a definite one, yet the other two at present announced is the South Park game and Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Ghost Recon has a good track record, sales will have to show how good a game it is, of course until the final version is ready, we just cannot tell. Of course in addition there will be the games that remain unknown for now, games that will see the first light of day on June 13-15 2017 at the E3, unable to tell whether it will include additional 2017 releases, yet from my point of view, if the list does not change, there will be slimming required for Ubisoft. It would be great to see Ubisoft escape the abyss, especially as the push at present might not be entirely their fault, yet they were partly producers, giving them a slice of that expected flop too.

In the end, these are only a few parts, as stated, Ubisoft has had its shares of successes and the Division is one, with a new DLC available, those who did not take the road of the season pass will have to shell out $15 to get this DLC, giving Ubisoft another boost in revenue. In the end, do these actions matter to anyone but Ubisoft? I am going with yes! You see, we might be positive or slightly negative for the first Assassins Creed, yet there is no doubt that 100% of the fans have been 100% positive regarding Assassins Creed 2 and Brotherhood. This is the reality and we gamers, we want more of that amazement offered in November 2009 and 2010. I reckon it is that part that has driven fans (me included) to such anger as the franchise started to slide and the movie reviews so far aren’t helping either.

Yet, there is a clarity in the success that Watch Dogs 2 brought, which is a forward momentum, baby steps, baby steps.

From my point of view, Ubisoft needs to diversify as stated, yet I reckon it should be in another direction of gaming. I think that the salvation (read: stronger growth) of Ubisoft lies in new IP, in light of Watch Dogs 2 we know that the right team can salvage broken IP, we also know that the right person can create awesome IP (read: Jason VandenBerghe), so if Ubisoft can pull this off twice more, it could return back to the top it once clearly held, even more interesting for the big dude at the top of that hill (read: listens to the name Yves), possibly with a margin decently better than 18%. In that regard 2017 will be an interesting year.

 

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When game makers don’t get it

This is another day where we get to bash the game maker. This is not done out of malice or spite, this is done because certain ‘players’ in this industry need to wake up and consider hard and clear that they are running out of rope, out of options and out of any future. For the same reason why the malicious bashers of No Man’s Sky don’t get why it is a good game, the same reasoning why many of the triple-A game makers are now no longer producing 90%+ games.

So, this all started this morning when I saw ‘Mafia III review: how can a super stylish 1960s shooter be this boring?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/10/mafia-3-review-1960s-shooter-gameplay). First of all, I haven’t played it. Yet, to offset this, I looked at several sources. The issue is seen in the quote: “To say Mafia III is a disappointment is an understatement. It has all of the surface components to form a great game: the writing and acting are superb, its direction and style are great, but its mechanical underpinnings are archaic and desperately unimaginative. It’s ironic that Mafia III’s predecessor had a similarly stylish open world, but wasted it by giving players nothing to do besides its main story missions. Mafia III has the opposite problem – tons that you have to do, you just don’t want to do any of it“, which gives us the main goods in all this. I played the first game on PC, a game that had more than a few issues, but overall it was original and showed a game style that was novel in those days. So when I see this, I see another issue, which I will address later. The second review is one you cannot miss if it is your intent to buy the game. It is the video review on IGN (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7mkCsJm8Lk). This is actually an excellent view on the game. It also supports the reasoning I had (I will get to that, I promise). There are a few issues that also popped up, which are not negative sides, but they are linked to this all.

IGN mentions it in the video. There are references and similarities to the generic play of Assassins Creed and for what I saw, partially to Watchdogs 1 too. In these semi-open world games, there is a need to explore the world and find things, but what is the issue when you have to get items again and again, for no other reason than to find them? I reckon there is a plus to find album covers and playboy covers, if they are the actual covers and issue covers. A little historic on one side, a little sultry on the other. Yet, if it leads to nothing, why run through the city of London, finding all the ales? In Mafia 3 and as I am from the era, finding a Jimmy Hendrix album cover would be cool and could bring a tear to my eye, remembering this great guitar player, yet, what is the point? Same for AC and finding all the chests filed with cash all over the city where everyone is in states of poverty? Apart from the ridiculousness of it all, it stopped fulfilling a purpose long ago. The same in Watchdogs. Getting all those jackets without some bonus is just emptiness of cash spent.

This is where we see the emerging issues of these games nowadays. There is no longer proper play testing and the fact that the game is only given to reviewers on release day is only in support that the game makers know this. In my view when properly addressed it could make a 75% Mafia game a 92% mafia game, with the clear option to double revenue, because gamers will jump at a 90%+ game and there have been a lack of it.

In opposition we see Ubisoft, not their generic games. No! When we see the effort that For Honor has been showing with closed alpha’s additional rounds and now the closed alpha game on PS4 with releases on YouTube. This is exactly why I foresaw that For Honor would be a high scoring game, I want it and I am not even a true fan of this game type, but what is shown is what I see, gaming on a new level, a different level. That is what makes a top game. Even as Ubisoft has been dropping the ball in several games, they have shown a multitude of evidence that they got this right! Proper play testing is all the difference and taking time to get that right is all the reason why Mafia 3 is as I can see it the non-success at present it could end up being.

 

When you lack the open world that Bethesda has, play testing is the only way to get the semi-open world and mission based games correctly. This is why the original game released on 11/11/11 was the long term success and now it is about to be rereleased on HD for consoles. After 5 years it still have the appeal it originally had. I am of course speaking of Skyrim, and now that people have had a taste of Fallout 4, the Skyrim fan base could grow even further, Bethesda achieved that chance and in likelihood, it will be one of these games that will be found gift wrapped at thousands of thanksgiving parties, especially when some November releases decide not to deliver. Even though my version of Elder Scrolls 6 will not make it to the systems, Bethesda is already looking at new projects and as we are unlikely to see them before 2018, whatever makes it will be a new game changer, just as Fallout 4 was the game changer for players on all systems.

The others (Ubisoft, 2K, Square Enix) have issues to some extent, in some cases the issues are not big of massive, but they are still the reason that a game makes 80% instead of 91% and in this business 11% is not a margin, it is the reason that people wait for the game to drop 50% or more in price. In my view Far Cry4, Assassins Creed Syndicate, Assassins Creed Unity, Far Cry Primal, and this list goes on are all games that suffered such blows. I think for me Infamous Second Son remains one of the best examples. The game that started great became bland, repetitive and too linear. It is hard to point the finger at a single reason yet the elements tend to be their marketing department, the timeline pressed upon them and the vision of the people behind the game. That last elements is shown when we think back to Jason VandenBerghe when he gave a glimpse at E3 2015. This is not whether he should or should not have done it, he gave a glimpse and at E3 2016 he showed stuff, I think what he showed wetted the apatite and in 2016 we became thirsty for the real deal, which is now a mere 15 weeks away. More important 15 weeks with increased game play testing and movies that showed more and more final quality in a near flawless gaming interface. He showed vision, he did not just show a game, which set him apart from a lot of game producers. He also looks like he is the adviser for the Baltimore Stegmer Brothers on how to make a Skull Cleaver (just kidding, the Stegmer Brothers are experts in their own right with any kind of forged weapon). Here we see the issue, as explained in ‘When they get it right‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/07/30/when-they-get-it-right/), so when you consider these elements and take into consideration the multiplayer movie (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r59DAyolTyw), we see how a multiplayer game is not that ‘simple’, not because of game play, but because of the required tactics. So multiplayer will require people to team up, because for single players in a team match will have no chance to survive an actual team. Giving this game more than just a little edge. As I personally see it a quality play test crew is what made the difference (beyond vision and good coders). Yet the latter two were not the most important players. In my view, those two elements were present with Infamous Second son, well at least the good coders. Proper play testing and evaluating the game and post adjustments could have resulted in at least 11% more. When such a margin impacts the revenue to the degree we have seen in several games, the need for proper overhauling a game studio becomes apparent and the fact that this is either not happening or not having the desired effect, is now cause for concern (it should be for the game developer). You see, that part is shown in Mafia 3 (especially in the IGN video), because apart from all the nice little Easter eggs and other little titbits, the fact that we see “tons that you have to do, you just don’t want to do any of it“, is likely to limit sales and it will push people towards other games. In light of all the clips and advertisement we have seen in the big cities, that seems to be a massive impact on a game that would have had an 8 figure development cost. The weird issue in addition is that these game makers want a success, they want to be known for the 90%+ game they made, so partially, the road not taken is not making sense at all.

So we see that there are more games coming this year, the question becomes how good will they be? I am holding my breath for a few of them, including one that even as extreme snow sports was never my thing, this game has piqued my interest. Ubisoft is releasing the game Steep in December, so far it is the most ambitious and the most appealing snow based game I have ever seen in my life. The in game quote “Challenge cancelled, no death allowed in this challenge” is just hilarious (and you better realise that elbowing with a rock tends to be a terminal choice). One video titled ‘How an Open World Changes Action Sports‘ is exactly the issue. As written before, I have never been this excited over this type of game before, even when I was excited on playing SSX, when it got released with the PS2, it never came close to what I thought a snow game should be about. This game is it, yet, when we see the movies, which do look great, how much play testing did the game go through? We see the Ubisoft version of how smooth things play, and that might be so, but individual or independent are lacking. How many play testers went to the top of one mountain, just skiing to the very bottom? Ignoring all the tracks and challenges, just an open world ski trip, seeing if the game rears its ugly heads with a glitch?

The few I saw were all the same track and that is not what is supposed to make the game great. So, when we see the actual open area, what will it be then? (Not attacking, just actually asking). Like me, many others acted really positively on the initial parts we saw. The map implies that there is a massive amount of area’s to see and to explore. The game shows 4 ‘play modes’, which is not a given. From my point of view, there is a lot more that they could add, especially when the dynamics are already in play. In the lower area’s cross country skiing (not exciting, but a completionist option) and the way that reaching points could open up markers, I would have considered sleigh and bobsled tracks. Again, it is a completionist idea and adding this might give the game a feeling of completeness, especially when you are not multi-playing (which would be the driving force in a game like this). My idea’s will not make it a better game, it might make the game a lot worse, the question is what was considered, what was done and how was the game play tested? What is the impression a professional boarder has when looking and playing this game? Parts that I have not seen published or I missed it). The reason to ask these questions is because until December there is still time, for Mafia 3 it is too late to make a good first impression, for Steep there is time to get the upgrades done if required, depending on the time needed this game might miss thanksgiving and would need to globally rely on Christmas, which is not a bad thing. What is important is that the not extreme snow sport lovers are considering this game, implying that Steep could make a massive splash (revenue wise too). As to the verdicts of certain games, we will need to see the release of quality reviews, what is a given is that no early reviews is no longer a tool to get a better revenue, too many gamers have felt the impact of that flaw. Ubisoft lost a lot of cloud and 2K is getting hit as well soon enough, the question is what these players will do to up the game and get the gamers back to their fold. Time will tell, however in this year, there are a few too many games being released, so those hoping to see this level of revenue, would face the risk of losing their revenue being used to pay for games like Dishonored 2, games that have already proven themselves and are already showing to be equal or better. Some will even be holding on to their cash for the coming quarter, because Q1 2017 shows at least 3 games that are setting new levels of game play, and buying a wannabe for $49 is a lot better than the same anticipated title for $99. So make sure you get to the actual quality review goods BEFORE you buy the game you thought was going to be great.

 

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When they get it right

For those who have read my articles, you will have seen how I have had a little bit of an issue with Yves Guillemot and his software company, ‘the soft of Ubi’. Now, ever as we will acknowledge that it is not he, but Jason VandenBerghe who deserves the Laurels, it is still the CEO who gave the OK. What looked interesting a year ago when I was initially introduced to it, has moved from ‘interesting’, via ‘need to keep my eyes on this’, via ‘this seems really cool’ to ‘Holy crap, I need to get this’.

This game is also an additional piece of evidence that proves the point I had all along with Ubisoft. If you rely on a business spreadsheet to avoid not having a flop, you will in equal measure never get a real hit. This game has shown in more than one way that it went all out and it left the beaten path months ago. From an expected online only, to an online with single player elements (like Evolve), to a game with full campaigns. Geoff Ellenor shows the intro mission for the knights (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WzhdaVj8N4), not only is it a female knight (something in reality unheard of), which we have not seen to this degree since Gwendoline Christie has been playing Brienne of Tarth. So not only can you imagine playing this bad ass lady, one must not forget that this is a video game, so we get to have plenty of freedoms. The intro is extremely impressive and very educational. Not only is this a 360 degree combat system that is better than anyone I have ever seen. The simplicity of control makes me wonder how established brands like Soul Calibur and Tekken never considered it. In addition, this game shows that button mashing is not a way to survive this game. The graphics are beyond sublime, I realise that this is likely shown on a system bolstering the highest end graphics card possible, but it shows clearly that we are offered top rank gaming. In addition, the introduction offers a nice twist at the end which you will have to see for yourself. Intro or not, the makers went all out showing a valued and worthy intro to a game that has been promoted to one of the expected top games 2017 will be offering, so even though many titles are unknown and unseen, this game will be the expected contender for best game of the year. That is a verdict I am stating. Those who know me know that I have never been a real fan of these hack, slash and fight games.

How wrong am I?

Well, that is still an option, yet over the course of a year, I have seen what was already really impressive a year ago and over time have seen this evolve into something bigger. Now, I still have to give this some serious gameplay on a console to see how it holds up under the scrutiny of a PS4, yet I am convinced that the elements shown in sound, in graphics and in game play make this an easy 85%. This is not a final verdict, because the game could realistically gain another 10%. This is done through exposure of AI (read NPC interaction) and storyline. You see, the demo does not show how the game will interact with your style of play. The AI of your opponents will be crucial in this game. We can agree that the intro is about learning the interface and controls, yet the game passed that point will be all about the AI and what level of challenge the opponents offer from then on. Not just the bosses, but the soldiers. They did not really show opposition in the intro, yet in the full game after that level, those soldiers need to be a little better than they are in the intro. The challenge and satisfaction, as well as the total hours of gameplay that the campaigns offer. There we find the additional 5% that makes a game no longer great but legendary. In reality, it just needs to be over 90%, for the mere reason that nearly all games over 90% should be regarded great. In my view, the remaining 10% comes from two areas. The one is the game the second is how we react to the game. Our levels of satisfaction with what the game offers. For example Dark Souls 3 shows that achieving victory in that game is near impossible. It gives us tremendous satisfaction when we do get there and frustration when we do not. Now, with the Dark Souls series we know that they are for gamers with an Olympic level of playing, but when I reviewed a game in the past I looked at two elements in a game. The first was the playability and the second one was the replayability. In that view I have had a passion for RPG games. So even as I admire Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne as graphically and inter active as perfect, the skills required to get to the end of this game is beyond normal which is an issue for the masses so I would see it as a ‘97% with a warning’. The warning is that if you are not an above average gamer, this game would not be for you.

Fair enough!

So back to the main event. For Honor has so far moved boundaries, opinions and expectations towards a likely ‘legendary’ status. So, as I see it those who are ready to slay their opponents, better realise now that this game will be released on Thursday February 14th 2017, so there is a chance it will be on your table untouched for one day (I’ll let you figure out why). I reckon that taxation year 2016 (July 2016 – June 2017) will show us some of the best games we have ever seen, not just the remastering of what were great games. But the addition of actual new and novel games. No Mans Sky, Skyrim, For Honor are definitely there, games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil VII, God of War 4 and Final Fantasy XV are extremely likely to make that list. However those we have not seen to the degree we need to see to make any kind of assessment like: the Last Guardian, Scale bound and Call of Cthulhu. No matter how you slice it, there is enough evidence to show at present that we are moving towards a great year of gaming and that For Honor isn’t just on the list, it is moving towards the high end of that list. How high? Well that is also influenced by you the player. You see, some of you will due to passion and preference automatically move Andromeda or Final Fantasy to your number one spot. This is very valid, because it is about your experience. In that same light For Honor will likely move towards your top list too!

This means that Ubisoft got it right for this game and I can’t wait to add it to my collection.

 

 

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Gaming ‘after silence’ or ‘pre noise’?

Well, I am back after a few days of silence. You see, I found a few links that were massively worry some. Yet, nothing could be confirmed in any way shape or form. It is all linked to the Australian submarine deal and the issues that are escalating in France. So it is indeed worthy to note and report on. Yet at present there are too many question marks, too much is unknown, more important too much of the material I saw remains speculation, so this is not going to be about the shipyards on Brest and Cherbourg, until I get my fingers on something a lot more reliable.

So what does one do when you need an hour of relaxation from stress and life in general? Well, until No Man’s Sky arrives on June 22nd, I need to find something to help me forget about it all. This is why June 10th the game Batman: Return to Arkham will be a nice distraction, which is the Next Gen editions of Arkham Asylum, and Arkham City, so the Batman fans can go nuts on that part. The two games are close to perfect as Batman games and the initial Arkham Asylum showed a level of gaming on PS3 and XB360 that was so high that not having it could be considered a crime (unless you do not care for Batman, which is fine too).

There have been noises in the past by bloggers and reputable sites on ‘remastered’ games. I remain on the fence. When you can replay God of War, Batman or the Last of Us, games that had set a new level of quality gaming, how can this be a bad thing? I have had my issues with Mass Effect (mostly the last one), but that will not stop me from rushing the queues to get a remastered edition of that trilogy, especially when the achievement bugs of the first game and the sloppiness of the third game are removed.

The second game was near perfect, which is why your shy Lawlordtobe.com (read: me) was part of that adventurous vacation all over the Universe (see photographic evidence below; the photo of me with a Justicar was removed on grounds of censorship).

LVR_MassEffect2 - twitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet is this it? Is there nothing more? You see, that is indeed the issue gamers face nowadays. I have been a part of gaming and its industry since 1984, so I have seen it all (well almost all at least). No Man’s Sky could be one of the last true new games I will play for several reasons.

If we look back into our memories than the term ‘god’ game is not new. The idea goes all the way back to the 80’s. The idea hit me initially from a comic as it was published in Computer and Video Games (C+VG) magazine. The Comic was a reason to get it, the other reason for the magazine is that it was in the early days one of a few good magazines that informed gamers on games (remember those pre internet times)? The reference is found at http://www.weirdretro.org.uk/the-bug-hunters-the-forgotten-80s-comic-series.html. The actual comic can also be seen (at https://archive.org/stream/Bug_Hunters_The_1990_Trident_Comics_GB#page/n21/mode/2up), in my case that page gave me the idea of a ‘god game’, which at that time (the age of Commodore 64) was not really realistic.

Much later we would be treated to Black & White, but it is not until 2016, June 22nd before the world gets a first glimpse of a galactic exploration game the way we used to dream of. Consider the three comic quotes “It’s only when your world made in detail that it gets to you“, “When you start playing god with the people in it” and “Some players get the whole world worshipping them as the deity“. You might laugh at these quotes, but consider these statements and now consider Minecraft, Black & White, Populous and now No Man’s Sky. The statements and the games touch deep within any gamer a truth that many others deny. We don’t just want to be better than anyone else, to be the one who survives, we want to bend others to our fictive will (either openly or hidden). This is a dangerous statement in light of gaming, because I am making the danger of relating to Bicameralism and in specific The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes, 1976). I believe that it actually goes a lot deeper. Good vs Evil, Light vs Dark, Commanding vs Obeying, Order vs Chaos. In this light we tend to see a correlating alliance between Evil, Dark, Obeying and Chaos. The statement that control comes from order is equally unsettling. We, our person, our being is more often than not about balance. We are the seesaw of ourselves and as such we keep a preconceived version of order though the balance as we see it. So, there it is, a deeper reflection on the gaming need. When you pick up a game and play an hour every now and then, it tends to be to unwind. When you (like me) have spent thousands of hours in the Bethesda worlds of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout, it tends to be a little different.

I hope that you see how these elements connect. I believe that part of this is subconscious, when we play Minecraft there is a subconscious part that gives us the drive to play it again and again. It goes beyond the sandbox part, it taps into our creative side, like LEGO did when we were kids. Now, not everyone feels that way and I personally believe that there is a group of people ignoring the game as they are in denial because the graphics are not high end. Some are not comfortable tapping into their creative side. I can relate to that latter group, my grasp of drawing is pathetic to say the least. The lack of one element of a creative side does not make a person non-creative. That part is a side many ignore. This links to the games.

SimCity, SimLife, SimWorld, SimTown and Minecraft gives us “It’s only when your world made in detail that it gets to you“. The first part gives us the evolution of games from the limits of systems with 640Kb and VGA displays until Mojang took it into another direction and gave us Minecraft. Your world, making it as ‘detailed’ as possible. This game intersects with the option (read: need) of exploration.

Little Computer People, Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Godus gives us “When you start playing god with the people in it“. This is a game type that is not always appreciated, let’s be honest, some work from a tactical point of view and as such they do not like it. That’s fair enough! There is no negativity towards the game or those who do not like them. I was never one for GTA, plenty of fans there. We play whatever makes us happy as gamers. These games evolved over time and remained a niche style of games.

Black and White (1 and 2) which gets us “Some players get the whole world worshipping them as the deity“, as well as the statement of the previous topic. The smallest of niches, Godus falls in this one too. Worshipping has been an element in several games, yet in that it reflects on one player in the game, in more true godlike games, you are just the element behind the screens.

These games are about control (aren’t they all), so whether you go from the premise of a trader (Elite Dangerous) or an open world exploration (No Man’s Sky), I see the near completion of an area of gaming in a new light. In this No Man’s Sky, as far as I see it at present, is not just an element, it has become the defining moment in time for a large share of gamers.

Let me explain this!

If we see the past with games like Seven Cities of Gold (1985), where it was truly about ‘exploring’ the ‘new’ world. Now we get to explore the ‘known’ universe. This goes beyond the mere sandbox approach. As I see it, the elements of No Man’s Sky have the option to change gaming, especially Role Playing Games forever, If I see the IP correctly (for as far as I saw it), it is worth millions. When we consider the video’s we saw, especially the behind the screens part, than we can consider that the ‘random’ formula part works in two directions. The side we have not seen yet would be the future ability to turn cartographical data into an equation. Once this works the IP of No Man’s Sky will be worth billions. Consider the initial part and that the limited worlds we have had so far in Oblivion, Skyrim, Morrowind and Ultima. Now consider the inverted engine to actually build Tamriel and Sosaria from detailed maps. Worlds where we can actually spend our times in, in real time in a 1:1 environment. This is the ‘after silence’ we are about to experience, the need to grow worlds to play in; a new level of playing. Not just for Hello Games, but consider the options when the gaming map has no further limits, almost like Phantom of Pain, but now with entire Afghanistan mapped. In the last party we can clearly argue whether it brings additional gaming pleasure, yet in our hearts we all know that the thought crossed all our minds. SimCity (older versions) with planetary constraints, the Sims with biological constraints, Sniper 3 with biological constrains but absent of geographical constraints. Games are evolving because we can now surpass constraints we were never able to surpass before and remove them where they were/are limitations. These elements will grow gaming hardware to facilitate and the IP will facilitate the possibilities we never had.

Now we reflect back to Mass Effect. Consider that same game, but now in an evolved setting where the Citadel is 100% available. Where mining and hunting on Gemini Sigma is not on a x*y grid, but planetary. It resets these games in true challenges to get them done in a lifetime (which could become the next hurdle).

Is this a good path?

I believe that size is an issue and overall games at large skipped that part for the most. Witcher 3 is the massive exception and it has opened doors towards the gamer’s expectation. No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous are changing it further still. David Braben showed that his re engineered idea from the BBC Micro B (48Kb) becomes a massive platform of gaming on the PC and Xbox One. A game from 1985 as addictive and fulfilling as the original was then, now with the latest graphics and a massive increase of depth.

We are moving towards true open world gaming. The hardware is there, some of the old idea’s fit and now the imagination of the creator(s) needs to evolve the next stage. That is taking into account that the game, fits the description that defines the game. If we want to race all over America we might see that the Crew ‘addresses’ that need, but when we see a 60% score, we see a clear indication that the game did not address the initial need of the gamer. Here is the part that does bring it forward. The growing need that we get when we play games with a 92% score or higher. The RPG’s I mentioned fill them all. We want more, it is there that I see the growing need for true open world. If someone tells me that this is just me, than this might be right, yet in all this consider those who like more than merely RPG, consider the multiplayer Mass Effect 3 part. How many of you (who played the game) want that element to be played out on a much larger scale? When we consider Firebase Glacier, but now the size of a proper base with a full complement of staff. Not a mere trigger point with waves of hostiles, but a base set with security a complement of personnel. Perhaps that is not what people want? I am not certain. I think the appeal in For Honor is set a lot wider than just hack and slash. I think that Evolve (4 vs 1) was initially too limiting from the bat (but great in looks and originality) with a new original approach to teamwork and of course with the option to play as the monster so you can ‘slay’ your friends. For Honor is the next step and perhaps Battlefield 1 takes that a step further still (time will tell). This is not me saying that For Honor is already surpassed. This is me saying that if For Honor is truly the victory I hope it to be, that it will start the growth of an ‘open world’ edition. As we hit the edge of our current games, we feel the need to surpass them, that has always been the case and I personally believe that No Man’s Sky is an essential step forward towards this reality.

This is just my view on it and I expect to be proven correct before the end of 2018, possibly even sooner.

 

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Of mice and rats

Today news reached me that has me a little baffled. News that seems weird to say the least but, it is news and it is a reality. The news: “Microsoft is cancelling development of Fable Legends, Lionhead Studios’ Xbox One and Windows PC game, and is “in discussions” to close the Fable developer, according to a statement released by Hanno Lemke, general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe“, from several sources gives us the issues at play. In the 10 years running, between 1996 and 2006 we see Lionhead being created by visionary creator Peter Molineux. The man who created Bullfrog, sold it to Electronic Arts and got serious with Lionhead. During his reign, he created Black & White, Fable, Black & White 2, Fable 2, Fable 3 and so on. Each of these titles would shake the foundations of gaming. The originality and vision brought towards these games would continue for a long time to come. Fable 2 and 3 were made as Lionhead had been sold to Microsoft, but now, the curtains are closing. They had one more cash cow by remastering Fable into Fable: Anniversary and that was it.

In the same time that Peter grew Lionhead in the 10 years, Microsoft broke it down to what it is now. A cancelled brand, IP wasted and no look towards the future.

The quote “The free-to-play spinoff of the Fable franchise was intended to be cross-play compatible between Windows 10 and Xbox One” is perhaps the most interesting one. You see, people would have lined up around corners to get a next gen Fable 4, and they would have paid full price for it. Even though Fable 3 was not the jump forward we got when Fable became Fable 2, but the materials created had left plenty of options for a new story, a new storyline in somewhat familiar and accepted surroundings.

What is it with large corporations, especially non-gaming ones, to think that their business solutions will work in an area that is all about art?

On one side there is all the benefits of a separate and different Fable game, yet we have clearly seen that Fable 1, 2 and 3 worked. In an age where good titles are everything, the massive delay Fable: Legends brought is one that gave despair to the gaming community. Consider that both Fable: Legends and No Mans Sky would have been late, yet a multi-billion dollar operation like Microsoft could not get their act on line, whilst Hello Games, a party of 15 people (and roughly £1,827.43 in the bank) are about to release one of the biggest ground breaking games in gaming history, can anyone see my reasoning here?

Gaming visionaries are rare, really rare, I am at least able to recognise those people. It seems to me that Microsoft failed on several levels. The IP that could be transformed and the IP that is still out there is worth billions. Someone like Richard Garriott is sitting on IP that could rival and even surpass Bethesda (this does not reflect negatively on Bethesda). Hello Games has created IP that can revolutionise RPG gaming and sandbox gaming as we know it, whilst Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Microsoft are barely getting by.

Now in case of Electronic Arts there are still irons in the forge and it is possible that the silent kept Mass Effect 4 could break barriers too, we will find out much closer to the end of the year. I am not taking a look at Ubisoft for now. Every MMORPG has a start-up phase and a game with millions starting within 24 hours will create entirely unseen levels of bottlenecks. Let’s give them a little space!

Yet in all this gamers should see the premise that exists, because two small time developers (David Braben and Sean Murray) have achieved IP originality and growth that none of the large developers have achieved for some time. Large developers have been forgetting that art is the focus, a view Jason VandenBerghe has shown, which is why I have faith that For Honor will be the success I expect it to be. It does not matter that this is an Ubisoft title, I expect it to be a great title! Even though it is not my cup of Tea, it is very likely that I will get this game regardless. For the same reason that I will never part with Bloodborne, even though I am hopeless with this game. It is one of the most amazing titles to play, it shows excellence from the very first moment I started to play; everything regarded for Honor showed the same slither of uniqueness and excellence. The fact that Ubisoft confirmed that For Honor will have a complete single player campaign (perhaps even three, which is a speculation from my side), makes me more and more interested in this game. The release date is TBA, but when we look at the overall score, there is a worry (not specifically towards Ubisoft), the large players seem to have ignored (for the most) the creation of truly new IP, they rely on remastering of franchising, whilst there is still a massive area to explore. In an age where the next gen war is in full swing and the winner decides what platform makes the cut, in equal measure as Microsoft broke its own foot on claims regarding the initial Xbox One, we see a change due to Windows 10 that is fueling additional dangers and fears, herding a massive group of undecided players towards the corral of Sony. This is of curse good for Sony, but that means that Microsoft is either pulling out of the gaming front or transposing gaming for ‘generic entertaining downloads’ that is all about Digital Selling. It is their choice to make, which would allow Sony to become the unopposed winner for 5 generations of console.

In my personal opinion, all due to a ‘business’ core that looks at a spreadsheet and does not understand the gaming business. Sony will regard this as no great loss. The moment that Microsoft realises that the power given to Sony also deflates the future of the ‘Xbox Two’ (or whatever it will be called), we will see many overreactions and no resolution. This last part is not due to Lionhead, this is the beginning downward spiral as we are getting exposed to the ‘carefully released leaks’ of a next Xbox with changeable graphics card. The move by Microsoft to remove the gap between computer and console. As I see it, it will be the end of Microsoft gaming. The issues that graphics bring, often due to open drivers might give a better resolution, yet in addition it brings issues too. You only need to look at Arkham knight and how it is no longer a reality for PC’s, whilst running nicely on Consoles (in my case on the PS4) to see the dangers of this step. With Arkham knight there is no blame towards the developers. One source (extreme tech at http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/224216-is-nvidias-physx-causing-amd-frame-rate-problems) gives us “Ever since Gears of War Ultimate Edition came out last week, there’s been a rumour floating around that one reason the game runs so poorly, with so much stuttering on AMD hardware, is because Nvidia’s PhysX is actually running on the CPU“, which is now impacting Microsoft’s own product “Microsoft has launched the PC version of Gears of War Ultimate Edition, but the characteristics of the two titles couldn’t be more different. The new Gears of War is catastrophically broken on Radeon cards“. So how long until you get a card that makes old games trash and new games rubbish? This is the core that gamers will get to face. In addition, how will you enjoy your console when you end up buying a new graphics adapter at $1200 every other year? There is a reason why I decided on consoles. Yes, I accept that 4K gaming is not an option. However, the equal reality is that I have never stopped loving playing Diablo 3 on the PS4, as well as the fact that Minecraft has ZERO hardware requirements (regarding the graphics adapter) and is every bit as fun and addictive as those needing the Nvidia GFX 980 TI.

Was this ever a consideration for those in charge of making the call of change for the future?

The end of Xbox is not in sight, neither will that be the case for this generation (unless Microsoft goes lopsided on DMA issues). So what about the mice? The mice are the independent developers who softly walk by delivering awesome achievements, may we see many mice on our way to great gaming. The rats are the executive business ‘leaders’ who gotten themselves in a $$$ environment, not understanding that world they move in. Good luck I say! One of these mice is Tom Francis who is on route to bring us a game, currently not yet finished as far as I know. A game that given its size could become a desired game for both PSN and Xbox Live. No matter who gets it, it will be a winner for that brand. I believe it requires ‘better’ graphics and a little ‘more’, but in its basic setting it is as appealing as many ‘hi-res’ games currently for sale. The title is called ‘Heat Signature’ and I hope it will be playable this year. Did you count with me? Three original games, with the larger players showing indecently less promise and in addition the possible upcoming console dangers Microsoft might bring its consumers will impact the gaming scene in even larger ways. That market could shift towards Sony, with a market worth billions for the next real visionary.

Let the games begin!

 

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The valiant never taste of death but once

An initial thought when I saw the title ‘Assassin’s Creed star Michael Fassbender had ‘never played the game’‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/dec/28/assassins-creed-star-michael-fassbender-never-played-video-game), now, my curiosity was peaked as it should be known to my readers that me and Ubisoft are at odds. i think they demolished what could have remained a legendary brand. Will the movie change that? Not sure, more important, does it matter? A movie fan can enjoy a good game and a gamer can enjoy a good movie. Yet, we must admit that our passion also instils the dangers of our folly when we do not see the result we expected. That danger is a lot more intense when it crosses platforms (Hobbit anyone?)

The article is a little shallow and it alerts us to what comes (which might have been the intent). The quote that got to me was “Michael Fassbender, the star of the highly anticipated film adaptation has admitted never having played it prior to being offered the lead role“, I think that this might not be a bad thing, actors and their roles are about getting ready for them and we can all agree that Michael Fassbender has the stellar experience to excel so this should not be an issue. I did like his response on @Fassbender_Way (Twitter) stating “I don’t need anyone’s permission“, which is not quite right, he needs the permission of Ubisoft, but they asked him, so that is OK, is it not?

The issue with the movie is not the movie, it will be our perception on the transfer. If the movie becomes too much of a Prince of Persia steeplechase then it could falter, if it is too much on ‘massive’ fights (like the intro to Revelation) the same thing could happen, but if it is the dark, the deep and the shady cutthroat version of an assassin getting in and out, it could be a hit. Well, that is my take on it. Is it yours? A game that sold so many millions will spawn millions of views, which is the challenge not for the actor, but for the director to give vision to. In that the second quote comes to view “the actor said he first got to grips with the video game only after being approached by Ubisoft to join the production“, this is fair enough, he cannot remain unaware, but how to prepare best? Playing is one, watching a few play throughs is another (almost an essential secon), he will do what he thinks is best that’s why he gets the big bucks!

Yet this is not about Michael Fassbender, it is about Ubisoft. There is no denying in the wisdom of making a movie which in turn will give loads of cash to Yves Guillemot. A mere statement of fact, my worry is not what is now, but what comes next. As I see it Unity massively damaged the brand and certain sidesteps are equally dangerous. As we see the unfolding of AC Syndicate, we also see that repairing the brand will take more than one game and in this Yves Guillemot himself needs to stay focussed and involved in whatever follows Syndicate because in this many gamers feel that their bucket got prefilled by sources that lost their reliability (like Gamespot). The Verge had this headline ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is everything that’s great and terrible about the series‘ (at http://www.theverge.com/2015/10/23/9602584/assassins-creed-syndicate-review), which gives us the issue. The quotes “there’s so much that grounds the experience; boring missions, overly complicated side activities, and stories that straddle the line between dull and nonsensical“, which was already in play for some time. Now we get “you can commandeer one anytime you need, GTA-style“, which is another side I hate. More of something else. These two quotes do not represent the full article, which is also why I added the link, but it gets to the core of the issue Yves has ignored for too long. When you add too many other sides, when your business model is all about not getting a failure, you in equal measure forget to focus on that what makes a game truly exceptional. Shades of grey will not allow for the blackness of failure and it will in equal measure not allow for the whiteness of utter victory. It is the price of compromise that issue has been around since AC3, involving little Connor with bow and arrow.

the final quote “Unfortunately, the button used to hop in the cart was the same used for picking up his dead body, so instead of getting away safely, a cop shot me while a corpse was draped around my shoulders” was the most fun for me to read, because this glitch (read: interface bug) has been around since AC Brotherhood, Yves has let the brand slide to this extent!

In this we also need to name the man that does highly matter, because the pressure is not on Michael Fassbender, it will be on Justin Kurzel, the director. I am actually curious how he pulls it off. He has loads of things to start with, as stated on several occasions, part of Ubisoft might have failed, but not the graphics department, they delivered above and beyond with every AC game. Black flag is just one of the amazing graphical achievements that even today can be held up as an equal against any game released in 2015 and it will hold up and in most cases surpass many 2015 releases. In equal measure, the soundtracks of all AC games from the AC2 has been above many big screen productions, so Justin has many supporting sides making it all slightly easier for him, yet it will be his vision that matters to the public at large. And I refuse to make any speculation at present, I will await and see the final result.

So where are we?

You see, as stated earlier, AC Syndicate did not undo the massive damage of Unity, and there are other issues within Ubisoft that matters, because as it linked the experience to Uplay, the failing of Uplay as I have experienced it in equal measure drags down the product, the inability of their support to settle issues, link issues between accounts when a player has multiple systems, I cannot get the points of accounts to link, which is frustrating as it does not enable me to unlock certain parts, other parts are not acknowledged which just accelerates issues into the negative. Which is the downside of social media, a part certain player within Ubisoft are eager to ignore 7 days after release date, which does not help gamers and fans of the franchise any either.

So as we renew the view to the title in Shakespeare view of what constitutes the hero, we can see both Michael Fassbender and Justin Kurzel for their willingness to undertake the loaded challenge of the Assassins creed, which might reap great rewards, not just financially if they pull it off, in this I also feel that any failure might not be on their side, it might and up in the lap of Yves Guillemot as the brand waned to the massive degree it did on his watch. It gets us to the question we need to ask ourselves (as gamers mind you), a question both Michael and Justin should ask themselves to within the scope of vision that they are exposed to.

What makes for an assassin?

Is it a person with a sniper scope in 1983, one shot in Kirbat Al-Adas? Is it a knife thrown from an alley, a stab from a bench, a poison dart? Is it slicing your target then taking on 8 guards and a Templar? The game allowed for many ‘solutions’, but in the movies it is about pleasing the mass with an image, it is not interactive, which makes for the challenge Justin and Michael face, in all this the weight of previous decisions allowed by Yves makes for something else. The question is, will it make things better for the movie? It is not a fair question for those making the movies, but it will influence it all. So far, we know that the movie will play in the 15th century in Spain, which means that either that game will follow, or the movie line will become separate. The latter one being a better option in my personal frame of mind. Let’s not forget that the game started with Subject 17, so there are plenty of option for the movies and the bloody mosaic of bodies that we refer to as history allows for plenty of options for a movie based franchise.

As stated, I will await the final version of the movie and I do intent to watch it (as one cannot ignore a Fassbender movie). In all this it is not just about the movie, it is about what will Yves do next that matters, because in my personal view, Ubisoft has been running on borrowed time for a little too long and whatever happens next will impact the gaming industry, not because of a movie, but if we believe Shakespeare that a coward dies a dozen times over, than in my view Yves Guillemot had relied on marketing for too much and at the expense of a brand that could (read: should) have remained at high for a lot longer, so what is the value of a brand that has regained the same flaws for 6 iterations, I wonder why that question had not been asked by a 90% granting Gamespot, they are supposed to be a critical reviewer. Too many around the brand have dropped the ball and left things unspoken and un-investigated. The many delays that Ubisoft has should give way to massive improvements to gameplay, yet overall this was not achieved. At present only For Honor still seems to hold up to the expected hype of scrutiny, which is interesting, one in a dozen? I need to hold off on the final verdict as I feel that fairness needs to take centre seat and a review needs to remain fair, absent from hype. It is harder to do, but essential to give fair verdict to a project dozens of people put their life and faith into, I will not attack them like that, but Yves needs to realise that his billion is slimming down as he has fell short again and again, now the upcoming movie will be part of it. Whether the choice was a good one, is something we will see at the end of 2016.

Let’s all see what happens.

 

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The Game of Patent Law

I am in a very weird place. I must admit that I have not been in the brightest of spots. I am struggling with this semester’s subject. Even now, I am still studying too. I stopped writing on notes and going over lectures because I needed a small break and because my mind has been telling me stuff I did not even realise.

You see, this all started on two parts. The first was ‘Person Skilled in the Art’. I looked at it from many sides, but I forgot, no, lets state, I did not completely comprehend the legal part in all this. You see, Wiki tells us ‘If it would have been obvious for this fictional person to come up with the invention while starting from the prior art, then the particular invention is considered not patentable’, which might not be the most academic view, but when we consider the more ‘academic’ part we get “In these fields the persons skilled in the art are not just skilled artisans. They are often trained engineers and scientists, who are well versed in the periodical literature of their subjects“. This we get from the case Sunbeam Corporation v. Morphy-Richards (Australia) Pty Ltd [1961] HCA 39; (1961) 35 ALJR 212. Here Justice Windeyer referred to this in [218] “scientific inventions, intricate mechanical arrangements, chemical processes, electrical and electronic devices and so forth

You see, part of this is my issue (truly an issue I have). It comes in two parts. The first one is a memory from my early secondary education. We once had a discussion on Art versus conceptual art. It never made sense to me because I regarded both pieces as art. In some view we see that conceptual art focusses on the involved idea in the work takes precedence over traditional forms and material concerns. But is that true for some? Art is art no matter how you slice it. This has been in the back of my mind for a few days. At work in the last week I would listen to the soundtrack of Mass Effect whilst working on parts I was working on. I thought I was just trying to listen to music. No! My mind was kicking into high gear trying to make me see something and after this weekend, after 16 hours of re-listening to lectures and retrying to do what I could not do before, at roughly 10:18 it hit me! It was all connected, I suddenly got the gist in a scary way (because I get a first glimpse on how to solve it).

I need to get back to that ‘skilled person‘ because that is actually at the centre and it all links back to mass effect. In my view Mass Effect is one of the most brilliant pieces of work, possibly ever! The story is captivating, the graphics are amazing and the entire project is out there and I mean out there on the far horizon. Most gaming (me inclusive) always seek to look to the next challenge, the next big game. We almost forget the great games that got us here. Yet, Mass Effect always remains. My Google+ profile still has the launch party photo. In all this, the game was a breed apart.

So, how does this relate to the law?

This is part of the issue I have, especially with Justice Windeyer stating “In these fields the persons skilled in the art are not just skilled artisans. They are often trained engineers“. This has been my issue for a long time. You see almost two years ago, I wrote the concept for Elder Scrolls 6 (Restoration) and send it to Bethesda for their consideration. Not just more or an addition, no an entire new approach. In that same way I have bene able to reengineer in my mind every game I ever played. Now I am not a programmer, so making it is another issue, but my mind can see the game. Improve upon it, mould it into more, within my mind. The ability to see past the game, into the engine, the design and the story has been forever with me. Which was also the part that is stopping me. It is in essence the issue I have had with Ubisoft and Yves Guillemot regarding the dwindling of the Assassins Creed franchise. That is not even addressing the issues (read glitches and bugs) AC Unity and Far Cry 4 has been subjected to. AC Syndicate is now less than 4 weeks away and its predecessor have given a massive blow to the franchise. I saw some of these issues for a long time. Many things have been in there for 5 generations of the Creed, so if I can spot them, why can they not do so (or fix them before release for that matter)?

You see, here we get the PSA, here I get the block that Justice Windeyer (et al) bestowed upon me.

This is exactly where my problem is and yes, it is just me. I am not blaming anyone else. I never truly understood ‘Person Skilled in the art‘ (yes, it took me a while to figure that out), which means the rest became up for grabs. Yes, I comprehend the definition and I understand the premise, but when you can reengineer whatever you see, you (in this case me) tend to miss the point.

Now, in that continuation, how can one dissect “a pair of spaced apart slots in the first end portion each slot extending from an edge of the first end portion to half way across the first end portion; the slots being parallel to each other so that they and their projections define a pair of parallel axes extending across the first end portion, along the sides of the stem and across the second end portion” In case you were wondering, this is part of the description for an applied sheet of metal (I never knew my mind could project so many question marks).

Here I see myself like in Abbott Laboratories v Corbridge Group Pty Ltd (No 2) [2001] FCA 810. At [56] we see “I regard Professor Guilbault as quite unlike any person in Australia for the purposes of this case.  He is, and was at the priority date, a real expert in the field. What may have been obvious to him gives no indication as to what would be obvious to the ordinary skilled but non-inventive worker, even leaving aside geographical considerations“. You see, my ego rejects that part, because I am not a professor, I never considered myself to be ‘unlike any person‘, yes I consider myself to be an expert when it comes to games, but not to the extent the case made Professor Guilbault to be in his field, which gave me the issue of not grasping the level of the skilled person.

I am catching on (even though some parts are still really hard), but I have the rest of the day and 5 evenings to catch up with what I was not grasping. I am getting there though!

It still is an issue on how to set certain things, which is why my timeline differs. All this now shifts back to the games. I spoke about Mass Effect. The first game had an issue with the drive, but when we consider the first 360 systems (some people relied on a console without a hard drive, go figure). They got to play the game. The game was also one of the first to be decently open world, so that means that certain trigger points needed to be created. Which is what we saw in Fable 2 and 3. When you realise this, you can work around them. They are of course games and not real life, so the point shifts. Yet, in all that Mass Effect had an issue with achievements it never really fixed. I ignored it (but was a little miffed to miss out on achievements I should have gotten). Mass Effect (apart from the glitches) made a game truly replayable, which makes for more joy, yet unlike Fable 2 it did not create cosmetic alternatives. In all that, who (without cheating or hint guides) knew you could get to see Tali? Mass Effect 2 went even further in all this even as the game is still mostly the same, you can replay in another role giving power to replayability. Mass Effect is one of the only series ever to pull it off to this extent. So, yes, Mass Effect had issues (and glitches), yet the overall issue people had was with the ending. I less so when you realise the story in its totality, but the last one was a little sloppy in places. I saw through all that. So am I a nagger, a person skilled in the art, or am I beyond that? I have been around since before the VIC-20, so I know my games. In all that Mass Effect 3 amazed by offering the best multi player environment I have ever participated in (still not surpassed today).

Here is the kicker where does that leave the other game designers? In the mind of many we see that good gaming might start with replication, but the visionary evolves that into innovation and offer something totally new, something we all desire to play. I think the game Evolve is almost there. It is close to what Mass Effect 3 was, which is also dependent on a great AI and even though the levels in Evolve are bigger, you are still basically in a ‘cage’ with the big nasty. In all this Ubisoft is not sitting still. Although no personal evidence at present, as far as I can tell, from what I saw their new upcoming title ‘For Honor‘ is showing to innovate multi player from what was into what others desire. This is a very good thing! Jason VandenBerghe seems to have figured out what the big players were either not comprehending, or basically were ignoring. Now I am not one for hack and slash, I am not one for melee games, but I can stare in awe at the achievement of innovative gaming. This is what we will get in 2016. Perhaps Sean Murray (No Man’s Sky) wakes up one morning and realises that keeping people in the dark is only short term acceptable, but that is a lesson he must consider by himself.

Back to the innovators. One of the considerations with a person skilled in the art is: ‘A PSA would be likely to access and search IP Australia’s patent and design databases or get someone qualified to do it for them before releasing a new design of a ladder into the marketplace even though the level of technology is relatively low‘, this could be shaped into ‘A PSA would be likely to access and search IP Australia’s patent and design databases before releasing a reengineered design of a ladder, sufficiently distinct from the original into the marketplace as an innovative patent regardless of the level of technology required‘. In my mind I wonder how much power those with the ability to reengineer can hold, those who can see and value the originals for what they are. It is a legal trap to some extent, because the patent has protection under ‘they are more similar than dissimilar’, the registrar will take that into consideration and when it does go to court it will be an issue to argue, which is why I foresaw the evolution of mobiles, not in hardware, but a mobile generic base that is not unlike a stem cell approach, the software will shape the actual device and now we have two issues. Many nations are not have or reject more often software patents. Some state “The rapid decline in software patents is a huge boon for innovation“, yet in hindsight, there is another issue. Yes, I am all for innovation and bring it on, but not unlike Assassins Creed Unity it becomes more about the now and more about the quick sale and not about the quality of aftercare. As we move from a quality product to a short term choice, how do we fare? Is your budget ready for the annual purchase of a mobile? This is linked to all this, it is not just the Person Skilled in the Art, or the Person Skilled into the reinvented art. As we move from art to conceptual art, we also move from the finality of a choice to the transient of what might not become (again that assassins game comes to mind). All these elements move us in a direction that I regard as dangerous, we move from creators to innovators. Which was always intended to be a move that evolves into true new creators. No, now we move from creators to cheap solutions, something patents were never supposed to do, the person skilled in the art is the push we did not tailor to. I am evidence of that. I could never keep up with Richard Garriot or Peter Molyneux. Even when we spoke I saw their minds moving on to really new things, not iterations of the ‘what is now’. That is what corporate greed got us. A move away from the future. Even if we consider the computer as hardware, the timeline from the 8088 to the I7 now. The processors are no longer truly new, just slightly faster. A market controlled desperate to hold on what they have and not to lose it. That is not how the 80286 came to fruition, in that Mass Effect from game 1 trough game 2 to game 3 made jumps, not mere steps. You only have to replay the first one and the second one to see the leap we got. Assassins Creed showed the same in the original and 2, what came after became steps towards iterative work, iterative work is not innovative, which is why the small indie developers must be protected, if we are to move forward we have to protect true futures instead of orchestrated options.

Here I am still deliberating Person Skilled in the art where Lord Diplock states ‘a patent specification is a unilateral statement by the patentee, in words of his own choosing, addressed to those likely to have a practical interest in the subject matter of his invention‘ and the subsequent resolution by Lord Justice of Appeal Waller ‘a man concerned with the construction of a steel lintel to whom the use of the word ‘vertical’ would indicate precision‘. Here I find the issue with both parts, the second might be overruling the first, but the protection, or at least the approach from a malicious side gives pause to vertical could imply accepted to be ‘cheaper’, for if the engine is not tuned to be finer, it will be constructed to be cheaper, life has shown us that in the iterative part, which is part of the mess we now face. In my view the law must lead but it adheres to the view of those who get to speak, which are the people who have the established base of wealth. The true innovator who moves to creation is never that, so the future is tainted by those who have, they either own those who try to push forward and they then adjust the push for maximum wealth, or they buy out those who they do not owe and again they get to control the product.

The game of Patent Law is harsh, difficult and rewarding, because Patent Law was to be a fair field and in that it still is, the world around the law has changed. I am still trying to get the materials and pass this subject, but I also wonder, what can the law do to keep the field fair? In my view, the law has addressed some parts, but the issue where innovation is too often replaced with iteration (pharmaceutical patents for example), how to address that part?

Well I am off to lunch and after that redo my parts on infringements, which would go further if I did not get stumped by texts like: “Further, because the edges at either end of the column neatly align with one another a plurality of such columns of the same height can be suitably employed on an even surface to stably support various objects including a coffee table top or barbecue plate without rocking, for example. The column structure can also be used by itself as a tree guard“.

Life might be a game, but patent Law is not the clearest of rule books to define it by.

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