Tag Archives: No man’s sky

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2019

After last year there were issues, several on all fronts, and as Sony announced not to attend, we see the larger question, is there a need for E3? From my personal point of view, Microsoft will not be trustworthy (after their choices between the Xbox 360 and now), making it a Nintendo & Indie show, now, I am all for that and it could be awesome, but that is no longer an actual E3. Also, we will see the front carried by a few titles, yet they did so too last year and the blip verts show many images of what we saw last year too.

So as I use GamesRadar (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNCFmrkqQuY) as a handhold, let’s take a look at what we could optionally consider not watching in person there.

  1. Cyberpunk 2077. Yes, we saw a lot, we saw a lot before and for the most, we have blind trust in CD Project Red, they gave us the goods from the very start ‘You’ll see it when it is ready’ and with the Witcher III as evidence, we have all the confidence that it will be a smash winner when it is finished, the problem is that everyone is speculating or giving ‘I know a guy and it comes at …….‘, but the truth is CD Project RED has not giving a final date, if there is one, it will most likely be given at the E3 2019.
  2. Gears of War 5, it seems to be more of the same, it was never my cup of tea and as such, I hope people will love it, I truly do, but I see it as too much of the same, just like the next HALO which has number 3 and even as 4 player part might be nice, yet after Anthem, and every version connected to it (exception of Fortnite and Overwatch) I have seen enough to last me a lifetime, so the orchestra part was definitely overkill
  3. Another Star Wars game? Likely an absolute must for every Star Wars fan, I am not judging here, merely awaiting to see real game play.
  4. Session, a skateboarding game. It comes from Microsoft, so we will have to await the actual game footage and YouTube video to see what the actuality of that game is, personally I am kind of over all the Microsoft marketing, and we will likely see more on Crackdown 3, the game that was announced in 2014, coming in 2016, and has had delay after delay and is still not out. A game that is years too late, supposed to be AAA and gets a mere 57% from Metacritic, I think it was PC Gamer that gave us “It’s an OK game that could’ve been exciting a decade ago“, so as we were given presentation after presentation on the of Cloudgine for cloud computing support, we see the entire part blown out of the water. This now interacts with my article ‘At the end of a journey‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/04/14/at-the-end-of-a-journey/) where we see the issue of Tim Stuart, Microsoft CFO giving us: “Xbox CFO on Google Stadia: “Cloud Won’t Match Local Experience”“, yes we said that for decades, making Crackdown 3 a joke at the very least and the years of delay a questionable side in what Microsoft regards as game design.

There are a few more games, some definitely interesting of checking out and a few to race for to the release date shop. Bethesda will be present with another Doom, for the lovers of that type of game a decent must. Ubisoft will try to wet the appetite with more ‘Beyond good and evil 2‘ yet there is no indication that there will be anything playable and GamesRadar as well as a few others have been whispering NextGen, so this might be a PS5 and whatever Microsoft puts on the market with an expected optional ‘always online‘ push by badly facilitating, and lets not forget the massive amount of space reserved for advertisement on your Xbox screen.

Nintendo will be killing the show, the next Pokémon is already making waves at present, so the impact will only increase, and that is merely the beginning, there will be an animal crossing, an exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance for Nintendo Switch, which must anger all the other consoles, as the previous two had quite the impact on gaming. And no matter how others slice it, the Nintendo Store with Switch version of CBM-64 golden games is only increasing the desire to own a Nintendo Switch, the idea to replay the Epyx great ‘Impossible Mission’ is just too fantastic to ignore.

We will get another call to Dying Light 2, yet at present no actual reliable release date as well as third installments of Luigi’s mansion and Borderland, both a reason to watch, both have a following and both have creatively emphasized on fun. There are more and more titles that are looking good (also on the Xbox), the makers of Fallout New Vegas and now part of Microsoft will be bringing the Outer Worlds. For those who remember Fallout New Vegas, consider an RPG, a lot larger, with more options, more challenges and more choices, there is zero chance that this game is not on the wish list of anyone who loves RPG’s, which is fair enough, Microsoft can’t get everything wrong. For Ubisoft it will be an important moment, Watchdogs 3 is on the list and according to rumours it will now be based in London. It is important because the first game became a massive letdown, yet Watchdogs repaired it to a decent degree in number two, not in the least because of the cast of Ruffin Prentiss who did an amazing job. So for Ubisoft the stakes are nothing short of monumental, they cannot afford to mess this one up. As I personally see it the Quality department better have their marbles in a row on this one. Ubisoft will have more if some of the leaks are to be believed. So their show, as well as the Bethesda one are the shows to be in the top ones both seasoned with the anticipation from viewers and gaming fanatics alike.

Gaming is more and more true mainstream, but it is also splintering gamers to a larger degree, in part we can blame people like Fortnite. It is not really their fault, they made genuine innovations, and more and more people nowadays expect that the system is no longer an issue when you are playing with your friends, which is actually no longer a given. With newbies Apple and Google, the interaction of games across platforms becomes a larger issue and no longer a given. Yet the audience is pushing and setting for a stage that remains debatable. Is it fair to expect PC’s and next generation consoles to group play?

The option that Microsoft consoles will interact with PC’s is to be expected, but is that stage equal for PS5 other solutions (Mac systems)? I am not claiming a yes or no, merely asking the question. If anything happens in the 5G stage, it will be that those interactions will find a larger footing, whether it will happen gets a TBA (to be announced) flag for now.

As I said Ubisoft has Watchdogs 3 nearly on ready is a large issue, on the plus side, if they pull it off, the value of the Watchdogs Franchise will skyrocket, mainly because the second in San Francisco was a large step forward from the first. The idea of London is appealing to many in other ways, the American population that needs to adjust to driving on the left lane is going to set the stage of many hilarious moments and the open world of London could be breathtaking. They gave us a great experience in San Francisco, so I expect nothing less than spectacular. It also implies that my idea for Watchdogs 3 could be an optional Watchdogs 4, so let’s just hope that game 3 knocks it out of the park. The only larger question will be Bethesda, they have confirmed that there will be no Elder Scrolls 6 or Starfield, which is nice to know, but Bethesda has a lot more IP so there is likely to be plenty to watch, and to be honest after all the slicing and dicing of Fallout 76, they need a win, a big win would be better.

In all this we see more of the same, the IP has stagnated to some degree, Minecraft (2009), Skyrim (2011), Grand Theft Auto V (2013), Elite Dangerous (2014), Witcher III (2015), No Mans Sky (2016), Fortnite (2017), all great moments of IP. I now distinguish between IP and a great game; they often go hand in hand, but not always. I believe that sandbox games, RPG games and tactical games will overlap more and more and will for the growing population of new gamers to be more and more important as well. We saw what could have been possible to some degree in Ghost Recon Wildlands, but not to the degree that could have been achieved. I believe that this is the IP that Google Stadia can build on.

Say What?

To see this, we need to look at the two stages of gaming. For the most, the games have a combined approach (the image is an analogy), so there are parts in the game that are used and in the core of the game, accessed when it is applicable. Yet another way is to take the Covert Action (an old Microprose game) approach, but now a next generation version. In this version in any sandbox, as we add a new element, the world would actually become bigger, or there would be more to do in that same world.

It was the foundation when I started the design of a game called: ‘Equilibrium, nature versus the machine‘. The biggest elements were finding a large enough play field (in my case Amsterdam), and set the stage where replayability would be more fun, so the stage required a very different approach, so that people could not chase from one point to the other to get a quickest time finale. In addition, I needed to set a stage where it would not merely be some kind of a ‘seek’ game (which is too much of a given when you finish the game more than once). In addition, there is the eye candy bit, so making sure it looks appealing and not repetitive was equally a challenge. For the most Amsterdam filled that bill. Yet, as I was contemplating the foundations for Elder Scrolls 7 and Watchdogs 4 I knew that they all had their hang-ups (not in a bad way), in every case it was what the player (in my case me) relied on, I wanted to change that concept, and in all honesty after hundreds of hours of Diablo 3 it felt an essential first to solve.

No man’s sky gave me additional idea’s. We look at it as some kind of failure, but the game is an achievement in many ways. If we accept that the worlds were set to a formula, what happens if we change this world into a formula and let the NoManSky IP recreate that world again and again? Then I considered what could one day be another Watchdog game, in this I wanted to push the envelope in another way. Hence I considered the stage where Kyoto was completely set to the game map, and I mean EVERY street. The game would now be large enough to keep a person busy for hundreds of hours and in the gender setting the game would have 4 versions two for each gender and each gender could get through the game as a criminal or a non-criminal, so the city had a light and a dark side. The interesting part about Japan is the lack of guns (and super strict gun laws) forcing stealth and forcing unarmed combat. As the monkey fist was a brilliant choice in the second Watchdogs, there was the option to keep it in, but also to make other weapons, weapons not to bleed, but to knock out. The nice part is that Japan has about 4 centuries of weapons in their history, so plenty of options. Technology (read: applied technology) is also more advanced (in many cases), so letting the game revolve not merely on the smartphone, but also Google glasses and the fact that in the hard setting there will be no English, gives light to a much bigger challenge. Having to rely on you wearing Google glasses (in the game that is) to read signs and to read instructions in the game to get your local language was appealing for a few reasons. It makes the game a much larger part of you. Adding weather and time constraints adds to the challenge and excitement. We forgot that the ‘you’ in your character was neglected more and more is also a consideration, having to eat and sleep on a regular basis could translate into a larger experience.

Finally the part where the elements come to shine; as we look at the coloured balls, we can see that mixing blue and red would create purple and between blue and dark yellow we would get a moss green. Now consider replacing the colour for a level, in normal mode hacking is one version, yet when we tweak that it is not pressing a button, we could replace the button with code segments that need to be found (and chosen), drastically increasing the challenge of the game, so what is a joy and still a challenge as well as an achievement on normal could be a mind boggling experience on hard and higher. So the smartphone could be upgraded, other versions of the (in game) app, also gives more options and buying an up scaled phone (more expensive) would give the player more destinations where he/she could strike it rich. Yet giving merely more and more is not enticing either, the added plus needs to be balanced with the drag in the negative.

It is what I envisioned in a new Elder Scrolls, adding the old limits. For example a person could not be fighter guild and mercenary (Blackwood company), a Mages Guild member could not be a member of the Thieves Guild and so on, so that at the most 3 guilds could be joined and until one guild had been completed some guilds could not be started. In this setting the game becomes more fulfilling, even in replay, as you start the second game with the Mages guild or the guild of Necromancy would impact your character to a much larger degree. To keep it appealing the setting of what used to be called the red wire challenge, a challenge that is not part of any main quest and happens over the entire stage of the game, so I came up with another challenge, to get there you needed masons, as well as special books (to be found) you could influence the look of the outcome with an Elvish, a Dwemer, the Imperial and the Ayleid version, all having distinct different looks and as the books are to be found in a different locations in every game, the hunt could be on for quite a while. With the introduction of new elements, reverting to an applied extra from Oblivion, So in the game there would be the option for Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility, Speed, Endurance, Personality and Luck to be increased in other ways. Mining would result in additional strength, trading gives additional Personality, and Luck would grow with trade deals, finding mythic loot and so on, so even as the Skyrim approach of Illusion, Conjuration, Restoration, Alteration, Enchanting, Smithing and so on remains, with certain levels of Smithing and/or Mining surpassed the player would also gain additional strength, which gives added value to the carry and stamina numbers, whilst sickness and wounds have a much stronger negative impact. So a stealth master remains with attributes in the same area, any stealth master would have much higher agility giving the player an additional bonus. In addition, the stage of the game as I considered it had additional choices making for a much higher desire to replay the game in other ways and options. And as I went through it, it was the idea of changing the map in another way, As Oblivion was stated to be 40 KM2, Skyrim was stated to be 37 KM2 (this is clearly a: I thought it was bigger moment) ESVII (Restoration) would be no less than 780 KM2, adding to the game in a massive way, yet that also gave the stage where the current approach to a game map would no longer work (assumption on my side), so another approach would be essential. Optionally a two disc solution where the first disc is the install and map disc, the second one would be the actual game disc, yet in that stage the game would require a reserved space of no less than 150 GB (very loose estimate), as such the game would require other checks and balances as well. Whether it ever happens or not does not matter, the entire part is important in another way. When we consider the images I gave where the play world grows with the added segments, that approach would work very well for Google Stadia, so it opens up a new area we have almost never seen before, true open source gaming, a collective of gamers that could add to the game (with permission from the maker) not unlike some kind of a creation club, but in the foundation (the small balls), as a new enhancement is accepted by the game owner, we see that the entire gaming map and experience would grow as well, so over time, we get a largely enhanced game. Consider the merging of Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky, so not only do you play Elite Dangerous and travel from planet to planet, each planet could end up having an algorithm that allows to planetary exploration on every planet for the size of the planet, it would make it a game that takes a lifetime to play even in part. Yet what happens when someone created the module to add your own space station in an unexplored location? Consider the option for the gamer to have their own small station, grow it so that the station itself becomes an economic mark on the game as a larger whole. The nice part is that Google Stadia is in a much better position to bring that reality in gaming in the short term, so as the elements of IP are created and offered, we see the optional short term reality that Google Stadia could take sandbox gaming to an entirely new level and that would create the interest of millions of casual and recreational gamers overnight. That is not all, the stated lack of latency and the larger balance (implied) between latency and quality (much higher quality with less latency) only rises the level of opportunity for the Google players in the immediate future. I am not certain how active Google will be at the next E3, yet I believe that every eye will be on what Google can deliver, at that point the game changes for players on a global scale, so when I stated “we do hope that Sony is not stupid enough to follow the short-sighted path that Microsoft is on, they are now merely console number three and optionally before 2021 number 4 out of 5“, in ‘Lifting the Veil‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/04/17/lifting-the-veil/) I did know what I was talking about and I knew what could optionally happen. Microsoft forgot what the power of true dreamers was (and optionally clueless on what they can still do), that is why Google could be the number 3 choice for a global gaming community soon thereafter, how far they rise depends on how innovative they continue to be, they are up against two titans that actively shaped the world of gaming for well over 5 console generations. So when these new technologies come, we will see a much more driven need for these players to be the best innovator in gaming, at that point it does not matter who leads, the gamer wins and that is just fine by me.

 

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Merely a year ago

I just looked at an article that made me a little uneasy. You see, I was contemplating a few days ago, as Facebook reminded me that ‘No Man’s Sky‘ was released a year ago. I had shared a photo, that’s how I got remembered. So much has happened in that year. I still love the game; I do not play it that often, mainly because the makers introduced a few ‘deadly irritating‘ glitches and screw ups in the game. For the most I have been highly protective of the game and the makers. The game remains awesome and I still believe that they are sitting on multimillion IP value here. Like all others, I saw the initial E3 trailer, I was seeking like most on what the game had to offer and that is when the legendary night with Stephen Colbert came. Most of us were hooked instantly. From that moment on, and from the moment that IGN had the No Man’s Sky month, I took a step back. You see, SEO’s started to ride the NMS-Express. More and more outlandish claims got on the internet and scores of gullible gamers just took it at face value. Even the Catholic Church sites used NMS to propel their websites. But months after that, the truth came out; we got to see the ACTUAL game. There were two that stood out on YouTube. I think it was Johnny and Ian who made them, I think that Johnny gave us the play through whilst showing he was pretty bad at playing this game from the moment he started playing it. Now, I am willing to accept that playing and live commenting is not the best way to get any hold of a new game, which is fair; the other amazing thing they did was starting the game 50 times, and turning that into a video showing us the massive difference worlds could have. This was the trailer NMS should have made, but OK. In the end, it does not matter.

Now we get to the issues. The amount of people who brought back the game was a little out there. I heard mountains of complaints. I had none. You see, these people walked on a hype, not knowing what they were buying and even Sony was ‘pro consumer‘ whilst most of the people did this to themselves. They all (read: most people) believed the hyping media whilst there were too many mentions from Sean Murray that were distorted. Now, the game has a few small bugs, so did Assassins Creed Unity, the difference? The patch from NMS was 65Mb; the one from Unity was 12GB. The difference between a glitch and a mismanaged game! NMS was not mismanaged. Now, the makers of NMS are not without some due scolding, and I will get to them in a moment.

Now, we get to the article. The first issue I have is the one with their comparison. My addiction to the other game goes back to 1984. With “not to mention dozens of minor tweaks that bring No Man’s Sky closer in line with a space simulator like Elite: Dangerous“, these are worlds apart. Making any comparison is like stating that Apples and Kiwis are the same because they are both fruit. I love both (Elite a lot more than NMS after 32 years), I would state that NMS is the artsy approach to the universe, where Elite: Dangerous is the scientific view. In Elite trading is serious business and even as you can live by simple rules, getting the big bucks requires cunning insights and a willingness to be dealing in banned substances and goods. All this whilst a few billion planets have an economy based on what they are and as such what is rare on their planet and what is in abundance, a game with a market with dozens of goods and commodities. In Elite you need to learn how to dock, in NMS you merely press rectangle. They allow both to exist in the gaming universe; I feel that you can appreciate both. With “Progress is still slow and inventory management is still a complete slog, lessened somewhat by a couple of tweaks that allow for quicker recharging of weapons and tools, but still cumbersome and annoying” Sam White does touch on a truth, yet as the game progresses and the multi tool evolves, you get loads more done. As your ship gets bigger you get to haul a lot more. More important, as you evolve your suit you get to do things for much longer able to find loads more.

Now it is time for me to scold Sean Murray a little. He added to the game, with bases as all, yet he also flawed in a few ways too. This is best seen in the ‘hard-core’ and ‘permadeath’ parts. Sean, you nice guy you, you need to realise that the ship you just fixed, ordering annoyingly to fly into space is getting them killed instantly. Did you realise that? An empty ship should not be interesting to pirates and in hard-core, your first fixed ship, getting that person killed because a wave of 4 pirates can never be beaten by any ship just repaired. Did you not consider that? Setting a freedom from pirates until after the second jump would have been better. Getting them to deal with one ship instead of 2 waves of 4 is no way to appreciate the game. I can go on a little longer, but you get the idea Sean!

Yet in the original game (normal mode), where I have the punching power of a titan, all looks good. Most improvements are indeed that improvement. Yet the one part still a little off is the fact that a planer will for the most 2 of the minerals we need (apart from the red, the yellow and the green minerals). The fact that most planets need a lot more minerals (optionally not all near one another) is one that I never encountered, even by the long terms exploring on foot I did. The issues I mention might be small but they matter on the immediate players, who are actually missing out because you made the improvements for the people who have been there for a long time. Get one of them to go into permadeath mode, starting again and hear them scream in agony. Now, we all had that the first time and it forced us to be clever about things and that is a really good thing. Yet after hours, finding your ship, fixing it and then getting blown up one minute after take-off is a little too insulting.

The one thing me and Sam White will not see eye to eye on is “No Man’s Sky will likely never outrun the inevitable monotony that comes with procedural generation“. I saw this game as seeing what amazement the environment could behold. I accept that watching life evolved pineapples was a stretch, but still places that were fun to watch. There is a partial part that this game has levels of repetition if you are chasing to the centre of the galaxy, yet with ‘the inevitable monotony I tend to not agree. I accept that there is a truth in it, but the makers could evolve and add to the initial versions, oh and the fact that you need to play a minimum of 8 hours for one achievement, whilst the entire Tombraider game can be done in under 12 hours gives options to ponder what is actually inevitable. The monotony part does apply when you are merely chasing to the centre of the galaxy and getting your achievements (which for the larger extent is not that hard), yet when you see it what it hides, the arts and the views that so many combinations bring, we need to accept that the game it is not about the ‘prescribed monotony’ but the ignored art of getting the place to look the way it does when it runs. As monotony goes, take a look at Minecraft, monotonous or not it remains close to the most addictive game ever made. Still, NMS has options to evolve towards more options, more gameplay and more challenges. So even as I cannot deny that there is a level of monotony, the way it is stapled to the game is one I do not agree with. This was never going to be some fast game arcade game, which is pretty awesome, because Elite is not like that in more than equal ways, yet now both moving towards options and growth is what they both deliver, whilst no other game has been able to provide for is ignored. With Elite giving us now options in engineers and planetary landings, an option that the game never before offered. In the end, I still believe that No Mans Sky is still an awesome achievement. At times I see it as some version of Minecraft with actual awesome graphics. With the base building I can settle in one place and explore, yet the reality is that to grow I need to mine and acquire minerals, the fact that some are at times spread over planets is a little too unrealistic, but that is what the game gives us.

Still, as I see it, by many media No Man’s Sky is one of the worst clear covered games I have seen in a long time. From my personal view the game was too often reviewed in weird incomprehensible ways. In this Metro is one source that should be looked at. With: “The simplest description for No Man’s Sky is a space trader, in the style of the original Elite, with elements of survival games such as Rust or Don’t Starve. You start the game after crash-landing your spaceship, with no clue as to who (or what) you are and how you got there” (at http://metro.co.uk/2016/08/12/no-mans-sky-review-where-no-one-has-gone-before-6063429/). Is it a trading game? I do not think so! It has trade options, it has exploration options. They are true with ‘You start the game after crash-landing your spaceship, with no clue as to who (or what) you are and how you got there’ which can be seen as a blessing or a curse. You do get clear jobs to do, like fix your ship, find certain minerals, but yes, that part is fair. Yet, the issue that many of the media had was seen with “You’re then immediately given the choice to either explore the universe at random or to follow a story path at the behest of a mysterious alien intelligence named Atlas“. The fact that the reviews do not give the amazing differences per world is a little mystifying, the fact that life forms can be so outrageously different and that some see YOU as food is equally an issue, especially when you are out in the open and you are dinner. The upgrades brought good things and a few lesser items, yet overall NMS is still an excellent game for those who appreciate. It is very different from Elite: Dangerous and that is awesome, because that has a serious trading side and the exploring part is largely different and very little artsy in Elite: Dangerous. If it comes to fighting NMS compares to Elite like Need for Speed does to Gran Turismo. If you are a serious race freak, Need for Speed is not the game, merely a warm up entertainment and that is fair, it is not what NMS proclaimed to be, merely an option that it had (one that needs tweaking mind you).

The gaming world needs both games because science without art is tedious; merely art is at times aimless. It is how you personally see it and that is great about both games. These two games are not what they tell you to be, they allow you to let the games grow to what you would like it to be, which is ultimately extremely rare in the world of Gaming. The fact that Hero Games still rolls out parts in this game is also awesome and shows commitment to a game that I refuse to see as a failure, merely a game that was largely misunderstood as I see it. Now, many gamers are not into these two games, just like they have no patience for games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls. That is fair enough! They hold life in their hands and they believe that a game like Forza or Fifa is the fulfilment of their gaming life and I believe that is fine too. Gaming is so personal, what you like, dislike or evade is all yours to decide and none of your reasons are invalid, it is merely what pleases you that matters and some will still decide on merely one title like Zelda, which is good too! Yet in the case of NMS, the largest blow was by the media to cover what they did not understand, that is the part I still find a bit offensive. In this The Guardian has not done this, Sam White has his own view and even as he do not agree with certain parts, he is not misinforming you, which must be pointed out as well. In this one element every player of the game should love is the part where we see “30 hours of new story content”, so a free addition, which amounts to 2.5 Tombraider games (valued ad $229), so as we see the push forward, getting No Man’s Sky is turning out to be one of the best buys for a long time.

If there is one mismanaged part on the media side, than it is the fact that the media at large basically did not understand the game, or is that comprehend the gameplay? To cut it short, the wrong people looked at the game and valued it wrongly, that is just what it is at times and there is no coming back from that. We could give the example that the media was saying that they ‘found inspiration in cooking their family and their dogs’, whilst it was about that they ‘found inspiration in cooking, their family, and their dogs’. It seems like a small difference but in one case (the wrong one) you’ll be eating alone for the larger part of your life.

It might be seen as a failing by Hello Games, which is not an unfair assessment to some degree, yet in that same light, something like NMS had never been made before, which is important because this game is unique, it will remain unique and I doubt if anyone can repeat something like this to the degree that had been achieved. This is merely my view and you need not agree with it, I am not trying to convert you, merely giving my view. So try the game, do not try the game, I merely hope that you remain true to gaming and embrace the games you actually love to play. The joy of gaming is pretty much that simple.

 

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The end of diversity?

We are seeing a push in the gaming world, one that is coming before the next gen follow ups are here. Before the PS4Pro is maturing, before even the Xbox Scorpio is launched, we see new games that are told to be another style of Far Cry (Horizon Zero Dawn), another Dark Souls (Nioh), another Sniper Elite and in that same trend more sequels and more prequels. Yet, the overall game time seems to be dwindling down. Resident Evil 7 for all its amazing changes and story line, the game can be played in 10 hours, with speed gamers (not my cup of soup) doping it in less than 2 hours.

The same people who trolled No Mans Sky, pointing at absurd newscasts by writers trying to score exclusivity points and airing utter BS video’s with ‘scientific’ reviews whilst the game offered well over 50 hours (to get the 100% achievements) of gaming fun. That game gets trolled! In equal measure they all praise Tomb Raider, a game that could be completed in 12-15 hours. The quantity and quality of games falling more and more when considering the cost of games in dollars per gaming hour.

Now, let’s get back to the mention of Far Cry 3. For me a pivotal point as the first one on Xbox 360 was the only game I ever traded in because it was such a bad game. I had never done that before and I had not done that since. I steered clear of the second game and I only played the third one when it was offered on either PS Plus or Gold Live (I forgot which one), that is when I learned what an amazing game Far Cry three had turned out to be. So as Horizon Zero Dawn is ‘tainted’ to be some Far Cry/Tomb Raider game, some people get nervous. Are they doing it because of the references, or the lack of play that Tomb Raider offered?

Dan Silver of the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/20/horizon-zero-dawn-review-a-stunning-but-barely-evolved-rpg-contradiction) states “At times Horizon: Zero Dawn, the latest title from Dutch studio Guerrilla Games, those behind the Killzone series, feels uncannily like prophecy rather than escapism” as well as “in truth, there’s no real freedom here to play any role other than that proscribed by the game’s writers” and in conclusion “the RPG elements of Horizon: Zero Dawn are undercooked and ultimately unnecessary, or a sneaking acknowledgement that its action is so good players will want to jump straight into it – but both sentiments have a ring of truth“. The last one gives the part that matters with ‘both sentiments have a ring of truth‘, this is the can of worms I see.

Now let’s state this up front: ‘I have not played this game yet!

The game gets released in a week and what YouTube offered via Guerrilla Games shows a game that is well worth the time and also worth the effort. It is the image shown by Guerrilla games and there is no doubt that they are showing the more enticing parts. Yet the fight in the dark showed that there are more sides to the game, there is a mandatory intro part and there are parts that separate acts, so that you cannot take some ultimate short cut. All very acceptable in gaming.

In that same manner I saw some 15 things to learn before you buy Mass Effect 4 and I never bothered to watch the whole list. Speculation and listed ‘innovation’ from demos by people who are not involved with making the game. The only part that was interesting is that the launch was done between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, which is not surprising. At this point, in light of the Microsoft Console Unconsented Data Collections that are currently happening, I have switched off my Xbox One for now, which is annoying as I love Elite Dangerous and SubNautica, but fortunately one of them will be released on the PS4 in the coming quarter.

Yet, in the same air of originality I want to play the remastered version of System Shock (also coming to PS4). I feel that my drive is the ability to play this game in what is now possible. In that same trend System Shock 2 makes me equally anxious to replay what I loved so much. There is a list of games that give me this feeling, mainly because they were the originals. These games drove the existence of other new games. Games that were not bad, in some cases great, but it is the original game that drove us towards these games. Yet the creation of some games were uncanny, some made games with vision. Just like the maker FTL games who saw Asteroids and Moon lander and decided to create Oids (very addictive in those days). They were already famous with Dungeon Master and less known was the space explorer and trade game Sundogs, but overall they were true visionaries in games. So was the game the Sentinel on the Atari ST, which was later relaunched (with an awful cover story) on the PC. Cover story or not, they gave the game with the sentiment that the original had with the amazing bonus of the music made by John Carpenter, which was a bonus you should never deny yourself.

It is the decades of experience that made me design the story for a new single player Elder Scrolls (Elder Scrolls: Restoration), which is still on my desk. It gave me the idea for a New Ultima game, yet none of this is original. Our minds allow to create what we loved in the face of what we see now, which is re-engineering at best, it is not creation as such. It might still be the foundation of a great game, yet it is unlikely to become a great game without proper evolution of what initially was. It will appeal to the original lovers of the game with an updated following of those who never played it. Yet as greed comes around the corner, what we hoped to be great (example: Dungeon Keeper on the tablet), becomes a hoax that is soon after hated by all who loved the original. In that same fuel we might love a new Dungeon Keeper 2, a new Magic Carpet and a new Populous. In a similar trend, remaster these originals to Tablets could still work (when we kill the greed driving entities connected to them). Games like Flood were fun to play and the history of games is full of examples that people could and would enjoy if given the chance to play them again.

The issue of diversity rises again and again as we see the failure of true innovative gaming. Far Cry 4 gave us that as it tried to upgrade Far Cry 3 and as I personally saw it fail. In that Far Cry Primal is to some extent equally a non-winner. I phrase it like that because the game has good sides and it is not a bad game, yet the curve and growth allow for more escapism, whilst not giving true challenges in gaming. The issue with the ‘duplicated’ map is not even on my radar because anyone who could memorise a map like that has perhaps different issues to work with. The Ubisoft failure checklist is as I personally see it their biggest problem. In addition, there approach to include more and more might generalise gaming, yet I feel it, it is also reason these games lose more and more success ratings.

This is clearly in contrast with For Honor, which is reviewed as not a great single player game (some advised against getting the game for that reason), but at its core it is an overwhelmingly amazing multi player experience. So far having seen several video’s some at amazing resolutions, For Honor seems to deliver the best multi player action that 2017 is likely to offer. Which early in the year is quite the statement to make.

In all this Horizon New Dawn is still a force to be reckoned with. The biggest threshold now becomes, how many hours does the game offer and have they given thought to replayability. So as we replay Diablo 3 again and again with different characters, we see other games failing in that attempt, or succeed only to the smallest degree. Skyrim is perhaps the only one who offers decent levels of replayability, although we can all accept that the need to surpass level 70 to get to the legendary dragon achievement is still decently beyond ridiculous.

As we accept certain needs, values and requirements, there is always the danger that my view is the view only I would appreciate. In that I disagree, as I have heard similar views from others, some to a smaller extent and some to a larger extent. As I see the replayability option grow, I see that games like SubNautica will score high with the gaming community when the full game is launched on other platforms, seldom have I ever seen a game where the evolution of a game keeps on coming as it now enters the 4th wave of evolution and additions. It is to the same degree that nearly all RPG fans agree that the Witcher 3 is pretty much the most perfect RPG game ever created and as Project Red still has a future RPG (we hope) on the development table (read: Cyberpunk 2077), most gamers are looking forward to what 2018 and 2019 will bring.

So if some places see the light by opening their eyes, we hope that a specific place (Electronic Arts) will take steps to avoid to get the repeat label ‘A Cancer That’s Eroding The Market‘ (by Kotaku), where the quote ““A cynically motivated skeleton of a non-game, a scam that will take your cash and offer nothing in return,” writes Escapist’s Jim Sterling, “A perversion of a respected series, twisted by some of the most soulless, selfish, and nauseating human beings to ever blight the game industry”” is at the heart of the matter of despicability. You see, there are plenty of other games that could make the jump, yet as I see it, when such a game still acquires 4 star ratings, we know that the game is rigged and the provider of these games are trusted less and less. There is a certain failing when we see 136K people gave it a 5 star rating. Not with the push for money spending this game offers! Yet it is a similar population that is crying ‘foul’ with the 50+ hours that No Mans Sky offers and the fact that no extra cash was needed. When you look at the initial videos, the game was to the greatest degree what was promised. We have seen actual issues with the game and most of them were all patched away, none of the patches have been over 150 Mb, whilst the Ubisoft patches that did not solve too many issues surpassed Gigabytes in size. Hello Games with only 11 people achieved something amazing, but that is not what this is about!

I reckon that games like No Mans Sky are likely to be at the rear end, some of the last games that had true diversity in them. It can be the Horizon New Dawn is equally a game offering diversity, but the reviews call that in question to at least the smallest degree. Prey by Arkane Studios shows some originality, but when you play, there are elements that give a Bioshock view, a Dishonored view and more than one source is making the reference to System Shock. It led me to the question, when is new diversity no longer diverse? When we see the architecture and internals, there is a Bioshock feeling to it all (even though this is not under water). When we see the first person abilities with alien powers we see a glimpse of Dishonored. And it is the wrench start that gives us other references. They might just be winks to games like Half Life, it does not make it less diverse. Yet it takes more time and more game play to see actual diversity, so I wonder if we are seeing the end of it. As we play games and wonder about the replay of the Mass Effect and Fable Trilogy, is that the part we now hunger for? That feeling we had when we took another path to see Bowerstone Old Town evolve in a place not with gardens, but muddy with thugs?

Perhaps we want to do the journey one more time, because no matter how we slice it, both trilogies had an amazing storyline and it shows that the TV station FX had the best slogan of them all: ‘the story is everything‘. This is the side we desire and System Shock delivered like no game ever did ever before. Dungeon master had the long term challenge based on the shallowest of reasons (get to the exit). We saw again and again that storylines do the job. In that, a game I never cared for (Final Fantasy series) did deliver way beyond my comprehension, so I am very aware that this game has plenty of reasons to be adored by millions. So as I see it, it might be the equal view that shows us that a game like Prey will deliver on its own merit.

I wonder whether diversity without a decent story has a chance, just like great stories without diversity. In that last example it is the Assassins Creed line that is the best example. From my point of view it is the glitches that killed it, but diversity is equally a reason. When we consider these points, we see that the old great games are still optional winners. They offered originality, diversity and challenge. The response that remake (even 20 years later) is no diversity at all is true and I agree for those replaying it, but for those who never played it before it will be plenty diverse. Now we can depend on that element, as well as the essential element that it is the personal desire to replay a game, yet how does that get us to the never completed remake (at present) game called Midwinter? In the old days, being able to do all these different things on the Atari ST was truly amazing, but those moments have been surpassed long ago by Far Cry 3, so where is its need? We can see that plenty of people would love to see the remake of Paradroid 90, a game that should work easily on tablets and as such it could be a nice way for Andrew Braybrook to increase his retirement fund by a fair bit, because absent a few little issues, the game was near perfect and playable to the largest of extents. I always regarded Loderunner, the ‘1984 game of the year’ in a similar way. I actually had to take the day off (read: sickie) one time as I had been playing all night and continues playing through the day, when I finally made it to level 151 I saw the very first level again yet now at a higher speed. With 80+ lives left I started again until I had enough, I stopped before level 200, exhausted with millions of accumulated points. Best gaming day ever, I was deaf and blind to whatever happened around me and the biggest workout for my Sharp TV ever (in those days).

Perhaps it is that feeling I desire, a feeling many gamers desire, but I do not think so. I believe that the challenges we saw in the past (Mass Effect trilogy) were almost equalled, but never surpassed by anyone, System Shock falls into that category, so do the titles Neverwinter Nights, Dungeon Master (1+2) as well as the 1985 original Elite, which was released on the PC, MAC and Xbox One as Elite Dangerous. The fact that the Elite Dangerous group on Facebook gets dozens of images added on a daily bases for places seen and Elite statuses achieved, shows that this game enhanced and surpassed its own limitation due to limited hardware in 1985. That alone gives rise to the remake of other games. Bullfrog games are likely to top these games, yet the quality that Origin games (Ultima series) offered then and could offer now boggles the mind. In light of what Bethesda Elder Scrolls crated offers a view to remade games that would be overwhelming, whilst not needing to be an Elder Scrolls clone, the challenge of Britannia and the Serpent Isles (Ultima locations) have massive levels of original, never remade options here. The fact that Ultima 4-7 has a deep philosophical drive is equally good as the bulk of RPG games never emulated that part to the degree the Ultima series did. In an age of Intellectual Property, the gaming industry has millions up for grabs, the question is how well this IP has been maintained and at what price are the owners willing to part with it?

This leaves me to the final game that can make it on several fields. In this day and age where the people are eager to have their kids learn abilities through gaming, I cannot remember when, but in the 80’s I was handed a game by Epyx, that was an isometric game where you had to program a droid to walk around scan and avoid obstacles. It was called Chip Bits but never saw the light of day. We can agree that it was a geeky game, but in this day and age where the user age lowers with every iteration of computer hardware, it seems to me that teaching a skill like that could change the implementation curve (and it was truly original). So we are looking at two groups, the ones that were great and the ones that for the silliest of reasons never made it to the final stage. As we see the ease of releasing IOS and Android games, we see a fountain of possible revenue on many levels and the best part is that the starting obstacle is low enough for most toddlers to pass. Even as we see the success of all these mini consoles with dozens of games being released and most of them initially sold out in every shop, is this such a leap? We know that plenty of games have been redone and in some cases surpassed, that is for the games some publishers deemed worthy for release. I remember Psygnosis and the only reason that Lemmings got released because the Marketing manager had nothing to do, literally ‘had nothing to do‘, and those who remember the game might also remember the success it became in the end. So what about the games that didn’t make the cut? Of what about the games that were not that highly regarded initially? ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?‘, an educational game that can easily become a tablet mega seller. Yet, what about the Castles of Dr Creep? Remapped that game might make for a nice puzzle game. So many options, but in itself, there is too much remake on the horizon, which returns me to the initial question:

Are we seeing the end of diversity in gaming?

The answer is yes to a certain extent, but that does not need to be a bad thing, because the limits that we saw in games like Soul Reaver are those we can easily surpass nowadays, meaning that a game that was 20-30 hours on the first PlayStation, could be a 50+ hours game on the PlayStation 4 (and equal systems), giving us plenty to game and plenty to enjoy, whilst the question whether it is diverse enough remains a valid question; one we need to keep in the back of our minds. This remains a valid stopper for a game like Rampage world tour, but is that equally true of a game like Crusader: No remorse? That answer hangs with the evolution the game goes through, meaning that it requires added diversity, showing again that diversity is a gaming currency which decides success to some degree, but it gets added value as the story and challenge are high in the game.

 

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Games in Motion Review?

It seems that there is a lot of polarisation going on. If it isn’t the mudslinging on those opposing Brexit, showing what a bad losers they really are and if it isn’t those crying over commerce whilst the bulk of those so called managers won’t put in an honest day’s work. Then there is a collection of people playing a game, not comprehending what they are doing (go figure).

It is the last group that gets my attention today. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/05/no-mans-sky-perils-infinite-promise-sean-murray-hello-games) had an article called ‘No Man’s Sky and the perils of infinite promise‘, and because Sydney is now 3 weeks away from the EB Games EXPO it matters. You see, if you are a casual player fine! That’s OK and as such you might have missed a beat, which is not any criticism. It starts with the utter misconception we have nowadays on what we buy “Clutched in a crinkly bag we held the perfect product“, that is what a true fan will say regardless. This is how we felt when Assassins Creed 2 came our way. When we started a game called Ultima 4 (on CBM-64) and when we started Elite Dangerous. Those who knew had a reference of feelings, we played it, we ‘completed’ it and we desired to get it. This could never have applied to No Man’s Sky, or Subnautica, or Horizon Zero Dawn. Yet it might apply to Mass effect Andromeda! You see when we know it, it has reference, just like buying that album. We heard it, and we want it!

Then we get the quote “The reputation of Peter Molyneux, a veteran British video game designer, toppled after he habitually promised alluring features (knock an acorn off a tree and over the course of the game you’ll be able to watch it grow, he once claimed of Fable) that never surfaced in his games”. Again, Peter’s reputation is very much alive and on heights at my address. I met him a few times and he has delivered time after time again, and as for the ‘Acorn’, he did deliver that too! When you decide on a path in Fable 2, where your actions decides the fate and the look of Bowerstone Old Town.

Now we get to the goods. You see No Man’s Sky very much delivered on its promise. I even rewatched some of the aired clips and shows on YouTube. In this part the Stephen Colbert show had one of the best presentations (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqeN6hj4dZU), of course a few things changes a little (the way naming works), yet what we saw there, we are seeing in the game we play. The only thing not there is the galactic view, yet that is pretty much the only thing. What I don’t get are some of the weird gamers. You see, I get it, I understand that this game might not be for you. You gaming preference might be limited to FIFA, or NFL, or Call of Duty. That’s fine! So many games, so many choices! I love Minecraft, yet many of my friends do not. Again, we all have our preferences. So why are those people, who hate the game so much not sending it back to the shop? Instead of whinging and whining about a game they do not like they could perhaps exchange it for a game they do like.

However, there is a growing group of people who seem to get pleasure into releasing hate reviews of a game. I seem to prefer to take time into reviewing games I do like. Try to transfer my interest in a game, it seems more natural and functional than just vomiting hatred, which is just an idea from my side. The issue I have is that the anger is just so illogical. Yet the quote “In an expansive New Yorker profile, Raffi Khatchadourian wrote that Murray feared the game had become “a Rorschach test of popular expectation, with each player looking for something that might not be there”“, a not inaccurate but flawed. You see, there is a side that has not been exposed, not by any of the publications. Places like The Christian Times one of several who were trying to get some traffic to their site as were a lot more, yet those pages have now miraculously vanished. All making claims that could not have been supported or seconded and as such people suddenly got a dose of info that was not substantiated. Quotes like “The update will also add more diversity to the universe by adding new creatures and alternate galaxies“, so as we see some of the outrageous quotes, claims never made by Sean Murray or Hello Games (as far as I can tell). The quote “When former Sony employee Shahid Kahmal Ahmad criticised some players for requesting refunds, even after, in one case, playing the game for 72 hours, he became a target for online harassment“, which shows just how delusional some gamers tend to be. Yet the article has another side, it does not illuminate it, yet it does mention it with the quote: “Video game-makers struggle in unique ways when it comes to raising audiences’ expectations and then matching them in reality“, which is not the video maker, but its marketing department or the publishers marketing department. The issue was never a given in No Man’s Sky, it created the hype, by merely showing the game. Many games are not anywhere near the uniqueness that this game have and it is up to the marketing departments to create a wave of interest. Many might be able to recall Call of Duty : Ghosts, what was hyped the be the beginning of next generation gaming became the one game that showed that bad planning and good marketing that is, until people started to play the game. Another game that had to rely on hype was Watchdogs. Now, here there is another matter. For one, the development was hit with delay after delay. It was supposed to be the PS4 launch day game and became the game that screwed PS4 players over and gave birth to its own game 36 weeks later, which was just about the delay it had.

You see, I have bashed Ubisoft and Electronic Arts more than once in these matters. What is very much centre to this discussion is how marketing and press seem to smooth over the disappointments that the large players are bringing, whilst Hello games and CD Project Red as small development houses are bringing epic achievements in gaming. The fact that some (me included) regard Witcher 3 to be the perfect game, the perfect achievement in gaming of this kind is probably accepted by all (even those who have no love for that genre). The fact that the unfounded anger towards Hello Games is coming, whilst one of the most guilty parties is the press and the wannabe press reiterating news cycles with added insinuation to lure traffic to their sites as was happening on a near daily basis in the 3 months leading up to the release of the game is left unmentioned. I ended up giving ‘An Early Verdict‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/08/08/an-early-verdict/), because of some of the unacceptable rants I saw passing by and because a person named DJ Angel put up an actual decent review of the game and I stand by what I wrote three days before the release and now after well over 50 hours of gameplay: “No Mans Sky exceeded my personal expectations!

Now we need to get to the gritty, because this is going beyond just this game and mere reviews. There is an issue evolving, the issue with this issue is that there are no set standard, there is not limit or barrier that could be regarded as valid. It’s is the job of any marketing department to create a hype, to create interest and it is the job of the reviewer to cut through this all and give a correct reflection of what he/she has played. Yet there are recently two issues evolving. The first is that the game sites seem to encourage hype creation through advertising for example. Yet the reviews are not given until several days after the game is released, leaving the gamer in a vacuum.

I once stated in an article “reviewers should investigate is what I would call a ‘redundancy level’ of gaming. To ‘accommodate’ the marketing divisions to optimise their path, some companies have done away with massive levels of quality control. Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Far Cry 4, Assassins Creed Unity and the list seems to go on, all have the same problem, when you buy the game, you are again forced online to download a day one patch, many of them well over 1 Gb“, the issue that seems to originate through a massive failure of quality control. I would accept a day one patch from Hello Games and Project Red because they are in fact small development houses, they tend to survive on massively cramped budgets. Yet when we see this level of failure form EA and Ubisoft, where they are supposed to be ‘billion dollar companies’ one would imagine a much better prepared track. Often setting almost impossible goals for release and hen coming up short. The fact that the reviewers are giving those larger players all the leeway is perhaps a larger concern then just the games, because once the trust is gone, where will gamers find the information they can trust? The review of games is a field that has been in motion for a very long time, yet I feel that the overall trust of reviews and reviewers is perhaps on its lowest level ever. It seems that that beside printed reviews, the ones online should always be carefully regarded, regarded in a way, of being very precise in what is written (also known as the Murdoch insinuation approach to writing). Whilst some of those outrageous reviews we saw in the past months of No Man’s Sky seems to have vanished, magazines cannot vanish that easily. It seems that the words tend to be less innuendic (is that a real word?) in nature.

So for those who felt let down by No Man’s Sky I ask, did you see some of the video’s on YouTube? Specifically the DJ Angel one? Perhaps you saw the launch video from Eurogamer. The first one (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdJnpf7uXaw) showing 50 planets in 7 minutes. They started the game 50 times and showed just how different the planets were, which was indeed a promise that Sean Murray made and kept! The second one shows 3.5 hours of gameplay (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eASULWu2Ups on launch night), here we see how Aoife Wilson and Johnny Chiodini, comfy on the couch are getting through the initial hours of the game. There is close to no chance that 30 minutes into that gameplay won’t give you a decent idea of what you face even more so than a mere online or printed article.

There are cases when the people have a real reason to complain (remember Assassins Creed Unity), yet as I see it, there is no validity with No Man’s Sky. In addition, the patches we got (4 so far), they were all less than 100Mb if I remember correctly, so whatever patching was done, it was at less than 0.9% of the space that AC Unity needed whilst offering well over 18 quintillion times the gaming space (OK, low blow, I admit that).

So in conclusion I say:

 1. Research the game you are getting hyped about
2. Put question marks to games that have no quality reviews before release dates
3. Stop whining, the first two points should have prevented you from buying a dodgy game.
4. Realise that game videos could get you to guy a game you never expected (it is how I got recently Subnautica)

Make a game about what you want to play, not what other gamers proclaim to be ‘cool!’, you might actually become the cool gamer others proclaim to be!

 

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Under construction?

As some might be aware, most of the last week was about travelling the Sky, the Sky of No Man and it has been all it promised, even now, as I am stranded on a planet in a galaxy far far away, I see that I have coin for the brothel, but there is no brothel. I have Anti-Matter for my warp drive, yet it is broken, it is short a resonator, so I am now exploring the planet, hoping to find two of them puppies soon. A true game of exploration where at times being clever makes all the difference. Yet today is about another matter, not exactly on exploration, but on exploring options and solutions and on how some presentations fall short. You see, there is a think-tank who had an idea (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/25/nhs-needs-eu-employees-to-avoid-collapse-says-thinktank). Now, the idea is not bad, but it is also very shaded in many ways. Let’s take a look! First there is “EU nationals who have lived in Britain for six years should get automatic citizenship“, and a few lines later we get: “The NHS would collapse without its 57,000 workers who are EU nationals and they must be offered free British citizenship so they don’t leave the country after Brexit, according to a leading think-tank“. Now these two statements are not in synch, they do not contradict each other but it raises questions. You see, the fact that 57,000 need citizenship is a strange part. Why?

Well, consider that the four National Health Services in 2015-16 employed around 1.6 million people with a combined budget of £136.7 billion. Which the Guardian published in Jan 2016. In addition, we should consider that in 2014 “the total health sector workforce across the UK was 2,165,043. This broke down into 1,789,586 in England, 198,368 in Scotland, 110,292 in Wales and 66,797 in Northern Ireland“, which we get from https://www.hsj.co.uk. So the fact that these 57,000 people represent a diminished workforce of 3.1% makes me wonder how that impact is so drastic that Automated Citizenship is voiced. Now, let me be clear, I am not opposing that part!

In addition, the fact that the NHS has shrunk by 6% in a year is a bad number, we could state almost disastrous (based on the mere number). In all this a few things are now rising to the surface.

The Think-tank states ‘Citizenship’, not permanent residency. You see, in several countries (the Netherlands for one), only in special cases is dual citizenship an option and the reality is that plenty of people might work abroad, that does not mean they are willing to give up the citizenship they have. Some French and Dutch are very proud to be that. The Netherlands is not alone, so, does this think-tank have a breakdown of numbers per nation? In addition, the article states that they are 5% is already inaccurate (57K/1.6M is not that great). In addition we also see “The Brexit result has left the future status of 3 million EU citizens living in Britain uncertain. While the IPPR says their deportation is ultimately unlikely, the lack of official reassurance is already having a chilling effect on those seeking jobs, housing, bank loans or making other long-term commitments“, a statement I already debunked in June 2015 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/06/22/the-news-shows-its-limit-of-english/), so I am amazed that this tail of fairies is still ongoing. The fact that in simple clarity we see “In addition to this that the applying migrant is paid at or above the Codes of Practice in Appendix J, which gets us to the other appendix (J) which clearly states that a nurse does not need to make 35,000 pounds“, so why are some continuing to weave stories on this loom of tales?

This makes me wonder what the IPPR is actually up to.

Is that not a valid question?

So when we see the quote “The think-tank says wider reform of the current system of British citizenship is so overly complicated and bureaucratic that it is deterring the high earners that the British economy needs, and is so expensive that it also deters the lower skilled workers that the sectors of the economy that depend on manual labour also need” I wonder what their end game is. You see, if there is truly a need for high earners than those companies can apply via an immigration agent. Which is a group of people the Australian ‘economy’ relies on. We should wonder when a large corporation seems to not be involved in the immigration of its staff members, should we consider letting that person in at all. This last part was a speculation from my side, yet I remember my own immigration path, so we should take the accountability of a corporation in stride in all this. In addition, the high cost are indeed a worry, yet the quote “so expensive that it also deters the lower skilled workers that the sectors of the economy that depend on manual labour also need“, which is fair enough on one side, yet when 1/20 has no job in the UK, how hard are those people needed? This is in effect a self-answering question, because there is always a need for lower skilled people, often well trained or versed in one way or another. In all this, one simple solution would be to enact an UK version of the Australian 457 VISA. There is no mention in the article towards a solution in that direction.

In addition, opening the UK labour market for Commonwealth nations is also a path that has been ignored for too long, why is that?

The article seems to answer little, only speculate on what is needed in the eyes of some, whilst the eyes seem to indicate that their view is implied to be narrow, debilitating and not entirely correct. It seems funny that this article comes from Alan Travis, author of ‘Bound and Gagged, a history of British obscenity’. It makes me want to kill someone to get a Nobel Peace prize, which comes to think off it is both Sarcasm and Irony in one small package. Irony, because it is funny how the most basic of solutions seem to be ignored. They might have been part of the report, yet in this case, why not clearly mention those issues. And Sarcasm as my findings from June 2015 were not countered and have actually been confirmed by at least one Lawyer, so I have to wonder what is going on here. For it is my personal believe that this is about a lot more than just 57.000 citizenships, this is about a fundamental change, whether this is about immigration, or about the NHS being a piggy in the middle. Yes, we all agree that 3% of staff could be disastrous, yet where are those 3% placed. The fact that this article is not mentioning that is equally a worry. We can agree that in pressure a loss of both doctors and nurses the impact is a strike at the heart of the NHS, yet there is no clear mention is there? You see, we know that it is ‘7,000 consultants & specialist registrars as well as more than 21,000 as nurses and health visitors’, yet not where and as we see that 7,000+21,000+29,000=57,000. Yet where are the 29,000 placed? Moreover, these three groups where are the set in the 4 areas. So how much per area when we consider England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? It boggles the mind on how these many incomplete parts could give way to smaller solutions diminishing the larger danger. Now, let’s face it, the danger still remains, but the assumptions seen in this article regarding the report makes me wonder how the Guardian who swallows the ‘facts’ by Santa Snowden at the drop of almost unconformable data is easily eager to let the entire NHS set on incomplete reporting.

So if the article is about ‘NHS needs EU employees to avoid collapse, says thinktank‘, why do we see side mentions of “The Brexit result has left the future status of 3 million EU citizens living in Britain uncertain“, which might not be that dire as well as “a British Future/ICM poll showed that the public does not believe the government will meet its target to reduce net migration to below 100,000 a year by 2020 even after Brexit takes place. In the poll, which was conducted just after the referendum in June, only 37% agreed the net migration target was likely to be reached in the next five years“. So is this really about the NHS, or is it a hidden story regarding Prof David Metcalf, who is calling for a much stronger enforcement of minimum labour standards in the UK to ensure the country’s flexible labour market prevents undercutting by foreign workers and boosts the welfare of British residents. You see, that too is not about the NHS, because that group of people lacks any level of skill to be regarded as optional staff for the NHS.

So consider where the title was and what this story is actually about, because it does not seem to be about the stress and resolving that stress these many nurses in the NHS are facing.

Perhaps it is still under construction, like an empty webpage with a simple icon from a cheap provider with no continuation plan.

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Media against the Law

When it comes to events within the law, the bulk of the publishers tend to remain in the dark as to what matters and what does not. Which might be fair enough when you consider the fact that they are more and more about numbers in circulation, not about the clarity of reporting. So when I saw certain reports on how there are issues with Hello Games (read: No Mans Sky) and the law, I tend to get curious fast.

There were to instances. The first one was regarding Sky TV. Because the issue was settled, there is not too much official news in play. As far as I was able to tell, from the various sources. We get “The root” of the “secret stupid legal nonsense” is down to Sky’s belief that it owns the word “Sky” in the context in which Hello Games planned to use it”. Can anyone explain to me why any judge would not throw this out of court in an instant?

The fact that this is of course linked to Rupert Murdoch in some way, means that plenty of people are too scared to go against that fossil (I hereby apologise to all fossils who feel offended by their media categorisation)!

In law however, there could have been a case and there was a case and in consideration, beyond the academic parts of Trade Marks law, there was, as I see it never a case. In the case where we see that action brought against the decision of the Fourth Board of Appeal of OHIM of January 30th 2013 (Case R 2398/2010-4), there are three players.

On one side we have

British Sky Broadcasting Group plc & Sky IP International Ltd

And on the other side there is Skype Ultd.

One issue is and has for ever been, more alike than not. Which is one that Sky versus Skype (hear: Skaip) would win, yet, one could argue that British Sky Broadcasting Group plc and Sky IP International Ltd are not alike Skype Ultd in any way. Yet it is the service Class 38 that works in favour of Murdoch again. These are Telecommunication services and as such, there could possibly be a conflict. Of course the non-legal academic mind realises that the Sky services is there for people who contemplate suicide, whilst Skype is about communicating with others. There is no overlap at all (unless you’re talking to your mother in law).

Yes, there is an unfair issue here. Because there is in no way any clear overlap from a consumer point of view, there is as I see it no chance of mistaken service here, but the legal point was made by Sky. It is the issue at [17] where we see “the risk that the public might believe that the goods or services at issue come from the same undertaking or from economically-linked undertakings constitutes a likelihood of confusion“, which is unlikely, yet not impossible and as such Skype lost the trial. The support was found from case Laboratorios RTB v OHIM — Giorgio Beverly Hills (GIORGIO BEVERLY HILLS).

So why bring this up?

You see, there is one part where there is a relevant part in the more likely than not as well as more similar then not. This is however not the case for Hello Games. First of all, this product of service is not telecom, it is a video game. In that regard Rupert Murdoch has a lot less knowledge of video games then Robert Maxwell, you know the other tycoon who took a swim on November 5th 1991. I know that to be a fact! In defence of Robert Maxwell, he was visionary enough to see that video games had the real future (he was the man behind Mirrorsoft), he would be proven correct less than 5 years after his death.

So when we consider British Sky Broadcasting Group plc. Sky IP International Ltd or Sky, there is absolutely no similarity between the one and the game ‘No Man’s Sky’. That case should have been dismissed of the bat. In addition, if Sky did not start a case against the following movie titles: ‘October Sky’, ‘Fire in the Sky’, ‘Iron Sky’, ‘Island in the Sky’, ‘Castle in the Sky’, ‘Red Sky’, ‘Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow’, ‘Vanilla Sky’ and ‘Sky High’, can we contemplate that if these cases had not gone to court, the injustice against Hello Games should be trialled for against Sky IP International Ltd?

You see, for Hello Games, the initial case could have been decided against them if the game was called ‘Sky of no man’, this is not the case so the dissimilarity is there. In addition, this is a video game and unless there is a clear sky game ready for the office, I am better of not getting close to it. As I see the likelihood of confusion would have never been a case so I am getting the idea that there is more. Yet, without the court papers there is no way to tell for certain. What is known are some of the facts in play? You see, the part “Too close is determined by whether the relevant consuming public would likely be confused by the second mark“. I can state with 100% certainty that those buying the game will never be confusing the mark of the game, with the mark of a Murdoch corporation.

In addition we can raise the following cases:

Jockey International, Inc v Darren Wilkinson [2010] ATMO 22, where Jockey was sufficiently different from Throttle Jockey and Chris Kingsley v David Scott [2011] ATMO 20, where Rebellion was sufficiently different from Soul Rebellion. As such, Sky should be seen as sufficiently different from ‘No Man’s Sky’. Yet, I will accept that without the full court data elements might be missing from the case. So I am keeping an open mind to some extent.

Now we see that Hello Games is in another situation, yet now on an optional case regarding the feat of patents, or is that the alleged featured use of a patent?

Dutch company claims No Man’s Sky Uses Its ‘Superformula’ without permission‘ (at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/dutch-company-claims-no-mans-sky-used-patented-superformula-create-its-massive-universe-1571747), the news now three weeks old gives another side of the entire universe. Wherever there is a true innovator, there is a vulture trying to get on the gravy train! In nearly all countries we see the application of it. In Belgium Law we see “De machine is patenteerbaar, evenals het proces van de aanpassing in functie van het draaimoment van de motor of de kracht op de snijkop. (voor zover dit voldoet aan de 4 voorwaarden voor een klassiek octrooi, maar laten we dit even aannemen).  De wiskundige formule die gebruikt wordt om deze functie te berekenen niet.” (Translated: A machine can be patented, so can the process of adjustment in function of the rotational moment of the engine on the power of the cutting head, the mathematical equation to calculate this cannot). You see, this is at the heart of the matter, in academic reality you could patent the universe, the methods of how it was conceived was not in addition, as the game is unique, Hello Games now have the copyright, yet not on the formula.

In addition, I need to show you the article by Eurogamer, who did some of the legwork (at http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-07-21-why-no-mans-sky-fans-are-worried-about-a-patented-superformula), they make a few references, more important is the fact that they got through to a few of the connected parties. Now we get to the gritty part of it. You see, there is orchestration in the wind (not by or through Eurogamer mind you).

Consider the quote Jeroen Sparrow gave Eurogamer, as stated in the article: “Genicap is working on a project to create revolutionary software based on the superformula that can be used likewise by indies and the major game studios. Using the superformula to generate natural objects enables you to create endless varied and original objects such as trees, rocks, beaches, planets and mountains. Currently most of this work is still done manually. We are still in the conceptual phase. We expect to be able to tell you more in autumn“, which is, as I see it a load of bollocks! Consider, that initial publications of teasers of No Mans Sky started in December 2013, it was introduced at the E3 2014, now we see ‘We expect to be able to tell you more in autumn‘, how is this even contemplated to have any kind of value?

You see, part of all this is linked to the patent claim EP1177529 (A1). You see in Patent Law, whenever the first element fails, all subsequent elements fail too.

So consider the first claim: “1. A method of creating a physical form, comprising: programming a computer with a computer application for computer graphics or computer aided design or the generation of physical waveforms, with a representation of the following formula r = 1 1 a · cos m 1 ·φ 4 n 2 ± 1 b · sin m 2 φ 4 n 3 n 1 <img class=”EMIRef” id=”188164907-ib0037″ /> where r is a radius value at an angle φ, selecting values for the parameters a, b; n 1, n 2, n 3, m 1and m 2, at least one of n 1, n 2and n 3and at least one of m 1and m 2being variable; generating a pattern via the computer based on the selected values input into said formula; transforming said generated pattern into a physical form.“, here you might be confused, but you need no math, just plain English “transforming said generated pattern into a physical form“, here is the simple crux. A virtual representation, is not a physical form. A supporting thesis can be found (at https://unfoldingform.wordpress.com/about/), if there is one upside then it would be that this all introduced me to the work of Kris Henning. The abstract quote “a design investigation exploring the transition between the virtual representation and physical fabrication of folded forms” gives the goods: ‘transition between the virtual representation and physical fabrication‘, they are two different dimensions. Whilst we could argue that Jeroen sparrow is finding new ways to fund a tax party and here the quote “transforming said generated pattern into a physical form” does not hold the bacon, because this is not what Hello Games are doing and as such, we could regard Genicap as a simple vulture trying to get scraps from someone who was able to create. You see, Dutch patents are very similar to those in Common Law nations “De vinding moet gaan over een product of productieproces, en je moet kunnen aantonen dat dit technisch kan functioneren. Zo kunnen diensten, ideeën zonder concrete uitwerking, natuurwetenschappelijke theorieën, rekenmethoden en esthetische vormgeving niet beschermd worden door een patent” The invention needs to be on a product or production process and it must be shown that it technically functional, services, ideas without concrete solutions, natural theories, calculations and aesthetic shapes are not protected by a patent (translation), so as we cannot fault Eurogamer for  lack of Dutch, plenty of Dutch sources did not give this the attention it needed to have. This case is likely to go nowhere!

So we see the collection of people lacking innovation and applicational genius and trying to weasel in on their flaccid approach of inability (perhaps I am oversimplifying the issue?)

When we look at the final part of the Eurogamer article (which is quite excellent), we see “If Hello Games used our technology, at some stage we will have to get to the table. We have reached out to them but understand they have been busy. We trust that we will be able to discuss this in a normal way“, whilst, as I see it, there is enough to debunk the patent claim, there would still be issues of copyright. Yet, there is an issue there too. For this we need to take a step towards Forbes, who published on May 19th 2014 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnvillasenor/2014/05/19/how-much-copyright-protection-should-source-code-get-a-new-court-ruling-reshapes-the-landscape/), where we see “Consider a programmer who writes source code to implement a complex weather forecasting model. Models for weather forecasting are not subject to copyright, but the programmer (or, if the programmer is an employee, his or her company) may nonetheless have an enforceable copyright interest in the specific code written to perform that task“, which actually gets us pretty close to the heart of No Man’s Sky. the mathematical model has no protection (if it was used), but Johan Gielis could have ‘an enforceable copyright interest in the specific code written to perform that task‘, yet that part is stopped, because that part was built from scratch by Hello Games, so even if the superformula is in whole part of No Man’s Sky, it seems to me that the application was re-engineered and as such, Genicap has nothing. Nothing is as I see it should be, because they come up with “the superformula to generate natural objects enables you to create endless varied and original objects such as trees, rocks, beaches, planets and mountains. Currently most of this work is still done manually. We are still in the conceptual phase“, whilst a demo has been visible for close to two years? I reckon that they were asleep at the wheel (possible trying to come up with a mathematical formula to grow mentioned wheel).

In the end, Hello Games is growing an industry in a direction no one foresaw, the even better part is that I blogged an additional application for this solution well over 6 months ago implies that I surpassed Genicap regarding any superformula (without ever seeing it), even before they went into some conceptual stage, I found it another application. So what does that tell us about Genicap and Jeroen Sparrow?

So, be like me and enjoy playing No Man’s Sky (and thanking Hello games for coming up with a brilliant game).

 

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An early verdict

So many people have been speaking about No Man’s sky and I am now joining them. Those who know me are aware that I have idolised the game since I saw the very first teaser 2 years ago. It is still three days away, yet I could no longer wait and I saw the stream by DJ Angel (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqmjEv7l3u0). There are two reasons to look at this one. You see, for all the good, it also shows one debatable part.

From the first part, as far as I can tell, No Man’s sky is promising to be everything I hoped for. No quick glitches, or short cuts, just a play through. The fact that every planet is procedurally generated is also an indication that your planet could be very different from the one you are seeing, so watching this is not too much of a giveaway for what you face. The game gives the goods and the others. I am not stating it is the bad side. I am stating that as an explorer you need to think, so when you try to get to a milestone and you want to get something from your ship and you get introduced to ‘ship out of range’ you know you needed another solution and wandering so far from your spaceship was not the best idea you had. Yet, like Minecraft you can get lost in time and suddenly realise you made the milestone of 10,000 steps and you go Oops!

Not sure how DJ Angel felt, but I thought it was brilliant. So in the last weeks I saw people screaming upcoming disappointment, I saw people claiming to play this game and ‘finishing’ it in 30 hours and now I see a 6 hour play through (I watched a little over half an hour), where I see a player just trying to get by the elements. Short on items and getting ‘hindered’ by inventory full. I saw an option to buy a multi-tool upgrade and a few items you will have to see for yourself. I am moving towards a fair amount of sleepless nights I gather. No Mans Sky is about to exceed my personal expectations!

Now, The graphics (this is on a PS4), are pretty awesome. I reckon that other presentations were on PC, yet this resolution and the details we see are really good. The amount of icons in the field give decent indication of what I need to be aware of. Now, here is the part that I need to be mindful of. You see, I might not be in a desert environment, I might start on a temperate planet with seas, or in the icy cold. I will not know for another three days, yet this video shows clearly that we the players will be in for an excellent ride through our console universe. In earnest, Paul Tassi at Forbes raised a few issues I agree with, also sets ease many minds so you need to read the article ‘What’s Going On With No Man’s Sky’s Awkward Launch?‘ (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/08/06/whats-going-on-with-no-mans-skys-awkward-launch/#5730666621b3). For the most he asks fair questions in a way that should not worry you and moreover, on Wednesday you will have a clean server and a game with a day one patch to work with.

Yet in the negative, I would want to add a possible essential fixes to the achievements. This is based upon the IGN list of achievements: I saw several ‘milestones’ in the game, like ‘beginner’ for learning 8 words. Considering that 10 words gets you the bronze achievement, which is fair enough, yet another review I saw implies that the achievements were too easy (no idea how many words are needed for Silver and gold. So far, I am unable to oppose it and personally I do hope that from the initial verdict that this person gave where the achievement list is set to 4/10 (in difficulty) it will be shifted more towards a 7/10 or even an 8/10. I would feel sad if this ends up being an easy chase to the platinum cup (which does not lessen the gaming experience in any way). Yet, this is just my personal view and it is based on missing information. So, be aware that I might be wrong on that count, as I got this from none too reliable sources.

What DJ Angel clearly shows is that Hello Games completely delivers on the promise they made over the last 2 years. In addition, I do hope, based upon the IGN list, the following additions will be made:

Abreu – Survived one extreme planet for no less than 2 hours outside of a base or spaceship (Bronze).
Amundsen – Survived three different extreme planet for no less than 3 hours outside of a base or spaceship (Silver).
Armstrong – Survived five different extreme planet for no less than 4 hours outside of a base or spaceship (Gold).

I am going with extreme Heat, Cold, Radiation and Toxic, so I am hoping there is a fifth one.

That is pretty much the only negative part that we could possibly face and there is no guarantee that this is a fact, so no matter how you feel regarding the achievements, apart from all the BS we have been exposed to for many months, DJ Angel gives a few spoilers, but only if you land on a planet with these weather and ecology markers, which has a rough probability of 0.000002324%, those are truly gaming stats that make you smile!

We are a mere two days away from a great moment in gaming history! If Minecraft was anything to go by, I reckon I will be spending in excess of a thousand hours over the next year in this game. For Sony this is another notch on their guns of revenue. When we consider the past there were a few moments when one game was worth buying a console for.

With the PS1 this was Tombraider, with the PS2 that list was pretty big with God of War & Soul Caliber leading my list. The PS3 would be worth buying for Metal Gear Solid Guns of the patriot, Skyrim or the Last of Us and now on PS4 No Mans Sky joins that famous list. That game alone is buying a console for! In all the games published not many titles can make that claim, yet from what I have now seen No Mans Sky delivers the gaming goods!

Yet for those feeling nervous, there is one more fact that should be considered. This has been stated by several decently reputable sources. The two elements are that the database gets wiped, which means that those early players have no advantage and that you will discover your fair share of elements, life forms and planets. The second part is that there will be a day one patch adding even more replayability. Things like ship diversity, meaning there is a larger list of ships all with benefits and drawbacks. Additional depth in trading, meaning more fun for you and your ship as well as multiple endings. These are great facts and none are too much a spoiler. What is clear is that a team of 11 have outdone the larger developers with a comfortable margin, which is good for other claims I made in the past, and even more rewarding for me as I start playing No Mans Sky tomorrow (wishful thinking).

So I hope you join me in spirit as you embark on your own quest through a universe as Hello Games procedured it to be, a fun trip for anyone holding their PS4 controller!

 

 

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