Tag Archives: Ubisoft

The wide net

We all have the idea to go phishing, we want trout, we want salmon and we use the biggest net possible to get at least one. So when AP gave us ‘Casting a wide intrusion net: Dozens burned with single hack’ (at https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-politics-europe-eastern-europe-new-zealand-f318ba1ffc971eb17371456b015206a5), not only was I not surprised, I had been warning people about this for a few years, that setting is apparently upon us now (or at least some are admitting it now). There we see “Nimble, highly skilled criminal hackers believed to operate out of Eastern Europe hacked dozens of companies and government agencies on at least four continents by breaking into a single product they all used” this does not surprise me, this happened in the late 80’s as well when someone used Aston Tate’s DB3 to introduce a virus, it is simple find something they all use and hamper its function, a basic strategy that an Italian (Julius Caesar) introduced 2000 years ago, there he hampered the roads and not servers but you get the idea, the classics still work.

When we are given “The Accellion casualties have kept piling up, meanwhile, with many being extorted by the Russian-speaking Clop cybercriminal gang, which threat researchers believe may have bought pilfered data from the hackers. Their threat: Pay up or we leak your sensitive data online, be it proprietary documents from Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier or lawyer-client communications from Jones Day.” It might seem rash but the people relied on others to keep their data safe and whilst we see more and more that they cannot contain the bacon the clients are suffering, this is not a simple station and we get it, but package solutions tend to come with flaws and that has been a truth for 20 years, so why are you all crying now? It is the final part that has more bearing “Members of Congress are already dismayed by the supply-chain hack of the Texas network management software company SolarWinds that allowed suspected Russian state-backed hackers to tiptoe unnoticed — apparently intent solely on intelligence-gathering — for more than half a year through the networks of at least nine government agencies and more than 100 companies and think tanks. Only in December was the SolarWinds hacking campaign discovered by the cybersecurity firm FireEye. France suffered a similar hack, blamed by its cybersecurity agency on Russian military operatives, that also gamed the supply chain. They slipped malware into an update of network management software from a firm called Centreon, letting them quietly root around victim networks from 2017 to 2020.” This is important because of what happened in the last two years, remember how ‘stupid’ American people started to blame Huawei for all the bad whilst offering absolutely no supporting evidence? Huawei does not need to bother to aid whichever government there was, silly software developers are doing that for them, we see an abundance of intrusion problems that include SolarWinds, Accellion and Cisco. A stage where thousands of systems are at risk, but no, the ‘silly’ people kept on blaming Huawei. Even I knew better and as Sony gave me the idea for an intrusion method called ‘Plus One’ (a viable way to drive the Pentagon nuts) with an alternative direction that I call ‘Vee One’, but that one has a few hiccups I reckon. Then I got creative and saw a new parameter in play. One that is based on a little part I read in a Cisco manual, the text “When You Add A Hard Disk To A Virtual Machine(VM), you can create a new virtual disk, add an existing virtual disk, or add a mapped Storage Area Network (SAN) Logical UnitNumber (LUN). In most cases, you can accept the default device node. For a hard-disk, a non default device node is useful to control the boot order or have different Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) controller types. For example, you might want to boot from an LSI Logic controller and use a Bus-logic Controller With bus sharing turned onto share a data disk with another VM.” You see that small text indicates that there is a nice workaround in Cisco CMX and it opens up a lot more than they bargained for, that in conjunction with the share issues thy were already facing gives out a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Copy me I want to travel’, n’est pas? (for the French victims)

It is a much larger stage, most laws aren’t ready for this, prosecuting the guilty parties is close to impossible and any quick fix they make will only make things harder, the setting was and has for always been the makers of software, time constraints and lack of deep testing makes for a lousy solution and in most cases these players have a pushy marketing department (example: Ubisoft), and yes ‘You be soft!’ because the small tidbit that AP gives us with “Attackers are finding it harder and harder to gain access via traditional methods, as vendors like Microsoft and Apple have hardened the security of the operating systems considerably over the last years” yet it is a small stage and not a correct one. Weaknesses in Azure, issues with advertising in apps and a larger stage of programming, we see it clearest in .NET, but it goes way beyond that, for example “The problem of memory leaks is not uncommon in any technology. Simply put, the framework doesn’t release the memory that it no longer needs. .NET is frequently criticised for memory leaks and memory-related issues. Although .NET has a garbage collector for this sort of problem, engineers still have to invest additional efforts into proper resource management. And the leaks keep on growing as the application scales.” (source: Altexsoft) and it shows the smallest part, if there is a leak in one place, there will be in other places too and the leaks are not the real problem, getting it to semi-crash and taking over its right on a network are a quick way into any system, I saw the example with an accounting program (censored name), I got the program to crash (took about 20 seconds) and I ended up with the administrator rights to the entire mainframe from ANY location running that software. I get it, there will always be a bug in any place and the makers were quick to fix it, but for a few weeks there was an entrance point that took minimum efforts and that setting is only increasing with routers and cloud systems, these companies rely on marketeers that are ready to push for the investors sake and leave the client swimming in a swamp, I have seen it more than once and it will happen again, and this setting has been going on since 1989 and over the next 3-4 years it will grow to 150%, the push to billions and to quickly get to billions will be overwhelming for too many players all whilst the law will not be able to protect the victims, they will merely point at torts law, even though that you are the victim, most contracts are offered as an ‘as is’ solution and for the most software makers can avoid prosecution for the longest time, long enough for the hackers to get away with your data and sell it, what a lovely system you bought. Oh and before I forget, organised crime is way ahead of me, so for some it will already be too late.

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Doubt and consideration

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Sony
2. Nintendo 
3. Microsoft

Turn into 

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

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

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

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The marker, what is it?

We are always in a stage where it is about the price, as such the title ‘are video games too expensive?’ In the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/feb/08/are-video-games-too-expensive-assassins-creed-cyberpunk-2077) had my attention, I wonder what they are throwing at us this time, they being Luke Holland. He throws “With new consoles from Sony and Microsoft expected, a raft of video game publishers announced that the RRP of their new releases would increase for the first time since the mid-00s” at us and that seems fine. There is also the fact that most game dealers tend to lower that price off the bat, the makers have there day one discounts and it goes on. I get it. Luke is not wrong and through the article he gives a decent point of view, but some issues remain. It is not given with “While an extra £20 won’t break the bank for some, games might already be stretching what little disposable income many people have, particularly when twinned with the £250-£450 cost of the shiny new console on which to play them”, it is a fact, but there is more (there always is). He touches on it with “the cost of producing an AAA game – big-budget, big-studio, tentpole titles – is now akin to that of making a Hollywood blockbuster. Grand Theft Auto V, released in 2013, cost £195m in development and marketing” yet he dances around it by dangling Cyberpunks and the bugs in our faces, whilst he ignores the massive bug list that AC Valhalla had (the very first image in the story). So whilst we get “A Martin Scorsese film lumbers in at three hours long. Most narrative-led games clock in at 15-or-so hours – five whole Scorseses; a hundred quid’s worth of Marty”, yes but there we see it, the quality, quality is what separates them, Scorsese hands us sheer perfection, Ubisoft products have not done this for the better part of a decade, in addition a game like Cyberpunk is showing us innovation to a much larger degree even (if for now) it has bugs. Ubisoft has been treating us to more of the same for years and they still can’t get it right. That is the part that is missing in this. And the gem is given at the very last “Yes, £70 is a lot. But choose wisely and you’ll never, ever feel short-changed”, yes we agree, but the ‘choose wisely’ part has become tainted. Consider that IGN gave us ‘Update 1.1.0 will fix over 30 Quest, World Event, and Side Activity issues, many that would prevent players from proceeding due to glitches and problems’, they gave this TWO MONTHS after the game was released, so how come that we see scores (metacritic: 80-85) depending on what system, a game with that many bugs is given 70+? And when we see that per source Gamepro (65) to PC gamer (92), we should have issues with the ‘choose wisely part’, in opposition there is Watchdogs: Legion, they did get that part right and when we see metacritic reviews (66-74) we need to sit down and consider that we all have different tastes and the settings are not equally pressed, which is unfair to Ubisoft as well. 

This is where the shoes become an issue, we might think that £20  is not too big an issue, when you are in a stage where you might buy a lemon £20 is a lot, really it is. 

As we try to set a value per time range, we need to consider that art is not easily categorised, and a true video game is still a work of art, which is why I have been slapping Ubisoft all I can, as I feel that they forgot that part. They got parts right they got games right. Even now, I still see in my mind the sunrise in AC Origins, perhaps because it was the first real 4K game, perhaps it was the setting, but they got that part right, pretty much all of it, which is why I am so angry about AC Valhalla. I stayed away from it and until the price is set to below £10 I continue to do so. I got AC Odyssey at £10 at some point, and I still regret it, so I might not fall for that this time around, in this I have serious settings on finding a way to officially remove Ubisoft from the AAA developers list, but then I remember, they got Watchdogs: Legion right, they might pull it off again. 

In this we need to make one more sidestep, Luke gives us “December’s Cyberpunk 2077 – despite being unfinished, riddled with bugs and, on consoles, uglier than a pooing pug”, which is interesting as he did not give us that setting for AC Valhalla, did he? I get it, we all have style of games we like, as I was in the 70’s addicted to the original William Gibson’s Neuromancer, I remain faithful to the game, I keep it on my shelf and I wait until the fixes have come in to play beyond the introduction. We also seem to forget that Cyberpunk 2077 had grossed well over $600 million in digital sales alone as of the end of 2020. He can have that view, I never liked GTA5, I did not like GTA4, so I stayed away from the sequel, I get it plenty like it, but it is not for me, just like Skyrim is not the game for a lot of them. We all have different tastes. 

Yet the title of the article remains in my mind, it still does, you see the part that Luke skated away from is that Immortals Fenyx Rising is $39 in the US, the same game is $50 in Europe, $77 in Australia and $45 in the UK (all PS4 prices). And this has been going on for years, all whilst the prices are even worse when you buy a digital format game, it also impacts the value of the art but we do not see that here, or in Luke’s defence with “a hundred quid’s worth of Marty”, when a game is not set to a level stage we see the issues, especially when the Xbox store charges more for a digital copy than a store would for a physical one, even an Australian store. This has been going on for at least 5 years. Games are judged by markers, but the reviewers are using different markers on different stages and they all refer to them as ‘markers’, as such people are walking away because they can no longer tell the difference. In this the final remark (which is still wise) “But choose wisely and you’ll never, ever feel short-changed” loses ground. An overhaul of what reviews and what should be reviewed is set to corners that are blatantly disregarded and it required an overhaul for well over a decade, I know because in the beginning (1988-1999) I was a reviewer. I might never have been the best, but I was always fair on the games I reviewed and I kept to the games I liked. When you get 2 pages a month, you want to spend them on the games you like, nothing else. A flaw? Optionally, but I had to make the space count so I did it on the games I likes and other reviewers on the games they liked. 

And I will admit, reviewing has become a lot more complex. A game that was on the CBM64, Atari ST or PC286 does not compare what is out today, so in that consider Watchdogs: Legion (at https://www.bworldonline.com/it-could-have-been-transcendent-arts/), I for the most agree with the review and the 85% score is decent and well earned and the one issue that I have is seen in “perhaps due to the weight of its pledges, it never gets to reach its projected dazzling heights. It never stops being enjoyable, but the most demanding players will be bothered by a nagging feeling that it could have been not just better, but transcendent — that it’s just a few steps shy of greatness”, it sums up the failing of Ubisoft, games that could have been beyond ‘WOW!’ are merely ‘Nice!’ And many reviewers do not do half as good a job on reviews as Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong did. So whilst we give attention to ‘choose wisely’ we forget that gamers are getting overloaded with reviews on all kinds of digital formats, and they often can no longer separate the critical reviewer from the unquestioning followers and the blind hater, which is an actual problem that makes any gamer like they are getting played and suddenly that £20 makes a whole lot of difference. 

If enough people say that it is not a marker, it is a coffee stick. We will see that at some point some will stir their coffee with it, no matter where it was before. 

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Hammer hits anvil

Yes, that is the foundation of an idea, the idea is voiced, in the ear, the hammer hits the anvil, the anvil vibrates the wires and the lightbulb in your brain lights up the room and the idea is born. The setting is the same for all, the only difference is that when the hammer hits the anvil, not everyones wires vibrate, and as a result in some people the lightbulb never lights up that room that is known as ‘skull space’, still my setting was that I did not come up with one idea, I came up with three. It is an idea that was someone else’s idea, but that foundation can still be used today and in a cloud space game setting.

Lets go back to 1984, George Orwell was making noises in regards to government oversight (of everyone) and in that same year Mike Singleton had an idea and created ‘the Lords of Midnight’, now even as the setting was nice, it was set to computers with a limit to 48KB (ZX Spectrum) and the 64KB that the Commodore had. Yet what happens when we take that idea and use the map of the UK (that island left of France) and set ourselves in a stage of riding, stealth and travel to collect the alliance of a minimum amount of keeps to secure the safety and unity of one region, each keep is in one county. The stage is all set, so to change it and make it a real challenge, the stages vary, the keep is not always in the same place (sometimes they are), and we aren’t always starting in the same place, so there will always be more than one option. The area is all in a stage where there is an enemy, not always visible, but as we align, we are given who is not our enemy and they will give the information of what is against us. A stage that is more alike the old days, when communication took days, not seconds. We need to adjust our way of thinking without removing the first person challenge. Even as it is based on that game, it will be a completely new game, it will be a larger setting based on the entire UK, all with optional awards (virtual diploma’s) of achievement and a retirement award. A game that shows time in a new setting if you like.

The setting of a cloud will allow a larger setting of randomisation, as the server does all the alignments, as such if 10 players play it, there is a chance that 2 players have close to the same setup, but not completely. A game where you need to do the work and not rely on some wiki solution where the one solution fits all. 

About a decade later someone made a game called Virus! It was an original game and even as it never made any headlines, I never forgot the originality. Yet in this day, what can we do to innovate? For example, a shooting game is one completed a game that has been completed, but it does not need to be like that. What if the opponents and the level of play is determined by a QR code? In the game Virus! It was Windows and your hard-drive, which in those days was innovative, yet today it does not work like that (or at least it should not). QR codes are everywhere and any level completed will be one we have already seen, yet what if we had on any mobile the option to save the code and use it to transfer the image to the cloud game? It does not matter whether it is a spaceship with an environment, a soldier with an urban or rural setting, it is about the fact that we are not in control and the maker cannot be creating levels again and again, and random generators tend to be less random than you think. Yet the setting of a QR code is out of our control and we can decide what every dot means, we merely are in the dark whether that dot is used. A game with almost infinite levels and a never ending stage of challenges, a lovely idea for any shooter with drive to compete.

Yes, I agree that it is in fact an iterative idea when we revisit an old idea, but the people seemingly forgot about the idea and as such it becomes a new ballgame. When we are given “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Known Issues [Updated Feb 5]”, in a stage when Ubisoft gave the laughingly statement that the game would be released days early and we see 3 months later that there are well over a dozen issues with impacts on a dozen missions that cannot continue, is it such a bad idea to look at the past when these kind of screw ups would never make the cut of publication?

And a lot could have been prevented from day one by properly testing a game. In this I tend to fall back to Skyrim, a game that has issues, no one denies it, but in all the years (since 11.11.11) that I have played it, I only witnessed 3-4 bugs myself on any console (Xbox360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PS5) and a dozen or so glitches, yet glitches do not break a game. And that was made almost 10 years ago. I think it is time to reconsider what we love to play and what maker consider to be a good game. When we consider the size of Skyrim, my only issue with the game (after playing it again and again at least 8 times, is that the missions are always the same, yet the openness of the game allows for a lot of exploring and doing things your way. But what gives when the QR code resets the opposition and changes what you face in every dungeon, crypt or hollow? 

And that gives me another idea, I reckon that there are a few nordic directors with a grasp of the dark side of tinsel town, and when you consider Troll Hunter (2010). I thought it was awesome, André Øvredal took a folktale and pushed it and us into another direction. I am certain that it can be done again. So, what happens when we take that part of Skyrim that is based on Nordic legends and create a new horror movie, but one that is close to the folktale of the Draugar “Draugar usually possessed superhuman strength, and was “generally hideous to look at”, bearing a necrotic black colour, and was associated with a “reek of decay” or more precisely inhabited haunts that often issued foul stench”. Lets not forget in the academic world where people hunt academic recognition, stupidity (read: shortsightedness) is found a dime a dozen and when we see the people’s admiration with the zombie apocalypse, the idea that it had already happened is not the weirdest idea to consider, so what happens when someone opens up the wrong thing (tomb or urn) in Malmo and before the authorities have any clue what actually is going on, the issue has spread to Norway, Denmark and Germany. So as we need to rely on folklore, folklore that is specific to Scandinavia, what will those do who have no knowledge? The military will merely grab bigger weapons, weapons that have some effect, but the stage is different, you can hunt cockroaches with a flamethrower, yet what happens when that roach is somewhat heat resistant? The option are nearly endless and it could make for an entertaining 2-3 hours with a box of popcorn. As you see, these AAA game designers are all about being cool and having hot items (riddled with bugs), I needed one salad to get three ideas on paper. I wonder what I will be able to think off with a decent cheese pizza (with extra oregano).

Have a great Monday!

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Destined to entertain

We all want to be an entertainer, most of us (not all) have that feeling inside of us, the need to be entertaining, our social structures have also pushed it, but in the stage where it is a sort of PC (politically correct) version of that what entertains us, it is in that setting where some of us become actors, some become writers, some become directors and some become game creators. There are a few more options, but the foundation of books, sound and vision have been upon us for centuries, last century vision (movies, TV) was added and about 35 years ago games were added. Yet the setting of games remains new and they too are going through the motions. A stage where they are relying on re-using any wheel instead of inventing a new one. We can agree that there is a stage of sequels that some accept (some do not) but that stage comes with labels and warnings. The God of War has pulled it off 4 times and they did it well, Ubisoft with its Assassins Creed did not, yet from my point of view, they did do a decent job and pulled it off with WatchDogs. Yet these makers have an issue with the story, they forget that the story is the driving factor. It is easiest seen When you compare God of War IV or Mass Effect to the Assassins Creed stories (Unity, Syndicate, Odyssey) you get a first glimmer why the AC range was failing, they had a great thing, they bungled it, then they seemingly fixed it with AC Origins (which was amazing) and then they bungled it. Even now, AC Valhalla is according to some too shallow, to much chasing after something whilst forgetting the Assassins path. I cannot vouch for AC Valhalla as I stayed away from it, but the critique makes sense, and that is before we consider the fixes to bug and glitches. This is why new games like Horizon Zero Dawn are cherished (and it is a really nice game too), or the mere fact that Skyrim is still being played on new consoles 9 years after its release. The story is everything, Ubisoft forgot about that, Bethesda seemingly did not. But this is not about Ubisoft bashing (even though it is entertaining), Bioware is in a similar stage, They messed up ME4, and they now rely on ME1,2,3 to fatten their coffers so that they get a chance at ME5. A setting that is dubious, but if they really fattened the pot and make ME5 a game that breaks the mould, they might pull it off. It is funny, it took me less than 2 hours to think through a sequel all whilst ME4 collapsed. Yet I digress, you see, to become the entertainer you need to be a creator, all whilst silly people at some game companies relied on Business Intelligence, but entertainment cannot be set in that way, you merely get a setting where you try to include everything and in that setting you never satisfy anyone. And as such creation falters (AC Odyssey is a prime example). And a we now see that there are more games coming, that some indie developers are changing the game (Hades), we see that gaming is not dead, but the story mattered and so does game play. 

So as gaming becomes a rather large stage (due to Covid issues) we get to see a new stage where some game developers are losing options and optionally their firm and some shine. And in all this it is not about the highest graphics, That is seen with Animal Crossings: New Horizons. A game that surpasses 20 million copies, which implies that 1 in 2 Switch owners has that game, it is almost unheard of. It shows that gameplay is just a important as the storyline and the fact that this game is a long term game, not something you finish in 100 hours has close to never been done before, and Microsoft (Sony too) are a little bit in the dark, that is why Nintendo is such a competitor. I said it 2-3 years ago and it is coming true, gaming is more than relying on a Business Intelligence analyst, it is a setting where a painter and a storyteller unite to give the traveller a story that this person has never experienced before, and that is what Skyrim and Mass Effect (1-3) delivered on, others did too, so why are some game makers blind to that part?
It took me a day at the most to give the Elder Scrolls, WatchDogs, Mass Effect a sequel on a new storyline, a new creation, so why can’t they do this? OK, there is still an Elder Scrolls coming, but I  made the first design 6 years ago, Mass Effect 4-5, 3 years ago and Watchdogs 4 last year. Now consider that I am a nobody and these high and mighty game designers can’t come up with the goods on several fronts, so what are they missing. How come Nintendo is on the ball, Microsoft forgot what a ball looks like and and Sony is seemingly slipping a fraction, and all this has close to nothing to do with new hardware, games are paintings, the console is a palette and the palette becomes bigger or change shape but the creator adjusts view, adjusts grip and continues.

So in this, and as we see what is coming, what makes them destined to entertain? 

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Before life was, I was

Yup, there is the ego, floating over your head, look to the right, no, your other right, look about 43.8 degree higher (if you are outside) take the second star to the right, yup, there I am. So as you might have guessed, it is time to talk about god-games and whatever I consider here, is free to use in any Sony exclusive game.

To see this, we need to go back to the foundation of god-games. My introduction to this type was in the 80’s when Little Computer People came to the CBM64. We all see the age of Peter Molyneux as the stage of the ‘true’ god games, but it is out in the open to accept or reject that notion. And in all this, most of us might remember the game Black and White. It was a more god game than most god games and even the guy upstairs agrees, right Hades? 

Yet what if we create a game where it is merely part of the game, not the game itself. For example, if we set to an example most of us remember ‘Assassins Creed Brotherhood’, consider that the game remains the control of Ezio Auditore, yet the god side of it is that we can to some degree control the actions of NPC’s. An example, Ezio is running through town, and that is fine, but in the god side we unleash rain on the area and as a result all the courtesans hide inside their houses. Ezio loses an ability to his side. This is a crude version. 

So if we use the divine powers in Black and White, it is a direct option, what if it becomes indirect? Like drawing a line in the sand, the ants will find another path, but that is as clear an option as it comes. So what happens when the game is about indirect channelling and it becomes about indirect guidance. Not as a setting in the game, but as a setting towards the game? So like Batman fights his opponents in Arkham knight, we influence the brutality of those around him, we set the premise of depression of the victims around him, it changes the game, it changes his focus, whilst the gamer does not see a change in the player, the stage we see in detective mode of Batman and we see the criminals are at some point terrified, Batman instilled this, but what happens when we set a secondary stage that affects the persons in the area, but Batman cannot directly influence that. That stage is influenced by the the NPC’s, not like the stupid wave like behaviour we saw in AC Unity again and again, but a sort of herd like behaviour in NPC’s, it changes the entire setting of the playable area and we forgot about that, thee gamer (and the developer was so focussed on Ezio Auditore, Batman, Edward Kenway, they forgot to set the influence stage on the population when Batman, Poison Ivy, or Vaas comes into the level. Yes, there was some attempt (AC Unity) the the fear was where we see street run away in front of you was a failed attempt at this. A stage where we can only influence a second tier (up to a point), is something we have never faced. In this I grab back to the Black and White part. Until we set the premise where an evangelist is created by their own choice, the influence is limited. So we can directly interfere in the game (buildings, infrastructure), yet the NPC influence is only limited. Games like Spore, Black and White set the action as direct. I want to change that, give a much larger challenge where the person having the finger needs to think where he draws the line for the ants.

It is a speculative setting, but that is all that I can offer in a conceptual setting. It is conceptual, because it has never been done before and evolution of games happens in a stage where things are new and never done before, there was always the first one. And that is what we are aiming for, something never done in gaming before, upgrading the level of gameplay down the line, and that was all that gamers want, a new level of play, we all want that, because sooner rather than later more of the same becomes tiring. And for the most, the sandbox games has left the NPC part of their game to too much of a limiting factor. So we need to change that side of things if only to make sandbox games more realistic and more believable.

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You be soft

Well, there is good news and there is bad news, the good news is that my dreaming was not as dark as before, the bad news, I redesigned a new version of Assassins Creed, nothing with that pansy ass Viking stuff, or more precisely the glitches and bugs (as I saw them on YouTube). A fresh version that grasps back to the actual strength of the AC series, the Ezio Auditore era. Don’t worry, be calm, I will not touch something that was near perfect, but it surprises me that no one in the Ubisoft offices had that foresight, that insight and if they did, who was the yahoo milk dud that stopped it? 

When we consider the old games, and I just replayed both AC2 and Brotherhood in the PS5, I was amazed how I loved redoing what I know what was going on, this is not an attack on the AC games, I truly loved these two and I had them both on PS3 and Xbox360, I never regretted that. And after that it went quiet until Origins, OK, AC Black Flag was a great game, it was just not an AC game. Giving a pirate a hidden blade is not making him an assassin and I never got that, Ubisoft had the premise of a new franchise, all new close to a day one game on the PS4 and they botched it, like it was left to someone without backbone to decide, anyway, Origins was amazing and after that it was more of the same, and the same stupidity came to Odyssey, as such I refused to touch Valhalla, and when I saw the glitches in YouTube films I was doubly sure that until the game was 80%-90% priced down (because of all the patches required), I left it alone. So as I was playing this evening a little of AC Brotherhood a new setting came to mind.

It was an interesting time to consider it, because it would set a new stage right between AC Brotherhood and AC3, I set the stage in the Netherlands, and the idea was to make it full on stealth, like an assassin needs to be. The idea was to have a much larger antagonist and it does not get any larger than the VoC, the ‘Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie’ was the first setting of a true cartel, so it stands to reason that the Templars (or whatever they would be called then) wanted a piece of that. The idea is to set a story that intertwines there. Consider that art was at an all time high, the Dutch Masters ruled, so the art is there, the old cities of Delft and Amsterdam would be there and that nations has had it foreign military visitors (France an Spain) which also resulted in the 80 year war, as such, a nation in war is a nation with options and opportunities. Even as the VoC is the main antagonist, there is a much larger story, the Netherland were basically  centred around North Holland and South Holland, Even as South Holland was mainly Rotterdam and Schiedam, it had its own life, its own set of achievements, and lets not forget that the Pilgrims on the Mayflower left from Schiedam. A whole wealth of options, and it was left untouched, as they tried to go for something looking cool.  

The VoC had it claws in the East Indian nations and more important, until around 1675 the VOC navigators and cartographers helped shape geographical knowledge of the world as we know it today. In addition, the Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek started microbiology around 1650, he also invented the microscope (he was probably bored staring at the hookers in Caetendrecht), a nation with so much history and so many options and Ubisoft seemingly ignored it. Now there is a danger, the danger is that we do not want more of the same (AC2), but something more, something different and making it more stealth and evolving stealth is an option, we can also dispense with the leaps of faith, we will not be sailing but boats are  larger setting as the VoC was a large fleet carrying organisation. 

There are of course a few options that seemingly overlap, there is art, but this time around books (revelations) are a side, the need to steal becomes a larger stage, as such you might improve a location (your house) but it does not lead to money, as such you need to make choices. There is also the notion to include Belgium as Brussels was an important city, especially when Napoleon came stomping by, there is a setting of close to a 100 years and in that time so much happened,  we could make a much larger game, with more settings and a larger story line that surrounds the VoC and optionally sets a much needed stepping stone to other sides of the story.

What surprised me is that I got all this in less than 3 hours, and all that whilst Ubisoft came up with AC Valhalla, which has as I personally see it a lot of its homework from watching the 2013 series Vikings by Michael Hirst, but that could just be me. 

And my largest fear is not that Ubisoft goes into this direction, it is the massive amount of bugs that they put into the game as well. Even now we see (5 hours ago), that there are arrow bugs that are not fixed, I wonder if Ubisoft will ever learn, I might just buy all their IP. I still have $20 left, it should be enough.

Oh, before I close the story, instead of merely assassinating people (which is never  waste of time), I thought it might be prudent in line of the VoC to add a diplomacy part, so whilst some need to be killed, some people should never be killed, as such the thieves are more important now, they can be used and when used enough they will teach you skills too. Something that sets a larger premise towards using allies. Just an idea.

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An optional ignored path

It happens, we sometimes overlook it and it is not a bad thing, or an evil thing, it just happens. In the last week I have seen so many stories on Cyberpunk 2077 and the bugs that I wonder (after laughing on some of the Tik Tok issues), did we forget something? Some other articles made mention of this, as such, I am not alone, but for me this morning started when I looked into the Cyberpunk 2077 art book and saw what most forget, or optionally ignore.

Cyberpunk is a massive achievement. Yes, CDPR (CD Project Red) needs to be scolded for the bugs, but they did something incredible. They created a world, a world that only existed in the mind of William Gibson, who created cyberpunk with Neuromancer. The book is filled with game advertisements that set the tone “Real Water, only 99E$ /Gallon” with really small print disclaimers, yet the foundation is there, Cyberpunk is more than merely a game, it is close to a real sandbox where we see a new level of quality gaming (without the bugs), the art shows the people, the weapons, the ammo, the transports, it is more than nextgen, it is actual newgen, it is an attempt (so far not completed, or achieved) that sets Cyberpunk 2077 apart from all others and with the choices you make, you will be able to play, play again and play again, never being bored, because there are so many outcomes, options and choices to make. A game any developer could be proud of. The car brands, all new, but founded on brands and brand approaches to cars we see now, Herrera (Jaguar), Thorton (Tesla), a dozen brands all linking to what was, giving us what might be and the art never stops amazing, that is what we see and CDPR almost succeeded, so when the patch comes that changes it all, those who let go of their game will not be happy, I get it, they feel unhappy and they have every right to be, but I saw more, I will never let go of this game, it shows a world that William Gibson dreamed of and now the PS4/PS5 and its Microsoft equivalent get to show what could never be shown before. When the game is finally done, it ill be the greatest race towards VR that any game had ever achieved and then some. I just went through 192 pages of art, cyber advertisements and I see that CDPR did something wholly amazing and unequalled, when they get it right, they will surpass Witcher 3 by a fair amount and I never expected that to be possible. A (sort of) sandbox game that sets a new stage, because you can select stages to focus on, making the missions and optionally the outcome a different one, Net Running, Edge Running, Thuggery, corporate tools, the options are there and we limit or open to selections, something Bethesda never achieved (not their fault), so even as I understand ‘CD Projekt May Face Class Action Lawsuit From Investors’, where we learn that the attorney looking into the lawsuit is also an investor, we see a different stage, here we accept that CDPR is not proven innocent and that they might face issues, yet what all the shouters around the non-success at present fail to see is that this game is so much bigger than anyone saw coming, I wonder what would take the setting to be a successful one. In the first, just like I slapped Ubisoft, CDPR should not have released the game in this form, I will hold onto it, but I understand that others might not and that is a choice we all need to make, but the art book (I have the hint guide as well) shows that this game is more than some path walker, the makers tried to make something never seen before and if they fix the issues, they will do that and Cyberpunk 2077 will get a new narrative that ill hold for years and others will try to get close to this achievement, optionally forever failing. The difference with Ubisoft is that Ubisoft makes a new iteration (Breakpoint, AC Unity, AC Odyssey, AC Valhalla) and blows it, CDPR did something we had never seen before and blows it too, but the premise is already different. Ubisoft merely made version X, CDPR made version 0.8 and it is so much more than anything we had ever seen.

Yes, not ignoring the bugs, but beyond that is something new, something beautiful, beyond Ubisoft was merely more of the same and I expect that they will make the same mistake in FarCry 6. Yet when we see the Malorian Arms in Cyberpunk, we see something Heckler & Koch wishes that they had designed it. And all this and more is all over Night City, which is massively big. No matter how we slice it, and some will focus on the bugs, and I get it, they are there, what is also there is a diamond in the rough, a diamond unlike we have ever seen before, I just hope that enough will see that soon enough (after the new patches) to turn the tide around for CDPR, as fr as I can tell, even as I am happy to present, they might have been better off announcing a delay until February 2021. It might have been the best course of action for them at present.

One thing, and they might do it to make up to the gamers (if William Gibson agrees), get one of his stories, for example Neuromancer, or Johnny Mnemonic into the game and each chapter the gamer finds will opt for some skill enhancement, just an idea.

So at present, I merely did the intro, because I want to avoid the bugs and I am happy to wait, what I have seen clearly shows pure greatness (well the bug free edition anyway), it is a path some are ignoring and that is not their fault, or their shortcoming, it is their choice, and the bugs as they are makes whatever choice they make a valid one, I recognise that, yet after so much gaming mediocrity, I prefer to wait until there is a final version. As I see it definitely beats another iteration of Assassins Creed or Far Cry, yet not Watch Dogs, that one, apart from some glitches, they really got right.

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What gives experience?

Hah! I did not give up, I persisted and it came to me. I was looking at a way to set levelling in the RPG game that I discussed in previous blogs and I have a handle on it now. You see, Bethesda was not wrong, they were merely incomplete (as I personally see it). They almost got it right in the past but they set a different premise (something they are allowed to do), as such, in the RPG I devised there is a different jump. The artisans, the members of arcane houses, they all have settings of levels, but they are all DIFFERENT. It took me a while to set that premise. So as I started to discuss them in ‘Playing the stage’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/10/18/playing-the-stage/), there I started with the House of Forests, and introduced the Floating house. It was in ‘Invoke the liquid mountain’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/10/20/invoke-the-liquid-mountain/) where I mentioned House of Chimes and I almost forgot about the Monks of the Sulphur Cave and the House of Bones. There is some (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/10/22/chimes-are-wind-translators/), and it did not dawn on me to make the levelling different for each class. As forests can only exist by preserving it, as such the power and levelling of druids come from seeing the sick trees and save them or kill them and replaced the killed tree by a new sapling. As his staff is instrumental it will be the focal point of experience and levelling. A similar (but not the same) approach can be used on the Monks of the Sulphur Caves. It is different for the members of the Floating House, the water specialists. It would make them swimmers and water breathes, but that would be too shallow, they are rain invokers and their experience is set to the amount of spells they cast. As I am showing now, I am not completely there yet, but as we are confronted with a player that has an arcane and an artisan cast, we see different levelling systems, you have to become more aligned with the person you create. Gender might no longer be a real concern, but the choice of arcane and artisan house more so. If we see this we are looking at one of five and one of four levelling systems, we will not now, not ever become all round specialists of everything, but that is the price we get for something new. It also sets a different focal point in taking out enemies and overcoming barricades in the game. It is perhaps not completely original, but in this shape it is completely new. We can be an expert, the expert, we merely cannot be the expert in everything, it seems lacking Zen, but I believe that this approach will make the game a more Zen experience. I reckon that this will also create an optional very new ‘New Game+’ version. Where we optionally reincarnate with part of the abilities of the previous life, but not the powers derived from them, an option to have additional stamina and a larger setting of magical hubris (read: mana), it is merely a stage and this gives me the setting where I designed the larger stage for a few options in less than 4 weeks all by myself (yay me). Or as I would optionally say “Ubisoft eat your heart out”, but that is just me. So I got some of the arcane done, a larger stage of levelling, now I need to concentrate on the larger main stories and some of the side stories. Perhaps I will put them here too soon enough. 

All this and it is not even midnight yet. Whatever will I do next?

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A weird vindication

Yup, we all face vindication at some point, it can be ‘I told you so’, it can be ‘Yup, I watched it and it went exactly as I expected’, and it can be ‘You should have listened to me’, To be honest, I hope at times it is almost never the third one, there will ALWAYS be an exception, but the third one is laced in arrogance and I personally think that it is laced to deeply in arrogance, as such I tend to side with the first two sentiments. 

Now, this day started weird. I woke up from a slumber. We all have those moments at times, in this instance I had  sort of waking dream, so I cannot say what kind of dream it was, it might be a movie script, yet the setting was a little too surreal. It was in the Netherlands, apparently the Dutch Military Police (they also guard the royal family) had set a parameter where the non used royal houses were used as stash locations. They were instructed to investigate a reporter who had found a snippet of that setting and they decided to smear his career in several ways as to take focus away from those locations. They involved the foreign office to muddy the waters. It was a small group of less than a dozen agents, but the stage was sullied by VEVAK as one of its agents performed a ‘service’ once and they had an inside scoop on technology that was stored in one of the locations. As the foreign office operative was smearing the reporter, VEVAK had altered the information to the smallest degree, but it woke up Mossad and as they started to look into the matters the reporter as well as well as the crooked military police agent were all in their  alleged private hell and as Mossad as played in a few ways the criminal police officers had no place to go but towards handing over the technology to Iran. Anyway that is when I woke up, and I saw that I missed out on the first hour of the Game Awards 2020. 

So why is this vindication? The Last of Us part 2 (7 wins), Ghosts of Tsushima (1 win), Final Fantasy 7 remake (1 win), 9 wins, all Sony exclusives, that is what I mean with Microsoft being off their game by a massive amount, there were more non-Microsoft wins (Animal Crossings) as such the weakest console got the award when the most powerful console did not. Microsoft did win the   Sim/Strategy Game Award and the Flight Simulator that they have left no surprise, it is BEYOND amazing, fair is fair. But that is one title, in this game award show Microsoft was a larger absent force, to get to the top layer you have to up the game to a much larger degree, Sony did, Microsoft to a larger degree did not, the absence of Ubisoft needs to be noticed too, there is a larger stage and both Ubisoft and Microsoft are no longer in the centre of it, the fact that Microsoft got mentioned (in light of Sims) is fair but it is one in a stage where they used to be a contender to a much larger field, fo me this is an ‘I told you so’ event. 

The exclusives matter, if they rock the field they rock gaming, and this year is a sore point for both Ubisoft and Microsoft. I wonder what will happen next year. CD Projekt Red has fixing to do, yet they could end up taking some of the awards, There are a few more players, but the stage is shifting and in this there is a larger push for Sony to rule the complete center stage. The 9 awards are a clear indication of that. It was always hard for any fight between two Sony titles, as such there is a little surprise that Ghosts of Tsushima only got one, but the competition was fierce and The Last of Us part 2 was a price fighter here. No matter who of the two won, the players and the gamers in the end they won, especially if they had both games. So as we are about to enter Saturday I will continue on the RPG I was working on, still haven’t worked out the new levelling system, well actually perhaps in part I have, but I need to think through whether it will not become too chaotic. In gaming chaos is fine, in programming a little less so, it allows for too many bugs and glitches to creep in. Innovation is cool, but the path towards it, often enough, less so. 

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