Tag Archives: Microsoft

The Future is Here, Except Not Really Cause it’s a Virtual Illusion!

Oh hi, it’s been a while (again) since we’ve talked. Apparently some stuff has happened in the videogame industry, but sadly not every news day can be about Battlefield 4‘s plethora of online issues or how Kinect is still sucking harder than PS Vita sales right now. Man my hyperbolic meter is off the charts today. Point is something grand has happened today…or tomorrow…or whenever this article will go up. It’s the dawn of the age of…

BDSM Goggles

“Steam-punk BDSM goggles?”

It’s not what you’re thinking you sick son-of-a-lovely-reader, you. Virtual reality is here, and it wants your living room – badly!

What could eventually be the next gaming trend had its roots shaping into form when the Oculus Rift starting hitting news outlets via Kickstarter. It’s essentially a giant head-set that looks like  like a clunky modem strapped to binoculars that were used by gnomes. It wasn’t pretty, at first, but in due time thanks to its founders – Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, and id Software co-founder John Carmack it looks more like you’re wearing a mini-laptop instead.

Oculus Rift 1

“It’s also a great way to pick up the ladies.”

All kidding aside though, the Oculus Rift is quite an impressive piece of hardware. With its intriguing resume of maintaining a 5.6 inch display, high-speed IMU, along with its special firmware (requested by Carmack) and you get a pretty beefy set of 3D glasses. Speaking of Carmac, the man himself actually left id Software just to put more time into the damn thing. This goes to show that when you leave a highly complex piece of equipment on your front door step, a Carmack will appear. Granted we still have about a year or two  before we finally can get our hands on these bad boys (in about late 2014 or early 2015), but the reception so far has been pretty great for the Oculus Rift.

It was so great that even Sony was like, “Hm, we’ve tried selling these blue dildo controllers, how about we take these futuristic visors from Picard’s sex dungeon?” And indeed that is how Project Morpheus came to be.

Project Morpheus

Project Morpheus is the latest attempt from Sony to try and rail in some of that Oculus Rift dough. Currently the kit will come at 1080p resolution, has sound rendering, and will have full 360 degree support along with other fascinating technical attributes. However with that said, it will be used mostly with PS Move and the PS Camera. So you’ll practically be looking like a mentally challenged Darth Vader, and not even as intimidating. It would be one thing though if it was just Sony doing this, oh no, now we have several different types of VR headsets.

We have Seebright working on a headset that separates its experience by removing the feeling of ‘isolation’. Cause that’s doesn’t sound concerning about your mental health.

Seebright

Then we have Sulon’s Cortex headset that can map any room. Even the inside of your own body for sexual purposes that may be talked about on launch date.

Cortex

Also there are rumors of Microsoft wanting to make a VR headset, and Valve has already been in talks of working on something similar. Probably. Virtual Reality is coming, and it’s coming real fast. But even after its initial phase, will consumers still buy into it?

Motion gaming was at one point being claimed as this new wave of innovation that everyone was waiting to get on board with. It sure did seem like it too with the way Nintendo was making some serious money off the Wii on launch week and the year after. Though there was one major problem that Nintendo would soon encounter with the Wii, there was no software to back that shit up yo. Plus once you bought the Wii, you would recieve a copy of Wii sports for free, and that was all you essentially needed. That was until you got to the latest Mario, Zelda, or Super Smash Bros. game.
However by the time the age of the Wii was ending, Sony and Microsoft would seize control of Nintendo’s reign of mediocrity. While both of their peripherals or systems were different, both the Playstation Move and the Kinect were both trying to ape the Wii from the get-go. Certainly Nintendo wouldn’t just let it go down like that, especially not after they released Wii Sports Resort? Well tough shit Wii Sports Resort, because Move had JK Rowling with her new kooky videogame and Kinect had baby tigers! What more could you give us you piece of retirement home entertainment?!

Therein lies the problem with these peripherals. The Wii began as an excellent idea that capitalized on the least likely demographic you would ever expect to play videogames, your parents and grandparents. But once grandpa Lester stopped giving a shit about his high score on Wii bowling, he probably wouldn’t have given a shit about anything else. Move’s problem didn’t consist with its titles since apparently we’re talking about a peripheral that looks like someone strapped Doctor Manhattan’s testicle on the other end of a remote. The problem there was just basically a combination of a peripheral that looked to similar to another’s, and the timing behind it.
Kinect as well began with a cool idea of utilizing your entire body as the avatar for whatever game you were playing, it just so happens that everything else was kind of shit beyond that concept.

Sure we still have Kinect 2.0 and Move is still around, but as usual with Nintendo, they love to start trends such as implementing a tablet controller into their next system. Tablets around the time before the announcement of the Wii U were an interesting concept that companies such as Apple and others seemed to have an understanding of. Some of their games weren’t too shabby either, one of these ‘not-too-shabby’ games was Infinity Blade which utilized the touch screen and was an actual game (shocking). After seeing the success of the iPad, Nintendo thought they would catch lightning in a bottle again and…yeah…ZombiU.

Also 3D doesn’t count because ‘who cares’.

But look I’ve already mentioned motion gaming, tablets, 3D made a resurgence once again, but virtual reality at a time seemed like something that was only heard of in Star Trek episodes. Now it’s becoming real, bulky – forehead sweatin’ – red eye inducing – realness. Granted I don’t think it’s fair to make a full judgement of a piece of hardware on launch day when it hasn’t had much time yet to progress into something great (except for the Ouya). So at the moment I can’t make an assessment of what the future beyond launch will hold for this piece of equipment.
Anyway I’m dilly-dallying along here, point is will virtual reality be welcomed into the industry like a warm toaster strudel that was left in the oven for the right amount of time? Well the icing may, I mean, the answer may surprise you because…I think it will…have its place somewhere. For the longest time this industry has suffered from being too safe when it comes to making decisions in order to attain cash from consumers, or a lack of decisions in some cases. So with the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, perhaps we could gain new experiences and challenges that will boost this industry’s creativity?  I’m no fortune teller, but if I was, I would have the sickest crystal ball you would ever see and perhaps assume that virtual reality would have a relatively nice stay since it would give something different for developers to work on.

But then again, I have been wrong before…Hm…nah! It’s all going to turn out just the way I foresee it.

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Xbox One Removes Controversial Features, How They’re Still Not Off the Hook

Xbox One

Hello fellow console patrons or PC overlords, today is a pretty historical day in terms of what has happened in the gaming industry. Basically half of it is good news for consumers, while the other half may be possibly bad news for Microsoft in terms of adapting toward a new generation. If you may not have heard recently, Microsoft eliminated their used games and always-online DRM policies. Not only would this be a good time to talk about this, but it also seems just as right to discuss their so-called ‘plans’ after E3.

However let’s get into this massively back-pedaled move right here. First off the article by Don Mattrick, begins with what I assume may be the most begrudging ‘thank you’ note to the fans. At least it helps to think that way after hearing this:

Remember that famous quote? “Fortunately we do have a product for people who do want to get some form of content, it’s called Xbox 360.” Now after seeing that interview, does this line up with what has been said here?

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

– Don Mattrick

Ultimately this is an example of proving how past mistakes can affect the outlook of your company. Sure, of course there are the fanboys who will be there day 1, ready to purchase an Xbox One while wearing a ‘Halo‘ t-shirt. And then there are those who act hypocritical and wind up buying an Xbox One because of them mimicking another company’s strategy. Maybe it’s because I been through that before, but for me this just comes down to how the company and the CEO react to the public. In this case, there seems to be a sense of stubbornness coming from Microsoft about this whole shindig.

It can’t be easy to transition to something completely different from what you’ve been embarking on beforehand. In this case, Microsoft going the route of digital distribution, while Sony going the ‘old-school’ route of mainly focusing on software. That was the whole conflict since the Xbox One press conference, the new digital distribution ways against the old physical distribution ways. And now that’s no longer the case.

This reminded me a lot of the reception to the Mass Effect 3 ending(s), and how there were so many people furiously upset after finishing the game. Afterward the game got an ‘Extended Cut’ DLC to rid of the anger out there with those who wanted something more concrete. I feel like this is the same thing, except much less resulting with a mixed reception since it’s basically Microsoft changing their ways on the flip of a dime rather than making more adjustments.

On the other hand, if you are a consumer who was strongly opposed to the idea of always-online DRM and used-games restrictions, then I say today was a victory. We as consumers do get to control, to a certain degree, what we feel like is right or wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but in this case I think this was a huge victory. Though seeing the pre-orders for PS4’s outselling Xbox One’s may have something to do with that as well, just because a company like Microsoft has offered a gift to the consumers, doesn’t mean the greed just goes away in an instance. Especially with Don Mattrick on board, unless he goes through some sort of spiritual journey or gets fired, I’m still going to remain very cautious about all this.

Moving on from a strange image of Don Mattrick wearing a monk robe, what about the software? Where does Microsoft stand in terms of their first party content? As it turns out they do have plenty to show, but will it be enough to tide people over until the inevitable release of Halo 5? Most importantly, will these games be ‘good’ and prove that Microsoft does have a stable line-up of studios to show off?

It’s going to sound like I’m bitching about this, however while I was pleased that Microsoft wasn’t going to be mostly feeding off their big three studios (Microsoft Studios, Lionhead Studios, and 343 Studios), what they did show wasn’t too enticing. For instance, Ryze in concept is actually really neat and shows off the power behind the Xbox One, the problem here is that while it does look neat, the combat sequences looked like button prompts taken from God of War. Spark is a game about creating terrains and forts, it’s a neat idea that feels like something Molyneux would have made, the problem here is that the usage of SmartGlass behind it isn’t selling me. There were some other interesting titles like the one from Insomniac and some other Xbox Live arcade game that I probably overlooked. The only one that I would really love to play is Titanfall, an FPS involving mechs and jetpacks, and that’s it.

I feel like the next five years for Microsoft could go either way. If they do manage to tell Mattrick to get lost or change his ways, then I will feel confident about them as a company. If they do however continue to make irrational/dumb decisions based on how much money they make and completely avoid consumers (you know, the hardcore gamers), then they’re screwed. As I said, if you were to take away anything from this, guess what? No more BS involving always-online DRM and not being able to play pre-used games, despite the fact that the system could already run them.

Does this mean I’m gonna buy an Xbox One on launch or the year after? Hell no.

It would also be great for once if they didn’t have to rely just on Halo for them to sell their console, but then again I just want another Banjo & Kazooie game. I know Rare is no longer the same studio they used to be, but can a big green dinosaur dream? No? Well fuck it, I’ll make my own Rare platformer then, it’s gonna be called ‘Triangle & Rubber Band’, people will love it.

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Microsoft Xbox 2013 Press Conference…Highlights?

Xbox One

So here we are, after the not-so-subtle announcement of Microsoft planning to do their reveal in May things have been up in the air for Microsoft. Will they show off their software before E3? Or will they just play it safe? Well as it turns out they did play it safe, but at the cost of alienating some or most viewers from their conference. I know this isn’t a very appropriate way to begin things, but since the coffee just started to kick in I may wind up going on a tangent at some point.

Things begin as usual with any one of these Microsoft press conferences, you see a clip of a happy family who look like they just came straight out of a JCPenny’s ad. Afterward we shift into full gear as we transition to the reveal of ‘Xbox One’, a new start, or to be more technical a ‘reboot’ to the system. And man did it look fine, the system was shaped like a classy VHS box, the controller had this nice polished retro look to it, and even the Kinect looked good on it. It grabbed my attention and made me excited to see what they were going to show afterward.

Next up we were shown how Kinect has integrated with ‘Xbox One’ by having the host give a demonstration through voice commands. Not only was this proof that our version of ‘Skynet’ was being developed through the form of a Wii knock-off, but it was also one of the segments that lasted a little too long. I don’t think I even need to linger on this much, so basically if you seen any of the previous E3 conferences you know that Microsoft was planning for Kinect to be used as a navigation tool through voice commands. If you didn’t know, well, I just said it right there, the only difference here is that you can now flip to televison, television, television, music, oh and more television. Did I mentioned that television played an important part in that conference?

And then there was the confirmation, I mean, reveal for Skype being used on Xbox One (I really do not want to keep saying that). It was somewhat of a less complex interface than the current one people use on their phones or computers, but to be fair we still don’t know a whole lot. Moving on from a mildly interesting point to an entirely predictable and non-interesting point were the sports titles. The models looked shiny, alright in all seriousness the segment was about displaying the high resolution textures and technology used to capture the perfect sports game, so to speak. Oh and I should mention that the sports and TV segment took up a good chunk of time in the press conference, but whatever!

Eventually they pulled out the PowerPoint presentations, saying how they now integrated Blu-Ray, improved the Kinect, and something-something Smart Glass (does anyone even care?!). It was like when Sony showed off the specs for their hardware, except much less thrilling when you realized that Sony swapping out their processor for a PC-like drive was something be gained from. This was just forgettable and not to mention…where were the games?!

Luckily my wish was granted in the form of more sports games! Even better were the racing games on top of that – sorry, not even my sarcasm can ascend that far. What was interesting to note and to bluntly put it, stupid, was how instead of presenting actual demo’s they decided to present trailers. Not only were they trailers, but some were even ‘pre-rendered’ and didn’t show any semblance of gameplay. Sure there was the promise of 15 exclusive Xbox One titles, 8 of which were supposedly new IP’s (though my guess is that they’re mostly indie games), but they didn’t even show off one of those new IP’s so I’m going to brush over this just like Microsoft brushed over their games.

Next up was the milking of the 5-starred cow, also known as Halo, by announcing a new TV series co-produced by 343 Studios and Steven Spielberg. Another point of interest that would soon be forgotten, because what happened afterward was one of the biggest disappointing build-ups I seen in a while. And that was the reveal of ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts‘, which even if it was a reveal it still would have been bullshit otherwise because everyone knows that Activision was already preparing for another Call of Duty! The good news though; you get a dog. Bad news, that was the end of the conference.

Never before have I ever felt this way, disgusted. I mean I always do feel like conferences can go on for too long, and at the end of the day why bother sitting through them when you can just wait for the announcements to appear on major gaming media facets? But this one right here got to me, due to how safe they played it, how much they lingered on segments that didn’t need to be lingered on, and most importantly forgetting the goddamn games! Just recently I read an article from Wired that had a lot of juicy details about ‘Xbox One’, but one thing I absolutely disagreed on is this:

Meanwhile, perhaps Microsoft has read which way the wind is blowing and realizes that a gaming-only box just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Maybe even gamers want more than games. Last I checked, we care about Game of Thrones, too.

– Chris  Kohler, Wired.com, How Xbox One Plans to Fight Sony, Steam, and Everything Else

The main reason why people go out to buy these systems is for the games. Sure there are times when some people do buy these systems to play Blu-Ray discs or other feature like that, but the majority of people who buy these systems want to play their videogames. Oh you’re giving me Netflix, and now ESPN along with Kinect voice integration? Great, how about making some fucking games for my ‘videogame’ system! You know, the one that was marketed as a gaming platform!

Also before someone points the finger at me and declares that I am a ‘Sony fanboy’, yeah, I have an Xbox 360 in my room and I constantly play on it all the time. In fact I find it disconcerting at times when I do try to play on my PS3 because of the menu layout. I’ve even pointed out the flaws with the PS3’s processor and how it’s much more difficult to run games on that than on the Xbox 360. However this right here was just every Microsoft cliche rolled into a ball sprinkled with major bullshit on top of it.

Although before I do end this on a very, eh, passionate note I will say that it is best to see what’s happening at E3. Not to say that I’m gonna give Microsoft a complete pass on this, but let’s see what’s going on with the developers (all 2 or 3 of them) at this years biggest gaming expo. That’s the one positive thing I’ll say, at least we got some games to look forward to at this years E3.

Anyway, I need cool myself off and prepare in case the Kinect decides to become self aware and take over the entire world. It may not know what it’s doing when I’m playing ‘Steel Battalion’, but it is watching…everything.

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