Free Games For January 2016

Video games are great. Free games are even better.  There are some really great games available this month. Continue reading

Advertisements

Life Cycles of Consoles

John Koller speculated that the PlayStation 3 will be supported for up to four more years. Is this true? Do video game companies continue to support previous generation consoles? This article looks at past trends to see if that is the case. Continue reading

Dragon Age: Inquisition – What is known

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Dragon Age: Inquisition right now. And I mean, a lot. For those of you who are fans, you’re probably thinking ‘duh.’ It’s the final instillation of the trilogy. So, independent of the hype, what do we know? As it turns out, quite a bit.

Inquisitor_faces_models

Character Races, Male and Female Available

  • Human
  • Elf
  • Dwarf
  • Qunari

E3-2013-EA-Dragon-Age-Inquisition-035

Confirmed Past Characters Returning

  • Varric Tethras
  • Morrigan
  • Cassandra Pentaghast
  • Flemeth

dragon-age-inquisition-21308-1280x800

Development Information

  • Frostbite 3 Engine
  • Speedtree Software Toolkit
  • Will be released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and the PC
  • Environments will be reused less than in Dragon Age 2.
  • BioWare has worked on the game since March 2011, two months after the release of Dragon Age 2
  • Release date pushed back from late 2013 to 3rd quarter 2014
  • Development team focused on creating an open world, using Skyrim for inspiration. Mike Laidlaw, the creative director of Dragon Age: Inquisition, said that the game will not be a true open world but rather have a linear story.
  • Further refined combat system, focusing on preparation rather than button mashing.
  • Further refined romance system, moving away from gifts and focusing more on decisions and events.
  • Developers claim decisions from previous two games will have a great impact on the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition. They developed a program, Dragon Age Keep (soon to go into Beta Testing) to allow players to make the decisions without needing to replay the two games.
  • David Gaider, lead writer for the entire Dragon Age series, confirmed there would be a multiplayer aspect to the game.

dragon-age-3-inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition seems to have promise, taking to heart many of the issues fans had with the previous game. One thing that I found curious was the inclusion of female Qunari. On one hand, I think that gender/sex diversity will only add to greater options for the players. Though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female Qunari before. How does BioWare justify their absence until the third game? I am afraid that they might just throw them in there and act like they were always around.

The one thing BioWare does better than anyone else, in my opinion, is improving gameplay from game to game. While I may dislike story decisions they made (see Dragon Age 2: how not to make a sequel for example), I have never criticized how the gameplay progressed. And since the release date was pushed back almost an entire year, it’s obvious that this game is not being rushed.

dragon-age-inquisition

I want to believe in BioWare, they they would make the same old high quality story-driven games like they used to. But I was let down with the past two ones. Way, way, way too dark. I like my stories to be a little bit optimistic. Not… so deathy, you know?

If you’ll notice, I didn’t bother saying anything about the story… I guess that’s why I don’t think I have a good sense of it. Sure, there’s a civil war… but who are the good and bad guys? Can you take a side? What will the Inquisition do exactly? How does the tear in the Veil play a factor? Morrigan’s reappearance… is this a good thing or did she cause the tear? And what about Flemeth? What is her role in all of this chaos? There are enough unknowns to where I don’t feel confident about anything about it.

Though I’ll say this. Whatever the result, BioWare is trying their best. Gotta admire that, right?

Unintended Consequence of the Next Generation

A recent report from the security firm Kaspersky Labs said there was an increase in hacking attempts against the Xbox One and the Playstation 4.  Coupled with every other game system and devices used for gaming, the report claims that approximately 34,000 attacks occur per day worldwide. The claim that I want to focus on is that the increase in hacking is concurrent with the release of the Xbox One and PS4.

th

Video game consoles having online play was experimented on as early as the Fourth Generation with adapters for the Super Nintendo. We saw an expansion of that in the Sixth Generation with the Playstation 2  and Xbox having an internet connection. The Seventh Generation further expanded on it, making DLCs easily available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It was in the Seventh Generation that we saw a hint of the dangers when Sony was hacked and millions of customer’s personal information was stolen.

VGCats

We’re now on the cusp of the Eighth Generation of video game consoles. We’re seeing a further expansion of their online capabilities. We’re seeing a lot more options for online play (co-op and pvp)… to the point where the games that tended to not have online play suddenly will have some sort of online option. Microsoft wanted the Xbox One to always be online, a policy they thankfully reversed (though it is not clear how often it has to be online). Sony has the PS4 offer interesting online features like streaming  and/or sharing gameplay.

There is an implicit danger with greater online options. And we are seeing that with the increasing attempts to hack into these newer consoles. To be honest, I was taken off guard when I found out about it. Sure, it makes sense on one hand. The danger of being hacked, dealing with worms and viruses, or whatever else have you is a part of daily life with the internet. That’s why we all purchase software to help minimize the risk.

VGCats1

If we are forced to have our video game consoles be “always connected” or “always on” like what is being pushed.. let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time… then we have to expect our console to be someday hacked. Having a system be always on and connected has to be an inviting target for any criminal out there.

The Perils of Purchasing New Consoles

There are strange well known facts among the marketing circles that never seems to get out into the general public. I learned about these when I took a few marketing classes at College of Lake County that was taught by a former marketing professional. Did you know that in a blind taste test that RC has consistently been chosen as the best tasting pop (cola/soda) out there? That’s crazy. Billions of dollars were spent over the decades convincing us that the best tasting was either Coke or Pepsi. But the marketing people knew that was a lie.

Coke-vs-Pepsi

Also, did you know that it’s a bad idea to purchase brand new technology. New tech is filled with glitches and design flaws. The developers release it in order to make up the costs for research and development. If they can recoup the costs, then they can move forward with the product and fix the bugs for newer versions of the tech.

This is especially true with video games.

What? You don’t remember the PS1? That sucker had a huge overheating problem. The PS2’s and Xbox’s laser kept on being knocked out of alignment somehow and had to be manually adjusted. The Xbox’s original controller was too damn large to be usable as a video game controller! Or heck, the first generation of PS2 consoles cannot read a dual laser disc. Or…. the red ring of death with the Xbox 360’s original console release.

rrod

We can look farther back to the NES with the screen blinking when it couldn’t read a cartridge. Or the Sega Saturn’s hardware being too complex. That design flaw led to a lot of third-party developers to abandon the system.. now THAT’S a huge flaw. Speaking of flaws and controllers, you can’t get any worse that the controller for the Atari Jaguar. Look at it for yourself! For whatever reason, Atari thought people wanted to go back to the Intellivision style of controllers with having a calculator pad along with their controller.

jaguar_controller

The Jaguar Controller

That’s just a short list. I’m positive you read through that and said “you idiot, you missed xxxxxxxx!” I think every system had something wrong with it at launch.  And that’s the point.

Yes, it sucks when a console doesn’t work perfectly. Yes, it sucks when you purchase that console and find out that there’s something wrong with it. But, this is what happens with new technology. It’s a risk when you purchase it. Chances are, it’ll work very well, as advertised. But all the same, you have to accept the possibility that it won’t.

It’s weird for me to say that, since I’m all about consumer rights. Heck, I often argued that when a person purchases a product, they have a right to that product and expect that product to deliver what is promised. But in this case, it’s difficult for me to understand why anyone would purchase a brand new console on the day of its release and be surprised if it isn’t working. There’s a pretty well established pattern of bugs, glitches, and flat out bad designs.

3qz6x5

I want to conclude with a simple observation.

We should expect there to be bugs and glitches with releases. There’s no point to the focus of the ‘blue light of death.’ The damn light’s nothing more than a diagnostic tool. Sony sold over a million console systems within 24 hours.  I think that’s pretty impressive.