Category: Gaming


Well E3 has come and gone and with it we are all left with the massive desire to play all those amazing games and get our hands on the new hardware as soon as we can.

I know that by the time I post this almost a month will have passed since E3 but I thought that I would give you my thoughts on both the major press conferences.

I ended up watching both Sony and MS conferences in full so yes, that’s almost 4 hours of video. I watched the Xbox one(no pun intended) first since I’ve been more of an Xbox person before and after their reveal that’s the one I was most excited about.

After the full hour and a half long video I have to say while the graphics looks good, I wasn’t completely sold on the One. I honestly expected more. The games looked good but there wasn’t a major wow factor for me. Sure they showed a 30 second clip for a new Halo game, ya we didn’t see that coming. But it just didn’t woe me like I expected. Though I was kinda happy that Killer Instinct is back.

For the Xbox I have to be honest after the reveal and the E3 press conference I’m more inclined yo buy it as a media center. And until they show more of what the kinect does I’m not shelling out five hundred dollars for it. And I know that they have now retracted their policy on always being connected and not being able to resell used games without a fee, but I think saying that in the first place will hurt its sales no matter what they have said or done now.

As for the PlayStation 4, I have to say for me, its the console I will most likely be buying. not only did the games get me more excited but the graphics, to me, looked more polished than the Xbox One. And the fact that its a hundred dollars cheaper and has basically all the same system specs is definitely a plus for the console.
I think for both these consoles, as with any it will come down to the games available at launch as well as the price. So Sony may have the upper hand on price but is Microsoft can get more exclusives out the door at launch, or even have more games that at least look better they may just come out on top at launch. Though I mist say that that one hundred dollar price hike for the Xbox one will make a difference no matter how many or how good the games are so I’m hoping Microsoft can find a way to drop the price to be inline with the PS4.

Richard
@riche_613

Xbox One Reveal

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So its finally been revealed. After a year or so of rampant rumors and speculation Microsoft revealed the Xbox one on Tuesday may 21st and boy is it a doozy.

While I am not as big of a gamer as I used to be this one hour press conference got me even more excited than the PlayStation 4 reveal a while back that was more than double the length.

Yes its more powerful, faster, and better spec wise in every way…duh! And while they didn’t actually show off too many games or even how some of the games they did talk work or are about, they showed off a lot of the new media services and feature and for me that was enough to make me want to start saving immediately.

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First thing is first, its bluray equipped. So they have finally joined the future and that’s about the only thing they could do anyway. They also built in an HDMI in and out so the One can act as a pass through for your TV and as a “cable box” and with the kinect you can actually just say out loud “Xbox watch ABC” or something like that and it will go to that channel. They have also built in a version of the windows 8 snap mode so you can watch TV, movies or play a game and snap a new app to the side third of the screen and say have a Skype call while playing a game or search the internet while watching a movie. They have also made the Xbox glass app work with this feature as well so you can use your phone or tablet to navigate the picture in picture app which is pretty awesome.

Microsoft also announce a partnership with ESPN and NFL so you can have all sorts of interactive experiences while watching games. The examples they showed were for fantasy football or basketball. So if one of the players you have on your fantasy game scores a point it will automatically updated to your team and a notification will pop up on screen and if you haven’t been watching the game where it happened you can watch replays of how they got that point so you can raz your friends about how awesome your team is. While I’m not a sports guy this is pretty freaking cool. But what really got me excited about this is the fact that they said ” if we can do this with sports imaging what we can do with the golden globes, political debates and other popular events”. I would love to be able to have a Oscars game where you pick who or what will win certain categories and your points are updated live while they are announced and then you can chat with your friends while you watch.

Another thing they mentioned was a new, Steven Spielberg produced, interactive Halo TV show. They didn’t mention any specifics about this but if they can pull it off this could be a big selling point for the One and could garner in more shows and games that interact with one another based on views reaction or gamers actions in the game.

There is still much more to come from Microsoft at E3 in a few weeks in June where they will announce more features, more games including many new exclusive IP’s and hopefully a solid 2013 release date and price.

Stay tuned for more come E3.

Richard
@riche_613

Finally the other day Ouya came out and announced that they do have an exclusive game that will only be on the Ouya. It is developed by the same people who did Portal, so right there people will be interested at the very least. Ouya needed this bad and now they have it.

The game, called Soul Fjord, is developed by Kim Swift(designer of Portal) and Airtight Games. The game was describes as a “randomly generated dungeon crawler with a rhythm based combat system”. From what I read it will be a mix of Norse mythology and 70s funk.

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Here is a quote that describes the story of the game:

“In Soul Fjord, you play as Magnus Jones, a legendary warrior valiantly slain in battle,” Ouya teased in a post published this week. “When the Valkyries arrive to bring him to Valhalla, the hottest club in Yggdrasil, they reveal that Magnus has been left off the guest list–and won’t be invited to Ragnarok, the party that’ll end the world. Magnus must fight his way up the World Tree to salvage his reputation as the baddest Viking in town, and gain access to Valhalla.”

Sounds pretty interesting, weird but interesting. I watched the Trailer for the game and I have to say I do like the graphic style. While it won’t blow you away with the best graphics ever it is very colorful and fun looking. This is definitely a step in the right direction. While I know I said in my last post that this is one thing they needed to be able to be successful, I do think that this is only one thing they need.

First off while they now have one exclusive they definitely need more. A console cant be successful on one game alone. And while this may help them in the beginning they need to keep the momentum going with more exclusive games both before launch to build hype and anticipation and after launch to keep people interested. And like I said before they need to streamline and tweak their Ouya store. From what I have seen it is simple, which is good. But at the same time I have read and hear that it doesn’t mention the price of games when you go to buy a full version or new levels for a game which is definitely a major problem.

As for the future of android gaming, with the nearing launch of the Ouya and Game Stick it is looking very bright right now. I personally think that if the Ouya turns out to be very profitable that they should get into the cheap dedicated handheld android gaming market.

The android gaming “console” wasn’t started with the Ouya, though they seem to be the first to try it as a console. Android gaming tablets have been around for a while and now there are a bunch of android tablets that resemble oversized PlayStation Vitas.

By that I mean that there are companies who build a tablet and build in controls like dpads analog sticks and the usual game controller buttons and triggers to make an actual mobile console. I really believe that this could be a viable option for both the Ouya company in the future and other companies as long as they keep them relatively cheap and give them fairly decent hardware so that they can run all of the top android games.

Some examples of the dedicated android mobile “consoles” would be:

Archos Gamepad
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The Dea My Play Tablet(Sold at Walmart)
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And the many you can get from china. These two are from a company called JXD and are clearly meant to look like the PSP and Wii U Tablet Controller
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With systems like these ranging from $80-200 android gaming creating seems like a increasingly viable platform compared to something like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita which takes years of R&D and millions of dollars to produce and then cost a lot for the console and upwards of $60 for a single game. Compare that to cheap touch screens and cell phone hardware and a free OS that has a mass amount of free games and paid games already there that you don’t have to pay to develop and in my eyes you have a real winner.

Say goodbye to the Gameboy. Its time to meet the Droidboy.

Richard
@riche_613

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In the last two parts of this blog I introduced you to the Ouya and had a basic rundown of the specs and software of the Ouya. In this part I will talk about the potential of a platform like this and also some final thoughts.

The Ouya is really a first of its kind. Its also one if the few companies to try to challenge the big three in a long time and get this close to a retail launch. With an Android powered OS you will definitely not be playing the latest and greatest games. Nor will you ever see the most amazing graphics you’ve ever seen. What you will get though is a lot of bang for your buck, a ton of potential, and the feeling that you are a part of something new.

For as long as I personally can remember game consoles have been about the best graphics, the best games and a big price tag for both the console and the games. This is one of the main advantages of a platform like the Ouya. Ouya Inc. has set a standers for their console stating that no game will cost anything, at least upfront. Instead all games will either be completely free, have “full” or “pro” versions you can buy, essentially making the free game an demo, or have in game purchases like many of the most popular mobile games that are out now. This is a pretty cool concept, if it works. The idea of all games being free is great, but I also hate games that constantly shove advertising for the full version in your face at every turn.

So with the free games concept explained, let’s get into the elephant in the room. Why buy an Ouya?

Well to answer this question I first have to pose somewhat of a question to Ouya themselves. Where is the mind blowing excliesive game? Every game console in history has had at least one great exclusive game that they advertise with the launch of the console to pull you in. With Nintendo its usually a Mario game, Microsoft has Halo, PlayStation has games like God Of War and Ratchet & Clank. So again, where is the exclusive game that we can only get on the Ouya? I think that’s the biggest question right now, and to me, what will make or break this console for the mainstream gamer.

On the plus side the potential for a “indie” console like this is huge. If they can get this right thus could change the face of gaming. For instance the Xbox arcade and PlayStation minis have been gaining a lot of popularity and garner huge cash for Microsoft and Sony. If Ouya can build an entire console and exo system on this alone that would certainly make some very needed competition for the big three.

And speaking of competition. The success of the Ouya even before its release in June has already sent waves through the gaming industry. So much so that other companies are already trying to jump on board.

At CES Nvidea unveiled Project Sheild. Which is essentially a controller with a screen on it that will not only run Android games but since it runs on a Tegra 4 CPU will also be able to stream games to its own screen as well as your big screen TV.

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Then you have a product like Playjam’s Gamestick. Which looks to take on the Ouya directly as a even cheaper android gaming device. This one however, is actually built right into the controller. So the advantage of this device is not only that you need just the controller and the USB stick sized wireless HDMI receiver that hooks into your TV, but also the fact that you can take it anywhere easily, and it will cost only $79. The Gamestick by the way is another Kick starter success story after reaching their goal in two hours. And another quick note, this device has both Netflix and XBMC available already.

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So all in all the gaming world may have a lot of changes coming. Some may be good and some may be bad. In a few years you may not be buying $60 games that last upwards of 60hrs but buying chapters of a game that cost $5 each and last only a few hours. Of that’s the case, I for one am on board as I would rather buy parts and stop paying when I stop playing instead of paying upfront for a game I may only play for an hour.

So the success or failure of devices such as these are truly both in the hands of us, the gamers and also the developers who have a long way to go to make these devices fully viable consoles for the mainstream consumers.

Richard
@riche_613

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In the last part of this three part blog I basically did an introduction for people who have no idea what the Ouya is. In this part I will go into some details about what the Ouya can do, what it has under the hood and a basic rundown of the Ouya store.

So for starters the Ouya is basically an Android phone with a specialized UI overlay on top of the standard Android OS. So basically it runs android but has been made to look and function better for display on a TV and use with a game controller.

Under the hood the Android powered Ouya is essentially a mid to high end Android phone. It has a 1.7ghz quad core Nvidea Tegra 3 CPU with 8Gb onboard memory and 1Gb ram. It also has an HDMI port, ethernet, two USB ports and has Bluetooth and WiFi as well.

So now that you know what the Ouya runs on and what the specs are let’s get into what this tiny console does. Like I said before this console is powered by Android. However it does not get its content from the Google Play store like you might expect. Instead Ouya has their own app store. This actually makes a lot of sense in a way since this console is not a phone and thus not all apps and games will work with the controller or will even look good on your TV. So that being said, the console does ship with over 100 games available through their app store.

The games are essentially Android games upscaled for your TV and made to work with a controller. The sad thing right now is that the majority of the games are very simple and don’t really show off what the console can do. A few examples they have are Vector, a side scrolling run and jump game akin to Temple Run with pretty cool silhouette style graphics and The Ball which is a first person maze/ puzzle game where you have to push and pull this giant ball around to open doors and solve puzzles. The bright side of at lease a game like The Ball is it does show off some pretty great graphics for an Android Powered game console.

Another really cool thing about the Ouya is the fact that at launch, June 4th 2013, you will be able to download three Nintendo emulators which will let you play your favorite NES, SNES and N64 games again on your TV at no charge. To me, this is the main reason I will be buying this console. To be able to play Golden Eye, the original Final Fantasy games and all the amazing SNES games I love is amazing. And they will be releasing other emulators for other consoles like the Sega Genesis, Atari and others in the future as well.

Now like I said this console does not have the Google Play store which is a definite con for this system. To not have access to all the great apps and games there are out there out of the box definitely sucks and could be a major problem if they can’t keep the games coming quickly enough to their own store. The advantage again though is this is an Android device. So you can “side load” any app or game you want. Side loading is essentially downloading the .apk file(like a .exe on windows) and then putting it on a USB stick and putting it on the Ouya manually. While this is possible and I have seen videos of people playing games like Shadow Gun, an amazing graphics heavy first person shooter, or running apps like Netflix or other video streaming apps, it is not easy for the average consumer and thus only the people who care enough or know android will be able to do this.

So that’s a basic rundown of what the console can do and some basics on hardware and software for those who want to know more about this newcomer to the gaming market. In the next part I will discuss what the Ouya needs to succeed and give some final thoughts on the potential of a platform like this.

Richard
@riche_613

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