Loot Boxes are the New DLC

Tis the year of the loot box, and what a controversial year it will be. In case you have been living under a rock, online multiplayer is extremely popular in gamer circles. Between Destiny, Call of Duty, Titanfall, and Star Wars Battleground the web servers for big game giants like Xbox and PlayStation overload with players duking it out. Multiplayer has become a vital market making millions upon millions of dollars per year, but there is always room to make more. In the early days, there was exclusive downloadable content. Special editions of games, incentives for pre-ordering certain titles, season passes for all the DLC that would come out across the breadth of the year. A game that costs $50 to $60 dollars on its own could easily extend itself past the $100 dollar mark just on the extra whizbangs alone. It was like tricking out an automobile you were never going to drive. It became a point of contention for many, because there were never enough gamer dollars to go around. Frequent updates to games made gamers as frustrated as smartphone owners because deluxe, special, and ultimate editions of games would be re-released. Many believed those days to be long gone, but now they are coming back again.

Overwatch, a popular multiplayer game spawned in 2017, came out with what many coined as cosmetic DLC. The idea was that the extra purchases would not affect gameplay. This has already caused much contention, but we will sail over that. Overwatch decided to conceal this cosmetic DLC into loot boxes. Loot boxes function as prize crates and contain valuable virtual items. Although many can be earned through gameplay, the ones that contain the really sweet stuff cost money. One never really knows what will be in a loot crate so purchasing one can be exciting, and ultimately disappointing depending on what is inside. Loot crates are already everywhere, but now major games like Battlefront 2 and Destiny 2 will have them. Converting to loot crates will dig deeper into gamer’s pockets, while the roulette prize system already makes many politicians claim it is gambling. Either way a storm coming., and the people caught in will be the gamers. More information can be found on https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2018/01/11/42-video-game-predictions-for-2018/#34d8d69d5b1f.

Gaming Toys Debut at CES 2018

The annual tech extravaganza launched on Tuesday with innovative gaming offerings. Companies like Google and Razer showed off their newest products at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event’s exhibits included the latest gaming accessories, consoles, and gaming laptops to enhance gaming experience.

Nvidia turned heads at this year’s CES when they debuted their new gaming service for Windows, GeForce Now. The cloud-based gaming service allows users to play games on cheap laptops and computers whose processors couldn’t normally handle the demands of gameplay. The app can be used with Steam, Battle.net and UPlay. GeForce Now is currently in beta and is only available in North America and Europe.

On Monday, Nvidia also rolled out their 65-inch Big Format Gaming Display. Nvidia has partnered with HP, Acer,and Asus to produce 4K resolution backlit displays that come with Nvidia’s Shield streaming service. Each display features voice control courtesy of Google Assistant. The company touts its new technology as stutter-free and says that it will allow gamers to enjoy their favorite titles with less lag and screen tearing.

Virtual reality toys were also on display this year from both Google and Lenovo. Lenovo’s new Mirage Solo VR headset features Google’s WorldSense tracking technology. The headset’s first game will be a new entry in the Blade Runner franchise, Blade Runner: Revelations. The game will debut along with the VR headset in the spring.

Lovers of gaming comfort snapped to attention on Tuesday when Vertagear unveiled their new gaming chair, the PL4500. Festooned with RGB LED lights, the battery-powered racing chair can be controlled from the convenience of a smartphone app. The chair has a charge that lasts up to 30 hours. According to Vertagear, it will be publicly available in the spring.

Razer debuted their Project Linda hardware on Tuesday, showcasing the product’s ability to turn the Razer Phone into a trackpad for a special laptop dock. The phone easily plugs into the dock, transferring mobile apps and the phone’s processing power into the laptop. Razer did not reveal if Project Linda would be rolled out commercially; many of their past CES offerings have never gone beyond exhibition.

Call of Duty: WWII; A Return to Form for the Franchise

As a Game that has defined modern online gaming, Call of Duty has a long legacy on the market. Since its release in 2003, with the aptly named first installment in the series, Call of Duty, the franchise has defined itself on realistic infantry combat, in historic, fictional, and futuristic battlefields, in fourteen separate installments, with updates, and added content for almost every game. Beginning its rein on the modern gaming industry almost fifteen years ago, the series possessed a humble starting position of being a simple mod on the Quake III Arena engine, designed to replicate World War II infantry combat. With the latest installment of the game, 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII, the franchise returns to those humble beginnings with a little over a decade’s worth of knowledge and experience in building the series for the audience who wants it most.

With WWII, Call of Duty takes players back to the elegant stylistic choices of 2003, with some major updates in terms of graphics, weapons, gameplay, and multiplayer. The first game to be set in World War II, since Call of Duty: World at War, WWII takes a main focus on the European Theater of the war’s combat through the eyes of the first Infantry Division. The game also returns to the original line of Call of Duty game’s historic storytelling, with many of Operation Overlord’s missions making up the core of the single player experience. In the multiplayer, players are given more options, and are able to build their own forces from five separate soldier formats.

WWII multiplayer allows players to customize their forces through the selection of up to five combat specialists. Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mountain, and Expeditionary, all have their own special abilities that allow players to build forces to match their own personalized play styles. Upon beginning a new multiplayer match, players are separated, at random, into either Allies or Axis. On the Axis side, players take the role of the German military at the time, the Werhmacht, while on the Allies side, players may choose from British, Soviet, French Resistance, or American Forces. Reviews on the game have been mostly positive, and have highly praised the game for a return to form to the original Call of Duty games. For more information on the game, and on the the franchise at large, visit the official Call of Duty website at https://www.callofduty.com.

Everything: Game Review

As a rule, games are typically meant to be played then won then played again (in some cases). This is not the case for Everything. The game, from Mountain developer David O’Reilly, espouses the connection of organisms from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest cosmic objects the mind can imagine. These objects are all playable characters in the video game that eventually becomes a meditation on consciousness and Eastern philosophical thoughts and ideas.

Starting from scratch as a floating particle through space, you initially inhabit the body of a deer and have the ability to communicate with objects that are roughly within your size and environment. You can call upon other members of your same species and travel in packs towards a destination within the ever-expanding game universe. A horse interacting with a tree allows the player to inhabit the tree and thus ascend to a new height. Trees can elevate to land masses while land masses can elevate to the planetary level. From a planetary level, the player can float through space and eventually come into contact and ascend to the star-level of the sun.

Ascension can continue until you have become a cosmic entity with the next level being a subatomic particle of another dimension. All of this occurs as Alan Watts’ famous lectures that espouse the “oneness” play in the background. With the soothing color palette and musical score in Everything, O’Reilly provides a background to illuminate a vision for Watts’ Buddhist-inspired outlook on life. Though some portions of gameplay are mechanical and require you to unlock new skills, a large aspect of the game is autonomous and runs well enough without human interference.

If you are a player that needs a constant challenge then Everything might not hold up to your standards, however, if you are looking for a new experience that might radically change your worldview then Everything will not disappoint.

The Evolution of Street Fighter II and Consoles

One of the most loved games in the fighting game genre is Street Fighter II. Many people may have references to other fighting games that have come after this game, but Street Fighter II remains one of the innovative pioneers of the fighting game genre. One of the most cherished experiences is playing the home console versions and seeing how they compare to the original arcade release. One of the interesting things about Street Fighter 2 is that there have been multiple versions of the game released. The most recent version of Street Fighter II has been released in 2017.

There are probably a little over 10 different versions of Street Fighter II. There have also been plenty of home console versions of Street Fighter II. Of course the best version of the game is going to be the arcade versions which can now be played on home consoles with the technology that is available. While the earlier home console versions are great representatives of the arcade counterparts, there have been plenty of differences between the arcade versions and the home console versions. Among the most obvious differences are the character sizes, resolutions and the frames of animation. Interestingly enough, the audio soundtrack has often been outdone in the home versions. The Super NES version has a soundtrack that actually sounds higher in quality than the arcade version.

One of the most recent appearances of Street Fighter II was on an airline. One particular version that was being played was the Turbo Hyper Fighting Edition. When Street Fighter II first appeared, players only had access to eight characters with four extra characters given to the CPU. Subsequent versions made the other four “bosses” playable to the user. Later versions would have adjustments to speed, subtle changes in graphics and add more new characters. The Super versions would come with an upgraded sound chip which would bring about upgrades to the classic themes which have been somewhat inspired by the Super NES soundchip. The most recent version called Ultra Street Fighter II has brought four more characters to the roster.

New Updates to Pokemon GO Present New Challenges to Trainers

It’s an exciting time in Pokemon GO, the mobile app that took the world by storm since its launch in July 2016. Niantic, the app’s developer, has been improving the app’s features and slowly adding new monsters introduced after the original 150 from the series’ first video games and cartoons. The most noteworthy changes in Pokemon GO include a weather feature which reflects the real time forecast of a user’s location. Certain Pokemon will now spawn more frequently and have enhanced stats based on the forecast, allowing trainers to hone new strategies when bringing their Pokemon into battle against rival gyms.
Additionally, Niantic has started to roll out Generation 3 Pokemon found exclusively in the Hoenn region of the fictional world. Trainers can currently catch 50 of these monsters, although there are two that are regionally restricted. Legendary Pokemon found exclusively in raids have also made an appearance. North American trainers now have the opportunity to battle and capture Groudon, a high powered ground type Pokemon with a max CP of 4074, until January 15, 2018. Groudon’s appearance marked the exit of Ho-Oh, a Gen 2 raid boss that appeared in legendary raids for one month.
Trainers are currently awaiting news from Niantic for the anticipated Christmas event. Events in Pokemon GO typically allow trainers to enjoy additional perks or limited chances to catch rare monsters. Last year’s Christmas event introduced Gen 2 baby Pokemon only hatched in eggs. To facilitate the capture of these Pokemon, trainers were able to obtain a daily single use incubator from a Pokestop and receive eggs with a higher statistical likelihood of hatching the babies.
Since the release of Gen 3, trainers cannot accurately predict what this year’s event will be. Game events in the past have been proven to follow a pattern. The last two Thanksgiving events awarded double experience to players and the Halloween event offered double candy and dramatically increased spawns of ghost and psychic type Pokemon. This year’s Christmas event is expected to be launched on December 20th. Until then, trainers will continue to theorize what Niantic’s Christmas gift will be.

YouTube Brings 4k Support to Xbox One X

It seems like yesterday when people were struggling to get everything optimized for HD. Now, there is the 4K rush with all of the devices coming out which offer 4K content. However, one of the companies that is bringing in 4K content is YouTube. YouTube is making it possible for people to view 4K content on this platform with their XBox One X device. Another feature that YouTube is giving the XBOX One X is 60fps support. This basically makes viewing on YouTube very identical to viewing on TV. Also, people can watch video game events as well as sporting events the way they were meant to be seen.

The video resolution and other features are advancing at a much quicker rate than ever. There are still plenty of people who remember the days of playing video games that consisted of tiny sprites and simplistic graphics. The soundtrack to games were little more than bleeps. Anyone that wanted decent graphics and visuals had to go to the arcade. Even then, the arcade sounds had little more than simplistic bleeps in their sound card. When the Super NES came out, the sound has already surpassed the capabilities of many arcade machines.

Nowadays, game systems are practically computers. Users can play video games, surf the internet, watch movies on them, and plenty of other features. Many people use gaming systems in order to watch their favorite shows or movies through their streaming services. At the same time, there are plenty of great games coming out with amazing storylines that rival some of the best blockbuster movies. The graphics in the game rival those of high budget summer blockbusters. With the increase in resolution, the idea of what can be done is exciting.

4K is definitely taking off as much as HD has taken off. One of the best things about this ultra high resolution is that this allows for more lifelike colors and greater picture detail in any medium that allows for it.

Good Movies Based on Video Games

One of the interesting issues with video games is that it seems like there can never be a good movie based on a video game. Even the games with the best storylines have movies made that are lacking. While some people would say that the video games can’t be made into good movies, there has been at least one good video game movie. One particular example that comes to mind is Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. This movie was so good that it has inspired one of the Street Fighter Alpha games. It shows that there is a way that a video game can be translated to the big screen.

Another movie that is not necessarily good, but considered better than other attempts is Mortal Kombat. The movie follows the video game storyline adequately. It is important to note that the game was basically a remake of Enter the Dragon with elements of Big Trouble in Little China thrown in for good measure. After all, Liu Kang of the games is based loosely on Bruce Lee. The story of Liu Kang vs Shang Tsung remains in tact. What is largely missing is the feud between Sub Zero and Scorpion which is admittedly hinted at in the film. Fans did get to see a fight between Sub Zero and Scorpion in the sloppy and Abysmal Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

These are just two examples of good movies made from video games. There is an important question to consider when it comes to making good movies out of video games. One thing that could be done is putting the storyline of the film in the hands of the fan of the franchise, preferably someone from the gaming community.

Admittedly, there are some games that are largely impossible to translate to the big screen. A lot of liberties would have to be taken in order to get it to work. One of the games that would prove to be extremely difficult is Super Mario Bros. There was a movie based on the game franchise back in the 90s but it bore very little resemblance to the game. Instead, it has taken on some of the elements from Blade Runner. It ultimately didn’t work. There is still hope for a good video game movie. However, the upcoming Tomb Raider movie might not be it.

Big Reveals About “The Last Of Us 2” At PSX Conference

Neil Druckmann, the writer and director of Naughty Dog’s successful video game The Last Of Us, suggested that one of the lead characters could die in the upcoming sequel. At the recent Playstation Experience (PSX) conference, Druckmann told reporters, “no one is safe – not even [Joel and Ellie].”

Druckmann went on to say that while the theme of the first game was “love” the theme of The Last of Us 2 will be “hate.” He explained that the stakes in this second game are huge and that nobody is guaranteed to survive.

The Last of Us fans got to see the latest tease for this sequel at the Paris Games Week. This extremely violent ad already has over 3 million views on YouTube.

Gamers got to hear a bit more about this sequel in a panel discussion with Druckmann and author Halley Gross. Gross, who’s best known for her work on the TV show Westworld, is collaborating with Druckmann on The Last of Us 2’s story.

Druckmann said he had a clear idea of how he wanted the game to begin and end, however he didn’t know what to put in the middle. He said that Gross jumped right in with incredible ideas for the sequel’s storyline.

At one point in the PSX conference, Druckmann said that Gross “got someone pregnant” while working on her story boards. Druckmann didn’t add any more details to this major tease.

As mentioned above, Druckmann said the theme of The Last of Us 2 will be “hate.” Although many scenes in this game will be tragic, Druckamann said this game won’t totally be without hope for justice or redemption.

There were a few other major reveals on The Last of Us 2 at the PSX panel. For example, developers said most of the game will be set in Seattle and that Naughty Dog is about 50 percent done with making the game. Druckmann also said some people who loved the first game won’t like the sequel. Fans can expect more big reveals at E3 2018 in Los Angeles.

Before the PSX panel on The Last of Us 2, Troy Baker and Ashely Johnson took to the stage to perform an inspiring musical act. You can watch the entire PSX conference online.

Will the End of Net Neutrality Affect Indie Games?

On Thursday, December 14, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the net neutrality rules that had been in place since 2015. These rules defined broadband service as a utility, which gave the F.C.C. more power to impose regulations on them.

This included prohibiting internet service providers from blocking or throttling legal content. It also made it impossible for ISPs to create pay-for-speed programs, where companies and users would pay more for faster load times.

What does this mean for the game industry? It has the potential to harm the growing indie game scene. Indie game designers depend on an open, equal internet for networking and for promoting their games. As the game market becomes more saturated, it becomes more difficult for smaller companies or designers to get the word out about their products. They depend largely on social media and word of mouth.

With the end of net neutrality a real possibility now, indie designers will be unable to compete with larger corporations who have the funds to pay for visibility. Indies also depend on small and niche stores to distribute digital copies of their games. These smaller stores could be driven out by behemoths, like Amazon, who have the vast resources needed to pay for fast speeds and visibility.

Aside from the financial costs, there are any number of potential issues. With only a few corporations controlling the flow of information on the internet, there’s a real threat of censorship. For example, Comcast is the largest internet service provider in the United States. Comcast also owns NBC and its related channels (MSNBC, CNBC) and Universal Pictures. If a game with a political bent took aim at some of Comcast’s holdings, they could throttle the speed to its website, making it difficult for people to learn about or acquire the game. They would also be able to charge extra to any storefronts that carried the game.

This might be an extreme example, but it illustrates the many dangers facing indie game creators in a world without net neutrality.