Why the Xbox One IS Future Proof (2014 Fortaleza Glasses and More)

So in the hazy aftermath of all those salacious E3 conferences, as Xbox owners cough and splutter through the Playstation tinged smoke after being bowled over by the raucous crowd of chanting attendees carrying Jack Tretton on their shoulders, who at this point had removed his shirt and was karaokeing along to You Gave Love a Bad Name and directing his adoring crowd in the direction of THE BAR; in the sobriety of the morning, we got round to mourning.

Because here at Respawn, we’ve been outspoken Xbox 360 and indeed Microsoft advocates throughout the course of our poor website’s humble existence.  In fact for a while, it seemed like anybody who opted just for a Playstation 3 was either the victim of misinformation, or some sort of lobotomized goose who hated games and himself. Or herself. Is a female goose still called a goose? Who knows. Anyway.

It’s tantamount to absolute inarguable concrete fact that Sony utterly hashed up last gen, or this gen, depending on how many months you are euphorically ahead at the moment. Mistake after mistake after mistake followed the glorious and undeniably beautiful reign of the PS2, with moves and decisions so baffling it was like they were intentionally playing out a prelude to prepare us all for Tory Britain. In fact it was, in a vaguely chronological kind of way.

And yet as we rolled toward this E3, chewing off the ends of our fingers because our nails went on 21st May, everything hung in the balance. Microsoft needed something mind blowing, regardless of Sony’s surprising undertake on, well, every aspect of these new consoles.

Right now, Microsoft are licking wounds and trying to pretend they weren’t just trounced into the ground, in what was the greatest defeat since Winchester flower-arranging team beat Harrow by twelve sore bottoms to one. If you’ll excuse the reference. The thing is though, despite these dreadful, damaging, inexplicably audacious moves that don’t make a lick of sense to anybody with a head, the Xbox One IS future-proof. Or future-resistant anyway. If that’s a thing.

Why? Because the future is when it’s been designed for. Cloud computing is one of the most exciting ideals infecting the world of both consumers (though slowly) and businesses (more quickly) and offers the kind of power we simply can’t comprehend. NASAs Curiosity got to fucking Mars with the help of cloud computing. From a gaming standpoint, in theory we could be playing fully CGI’d, photorealistic games, regardless of the hardware it’s running on right now. In theory.

But here’s where it gets interesting. If anybody saw that Xbox 720 document that floated around the internet a year or so ago, you’ll likely remember that it foretold a number of ideals, the beginnings of which have all fallen perfectly into place, just as the 56-page document prophesized. More interesting still is the evidence that we can trust it and what it leads to.

Take a look at this slide below that came from the document.

roadtofortaleza

The Road to Fortaleza

TV app launches, XTV pay TV service launches, Xbox 720 and Kinect V2 launches , ‘One Box. Input 1’. Does that phrase sound familiar? If you were watching E3 carefully it will do, because ‘All in One. Input One.’ is their latest tagline.

inputone

All in One. Input One. Microsoft’s catchy new XB1 tagline.

Here’s another image that not only details everything that’s happened so far, it also mentions the ‘Input 1’ tagline again, under this year’s segement.

xboxtimeline

‘Xbox 720′ Timeline

So what does this all mean? How does a document that’s purportedly been correct about the future of Xbox thus far make it damningly, excitingly future proof? Because of where it ends.

Whilst the document also mentions Illumiroom, which we’ve seen official proof of concept videos for, and a heavy reliance on cloud computing, it goes on to reach ‘Fortaleza Glasses’. Due for a reveal in 2014, according to the slides, these are not 3D glasses by a long flattening of the imagination (long time readers will know our stand on these and the technology as a whole – less fun than inviting strangers to piss in your shoes.) They were instead, closer to virtual reality glasses – an Oculus Rift type of affair that would remain slim and sleek due to the power of cloud computing and Kinect. Coupled with Illumiroom, this could potentially turn your whole living space into a fully 3D, virtual gaming environment. If you’re not a crazed advocate of the Oculus Rift just yet, have a look at the video of it running Team Fortress 2 below, coupled with an omni-directional running machine and prepare to want.

Of course the natural reaction is to denounce this as yet another push toward yet another casual gimmick that won’t work as well as we’re told it will (see: Kinect, any other motion sensor ever) however embracing the evolution of gaming is something we should do graciously, and with Oculus Rift looking special, I wouldn’t be opposed to Microsoft doing something similar with hardware backing it up. The final portion of that slide appears to show the Glasses being used in a kind of Google Glass-esque augmented reality situation, citing ‘the revolution in mobile’. And frankly, we’re pretty keen on giving Glass a go right now.

Ultimately, once we have a proper internet infrastructure that can handle such heavy reliance on cloud computing, and if Microsoft let on a little more about what they, at least at some point were planning, the Xbox One could prosper. The problem is MS, not only do you not know WHO you’re talking to anymore, you also don’t seem to know what year it is.

Sony are the heroes of today, and unless aforementioned furious backpedalling takes place, this year and maybe next, but it’s unlikely the Xbox One is going anywhere too soon, and the future is still very much an incandescent glimmer. It was good while it lasted Microsoft, Respawn hope it will be great once again.

 

 

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E3 2013: Foreword Unto Dawn

It’s finally time boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, Romans, countrymen, and all the rest. Mainly the Romans actually, what’re you guys even doing here? The big 3, preceded by a large E is upon us; the most prestigious, prodigious, delicious, the raging caging, video gaming Electronic Entertainment Expo is here! Hooray. And of course, we wouldn’t be doing our duty to the aching, echoingly disparate corridors of the internet if we weren’t to grab a huge handful of news, stir in any updates we can scrape off the tray with a sharpened toothpick, sprinkle an abundance of flavoursome, speculative and unhealthy opinion over the top and serve it up to you in one disgusting, inedible dish! So that’s what you’re going to get. Whilst I try to get help regarding these eating metaphors.

Yes over the next 48 hours you, the poor unfortunate soul sat inexplicably reading this foreword of sorts, will be subjected to a brash, overbearingly frequent selection of E3 related updates, complete with reviews of each of the manufacturers keynotes, rundowns of EA’s inevitable Sports Hour, and Ubisoft’s Things That Could Be Pretty Badass segment. Who knows, we might even have time to see what Nintendo are up to, skulking around in the corner, playing their own machines and trying to mask the tears with buts and maybes. Probably.

The schedule for all the big conferences is below, and we’ll have more from the show floor, as it happens! Well give or take; considering the time delay and the quality of the streaming channels and the 2am start for Sony, and the fact we’re inexorably, incontestably, infuriatingly lazy. Ahem.

Microsoft – 5:30 PM GMT
EA – 9:00 PM GMT
Ubisoft – 11:00 PM GMT
Sony –2:00 AM GMT
Nintendo Stream – 3PM GMT

So, over to you.  What do you want to see from this year’s conference? Are you looking to Microsoft to pull something special out of the hat and turn their recent streak of bad press around? Are you more interested in Sony loosening those lips on whether their DRM will be the same? Are you violently salivating over Ubi’s poster boy Watch Dogs? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll see you back here for more soon!

 

whothrowsashoe

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Microsoft Make One Big Mess of Xbox Reveal Show

As the curtain fell on the Xbox Reveal event this evening, a rumbling of discontent emanated throughout the crowd. Probably. We weren’t there. But we’re sure it happened, chiefly because despite the hype and the tentative, largely arguable ‘success’ of the show, Wired confirmed two things we’ve been dreading. And they were also dishing out week-old hot dogs to all attendees. Bang.

The One That I Want

First off, you need to know its name, ‘cause we here at Respawn are quite aware that you probably don’t read our awful titles. It’s Xbox One. Which is odd. Because there is an Xbox One already, depending on how numerically you enjoy your console iterations. We still think Xbox 8 or Infinity would have been fancier choices, or really anything that doesn’t make it sound like it’s three decades behind the new Playstation. But oh well, name calling is juvenile anyway, or so we’re told.

Dem Right Angles

Next up, we’ve stuck a picture in below, but it’s not exactly an eyeball slobbering masseuse in terms of technological aesthetical charm is it. We suppose the curvier edition will come out in a years’ time under the inventive pseudonym Xbox One S. Or Xbox Onsie. That’d be fun, and relevant wouldn’t it? Oh right, name calling.

Anyway, cosmetic niggles out of the way, let’s get onto the meat of the show, the aforementioned terrors that Wired have revealed.

  • The Xbox One is not backwards compatible. Though we weren’t really expecting it to be anyway – we know the PS4 won’t be, at least not at disc level.
  • The Xbox One requires an installation to the HDD which in turn ties the game to your Live account – if you want to play the game on a different console or even someone else’s account, you need to pay a fee to unlock it.

Goodbye Preowned

Essentially, the blocking of preowned this next generation COULD be the nail in the coffin for those slowly regenerating, yet still wounded high street retailers. Or GAME, as it were. And despite what you might think, that’s not actually a good thing for the industry. It’s also incredibly anti-user. Why, when buying a game, am I made to feel like I’ve done something wrong? That’s not exactly inviting the paying customer in for a seat in your lavish banqueting hall is it? It’s spitting at them and closing the door, before hurling your product at their back and yelling something about keeping off the lawn.

Sucking Seed

In fact, to say Microsoft succeeded in any way at this event would be to be horrendously, overtly, Mother Teresaly generous. They waffled on about their fancy new TV features, and how you could watch telly and browse the internet and make a cup of tea and sew on a button at the same time, (presumably that feature is aimed exclusively at the rather niche Pod Racing Commentators market – and if you get that, well… good) and how you could put your fantasy football league players with… little pictures of their faces… next to the actual game… as it was happening, or something, as if anybody’s genuine yearning to do that were anything but an atrocity, and all the while ignored their target audience.

Countdown to E3

We know E3 is only a couple of weeks away, but honestly Microsoft, we’re really not that interested in Live TV. Especially because it won’t actually work in the UK on launch. Nor are we bothered about Call of Duty: Ghosts. And although the Steven Spielberg directed Halo mini-series sounds fantastic, we just want to know why us gamers, remember us, should be even partially interested.

Undoubtedly the most promising part of the show was the reveal of Quantum Break, straight from the fingertips of Remedy, the benign creators of Max Payne. But as far as fancy lights and doohickeys that are going to benefit the gaming experience go, we heard nothing.

So, with the rather devastating news that preowned games will no longer be a thing thanks to restrictive and overbearing controls come Xbox One launch, coupled with a poor overall showing that ignored the very people watching, can Microsoft still make a meal out of E3?

Yes. But it’s going to take some work. They mentioned they had 15 exclusives lined up for the console in the first year – we’re going to need to hear about them, and they’re going to have to make us dribble in anticipation. Similar to the PS4, we’re going to want to know what kind of platform the One will give to indies and smaller developers – will the Live Arcade live on, or will it be demolished for something new?  Does the One have video sharing capabilities like the PS4 – we know it captures, but what else will it do? Does it do anything for the core market at all? Microsoft have got a steep, steep climb to the 10th of June, and despite all this… we’re still pretty excited. How about you guys?

  Xbox One - Machinima Flickr

 

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Narrative Design: Pacing, Difficulty and How Metal Gear Rising Got it Right

I’ve never really understood why so many people complain about the length of the cutscenes in the Metal Gear Solid series. As a young, impressionable boy, cutscenes were the reward you worked toward. A golden bastion of gratification. Getting to the next cutscene was an achievement, a signal that you could at least do the game when your friends and relatives and nearby inanimate objects weren’t about to be better at it than you. And when it came to Metal Gear Solid, a game I’ve repeatedly, voraciously EATEN for many years (that’s right folks, I’ve EATEN it) I simply considered the reward to be greater, as of course was the gameplay, and every other aspect of that glorious, life-affirming masterpiece. Being aghast by a long cutscene would be akin to loudly complaining that your expensive steak was too succulent, and subsequently grabbing the waiter by his tie and demanding he stir in some soggy cardboard or you’ll start flinging chairs about the place. Maybe I really do have an eating issue.

Anyway. Metal Gear Rising, Platinum Games’ alternative take on the iconic series, approaching the classic Stealth-’em-up from a brand new hack/slash/block/die/cry angle was, upon reveal, met with a barrage of dissent. ‘You can’t change the Metal Gear formula!’ cried the type of people that would complain about winning a year’s supply of unbridled happiness. Albeit, there was an undoubtedly potent amount of risk involved. The game was a roaring, slicing, dicing success though, and if you’ve not played it, Respawn officially demand you go out and do so immediately if not sooner. It’s balanced, strategic and best of all, a guffawing barrel of fun.

And one way it achieves its rotund barrel-esque shape and said enjoyable innards is the way its cinematics, or more, the big narrative moments are thrust indignantly at you.

Increasingly, games are weaving in enrapturing ‘blockbuster’ storylines, jammed with grandiose peaks of simmering intensity that get the player pumped to be in control.  Something I’ve found to happen all too often in these games though is the instance wherein a level of challenge in the way the gameplay mechanics function at these specific, pivotal points, actually detracts from the momentum of the story it’s worked so hard to bring to a boiling, reverberant pinnacle. I’m not saying games should be less challenging (I think quite the opposite in fact) I’m saying narrative design needs to be taken into account in a more gameplay-centric manner at these particular moments.

I can only imagine the frustrated, baffled expression you’re pulling due primarily to that illegible description, so let me use a real-world example. In Mass Effect 3, as you move to make a swift exit from Rannoch, the Normandy is attacked by a Reaper. In a stirring display of vehement, and fist-in-the-air badassery (I’m sorry) Shepard orders the Normandy pull over, and in a ‘not today’ turn of events, he barks a few orders back to the ship before announcing he’ll ‘finish this thing off.’ It’s an incontestably rousing sequence, made all the more so exhilarating by an incredible soundtrack and as the player resumes control of Shepard, they are full of adrenaline and ready to fight.

For me though, the balance in this section was completely skew-if. It was orchestrated like an ordinary boss fight, when in fact, it could have been so much more. It took a few trial and error runs to figure out what exactly the game wanted from you, before a few more dodges and dives and deaths before you got a formula that would work for actually defeating the thing; by the time I managed it, the energy and momentum of that soaring moment had completely disappeared. In this instance, narrative design should have dictated that, more important than strategy or challenge, was empowerment, in terms of how the player should feel. I don’t want to be made to stop and trial and error and strategize, essentially, at this point in the game.

So then, back to Rising. Whilst it was far from perfect, Platinum’s balance of indulgent, impossible spectacle and thoughtfully aligned challenge made for numerous moments throughout the game that were entirely ‘holy shit, this is awesome’, even when, and in fact especially when, you were still in control. By dimming the intensity of the accuracy required from the player, it kept the pace at a blistering level whilst still providing a significant challenge at the right times – other times. Cinematic dynamicity and out and out awe-inspiring ridiculousness are things Metal Gear Rising gets very right indeed, and something games that perpetuate these big arching moments, could really learn from.

And still these days, when I hit a cutscene, I throw the controller down and bask in the unabashed glory of wafer thin narrative progression, and more military-based macho nacho homoerotic sentiments that detail just how real shit is about to get. I fail most QTE’s thanks to this tendency. Or I end up wildly scrambling for the controller, sending the Kinect hurtling out the window in the process. Although that might be malevolent intention. Rising meant I had to retrain myself to hold on to the damned thing. We reiterate, if you’ve not played it yet, go out and get a copy now. Oh, and stop complaining about long cutscenes.

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The Next Xbox Won’t be Always-Online But it Might Eat Your Children

Then again, in the defence of the Next Xbox, you do have delicious children. If you wake up every morning with backache and haven’t heard all the rumblings about the ‘Xbox 720’ voraciously needing to gobble up your internet ALL THE TIME, then there’s an excellent chance you live under a rock. Whilst here at Respawn we invite any social class to join in the conversation, we’re not permitted to actively encourage rock-dwelling, as it comes with some serious health ramifications. Still, congratulations are in order for managing to connect to the internet irrespective of your peculiar living arrangements. Well done.

So anyway, the long and short of the situation is this: with the PS4’s parts flapping obtusely in the free breeze of the day, and Microsoft keeping their cards close to their chest whilst shooting twitchy glances over at Sony with wild, reddened eyes, the rumour mill has churned into life over the last couple of months and started spitting out some shiny new aneurisms for us all to copulate over. Ahem.

The most frontal of said rumours, was that one about the new Xbox’s requirement for a constant internet connection. We won’t get into the ‘always-on’, DRM and anti-piracy/preowned measures right now, but it’s safe to say that skin-tight, nonsensical restrictions aren’t exactly the kind of things we bounce off the sofa in excitement over, and not being able to play games we’ve bought just because BT is ran by a flock of geese who can’t maintain a coherent dialogue with a customer, never mind an internet connection, doesn’t sound like fun at all. Above all, it simply doesn’t work. Ask Ubisoft. They know all about it.

Of course, when the rumour lands, the internet collectively eats its keyboard in a bizarre display of disgust that benefits no one. With everyone in a sort of half-arsed digital riot tearing Microsoft banners off their Tumblr accounts (can you put banners on your Tumblr page? I don’t have one… it seems like something you could do on there. On that Tumblr) and spluttering into their status boxes, Microsoft decided the best thing they could possibly do at this point was have a spokesperson muscle his way into the crowd and start systematically urinating on everyone.

Adam Orth, Microsoft Studios’ creative director tweeted this glorious platitude seen below, which as you can imagine, caused one or two Tweeters to politely tap him on the shoulder and explain how that kind of comment is not only inane and boisterously short-sighted, it’s also not cricket. I hope someone said that anyway.

Adam_Orth_always_on

He responded to these tweets with the tact and understanding of a spluttering gorging Nigel Farage at his slave trader’s Christmas Party. Orth supposedly resigned just days after the untold hysteria, which we suppose he’ll have to just ‘deal with’.

So as we approach 21st May, the announcement of the next Xbox, with a due sense of unmanageable dread, this week the rumour mill has presented the gaming community with a glimmer of HOPE.

The thing to remember at this stage really though, is if Microsoft DID make a home console that required an internet connection to play games at all, thus essentially swooping in and delivering a giant cockslap to their entire userbase, then they’d be hoisting the white flag before the battle had even begun. Massively alienating a sizeable chunk of your audience and severing ties to the people who can actually sell your systems and games for you ISN’T a business tactic. It’s just not. Essentially it’d be like them giving up from the off, thus, are they REALLY going to go through with something so brash and reckless? No. They’re not.

It will have some, if minimal functionality offline. Why? Because like The Mask, it’s gotta. The rumour mill spattered some more driblets our way today, claiming that in fact an internal memo at Microsoft has leaked, suggesting it WILL work offline. Shock. Horror. Let’s all go back to our tea.

We’re still eagerly anticipating the 21st May; it’s been a pretty exciting year so far, and with E3 now just around the corner wherein we’ll no doubt learn more about the PS4 and the unannounced next Xbox, not to mention Microsoft’s recent Illumiroom jibberings, we’re going to have ALL SORTS to talk about pretty soon. So keep those eyes and ears peeled chaps and girls! You ‘eard.

Respawn Podcast 21 – When Words Fail, Idiots Speak

We’re back! Forgive us! Go on, it’s a nice day. Plus you might as well because there’s nigh-on a full HOUR of unbridled, irritating jibber-jabbering right here on April’s Respawn podcast! Better still, this edition comes complete with its very own Sam Farrer! Yes, you may remember the illustrious vocal stylings of one Mr. Farrer from some previous episodes and if not, well,  hooray; there’s a 40% chance you’ll actually give it a listen! Inside we discuss all the rampant unending news based delicacies we’ve been chomping through these last few weeks, including of course, the Playstation 4, the NEW Xbox and its launch announcement on the 21st May, plus Illumiroom and everything we know about the forthcoming event THUS FAR!

Better yet, you get to be appalled as you hear long dribbley tales of what we’ve been playing, laugh at our general incompetence and do the grumpy cat face when we try to make an honest joke. You’ll have to forgive Guesty because he was dying of a cold, but we thought the occasional coughing fit would actually augment the experience. If nothing else, it’s a moment’s respite from listening to us lot garble on. Have yourself a listen and if you’ve got anything to say about our largely unjustified and and ill-informed opinions, why not scribble it down in a Facebook comment below! If you do, Guesty promised ‘sexual favours and more’, though he does rarely keep his promises. Stay tuned for more next month ladies and gentlemen! Oh, and pass the salt.

 

 




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[COMIC] Mark Guest The Detective: Part Two

So, occasionally Guesty forgets things. Sometimes it’s whether Tom writes for us. Other times it’s how to breathe. A lot of the time he forgets to do comics, which isn’t so much a vice as it is a reassurance for all us lot. Still, every so often he remembers, and endeavors to get one done before he dies. This week, he’s put one together on exactly this situation, after it was carefully explained to him, and the sound of our voices clearly echoed around in that tin can he calls a head for several days. Which is nice. Between Guesty not doing comics, and Tom persistently spewing up great ideas that neither of us have any time to actually do, things at Respawn HQ are really cooking. In a kind of, oh no the oven’s been on for three hours and now everything’s burnt kind of way.

After endlessly beating Tom over the head with a copy of Bioshock Infinite until he angrily told me he’d had enough of all this physical abuse not to mention the incessant name calling we’d been directing at various members of his family, quitting and storming out, dramatically slamming the door leaving me baffled as to why he didn’t like the violence but Guesty seemingly couldn’t get enough of it, all three of us finally finished the game.  And Tom didn’t really quit. And I learnt to use full stops. Well, ish. Since then, aside from all the exasperated conversations we’ve hurled each other’s way regarding the games incomparable ending, we’ve all moved on to greener pastures. Tom’s currently in the process of causing Lara Croft to die repeatedly in the new Tomb Raider, and I’ve taken to siting up till 3am playing the same level of Hotline Miami. God knows what Guesty’s up to, though we largely imagine it’s got something to do with building utterly impossible monstrosities in Minecraft. Oh and complaining  that he’s not working at Rooster Teeth yet. Anyway, here’s the comic, enjoy!


Click to enlarge!

BioShock Infinite: The Sociable Single Player Game (and How it Ruined My Life)

Snappy titles are awful aren’t they. Who wants concise and succinctly formed information that raises questions and provides answers simultaneously, when they can instead try to ingest a stodge-filled spluttering mouthful of non-description like that? Reading it back now, it’s actually not that long, but my initial draft was worse so I’m running with this opener whether you like it or not. So you better like it. You hear? Thanks for reading, by the way.

So yes, dispensing with unnecessary garble concerning my inability to write titles or headings or interesting, thought provoking content, you might well be wondering how BioShock Infinite, a game that is SANS multiplayer (incidentally proposed multiplayer mode was brutally torn from the game like it were attached only by some wet cardboard and Nick Clegg’s political influence before release) could possibly be the sole purveyor of an inherently social experience! If you’re not wondering that then maybe you should up your game a bit. Thanks for reading, by the way.

When I finally finished the tour de force of colour that was BioShock Infinite, I put down the controller and did my best to correct the gaping hole in my head being stubbornly enforced by my jaw. I felt like I was half way through trying to eat a tree trunk. Shell shocked. And really hungry. Throughout the game I was convinced there was no possible way Infinite could blow my mind like the first game did, because we’re seriously talking Dyson-level exertion where that nautical fellow is concerned. But it definitely, definitely did.

I imagine they’re going to start running the final 25 minutes of BioShock Infinite on big screens at the dentist, as an effective method for getting patients to keep their mouths open, and only be able to manage an incredulous splutter of disbelief at 30 second intervals is just a happy byproduct.  As the information slowly seeps into you, presumably via some sort of psycho-digital osmosis that Irrational Games forgot to tell us they’d invented, you begin thinking back and putting pieces together and adding and subtracting and carrying the 1 and suddenly you realize you’ve just caused a minor flood warning from inadvertently dribbling so aggressively. Presumably the multiplayer was actually removed from the game when Ken Levine told the department working on it the ending, and they all died.

Anyway, I’ll stop gushing. The first thing I did after I hit the credits and was returned, still dazed, to the title screen, was text Guesty. Had the conversation that followed been seen out of context, we’d have each been bought training bras and a copy of Bliss Magazine.

 

OMG IT’S FINISHED!!!!! THE BIT WITH THE —-

 

I KNOW RIGHT!! AND OMG DID YOU REALIZE—

 

OMG YES!! WHAT THE ACTUAL. WHAT THE ACTUALLLLLL—

 

Ahem. After comparing notes through a haze of girly squeals, uncharacteristic abbreviations and deciding a C cup would fit best, I took to the internet to see what others were thinking,  to read their interpretations, their thoughts and ideas on what is, in many ways, an ambiguous ending that encompasses and addresses the entire universe, spanning the whole series.

Suddenly I was talking about infinite to anyone I could find that had finished it. I wrapped up the game itself one Friday night, but it lived on in my mind for many, many hours afterwards; all I wanted to do was discuss it, talk about it, drink in the glorious, weaving intricacies of that finale. With anyone and everyone. Inadvertent sociality, you see? You have to understand, I don’t like talking to strangers. I barely like talking to my friends. But I was indebted to do it, it was an impulsive, implanted, innate action. Would I kindly?

So then, how did BioShock Infinite ruin my life? Well it didn’t of course, but aside from forcing me to engage in conversation with other people (which is pretty life ruining) it meant that I turned into an incessant, slave-driving irritant to all those who hadn’t finished it yet. I could barely have a conversation with resident scribbler Tom without angrily demanding that he dropped whatever he was doing and went and completed the game immediately if not sooner, so a sparring dialogue could commence. Or so we could shake our heads in knowing disbelief at each other in total silence. One of the two.

It’s been a long while since I’ve played a game that’s really lived on in my head, caused me to think and process and rethink and rethink again in quite the way Infinite did and indeed is still doing. Undoubtedly, it’s a roaring success, and whilst visual issues mar the 360 version throughout (though to no real detriment of the experience) and the gameplay isn’t exactly an unrecognizable departure (although Skylines are a horrendous amount of fun) from what we know, there can be no question that BioShock Infinite is a must play. If you have not picked up a copy already, all of us at Respawn command you to go forth and do so immediately. And thanks for reading, by the way.

HandymanBSI

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Sony Innovate with a Console Even Developers Can Use

Mark Cerny has been flabbering his lips to MCV so we thought we’d take the unsolicited liberty of making a profusely needless video thanking him for such profound words. Inside you’ll find such delights as Rob’s irritating voice, some irrelevant pictures, and the opportunity to feel like you’ve wasted a good deal of your life! For those of you that are into READING, and BOOKS and WORDS, there’s even the transcript below. Which is fancy isn’t it? Well, the word transcript is fancy anyway. Give this a click and if you’re confused by the accent, or are struggling to hear it over the sound of your own screaming, we cordially invite you to HAVE YOURSELF A READ. Cor.

 

 

It’s good to know that Sony are on the ball isn’t it? It’s good to think, by, that Kaz Hirai knows what he’s doing when he brings out hyper-expensive progress bar simulators with bluray players nailed to the side. It’s comforting to know that when it looks like the ship is sinking, he can ingeniously pour his quickly diminishing reams of Monopoly cash into an inherently flawed late-90’s novelty, only to stop talking about the technology altogether a year later, presumably after realizing its usability is akin to trying to consume ice cream through your nasal passage. You can’t see so well and it hurts. I don’t know about you, but I have complete trust in everything those clever chaps at Sony do, and now I have even more reason to be devastatingly incorrect. Don’t worry folks, someone, somewhere, will actually be able to USE the PS4.

Yes Mark Cerny, a man who appeared at the launch event of the new Playstation looking like a Thunderbird tethered to a loveless relationship

Ford Mondeo I Turnier

Ford Mondeo I Turnier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

with two kids and a Ford Mondeo, and talking like he might have been trying to subversively induct everyone into a cult of some description, has come out and proclaimed that Sony will be breaking ground with their newest concept for the PS4: a console that DOESN’T require a nuclear physicist on the dev team.

The direct quote goes something like this: “The biggest thing was that we didn’t want the hardware to be a puzzle that programmers would be needing to solve to make quality titles”. Cerny commented, presumably without realizing how hurt his good friend Rubik would be.

Well praise the heavens for Sony eh. Cerny proudly proclaims this gorging feat, this towering accomplishment as if Sony had slimmed the Hadron Collider down into something that could be operated effectively by Michael Ball’s trouser press. That’s right everyone, we went out on a LIMB to make sure that making games for our new machine wasn’t the programming equivalent of gluing jelly to a cat. Or something, you get the picture, with any luck.

I mean, it’s great news Cerny, really it is; having a machine developers can actually use is probably going to be a real asset for you this generation, but we’re not so sure you should be announcing it like the second coming of Jesus. Because what that quote actually says is ‘The biggest thing was that we didn’t want to get every last fucking thing wrong again’, and we’d all have lots more respect if you just said that. Well, perhaps.

It’d have been magical to be in the boardroom that day, gathered round the projector, bouncing ideas around the group, and suddenly Mark Cerny drops in knocking a tall standing lamp over with the unending protrusion that is his cheekbones and drops this platitudinal corker. Not a puzzle you say hey Cerny? It’s just so crazy it could work! Promote that man! And then Cerny would grin; knocking over yet more office furniture.

The PS4 is certainly looking promising, and with the likely increase in studios not exasperatingly eating their dev kits through a haze of uncontrollable tears, Sony could genuinely have a winner on their hands come the inevitable next-gen showdown. With their pledged support for an open, indie-focused platform including a Sony-specific Unity environment, it could really be a new chapter for the blunderous, clumsy embarrassment that has been SCE these last few years. We remain at least partially positive on that front anyway. Stay tuned to Respawn for more, and if they gaudily announce they’re finally including charging leads that break into centimetre territory, presumably with the kind of prestige and authority you’d usually reserve for the reveal of the world’s first talking armchair, you’ll hear about it here first. Probably. Okay you won’t.

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The Piston Steam Box is Not a Thing

The last time I read a Daily Mail, it made me want to shave with a lawn strimmer. And have Darren Day watch. Not that I’ve ever read the Daily Mail out of choice, it’s always been pure unwitting misfortune. I was probably trying to avoid a socially inept situation I’d managed to scurry myself in to in a coffee shop, or Google News tricked me. Damn it Google News, not again. Presumably this is the only way ANY copy of the Mail gets read; those seeking immediate and unconditional refuge from the nonsensical world around them, only to suffer a fate akin to having someone corkscrew your eyes out. If it’s any other reason, everybody needs to grab some matches and start burning things as a matter of urgency. And when I say things, I mean everything.

 

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Six Reasons Why The Playstation 4 Will Be My Best Friend

Didn’t I tell you this year would be great? I did, didn’t I. You might remember it from here, here and here. Okay that last one less so, but I needed a third ‘here’ so. Like it or get out. Mere DAYS ago I sat up with the unblinking self-hatred of a man trying to remove his own eyes with a discoloured copy of James Cordon’s most recent hardback, ‘Why I’m an Insufferable Arse’ and watched, in  mouth-agape anticipation, some people stand on a stage and say ‘YES. YOU WERE RIGHT. PLAYSTATION 4 IS A THING. NOW GO HOME PLEASE’. They also said some interesting things about what it does, and in the opening speech, Andrew House, a man dressed like he was trying to sell you your own house, said ‘togay’ instead of today. It was hysterical. Or me and Twitter thought so anyway, it doesn’t even matter what you think. So there.

So whilst I managed to contain my excitement at least to the extent that I’d survive the night without have to prise my shoulders from the ceiling after I rocketed through it in pure adulation, it’s taken nearly a whole week for the news to settle in, good and proper. So what now, what does it all mean?

For one, it means that Sony better start hot-tailing these imaginary machines that nobody’s actually seen to the duplicators because people sure as hell aren’t going to buy as many PS3s as they were before, even if they do now come in Radiation Green or Cat Vomit Yellow, or whatever colours they’ve decided to do it in this week. It also means we’re likely to hear all about Microsoft’s overblown night-light fest pretty soon too. Still, that’s all ahead of us in the great year that will be great as I rightly predicted.

So let’s concentrate on the here and now, shall we? Yes. Let’s. Here are some fun things Respawn learnt about the PS4, conveniently disguised as something you’d actually like to read! Yep, it’s: Things I Like About the PS4.

1)      It turns off.

Before you begin audibly scowling and wishing I’d get hit by a slow moving bus, allow me to explain! The PS4 will reportedly be able to go into a low-power state; so rather than having to shut the machine down completely only to turn it back on again moments later when you remember you don’t have any friends and even if you did they wouldn’t want to go for a drink with you, it’ll take THREE SECONDS to come back on, and you’ll resume instantly as if it had been left on, whirring away to itself the whole time. This will be particularly useful because I enjoy leaving my game paused for several hours whilst I eat/sleep/cry, so my final playtime is generally hugely inflated. Or at least that’s what I tell anyone that looks at my final playtime.

2)      It downloads things

The Playstation 3 is a great machine if all you really want from your £300 system is a progress bar that you can stare longingly at whilst it crawls with increasing imparity toward completion. If you were after games or, say, ANYTHING ELSE, then you’re right out of luck as it stands. Fortunately, this will no longer be the case with the PS4. The new architecture will allow you to multitask, which not only means you can run, say, a browser and a game at the same time (gasp, faint, etc.) it means waiting in dead silence for those endless firmware updates will be a thing of the past, as the download will run in the background. Purportedly you’ll even be able to play games AS you download them. Cor.

3)      It’s got explosions

Loads of them. Apparently. Big ones, small ones, shiny ones, ones that make a loud noise, ones that make an even louder noise, ones that have guns nearby, ones that have people dying nearby, ones that are the direct cause of nearby people dying, and every kind of explosion in between! Which is good news. For some of us. Killzone: Shadowfall looked lovely, but then Killzone has always looked lovely whilst simultaneously being duller than attempting conversation with a strand of Ed Miliband’s hair. Boom.

4)      It jams things you might not want into your mouth under the pretence of being lovely.

Sony told us that the PS4 is going to jump the gun, and just start downloading whatever the hell it feels like downloading because it reckons you might like it. Like when strangers tell you to try food. ‘Go on, you’ll love it’ they say, wildly brandishing a spoon populated by a sizeable helping of pig swill in your too-close-for-comfort zone. The PS4 won’t even have to convince you though. It probably won’t even tell you. If you don’t use it for a few days, it’ll download a shit-tonne of hideous pornography and plaster it all over XMB so your girlfriend gets mad. Probably.

5)      You can video yourself being terrible at games incase anyone doesn’t already know

For some people, simply being bad at video games isn’t enough. For others, simply being good at games isn’t enough. They have to video themselves doing it, and then dribble into a microphone for hours on end, explaining in excruciating detail exactly what’s going on, the recording of which they no doubt masturbated to immediately after wrapping.  Also, you should probably not check out our video section now. PS4 will essentially let you do what OnLive does. You can choose a video clip of your latest game session and upload it straight to YouTube. Hooray.

6)      It lets you whisper sweet nothings into your friend’s ear as he plays, steadily becoming increasingly infuriated by your needless distractions

And finally; as part of the controller’s new ‘share’ button, you can spectate your friend’s playing their own games in what is likely the most intrusive feature ever to have been built in to a games machine! Though again, OnLive offered this up to. My only use of this function will be to watch Guesty for hours, until he forgets I’m there, and just as the game gets tense enough, I’ll make some awkward comment about his social life and ruin any illusion of escapism he might have been experiencing. Ah. Self-gratification.

There we have it then boys and girls. All genuine reasons why me and that shiny new, faceless PS4 are going to be the best of pals. Guaran-damn-teed.

 

DS4touch

 

Game of the Year 2012: Incoming

It’s THAT TIME AGAIN, wherein we loudly pronounce very particular games, with the excitable vigor and authority of the prerecorded train station announcer, the blistering-edged pinnacle of our gaming annum; the dizzying heights of our favourite experiences that have taken us to far off lands, caught us up in an enormous duvet of narrative or made sure that no matter which family member was in desperate need of our aide, no matter which room in the building had inexplicably burst into flames and no matter how many times the man at the door threatened to give us a MILLION POUNDS, our thumbs would not budge. From the controller. That is. Just so we’re clear.

BUT, we thought we’d try something a little different this year, because different can sometimes be good. Of course it can sometimes be disorienting, painful and dangerous as well, and in classic Respawn style, we’re hoping to tick all the boxes with this one.

With resident scribbler Tom firmly on board (we locked him in a room and told him he wasn’t coming out until he agreed to JOIN THE TEAM, and then hand over all the change in his pocket – £1.74 in the Respawn kitty. On reflection, we should have pushed for more) we’ve decided to SHAKE UP THE FORMAT a bit. Coming up in the next few posts then you’ll find not only a Game of the Year from each of us; you’ll also see our Disappointment, Surprise and Platform of the Year, as well as our predictions for next! Good eh? Yes. The answer is yes. So grab a cold flannel and lets get this 2012 show on the road! Cough.

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wallet, The Steam Sale is Here!

It’s all quiet on the Western Front now then, as we sidle on into 2013, nodding respectfully, if cautiously, at Christmas and giving New Year’s Eve the kind of awkward, shy-eyed glance you might afford your ex as you pass her in the street; the good news is of course, 2013 is already looking like a year to be vaguely interested in! What with the next Grand Theft Auto currently dispensing April-related enthusiasm all over our calendar, those tantalizing Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes screens and gameplay videos getting us all giddy, and what is practically an indelible, stone-set GUARANTEE (maybe) that we’ll see some sort of new console at some point during the course of the year, we’re hoping 2013 will finally lure us out of this ill-fitting, doe-eyed gaming coma we’ve all managed to lick ourselves into. This year’s been less exciting than a Best Western hotel wardrobe. Honestly, there’s nothing in them. Even if you put something in them first. Or something.

Of course, Christmas is the season to be worried, at least if you’re a PC gamer who owns a wallet or any cash whatsoever; as the industry’s favourite company gets all wacked out on whatever they’ve got lying around the offices and starts dishing their games out for sixpence. Ish. What have YOU bought in the Steam sale, hey? Has it demolished your wallet with the thrusting colossus of an aroused rhinoceros? Well good. Us too. It’s alright, they have therapy groups of this type of thing, don’t they?

The Steam Sale manhandles me into buying games I don’t want or need every time it springs up. The gaming computer is in desperate need of a tune up (and by that I mean, someone needs to buy me a new one, a real one, that exists) and as such, PC gaming tends to happen less and less, whilst the Steam Library increases at a vastly disproportionate rate. Why Valve. Why. I wish I knew how to make people wildly buy things they were well aware they didn’t want or need. Although apparently the banks nailed that with PPI a few years back. Is that the future of Steam?

‘If you’ve been sold digital copies of games that you didn’t want or need, on the sole basis that you loudly exclaimed to an empty room ‘It’d be rude NOT to buy it’ as you merrily clicked the buy button for twentieth time that evening, you could be owed LOTS OF MONEY’. That’s the jist of those adverts isn’t it? If you did something stupid a little while ago, we can abuse that and someone pass ourselves off as a legitimate business!

Luckily, Steam now stock Postal 2. I don’t know what the ‘Complete’ bit is about, because you get absolutely nothing extra with it; perhaps they’ll just start appending COMPLETE to every game they think might not sell so well from now on. I’m holding out for Black Ops III Complete. Anyhow, that game is my childhood right there; and, as a teenager with the ability to digitally remove someone’s head with a spade, urinate on it, and then kick it around like a football, much of the baffling haphazardness that was my younger days suddenly seems quite acceptable. Put into perspective. Maybe. Anyway, if there’s one game that’ll get media even more excited about yet another opportunity to arbitrarily sellotape violent video games on as an excuse for anything bad that has ever happened ever without so much as a second thought to getting the family braincell involved, it’s Postal 2. So buy it, play it, but for the love of Christ don’t tell ANYONE.

Like our resident scribbler Tom, who is more PC orientated than both myself and Guesty put together, if you’ve NOT bought the Valve Complete pack yet, perhaps it’s time to step back and ask yourself if you really are a dog-hating, kitten-punching, knuckle-brained arse sandwich Nazi? You even get DoTa 2 in it now, not to mention CS:GO, and you know, everything else. It should be Steam’s entry point. Purchase this before anything else, or you’re not allowed in. Woo go capitalism!

Lastly, sorry about the knuckle-brained Nazi thing. I just get a little edgy this time of the year. You know how it is. From everyone here at Respawn, we hope you have a bloody awful Christmas! See you hopefully before New Year for our GOTY BITS, but we’re not making any promises. Boom boom pow. AWAAAY!

The Shiny Things Feedback Loop: Why Far Cry 3 Won’t Get Off My Back and Let Me Play Hitman

I flipping hate Secret Santa. As if the concept of a questionably bearded old man, often seen in photographs grasping horrified young children and chortling maniacally, breaking into a residential dwelling and sneaking into the occupying children’s room in the dead of night isn’t straight out of a Daily Mail columnist’s wet dream enough, they have to go and throw in the word SECRET. I can’t stand it. It makes me want to aggressively lick a pavement. I hate it more than I hate my own eyes, which, after numerous attempts to forcibly remove them with a bookend over the years, are more than aware of not only the deep and perpetual disdain I hold for them, but also my resounding, laughable incompetence. So I’ve spent the last couple of days racking my poor, inefficient brain in an attempt to come up with something somebody I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT will appreciate and not think me a moron or any more weird than they inevitably already do for purchasing them such a gift. The streets of Leamington Spa are far less interesting than the beautiful tropical world of Far Cry 3; however, I’m getting about as much done in one as the other; the difference is, in the digital world, that is a very, very good thing.

Aversions to seasonal tradition aside, when I do finally get time to escape the bustling, bleeting population of Leamington that seem to be outside solely to barge around like a disoriented herd of brain damaged cows and get in my way, the third instalment of Far Cry has been my sole, undulated focus, and its had my unhampered, unwavering attention since the day it hit the shelves. I have not been able to get away from it. It’s tugging at my sleeve right now. Stop that.

I’ve only done a handful of missions and thus progressed the storyline no further than David Cameron has progressed his Not a Twat campaign, despite splattering hours and hours down the game’s insatiable throat. Ahem.

Far Cry 3 utilizes what can only be described as The Shiny Things Feedback Loop, wherein the player skips, holding his own hand close to his or her face, mouth agape in a blinkedly doe-eyed fashion from tiny interesting environment mechanic to tiny interesting environment mechanic until everything in that square foot of game world has been thoroughly and scrupulously plowed to death, before moving onto the next quaking square foot of game world. Like some sort methodical serial environment rapist. Or something.

If you played Red Dead Redemption a couple of years back (and if you didn’t what the hell is wrong with you you inexcusable cad) you’ll likely be nodding along, eyes wide in a state of perpetual agreement, desperately overjoyed that someone understands. Red Dead was my game of the year, and whilst it ran beautifully on a gorgeous engine and its narrative was captivating through-out, it really held my attention because of the Shiny Things Feedback Loop it kept elbowing at me with such joyous enthusiasm.

Picking up the controller for an evening in cowboy land, crouch chasing pigs around and screaming in a hick accent I was going to, um, do things with them, and also with the expressed intention of, you know, completing some missions and cantering toward the endgame, often resulted in hours and hours spent picking bloody flowers. Heading purposefully West in a concerted effort to see any aspect of the story would often be diverted by an Eastward bounding animal, that you’d then wildly hurtle after with the relentless tenacity of Ian Watkins chasing a school bus, only to wind up hours away from where you were handing once you’d finally caught and skinned the thing. And don’t think you can simply head back that same way, because every local wants you to go find and kill their assailant, rescue their mother from a burning tree, wrangle their horse, iron their shirts, digest their food etc. etc. It was great fun because the world feels like it’s living, and the instances that hold your attention are totally dynamic.

Far Cry 3 is much the same, with its hunting and crafting elements, the tumultuous amount of SHINY NEW THINGS there is to find; the method by which areas of the map are revealed, the execution of the side missions that ensures they’re not dull or monotonous hand-holding fetch excursions three thousand miles to the other side of the game world… If I run out of things to do, I genuinely drive off toward my next mission marker, fully aware that I’ll run into something I need to do before I get to it.

I bought Hitman at the same time, and the wimpering mess that is Agent 47 hasn’t seen the dark of my disc tray yet. Hard luck 47, I’m busy punching sharks, pulling leaves off plants and setting the locals on fire. Playing games the Respawn way. As in not properly. Maybe next week eh 47.

 

Far Cry 3 - Respawn in 5

Podcast: Episode 16 – Fifty Shades of Conversation

Today marks a momentous occasion boys and girls, because what you’re seeing right here, is record breaking history. For the first time since our first episode, we’ve put in an ON TIME podcast! Which is good, isn’t it. What’s more, we enjoyed having Sam Farrer in our little chin-vibrato session that we invited him back! And threw in a cheeky appearance from another long-time friend of ours, genius software engineer and racing enthusiast Chris Amery joins us for discussion regarding Kickstarter craze OUYA, Kickstarter in general, Transformers, Forza Horizon, 50 Shades of Gray, EA, Valve and all sorts else, give it a click and GET YOUR LISTEN ON! Go on then.