Microsoft

Certain Age Gaming for March 16th, 2014 “Amazon’s Controller Was Picked on in School”

After a long trip on the West Coast, Kody is back and he wants to talk about Frank Lloyd Wright! Also Video Games, including Dark Souls II, Tomb Raider… the newest one, but not the Definitive One. That’s confusing. The Yhawg also. Those were James’ games while Kody played Out There and Diablo III and then a bunch of mobile shit like Persona 4 Golden and TxK. Then we talk about the important news like “Titanfall is a Game!” and “XBOX One and Playstation 4 sold Consoles!” and “Amazon’s Controller Looks Like Poooooop.”

If you want to participate in the show, join us at http://www.twitch.tv/certainagegamer on Sundays at 10:00 PM EST.

Certain Age Gaming for March 16th, 2014

CA Gaming final

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Xbox One’s New Remote Won’t Replace the Kinect

XboxOne_Remote_RHS_Tilt_WhiteBG_RGB_2013

Today Microsoft officially announce it’s Xbox One Media Remote (after it leaked on Amazon earlier this week). It’s a cool looking little device that… well, their Press Release says it best:

…the Xbox One Media Remote lets you control video playback for Blu-ray movies and streaming video on Xbox One*. Additionally, there are dedicated Back and OneGuide buttons. The OneGuide button provides one-touch, quick access to your favorite TV shows and movies through the Xbox program guide**. This simple, yet powerful remote is designed to help you listen, watch and switch among experiences instantly.

People everywhere are abuzz about this remote thinking that it’s the first sign of the long rumored Kincetless SKU of Xbox Ones. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case as this Remote actually controls through the Kinect, not around it.

The Media Remote can also control TV/Receiver power and volume through Kinect, which uses IR blasting to send signals to your TV and/or receiver.

This seems like a stop gap, not a replacement. Microsoft realizes that pure Kinect controls aren’t tenable in all situations and have finally, months after release, given us a solution to this problem. They could have included an IR Receiver dongle with the remote but chose not to as, it turns out, they probably don’t want to replace the Kinect.

Microsoft Reverses Course, Scraped Iceberg will Sue

I have, in the past, vehemently advocated for Microsoft’s right to take the Xbox and it’s brand into whatever vision of the future they wanted. I may not have agreed with the specifics of that future, but my singular voice is small and insignificant in the face of Microsoft’s vision.

Apparently, a bunch of little insignificant consumer voices added all together is enough to cause even a tech dinosaur to pause. Today, Don Mattrick had this to say.

Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future. Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.

These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.

Congratulations to Microsoft. Earlier today I was trying to explain to my 6 year old son how important it is that we admit our mistakes and there are no better examples than this. Does this mean that all is forgiven? That remains to be seen… this does not give Mattrick carte blache to do whatever he likes now. What this does do is make the next generation an actual race now.

I’m betting on Sony this time around.

Piracy Is Not Justified Because of Platform Exclusivity

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai

Ska Studios (Developers of the Vampire Smile series as well as numerous other smaller games) and their lead developer James Silva (their only developer, as far as I know) have long made their support of the XBLA platform and Microsoft’s console a well known fact. As recently as April Silva was defending them both in a rather tame blog post that tried to soothe the angry rhetoric of other indie devs like Jonathan Blow. Given his staunch support it’s not surprising that he hasn’t rushed out with port of Vampire Smile: The Dishwasher to any other platform but that hasn’t stopped people from asking. Well, now for the first time ever you can play Vampire Smile on the PC…

You just can’t do it legally.

Russian hacker ‘Barabus’ has cracked the game, ported it over, and tried to justify his actions as something done in service to the fans.

We do not steal the game for the Xbox 360, we release it for the PC port. Given that developers ignore the PC platform, about any loss of profit for them is not out of the question. After all, if they wanted to earn money, then the game would be issued on all available platforms. This is not piracy. This is restoration of justice. (via gamedev.ru and google translate)

This isn’t something new to video gaming. For years people have been soldering chips into their consoles in order to play region exclusive titles from Japan or Europe. Usually this is done in order to play a game that they have payed for and imported, however. In porting The Dishwasher to the PC, Barabus has pirated it. He can make as many attempts to justify his piracy as he wants, it’s still piracy. There is no justice involved in stealing someone’s game and releasing it to a platform that they did not intend. As it stands now, Sky Studios has even less reason to make an official port and cannot see any of the usual benefits of piracy because it’s done on a platform where gamers cannot show their support. You get all the negatives of piracy with none of the positives.

Gamer entitlement may have reached an apex here and it has very little to do with justice and everything to do with selfish and myopic views. Silva has responded to the controversy himself, and seems less perturbed than me:

I’m flattered that there’s this much interest in Vampire Smile on PC. I’m not mad about the crack itself, in fact, I’m actually pretty impressed. But I’m bewildered by the cracker’s attempt to justify the morality of it. He assumes a lot about why Vampire Smile‘s not on PC yet, and he could have cleared up a lot of those assumptions by just emailing me. I get that piracy is a service problem, but that’s a consequence, not a justification

Lets not kid ourselves, this is stealing. However badly you want a port of your favorite XBLA Beat em up, taking the right to exclusivity from the developer and doing it yourself is the worst possible way to get it.

The XBOX One Does Stuff Besides Gaming, And That’s Okay

Some areas of the internet are awash in incredulity and even explicit outrage at the reveal of Microsoft’s new console, the XBOX One.

That controller looks good next to my Betamax.

That controller looks good next to my Betamax.

Notice I didn’t call it a ‘gaming console’, that’s because for all intents and purposes that would be limiting the scope of what Microsoft hopes to achieve with it’s new device. The clean and simplistic aesthetics of the Box itself are meant to fit right into the other devices surrounding modern day TVs. It’s a rather tangential allusion to what they plan on doing with the new XBOX; be the center of your TV entertainment world. Every piece of media going through your television will be controlled by the XBOX One. At least, that’s the plan.

In case you didn’t hear about it yet, here’s a list of the things talked about at the event yesterday:

Voice Control of XBOX One
Skype chat
TV Integration
Snapview (The sort of Customization of windows you see in Windows 8, honestly a killer feature.)
ESPN
Forza 5
Remedies new project ‘Quantum Break
Spielberg involved in Halo TV
NFL Deal or something
Call of Duty: Ghosts (Now with more Dog)

If you notice, out of the hour taken to debut the new system, Microsoft only talked specifically about 3 games. Quantum Break was the only one we didn’t know about already, and it has some kind of TV integration (probably similar to Defiance). A lot of these features they spoke about don’t appeal to me. They probably don’t appeal to you either. That’s okay though, because that’s not who this conference was for.

We already know the thing will play Video Games.

The question for “gamers” becomes then, “Will those Video Games be good enough to justify the purchase of this weird device?” Unfortunately we won’t have that answer until E3. Albert Penello (Who’s title at Microsoft is ridiculously long) said recently in an interview with Jeff Gerstmann:

Hey, let’s have a briefing that sort of goes and talks about our aspirations and I hope [mumbles]. Everybody was super consciences of saying that like that is not what this one [conference] was. This is about talking the overall vision, announce the name, what we’re trying to do, give some context about hardware. That will free us up for E3 to just like, nail it on games.

The event wasn’t about selling us on games, that’s the easy part of the new generation. The hard part is selling people on innovations and the inherent limitations they will bring.  Those limitations seem to include not being able to lend and share of Video Games with friends and a requirement to be online at least once every 24 hours for the damn thing to even work.

Mainstream news and their consumers don’t give a shit about these inherent limitations because they’ve been made used to them by the devices they know. Microsoft just has to convince it’s core audience that the games will outshine the potential negatives. But hey, at least they won’t be wasting time talking about Skype integration or their NFL deal at E3 this year. Thanks Don Mattrick.

It’s going to be a long 19 days before E3.