VR Hype!

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Image Source: UploadVR

So this post is late for a reason–I went to the MTSU’s Library and to their Maker Space and scheduled time to use their VR Headsets (for a presentation on technology on Wednesday).  I scheduled 1 hour with Oculus Rift and 1 hour with the HTC Vibe.  These are 2 of the 3 VR Headsets that are currently on the market and after today’s demonstration, I want to get a PSVR (Playstation VR Headset).

It was incredible!

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Image Source: Bestbuy

I tried Oculus Rift first and this was the best starting point.  It allowed me to get used to the VR space.  It is mostly a visual and auditory experience.  It is true and full 3D VR, but movement in the demos was limited.  You can mostly stand in one area or move one or two steps to see all of the content.  The content is fully 3D and moves all around you so that you can look up, down, around, and behind you.  I saw several demos that were really immersive.

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Image Source: YouTube

Moving on to the HTC Vibe, it has a headset like the Oculus Rift, but it also has handsets that are tracked in realtime by two cameras and it allows you to have space to move around and this really opens up the “play” environment.  I was able to look at spaces, but I was also able to look in spaces as well.

Whereas Oculus Rift shows you the potential of VR, the Vibe allows you see how that potential will be realized once the technological limitations are addressed.

I’ll talk more about VR in upcoming post, but I just wanted give a quick impression of these two VR systems.  They look really awesome and change the nature of the interactive experience.  I’m looking forward to getting a PSVR sometime in the near future!

Sportsmanship–The Lost Art

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Image Source: emaze.com

So, I’ve recently become enamored with a video game that has a mostly online focus: Gwent Beta for the Playstation 4.  The Witcher fans will recognize the game from Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt as it is a heavily reworked version of that game.  Gwent is essentially a “card” game in the Magic: The Gathering sense, but the cards are often animated and the computer administers the effects of the cards and acts as scorekeeper and referee.  The game, ostensibly a Free-to-Play game (meaning that it is free to play, but offers a store where players can purchase “kegs” of cards using in-game and real-world currency).  Many gamers term this a “Pay-to-Win” in that those who are willing to pay real-world money often have a distinct advantage over those who just grind away for the (slower earned) in-game currency.

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Image Source: PlayGwent

Now, I really don’t like this model and I was determined not to spend any additional money on this standalone game (I mean, I bought the Special Edition version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for double the cost of the base game.  How much more does CD Project Red–the makers of both games–want me to do?)  I was also resigned to the slow pace of earning in-game currency and losing multiple matches while my currency slowly accrued.  It is also a beta and the current build on PS4 is buggy as all-get-out.  It has crashed my PS4 more times and in many more different ways in the past 3 weeks than any other game that I have owned.  And we’re not talking just random freezes, but hard crashes.  It crashed so utterly, one time, that I had to pull the power cord from the PS4 and replug it in because nothing that I did would shut off the system.  I even put up with that, but the thing that finally got to me and inspired this blog is the “taunt” system that the designers included with the game.

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Now, I realize that they didn’t want to open up players to the abuse of a regular voice chat, but “taunt” system is the “canned” version of verbal abuse because no one online understands the concept of sportsmanship–i.e., being gracious when you’re winning and not being salty when you’re losing.  You just play the game to have fun.  However, these days, playing the game is not enough, it seems, unless you can decimate your opponent and then “taunt” him or her about it.  There have been matches where I’ve done the math and I’ve clearly won and declined to play the rest of the cards in my hand because what’s the point?  I’ve won already–I don’t need to destroy your ego or use the taunt feature to make you feel bad about yourself.  We were playing a game and I happened to win that round.  I’ve been in the losing seat just today, knowing that I did not have the cards and rather than the opponent just ending it, he/she played their entire hand and and added with a pre-canned taunt for good measure.  Needless to say, that person did NOT get a “Good Game” response from me.  And this is increasing.  Where it was rare, it has become something that happens 3 out of every 4 games–and there’s no mute button that I know of (except the mute button for the TV which blocks out all sound effects)

I see this in other online venues as well.  If players can’t win/aren’t winning, you can be sure that some will choose to leave no matter how bad it hurts their stats or the team’s performance.  “Backing out” is the term for it if you aren’t a gamer (i.e., “this sucks, let’s back out” and blip they are gone).  Winning too has taken on this same level of destructive behavior, but instead of just taking a loss and learning from it, the winners are now narcissistic braggadocios.  They are the greatest thing on God’s earth if you listen to them after a match.  There are even people online–YouTubers and the like–who brag that they just want to get online and “crap talk” with their buddies.  That’s what is fun to them.

Really?  I thought it was about playing the games and having a good time while online.  Why does the idea of sportsmanship (being a gracious winner or loser) have to die for you to feel like you’re having fun?  When did just playing the game not become enough and it was decided that in order to have fun you have to belittle other players?  And why are we okay with that?

E3 and me: Marvel’s Spider-man (& Honorable Mentions)

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Marvel’s Spider-man

The last game that I want to mention on this blog from E3 is the showstopper from Sony’s Press Conference, Marvel’s Spider-man.  Sony showed an extended gameplay trailer that blew my mind.  I’ve always been a Spider-man fan, and I own quite a few issues of Spider-man comics.  This game had it all–action, humor, a strong narrative, but also has an open-world (the entire city of New York appears to be available to you to explore).

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The game puts you in the shoes of Peter Parker (although there is a nice Easter Egg for those who stay and watch the “stinger” at the end of the trailer).  It isn’t telling an origin story, but rather it is telling the story of a Peter Parker who has been doing this for a few years and is comfortable in Spider-man’s shoes.  I really enjoyed the high-flying acrobatics that the game showed and they nailed Spider-man’s sarcasm and biting wit.  This one looks like it is going to be fun.

Honorable Mentions

Things that looked interesting, but that I didn’t have time to talk about in the post during this week.

Days Gone (Sony) – A post-apocalyptic game that has a horde of fast-moving zombie-like monsters (similar to the movie World War Z)

Detroit: Become Human (Sony) – A sci-fi game about androids struggling for their freedom.

Shadow of the Colossus Remake (Sony) – I’ve played the demo, but never bought this game, but sure looks awesome.  It might convince me to get it this time around.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft) – I’ve bought every major AC game and the new setting promises to be fun.

Knack 2 – Hey, what can I say, I love a good platformer.  I platinumed the original Knack, so of course I’m looking forward to the sequel.

and finally,

Elite: Dangerous – Elite was old computer game from the 1980s.  My uncle and I played the heck out of that game on the Commodore 64, and we managed to “break” the economy in the game  Our ship was so powerful and we had so much money, nothing in “normal” space could touch us.  This one is sheer nostalgia.  (I still have the 5.25 inch game disk and I’m pretty sure that I have the manual for the original game as well somewhere).

There were other games as well that probably deserve to be on this list, but I’ve already taken longer than I had intended and I’m much later putting out this post than usual, so I’ll end by saying, Sony had the most games that I’m interested in, so while their conference wasn’t as good as the past two years, it was still the best (to me) in a fairly unremarkable year.

 

E3 and me: God of War

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Image Source: PS5Home

Sony’s Conference is always the highlight of E3 for me.  I’ve talked at length about my preference for Sony consoles and software.  I really like what Sony does in the video game space (with its Playstation brand).  I could afford to buy other consoles, but I’m not as interested in Nintendo’s and Microsoft’s entries in the video game space (for various reasons) as I am for Sony’s entries.  Sony had quite a bit I’m interested in this year (although their conference was light on show-stoppers). I’ll highlight the two that I’m most interested in to finish out the week.

God of War

The God of War (GoW) game was first announced at last year’s E3 (2016), but this year they showed actual gameplay and elements of the story and it confirms the good feeling that I had about the game.  It also gives a release date of early 2018, so it should be a good game that I use as an incentive to help get me through the Spring 2018 semester.  I’ve not bought a God of War game before, but I have played demos of all the PS2 games and I’ve seen bits and pieces of the GoW3.  I never really cared for the GoW games because of the main character, Kratos.  He, in a word, was a “rage-muppet.”  He was always a one-note character, the very embodiment of rage and anger.  Now, I know his history, which I won’t spoil here, but which is well known in the gamer universe (if you want to find out more, here’s his wiki); however, I feel that characters should be able to express more than one emotion.  The new incarnation of Kratos, however, feels like they’ve really worked on humanizing him and giving him more emotions than just rage.

 

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Image Source: Playstation 

I’m also very interested in Viking mythology.  When I was a child, two of the most fascinating subjects were Greek/Roman myths and gods and Viking myths, gods, and legends.  The Midgard Serpent (pictured above in the GoW universe) is one of the most fascinating things in the Norse mythology to me.  I love the idea of worm that encircles the world, hidden away in the depths of the ocean.

This game has really captured my attention and I’m looking forward to uncovering the mystery of Kratos and his son early next year.

E3 and me: Beyond Good and Evil 2

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Image Source: rayman-fanpage.de

Bethesda’s E3 Conference this year left me disappointed; I have a wide range of gaming interests and nothing that Bethesda showed interested me or was something that I wanted to play, so it was up to Ubisoft to intrigue me and they did.

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Image Source: Kotaku

Beyond Good and Evil 2 (BG&E 2)

So this one came as a bit of a surprise.  The original game, Beyond Good and Evil, has become sort of a cult hit since it’s release in 2003.  Usually, I can say that I’ve played the game and have been awaiting the news of this long wanted/long awaited sequel, but in this case, I can’t.  I actually missed this one — how I don’t really remember.  I checked and according to IGN, it received a demo in the Official US Playstation Magazine (Vol. 78) and that was primarily how I checked out new games and decided if they warranted a purchase.

However, even though only a trailer was shown, the trailer for BG&E 2 is a very intriguing Sci-Fi trailer.  It looks very inventive and the universe seems to be a mash-up of the movie The 5th Element and the Mass Effect series.  Again, while no gameplay was shown, the creator of the series, Michel Ancel appeared on-stage (with another team lead on the project) and they talked a bit about the game’s development and what it would be like playing the game.  It seems, from their description, that it will be a lot like/play a lot like Mass Effect Andromeda, where a “multi-ethnic crew” will come together to explore new worlds while looking for a specific object.  According to the developers you will go to and discover new fantastical worlds during your search.

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Image Source: Trusted Reviews

This sounds truly epic to me and I hope that they are able to pull off.  This is what I’m trying to do in my own Sci-Fi stories and this is what I like to read/play from stories from others.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this particular game.  And if you’ll notice, they even put a spaceship in the promotional image above, and as I’ve said before, put a dragon or a spaceship on your cover, and you’ll pique my curiosity/interest level by 100%!

In case you’re curious, I’m including a link to the BG&E2 trailer.  However, this one has a personal warning from me about language.  They drop the “F-bomb” early and often in the trailer, and while I’m not usually okay with that (I generally take the “language” tone of Captain America from Avengers 2: Age of Ultron in my everyday life), I still feel that the trailer is so well done and so evocative towards the vision that I’d like to see more of in stories (my own and others) that I’m willing to overlook it and feature it on my blog.

So, personal warning out of the way, here’s Beyond Good and Evil 2’s trailer.  Hope you enjoy; I know I did.

Black Panther, E3 and Me

 

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Image Source: YouTube.com

So, this blog was going to be about E3 (the video game and computer game conference happening on the West Coast this weekend), but Marvel released a teaser trailer for the Black Panther movie coming in 2018.  You can find the teaser trailer here: Black Panther Teaser Trailer.

I’m very interested in this movie as I was introduced to the Black Panther via a Marvel Comic that talked about the various gadgets and costumes of Marvel heroes in the early to mid 80s (it was the same comic that described the Mandarin’s rings and Falcon’s  wings/jet propulsion system) and mini-series done about the character when I was in High School in the late 80s/early 90s.  However, I discovered that the movie will debut next close to my birthday, so I feel that it will be a great movie to see as a present to myself, so I’m already “sticking a pin in it” as the expression goes.  I hope it turns out as well for Marvel and the creators as well as Wonder Woman has turned out for DC this year.  I will keep it on my radar.

E3

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This weekend marks the kickoff to the E3 Conference.  I am a very big fan of video games and video game narratives, and this is where the newest games and technologies are mostly announced for the upcoming year.  E3 used to be about selling games and software for Christmas, and while it still has some of that element, mostly its about things that will be coming out in the next year and building anticipation for things even further out (a year and a half to two years).  Electronic Arts’s Press Conference kicks things off later today, and then tomorrow will be Bethesda.  Ubisoft and Sony will round out Monday’s coverage and then the show will begin in earnest with games out on the show floor.  EA’s press conference (or EA Play Event as they technically aren’t doing “Press Conferences per se since last year) is scheduled to kick off at 1pm Eastern time (9am Pacific Time) and I plan on watching that before digging into some yard work that I’ve put off for too long.  If there’s anything fun and relevant to the blog, I’ll probably talk about the things that were announced that I find most interesting (games are doing some pretty neat and novel things in the narrative space these days).  In between the conferences, I hope to get some writing done over this weekend as well.

Have a great weekend!