Sony: Press (and Hold)

Words on a digital background:
Cannot Start the PS4
Connect the Dualshock 4 using . . .
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcpZT-hFiyM

While I’m a fan of Sony and most of their designs, decisions, and corporate philosophy (as opposed to Microsoft which I despise in pretty much every area), Sony as a company isn’t perfect and sometimes makes mistakes (on a corporate level) as well. However, unlike the myriad of Microsoft apologists out there who only seem to care about their stock dividends, I will critique Sony when there is need–especially when it hits my own scholarly area–language.

Language Matters

You see, all weekend I’ve been trying to diagnose an issue with a PS4 for the son of one of my mother’s co-workers. Without getting into the fact that I feel the Playstation 4 is way too sensitive to interruptions in power/updates, it looks like the operating system needs to be reinstalled. However, that’s not the real issue that I want to deal with today. No, the real issue is that Sony’s inexact language contributed to the parent’s (& child’s) frustration and inability to fix the problem.

You see, the console is stuck on an unhelpful screen that says: Cannot start the PS4. Bad enough on its own, but then it cryptically says, Connect the Dualshock 4 using the USB cable. Press the Playstation button.

Press and Hold

Now, you’d think that if you press the Playstation button with one quick press, the system would recognize it and move to the next step.

Nope.

For the PS4 to move on to the next step, you actually need to Press and HOLD the Playstation button for a couple of seconds before the system will move you on to the next step(s): 1) an attempt to reinstall the update or, if that doesn’t work, 2) an attempt to reinitialize the PS4 software (reinstall a fresh copy).

I wasted about two full hours Friday night/Saturday morning thinking that it was a bad controller. I had to actually pair his controller to my system to make sure and rule out a dead controller.

I only discovered it when I accidentally held the Playstation button down while looking at a YouTube video and then remembering, “oh, yeah, the PS4 has this weird hold down the button longer than a traditional button press ‘thing’ going on.”

Say What You Mean, Sony!

It was really frustrating to spend so much time ruling out something that was never a problem just because Sony was a little inexact in their language. To a gamer, press means simply press and release. However, the system wants you to press and hold. Wording like press and hold (or just hold) would be enough to tell a gamer not to release the button immediately, but keep it depressed for a longer interval. C’mon Sony, terminology matters. This one word might have given a boy/his parent enough information to take the next step and helped them to figure out what was wrong and looking online for a possible solution.

Or saved me a couple of hours, going down the wrong road and misdiagnosing the problem because the controller wouldn’t do what I wanted because you were telling to do one thing when you really wanted me to do another.

Sidney


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Interesting Games from the Playstation 5 Reveal Event

White and black Playstation 5 console with blue highlights and PS5 controller.
Image Source: https://www.newsbreak.com/news/0PKEAZAj/ps5-reveal-event-all-the-game-trailers-from-the-playstation-5-debut

Before it fades from my memory, I wanted to circle back to the Playstation 5 Reveal Event as there were several games that I’m interested in that I’d like to see more of because of their interesting nature. There were some really cool games, both new and legacy that I was interested in from the reveal event, so I wanted to talk about them briefly here.

Gran Turismo 7

I’m a massive Gran Turismo fan! I’ve owned every numbered version of the game from the very first Gran Turismo game on the original Playstation system. The original game was one where both my uncle and I put massive amounts of time playing it and we both loved the realistic simulation of the game. It was the first game where I personally saw developers get a “real world” thing working in the game (the replication of way wheels spin/rotate when viewed through a TV camera at high speeds). Gran Turismo 7 looks amazing and the graphical fidelity looks amazing (and the stream was only 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second; the game hopefully will do 4K/60 fps, which should look amazing). This one that I’m looking forward to when it releases.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

The new Ratchet and Clank game really piqued my interest. I didn’t actually get into the series until the 3rd game (and liked it so much that I went back and bought the first two games), but once I was in, I’ve been a player of the this series from the beginning. I played both PS3 games, Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction and Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, liking them both so much that I earned the Platinum Trophy for A Crack in Time (and if I remember, Tools released before the Trophy system had been implemented). Needless to say, this one already had my attention. Add to the fact that this game is basically a showcase for the technologies in the PS5 with its dimension-hopping mechanics and crazy weapons.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

So, I like shooting and combat games as much as the next gamer, but I also like adventure games where the main character goes on a quest in order to save/discover/whatever the plot requires, so when I saw this one, I was really interested. After seeing the gameplay loop, the art style, and after learning that this is made by a smaller team (featuring two brothers, no less), I’m really intrigued by this game and if it releases at launch, I will probably try to pick this up with the console. I love the main protagonist, the art, the visuals, the sound, and the cute “minion-like” characters that the player gets to control all look like one that I will really enjoy!

Honorable Mentions

There are a couple of games that I wanted to just mention that I find interesting, but I need to see more of them before making a determination.

Project Athia: So, like me, Square Enix puts the word “Project” in front of projects they aren’t ready to title. The graphics behind this one look very good, but it looks like it is in the beginning stages of development. I’ll definitely follow the development of this game.

Returnal: Housemarque is a studio that produces high quality arcade games who are moving away from arcade games into more cinematic games, and this game looks interesting.

Pragmata: A very strong sci-fi concept that appears to be both a bit strange and very good-looking. This one isn’t due until 2022, so it is pretty far away, so like Project Athia, I’ll be following this one as well.

Well, that’s all for today–have a good day!

Sidney


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Gaming Log: Playstation 5 Reveal Event

Futuristic looking Playstation 5 console and controller with black and white style,  flared and curved edges, and blue light highlighting the console along with the black and white Dual Sense controller.
Image Source: https://www.t3.com/us/features/ps5-price-release-date-specs-sony-playstation-5-news-games-event-live

So, I’ve missed so many days that I don’t remember which “Log” that I’m on (and I’m too lazy to go back and look at it). However, since Sony did there Playstation 5 Reveal Event yesterday, I decided to give my reactions to the event along with several high profile games.

You can find the event in its entirety here, if you haven’t seen it yet (it is over 1 hour long, so you’ve been warned):

Source: Playstation YouTube Channel

The Look of the Console

The design is in the heading image above and I REALLY like it! The “black box” design is great, but everyone screams “diversity” in games (“we want to see ‘new’ IPs), so how hypocritical is it to ask every console look the same/have the same basic designs. So, I’m going to keep the focus mostly on the Playstation, but I have to a moment to address the XBox design as they are essentially the same. They have a flat, rectangle box (like a cable box) for their previous generation, and their “next gen” system is the same, except that it is like a “mini-tower” computer. Not that’s boring and uninventive, and yet, that’s not what gets called out–no, only Sony’s tech talk gets called out (go figure).

Back to Sony’s design–it matches the controller, which I liked, and it has a very distinctive design. It almost is a very Apple-like design before they went to the “slate” gray design. I like that it comes in a disc and all digital version. I personally will go with the disc version. I love physical media, and while I’ve bought more digital content recently (through sales on the PSN store), I still MUCH prefer physical media. Even though console can be put on its side, but they display it with a “stand.” For this particular console, I will probably spend the extra money for a stand and display it upright.

Spider-Man Miles Morales

Source: Playstation YouTube Channel

So, I wanted to briefly touch on this one as it directly relates to me. I own Spider-Man for the PS4, but I haven’t gotten very far with it as I had to stop playing it (and many other PS4 games) as I worked on my classwork and part-time job a couple of years ago.

I really liked what got to play and I intend to finish the game once I finish the game I’m currently playing. I enjoyed the trailer, but it was a bit of a spoiler as I now know what happens to Miles Morales’ father based on the trailer. Still, I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play this one and if they nail Miles’ unique movements and move-set, then I think this game will be an absolute winner for me.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West

Source: Playstation YouTube Channel

So, this was the ending trailer and the real showstopper from the Reveal event. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch it as I’m currently playing Horizon Zero Dawn (1st game) as we speak (yes, I know it is a 2017 game, but remember, I only have limited time so I find myself behind, especially on the Sony exclusives as they are so long and massive. I’m only on level 24 for my character and I think there’s a trophy for getting to level 50 (I think). I’m at 55 hours into the game already and I probably still have at least 30-50 more hours (I think) of content (only “half” the map has been revealed yet), and I’ve not yet touched any of the expansion content. I love Sony’s exclusives, but when you put them aside to play other games, it gets hard to stay current.

The very first part of the trailer was actually a spoiler for me as it tells how long it has been since the world fell, something I haven’t yet learned in the 1st game. I hurried and killed the volume and only glanced at it randomly when it played. Once I finish the 1st game, I’ll go back and look at it completely. I wanted to include it in this short round up as it was the showstopper of the reveal event and the one that most interests me (I just got to get through the 1st game now!).

I have other games that I’m interested in from the reveal event, but I’ll save them for a blog topic next week as this one is running long. Have a good weekend everyone!

Sidney


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Pushback Against Liar’s Year 2020

Today I want to “push back” against a couple of assumptions in a YouTube video. I want to be as respectful as possible as I feel that there’s too much negativity out there, especially when one person disagrees with another.

Liar’s Year 2020

So, the YouTuber in question is Jim Stirling and the video I want to push back against is his latest Jimquisition episode: Liar’s Year 2020. A little context: Jim is a video game’s journalist who started his own YouTube channel. While he does discuss video games, he takes it upon himself to point out various corporate shenanigans and duplicitous schemes within the larger corporate paradigm, but most specifically inside of the world of video games. As noted above, while don’t agree with him on some of his points (this obviously being one of them), I do watch his videos as he is one of the few voices that actually discusses the excesses of corporations–although I wish it could be done in a less strident way.

However, in this video, he rails against several game companies for not showing gameplay footage at their “gameplay” reveals or showing footage that is “aspirational” of what next generation will look like in the future. He takes Sony, Epic Games (Unreal Engine), Ubisoft, and Gearbox (among others) to task for their propensity in a new console generation to exaggerate, stretch the truth, and outright lie about the capabilities of the new machines. While he isn’t necessarily wrong, I do feel that he 1) overstates the case and 2) ignores the changes at least one company has made (Sony) to address his concerns.

Gameplay = Gameplay

Let’s start with that second one first, as it is the impetus for me writing this blog entry. Sony takes it on the chin (yet again) in this video. For as much as Sony is discussed, you would think that it was them, and not Microsoft (the true guilty party) who held a “Gameplay event” with trailers that barely showed any gameplay (or only stylized, non-representative gameplay). Sony, however, had the misfortune of releasing a Killzone video that was unrepresentative of actual gameplay in the early 2000s.

The reason I feel this is so wrong is that Sony has spent an entire console generation making up for that previous mistake. I’ve linked an entire 18 minute gameplay trailer for their upcoming game releasing this year: Ghost of Tshushima. It even included (what appears to be) HUD elements.

Now this isn’t the first game that Sony has done this for. Most of its major titles this generation have gotten this treatment: Infamous: Second Son, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, The Last of Us, Part II, Until Dawn, God of War, The Last Guardian, The Order 1886 and even Killzone Shadowfall got “gameplay trailers” that showed actual gameplay. Below is a video of young woman skeptically wondering if the Horizon Zero Dawn “gameplay” trailer was actually “true” and being absolutely thrilled when she realized it was:

Sony has spent an entire “console generation” trying to win back the trust of gamers when presenting games to the public. While most Sony games are presented without UI/HUD, for the vast majority of their games, the game you see in the “gameplay demonstration” is the game you end up playing.

All Microsoft has to do is utter the words 12 terraflops and Gamepass and gamers (not necessarily Jim, but the gaming community in general) and Microsoft is forgiven for trying enact one of the most restrictive consoles policies and launches in the history of video games.

Overstating the Case

The other problem I have (in this instance) is that Jim “cherry-picks” his examples. For instance, nowhere does Jim discuss the original C. D. Projeckt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 48 minute gameplay demo in which the developers take pains to point out how much is in flux. This is the nature of game development in general. The exact arguments he levels against Sony, Epic, Unreal Engine 5, and Ubisoft are the very same arguments used by the developers of Cyberpunk 2020 to illustrate that they were still iterating on the design.

No where does he mention that this gameplay demonstration was presented in the same light as the gameplay demonstrations that he is objecting to, but Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay wasn’t in Liar’s Year 2020, but 2018. This video has over 19 million hits and is insanely popular–but in the first 5 minutes of the video, the developers hedge the features and look of the demo, not once, but twice.

The start of a new console generation does allow developers, marketers, and executives to perhaps stretch the truth, but that’s not necessarily all on them–that’s also on us. One of the mantras should always be: check the reviews! Too many people buy games sight unseen based on the marketing materials.

Who Do You Trust?

In conclusion, I guess I really wanted to push back that the console generation switch means that “lies” are the only thing that is a part of the experience. When you have a console maker spend several years trying to make up for a mistake and show “gameplay” and when have another console maker not show “gameplay” at a “Gameplay Reveal Event,” it calls into question the credibility of the argument.

Whenever Sony does show its line-up, I have a fairly high confidence that what I’ll be seeing is what I’ll be playing. While I know that the Unreal 5 “tech demo” was just that, a proof of concept of what is possible on the hardware, it isn’t the prerendered trailers that we’ve been shown in the past and it represents what is possible at this time. Yes, much of it could be marketing hype. However, given the track record of Mark Cerney, chief architect of the Playstation 4 and Playstation 5, and the fact that games like Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us (Parts I and II), Spider-Man, and God of War actually looked like and played as their gameplay demonstrations showed, I’m willing to give them more credibility versus an actor who is put in a game and is brought out on-stage to try to sell a game (Ubisoft & Microsoft, I’m looking at you). It is highly possible that the Unreal Engine 5 will not be able to do what it is promising, but based on Sony’s recent track record (especially in light of Microsoft’s), I’m willing to take that bet.

Sidney


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The War Against The Playstation 5

Image Source: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/playstation-5-everything-we-know-so-far-launch-gam/1100-6466357/

Here is a quick summary of some of the headlines that pop up when you search for “PS 5 News” (as of this writing 5/20/2020):

  • “Forget PS5: PCs With RTX 2070 Super Can Handle Unreal 5 Demo” (Tom’s Hardware).
  • “Xbox exclusive inXile RPG will use Unreal Engine 5 says Microsoft” (Metro)
  • “Has the PS5 already been bested by a mid-range gaming PC?” (Techradar)
  • “PS5 Won’t Beat Xbox Series X on Power, Says Epic” (Tom’s Guide)

And this is ONLY in the last 24 hours! If I really wanted to make the point, I would only need to begin to track the “headlines” since say the first of the year (January 2020). I mean, to see one egregious example of the point I’m trying to make, one only needs to look at a headline from a week ago, before the discussion of the Unreal 5 demo premiering on a PS5.

  • “Xbox Series X vs Playstation 5: Microsoft has 4 Big Advantages Over Sony” (Forbes).

Now remember, these headlines are ALL appearing under a search for Playstation 5 news. Not only is there bias in these headlines and articles, but there seems to be a concerted effort to sway readers away from a Playstation (Sony) based product and to a XBox (Microsoft) based product.

Journalists: Please choose–Reporter or Fan?

Notice I said, seems. This isn’t the case, but this is how “mainstream” media gets “tagged” with the perception that they have an agenda. Slant, that lovely new word in journalism in the late 80s/mid 90s, has come back to haunt the “mainstream” media in terms of trust in the 2010s and 2020s. Journalism may not be old, stodgy, “just the facts” reporting anymore, and may be punchy and vibrant, and sometimes edgy, but that comes at a cost and the cost is the trust of your readers. Readers who agree with you are going to love what you say, but those who disagree are going to ignore you or actively work to “push back” against your reporting.

This can’t be seen any clearer than in the video game journalism industry. Too many “journalists” are not really reporters of the news, but rather “fans” of the industry whose opinions cloud their reporting. When I search for information on a particular console, I shouldn’t get editors, writers, and “games media” trying to sway my opinion (in either direction, but especially not in the direction of the competitor of the product I’m researching.)

THAT’S NOT THEIR JOB!

I can’t say this strongly enough! If there are no facts out about a particular console, please don’t discuss rumors, leaks, or things that aren’t confirmed. If there’s a “conference call,” sure, report that–but in this 24 hour news cycle, the need for clicks, and click-baity stories, journalism and journalists have to understand there is a PRICE that they are paying to get money for the company–and that is to their reputation as people who are impartial.

The PS5 Era in Games Journalism Looks a Lot Like the PS3 Era (and not in a good way)

You see, I’ve seen all this before–but the last time it happened, I let it pass without comment. The Playstation 3 may have had its issues (price, custom chipset, etc.), but those problems were exacerbated by a journalism community that 1) found Sony far too arrogant and needing to be punished–something that the gaming community (and not the gaming press) had to turn around and do to Microsoft the following generation and 2) Sony gaming division needed to be punished for other perceived transgressions of other divisions within Sony (Sony’s Rootkit & Sony’s Spiderman movie font, anyone?).

Now, I understand from a fundamental level why game journalists do this:

  1. It is more interesting when there’s a “competition” between two or more brands. Having one “dominant” player in the industry hurts the opportunity to write interesting articles. How many times can you say how great console x (product x, person x) is versus how bad/mediocre console x (product x, person x) is. I get it–the closer the race the more “interesting” it becomes.
  2. Clicks–the articles are free, supported by ad revenue. The more clicks, the more people see the ads, the more money goes into the bank account. However, “news” needs to understand that this can be done without sensationalism. It’s just a lot harder. Ask Jason Schreier and see his Kotaku article detailing the breakdown of Anthem. Interesting, compelling, and I’ve clicked on the article multiple times because it is just so compelling. But I’m sure on Jason’s end, that was a LOT of hard work. And despite Bioware’s/EA’s response, he didn’t come across as either a fan of or a detractor of the company, but a reporter of what his sources told him about the working conditions and development process of the game. In a game of trust between Bioware and Jason, I’m inclined to believe Jason over Bioware given the evidence that is the game Anthem.
  3. Sony is NOT the “cool kid” on the block. Microsoft’s Marketing Department is second to none. Microsoft can market the “heck” out of a product, even when that product is not necessarily the “market-leading” (Zune). No one discusses (or seems to care) when Microsoft gets the lead in an industry and then stagnates (Internet Explorer 6, anyone?). No, everyone is more interested in discussing how much power their next console has, but not how that power will be utilized to create compelling gaming experiences.

When You’re “On the Clock” be Professional and Objective

No one says that you, as a games journalist, has to like Playstation 5, but when your job is covering it, then you have to at least appear to be unbiased and informative–at least, if you want to earn the trust of the public. When I search for information about one product, I don’t want to be told your opinion of why I should want a different product.

I want factual, sourced, unbiased information presented in a cool, clever way that allows me to make my choices with the confidence that I’ve made the best choice available based on the information at hand and taking into account my own personal likes and dislikes. It’s not about what you (as a fan) like, but rather, what’s available in terms of information. If there isn’t any, don’t make it up, don’t report rumors or leaks (unless there’s some credible truth/sources available to help confirm that information.)

Listen, I get it–there’s not a lot of PS5 information out there. Sony’s not giving any information out and is playing holding what they have close their vests (which may come back to bite them as I may choose to wait and get their console not at launch because they haven’t shown me anything yet to part with my dwindling resources–I’m a poor graduate student, after all).

But journalists, that is my choice, not yours. I don’t need you telling me that I need an Xbox when what I want is a Playstation 5. Thanks for understanding!

Sidney


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Epic, Unreal Engine 5, and the PlayStation 5

White and Black PS5 controller with blue highlights.
Image Source: https://www.theverge.com/2020/5/13/21256959/playstation-5-release-date-no-delay-sony-fy-2020-earnings

Why did I skip yesterday’s blog and upload this one so late? Well, when you read the following paragraph, you’ll get some hint of where the is post was originally headed–rather than talking about the PS5, I went “deep” into bashing both Microsoft and the media’s love for Microsoft and their absolute disdain for Sony. However, I felt that I was way too negative and simply was contributing to the “toxicity” that is all too common on the internet these days. So as I was rethinking the blog post, Epic Games discussed their Unreal 5 game engine and showcased it on the PS5. So, I changed the post to reflect this new, more positive, direction in the games’ industry. I left the original paragraph below as I think it is germane to the discussion and would like games’ media to consider as they go forward in covering the transition to the next generation.

A recent “headline” in Forbes cried out in regards to Microsoft’s recent teaser for its upcoming gaming console, “Micosoft Just Showed an Uncomfortable Truth About the X Box Series X and the Playstation 5.” I wonder how that could be since, to my knowledge, no Sony Playstation 5 game was actually shown on the stage. Wasn’t the whole point of an X Box presentation to show how “great” Microsoft’s new system was going to be? How then, do you as a writer, justify linking one console’s lackluster debut to the other one? How does the “stink” of Microsoft’s mistake translate back to Sony? When Sony makes a mistake, such as a “boring” presentation, that in no way translated back to Microsoft, so how does Microsoft’s missteps always seem to translate back to Sony?

Moving On . . . From Microsoft’s Marketing to Sony Substance

Unreal 5 running on a Playstation 5

Luckily, Unreal 5 (a game engine that helps to power games) was announced today. What was notable is that is was specifically noted that the demo is running live on a Playstation 5! And it (in my opinion) is stunning! Now let’s not kid ourselves–X Box will get this engine too. However, the fact that it is an impressive demo, running on a PS5 and truly doing two things: 1) showcasing new technologies that will better enhance creativity and graphical fidelity and 2) showing visuals and enhancements to the next gen experience (something that MS’s conference didn’t do according to “social media” and the media) is something that needs to be applauded and should translate to Sony (and not Microsoft).

It is a tech demo, but does some really interesting things. The technology behind the demo sounds impressive and looks like it will handle the vision of artists in new and unique ways. The game design engine does what Sony tried to articulate, but was “booed” for (called boring and unintersting) by the public–and by the people who should have known better–the games’ media. This what got my ire up and why my “claws” were out in the earlier draft of this post.

Just because something isn’t meant for you (aka the public or the media), doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from it. Sony’s talk was originally for GDC (designers), but talked about problems that other consoles and generations weren’t trying to solve. Today’s event really helped, to me, crystallize and visualize what the next generation of games might come to life and this is just one company.

The Coming Future

My hope, in addition to breaking the love affair between Microsoft’s Marketing Department and the media, is that this announcement will be the beginning of getting the “conversation” started for the next generation of gaming. For me, the big take-aways from this announcement are 1) artist’s assets don’t need to be scaled down in any way from the platform they were created, 2) the dynamic light source, 3) sound separation and authoring (esp. in light that Sony is also trying to address the sound issue), and 4) water and the way it is generated and created in games (this was a small mention in the demo, but has huge potential for games as water is often the hardest to achieve, but is one of the best ways to aid in graphical immersion.

For me, the next generation discussion started today–and I’m so glad that Playstation 5 was the platform that got to help kick off the discussion in a meaningful (and positive) way.

Sidney


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Why I Play Video Games


So, every Friday one my favorite YouTube channels puts out a list video in which they create a list based on video game related topics. As I have a preference for PlayStation, this is right up my alley and is “destination TV” for me after a long week. The channel is called (of course) Playstation Access and a couple of weeks ago, one of the presenters, Rob, listed 7 reason why he liked playing games.

While reasons #1 (escapism and “becoming” the character interactively), #4 (new narrative structures–as the director and writer of your own individual journey) and #7 (keeping the inner child alive) are particular ones that speak to me. However, I wanted to just briefly articulate a couple of the more important reasons why I play games personally.

The Story

So, with Grim Dark narratives like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, it is so very hard to find really good shows that aren’t characters just “crapping” on one another for the prurient interests of the viewer. Shows like this, to me, are anathema and are just like people jamming the interstate to look at the horrific crash that has occurred. Video games allow me to actually engage with stories and characters that I truly enjoy. The “hero” hasn’t gone, but rather morphed into the video game protagonist. Yeah, sure, there are games that are more akin to those hated shows above, (the Bioshock games come quickly to mind), but generally speaking, most games task you with being, if not the hero, then a protagonist that you can identify with and (usually) enjoy playing: Ryder and Commander Shepherd from the Mass Effect series comes quickly to mind here. It seems as if the protagonist “hero” has pretty much come into his or her own here.

Worldbuilding

An interesting corollary to the story (or narrative) is the focus on setting and world building in video games. Sure, the visuals are nice, but the best games have “atmosphere.” Due to the interactive nature of games, it is very easy to “fall in” to the world (much like the way description works in books). It is really nice to be able to play characters who you like and identify with in worlds that seem real and lived in.

Sidney


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  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

EA Access: A Whole Lot of Nope

EA Access Logo -- EA Logo in a circle with the word access on the black background.
Image Source: https://www.techradar.com/news/gaming/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-ea-access-1261582

So, there is a YouTube channel that I watch quite a few videos for and he is always “whining” about the Playstation 4 not having EA Access and how it is a “good value” for customers (it isn’t — it’s a good value for EA, but no one else). The reason that I’m writing about it is that the channel’s narrator/host can’t wait for EA Access to come to PS4 later this year after being available for Microsoft X-box and PC for a while now. While, I’m all for personal choice, I think that this is a wrong-headed — at least, to be pushing it on his channel as hard as he is as if there are no downsides to EA Access.

EA is a Corporation, Nothing More

EA Access (at the time of this writing) costs 4.99 a month. Let’s round that to $5.00 (US) and multiply that by 12 (# of months in a year) and it will cost you $60 dollars a year (or $30.00 if you sign up for the year–$29.99 at the time of writing). This is not an arbitrary number because it is “coincidentally” the amount that “new” games cost. So, the “nameless” YouTuber gets to claim that the cost of the subscription is more than equaled by the cost of 1 game (going month to month), so if you were going to buy one EA game “new” in that year, you would have offset yourself cost of the subscription fees. Play any other games on the service, he argues, and you come out ahead in the investment.

Except . . . that’s not how that works. EA is a corporation which (like all corporations) exists to make a profit. How can they sustain themselves if they are giving away their product? And that’s the catch that the YouTuber isn’t seeing–they’re not giving away anything–but getting two (2) things instead.

Thing One and Thing Two

The first thing they’re getting is a predictable revenue stream. EA’s output these past two – three years has been spotty at best (in terms of original games — their Sports titles continue on just fine). This past year, I bought nothing (“new”) from EA. More on that in just a moment. I’m still not planning on buying anything “new” this year either. However, if I was signed up for EA Access, EA would have received $120 dollars from me instead of $0. They are betting on me not cancelling every month in which I do not play one of their games, but rather on the fact that it is easier to just keep paying the fee, even on months when I don’t use their service. Also, if you don’t buy your EA games “new” (i.e., used or at a discount) then it takes you much longer to just your yearly fee. What if you only bought 3 EA games at 9.99 each in a year (just shy of $30), then you actually lose money by going with EA Access ($30 – $40 = -$10) for you and ($40 – $30 = +$10) for EA. And unless you cancel (and most won’t) that’s (+$10 * everyone who falls into that category yearly), so its not just a one time thing with one person. Believe me, that money adds up fast (& EA is fully aware of this).

The second, more insidious thing that EA Access is promoting is the idea that you are “accessing” their selection. Now, this point is going to be contentious as 1) EA does allow you to download the games and 2) unless you are mind-reader (and I am not), it is impossible to know this point for certain. Yet, looking at the moves that EA has made in the past (its alliance with X-Box One’s original “check-in” requirements — no, we haven’t forgotten that, or at least I haven’t– the original Titanfall came to PS4, right? Oh no, that’s right, it didn’t–they read the “tea leaves” wrong and left sales on the table which is why Titanfall 2 was released on the same day and date PS4/X-Box One). There is no guarantee that, should Access become a defacto standard, that they wouldn’t eliminate the download option altogether (actually, it is fairly likely since that’s the route YouTube took and put downloading videos behind their premium service). In fact, Stadia is essentially Access without the download option and Stadia is where Access could be headed in the future (yes, conjecture I know), but again, the YouTuber presents Access with no downsides, while EA doesn’t exactly fill me with “good vibes” & “warm fuzzies” when it comes to the whole customer vs shareholder divide.

Anyway, apologizes if this post seemed long/rambly, but I wanted to get out my thoughts on why EA Access isn’t necessarily the “good deal” that many, one YouTuber especially, seems to think it is and why I’m not excited that it is finally making its way on to the PlayStation platform.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Gaming Diary–Week 20

Weekend Gaming: Classic video game characters, Ms Pac-man, Goomba, ship from Space Invaders, ghost from the Pac-Man games, and a PlayStation-like controller
Image Source: https://mashable.com/category/weekend-gaming/

Today is a simple one: just what I managed to play over last weekend. I get a email every week from Playstation Network and in each email they give me the number of trophies (in-game achievements) that I’ve earned and how mcuh time (in hours) I’ve put into online gaming on the PSN Network. I bring this up because every since I joined PSN way back in 2006 with the Playstation 3 (even though I didn’t really play online until 2007 for the most part), I’ve racked up an impressive (or ridiculous, depending on your outlook for online gaming) over 16,000 hours of online play. That equates to roughly 667 days (or roughly 1.8 years) of online play. Now, understand that this is over 13 years of being connected online and also playing games like Mass Effect Andromeda or Assassin’s Creed Origins for over 100 hours while being connected to EA’s servers or Ubisoft’s servers even though I’m playing the game in single player mode. My total actual online play (where I play with/against other humans) is probably about half that number. And that’s just two “generations” of game systems–imagine what my gaming life is like through all systems.

Still, I bring it up because it puts into perspective how much time I’m putting into games. Imagine if I’d put that much time into my writing or my schoolwork; I’d have at least one novel finished, possibly more. So, seeing that number has been an inspiration to me–not to do less gaming, but rather to do more strategic gaming and to put as much time and effort into the things that I really want to make myself just as successful in real life as I am in my “gaming” life.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

I put more time into this game than I had intended, but I was able to finish off a major storyline in the game and then a related secondary storyline. One of the reasons that I put so much time into it was that the enemies in the game managed to kill me due to an unforeseen occurrence in the scenerio (the rebels that were supposed to aid me by causing a distraction died way too quickly and I was caught out alone against an entire garrison of enemies). Well, I couldn’t let that stand and, when the game reloaded, went through the process of (laboriously) taking down the (many) enemies of the base one-by-one. Took about 2.5 hours all told, but as the cliche goes, revenge is a dish best served cold. I cleared the base of all targets by any means necessary. Now that 2.5 hours was in addition to the time I’d already spent completing the Main Quest of taking down the “Crocodile” (a major enemy in the game), but it was still worth it and I’m currently in between missions for the next major story arc of the game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider 20th Anniversary Edition

This is a game I got for Christmas. While I wasn’t really entranced with the “Reboot” of Lara Croft’s adventures with the less than stellar (& overly praised Tomb Raider game from a few years ago), I’ve found this one to be a much more refined and stellar game. Had this one been the “reboot,” I might have been less dismissive of the need for a reboot because so far, this one is far more like the original Tomb Raider games that the crappy reboot even though this share’s that games basic design philosophy and graphical skin. There’s just something about this game that compels me to move forward, where the Tomb Raider reboot game from 2013 did everything to push me away and made me want to gag every time I played it.

This session consisted of me completing all of the challenges in the first two areas of the game (except for one that I don’t have the right arrow skill for and will have to return to when I do). I then did my first “Challenge Tomb” (which is an optional tomb that I can explore and figure out how to complete for extra rewards and experience). I’m early in the game–the game internal tracking says I’ve completed 12% so far), but if the rest of the game is like this first bit, I think I might like it quite a bit more than the Tomb Raider reboot that I absolutely destested and still don’t feel is a worthy game in the TR universe. I’ll keep playing and let you all know if I still feel this way as I go through the rest of the game.

Well, that’s it for now. I did play a few other games, but I didn’t put near the amount of time in to any of them as I did these two, so I hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

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