Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | May 27, 2013 - 03:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox one, ps4, consolitis, consoles
So, as Wired editorial states it: hardcore console gamers don't want much, just the impossible. They want a "super-powered box" tethered to their TV; they want the blockbuster epics and innovative indie titles; they want it to "just work" for what they do. The author, Chris Kohler, wrote his column to demonstrate how this is, and has for quite some time been, highly unprofitable.
I think the bigger problem is that the console manufacturers want the impossible.
Console manufacturers have one goal: get their platform in your house and require their hand be in the pocket of everything you do with it. They need to make an attractive device for that to be true, so they give it enough power to legitimately impress the potential buyer and price it low enough to catch the purchasing impulse. Chances are this involves selling the box under cost at launch and for quite some time after.
But, if all of this juicy control locks the user into overspending in the long run, then it is worth it...
But Microsoft should be thankful that I cost them money to be acquired as a customer.
Well, looking at the Wired article, not only are console gamers ultimately overspending: it is still not enough! Consoles truly benefit no-one! The console manufacturers are not doing any more than maybe breaking even, at some point, eventually, down the line, they hope. Microsoft and Sony throw obnoxious amounts of money against one another in research, development, and marketing. Redundant technologies are formed to pit against their counterparts with billions spent in marketing to try to prove why either choice is better.
All of this money is spent to corral users into a more expensive experience where they can pocket the excess.
Going back to the editorial's claims: with all of this money bleeding out, Microsoft wants to appeal more broadly and compensate the loss with more cash flowing in. Sure, Microsoft has wanted a foothold in the living room for decades at this point, but the Xbox Division bounces between profitability and huge losses; thus, they want to be an entertainment hub if just for the cash alone.
But think back to the start, these troubles are not because it is impossible to satisfy hardcore gamers. These troubles are because Microsoft and Sony cannot generate revenue from their acquired control quicker than they can bleed capital away trying to acquire that control, or at least generate it more than just barely fast enough.
The other solution, which I have felt for quite some time is the real answer (hence why I am a PC gamer), has a large group of companies create an industry body who governs an open standard. Each company can make a substantial profit by focusing on a single chunk of the platform -- selling graphics processors, maintaining a marketplace, or what-have-you -- by leveraging the success of every other chunk.
This model does work, and it is the basis for one of humanity's most successful technology products: the internet.
As a side note: this is also why PC gaming was so successful... Microsoft, developers, Steam/GoG/other marketplaces, and hardware vendors were another version of this... albeit Microsoft had the ability to override them and go in whatever direction they wanted. They didn't, until Windows RT.
And the internet might even be the solution. The web browser is capable, today, of providing amazing gaming experiences and it does not even require a plugin. It is getting more powerful, even faster than the rate at which underlying hardware has evolved.
To end on an ironic note, that makes a web browser more capable of offline play than our current understanding of the Xbox One (and Sony has said nothing either way, for that matter).
I guess the takeaway message is: love the web browser, it "just works".
Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 02:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Dark Souls II, consolitis, masochism
Dark Souls made a name for its self as one of the toughest and most unforgiving games going and built a huge following because of that. The sequel will be coming to PC as well but the one major negative comment many gamers had about the original will no longer be applicable, according to the developers this version will not suffer from consolitis. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has about as much information as is available on this game but to truly understand what this game will be like you should check out the YouTube preview below.
"A word of warning: I have never played Dark Souls, and this information is coming from French website GameKult’s interview with a Yui Tanimura, the Japanese game director of Dark Souls II. I am merely an information conduit. A nexus from them to you, with news that the complaints of the horrible, nasty port job of the previous game was noticed and taken into account. Dark Souls II is being developed as a PC game. Hooray!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Jagged Alliance: Flashback @ KickStarter
- Homeworld space RTS rights bought by Gearbox for $1.35m @ Hexus
- That Much-Delayed 2k Marin Shooter Is Not An EXCOM @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Post-Modern – ‘Call Of Duty: Ghosts’ Busted @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Totally Teutoburgic: Tons Of Rome II In-Game Footage @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Injustice: Gods Among Us @ The Inquirer
- Gears of War: Judgement Xbox 360 @ Tweaktown
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 16, 2013 - 02:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: consoles, consolitis, pc gaming
If you really enjoy an Xbox or Playstation game, better hope your console does not die: it is likely that nothing else will play it. This news comes from a statement made by Blake Jorgensen, CFO of Electronic Arts. Clearly EA is a trusted partner of all console developers and not just an anonymous tipster.
You mean, Devil May Stop Crying?
I tend to rant about this point quite often. For a market so devoted to the opinion that video games are art, the market certainly does not care about its preservation as art. There is always room for consumable and even disposable entertainment, but the difference with art is that it cannot be substituted with another piece of content.
There would be a difference if someone magically replaced every copy of Schindler’s List, including the vaulted masters, with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I could safely assume that the vast majority of the audience for either film was not just browsing the Holocaust movie genre. I would expect the viewer was seeking out the one or the other for a specific reason.
This is incompatible with the console ecosystem by its design. The point of the platform is to be disposable and its content is along for the ride while it lasts. They often deliver the console for less than their parts and labor fees: research, development, and marketing costs regardless. The business model is to eliminate as many big fees as possible and then jack up the price of everything else ten bucks here and there. Over time you will not be given a bargain, over time you will give them more than they made you think you saved. They then spend this extra money keeping content exclusively under their control, not yours. Also, profits... give or take.
Again, there is always room for consumable entertainment. The consoles are designed to be very convenient, but not cheap and not suitable for timeless art. Really, the only unfortunate element is how these impairments are viewed as assets and all the while examples such as this one dance around the background largely shrugged off without being pieced together.
As for your favorite game? Who knows, maybe you will get lucky and it will be remade on some other platform for you to purchase again. You might be lucky, it might even be available on the PC.
I say let the world go to hell
… but I should always have my tea. (Notes From Underground, 1864)
You can praise video games as art to justify its impact on your life – but do you really consider it art?
Best before the servers are taken down, because you're probably not playing it after.
Art allows the author to express their humanity and permits the user to consider that perspective. We become cultured when we experiment with and to some extent understand difficult human nature problems. Ideas are transmitted about topics which we cannot otherwise understand. We are affected positively as humans in society when these issues are raised in a safe medium.
Video games, unlike most other mediums, encourage the user to coat the creation with their own expressions. The player can influence the content through their dialogue and decision-tree choices. The player can accomplish challenges in their own unique way and talk about it over the water cooler. The player can also embed their own content as a direct form of expression. The medium will also mature as we further learn how to leverage interactivity to open a dialogue for these artistic topics in completely new ways and not necessarily in a single direction.
Consciously or otherwise – users will express themselves.
With all of the potential for art that the medium allows it is a shame that – time and time again – the industry and its users neuter its artistic capabilities in the name of greed, simplicity, or merely fear.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 02:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: consolitis, windows 8
Microsoft has announced that 40 Xbox Live games will ship for Windows 8 PC, laptops, and tablets on its October 26th launch date. Microsoft also continues to misunderstand why Games for Windows Live failed in the first place.
Xbox has all but become the quasi-official branding for Microsoft’s gaming initiatives.
Microsoft suffered a substantial black-eye from their Games for Windows Live initiative. While the service does not live up to its anti-hype it does illustrate how Microsoft lost their PC gaming audience: gamers who do not choose a console do not want a console. PC gamers might wish for a cheaper experience due to the lack of license fees; they might prefer the mouse and keyboard; or they might wish to play games for longer than a console lifecycle.
If they pass up your console platform – hand delivering it on a silver platter will still be a decline gesture.
This time it seems more like Microsoft has given up trying to appease PC gamers. Rather than trying to satisfy the needs of the PC gaming audience (Seriously! It’s not that hard.) Microsoft would prefer to hand the PC gaming market to the console crowd and hope that they find some value to the platform.
This move seems just as risky to me as simply keeping PC gamers satisfied. The console model is designed around squirreling away as many license fees as you can possibly hide to appear less costly than the PC alternative – without actually being cheaper of course since otherwise who would pay the extra middleman? There is a lot of risk in transitioning to a new platform and they are betting their PC stronghold in the intersection between Apple fans and people who lock themselves in against PC gaming.
Or maybe the platter is served by Gabe Newell… dressed with a Tux.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 03:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox 360, consolitis, consoles, console
Polytron and Trapdoor, together responsible for the indie title “Fez”, have decided to not release an update to their software due to certification fees. Microsoft released a public statement to assert that they would be willing to work out arrangements if fees solely prevent the patch from being released. Either way it reiterates serious concerns about content dependent upon proprietary platforms and how that conflicts with art.
Long-time readers of my editorials have probably figured out that I have not been a fan of consoles, anti-piracy, and several other issues for at least quite some time. Humorously it is almost universally assumed that a PC gamer who bashes his head against his desk whenever he hears an anti-piracy organization open their mouths must be a perpetual cheapskate worried about losing his free ride.
I mean, clearly there is no reason for someone who has an education in higher-level math with a fairly strong sense in basic statistics to argue with the ESA, BSA, RIAA, or MPAA. I clearly just prefer the PC to rip off game publishers.
Measure your dependent variables, control your independent variables.
So then, why do I care?
I have been growing increasingly concerned for art over the past several years. The most effective way to help art flourish is to enable as many creators to express themselves as possible and keep those creations indefinitely for archival and study. Proprietary platforms are designed to hide their cost as effectively as possible and become instantly disposable as they cease becoming effective for future content.
Console platforms appear to be the cheapest access to content by having a low upfront cost to the end user. To keep those numbers low they are often sold at under the cost of production with the intent of reclaiming that loss; the research, development and marketing losses; and other operating costs over the lifespan of the console. Profit is also intended at some point as well.
As Polytron and Trapdoor have experienced: one way to recover your costs is to drench your developers and publishers in fees for their loyalty to your platform – of course doing the same to your loyal customers is most of the rest. This cost progressively adds up atop the other expenses that increasingly small developers must face.
The two main developers for the PC, Blizzard and Valve, understand the main value of their platform: markedly long shelf lives for content. Consoles are designed to be disposable along with the content which is dependent on them. DRM likewise adds an expiration on otherwise good content if it becomes unsupported or the servers in charge of validating legitimate customers cease to exist in the name of preventing casual piracy.
For non-differentiable entertainment that is not a tragic loss as there will always be another first person shooter. Content with intrinsic value, on the other hand, cannot simply be exchanged for equivalent media.
For all the debate about whether videogames could be considered art – you would think it would be treated as such.
Introduction: Griefing the grieving
PC Gaming has been on its death bed for years -- if you believe the countless debates that have occurred most commonly over the last decade. The drum beat roared from the masses: “Why game on the PC anymore when you could just buy a console?” The focus of conversation was set upon the attack and defense of the PC as a viable platform at all, let alone the platform of choice. The question that swarms naggingly through my brain is quite the opposite: “In the long run, why game on a console?” The concept that consoles are better than PCs, given a fraction of the support that consoles receive, is about to die; console supporters are in various levels of grief.
U mad Mario Bros.?
I am an avid, though this editorial may suggest livid, video game supporter. My first exposure to video gaming was mixed between the Nintendo Entertainment System and the family 80286. I have equally fond memories with the keyboard as with the gamepad. The balance between console and PC was level throughout my life until just a few years ago when I carefully thought the situation over. The PC is now my platform of choice.
Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2011 - 12:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, batman arkham city, dx11, oops, consolitis
Just in case you were under the impression that Ryan was the only one having issues with DirectX 11 in Batman Arkham City, check out the problems [H]ard|OCP had. DX11 was essentially unplayable even on multi-GPU systems, with NVIDIA handling the game a little better than AMD. Using DX 11 in the game enables HBAO and tessellation as well as something new for NVIDIA users called Multi-View Soft Shadows, which do add to the visual quality of the game, if you are willing to live with an average 30fps or so ... with bonus stuttering. Even better, this is yet another example of a game with its frames capped by default, not quite as bad as Need For Speed The Run but it is still limited to 24-62fps until an .ini file tweak is performed.
"Batman: Arkham City is upon us, and we wanted to give you a preliminary look at how performance is stacking up. We've found some issues running in DX11 that seem to be a detriment to gameplay. DX11 may not be the best option, at this time, for this game, our performance data and feedback explain why."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Battlefield 3 Mini Tweak Guide for Latency (ping) and more @ Tweaktown
- Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis @ Tweaktown
- The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Batman: Arkham City (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Jagged Alliance: Not Yet Back In Action @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Major Skyrim patch released for Xbox 360, PS3, PC @ HEXUS
- Need For Speed: The Run @ kitguru
- Saints Row: The Third (Xbox360) @ HEXUS
- Tekken Hybrid (PS3) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Game Review (XBOX 360) @ HardwareHeaven
- Need for Speed: The Run (XBOX 360 / PS3) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | November 23, 2011 - 01:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, elder scrolls V, skyrim, consolitis
Starting Skyrim for the first time was an interesting experience, obviously you once again start as a prisoner but perhaps one with some serious brain damage as reality seems to move in starts and jerks as if your eyes had a stuttering problem. Eventually the stuttering cleared up, providing a weekends worth of gaming but by Tuesday the stuttering had returned. It became clear that it was time to embark on every PC gamers favourite pastime; troubleshooting the game you just bought in the hopes of some day playing it.
Some troubleshooting revealed a serious case of consolitis, the game was not Large Address Aware and limited its self to a maximum serving of 2GB; the adoption of 64bit versions of Windows being very limited by the end of 2011. Even more damning was what happened when Intel's SpeedStep technology was enabled in the BIOS, the CPU would dip to about 60% of its maximum frequency when you played the game and the process would use under 10% of a core, maybe two if you were lucky. GPU usage was variable and was sometimes actually sitting at or above 90% usage, but for the most part varied widely.
A little research showed that SandyBridge owners and those with the previous generation of chips who overclocked above 4GHz were not having many problems, proving that the brute force method of overcoming consolitis could work. For those who haven't upgraded yet and are waiting for the new year to do so, they must either wait or find a more elegant solution. To the intarwebs!
INI file tweaks are always popular and Gamefront has a few, the most notable are bMouseAcceleration=0 and iPresentInterval=0 which disable mouse acceleration and V-Sync respectively. As well, over at Skyrim Nexus is a modified TESV.exe that makes the game LAA and more importantly does not need to replace the main executable in your Skyrim folder so that you won't need to worry about having a modified executable. As well adding the string +fullproc to the end of the path in your executable should help Skyrim utilize a bit more of your processor. In the end though, more tweaking is needed for some PC gamers to fully appreciate the latest Elder Scrolls game and more time needs to be spent researching general tweaks as well as Bethesda specific ones.
Now if only BF3 multiplayer would stop locking with a loud noise that sounds suspiciously like a raspberry.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Performance and IQ Review @ [H]ard|OCP
- Battlefield 3 Multiplayer Performance and IQ Review @ [H]ard|OCP
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Performance Test @ Techspot
- Cities XL 2012 @ Techgage
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Community Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Minecraft @ AnandTech
- Battlefield 3 @ kitguru
- Battlefield 3 @ Bjorn3D
- Battlefield 3 major patch incoming, PC first @ HEXUS
- I Am Alive Dev Dismisses ‘Bitching’ PC Users @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Nature’s Neuroscientific Review Of Games @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox360) @ HEXUS
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Game Review (Wii) @ HardwareHeaven
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 @ Tweaktown
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary @ Tweaktown
- Assassins Creed: Revelations @ kitguru
- Assassin's Creed Revelations @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2011 - 01:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: skyrim, need for speed, gaming, games, elder scrolls V, consolitis
[H]ard|OCP has been having a hard go of it with recent game releases. CoD Modern Warfare 3 was described as being useless for benchmarking as any mid range GPU can play at maxed settings even at high resolutions. That discovery came after the Rage incident, when benchmarked it hit 60fps and refused to move, no matter what hardware was thrown at it. Picture the expression on the reviewers face when they fired up Need For Speed: The Run expecting the Frostbite 2 engine of Battlefield 3 fame to torture their test bench only to find a similar result to Rage, except locked at 30fps.
Thankfully for the continued sanity of their review team, [H] also got hold of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to benchmark. Benchmarking this game was much more productive, especially in multi-GPU setups and it also revealed a small oddity with the games auto-detection of graphics settings.
"Need for Speed: The Run was released today, utilizing the Frostbite 2 engine, same as Battlefield 3, it should have some pretty good graphics. However, after we dove into this game this morning, we found that it falls rather flat for a PC game. We'll talk about performance and image quality in this article."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Today's mid-range GPUs in Battlefield 3 @ The Tech Report
- Contemporary Graphics Accelerators in Battlefield 3 @ X-bit Labs
- Battlefield 3 Gaming and Performance Review on NVIDIA GTX 500 Series Video Cards@Hi Tech Legion
- Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 @ HEXUS
- Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 @ Kitguru
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 @ The Inquirer
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Tested, Benchmarked @ Techspot
- RAGE the PC Game by id Software @ Benchmark Reviews
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim @ Kitguru
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim guide: how to slay your dragon @ HEXUS
- Hot PC Games for the 2011 Holidays @ Techspot
- PayDay: The Heist PC Review @ eTeknix
- Minecraft Is Finished @ Slashdot
- Patent Issue Delays Doom 3 Source Code Release @ Slashdot
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review (XBOX 360) @ HardwareHeaven
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception PS3 @ Tweaktown
- Sega Renegade Ops @ XSReviews
- Battlefield 3 multiplayer impressions - rant included @ HEXUS