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Is that Marmite in my PS3 drive?

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When Do Controls Get In The Way?

If you believe Steven Spielberg then controllers are always getting in the way and Kinect is the only way to fully immerse yourself in a game. Now then, let's segue into reality for a moment and talk about when controls are too complex for their own good and ruin the enjoyment of games.   To use a recent example of controls annoying me, I played Mass Effect 3 recently on the PC and it had multiple commands bound to the one button and gave me no way to change it. Look I understand there are only so much buttons on a controller, but the keyboard is covered in buttons, so you should be able to let me assign these commands as I please. Having sprint, take cover and roll all on the one button is just a pain in the ass. This has been a problem with PC games (mostly PC ports) for eons, just let me change these damn buttons so that when I want to take cover I don't end up rolling against a wall like a bloody idiot. All the buttons you could ever need, and then another 20 for good measure.   Another problem I have ran into with a few games (again mostly on PC) is really poor control layouts. I want controlling a game to feel like second nature, to be able to focus on what's going on in the game and not have to keep looking at my controller/keyboard trying to figure out how to do something. A big offender of this was ARMA 2, as someone who has played his fair share of shooters; this game confused the hell out of me. I think I spent more time reformatting all the controls than actually playing the game, I swear it is like someone vomited out the control scheme and they just ran with it.   If we wanted to boil this down to its most basic form then, controls get in the way when they aren't intuitive, it is pretty much that simple. When the controls don't make sense or they frustrate you then they are getting in the way and ruining your enjoyment of the game.   So what about motion controls? Right, if we let all those moans die down so I can talk, then I will say that motion controls have a lot of problems with them, the main one being that they don't really work. Motion controls have failed to dominate this generation (apart from the Wii I guess) both the Move and Kinect have been left to die (but they might make a comeback next generation). So can motion controls become a better way to control a game? The main problem I see is in the whole motion part of motion controls, for starters gamers are really lazy and also moving around isn't easier than just pushing a button, so they would get in the way. I don't want to write motion controls off entirely, as they can work sometimes, but for the majority of gaming I feel that they would be less effective than a simple button based controller. Having to push 0 to aim? No wonder those ARMA devs were arrested   So when do controllers get in the way? When you are really angry at a game and you want to throw something, then they end up lodged into a nearby wall. Seriously though, the majority of games have decent controls and I feel like for the most part it isn't an issue, but sometimes the control layout makes no sense or can't be changed to your preference (left-handed gamers for example) then it gets in the way and decreases your enjoyment of the game. That of course is the one thing a game should never do, because games are supposed to be all about enjoyment and when you get in the way of that, you have failed your job. Bloody game developers.

Khorne

Khorne

 

What I Would Do Differently If I Was Commander Shepard

Look Commander Shepard is pretty solid, but if I was Shepard then the first thing I would do is grow a bitching mustache and then I would I would do the classic Kiwi thing and take one look at the fate of the galaxy and just go "She'll be right". I would probably then proceed to drink heavily for the next few weeks and then die in the Reaper invasion.   But let's work under the assumption that I go along with this "saving the galaxy business" and ask myself, what would I do differently? For starters I would use my classic Kiwi know-how and my trusty piece of number 8 wire to tinker with that Mako so it doesn't fly off into space whenever you bump against some flat ground. I would also realize the seriousness of the situation and not run around helping people find their lost toilet paper or whatever I spent all that time doing, while letting Saren waste time summoning the Reapers. This blog might contain racial stereotypes you don't know about, sorry.   Another thing I wouldn't do is die, seriously what were you thinking non-Kiwi Shepard? Actually dying worked out pretty well for non-Kiwi Shepard so I might do that too... Anyway after dying and coming back to life I would just abandon Cerberus right off. A strong, independent Kiwi man let's nobody tell him what to do, also Cerberus isn't exactly a trustworthy name. I would then skip all that messing about and run right up to that Omega 4 relay and bust out my good friend the number 8 wire and make that thing send me all the way to the collector base. Of course I would have had plenty of experience being a rugby captain for the All Blacks and would be able to get everyone out alive with my amazing leadership abilities.   And after all that I wouldn't bother blowing up that Mass Relay to delay the Reapers, I would just head right out there to meet the Reapers, offense is the best defense right? I would then proceed to make the Crucible out of my last piece of number 8 wire and use it to destroy all the Reapers so I could go home and watch the game in time, with a nice cold beer.   He looks like someone I would trust the galaxy with   So what about the romantic options? Well as your typical unemotional, kiwi bloke I wouldn't exactly be wooing those aliens, but I would have that rugged, manly man allure that no one can resist. I would of course refer to whoever I ended up with as a Sheila and get her to keep the fridge well stocked with beer. We would do romantic activities such as: watching the races, watching the cricket, watching the rugby and then we would go out back and fix up that fence that has been on a lean all week.   Of course all this would garner me some media attention, but I would remember about Tall Poppy Syndrome and just pass it off as a "no biggie, it was a real team effort and I am just proud of the boys who really delivered out on the field today". It would also later be revealed that I did the entire thing with a broken arm.   The only flaw in this plan is that I doubt I would still be alive in 2183, which would hinder my ability to take the place of Commander Shepard, but the important thing is that I just wrote a really bad fanfic about Commander Shepard basically being Colin Meads.

Khorne

Khorne

 

Does Sexism in Gaming Make Us Look Bad?

Discrimination of any kind makes you look bad so if video games are indeed sexist than yes, it makes us look bad, done next question. Oh wait what's the required word count for this thing? Argh fine here are some more words about sexism and video games and why you look bad today (seriously those clothes are not flattering).   Now you can't make the blanket statement that all of gaming is sexist, but there are definitely parts of gaming that are. That doesn't make it that much different from other forms of entertainment that also suffer from sexism, but video games do usually find themselves being targeted for problems that also affect other media (violent movies exist, for example). This doesn't excuse games from the issue however and there are still plenty of examples of this problem throughout gaming.   One of the most noticeable examples of gender discrimination is how different armor is portrayed between genders. If you equip something on a dude then he is in a massive 12 inch thick suit of armor, but if some female warrior was to don that armor than it would likely transform into a metal bikini. Now I understand the appeal of a man wearing big armor (I used to play Warhammer 40K so you could consider me an expert in the field), but what“s wrong with having some of the fairer sex looking badass too? There are other places you can get you babes-in-bikinis fix.     A woman's weakspot is her breasts right? Is that why they always cover them up?   Of course there is more to the problem than what the characters wear; it is also how they are written and portrayed. Now this is pretty varied and can change depending who is the writer, but based on no evidence whatsoever I have concluded that the ladies are more likely to be cast as support characters and have the manly man go fight the giant demon king of evil. It is usually the same just different settings; Drake was the star and Elena was the tag-along, Marcus was the Space Marine rip-off and Anya was his support and if you are looking to the future The Last of Us has Joel killing infected and Ellie looking like Ellen Page.   Now I remember hearing that games that had a female main character didn't sell as well as games that had big burly men manning the helm. Now Slayn Bacon isn't paying me to think up reasons this might be the case, but it does mean that publishers don't really want to push games with female leads and without that publisher support developers are less likely to make games with a woman leading the way. So basically it is your fault for not buying games that do things a little different and you should all feel very bad for being such horrible people.   We have talked a lot about the characters in the games, but what about the people? Do you know that women exist and also play games? That was quite the surprise when I found out and let me tell you, they get quite a lot of negative attention. Now I am not sure how many of you know about fat ugly or ****ty, but let me tell you this: it“s not a place to be inspired about mankind“s loving and accepting nature. Basically I knew playing online was a fast way to get abuse, but man, some people get it worse than others.     This reminds me of when I had a tree house... And friends.   I like to imagine that women can walk down a street without constant abuse being hurled at them (we don't have streets in New Zealand yet so I wouldn't know), but I guess people just go a little crazy when they are online. The point is that there is a lot of abuse when people decide to go play multiplayer and call me crazy, but I don't think people should have to deal with stuff like that whenever they want to go have fun with other people.   So let's get back to the big question at hand: Does sexism in gaming make us look bad? Well the big issue for me would be the amount of abuse female gamers suffer online, which does make us look bad, because it makes it seem like the gaming community is full of man babies who can't tolerate anyone who isn't a straight, white male (being all three of those things I don't have a good handle on how bad some of that abuse can get, but judging from some peoples stories, it can get pretty bad) and that turns potential gamers away and that hurts business. So stop being a loser and be more accepting, I mean come on! You are such a horrible person, you could at least try to be good once in your life.

Khorne

Khorne

 

Morality in Gaming

Many of us have strong views on many different things and while many of us carry these views with us throughout our lives, there is one place where these morals can get murky: video games. There are plenty of obvious things we leave at the door when we play games; not too many gamers would say that mass murder is a good way to solve problems, but most of us have probably taken out the population of a country by now. So what morals do we take with us and why?   The first thing is that games require you to do things to progress; most games require at least a little killing to complete and we just go along with it to continue the story. Sure not every game out there requires you to kill people, but the vast majority do. Most of the time these victims to your blood-lust are painted as generic bad guys who seem to spawn out of nowhere. You are not supposed to feel sorry for them since they only exist to provide a challenge for you to overcome.   In some games however you are supposed to feel empathy for those you are killing. Sometimes the game will give you alternatives to killing these people you are supposed to care about, but sometimes you have to kill them anyway and live with the guilt for the rest of your life.   In how many games have you robbed someone just to get an item you need or maybe just an item you want? Sure you need those items more than the NPC whose life consists of standing around and giving you quests, but you wouldn't rob someone in real life, would you? I“m going to assume that all of you said no and the reason you wouldn't rob a real person is because stealing from other people would negatively affect them and that is wrong and in my experience most people don“t like doing things that are considered wrong.   What would a doctor need medical supplies for anyway?   In a game it is different since you are the main character, the world revolves around your actions and you are stealing something to help make completing all those quests a little easier. In the real world however we are all main characters who are just trying to live the best life we can.   Now there are other things that would offend us even in a digital world, stuff like killing children and rape aren't usually things that you get to do in a game. This is because these kinds of things are so inherently wrong that putting them in a game would cause a major backlash for the developer and would also make most players feel uncomfortable. Don“t get me wrong, I think gaming can tackle dark themes and some games already have done so. The problem is if a game gave you the ability to do such dark things and didn't have repercussions or even glorified it then most players would be more than a little put off.   In Skyrim I killed off everyone in a town except the children (because I couldn't) and it made what I had done infinitely worse because that town now consisted of only three children walking around looking lost. Sure there is a mod that allows you to kill children, but there is a reason Bethesda didn't allow you to kill them in the first place. That reason being that killing children isn't part of the story nor would it give you anything (children aren't known for their great loot drops) so there is no reason in including something so morally wrong if it doesn't serve a point.   Hey kid, no lollygagging   Now there are plenty of things people don“t like, but the majority doesn't seem to mind. Some people are very religious and take offense when someone attacks their religion. We can see an example of this with the Anti-Islam video causing mass outrage in the Middle-East (because things have been so calm over there until now). Some of us would object to certain things that others would probably just shrug at.   Let“s pretend for arguments sake that I am vegan, so I don“t eat or wear animal products in real life. Now let“s say that in a game I came across some fur armor and that armor gave me +10 to my defense stat, I would make my character wear it. My real world values don“t matter when it comes to keeping my character alive with that superior armor, because it wasn't made with real fur.   The thing is that I could probably play an open world game and have my character be vegan, but what“s the point? My character can“t go out and save these digital animals from factory farming nor can he go buy some soy milk or chickpeas instead of meat. The way most games are balanced is for your character to not be vegan.   In most games food regenerates health and as in real life, meat is considered food. So sure I could go rob a farmer and carry around 50 potatoes with me, but if some meat regenerates my health more than those 50 potatoes than in my mouth it goes. I am not saving nor harming any animals by playing games a certain way.   Now sometimes there are options, like in Sims 3 you can be a vegetarian so that“s what I did (I also made my sim routinely set his house on fire) and if I recall correctly being vegetarian made your sim live longer (although his life was tragically cut short due to the constant house fires).   Maybe if you collected your newspaper I wouldn't have had to burn your house down   If given the choice I usually make my characters similar to me, but playing as a mirror of myself would be rather boring and would defeat the purpose of playing games. I don“t care if my character in a game eats meat and I don“t, it just means any barbecues we go to might be rather awkward.   The big thing to remember is that our actions only have consequences outside of gaming. You don“t need to worry about if you should attend the funeral of that guy you killed or if the NPC you robbed has property insurance. Ideally you should strive to be a pillar of justice in everything you do, but considering the earth shaking revelation that video games aren't real you can let yourself off the hook and indulge in some evil. At least that is how I justify the fact that I skinned hundreds of animals in Red Dead Redemption.

Khorne

Khorne

 

What Could The Next Generation of Consoles Bring?

Talk about the next generation of consoles is heating up and everyone is wondering how the next one will be better than what we have now. While, previously, each new console generation has had improved graphical power over the previous ones, I don“t see this happening with the next generation; instead, I think it will be more focused on how we buy games and how games are made for these consoles.   A digital future is almost a certainty, but it is still too early for it to arrive in the next line of consoles. Too many people (me included) lack the internet speeds to download all of their games. With that said, Steam and other services have shown that downloading games is popular enough to be sustainable, so any smart console manufacturers are looking at including a service that allows consumers to download games straight onto their console. We have already seen this being done, but I think next generation will have a more complete library on offer and maybe even better pricing (we can dream right?)   Speaking of pricing, that is another thing that has to change. Consumers always want something for as cheap as their conscience allows, and, even though the pricing of games has gone down recently, it still isn“t a cheap hobby. In countries like Australia and New Zealand games cost between $80-90 USD and, there are, of course, plenty of other countries who get shafted on game pricing.   While I can understand the price differences in physical stores, where you have to send games to these countries, it is the price differences in online stores that I don“t understand; you aren“t paying extra to send games to other countries and you don“t have to print or package your games, so shouldn“t everyone be paying less for them? There are two main reasons I can think of: Customers are used to paying however much for their games and will pay the same amount online without too much fuss, the other reason is that publishers probably want to avoid upsetting brick and mortar stores too much considering that is where they sell most of their games.         In fact, why don“t we look at how much a game should cost? With gamers expecting more bang for their buck, developers are having to make their games look a million dollars, and that costs, well, a lot. There has been a rise in lower-cost gaming on the PC and mobile markets and, while these smaller games aren“t exactly taking over the console space at the moment, with things like OUYA, I can see other console manufacturers increasing their services like PSN and XBLA to embrace even more indie games in the future.   Of course, one of the biggest problems facing these smaller developers is getting noticed, since there isn“t really an easy way to find all these indie games except word-of-mouth, and that isn“t the most reliable method. If the next generation of consoles really wants to support indie developers, then it needs to help them out and make it easier for them to get noticed. If no one decides to write an article about you and none of the console manufactures promote your work, then it is incredibly easy to fall into the pit of obscurity, and that is not a fun place to be. Now, because I“m weird like that, I want to find more great games to play, and I think if the next line of consoles has a better method of showing off all the great games you can purchase on its store, then a lot more talented developers can get the recognition they deserve. Oh, and more money.   Alright, team, let“s huddle together and think about how the next generation could help us all play as a big group. Multiplayer has come a long way in a short amount of time, but, being the ambitious guy that I am, I think it can go even further. I don“t want to name names, but I think, if a certain company were to stop charging for the privilege of playing online, then I would be pretty happy. But this mystery company“s idea to provide headsets with their consoles is something I like (you guys all know how much I love to talk), and I would like to see a similar thing happen with more of the next line of consoles.         Another thing I want to see happen to all the future consoles is some way to stop all this abuse that happens online. Yes, that is a pipe dream. Stopping people from hating other people would take a lot of work and bullets. What I want is a better way to get these people off of multiplayer. They can go be abusive to the AI in campaign mode, but allowing these kinds of people onto multiplayer is keeping a lot of other, well-adjusted people off of the online space. This could be done with just a more effective reporting system, or having to make everyone sit down to an interview before being allowed to play online.   As a master of segues I think we should start talking about motion controls. While I am not the biggest fan of motion controllers (at the moment none of them seem to work better than an old fashioned controller), I could see companies making big improvements in the technology, to the point where they do start to become intuitive and don“t cause your avatars leg to twist around itself whenever you want to see what the bottom of your shoe looks like. What motion controls need is to get away from this all-or-nothing mentality. Having to choose between sitting in my chair with my controller or standing up breaking half my furniture just to throw a grenade is stupid. Give us the best of both worlds, with being able to add extra actions in by using gestures or voice commands. Instead of replacing the things we can do with a controller, why don“t you add to the things we can do with motion controllers?           Enough about the hypothetical, why don“t we start talking about something we know is coming. The OUYA is an interesting beast to talk about, since it isn“t trying to compete with the other consoles. Instead, it is trying to do its own thing and, whether or not it will succeed in that is up for debate, it is still interesting to talk about. Now, for those who don“t know the OUYA is a console that aims to bring the open market you see elsewhere to the console sphere. I am a little uneasy about putting money toward something that could easily not work, but it seems plenty of people have faith in it (or at least a lot of money on hand), and the OUYAs kickstarter raised a crisp $8,580,682.   While there have been a lot of skeptical articles flying around, it would seem the general public is fully behind it. That means it will probably get the support it needs from developers, and it would seem quite a few of developers are already getting behind the OUYA. I don“t think it will offer much competition to the bigger consoles out there, but I do think it will give smaller developers a chance to shine in the console market, and also help shake up the gaming world a little.   The other console that we can talk about is the Wii U and, unlike the OUYA, it seems Nintendo is looking to take the fight to Sony and Microsoft with their console. With the Wii U set to be more powerful than the current generation (pretty weird to have to say that a next generation console will be more powerful than the current generation, but then again the Wii exists), Nintendo definitely want to compete graphically with Sony and Microsoft. The interesting thing that Wii U brings to the table is that it has a screen in its controller. This works with the DS and 3DS, but I wonder how well it will work when the two screens are further apart. I personally rest the controller on my lap, and I“m not sure I would like to have to hold a controller up so I can look between the two screens quickly. I am obviously not a game developer and can only think of vague uses for the second screen, so I will have to wait until it launches to see if anyone aside from Nintendo can make good use of the second screen. The good news is that we have already seen some interesting things shown off.   Apart from the issue of whether or not developers do much with the second screen, there is the issue of its timing. The next generation of consoles is coming soon, but I think the Wii U will be on its own until Sony and Microsoft bring their own offerings to market, and that could either be a strength or a big weakness. The Wii U will be around during two generations and, unless the other consoles are just sitting around the corner, the Wii U might be stuck in the middle, meaning that it fails to keep up with the other next generation consoles. Considering how long this generation has lasted, having trouble keeping up in the beginning could lead to big trouble later on.         There are some advantages to launching early however. If the next consoles are close to being unveiled, then with the Wii U being early could mean that it has a stronger library and more time to work out the kinks by the time the other consoles show up. That would mean people are more likely to get or stick with a Wii U instead of getting something new when it is still trying to prove itself. While it is hard to predict what will happen, it will be interesting to see how the Wii U does.   It is always an exciting time when a new console generation is near and everyone is talking about what they want to happen. Of course all these possibilities are up to the manufacturers to make come true and I hope they don“t disappoint. Now I could talk about the next generation of consoles until they actually come out, but I think it I have said enough. Now it“s up to you to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below.

Khorne

Khorne

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