The PlayStation 4 Pro Has Been Announced!

Unless you have been living under a rock you undoubtedly have heard the news that the rumored PlayStation Neo is real and is in fact called the PlayStation 4 Pro. This “new” console (if you can even call it new. I’m not even sure what new means in this generation anymore) will support true 4K specs and will naturally allow for developers to make some better looking games. Should you be excited? My response is no. In fact hell no. You should be skeptical that this will lead to any innovation in the industry.

I am of the opinion that better graphics do not make for better games. Games are truly great when their gameplay or stories or both are compelling and engaging. When you look at gaming that way graphics are not that important in the overall scheme of things. Take a look at Shovel Knight, Cave Story, The Binding of Isaac, Axiom Verge these Indie games do not have realistic boundary pushing graphics but are wildly fun to play. They are also very successful, popular and have been released somewhat recently. It’s really difficult to gauge what Sony and Microsoft, with their Scorpio, see in this generation of gaming. It’s clear that they no longer believe in the somewhat dated, yet functional process, of having a dedicated games console for 4-7 years and then replacing it with something new and hopefully stronger. The benefit to this has always been that the first 2 years will be the growing pains cycle where developers will usually not release anything worth while they try to figure out the console’s advantages and disadvantages. More often you get games that don’t look to nice, function a little obtusely or just don’t age that well. However the upside was that once that period was over you had access to better games. Games that made you wanna buy them and have a blast playing. Once that happens that’s when I consider a gaming generation to have truly begun. For example, for me that did not start until I finally played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Once I finished it I felt that I had truly come in to this current generation.

Of course with the Scorpio and PlayStation Pro looming I can’t help but feel there is no reason for these consoles to exist so damn early. Look 4K looks amazing. It really does. But to apply it to gaming now would be a mistake in my opinion. All it will succeed in doing is making games much more expensive to produce. This will in turn make publishers more conservative when it comes to the types of games they make. So don’t be surprised if everything that ends up being made is a shooter of some sort. It’s the genre that is arguably the most popular currently. So any new IP that could be made will just follow the path of genre stagnation. Now I’m not trying to jump on an anti shooter bandwagon but come on. So many games now are shooters and even more are first person. Trying to appeal to as many people to recoup the cost of development is not necessarily a good thing. Do you really want to be in a world where Uncharted 4 gets another re-release in the same generation? That’s what could happen. Games just released will get re-releases to take advantage of 4K.

It’s pretty obvious that both Sony and Microsoft are looking now to compete with PC’s in terms of raw power and processing. This is not a smart strategy at all. Why? Because no matter what gaming box Sony or Microsoft make it’s ultimately going to be outdated by the tech advancements of tomorrow and I do mean that quite literally. Like how as soon as you buy a computer within a week it’s already technically outdated. When you are competing with a platform whose parts are constantly evolving you are forgetting the key concept of having a dedicated gaming platform. GAMES. PC’s are our gateway to the internet, our business tools, things students use to write papers or thesis'(sometimes even pirate), a communication tool to loved ones, a device to process high amounts of information at high speeds and yeah it can play games too. PC’s have to be constantly updated because the world demands that of them. Their upgrades dictate the software that we use. Not our games. To apply this logic to game consoles pretty much means you want to nickel and dime the consumer or market yourselves to a very small group who have the expendable income to buy all the things needed to take advantage of these upgrades. Not to mention that the games made will be compatible across all the “weaker” consoles too. But for how long? Even games made on PC’s stop supporting certain video cards after a while so what does this mean for the PS4 Pro and Scorpio? Seem stupid yet?

There is a lot to dislike about this. But at least the PlayStation 4 Pro will be able to play those 4K movies right? Nah apparently it won’t but the Xbox One S can? Boy I sure do miss gaming from my childhood.

 

 

 

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Metal Gear….Survive???????

 

What?

What?

What?

What?

What in the hell did I just see???

Konami put up a trailer for what is going to be the first Metal Gear game since Kojima left them. Now I never had any real hopes that Konami would actually be able to make great Metal Gear games. I only wished for the laziest remake of Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake done in the Fox Engine. That’s it. That’s all I hoped for. Turns out Konami wants to create a cooperative game where you survive against some kind of biological threat. As you can probably imagine this was not met with the warmest reception especially since everyone is still angry about that Metal Gear Solid 3 pachinko machine that’s out there. My feelings? I honestly don’t really give a shit. In fact I’m not surprised that this is what Konami wants to do in a post Kojima Metal Gear game. Though I will say the wormholes being an important plot point is goofy as hell and detracts from me taking the game seriously.

That isn’t entirely true though. I do feel somewhat disappointed but only in the sense that Konami has pretty much given up on ever making “traditional” video games. So while they may continue to make PES for the years to come I see now that they are more concerned with short term profit and possibly annualization of very few franchises. Metal Gear Survive I feel is just an attempt to capture the audience who enjoys games like Left 4 Dead. However I’m only speculating since the game is not released yet. I think it’s clear that this game will be primarily online co-op. So if there exists a competitive mode where 4 on 4 teams compete against each other its not too far-fetched to assume that Metal Gear Survive could be Konami’s foray into the world of competitive E-sports. So essentially Konami might have 3 streams of revenue. PES, E-sports, and Pachinko….Can anyone explain to me what the hell Pahcinko is and how you play it? It seems insane.

Getting back on point. What Konami is doing is taking their established franchises and turning them into low risk profit makers. I have no idea if this is benefiting their bottom line or is even economically feasible but this is what they have been doing for the past few years now. Like I said earlier I’m not surprised. But that’s because of how stagnated the gaming industry has become and the simultaneous rise in free to play apps. Konami seems to be taking a risk alienating Metal Gear fans with this new “Metal Gear” game but really is it unique? It doesn’t look it to me. Will it be fun? I have no idea. I don’t plan on buying it at all but who knows maybe Konami will have a massive hit on them and if so then maybe they will return to traditional game development and then I can get my lazy remakes or at least a Castlevania reboot that pays homage to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure where a Belmont and Dracula actually grew up together and Dracula was a huge dick like Dio. See Konami, I just gave you a million dollar idea right there!

Let’s Talk About the Digital Economy

I was on my twitter feed the other day and I came across an article by Vox that, how should I put this, made me very annoyed (I’m putting that lightly mind you). Stating that Pokemon Go is everything that is wrong with Capitalism is like saying Sesame Street is everything that’s wrong with modern day values. It just doesn’t make sense. The only reason such an article would exist is because of the viral popularity that Pokemon Go has achieved and piggybacking off it for clicks and ad revenue through angering fans of Nintendo and Pokemon.

Now the article describes real life problems that have been occurring for quite some time now. Various tech companies create products or apps that exist to suck out as much market value as possible all without benefiting anyone involved. They exist simply to please the shareholders and continue to rake in billions as opposed to being satisfied with millions. Now I’m gonna use Uber as an example here because while its a mega popular app and makes traveling so much simpler it also treats its workers terribly and severely underpays them. However because the app is so popular regular taxi companies cannot even come close to competing. What’s even worse in this case is that Uber does not think of itself as a taxi company but rather a tech company. Crazy right? Considering that when someone says the word “uber” images of a car arriving in  5 seconds more than likely come to mind. Here’s a more concrete example of what I mean.

That’s the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Pay close attention to what he says around the 5 minute mark in the video. He calls Uber a tech company and that they are now experimenting with self driving cars from Tesla. Tell me something reader. How the hell does that remotely benefit the taxi industry or even help drivers? It doesn’t. It will probably take away an entire industry of jobs thanks to the ability to “push a button and get a ride”.

Companies and apps like these are really the problem here and even then they are just a by product of this Digital Economy that values growth above all else. While I can attempt to deconstruct the Digital Economy here, I believe Douglas Rushkoff does it best. In his book Throwing Rocks At The Google Bus he says:

Not even Google’s investors, officers, or the infamous 1 percent are to blame for the growing inequalities of the digital economy. Silicone Valley executives and venture capitalists are simply practicing capitalism as they learned it in business school and, for the most part, meeting their legal obligation to the shareholders of their companies.

So the digital economy is nothing more than a direct result of capitalism doing what capitalism does best. Maximize the value of something and take as much money from it before sucking everything else dry. That’s the real culprit here. Capitalism that does not work for the common good of humans anymore.

Now is Pokemon Go guilty of this? No it isn’t. Not even close. Do you know why Vox? It’s because Pokemon Go has done so much good for the betterment of people’s lives and looking at things from a nickel and dime perspective devalues what it is that Nintendo stands for. They are a company yes. Though personally I do not consider them a Tech company, they are primarily a Games company. That is they seek to enrich the lives of everyone, especially children, with their creations, especially, their games. It’s what makes Nintendo timeless. Hell it’s what makes me so adamant about defending them from this blatant accusation that they are negatively affecting the local economy. But wait. Is that even true? Is Pokemon Go somehow helping small businesses?

  1. http://www.marketplace.org/2016/07/11/business/how-small-businesses-are-profiting-pokemon-go
  2. http://time.com/money/4402662/pokemon-go-small-business/
  3. http://www.pcmag.com/article/346047/pokemon-go-how-the-pokeconomy-is-changing-business-one-lur

Wow would you look at that. Trust me when I say that’s only the surface being scratched when it comes to Pokemon Go. With that said it’s time for me to go out and see if I can find myself a Ghastly hanging out in my local Pizza shop.

Let’s Talk About Mighty No 9

If there has been one game that has had an “interesting” development process it would have to be Mighty No. 9. From an overwhelmingly successful kickstarter campaign to becoming the scourge of the gaming internet. I don’t think there has been a game that has been so publicly supported and vilified at the same time. As a backer, I got to see this game get made from the dramatic shift in art style to the announcement of an animated tv show (I’m not 100% how or why this came about but whatever it’s separate from the Kickstarter). I was also made painfully aware of how many delays this game would probably end up getting and truth be told I would have gladly waited until 2017 for the game. Now that it’s been released you don’t have to look far to see what most people think of it. I have played it. I have not finished it. In fact I’m rather astonished at how terrible I am at the game. Though all this tells me is to practice more so that one day I can breeze through it like Mega Man.

I should be upfront though. This is not a review. Think of this as a sort of first impressions and my opinion for the general “meh-ness” of the game.

I think a lot of people were rather shocked that Mighty No. 9 turned out as flawed as it did. Now in my opinion that’s all the game is. A flawed piece of work that could have benefited from another delay or two. However, as is the case with crowdfunding, failure to deliver something as soon as possible will be suspect in the eyes of some backers. Especially in the case of a highly successful kickstarter campaign that netted a few million dollars for the development. I remember when Keiji Inafune released the video of his asking for help with creating this new game. I’ll be honest I damn near almost cried because Mega Man, Mario, and Earthbound were the shit when I was a kid (along with a bunch of other games but I was going for alliteration and well Earthbound must always be mentioned whenever possible). So of course I threw my money at it like so many other people.

As time went on though I realized that kickstarter is really a platform to fund an idea. A concept really. Keiji Inafune used a lot of Mega Man imagery in his announcement trailer that made everyone think that they were essentially getting Mega Man with a new coat of paint. Not a sequel to the epic franchise, but something new that carries the torch. If it’s anything that should be looked down on it was this video’s imagery. We were made to believe that this would be the new Mega Man. That’s not a claim you can make lightly. So when I say we funded an idea, truthfully we funded something new that Mega Man fans might be able to appreciate.

With all that in mind. As adamant and vocal as some backers and “critics” have been of the game and its development process I feel that we all were guilty of the same thing. We did not manage our expectations. Especially when the game received funding to be released on 10 different platforms. To be honest once this set in with me I realized that I was living in a fantasy world if there was really any hope that 1) This game would be released “on time” or at most 2015 and 2) That Mighty No. 9 would be without its own share of problems upon launch.

I have no proof or anything for what I’m gonna suggest was the problem. This is simply my own assumption. Given that Mighty No. 9 was set to release on so many platforms and was somehow expected to have fully functioning online features and have those online features work with ALL versions of the game. This was a doomed process from the start. This probably gave the Dev team massive headaches and issues between all the different consoles. Especially if they planned to have them all released at the same time, for the most part anyway. Simply stated, I believe that the Development team stretched themselves way too thin and given the negative reception of nearly any and everything they did on the internet they probably just wanted to get this project done and move on finally. Maybe I’m right about this and maybe I’m wrong. But that’s what I believe happened behind the scenes.

So now here we are with the game finally released and the reviewers are calling it crapReally??? Crap you say? I think that’s a bit extreme. Then again we were all made to believe that this game would be the next Mega Man so the expectations were outlandishly high too. The game is flawed. I can see it from the bit that I played. But it isn’t the worst game ever. I dunno if it’s the Mega Man successor we all thought it was gonna be. It probably isn’t. But so far the game’s real problem stems from its performance. The load times on my Wii U copy are horrendously long. Sometimes the frame rate drops a bit. In my experience so far that’s all I can say is wrong. Beyond that it’s a fully developed game and is not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Once you manage your expectations a bit its a playable game. It’s flawed as hell but you can spend your money on much worse. (Like Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game which I have decided to personally make my arch nemesis. If I ever become an alcoholic it will be because of that damn game.) To be fair though as a backer, I would have preferred another delay to Mighty No. 9 in order to iron out these issues a bit.

Anyway I wanna conclude with looking at another kickstarter game called Shovel Knight. Like Mighty No.9 it was set to release on multiple consoles and seemingly have a boat load of extra content. What Yacht Club Games did was release the game in small batches across different platforms. First was the PC, Wii U, and 3DS versions. Then came the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox One versions a few months later. The team here seemingly managed their time and efforts a lot better than the Dev team for Mighty No. 9. So if Comcept ever gets around to making a sequel they should look to how Shovel Knight was handled and just make a game that functions properly and worry about porting it to everything later. I mean Shovel Knight is on the Amazon Fire TV now. Who the hell seriously plays games on that?!