Written on June 18, 2011 at 1:13 am, by Mark
I’d like to weigh in on two new releases today. One of them I got to play during my visit via Shaggy at Uberfriendship to Oddly studios the other night, where I met some especially cool people. We ended up playing Duke Nukem Forever for a bit — I probably had the controller in my hands all of a half hour before casting it off, adrift like an unwanted child of ancient myth — and I can’t help but feel like Gearbox and everyone involved had wasted millions of dollars.
Written on June 9, 2011 at 2:37 am, by Mark
With the Wii U looming on the horizon, I as a Wii owner and gamer have had some pretty big questions on my mind. Do I sell my Wii when I upgrade? How much does the Wii U cost? What kind of media can it play? DVDs perhaps? Is it wi-fi only, or is it also equipped with an ethernet port?
From what I can glean thus far, there are some concrete answers to a few of these, and some shakier ones for the rest. Going down the list, here’s what I think is going on:
Written on June 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm, by Mark
The Nintendo conference at E3 was one of the best (if not outright the high point of the show thus far), revealing a slew of games and, most importantly, Nintendo’s new console: The Wii U.
Between being a peripheral, a console in its own right, and a promising innovation in virtual space interactivity, the Wii U is pretty mind-blowing. At the start I was prepared to write it off as another bid to extend console life. After all, that was largely the purpose of Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect. Both have done respectably, but overall they haven’t changed the home experience in a meaningful way. Even the Wii’s original motion controls weren’t a huge leap, though they did open new doors in the console market.
Written on April 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm, by Mark
So yeah, if you’re wondering why there was no Monday post, two reasons:
1) Friend was visiting from out of town for the weekend. As a result, got no topic research done.
2) Discovered SpiralKnights. You should too. I’m on there as Hidoshi. If you play, give me a shout.
See ya’ll on Thursday with a new article.
Written on April 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm, by Mark
Roleplaying is probably my favourite genre of gaming. Classically, the RPG has been based around “save the world” stories, sword-and-sorcery themes, and variations on turn-based combat. In addition, there have also been action-RPGs (where combat is in realtime), strategy-RPGs (where combat is a glorified game of chess), and dating sims (wherein combat is usually absent).
As time marches on, the RPG has become more and more poorly defined by its makeup. Developers have grown the genre out to such extremities that it’s really hard to pin down just what qualifies as an RPG. Many fans would argue that Zelda is an RPG series, while others peg it as an Adventure game. This kind of classic debate has brought up a lot of suggestions as to an RPG’s major foundations. Experience points, level building, focus on characterization, focus on plot, having numeric statistics, and so on. But in all of the arguments I’ve either made or seen made in the past, there’s always one major logical flaw that bothers me: The idea that RPGs have unique foundations.
Written on April 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm, by Mark
Okay folks, let’s talk about negativity today. Negativity, even in small portions, can utterly destroy the ability of a group to function. It erodes stability and, like an infection, spreads quickly. It’s why so many people have a hard time functioning at their jobs, and why many of us believe in apocalyptic scenarios. As creative, happy people of one stripe or another, we know how much negativity can do us in at the knees. It can be a bad day at work, a nasty comment by a friend or relative, or a conversation that went down an avenue you didn’t mean it to. Any of these can be a source of negativity, and it’s something we all have to deal with. Negativity breads paranoia, resentment, and a host of other problems.
Written on April 2, 2011 at 11:15 am, by Mark
By now, you may have heard that there has been some protest against the romantic options included in BioWare’s Dragon Age 2. There’s a sufficient amount of, shall we say, homosexually-oriented content involved. And “exotic” sexual content, whatever that means. So much so, that apparently some gamers feel like the “Straight Male Gamer” is being ignored. Others feel like the homosexual content is being misrepresented, and that it should have been pared back. While I can’t really speak for the game’s mechanics, I’d at least like us all to talk about how we as gamers explore sexual archetypes, and what it means to think outside the [sex]box.
Let’s dig in.
Written on April 1, 2011 at 2:32 am, by Mark
Let’s talk about gamification for a moment.
Gamification is, simply put, the integration of certain game-like features into everyday tasks and chores. Gamification can be found in our culture today, and it’s quickly spreading.
Written on March 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm, by Mark
As a child I was a pretty avid reader, raised until the age of 13 without a TV in the house. I read the entire Lord of the Rings at eight, and most (though not all of Dune) by 10. The Tale of Genji was quick to follow, and then (oddly enough) Cosmos by Carl Sagan at 13. Tintin and Asterix were the rich, european comics in my life, and while I still read things like Spiderman and Green Lantern, American comics were more or less a sideline in my literary education. I liked larger narratives.
When I finally did get a gaming console, I immediately took to RPGs. It seemed a pretty natural fit, and I used to spend days transfixed by one digital adventure after another. My earliest experience with RPGs were Final Fantasy VI and Breath of Fire II for the SNES. Great games, and while I realize now that the stories aren’t complex by any measure, they’re nonetheless entertaining.
Written on March 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm, by Mark
Even months and months after its release, the iPad continues to generate a particular kind of buzz regarding its existence. It’s in the sort of conversation which carries the general tone of “well, who the hell uses an iPad and what for?” said by technology-literate 20-somethings who can’t quite grok the product.
What follows here is by no means intended as authoritative, nor adamantly conclusive. But after much thought and experience with the subject, sidelining my own biases as best I can, and analyzing how I see the iPad being used, I think I can outline three major markets for the iPad.
1. Mobile Business Users – These are the professionals who have never, and will never need a full-blown computer to do their work. All they usually want is a handful of working programs: E-mail, spreadsheets, word processing, calendar, done. The Blackberry and other smartphones/PDAs have filled in for years, but inevitably they’ve had to pull out a laptop when it came to more industrial strength typing or task management. The iPad connects to a keyboard when needed, comes with its own virtual option on the go, and minimises the startup fuss to the mere click of a button. Plus, it’s cheaper than a laptop, eschewing the features and hassles these people never wanted, while maintaining an attractive design and a no-fuss interface.
2. Casual Computer Users – These actually exist, and they aren’t all old people. Believe it or not, many, many 20-somethings, teenagers, and tykes are casual computer users. I’m willing to bet more of them are casual than fully literate. They probably don’t care about BSD or how to allocate more resources via the task manager. They just want to share photos, talk on Facebook, and play solitaire. The iPad can give them that, without the bulk of a desktop, and without the price point of a laptop.
3. Tech-Savvy Geeks – These are the early adopters and usually the people who want to see what neat tricks they can get out of a tablet machine. They probably have a couple of laptops and at least one or two half-opened, cobbled-together desktops, but the iPad’s a brand new toy. They got it to see how they can make or break the thing. Plus it’s kind of cool to walk around feeling like you’re in Star Trek. Admit it, you’ve done it.
It’s no mystery then that the iPad has been a success. It’s the same reason the original all-in-one Mac and all the iMacs have been hits: Simplicity. It’s taking a formula that’s worked before and refining it down to its current ideal. People want an all-in-one machine that reduces their stress and stays out of their way, while simultaneously facilitating their computer needs. A desktop comes with all kinds of considerations and issues, and a laptop can be a cumbersome mess with its own problems. What’s more, these devices have a stigma attached to them, which is the idea that they’re hard to fix. The iPad also has its issues and its problems, but it has a different psychological profile. Got a problem? Take it to the Apple store, hand it over, and it’ll be fixed. That’s what Apple’s been trying to push for all its products, and the iPad fully fits the bill.
Now, this all applies to just about every competing tablet out there. A large chunk of what I’ve said can have a search-and-replace done on it, trading out iPad for Slate or whatever you prefer. I’m using the iPad because it’s the most popular model, and it’s the one I’m familiar with. Plus that last part — about Apple’s marketing — is pretty company-specific.
Just my thoughts. I’m not even sure you can really limit the iPad’s markets to these three above, but they’re the ones I’ve observed.