Friday, June 21, 2013

Microsoft: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The biggest news out of Microsoft this week was their plans to drop their extensive DRM on the Xbox One.

Here is the good:

  • Will not require you to be "always on"
  • Will not check in every 24 hours
  • Will require one-time validation when you first setup your console
  • Downloaded games will work when offline
  • No region locking
  • Sharing and used games are fine

The question is why? Why would Microsoft change their stance on so many DRM aspects? To answer that, let's rewind to E3. During E3 this year, Sony completely dominated the Xbox One. Microsoft announced the Xbox One will have an always on, internet required connection. Games will be locked to your account when you first play them, to prevent sharing games and playing used games. Games also needed to be connected to the internet to play it, even single player. Consumers were extremely unhappy, to say the least. Then, Sony held their press conference. To sum it up, Sony announced the PS4 will do the exact opposite of the Xbox One in terms of DRM. How badly did they punch Microsoft in the wallet? Watch this short 22 second video to find out.

Pretty badly. 

So why did Microsoft do this to begin with? Simply put: Microsoft is money hungry. Microsoft cares less about console sales, and more about investors. Microsoft put features into their console that investors LOVE, and will give them money for, despite consumers hating them. What do I mean by this? Take, for example, the movie passes. If you want to watch a movie, you buy it on the XBL. Then, you play it. But, if more than one person is in the room, you need to buy another pass, so both people can watch it. Currently, this feature isn't on any other streaming service. With cable On Demand, you pay one price, with Netflix you pay one price, PS3, Blockbuster, etc  etc. Other companies will see this new money making feature and invest in Microsoft, hoping to make more money off of their technology. That's not exactly how investments work, but it's what Microsoft is aiming for. Money off of investments. 

On the other hand, Sony DIDN'T do this. If both companies want money, how can Sony survive? Clearly the investors will invest in Microsoft, not them. This is where Sony was smart. 

Sony used the simple economic law that if you sell more at a low price than less at a high price, you will make more money. For example, if a product costs 100 dollars to produce, and you sell it for 300, you make 200 dollars profit. If only 10 people buy your product, you made 2,000 dollars. But, if you sell it for 200, making a 100 dollar profit, but sell 100 units, you made 10,000 dollars. With a lower price, it has a better appeal, so more people buy it. Sony saw that if they take the investment cuts, and make a console EVERYONE will want to buy, they will make the same amount, if not more, money than Microsoft. Smart. 

The question still stands: "Why did Microsoft reverse their DRM policy?" There isn't an official reason I can give, as nobody really knows. However, from a business standpoint, I can give you an educated guess. Most likely, investors (not Microsoft) saw how ANGRY people were at the Xbox One's DRM. Suddenly, nobody wanted to invest in that, as it wouldn't sell. It would create a bad future where nobody liked their products. Suddenly, with the devastating financial loss, Microsoft was forced to scrape their DRM policies in order to try to gain support again. 

At the end of the day, is Microsoft good or bad? It's a hard call. In my opinion, they're still terribly bad. All Microsoft is interested is in is money. They do not care about their consumers. It's only when their consumers cost them investment money that they cared enough to change anything. Microsoft needs to stop turning their back to reality and realize without good products, they're going to fall under. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How The Last Of Us SHOULD have ended...

If you did not complete The Last Of Us, do not bother reading this, as there are major spoilers. With that being said, read at your own discretion. 

Firstly, let me say The Last Of Us is an outstanding game that Naughty Dog has created. The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is good, and the story is beautiful. However, a driving force that kept me playing The Last Of Us was the characterization Naughty Dog was conveying. You see, every other aspect (besides graphics) of the game were only "above average" to "okay". I especially found that the gameplay was getting redundant near the end, and the story was pretty generic and simple to follow. But, I digress.

One of the outstanding and awesome aspects of the game was the emotional attachment you get to Joel and Ellie. Their relationship, too, is a very powerful aspect of the game. I feel Naughty Dog worked on this the most, as you get hit with strong emotions for the characters within the first five minutes, given the death of Sarah. I feel like Naughty Dog said "how can we make a book-like video game? What aspect of reading is the most powerful, and how can we transfer that to a game?" The answer is simple: characterization. A book would be nothing without having a diverse set of characters that you get emotionally attached to. Take Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games for instance. These books have AMAZING characterization, and they're successful books because of it. 

Now we're going to jump to the end of the game. Joel lies to Ellie that she isn't needed to make a cure. Why? The only reason is because Joel is attached to Ellie, as a father-daughter relationship, and doesn't want her to die. He kills every firefly he sees to save her. He loves her like a daughter. This was very touching for an end, but it wasn't spectacular like I was expecting. It was deep and sensual. I liked that, but it wasn't the epic finale I was expecting. It was a little obvious that Ellie was going to get saved by Joel, and they'd get out of the hospital both alive. That's the only reason I found it generic. We already knew Joel had an emotional attachment to Ellie - this wasn't a surprise. That's why I feel if it was more of a surprise, it would have MUCH more meaning and get more waterworks up.

So how do I think The Last Of Us should have ended? Well, as I said earlier, I feel the game was dragged out MUCH too long. So, in order to end it peacefully, I would have backed the game up a little. Specifically, to Winter. Winter was without a doubt a very unique portion of the game. Not only did involve an insane killer (David), but it gave off a very helpless feel. This was the portion that I really slowed down and had to think about everything I did. I had very few supplies; I had no ammo or health kits. I was helpless, and I loved that feeling. 

More importantly, Winter is when Joel and Ellie first show an amazing bond. With Joel's serious injuries, Ellie puts everything on the line to save him. She's afraid to let him go. Even if it means giving a deer to an insane lunatic for medicine, she's willing to do it for the chance to help him. It's truly touching, and it's one of my favorite parts of the game. When Ellie wanted the antibiotics, I was trying to figure out who they were for, as I thought Joel was dead (and he should have been at that point, honestly). 

So, where in Winter should the game have ended? In my opinion, it should of ended inside the burning house with Ellie and David. I LOVED this part of the game. I loved switching between Ellie and Joel, trying to reunite them in order to save each other. Ellie needed Joel, and Joel needed Ellie. It was an amazing experience trying to fight through everyone to get to her. The suspense was amazing, in addition. The moment was just perfect. The house on fire, in addition to it being Winter, gave an even more foreboding and helpless atmosphere. That's the perfect atmosphere to end a game on, in my opinion. However, we're not done yet. 

From here on out, I'm going to write up a cutscene that I think should have ended the game. None of this ever happened

Joel gets into the house that is on fire, and sees Ellie desperately trying to get David off of her. Ellie managed to stab David's throat, but he got the best of her. David grabbed her knife, stabbed her stomach and threw her off of him. Joel sees Ellie, then looks at David. Quickly, he shoots David in the stomach with a pistol (he doesn't think of shooting his head because he was focused on Ellie) and rushes over to tend to dying Ellie. Joel is near tears, showing how much he cares for her. Then, with David's last breath, he manages to pick up his pistol and shoot Joel in the stomach. The three of them are lying there, inside the burning house. The camera is going crazy, but smooth, transitioning between the house burning, Joel and Ellie's dying bodies, and dead David. Angelic music is playing, and you can't hear anything else. This goes on for about ten seconds. Still without sound, you see the door open. Tommy (Joel's brother) rushes in, followed by his wife. They take Joel and Ellie, and bring them out of the house. The screen fades to black, with the music still playing. After a few seconds, it fades. 

The screen violently flashes to an air view of Tommy's village. In a second or two, it goes to a top view of a badly bruised/bandaged Joel lying on a hospital bed. Joel's eyes flash open, and he asks where he is, without looking around. Tommy is in the room, and explains to him what happened. Joel starts crying, asking where Ellie is. Tommy goes silent for a second, looks down at his feet, and says "I'm sorry Joel..."

Joel is enraged, and is crying. He runs out of the room (limps, he's badly hurt still) and goes to the dam gate. He looks out at the river, and then up to the sky. The camera zooms out, to an aerial view of the forest. You have Joel loudly scream "No!" (or "Why!"), scaring nearby birds, sending them into the air.
^^^^^This last part is up for dispute. Many different endings could of taken place, such as Joel committing suicide. I felt this would satisfy the majority of people, however.^^^

So why do I feel this is a better ending? Firstly, because Joel and Ellie's relationship is just starting to show (but has clearly been there), I think a seperation between them would be VERY dramatic, less generic, and less predictable than the actual ending. Secondly, the atmosphere of Winter + The burning house is too good to pass up. That was where I thought the game was ending, honestly. Thirdly, I love the idea of Tommy coming to help. Tommy really hates Joel, and to see him come out of nowhere and save his brother (and his "daughter") would show a great brotherly relationship, with a completely unexpected encounter. Granted, it wouldn't make sense, such as "how did Tommy know where Joel was?". This would just be up for grabs for whatever theories you want. Lastly, the death of Ellie. I honestly felt deprived at the end of this game. I felt like in order for it to be complete, one of the two had to die. It just felt too cliche with them both living and going to live a happy life. Plus, death of a major character would have brought much much more emotion and depth to the epic conclusion of the game. It really shows, that in a post-apocalypse world, nothing is for sure.

This was my take on how The Last Of Us should have ended. If you like it, or completely disagree, let me know in the comments! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ubisoft Makes a Music Game

It's stuff like this that makes me say "YES!" but not understand why at the same time. Ubisoft is created a Guitar Hero/Rock Band clone, only making it 'better'. When I say better, I mean you can plug in an actual electric guitar and start playing. First thing is first, this is NOT going to sell. How do I know? Look at Rock Band 3, and that new guitar they made. WHO USES IT? Not me! When I got Rock Band 3, I use my wireless guitar from Rock Band 2 with it. The Rock Band 3 guitar was barely sold, and most people don't use it. Why? They want those simple 5 buttons! That's fun! Learning to play the guitar over a video game is NOT! I hope Ubisoft, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band learn there lesson and go back to the basics that was Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World tour. That's what everyone liked the best, and if it isn't broken don't fix it.
Aside from that, I really do want to see where this goes. It looks cool, but again, who's going to buy it? I want to see if this is going to be fun, if it's going to make it, and if they're going to change the name. The name "Rocksmith" just doesn't sound... good. If this makes it, great. If it doesn't, meh. It's a cool concept, but so far I can't see a company that is doing it right.

Also, don't even get me started on DJ Hero. *shudders*
Source: Examiner

Friday, February 25, 2011

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Getting Free DLC

It's things like this that make me love some companies, but hate them at the same time. Atari is giving away free copies of their DLC. Why? They want to say thanks for sticking around TDU2 while it was in the buggy launch state. When I first read this article I thought "oh, that's nice of Atari, after all it would be nice to have some free DLC" (note I don't own this game). But then after reading the reason why they were doing this, I was pretty damn pissed.
The love:
Why do I like this? It should be pretty simple. They're giving free DLC out because they had a buggy launch. The DLC seems to be featuring some pretty cool addons such as "new vehicles, the Lancia Stratos version Rallye and 1969 Dodge Charger, as well as a laundry list of fixes". That seems like a lot of stuff, and it should be worth a few dollars or Microsoft Points, right? Well, we're getting it for free, so rejoice!
You'd think it would be pretty hard to hate getting free stuff, but believe me I have valid reasons. First off, WHY would they release a game if it was buggy? It doesn't make sense! This is just more PROOF that all of the games that are being released are buggy, rushed, and half complete (if Black Ops wasn't enough of an example...). So why are companies still doing this? Easy. They get money, because people are still buying them. For the love of god people, STOP BUYING AN INCOMPLETE GAME! But the fact alone that we buy their games isn't the only culprit, they're releasing the games unfinished. There needs to be a law saying a publisher cannot force a release date if a game isn't finished. I mean, look how long Gran Turismo 5 took to make. And look how much stuff is in it!
Now, my second reasoning to why I hate this is, ALL DLC SHOULD BE FREE. God dammit companies, we bought your game, why do we have to pay MORE money to get additional content if we HAVE THE GAME. This is like if you buy a car, but it's not finished. Yeah, it works, and it is decent, but then your dealership says "okay, we just finished making your windows and backseat. Give us another few hundred dollars and you can get them." No. This shouldn't be how games work. And not to mention, Steam (the PC gaming platform) gives out almost all VALVe's games DLC (new maps, new weapons, etc) for FREE. Think about it, when the L4D2 map "The Passing" came out, did PC have to pay for it? NOPE. Did Xbox have to pay for it? Yup. Companies have to stop doing this. Forever.

Source: Gamespot

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nintendo Reveals Launch Titles for American 3DS

Well.. this is a disappoint. I was REALLY excited when the 3DS was announced at E3, and I couldn't wait to buy the 3DS after the launch date was announced. However I decided to NOT buy the 3DS... or at least not on launch date. The entire thing could easily be hyped, and I don't have the extra cash to buy a 3DS, and not to mention the games. Here's the entire list for the games.

  • Pilotwings Resort
  • Steel Diver
  • Nintendogs + Cats

  • Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition
  • The Sims 3
  • Madden NFL Football
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
  • LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
  • Super Monkey Ball
  • SAMURAI WARRIORS: Chronicles
  • Asphalt 3D
  • Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D
  • Rayman 3D
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars

  • Face Raiders
  • Mii Maker
WHY IS THERE NO ZELDA? The entire reason I WANTED to buy the 3DS was for Ocarina of Time, and now that's not coming out on launch date. What to we get instead? Some strange games most people never heard of or played. Also, look at the titles. Why do some have 3D in the title? Are you telling me I won't be able to play The Sims 3 in 3D? Or if I can, why didn't you make it catchy like "The Sims 3D". This would be like if every game on the N64 wasn't 64 bit if it didn't have 64 in the title. WHY DOES NINTENDO DO THIS? I think the only reason I would want the 3DS on launch date is for Rayman 3D and maybe The Sims 3. But still, I was hoping for OoT, Starfox, and Okami. I am disappoint

Source: Gamedynamo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bulletstorm DLC Already Announced

*sighs* Bulletstorm was just released, and they already have DLC announced. My first reaction would be, WHY?! I hate when games do this. I personally didn't buy Bulletstorm, but let's say if another person goes out there, spends their hard earned $50-$60 on your game, and then you go and release an (I assume) $10 DLC within a few days, THAT'S JUST TAKING MORE OF MY MONEY! Game developers have to realize that an average gamer cannot afford all these games, and the DLC for games is making it harder. And not to mention after seeing some gameplay of Bulletstorm from multiple youtube users, I have to say the game doesn't even look that great. It honestly looks like a half-assed version of UT3 with slightly different graphics and a different story. Why are developers taking our money from a half-assed game, then taking MORE money from us with DLC, that probably could of came with the game to begin with? It's beyond me, but GOD DAMMIT I WANT AN ANSWER.

Source: Gamedynamo.