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Season’s Fail and Big Brother

February 14, 2013

YouFailfishLimited resources, including time and energy, are conspiring to keep me away from writing about all the stuff that is going on right now in the industry of our favorite hobby.  So, I am just going to toss out some brief and mostly unsupported arguments accompanied by a bunch of links to some excellent reading around the web.

First, I am pretty much done with the Seasons Pass/Premium/Elite pre-sell packages that have become like a dangling piece of toilet paper stuck to the poop on the butt cheek of every developer and publisher with a half-baked MP game.  Though I don’t feel ripped off for my purchase of the Battlefield 3 Premium package, two of the four map packs are of little value to me (raising the cost of the other two packs to be gougingly high). I will miss the early access and the extra “assignments” and exclusive weapons that come with “Premium” (should it be offered for BF4 or BF:BC3), but paying in advance for stuff that I won’t be playing makes me feel like an idiot.  As an aside, I was able to get value out of almost any map for BF:BC2 because if, for example, RUSH wasn’t fun on a given map, I would just play Squad Deathmatch.  However, that isn’t the case with BF3.  The population playing the game now simply isn’t enough to  support multiple gametypes for multiple maps.  Fail boat.

Second, with the recent leak of info on the “Durango” I am all but committed to not “Jumping In” next generation – an always “on” Kinect simply won’t work in my situation.  We have our four 360s stacked on a metal rack in the very crowded Man Cave.  We have no room for gesture controls, or catering to some requirement of hardware orientation (e.g., in front of the gamer).  Far more than this, however, is the invasion of privacy.  Having an always-on HD camera pointing at my balls and cock while I am gaming is not something I am comfortable with.  I am not ashamed, just perhaps more modest than Microsoft’s target consumer.  Consistently higher prices, for lack of proper sales, and the absolutely asinine and inexplicable region-coding of discs are two other non-trivial reasons for this pendulum swing.  I am fully prepared to pay an extra year or two on our Family pack if we want to keep playing on our 360s, but I think that is it.  I don’t mean to throw down the gauntlet and challenge everyone to move with me, but these reasons are deal breakers, especially the Kinect.

EA is definitely not my favorite developer/publisher, but they have a lot of games I like.  So, if Valve releases hardware that will not run EA’s Origin, I am probably not going to buy it either.  A generic “living room” PC with a four or five year life expectancy is probably the way I will have to go.  Unsubsidized hardware expenses will have to be made up for via lower game prices and free community support.  Just imagine if Gears of War for Windows wasn’t broken.  We could still be playing community created maps, with all the tweaks and fixes that we wanted for Gears 1.5.  rED mentioned Gears of War in a comment the other day, and while I doubt I will be able to go back to that, I certainly would be able to play Gears 1.5 as we envisioned Gears 2 should have been.  But, that is done.  That beautiful girl is no longer alive, let alone waiting for our return.  Still, chances are there will be other games in the future that will offer a different bottle of lightning.  If we were on a living room PC, we would be there to catch it and enjoy it into our mid-fifties.  In the PC world, games literally outlive the hardware.

Now, here are some other links to stories that have caught my attention this week:

http://kotaku.com/5984086/i-helped-create-the-xbox-but-now-its-painful-to-watch

http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/when-religion-fails-create-a-game-how-david-cage-wrote-beyond-after-losing-

http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/colonial-marines-failure-why-it-may-be-impossible-to-recreate-james-cameron  (I disagree wholeheartedly.)

http://www.stencyl.com/stencyl/overview/

UPDATE:  PAR take on this very topic.
http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/previews-arent-the-problem-with-game-coverage-we-are

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10 Comments
  1. February 15, 2013 7:45 am

    The future of gaming that I see, is one where me and my 2 boys play both Xbox NextGen and pc gaming. I’m only running on 2 Xboxes, so my gaming decisions will not be as Expensive of a decision as Suns (4 rigs…) will have to make.

    The Steam box sounds like the true Next Gen. One where we can play platform games together and mods.

    I WISH Xbox would come up with something more versatile.

  2. February 15, 2013 12:42 pm

    Kenai, great response. Thanks. I had a long Skype visit with Blankman yesterday, and he made a bunch of great points, including mentioning that Valve most likely doesn’t plan on making hardware, but just has been rattling sabres to draw the others out to fight (make machines for them). Even if they are serious about hardware, they are on Valve time, and that may mean they don’t come out until the next, next gen.

    The other problem he mentioned was the graphics card drivers. Xbox with all its patches and dlc etc. etc, has become a different experience from the plug and play of the cartridge days. However, one thing I have never had to do was make my graphics card work, or worry about compatibility between games and cards. And that is something I have had much trouble with in the PC gaming world – and I hate it intensely.

    Anyway, there are many questions that need to be answered.regarding all potential gaming routes for this next year – including whether or not Microsoft will even sell their next system in Japan. Though Blank doesn’t like to comment on rumor or speculation, I do. I love it. There is no time more free to dream and plan, than before everything is made known. It is also a time to figure out what is most important to me.

    Finally, this current gen, I have had a lot of help from the boys with the purchases. For the next gen, as they are all working and saving to some degree, I expect even more help – less burden – which also frees up my options a bit.

    • Blankman permalink*
      February 16, 2013 9:26 am

      MS is done with Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun saw no sunrises for the Xbox division. The Japanese gaming culture has significantly shifted to mobile & portable devices in the last five to seven years. That fact alone has left console sales sluggish. MS has devoted enough resources and has failed to make an inroads because the Japanese are so ethnocentric. There’s no use in beating the Taiko drum because those gamers are simply plugging their ears; deaf to anything but Nintendo & Sony. Even those two Japanese companies are not seeing the returns that they were accustomed to in the past. Stick a chopstick in it, it’s cooked (should be raw since it’s sushi/sashimi). 😉

      As in regards to the SteamBox, Valve just canned twenty-five employees. Some of the notable layoffs are: Jason Holtman (director of business development for Steam and Steamworks), Jeri Ellsworth (hardware hacker), & Ed Owen (senior mechanical engineer). You don’t jettison major players of your hardware team if you are serious about coming out with your own box. As usual, Valve’s modus operandi is to have everyone else do “their” work. It’s not going to change now or change later. This IS Valve. Fun place to work? As Suns said during our Skype chat, “Apparently, someone is a boss because people were let go.”

    • February 18, 2013 3:15 pm

      The future for the enthusiast IS PC gaming. Plain and simple. My rig that I built four years ago was two generations ahead of current consoles. As you said, hardware expenses are offset by cheaper games. I think there will be a generic Steambox where you can get Battlefield too. Next-gen consoles will probably run $400 to $600 USD. For the upper amount, that will quite possibly be equivalent to a Steambox. I’ve been saying it forever, but PC is the way to go. You’re not in a closed garden, and if something breaks, you replace the part. If you build a rig, just go with Windows 7. Almost thought of buying you NS2 the other day… 🙂

  3. Herandar permalink
    February 17, 2013 8:41 pm

    “Having an always-on HD camera pointing at my balls and cock while I am gaming is not something I am comfortable with.”

    You know, you don’t *have* to game completely nude, right?

    I have been giving a few thoughts to this upcoming console generation, and the solution I keep returning to is to keep playing the 360 until it is put out to pasture. My financial situation is rather harsh and I don’t even have the luxury of making a $200 purchase without planning and saving for it any more. I will probably end up getting my 7 year old a family Wii U after it drops in price because he desperately wants one. I didn’t get a 360 until three years in, and I was perfectly happy with it. (Also, it was an impulse discount purchase at an electronics chain that was going out of business and was liquidating it’s inventory, back when I had credit.)

  4. February 18, 2013 3:24 pm

    One of the guys over at Evil Avatar built his kids a computer for $450.00 USD.

    Specs:

    AMD setup for $450.

    Phenom 965
    Radeon 7850
    4gb gskill
    400w antec Eco
    Cooler master $35 case
    $60 biostar mobo

    • February 18, 2013 3:56 pm

      Thanks for the specs – everyone says you can build a PC for 400 bucks, but they never offer how.

      I can relate to what Herandar is saying. I don’t have any cash on hand right now. We still don’t have an HDTV in the house, and I have had my eyes on a $700 Bravia with MotionFlow (240Hz Refresh rate) for a long time now. Anyway, I await the unveiling of all the systems, and ultimately, am prepared to wait until Christmas before I make any purchasing plans, let alone actually dishing out the bucks.

    • February 18, 2013 5:01 pm

      Dude, I will crowd fund your ass. That’s how much you need to do this!

    • February 18, 2013 5:25 pm

      LOL Cheers!

      Good things come to those who wait! As the dev spoke in his viddoc, NS2 will be around for a long time. Jumping into the PC pool in a year, if that is where I want to go, won’t be too late. I can get there on my own steam (no pun intended) when the time comes. 😀 Thanks!

  5. February 19, 2013 6:52 pm

    Haha. No prob man. Totally serious.

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