Category Archives: Games

XNA and Visual Studio

Much of what I might say will most certainly not be supported.  Which is not a big problem as the I am sure XNA is not properly supported at the moment.  But XNA is a VERY good set of tools to help people learn the process of games programming.

You might find that when trying to install XNA Game Studio 4.0

I found this post Installing XNA on Windows 8 with Visual Studio 2012.  I followed this very post for Visual Studio 2013 and despite the folder differences and one MSI not installing, it worked.

Visual Studio 2013 will be within;

  • \Program Files (for 32 bit versions of Windows)
  • \Program Files (x86) (for 64 bit versions of Windows)

The folder referenced in this post is

Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft

So follow the post as it states with the follow changes;

Step 6.  This MSI might not run.  I ran this MSI and I found it caused an error.  There could be a couple of reasons for this, the Main installed asks about enabling settings through the Windows Firewall before the installation starts but it might be just my machine.  Is this required?  My believe is, it enables the ability to communicate with the Xbox 360 components to perform debugging on a console (I did like this feature version much).  But as the Xbox One is the console of choice from Microsoft and their next version of Visual Studio will have the support for the DirectX 12 games this will be moot.

Step 9.  This is the path that will differ for Visual Studio 2013 over 2012.  So each reference to “Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0” in the path replace with “Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0’

Step 11.  Use the “Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0” path as opposed to “Microsoft Visual Studio 11”

Once this is complete then the framework will work in Visual Studio 2013 in Windows 8.

New Project

  1. Open Visual Studio (I was performing this in Visual Studio Community 2013 ). 
  2. Click File | New Project
  3. Under Templates, look for Visual C# and you will find XNA Game Studio 4.0, click that item.
  4. Click Windows Game (4.0)
  5. Click OK
  6. Wait until the project loads and Press F5 (Click Debug | Start Debugging)

You will find that wonderfully familiar but also quite strange blank screen of a blank XNA project looking at you.

image

Why would I use XNA in Visual Studio 2013?

It is an interesting question.  Microsoft has moved away from this framework in favour for a closer to metal approach with DirectX in Store/Phone or Universal Apps.

My opinion is, utilising the newer methods to create games is more difficult from an absolute beginner’s perspective.  Game Development is tricky for seasoned developers if you think you know the way it works, but when starting new the XNA Framework offered a very simple perspective to getting simple things working on screen.

There has been many games released that were made using the XNA Framework (See 6 Partial list of games that use XNA for more information).  But it is a shame in my opinion that Microsoft discontinued this as it was a great addition.  I know why, unified platform was the direction they were heading, which is why when Windows Phone was released, Windows 8 and then an update to the Xbox 360 OS saw a common look and with Windows 10 they have brought all their platforms together creating an App for Windows 10, Windows Phone and Xbox One should now provide a single set of source.  XNA thought simple merely muddied the waters as a game for Xbox and Windows had a the same content pipeline but created 2 different projects.

Why bother when the paradigm is changing with VS2015?

Visual Studio 2015 will provide support for DirectX 12 coming with Windows 10.  It will also provide additional frameworks for game development in Cocos2d, Unity and Unreal Engine 4.  Each of these frameworks are available and provide the ability.  The benefits of these frameworks is cross-platform compatibility, XNA is not that.

This starts to become a personal problem, do I learn with Unity or Cocos2d, hell why not go for learning with CryEngine.  You can and the tools are available there.  Many might think that it is better to use the tools you might be using later.  I can’t argue with that logic as it is sound.  As long as you don’t get bogged down in the tedium of ensuring the Graphics devices are setup right, the content pipeline is able to properly and quickly convert your content into assets available for your code to use then great.  XNA does this, setting up the graphics device is as simple as 2 lines of code.

GraphicsDeviceManager graphics;
graphics = new GraphicsDeviceManager(this);

Drawing something to the display is almost as simple with a few more lines of code.

SpriteBatch spriteBatch;
spriteBatch = new SpriteBatch(GraphicsDevice);
spriteBatch.Begin();
spriteBatch.Draw(Game1.SpriteSinglePixel, new Rectangle(0, 0, Game1.SCREEN_WDITH, Game1.SCREEN_HEIGHT), Color.DarkGreen);
spriteBatch.End();

And a blank provides you most of the code, lines 3 to 5 above are the only ones you need to add yourself to draw something to the screen.  This isn’t a tutorial on coding XNA merely an example of the simplicity of it.  I have yet to delve into Cocos or Unity to determine the simplicity or difficulty of it but I have had experience in XNA and have developed 3 games using it.  And being a 20 year veteran of commercial application development and I have been trying to get into the Game Development side of it.  I found personally XNA was simple enough to get me up and running quickly but also powerful enough to enable more complex things and larger games.

My games were nothing to write home about but I got them up and running in a short period of time.

But Why?

Why, because I can.  It has been a scourge of my industry for years the pace of technology and the people who use it, lag behind and you are lost.  I spent years developing Visual Basic 6 applications and when time to come to find new work I found I was on the outer, .NET had taken over and it took me a few year of different jobs to build up my experience enough to be able to secure a .NET development role.  So thinking alone these lines I should learnt to adapt quicker and move forward into using the new technology.  But when I do not have the fundamentals of game development down, understanding the graphics process the content pipelines the waiting for action as opposed to reacting to action, each of these are vastly different in the commercial world and thus I need to get my head around them, but in order to get my head around the concepts I need to remove elements that can trip me up, like the technology, like languages like platforms.

Understanding things without those distractions will make my process a less painful one.  And since I struggle to find time to be able to sit down and do any form of coding or learning in this area (let alone write a blog post, hence my LONG time absence) I need to be able to hit the ground running and get as much done as possible.

Want to go further

Once you have gotten into XNA you will find there is more to it than what Microsoft stopped with.  Check out MonoGame which provide that extension to more modern platforms and also that Cross-Platform extensibility of the newer frameworks.

End Goal

A game for my boys to play. 

Advertisements

WoW, just Wow

world-of-warcraft-iconWhat do I mean by that?  I will include a qualifier.  If we do not already live in a very much self obsessed naval gazing world in which one of the often quipped lines is “What is in it for ME”, the emphasis on the me.  In a time where we are becoming even more concerned with technology and what it could potentially do when taking a photo of my junk for Instagram or tinder.  And now, I read this.  Nothing too much about this other than a couple of items. 

So.  World of Warcraft prides itself on its expansive lore, massive stage, intricate levels for raids and an ever increasing number things that they aren’t boasting too much about, deaths from people playing extended periods without food or water, the proliferation of gold sellers and slave trade, oft in countries without strict laws around labour and even increasing number of addictive elements which means you keep throwing your $15 a month for the game boasting about 10 million players and they would never go free to play, even if releasing a WOW2, which they won’t, but I can explain that later.

So, how does this fit into the scheme of things.  World of Warcraft was bleeding genuine subscribers, as in people who play the game to advance and enjoy it.  These are not people who collect gold, sell gold or any.  I am sure these number in the millions, but Blizzard would never ever release those figures.  They released Mists of Pandaria to much derision among the gaming community and even those faithful to the lore.  Pandas was a word Echoed when the first trailer for the expansion emerged.  Then Pet battles a form of in game Pokémon for those who were not already addicted and ones with the OCD of must collect everything just had another area to go into, not to mention, many pets on offer, were to buy, not earned in game.

Warlords of Draenor have removed much of the crap that stuck on from the Panda release and has restored Blizzard to the top of the world.  Then is, Twitter, post information in twitter, linking items earned etc…  OK.  So all of this is now within the game client, so once, if someone desired that used an external device to communicate their achievements on Twitter meaning they had to leave the game client to do so, now don’t worry, we have you covered there.  So fear not to be attacked by an NPC of even another player if you are flagged for PvP, you can keep your eye on the game and send that important tweet.  OK.

Then this, S.E.L.F.I.E. camera.  Once upon a time I could position the camera in game, to look at my face and press Print Screen.  Then we find this was too much effort for some and that is why they didn’t use it.  Then they included this.  FOr those who feel that a physical “selfie” is perhaps not what the world wants simply because your physical persona might be more akin to…

20080625-pkqd22y7wtrefbu2nycwcputuy-preview

Than…

blood-elf

So why not.  I am not entirely sure about this, certainly there are many who will use this.  But who are they aiming to use this.  Are they playing World of Warcraft or is this really a feature that the community at large ash flooded the forums in WOW to voice their concerns that they want a “selfie” of their digital beings in game and make it look like a proper “selfie”.  And also with the ability of offering lens to change the affect of what the character looks like.

I do jump into World of Warcraft occasionally, nothing to do other than just explore the new content, but this has been greatly reduced since Pandas and I was tempted to get the new expansion but then to see this coming in a patch.  Mmm, I am thinking I will stick to my SWTOR for now.

Addendum: World of Warcraft 2

This is purely my opinion and chances are I am wrong, oft I am when voicing my opinions public.  It is sure one way to assure that something the opposite what I said happens.  Anyway.  There has been speculation over the fate of World of Warcraft, this was prior to the release of the latest expansion pack, Warlords of Draenor ands it increase in subscribers.

Any MMO out there would love the subscribers of World of Warcraft, even half that.  I will not get into the numbers they report versus the actual numbers.  But, WoW was a game that one might not say redefined a genre since MMOs existed before that and were much the same but they popularised it and in some manner have turned this genre around where so many companies are wanting to have an MMO in order to have the massive success that Blizzard has had with World of Warcraft.

There has been a few updates of late that had spelled the direction of the game and what they are planning on doing with it.  Cataclysm was a time I very much waned from the WoW universe because of the massive changes they made to the game world.  Sure Deathwing strode, well more like flew in, carving the land asunder.  This moment in the lore was the perfect time to update the engine (the VERY OUTDATED ENGINE) running WoW to use DirectX 11.  They did this quietly in patch 4.1, the game will perform better on Windows 7 machines or newer because of the changes to the WDM /WDDM drivers for the cards that use the different versions of DirectX (a problem prevalent in SWTOR and certainly feature in a large number of my posts).

This change, is a massive change.  To update the underlying engine to us the DirectX 9 rendering pipeline or the DirectX 10/11 is no mean feat.  Blizzard have the cash but their reasoning behind it was not due to any need to.  Windows XP support ended 2014, therefore the release date of 2011 was hardly to mitigate the this end of life for XP.  Since you can still use the DirectX 9 engine with the selection or unselecting of the checkbox in the options.

It was done to ensure longevity of the game.  With DirectX 12 coming in Windows 10, 2015, this meant that using DirectX 11 meant the game was still going to run on newer and newer version of the operating system (I know it runs on Mac but that doesn’t use DirectX).  It was also not long after the DirectX changes came the changes to use 64bit code.  So, we have a change to DirectX 11 and a change to the client (which you can select either 64bit or 32bit clients) which enables a greater use of memory if available.

We also now have the release of updated player models. 

original

As you can see in the image, the changes are drastic.  This isn’t just a change to the models this also pertains to the expressions on their faces for emotes and the like.  If there was any chance that World of Warcraft 2 was coming even in the next couple of years their changes to all of these elements was not really required.  From a business perspective, you don’t pay for an outlay unless there is a return on that outlay.

One might say that this could also be a test bed, releasing all of these changes to the engine and the game will serve to provide a stable footing for World of Warcraft 2.  But to release a new user pays MMO in a market where unless you force the addicted players of World of Warcraft to shift they won’t go anywhere and if the game is the same why change at all.

I believe we will have another 5 or more years of World of Warcraft, but as now I have said there won’t be, chances are we will see it from Blizzard this coming E3.

Additional Information on the SWTOR Story

swtor-logo-256x2561I saw this addition on the Star Wars: The Old Republic site.  It seems that they are releasing a little more information but not a lot of information.

At the start of the year two new flashpoints were introduced, where either faction can storm the others home worlds, well sort of.  The story line “Forged Alliances” sees the Empire taking the fight to the Jedi on Tython and the Republic flying head long onto conflict with the Sith on Korriban.  Then the second part of this is, both parties take back Tython and Korriban from their enemy. “Korriban Incursion” and “Assault on Tython” are the flashpoints.  You can find out more information here.

So, there was an update on the direction the story is taking.  They provided a “teaser” of this;

Some teaser, that aside.  What does this show?  This came after a Developer Blog post where they were providing an “extract” from a Personal Datalog from a Selkath named Shuuru.  Where it speaks of the happenings on Manaan after Revan arrived in Ahto City to the eventual driving off, of the Sith Empire.

Reading this, it seems that they are setting up for more with Manaan.  As they have spoken of a new settlement, Mercantile Plaza, and the image above shows a Manaan Research Facility, which could have been the one below the surface that Revan visited to seek the Star Maps for the enigmatic (at that time) Star Forge.

Will the Selkath regret, once again, trusting outsiders to not bring their conflicts and prejudices to Manaan.  Time will tell.

What could be coming, well, tough to say.  What I can de3duce is, there is a new area, called Manaan Research Facility.  Is this an area on a planet or a Flashpoint my guess it is a Flashpoint.  Who is the Wookie in the picture, a new playable species?  Unlikely but I will be happy to say I am wrong if it is. 

Another point to note is this is the biggest expansion since Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  Which gave us a new planet with increase level cap from 50 to 55, with faction specific story content, new story arc missions, Microbinoculars and Seeker Droids a new Operation Scum and Villainy, Hard Mode Flashpoints.  So, what could this include, we know that there will be some Flashpoints, will there be an Operation, is this Manaan Research Facility a new Operation, would be nice.

There are people wanting a new planet, but it is unsure what is classed as a new planet, since Oricon and CZ-198 areas were new “planets” (yes CZ-198 is a moon).   But we would look at a new planet as new world missions additional daily missions, some faction story arc (though they won’t have class specific stories anymore) and a level increase.  So if Rise of the Hutt Cartel is a bigger expansion, there will be cuts.

The Truth in the Stick

PS3%20JoystickWell, I occasionally put in posts about games I play (I am not counting SWTOR here OK).  But I managed to get some kid free time to play South Park; The Stick of Truth.  I was going to rant about the censors of Australia, like so many places of public officialdom believe that know better than I, what I want.  Suffice to say that not banning the game in Australia enabled me to get the game from overseas in Australia.  I am one for watching and playing the best version, Director’s Cuts, Game of the Year editions and so on, so knowing that some elements were cut from the game and replaced with just a crying Koala and a textual description of what was happening was not the same as seeing and therefore opted to spend my money overseas.  Another local Aussie retailer loses money because of the government (and it has nothing to do with the GST (Goods and Servicers Tax)).

So, with that disc in my hot little hand, I found my controller (the one not used the kids which means it still works as in Dual Shock and SIXAXIS) and I decided to boot up my PS3.  I am a fan of Role Play Games on the PC, enabling to play RPGs without the required organisation and room and time needed to find enough people with the same time to sit down and play a pen and paper RPGs these offer the next best thing.  I am also a fan of Obsidian as a game developer they have created some great games, Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol and et. al.  But they seem to have some problems with delivery, unsure of the backroom machinations and who says what they are either over stating their ability to delivery what they can or are being forced to, either way it often leaves the game not properly finished or properly tested and as a consequence will otherwise mar a potentially great game.

I will use Alpha Protocol in this, the story, the game play each of these elements gave the game this feel that I have not had in an RPG in a long time, it sat me on the edge of my seat, wanting to push ahead in the game.  But so many times was the game hampered by problems, technical problems.  Which shows the game was not properly tested before being released as it was often commented on by reviewers.  This game got OK scores but had they released a properly working game it would have had better scores.  The same went for KOTOR2 and Fallout: New Vegas, a great game hidden by a myriad of bugs and technical issues.  Many have been fixed, but in KOTOR2, there is a large portion of the game never released because the game, already delayed was on a VERY tight timeframe to follow up on the massive popularity of KOTOR.   PC owners can download and install a mod that is meant to restore as much of the content that can.

K2_00020

That aside, when I read about the delays in the release of South Park, which like many of the Obsidian games, I have been excited for this game for sometime but when the delays were announced and when THQ went under things were starting to not look good.

Thankfully Ubisoft took over the distribution and the game was finally released and I will say, it is a great game.  An RPG that feels like an old fashioned RPG but captures 100% the essence and feel of South Park.  This game comes so close to watching South Park that anyone who were to walk in the room, would not think twice if it wasn’t or not.

south-park-the-stick-of-truth-ps3-boxart

So like many of the games the kids play in the TV show you find a way into the game they are playing.  Everything seems to be in this game that you might expect.  The number of times I have found myself just laughing out loud.  Trying to open Stan’s Wardrobe and hearing Tom Cruise say “I am never coming out…”  was a nice touch.

There are some minor flaws here and there but nothing that seems to have been on account of Obsidian rushing their releases and more to do with specific mechanics. 

As far as the RPG goes, it has all the elements.  The standard 3 class and the additional Jew class system.  The character customisation which is as good as it should be for this game and the fact that you can change your appearance throughout the game means you can pick what you want, and certainly when I got the Chin Balls I felt that I needed to walk a mile in Butters’ shoes.

Turn based RPG system that also requires timing of the button presses to make the critical strike.  There is weapon stickers and strap-ons that enable your to augment the ability you already have.  The special abilities are a good touch and provide a decent ability to help with vanquishing the “elves” that are in South Park.  Coupled with Magic, a special South Park Magic gives additional boosts and the ability to clear paths when needed.  But this is the mechanic that seems difficult to properly grasp and can often be ineffective.  But accompanied with Summons (like many Fantasy setting RPGs), you are able to unlock some of the friends you get in your journey but some being Mr Kim (from City Wok, or Shitty Wok) and Mr Slave to name but two.

personajes-south-park-mr-kim-600x337

This is South Park, all the voices are here and all of them are well integrated into the game.  As for other sounds throughout the game, it give that feeling you are in that town but also don’t feel out of place for the type of RPG that this is.  The music is a combination of music from the TV show, custom music written for the game and there is a nice choral element where Cartman is in the background of the piece. 

As for game play it as as much depth as many RPGs of the past.  No crafting system but it would have been limited as to what you could craft.  But potions a plenty, revives, mana and power potions means you can help your allies or yourself.  One element I like is Butters’ Healing Touch, where he comes up, pats you on the back and tells you everything is OK.  It was a nice Butters moment.

Graphics, what could one say about the graphics of the game, it is South Park, it look like no matter where you go.  From the characters to the backgrounds to the weapons.  The PS3 version is running at 720p, but I don’t think it would matter if this was running at higher resolutions on a PC, since the graphics on each version would look the same.  This is South Park and no matter how many pixels you have to show it, it will look like South Park. 

tumblr_n2edwjZt321rlo1q2o1_1280

Adults are not Children

The only grievance I have is not with the game, it is over the version that was released into Australia (and it also seems some other parts of the world).  There was some content replaced in the game with that of a crying Koala and the textual description of the goings on.  To me, we had a recent introduction of a R 18+ rating for games and under these new censorship laws, this game was either going to be banned or needed to be edited.  Rather than fight, they decided to edit the game and replace it with what is above.

As an adult who has children, I have not played this game in front of my kids, ever.  I understand the concepts portrayed in the game and understand the contexts of what is going on.  But to be told as an adult that I am not able to view certain elements because they are, well for whatever reason not clean enough for me is just rubbish.  Now my only possible reasoning for this is that despite the R rating that they assume that children will be playing it (I personally know of several children who are under 18 years old who have played this game (the censored Australian version that is).  So regardless of the law children will still play the game.

But due to this crappy situation local retailers have lost out because I have ordered this game overseas.  It cost me less money in the long run and also gave me a game that is completed and unedited.  I am responsible with whom I let see or play this game, but those who are responsible are being subjected to antiquated laws even ones drafted in 2012, because they believe we are all children, or that children will see this.

That said, elements I have already seen in this game (unedited) are no worse than what I have seen aired on TV in Australia, which doesn’t make sense to me since that is only rated M or MA at the worst.  Interactive or not there is no excuse at all.

</RANT>

So, with the ranting over I would say, RPG fans who do not like South Park should not get this game.  Though it is a solid RPG and has all the elements an RPG should have, it is South Park, from the classes (Jew) to the Summons, Mr. Slave, to the taunts in the battles, all of them come back to the fact that you are in a South Park game, RPG or not.  South Park fans, who might not like RPGs will still get much out of this game.  Accessible for those not used to the concepts but certainly can be played on easy just to enjoy the South Park portion of it. 

People like me, who are fans of RPGs and South Park will find that the amount of content in the game will satisfy that RPG itch you might want and means you feel like you are watching just a South Park episode.  So if you are in Australia, then I might recommend Play-Asia.com, the PS3 version is not region encoded and therefore is playable on any PS3 but some versions of the XBOX360 version can only be played in certain regions so be careful with what you get.

SWTOR and the Road Ahead…

swtor-logo-256x256

BioWare released an article that describes, not in great detail but essentially what is happening for releases up to the mid year point. 

Producer’s Road Map 2014, and they are setting the stage for what I believe is the 3.0 expansion pack which is possibly coming at the end of the year.

We knew 2.6 was coming, as this was the official release of Galactic Starfighter (GSF) which has at this point garnered wide praise, so with more ships and battle zones coming this looks set to go from strength to strength and certainly sets this MMO apart from many others in terms of variation in gameplay.  The one area I am looking forward to is new “Tactical” flashpoint which is coming in 2.6.  Suffice to say it is scalable, and they performed that test on scaling content very well with the Rakghoul plague on Alderaan in January.

2.6 is coming 4th Feb I believe which is the day of this post, so, there will be another influx of players as people who only play the game for GSF jump on board and since you can play it from level 1.  It means that there will be people who just play that. 

Is there a benefit to playing the game proper if I only want to play Galactic Starfighter?

Yes.  But it isn’t needed.  What the ground game will give you is access to more companions.  The GSF game comes with its own set but there are also advantages of having use of the ground game companions.  But if you are happy with the companions you have then enjoy the game.

DOUBLE XP

These are always great, but they get very busy as perhaps new Alts are created to take advantage of this double XP.  Be wary of those who are free to play, queue times might be lengthened as the number of people who log on go up substantially.  And as preferred access got into Galactic Starfighter I did notice that on the weekends the number of players has grown substantially and across all planets there is a massive surge in population in the game. 

But the double XP also helps out players legacy too.  So, even if you have reach level 55 working on dailies or flashpoints will help the legacy experience along as well.  I only have Alts to level during this period.

Double XP is slotted for the weekend March 14 – March 17

New Flashpoints

These new flashpoints are going to be the direction the game is going to take for future flashpoints, operations and the expansion at the end of the year.  Two different (though I think they won’t be that different) flashpoints on Korriban (for the republic I am guessing) and Tython (for the Empire) where they are going to attack each other directly.

It is unsure if these are going to be a scaled flashpoint of a level 55 one, since they are looking at the Empire and Republic attacking each other the ground story of the game looks like it should be played through to understand most of the background.

They did this with the story thread about the Dread Masters, with the Empire and Republic coming across these ancient Lords of the Sith on Belsavis.  Which also shows through the Dailies in Section-X and Oricon, also the Operations that have been released, The Eternity Vault (which is on Belsavis).  We see the influence the Rakata had on the galaxy and we also see why not only the reason for the prison on Belsavis but also the reasons for them keeping these worst beings in there.

Karraga’s palace I feel lent the Rise of the Hutt Cartel Expansion and the Battle of Makeb and we see that god awful bell end hat that though a worthy prize from the operation, though it isn’t the only one, it looks as silly sitting atop Karraga as it does any player who wear it.

We see the seeds of the Dread Masters in Explosive Conflict as we find details of why the Trandoshian armies have been sought for this conflict and we come up against some of the toughest enemies to date with the Warlord Kephis unleashing not his plan but the one ordered by him.  Though I do like Denova, it is a very nice looking place.

Terror from Beyond where we see more influence of the Dread Master’s plans as we head to one of the worlds controlled by the Gree and see the wonderful technology and the terrible horrors that await as you fight in one of the most interesting boss fights every, and a friend returns more powerful than before.

In Scum and Villainy we are told there is a massive arms sale going down on Darvanis and as you battle through the hordes of scum and villainy you understand the purposes of this as you get our first taste of the power of just ONE of the dreaded Sith Lords, Dread Master Styrak.

Oricon-Flyby

And now the location of the remaining masters have been found and all players Imperial and Republic alike descend into the despair that is Oricon. We battle through the inhabitants or corrupted soldiers from either side, and beasts of one ilk or another to reach the Dread Fortress and Dread Palace to hopefully throw down this menace in the galaxy.

With that aside you can see the depth the story has gone into to just for the Dread Masters I hope they put they same level of story telling into the new series of operations and flashpoints that will be coming soon.

In June they are proposing release 2.8 coming.  There is this one line in there.

And much more… this is going to be the biggest update up to this point – we will reveal more once we are a bit closer to June

Doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things but it is also they are mentioning 2 digital expansions one being one like Galactic Starfighter in scope which is to my understanding will be in release 2.8 or 2.9.  Then what it sounds like a new planet, level cap rise and more in one similar to Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  So release 3.0 will be either in September or October, OR from a gut feeling, will be with the 3rd Anniversary of the game in December.  But my gut is only ever right when it comes to food.

So, much is happening in 2014 for the game and I think we might know more about release 3.0 at E3 this year, since SWTOR was fairly absent from the event though they did have their community cantina on around the time of the event and in LA as well.

Changes in the release schedule this year which has been noticeable but if it is true they are planning on increasing this to help in removing some of the more pesky but I might say plaguing issues in the system it can only be a good thing, if that is what they do.  So I hope they stick to their plans and that we have a great SWTOR year.

No Servers displayed in SWTOR

swtor-logo-256x256

The real reason for this is unknown to me, but I was reading a post on the forum regarding the improvement in performance by simply setting the Compatibility checkbox on the executable properties to be that of Windows XP SP3.  Their reasoning behind doing this was changes to the way VRAM and texture allocation in memory and so on.  All of this was garbage but out of testing this, since I am always one to try and find ways of pushing the limits of the game to get better performance I found one unintended consequence.

While testing this out, I set the Launcher and the EXE compatibility options to be Windows XP with SP3, see below for where to set this, it can be set on the Shortcut that you launch the game from or the EXE for the launcher but for the SWTOR.EXE it needs to be on the EXE since the launcher isn’t starting the game from the imageshortcut.

The compatibility tab in Windows 7 and Windows 8 are a little different, the additional options in Windows 7 that are there relate to the use of Aero interface elements which aren’t in Windows 8.

But when testing it I set both of them to Windows XP (Service Pack 3) and everything was OK (and no improvement in performance) so, when finished my testing I also switched them back but I switched the launcher and not the EXE.

OK, now what this did and I have seen it before but as a consequence of something else.  Was when I logged in the launcher took a little longer to verify what is happening.  Play enabled I then continued. 

The process then took longer than normal and then instead of the last character I logged in with showing up I was looking at the server list screen but it was empty.

As mentioned I have seen this before, I used a latency reduction service called BattlePing.  It doesn’t as much lower my ping but provides me with a stable and fairly unfaltering connection to the servers.  Though there are some issues that are outside of my control, but I won’t go into that at this time.  That said, sometimes the connection can be a cause of problem, I change from Connection 1 to Connection 2 (I think it is the NIC at the proxy end personally) and it worked, then.

I tried this to no effect.  But then I remembered that I had just changed back the compatibility setting on the launcher but not the EXE.  I turned off compatibility mode for the EXE, started it and the application went through its normal start-up routine and did so at the normal speed.  It logged me in an showed me the list of characters and my last logged in character available for play.

servers

Now why did the application have problems simply because of the launcher having a different compatibility mode to the executable.  Well one area would be regarding the way the networking stack is set up and how an application will use it.  The launcher performs the log in, then when it fires the EXE off, there is something that is passed into the EXE to indicate that this user is logged in and should proceed, but I also launch the launcher with elevated permissions using UAC, Windows XP has no concept of UAC, but Windows 8 still requires it.

image

Above is a process of this.  This is only a guess as to one reason.  But another reason is the fact that application compatibility uses a set of Shims, which is a set of shunting APIs.  Due to the changes in the network stack between Windows XP and Windows 8, when it has been created under Windows 8, then when the EXE runs under compatibility mode, there call to the API is then redirected by the Shim to access network protocol APIs that return not the information require.  If the structure of the return data has changed then this will cause problems.  But there are also restrictions accessing code that runs in Kernel mode (like device drivers), so DirectX does this and therefore the differences between the Windows 8 and Windows 8 + Shim + Windows XP (Service Pack 3) is not compatible

Networking: TCP/IP Stack and the Windows Filtering Platform. The networking stack was completely rewritten for Windows Vista. Instead of the dual-stack model that exists in Windows XP (to support IPv4 and IPv6), the networking stack in Windows Vista implements a new architecture in which there is a single transport and framing layer that supports multiple IP layers. The new stack is modular, flexible, and extensible. While all attempts have been made to maintain application compatibility with the existing applications that interface with the stack at various layers, there are nevertheless changes (that are mostly side effects of the improvements) that might cause potential application-compatibility issues.1

Application compatibility is a last result to get applications to work on new operating systems.  By nature they were created due to the changes and optimisations made in newer operating systems.  They can resolve a lot of issues by redirecting or injecting code to enable the application to receive data from the OS or talk to the OS like it is the OS intended to run on. 

NOTE:

Remember the launcher and the client EXE need to run at the same level of application compatibility to work properly.  If it is in Windows XP mode or Windows 8 or Windows 7 mode.

1.  http://technet.microsoft.com/library/ee449431.aspx – Understanding Application Compatibility, TechNet, Microsoft

New Alien Game

PS3%20JoystickSega has announced a new Alien game.  We desperately need a really good Alien game, but I am afraid this will not be it.  A couple of things to note here is the change is it a story of Ripley’s daughter.

I love Alien and Aliens, Alien3 is OK with outstanding performances from Charles Dance, Charles S Dutton and of course Sigourney Weaver.  Alien Resurrection, to me Ron Pearlman makes that film better than it really is, but Ron Pearlman is one of those actors who had something to every scene he is in.

Talk of an Alien 5, not sure, Alien V Predator, interesting concept, the best hunters in the world going after the most difficult prey, but they seemed to lose something in the translation and I won’t go into Alien V Predator 2.

This might explain a lot more about the history or Ripley’s daughter, but she got married, not sure when she got married, but interestingly I find that surely, records of her looking for her, coming across Xenomorphs, she had to survive, to get married if after and return to Little Shoot, Wisconsin to get cremated, 2 years before Aliens was set..

Now, unlike Star Wars there is no specific lore regarding the world.  They create Alien games to make money, but they fail to realise they would make more money if they made a really good game.  I am not one to shy away things that are different from the Lore setup previously, even if it breaks some of it to a point but provides reasons for it. 

An example of this was Alien3, the egg that was supposed to be there, it impregnated Ripley with a Queen as we have seen, but there are a couple of questions NEVER answered by the film, the Queen lays eggs from an egg sack, we saw that physically.  Bishop could have brought an egg on board since Carter gave him instructions to keep specimens.

Both living specimens were destroyed, we saw Hudson kill one and Vasquez also kill one.  So, the only face huggers were the ones being laid by the Queen.  The fact that there were two as well, since the dog was also impregnated so, we need to find two eggs, not just one.  But, in Alien3, they overlooked that part, and just had them there. 

So, having Ripley’s daughter come and look for Ripley not is only going against what has been stated before in the Movies it is a futile exercise in reality.  The Nostromo was blown up not too far away from LV-426, the shuttle, with Ripley aboard was jettisoned and then, it floated right through the core worlds and as Carter said “It was blind luck that a deep salvage team found you…” so, if it was blind luck that a team, specifically looking for salvage came across this, we know already that her daughter doesn’t find her since it takes 57 years of floating in space for her to be found. 

So, the story now is barely holding onto anything that looks like a thread and now they want us to believe that Ripley’s daughter, Amanda will now come across the Xenomorphs which so far at this stage, considering it is only a few years after Ripley went missing (I think Amanda is in her 20s) so we knew the state of LV-426, 57 years after the events of Alien.

If they make a good game, then all might be forgiven, if they provide a good reason and plausible reason for Amanda to be confronted with Aliens when the only Eggs we know of are on LV-426 and Carter was the one who requested someone check out the coordinates that Ripley told him about.

Let us hope, this will be the Alien game we have all deserved and not the dream of one what we have seen with so many trailers for Alien games in the past.

fb-image

Alien Isolation will be available Late 2014 for PC, PlayStation (3 & 4) and XBOX (360 & ONE).

The 3 Top…

This is based on information I have gleaned from all over the web for MMORPGs and which are the top in terms of population.  It is difficult to truly define what is the top MMO when games like World of Warcraft like to boast their numbers in excess of 10 million are now not so boastful that the number has dropped well below that mark.  That said it is possibly still the most populous virtual world out there, but in terms of actual numbers no company really wants to throw out how many are playing the game unless that are the number 1.

So, I have looked at various web sites, looked at some financial information, especially for companies who are publically listed and I have determined that 3 most popular MMOs are;

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  3. Lord of the Rings Online

I am sure there would be many people who would claim different.  What about games like Maple Story, or Runscape, but I am not truly including these for a couple of reason.  The numbers ever quoted are difficult to get reliable information from, in that I mean substantiated numbers, found in several different areas or in legally binding information (such as annual reports etc.).   Stating numbers like 8 million accounts in 2011, well I am sure WOW has still 12 million accounts but it is really active accounts or concurrent players and the numbers I have seen are old, 2008, or 2011. 

It is interesting to see however that SWTOR and LOTOR have free to play models and the majority of their populations are the free players.  WOW doesn’t and it is also unknown how many are made up of the massive gold farming community.  I would be curious if you have more information on this I would be happy to amend this.  And certainly Wikipedia though a wonderful source of information is and has been prone to being updated for periods of time by people who do not have impartiality in making things look better for businesses.

So, the reason though I am going through these is not to incite an MMO argument or war as to which is better since I am not saying any of these are better or worse these are purely based on population numbers I can get.  But my purpose is to go over these and look at each of the elements of the games and how well they stack up against each other.  It is like a comparison of such for the various aspects, sounds and graphics, gameplay and lore, depth of game and playability, grind and feel and many different things.

Compare Apples to Custard Apples

Well, in a manner of speaking how can one compare graphics of a game released in 2011 to one released in 2008 or 2004 for that matter, well you look at things beyond the simple look of the game.  How well does the graphics immerse you in the game the artwork, add or detract from it, notable features for the graphics, etc. What can I change, provide the best look for my system.

So one of the things I will kick off with is reception, releasing public and critical, the success and the smoothness of the game.

WoW_Box_Art1World of Warcraft

Released November 2004 and was meet with largely positive reviews by the critics but the system was initially marred by server downtimes and user’s inability to log in.  The was never immediately popular and gathered a slow build up in the population over time, the gaming landscape had changed substantially since 2004 to now.

MMOs had been developed before WOW but without a doubt World of Warcraft became synonymous with what defined an MMO and its popularity grew as more and more people realised how deep things were getting with each release of the game.

The game possibly did hit its full stride until some 12 to 18 months after release.  But this also made things more frustrating as highly populated servers were plagued with things like high latency and the inability to grind out the quests as there were so many players vying for each kill to nearly empty servers were you could not see a single player for days, which also lead to frustration as there was no one to help when trying to do the harder quests.

More servers were added, server transfers started free to help alleviate the load, and the latency started to gather traction until things smoother out.  But a a few more hurdles were hit when Blizzard released their Asia Pacific Servers.  This saw a massive uptake in the Asian population, but the latency of these servers were no better than those of the US servers and in some cases much worse.  It was later found that these actual servers were in the US and there was not benefit to switching to a server that did not make playing the game better. 

They still have these Asia/Pacific servers available for play on and their population is decent but they are a far cry from the servers that are in the US.  The game has also been marred in some controversy in the later years with Blizzard having psychologists on their payroll working on addiction but certainly not in a good way, as they work to make it more addictive.  Other controversy surrounds the game with this addiction coming into prominence as people have been found to have neglected their real lives in order to log on and play World of Warcraft and with serious consequences, where deaths of infants have been involved.

Of course Blizzard has denied any wrong doing in these cases and rightfully so.  But certainly one cannot take away the fact that they might not be directly involved but there is involvement in directly as they work out ways to help players playing.  Their only bonus for logging out is to increase XP gained while killing beasts, but it is accrued at such a slow rate (more if you log out in an Inn).  This is also only a benefit for players who have not reached max level.  Those at this level there is no bonus for logging out.

World of Warcraft is the top MMO now and it is difficult to see if any future MMO (including any successor of WOW) will ever beat the numbers it had in its heyday.  This will be possibly in many top 10 best MMOs of all time, if not their number 1, but is it the quality that makes it that, or a deep seeded love that only comes from spending so long with something that it is difficult to any to see the quality beyond the obsession.

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar250px-Lotro_box

The Tolkien lore holds a great deal of love in my heart, has done since reading the Lord of the Rings a long time ago and most fantasy writers have ever tried to aspire to achieve such a literary work but alas to no avail.  Like Star Wars I have deep understanding of the stories and lore of the work and like Star Wars is ripe for a quality game.

LOTRO was possibly one of the better ones written about the text but it is not without its flaws.  The game was received positively from the critics though there were dissenters from the masses, those who felt everything in competition to WOW was trying to be WOW and not good enough, the members who felt the developers failed to capture the essence of Tolkien (which has been said about a great many games based on his works).

But the positive reviews gave people a reason for having a look.  There was a lot there to like but with most pay to play models, unless it has the same amount of content as World of Warcraft, why do you want me to pay for this as well.  Releases were not coming out fast enough and despite having an offer for a lifetime subscription model for $200 (I know it isn’t available now, but unsure that if you bought it when available if you still no longer need to pay subscription fees).

This massive down turn saw the game looking shaky and there was rumblings that it would soon shut up shop.  Then September 2010, the game become free to play and it was announced with their very first TV add and it was a relatively cheesy affair as well but it served the purpose and the game saw a new lease on life and a massive uptake in players and it started to show the MMO world that the days of the pay to play only model was heading the way of the dinosaurs.

So now the game is a nice earner with a combination of free to play and pay to play options and still one of the top MMOs currently and would be considered in many top 10 best MMOs. 

The Free to Play TV ad for LOTRO.

220px-Star_Wars-_The_Old_Republic_coverStar Wars: The Old Republic

Billed as the potential WOW killer, video game heavyweights BioWare had the pedigree in making great games and great Star Wars games and great RPGs, could they cross into the realm of MMO and unseat the king, many thought so. Even Blizzard who seemed undaunted by any MMO release possibly stood up and took notice of this one so much notice that before the release of SWTOR, Blizzard announced a new Expansion, Mists of Pandaria which to many was the start of the decline1 of the once great MMO.

Star Wars, like Lord of the Rings is ripe for a quality MMO the amount of lore available, all from the mind of one person is astounding.  But to date we haven’t seen it.  Star Wars Galaxies was a mildly successful MMO but was more of a cult following more than anything but they became vocal when the writing was on the wall that LucasArts was going to shut down SWG and with that it happened.

December 2011 the game was release and was the largest MMO game release in history with about 2 million users logging in day 1.  With the critics praising the game but marking down for the lack of content (this is an odd thing as the amount of content released day one surpassed that of WOW day one).  The servers remain stable, some queuing issues for many people as it would with this many people logging in day one but everything seemed to be good for SWTOR.

But like LOTRO, the amount of content available to the game started to become a hindrance, paying to play for a small amount of content started to make people log off, interestingly they numbers at initial release would return but certainly it took a 180 degree flip of constant negation of a free to play model that when it was announced the decline was about 2/3 to 3/4 of the initial launch number.  More problems came from one of the things that made the game a successful launch, high capacity servers a quite a few of them.  Soon as the numbers dropped people found it difficult to find groups for the new content being added, this forced BioWare’s hand to merge servers into newer higher capacity servers which was not without issues, especially latency and the complaints about LAG spiked.

SWTOR went going to go free to play and many scorned BioWare for the restrictions placed onto free to play players, but these are any more or less restricted than other free to play v subscription models2, like LOTRO.  The game saw a resurgence and the popularity of the game grew.  BioWare was now making more money, though about $7.2 million a month is nothing to be sneezed at and it seems also like LOTRO that this game for the near future is hear to stay. 

SWTOR–Free to Play Launch

The Skinny

Release Success – Out of the 3 the most successful was SWTOR.  2 million day one user logging in and relative stability across all servers.   One might say that the gaming landscape has changed so much in the time since WOW and LOTRO was released, but even for the times it was released the numbers didn’t reflect the sheer popularity that SWTOR did when it was released.

Post Release Success – Hands down to World of Warcraft.  With both SWTOR and LOTRO having large declines in population until their free to play models came out and then LOTRO had little impact on WOW and SWTOR possibly responsible for the largest decline in its population still didn’t get up to the same numbers. 

One of the reasons and in my opinion the main reason for the large population of players on WOW is due to the massive gold selling market.  These are very prevalent in LOTRO and WOW and less so in SWTOR.  WOW and LOTRO have an auto attack mechanism that when being attacked the player will respond with their simple attack.  This is never enough to defeat on level or higher NPCs but lower levels in areas that are often use for gold farming helps.  This hasn’t prevented Gold Farming from existing in SWTOR since there has been other methods to get credits in SWTOR that help.  Since LOTRO and SWTOR have free to play accounts they include restrictions on the amount of gold you can transfer, hold in an account, transfer from escrow and so on.  You can PAY to unlock these but since the gold farming market rely on the free accounts this will eat into their margins which means they will not be as common.  With WOW, since it is the number 1 in population and will remain that way in the near future this will always be a reason why possibly a million maybe more accounts are that of the gold farmers.

Expansion Success – This one is more difficult to assess, World of Warcraft has had 3 quality expansions, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm.  LOTRO has had 4 quality expansions Mines of Moria, Siege of Mirkwood, Rise of Isenguard and Riders of Rohan with a 5th coming in end 2013 Helms Deep which is making this game just massive.  SWTOR, has 1 physical expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel, which was a well received a decent expansion, with a new one coming but isn’t expanding the ground world much.  This one goes to in my opinion Lord of the Rings Online, and this is down purely to Mists and Pandaria otherwise I might have called it a tie.  Mists was such a let down in comparison to the other 3 expansions released for WOW.

So, in the releasing of the games, each has a point in this battle, and these are my opinions.  Get a WOW addict and it will all go to WOW, get a Cosplaying LOTRO fan who can speak Elvish and I am sure it will go to LOTRO, change the prior to be Star Wars geek who knows the lines of each movie and book by heart and they will say SWTOR.

Lord of the Rings Online 1
Star Wars: The Old Republic 1
World of Warcraft 1

More to come.

1 When announced some thought this to be an extension of an April fools joke, but the 1 April was long gone when this came out.  What made matters worse was the success of the Dreamworks film Kung Fu Panda and the new to be release sequel certainly added more fuel to the fire that Blizzard had lost their way.  Some might have thought so too, with this release another butt of many WOW jokes was released, pet battles and another form of revenue for Blizzard (like they needed any more) was people could spend more money on buying pets and special pets and things for their pets to take into their fights, vis-à-vis Pokémon.  Many believed it was the first nail in the coffin for the hugely successful game but execs from Blizzard tried to defend the moves with previous announcement back in the Warcraft 3 days of the Panda race (though this was a April fools joke when it first came out).

2 SWTOR and LOTRO both impose restrictions on free to play, premium/preferred and subscript/VIP players.  Being a subscriber certainly in my opinion provides many more benefits than simply unrestricted access to the content.  Experience, in SWTOR there is reduced XP in levelling and though this can be mitigated a great deal by getting the experience buff and legacy unlocks for experience (in fact using both the XP buffs and all of the Legacy perks you can bring yourself up to the same amount of XP as an un-buffed non perked subscriber, which helps.  But then a subscriber can also get these legacy perks and buffs which accelerates your growth.  (Keep and eye out for Double XP promotions for both).

Points/Cartel Coins, most of the unlocks to bring your character from the meagre existence of free to play player to that of a preferred/premium and then some is buying these virtual items and buying them from their virtual stores.  As subscribers both give you free coins/points per month, 500 for each (SWTOR offers 100 more if you have a security key on the account which I recommend).  This is about an average 5 dollars free per month which brings down the effective subscription cost in total spend a month. 

The real restriction I have found is with SWTOR and their UI restrictions, you can buy unlocks for them, they even have a pack that includes these unlocks which brings you up to a decent level within the free to play community.  But to lock the available quick bars to 2, when some classes have MORE abilities that what 2 bars can handle, my Jedi Sentinel uses more than 2 for standard and I use all 6 if I look into Legacy.

Tank Wars by Kenneth Morse

This post goes to a game that I managed to get working, on Windows 7 x64 edition.  A game from the throws of DOS when running a single process at a time was more than enough and Windows was merely a nice way to show DOS (a shell so to speak).  The game was Tank Wars.

bomb_000

A game that I played back in 1990 and 1991 when computers started to invade our school and we also began swapping games on disks.  One of the games we used to play and swap was this, it would fit on a floppy disk but it is OK, a 20 MB had drive was able to house this game with room to spare.

image

No before I get all nostalgic and think back to those heady days when working out if a game worked or not was a simple matter of VGA/EGA or CGA, memory wasn’t a massive issue in many games, though the advent of EMS, XMS, high memory made better and better games possible.  I have already spoken about one of them, Syndicate and I even now have some videos which I will put up there as I go more and more of them.

But I have recently decided to take out the old floppy disk I had of the game and I started playing it.

Tank Wars

Yes, indeed.  There it is running on my machine, which specs exceed that of the 286, 386 or even 486 required for the game.  So, it got me thinking, Syndicate was an old DOS game, sure slightly different but I thought if Syndicate can run which uses DOS Extender to get access to more memory beyond the 640KB limit imposed by DOS.

So, I looked into DOSBox a little more, which is an x86 DOS emulator.  So, I installed it, copied it configured it and presto, I have Tank Wars running with sound, sure emulated PC speaker and the same quality graphics I remember from the days running on my Intel i7 3.8GHz and 32GB RAM.

A Return

But playing this game makes me want to perhaps look into making a Tank Wars HD.  I have been for the longest time trying to get a version of this that is true to the original running, on my PC, Windows Phone and XBox360 and other platforms as I felt.  But I have always gotten stuck.  Stuck on the ground that is.  I can work out the tanks, the angles, the backgrounds, the walls, the wind and so on, but the ground was something that I have been caught up on.

In the video you will see it runs and not too fast.  The difficult part has been making sure the game is playable since it can be played but it runs WAY to fast to make it playable.  So you change the emulation, the number of cycles it wants from the CPU.  This slows down the animations drastically, but also updating the command line switches will also change the way the game behaves. 

But to HDify this game would be ideal.  Though I could love to know if the developer a Mr Kenneth Morse is available or has the source code.  I would like to make it official and I know there are web versions out there similar but my heart lies with this game, it has made me get through my Maths 2 classes when learning to program in Pascal (and this game was written in Pascal).  If anyone knows how it get in contact with him, or knows where I can get the source code so I can work out how to get the ground working I would be more than happy to provide a nice HD version of the game, with permission if I can get a hold of him.

So anyone who read my blog, reads it now, please if you know of a way I would be greatly appreciative of it.

Sony E3 Press Conference

BMcVkQcCIAEHZEmThe showed the PS3 line-up, stating that there will be a special bundle of the PS3 with Grand Theft Auto V with the game and Pulse Headset which will be available on 17 September. The Last of Us which will be released in a few days after E3, and has received very positive reviews from most critics.  They talked about the Vita and its position in relation to the PS4, and it seems to be used as the second device screen but the screen size might be limiting in comparison to tablets, we will see.  But it needs to be used.

  • The Order 1886 – This looks very good.  An interesting setting and themes, showing it is set in like an alternate history period, this was a trailer it showed some gameplay footage but they claimed it was in-engine footage.  Always tough to know with trailers like that when they look very good.  This would be a game worth keeping an eye on.  This is an exclusive game for the PS4
  • Killzone Shadowfall, they showed off a CG trailer for this, but there will be more videos coming on this as it will be on the show floor.
  • Drive Club, it showed some more footage of the game but it is going to be a launch title.  This is similar to what was shown at Ubisoft’s conference with The Crew, with the jump in and jump out style of multi-player gameplay.  This looks like an interesting driving game but it will also be free to PlayStation Plus members (Though I am not sure if this is an ongoing free thing or not).
  • Infamous Second Son will be release 2014 in the first quarter.  They showed the way the game works in a manner not proper game play footage.  It looks great but isn’t quite the same as what I might have thought it was.  Watching this made me think a lot of the original Infamous.
  • Knack, this is going to be a launch title and it has shown some simple footage and CG trailer to show it off.  It has connected gameplay which they are wanting to sell as a big feature, being able to take the game off the PS4 and onto the Vita and from memory this is something they are wanting all PS4 games to support, which does a form of game streaming to the PS Vita.
  • The Dark Sorcerer is said to be a technical demonstration of the ability of the PS4 but they did this for the PS3 and it turned into a game of sorts which was Heavy Rain.  But is foes look wonderful and Quantic Dream know how to create good looking games.

Independent developers they wanted to wooed as well.  There is a hefty line up for independent games being released as they mentioned exclusive or console debut exclusive (meaning first to PS4).  There was some interesting looking one but the New ‘n’ Tasty remake of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddyssee looks really good.  I enjoyed that game, do it would be great to get that one in HD.  You can look at the complete list which is long here.  This also includes games for the PS4, PS3 and the PS Vita.
They are looking also at the self publishing model, but there isn’t too many details released about that.

  • Final Fantasy  XV (the game formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) a nice modern setting for a final fantasy game, SquareEnix certainly know how to make CG trailers, they are so impressive if only they are able to bring that to the gameplay.  It is nice to finally see something about this game and it nice to know that they have renamed it as well.  The gameplay footage that they showed did show some traditional menus for attack and items but it seemed very fast paced so it would be interesting to see more on this.
  • They also spoke of Final Fantasy XIV coming to the PS3 and PS4 exclusively as well.  Which is a nice one, another MMO on a console, this could help push things.  FF XIV was slated to be a PS3 title but with the problems with the game and the relaunch of the game as well it makes sense they are putting into the new console.
  • Kingdom Hearts III is an exclusive for the PS4 from everything that I saw and with the up and coming, HD remakes of all of the Kingdom hearts for the PS3 it would make sense to start the journey if you haven’t as weird as the concept and stories might be they are touching stories and up there with some of SquareEnix’s best stories.
  • Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag demonstration looks an impressive game but it is still very much like any of the Assassin’s Creed games I have played.  There were what looked like pauses in the gameplay but it seems to be the console that they were playing had issues.
  • Watchdogs is showing a live demo that is on PS4 from what appears to be.  The populated world looks very realistic in the way people look at you.  The rain effects are also very nice especially when it was on the car.  There was also a bit of interesting with someone on a mobile device but they didn’t really show how this worked properly.
  • NBA 2K14 coming from 2K games obviously, it looks decent but I am thinking that the basketball game you get would be the one from EA and NBA Live 2014.  Just the difference seems to be there, but since this was more a promotional video than showing anything and any of the 2014 sports games will not be released until, well 2014 it is a bit of a nothing comment as more information will be released closer to the time.
  • Elder Scrolls Online, a partnership, though I am unsure that this will entail but it said that it will have an exclusive first beta on PS4, which will be obviously after the launch of the PS4.  From everything I have seen about this game so far it seems more an experience playable on the console than on the PC.  Since there isn’t that need for mapping lots of abilities onto hot bars as there seems to be more emphasis on the real time nature of the combat as in strike and block when you pull the triggers, etc…
  • Mad Max it looked nice, I hope they got Mel Gibson’s voice for it as it wouldn’t be the same.  But the model they used was from the one used from Mel Gibson from the original Mad Max movie, so it would be good.  But it was a CG trailer without a doubt but it looks very good and I will want to know more from this in the future.

No restriction on used games, which is a nice dig at Microsoft which rightly so made the crowd elate in this revelation.  They are talking about that it can be lent, sold, or kept forever without restrictions.  I have no doubt this is a direct dig at the PS4.  Including the PS4 disc based games do not need to be connected online to play.  No authentication if you have the disc and you don’t ever need to authentication and will not stop working within 24 hours, this is another direct dig at Microsoft and the XBOX One.

  • Destiny looks incredible, it really does.  It seems that Bungie has gone all out on this.  I think I may have to try this game, it is a persistent online game where you can play solo and join public events where things happen.  Typical Sci-Fi shooter in many ways but it was a simple demonstration of the game and this is one that I will take great interest in. 
    I was not a fan of the Halo series but I do understand what they did for the console shooter.  I did notice though there were some pauses in this let us hope this is only because these games are rushed into working format for the demonstration and might not be the best code they are running on or running on Dev Kits which are not optimised.
    They showed an interesting use of the touch pad on the PS4 controller by navigating the menus for the inventory.

US$399, €399 and £349 but no comment on Australia though based on often the past this will be AU$549 which means we get screwed yet again.  Some might think that €399 which is US$529 and 349 which is converted to US$543 screws you, and rightly so if you do look at a comparison to the US conversion, ours is US$517.  I do not believe that they can continue this, or legally they shouldn’t anywhere.  Since the machines are all coming from China, it would cost the same to deliver most places around the world.

One of the final mentions is the back catalogue of games that PlayStation has will be served up using Gaikai technology which is a cloud game streaming service Sony purchased.  This would be good as they have some wonderful games that are on the PlayStation and PS2 consoles, and with the PS4 not being backwards compatible, having ways to play your older games on the PS4 makes sense.

Opinion

Sony were slow to start but it seemed that they were warming up and by the end were firing on all cylinders.  No physical date set but I did hear a mention about the holidays.  So this could be November or December, but since Microsoft has not said a date either other than November it could be Sony are merely playing coy about the date, wait for MS or, they are not sure when all the products will be ready and are not setting a date yet.

To me, with the Nintendo Direct event tomorrow I would say that Sony seems to have this E3 in the bag.  The quality of exclusives and the calibre they showed in the press event showed they were not shying away from this or the previous generation.  But there are some games i saw here, that though they might be available on the XBOX One it seems that my mind might be made up for a PS4 version since there are things I am more confident about with the PS4.