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Comment: Re:"Compatible" (Score 1) 94

by RogueyWon (#47513879) Attached to: Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

The Playstation 3 likely remains the most common blu-ray player around - and it does the job very well (though it helps to pick up the optional remote control, as managing playback via a game controller can be a touch irritating). It also, coupled with the PS3 Media Server software on a PC, makes a pretty damned good "just works" solution for playing media files off your hard drive onto the TV and - crucially - one which is easy enough for a total computing ignoramus to get up and running with little or no guidance.

It's a pity that the PS4 (and Xbox One) are missing most of this functionality. As media players, the "new" consoles are a significant step back from the last generation.

Comment: Re:Maybe Ubisoft made this press release (Score 1) 154

The same way PC ports sometimes go horribly wrong - terrible mouse and keyboard support and a lack of technical optimisation that is causing framerate issues on $6,000 test-PCs. Plus uPlay.

Ports like this are less common than they used to be, but the odd one still sneaks through. Especially from Ubisoft.

Comment: Re:So glad it's over (Score 1) 151

I've owned two "top end" (as opposed to merely "high end") graphics cards in the days before I had a mortgage and when the top end of the market was still only in the $1,000 range. The first was an Nvidia 7950 GX2 and the second was an Nvidia 590. Both of them, frankly, were cranky, unreliable and difficult. It was also rare I took them anywhere near their performance limits. This latest trends towards super-priced cards is a combination of R&D and willy waving.

This wouldn't be slashdot without a car analogy, so...

A Bugatti Veryon sells for around $1.7 million (according to my hasty google search). Even compared to previous generations of supercars, that's pretty insane. But it doesn't mean that cars in general are getting more expensive. You can get something good enough for everyday tasks cheaper than ever. If you want something sportier, with a bit of performance, then adjusted for inflation, the price range is more or less what it always has been. Plus that "something sportier" will probably be a lot easier to manage and maintain than the Veryon, as well as a lot easier to drive to the shops in.

I'm on an Nvidia 680 now (the 590 crapped out after less than 2 years), paid a sensible price for it and have a card that can handle almost everything at 1080p with max or near-max detail (the exception being Watch Dogs, the PC port of which is a badly coded piece of shite).

Comment: Re:Maybe Ubisoft made this press release (Score 4, Insightful) 154

I don't disagree with you on the quality of the game. Unfortunately, in this case, Ubisoft are laughing all the way to the bank, because it's the fastest selling game not based on an existing IP in history and has posted the best opening weekend sales of any Ubisoft game in history. And this is despite the terrible PC port, the uPlay problems affecting all platforms, the limp plot and character designs that feel straight out of the notebook doodles of a 13 year old who still thinks wearing a trench-coat makes you cool and the laughable implementation of the core "hacking" concept.

So sure, while it would be nice to think that Ubisoft is sitting there feeling sad and desperate, it's simply not true.

But if you're reading this and thinking you need something shiny and new to play on your PC or new PS4/Xbox One, then be advised that the new Wolfenstein is a far better game in every respect (an actual proper shooter, rather than a 2-gun corridor game).

Comment: Re:Still... (Score 1) 134

by RogueyWon (#47118355) Attached to: Valve's Steam Machines Delayed, Won't Be Coming In 2014

My bet? They'll never make either a HL2 ep 3 or a HL3.


Not because it wouldn't be successful - it would. But because it would harm their wider business interests.

Valve makes a lot more money these days from running what is in essence a platform than it ever made from being a games developer. Steam is a big and successful platform. Numbers relating to its success are notoriously hard to come by, but by joining together a few pieces of publisher and charts data (which exclude Steam sales) and feeling out the gaps, you can work out that in the closing year of the PS3/Xbox 360 console cycle, Steam was managing major games sales on a par with either of those consoles, while probably managing a lot more sales of small indie titles.

A big part of running a successful platform is managing your relationship with the wider industry - publishers in particular. Historically, in console land, Sony has been particularly good at this and Nintendo has been particularly bad, with MS somewhere in the middle. Valve is, by all accounts, pretty good at it. Almost everybody publishes on their platform. EA is trying to make a go of their own alternative with Origin, but that's hardly turning into a stunning success. Ubisoft thought about making a break for it with uPlay, but have relented and uPlay has just ended up as a pointless and inconvenient "wrapper" for Ubisoft games which often requires Steam to be running in the background anyway.

And a big element of having a good relationship with publishers is being seen by them as a partner, not a competitor. Since Steam first started to get momentum, Valve has confined its first-party games development to titles outside of the major commercial arenas. Portal and its sequel exist more or less in isolation in genre terms (at least outside of the indie market). Left 4 Dead was like nothing else around when it launched (though others have copied it since).

But if Valve were to release a major high-profile mass-market shooter, like another Half-Life, then Activision and all of those other companies who publish on Steam at the moment might start to look at Valve differently. All of a sudden, they're getting nervous about being reliant on a platform owned by somebody who is competing with them. Worried that their visibility on the platform will be reduced, or that they might get shunted onto the ass-end download servers if they launch in the same window. Why do you think non-EA support on Origin is so poor, despite EA being happy to carry other publishers' games?

It's the same over in console-land. MS and Sony do develop and publish first party games, but they're pretty blatant about the fact that they basically do it just to build the installed base of the console (making it more attractive to third parties). Their main revenue is from third party licensing fees, so the last thing they want to do is get into a cut-throat competition with those third parties. Nintendo, on the other hand, make first-party publishing a huge part of their business, which makes their platforms a scary place for third parties.

So yeah. Steam is great and all that. But it's probably killed off any prospect of more Half-Life for the immediate future.

The only way I could ever imagine that lock being broken would be with Half-Life 3 as a Steambox launch exclusive to give the console's installed base a flying start (so essentially acting as a loss-leader for the sake of third parties).

Comment: Re:Nintendo has fallen far (Score 2) 110

by RogueyWon (#47105547) Attached to: Nintendo To Split Ad Revenue With Streaming Gamers

On the contrary, Nintendo has a long and ignoble history of doing this sort of thing. They've sued or C&Ded customers in the past just for mentioning their games on a blog, when the customer has been somebody who doesn't fit with their image (their was a stripper a few years ago who got threatened with legal action for saying she "liked Metroid"). They're incredibly protective of everything they see as relating to their franchises and characters (despite the fact that Donkey Kong - the game that started it all - borrows from King Kong's imagery so heavily). They're also pretty lawsuit-happy within the industry, having gone after games whose concepts are too close to their own and even hardware manufacturers for putting out controller d-pads too close to their own.

And player-focussed? Don't make me laugh. They're the only manufacturer still making region-locked consoles. They're the only manufacturer ever, so far as I can tell, to have region locked a hand-held. They basically have a paternalist view of the world where their top brass sits around a table and decides which regions deserve which games (and when some of that reasoning comes out, it often sounds, frankly, borderline racist). They're the only manufacturer to link online purchases to console units rather than accounts, making for endless grief for people whose consoles die. Hell, they even had their own run-in with a Red Ring of Death fiasco (albeit less reported), with the Wii-U's launch firmware update and its habit of bricking consoles.

And this is leaving aside more subjective stuff, like their promise of extensive third party support for the Wii-U which they then failed to guarantee except in a tiny number of cases. Oh, and the speculation they're now themselves fuelling that the next Super Smash Brothers will require Skylanders-style "physical DLC" to access all on-disk content (though they still have time to U-Turn on that one).

And yet, as your post demonstrates, they get away with it. I think part of it is because, being pretty much just a gaming company, they have fewer spheres in which to have scandals. They've never had a CD-rootkit fiasco because they don't distribute music and only make games for their own hardware (though they have long been pioneers of restrictive copy protection in that field). They've never had a Windows 8 fiasco because they don't make operating systems (though one can only imagine how locked down and restrictive a hypothetical Nintendo OS would be). But in the gaming world, their policies have been pure poison for decades.

And oddly, this is the other reason they get away with it - direction of travel. When MS comes out at E3 last year and shows that it wants to be really evil (possibly more evil even than Nintendo) there's an outcry that eventually forces the company to back down. Why? Because it was more restrictive than what MS had done previously. When Sony first entered the market, it basically (probably because it wanted to copy what worked) lifted MS's policies on region locks etc. Since then, it's progressively liberalised them. Nintendo, on the other hand, just carries on being as evil as it has always been, so it only rarely gets noticed (region locking the 3DS got it some bad press, I guess).

In short, don't confuse Nintendo's underdog status (which they've reclaimed again after a brief and terrifying flirtation with success with the Wii) and any nostalgia you may feel for its franchises with any kind of ethics on the part of the company. Within its narrow sphere, it is the most restrictive and anti-consumer of the three console manufacturers.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 2) 157

by RogueyWon (#46847875) Attached to: Lucasfilm Announces Break With <em>Star Wars</em> Expanded Universe

I read a LOT of the Expanded Universe stuff around 7 or 8 years ago, when I had a job that involved a lot of international travel. The novels are a decent way to pass the time when you are constantly crammed into planes, or sat in a strange hotel room feeling jetlagged.

I think the issue is that the Expanded Universe stuff mostly fits into two camp. The first - which is typified by the Timothy Zahn stuff - is the stuff that is decent sci-fi (better than franchise-fiction has any right to be) but which is fundamentally unsuited to film. The Heir to the Empire trilogy is good, but it's slow-paced, involves a lot of politics and it doesn't really have any scenes that would really adapt into big set-pieces in a movie (and Star Wars movies have always been heavy on the big set-pieces). As a TV series, putting aside the casting difficulties, Heir to the Empire might have worked. As movies? No hope.

The other category - typified by the Kevin J Anderson stuff - is what could, most kindly, be described at "bad fanfiction". This is the stuff that's badly written, tone-deaf and schlocky. This stuff is filled with stilted dialogue, paper thin characterisation and plot holes you could fly a Star Destroyer through. Admittedly, everything I've just said could be applied equally to Lucas's prequel movies - but you really do hope they're aiming higher than that with the new stuff.

Plus if you stuck with the existing Expanded Universe timeline, at some point you'd hit New Jedi Order. And that's where it gets difficult. For the uninitiated, the NJO is a very, very long multi-author series of novels, beginning around 20 years after Return of the Jedi, and centred around an invasion by extra-galactic aliens. It kills a lot of major characters (including characters from the movies) and, in case I didn't stress this enough above, is extremely long. Some of the authors who worked on it are fairly good. Some are terrible. But even when it works, it doesn't feel like Star Wars. It's a lot darker, a lot bloodier and even fits awkwardly with some of the other Expanded Universe stuff, let alone the movies. In terms of tone, it feels a lot more... well... I'm not quite sure... perhaps "Wing Commander" (from the fourth game onwards) than "Star Wars".

+ - Lucasfilm announced break with Star Wars Expanded Universe->

Submitted by RogueyWon
RogueyWon (735973) writes "A recent blog post from Lucasarts had confirmed that the new Star Wars movies planned for release by Disney will formally break continuity with the Expanded Universe novels, comics and video games.

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.

The news is unlikely to be a surprise, given George Lucas's previous pronouncements on the issue."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:One simple reason for this (Score 2) 386

by RogueyWon (#46831761) Attached to: iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling

It's not just games. A number of the iOS productivity apps I've been using over the last couple of years have been progressively degraded in recent months by compulsory updates, such that I have to fork out for IAPs or even subscription fees if I want to continue having access to the features I had before. And these weren't free apps to begin with.

I ditched my Windows laptop for an iPad a couple of years ago (sticking with a Windows desktop), because it was both convenient and practical to do so. If MS really are giving me the option of sticking with my old workflow in a Windows 8 update, then I'll be looking to make the switch back soon.

User Journal

Journal: Reflections on the last generation's console games

Journal by RogueyWon
We're now at the point, I think, where the Playstation 4 and Xbox One have ceased to be "next generation" consoles and become "current generation". Their predecessors aren't quite ready for retirement yet; the PS3, in particular, has a fairly impressive line-up of releases over the next few months, running all the way to Persona 5 early next year. But those late releases (and we did see a similar long-tail for the PS2 last time around) are outliers now; a by-product of the risk aversion which, f

Comment: Re:Superior pilots (Score 1) 103

by RogueyWon (#46765069) Attached to: Your <em>StarCraft II</em> Potential Peaked At Age 24

Jumping genres for a moment...

A decade ago, in my early/mid 20s (while I was a post-grad student), I was a fairly high level Counter-Strike player. Not one of the greats, but certainly good enough to pull my weight in a team which managed to take home the occasional bit of prize money in tournaments. However, three things happened which meant that I moved on from that phase.

First, I finished studying and got a job. While the hours I was working were probably only slightly longer than the hours I'd been studying (postgrad can be harsh), I now had much less flexibility over which specific hours I worked. I also had a commute that ate up another couple of hours every day.

Second, I started to really dislike the online gaming scene. I got tired of the foul-mouthed kiddies on the public servers and the up-their-own-backside sponsor-obsessed "pro" players. As well as being a player, I was also a league admin and organiser, so I spent a lot of time dealing with this and the bigger "pro" gaming got, the more toxic the high end community got.

But most importantly for the subject at hand, I realised that I'd hit a plateau in terms of how well I was able to play the game. My aim and reactions were probably good enough to allow me to progress further. Not to the very top tiers, but certainly to a higher level than I was playing at. But my judgement and temperament weren't suited for it and resulted in a lot of mistakes of the kind that you can't afford at that level of play. So while I never went cold turkey, over the 6 months after starting a new job, I basically scaled down from being a hardcore competitive player to being an occasional dabbler in public servers. And then over the next few years, I basically gave up on competitive multiplayer entirely (continuing to play a lot of singleplayer and co-op games).

And then, last summer, for a brief window, I got into the Counter-Strike re-release.

Somewhat to my surprise, I was still very good at the game. However, when I recorded some replays and then went back and watched them, it was clear that in my mid-30s, I was good at it in a very different way to how I'd been a decade earlier. My aim was still ok, but my reactions were lethargic compared to how they'd been in the past. I had, however, gotten a lot more patient and a lot sneakier. The kiddies hopping around the levels at full speed could not doubt have picked me apart in a face to face fight, but I was making sure they never got the chance.

So yeah... I suspect that as one set of skills fades with age, some players will develop other traits and skills that offset that. A decline in clicks-per-minute with no corresponding decline in match results in Starctaft 2 would seem to fit that pattern.

Comment: No great revelation (Score 5, Interesting) 109

by RogueyWon (#46749669) Attached to: Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London
Don't get me wrong, it's a good and valuable piece of journalism. But I doubt the findings will be a surprise to anybody who's lived in the more central areas of London (or any other major UK city), outside of a few sheltered enclaves.

I lived for a few years living around the New Cross/Bermondsey area (south of the river, but similar in demographic to the areas in TFA) and there were always a few electronics shops whose existence seemed fundamentally implausible if their business was founded on anything other than handling stolen goods. I avoided them like the plague, but they were generally pretty resilient businesses - and if one closed down, another would spring up a few streets away. I'm not saying that any business which looks a bit grungy is dishonest. I've made some good purchases at backstreet computer stores which get good prices on the back of low overheads and connections with legitimate suppliers (though such places are rare these days since the online boom). But there's a certain type of business which is offering games consoles or other commodity goods at the kind of prices that just make you go "hmm".

Hell, even going back well before that, I can remember independent video games stores "Ooop North" (from the tail end of the period before the big chains drove most of them to the wall, around the early PS1/N64 era) who were well known among my teenaged peers for staying in business on the basis of a combination of modchipping and fencing stolen goods. In fact, I remember one very close to my school being raided by police and shut down (presumably after crossing some nebulous line into their visible spectrum). Provided a fascinating distraction during the middle of an otherwise dull day at school.

As the whole modchipping thing implies, these have never been businesses run by people without a degree of tech-savvy. It's no surprise that they've moved onto circumventing mobile phone protections. And I bet you'd find similar businesses in, at the very least, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow.

There have even been suggestions - though I offer no comment as to their veracity - that a well-known red-logoed chain of second hand electronics stores with a presence in almost every town in the UK might sometimes be less than choosy about checking the provenance of the goods it accepts.

Comment: Re:Karma? (Score 1) 183

by RogueyWon (#46591213) Attached to: Xbox One Reputation System Penalizes Gamers Who Behave Badly

There's been a "karma" system for Xbox Live accounts pretty much since the launch of the 360. You look at somebody's gamer card and they have a star rating out of 5 clearly viewable. The change here is that, for the first time, they're making it have actual consequences.

A lot of the posts in this thread so far are about the potential for abuse. I've played on on Xbox Live on and off since the days of the original Xbox and have seen the old "consequence free" system in operation for a while. By and large, my experience so far has been that it tends to average out reasonably well over time. I'm sat on a reputation of around 4.7/5.0 and most people on my friends list are in similar positions. The only guy who is significantly lower (just under 3.5) plays a lot of Call of Duty. My experience is that spending any significant amount of time playing the big spunkgargleweewee games is a good way to get karma-bombed even if you are the most charming player in the world, due to the general level of anger and immaturity in the communities for those games.

Comment: Re:It requires real hardware. (Score 1) 126

You've summarised the hardware purist argument pretty well. However, Sony and MS both had good reasons for pitching their technology at the level they did.

First, they'd waited more than long enough already to replace their old hardware. The 360/PS3 generation was the longest console generation on record and almost certainly ran longer than was good for either Sony or MS's business. It gave PC gaming (remember when that was dying) a shot in the arm to the point where it started eating the consoles' lunch and it resulted in a sales-fatigue for games that did a lot of commercial harm to a lot of developers. The story of the last 18 months of the 360 and PS3 was "new title launches, sales massively underperform previous game from that developer/previous game in the series". If they'd waited another year or two, home console gaming might actually have died - or at least, MS and Sony may have lost their place in it (Nintendo are functionally irrelevant now anyway).

Second, they have to think about hardware unit price. Push the spec too high and your unit price rises to the point where consumers lose interest. Sony have been burned before with the PS3 on launching with a high price tag and taking too long to get sales momentum as a result.

Third, you have to think about what games developers are actually capable of producing. The jump to the 720p average on the 360/PS3 was horribly difficult for most developers and the increase in costs wiped many out. The jump to the XB-One/PS4 hardware will be hard enough for developers. Few, if any of them, are in a position to finance games that would make good use of 4k resolutions.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"