Dude’s Chronicles 6-30-2016: Into the Holiday

americanflag-1qe9980It’s been a brutally busy week going into a holiday that is going to be busy. This is going to be a short post, so let’s get to it.

Entertainment!

There is…

  • Independence Day: Resurgence – Words cannot begin to describe how bad this movie was. I went in to the lowest of expectations and it still underperformed.
  • Game of Thrones – The season finale hit strong and helped make up for the times I felt like the season was lagging. Looking forward to next season.

 Games!

  • The Division – So far the update is good. I haven’t tried the new Incursion but I am enjoying the Underground.

News!

  • Bioshock remasters – I would be excited about this if I liked these games. I’m glad other people are happy for this but I just never got into the first two games, although I did enjoy Infinite.
  • Batman remasters – The idea of remastering these games didn’t appeal to me to begin with but the fact that they delayed it indefinitely is not a good sign. Perhaps all the issues with Arkham Knight’s release has made them a tad more cautious.
  • Stolen artwork – Ford steals from Firewatch and Orion steals from Call of Duty. You mean not everything in a Google search is fair-use?

I hope you all enjoy the holiday. See you next week!

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

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Unemployment: It Sucks but You’ll Be OK

gb-e3-2016-jvWhile listening to Giant Bomb’s post-E3 coverage, they took a bit of a momentary break from the hilarity to address an issue that got me thinking about my own experiences. During their coverage of the last night of E3, Jeff Gerstmann and John Vignocchi started talking about unemployment. This came up because of Vignocchi is loosing his job at Disney Interactive Studios due to the studio’s closure by Disney.

Gertsmann spoke of his departure from GameSpot after the infamous Kane & Lynch episode. His tales of those days after being terminated sounded very familiar to me. Going home and drinking for a few days trying to figure out what just happened. Knowing that you need to move on but not knowing how. Along of this is the self-doubt and questioning of your own talent.

Like Gertsmann, I was once fired. It was a combination of me being a bad employee and the company being a bad employer. Not to give specifics, there were somethings that the company did at the time that I felt were a combination of questionable business practices and stupidity. What did me in was that I chose to handle them in an immature manner with my attitude of “I know everything, everybody else is wrong”.

Unfortunately, there is darkness before the light. The days of facing yourself and your failures are terrible and long. Searching for any job that you may be interested in can seem daunting at the least. The mental toil can be bad enough to cause physical or psychological issues. The hardest thing to do is to stay positive and focused but it is absolutely necessary. Make sure you take time to distract yourself once in a while, like watch a movie or read a book just to get your mind off of your issues. The people around you can be your greatest asset, so make sure you have a lot of support.

Proving that things do get better, I have done well after being fired and I think Gertsmann has done well. I’ve been at my current employer for well over ten years. It may not be the perfect or ideal job but it has been good for me. Giant Bomb has been a huge success, so much so that it was bought out by CBS, the same company that owns GameSpot.

The video games industry can be a volatile one and has potential to cause casualties at any time. Vignocchi and all his co-workers are unfortunate victims of this. If I could say anything to Vignocchi or anybody else facing unemployment, I would encourage them to believe in themselves and their talents. If you were qualified enough to be doing the job you had, there is another company that will value your skills. Just be patient. Also, take what just happened and learn as much as you can from it. I learned to grow up and be more level headed as well as how employees and employers should and should not treat each other.

Every time I see a studio or any branch of the industry close for any reason, I think about these things. My thoughts and best wishes go out to them with the hopes that they will land at some place even better and help create something wonderful.

dudewantshisrug-profile

Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 6-23-2016: The Quest for Sleep

Image via queretarotv.com

Image via queretarotv.com

This post is a little early since I’ll likely pass out soon after working a mix of day and midnight shifts. If anything seems more incoherent than normal that is why.

Entertainment!

There is…

  • Other People’s Money – You might be down with OPP but are you down with OPM? No, it is just a comedy starring Danny DeVito but it is pretty good.
  • Game of Thrones – I feel like this episode should have happened and episode or two earlier. Entertaining nonetheless.
  • The Usual Suspects – Still a good movie but now I see more flaws in it than I ever did.
  • Reservoir Dogs – My favorite Tarantino movie, even above Pulp Fiction.

 Games!

  • The Division – I’m not too enthusiastic about this game going into the 1.3 update. Not sure how much I’ll even play until then.

News!

  • No Man’s Sky is allowed to use the word ‘sky’ – After settling a three year legal battle, Hello Games can official use the word sky after an undisclosed settlement with Sky TV. I’m no legal expert but how can anyone own such a common term? What would the game have been called if they couldn’t use sky? No Man’s Area Between Earth and Space? No Man’s Place Between Heaven and Earth? No Man’s Place in the Clouds?

I’m going to go get some sleep.

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Is the Xbox One S Doomed?

Image via xbox.com

Image via xbox.com

Even though the Xbox One S was just announced, it faces an uncertain future. The raw numbers alone can tell a person that Microsoft is clearly behind in the race of this console generation. The rough numbers tell us that Sony has out sold Microsoft to the tune of 2-to-1 with approximately 40 million units sold as compared to 20 million. If the hopes were that the Xbox One S would help mitigate this deficiency, then expectations may need adjusted. Even with the base model of the Xbox One S starting at $299, there may be few looking to buy it.

The announcement of this new console could be seen as ill-timed at best. Telling people that a slightly better version of the console they could buy today is only two or so months away will likely stop some sales. Those that were on the fence about getting an Xbox One if they didn’t have one already now have more factors to confuse and frustrate them. On one hand, they could get the current/original console right now and save a few dollars(the price is $279 at the time this was written) but then they have the old stock item and not the latest. On the other hand, waiting two more months to get the newer hardware isn’t that long to wait if you’ve held out for two and a half years already. Microsoft has further blundered this by sending mixed reports of which flavor of the new console will be available in August. Reports are that the more expensive 2TB model will release in August, followed later by the 1TB and 500GB models.

Those that already own an Xbox One will see little to any benefit of purchasing the system. The somewhat trivial uptick of having 4k support is lost when you have to factor in also needing a 4k capable television or monitor. Other than that, there is little or no advantage to the newer console. The smaller form factor and internal power supply would be nice but they surely don’t justify the cost. Perhaps those few that possess the burning desire to have the newest thing will buy it but then they will likely trade in their old system which results in a net zero gain for Microsoft’s installation base. The likelihood that trade-ins will flood the market with cheap Xbox Ones and help the marketshare grow is low at best.

Then add in the Scorpio factor. At the same conference as the official reveal of the Xbox One S, Microsoft confirms the development of the next Xbox console codename Project Scorpio. Given the release timeframe of Holiday 2017, this is may make those with the current Xbox One even less likely to invest in the Xbox One S. Consider those that do purchase the Xbox One S and the chances are low that they are going to reinvest in Scorpio only twelve to sixteen months later. This puts Xbox One S owners in the same situation that Xbox One owners are facing with the Xbox One S. Even if one ignores those factors, it is unclear as to what the advantages of Project Scorpio are going to be since Microsoft has been unclear with their messaging about the new hardware.

The Xbox One S may become its own victim. The timing of the release puts it in an awkward position of fighting both its predecessor and successor. Whereas Microsoft found success with the Xbox 360 S release, it is positioned to falter with its latest attempt. The Xbox 360 S didn’t offer any upgrades over the existing Xbox 360 other than a shiny new case. This is in contrast to the position of the Xbox One S being billed as an incremental improvement of the Xbox One. Being less than three years into a console’s life seems early to be offering an upgrade. Offering two upgraded consoles within a year of each other seems even more odd.

Ultimately, time will tell if the Xbox One S is a success. There is a market of people that don’t own an Xbox One but it is hard to tell if what the Xbox One S offers is enough to get them to buy in.

 

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 6-16-2016: Post E3

Image via e3expo.com

Image via e3expo.com

Whether you watched it or not, E3 this year had some great news but lacked that blockbuster feel. With so much either being leaked or announced before the show, the biggest moments of this year’s E3 did feel that big. Sure there was a lot to take it in but that shock factor just wasn’t there.

Entertainment!

Well…

  • Talladega Nights – When you just need a good laugh…Will Farrell in one of his dumbest movies. Nice.
  • Game of Thrones – With the season almost over, I thought they would be deeper into a few things but alas they are not. There are only two episodes left to air for this season and I fear they won’t cover all that I want to see.
  • The Marian – Jason Bourne goes to Mars. That was how it started anyway and kept that feel for a while but in the end it felt like a very different movie than how it started. Very enjoyable and worth another watch.

 Games!

  • The Division – Of course but not as much. I played solo for a bit gathering some intel to do HVT’s but that was about it for most of the weekend. I was off work Monday so I jumped into matchmaking for Clear Sky and went with the same group through Falcon Lost. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any gear worth mentioning but it was good to play with the group I had and I enjoyed it.
  • Alienation – Well…I wish things had gone better. I still want to play more of it and hopefully finish the campaign but it has become more of a side mission than something I am concentrating on.

News!

With E3 happening this week, there has been a lot of news and buzz. I watched and wrote about some of the conferences.

  • EA – This show was a awkward and janky as EA’s conference is every year. My big take away was that Titanfall 2 looks awesome and I’m more excited about Battlefield 1 than I thought I would be.
  • Bethesda – This show didn’t do much for me but I looks like they have a solid line up, just nothing that appeals directly to me.
  • Microsoft – I’m a PlayStation fanboy for the most part but I was impressed by Microsoft’s presentation. The only thing that got to me is how hard they were emphasizing their exclusives. I don’t put a lot of stock in console exclusives. Also, I don’t think this is Microsoft’s strongest selling point. My thoughts are that they can improve their total platform and lower their console price to get more players on board.
  • Ubisoft – In my opinion, this was one of the best conferences. Well paced and all about games with the exception of the Assassin’s Creed movie. I have more hope for Watch Dogs 2 than I had planned on and want to see more.
  • Sony – As I stated earlier, I am a PlayStation fanboy. With that said, I was not impressed with Sony’s conference. There wasn’t much sustenance and it was poorly paced. There was a lot of flash but no meat. Every time they got to that point where you expected the huge detail or big surprise, they simply moved to the next topic. Death Stranding from Kojima was the biggest buzz from the show but again, lots of flash, little meat.

E3 was a tremendous show this year for gamers and we have a lot to look forward to. The only problem is that much of it is further off than we would like it to be.

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Struggling With Alienation

alienationHousemarque is a marquee name in the genre of dual-stick arcade shooters but this game is not their best.

Earth has been invaded by an alien force. Unbeknownst to most of humanity, it happened a long time ago but was covered up by the world’s governments. We find ourselves at the point of extinction with little recourse. A group of scientists have developed mechanized suits for Earth’s remaining soldiers and it is their duty to push into enemy held territory and save humanity.

Having played Resogun and Dead Nation from Housemarque, I had high hopes for this game. My hopes were that it was going to be as accessible and fun as their previous titles, as well as give me what I had wanted Helldivers(from Arrowhead Game Studios) to be. The game has great graphics and controls. The level of detail for this type of game is somewhat astounding since you can watch smoke roll from an explosion and see every detail of it. The feel and variance of the controls make combat a thoughtful balance of using abilities, switching weapons, and escaping when needed. Something this game has that other Housemarque games did not is a loot system. Weapons and upgrades can drop from enemies and these drops can vary based on the game difficulty you choose to play. The lowest level gives the lowest reward and harder levels give the best.

The design of the game makes it a semi-linear environment placed in an open-world. You are given and taken through a set of staged missions that present the story to you. The missions take you across the globe and help vary the environments you see. However, you will find that missions will send you back to areas and you will have to complete different objectives while exploring previously unseen portions of the map. While you are running your missions, you will see a flair of the open-worldness of the game when icons on the map indicate that there is a side mission or boss fight to complete that is not part of the standard mission. These occurrences offer their own rewards for completing them such as additional loot drops.

While the game is fun to play, its own mechanics make it frustrating. I began my play trough on the easiest setting, Rookie, just so that I could experience the game and get familiar with its system. This was a fine course of action for a time but around the eighth mission it became a huge problem. The next mission I was tasked with did not offer a Rookie setting and when I went into it I found my self tragically unready for it. None of my weapons or abilities were up to par for the task, I was quickly and easily murdered. The only resolution I found was to go back through and replay all of the previous missions, several times, on harder difficulties in order to get the weapons and XP I needed to be ready for the fight ahead.

The issue of grinding is not new for loot based and RPG games. Alienation is subject to this the same as other games but the frustration comes nonetheless. The issue of being underpowered rose again several missions after the initial incident and required the same remedy. Then I quickly found myself unready for combat because as a “reward” for my progress enemies had become harder and more frequent. The plus side was to be the opportunity for more and better loot but the prospect falls flat when you can’t even survive. When I am level nineteen and my enemies are level twenty-four, I feel that I don’t stand a fair chance.

The game’s handling of enemy encounters is no help in the matter. Random hordes will spawn with the alert “Horde Approaching” giving the player a few seconds to collect themselves. Normally these hordes are controllable but as you progress through the game they scale up in not only the multitude of enemies but also their toughness. More and more enemies that are harder and harder to kill. A specific case how this can be at its worst happened when I was trying to activate the final objective on a mission, only to find a boss fight that was not part of the mission in the area I needed to access and while I was fighting said boss a horde spawned. Unfortunately, I did not survive and had to backtrack thorough much of the mission in order to complete it.

Housemarque did not make Alienation as accessible nor enjoyable as their previous games. The ramping of difficulty seemed unnatural for any game and even more out of place when compared to the studio’s earlier works.  Having wanted to romp through the game for a good time, I find myself disappointed at needing to grind away just to make any progress. Two months into the game I find that I still have not completed it and my desire to do so is waning. Dead Nation this game is not, although it shares much of the same pedigree and if one is looking for that experience they are best to go back to that game.

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Sony at E3 2016

ps-e3Sony rounds out the day with…

  • God of War 4(?) – Kratos has a son that he must raise and the demo begins with a hunt. The demo shows Kratos in a new environment that he must survive. There was much that felt like the old God of War games but much that felt new. The extensive look was bold and refreshing for the series.
  • Days Gone – A cinematic feature tells a tale of a world gone wrong and a love lost. A live demo came later in the show, the third-person survival game ached of desolation. Turns out that it is yet another zombie game, not necessarily bad but needs to have its own identity(I just didn’t see it).
  • The Last Guardian – A trailer with the date October 25, 2016. Release date? Let’s say yes.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn – A third-person trailer shows the heroine traversing passed corrupt machines. Then taking control of a beast to get to her objective. The combat of this long look was varied and intense. Slated for February 28, 2017.
  • Detroit: Become Human – The android based game that let’s you investigate and rebuild the scenario. Not clear on how this approach goes throughout the game other than the one sequence that was shown.
  • Resident Evil: Biohazard – January 24, 2017 release date for the next game in the franchise. Will also be on PSVR when released.
  • PSVR – October 13, 2016 release date in US with 50 games. Price tag of $399, likely a base model without PS Move controllers but it was not specified.
  • Farpoint – A brief cinematic trailer for the PSVR game was played.
  • Star Wars Battlefron X-Wing VR mission – So quick you could have missed it.
  • Batman Arkham VR – Teaser with Joker voice over for PSVR.
  • Final Fantasy XV – A blend of cinematic and gameplay shown with the September 30, 2016 date. There seemed to be a tease of VR support.
  • Call of Duty: infinite Warfare – FPS with mechs and outer space environments. Yet another game with grappling hook action, a recurring theme for this year.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warefare Remastered – Yep, what is old is new.
  • Crash Bandicoot Remastered – Coming first in Skylanders in October but followed by a remaster of the original games.
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The LEGO comical take on the latest Star Wars movie. The demo is immediately available.
  • Death Stranding – Kojima Productions… Was that Norman Reedus? Not sure what it is about but looked promising.
  • Spider-Man – Insomniac Games takes on the next game in the character’s franchise.

The show closed out with a Days Gone demo followed up with a montage of many things coming to the PS4. It was a somewhat disjointed show and definitely not the best from Sony. They already addressed the NEO console so that was not a concern but this showcase seemed a bit hurried an over packed. The pacing just felt like it was off and could have been handled better. The early content was long and the late content was short. Still, Sony has a lot of promise with what it is offering but with the NEO vs Scorpio battle I may have to give the early nod to Scorpio. Given the huge lead Sony has in console sales, VR and games could keep propelling it into the near and distant future.

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.