I’d play that: The Assassin’s Creed universe has gone to the formation of the brotherhood in Middle East, they’ve gone to Renaissance Italy, pre-Revolutionary Americas through the Revolutionary war, revolutionary Paris and are going to London during the Victorian era in the next installment. The extended fiction has touched on Chinese assassins, ancient Roman assassins, and Russian assassins but one thing the fans keep asking for is Japan. It makes sense, Ninjas are a brother hood of Assassins so why not make Ninjas part of the creed? Ubisoft have, up until now, felt this was low hanging fruit. The closest they have come is a 2.5D side scroller that has been postponed due to the Unity issues and I’ve always kind of understood where they were coming from.
That is until I saw the work of Vin Hill, a Brit living in Japan he penned some stunning concept art over at his online portfolio with the idea of how he would design a Japanese Assassin’s Creed title. I have to say, he won me over within a couple of sketches. Ubisoft, I don’t know if you are reading this but if you are, hire this guy right now! (Source Vin Hill’s portfolio)
Zombies are not just flesh eating monsters but a term used for hijacked devices that make up the backbone of attacks over the internet. Lizard Squad using default logins infected consumer electronics to operate as devices spamming networks. Basically anything that connects to your router had a chance to be infected and used to bring down your connection to the Microsoft or Sony networks… charming! (Source Digital Trends and Polygon
Making matters worse: So, one of the big issues that Lizard Squad did effectively highlight over the holidays was our dependence of server side authentication and networks. Rumors surfaced over the last few weeks that Sony is pushing for the PS5 (which of course they are already working on) to be free of media. Basically no disks, all online (and people bitched about Microsoft going too far too fast with their initial Xbox One launch plans). One fork in this strategy was PlayStation Now, a game rental service where you could play all your old PS3 or earlier games over again (at a rental cost). After the spectacularly failure prone launch with insulting rental prices and ridiculous connection problems it appears they have ironed out the kinks and have transitioned from a rental fee to a subscription fee.
For 15 dollars a month you can get access to the ENTIRE PlayStation Now catalogue. That’s not too shabby, many feel this may be the first foray in to the end of the traditional console and the move to cloud based consoles where you rent games as a service and hardware upgrades become a thing of the past as the heavy lifting is handled by the server side. The problem with this is in many places in the world high speed internet has caps, isn’t all that high speed, and is entirely not reliable. Add to that the charming folks over at Lizard Squad and you can understand the concerns people may have. (Source Ars Technica)
Innovating for a mysterious tomorrow: Sony isn’t the only one playing with different concepts, Microsoft has a ton of technology that they have never or will ever release, much of it an exercise in creating patents and standards. It’s easier and more cost effective to own the technology behind the device than the device itself (hence the royalty going to Microsoft for every Android phone sold). This has included the device that eventually grew in to the Kinect, their Home control technologies, and even something that’s almost Holodeck like in nature.
Little is known about what this team will be doing but with the apparent shift to Virtual Reality with Oculus and Sony leading the charge, the evolution of game media, and the changes to the nature of the games people are playing the world is literally wide open. All I know is it will certainly be an interesting next few years for gamers. (Source Gamespot)
Innovation Station: Microsoft aren’t the only ones innovating though, now that Sony has announced their close to 18 million PlayStation 4 units shipped globally it looks like they are starting to turn their attention to some of the features that Microsoft has and they don’t, the first being PlayStation Vue a streaming service for Sony customers. While Microsoft has taken the approach of allowing you to use an HDMI pass-through to continue to use your own PVR and simply feed controls through to the console Sony is instead offering their own streaming service with about 75 networks per market basically making them a defacto cable provider (which may turn in to something more difficult than they were looking for).
Not everything is sunshine and streaming services though, Sony’s much hyped launch in to the Chinese market has been indefinitely delayed with no reason provided. This could be as simple as them cannibalizing the stock set aside for the Chinese release to provide consoles to other more high profit markets or something more. Sony is being tight lipped about this and is not being any more open about when they will launch in the region. (Source Polygon here and here and VG247)
Something in the shadows stirs: Much ado was made about the upcoming Shadow Realms property being created by Bioware. There was little known beyond it being an Urban-Fantasy style setting with magic and monsters in a contemporary world, the content would be episodic, and it had a very creepy series of intro trailers. The game would be much like the original intent of the Never Winter series, a DM style player would be the “Shadow Lord” and control the environment while a team of four players would set out to beat them. It appears that everything has not been going well on the project with rumors circulating that while the project is not dead it is in trouble. Apparently it’s being dialed back to square one, some rumors indicate it is to more closely integrate EA’s Origin systems. Time will tell what this means. (Source Kotaku)
Never trust the marketing team: Paul Dini has been a part of the Batman world for some time giving us the miraculous DCAU cartoons of the 90s and early 2000s. When the Arkham Asylum games started development he was brought in and positioned them as a continuation of the DCAU story line. We saw the death of the Joker in Arkham City and Arkham Knight appears to take place some years after these events. It appears that the marketing team may have spoiled the big reveal. I will not do so, if you want to read more about the spoiler click here but this is why you never trust the boys and girls in marketing… EVER. (Source VideoGamer.com)
Do you want the good news or the bad news: Steam has been trying to position itself as the platform of choice in the living room for a while, this was basically broken in to three initiatives. The first was their Steam Machine platform, basically a “Nintendo Approved” style system where third party OEMs would work with them to create devices at the price point and design that they said was worthy of their brand. This was dependent on two other initiatives, the first being the SteamOS a custom built Linux distro designed for entertainment. This has been progressing but VERY slowly (and has been considered by many Linux users as a sub-par experience) and the Steam Controller. The Steam Controller and Steam OS were both slated to be released in “late 2014” but missed that target (leaving some OEMs like Alienware on the hook with hardware they had to then repurpose and sell to hit bottom line). It appears thanks to Origin PC CEO Kevin Wasieleski we have a bit more of an idea where things stand. During last week’s CES he spilled that the Steam Controller has in fact gone through another revision and is close to release with this being the final version and we will hear more at GDC (which seems to be borne out by the fact Valve have discussed a big announcement at GDC 2015).
The bad news though, Wasieleski has said that the Steam Machine initiative is pretty much dead. As an OEM partner he’s the exact person outside Valve’s cone of silence who would know. Indicating that there is no movement and OEMs are just moving forward this could mean that the Steam OS is not far behind. A big part of the Steam Machine environment was to leverage the OS and make it a viable gaming platform. If people are just using Big Picture mode with a Windows 8 build it kind of destroys the entire marketing and brand objective of the Steam platform to make it the industry standard for living room entertainment. It would appear that Valve through their dithering have lost control of the narrative and are showing their ineffectual management style is holding them back. (Source Gamespot)
Nice try Lawnmower Man you are not God here: Remember back in the 90s when there was the first “Virtual Reality explosion”? It was characterized by insane control schemes, terrible and clunky helmets and basically being the least comfortable thing you could ask to wear. Oculus turned that around with their work with the Rift making it an experience that people have forgotten they are even wearing. Not even released to public that hasn’t stopped hardware firm 3DHead from releasing their own “Oculus Killer” unfortunately for them it looks like the bastard child of a prop from Johnny Mnemonic and Lawnmower Man not to mention the control scheme is madness and the technology is… basic to say the least but if we’re already getting $595 dollar knock of hack job products that would lead me to think those folks over at Oculus may be on to something. (Source Engadget)
If anything will do it: There comes a point when people will stop buying things, this has happened in the past with desktop and laptop PCs, mobile phones and now tablets. If there is no real reason to upgrade and a viable marketing case isn’t able to be made people will skip something. This is why 3D TV never really took off.
Well apparently the next generation of Blu-ray is already ready for market and it’s called Ultra-HD Blu-ray to allow for playback on 4k TVs. Problem is, when most people can use devices to stream this content on to a TV why get an entire new playback device? Time will tell if this is another Betmax or a winner like VHS. (Source Tweaktown)
You too can be Pew: Streaming yourself playing game is something that a lot of people enjoy, Let’s Play videos have led to some of the most highly paid and famous YouTube celebrities like the multi-millionaire Pewdiepie. Hey, I don’t get it, but each to their own.
Some console manufacturers and IP holders have been less than friendly towards the idea with Nintendo allowing the videos to stay up but taking all revenue generated by them while others have remained vague like Atlas and some like Riot Games have embraced the concept. Microsoft has recently decided to break their silence (which is smart especially given their direct Twitch integration and own video service) and come out with a statement about the concept of game streaming. In short, they’re cool with it (as long as you don’t get too cussy or start porning out while gaming… which has happened). The only catch is if you use their platform they can use you in advertising, while this may not be as awesome as some people would want but it’s a lot better than Nintendo’s “you can do it but we keep your cash”. (Source GameInformer)
Evolution isn’t always a good thing: So, Evolve has gone gold which has led to some good things and some bad things. Good first, Turtle Rock have released an epic trailer (see below) that’s pretty neat. They also decided to give 22 thousand dollars to charity as part of the celebration. In a weird way to celebrate the development team did a variation of the “playoff beard” where they all grew their hair long over the development cycle and the studio chipped in 50 dollars per inch of hair to go to Child’s Play, $22,750 dollars to be exact (or 450 inches of hair worth). That’s a lot of hair. Added to this January 15th will see an open beta on the Xbox One (their lead platform) with progress carrying forward into release. Additionally there will be limited betas on PC and PS4 to follow.
Now the slightly not cool, as a pre-order enticement they are unlocking all content. That’s not to say you can’t get the other monsters or characters in the game if you don’t pre-order nor is it as shady as having to pay for them but they are locked until you progress through the game. If you want them you have to either pay for it early or play for it. Given that there will be an open beta, you can at least take it for a spin but this is a trend in the gaming market that should not be encouraged. (Source Joystiq, Polygon and VG247)
It wouldn’t be a week without Destiny: This week it was announced that a patch will be dropping to fix some of the more insane exploits in the Crota content. This will hopefully mean an end to people soloing 8 man raids. In more fun news though recently a Destiny fan with CAD skills and a 3D printer was able to create a pretty nifty (and sort of working) 3D printed model of the Thorn epic hand cannon from the game. So, if you have access to a 3D printer you too can have this awesome pistol! (Source 3Ders, MyMiniFactory, Joystiq)
Not good, very not good: Last week speculation that The Elder Scrolls Online may be in trouble based on the removal of their six month subscription tier, speculation was only fueled even further this week with all copies of the game being pulled from EB stores period. Bathesda has been mum on the goings on and EB says it’s simply removing “surplus stock” as it has for other titles but there’s a big difference between “surplus” and all copies everywhere including pre-paid cards. Expect a server shut down or free to play version shortly. My heart goes out to their community managers. (Source Kotaku)
Nintendon’t Samba: Nintendo has officially halted sale of the Wii U in Brazil due to tariffs. Nintendo has stated that while they would like to continue to sell in the Central American country trade protection is so strict the console is simply not affordable. The cost of a Wii U in Brazil is R$ 1,899 (to put that in perspective that’s R$ 99 more than the PS4 and converts in to 721 US Dollars for the usually $299 dollar system. With a national average disposable income of 938 USD that’s pretty much all the fun money most people have for an entire year! (Source Joystiq)
Far Crying Shame: Microsoft recently accidentally delisted Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 from their marketplace breaking all digital copies of the game. The game itself was not meant to be delisted but once removed all digital copies stopped functioning and even after re-downloading the title it remained unable to launch. Speculation was this was due to Microsoft’s DRM system but Microsoft indicated this was not the case but a glitch. What the truth is, we’ll probably never know, but the game has since been returned and everyone is able to get back to Honey Badger Baiting. (Source Joystiq)
Get your Game On: MLG, Microsoft and Activision team up once again for a showdown of pro-Call of Duty players. This year with Advanced Warfare players vying for their share of 1 Million Dollars in prizes, and my mom said playing video games would never get me rich! (Source Joystiq)
Virtual Stuff for your Virtual Person: Rare and Microsoft introduced their Avatars with the 360, these have crept out to the other Xbox experiences including the Windows Phone, PC and Xbox One but in a much reduced level. It would appear that Microsoft is looking to touch up the gawky virtual representations of ourselves and have posted job listings looking for talent working across multiple platforms highlighting their “unified operating system” and “product experiences across Microsoft” and as part of that they are going to take Avatars to “the next level.” In other words, “hey people were crazy enough to buy fake designer clothes for pretend them before let’s see if they’ll do it again”. See my thoughts on below from the amazing Sci-fi show Black Mirror. (Source Joystiq and Eurogamer)
Infinity and Beyond: Beamdog the developers of the re-release of Balder’s Gate and Balder’s Gate II have recently released a blog that indicates they are going to drop a game in the gap between the first and second Balder’s Gate titles using the Infinity Engine that designed the originals. Retro-gaming for the win! (Source Joystiq and Beamdog)
There gets to be a point where people stop caring: SquareEnix is known for the long development cycle on its titles. There are Final Fantasy titles that have slipped entire generations, one of their most hotly anticipated titles is Kingdom of Hearts 3 and recently a rumour circulated stating a release date. That was then denied by Square executives shutting down the rumor. What they don’t seem to understand is, if they don’t eventually release it people are simply not going to care, kids who played the original are now almost grown up and it’s a bit harder to entice a 30 year old to play a Disney game than a kid. (Source Joystiq)
Nifty NYKO: Accessory manufacturers NYKO have removed the hassle from installing a replacement PS4 hard drive. With their new Data Bank kit you can now slot in new drives including larger sized 3.5 inch models to up your PS4 game. Given the PS4’s lack of support for external media this is a workaround that may make it a little less annoying to upgrade your storage options (even if it looks like crap). (Source Joystiq)
Free to Frag: Planetside 2 has been a hot Free to Play title on the PC for some time, SOE’s follow up to their successful Planetside title has been in development for the PS4 for some time and a closed beta has finally been announced for the PS4 platform. If you are interested in massive large scale combat you can sign up for the beta here. (Source Joystiq)
Patch Adams: Halo’s Master Chief Collection has been consistently updated week after week and taking a break over the holidays the development team have come back and indicated next week we’ll see another round of patches. We don’t have details but I’m assuming yet more tweaks to their match making and fixes to their playlists. (Source Joystiq)
Memories: Remember those point and click adventures, the old school 8 and 16 bit PC gaming experiences? Well, you too can relive those memories of the Halcion days of the late 80s and early 90s for free! Archive.Org has made available 2386 classic titles for you to play. One of the great things is this helps preserve the history of a genre that by its nature is impermanent including titles from Oregon Trail to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego to the Fellowship of the Ring adaptation! (Source Joystiq)
Please take this free stuff and forgive us: Ubisoft’s attempt at currying favour with their Assassin’s Creed fan base culminates with the release of the new free Dead Kings DLC content next week. Taking place in the anarchy after the revolution this is another big chunk of playable content. Will it make up for the months of glitches? Time will tell. (Source Joystiq)
Well I’d not have done that: Look, I’m not saying Scarlett Johansson is not a great actress, she is. When directed appropriately and not type cast as a distant monotone killing machine (or distant monotone best friend… or distant monotone sort of lover in a strange country) she can really shine. Her work in Hitchcock and Don Jon showed this woman is a pro but people seldom use her to her full potential. The casting of Johansson as Kusangai is not only potentially a disaster if not directed well, it’s another case of white washing that will ultimately prove detrimental to the film. This isn’t a biblical epic directed by a film maker who’s last few films have been of questionable quality, this is a niche market piece directed at a geek audience. These are the specific people who will get their knickers in a knot over the fact a white red haired woman has been cast in the role of a purple haired Japanese cyborg. This is the kind of situation where if you cast a Japanese actress this would have worked in the film’s favour. I’m curious to see how the movie will turn out but if it’s entirely white washed the film will tank and spectacularly so. (Source Variety)
Say it aint so Cap: Chris Evans is a pretty awesome guy, his recent arm provided to Betty White at the People’s Choice awards shows how much of a class act he is. Just because he’s a class act though doesn’t mean he’s above taking money from big corporations (Disney) and doing ads for kind of lame cash ins (Activision’s Call of Duty F2P Chinese shooter). So, if you’re in China you may have seen him in an ad for a crappy adaptation of Call of Duty or if you have the internet you can see it here. (Source Polygon)
New Style Johnny Five: Neill Blomkamp has directed some pretty awesome movies, his most recent film Chappie looks to continue that trend. We’ve shown the trailer before but a recently released updated trailer continues to bring the awesome. (Source Polygon)
Super Size It: Last week we saw an ant sized trailer for Ant-Man this week we got the full version with the launch of the awesome Agent Peggy Carter TV show (a must watch for Marvel fans). Check out this trailer, I’m not sure what I think but it looks shiny enough. (Source Polygon)
Downton Fart Jokes: Downton Abbey is the favourite of many a mother and PBS watcher recently some of the more distinguished cast members got together to play rounds of Cards Against Humanity. Combined with their hilarious Christmas short this was just brilliance. (Source Polygon)
I’m a gamer but even my Game isn’t this bad: Jimmy Fallon is a funny guy, he’s my age and has a lot of the same interests as I do. The difference is he’s an incredibly funny guy who worked hard and got on SNL, I’m a mildly sarcastic guy who surfed through life and finds himself writing this blog. Now, he’s got an incredibly wonderful wife and lovely children but one thing he had that most men would kill for is a date with Nicole Kidman, too bad he didn’t know it. Watch the video and enjoy how spectacularly he blows it. Made me feel better about the level of game I brought to romance. (Source Polygon)