The sign at the entrance to PAX Australia has always said two simple words: “Welcome Home.”
While, for the most part, PAX can be a solitary affair, that doesn’t stop there being some sort of camaraderie in that isolation – a shared loneliness as it were. Sure, there are heaps of groups and likeminded gamers using the opportunity to get together for some face-to-face Dungeons and Dragons, or spending the time simply hanging out and playing some card games, but there’s also quite a few people ‘going stag’ and balancing their need to just chill out and enjoy gaming alongside their innate hatred of … well, people.
2019 was an absolutely crackin’ affair … but because of time, inclination and just general can’t be botheredness, I’m not going to write a post on it.
Instead – make the effort to book a ticket for PAX 2020. You won’t regret it.
But, nope. I’m still enjoying it – and Kotaku is wrong.
At first glance, reaching Level 6 probably isn’t quite at the top of the enlightenment period to be able to safely dismiss Kotaku’s rather short-sighted take on the game, but there’s quite a bit of work that goes into getting to this level. I don’t doubt that the gloss of many casual gamers has started to wear off for Gears POP!, and so the competition I’m left with are either the true believers, or the late-to-the-party types, but having understood how many games and how many win-losses it takes to get to that stage means that there is a not-insignificant amount of respect for anyone competing at what I’d consider this ‘mid-tier’ level.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that I am regularly loosing quite a few games – it’s about a 50-50 split, but the shine hasn’t quite worn off as quick like it has with Hearthstone. Perhaps it’s because I still get the drip-feed of delicious Xbox achievements, or perhaps I’m still just simply enjoying the game. In either case – from either a philosophical or a business perspective – I’m still playing it, and that means something.
I’ll be interested to see if other first party studios lean into some mobile development for Microsoft, or whether xCloud will pickup the mobile audience – but in any case, it’s definitely not a flop for me.
In the last 48 hours, Microsoft announced two things which tickled my fancy. The first is updates to Microsoft Office, which – as rumoured – is likely to be the implementation of Dark Mode across all of its Office products – which is great for a heavy iOS user like me. The other is that they will be holding a hardware event in New York at the start of October, again – another rumour – likely to bring with it a dual-screen Surface Pro.
As part of some comments on some news article (I have a few Microsoft-specific blogs on rotation, including MSPoweruser and On MSFT), I mentioned that I would absolutely be interested in upgrading from a Mac to a Surface if they introduced USB-C in as standard (like they have with the iPad Pro, and the MacBook). I think we’ve reached an age now where pushing ahead with the best in technology, like the USB-C, should be the norm. It’s no longer ‘innovative’, it’s standard. If I’m buying the latest, greatest product, then I want the latest, greatest offering.
But no, that’s not what the internet picked up on, did they?
Instead, and I’m paraphrasing, the response went along the lines of: well, if you like Windows so much, you should have abandoned Apple long-ago.
Now, make no mistake about it – I love my Apple products. I am yet to find a single piece of Apple hardware that hasn’t been able to withstand everything I throw at it – up-to-and-including my three kids. Consider also, that most products I use from Microsoft are now available on iOS, then it’s largely only gaming and a few specific pieces of software (like Visio) that require me to either dual-boot into Windows, or use another computer for. But that being said, I don’t hate using my Windows computers when I do have to use them either. I think Windows 10 is as close to the perfect version of Windows as I’ve seen since they launched Windows 95, and now with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, I’ve found myself using my Windows PC’s more-and-more. Couple that with the fact that most of my services are web-based, then it really doesn’t matter what hardware I’m on most of the time.
Right now, I’m writing this on my Surface 2, with my MacBook beside me showing my Google calendar for the week on Microsoft Edge Dev while notifications go off on my Apple iPhone.
All that’s missing is a bit of a Ubuntu on my desk and I’d have the whole family together.
So, like all of these other fringe arguments, my point remains the same – why is this a zero-sum issue? Why can’t I like iOS and MacOS and Windows and Linux equally and at the same time? Why and how does my decision to like one-or-more ‘other’ products lessen your enjoyment? Sure, there is enough marketing out there that will make you feel like your choice is the superior one (Remember: “Hi, I’m a Mac.” “And I’m a PC.”), but surely there is enough education out there now to recognise fluff versus feelings and preference.
Back when Xbox One launched under Don Mattrick, there were very real issues when it came to console choice. There was a clear divide about why Xbox sucked and PlayStation was better, and Microsoft adapted their product based on those decisions. These days, the products are like-for-like, and silly historical quibbles belong in the past. Right now, Windows and Mac are in the same position: like-for-like.
You don’t need to be a Mac or a PC person – you can be a little bit of both.
And tell the internet to keep their opinions to themselves.
You would be living under a fairly large boulder if you have never heard of Fortnite, considering it’s regularly news-shattering impact, notably the 2019 win by 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf (or his online alias, “Bugha”, which makes me think of the old Toyota Ad where various characters mutter one word: ‘Bugger’), who took home the US$3 million grand prize in the first Fortnite World Cup.
I feel like my early adoption of Fortnite was a sign of things to come. It came to market at a time when ‘PUBG’ was all the rage, and instead of trying to compete with the quasi-realistic shooter, it took things in another direction and just made them fun!
I don’t plan on rehashing the format of a Battle Royale, but it seems like there are a few new game modes up for grabs these days. For instance, my first game of the season was not a Royale as such, but rather a team death match with a score count. So, even when you died, you just respawned and got on with it. And it was as fun as classic Fortnite used to be.
A lot of people spend their lunch breaks doing different things. Some enjoy the company of a good book, others stare at the small glow of their phones while they read Buzzfeed or some click-bait-of-choice. Me? I like to play video games. I find with the combination of kids, more work responsibility, increasing civic involvement and the ravages of age, my free time is increasingly shortened.
Over the past year-and-a-bit, documenting my gaming life at Achievement a Day has offered perhaps no better example of how I juggle life and gaming. But the audience for that blog is niche, a sub-culture of gamers that enjoy achievement hunting. While being a ‘gamer’ has attracted a broader level of acceptance, particularly in younger demographics, there is still a lot of agitation, even within the gamer community, about identifying as a gamer. Yesterday’s Kotaku article about the culture at Riot Games, for example, focuses extensively on the culture of only employing ‘core gamers’ – something the article tries to contend that (Riot believes) women are incapable of.
Riot sounds like someone decided to literally bring Hell to Earth. Imagine a real human being demanding details about your favourite piece of MMO jewellery so you can prove you're a core gamer. I can't even fucking say core gamer without having a seizure.
So, if gamers can’t even play nicely among themselves, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a middle-aged white executive from the Accounts team of South African origin (who speaks like he longs for a return to Apartheid) might have difficulty accepting that gaming is a perfectly acceptable hobby to partake in during some down-time in the middle-of-the-day.
The game itself was Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money, which I used for yesterday’s Achievement a Day, and so its comical appearance probably makes it no worse than watching something like Family Guy or Rick and Morty on my lunchbreak. But when Mr. South African stood from his desk and caught a glimpse of his screen, it wasn’t his disapproving look that bothered me the most, but rather the immediate onset of guilt for playing a video game.
Let me be clear: I was playing a video game on my own computer, during my own lunch-break out of the line-of-sight of most people. While Trailer Park Boys could be arguably quite an offensive game to the average person, it’s only in reading the cartoon-bubble text where you will get the offense. At least, that’s certainly the case yesterday.
No, the guilt came purely and solely from the act of playing a video game – not the content itself, and I think that is worth discussing.
I am certain that there is some psychology behind gaming as a hobby in which it hasn’t received mainstream acceptance yet and so it becomes a closet activity which can only be enjoyed behind closed doors, in the confines of your own home.
It’s a crude analogy, but homosexuality has been like that for a long time – first it was out-and-out unacceptable, then it became something that could be tolerated by two consenting adults out of the public eye, through to today where it’s (typically) not given a second thought. (Well, perhaps that last point still remains a lofty goal – but it’s getting there.) In either event, gaming as an activity is still in the ‘toleration’ phase of development. Nobody outwardly berates you for being a gamer – you might get the odd sneer or sideways glance – but, at worst you’re considered to be a bit eccentric, or at worst, a socially-awkward nerd.
Neither of those labels particularly bother me – at times I feel I have a foot in both camps, but collectively, the act of playing a video game and being a ‘gamer’ should have no better or worse connotation than being a ‘reader’, and reading a book on my lunch-break.
Is there a solution? No. It’s a cultural trend that will have to die out like the dinosaurs – again, much like societal views on homosexuality or any other progressive stance. I don’t think there’ll ever be, or need to be, a ‘gamer pride’ celebration, but it will be a shift that takes time. It will take the conservative, close-minded relics to die out, or have their views so increasingly marginalized by the powerful voices of a progressive youth. There’s signs of hope – the growth of PAX, and this year’s introduction of the Melbourne Esports Open are both stepping stones towards a more mainstream acceptance of gaming and gamers.
Perhaps once that acceptance kicks in, then there’ll be a greater ability to relax and stand proud when playing a video game over lunch.
The 30 per cent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 per cent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games …
… there’s a rationale for this on console where there’s enormous investment in hardware, often sold below cost, and marketing campaigns in broad partnership with publishers. But on open platforms, 30 per cent is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on why Fortnite won’t be featuring on the Google Play Store.
Right, Sony. The behemoth that is console gaming. Expectations for PlayStation are at an all-time high this year, which is a terrible place to be if you’re presenting at E3. I think there is a far better result from studios, publishers and platforms that work their communication around lowering expectations – resulting in either met expectations or pleasant surprise.
I think after Andrew MK, having Gustavo Santaolalla play a spot of banjo to lead us into The Last of Us 2 is much more my vibe. I never platinum’d TLOU1, but one of my proudest trophies is completing NG+ on Hardcore difficulty.
If you ever needed to show a bit of gameplay to get you excited about a game – then Naughty Dog absolutely delivered. Oh my God. For the entirety of this footage, I completely forgot about my overwhelming hatred of Sony and their inability to let me change my username. Hell, I’ll play this game on someone else’s account – it’s just downright gorgeous.
The intermission style panel discussion with Sid Shuman and Ryan Clements interviewing Shawn Layden was a strange change of beat, but I have to admit – it was nice seeing them in-the-flesh, rather than just a disembodied voice in my ear or car stereo once a week via the podcast.
This Sony presser is SO weird. I admire they are trying something different but all they're really doing is playing trailers, and the panel chat/dead air in-between is quite useless.
Importantly, Layden announced the introduction of a New Game Plus for God of War, which I didn’t realise I even wanted until he mentioned it – but now that he has, I am completely on-board.
I could take-or-leave any of the Call of Duty news, but I’ll absolutely take a bit of Black Ops for free with my PlayStation Plus.
And I’m still a PSVR virgin, so I’m just going to gloss over any news in that space.
One of the surprising titles from the conference was Ghosts of Tsushima, which looks like something that might struggle on my OG PS4, or it’s certainly going to cause it to sound like a jet engine taking off. I don’t think I’ve heard or read anything about this so I’m not sure if it was an announcement, or more meat-on-the-bones, but either way, I liked the look of it. Like? Maybe strongly like is a better phrase. You know … like ‘like-like’ but not ‘love-like’.
Destiny 2 Forsaken is still appealing to me, but I think that it’s been dissected enough over the past few weeks, particularly from the core Destiny sites, so I’m not going to be able to add much more – particularly when it was little more than a short teaser. I suggest you would learn much more through reading Bungie.net than holding out for info at the E3 press conference. Needless to say – they better not kill-off Cayde-6 though. Don’t you touch my Nathan Fillion, Bungie!
Control looked incredible. I even texted a friend to comment that Xbox had nothing that came close to this visually during their press conference, but it’s quite possible that I’ve just bought into the hype of the presser – if anything I think Quantum Break probably fits that criteria – but gameplay alone certainly held up as a work of art. It’s only after-the-fact that I realised that Remedy is the developer, which is exactly why it had the QB feel!
So I gotta ask was Quantum Break just a beta for Control?#E3#E32018
Resident Evil 2 … looks gorgeous … I don’t think I’ve ever actually played RE2 … If I cast my mind back, I’m not actually sure I’ve finished RE1 properly … but there is certainly enough aesthetic here to get me interested.
Trover Saves the Universe. What? Much like Seth McFarlane has turned every one of his creations into essentially ‘the same thing’, this felt very Rick and Morty – just with new characters. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not, I’ve only just really started getting into Rick and Morty (which I love), but I feel like you could grab yourself a cheap voice actor for a bit of variety and – if the material is good enough – it will hold up.
I can’t understand the deep-rooted love for Kingdom Hearts III but it was clearly enough to get coverage at both Xbox and Sony’s stage … so I guess this is now going to end up on my to-do list. What did appeal to me was Sony packaging them all together as part of the final package (though I assume that 1.5 and 2.5 are remasters).
Nioh 2 adds itself to the list-of-games-that-I-haven’t-played-the-first-one-of. The internet seems excited though, so it seems like I’ll be locked in a gaming room for the rest of the year to try and finish this off.
Not even touching Death Stranding. I wonder if I have to hand in my Sony fan card (which was already on its last legs – where was my username change, Sony?) if I admit to not really liking the vibe I get from Kojima’s latest foray?
And then, the title we’ve probably all been waiting for – Spider-Man. It’s so utterly, utterly disappointing that this isn’t coming to Xbox or PC, but business is business, and I think Sony have made a very sensible decision grabbing this one as an exclusive. If I ask my son who he likes more – Spider-Man or Batman – he comes back with a decisive Spider-Man, which nearly gets him disowned from the family every time, but I satisfy my rage by telling myself that Spider-Man is actually my favourite Marvel character and Batman my DC. It hasn’t helped the last few years in realising that the rights to Spider-Man were owned by Fox, but once again, I have become incredibly good at disassociation as I get older, so I will endure.
Let me just say, the gameplay for Spider-Man is A+. A PLUS. The city is beautiful, the combat is second-to-none and the library of characters looks to fill a comic-book lover’s wishlist. If I can find myself a limited edition Spider-Man PS4 Pro console, then there’s a not-insignificant chance that I’ll be throwing my money at whatever retailer is going to take it.
The post-conference chatter with Shuman and Clements essentially included a little more gameplay from Spidey, as well as the announcement of a new PSVR game from From Software.
Hate to say this, but rather underwhelmed with the Playstation conference. I loved seeing Last Of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima gameplay, but overall, it just didn't wow me like past years. #PlaystationE3
If you listened to the internet, you would think that the Sony conference was terrible. Sure, the approach to focussing on 5-6 big games and the inclusion of a panel was a bit ‘different’, but it was a good example of quality over quantity (compared with Xbox’s focus on showing 50 games). And when it comes to quality, Sony certainly delivered. I won’t say that the quality on-show was necessarily better or worse than Microsoft’s – I think there’s been strong positives to take away from most shows this weekend. But, and I apologise for the wax lyrical, but maybe at some point the discussion can turn from ‘who won?’ E3 to just being about the general love of gaming and the communities which form around it. For all my pessimism in life, I don’t really play PUBG, but I do enjoy its success. Kojima isn’t really my bag, but I love that others love him.
In the wise words of Rodney King: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
That's a wrap for the main #PlayStationE3 show (with more news to come!)
Congratulations to everyone at E3 2018, and I sincerely mean that. For every shooter, puzzler, platformer, strategy, collectable card game, platform, and engine that fills our gaming libraries with great content each-and-every day, thank you.
It’s a great time to be a gamer …
… even if we’re stuck with our twelve year old PlayStation usernames.