Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Future is VR?

The hot item in the technology industry right now is virtual reality as a new way to experience digital content.  I will be the first to admit that my knowledge base on this topic is limited, and I decided to make a post surrounding what I am most interested in: the games.

Being a PlayStation fanboy, the launch of the PS VR Headset has my nerd senses trembling especially the visions I have for what could be accomplished with this technology and the amazing experiences as a potential result.  Please keep in mind this post is one of ignorance.  Starting now I will be doing my homework on the details surrounding VR, what it can do, and what it will look like in the future.

Dat Price Tag
While writing this post, I have been wondering about what the future of gaming will look like once VR has launched.  I feel that we are still a long way off from a Sword Art: Online experience (full body immersion, a literal virtual reality), but being able to immerse myself in a world entirely in a virtual reality setting has been a dream of mine for a long while.

With that said, the Occulus  is currently priced at roughly $600 while the PlayStation VR's price has yet to be announced other than a statement stating that it will be similar to the price of a new console.  This is some immense sticker shock for a gaming peripheral.  Early adopters are a given, anything new that could change the face of the industry is always going to have some initial success as long as there is enough content to keep the early adopters busy.  I am going to guess that the final product will be roughly $500-$600 to stay in line with their competition.

Consumer Concerns.
I have to pause and wonder how virtual will this reality be?  It doesn't take long for advertisements and other real life mechanisms to make their way into anything considered modern and mainstream.  This concerns me, and it probably my biggest concern.  I game for the experience, and if VR services begin popping into existence, it is my hope that there are limitations put into place on how much marketing can be done while inside of the experience.  I hope the success of VR is well enough to prevent ad campaign insertion, or if there are ad insertions that they are done with taste without blatantly interrupting the experience.

A second concern I have is how great the support will be once the excitement of a new avenue of experiencing a game wears off. If VR is accepted as a new medium, it needs to push the boundaries of current technology to spur new ideas and thought processes for the future.  .  Having VR simulations in the medical and educational fields could bring about positive change considering the funding would be there.  However, bringing about change from a consumer perspective is a bit trickier since the entire goal is to introduce an audience to a new way of entertaining themselves.  For those who are older (myself included) this will be a significant investment towards the unknown.

My final concern involves the experience itself while in a game.  I don't mind standing up, but if I have to be fully mobile with my head while my eyes are covered I an curious as to what the reaction will be like.  I generally don't experience any  motion sickness when I drive or fly, but I will probably have a bottle of Dramamine handy just in case shit gets weird.  Another oddity that I am a bit concerned about is while wearing the headset as well as headphones, and  how claustrophobic the experience will be.  I am not a huge fan of closed in spaces (big guy problems), and having multiple senses removed from reality will probably take some getting used to.

Final Thoughts
Regardless, I am getting the PlayStation VR headset when it launches. While I am not excited for the upfront cost of it, at the same time the hype surrounding it makes me wonder how well the final product will compare to the hype.  If VR is successful the creative possibilities could provide experiences that could have never been done in the past.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

12 in 12 Backlog Challenge

12 in 12: An Introduction

I have this habit which has plagued me my entire gaming career.  I enjoy buying games. I enjoy buy games so much that many of them never get played.  I was browsing /r/PS4 today and came across a post referring to a 12 in 12 challenge to help motivate gamers to clean up their backlog of purchased games that have gone unbeaten.  The rules are simple: Play the games you want to complete to completion.  There is also a subreddit dedicated to the 12 in 12 challenge if any are interested in participating.

The objective seemed easy enough so I made a list, and I will be blogging my experience along the way (time permitting).  One game a month should not be too difficult, although one my the games on my list is the Nathan Drake collection which is Uncharted 1, 2, and 3.  I went through 1 since i heard it was the worst in the series (which is hardly fair since it was a really fun game).  Also, I will be pausing along the way to play some new releases since this year there are 3 or 4 games I know I will be buying day one (Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4 are 2 examples).

Here is my list:

  1. Tales of Zestria - Just started and will be my first completion of the year.
  2. Bloodborne - Oh god help me get through this one!
  3. Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection (2 and 3 only)
  4. Tomb Raider
  5. The Order: 1886
  6. Fallout 4
  7. Dishonored: Definitive Edition
  8. God of War 3: Remastered
  9. The Last of Us Remastered (I know, i know, best game ever, & should've been beat already).
  10. Infamous: Second Son
  11. MGSV: The Phantom Pain
  12. The Witcher 3
I am excited to get started.  I picked up Tales of Zestiria yesterday and have logged about 4 hours in it and I will say it is a lot of fun.  The story is top notch and the sound track is everything I expected from a Tales game.  I know this is going to be a long one so I figured I would start on Tales before the new year considering I have Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3. 

I am also excited to document the results.  There were 2 items on my resolution list from last year that I didn't dedicate a lot of time to.  The first is writing.  I used to write all the time, and with my career centering around technical writing and critique, I decided to leave work at work.  The second item was to beat a lot of the games I have spent money on.  Well instead of beating many games I also bought a lot more so I intend on doing this every year because I know that there will be games I buy this year that will not get the attention they deserve due to whatever reason.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Toxicity in our Communities

When behavior impacts experience:

I have been a fan of video games for a long time, and one aspect that I used to enjoy was playing with others.  Before the Internet, I would crowd around TVs with my friends, passing the controller back and forth in single player games, and participated in my fair share of trash talk.

As I got older, I was introduced to LAN parties, where a bunch of people connected their computers together or set up multiple TVs to play with each other.  Being able to look your opponent in their face and gloat a win or accept a defeat made the experience personable.  You knew who the assholes were and, in most cases, they would either shape up or not return to events.

Today is a bit more of an interesting experience.  I am currently addicted to Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO made by Bioware that has been around for a little over 4 years.  I played for about a year after launch, but when the game itself became too repetetive (like most games eventually do), I put it down to play other things (Team Fortress 2, Skyrim, etc.).  When I came back the game changed completely.  With the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion being released, I was approached by a good friend to start playing again.  I fell in love with the stories all over again, but what I cannot get past is the ignorance and abrasiveness of many in the community.

I have lived through WoW's Barrens Chat, had my fair share of nonsense from players on Xbox Live and PSN, and have been reamed time and time again by players on other popular games (CS:GO, TF2, etc.).  For the most part there are 1 or 2 assholes that enjoy berating/harrassing other players. However, I see more and more joining in on the nonsense, and it makes me miss the good ole days when your opponents had a name and a face.  You could go to their house for dinner after the last battle was won or lost, and have conversations on strategy, tactics, and how bad each other is without needing to defend yourself from anyone but someone you trust.  There was a sense of communion. Now it seems that the communities are basted in cynicism to the point that there is no real sense of community for new comers, or even those of us who have been around forever and want to experience a game with others.

Listening to 2Pac's changes:

So I am a bit of a hip hop fan, and the inspiration for this post came from 2Pac.  I would like to see a change in the gaming community.  I propose 2 things:

  1. Stop giving the assholes the attention they obviously want.  If someone is trolling or being a complete douche, ignore them outright.  No witty comebacks, no joining in, no "fuck you man that's stupid" remarks back.  Hungry trolls will always be there, and the more they are deprived of the attention they seek, the less enjoyable it becomes for them.

  1. Be kind to each other.  This goes back to not saying rude shit unless you have something kind to say.  To quote Bill and Ted "Be excellent to each other."  This seems to be the hardest part, especially to MMO players.  MMO'ers spend a lot of time in their MMO of choice and it becomes obvious that basic human interaction is already a challenge for them so they get the most enjoyment out of trying to spur a reaction by being "cool" on the internet.

Rant's End

Stop being dicks to each other.  We live in a world where being a "nerd" or "geek" is socially acceptable, and I think we owe it to ourselves to show those who are on the outside looking in that having an interest in things that used to be niche or uncool is perfectly acceptable.  If you really want to help, help others.  Be patient with the n00bs, give them time to learn, and don't hate on them if something that is painfully obvious (i.e. not understanding that a healing spell does more than just heal themselves).  Be a leader in a crowd of noisy followers.