Gaming

A PLAYSTATION 4 EXTRAVAGANZA: THE SLIM AND THE PRO
September 9, 2016 1:02 pm

Time has moved pretty quickly since the release of the Playstation 4 in 2013. But this week two new Playstation 4 models have been announced named the Playstation 4 Slim and Playstation 4 Pro.

I won’t go into the long debate of whether we need these upgrades now, but it has been three years into the life span of the PS4 and a normal consoles gets to 10 years of age before becoming obsolete. With that said, a slimmer cheaper model was bound to happen, easier for the consumer to use and take care of, cheaper and yet still perform just as well as previous models. Go here for a specs comparison of the three different models, the original, the Pro and the Slim.

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Original ————- Slim ————- Pro

The real intrigue from this week’s announcements is in the Playstation 4 Pro. This is a powerful machine that rivals gaming PCs and yet comes at a very competitive price while including a handful of features. The Pro will not only play games at a much smoother rate and performance level, it will be capable of streaming HDR and 4K capable content. If you don’t know what those are, check out a quick explanation of HDR and 4K to catch up on the latest tech.

Netflix has announced that it will have over 600 hours of 4K content, and now you will have somewhere to watch it, if you also have a compatible TV of course.

Certain games will also be HDR and 4K ready down the road, including Spider Man, Watch Dogs 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, and Final Fantasy XV.

Do you think we need all this upgrading for a gaming system that still does its job fine? Are you planning on upgrading to a fast and more powerful PS4 Pro?

Here is what I would suggest. If you are a casual player, get the PS4 Slim, you have absolutely no need for the Pro now or the near future. If you love playing games and want the baddest/strong console available, buy the PS4 Pro ONLY IF you have a 4K and or HDR TV, otherwise it won’t really be any different. I am happy to see these two be announced, they are great additions to the Sony Playstation family, but they might have jumped the gun a little because the general public is still not at that level of high definition and need for speed.

The Playstation 4 Slim will be available on the 15th of this month for $299 and the Playstation 4 Pro will be available a little later this year on November 10th for $399.

ELEAGUE PARTNERS WITH TWITTER FOR ESPORTS STREAMING
August 18, 2016 5:41 pm

 

On July 29 and 30, Twitter presented its first live streamed eSports event, showcasing CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) teams as they battled it out for the ELEAGUE championship.

This coverage was the result of a partnership between ELEAGUE, a professional eSports league, and Twitter.  The event was held at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, and according to a Turner press release attracted some of the world’s elite CS:GO teams.

The fact that Twitter is breaking into the eSports streaming community has some people wondering if this will result in market competition between other popular eSports streaming platforms such as Twitch.  That said, Twitch provided coverage of the ELEAGUE championship alongside the Twitter stream.  According to the ELEAGUE news release, live streaming coverage was available for all three matches of a best-of-three series, on both Twitter and Twitch.

Twitter is the native social platform for eSports and this partnership provides our passionate fans with an additional opportunity to consume ELEAGUE content as we reach the pinnacle of our first season,” Christina Alejandre, General Manager of ELEAGUE and Vice President of eSports, Turner Sports

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According to the press release, matches were also live-streamed on TBS, which is a part of the Time Warner company Turner.  ELEAGUE was created through a partnership between Turner and WME.

According to the press release, at the ELEAGUE event, Twitter was used primarily for providing highlights, memes, stats and scores, alongside content from Periscope, a video streaming application Twitter acquired in 2015.

Despite the fact that Twitter is taking a place alongside other streaming applications, it is clear that they are expanding their marketability. At least at this point that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will push out other streaming platforms, but it is clear that Twitter is trying to increase the audience that they can reach in various different ways. 

Twitter has been a staple in the gaming community for some time, what with interaction from professional players with one another, building event hype, etc.  Now, it appears Twitter is moving from the background to the main stage, and taking its place as an active participant in the eSports experience.

According to Anthony Noto, Twitter’s Chief Financial Officer, eSports fans have been using Twitter to check up on events in competitive gaming.

“Gamers are one of the largest and most engaged audiences on Twitter, and we are thrilled to partner with Turner and WME I IMG to bring them the live content from ELEAGUE and Twitter commentary they are already looking for, all on one screen,” – Noto

While this ELEAGUE competition was the first live streaming eSports event on Twitter, it is almost certain that it won’t be the last. We may see Twitter stats popping up in some fan-favorite competitive games soon, such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite and more.

For more information check out the ELEAGUE press release – HERE 

Featured Image Source – Aban Tech 

TWITCH.TV EXPANDS FUNCTIONALITY TO INCLUDE PERFORMANCE ART
July 21, 2016 5:25 pm

Since its launch in 2001, Twitch.tv has exploded in popularity and is now viewed by many gamers, artists and talented individuals as the pinnacle in online video-streaming. With the use of a webcam, Twitch users stream their interests online for other Twitch users to see, follow or subscribe for a small fee, which goes to the streamer. Some Twitch streamers offer additional perks to subscribers, or “subs,” such as access to private chats or shout-outs on streams. 

Each month, more than 100 million community members gather to watch and talk about video games with more than 1.7 million broadcasters. – Twitch

Most people know of Twitch.tv in regards to gaming and people who stream live video of playing popular video games while narrating and providing commentary over top.  This extends to game development, events and larger e-sports spectacles, such as the 2016 Evolution Championship Series (EVO). 

In October of 2015, Twitch launched Twitch Creative, a platform to expand their functionality to all kinds of broadcasters, not just gamers. This opened the floor for almost any type of creative arts, allowing for things like tutorials, live-creation, interaction with fans and live-streams of the development of popular projects.

To name a few, of the many, things users can broadcast on Twitch Creative: Photo Editing, Model Making, Brewing, Construction, Cooking, Video Editing, Programming, Jewelry Making, etc. The list goes on and on, and is really limited only by imagination (within the Twitch broadcast guidelines of course).

Now, Twitch.tv is expanding Twitch Creative to include performance art.  Up until this point Twitch Creative focused primarily on the creation of art, not the demonstration. With this addition streamers will have a new way to share and perform their art.

We are evolving Twitch Creative to become a central place for these acts of creation, including performance and music. – Twitch

According to Twitch, this addition includes the ability to stream live Magic tricks, Comedy performances, Theatre, Music, Voice Acting and Dramatic Readings.

Performers, and people broadcasting within the Twitch Creative platform, have the option to join a “Community,” which is a group of other streamers with similar interests. Users also have the option to create their own Community for others to be a part of.

As a way to commemorate the addition of performance art streaming capabilities, TwitchCon is hosting an online talent show. 

We are looking for the best acts in theatre, comedy, dance, music, poetry, magic, and art. Think you got what it takes? – Twitch

For more information check out the audition page. 

Featured Image Source – Twitter, @TwitchCreates 

NO MAN’S SKY SLATED FOR RELEASE AUGUST 9, 2016
July 5, 2016 11:43 am

Gamer anticipation is building for the upcoming release of the Sci-Fi adventure survival game, No Man’s Sky. Developed by indie game studio Hello Games, No Man’s Sky has people on the edge of their seats, eager to test out the game’s essentially infinite open-world platform.

No Man’s Sky was originally scheduled for release in June 2016, but was pushed back because Sean Murray, Managing Director of Hello Games and programmer on No Man’s Sky, felt that the game needed to be “polished” slightly before a full release.

“I have had to make the tough choice to delay the game for a few weeks to allow us to deliver something special.” – Murray

Now, nearly three years after the initial announcement of No Man’s Sky at the VGX in December 2013, the game is slated for worldwide release on August 9, 2016 for both PS4 and Microsoft Windows.

No Man’s Sky is built on a procedurally generated universe. Planets, and the unique flora and fauna that occupy them, are generated from a deterministic algorithm, creating a massive, and truly random system of explorable planets. 

Hello Games developers have estimated that there are over 18-quintillion explorable worlds, each with unique life, environments and resources to gather. This immense amount of options allows players to approach No Man’s Sky in a way that caters to their imagination and fits their individual style of gameplay.

Players can spend time exploring new worlds aboard a starship, collecting resources and discovering new species on distant planets, or even engaging in combat with first-person weapons on a planet’s surface or dogfights in a spaceship. If you wish, you can even kill the local wildlife on individual worlds, but be wary, too much destruction will attract sentinels that will attack, forcing you to flee or fight for your survival. 

As Murrary said in the IGN First: 18-minute Gameplay Demo, “That’s another way you can play the game. You can, you know, not come in peace.” – Murray

Another significant feature of No Man’s Sky is The Atlas, a player-submitted database of information of the discoveries they make during the game. This allows No Man’s Sky players to share the coordinates of the worlds they locate and info about things they unearth within them. Players can choose to play either offline locally, or online in a universe shared with other players. 

No Man’s Sky is designed similarly to a real solar system. Planets located the optimal distance from a sun will have more varied life and potential for interaction with other players, whereas planets that are too close or on the outer rim may be barren and devoid of life. 

“As much as we can possibly manage, this needs to feel real, and true to what it is, which is a galaxy.” – Murray

Nevertheless, these barren planets may still have some valuable resources as well as hidden secrets for players to discover as they explore. 

No Man’s Sky presents many of the signifying aspects of the adventure-survival genre such as character development, acquiring items and artifacts, and learning new skills such as a better knowledge of Alien languages.

All in all, No Man’s Sky is an ambitious venture in open-world gaming. Come August, we will see if the game can deliver the rich world of deep space exploration and discovery that we are hoping for. 

E3: THE GAMERS’ MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
June 17, 2016 1:31 pm

Four days of video game conferences, new game trailers, demos and entertainment? This is the most anticipated week of the year for gamers and tech enthusiasts. And this conference was the 22nd gathering of companies and people for E3 with some serious surprises.

If you don’t know E3, here is a quick run down. It stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo, and vast numbers of enterprises, journalists, bloggers, gamers and tech geeks flock to the event to go on a mad binge of tech demos, playing new games and nerding out to the max.

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Sony busted out a huge lineup of new games and some big show stoppers. God of War’s fourth major installment was announced and looks amazingly beautiful, an amazing surprise for fans. The Last Guardian’s release date for October 25th 2016 was finally announced after 9 long years of development. Hideo Kojima, legendary game creator of the Metal Gear series and others, announced a new original game, Death Stranding, which had everyone in awe and wonder. Lastly, Sony announced that their VR headset will be coming out October 13, 2016 with a full lineup of games, demos and all sorts of different experiences. A spectacular presentation, especially the live orchestra that performed the music for all the trailers. 

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Microsoft on the other hand really showcased their new consoles and some good games. Their biggest reveal was the Xbox One S (slim). It is 40% smaller, beautiful white design, supports 4K output, built in power supply and only $299. If you don’t have an Xbox One, this is quite the steal. But, they also oddly revealed the Scorpio, a new gaming console for next year that has 6 teraflops of power, which sounds made up but it’s a real thing. To explain, think of the difference between the power of a horse and car, that is roughly the difference between the Scorpio and it predecessors.

There is way too much information from E3 and I couldn’t tell you all about it here. Games like Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Call of Duty: Infinity Warfare, Gears Of War 4, Battlefield 1, Batman VR, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and so many more were shown and a lot of them playable. Check out Youtube’s gaming channel HERE and IGN has a great amount of coverage and demos HERE.

A great week for gamers and a superb E3 conference, from live orchestras and fantastic game demonstrations to tech surprises and amazing guest appearances, this was really an amazing event. What games are you most excited for? Tweet us @AtypicalBeasts with what you’re dying to play.

LEARNING TO CODE WITH MINECRAFT
June 2, 2016 2:21 pm

Even if you haven’t played it, you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. For those unfamiliar, Minecraft is an open-world, sandbox game in which players can build 3D environments with various blocks. 

The game exploded in popularity after its release in 2011, and has since attracted a devoted following of players. IGN ranked Minecraft as the #3 best-selling game of all time, with 70 million copies sold over a variety of platforms (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mobile).

In conjunction with the Hour of Code movement and TeacherGamingMojang, the developers behind Minecraft, have learned ways to incorporate programming into the game. 

Hour of Code is a global initiative designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of computer science. Launched by Code.org and Computer Science Education Week, Hour of Code helps bring programming and computer science to students at the grassroots level. 

When starting out you don’t even have to purchase Minecraft. Simply visit https://code.org/mc, where after a short introductory video by Minecraft’s lead developer “Jeb,” you’ll enter a version of Minecraft. Using Blockly, a visual programming editor that displays bits of code as connected blocks, you will help “Alex” or “Steve” (The two Minecraft characters) navigate the Minecraft world by solving a series of puzzles.

Each time you solve a puzzle, you are given the option to view the code behind what you just created. The code you are writing, while helping Alex or Steve build a house or plant crops, is actually JavaScript, a programming language used for HTML, the Web and various other functions.  JavaScript is a popular language for people new to coding, so by using Minecraft, players can learn JavaScript fundamentals in a fun and interactive environment. 

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Learning programming with Minecraft is not limited to this online coding activity. MinecraftEdu, an independent learning project by TeacherGaming supported by Mojang, uses Minecraft gameplay to teach a variety of subjects. MinecraftEdu has an Hour of Code activity package as well, in which students use a Minecraft mod called ComputerCraft.

Created by modder Dan200, the mod incorporates interactive blocks dubbed “turtles” into Minecraft to teach students programming and computer science through new ways to interact with the game. MinecraftEdu comes equipped with ComputerCraftEdu, or the mod can be downloaded and applied to the regular Minecraft game. If students or teachers want to delve deeper into Minecraft-based learning there is now a full expansion of MinecraftEdu called Minecraft: Education Edition, which will be released as an early access program for educators this summer.   

To account for students without regular access to the internet or Minecraft, there is even an option for a printable MinecraftEdu board game! Another option is the Minecraft edition offered through Raspberry Pi. The Pi 3 comes pre-loaded with a version of Minecraft, that can teach players how to code with the programming language Python

It can be scary to dive into programming, especially if you have no prior experience with computer science. Game-based learning, like learning to code with Minecraft, is helping to alleviate some of these hurdles by making coding fun and interactive. These types of initiatives are changing the norms of not only what we learn, but how we learn. Who knows, in the next few years game-based learning and interactive e-learning activities could become standard over traditional teaching methods.