video games

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 

POKELIST: RANKING EACH POKEMON GENERATION
July 15, 2016 12:41 pm

Upon downloading Pokemon Go and immediately choosing Charmander, the app was directing me towards two checkpoints closest to my house, a church and a McDonalds. I’ve read enough Thomas Pynchon (about 3 pages of V) to know that this whole thing has been a scam to reinvigorate capitalist strongholds that have been losing ground against snake people, so I deleted it right then and there.

I’m more of a purist when it comes to my love for Pokemon. I stick to the canonical video games, and not much else. I can’t even watch the show anymore without shouting about how terrible a trainer is. STOP GIVING AWAY YOUR POKEMON AND EVOLVE THAT FUCKING PIKACHU ALREADY, ASH. I hate you, Ash Ketchum. Truly, I do.

Unlike that dirt merchant from Pallet Town, each new game has gotten more sophisticated in its gameplay and denser with strategy. Every generation has its own unique traits to them, but there is no getting around the fact that there is definitely a pecking order when it comes to quality. Which is what I’ll be sorting out right now. I’ll be ranking each generation based on things like Starter Pokemon and overall new roster strength, Elite Four/Gym Trainer toughness, innovation, storyline, gameplay, and some other stuff probably. Let’s see where this goes.

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  1. Generation 3: Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald

Hybridized Pokemon types, the introduction of personalities, a deeper commitment to EV and IV training, running shoes! Dear God, I can not stress enough how much I love running shoes. The Elite Four was without a doubt the biggest cakewalk out of any generation, but the amount of all the aforementioned new features and the depth in trainable talent more than made up for it. I mean, you’ve got about 54 different Dragon types that are easily catchable to choose from, what more can you ask for?

  1. Generation 1: Blue/Red/Yellow

pokeAnd not even for the hokey ‘it was the game that started it all’ reason. Generation 1 still has the best storyline. Whether it’s Gary/Blue/Assface being the perfect antagonist measuring stick, the complete spookiness felt in Lavender Town graveyard, there is definitely a wider range of actual emotion that Red, Blue and Yellow wanted you to experience. Also, the game itself doesn’t revolve completely around a legendary Pokemon. Mewtwo is the only legendary Pokemon who was not featured on the game’s cover. Which is how it should be! Legendary Pokemon are crutches that should rot in Bill’s PC for all eternity. I have had this conviction ever since I started playing in grade school, which is probably why I had no friends and a bunch of level 100 Kadabras.

3. Generation 4: Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

Generation 4’s bosses blows everyone else’s out of the water. Especially Cynthia, whose only rival is Mt. Silver Red, but her team is way harder to strategize against than Red’s. The talent pool is also strong, they created some fun and interesting new ways to evolve Pokemon, and they gave birth to the almighty Garchomp. But I feel like they had some missed opportunities with maximizing other talent. First, I do not know why there are so many Fire/Fighting starter Pokemon now. Blaziken was awesome, and sure, Infernape is really great, too, but that doesn’t take away from the derivative nature. Also, why isn’t Luxray any better? Just check out how bad-ass Luxray looks, how is it not more of a legitimate threat? For shame.

4. Generation 5: Black/White 

Lotsa big swings in Generation 5. I, for one, adored the infinite TM loophole. That was the epitome of a gift that kept on giving. And from top to bottom, this is the most experimental they got with Pokemon types. Yes, there was a Normal/Grass for some reason. Bug/Fire? Sure, why not. You know what, for your trouble, I’ll even throw in a Ground/Electric, which is the epitome of self hatred. All of that, however, and we STILL had a starter Pokemon who was Fire/Fighting. Please, make it stop. 

5. Generation 2: Gol/Silver/Crystal 

Do not get me wrong, I think the merging of Johto and Kanto was awesome and being able to get 16 badges was a very fun maximalist effort. But aside from the new Eevee additions and Houndoom there really aren’t a lot of new additions to the ol’ Pokedex that I’m gonna tell my grandkids about. They even added prequel Pokemon like Elekid and Magby for some unknown fucking reason, just to get me hot and bothered. 

6. Generation 6: X/Y

To be fair, generation 6’s graphics were on another level, had a lot of really fun new Pokemon (thank you, Delphox, and even introduced us to Fairy types. And Hawlucha might already be one of my 5 favorite Pokemon ever. I adore everything about Hawlucha. But throughout the game, you are gifted way too many free Pokemon. Really good ones, too. I don’t like it. Leveling up is easier than it’s ever been, too. Everything just feels too easy here. And worst of all, this is the generation that introduced us to Mega-Evolutions. Oh, how I hate Mega-Evolutions. They’re either superfluous add-ons for already great Pokemon, or a cop-out for not coming up with an organic evolutionary stage for ones that could use it. I DEMAND JUSTICE FOR SABLEYE.

 

Hopefully, the mega-evolutions get phased out and some better ideas get introduced in the next generation of games. Do not allow this app business to take your eyes away from the real prize, which is Pokemon Sun and Moon hitting stores this November. It should be lit. And if you disagree with my list in any way, just remember any legitimacy my opinion might possibly have is diminished once you realize that I am an adult writing about Pokemon.

CAUTION: POKÉMON GO’ERS AT PLAY
July 11, 2016 1:30 pm

Never have I seen a game do what Pokémon GO is doing right now in our world. Let me paint a picture for you…

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Last Saturday, my wife and I were in Rockville Square, Maryland, a hub for people and shops, and we decided to go on a walk to hunt some new Pokémon. We found a huge amount of items and Pokémon to catch on every street corner. As we meandered around looking at our phones, we slowly saw other people and groups all walking to the exact same places, on their phones, and we realized they were playing the same game, hunting for Pokémon, interacting with this augmented reality. I was surprised at how many people were there to find virtual creatures and ended up bonding in a half-real life, half-online way. It was a truly surreal moment to see everyone gather in this part of the city like that.

To break it down, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game in which the game tracks your location and has placed various things to interact with throughout every inch of the real world. You will be brought to real places of significance. Without even trying, this app with have you walking around for an hour and visiting places in your city that you’ve never been before. Pokémon Go is broken down into three key elements, catching and training Pokémon, finding Pokéstops and battling at Poké Gyms.

File_001Catching and Training Pokémon

To catch Pokémon, you have to go looking for them. It’s fairly random, but more populated places will help you find more Pokémon. When you find a Pokémon, your camera will come on and the Pokémon will appear to be in the real world, and it’s pretty awesome. There are items like Incense and Lure to attract Pokémon to you. Also catch as many as you can of all Pokémon, you’ll need them to strengthen your Pokémon. For more tips to actually train your Pokémon and evolve them, click here.

Poké Stops

You’ll find these at various places of interest: memorials, gazebos, or gas stations. Get close enough to the Stop to snag the items there. You’ll need all the items you can get, and there are often Pokémon lurking by, so hunting for Poké Stops is an easy way to progress quickly.

Poké Gyms

After your beginning hours in the game, you choose one of three teams, Mystic (Blue), Yellow (Instinct), or Valor (Red). The gyms are fighting grounds for the different teams and here, you battle to gain control of the Poké Gym and territory for your specific team. There seems to be no overall goal for now or major purpose for controlling the Gyms except bragging rights (if you have nerdy friends who, they probably have already posted some memes about the teams).

Overall the game is pretty fun, it isn’t perfect, and the server issues and long load times can be really rough sometimes. Down the road other features could be added, says CEO John Hanke. It might be a while before new features come, but that’s reasonable because the game is less than a week old. If you want to casually run around and catch some Pokémon or become crazy with powerful Pokémon, this game will satisfy your needs while enjoying some fresh air and good exercise. But please, be aware of your surroundings, be safe and don’t get in trouble. Get ready to walk more than you ever have while awkwardly bumping into other people playing the game, download the app and GO. “Gotta catch em’ all,” right?

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. 

GAME DEVELOPER BARBIE KICKS ASS AND HERE’S WHY
June 28, 2016 11:06 am

As the ATYPICAL SOUNDS writer most in touch with the female neonate demographic, it’s only right that I weigh in on the subject of Barbie’s ongoing initiative to empower young women with strong positive role models being portrayed throughout their product.

Personally, I think it’s better when men speak about women’s issues because we don’t have that nasty old inherent bias to worry about, you know? So I’ll be attacking this subject with an objective point of view. This is what people want in their toy analysis.  

So now that I’ve established my dominance, as per the advice of my personal bible, The Game, here’s the scoop:

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.05.34 AMIn addition to Barbie’s wildly popular Ava DuVernay line and the company introducing a wider array of body types that deviate from the usual portrayal of thin and tall blonde beauties, the beloved doll is now getting variation in her career opportunities. Yupp, Barbie’s a game developer now.

In typical internet fashion pertaining to whenever a woman does something, whether she’s real or plastic, a wide range of opinions were shared. It was worth any vitriol it may have gotten, though, because this is a forward thinking move in the right direction.

Game Developer Barbie is a much needed injection of niche that Barbie’s previous jobs never had. Just look at the other careers on that site. Obviously, they’re all great jobs that are important to portray; you women should be able to have a Dr. Barbie and Teacher Barbie available for purchase. Both of those careers, however, now stand as foundational jobs aren’t as loaded with gendered pretenses as other fields. It’s thankfully now the norm to allow a female doctor to diagnose somebody without her being accused of witchcraft. Electing to branch out into the tech world, Barbie’s simply acknowledging the need to amplify the representation elsewhere.

By giving Barbie a job in tech, a field notorious for its ridiculous lack of inclusion for women, it’s a minor step in normalizing an initiative already set in motion by a large collection of women in a continuous uphill battle. Whether it’s the black hole of sexism that is #GamerGate, or that the basic principle regarding female characters in video games is to put as little clothes on them as possible, the video game and tech world is still seen as a boys club.

Can a doll immediately fix this? Of course not. But it’s a great sign that Barbie now sees how diverse the job market is, and there’s true importance in women establishing a foothold in areas that were seldom before seen as an ideal fit for them. Let’s see if they use this momentum to give Barbie even more unfairly male-dominated professions going forward. What’s to stop her from getting into venture capitalism or truck driving? Maybe even a Bernie Bro Ken doll that says “I’m more of a humanist than a feminist” when you pull on his string. The possibilities are limitless.