Rezzed – A Real Gaming Show!

Greetings,

Welcome to a special Post-Rezzed Blog Post! What did I learn about PC gaming from today? That the indie scene is amazing, that the Oculus Rift is insane (even if the queues were too long for me to get a play), that Chris Avellone is one of the nicest men in the WORLD –and also has massively muscley arms!-, that The Chaos Engine is actually as hard as I remembered even 20 years on and that PC gaming is just the best and really is Absolutely Amazing!

More detail you say? Well, go on then! –

Project Zomboid – Pretty much the first place I went and spent anytime. The new build is looking amazing. Local Multiplayer is in, a whole three game modes are in, a new location which looks REALLY beautiful is in –the art team really have out done themselves- and the whole UI is just much smoother now. They’ve come a long way from the early alphas of last year! Impressive work. Plus they are all really lovely people to talk to.

Democracy 3/Redshirt – Both coming from Postitech games, even if Redshirt isn’t made by Cliff, and are both looking fantastic. Democracy 3 puts you in the position of Head of State and comprises of lots of spreadsheets and information and numbers! My kind of game! Redshirt is a cross between Kudos and FTL with Star Trek and Red Dwarf mixed in. Super interesting and awesome fun! Plus I got to chat to Cliff Harris (sole man behind games like the Democracy and Kudos games as well as Gratuitous Space Battles) which was really awesome. Super nice guy and a bit of a hero of mine 😀

Team 17 – It’s friggin’ Team 17!! Worms: Clan Wars is just beautiful. Seriously! It is a beautiful looking game and Superfrog HD is looking good… Alas Superfrog HD was the biggest let down for me as it didn’t look especially crisp, especially the animation *BUT* they are still working on the game so that is understandable and I will reserve proper judgement although I hoped for a stronger showing as it was the first showing of the game. (Didn’t stop me buying a Super Sheep plushy and a T-shirt though!)

Surgeon Simulator 2013 – So far the only game that I have bought after seeing it as Rezzed –downloading as we speak in fact!- because it was just ABSOLUTELY hilarious to watch other people playing it. I watched a Scouse chap play it for 20 minutes because he was Amazingly Bad at it but so damn funny with it. My sides genuinely hurt afterwards and frankly they deserve my money JUST for that! Plus it is just an interesting game and really one of the marvels of PC gaming is it can –and does!- exist!

The Chaos Engine – It’s THE CHAOS ENGINE!!

Frozen Endzone – It wasn’t there to play but a panel by Mode 7 talked about the game in detail and seems a really solid sports game mashed together with Frozen Synapse. Impressive stuff, well worth keeping an eye on this one folks!

Wildstar – Hmmm, not sure what to make on this one. It looked pretty good, with interesting combat mechanics, however it seemed a little too World of Warcraft for me. Also it is published by NC Soft who I still have a massive grudge against for them killing City of Heroes. Speaking of City of Heroes I wore my City of Villains shirt which got no-one else than the guy behind War of the Overworld to come over and talk to me… HE CAME TO ME!! Amazing!! Also asking if I wanted to join him and a few other peeps from the team for a drink. Alas time was against me but it shows the power of City of Heroes which is still very much missed.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted – Interesting idea, interesting world, interesting game. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out but it seems pretty good. Plus all the guys were dressed in period attire which was awesome!

The Rest – So Space Hulk, Total War: Rome II, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Company of Heroes 2 and PlanetSide 2 were all there. Frankly Company of Heroes 2 annoys me *just* because of the massively intrusive advert over on PCgamer.com, Rome looked pretty good, more of the same alas, and the others seemed really Meh compared to the other games on show, especially against the incredible indies there! Although, I will say I am very interested in giving PlanetSide 2 a go, that looked a blast.

Finally the panels. Started with ‘How can new business models improve PC gaming?’ which was a round table discussion with Chris Delay, Mark Morris (both of Introversion Software –I haven’t mentioned Prison Architect as I can check it out anytime I like and I had other games to look at!), Paul Taylor (mode 7), Chris Avellone (if I need to say who he has worked at go and get an education in RPGs!) and Ragnar Tornquist (of Red Thread Games –he is famous for the Dreamfall saga) which was a very entertaining talk. You can check out the full thing on the internets –I believe it is now on YouTube)- and I highly recommend it, just a word of warning, there are a few naughty words!

Next I saw was A look back at Frozen Synapse and a look forward to Frozen Endzone which was Paul Taylor and Ian Hardingham from Mode 7. Very interesting and insightful look at what they learned from the process of Frozen Synapse and how it has applied to their current game.

The last panel I saw ended up starting 20 minutes late and was on Project Eternity. This one was Obsidian Entertainments very own Living Legend Chris Avellone and all I can say is this… Now I have tried not to swear on here and to be a bit more professional but… FUCK!! Why the CRAP didn’t I back this game on Kickstarter! Dammit! Absolutely beautiful game and the detail that he went into about the dev process was amazing. Very inspirational.

All in all, a wonderful day spent around PC gamers, developers and fans. Also, to finish with because it is true. Cara Ellison from RPS, PC Gamer, Unwinnable and the Guardian is Super Cute in the flesh!

On that note I am going to go and open a mans chest and replace his heart with a hammer, scalpel and wristwatch… Then I will play Surgeon Simulator 2013!

Fin!

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E3 Aftermath – PeeCee The Cross Platforms Cross Platform!

Hola once more!

So here is my final E3 Aftermath post.

Today is all about crossplatform and PC.

The PC was rather under-represented this E3 but that was to be expected when there are two brand new Console machines stomping around!

Some very good news for PC though as Crossplatform is now a major thing. Ubisoft and EA both announced a myriad of awesome looking games all coming to the PC plus either a single console, both main consoles or in some cases current and next gen consoles!

For me The Crew is the most interesting title newly announced. I am a massive fan of the two Test Drive: Unlimited games as well as Euro Truck Sim 2. I enjoy driving around places and The Crew gives you the Northern United States to play with… Obviously not to scale but regardless it is impressive.

Then we have Watch_Dogs and Battlefield 4, the former being much more interesting as a fully fleshed out game, which are both pushing PC as their big target. Heck the Battlefield showings at E3 were all confirmed by DICE to be running on the PC. Even the one at the Xbox waffling… *Chuckles*

Dark Souls 2 is also coming to the PC –no internet petitioning required this time!- as well as lots of developers (such as Bungie) hoping to being their latest games to the PC. In fact over 75% of the games announced have been confirmed to be coming to PC with at least another 10% hoping to come along for the ride! Great news for PC gamers

To make matters even stronger for the PC several established PC games such as DCU: Online, PlanetSide 2, and Minecraft are making their way over to consoles.

Then to top it all off we have the indies, some small (Gunpoint for example, a whole one man team built in spare time) through to large companies (like CDProject Red and Double Fine) who are bringing whole new areas of amazing gameplay, fidelity and stories to the PC. Most of these are currently even PC Exclusives if such a term truly exists!

Great times to be a PC Gamer, and thus I will finish with an analogy of what PC Gaming is to me. Consoles are like the awesome toys you had as a kid, the ones that had things like real moveable limbs and could turn into 3 different things! But in reality you’d play with them for a while, which was awesome –usual things like attack the cat, get thrown out of a window to see if they float with a bag attached and having inappropriate relations with a random Barbie doll- but would kinda be forgotten. There is only so much you can do with a toy like that.

PCs on the other hand, they are like the box that said toy came in. A box can be ANYTHING you want it to be. You can store things inside of it, hide things in there, put other toys inside there, stand on it, wear it as a hat (please note we’re talking about a box, not a PC… Please, don’t wear your PC as a hat!), turn it into a boat, or a spaceship or ANYTHING YOU WANT!

That there is a PC… It’s whatever the hell you WANT it to be.

This is all super important because this weekend I am off to Rezzed in Birmingham to play lots of awesome PC games. A full report shall be up probably Sunday, or whenever I have managed to recover!

A final note, I thank you kind folks who have liked my posts, it means a lot that people are reading them and –I am hoping- enjoying. Do please feel free to comment, I’d love to chat about anything related to things I post! Cheers!

E3 Aftermath – The PS4

Hola!

On to the second of my Post-E3 wafflings!

Let’s look at the PS4, shall we?

–Hardware–

As I have already detailed the specs previously I’ll gloss over what we already knew. Still a pretty decent machine and it is very aggressively priced. I know I certainly could not build a capable PC for that price-range. £349 is a very smart price, especially with the XBones price being considerably higher.

I am intrigued by two new announcements, hardware-wise, with the Game Streaming to the Sony Vita being the one that is grabbing my attention.
This very much seems to be a Nintendo-move as the Wii U seems built around the idea of having game streaming built in as part of the whole system.

The second cool thing it the LED Light Bar, Centre Touchpad and speaker all built into the new Controller. It all seems rather fun and combines what I feel are some of the best parts of Nintendo put into a single control.

–Software–

So what is new? Well, no native back-compatibility. That’s quite a big blow, however, Sony have talked about emulation. Doesn’t mean it will happen though.

Now the big one. PlayStation Plus. XBone and PlayStation will both require paid internet for online play… Now if you are already paying for your internet from your ISP and then have to pay to play your games you *buy* online I find that a very bitter pill… Word is that may get free games by being part of PlayStation stuff which would at least make it less terrible.

However, plus point is that games can be shared and resold without restriction (at least none from Sony).

–Games–

Exclusives are also thin on the ground, a new Infamous and Killzone but that is about it although you can bet on a new Uncharted at some point.

Other games such as DCU:Online and PlanetSide 2 which are currently PC only games will be coming to the PS4 which is rather impressive as both are large scale MMOs… Impressive stuff!

–Conclusion–

Sony have made the right noises, have a strong game lineup (doesn’t seem it thus far but more shall become clear in the next installment!) and have managed to turn their dreadful PS3 launch into a very successful spearhead on the PS4 campaign. They’ve listened to not only the Sony and PlayStation fans about what they wanted in a new console but to the wider audience and even looked at what has -and hasn’t- worked in the competition.

All in all, bloody good work Sony… I won’t be buying your console but by the Gods I am rooting for it!

E3 Aftermath – The Xbox One

Greetings!

So E3 has come and it has gone.

I have quite a lot of thoughts about it all so here is part one of three. This one is focused on the XBone.

–Hardware–

So the Xbox is running an AMD Jaguar x86 8-core CPU with the GCN 768-SPU stuck in there for the graphical grunt. 8gb of DDR3 memory (running at 2133mhz), Blu-ray, and even a 500GB HDD.

Not bad going, although one immediate thing I note, however, is that this 8gb of RAM isn’t 8gb of memory that can be accessed by games. Only 6gb is actually usable the rest is for the OS. Likewise the HDD won’t have a 500GB capacity.

So all in all it is the weaker of the two big consoles hardware wise. Not by a massive amount but it *is* the weaker one.

Now -as previously blogged- my current PC is better than the PS4 and the XBone is not as powerful as the PS4.

Still it is a decent looking spec under the exterior even though it isn’t anything “special” coming from a PC home.

–Software–

So the XBone will have a Triple-OS. A combo of the Xbox OS with a Windows 8 Kernel and a Virtualisation OS. Pretty interesting as -potentially- any Windows 8 software could work
on the x86 CPU.

Once again the new Xbox offers no backwards compatibility. They’ve argued that no-one wants to play their old games *that they’ve paid for* on a new machine and if you want to play old games then just keep your 360… Sorry, but whut?! No-one wants to play their old games? I have over 250 games on Steam, a further 40-odd from GOG.com as well as actual BOXED games… Now I can grab the discs of Jedi Knight, whack ’em in my PC and then play Jedi Knight… I was playing Rollercoaster Tycoon only yesterday! So I guess it’s just me who wants backward compatibility in their systems?

I thought so Microsoft…

On the software side the Kinect… Now I am all for motion usage in games. The Wii became the largest selling console of the last generation because of it! However, something that analyses you while you watch Television… HELLS no! The Wii and the Playstation Move we’re things that watched you, they saw movement though the controller and converted that into in game movement. That is fine! “Spying” is not fine Microsoft. Not fine at all!

Let’s not even start on the game-sharing policy or the whole online thing!

–Games–

Right, so this is the point of the consoles, right? So what are these Exclusives that these boxes push for that makes them feel special, eh?

Turns out there isn’t many… Forza, Ryse and Dead Rising 3 are the only ones that actually looked interesting. However, Forza can be trumped by The Crew (which looks Amazing!) and Dead Rising 3 can be trumped by any number of upcoming zombie games. So Project Spark, Titanfall, all those sports games, Mirror’s Edge 2 and Battlefield 4 are all coming to the PC… In fact a suprisingly large amount of “next-gen” games are using the PC as the lead platform…

I love being part of the next-gen *right now* baby!

–Conclusion–

The Xbox One is a confusingly named, mess of a console with games which are mostly going to be available on PC and PS4.

The whole point of a system -regardless of console, laptop, tablet or desktop- is that it does what you want it to and that you feel the developers value your money…

On that final note I shall finish with a quote from Don Mattrick, the president of Interactuve Entertainment Business at Microsoft about people who do not have an internet connection or a very poor connection…

“Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360”

Thanks Microsoft, glad I am not just a number to you!

Battle of the X’s.

Xenonauts is finally on Steam as part of Early Access. While I picked up the game within a few days of it originally coming on sale through the developers website I haven’t played much of it simply because I am a Steam gamer and it was the only thing in my Desura library.

Anyway, now I have Xenonauts in a location where I won’t forget it exists I’ve been playing it more. However, with Firaxis’ XCOM appearing from no-where (in fact I picked up Xenonauts *because* there was no Enemy Unknown style games out there worth playing apart from the original which hasn’t exactly aged gracefully) is there space for two such games to co-exist.

(I am obviously discounting the “other” XCOM game that is coming out as it is a cover based shooter/RPG thing rather than a more accurate representative of X-Com.)

So lets start with XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Good game? Yes. Yes it was. How good? Well it is one of the few games I’ve actually completed from start to finish. Played it on Iron Man mode as -to me- that is the way to play a game like this.

The UI was well implemented, the base was interesting and the connection to your team makes the ground assaults incredibly tense and dramatic. Speaking of ground assaults they are beautiful, fairly colorful and filled with great looking terrors of the Unknown variety.

How unknown? Hmmm, well, after playing the original X-Com (badly) most of the Enemies are actually Known. Most being rather well documented. Hell the word Chryssalid has been terrifying gamers since 1994! This removed a lot of the tension, however, it is like a remake of a film. It is a lot more shiny looking and a lot has changed. In this case though, it worked magnificently. It is not perfect. The DLC, the All American Voice Actors, that damn camera and the single base were all massive blows to a game that could have been much more.

It was dumbed down a little and much of the complexity was stripped away but the core was UFO: Enemy Unknown that I remember.

So here ends this discussion already, right? Big Budget XCOM Beats Xenonauts, right?

Not quite.

XCOM is a HELL of a game. No denying that, but Xenonauts has something that makes it punch massively above its weight. It feels like UFO: Enemy Unknown. The aliens are different so it feels fresh. It is based in the 1970s so the actual world feels a little alien. How the ground and aerial combat plays out is beautiful. It looks beautiful and it is wonderfully -and happily- functional. They still have a long way to go but the game is not finished yet.

So if XCOM is the Big Budget Blockbuster remake, Xenonauts is the HD Remaster of the original. When I watched Alien on Bluray for the first time it was like watching it again for the first time. So much more detail and clarity that I just can’t watch my old DVD versions now.

Xenonauts is like that, it is a beautiful remastering of the game that is still played today almost 20 years on from its original release. While XCOM was built from the ground up by people who obviously respected the original franchise (and created a game that almost plays like a board game), Xenonauts is being created by people who obviously respect and have a pure love and passion for the original material. An amazing bonus is they have a pure love and passion for the game they are creating.

Really excited for the finished game, because both XCOM and Xenonauts are two sides of the same coin and deserve a place in every X-Com loving gamers Steam Library!

Guess we just need to find out if that shooter one falls on the other side of the coin, eh?