Category Archives: The After Party

Quickie: Subject to Change

Hey Gamers.

A thousand apologies for a break in the regular updates. With my portal to the internet dead and defunct, the gaming masses were unreachable,  leaving me stranded in a place I don’t visit too often.

Desert of the Real situation, I'm afraid.

Desert of the Real situation, you see.

What’s worse is I don’t even have a lot of time at present to go into detail about all of the gaming goodness that has transpired in the past couple of days. Among the crazier hype trains blasting by, the news of the next Xbox announcement falling on May 21st (10 AM PDT) is one of the biggest. With the loud nature that was the PS4 press event, and the party that followed, you can imagine my anxiousness in looking forward to seeing another huge part of the next several years. Even if that starts with me getting excited about an announcement about an announcement.

Desert of the Real situation, I'm afraid.

Desert of the Real situation, you see.

The event will be streamed both on Xbox Live and Xbox.com at the aforementioned date and time, and you can imagine the storm of news that will bellow forth soon afterwards. With all of the talk about price points, “dealing” with always online gaming, and additions of questionable tech functionality, any gamer who’s any  gamer is going to be very interested to see what transpires.

And Hopefully, and not just perspire.

And Hopefully, not just perspires.

I think Microsoft is in a very precarious situation right now. With the Wii U having a hard time focusing on just being a game console, and the PS4 taking a heavy embrace of social media, Microsoft is going to have to burst forth with careful ambition. We know MS wishes to make the Xbox the hub of the living room, so it’s safe to say they’ll also pursue this mass inter-connectivity. Also, with Nintendo having a solid stable (and too many idle horses in them) of games to parade, MS also has to service a very demanding bunch of Call of Duty players, who will one day run out of bullets and seek new battlefields. This delicate balance of core vs casual, while demographically tainted by title, can be utilized to service the in-between.  There are plenty of people who just want games, and a steady stream of them. Others still, don’t necessary want to just stream their games.

Before you know it, we have to start laughing at the concept of having to discuss “what makes a video game console”, as if video games weren’t enough to do that in the first place.

Desert of the Real situation, I'm afraid.

Desert of the Real situation, you see.

Rest assured, whatever perverse reality we’ll be given, or the one we think we want, I’ll be right there to cover the event from minute one. Look forward to that and more, in the future of ATE.
As one last aside, I normally take a break from posting on the weekends, but considering my lack of regular updates during the week, I’ll be sure to bring you guys something fresh from the gaming oven to snack on over the weekend.

Till Then…

Happy Gaming
~Pashford

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PS4 Conference: The After Party (Part 2)

My last post involved re-examining that Sony is in fact, an exhibitor trying to sell a product, rather than a magical candy man some of the PR bullshit would lead you to believe.

If You want to view paradise…

If You want to view paradise…

…simply look past the slave labor to view it.

…simply look past the slave labor to view it.

Yes, I had a lot of fun watching the conference, and I’ve already done an extensive job at posting the information, and doing so with honest enthusiasm. My newer posts entitled “The After Party”, are merely to balance my own equation. I’m at my best when dynamically divided, and I want analytic me to remind my over enthusiastic me to stay focused, and remember that this fun has context, and all sides of nonsense that coincide with it.

Coinciding Nonsense

Coinciding Nonsense

My first post revisited the truths Sony delivered, that may or may not be fully intact when the PS4 launches later this year. While I endangered my own righteous excitement and Sony’s bold claims using one fatal bear hug of judgement, I look else where to continue doing damage in this new post. Damage to both my own lofty expectations, and ridiculous hype on display at the conference in one fail swoop…

…in what I’m referring to as the Raditz Maneuver.

…in what I’m referring to as the Raditz Maneuver.

I find understanding and besting the competition involves a little self-sacrifice….from time to time.

In any case, while a lot of what Sony talked about had a sound theory, and only a questionable execution, many of the other ideas on display seemed to be just that, questionable. The theory was padded by thoughtful motivation, but the reality of the product, or the execution of said idea, may not even have been a pre-meditated thought in bringing the proto-display to our attention.

I give the pass to most of the games in the first half of the conference. Watch_Dogs still remains a savory delight, and Knack has the potential to be a killer app at launch. Drive Club and Killzone looked solid, and Jonathan Blow has a good enough track record to keep me satiated till E3.

Then…there was the not so game play heavy demo’s….and the spectacular lack of no game play to go along with it.

Pictured: Not Game Play.

Pictured: Not Game Play.

First off I’ll touch on David Cage’s presentation. The man is outspoken on his views in game design, so this display of cinematic bravado involving the Old Man tech makes sense, in one way. That is, in the way of explaining what the PS4 is capable of in theory. Considering his team Quantic Dream is still producing Beyond, their current project, which hasn’t even been given a release date yet, I wonder how unrealistically gun ho Cage should be about “The Old Man” in discussing near future possibilities to hopeful gamers.

Amazing and reasonable, the perfect fusion of game design.

Seen Here: Cage’s Next game, Beyond…amazing and reasonable, the perfect fusion of game design.

Launch windows are abusively pushed back, and Beyond doesn’t even have a set date yet. I use the game’s mention as a segway to theory vs. execution, and how one should be slightly more tame in their hype. David Cage has been known to romanticize technology, more so than his ability to provide timely upon it. The Old Man Tech comes off as a spiritual successor to his Alfred Molina model shown at a Sony E3 event circa 2005, by non other than…David Cage.

A demo used before the PS3 was out in 2005, to showcase a game (Heavy Rain) that finally came out for the system in 2009.

A demo used before the PS3 was out in 2005, to showcase a game (Heavy Rain) that finally came out for the system in 2009.

I will give Cage credit here. He knows how to craft an experience, and he didn’t spread misinformation on either demo. My problem with the hype pre-releasing is the false precedence it sets to the hopeful early adopters, and delivering on the theory vs. the execution. Should we really be hyping a system to come out in 2013, by discussing the game possibilities in 2018? What about focusing on the here and the now? Sony didn’t even want to discuss a price point, which is something we’ll have to be dealing with in 7 months time, but the visionaries can talk about something that may be possible half way into a consoles life span? Last time I checked, most video game launches are strapped as is for a constant stream of good titles to come out, so focusing on the honesty of what’s going to be immediately available seems like a wiser decision in terms of exciting potential day one buyers, as opposed to talking about a far off potential future.

Romantically discussing that which we struggle to understand.

How David Cage normally reacts to yet unexplored territory.

How David Cage normally reacts to yet unexplored territory.

Once again, I bookend my challenge of the obvious to a look back at a good track record. I know that Cage can deliver, just not necessarily within an exciting time frame. Others on show, weren’t quite as forgiven at a second glance. Capcom’s Panta Rhei engine looked fantastic, but the game Deep Down is reminiscent of so many other “look at this” tech demo’s posed as games to get the masses a’ sploding, but never ever getting enough gun power for the chance to ignite.

Remember getting emotional the first time you saw Milo? Peter Molyneux doesn’t either.

Remember getting emotional the first time you saw Milo? Peter Molyneux doesn’t either.

Deep Down already looks too good to be true, even leading me to believe we might be getting Killzoned. Considering Capcom’s abhorrent habits as of late, in scaring off good talent, and abusing the one’s they still have, I’ll be amazed if we ever hear about Deep Down, let alone see it performing on the same level of quality again.

They couldn’t get Resident Evil 6 right, but Capcom is assuring us that this is totally possible? Not even Dr. Wily would bet on this conceptually suspicious technology, and he made a robot called Wood Man.

They couldn’t get Resident Evil 6 right, but Capcom is assuring us that this is totally possible? Not even Dr. Wily would bet on this conceptually suspicious technology, and he made a robot called Wood Man.

Then there’s this guy

Yes, this guy.

Yes, this guy.

Maybe one of the worst examples of why media PR can go completely bat shit insane without a proper rein in. If I accuse David Cage of romanticizing about technology, than Nate Fox is engaged in explicit adultery with concept.

Not exactly a game known for breaking down social barriers or breaking apart conceptual walls…hell, getting over a fence in the first game was hard enough.

The idea of bringing meaningful social concepts to light through gaming is important, and I think there’s room for a serious dialogue in the realm of dev and player interaction. I think this was an example of wrong place wrong time, as Nate Fox’s speech of Infamous: Second Son being inspired by his experience of being tear gassed was just very awkward, and poorly handled in the grand scheme of the game lead in.

Following the serious tone of being assaulted, to further building a melancholy message with “thousands of lives lost waiting in line” in reference to overbearing government security builds up to anti-climax. I say this as a response to all of this serious dictation,  directly leading into a segway involving “how everything would change if people started developing super powers”, which seemed akin to an attempt at a bad joke. At the very least, a disservice to both Nate’s experience, and the game itself. The entire exposition going from dead serious to a serious joke in about three seconds of time.

ps4 p4 wd 17

The same amount of time it took for Ubisoft to seriously grab my full attention with their Watch_Dogs presentation. No joke.

An air of disbelief palpable after the realization of an Infamous lead up being a dud, and some reflexive eye rolling  with the realization that Mr. Fox just made a mockery of his own intention and the game in one misguided swoop. Insult added to injury comes just slightly later into the conference, when Watch_Dogs, which has a similar concept, is delivered with more tame eloquence, and touches on the topic in a far more nuanced manner, and appropriate context.

I’m sad to say, but this kind of mis-directed hype is what turns pre-release tech conferences into a full blown Donkey Show within a single sentence.

“As you know, Square Enix is another major partner developing for the PS4”.

Seen Here: The gaming press reacting to the Square Enix portion of the PS4 press conference.

Seen Here: The gaming press reacting to the Square Enix portion of the PS4 press conference.

The Square Enix mention, and subsequent techo demo on display had to have been the least eventful section of the entire conference. With easily, the least informative, and least impressive tech on display, I’m surprised Sony didn’t just save themselves the time and replay the Final Fantasy 7 demo they did back in 2006. At least hyping that lie again would have reminded me of a time when Square as a company was actually worth a shit

Pictured: The Square Enix rep on stage at the PS4 conference being capture saying "Look what Square can do".

Pictured: The Square Enix rep on stage at the PS4 conference, being captured on camera  saying “Look what Square can do.”

Square’s tech demo didn’t look the best, they had no games to show off, and all of this information was coming from a company that routinely pushes me past the realms of gaming sanity. It’s very hard to respect a company that has been strangling it’s own creative merits to death over the past decade. I find it even harder to take seriously anything a company has to say about an upcoming game, when they’re singularly responsible for murdering one of the most highly regarded game series of all time single handedly. What they showed had little baring in the impressive, and was a conceptual mess. With confused direction and awkward concepts, everything on show was just thrown at the audience in a random attempt at trying to grab the lowest common denominator.

Also, a hyena.

Also, a hyena.

Honestly, I have full awareness of my bias towards Square Enix, and this is due in part to the reasons already stated. I bit my lip when trying to provide genuine coverage of their portion of the PS4 conference, and felt sincerely irked they were given as much press time. Their habitual dishonesty, and shallow attempts in video game development have reduced a once impassioned Final Fantasy fan to a hater of the illest kind. In fact, they are largely in part the reason I decided to throw this literary “After Party” following my regular PS4 write ups. This was in trying to shed light on how earnestly difficult it is to take some of these companies at respectful face value, when they’ve helped to degrade the over all culture of gaming, and have created such a poor track record of distrust in the first place.

Oh yeah, don’t forget their grand finale: an announcement of an announcement in the (possible) near future.

Oh yeah, don’t forget their grand finale: an announcement of an announcement in the (possible) near future. Whoopie fucking doo.

Honestly, I was going to mention Media Molecule’s unfortunate similarities to the Wii Music Demo from Nintendo’s E3 in 2008, but nothing matches Square’s sheer volume of disappointment and tenacity in doing so. Media Molecule has always had an air of soul about their development approaches, and their mission of “recording your dreams” is victim only to Sony’s rigid dictations in this regard, and the yet unratified nature of the Playstation Move controller to go along with it. MM still has the want to succeed, Square lost theirs a long time ago.

Well, that about wraps up the celebration for all of the majorly disappointing misgivings  of the PS4 conference from a conceptual stand point, and what an after party it turned out to be!

…Don’t get me wrong, I want to end this by saying I wish the developers well in carrying out their simple message of fun, however flawed it may be. I’m also severely excited about the PS4, and am eager to pick one up at launch. I just want to remind myself, and in turn, my gaming brothers, that blind acceptance often begets false prophets. If we don’t stop and take a second look, and even question the harsh reality of what has been presented before us, we will all suffer the consequences of observational neglect. Massive disappointment is a byproduct of extreme misjudgment and unchecked disbelief, both elements we have full control of, and are smart enough to use, if we so choose, on a regular basis.

The idea here is not about unneeded pessimism, it’s about healthy amounts of cynicism. Reality is going to be harsh, it’s when you start observing this fact, you can start appreciating the aspects of life worthwhile, and have more fun in doing so.

Happy Gaming.

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PS4 Conference: The After Party (Part 1)

I thought about doing a rapid fire blurb piece involving some of the highlights of the PS4 press conference, the two hour event being a glut of gaming content. I gave it a second thought, and realized I had approached the event with a healthy perspective of objectivity, with my gaming bias intact. The bias mentioned including my own gluttony and excitement for new game news, especially information of this quality proportion.

PS4 1

The reason I resisted doing another straight write up was the want and need to deliver something a little more critical. I can go on all day about what Sony said about the system, or what the games are “suppose“ to do , but I don’t believe that cuts deep enough. These press events can be intoxicating, to the point of blind consumption. The PS4 has me excited in all sorts of ways, but I’m thinking that a great deal of what Sony is selling may have been a slight embellishment, the “endless possibilities” not having come across to some onlookers as not entirely plausible.

PS4 After Kaz Big Arms 2

Must be this gullible to ride.

For starters, the system not being shown wasn’t a deal breaker for me. This event under cutting E3 by a couple of months, I figured Sony was going to pull some punches before the big fight. Outside of E3, these events can be great at creating much needed hype, but to ignore the press and iconic nature of E3 would be self-destructive. Microsoft and Nintendo don’t exist in a vacuum after all, and it’s not unrealistic to think either company won’t show off some form of new hardware, and Sony will need a heavy hitter to combat them with. I’m guessing The PS Vita Go hasn’t been in secret development for the past couple months, and likely would only leave the gaming collective horrified.

Seen Here: Conceptual Pictures of what the PS Vita Go might look like.

Seen Here: Conceptual Pictures of what the PS Vita Go might look like.

I noticed the price point also wasn’t stated at the time of the conference. I’m wondering if Sony has a defined retail cost already (given we already know the price of the tech inside the system), or if they’re waiting to see if they can somehow undercut their own dollar tag before the all important E3 reveal.

The gaming giant may be trying to stave off the inevitable, waiting as long as they can before disappointing the majority of eager buyers with the bombshell price point. Sony’s pricing has, historically, been a weak point that often makes for some massive damage.

Picture Related

Picture Related

The Dualshock 4 took a nice clean approach, and was likely for many, the most relieving portion of the Sony centric reveal. I’m glad Sony’s smart enough to try and not fix what isn’t broken, instead of breaking what already works. The share button has me curious, and time will tell if it’s worth will out weight the basic controller functionality. I know that sounds outlandish, but I’m wondering if more people won’t eventually adopt their PS4 as a social media device, forgetting entirely about the fact that it plays video games, much in the same way many have done in turning their 360’s into a Netflix machine.

It only does Facebook.

It only does Facebook.

The extra added tech into the Dual Shock 4 leaves me cautious though. Controller prices are getting higher and higher all the time. With the currently rising prices of hardware already too much for consumers to handle, where will a $60-80 dollar controller leave a gamer with an empty wallet in the face of split screen? Will split screen even be a tertiary concern for most developers going into the eighth generation of consoles?

For once, not the red headed step child of bad gaming news.

For once, not the red headed step child of bad gaming news! Looks like I won’t have to think of a joke that spans multiple pictures involving Diablo 3’s failings…

I liked what Knack had to show off for PS4 infrastructure benefits, but it makes me wonder if all of this functionality isn’t going to further muddle good game design. Slapped on multiplayer is still an aspect of gaming that irritates many, usually degrading what would have been an even better single player experience, to attract estranged demographics. Will dev teams have to focus more on social media, and console interfacing than developing actual gameplay? The core idea worries me going forward as a fact of life, as I will always take fun design over tertiary function any day.

Wondering if Sony will give us both the good and the bad, in creating their future possible sitcom called the PS4, or if they will just give us the bad.

Wondering if Sony will give us both the good and the bad in creating their future possible sitcom called the PS4, or if they will just give us the bad.

A couple of other theoreticals I’d like to discuss is this always integrated notion of the new system. Past the few confusing selling points and high entry fees to consumers regarding the system, I have another worry about this massive inter relatedness with the PS4. While reports after the conference have been worryingly conflicting to whether or not the “no used games on the PS4” are true, yet another stigma of modern day gaming rears it’s ugly head.

PS4 after error 37

….can not complete joke at this time.

While I’m overly optimistic the PS4 will function as a basic gaming system untethered to the internet, I do feel the need to point out the obvious. My memories of the Diablo 3 launch are still quite potent in my mind, and having an over reliance on unpredictable technology and anti-consumer policies is a terrible idea. I say unpredictable technology in regards to internet connections, and what kind of vast repercussions comes from connecting a majority of functionality to it’s rather fragile nature. Sony was reminded of this warm sentiment with a hello from the unknown when the PSN was hacked, and an underlying message of “Welcome to the Human Race” to go along with it.

How easy it was to shut down the Playstation Network in 2011.

How easy it was to shut down the Playstation Network in 2011.

Diablo 3’s launched suffered because of both always online and anti-consumer stances. In this instance of policy failure, they effectively disallowed gamers from using a product they just purchased, after waiting a decade to do so. This is all a cause and effect of needless functionality, due to the aforementioned anti-consumerism policies, in a quest to try and quell piracy, and control finance. Diablo 3 became the punching bag in the industry, much like the PSN became when a bunch of anonymous effortlessly took down a network from one of the biggest gaming giants on the planet.

V if for violation of the terms and agreements used in being a  misguided corporation.

V if for violation of the terms and agreements used in being a misguided corporation.

While I might be shouting doom towards the heavens rambunctiously right now, I don’t believe my aim is wrong. All of this tech and all of these business practices need to have proper restraint, and a mindful discipline about them. Without the control of your own tools, crafting ideas like “always connected” and “massive jumps in technology” will fail to create virtual paradise, and instead, turn into self-inflicted chaos. The PS4 needs to focus on games first and fore most, and servicing the gamer in having fun, before trying to shove online status quo and superfluous tech down our strangled consumer throats.

All right, I’ve covered the Sony side of verbal failings so far, mentioned the reality that no one will be happy with the economically pre-ordained price point of the system, touched on the possibility of gimmicks instead of core game play focus at launch, and even sliced a philosophy pie to force feed warning to those who think they can “do it better” in regards to controlled tech…

Who’s next?

(To be continued)

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