The Next X-Box Controller

So I was listening to one of the more recent Bombcasts the other day, and the crew were talking about how the 360 controller might change with the next generation of the console. Given that they have already laid the groundwork for a companion touchscreen with Smartglass, I wouldn't be surprised if they incorporated this into their next controller. This was more or less said on the bombcast, but concerns were raised over how changing such a popular controller might affect the fan-base. I think there is an obvious solution.

Use the space that you would normally put a chat pad, and fill it with a small (phone sized?) touch screen. It could even act as a chat pad still since most people are fairly comfortable typing on a touch screen these days. Thoughts?


Chinese Prisoners Forced to "Gold-farm" in MMOs

This was in The Globe and Mail today and I don't know if it's old news but I wanted to pass it along. You can find it here, but its not a long story so I'm just going to re-post it. 
Chinese prisoners were forced to earn virtual money in online games (MMOs) that was then traded for real-world money, according to a former inmate interviewed by The Guardian this week.

The anonymous man, himself a former prison guard who was incarcerated in 2004 for three years after “illegally petitioning” perceived government corruption, stated that in addition to his hard labour duties — which included mining coal — he was forced to play games for up to 12 hours at a time, performing simple tasks that resulted in game currency.

People have engaged in this dubious practice — dubbed " gold farming" — for more than a decade. Farmers in developing countries sell the virtual currency they acquire to players residing in richer Western countries who'd rather not spend the time it takes to earn virtual money themselves. This virtual market, which some have estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars, is typically prohibited and policed by the makers of MMO games.

The Guardian's source said he overheard guards discussing that the operation was garnering between 5,000 and 6,000 Chinese yuan (about $750 to $900) per day, and that prisoners saw none of this money.

He also said he was physically punished when he failed to meet quotas.

“They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes,” he said. “We kept playing until we could barely see things.”

Another British newspaper, The Telegraph, interviewed a Chinese official Thursday who flatly denied any possibility of gold farming operations in the country’s prisons.

“We do not have large numbers of computers,” said the official. “And we do not allow our prisoners to have any contact with the outside world. If they were playing these online games they could easily communicate with other people. We would never allow that.”

However, the anonymous prisoner told The Guardian not only have prison-run gold farming operations taken place in the past, but that he believes they are ongoing.

“Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games,” he said. “It must still be happening.” 


Backlog Update (AKA I'm a failure) and another Kinect Game Idea

So it's been a while since I gave an update to the backlog challenge I gave myself and I'm gonna be's not good. I've made some good progress through it given the time I've had, but I'm not even close to finishing it. Between work picking up and adopting a new dog there just aren't enough hours in the day. To summarize what I have managed to complete since I started:

- Bloody Good Time (Had my fill)
- Braid
- Crysis Warhead
-  Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS) 
- Mass Effect 2 (And all of the DLC I ended up buying)
- Puzzle Agent
- Super Scribblenauts

And thats it. To be honest I thought I would have taken care of more. I am currently working on Magicka and Darksiders and after that I plan to take on a couple of linear shooters because I tend to be good enough at FPSs to just burn through them. If you have any suggestions on what I should take on next drop me a comment.

The most recent Bombcast (May 17th 2011) got me thinking about this. The idea that I had for a Kinect game would essentially be taking the SWAT series and bringing it to the consoles. The controls would again combine the standard controller and the motion controls of the Kinect. Movement and shooting would fall on the standard controller like a normal shooter. The Kinect would be used to bring the gamer into the role of the SWAT agent. By using hand gestures to command your team (for example to breach a door, or sweep a room), by leaning to finally bring that option to consoles, and by using voice commands when the action amps up and its time to get loud. That game just got so intense when you breach a room and ran in guns drawn screaming ITS THE POLICE! HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!, and I really think the Kinect could be used to make that experience even better. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Quicksaving and Backlog Update

I finally managed to listen to this weeks Bombcast and during their discussion of Crysis 2 they brought up the issue of quicksaving. Without getting into too much detail, he Giantbomb crew seems to be of the opinion that, while most members of the PC community feel like every game should have quicksaving, it isn't necessary if a game is checkpointed well. The PC community needs to accept that game mechanics change over time. 
Now, I should probably note that I am a PC gamer through and through,but I am going to argue that gamers of EVERY platform should want quicksaving. It seems by their discussion that they're using quicksaving and "save anywhere" interchangeably since the alternative is checkpointed saves.  The ability to save anywhere should always be an option in a game like Crysis 2. Now I haven't played Crysis 2, but I'm basing this on my experiences with the first game. In my opinion, quicksaving extends the life of the game because it promotes experimentation. Lets take a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as an example. I don't know how many times I would come across something, quicksave, and then just fuck around and see what happens. I'm pretty sure the first thing I tried to do in that game after getting a pistol is killing everyone in the Loner base. Why would I ever try this with checkpointing since I can't control when I hit the checkpoint and a lot of the time I can't drop back to 2 or 3 checkpoints ago. Maybe there's an option to go back to the beginning of a chapter, but that isn't the same.  The other argument against only having checkpoint saves is that they are hardly ever done well. I'm sure all of us have experienced some form of a long and boring cutscene followed by an escort mission. Or a lengthy platforming sequence with no checkpoints in the middle. And don't ever get me started on the ending of Psychonauts. I just don't seem how, with these two points in mind, anyone could be in favor of checkpointing over save-anywhere.
Now for a backlog update. I finished Braid thought it was just alright. Spent way too much time playing League of Legends. Mass Effect 2 is almost finished, 1 or 2 more loyalty missions to take care of. Never gonna finish them all. Almost bought a car this week.


Backlog update and other stuff!

So its been a little while since I posted an update. I had plans to do this blogging thing on a regular basis, but unfortunately real life can get in the way sometimes. 
When I last posted I gave a huge list of games that I am trying to play through before May. Now, I'm not crazy. I understand that there is no fucking way I am going to complete all of those games, but I never expected such a small amount of progress. See, I have only completed two games in almost a month. Now part of that has to do with a decreased amount of time near my computer, but it's mostly due to the horrible addiction that I have developed that some of you know as League of Legends.
 Now, I'm alright at  LoL. I used to play when  it first came out. I tend to main with Corki, but lately I've started rockin' Pantheon. I also play some Veigar and master Yi, but thats hit and miss.  What I'm trying to get to is WTF Riot Games!?! How could you? This game is fucking crack. I also have to call out one of my friends for asking me to jump back in and play a few rounds with him one night. Fuck you Tim.  Like I said, I used to play LoL when it first came out and I pretty fucking addicted to it then too, but I think that had more to do with the people I was playing with than the game itself. Don't get me wrong, LoL is awesome, but at the time I was living in a house with some other nerds that I went to school with. When it came time to LoL we would sit at our computers with the doors to our rooms open and just shout down the hall at each other. Team fights were a total clusterfuck but over all it was an amazing gaming experience. But when I got my degree and moved out, I kind of just stopped playing. I know there are a number of services that could allow that kind of teamwork and friendship over great distances (I'm a huge fan of X-fire) but for some reason it just didn't keep my attention. Well, consider that phase fucking over. It's a testament to the dev team's abilities just how much better that game has gotten. They've kept all of their core mechanics the same, but the shear number of champions now is amazing. The game remains extremely well balanced but the depth now is just incredible. I just can't believe that the one game I didn't have to pay for has managed to take up all of my time.
As for the games I managed to finish, you can cross Puzzle Agent and Ghost Trick off the list. I still haven't finished Mass Effect 2. I plan to soon, just after one more game of LoL...


The Great Backlog Challenge!!!!

Like most PC gamers I have a ridiculously large backlog of games on Steam. This is mostly due to all of the sales they have on Steam and the complete lack of free time that I have. Who knew that starting a career and behaving like an adult would take up so much of my time? On top of that I have a few additional PC games, some Xbox 360 games and some DS games to finish. What is going through my mind when I buy these?


Anyway, I’ve decided to take action and conquer this beast, and to give myself some motivation, I’ve asked my girlfriend to move in with me. Basically this means that whatever games I don’t finish before she moves in I probably won’t be playing. Living with someone and spending time with her on a daily basis is going to take up a substantial portion of my time so I’ll likely only keep up with whatever new releases tickle my fancy. Now she’s finishing up her degree, so I have until shortly after she graduates to take care of business. May 1 2011. The date is set.


Now, without further ado, I present my video game backlog!!!!

 Alpha Prime
Alpha Protocol
Battlestations Pacific
Battlestations: Midway
Bionic Commando: Rearmed
Bloody Good Time
Chrome + SpecForce Bundle

  • Chrome
  • Chrome - SpecForce

Company of Heroes: Gold

  • Company of Heroes
  • Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts

Conflict: Denied Ops
Crysis Warhead®
Dark Void™ Zero
Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition
Dragon Ball: Origins (DS)
Evil Genius
F.E.A.R.2: Project Origin
Flora's Fruit Farm
Freedom Force: Freedom Pack

  • Freedom Force
  • Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich

Gears of War (360)
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
Grand Theft Auto 4 (360)
Greed Corp
Heroes of Annihilated Empires
Bullet Candy
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Galcon Fusion
Just Cause 2
King Arthur - The Role-playing Wargame
Lugaru HD
Mass Effect 2
Mount and Blade Complete

  • Mount & Blade
  • Mount & Blade: Warband

No One Lives Forever 2
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Penny Arcade Adventures: Precipice of Darkness Combo Pack

  • On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One
  • On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode Two

Penumbra Overture
Puzzle Agent
Red Dead Redemption (360)
Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45
Rogue Trooper
Serious Sam HD: Double Pack

  • Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
  • Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter

Shellshock 2: Blood Trails
Sid Meier's Civilization IV: The Complete Edition

  • Sid Meier's Civilization® IV
  • Civilization IV®: Warlords
  • Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword
  • Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization

Star Wars: Dark Forces
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Super Laser Racer
Super Meat Boy
Super Scribblenauts
Hitman: Blood Money
Hitman: Codename 47
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
The World Ends With You (DS)
Thief: Deadly Shadows
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
Tomb Raider: Legend
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Universe at War: Earth Assault
Warhammer® 40,000: Dawn of War® II Gold Edition

  • Warhammer® 40,000™: Dawn of War® II
  • Warhammer® 40,000: Dawn of War® II Chaos Rising

Wings of Prey

Hmm...I may have missed some none Steam PC games....

 Not sure what order I want to take them on in. I’ll be starting with Mass Effect 2 since I’m about halfway through. I’ll give updates as I go along, and there is a very good chance I will be distracted by a number of different games that I’ve already beaten. When it comes to multiplayer focused games, I’ll leave that up to my judgement. If there is a levelling system I may go by that, but I don’t necessarily think that hitting level 50 will make the experience much more complete than it was at level 49. Obviously the rules are pretty relaxed but in the end if I miss out on something then it’s my own fault. If you guys have any suggestion on the order in which I should be playing these, feel free to comment. Also I’ll be happy to talk about any games I’ve played if you’re interested in picking them up. I’ve played quite a few games, and by the end of this, a whole fuck load more.




First Blog Post! (and Kinect Game Idea)

So I've never written a blog before, but I figured I would give it a shot. I tend to have a lot of random thoughts/ideas about video games so Giantbomb seemed to be the best place to make a post. Not sure anyone will read this, and honestly don't think I care that much. If this just turns out to be some place where I can store my ideas then so be it.
So for my first post I'm gonna talk about Kinect games. I recently got an Xbox 360 slim for free (part of a promotion for buying a windows phone) and figured that I might as well pick up the Kinect and see what its all about. Even if i don't end up liking it my non-gamer girlfriend will probably enjoy using it for some sort of dance or fitness game. Now, I have never owned a console before. I did all of my gaming on the PC and the DS, with the PC taking up about 90% of that pie. So with that being said, a lot of my opinion of the Kinect might also be influenced by the fact that console gaming as a whole is new to me. So lets get down to it.
1. The Kinect is Actually Fun
Now just because I'm a PC gamer doesn't mean I'm naive. I am fully aware of the reaction from the hardcore gaming crowd when it comes to the Kinect. And I agree with parts of it. The launch (hell, the current) lineup isn't that great and it does come off as somewhat gimmicky and inaccurate. But there are two games out for the Kinect (Kinect Sports and Dance Central) that make the whole system worth while. I understand that Kinect Sports is the same sports collection that every other motion controller system has, but from my point of view that doesn't matter. I don't own all three systems nor do I want to. The fact that the Wii, the Move and Kinect all have a similar game will never change how enjoyable Kinect Sports is for me. And it is! With how shitty the weather can get during the winter here in Canada, it's nice to feel active while doing something indoors. Living in an apartment as a recent graduate doesn't afford me a lot of room for say exercise equipment, so being able to fill this void with my Xbox is awesome. The games may get repetitive, but the higher difficulties add some great challenge and are a lot of fun (especially Boxing). Throw in Xbox Live match ups and I have all I ever wanted from the game. As for Dance Central, it's clearly the best Kinect title out there, and has been discussed a lot as a result. I won't say too much, other than the fact that it manages to take something I hate doing (dancing) and make me not mind it enough that I'll actually do it in front of people.
2. Navigation Sucks
Maybe it's my PC heritage, but I hate menu navigation on consoles. I just feel encumbered by having to use a controller. The Kinect makes the problem ten times worse. You would think that it following your hands around would be more to my liking, but the fact that I have to hover over icons to select stuff just feels so tedious. The voice controls are alright, but are sparsely implemented so it doesn't really matter.
3. Developers Need to Think Outside the Box
I think part of the reason that the selection of Kinect Games is so sparse is because developers don't know how to use fully body controls in place of a controller in conventional games. I think that's their biggest problem. The best thing they can do is use the Kinect WITH the controller. Now I know this goes against all of the marketing they've been doing, but to prove my point I'm gonna pitch a game that would be awesome using this control scheme and couldn't be done the same with just the controller.
Game Idea!!!!
It would be a motorcycle racing game with combat. You hold the controller in your hands and play seated in front of the Kinect. Either trigger will accelerate and the shoulder buttons are brake. To turn you lean in the direction you want to go, the harder the lean, the harder the turn. Alternatively you could use either thumbstick. As for the combat, there would be three types of weapons: Mines, Projectiles and Melee. To release mines you would raise either hand straight up into the air and bring it back down to drop behind you. To throw it ahead, you would raise your hand straight up and then make a throwing motion forward. For projectiles you would put your arm straight out to the side and make a forward throwing motion to shoot ahead of you. To shoot behind you would reach your hand out in front of you and then make a backward throwing motion. For melee weapons you would just naturally swing them to whichever side you want. Use the D pad to select between weapons.
So that's it! First ever blog post. If anyone is reading this, let me know what you thought....of any of it...please......:(