Six Tech Improvements I'd Like to See in Next Gen Games

After reading an article from another site discussing what that person would like to see from next gen, it got me thinking of some things I personally would like to see when the next gen tech rolls around. Bear in mind, I am completely content with the current gen and I feel there is still a lot of life and untapped potential. But then I'm not the "typical" gamer.

I realize in this day and age of Twitter that people's attention spans are not what they used to be. And as we near the sixth and seventh year (respectfully) for Sony's and Microsoft's consoles, this generation has already been given its stay of execution past the usual healthy five-year lifespan. But I digress, the current generation still has plenty of games–both already released and upcoming–that I have no inclination to "rush" the next gen.

Be that as it may, it's always exciting to imagine what lies in store in the future. So with that in mind I present my humble list for your reading pleasure.

· Realistic A.I. – We’ve come a long way since the ghosts of Pac-Man, yet for the most part the A.I. in games are rather daft. Whether it’s pathfinding issues or just nonsensical behavior, we still have a ways to go before we can confidently call A.I. “good.” What I would like to see in next gen games is more realistic A.I. This means if you’re playing a stealth game and only one enemy sees you that means only one enemy sees you, and it doesn’t share this “hive mind” mentality where once an enemy spots you nowevery enemy in the entire level knows where you are and they make a bee-line to your position. Even if you run and hide to a new location the enemies still know where you are. That’s idiotic and unrealistic. The Hitman games are the most egregious offenders in this regard (and in my own personal experience). So developers, please, make the enemies more realistic.

· Better Physics – I know this is going to sound petty, but it really bugs me when you shoot a wall and the bullet holes disappear. You just unload on a wall, or even try writing your name in bullet holes only to get so far before they start disappearing. That being said, all games that include killing should include ragdoll physics, but not the silly, absurd kind that when you walk through the body it gets caught in your feet and you end up dragging it behind you (I’m looking at you, Demon’s Souls and Gears of War). It’s as if the instant you kill them the bodies become weightless and have no mass. All games that utilize ragdoll physics should have the proper effects when they are interacted with after they become ragdolls; this means bodies still retain their sense of mass and can't just be flung about like a plastic bag caught in a tornado.

· More Destructible Environments – Or how about this one: Don’t you just love it when some objects in a game are affected by your actions while others are completely indestructible? I don’t know about you, but for me that really heightens the immersion factor. NOT! You’re going along breaking crates, boxes, barrels, the occasional door, but somehow an ordinary couch can withstand a direct hit from a rocket launcher; something here is amiss. The Battlefield games are a good step forward in destructible environments; not to mention the Red Faction and Mercenaries series. If you’re developing an open-world game then destructible environments should be mandatory, end of discussion.

· Better Facial Animations/Accurate Lip-synching – We’re slowly getting there with the facial animations, but for God’s sake there should be no excuse for sloppy lip-synching in this day and age. When it comes to the face, the eyes are the most neglected animation on characters. Very few games really nail this animation to the point where the characters feel real (the Uncharted series comes to mind as far as getting it right). Nothing kills the mood more than a character trying to act emotional than dead-eye syndrom; the syndrom where the characters have this creepy stare with glassy eyes. Eye animation should be nuanced and subtle to come across as realistic. And lip-synching should totally match up, no excuse.

· Multi-language Support – One of the biggest selling points during the HD format war (you know, Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD) was the space available on each format. Blu-ray subsequently won this battle, yet games don’t really seem to be taking advantage of all this disc real estate. Why is that? Games that are developed in Japan and feature accomplished Japanese voice actors should automatically include the native track as an option in games that make their way to the Western world. I realize this may come as a shock, but some people don’t mind reading sub-titles. I know reading is a lost art today, but there are still people that appreciate hearing the native language and the performances that come with it. And it’s not a matter of cost since keeping the native language of the game is cheaper than having to hire an entire English speaking cast to re-read all the lines again.

· Dead Bodies That Don't Disappear – C'mon. If a game from 2001 can do it (Halo) then every game should do it.

That seems to be all I can think of right now. I’m interested to hear what everyone else would like to see.

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That's Some Good Shit Right There!

Ryan: "Would you eat Nicole?"
Jeff: "Genital triangle."
Off-camera: "We're rollin'!"

LMAO! Comedy gold! That's what makes this site the best gaming experience on the 'Net. Pure, unadulterated, unscripted, off-the-cuff comedy gold.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. The above quotes are from watching the Get Kinected II: MotionStorm live stream that aired today.

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It's Been Awhile

Quick update since I haven't written a blog in over four months! I've been through a lot of crap since then. Nothing really bad. just stupid drama. Found a new GF, broke up with new GF a month later. Dealing with drama at my job. Trying to find a new one. Currently playing RDR on PS3 and loving it. Waiting for the Bombcast for today. And just trying to maintain my sanity. Oh yeah, I really like the quest feature at the site here; makes it feel like a game almost. Some of them are hard though and don't make much sense.

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New Year Same Old Problems But New Predictions

Fare thee well 2009. As we all settle in for the new year ahead I am reminded that after the celebrations fade, the alcohol has dried up and the general euphoria diminishes most of us are brought back to the sobering reality that we all still have the same problems trailing us from the previous year. I'm still unemployed and on top of all that my PSP broke. More specifically the UMD drive broke in that it won't stay shut when you close it. And that really sucks because that was the only gaming device I brought with me while I am on vacation. Yes, I'm still in Florida and I'm still 2200 or so miles away from my PS3. Bummer.


Now I don't bother with making new year's resolutions because I know myself better than that and I know that I rarely stick with them to begin with. So rather than lie to myself saying I will or will not do something in the coming year I simply acknowledge my shortcomings up front and don't bother. Although if I were to have any one of them would most likely be I will not buy any more games until I beat the ones I already own, but we all know that's not going to happen especially with the scheduled line up for this beginning quarter alone! As it stands right now I have fourteen games for PS3 on my backlog.

Now I have seen a lot of people doing top ten lists and decade lists, etc. You'll be happy to know that I won't waste your time telling you what games I felt were the best this year, or what game deserves GotY recognition. The vast majority of games I bought still remain unplayed so I literally have nothing good or bad to say about them. So to make a list would just be stupid and ill-founded. However I will make some predictons (because everyone likes predictions) about the gaming industry this year because when it's Dec. 31, 2010 I want to pull up this blog and see how close (or far) I was in my predictions. Plus it's satisfying as hell to get one right and be able to prove to people that you called it. way back before it happened I've consulted my crystal ball and here are my predictions for what I believe will happen this year in gaming:

Nintendo:

  • Nintendo announces Wii HD at E3 this year slated for release holiday 2010 which will inevitably serve two functions: 1. To keep Nintendo's sales on top for this generation by giving Wii a nice sales boost and new incentive for people to buy the aging 4-year-old system, and 2. To phase out the non-HD Wii and finally join the HD-era without having to release a totally new system.
  • DSiXL will continue the DS's dominance in the handheld market but will ultimately be the last iteration of that system, as Nintendo is hard at work on the DS's successor.
  • The next Nintendo handheld will be significantly more powerful and go along the same lines as the PSP Go in offering strictly digital distribution for its software thus eliminating cartridge-based media for good. This saves Nintendo money and ends up being a more profitable delivery system. It will not be announced until TGS 2010 at earliest and E3 2011 at latest.

Microsoft:

  • 360 will be coming up on its fifth year and has successfully outlived the original Xbox by one full year! And aside from a handful of exclusives there is not much to get excited over; MS knows this. The 360 has hit the ceiling in terms of technology. That's why I foresee MS further slashing the price of the 360 by holiday 2010 by another $50 as they attempt to stay relevant amid increasing sales of both the Wii and PS3.
  • Natal releases at a $49.99 MSRP thereby making up for the $50 reduction on the actual 360 itself.
  • Rumblings of the 360's successor will begin towards year's end and continue on through next year leading up to E3 2011. That's when I believe MS will announce their next console as they can't afford to languish another year as the 360 looks upon its sixth birthday.

Sony:

  • PS3 continues its sales momentum and ultimately "catches up" to the 360 in terms of total world-wide sales by year's end; there will not be another price cut for the PS3 at all this year simply due to the fact that Sony continues to lose (at present) $36 per console sold.
  • PSP Go continues to struggle at retail and given this fact Sony is forced to lower the price of the handheld to help bolster sales and move units. Meanwhile traditional PSP units will continue to outsell and outpace Go units despite the price cut.
  • Sony's motion wand thingy will like-wise release at $49.99 MSRP and proves to be slightly more successful than Natal.
  • PS3 was future-proofed more than the 360 and will remain true to Sony's "10-year life cycle" pledge. Unfortunately mounting pressures from MS's next console will also start rumors circulating about the PS4.
  • Motion controls on both systems flourish for a short period but ultimately their novelty fizzles out for hardcore applications and instead they are relegated to more "mainstream" conventions and games. Meaning you're not going to be playing a Halo or Uncharted 3 with motion controls in the years upcoming but more party-like games very much like the Wii.

Miscellaneous:

  • OnLive will release in the second half of the year and will not have that significant of an impact like many people think it will due to how new a concept it is. It will have a small, dedicated, almost niche following but it will not overtake traditional console or PC gaming by storm overnight.

 
So there you have it. Those are my predictions for the upcoming year. Overall I feel this year is going to be more exciting than 2009 was because there is so much happening and a slew of great games slated for the entire year. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Am I full of it or do you see some of the same moves happening? Let me know! Happy New Year, everyone!

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Holiday Help!

 

I need advice, actually. I'm in the market for a quality digital camcorder and would like any and all suggestions from people that have them to give. I have two gift cards with $100 each left over from last Christmas, and I've been holding on to them forever because I wanted to use them on a "big" purchase and not just piss it away on movies or games.

So I came to the conclusion that a digital camcorder is something I could really use. I was in Best Buy earlier browsing and saw some models to get a feel for what's available. I talked to an employee as well but I'm not exactly comfortable with their knowledge since they basically don't "know" or have experience with the products other than re-iterating what you can already read on the little info cards next to each camera.

So that's why I'm turning to actual people that may know a little more about this topic. Basically what I'm looking for is something easy to use where I can upload videos to the 'Net (as the camera would double for me doing video blogs as well). Preferably HD capable, but it's not a necessity. Night vision mode would be cool to have as well, but again not necessary. I'm looking to stay around the $200-$250 range, and the most I can probably spend is $300 even though I wouldn't want to, but if it's a good deal I will.

So if you can help please leave your remarks or links so I can check them out. I'm also doing my own research so please don't think I'm just sitting back and wanting everyone else to do this for me. I need guidance as far as which brands are good, what features are preferred, etc. I've heard Canon makes some quality cameras. And there's Sony of course. It's a bit overwhelming especially when you're not familiar with all the current tech and that's basically where I need the bulk of the help.

Thanks!

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Man Distracted by bird drives Bugatti into marsh

 I hope your insurance includes "Acts of Idiocy"
LA MARQUE, Texas – A man blamed a low-flying pelican and a dropped cell phone for his veering his million-dollar sports car off a road and into a salt marsh near Galveston. The accident happened about 3 p.m. Wednesday on the frontage road of Interstate 45 northbound in La Marque, about 35 miles southeast of Houston.

The Lufkin, Texas, man told of driving his luxury, French-built Bugatti Veyron when the bird distracted him, said La Marque police Lt. Greg Gilchrist. The motorist dropped his cell phone, reached to pick it up and veered off the road and into the salt marsh. The car was half-submerged in the brine about 20 feet from the road when police arrived.

Gilchrist said he doesn't know if the car was salvageable, but in his words, " Salt water isn't good for anything." He says the man, whose identity hasn't been released, was not injured.

A 2006 Bugatti Veyron was recently offered for sale in Jonesboro, Ark., for $1.25 million.
Source
 
I loled =D

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Gaming Bliss

This is a great time to be a gamer, but a bad time to be unemployed. As it turns out I'm BOTH at the moment. However, that doesn't stop me from frivolously spending money. Of course if I wanted to put a positive spin on my reckless spending habits I can say I'm just doing my part to stimulate the economy. Hell, if the Government can do it so can I!
 
So if you haven't already heard about Amazon's "buy 2 get 1 free" sale, and you've got the cash to burn I'd suggest heading over there right now and taking a look at what games they're offering since this deal ends tomorrow. Myself, i just picked up Red Faction: Guerilla, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood and Prototype. I'm also considering getting Borderlands next week as well. *sigh*
 
Oh, and if that weren't enough gaming to satisfy me my other purchases for the month included Demon's Souls and Uncharted 2. Not to mention my copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum still waiting to be played. 

Why do I buy so many? I don't know. I just do.

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What Happens When You Sleep?

So my girlfriend and I are going to go see this movie tonight: http://www.paranormalactivity-movie.com/ 
 
There's been a lot of buzz generated around this movie, and the fact that it is being shown in very limited engagements probably adds to the hype. So we're going to go tonight for the midnight showing (that's the only time they play this movie) and see what it's all about. We both have an interest in the paranormal (well, me more than her) so we're hoping this movie lives up to the hype and doesn't turn out to be just a collection of some cheesy scares. But so far from all the reviews that doesn't seem to be the case. 
 
Speaking of which I thought I'd also leave some links to some paranormal shows on TV that I enjoy watching just in case there is anyone else out there that is interested and doesn't already know about them:
 

The first one is called Ghost Adventures and is shown on the Travel channel. The jist of it is three guys travel around to haunted locations and get locked in for the duration of the night, all the while trying to provoke, antagonize and instigate any spirits within. Their methods may not be the wisest but they definitely get some of the best results from any of the other shows on TV. Regularly capturing EVPs and apparitions on a regular basis, this is one of the more "exciting" shows worth watching.
 The second show is Ghosthunters which airs on the SyFy channel. I consider this to be the more mainstream of the shows. "Starring" Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson; a couple of plumbers from Rhode Island that also moonlight on the side as paranormal investigators. They occasionally get some good evidence (particularly in the earlier seasons), but while Ghost Adventures relies primarily on provoking spirits to get results and evidence, Ghosthunters is content to just sit back and take measurements of anything odd going on and "let the spirits come to them" type of approach. Not the most exciting, but still worth watching if this topic interests you at all.  Also, be aware that this show was so popular that it triggered a spin-off series titled Ghosthunters International - basically the same exact show except a different team of investigators who travel around the world as opposed to staying in the USA. 
And lastly we have Paranormal State - a relatively low-key show on A&E. It contains a group of students from Penn State investigating and helping various people who report to have paranormal activity in their homes. Personally I think the show is too short (30 mins.) because as it is they rarely catch any evidence and the majority of the show focuses on the plight of the family involved rather than actively trying to catch evidence. They'll get some EVPs every now and then but compared to the above two shows this is probably the most tame as far as direct evidence is concerned. 
 
So those are my recommendations. Please note as a pre-emptive strike at trolls: I don't really CARE if you don't believe in this stuff; that's NOT the point of this blog. So please save the condescending, inflammatory, trolling comments for another thread/blog to get your rocks off. For those who ARE interested in this stuff please enjoy. Also, if you have your own recommendations please feel free to list them as well.
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Quick Game Play Impressions of "Yakuza"

 

So I've been playing a lot of Yakuza lately and I must say I love it. Why I didn't play this game sooner I don't know. Well, I probably do know but it's just stupid on my behalf to have waited this long. Aside from some nagging game play mechanics (specifically dealing with combat) the game is great. I don't know how many chapters total there are in the game; all I know is I'm currently working through chapter seven (pretty sure I'm close to eight).

So initial impressions are favorable. The game has a pretty interesting plot so far, and I haven't been bored with any of it that would cause me to lose motivation and stop playing. I like the RPG-ness of being able to level up the skills of your character. The pacing seems really great since everything is spread out just right so you never feel you're spending too much time "stuck" in one chapter. The random battles are fun and serve to break up the monotony of running around the city to your destination. Leveling up is very tangible with the new sets of skills you learn, and your character never feels too powerful nor too weak for the enemies or bosses you fight.

The negatives are nothing more than minor quibbles, actually. Such as while in combat once you start a combo you cannot break it to avoid getting hit. So if the guy you're attacking suddenly evades you continue attacking in a straight line as the enemy flanks you and gets a cheap shot in to your side or behind you. There is a "lock on" of sorts but no way to quickly switch between targets, and since the majority of time you are fighting multiple enemies it can get annoying getting gangbanged by everyone and not being able to switch your lock-on quickly to the new enemy attacking you. Also with items you pick up it sucks you can only carry three weapons. It sucks even more that every weapon you buy and/or find has only a certain amount of usage before it "breaks." Brass knuckles can break? C'mon. Also for stat enhancement you can only wear ONE item at a time even though you find lots of items that boost your offense or defense or a charm that grants you a bonus for some ability (like the "Goddess" charm which prevents enemies from swarming you). I'm hoping Yakuza 2 fixes these problems as I haven't played it yet but plan to right after I beat the first.

So those are my impressions. Godwilling I'll have the chance to write down a more formal opinion in a review.

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