The launch of Google’s game streaming Stadia and its preceding rumors have made many wonder and speculate how games will be delivered in the future. I have recently written a bit about platforms, and game streaming can potentially cause a huge shift in the power balance as the underlying hardware (or even storefronts) becomes irrelevant. There are many new hopeful entrants wanting to get a piece of hopefully an increasing pie.
Bubbling under the Games as Services (GaaS) phenomenon are platforms (GaaP). I previously on these subjects in my post on Games as Services and on platforms in general. In business terms, it is the next evolution in the attempt to capture the added value of long-running games and recoup the investment in the massive virtual worlds.
In my previous post, I talked about games as services and other game business model topics. Here I will go a layer below to the platforms that offer these games, specifically in the context of Epic’s brand new game store that is seen as yet another challenger to Valve’s Steam. I remain skeptical on Epic’s ability to meaningfully challenge Steam for reasons I will go through below.
Back in 2013, I wrote briefly about Games as a Service on this blog, again last year with Destiny as an example and by now this business model is quite dominant everywhere. I also gave some presentations on this and generally ranted about this to anyone who didn’t immediately run away. Meanwhile, a new hip buzzword has arrived and that’s Games as a Platform (GaaP).
Previously few years ago I listed some games that I had enjoyed in the exploration game genre usually mockingly called “walking simulators”. Between then and now, the genre has expanded with more games and more experimentation. So, here’s a list of games that I have enjoyed since.
The CakeDC organization behind CakePHP has created the Users plugin, that has all the features a usual web app has - user login, registration and so on. However, the plugin by default assumes that the user logins with a username and password. For simplicity, some websites might prefer that the user logins with their email as their username.
One aspect of having a website is to make sure there are backup if and when something goes terribly wrong. Backing up a traditional web application (fe. a WordPress installation) requires backing up both the files and the database (usually a MySQL/MariaDB one).
As ubiquitous the hashtag is in today’s web, its full history is surprisingly sparsely documented. Most histories mention Twitter and the creator of its modern usage there, Chris Messina. He famously wrote back in 2007 “A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels”. This was back in the day when people on the web also used terms like “folksonomy” with a straight face.
Now that the probably last paid expansion to Destiny, the Rise of Iron, is out before a probable full sequel coming out next year, I’d like to talk about my favorite topic, Games as a Service.
This year is going to be an interesting year for the shooter genre. There are many attempts in widening the wildly successful MOBA genre not only to shooters but also to the consoles.
Although the term “walking simulator” is mostly used in a derogatory way to define games that focus on exploration, and do not have action elements or a clear opponent/enemy, it’s also something that has stuck as an umbrella term for the genre.
It’s sometimes really frustrating to read Gamasutra because the articles are very uneven even in the “featured” category. Case in point is this piece of gem, Hearthstone on Phones is Costing Blizzard Millions of Dollars where author tries to make the case that
Consequently, the above graph actually conceals a damning fact: Hearthstone’s phone release is losing Blizzard millions of dollars.
In my previous posts, I have shown ways to add a lot of metadata to a Jekyll blog’s posts. However, the use of the metadata shouldn’t be left just for the search engines and social network sites. You too can benefit from the added metadata many sites expose these days.
Good blog posts have images that can be used as thumbnails for the posts inside and outside of the blog itself.
One of the more interesting directions the web has been taking is the so called semantic web, which essentially means helping computers figure out what humans have written on the web. The most practical reason to do this is, naturally, to help the almighty search engine bot overlords better index one’s site in hopes of a better ranking on the only list that matters, Google’s search results.
Markdown dates back to 2004, incidentally the same year the WHATWG started working on HTML5. Now that HTML 5.0 is a a W3C Recommendation, it would be awesome if the popular Markdown converters would also support the new stuff that the new markup brings with it.
A long time ago, in a neighborhood far away, I was wondering on which blogging platform to relaunch my blog on. This is not a question that I took lightly.
Previously, I wrote about the pricing of booster card packs for Steam’s trading card market from mainly from the seller’s perspective. However, somewhat more interesting is how much should I pay for a certain booster pack considering I already have some cards of the set. How much am I willing to pay?
Steam’s trading cards are an interesting phenomenon in Steam’s wider Community Market economy. Valve’s Gabe Newell has said that his interested in creating markets where players can exchange items cross-games, he would like to see the value that the player has created one game to carry over to another.
The free to play (F2P) phenomenon has, in its shadow, hid another big shift that’s facing the game industry: more and more, games are becoming services.
Free-to-play is the new Shareware. Shareware was a neat distribution license back before internet, where the product (fe. a game) had a limited feature set and the user had the right to further distribute the copy. Here, the author banked on the features of her product and the goodwill of her potential customers to create a customer base for her product. If the potential customer was pleased with the product, she could pay for the complete version of the software.
There was some moaning when some forgettable instance claimed that Steve Jobs was the best ever that had happened to games ever. What about Shigeru Miyamoto, Gabe Newell or the best-selling console of all time, PlayStation 2? There weren’t even any games for the Mac, the neckbeards were screaming on the top of their keyboards.
Some time ago, Tim Schafer (who needs no introduction, unless you hate ponies and kittens) said in an interview that he’d love to do Psychonauts 2 but no publisher has shown any interest so far (probably because game publishers hate kittens). Then the Nordic gaming viking, Notch tweeted to Tim that “Let’s make Psychonauts 2 happen”. Then, the man behind responsible for Psychonauts for Mac a reality replied he’s in as well. So… let’s see what happens on that front.
The page on GOG.com for The Longest Journey promised
A truly epic story and gameplay with more than 50 hours of play time and while the first part is inevitably true, the game fell quite short on the promise beat the 41 hours I poured on Mass Effect 2 and I was done with Stark and Arcadia in less than 20.
The crack dealers of gaming, Blizzard, changed their marketing tactics with its two games, World of Warcraft and Stracraft II. Instead of the 15-day trial, the WOW Starter Edition allows players to freely play with some limits to level 20. The 3 level demo without multiplayer for Starcraft II is likewise expanded into 4 level Starter Edition with multiplayer.
As neologism go, I have a thing for “gamification”. Not only is term totally misleading, it also acts as a vague umbrella for all kinds of ethically questionable practices. The buzzword bingo is strong with this article from MIT’s Technology Review, which goes and overextends the term to pretty much everything, including the Internet. Because, after all, what doesn’t benefit from making things fun and rewarding?
This video of death locations in Just Cause and that heatmap of kills and deaths in Assassin’s Creed are my two favorite visualizations.
Last night I decided to for the first time give it a go and the developer commentary feature in Valve’s games is actually pretty great. Sure, it’s just for superfans like the DVD commentaries are but it really gives a new view on the game. It’s a bit of behind scenes, where the developers explain about all the different things that went into delivering the experience to the player.
In an interview on PC Gamer, Jonathan Blow answered if he believed that “social games are evil”. His answer, “Yes. Absolutely.” Blow, of course, frequently talks about how he feels that many current games are unethical.
I ended my previous rant on social games with dismissing the classification of games to social, casual and hardcore. I feel the need to rant a bit more and flesh out my argument and to link to that video of that guy “playing” that Kinect racing game.
One of my planned acquisitions from last year’s Steam Christmas sales was DeathSpank. It’s what these days called an action-RPG, like all games these days, but I think a better description is that it’s a bit like the various Diablo II followers, Torchlight and Titan Quest - with a bit of Monkey Island in there.
An interesting take on the female protagonist thing on InnerChildGamer. It takes a bit of a different view than my previous article. The author argues that the female gamer demographic is actually quite large and has presence in the game retail space and this would mean the publishers’ fear of female protagonists failing to capture large audience is wrong.
Portal and Mirror’s Edge were both games that I wanted to like and play, but for some reason I just put them off until I got Portal for free when Steam launched on Mac and I bought Mirror’s Edge about a year ago for some ridiculously low amount of money. They both wanted to show something new and exciting.
Sure, One Chance was a nice little game but it probably doesn’t deserve all the attention it is getting. It is frightfully simple game with decisions. It is the how the players react, that I think is much more interesting. This of course wouldn’t be possible unless the game was well designed to evoke these reactions. My argument is that the game is genius because it messes up with our animal spirits, not because of any technical limitation or feature.
I was attending a LAN gaming session (aka. real “social gaming”) with a group of friends a while ago. Last time, we spent a lot of time installing (and updating) games and trying to get computers to find each other and I had to borrow someone else’s computer. This time, we were quickly up and running and I could proudly play on my MacBook Pro.
For reasons unknown to me, Silicon Alley Insider decided to publish a marketing piece by CEO of a Facebook clone titled Facebook Has It All Wrong When It Comes To Social Games. That post was for a while the top one at TechMeme. The stupid - it hurts.
Grand Theft Auto IV™. You will never play through this game. Forget about the expansions.
I quit Kingdom of Loathing recently. I guess I was a bit hooked to the game, as I did play it almost daily. Sure, I did earlier say that I didn’t play RPGs, but I guess KoL was something else to me.
In my continuing series of Valve games I’d need friends for, Team Fortress 2 is a pleasant surprise. While it’s probably great at a LAN or with friends, you can just as well play it on the net with strangers.
Ars Technica figures out inflation:
An inconvenient truth: game prices have come down with time.
In my opinion, FarmVille is a role playing game (RPG). And pretty bad one at that. Like most social RPGs, you don’t actually need any skills or develop any skill playing it yourself as your success is solely dependent on the amount of time you sink into it. You can get pretty good at FreeCell, but no matter how much time you spend in FarmVille, you won’t get “better” in it.
Technically, EA’s Neeed For Speed: World is an MMO, but it’s not really the World of NFS-craft. It’s a bit too boring and it seems grinding is the only MMO element they bothered to implement.
Here’s my list of the definitive games to play at a LAN session. We have played all the listed games during one session, but I recommend concentrating on just few of these. Also, many of the games listed are quite old and have by now worthy successors; we just stuck with what we liked back in the days.
Quake Live is either a testament to the longevity of Quake’s DM mode or to how powerful new computers are when you can run a real game as a web browser plugin. Quake Live probably offers the least friction to just go and frag random people on the net. And not only on Windows, the game also runs on a Mac (and Linux!), which is totally mindblowing. This should be my go-to instant FPS deathmatch game, but it just isn’t.
If I could only tweet about this game it would be: Left 4 Dead for people with no time and no friends. Well, not really. But, really.
So, well, yeah… I’ve never played Half-Life 2 before today. I did play the original Half-Life and both expansion packs, Opposing Force and Blue Shift, and I guess when Half-Life 2 came out my computer was so woefully out of date to even think about running it.
It’s safe to say that I learned some of my English from the great adventure games from LucasArts and Sierra. In addition, I think these games gave me a huge part of my sense of humor and knowledge of American popular culture. There was something magical about the Space Quest series, Indiana Joneses, Maniac Mansions, Monkey Islands and, yes, even Leisure Suit Larries that I’m afraid is lost to that era and can’t be resurrected.
Many claim that Chaos Theory is the pinnacle of the Splinter Cell series. It was also one of the very few games with pretty effective copy protection scheme, as a proper warez version did take an awfully long time to surface. In an ironic twist, the Splinter Cell: Conviction’s always on DRM scheme was broken pretty quickly in comparison. I originally missed this game because my then PC couldn’t handle this game at the time. Today, the tables have turned and the odd shading system in Pandora Tomorrow means no new system can run that.
The media seems to be a bit obsessed with hardware, iPhone and its “killers” and software (“apps”). This is technology after all. For me, much more interesting phenomenon are applications. I’m not talking about software but more generally what we use the technology for.
I’m starting to think that I’m wayy too interested in maps and geographical coordinates. Things like Google Maps and GPS just make me want to make something great out of all the information we have lying around and put in a map context. I think this is also the reason behind all the location based services, everyone is trying to see what would work. Most of them are fun experiments, but let’s see what sticks.
Nintendo released the new channel, Nintendo Channel, for Wii recently in Europe. It was released about a week after WiiWare, the channel that enables online shopping and downloading of games. WiiWare is interesting in the sense that we can easily expect some really amazing stuff coming out through that channel, while Nintendo Channel is something that exemplifies why Wii is different from other consoles.
Adventure games are not dead! LucasArts have announced that in addition to the sequel to Full Throttle, they are also starting to work on a sequel to Sam & Max: Hit the Road. The leatest Monkey Island game was somewhat of a disappointment, the plot was even worse than the previous and the 3D graphics were not able to give the same feeling as the traditional 2D.