Meta-gaming

•October 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

There is more and more meta-everything around at the moment, and some of the stuff that comes along with gaming is pretty cool. Take 360voice for example – it gives your XBOX 360 a “voice” or rather it posts a blog from its point of view. Anyone can sign up for a blog if they have a 360 and use it on XBOX Live. Mine can be found here:

http://360voice.gamerdna.com/tag/shepherdnick

It’s amazing how much context you can put against what must be only a list of different numbers and names of games. The site also has links to other sites with a lot of stats surrounding your achievement points, and comparing them to your friends. How very meta.

If you’re anything like me and you don’t have a spare USB keyboard lying around, or you’re away from your XBOX and would like to see who’s online without using the xbox.com website, then I would suggest using XBList – makes sending messages oh so much less of a hassle, because you can use your computers’ keyboard.

Ever had the urge to edit your XBOX 360 avatar from the comfort of your own desk? Neither have I. But this is actually pretty cool http://live.xbox.com/en-GB/AvatarEditor?xr=shellnav. Not sure exactly if you can use your avatar anywhere else on the Internet, but who really cares anyway?

Sorry for the lack of updates the past four days, I have been quite busy playing Batman: Arkham City, amongst other things, and to be perfectly honest, I was running out of interesting things to say, so I didn’t bother. I might fill them in at a different time.

Batman Arkham Asylum

•October 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

You’d be surpirsed how much you can get done in such a short space of time. Some might call it a waste of time. But in preparation for the new Batman Arkham City game coming out tomorrow, apparently I wanted to play through the entire of Batman Arkham Asylum first – that was on Tuesday.

With nineteen minutes to spare I finished the game in about 10 & 1/2 hours over three nights, and with the exception of tonight I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it again. It is another perfect example of a Metroidvania game done well. It’s a toss up between a platformer and a Metroidvania genre that I think it gaming’s purest form. I am a massive fan of linear games because the stucture allows the games makers more control over the storytelling part of the game, and this game succinctly and concisely tells a decent story, that fits in very well with the location, the characters and the items you’re given to use. In my opinion, in terms of games, this is on par with the quality of the recent Nolan Batman films.

Can’t wait to play the new game tomorrow!

Power Line Communication

•October 19, 2011 • 1 Comment

That may not mean a lot to you until you know what it is. Power Line Communication seemingly works by magic.

Problem: You have a wireless router which works with your wireless laptop and your Mum can sit on the sofa browsing on her iPad and your sister can download games on her phone. But your XBOX 360 and your OnLive console which you want to use in your room upstairs – away from the router – and only have ethernet Internet (technically LAN) connections.

Solution: Buy two Power Line Communication boxes which can sent wired ethernet data through your plug sockets – plug one in by your router, one in by your wired device, and connect them both up like you normally would! See? Magic!

Whenever you tell anyone about this, it usually shocks them – I mean theoretically it should work, but in practice, you just can’t see it working very well. In actual fact you don’t get bad throughput – roughly 80% of what you would normally get over a CAT5 cable.

It actually works by using a higher frequency over the same cables the power uses, and the transformers in the plugs themselves take care of the all the differences. You can read more on the wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_line_communication

Even thought they are expensive, they have come down in price a lot from when I last looked. These, for example look pretty good for their money, and they look quite tidy too: http://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-TL-PA211KIT-200Mbps-Powerline-Ethernet/dp/B004INVKP4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1319050256&sr=8-5

Update: Will Derrick pointed out to me that you really should change the default password on the set of these if you happen to get any, otherwise anyone who can actually see them might be able to compromise your security!

The saddest thing on the Internet

•October 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

Nothing much that is disturbed disturbs me any more – thanks to consistently being around the things that are supposed to disturb you (thanks, Internet). I have been quite successfully desensitized. But every now and again it happens.

I read something that made me feel very very upset. It also made me feel like no matter how much bad press there is about games, I am entirely justified in playing them because of things like this:

A tear jerking story about Animal Crossing

A tear jerking story about Animal Crossing

http://www.duelinganalogs.com/image/a-tear-jerking-story-about-animal-crossing/

I love you, but I fear for your future

•October 17, 2011 • 2 Comments

There has been a big change in the way that we buy our stuff now. Gradually we are losing the intrinsic materialistic mentality towards everything we give our money to. Even the concept of money is slowly becoming more and more lost as just another web site you go to – transferring numbers from your account to someone elses account on a different site. But none of this means as much as it does to digital content being distributed digitally.

It’s no secret that I love Nintendo. I love their products, and I love the worldwide spanning appeal to the things they create when so many of their competitors seem to place themselves in more niche markets, but that they also retain the feeling of Japan – I experienced this when I visited Japan (specifically Kyoto) earlier this year. I haven’t though bought a Nintendo 3DS. And I have been wondering why, considering I love the company so much.

There are a multitude of reasons, firstly I was actually travelling in Japan when the system was launched, so I missed the furore over it by the time I came back, and there haven’t been that many stellar games out for it since its release. And probably more importantly I remember getting a DS when it was first launched and the line up of launch games was not really that great (same can be said for the Wii). Having looked at the launch line up for the 3DS, I came to the same conclusion.

Move on a couple of months and we get the launch of one of Nintendo’s most revered and critically acclaimed products – Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Surely this was a system seller, and surely it would be enough to pursuade me to invest in one? Well, you see, I am a huge Zelda fan – it’s probably easier to count the Zelda games I haven’t completed than have – and different opinion though it may be, Ocarina is not my favourite Zelda game. When I was of the age to ask for a games console of my own, I chose to leave behind my beloved Nintendo and ask for a PlayStation instead – a decision I in no way regret, even now. However, I missed quite a lot of cherished games from the Nintendo 64 platform, including Ocarina. I have since played it (I had the special edition Wind Waker, which included the extra bonus disk) quite a few years ago now, and it still had the feel of Zelda games, it just didn’t feel as good as some of its successors to me.

This is why not even the mightiest of Zelda games could not pursuade me to buy a system. I read plenty of reviews about it and it makes me so happy that in a slew of remakes at the moment, Nintendo have taken the time to recreate the game properly, with incredible attention to detail, and should be held up as the pillar of quality expected by us as consumers for the remakes that are coming out. All this being said, Nintendo are releasing some pretty awesome looking games in the next few months, but they are once again, more Mario games. Even though they are brilliant games, sometimes you’ve got to wonder why Nintendo can’t point their very talented staff at new creative projects.

Where I think Nintendo really need to nail the 3DS, and which I don’t think they have done so far, is a way to compete with iOS’s App Store. Nintendo created a broader, casual market in 2006 when they brought the Wii out – everyone and their Granddad knows what a Wii is (mine probably knew anyway, but that’s because my Granddad is cooler than yours, he and Nan still play on the NES every day after Countdown). However, it was Apple who have inadvertently created a market for the kind of games that the casual player is more likely to buy and play. It’s not even that the quality of those games has to be very high, for 69p a shot you’re not going to put in the same kind of resources in as you might for a full length 3DS title. They are cheap enough for there to be no risk as a consumer. If you’re a parent, surely you are more likely to let your kid buy a few 69p games which will probably keep them happy for a few hours, rather than forking out £30 a time for one game that they could potentially lose interest in. What this means for those of us who do enjoy full length £30 3DS/DS games is that the market has now shrunk.

Nintendo need their e-store to be competitive with the App Store. But even offering every game that is available on the App Store on the e-store will not be enough. The gamer who is likely to have bought the 3DS because of the opportunities of playing full length boxed games, are also likely to be the kind of person who is old enough to own and use an iPod Touch/iPhone/Smart Phone in general, and having a dedicated hand held gaming device now seems a bit redundant. The 3DS is becoming a niche product. Nintendo need a slew of awesome software, a decent amount of support for their e-store and a clever advertising campaign to take back some of the market that Apple now has. At the moment, Apple don’t seem to be terribly interested in supporting gaming, but it is definitely only a matter of time before they do, and when they do Nintendo and Sony will be in trouble if they haven’t laid down good enough groundwork to support their platforms. Obviously I’m using Apple as an example, the stores on Android and Windows Phone likely give the same impact.

Speaking from a business point of view, I think Nintendo were wrong to call the device a 3DS. Yes it’s a cute play on words of both 3D and DS, but in broadening the market for the casual gamer, you also have to bear in mind that the majority of them don’t subscribe to Edge magazine or read IGN, so when they see any form of the acronym “DS” they’ll immediately realise that they’ve already got one and that’s good enough, not realising that it is an entirely new piece of hardware. Also, if you’re selling both the 3DS and DS on the same shelves, an uninformed shopper is going to buy the cheaper of the DS products. I also now think that the Wii-U is a bad name and potentially holds the same kind of confusion to uninformed consumers.

Nintendo have historically always released a revised model of their hardware some time after their initial launch- the DS lite was released a mere 15 months after the DS phat in Europe. The obvious move Nintendo are now making is trying to improve the form factor and I assume battery life of the current model, however I have to disagree with their move earlier this year to release the extra slider hardware attachment. Don’t get me wrong, the first DS and first 3DS are not exaclty ugly, but they’re not the best looking devices Nintendo have released, but the slider looks like an admission of failure, it looks rushed and it does not fill me with confidence that they actually know what they’re doing. There is nothing more that would put my off buying a first generation 3DS than this cheap and tacky add on.

It saddens me that I am writing this because I believe that Nintendo are somewhat the mirror image of Apple in the game industry, always providing unique and innovative gaming experiences. Even re-using Mario, they have still created one of the best games of this generation (Super Mario Galaxy/2). I hope that Nintendo are agile and nimble enough to make enough people have a reason to keep buying their products, because I can’t imagine a world where Nintendo aren’t making hardware – they have been for all of my life.

Related links:

Sundays

•October 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In almost exactly the opposite to how I feel about Fridays, the only good thing about Sundays is the fact that it’s a day off. And it’s generally a good day to have a take away. This week I had a domino’s pizza because Tom conveniently told me about a deal that they have for freshers (spend over £30 and you get 50% off), and was under the impression that they wouldn’t ask me for the voucher. They did. Thanks for that Tom.

Other reasons Sundays generally suck

  • I’m usually hungover
  • I’ve got work tomorrow
  • I’ve not gotten up early enough, so I go to bed late and not get enough sleep
  • I usually have crap quality of sleep on a Sunday night

Although, today I have watched 4 films in a row, three being the Austin Powers films.😀

Austin Powers

•October 15, 2011 • 11 Comments
I put the grr in swingrr!

Yeah, baby, yeah!

Being incredibly hungover today, and having a fancy dress party to go to this evening, I didn’t really have much time for a blog. Instead it’s easier to show you what I did do with my time.

Nick Shepherd wears

  • Suit – Oxfam – £7.99
  • Shirt – Hobos – £20
  • Wig & glasses- Mardi Gras – about a tenner