My name is Matt and I play video games.
The gaming industry pumps out some of the most innovative technical accomplishments today. Complex artificial intelligence to entire rendered worlds are just the beginnings of what programmers are able to accomplish. This feed is a collection of my thoughts on what is happening in the world of games.

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Last month I posted that Sony patented stereoscopic technology that can display two separate images on one screen. This would be revolutionary changing split screen multiplayer into a full screen experience. Well here is a video of the technology in action via engadget this morning.

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After 3D comes the Hologram

Sony cannot always be on top. Kotaku reported earlier today the Sony RayModeler, a cylindrical display device used to depict 3D models. The technology uses LED lights to give the user the illusion that they are viewing all sides of an image. They even have a tech demo showing Brickbreaker working on the 3D display.

This technology is very cool but a day late and a dollar short. Tokyo University has developed a 3D image that is tangible. With some ultra sonic waves and two wii remotes, scientists have been able to develop the sensation of touch in a hologram. There is even a demo in which an intractable pig bounces on a user’s hand. Tokyo University seems to be ahead of the curve.

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Digression on Digital Distribution

It’s in the headlines everywhere: Gamestop has acquired Kongregate. Gamestop is the largest video game distributor in America while Kongregate is a free-to-play flash game site with a micro-transaction model. This is Gamestop’s first move into developing a digital marketplace.

Love it or hate it, digital distribution is the way of the future. PSN, XBLA, and WiiWare are just the beginning of digital distribution supplying primarily dlc.In addition indy games and even some triple A titles are available through these services. OnLive is a newer service that allows a player to stream full games to their computer or home unit. Titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum and Assassins Creed II can be streamed to your computer without any download times.

Even the portable market is making moves towards cyber stores. Sony may not have been completely successful with the PSPGo, their first foray into a completely digital system, but Nintendo has been more successful with their DSiWare service. Even Apple is very successful with games sales in the apps store. The digital market will only continue to grow as Sony and Nintendo are looking for better wireless connectivity in future handhelds.

Gaming only becomes more accessible through social networking sites. Farmville started a revolution, now drawing more users than World of Warcraft. Zynga, the developer behind Farmville, profits come from micro-transactions, but their user base is derived from Facebook. Using Facebook, Zynga is able to easily connect friends through a non-competitive game. This has even encouraged consoles to make Facebook compatible games as seen in Blur.

Other companies are now following the social networking model. After making a $100 million deal with Zynga, Google announced yesterday its intentions to build a social gaming hub to compete with Facebook.

So what does this mean for Gamestop? As the market changes, it is clear that the demand for game distribution stores will disappear. A digitally dominated world is inevitable. It appears that Gamestop will try to compete with Facebook and Google for social gaming dominance, but I believe will ultimately fail. Facebook and Google already have solid user bases. Since Gamestop will be changing its business entirely I see this acquisition as more of a force than an actual growth for the company.

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"The game was a steal…wink"

Let’s be honest, Sony’s Playstation 3 may be capable of producing the best graphics on the market, but the company milks you for everything you’ve got. First you have to buy the most expensive console on the market. To make the games look awesome you have to buy an HDtv. To make it look even better you can buy one of Sony’s 3Dtvs. Then, if you want to enjoy motion control gaming, you have to invest $180 for one wand, navigation controller, and PSeye. A new Wii is $200. If that wasn’t enough, Sony doesn’t even install backwards compatibility into their systems. Well, to try to make up for that last point, Sony is re-releasing Playstation classics from generations past with graphic upgrades so they look good in 720p. They aptly call this series of games classics HD.

The first PS2 titles remastered for the PS3 were the God of War games. In GoW Collection you were once again able to play through Kratos’ epic journey, but this time without frame-rate hiccups. In addition, Santa Monica Studios added trophy support to bring GoWC into this generation of gaming. The character models looked a little bit dated (especially in comparison the GoW3), but the graphics were an over-all improvement in comparison to the original games. Scoring a 91 on Metacritic, this bundle was a great deal at just $40 on release day.

Yesterday it was announced that the Sly Cooper Collection (SCC) will be following that trend priced at $40 retail (via Nonsense Gamer). GoWC had two games; SCC has three. GOWC was in HD; SCC is going to be in 3D. GoWC used a six-axis controller; SCC will have move support. Sucker Punch, the developers behind Sly Cooper (and inFamous (hence the similarities in gameplay (and yes I just used the word hence))), are only offering us more for our money.

Sony’s next installment will be the Team Ico Collection, which will include the games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Speculated to be released next June, little is known about this title. Team Ico is currently working on The Last Guardian which has also been under wraps after oddly not making an appearance at this year’s E3. Hopefully we’ll hear more about both of these games at the Tokyo Game Show.

So what can we expect from these trends? First, the classics HD bundles will come with multiple related games. Obvious I know, but it has to be stated for a later point. Secondly, the bundles will probably all be released at $40. Seeing as these are games we have played before, it makes sense to not release them at full retail of $60. The games also provide enough additional content to make it feel like a new game. $40 is the perfect price point. Fourth, all of the games are being released before the studio’s next big project. GoWC was released November 2009; GoW3 was released March 2010. SCC is coming out right before inFamous 2. I predict new details for Team Ico will surface with details on the Last Guardian at TGS (Sony has to save something for their Japanese friends). Lastly, all of the series being remastered are old Playstation exclusive titles. These are the titles that have been used to sell systems. GoW and SoC pushed the PS2 to its graphical limits in addition to interesting gameplay. Playing these games again reminds us why we throw in the extra $100 for a system.

What will the future hold in store for Sony’s classics HD series. Based on current patterns, we have to look for long-running, corner-stone, Sony franchises to predict the next bundle. Could it be a Metal Gear remake, Jak series, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, or maybe even Kingdom Hearts. Whatever Sony chooses to remake, us gamers will be sitting here waiting impatiently, wanting to wrap our hands around the next big title from days of old.

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Revolutionizing Multiplayer?

Not willing to shell out $4000 for a new 3D TV? Stereoscopic 3D TV is just a fad, right? Well a recent discover from broke my controller (via kotaku), shows two new patents from Sony. Both technologies can be used to display two full screen images on one screen. This can be utilized to play multiplayer on one screen without being to screen peak or even watch two separate shows on the same screen. The method even maintains a 3D image for both viewers. By pairing the screen with shuttered glasses two different images can be sent to two separate glasses calibrated to display different images to each pair. Controller tracking is also involved. The glasses even include ear buds so each person can hear individual sounds. If this is realized, then 3D seems less of a fad and more of a revolution.

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New Xbox Controller

Wireless controllers were a great invention; gamers were suddenly able to lie on the couch without any fears of their wire knocking over their can of Mountain Dew. But since wireless controllers work on a radio frequency, they cannot be used in large scale gaming competitions. Wireless controllers also have a slight delay that can make the difference when trying to get a head shot while you are at no shield on XBL. So how is one supposed to choose between wired and wireless?

IGN reports a new patent recently cleared by the US patent office for new, hybrid Xbox 360 controllers. These controllers will have a duel-mode that lets the player use the controller like any wireless xbox controller, but when the controller is plugged into the system it will play like a wired controller with better response times. This may not seem too revolutionary but I’m sure many competitive Xbox players are happy they don’t have to scrounge around for a new wired controller, or even worse, steal from another competitor.

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Halo: Reach News

Bungie has recently released a boatload of information on their upcoming title Halo: Reach in a press release last Friday. Meant to be a “stand alone title” and not Halo 4, Halo: Reach has taken liberties with the Halo formula by keeping the familiar Spartan vs Elite battle but adding new armor abilities and cool down mechanic for their guns. What else is new? Read on to find out…

Improved AI
Bungie is known for designing some of the smartest enemy AI that constantly challenges players to reassess their tactics and switch up their gameplay. Excessive strafing does not work. It seems Bungie has continued to tweak their near perfect intelligence by scaling the AI to account for multiple human players. This additional scaling will make co-op mode even more challenging. Programmers have been quoted to say that “(In a three player co-op game with multiple skulls on) Nearly every Elite kill requires teamwork with baiting, flanking and assassinating. It’s really interesting.”

But even your friendly AI has been improved. Programmers have been quoted to say that “This is the best friendly AI driving we have seen in a Halo game.”

Red vs Blue Details
Rooster Teeth released a new Red vs Blue video last week which left us with a lot of questions. This week only a few are answered. One is what is that new hologram armor ability? When activated, a hologram image of yourself is sent straight to where your reticle is pointing. The hologram will last for 10 seconds or until it is killed.

At the end of the clip Sarge is seen flying through the air with his jet pack while holding the flag. The animation was initially a bug that has since been fixed. Using armor abilities while holding the objective will be a toggle-able feature.

Campaign Details
Bungie assembled the presses and had them demo 2.5 campaign missions in addition to new multiplayer maps and modes. Although only some specific details are laid out, digging through the language reveals some interesting pieces of information.
Armor abilities are not fixed. Players will not be fixed to specific armor abilities for an entire mission. Rather they can be picked up like weapons mid level.

Multiplayer Details
The Falcon, from Halo Wars, will be a playable vehicle. It has two player slots with one person acting as the pilot and the other the gunner. Your “battlebro” will be able to spawn in vehicle.

Day one Armory pictures were also released. Players will receive credits (based on accomplishments rather than skill) to spend on new helmets and armor. Helmets will also be available for your avatar but these are earned through in game achievements rather than credits.

There are many other details but these are just the highlights. The last thing I want to leave you with is this quote from Sketch.

The good news is that some of what we showed [the press] will actually be coming out next week including a boat load of new screenshots and even some direct feed video. Did I already mention that next Thursday was shaping up to be HUGE?!

I guess we have to wait until July 22nd to find out more.

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Megaman Universe!

One of the first games I ever played was Mega Man 2 on the NES. Seeing the 8-bit graphics and hearing the 8-bit soundtrack still gets me excited. The most recent installment (Mega Man 10) was a throw back to the old style. They took 20 year old formula and barely changed it.

But it seems that Mega Man will be making changes in the just announced Mega Man Universe. Little information has been released so far, but we do know it will be for PSN and XBL. A bigger announcement is planned for Comic Con next week. What we do know is a quote in the press release from Kenji Inafune, the man behind the mega:

We are thrilled to finally be able to announce Mega Man Universe. This game will break the mold and challenge the conventional wisdom of what a Mega Man game can be. When fans finally get to see it, I believe they’ll envision their most far-out Mega Man dreams coming true.

So what does ‘challenge the conventional wisdom’ mean? Hopefully not a 3D world because we’ve all seen how that fails.

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God of War without the Gore

There is more to God of War than just the tremendous amounts of blood pouring over Kratos’ body when he slices open the minions of the gods with his blades of chaos. Underline the brutal massacre is a heart touching story about a boy who just wants to be accepted by his father.

So what happens when you take this story (as if it weren’t a cliche to begin with) and put it into a post-modern film? Well you can call it God of War, a film presented by Gamervision.com. This indie adaption (first spotted on Kotaku) could become a classic if they are able to emulate the story line in a clever and crafty way to excite all GOW fans. It could become a decent movie.

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Exploring the Galaxy

It seems interstellar combat is making a come back with news of the Star Fox 3DS reboot, Halo: Reach space combat, and Michael Pachter prediction that Respawn entertainment’s next game will be a space shooter. But before there were video games to give us the experience of flying through space, there was the Starship Galaxy and Millennium Falcon.

In a recent interview between Gamesradar and lead writer for Star Wars: The Old Republic Daniel Erickson, it was announced that there will be star ships in SWTOR just not at the beginning of the game:

Every player will get their own starship, and there are different starships for all the different types of class. So there’s a Trooper ship, a Smuggler ship, and a Jedi and Sith ship.

There are still no details on whether or not these ships will be flyable or customizable, but the ships will be acting as mobile bases. NPC crewmates will be stationed there with the possibility of holochess.

Sounds awesome, right? How could it get better? Star Trek: Online tries to have an answer with their new Architect system reports That Videogame Blog. Here you can make customizable ships to “leave your imprint on the universe.” You can choose among 3 ship types which can be manipulated and 3 different races. Changing these features affect the composition of the crew, weaponry, and ship statistics. The downside, these features are only external and the ship cannot be explored. Close but no cigar Atari, but it’s still a welcome new feature to STO.

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